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Sunday Poll: What’s Up With St. County Police & Metro?

July 30, 2017 Public Transit, St. Louis County, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: What’s Up With St. County Police & Metro?

A week ago we learned about St. Louis County police officers covering the camera at a MetroLink substation.

A federal Homeland Security law enforcement officer was assigned to Metro transit patrol as part of a beefed-up security plan for the busy Fourth of July weekend.

He didn’t like what he saw.

Late in the afternoon on July 4, the officer walked into the North Hanley MetroLink substation to find 12 St. Louis County police officers milling about. A resulting Metro check of video footage determined that not only were county police officers loitering in the North Hanley security office instead of patrolling trains or platforms, at one point they covered the security camera with an envelope and tape. (Post-Dispatch)

Horrible, right? Consider the other side’s position:

The statement released Sunday by county police Chief Jon Belmar and spokesman Sgt. Shawn McGuire implies the allegations are the result of “politics and infighting.” The statement says the security camera at North Hanley MetroLink substation, which documented at least eight instances since 2015 of police covering up its lens, is improperly placed in a “private room.”

“A limited number of carefully selected images from over a two-and-a-half-year period that were pulled from an improperly-placed surveillance camera in a 12×14 private room appeared with the article,” McGuire wrote. “This room is used to monitor security cameras, hold briefings and complete report writing. It is also the only room officers have to take breaks from work and weather as well as change clothes and equipment at the end of a shift.” (Post-Dispatch)

As part of the Post-Dispatch series, apparently the County wants to remove accountability from their contract with Metro, with Metro head John Nations and St. Louis County Police chief Belmar disagreeing on matters for a couple of years now, hence Belmar’s “politics and infighting” comment.

Which brings us to today’s poll:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: Would A Consolidation Of City & County Be Too Extreme Or The Perfect Solution?

June 18, 2017 Featured, St. Louis County, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Would A Consolidation Of City & County Be Too Extreme Or The Perfect Solution?
Please vote below

In 1876 the City of St. Louis left St. Louis County, an act known as the Great Divorce. Four years later the city’s population was over 350k and growing rapidly. In the 140+ years since, a lot has changed in both the city & county. The two sides are open to discussing a reconciliation.

The St. Louis Mayor and St. Louis County Executive side-by-side was a signal, perhaps, of changing attitudes. The two are both now supportive of a group called Better Together.

Mayor Lyda Krewson has long been open to the idea of taking the separate entities, the city and county, and combining or merging them.

County Executive Steve Stenger says he was once skeptical of Better Together. He now says he’s willing to hear more.

“It doesn’t hurt to look. We can only benefit from the information and the data the study provides,”

Monday, Better Together released a study that says in the last five years, municipalities and fire districts around the region passed 100 new tax increases. (KMOV)

What a reconciliation could look like is still be researched, but it might be as simple as a few agreements to combine some services to a making the city & county one big consolidated government entity — eliminating all municipalities in St. Louis County. Lots of choices in between, as well as keeping the status quo are options as well.

Today’s poll seeks to find out the mood for the consolidated government option.

This poll will close at 8pm.

— 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



Sunday Poll: Will City & County Both Lose Population In Upcoming 2020 Census?

March 12, 2017 Featured, St. Louis County, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will City & County Both Lose Population In Upcoming 2020 Census?
Please vote below

Every Census since 1940, except 1950, the City of St. Louis has lost population. In that same period, St. Louis County has gained population — except the most recent Census in 2010.  Today’s poll is pretty straightforward, will both lose population in the 2020 Census to be held just 3 years from now? Or do you think one (perhaps both) will show an increase?

Missouri Route 364 (aka Page Ave Extension) opened on December 13, 2003 — which helps explain the county’s first population loss other than the 1880 loss following the city leaving the county in 1876.


As always, the poll is open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson



Design Issues With Well-Intentioned Monarch Butterfly Garden

In the news lately has been Alice Hezel’s front yard in Maplewood:

Woman defends native plants in her yard; city says clean it up

She and the City of Maplewood are in opposite corners on the issue of her garden. I see both sides. Yes, the Monarch butterfly is critical — we need them pollenating. Like most things, there’s a right way and a wrong way. First, the results from the non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Finish this statement: Monarch Butterfly Gardens in residential neighborhoods…

  1. …are ok if it’s not allowed to grow wild 9 [24.32%]
  2. TIE 8 [21.62%]
    1. …are more important than local “weed” laws
    2. …are a wonderful change from boring lawns
  3. TIE 5 [13.51%]
    1. …are great if the yard is large enough to have shorter natives around tall milkweed
    2. Other:
      1. Fine if they are kept out of the PROW
      2. Are maintained and in the backyard.
      3. should be encouraged, and perhaps rewarded.
      4. shorter natives plus annual flowers like zinnias, which monarchs love
      5. Irrelevant and belong in rural areas
  4. …are a nuisance 2 [5.41%]

Like many of you, I’m bored with manicured lawns — I much prefer a front-yard garden that produces fruits &/or vegetables or provides habitat for birds, butterflies, etc. Ferguson

However, as I’ve experienced with previous yards, getting the non-lawn garden to look like a planned & cared-for outcome is very tough.

The controversial butterfly garden on Cambridge Ave on August 13th
The controversial butterfly garden on Cambridge Ave on August 13th

Though I’d admire Hezel for her effort to create an environment for the Monarch butterfly, she’s ignored some basic rules of good garden design.

There's no physical barrier between the neighbors lawn and her garden. This makes it impossible to keep the grass out.
There’s no physical barrier between the neighbors lawn and her garden. This makes it impossible to keep the grass out.

The tall plant is milkweed — a must for the Monarch butterfly. There are numerous varieties of milkweed, some aren’t as tall as the common variety. I don’t know the variety she has but my guess is it’s the tallest, not the shortest. There are tall ornamental grasses that look great when contrasted with shorter plants — but you wouldn’t fill your entire yard with pampas grass, for example.

The massing of the plants just doesn’t work. I tried to find examples of good butterfly gardens with milkweed but I had no luck. They must exist, but the people I contacted were unable to point me to any. There are great gardens with natives, but not specific Monarch butterfly gardens.

I think Hezel needs to start over, creating a barrier to the North to keep grass our of her garden. Donate the tall milkweed, and get shorter varieties.

Further reading on Monarch butterfly gardens:

— Steve Patterson





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