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The St. Louis Region Needs to Consider No Longer Chasing Big Conventions

July 6, 2020 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Politics/Policy Comments Off on The St. Louis Region Needs to Consider No Longer Chasing Big Conventions

We keep being told we need to expand our region’s primary convention center in order to compete with other cities for big conventions/conferences.

Looking South on 9th Street from Cole Street. The CVC can’t expand north, east, or south — so it now wants to close 9th to go West.
Cervantes Convention Center. 801 Convention Center Plaza. St. Louis Mo. August, 1977. Photograph (35mm Kodachrome) by Ralph D’Oench, 1977. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. NS 30747. Scan © 2006, Missouri Historical Society.

The purpose of convention centers is to get outsiders to travel to a region, spending money on hotels & food — adding to the economy. The convention center facilities themselves are often a loss leader, they don’t make a profit or break even on their own but help bring warm bodies with cash to burn to a region.

The past few years attendance at conventions/conferences has been shrinking. The number of conventions have also been getting fewer and fewer. Then came COVID-19, cancelling the rest of 2020. The future of the big convention is seriously in doubt.  The big conventions that do continue will have their choice of top facilities. Even if we go for the latest expansion we won’t be in the top tier. The remaining smaller conventions & conferences will have their pick of hotel-based convention/conference facilities.

We need to say enough is enough. The current convention/dome occupies what was once 11+ city blocks!  A 12th block is a privately-owned parking garage that predates the Cervantes Convention Center.  Ballpark Village was only 3 city blocks originally.

Our mostly vacant convention facilities occupies the same space as four ballpark villages!

It’s absolutely insane to have this much prime downtown real estate sitting idle most of the year. Yes, when a huge convention is in town downtown is hoping. But what if these blocks, plus Baer Plaza & The Bottle District, were redeveloped?

Three North-South streets would again connect downtown to those of us who live immediately to the north, across Cole.  Sixth, seventh, and eighth streets would provide easy access, rather than having to go around a huge obstacle. Ninth street would remain open. Two East-West streets would also be reopened: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd & Convention Plaza (aka Delmar). The City-owned parking garage and parking lots on the West side of 9th could also be developed.

We would still need a tourism office and folks to help fill up various smaller convention/conference facilities throughout the region. They just wouldn’t be pressured to try to fill a huge white elephant.

To my knowledge, no city/region has had the courage to opt out of chasing conventions. We should be the first to do so, creating a neighborhood in its place that’s so vibrant that people from out of town want to visit.

— Steve Patterson

 

Read My Name Lyda, I Also Want To Defund The Police

July 2, 2020 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Read My Name Lyda, I Also Want To Defund The Police

The topic of defunding the police continues to make headlines, especially after poor judgement by our mayor recently:

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson is facing backlash on social media Friday night for reading the names and street addresses of protesters who are calling on the city to defund the police department. (KSDK)

She apologized, but it’s clear she’s more of the same — willing to make minor tweaks here and there, but not actually solve the root problems with big bold changes.

A massive former military vehicle on display during the opening of the police headquarters, July 2014

I like to use an analogy of a dirty, grimy, & cluttered house. Krewson and others would tackle such a house with a feather duster. They can look busy and point to progress, but it’s not really effective.

The real way to tackle such a house is to remove all contents, and then evaluate if the structure is worth saving.  It either needs thoroughly scrubbing, extensive remodeling, or razing and replacement. Then only put back what’s been cleaned, and fits — no more clutter.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police is like this dirty, grimy, cluttered house. St. Louis County Police too. The clutter is a Jim Crow-era racist culture We’ve got to basically start over, create a new culture.

The St. Louis Police acted like an occupying force by blocking a major street, Olive, in front of their headquarters , June 3 2020
They even blocked the sidewalk with a concrete barrier.

To me defunding the police means completely disband the existing police. One city has done this: Camden, NJ.  It got a lot of press last month for its “Camden Rising” redevelopment plan, but Camden residents say not so fast.

“Camden Rising” is Camden’s redevelopment plan, created by powerful non-Camden residents, aimed at attracting young, white professionals to move here. It shifted governing power over public services — including education, housing, economics, and public safety — from Camden’s primarily Black and Latino residents to county and state officials. And the 2013 creation of the CCPD was integral to the Camden Rising redevelopment strategy of recasting Camden, long viewed in local and popular media as “dangerous,” as now “safe.” (Business Insider)

This is NOT what we should do! Still, we must do something. I’ve lived here nearly 30 years, little has changed. Well, the police have more surplus military vehicles now.

Some supporters of divestment want to reallocate some, but not all, funds away from police departments to social services and reduce their contact with the public to reduce the likelihood of police violence.

Those seeking to disband police consider defunding an initial step toward creating an entirely different model of community-led public safety.

The concept exists on a spectrum, and the two aren’t dichotomous but interconnected. But both interpretations center on reimagining what public safety looks like — shifting resources away from law enforcement toward community resources, he said.

It also means dismantling the idea that police are “public stewards” meant to protect communities. (CNN)

We need substantive change, but I know the monied old guard haven’t given you the authorization to to do anything meaningful — they like the status quo.  We need a mayor not beholden to the old guard, someone willing to rock the boat.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

POLL: Agree or Disagree: Juneteenth Agree or disagree: Juneteenth Should Become a Federal Holiday.

June 21, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on POLL: Agree or Disagree: Juneteenth Agree or disagree: Juneteenth Should Become a Federal Holiday.
Please vote below

This year St. Louis County made Juneteenth an official holiday. If you’re not familiar, this will help:

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. (Juneteenth.com)

Nearly two and a half more years of slavery for the humans held in Texas.  Juneteenth is a holiday here and there.

Although Juneteenth has been informally celebrated primarily by African American communities since that day in 1865, currently 47 of 50 US states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as an official state holiday or observance. Texas became the first in 1980.

Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota and are the only three states that don’t formally recognize Juneteenth.

Nationally, a US president typically offers a proclamation acknowledging the day’s significance and gives well wishes to African Americans who observe. Barack Obama did so every year of his presidency and Trump marked the day last year.

However, no president has supported declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday. Last year, the US Senate passed a resolution recognizing “Juneteenth Independence Day” as a national holiday, but it has not yet been approved in the House. (The Guardian)

Today’s non-scientific reader poll is about making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

Hoping For A Better World Before I Stop Breathing

June 8, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, Popular Culture, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Hoping For A Better World Before I Stop Breathing
Black Lives Matter sign along Gravois

I can still breath, but far too many can’t anymore — due to police brutality.  Here’s how Cambridge Dictionary defines brutality:

/bru??tæl.?.ti/ behavior that is very cruel or violent and showing no feelings for others.

Cruel or violent. No feelings for others.

The Police aren’t cruel & violent toward everyone, their clear target is black women & men. Breonna Taylor & George Floyd were the most recent victims.

I was just over a year old when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. The killing of unarmed black men had been going on for decades at that point, though it didn’t make the news then. Now it seems we’re still grappling with one senseless killing when another occurs.

Since I was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer last fall I’ve cried a lot. But I’ve come to accept I have 1-10 years left to live. What’s harder to accept is my final years will likely be marked by a deadly virus and the continued killing of young unarmed black women & men.

I know as a white male I’ve been fortunate. My mom didn’t have to worry if I’d be killed just for being myself. Actually that’s not quite true, as a very out gay man my mom worried about AIDS or me being beaten to death.

Still I’ve lived my 53+ years unafraid of the police. I’ve been pulled over before and given the officers a hard time about not wearing their seat belts — a black person could never do such a thing. I grew up in Oklahoma City but never heard a word about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre when white mobs entered and destroyed a thriving segregated Black Wall Street. Not. A. Word.

Aerial over Washington DC shows BLACK LIVES MATTER in huge letters leading to the White House

Peaceful protests are the foundation of our democracy. Seeing the many protests all over our region is very encouraging. I have friends out protesting, I’d join them if it was physically possible.

Those who started riots & looting are not protestors, they’re agitators. They come out when the opportunity arises. The protestors are not rioters. Protestors are not looters.

The 7-11 at 17th & Pine was burned a week ago.

White folks are often uncomfortable during times like this when there are mass protests. Good! Black folks are uncomfortable every day so it’s about damn time white folks feel uncomfortable.

When I’ve cried the last few weeks it’s not because I’m going to die in the coming decade, but because young black  women & men have died so violently at the hands (knees) of police, citizen vigilantes, etc. Recently I also cry every time I see the video of the old white man shoved to the pavement by police in Buffalo NY. They just kept walking past him. Cruel & violent indeed.

Homemade billboard along SB I-55 in Illinois demonstrates the slave owner mentality still exists. Location is just south of Farmersville IL in Montgomery County.

The defense is often just following orders, following the lead of higher rank police. The culture of the institution is the problem, in every city from coast to coast. It’s pervasive. Old institutions take forever to change, but my time is limited.

I thought after Rodney King things would change. I thought so again after Michael Brown. Small incremental changes around the edges isn’t enough. We must rethink what policing means in 21st century America, including discussions around dismantling & defunding.

We must stop treating our black citizens like escaped slaves.

My bucket list includes travel and such, but I’d forget it all just to not have any more unarmed blacks killed. I’d like to go out knowing the world will get better, not worse, after I’ve stopped breathing.

Black Lives Matter!

— Steve Patterson

 

NEW POLL: Will You Vote In Person or Absentee In The Next Election In Your State?

May 31, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on NEW POLL: Will You Vote In Person or Absentee In The Next Election In Your State?
Please vote below

The Republican-controlled Missouri legislature passed a bill making it easier for some in the state to vote through the end of 2020:

State lawmakers earlier this month sent [Gov] Parson a bill that would allow people considered at-risk — those age 65 and older, living in a long-term care facility or with certain existing health problems — could vote absentee without needing to have their ballot notarized. Anyone else could cast a mail-in ballot but would need to get it notarized.

Parson hasn’t taken action on the bill yet. It would only apply to the August primary and November general election. (Post-Dispatch)

As a disabled voter I’m automatically sent an absentee ballot request form for every election, though it doesn’t have the thrill of voting on Election Day. But that doesn’t matter when the weather, or my health that day, would prevent me from getting to vote.

With the current pandemic the subject of mail-in voting is being strongly debated. Today’s poll is not about policy, but what you personally plan to do. Answers are shown in random order, I’ve included the option  for you to include your own answer if one of mine isn’t satisfactory. Note that if you type in an answer I’m the only one who’ll see what you’ve written — it’ll be shown as “other” on the public results.

This non-scientific poll will close at 8pm tonight.

If you want more information on absentee voting here are links for readers in the primary audience:

No matter how you vote, just be sure you vote — in all races on the ballot!

— Steve Patterson

 

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