Opinion: Things Shouldn’t Go Back The Way They Were Before The Stockley Verdict

 

 Since Friday’s not-guilty verdict in the murder trial of former police officer Jason Stockley our lives have been disrupted — roads blocked, events postponed or cancelled, and yes…minor property damage.  .Many of you just want things to “normal” Normal means block men are shot and killed by white police. Yes, …

STL Downtown Multimodal Study Engagement Week Begins Today

 

 Today kicks off a week of events, from the Facebook Event page: You’re invited to join the City of St. Louis as we talk about the future of our Downtown transportation system. Join any of these half-day workshops. We hope you are able to attend and take part in the …

Sunday Poll: Was Justice Served In The Stockley Verdict?

 

 On Friday a judge finally issued his ruling on the murder trial of a former St. Louis police officer. Stockley, then a St. Louis officer, fatally shot Smith, 24, after a police chase in December 2011 over a suspected drug deal. After he pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Board Bill #122

 

 Last week the St. Louis Board of Aldermen introduced twenty (20) new Board Bills. Today. only one. ON AGENDA* FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 9/15/17: *Note that just because a bill is on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll be introduced, similarly, bills not on the agenda might be introduced if they suspend the …

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Sunday Poll: Who Owns The Confederate Monument In Forest Park?

June 25, 2017 Featured, Parks, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Who Owns The Confederate Monument In Forest Park?
 
Please vote below

In the recent past I’ve voiced opposition to the removal of the Confederate monument in Forest Park — it’s a good reminder of our ugly history. If a Confederate flag was flying at city hall I’d, of course, favor removing it. The monument, in my eyes, is different. It will eventually be moved, I accept that.

Now the question is who will remove and store it?

The Missouri Civil War Museum in Jefferson Barracks is claiming ownership of the controversial Confederate statue in Forest Park, but city officials maintain they have control over both the structure and its removal.

Citing a 1912 city ordinance giving the United Daughters of the Confederacy the green light to erect and maintain the monument in the city’s largest public park, museum executive director Mark Trout said the organization signed over the rights to the museum on Tuesday. (Post-Dispatch)

Last week a judge ordered the monument to stay in place until after ownership & control is determined. The court will decide but I’m curious what readers think on this issue.

The poll will close at 8pm

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Board Bills 76-90

June 23, 2017 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Board Bills 76-90
 
St. Louis City Hall

There are 15 new bills (same number as last week) to be introduced at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen today. Some further butcher the street grid, others related to development projects. One renames a public park. More on the municipal courts project…

ON AGENDA FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 6/23/17:

Note that just because a bill is on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll be introduced, similarly, bills not on the agenda might be introduced if they suspend the rules to do so. Also, as of 7:15pm 6/22/2017 the pages with links to the PDF versions of the bills were not available. Updated 6/28/17 with links to bill pages.

  • B.B.#76 – Guenther –An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 1956 Utah.
  • B.B.#77 – Guenther –An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 2918 Wyoming.
  • B.B.#78 – Guenther –An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 2821 Texas.
  • B.B.#79 – Guenther –An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 3021 Texas.
  • B.B.#80 – Spencer  –An Ordinance establishing a four-way stop site at the intersection of Oregon and Cherokee by regulating all eastbound and westbound traffic traveling on Cherokee at Oregon, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#81 – Spencer –An Ordinance establishing a four-way stop site at the intersection of Louisiana and Potomac by regulating all eastbound and westbound traffic traveling on Potomac at Louisiana, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#82 – Ogilvie –An ordinance recommended by the Board of Public Service to conditionally vacate travel in an eastern strip of Clifton beginning at Columbia and extending southwardly 6152 Columbia in City Block 5304 as bounded by Columbia, Sulphur, Magnolia and Clifton.
  • B.B.#83 – Conway –An Ordinance Authorizing The Execution Of A Contract for Sale Between The City And MCB Hotel Owner; Prescribing the Form And Details Of Said Agreement; Making Certain Findings
    With Respect Thereto; Authorizing Other Related Actions In Connection With The Contract for Sale; And Containing A Severability Clause.
  • B.B.#84 – Muhammad – An ordinance to rename a public park from O’Fallon Park to York Park.
  • B.B.#85 – P. Boyd – An ordinance prohibiting the sale of paraphernalia for cannabis and tobacco use, unless a business license is issued by the Board of Public Service to operate a head shop; containing definitions; the requirements and procedure to acquire a head shop license; revocation of licenses, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#86 – Spencer – An Ordinance for regulation and control of Air Pollution within the City: repealing Ordinance 68657, approved June 2, 2010, pertaining to the regulation and control of air pollution and enacting in lieu thereof a new ordinance pertaining to the same subject matter, and containing a severability clause, a penalty clause and an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#87 – Kennedy –An ordinance prohibiting lessors of residential real property from effectuating illegal, self?help evictions without availing themselves of the appropriate legal processes; containing a penalty clause, severability clause, and an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#88 – Bosley –An ordinance repealing Ordinance 69864 and in lieu thereof enacting a new ordinance prohibiting the issuance of any package or drink liquor licenses for any currently non?licensed premises within the boundaries of the Third Ward Liquor Control District; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#89 – Conway –An Ordinance Authorizing The Execution Of A Contract for Sale Between The City And Vertical Realty Advisors, LLC; Prescribing The Form And Details Of Said Agreement; Making Certain Findings With Respect Thereto; Authorizing Other Related Actions In Connection With The Contract for Sale; And Containing A Severability Clause.
  • B.B.#90 – Bosley/Hubbard –An ordinance repealing Ordinance Nos. 54425, 58949 and 63534 approving Development Plans and Redevelopment Plans for the Mullanphy Urban Development Area, the Montgomery Industrial/Commercial Park, Industrial/Commercial Area and the Madison Acres Plan for the Madison Acres Area, respectively and authorizing certain actions relating thereto, and containing severability and emergency clauses.

The meeting begins at 10am, it can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session.

— Steve Patterson

Readers: Consolidated Government Not Too Extreme To Consider

June 21, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers: Consolidated Government Not Too Extreme To Consider
 
Sign on Natural Btidge marks the city limits of Uplands Park, population 460

The St. Louis region is highly fractured — lots of units of government. From numerous counties in two states you have many municipalities within each. Plus school districts, sewer districts, etc.

We can look to Indianapolis’ 1969 Unigov for one example:

Unigov was neither a complete consolidation nor a perfect remedy. For example, it did not combine fire or police departments (the Marion County Sheriff and Indianapolis Police Departments merged in 2005), and it left intact the cities of Lawrence, Beech Grove, Speedway and Southport. By far the most notable omission was the schools.

The Indianapolis Public Schools Board had preferred a unified school district, but political reality of the time would not allow it. The IPS schools were predominantly black, the township schools mostly white. “To have included schools in Unigov would have raised the specter of racial integration . and would have meant instant death for the plan,” the Rev. Landrum Shields, IPS school board president, acknowledged at the time. (Fort Wayne News-Sentinel)

Louisville Metro is another example of pros & cons. Since passing in 2000, some are still unhappy.

 

More than half the readers in the recent non-scientic Sunday Poll agree the consolidated government idea isn’t too extreme to consider:

Q: Agree or disagree: Agreements between St. Louis City & County or adding the city as one of many munis might be ok, but one big city-county is too extreme.

  • Strongly agree 6 [13.95%]
  • Agree 5 [11.63%]
  • Somewhat agree 5 [11.63%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree 0 [0%]
  • Disagree 13 [30.23%]
  • Strongly disagree 14 [32.56%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

Resistance to any change will likely be high.

— Steve Patterson

 

Design: Vehicle Headlights

June 19, 2017 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Design: Vehicle Headlights
 

As I indicated a few weeks ago when talking about the use of headlines, I promised future posts on the design of automotive lighting — headlights & taillights. No, this isn’t becoming an auto blog. Vehicles are a fact of life in urban areas. In fact, pedestrian deaths are on the increase. From March:

It’s the oldest and most basic form of transportation — walking — and more people are doing more of it to get fit or stay healthy. But there’s new evidence today that even walking across the street is getting more dangerous.

A report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that the number of pedestrians killed in traffic jumped 11 percent last year, to nearly 6,000. That’s the biggest single-year increase in pedestrian fatalities ever, and the highest number in more than two decades.

“It is alarming,” says GHSA executive director Jonathan Adkins, “and it’s counterintuitive.” (NPR)

In October 2015 the death rate was becoming a local issue, see: Rising number of pedestrian deaths has St. Louis officials concerned. Distracted driving and distracted pedestrians, of course, are partly to blame. A year ago the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) began testing vehicle headlights:

The ability to see the road ahead, along with any pedestrians, bicyclists or obstacles, is an obvious essential for drivers. However, government standards for headlights, based on laboratory tests, allow huge variation in the amount of illumination that headlights provide in actual on-road driving. With about half of traffic deaths occurring either in the dark or in dawn or dusk conditions, improved headlights have the potential to bring about substantial reductions in fatalities.

Recent advances in headlight technology make it a good time to focus on the issue. In many vehicles, high-intensity discharge (HID) or LED lamps have replaced halogen ones. Curve-adaptive headlights, which swivel according to steering input, are also becoming more widespread. (IIHS)

In the initial test only the Toyota Prius V got a good rating — out of 31 vehicles tested. Lighting didn’t improve with the price of the car.

By October 2016 IIHS released results of their truck headlight test:

Out of 11 pickup trucks (and 23 possible headlight combinations) tested, the Honda Ridgeline was the only one to earn a “Good” rating, the highest mark possible. One truck earned an “Acceptable” rating, a few were deemed “Marginal,” and a majority scored a “Poor” ratings.

As previously reported, IIHS headlight testing includes high- and low-beam performance on straight roads and curves. The tests also include glare toward oncoming traffic.

The IIHS tested all possible headlight combinations, which include halogen, high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps, and LEDs. That said, the only truck to receive the institute’s highest mark was the Honda Ridgeline equipped with LED low-beam headlights–Ridgeline trucks with halogen units earned a “Poor” rating. (Motor Trend)

Regulation is important, but it must change and keep up. From last month:

Outdated federal rules have blocked automakers from introducing adaptive beam headlamps that automatically adjust to oncoming traffic to reduce glare and help drivers see better, even though the technology is legal and available in Europe and Japan. At the same time, sleek styling and manufacturing mistakes on currently available systems has led to poor performance on the road, including excessive glare and insufficient light on the pavement.

“Regulators have not done a lot to help this through inaction,” said Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering at national motor club AAA. “There’s technology available today that could potentially reduce some fatalities, and it would be simply a matter of regulation change to allow that in the U.S.”

Japanese automaker Toyota asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2013 to allow adaptive beam technology, which is already widely used in Europe and Japan, particularly in luxury vehicles. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents major automakers on Washington policy issues, backed the petition.But four years later, NHTSA hasn’t made a decision. (USA Today)

Here are some examples of how headlights have changed over the years.

This was my first of two 1986 Saab 900s, the last year US 900s had old fashioned sealed-beam headlights. 1987 900s got flush headlights — though different than thud on aurorean models.
This is a late 70s Volvo 242GT with a round sealed bram headlight.
This is the same model with a flush glass headlight.
I briefly owned a 1982/83 Right-hand Drive Volvo 240 that had flush glass headlights like these, though without the wipers. US models had 2 rectangular sealed beam units per side at the same time. The turn signals here are US spec — no more prominent amber color like the prior examples.
My first daily car with flush headlights was this 2000 VW Golf. Replacing a burn out bulb required a trip to the dealer service dept.

Later cars were easier to replace the bulb. Still, US headlights differ from models sold in other countries.  They get glass, we get plastics.

Most modern headlight lenses are made of clear and nearly unbreakable polycarbonate plastic or a similar material. The lenses are treated at the factory with a special coating that protects them from the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight, vehicle exhaust fumes and other environmental contaminants. In fact, to obtain government approval, plastic headlight assemblies must pass a three-year U.S. Department of Transportation durability test.

In normal use, the life of a headlight’s protective coating depends on the level of exposure to the hazards mentioned above – especially the amount and intensity of sunlight. AAA inspected a representative sample of used vehicles and determined that five years is the approximate timeframe in which visible deterioration of headlight lenses begins to appear. (AAA)

However, the quality/quantity of light is improving. From last week:

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported Tuesday that only two of the U.S. auto industry’s 37 mid-size sport-utility vehicles offer headlight packages with “good” performance.

Safety advocates warn that poor headlight performance, including incorrectly aimed beams and excessive glare, endangers motorists and pedestrians.

IIHS, which has been gradually testing the hundreds of models sold in the U.S., concluded that 11 models offer “poor” headlights, 12 fall in the “marginal” category and 12 are “acceptable.” The organization ranked 2017 models based on the best-available headlight package on each vehicle.

By comparison, 12 of the 21 small SUV models tested by IIHS in 2016 delivered “poor” performance, while only four were “acceptable.” (USA Today)

I’ll save recent headlights, daytime running lights, and front turn signals for a future post.

— 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

 

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