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Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

November 28, 2020 Featured, Metro East, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Retail, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, STL Region Comments Off on Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

Early this week the KMOV News (CBS/4.1) had a story on the Jefferson County Health Department approving a mask mandate — and the upset group protesting outside. The very next story was the St. Louis Area Task Force saying hospital beds, including ICU, beds were filling up with COVID-19 patients.

People were protesting wearing masks in public while area hospitals are announcing they’re filling up quickly. There’s a term for this: cognitive dissonance.

The mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in people is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: they reject, explain away, or avoid the new information; persuade themselves that no conflict really exists; reconcile the differences; or resort to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in their conceptions of the world and of themselves. The concept was developed in the 1950s by American psychologist Leon Festinger and became a major point of discussion and research. (Britannica)

Metro requires riders to wear masks on buses and trains. Metro doesn’t serve Jefferson or St. Charles counties.

How does this relate to masks?

Because of the intense polarization in our country, a great many Americans now see the life-and-death decisions of the coronavirus as political choices rather than medical ones. In the absence of a unifying narrative and competent national leadership, Americans have to choose whom to believe as they make decisions about how to live: the scientists and the public-health experts, whose advice will necessarily change as they learn more about the virus, treatment, and risks? Or President Donald Trump and his acolytes, who suggest that masks and social distancing are unnecessary or “optional”? (The Atlantic)

I don’t like wearing masks, but it’s the right thing to do around anyone other than my husband. The worst days are when I have treatment at Siteman Cancer Center, my mask is on for hours.

Then on Wednesday I saw a news story at Lambert airport on holiday. An airport spokesperson was explaining how everyone inside the terminal had to wear a mask — except she was inside the terminal and not wearing a mask! Two different travelers inside the terminal, both with masks, said they weren’t concerned because they were taking precautions — but their nostrils were visible!

My mom was a waitress for many years, so I feel for food service employees and restaurant owners. A recent story showed an owner upset at recent St. County restrictions prohibiting indoor dining. They argued it was unfair, if people could go into Target & shop they should be able to dine in. Uh, except that shoppers have to keep their masks on in retail stores — inside bars & restaurants the masks come off after being seated. Apples to oranges.

As I was writing this yesterday I saw a story on dine in supporters in St. Louis County. I wish as much effort was put into improving the carryout experience (ordering & packaging).

We’re back to limits on items because some placed their own important over that of the community.

A lot of this cognitive dissonance is due to the vastly different pandemic policies in different jurisdictions in the region. At least the Illinois side of the region has one uniform policy imposed by Governor Pritzker.  Here in Missourah Gov Parson has taken a hands-off approach, resulting in an infection rate double that of Illinois.   As a result each county has to go at it alone even though residents frequently cross over borders. Other than the hospital’s pandemic task force we have no regional leadership.

Our hospitals are full and their workers are exhausted. All because people aren’t willing to wear a mask in public or eat their restaurant dinner at home.

– Steve Patterson

 

Please Do Not Park In Accessible Parking Spaces Without State-Issued Credentials

March 11, 2019 Crime, Featured, Parking, St. Charles County Comments Off on Please Do Not Park In Accessible Parking Spaces Without State-Issued Credentials

First, a quick lesson on disabled vs handicapped:

It is possible that a disability is the cause of a handicap. For example, if a person has a disability that prevents them from being able to move their legs, it may result in a handicap in driving.

Disabled people do not have to be handicapped, especially if they can find a way around their disability. For example, braille for the visually impaired or wheel chairs for those who cannot walk. (Diffen)

In the video from the above article they list three unacceptable words: handicapped, cripple, special.  I agree. Whenever I hear or read handicapped I equate it with the word cripple. The c-word is so bad South Park’s Eric Cartman uses it.

A 2013 photo of a Porsche squeezed into the loading space between two accessible parking spots. This is just as bad because some of us need this aisle to open our doors fully, others need it for their ramp to enter/exit their vehicle.

Sadly, the media outlets in St. Louis all used handicapped, or a variation like handicap, when reporting an unfortunate situation last week in St. Charles:

Police said the Amazon delivery driver, identified as Jaylen Walker, pulled into a handicap parking space near the front of the store and was talking to another Amazon driver when the suspect pulled up. The suspect, identified as Larry Thomlison, was apparently upset about the Amazon truck being parked in the disabled space.

Thomlison took out his cellphone to document the Amazon truck in the handicap space. He posted a picture of the illegally parked delivery truck to his Facebook page.

Wilkison said Thomlison did have a handicap placard in his car.

St. Chares County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said Thomlison waited for Walker to come out of the Target and confronted him. It’s unclear if Thomlison was recording the confrontation.

Walker pushed Thomlison aside, at which point Thomlison punched the Amazon driver in the face. A struggle ensued and both men fell to the ground. As Walker got to his feet, he noticed a pistol in Thomlison’s waistband. Walker began to back away and then turned to run. Thomlison then pulled the gun from his waistband and shot the 21-year-old delivery driver in the back.

Lohmar said Walker will suffer from permanent physical injury—possibly paralysis—as a result of the shooting. (KPLR)

As frustrating as it has been for me the last decade since my stroke, no one parking in a reserved accessible spot deserves to be shot. Unfortunately, enforcement is often left up to those of us who just want to park and go about our business.

I can still remember the very first time I reported vehicles parked in disabled/accessible parking without state-issued plates/placard. I was only 8 or 9 and would bike to the then-new branch library near my house. If a car was illegally parked I’d jot down the description & plate number and go inside and insist they announce over the loud speaker that the owner move their vehicle. That was in the mid to late 1970s.  Yes, building codes required accessible parking, curb ramps, etc prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Another very important thing to remember is not everyone with proper plates/placard appears obviously disabled. When I park and walk into a business it’s very obvious I’m disabled: cane, awkward gate, visible leg brace during shorts weather, etc.  However, others might have a heart condition or some other reason for their doctor to authorize a disabled plate/placard.

In the St. Charles example, numerous lives will be disrupted because one able-bodied person decided it was ok to park in an accessible spot and another brought a lethal weapon to a confrontation.  Both were unnecessary.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Any Issues With ‘In God We Trust’ on Wentzville’s Board of Alderman Dais?

March 18, 2018 Featured, Religion, St. Charles County, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Any Issues With ‘In God We Trust’ on Wentzville’s Board of Alderman Dais?
Please vote below

The opening of new buildings can sometimes be controversial, but using things like proportions, materials, colors, etc.  Wentzville’s new city hall opened last year and 12 letters are sparking protest & debate.

From earlier this month:

Dozens of people packed Wentzville City Hall on Wednesday night to rally behind a display of “In God We Trust” in the City Council chambers.

But their show of support didn’t stop several opponents of the motto’s display from voicing their opposition to the council.

The motto has been on display in large letters on the council dais since the building opened in November. (Post-Dispatch)

The phrase appears on the dais where the aldermen sit during their meetings. This issue is the subject of today’s non-scientific poll.

This poll will close automatically at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: City & County Will Show Population Loss In 2020

March 15, 2017 Featured, St. Charles County, St. Louis County Comments Off on Readers: City & County Will Show Population Loss In 2020

In a non-scientific Sunday Poll two years ago, just over half the respondents thought the city’s population would decline in the 2020 census.  In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll I asked about the city AND county population.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis (city) AND St. Louis County will both lose population in the 2020 Census.

  • Strongly agree 6 [16.67%]
  • Agree 8 [22.22%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [22.22%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree 6 [16.67%]
  • Disagree 6 [16.67%]
  • Strongly disagree 1 [2.78%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.78%]

More than 60% think both city & county will lose population when the next census is held in 3 years. I agree.

The city’s 2010 loss was less than 10%
In 2010 St. Louis County experienced a population decline for the first time since St. Louis City left in 1876

The factors that led to the declines in both remain — the county had its first decline in 2010. Since the 2010 census St. Charles County has continued to grow. school districts are struggling to keep pace with more students. The middle class continues to leave St. Louis County for St. Charles County and the city’s poor continue to move to St. Louis County for better schools & housing.

It was very different 55 years ago, as noted by a 2013 STL 250 Facebook post:

This Day in St. Louis History, March 15, 1962:
St. Louis County overtakes St. Louis City in population

The American Statistical Association’s St. Louis Chapter Metropolitan Census Committee listed the population of St. Louis County as 762,000, and the population of St. Louis City at 740,000. For the first time in history, the population of St. Louis County exceeded that of St. Louis City. The recent creation of the Interstate Highway System would drastically change the lives of American cities forever, with St. Louis taking a particularly extreme stance as those with means fled outwards from the center. St. Louis County’s population had begun rising steadily around the turn of the century, but in the post-World War II years, it jumped with shocking speed. From 1950 to 1960, the population of St. Louis County jumped from 406,349 to 703,532. Meanwhile, St. Louis City had experienced its first population loss in history in the 1960 census. Dark days were still ahead… from 1970 – 1980, St. Louis City would lose 27% of its population.

In the 1947 Comprehensive Plan Harland Bartholomew had predicted St. Louis’ population would reach 900k by 1970:

The City of St. Louis can anticipate a population of 900,000 persons by 1970, based on these assumptions:

  1. That the population of the St. Louis Metropolitan District continues to maintain its present proportion to total urban population of the United States.
  2. That an attractive environment for living will be developed throughout the city to counteract current decentralization trends.
  3. That the city is, nevertheless, a maturing urban center that can never expect to attain the tremendous past growth of certain earlier periods.

Bartholomew knew the big population increases wouldn’t happen, but he still anticipated modest gains in 1960 & 1970 — not the huge losses that actually occurred. I’ll be highly surprised if both city & county don’t show continued loss of residents.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

I’m Opposed To Sales Tax For Zoo, Expand Zoo-Museum District And/Or Charge Admission

St. Louis Zoo
St. Louis Zoo

Two mornings a week admission to the Missouri Botanical Garden is free to those who live in St. Louis city & county — who pay property taxes to the Zoo-Museum District. The rest of the time admission is charged. The zoo, however, is free.

In 1972, the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District – the Zoo Museum District – was formed. Through the District, the citizens and taxpayers of St. Louis City and County make possible the extraordinary quality of five institutions that are essential to life in St. Louis: the Zoo, Art Museum, Science Center, Botanical Garden and History Museum. (Zoo-Museum District)

Limiting the district to city and county made sense, that’s where the bulk of the population lived:

In 1970, the large majority of St. Louisans came together to save the cultural institutions. Today, less than half of the citizenry is left to carry the tax burden that fulfills the dream. There are actually 220,000 fewer residents today than there were in 1970 within the combined borders of the city and county, while the metropolitan area has grown by more than 400,000. (St. Louis Magazine, March 2009)

Yes, in 2009 the population of city & county is less than what it was at formation of the district.

St. Louis and St. Louis County residents already pay property taxes that raise more than $70 million a year for the region’s five cultural institutions. The zoo gets $20 million a year, as does the St. Louis Art Museum. The Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri History Museum and St. Louis Science Center each receive about $10 million annually. (Post-Dispatch, October 2013)

From last month:

Zoo lobbyists are now working in Jefferson City to get legislation passed. The bills would allow county councils to put the tax on county ballots, perhaps as early as next spring.

But a variety of regional leaders have asked the zoo to consider an entry fee for nonresidents instead.

Charging St. Louis and St. Louis County residents with two taxes is unfair, said Ben Uchitelle, a former board member of the Zoo-Museum District, which collects and distributes the existing property tax. He’s also worried about accountability with a new tax. The Zoo-Museum District “carefully studies and holds accountable” the five regional institutions, including the zoo, that receive property tax dollars. Who would collect the new tax? Who would monitor its use? (Post-Dispatch)

In the non-scientofic Sunday Poll a majority supported a sales tax in five counties.

Q: The St. Louis Zoo may propose a 5-county 1/10th of a cent sales tax. Support or oppose?

  • Strongly support 10 [27.78%]
  • Support 8 [22.22%]
  • Somewhat support 2 [5.56%]
  • Neither support or oppose 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat oppose 3 [8.33%]
  • Oppose 5 [13.89%]
  • Strongly oppose 7 [19.44%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.78%]

Support was 55.56 % to 41.66% for opposition. Count me among the opposition. We already have a good model for regional cooperation, we just need to expand it the way population has.

— Steve Patterson

 

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