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Blogger Turned Elected Official Debuts New PubDef

Tuesday Antonio French was sworn in as the newest alderman from the city’s 21st ward.  French’s wife, Dr. Jasenka Benac French, was with him taking pictures.  Benac holds a PhD. in electrical engineering from Washington University.

Antonio French is the man behind the popular blog PubDef.net.   French would regularly report on goings on at city hall. But now French is an elected official. As expected the site was to change.  For the past few days readers saw the following message:

But yesterday Ald. French unveiled the new PubDef — going from dot net to dot org in the process.

The new PubDef.org
The new PubDef.org

So check out PubDef.org.  Also check out French’s well organized but still developing ward site at 2stWard.org.  Of course Antonio French is on Twitter.  You can follow him @PubDef or me @UrbanReviewSTL.


Board of Aldermen Seniority

April 23, 2009 Board of Aldermen 6 Comments

Every two years the seniority list at the Board of Aldermen changes.  On rare occasions new members are elected but also those who are first sworn on the same date get their pecking order decided at a Democratic Caucus meeting.   The Alderman with the most years has the least seniority — Republican Fred Heitert.  Heitert was first sworn into office on April 17 1979 — 30 years ago.

With 3 new Aldermen and the start of a new session I thought I’d share the new seniority list with you:

Click above to download PDF version
Click above to download PDF version

As you’ll see there are 8 different groupings of Aldermen who share a first sworn date ranging from Phyllis Young & Alfred Wessels on April 16, 1985 to Antonio French, Joe Vaccaro & Shane Cohn sworn in this past Tuesday.

Some moved up, some moved down a spot.  Except Heitert.

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Sine Die at the Board of Aldermen

Today is Sine Die at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen:

Adjournment sine die (from the Latin “without day”) means “without any future date being designated for resumption” or “indefinitely”. It is often used with reference to meetings or when an organized body’s existence terminates.  (source)

In short, today is the last meeting of the old Board.  For three members today is their last meeting as an elected official.  Ald. Hanrahan & Ald. Kirner both opted not to run for reelection.  Ald. Bennice Jones King was defeated in the Primary by Antonio French.

Tomorrow 4/21/09 is the first meeting of the new session.  The winners in the odd-numbered wards will be sworn into new 4-year terms.  For 11 of the 14 it is just a continence of prior terms.  But three new members will officially become Aldermen tomorrow:

  • 21st Ward -  Friend and fellow blogger Antonio French
  • 23rd Ward – Political insider & car wash owner Joe Vacarro
  • 25th Ward – Shane Cohn, a friend and the first openly gay elected official in St. Louis city government

The testosterone level in our legislative branch will change.  Three seats held by women will now be held by the men listed above.  The old board had 11 women and 17 men — or a 40/60 ratio.  Tomorrow it will have 8 women and 20 men.  Not that gender matters.  The racial composition of the Board will be unchanged tomorrow — 16 white and 12 black (57/43).

What about political party?  After all we went through a partisan primary.  Well, the political party composition of the board remains unchanged.  It remains 27 Democrats and 1 Republican.

Last week the Democratic members held a caucus to determine seniority among members elected at the same time.  I’m not sure how it turned out.  Ald Heitert has been on the Board the longest but, as the only non-Democrat, he has the least seniority.

Also on the agenda tomorrow, Darlene Green will be sworn in again as Comptroller.  Francis Slay will begin his 3rd term as Mayor.

Friday May 1st is the first full business meeting of the new Board.

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Poll; Local Politics on the Small Screen

The poll for this week is about your TV viewing habits.  Specifically, if you watch the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on the city’s channel 10 on cable, STL TV.

STL TV provides government related informational television programs to the residents of the City of St. Louis. The channel, which is available to basic cable subscribers, serves as a vital link in making local government more accessible to the community via cable television.

STL TV is operated 24-hours daily and has logged thousands of production hours in pursuit of its mission to inform, educate and promote City government operations.

For the past several years, STL TV has produced original programs tailored to inform and promote the City of St. Louis. Weekly coverage of the Board of Aldermen meetings (beginning in 1993), Mayoral Press Conferences, public events and other government-related programming has been a major function of STL TV since 1991.

Do you watch the weekly live broadcast of the Board of Aldermen?  Do you get TV10?  The poll is located in the upper right corner of the main page.

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Proposed Smoking Ban Ordinance for St. Louis City

Normally I’d not do another smoking related post so soon after the one earlier this week.  But, I agreed to publish the proposed ordinance to ban smoking in the City Of St. Louis.  28th Ward Alderman Lyda Krewson sent along the following note with the draft board bill:

Attached is a draft of a proposed smoke free air ordinance I plan to introduce soon.

I hope you will consider joining me in this effort.  Most states already have smoke free air legislation, including our neighbors, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska & Arkansas… and of course, well known places such as California, New York, France and Ireland.

The following link gives a quick map and summary of the current laws in the U.S.  All but 15 states have some form of smoking ban, to provide smoke free air.


Many think this legislation should be done at the state level, and frankly I agree.  But Missouri is unlikely to move this forward.  Many legislators consider it a ‘city issue’.  Kansas City, Columbia, Kirksville, Nixa and others already have a broad smoking ban.

It seems clear to me that Mo’s largest city needs to provide leadership on this issue!

The science is clear… second hand smoke causes or exacerbates a wide range of adverse health effects, including cancer, respiratory infections, and asthma.  Banning smoking in public work environments is about the health of workers… not about smokers.  About smoke… not smokers.    It is a health safety issue, not a social issue.

The attached draft Board Bill says that  it will become effective in the City, when St Louis County passes a similar ordinance. I am not interested in creating an advantage/disadvantage for a city vs. county establishment.  Let’s take the leadership role on this. Maybe we can move the whole state?

I look forward to our discussions about this ordinance.  The pressure not to do it will be heavy…   I hope you will join me in this effort.

Thanks Lyda

Lyda Krewson
28th Ward Alderman

314-231-7318 (work)
314 607 3452 (cell)

You can view a PDF of the proposed bill here.  One of the most important clauses is on the last page:

This Ordinance shall be effective on such date that a similar smoking ban ordinance becomes effective in St. Louis County, Missouri.

So we can pass the ordinance in the city but until St. Louis County passes a similar bill we will keep things as is.  This prevents the challenge of city establishments losing customers to the county.  Read the language and share your thoughts in the comments section because Alderman Krewson will be reading them.