Home » Politics/Policy » Recent Articles:

There’s A New Sheriff In Town

January 2, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on There’s A New Sheriff In Town

I moved to St. Louis over 26 years ago, in that time there has only been one sheriff: James Murphy.  When I ran for the Board of Alderman in 2005 Murphy was working the poll for the incumbent on the day of the primary — he’s as old guard South St. Louis Democrat as they come.

From September 2010:

Two deputies on Friday won a lawsuit against St. Louis Sheriff James Murphy that claimed a racially hostile work environment but said afterward the sheriff still doesn’t understand the systematic problems that led them to sue.

A jury awarded William “Patrick” Hill and Jacques Hughes a combined $850,000 in actual and punitive damages, deciding Murphy was liable for a weak response when a supervisor in his department hung a noose in the courthouse in 2006.

To award damages, the jury had to decide whether Murphy was liable because his conduct was either evil in motive or recklessly indifferent. (Post-Dispatch)

Sheriff Vernon Betts
Sheriff Vernon Betts

Former sheriff’s deputy Vernon Betts, elected in November, challenged Murphy in 2012:

Murphy, who comes from an influential family in city politics, narrowly defeated Vernon Betts in the 2012 Democratic primary. Murphy had fired Betts, a former sheriff’s deputy, for actively campaigning for the office—something that Murphy had banned for employees. 

Murphy later lifted the ban, which has kept his employees from challenging him at the ballot box.  (Post-Dispatch)

Murphy didn’t run for another term, a crowded field, including Betts, ran in the August 2016 Democratic primary.  Swearing in Vernon Betts, an African-American, as sheriff, is a huge step in the right direction.

It also reminds me of a favorite movie: Blazing Saddles.

Brooks has never been known for his subtlety, and Blazing Saddles is no exception. Gone are the earnest, long-winded speeches about racial harmony that characterized movies like The Defiant Ones; instead, the film, co-written by Richard Pryor, tackles race and racism head-on and with humor. (It’s so un-PC that Brooks told Jimmy Kimmel in 2012 he wouldn’t be able to make the film today.) (NPR)

Warning, the N-word is spoken three times in the following clip.

Hopefully Sheriff Betts will get a better reception than Black Bart did.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: Should The Next Mayor Continue Slay’s Policies?

January 1, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should The Next Mayor Continue Slay’s Policies?
Please vote below
Please vote below

In April Francis Slay will end his 4th term as mayor — the longest serving in St. Louis’ history. Slay had previously indicated his intentions to seek a 5th term, but in April 2016 announced he wouldn’t run again. Those seeking to replace him have until January 6th to file to be in the March 7, 2017 primary. Independent candidates have more time to file for the April general election.

For many, Slay is the only mayor they’ve known since they began voting. Today’s non-scientific question is seeking to find out if readers want Slay’s policies to continue.

The poll closes at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson


City Democrats Website Greatly Improved, But Still Lacking

December 30, 2016 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on City Democrats Website Greatly Improved, But Still Lacking

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen are still on their winter break so this week I want to talk about the St. Louis Democratic Central Committee:

The St. Louis City Democratic Central Committee is the elected body consisting of one Committeewoman and one Committeeman from each of the 28 wards in St. Louis City.
We are tasked with building a strong party organization within the city of St. Louis and working to get Democrats elected up and down the party ticket in every election.

Every party has a central committee, but, to my knowledge, the Republicans and Greens don’t have two members for every ward — as provided by state law. Not surprising since St. Louis is a reliable “blue city”. They’re elected every 4 years in the August primary before the presidential election.

The city Democrats website used to be awful, not even listing who the committee consisted of. Thankfully it is substantially better than in the past.

Screen shot of stlcitydems.com, click image to view
Screen shot of stlcitydems.com, click image to view

But it’s far from perfect. Each of the 28 wards is independent from each other so the amount of information you get varies greatly from ward to ward. All list the committeewoman & committeeman, with contact info (phone, Twitter) for some of the 56 members.

Of the 28 ward organizations:

  • 18 (64%) have NO website, Facebook page, etc
  • 5 (18%) do have a website & Facebook page
  • 4 (14%) have a Facebook page, but no website
  • 1 (4%) has a website, but no Facebook page
The 8th ward is one of the 5 with both a website & Facebook page
The 8th ward is one of the 5 with both a website & Facebook page

Each ward page includes a PDF of the boundaries, however, nowhere online have I been able to find ward maps with precinct boundaries.

Below is a list of all 28 wards and additional sites listed on the city Democrats page, again, 64% have nothing:

  1. Facebook
  2. website
  3. website, Facebook
  4. website, Facebook
  5. Facebook
  6. website, Facebook
  7. website, Facebook
  8. Facebook
  9. website, Facebook
  10. Facebook

It’s important to remember the committeeman, committeewoman, and alderman may not get along with each other. They may all work against each other. or two may work together against the third.   If you have an interest in St. Louis politics the ward-level is a good place to get involved– especially with the Spring 2017 primary election just around the corner.

— Steve Patterson


Taxpayers Need To Pay To Rebuild Dead Highway Site, Not Stadium

December 26, 2016 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Taxpayers Need To Pay To Rebuild Dead Highway Site, Not Stadium

Like governor-elect Greitens, I’m opposed to tax supported stadiums for millionaire team owners. However, I also recognize there are places where strictly private funding can’t get the job done — public money is needed to seed development.

A proposed MLS stadium would be built here, the site of a long-dead planned highway project
A proposed MLS stadium would be built here, the site of a long-dead planned highway project

Decades ago Missouri & St. Louis used taxpayer money to buy and raze a huge area West of Union Station for a planned highway that’s long dead. This vacant hole has been a huge negative, preventing smaller private investment all around from spreading to improve the tax base and employment.

It took taxpayer money to raze the neighborhood that once existed here — it will take taxpayer money to undo the damage. Regardless of what goes here — public money will be needed.

I haven’t reviewed the MLS stadium proposal, but it could potentially spur other development that would, in time, completely fill in this hole, St. Louis & Missouri needs to look at the long-term pros & cons to investing in this area. No doubt the proposal is heavily tilted in favor of the would-be team owners, that’s why it needs to be scrutinized and revised. But outright rejection is saying this huge dead hole is ok as is for another 2-3 decades.

— Steve Patterson


Filling Still Open For March 7, 2017 Partisan Primary

December 23, 2016 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Filling Still Open For March 7, 2017 Partisan Primary
St. Louis City Hall
St. Louis City Hall

On Fridays I usually post new board bills introduced at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, but as I mentioned last week, they’re on their winter break now. Full board meetings will resume on January 6, 2017. That’s also the day filing closes for candidates seeking to be on a partisan ballot on the March 7, 2017 primary. Filing began last mont on the 28th.

As of yesterday, there are 32 candidates who have filed to run for various offices — all Democrats. It’s asinine for St. Louis to hold a primary to select partisan candidates and a month later to hold a general election so the primary winner can run unopposed or minimally challenged by a marginal Green, Republican, or independent — welcome to St. Louis.

Anyway, though we may see a few more candidates file and/or existing candidates drop out of the race, the March primary is pretty much set.

Seven current candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor, in ballet order:

  • Antonio French
  • Lewis Reed
  • Jeffrey L. Boyd
  • Tishaura O. Jones
  • Lyda Krewson
  • William (Bill) Haas
  • Jimmie Matthews

Once again, Darlene Green is currently unopposed for the job of Comptroller.

The odd-numbered wards are up for re-election  and it looks like there will be some changes.

  • Ward 1 — Only one candidate has filed so far, not incumbent Tyus.
  • Ward 3 — looks like an open seat, three candidates have filed and none are incumbent Freeman Bosley Sr!
  • Ward 5 — Incumbent Tammika Hubbard, whose parents lost recent revotes, hasn’t filed to run for another term. Thankfully, she won’t likely run again. There are 3 candidates so far, but more are possible.
  • Ward 7 — Incumbent Coatar unopposed so far.
  • Ward 9 — Incumbent Ortman has one challenger so far.
  • Ward 11 — Incumbent Villa has one challenger so far.
  • Ward 13 — Incumbent Murphy unopposed so far.
  • Ward 15 — This will be an interesting race as former Ald Florida attempts to unseat incumbent Green.
  • Ward 17 — Incumbent Roddy unopposed so far.
  • Ward 19 — Incumbent Davis has one challenger so far.
  • Ward 21 — Since Ald French is in the race for mayor this is an open seat, 3 candidates have filed so far.
  • Ward 23 — Incumbent Vaccaro unopposed so far.
  • Ward 25 — Incumbent Cohn unopposed so far.
  • Ward 27 — Only one candidate has filed so far, not incumbent Carter.

The sevens wards in bold (3,5,9,11,15, & 19) are ones I’ll be watching, plus others, if more candidates file in the next two weeks.

— Steve Patterson