15th Annual Look at St. Louis’ Dr. Martin Luther King Drive

 

 This is my 15th annual look at St. Louis’ Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, but my first as a resident living North of the street named for the civil rights leader. It’s hard not to get depressed by the lack of investment in this corridor. — Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should Leaders Prioritize St. Louis’ Central Corridor?

 

 The City of St. Louis stretches a long distance from the Northern-most tip to the Southern-most tip, following the curve of the Mississippi River. St. Louis radiated out in all directions from its starting point on the riverfront, but the most coherent and focust development happened along a spine running …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 29 of 2018-2019 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 29th meeting of the 2018-2019 session. Two bills were introduced last week that weren’t on version 1 or 2 of that agenda.  See BB 220 (Redevelopment Plan for 5467-5559 Delmar) and BB 221 (Redevelopment Plan for 5539-5551 Pershing) Today’s agenda includes ten …

Readers Mixed on Road Conditions Following Snow Storm

 

 I left our new apartment briefly Friday morning, before the snow arrived, using power wheelchair. I didn’t leave again until Sunday morning, driving our car this time. On Sunday we went to Creve Coeur, Brentwood, and a few other places. By then roads were generally acceptable, but I can imagine …

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Columbus Sculpture Should Remain in Tower Grove Park, Namesake Holiday Renamed Indigenous Peoples’ Day

October 8, 2018 Featured, History/Preservation, Parks Comments Off on Columbus Sculpture Should Remain in Tower Grove Park, Namesake Holiday Renamed Indigenous Peoples’ Day
 

The late Henry Shaw (1800-1889) was an important part of St. Louis’ history, the Missouri Botanical Garden & Tower Grove Park are two of his creations.  He’s celebrated locally, but he was also a slave owner for nearly 30 years.

Maybe one thing people may not realize is for a time between 1828 and 1855, Shaw was a slave owner. When he came to St. Louis, he wrote back to family that he was against that practice, it had been outlawed in England. He was disgusted with the practice. We don’t really know what changed his mind … was it a manner of business? His ownership of slaves ends prior to his establishment of the Missouri Botanical Garden. (St. Louis Public Radio)

This labor likely helped him amass his fortune. Once retired he began to donate his fortune, founding the Missouri Botanical Garden at his country estate in 1859 and donating land for Tower Grove Park less than a decade later:

In 1866, a 66-year-old retired St. Louis merchant—Henry Shaw—approached St. Louis mayor James S. Thomas with a proposition. Shaw, who had already established the Missouri Botanical Garden on part of the estate surrounding his country villa, wanted to donate a still larger tract to the city of St. Louis as a pleasure ground for the citizenry. According to a contemporary, Shaw believed that parks were important “not only as ornaments to a great city, but as conducive to the health and happiness of its inhabitants and to the advancement of refinement and culture.”

Tower Grove Park was thus founded on October 20, 1868, as a gift from Shaw to the city of St. Louis. At that time, there were only 11 parks in the city. The only conditions Shaw imposed on his gift were 1) that it “shall be used as a park forever,” and 2) that an “annual appropriation” be made by the city “for its maintenance.” Today, as per Shaw’s estate, Tower Grove Park is the only public city park in the City of St. Louis to be managed by an independent Board of Commissioners and staff.  Shaw’s particular interest in the classics and European travel are reflected today in the Victorian architecture of the Park’s historical treasures. (Tower Grove Park)

Shaw was instrumental in how the land became the park we know today.

Looking West into Tower Grove Park from Grand

Near the end of his life he hired German-born artist Ferdinand von Miller II for three works:

His statue [of] Christopher Columbus was the last of three figures that Henry Shaw commissioned from von Miller for Tower Grove Park, and it was the first Columbus statue to be erected in the United States. The benefactor and the sculptor were both detail-oriented men and argued over whether Columbus would have worn a beard. Shaw insisted that the statue have one, even though the sculptor’s research indicated that Genoese sailors of that time were beardless. In the end both men got their way. Columbus is depicted with a full beard, but near his foot is an inscription added by the artist (in German): “It is not my fault that the head of Columbus is not true, but the wish of the client.” (Regional Arts Commission)

This may be the first Columbus statue, but there were obelisks/monuments around the country prior to 1884.

State of Christopher Columbus near East entrance to Tower Grove Park

We now know Columbus wasn’t someone to celebrate:

On his first day in the New World, he ordered six of the natives to be seized, writing in his journal that he believed they would be good servants. Throughout his years in the New World, Columbus enacted policies of forced labor in which natives were put to work for the sake of profits. Later, Columbus sent thousands of peaceful Taino “Indians” from the island of Hispaniola to Spain to be sold. Many died en route.

Those left behind were forced to search for gold in mines and work on plantations. Within 60 years after Columbus landed, only a few hundred of what may have been 250,000 Taino were left on their island.

As governor and viceroy of the Indies, Columbus imposed iron discipline on what is now the Caribbean country of Dominican Republic, according to documents discovered by Spanish historians in 2005. In response to native unrest and revolt, Columbus ordered a brutal crackdown in which many natives were killed; in an attempt to deter further rebellion, Columbus ordered their dismembered bodies to be paraded through the streets.

In addition to the controversy over enslavement and violent rule, the “Age of Exploration” that Columbus helped lead had the additional consequence of bringing new diseases to the New World which would, over time, devastate the native populations of many New World islands and communities. (history.com)

His exploration led to the colonization of many countries, and the brutal treatment of many native inhabitants.

In May 2017 I argued, unsuccessfully, the Confederate memorial in Forest Park should remain — accompanied with information on slavery, Jim Crow laws, and racial segregation in St. Louis.  See: Confederate Memorial in Forest Park Built During A period of High Racial Tensions in St. Louis.

Tower Grove Park is studying the controversy surrounding having a statue to such a brutal figure.

The park is taking a very deliberate effort to study what to do next:

No decisions have been made about the statue other than to assure its protection while the Columbus Statue Commission’s work is underway. They will work during the fall to consider the proper role and future of the statue in the Park. They will consider all issues and points of view related to the statue, its history, what it represents to various communities, its place in the Park’s historic design and national landmark status, and how the various perspectives within the neighborhood and larger St. Louis community can best be represented.

The Statue Commission will actively seek and consider all points of view from citizens, community groups, Park constituents, public officials, experts and others about the statue. In the tradition of the Park’s welcoming role in the community, we intend that there be opportunities for all with views or information about the statue to have their voices heard.

The Statue Commission will make long-term recommendations to the Tower Grove Park Board of Commissioners. (Tower Grove Park)

You can submit feedback here.

Like the now-removed Confederate memorial, I think this statue should remain. Unlike the Confederate memorial, this is one of three statues commissioned by the park’s visionary founder, not added later by a group trying to rewrite history. It has a prominent location, has for over a century. I don’t think we should remove it. I also don’t think it should remain without something telling of the atrocities he committed, and how those were largely unknown/ignored in Shaw’s time.

If it is removed, a new sculpture should take its place. Can’t think of an appropriate person.  Regardless of this statue, Columbus shouldn’t be celebrated with a national holiday.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should We Invest In Expansion of Our Convention Center Complex?

October 7, 2018 Downtown, Economy, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should We Invest In Expansion of Our Convention Center Complex?
 
Please vote below

Last week a plan to expand our convention center, aka America’s Center, was unveiled by Convention & Visitors Commission President Kitty Ratcliffe, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger:

The expansion comes as some downtown restaurateurs and hoteliers complain that their businesses have taken a hit from fewer conventions. The CVC said last month that hotel room night bookings associated with America’s Center were down 30 percent year-to-date, to 230,554 from 327,578 in 2017.

Several big conventions, such as the O’Reilly Auto Parts and FIRST Robotics, did not return this year because they had outgrown America’s Center’s facilities. Ratcliffe said that some national associations, which book several years in advance, had removed St. Louis from consideration after the unrest that began in Ferguson in 2014, and that those decisions were starting to have an effect this year.

Ratcliffe has long argued that upgraded facilities were needed to compete for conventions in cities such as Nashville, Tenn., and Indianapolis, which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to revamp their tourism infrastructure. She said getting the two regional leaders on board was key to the project’s success. (Post-Dispatch)

Here’s a 3-minute promotional video:

However, not everyone is on board with the expansion. Are you?

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. On Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts and the non-scientific results.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 18 of 2018-2019 Session

October 5, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 18 of 2018-2019 Session
 
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their first meeting back following their Summer break. Today’s meeting is the 18th meeting of the 2018-2019 session. Today is their last meeting prior to Summer break.

Today’s agenda includes nine (9) new bills:

  • B.B.#120 – Davis – An Ordinance recommended and approved by the Airport Commission, the Board of Public Service and the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the Director of Airports, the President of the Board of Public Service, and the Comptroller to enter into and execute the“Memorandum Of Agreement for Expansion Of and Improvement To Inbound Baggage System and Facilities Terminal 2 at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, that memorializes the agreement between the City and Southwest Airlines Company under which Southwest will partially fund, contract for, administer, and manage the expansion and renovation of the Terminal 2 baggage claim area and related equipment and facilities; containing a severability clause, and containing an emergency clause
  • B.B.#121 – Davis – An Ordinance recommended and approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the Director of Airports and the Comptroller, owner and operator of St. Louis Lambert International Airport to enter into and execute the Concession Agreement AL-252 between the City and AvendCo, LLC, granting to Concessionaire, subject to and in accordance with the terms, covenants, and conditions of the Agreement, certain rights and privileges in connection with the occupancy and use of the Premises, which is defined and more fully described in Section 201 of the Agreement that was approved by the Airport Commission; containing a severability clause; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#122 – Roddy – An ordinance, recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, authorizing the Mayor, to submit a 2019 Annual Action Plan to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development as required to apply for funding under the Federal Community Development Block Grant, HOME Investment Partnership, Emergency Solutions Grant and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Entitlement Programs, authorizing and directing the Mayor and the Comptroller to enter into and execute agreements with HUD for the receipt of 2019 CDBG, HOME, ESG and HOPWA funds, appropriating the sum of Seventeen Million, Three Hundred Seventy-Five Thousand, Four Hundred and Eighty Dollars ($17,375,480) which the City estimates will be available for the 2019 CDBG Program Year; appropriating the sum of Two Million, Six Hundred and Nine Thousand, Nine Hundred and Twelve Dollars ($2,609,912) which the City estimates will be available for the 2019 HOME Program Year; appropriating the sum of One Million, Four Hundred Sixty-One Thousand, Six Hundred and Twenty-Four Dollars ($1,461,624) which the City estimates will be available for the 2019 ESG Program Year; and appropriating the sum of One Million, Eight Hundred Twenty-Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Ten Dollars ($1,824,610) which the City estimates will be available for the 2019 HOPWA Program Year; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#123 – Ingrassia – An ordinance authorizing the sale of certain real property owned by the City and located in City Blocks 2007 and 2008 in the City of St. Louis and containing a severability clause. This ordinance, authorizing and directing the Mayor and Comptroller to execute, upon receipt of and in consideration of the sum of Six Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($650,000.00) and other good and valuable consideration, a Quit Claim Deed to remise, release and forever quit-claim unto 2200 Washington LLC, whose address is 1425 South 18th Street, St. Louis Mo. 63104, certain City-owned property located in City Blocks 2007 and 2008.
  • B.B.#124 – Ogilvie – An ordinance repealing Section 4, Subsections 746.010 through 756.040 of Ordinance No. 51871, approved April 4, 1963, and pertaining to the establishment of the Decent Literature Commission, its organization, responsibilities, powers and purposes, codified as Sections 15.32.010 through 15.32.040 of the Revised Code of the City, 1994 Annotated.
  • B.B.#125 – Vaccaro – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 5550 Fyler.
  • B.B.#126 – Spencer – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 3521, 3526, 3527, and 3534 Oregon.
  • B.B.#127 – Davis – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 1815 Locust.
  • B.B.#128 – Moore – An Ordinance establishing a two-way stop site at the intersection of Warne and Lexington regulating all traffic traveling northbound and southbound on Warne at Lexington and containing an emergency clause.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

Opinion: Please Vote YES on Amendment 2, NO on Amendment 3

October 3, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: Please Vote YES on Amendment 2, NO on Amendment 3
 
The fist legal marijuana dispensary I visited in Denver, September 2014. Medical marijuana was kept in a different section from recreational all over the state.

In less than five weeks Missouri voters will decide if the state will become the 31st state to legalize medical marijuana, Sunday’s non-scientific poll was on this upcoming vote. Here are the results:

Q: Missouri voters will see 3 issues to legalize medical marijuana on the November ballot. Which of the 3, if any, will you vote for?

  • Amendment 2, supported by a group called New Approach Missouri: 3 [15.79%]
  • Amendment 3, supported by Springfield physician-attorney Brad Bradshaw: 1 [5.26%]
  • Proposition C, supported by a group called Missourians for Patient Care: 0 [0%]
  • Will vote NO on all three: 3 [15.79%]
  • Will vote YES on all three: 7 [36.84%]
  • Will vote YES on 2 & 3, no on C: 1 [5.26%]
  • Will vote YES on 2 & C, no on 3: 1 [5.26%]
  • Will vote YES on 3 & C, no on 2: 0 [0%]
  • I’m not a Missouri voter: 1 [5.26%]
  • Unsure at this time: 2 [10.53%]

The number of votes was less than most weeks, but the three tied.  Here’s more on the three:

The New Approach measure is a constitutional amendment that would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients with one of ten specified medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, chronic pain, PTSD and Parkinson’s. The measure would impose a four percent sales tax, and some of that revenue would be earmarked for veteran’s programs. The state’s Department of Health and Senior Services would regulate sales, cultivation and licensing.

New Approach is the only ballot initiate that would permit patients to grow their own weed, but the plants would have to be grown in facility registered with the state. Patients would also have to pay a $100 license fee.

According to estimates by the Secretary of State’s office, New Approach’s proposal would cost the state $7 million to operate annually, while generating $18 million in tax revenue for the state and $6 million for local governments.

The second constitutional amendment to make the ballot is known as the Bradshaw Amendment, named for the Springfield attorney and physician, Brad Bradshaw, who largely self-funded the measure.

The Bradshaw Amendment is, in a word, ambitious: it would create a “state research institute” and establish a nine-person research board led by Bradshaw himself. According to the petition, the institute would work on “developing cures and treatments for cancer and other incurable diseases or medical conditions.” That board could also determine what diseases would benefit from medical marijuana treatment.

Among the three initiatives, the Bradshaw Amendment would impose the highest tax: fifteen percent. Some of that tax revenue would fund health and care services for veterans. The Secretary of State’s Office estimates that the measure would cost the state $500,000 annually and would generate revenue off taxes and fees, to the tune of $66 million.

It’s worth noting that both the Bradshaw Amendment and New Approach’s proposal are constitutional amendments, meaning they could only be amended later by an additional vote of the people. Not so with the Missourians For Patient Care Act, a statutory amendment that, if passed, would essentially create a new law — meaning that it could potentially be altered by legislators at a later date. (Riverfront Times)

I’m the one who voted in the poll “Will vote YES on 2 & C, no on 3”. I prefer a constitutional amendment to a law that can be easily changed by conservative legislators. Amendment 2 is a well-written measure with patients in mind. A 4% tax on medicine isn’t bad. Amendment 3, on the other hand, is bad — should not be passed. I’ll let another Springfield doctor explain:

In a letter to the editor on Sept. 2, Springfield personal injury attorney Brad Bradshaw purported to “set the record straight” on the medical marijuana ballot initiatives Missourians will vote on in November. The only thing that came through clearly was his self-servedness. Mr. Bradshaw has invested millions of his own money into his own effort that serves namely one person: himself. No doubt he is hoping to reap a handsome return on his investment.

His attacks are meant to disguise his impractical proposal. I want to make clear that Amendment 3 will not lead to a cure in cancer, as Mr. Bradshaw disingenuously tries to make us believe. In fact, its estimated $66 million in revenue is a trivial drop in the bucket compared to our modern-day investments in cancer research and treatment. His proposed “cancer institute” will be funded by your tax dollars but without your or the rest of the public’s well-being in mind. That is because how the money is spent is decided by Mr. Bradshaw and the board members he directly appoints. It will not be subject to citizen review. It will not be subject to MOMA Board certification. It will not result in further investments to improve the quality of life for cancer patients or make headway on future cures. (Brad Bradshaw misleads on medical marijuana)

Follow the money — Bradshaw filed lawsuits to remove the other two measures, later tossed out by a judge, Amendment 3 would give Bradshaw a huge slush fund. Please vote YES on Amendment 2 & Proposition C, vote NO on Amendment 3 — please don’t vote yes on all three.

Still undecided? Check out the New Approach Missouri website.

— Steve Patterson

New CBS Sitcom To Address Race, Gentrification

October 1, 2018 Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on New CBS Sitcom To Address Race, Gentrification
 

The now-classic CBS sitcom ‘All in the Family’ premiered on January 12, 1971. In Meet the Bunkers the family already knows young Lionel Jefferson, he’s friends with Archie’s daughter Gloria and son-in-law Mike.

On the 8th episode, first aired on March 2 1971, Archie Bunker learns his neighbor, Mr. Bowman, sold his house.  Archie, worried Bowman might have sold to a Jewish family goes over to talk to him. We learn Bowman had previously passed around a petition to pressure another neighbor into not selling their house to a Jewish family. Soon Archie learns a black family bought the house, later learning the buyers are Lionel Jefferson’s parents. Watch Lionel Moves Into the NeighborhoodMany future episodes dealt with racial tension. The final episode of Season 1 dealt with the issues surrounding Louise Jefferson inviting Edith & Archie Bunker over to dinner.

The last two seasons CBS also had Superior Donuts, often touching on gentrification of Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Unfortunately, due to low ratings, it was cancelled.

Photo: Bill Inoshita/CBS 2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tonight CBS has another sitcom where race plays a central role. It stars St. Louis native Cedric the Entertainer:

Cedric the Entertainer has been making audiences laugh for more than 30 years. Now he’s starring in the new CBS show, “The Neighborhood,” a comedy that focuses on what happens when a white family moves into a predominantly black neighborhood.

“Like when you get the white neighbors in, this is the thing we know. Like, we know that your streets – the potholes are going to get fixed. White people will call the city on you. Like black people just tell you, ‘There’s a pothole down there. Don’t turn on that street,'” Cedric the Entertainer said to laughter Friday on “CBS This Morning.” (CBS News)

Cedric is not only a star, he’s also an executive producer.

The living room set of CBS’ “The Neighborhood” has a distinctly African American vibe — there’s an Obama commemorative plate and black art on the wall.
The show’s star, Cedric the Entertainer, marches over to his chair, sinking down into a dark brown leather recliner, the same one his proud and opinionated character, Calvin Butler, uses in the sitcom, to talk about his latest comedic project.

Premiering Oct. 1, “The Neighborhood” humorously explores the fallout after a white family moves into a historically and predominantly black working class neighborhood. “I’m the guy that feels like we’ve built the neighborhood up and now I can see gentrification coming this way,” says Cedric. (LA Times)

Here’s one of the trailers:

It’s too early to know if the show will do well, but I’m glad to see this subject matter getting screen time. The first episode premiers tonight on KMOV (4.1) at 7pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

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