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St. Louis Board of Aldermen, New Board Bills Week 4 of 2018-2019 Session

May 11, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen, New Board Bills Week 4 of 2018-2019 Session
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 4th meeting of the 2018-2019 session. Last week Board Bill 47 wasn’t on the published agenda, but it was introduced for a first reading. Here’s the summary:

An Ordinance directing the Director of Streets to change the 3200 block of Sullivan from a one way passage to a two way passage, and containing an emergency clause.

Today’s agenda includes the following new bills:

  • B.B.#1 – Pres. Reed/Williamson – Budget Fiscal Year 2018-2019; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#48 – Roddy – An Ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission, to change the zoning of property on the Central West End Form-Based District Map, from “NG1” Neighborhood General Type 1 Zone to the “NCT1” Neighborhood Center Type 1 Zone in City Block 3914 (4117R West Pine Boulevard), so as to include the described parcel of land in SECTION ONE below and in City Block 3914; and to further change the overall boundaries of the “NG1” Neighborhood General Type 1 Zone and the “NC1” Neighborhood Center Type 1 Zone; established under Ordinance 69406; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#49 – Roddy – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Public Service to conditionally vacate travel on the north side of Forest Park Ave. abutting City Block 3919-E as bounded by Laclede, Spring, Forest Park and Vandeventer, and adjacent to 3763 (3745-3801) Forest Park.
  • B.B.#50 – Martin – An Ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission on May 7, 2018, to change the zoning of property in City Block 2861, from “B” Two-Family Dwelling District to the “F” Neighborhood Commercial District, at 5601-03 S. Broadway, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#51 – Ingrassia – An Ordinance amending Ordinance Nos. 69979, 69980 and 69981; approving and authorizing the execution of a First Amendment to Redevelopment Agreement between The City and ROL Capital III, Inc.; authorizing other related actions; and containing a Severability Clause.
  • B.B.#52 – Tyus – An ordinance pertaining to income that is exempt from the City’s earnings tax, amending Section Eight of Ordinance 47063, approved April 28, 1954, as amended by Ordinance 64586, and as codified in Section 5.22.090 of the City Code of Ordinances, by adding a provision exempting any income received by a person in the form of or related to a grant, vesting or exercise of stock options, performance shares or performance-based stock related to incentive plans from the City’s earnings tax; and containing an emergency clause.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: St. Louis’ Government Structure Has Failed City/Region and Generations of Most Vulnerable Residents

May 9, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: St. Louis’ Government Structure Has Failed City/Region and Generations of Most Vulnerable Residents
Pruitt-Igoe is St. Louis’ most well-known mistake.

Construction on St. Louis’ city hall began in 1890, completed in 1904. The design reflected the form of government the city had at that time:

When City Hall was designed, St. Louis had a bicameral form of government similar to the Missouri Legislature. The building originally had chambers and meeting rooms for the House of Delegates and the City Council. The 1914 City Charter eliminated the Council and changed the House of Delegates to the Board of Aldermen. The room that once housed the Council is now the Board of Public Service Chamber, and the Board of Aldermen occupy the House of Delegates chamber and committee rooms. The Mayor´s office remains in its original space on the northeast corner of the second floor.(Source)

The 28-member “Board of Alderman” has existed for 108 years of the city’s nearly 254-year history, the most recent 43%.

In 1914, by popular vote, the city adopted what was known as the Charter of 1914 which kept the wards at 28 with a single legislative body and one alderman from each ward elected at large. These elections were replaced by ward elections in 1943. The Charter of 1914, along with popularly voted amendments, is still in effect today.

Present Day – On November 6th, 2012, Proposition R was passed with 61.49% of the vote to amendment the charter of the city of St. Louis to restructure the board of aldermen to a body of Fourteen (14) aldermen representing Fourteen (14) wards, providing a transition schedule for such changes to begin January 1st, 2022. You can view the original Board Bill and resulting Ordiance 69185. (Source)

Though not yet verified, my suspicion is the city was divided into 28 wards beginning with the 1876 divorce from St Louis County — when the current city limits became fixed.

Interesting that from 1914 to 1943 all 28 aldermen were elected at large, one per ward. Can you imagine if candidates for each ward had to win a city-wide election today? For the last 75 years the voters of each ward has elected one alderman to represent them.

The 1940 census showed first time drop in population for a city that had been growing exponentially for over 175 years. The Republicans & Democrats that ran city hall thought it was just a fluke. The 1947 Comprehensive Plan predicted a 1970 population of 900k.  The increased 1950 census of 856,796 affirmed to the city’s leaders — Republicans & Democrats — that the city was growing perhaps even faster than estimated just 3 years earlier. Since the 1940 census they’s gained 50,000 residents. Instead of reaching 900k by 1970 the city lost over 234k.

Decade after decade of aldermanic courtesy treated the city as 28 fiefdoms rather than one city. Patronage jobs and scores of old timers teaching newcomers about how things have always been done led to bad decision after bad decision.

We should be talking about the form of our municipal government and how to change it so it functions better, produces positive results, and represents the best interests of the just over 300k of us who remain.  Just reducing the board from 28 to 14 isn’t the right answer — just as sticking with 28 isn’t either.

The results of the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: The ideal number of wards/aldermen for St. Louis is:

  • 29 or more: 0 [0%]
  • 28: 2 [6.25%]
  • 15-17: 2 [6.25%]
  • 14: 9 [28.13%]
  • 13 or less: 19 [59.38%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Do really think the structure created in 1914 — highly segregated times in St. Louis — is the best we can do?  I say start over from scratch and design a governance structure that works for the present conditions, population, etc.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Sunday Poll: What Is The Ideal Number Of Wards/Aldermen For The City Of St. Louis?

May 6, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: What Is The Ideal Number Of Wards/Aldermen For The City Of St. Louis?
Please vote below

In November 2012 voters approved Proposition R to reduce the number of wards from 28 to 14, based on the 2020 census. Recently a bill was introduced to the Board of Aldermen that, if passed, would ask voters to reverse their 2012 decision.

An ordinance submitting to the qualified voters of the City a proposed amendment to the Charter of the City to maintain the Board of Aldermen as body of twenty-eight Aldermen representing twenty-eight wards, and preventing its reduction beginning December 31, 2021, to a body of fourteen Aldermen representing fourteen wards as called for under Article I, Section 3 of the City Charter; providing for an election to be held for voting on the proposed amendment and the manner for the voting; and for the publication, certification, deposit, and recording of this ordinance; and containing an emergency clause. (Board Bill 25 summary)

As the approved change approaches the debate between all sides is ramping up their arguments. Lost in the back & forth is the question of what number of wards/aldermen is best for the city to address its problems — so today’s poll question:

For the purposes of this poll assume one alderman per ward. This poll will close tonight at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen, New Board Bills Week 3 of 2018-2019 Session

May 4, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen, New Board Bills Week 3 of 2018-2019 Session
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 3rd meeting of the 2018-2019 session.

As of 9:30am yesterday, today’s agenda includes 6 new bills:

  • B.B.#41 – Williamson – An Ordinance to provide for the borrowing of funds in anticipation of the collection of tax payments levied by The City for deposit in its General Revenue Fund for the calendar year ending December 31, 2018, and remaining uncollected and other revenues remaining to be collected and deposited in the General Revenue Fund for fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, all such revenues for the General Revenue Fund in the Treasury of The City through the issuance by The City of its Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#42 – Davis – An ordinance recommended and approved by the Airport Commission, the Comptroller and the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, making certain findings with respect to the transfer of up to Four Million Dollars of excess moneys that The City, the owner and operator of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, intends to transfer from the Debt Service Stabilization Fund to the Airport Development Fund in accordance with Section 516.B of the Lambert- St. Louis International Airport Indenture of Trust between the City, as Grantor, and UMB Bank, N.A., as Trustee, dated as of October 15, 1984, as amended and restated as of July 1, 2009, as amended and supplemented; authorizing a transfer in an amount not to exceed Four Million Dollars from the DSSF into the Airport Development Fund during the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017, for the purpose of making funds available to address Coldwater Creek Emergency Repairs – Stabilize Banks and Channel; containing a severability clause; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#43 – Davis – An Ordinance recommended and approved by the Airport Commission, the Board of Public Service, and the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing a First Amendment to Section One of the Airfield, Building & Environs Projects Ordinance 70617, which authorized a multi-year public work and improvement program at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, increasing the total estimated cost of the Airport, Building & Environs Projects by Four Million Dollars to Nineteen Million Dollars and amending EXHIBIT A entitled “PROJECT LIST” by adding a new project to the list entitled “Coldwater Creek Emergency Repairs – Stabilize Banks & Channel”; authorizing a First Supplemental Appropriation in the total amount of Four Million Dollars from the Airport Development Fund into the Airport, Building & Environs Projects; containing a severability clause; and an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#44 – Davis – An Ordinance recommended and approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the Director of Airports and the Comptroller, the owner and operator of the St. Louis Lambert International Airport, to enter into and execute, the Second Amendment to Lease Agreement AL-222 between the City and MHS Travel and Charter. The Second Amendment amends Lease Agreement AL-222 dated June 25, 2013, as amended by the First Amendment to Lease Agreement AL-222; containing a severability clause; and an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#45 – Davis – An Ordinance recommended and approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the Director of Airports and the Comptroller of the City, owner and operator of
    St. Louis Lambert International Airport to enter into and execute the “Airport Terminal Services, Inc. Space Permit AL-071” between the City and Airport Terminal Services, granting to the Permittee, subject to and in accordance with the terms, covenants, and conditions of the Permit certain rights and privileges in connection with the occupancy and use of the Premises, which is defined and more fully described in Section 201 of the Permit that was approved by the Airport Commission; containing a severability clause; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#46 – Green – An ordinance renewing the Tower Grove South Concerned Citizens Special Business District pursuant to Sections 71.790 through 71.808 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, setting its boundaries, tax rate, initial rate of levy subject to the approval of the qualified voters, bonding authority, and uses to which tax revenue may be put; creating a board of commissioners; and containing severability, effectiveness, and emergency clauses.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Housing Discrimination Remains An Issue

May 2, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: Housing Discrimination Remains An Issue

Twenty years before the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was the 1948 Supreme Court decision involving deed restrictions  — a St. Louis property was at the center,

This house at 4600 Labadie was at the center of the case Shelley v Kraemer. The house next door, on the left, has been torn down since this photo was taken in 2010. Click image to view map.

This modest, two-story masonry residence built in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906 is associated with an African American family’s struggle for justice that had a profound effect on American society. Because the J. D. Shelley family decided to fight for the right to live in the home of their choosing, the United States Supreme Court addressed the issue of restrictive racial covenants in housing in the landmark 1948 case of Shelley v. Kraemer.

In 1930, J. D. Shelley, his wife, and their six children migrated to St. Louis from Mississippi to escape the pervasive racial oppression of the South. For a number of years they lived with relatives and then in rental properties. In looking to buy a home, they found that many buildings in St. Louis were covered by racially restrictive covenants by which the building owners agreed not to sell to anyone other than a Caucasian. The Shelleys directly challenged this discriminatory practice by purchasing such a building at 4600 Labadie Avenue from an owner who agreed not to enforce the racial covenant. Louis D. Kraemer, owner of another property on Labadie covered by restrictive covenants, sued in the St. Louis Circuit (State) Court to enforce the restrictive covenant and prevent the Shelleys from acquiring title to the building. The trial court ruled in the Shelleys’ favor in November of 1945, but when Kraemer appealed, the Missouri Supreme Court, on December 9, 1946, reversed the trial court’s decision and ordered that the racial covenant be enforced. The Shelleys then appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

On May 3, 1948, the United States Supreme Court rendered its landmark decision in Shelley v. Kraemer, holding, by a vote of 6 to 0 (with three judges not sitting), that racially restrictive covenants cannot be enforced by courts since this would constitute state action denying due process of law in violation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Although the case did not outlaw covenants (only a state’s enforcement of the practice), in Shelley v. Kraemer the Supreme Court reinforced strongly the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws, which includes rights to acquire, enjoy, own, and dispose of property. The Shelley case was a heartening signal for African Americans that positive social change could be achieved through law and the courts.(National Park Service)

The home was 24 years old when they bought it, like buying a house built in 1994 today. .

Decades of deed restrictions, steering, blockbusting and federal redlining severally damaged St. Louis and other cities with non-white populations. Generations of families continue to be negatively impacted by housing discrimination.

Housing values in American cities still break sharply along racial lines, showing the lingering impact of federal “redlining” in the 1930s, which devalued homes in African-American neighborhoods. The practice was outlawed decades ago, but its effects are still evident. In fact, according to a study published last week by real estate website Zillow, the disparity has grown even worse over the past two decades.

More than 80 years ago, the government determined which neighborhoods it considered risky for federal mortgage loans, outlining the “riskiest” neighborhoods in red. The determining factor was largely race, regardless of the economic status of the residents.

By 1997, homes in formerly redlined areas were worth less than half the value of homes in neighborhoods that had been deemed the “best” for mortgage lending. Over the last two decades that gap has actually widened, according to analysis of home values across the nation. (Governing)

Enforcement of the Fair Housing Act has been weak under administrations of both major parties, though it has varied.

The Fair Housing Act received new life three years ago when the Supreme Court endorsed the doctrine known as disparate impact, ruling that housing discrimination did not have to be intentional to be illegal. The court reminded the country that the statute does indeed bar governments from spending federal money in a way that perpetuates segregation.

Soon after, the Obama administration issued a long-awaited rule that required state and local governments to affirmatively further fair housing goals by making efforts to address the cumulative results of the discrimination that historically shut African-Americans out of many communities.

The common-sense rule rightly breaks with the laissez-faire approach of the past, making it clear that compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws means abandoning the strategy of dumping affordable housing in ghettos — and giving poor residents access to areas that offer greater opportunity. To that end, communities that receive HUD money are being asked to consider data on segregation and concentrations of poverty when making affordable housing decisions. (NY Times)

The problems are getting worse under the Trump Administration:

As the Fair Housing Act turns 50, many experts say HUD’s recent actions, under the direction of Secretary Ben Carson, represent a new level of attempts to undo the legislation.

Under Carson and President Donald Trump, HUD has decisively pared back its role as the primary legal advocate for the Fair Housing Act. Carson instructed HUD officials to delete the words “inclusive” and “free from discrimination” from the agency’s website. HUD recently settled a case in Houston under terms that at least one former official says does nothing to end residential discrimination in the city. And the agency terminated an investigation into Facebook for alleged discriminatory housing advertising practices. Carson has also delayed a requirement, established under the Obama administration, that local governments must create detailed plans to integrate racially divided neighborhoods. And HUD has put an indefinite hold on secretary-initiated housing cases, which historically have been seen as a critical tool in fighting systemic housing discrimination. (Governing)

Results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: 50 years after the Fair Housing Act discrimination in housing has largely been eradicated.

  • Strongly agree 2 [9.09%]
  • Agree 2 [9.09%]
  • Somewhat agree 2 [9.09%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 3 [13.64%]
  • Somewhat disagree 4 [18.18%]
  • Disagree 3 [13.64%]
  • Strongly disagree 6 [27.27%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

Thankfully a majority of those who voted understand discrimination hasn’t been eradicated.

— Steve Patterson

 

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