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Readers: St. Louis County Needs To Act Like One, Not Compete Within

Nearly half the readers that voted in last week’s non-scietific poll picked the two answers that suggest creating a level playing field, a rising tide lifts all boats view.  By contrast, just under 16% took the ‘I got mine screw everyone else’ approach. Here are the results:

Q: Chesterfield is unhappy with the St. Louis County sales tax sharing system, what’s the solution? (pick 2)

  1. Consolidate all STL County municipalities into one 36 [25%]
  2. All sales tax into pool, distribute by population 32 [22.22%]
  3. Eliminate the sales tax pool, let municipalities sink or swim 23 [15.97%]
  4. Restrict municipal use of TIF financing 22 [15.28%]
  5. 3/4 cent earnings tax so county is less reliant on sales & property taxes 12 [8.33%]
  6. Leave it as is 8 [5.56%]
  7. Other: 7 [4.86%]
    1. Turn 64/40 to blvd
    2. f*ck stl county (edited)
    3. send them to st charles
    4. Simplify the system. The 1% countywide tax gets pooled, the rest doesn’t.
    5. relook at POS & pool cities – times change!
    6. Make it easier for munis to dissolve/merge, but not necessarily into one
    7. Let them go. Might be just the thing to encourage incorporating STL.
  8. Unsure/No Answer 4 [2.78%]

Less than 6% said to leave it as is, which suggests to me St. Louis County needs to have a productive dialog about taxation policy and acting together as a county, not just 90 separate municipalities plus unincorporated areas. Who in St. Louis County could lead such an effort to reach a consensus? Chesterfield Mayor Nation isn’t the right person, he’s already resorted to childish threats of taking his marbles across the river to St. Charles County.

A former elected official from an affluent suburb recently suggested to me that St. Louis County should institute a 0.75% earnings tax to reduce dependance on sales taxes. Get the city to reduce its earnings tax from 1% down to a matching 0.75%, then pool all the earnings tax revenue and distribute by population. This would put St. Louis City & County on a level playing field, where collectively we’d be stronger. Certainly worth examining.

— Steve Patterson


I’m Now a St. Louis Rams Fan

May 13, 2014 Featured, Popular Culture, STL Region Comments Off on I’m Now a St. Louis Rams Fan
The Rams proposed expanding the EJD across Broadway and Baer Plaza
The Rams proposed expanding the EJD across Broadway and Baer Plaza

I’ve never had an interest in football, despite my mom and a brother being huge fans. Back in the 80s, the architecture department at the University of Oklahoma was in the building under the bleachers of the football stadium, a huge distraction when trying to complete a project for a Monday presentation. In the 20 years since the Rams moved here from Los Angeles I had zero interest in seeing a game, we even sold the two tickets to a game we got last year. To my surprise, I’m suddenly a Rams fan.

The St. Louis Rams drafted Michael Sam, football player, in the NFL draft on Saturday. They drafted Sam in the seventh round, not because they thought the league or the world owed him a job because he announced he was gay on his way out of the University of Missouri. They drafted him because they thought he might be one of those low-round picks who might pay off and help them be a better team someday.

As good as Sam was in college, the SEC defensive player of the year as a senior, there were always going to be concerns about where he fit in the NFL, because of his height (6-foot-2), because he is smaller than most defensive linemen, because nobody was sure if he could make the switch to linebacker in the pros. (New York Daily News)

We still don’t know what the Rams will do about the Edward Jones Dome, they will be free to leave St. Louis after the upcoming season ends, a decade earlier because we’ve not upgraded the dome to be in the top quarter of NFL facilities. I still don’t like NFL downtown, but I’d like the Rams to remain the St. Louis Rams, staying in the region.

When Sam came out in February there were many who compared him to Tim Tebow, a distraction that couldn’t cut it in the NFL:

While some compare this to the distractions Tim Tebow brought to the team, the two couldn’t be more different. Sam won’t be tweeting about his sexual orientation and slipping his sexuality into every statement the way Tebow did with Jesus and the Bible. Tebow infused his religion into everything he did, praising god to the press, leading a very public team prayer after every game, kneeling before God after success on the field. For Sam, his sexual orientation is just part of him. He doesn’t feel the need to proselytize for the “gay cause.”

Unlike Tebow’s religion, Sam will not make his sexual orientation the story. Tebow invited the media attention; Sam is already doing what it takes to minimize its impact on his future team. (Time)

Until Sam takes the field we don’t know how good of a player he’ll be, but I’ll be rooting for him and the St. Louis Rams.

— Steve Patterson


East-West Gateway Survey & Where We Stand Update

April 3, 2014 Featured, Politics/Policy, STL Region Comments Off on East-West Gateway Survey & Where We Stand Update
Looking from the east to west at the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower
Looking from the east to west at the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower, click image for tower website

Our Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, is seeking feedback on how we engage in the community:

How Do You Engage in Improving Our Region?

East-West Gateway’s Public Involvement Plan helps EWG to ensure quality engagement and interaction with all of the citizens in the St. Louis metropolitan area. We need to know how we can design our outreach efforts in a way that makes your involvement easier, fuller and more likely. This survey will begin to form our public involvement plan. Please take a few minutes to respond. We appreciate your participation…Take Survey

Please take a few minutes to take the survey, then come back and share your thoughts on the questions being asked. They also just released the 7th update to most recent Where We Stand report (2011).

This update introduces new data on three measures of social mobility and discusses some of the community characteristics that are correlated with upward mobility.

The term “social mobility” refers to the idea that individuals can achieve a high standard of living, regardless of the circumstances into which they were born. The notion that even a poor child can work hard and get rich (or at least reach the middle class) has long had a hold on the American imagination, although numerous studies have documented that the United States has a far lower level of social mobility than most of the other wealthy nations around the world.

I’ve not had a chance to do more than scan the update, but I wanted to pass along the link.

— Steve Patterson


Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge Ribbon Cutting Saturday Afternoon

February 4, 2014 Featured, STL Region, Transportation Comments Off on Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge Ribbon Cutting Saturday Afternoon

This coming Saturday those willing to brave the cold weather can walk/bike/jog across the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Looking east from a ramp in September 2013 before the I-70 to Tucker ramp opened.
Looking east from a ramp in September 2013 before the I-70 to Tucker ramp opened.
Drivers entering Missouri will have the choice between taking Tucker into downtown St. Louis or westbound I-70 toward Kansas City
Drivers entering Missouri will have the choice between taking Tucker into downtown St. Louis or westbound I-70 toward Kansas City

Here’s information on Saturday’s events:

  • 8 a.m. – 6K Run. Details on cost, where to meet and registration are available at: bigriverrunning.com/bridgerun.
  • 10 a.m. – Cycling Time Trials. Space is limited. Details on cost, where to meet and registration are available at bigriverrunning.com/bridgerun. In addition, those interested can participate in the biathalon, which allows them to compete in both the 6K run and the cycling time trials.
  • Noon – the bridge opens to the public.
  • 2 p.m. – ribbon cutting ceremony.
  • 3 p.m. – Ceremonial first crossing. Participating in the crossing is limited to various military and classic car groups. All available spots for the crossing are filled.
  • 4 p.m. – The bridge closes to the public.

You must be registered to be on the bridge before noon.  Additional information can be found at http://www.newriverbridge.org, including a shuttle bus from the Convention Center MetroLink.  I’ll probably take a regular MetroBus.

Still hard to believe this day is almost here.

— Steve Patterson


Vikings Metrodome Demolition Got Me Thinking About The St. Louis Rams & The Edward Jones Dome

The Edward Jones Dome at Broadway & Cole in downtown St. Louis

This past weekend you no doubt saw video of the Minnesota Vikings’ 1982 Metrodome roof being deflated to make way for a replacement stadium. This got me thinking about our own St. Louis Rams and the Edward Jones Dome. The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) rejected the last Rams proposal, then lost in arbitration:

By declining to carry out that proposal, the commission granted the Rams stadium free agency starting in 2015.

Owner Stan Kroenke has the leverage to start negotiating a new stadium deal here or elsewhere. The Rams could operate amid uncertainty for years to come. (stltoday)

I have no doubt in my mind that Kroenke will opt out of the lease and begin trying to fund a build a new home for the team. He’ll extend his hand locally to see if it gets filled with money, or gets slapped down. He’ll threaten to relocate if we don’t help fund the new stadium, standard operating procedure in the NFL:

In Minnesota, the Vikings wanted a new stadium, and were vaguely threatening to decamp to another state if they didn’t get it. The Minnesota legislature, facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit, extracted $506 million from taxpayers as a gift to the team, covering roughly half the cost of the new facility. Some legislators argued that the Vikings should reveal their finances: privately held, the team is not required to disclose operating data, despite the public subsidies it receives. In the end, the Minnesota legislature folded, giving away public money without the Vikings’ disclosing information in return. The team’s principal owner, Zygmunt Wilf, had a 2011 net worth estimated at $322 million; with the new stadium deal, the Vikings’ value rose about $200 million, by Forbes’s estimate, further enriching Wilf and his family. They will make a token annual payment of $13 million to use the stadium, keeping the lion’s share of all NFL ticket, concession, parking, and, most important, television revenues. (How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers)

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: if we continue to have an NFL team, a new stadium should be in a more spacious area.  One site continues to come to mind:

The site of the former Chrysler plant in Fenton MO (St. Louis County) is big enough
The 280+ acre site of the former Chrysler plant in Fenton MO (St. Louis County) is big enough, well located

In fact, a new stadium would only need part of the site.

The biggest thing after funding any project is where you are going to place your new giant building. Every city has ideal sites for these over-65-acre—or three million square feet—stadiums.

There is no correct answer for the best place to put one of these bad boys. Honestly, it’s easiest to work with the city and figure out the most cost-effective site. Using Dallas as an example, they went through three different municipalities before they finally decided on a site in Arlington.

The idea behind picking a site is making sure it will be big enough for a new stadium. That means over 80 acres of undisturbed and non-requisitioned land—meaning no wetlands, no rivers, no easements, and no eminent domain issues.

The Cowboys decided on a site that is in that 80-acre range, and they finally got their stadium finished after over a decade of issues. They likely had to fight easements and eminent domain issues while they created the site.

Sometimes roads even have to be moved in the middle of a city and, in some cases, historic landmarks may be threatened. It’s definitely an issue the Falcons are facing with their site selection, as they may have to buy out a pair of churches that have been in Atlanta for years. (Designing the Perfect NFL Stadium)

With 280 acres available there’d be plenty of room for hotels, restaurants, retail, etc to be constructed. Being adjacent to I-44 these other businesses could hopefully survive off-season. I think local taxpayers will end up paying part of the cost of a new stadium, I just hope our leaders don’t get taken to the cleaners.

I see the Rams playing at the Edward Jones Dome through at least the 2018 season.

— Steve Patterson




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