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PR: Christmas Tree Recycling Available at Three City Parks

December 24, 2010 Environment, Press Release 2 Comments

The following is a press release from the mayor’s office:

Dec. 22, 2010 — After the glow of Christmas is gone and the decorations have been taken off the tree, City residents can take the bare tree to one of three City parks to be recycled.

ABOVE: Lower Muny parking lot one of three tree drop off locations
ABOVE: Lower Muny parking lot one of three tree drop off locations. Image: Google Maps, click to view

Trees can be dropped off at:

Trees will be accepted at these park sites from Mon, Dec 27, 2010 through Fri, Jan. 14, 2011. The trees will be ground into mulch that will be free and made available at the same sites. Fake or plastic trees will not be accepted.

Trees must be free of ALL decorations. Please remove the ornaments, tinsel, lights and tree stand. Do NOT put the tree in a plastic bag or cover it. Wreaths and pine roping are not accepted at the sites.

“We want to encourage residents to recycle their Christmas trees. Locations in the north, south and central areas of the City were chosen to ensure that our recycling sites are as convenient as possible,” said Greg Hayes, Forestry Commissioner.

City residents should not place Christmas trees in alley dumpsters or recycling containers. The Refuse Division will collect them as part of its regular monthly bulk pickup program.


PR: City Makes Proposal To Avert Deep Cuts In Fire Department

December 15, 2010 Press Release 9 Comments

The following press release just in from the mayor’s office:

ST. LOUIS-The City of St. Louis today put forward a proposal to avert deep cuts in the St. Louis Fire Department by stopping the spiraling cost increases of the Firemen’s Retirement System (FRS).

“These common sense changes are fair to both firefighters and taxpayers. They will ensure that firefighters get the pension they deserve when they need it,” said Jeff Rainford, Chief of Staff to Mayor Francis Slay. “But the changes will also ease the cost increases that threaten public safety.”

In 2001 and 2002, the state-created Fireman’s Retirement System lost $147 million on its investments. In 2008 and 2009, it lost $170 million. Under state law, the taxpayers of St. Louis must pay for those pension losses even though they did not control them. As a result, between 2001 and 2009 the cost to the taxpayer doubled. Between 2009 and 2011, it will double again. If FRS continues to miss its assumed investment gains, the costs will keep going up.

The City has already made cuts – millions of dollars of them – and the taxpayers have made sacrifices because of employee pension fund losses. The City has eliminated 600 civilian jobs. It has put off fixing broken infrastructure. It is not adequately maintaining parks. It has been forced to charge a fee for trash pickup. It raised the sales tax. It has dropped or cut back on some services. The mayor cut his own office budget by 7%; other offices have cut more or less.

By comparison, the fire department has been largely untouched.

The fire department budget has gone up by more than 40% in the last decade. Firefighter pay, health care, and pension costs have gone up by 73%. For every dollar taxpayers spend for a firefighter’s salary, taxpayers pay another 82 cents for firefighter fringe benefits, far more than private sector benefits.

These benefits costs fund one of the best public safety pensions in the country. St. Louis firefighters can retire with partial pensions as young as 38 years old. They can retire with full pensions as young as 48 years old. Injured firefighters get full disability pensions even if they are capable of doing other work. Firefighters get two weeks of sick pay each per year. When they don’t use it, they can save it up and get big checks and bigger pensions when they retire. (The City is trying to end sick leave buy-back, which is the subject of a lawsuit filed by FRS.)

“We want firefighters to be paid well and treated fairly because they do a dangerous job,” Rainford said. “But, taxpayers should not be treated like ATMs.”

The proposal, in essence, would result in some firefighters working a few additional years to get the same pension. It includes:

Increasing the minimum number of years before a firefighter can retire from 20 to 25.

For each year a firefighter works after 25 years, the value of their pension goes up. The City is proposing to reduce the annual increase slightly. It would have the effect of requiring firefighters to work a few years more to get the same pension.

Set the minimum age at which a retired firefighter can begin to collect a pension at 55 years old.

· Accepting a proposal from the International Association of Fire Fighters Local #73 that would require firefighters who are no longer able to physically do the job as a firefighter to do other work if they are able, rather than collect disability pensions.

· Requiring firefighter pension contributions to remain in the system when firefighters retire. Like many Americans who have pensions, the firefighters pay into their system. But, unlike most pensioners, they get the full contributions back when they leave the department.

· Changing the basis of pension calculations from the last two years of salary to the last three years of salary. That would put firefighter pensions more in line with public pensions across the country.

These proposed changes would be from now on only. No accumulated benefits would be cut.

Because FRS is created by state law, it will take action by the Missouri General Assembly to make all of the needed changes. Legislators have indicated they will not even consider the changes if firefighters oppose them.

“If we fail to agree and don’t change FRS, we will go down one path,” Rainford said. “There will be fewer working firefighters. There will be far less money for pay and health care for the firefighters who remain. Residents and businesses will be served by a diminished department. On the other hand, if we agree and successfully change FRS, the crisis is averted.”



KMOV Confused About Downtown’s Borders, Location Of Shooting

November 23, 2010 Media, North City 12 Comments

CBS affiliate KMOV seems confused about the borders of downtown as well as the location of a shooting yesterday.

ABOVE: Screen shot of KMOV story, click to view article

The casual reader would think downtown St. Louis is unsafe.  But the article says the victim was leaving a gas station at 8800 Broadway.  8800 Broadway  – north & south — is over 7 miles from downtown.  The map they show with their article shows 8800 South Broadway but it says the victim hit a house on Riverview so the shooting had to happen at 8800 North Broadway. Granted downtown is between these two points but it would be nice if the media understood that downtown doesn’t extend south of Chouteau, north of Cass or west of Jefferson. The CBD (Central Business District) is even smaller.

– Steve Patterson


PR: City Residents Offered Free Firewood

November 8, 2010 Press Release 7 Comments

The following is a press release:

The City of St. Louis Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry will offer free firewood to City residents starting Monday, November 8, 2010 on the Lower Muny Opera parking lot in Forest Park.

The wood is available most days after 3 p.m. Monday-Friday.

All wood comes from the removal of dead or damaged trees from City streets and parks. Daily wood supply is not guaranteed and the wood will vary with size and species when left on parking lot for citizens. It is offered on a first come, first served basis. This process ends during the first week in March.

Due to park restrictions, no commercial vehicles or trailers are permitted.

“This is an excellent cost-saving opportunity for both the City and City residents,” said Commissioner of Forestry Greg Hayes. “The City avoids having to dispose of the wood and City residents have a chance to pick up free firewood.”

For more information or questions, please call the Forestry Division at 613-7200.



PR: City, Police Department, Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, and Downtown Community Improvement District Announce New Safety Measures on Washington Avenue

November 5, 2010 Downtown, Press Release 6 Comments

The following is a press release:

 The City of St. Louis, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, and the Downtown Community Improvement District today announced new measures to ensure everyone enjoying themselves on Washington Avenue is safe.
After an almost two-hour meeting this morning in the Mayor’s office, Lieutenant Colonel Antionette Filla announced the following changes:
•     Additional foot patrol officers will be added to Washington Avenue on Thursdays through Sundays from 11pm to 4am for visibility and enforcement.
•     Additional traffic officers will help control the flow of traffic on Thursdays through Sundays from 11pm to 4am.
•       The St. Louis Police Department officers will be conducting random safety checkpoints. These checkpoints will be at varied locations in the Washington Avenue entertainment district and police will be checking for drivers’ licenses, vehicle registrations, seatbelt violations, etc.
Maggie Campbell, president of the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, announced the following changes:
•     Four Downtown CID Guides will be dedicated to Washington Avenue until 11pm.
•     The Downtown Partnership will add security cameras and monitor them.
•     A group of Washington Avenue stakeholders has formed an advisory group to make recommendations.
Jeff Rainford, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, announced the following:
•     There is no evidence that Sugar was responsible for the shooting Sunday night. In fact, calls for service at Sugar have dropped since restrictions were put in place last summer. Police say Sugar did have security in place Sunday night.
•     Sugar has voluntarily agreed to stop their under-21 nights in the interest of the neighborhood.  The Excise Commissioner will ask Sugar and 15 to restrict their customers to 21 and above late at night.
•     The City Counselor will draft legislation to create a curfew for people who are under 21 for Downtown.
•     The City Counselor will draft legislation to restrict underage people from being in liquor establishments late at night.
•     The City is considering legislation to require lighting and an attendant at parking lots and garages.
Jeff Rainford, Chief of Staff to Mayor Slay, Lieutenant Colonel Antionette Filla of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, and Maggie Campbell, President of the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis will be available for individual interviews.