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Sunday Poll: Should We Invest In Expansion of Our Convention Center Complex?

October 7, 2018 Downtown, Economy, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should We Invest In Expansion of Our Convention Center Complex?
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Last week a plan to expand our convention center, aka America’s Center, was unveiled by Convention & Visitors Commission President Kitty Ratcliffe, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger:

The expansion comes as some downtown restaurateurs and hoteliers complain that their businesses have taken a hit from fewer conventions. The CVC said last month that hotel room night bookings associated with America’s Center were down 30 percent year-to-date, to 230,554 from 327,578 in 2017.

Several big conventions, such as the O’Reilly Auto Parts and FIRST Robotics, did not return this year because they had outgrown America’s Center’s facilities. Ratcliffe said that some national associations, which book several years in advance, had removed St. Louis from consideration after the unrest that began in Ferguson in 2014, and that those decisions were starting to have an effect this year.

Ratcliffe has long argued that upgraded facilities were needed to compete for conventions in cities such as Nashville, Tenn., and Indianapolis, which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to revamp their tourism infrastructure. She said getting the two regional leaders on board was key to the project’s success. (Post-Dispatch)

Here’s a 3-minute promotional video:

However, not everyone is on board with the expansion. Are you?

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. On Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts and the non-scientific results.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Will Schnucks Be Too Dominant After Buying 19 Shop ‘n Save Locations?

September 23, 2018 Featured, Local Business, Retail, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will Schnucks Be Too Dominant After Buying 19 Shop ‘n Save Locations?
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Our local grocery scene continues to change, from last week:

Shop ‘n Save is checking out of the grocery-store business in the St. Louis region.

Schnucks Markets is purchasing 19 area Shop ‘n Save groceries owned by parent company SuperValu and will rebrand them as Schnucks stores. The remaining 17 Shop ‘n Save locations will close if SuperValu is unable to find a buyer by the end of the year.

The acquisition will boost the number of Schnucks grocery stores by 20 percent. Fifteen of the stores include pharmacies, which will also be purchased and run by Schnucks. (St. Louis Public Radio)

I was here in 1995 when Schnucks bought National Supermarkets from Canadian-based Loblaws, earlier grocery stores were before I arrived:

A previous merger in 1970 had seen Schnucks acquire the Bettendorf-Rapp chain of grocery stores—temporarily forming the Schnucks-Bettendorf’s chain (a joke was that an initially proposed name for the merged company was “Schnuckendorfs”) until the latter half of the combined name was dropped a couple of years later—just as Bettendorf’s had swallowed up the Rapp chain of stores to form Bettendorf-Rapp’s in the 1960s. Schnucks underwent a major expansion in 1995 when it purchased from Loblaws the National Supermarkets chain, also based in St. Louis.

Schnucks’ growth in the St. Louis area was bolstered by the local abandonment of two major supermarket chains: A&P in the 1970s, and Kroger in 1986. (Wikipedia)

This week’s poll is about Schnucks buying 19 Shop ‘n Save stores:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Is Recycling Worth The Trouble?

September 16, 2018 Environment, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Is Recycling Worth The Trouble?
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Recycling, like many businesses, is changing.

Recycling has worked well for the last 40 years because recycled waste was valuable and in high demand in countries around the world.

The United States has historically sold most of its recycled goods to China. 

But new restrictions from the Chinese government on imported recyclables have demanded that the materials have very, very little contamination, or in the case of paper, that it is processed into pulp before reaching their shores. 

Typically, contamination is a people issue. Plastic or paper with food remnants on it — like your greasy pizza box — cannot be recycled because those contaminants would mess up the refining process.

Contamination levels in America are at 25 percent right now, meaning 1 out 4 items in a recycling bin should actually be thrown in the trash, according to Waste Management. But China wants the contamination levels down to 0.3 percent, which is effectively code for “we will not be accepting any imported recyclable materials.” (Mashable)

Kirkwood, a suburb of St. Louis, had decided to end its curbside recycling program after it learned rather than making money on each ton — it would now be charged.

After residents complained about the plan to end curbside recycling, city officials pledged on Thursday to continue the program, which had been set to end next month.
Bill Bensing, public services director, said the city would use sanitation department reserve funds to sustain the current single-stream recycling program and absorb extra costs for six to 12 months until more economical, sustainable alternatives are found. Kirkwood, unlike many other cities, operates its own sanitation department.
Single-stream recycling allows a variety of recyclables — plastic, cardboard, paper and aluminum — to be mingled together in a single residential cart. (Post-Dispatch)

Today’s poll is about — you guessed it — recycling.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight, I’ll have the results and thoughts on Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: How Should Illinois Increase Revenue To Fund Road Maintenance?

September 9, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll, Taxes Comments Off on Sunday Poll: How Should Illinois Increase Revenue To Fund Road Maintenance?
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Due to budget issues Illinois has been delaying road maintenance for many years, an issue in the current race for Governor.  The following, from a 2016 article, explains the options as outlined by the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC):

GAS TAX
The MPC argues the state will need to raise $2.7 billion a year, half to spend and half to go towards bonds:

This is equivalent to a $0.30/gal increase in state motor fuel taxes and a 50 percent increase in vehicle registration fees. The tax and fees should be indexed to the consumer price index to keep pace with inflation. MPC recommends the state constitution be amended to create a transportation trust fund to protect this revenue. To acknowledge the effect of these increases on lower- and middle-income Illinoisans, the state earned income tax credit should double to 20 percent of the federal amount.

Because the state’s motor fuel tax has been unchanged for so long, Illinoisans are paying far less for road maintenance today when inflation is calculated:

The Illinois Senate has used the MPC’s estimates to draft legislation that would raise the gas tax by 30 cents, making it the highest gas tax in the nation.

Of course, not everyone is happy with that proposal. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce says Illinois needs to look into other options to fix roads. The Chamber’s recommendation includes an increased state income tax and a lower wholesale gas tax, while getting rid of some tax exemptions for goods like food and medicine.

MILEAGE TAX

Senate President John Cullerton has proposed a different way to get around a gas tax hike; a mileage tax. Illinoisans would pay 1.5 cents per mile in one of three payment options. From the Daily Herald:

Drivers could have a device that tracks the miles through geolocation technology, charging only for the miles driven on public highways and roads.

Alternatively, they could have an odometer tracker, which reports only number of miles driven, not where. The downside to this, notes Susan Martinovich of CH2M, an environmental and engineering consulting firms, is that drivers would be charged for miles driven out of state.

Finally, Illinoisans could opt out of installing any devices and pay a flat mileage tax of 1.5 cents per mile for 30,000 miles.

A mileage tax would also help the state raise revenue even as gas usage declines, thanks to better fuel efficiency and electric cars. The MPC’s plan also recommended Illinois stop raising funds tied to gas purchases eventually. It pushed for a mileage tax system by 2025. (GovTech.com)

So the question is how should Illinois proceed? Today’s poll includes the options listed above along with an option for “do nothing” and “unsure”. The poll’s options are presented in random order.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll? How Do You Plan To Vote On Prop B (Missouri’s Minimum Wage)?

September 2, 2018 Economy, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll? How Do You Plan To Vote On Prop B (Missouri’s Minimum Wage)?
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Tomorrow is Labor Day, so today’s poll is related — wages. Specifically, Missouri’s minimum wage. A proposition on November’s ballot would, if passed, slowly increase the minimum wage. I’ll let Ballotpedia explain further:

How would Proposition B change the minimum wage in Missouri?

The measure would increase the minimum wage from $7.85 (2018) to $8.60 in 2019; $9.45 in 2020; $10.30 in 2021; $11.15 in 2022; and $12.00 in 2023. Thereafter, the minimum wage would increase or decrease each year based on changes in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).[1]

The initiative would penalize an employer who pays employees below the minimum wage and require the employer to provide the underpaid employee with the full amount of the wage rate plus an additional amount equal to twice the unpaid wages.[1] The measure would also exempt government employers from the minimum wage increase.[1]

What are the state’s current minimum wage policies?

As of 2018, the minimum wage in Missouri is $7.85 an hour. The minimum wage increases or decreases based on changes in the CPI-W. The current minimum wage was established in 2006, when voters approved a ballot initiative.

Prior to 2017, local governments in Missouri could set local minimum wages higher than the statewide minimum wage. In 2015, the St. Louis City Council passed an ordinance to increase the city’s minimum wage each year until reaching $11.00 in 2018. In 2017, voters in Kansas City approved Question 3, which was designed to increase the minimum each year until reaching $15.00 in 2022. During the 2017 legislative session, the Missouri State Legislatureapproved House Bill 1194 (HB 1194), which was designed to preempt municipal minimum wage ordinances. Proposition B would not affect HB 1194. Therefore, Kansas City would still be prohibited from increasing its local minimum wage to $15.00.

For more information, including pros & cons, check out the Ballotpedia Proposition B page. Ok, here is today’s poll:

This poll will close automatically at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

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