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So Much Work Still to be Done

The real estate ad for this property might read something like:

Historic Hyde Park fixer upper.  Lots of light, airy interior.  Just needs some tuck pointing and TLC.

Property in Hyde Park neighborhood

We all know how real estate ads can sometimes gloss over obvious flaws.  Clearly this house needs a new gutter too.

Driving through parts of North St. Louis this past weekend I was reminded about how great our city once was and how much work remains ahead of us.  It is one thing to have fewer residents than our peak in 1950 (500K fewer).  On paper that is just percentages.  On the ground it translates into vast areas with more vacant lots & buildings than current residents.  To be sure much of North St. Louis is a bombed out mess but as much or more is like the rest of the city — a wonderful grid of tree-lined streets with well maintained homes.  Some blocks have few houses standing while others have only a few gaps.

Fernandel French, Antonio French's Uncle, manned the grill during Saturday's Blitz cleanup

I visited newly elected 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French at his residence in the 4500 block of Athlone (map), just West of the beautiful O’Fallon Park.

Saturday was the Operation Brightside blitz cleanup day in French’s area.  Orange city trucks were everywhere.  I drove French through some alleys so he could check the progress in the afternoon.  Considerable amounts of debris had been hauled off but we saw tree limbs and tires remaining.  One of the few vacant lots in the area is directly across the street from French’s house.  But many houses a block over are vacant and need rehab.  Many of the homes on the blocks are stately and impressive.  Even those in need of major rehab are impressive.

At one time all the infrastructure was new.  The houses were new.  The businesses were new.  Now they are historic.  They rival areas in South City for architectural interest.  The cost to rehab a house here costs as much as the same house in South City.  But the house on the South side will likely have a higher sale price.  So the house down South gets rehabbed while the house on the North remains vacant.  Somehow we’ve got to find a way to increase interest in all of St. Louis’ neighborhoods.  We will never again reach the 850,000+ population we had in 1950 but we need to occupy our structures and build new on our vacant lots.

It is a tall order.  Can we do it?  Can we afford to not do it?


KMOX NewsRadio Used My Photo Without Attribution (Updated 2X)

When I first read KMOX’s May 13th story, Paul McKee — What’s his plan for north St. Louis? I thought something, the image used, looked familiar.  Here is how the story looked on KMOX’s website:

I reviewed my 160+ published images from an August 16, 2007 bus tour of Paul McKee’s properties and there was the image used in KMOX’s online story:

I published the above image and the others from the bus tour to Flickr that same day, 8/16/2007.  On August 21, 2007 I published  Bus Tour of Dilapitated McKee-owned Properties Ignored Other Issues using 20 images from the 160 I took that day.  The above image was among the 20 used.

I have 15,000+ images published on the photo sharing site Flickr, all using a Creative Commons license which grants the right to use the image provided attribution is listed:

Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

But CBS-owned KMOX 1120AM used my photo as if it was their own with no attribution to the source.

My photos are part of my work.  I want them used but I want the credit.

I’ve emailed numerous persons on KMOX’s website asking for attribution or for them to cease using my image.    Hopefully they will see fit to give me credit.

UPDATE 5/18/09 @ 9:10AM — In the last hour KMOX has removed my image from their story.

UPDATE 5/18/09 @10:30AM — Just received phone call from KMOX Reporter Kevin Killeen apologizing for the uncredited use of my image.


North City Development Meeting on Thursday 5/21

Last Monday myself I and others from the media were not allowed to see a presentation from McEagle Development regarding their plans for developing the tons of properties they’ve acquired (see post). We were told that another meeting would be held on the 21st and that media would be allowed to attend.  However, the meeting location and time was not yet confirmed. They had mentioned Vashon High School as a possible location for the meeting.

I just got the skinny:

Meeting May 21st at 7pm at Central Baptist Church Education Building 2841 Washington. For 5th & 19th ward residents. Media will be allowed.

The address is actually 2843 Washington Ave (Google Map) — the location of the closed door meeting from last week.  This large project will have a bigger impact than just two wards so hopefully everyone that has an interest in the proposal can get in to see the presentation.

I’ll have a history of the project as well as thoughts on what I’ve heard so far this Thursday morning as well as a followup after I’ve seen the presentation.


Media Barred From Public Meeting on Proposed Development in North St. Louis (Updated 3X)

Earlier today I got word of a meeting regarding Paul McKee’s development in North St. Louis.  I posted about the meeting and decided to go.

It looked like a public meeting:

Sign posted outside door to meeting.
Sign posted outside door to meeting.

However, the first order of business was an announcement that the meeting, about a development project,  was private and all media had to leave.  I stayed seated until a man came over to me and asked me to leave — saying Central Baptist Church was private property.  I left in shock.  Outside I found reporters from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,  KWMU radio and later KMOV that were not allowed inside.  I guess I was in good company.

A security guard was on hand to keep the press in check.
A security guard was on hand to keep the press in check.
Church representative that announced media had to leave locked both exterior doors so nobody could enter.
Church representative that announced media had to leave locked both exterior doors so nobody could enter.

The doors were locked so we could not enter the building.  The doors do have panic bars so people could exit.  While outside some regular citizens arrived.  They had to pound on the door to be let in.  Not all persons inside were residents of the two wards that had their Aldermen on the agenda (April Ford Griffin & Marlene Davis).  A third Alderman was present in the audience, recently sworn Alderman Antonio French from PubDef.org.

I’m no expert on Missouri’s Sunshine Law but I’m pretty sure this was a violation.  I’ve already filed a complaint with Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

Developer Paul McKee was not at the meeting but the agenda listed William Laskowsky of McKee’s McEagle Development company and a Mark Johnson from Civitas, Inc.  Alderman Davis told us the public meeting would be on the 21st, most likely at Vashon High School. McKee has substantial real estate holdings in North St. Louis.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE 5/11/09 @ 11pm. KMOV reporter Ray Preston blogged about not being able to cover the meeting.

UPDATE 5/12/09 @ 7:50AM – additional coverage

UPDATE 5/13/09 @3:30PM – response from Missouri Assistant Attorney General Daryl Hylton:

I appreciate and understand your concerns about the meeting referenced.  As I understand the situation, this “meeting” was facilitated by two alderman, so that developers could address concerns of the citizens impacted by the development   Missouri courts, however, have interpreted the sunshine law to not apply to actions of individual members of a government entity when acting independently without any authority of the body;  or to meetings of less than a quorum of the entity absent an attempt to avoid the purpose of the sunshine law. See Colombo v. Buford, 935 S.W.2d 690 (Mo. App. W.D. 1996).

So the meeting was allowed to be closed to the press.  While legal it is not good PR for a project that has yet to garner any good PR.


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Meeting(s) With Developer Paul McKee (Updated)

Word is spreading of a meeting tonight either about and/or with controversial “Blairmont” developer Paul McKee:

April Ford-Griffin has announced a meeting at Central Baptist Church (2842 Washington Ave) this coming Monday 5/11 at 6pm for neighborhood residents and Paul Mckee.

There may also be a second meeting, with tentative date on May 21, possibly at Vashon.

I’ve sent an email to Ald. Griffin (D-5th Ward)  to verify this information.

McKee, through various holding companies, has purchased quite a bit of land in the 5th Ward.  For a map to the church click here.

UPDATE 5/11/09 @ 7:35pm:

As the meeting started the first announcement was the meeting was private and all media had to leave.  I was seated at a middle table with others and a man came over and asked me to leave.  More in a new post shortly.  In the meantime check out the agenda.