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Readers: Same-Sex Marriage To Be Recognized In All 50 States In The Year…; I’m Now Legally Married

June 17, 2014 Featured, Metro East, Politics/Policy, Popular Culture, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Readers: Same-Sex Marriage To Be Recognized In All 50 States In The Year…; I’m Now Legally Married

Over the last 10+ years public opinion on same-sex marriage has shifted from majority opposed to majority support. It’s no longer if, but when. Last week’s unscientific poll looked at the timing:

Q: When do you think Same-Sex Marriage will be recognized in all 50 states?

  1. 2019-2024: 30 [26.55%]
  2. 2016: 18 [15.93%]
  3. 2025 or later: 17 [15.04%]
  4. Never: 17 [15.04%]
  5. 2017: 12 [10.62%]
  6. 2015: 10 [8.85%]
  7. 2018: 7 [6.19%]
  8. 2014: 2 [1.77%]

There’s no right or wrong here, we’re all just placing bets. However, the 15% who picked “never” will be in for a shock when the SCOTUS issues a ruling, making same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states.

The Supreme Court’s term runs from October to June. With the high likelihood that at least one circuit will decide against state limits by summer or fall, observers say, the Supreme Court should have ample time to hear a case for a decision by June 2015, though unexpected delays could push it to 2016 at the latest. (NY Times)

On June 12, 1967 the SCOTUS ruled on Loving v. Virginia, “ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.” The same will happen for same-sex marriage, though not unanimous as was Loving v. Virginia. My prediction is the SCOTUS will decide the issue in June 2016.

And on a personal note…

The morning I posted this poll, Sunday June 8, 2014, was my own same-sex marriage in East St. Louis, at the beautiful Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park.

David and I exchanging our vows on Sunday June 8th, officiated by our friend Chris Reimer.
David and I exchanging rings on Sunday June 8th, officiated by our Chris Reimer. Photo by Chris Andoe.
After Chris (center) announced we had no official photographer so we wanted everyone to take pics I got out my iPhone to take a quick selfie of us.
After Chris (center) announced we had no official photographer so we wanted everyone to take pics I got out my iPhone to take a quick selfie of us.
Dionna Raedeke singing "The Very Thought of You" during our ceremony. Photo by Chris Reimer
Dionna Raedeke singing “The Very Thought of You” during our ceremony. Photo by Chris Reimer
Our reception was brunch at Bevo Mill, Lydia S. drove us in her Tesla.
Our reception was brunch at Bevo Mill, Lydia S. drove us there in her Tesla. Photo by Alan Brunettin

We couldn’t get married in Missouri, but we did borrow the St. Louis skyline as a backdrop. We plan to honeymoon in Denver later this year (fund).

Thanks to so many people, including Bryan Werner of the Metro East Park & Recreation District.

— Steve Patterson

 

Fast Eddie’s Bon Air Legally Gets Around Illinois’ 2008 Smoking Ban

The last time I visited Fast Eddie’s Bon Air in Alton IL (map), in 1998 or 1099, it was filled with smoke. Yesterday my fiancé and I had lunch there, his first time. Owner Eddie Sholar was a vocal opponent of the Illinois smoking ban that started on January 1, 2008.

Exterior of Fast Eddie's Bon Air in Alton IL
Exterior of Fast Eddie’s Bon Air in Alton IL

In 2006:

Eddie Sholar doesn’t like all this talk about smoking bans. In his Alton bar, Fast Eddie’s Bon Air, about half the customers smoke. But he said they probably won’t quit if the politicians in Springfield enact a statewide ban. They’ll just drink someplace else. “They’re not going to come to a place where they can’t smoke, if other places are allowing it. If you have Missouri, where you can, and Illinois, where you can’t, they’re not going to come some place where they can’t do what they want to do,” Sholar said. The talk in Springfield this week was about a statewide smoking ban, which would replace Illinois’ six-week-old law that lets local governments outlaw smoking on their own. (Daily Chronicle)

Months after the ban started:

At Fast Eddie’s Bon Air in Alton, one of the state’s busiest bars, the owners spent some $800,000 to build an outdoor facility resembling an old-time ballpark. The serving bar sits beneath an overhang. In winter, massive heaters blow warm air on the patrons, many of them smokers.

“I would never credit this stupid smoking law, but it certainly has helped our business,” said Ed Sholar Jr., whose family owns the bar. (Chicago Tribune)

Nearly a million dollars for a patio? Once you see what was built you’ll understand why it cost so much. The street was moved to make room for the outdoor soon. Basically they built a massive addition to the building, the translucent roof is raised enough to make it outdoors — technically. Fans and heaters keep the temperature more hospitable than the parking lot. This design also make it easy to ensure all guests pass through the front door, have proper ID, and are 21 years old. After six years of twice the seating capacity I wonder how they feel about the smoking ban, business is still great but they likely took on debt to fund the outdoor space.

The outdoor area is largely enclosed.
The outdoor area is largely enclosed.
Indoors was nearly full at lunch
Indoors was nearly full at lunch

We sat indoors, but walked through the outdoor room when we left. It was noticeably smokey, despite the efforts to minimize it.  I wouldn’t sit there, but thankfully the inside is smoke-free. UrbanSpoon has 30 reviews and none mention smoking.  Yelp has 125 reviews, 19 mention smoke/smoking, the relevant parts from each:

  1. now that the inside is non-smoking, it’s more crowded outside…and that’s where the real action is
  2. We sat outside (under an awning) but couldn’t smell any smoke b/c of the efficient set-up of fans circulating the air.
  3. It’s smoke free inside, but there’s now a HUGE smoking area outside, complete with giant heaters for the winter months, and another bar.
  4. This place has a lot of history and a lot of character, and it’s much nicer now that smoking in indoor restaurants has been banned in Illinois.
  5. Not a fan at all. The outside is still smoking and with the canopy the smoke [sic] is unbearable. Went here for a friend’s birthday party to listen to his favorite band and I had to leave after an hour the smoke was so bad.
  6. I have only been once in the evening to enjoy the music and it was a great time, but since IL is smoke free now, I am a pretty big fan of Sunday lunches at Fast Eddies.
  7. Yeah it doesn’t look like much inside, but I enjoy all the different areas you can sit inside and the new patio is nice. Well, actually I dont know it anyother way. Sucks that thats where people have to smoke, but if I can eat unhealthy amounts of food and wreck my body in that way, then let people screw their lungs up all they want. Right?
  8. Love this place. Great live bands, cheap cheap CHEAP food and drink. Only bad is all the smoke and sometimes a tad rough crowd. Will always be a fan. Bring cash bc no credit cards are accepted.
  9. The patio was crowded. A large cloud of smoke lingered around the ceiling and it looked like everything was clouded by a haze. We stayed inside but somehow I still smelled like smoke when I left.
  10. I’d say my favorite part is that the inside is smoke free. I love that there’s still a nice outside area, but being able to breathe indoors is always a plus.
  11. Awesome place, bring friends. Can get noisy, so if you don’t like crowds or noise, stay away. No smoking indoors, which is good, but smoking allowed on back covered patio. 2 bars outside, 2 inside.
  12. They have a nice outdoor area, which in the winter is enclosed with a tent but not really heated much… and they seem to be defying IL law by allowing people to smoke in the outdoor area (yes, it’s illegal to allow it outdoors even).
  13. As for the crowd at Eddies, let’s just say it’s ermmm … interesting and eclectic. LOTS of bikers, lots of smokers, and lots of loud types. To call it a rough crowd seems suitable, to me. It’s just not the kind of place most who aren’t into A) smoking, B) drinking of cheap liquor (house drinks are made with the cheapest stuff you can find … Juarez tequila for margaritas (GAG), C) hanging with bikers, or D) eating lower quality food to save yourself a buck.
  14. It’s almost always a good time at Fast Eddie’s. They have the nice outdoor area for people to be able to smoke and watch TV without freezing, live bands all the time, and great prices on good bar food.
  15. Good concept, like the casual atmosphere.  Their covered patio is a neat idea.  The cover band was very good, the food is ok and cheap.  Drinks weren’t too expensive and service was prompt and fun to interact with.  Coming from an area with no inside smoking though, this place was horrible for that.
  16. Cheapest bar food ever.  The fact that it’s now smoke free makes me want to go to this place more and more often, but it’s hard to really justify going all the way out there just for 1$ brats and burgers and their amazing steak on a stick… no wait… it isn’t.
  17. Been to Fast Eddies many times and never been disappointed. Good food, cold beer, low prices. Non smoking inside is great.
  18. Its one step up from a dive bar. Its smoke free inside which makes it better.
  19. I go there because my friends enjoy the place. the outdoor area is covered with a plastic sheet which makes you feel like ur trapped in a glad bag in the hot sun with smokers all around you! not a good feeling or smell for your clothes! the floor outdoors is filthy, people just throw there peel n eat shells from the shrimp on the hot asphalt, like they were peanut shells. talk bout a great smell along with cig smoke! the only thing worth going for is the VERY COLD high priced beer.

Mixed reviews of the outdoor area, but all are happy the indoor space is smoke-free.

Looking outside from inside
Looking outside from inside
Outside we see the wall the encloses the outdoor area.
Outside we see the wall the encloses the outdoor area where a street once existed.

The outdoor area is a smokey area, likely damaging to the servers who work there. However, the smoke-free interior allows those servers who’re concerned about second-hand smoke to continue working without having to take health risks. Customers can experience Fast Eddie’s without having to pass through the smokey outdoor area.

Compromises are just that.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Raised Crosswalks Should Be Used More Often

Everyone is likely familiar with what a crosswalk looks like, ramps on each side sloping down from the sidewalk level to the street level. Ever stop to wonder why the pedestrian must come down to street level then back up to sidewalk level on the other side of the street? With the raised crosswalk it is reversed:

Raised crosswalks are marked crosswalks that are raised to act simultaneously as a speed hump. Approach markings signal to drivers that the crosswalk is raised. Crosswalk markings or contrasting crosswalk materials (pictured) show this element is also a crosswalk. As both a marked crosswalk and a traffic calming element, raised crosswalks provide a superior safety advantage to pedestrians. Raised crosswalks are most appropriate on streets with only moderate traffic (<10,000 trips/day), such as a minor collector, or a residential street with a significant conflict between pedestrians and vehicles. This type of facility is particularly effective where heavily used trails cross a road. (Streets Wiki)

This is not a crosswalk you’d use across a busy aerial, like Kingshighway. It’s great in lower traffic areas where lower speeds are desired. Several crosswalks around the new Jazz at Walter Circle senior housing in East St. Louis are raised crosswalks:

Raised crosswalk on N. 15th  in East St. Louis, the new Jazz at Walter Circle senior housing building in the background
Raised crosswalk on N. 15th in East St. Louis, the new Jazz at Walter Circle senior housing building in the background
Another raised crosswalk on Walter St.
Another raised crosswalk on Walter St., bike parking is protected from weather and highly visible
A raised crosswalk brings the crosswalk up to the level of the sidewalk
A raised crosswalk brings the crosswalk up to the level of the sidewalk

The raised crosswalk makes the pedestrian network easier to plan & construct. My guess is the construction costs are probably a wash, but with greater benefits of increased pedestrian safety.

Related to the raised crosswalk is the raised intersection, I don’t know of a local example to show you.

— Steve Patterson

 

Illinois High-Speed Rail, What It Is & Isn’t

Last week the Illinois Department of Transportation held open house meetings throughout the state to discuss high-speed rail studies.  The morning of the open house in East St. Louis television station KMOV got the story all wrong, but their mistakes will help me explain the reality.

First, what they reported:

KMOV showed video of a foreign bullet train, click image for story.
KMOV showed video of a foreign bullet train, click image for story.
The reporter broadcasting from the East Riverfront MetroLink light rail station said the "...$500,000 would transform this station..."
The reporter broadcasting from the East Riverfront MetroLink light rail station said the “…$500,000 would transform this station…” No, no it wouldn’t!
Blue=usual Amtrak route Green=secondary Amtrak route if too much freight on the east route Red=MetroLink light rail
The blue line is the usual Amtrak route, the green line is the secondary Amtrak route if too much freight on the east route.  The red line is the MetroLink light rail with the red marker the spot KMOV would become a high speed rail station.  One possible location is where the

Here’s where they failed:

  1. IDOT means 110mph when they talk of “high speed rail”, showing a 200+ mph train is misleading.
  2. IDOT is just starting to study the Granite City to St. Louis section, St. Clair County would like to see a station somewhere along the route — which isn’t even close to the light rail station they identified.
  3. Their angle was to question the spending of half a million in tax dollars, because they’re looking out for us!

Amtrak service crosses the Mississippi River in two places, the MacArthur Bridge (1917) to the south of I-64 or the Merchants Bridge (1889).  Both bridges are owned by the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA).  The IDOT study will be looking at improving one or both crossings, or building a third, to improve passenger service.The Merchants Bridge crosses over into Illinois in Madison County, not St. Clair County. Madison already has a stop on the line in Alton.  The best chance for a new station in St. Clair County is if the MacArthur Bridge remains in use or a new bridge is built nearby.

The St. Louis skyline in the background, the Malcolm Martin Memorial park in the foreground as seen from Amtrak last month
The St. Louis skyline in the background, the Malcolm Martin Memorial park in the foreground as seen from Amtrak last month
I could see locating a new station in the space between MetroLink (red), the tracks (blue) the highway and Riverpark Dr
I could see locating a new station in the space between MetroLink (red), the tracks (blue) the highway and Riverpark Dr

Any new stop on the MetroLink line would need lots of projected ridership to justify taking the time to stop. Where the TRRA tracks, MetroLink, and Interstate converge is the ideal location. The tracks do run right where the new I-70 approach to the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge passes over Illinois Route 3, another possible location.

The purpose of the open house was to introduce the next phase of studies to improve the Chicago-St. Louis corridor. Over the last 5 years there have been many improvements resulting in less delays. At one point the trains can now reach 110 mph, but it’s a very brief point.

Returning home last month it took over an hour to get from Alton to St. Louis! Our train got stuck behind two different slow-moving freight trains, we were lucky if we averaged 25mph.

The open house at the Jackie Joyner Kersee Center in East St. Louis was very well attended.
The open house at the Jackie Joyner Kersee Center in East St. Louis was very well attended.

For more information see the IDOT High Speed Rail website.

 

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New Senior Housing A Bright Spot In East Saint Louis

Like every municipality, East Saint Louis Illinois has had ups and downs, unfortunately, the downs have far outnumbered the ups.  A project is nearing completion now that’ll be a big up, building on other ups (MetroLink light rail, new housing at Emerson Park station) of the last 10-12 years. Jazz at Walter Circle is a green modern transit-oriented senior housing development:

The public-private partnership that financed Jazz @ Walter Circle breaks new ground in closing funding gaps for affordable housing. For the first time, the deal integrates HUD mixed-finance development regulations with NMTC multiuse regulations. Public actors such as the East St. Louis Housing Authority (ESLHA), the city of East St. Louis, the state of Illinois, and HUD collaborated with project developer and owner Eco Jazz, Inc.; the national real estate firm Dudley Ventures; the NMTC firm Hampton Roads Ventures; and a not-for-profit affiliate of the ESLHA to reach a deal. In addition to residential space, Jazz @ Walter Circle will house a community center, office and retail space, a grocery store, and community gardens. The project will be the first LEED Gold certified building in East St. Louis, where 35 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty level.(HUD)

LEED Gold in East St. Louis? Yep! Not only is it green, it is architecturally attractive and has good urban form.

Jazz @ Walter Circle
Jazz @ Walter Circle nearing completion, adjacent to the Emerson Park MetroLink Station in East Saint Louis IL.
Both sides of 15th Street are getting redone
Curbs & sidewalks on both sides of 15th Street are getting redone
The south end near the station includes a public clock

I’ll do a full review once the ribbon has been cut, but so far I’m pretty impressed.

 — Steve Patterson

 

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