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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

 

Sunday Poll: How Will Missouri’s Clergy Sex Abuse Investigation Compare To Pennsylvania’s?

August 26, 2018 Featured, Religion, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: How Will Missouri’s Clergy Sex Abuse Investigation Compare To Pennsylvania’s?
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Recent news in Pennsylvania making national headlines is getting attention here in Missouri:

Pennsylvania officials last week released the results of a two-year grand jury probe that found evidence that at least 1,000 people, mostly children, had been sexually abused by some 300 clergymen in the state during the past 70 years. The most-wide ranging report on clergy sex abuse in the United States said the numbers of actual victims and abusers could be much higher.

Similar reports have emerged in Europe, Australia and Chile, prompting lawsuits and investigations, sending dioceses into bankruptcy and undercutting the moral authority of the leadership of the Catholic Church, which has some 1.2 billion members around the world. (Reuters)

In response, Missouri’s Attorney General opened an investigation here.

Jefferson City, Mo.  – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today announced that his office has launched an independent review of the Archdiocese of St. Louis regarding allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members. This comes after the Archdiocese agreed to voluntarily cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office. 

“Victims of sexual abuse of any kind deserve to have their voices heard and Missourians deserve to know if this misconduct has occurred in their communities,” Hawley said. “By inviting this independent review, the Archdiocese is demonstrating a willingness to be transparent and expose any potential wrongdoing.”

In Missouri, jurisdiction for crimes of this nature lies with the elected local prosecutor. However, because the Archdiocese has agreed to voluntarily cooperate, the Attorney General’s Office will be able to conduct an independent review for the purpose of public transparency and accountability. (Missouri Attorney General)

St. Louis isn’t statewide, as news reports indicate the investigation will be. It does appear other diocese in the state will cooperate.

The following is something I wasn’t aware of before Friday.

From 1973 to 1983, the leader of the Springfield diocese was Cardinal Bernard Law, who is remembered for his time as archbishop of Boston, where he and other officials shuffled priests from church to church even as reports of clergy sex abuse mounted. (USA Today)

For more on Boston, see the 2015 film Spotlight.

Today’s poll is about what Missouri’s investigation will find compared to Pennsylvania. That state has twice the population, so the totals should be higher. So the question is based on per capita. Note: If you think the findings will be less per capita, then you’re in the agree camp. If you think the results will be higher, per capita, then you’re in the disagree camp.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: How Is Your Vision?

August 19, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: How Is Your Vision?
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Most of us experience cities through all our senses, primarily visually. For those with reduced visibility/blindness the city experience is different.

Navigating a mega-city like London on foot can be a fraught experience no matter who you are. But as a sighted person living in a sighted world, it’s nearly impossible to imagine what that experience can be like with a visual impairment.

Take, for example, the ubiquitous pedestrian crossing. While many in London are outfitted with tactile pavements to indicate where to cross and a protruding “cone” device at the bottom of the control box, it can easily take a blind person 10 seconds to orient themselves enough to safely enter the street. In that time, dozens of sighted Londoners may have already crossed the street without giving it much thought. (The Guardian)

It’s no surprise the public fears vision loss:

A recent study from researchers at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that most Americans regard loss of eyesight as the worst ailment that could happen to them, surpassing such conditions as loss of limb, memory, hearing or speech, or having H.I.V./AIDS. Indeed, low vision ranks behind arthritis and heart disease as the third most common chronic cause of impaired functioning in people over 70, Dr. Eric A. Rosenberg of Weill Cornell Medical College and Laura C. Sperazza, a New York optometrist, wrote in American Family Physician. (NY Times)

Today’s poll relates to vision.

This poll closes at 8pm tonight. Wednesday I’ll share the non-scientific results and some personal news on the subject.

— Steve Patterson

 

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