Readers: Missouri Should Not Close Rest Areas

 

 A majority of those who voted in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll think Missouri shouldn’t close interstate rest areas as a way to close budget shortfalls. Florida, Michigan, Ohio and South Dakota are among the states that have closed traditional rest stops in the last two years. And a battle …

Reading: Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All by Philip Langdon

 

 Last week I received a new book that immediately caught my attention. Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All speaks to a core personal issue for me — walkability. Before the personal automobile displaced public transit, most everything in American cities was within walking distance. For nearly a century now Euclidean, …

Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Close Interstate Rest Areas?

 

 Missouri has low fuel taxes and the legislature is unwilling to increase it. Maintenance needs remain. Some states in this situation have opted to closer rest areas: For more than half a century, old-fashioned, no-frills highway rest stops have welcomed motorists looking for a break from the road, a bathroom …

Lyda Krewson Is The 5th Mayor Since I Moved To St. Louis

 

 On Tuesday, while waiting for the inauguration of our first new mayor in 16 years, I reflected on the mayors we’ve had since I moved here in August 1990. For many of you, Francis Slay has been the only mayor you’ve had as a voting-age adult. This could be because …

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Some Drivers Get Confused On Locust Street at Tucker

April 17, 2017 Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Some Drivers Get Confused On Locust Street at Tucker
 

Many people get confused by one-way streets. At least once per week I see this on display at Locust & Tucker. Locust St is one-way Westbound as it approaches Tucker. Those of us familiar with the area know both lanes can continues straight and cross Tucker; the left lane can also turn left onto Southbound Tucker, the right lane can also turn right onto Northbound Tucker. Simple enough.

Looking West toward Tucker
Same view with cars in both lanes

So what’s the confusion? I often see the first car to the light be in the right lane but signaling to turn left. If nobody stops to their left I’ve seen them turn left from the right lane. I’ve seen then try to do a double left from the right lane — even though cars in the left lane can go straight.

Clearly it isn’t obvious to some motorists that wish to turn left that they should be in the left lane. When we drive here we’re usually in the right lane going straight — less likely to get hit by a confused motorist than if we went straight in the left lane. .

Signs &/or pavement markings might help clarify this intersection.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Would Turnstiles Improve Safety On MetroLink?

April 16, 2017 Crime, Featured, Public Transit, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Would Turnstiles Improve Safety On MetroLink?
 
Please vote below

After two recent fatal shootings regional officials are looking for solutions:

After meeting privately for more than an hour Wednesday, St. Louis Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said they have a framework to improve security along the light-rail line that connects the three counties.

The announcement comes after two fatal shootings on MetroLink last month. At a news conference after the closed door meeting, officials offered few details other than to say physical barriers, such as turnstiles, were needed. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Today’s poll question is about turnstiles & public safety:

The poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

Inauguration of Lyda Krewson as St. Louis’ Next Mayor, Upcoming Board of Aldermen Meetings

April 14, 2017 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Inauguration of Lyda Krewson as St. Louis’ Next Mayor, Upcoming Board of Aldermen Meetings
 

Next week aldermen, new members & those re-elected, will be sworn-in. Their official swearing in takes place in a conference room off their chambers, followed by a ceremonial swearing in during the first meeting of the new legislative session. Following all will proceed to the rotunda (though it is rectangular) for the inauguration of their board colleague as mayor. This will take place Tuesday April 18th.

The 3rd inauguration of Francis Slay on April 21, 2009.

I may attend Krewson’s inaugural, so I can hear her speech in full.  The 2009 inaugural began at noon.

From a prior Board of Aldermen calendar:

  • MONDAY, APRIL 17, 2017 – SINE DIE (LAST MEETING OF THE 2016-2017 SESSION)
  • TUESDAY, APRIL 18, 2017 – FIRST MEETING OF THE 2017-2018 SESSION
  • FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2017 – NO FULL BOARD MEETING

In theory the first meeting of the new Board of Aldermen should be Friday April 28th. As I did last year, on Friday’s I’ll post a list of new board bills being introduced.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Opinion: Neoliberalism at City Hall Will Continue to Fail St. Louis

April 12, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: Neoliberalism at City Hall Will Continue to Fail St. Louis
 
This dawn photograph of the Lambert Main Terminal was taken in June 1956, less than 4 months after its opening. Photograph by Ralph D’Oench, Missouri Historical Society Collections

Anyone who has lived in St. Louis during an election knows Democrats win in this city, but not all Democrats are the same. Outgoing mayor Francis Slay is in the group with Bill & Hilary Clinton, Claire McCaskill, Jay Nixon, etc. — a neoliberal:

Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. It takes from the basic principles of neoclassical economics, suggesting that governments must limit subsidies, make reforms to tax law in order to expand the tax base, reduce deficit spending, limit protectionism, and open markets up to trade. It also seeks to abolish fixed exchange rates, back deregulation, permit private property, and privatize businesses run by the state.

Liberalism, in economics, refers to a freeing of the economy by eliminating regulations and barriers that restrict what actors can do. Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development. (Investopedia)

Another:

From an economic context, neoliberalism is essentially a modern version of lassez-faire policy. Neoliberals advocate for free and unfettered trade, removing restrictions on capital moving across borders, and cutting government budgets through austerity measures. They argue that free markets and so-called “frictionless capitalism” is the best engine available to create growth and lift people out of poverty. (Fortune: Even the IMF Now Admits Neoliberalism Has Failed)

You can read the International Monetary Fund paper here.

In the municipal context neoliberalism often means privatizing public services.  In Slay’s 16 years as mayor he’s pushed for private charter schools, in 2013 Slay backed a plan that would have led to the privatization of our water system:

City Hall, led by Mayor Francis Slay, had said a $250,000 consulting contract with Veolia Water North America was necessary to help reduce costs and keep water rates down for city residents. But the process was colored by heated protests of the company’s environmental and business practices, with some residents worried the company would try to seize the city’s water and reduce its quality.

Slay’s staff on Tuesday told the aldermanic Ways and Means committee that the company had dropped itself from consideration for the contract. (Post-Dispatch: Veolia Water drops proposal to consult St. Louis water division)

In his last month in office Slay set up a study to privatize our airport.

A majority of readers in the non-scientific Sunday Poll are opposed to privatizing Lambert.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis should privatize our airport by leasing it to a private firm.

  • Strongly agree 3 [8.33%]
  • Agree 4 [11.11%]
  • Somewhat agree 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 4 [11.11%]
  • Somewhat disagree 4 [11.11%]
  • Disagree 5 [13.89%]
  • Strongly disagree 15 [41.67%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.78%]

Hopefully mayor-elect Lyda Krewson will reject neoliberal policies that have failed St. Louis, Missouri, and the nation for years.  Voters who blindly back neoliberal Democrats might not be aware of policy alternatives from the left.

— Steve Patterson

 

Panera’s St. Louis Beginnings Not Part Of Narrative, Sold To European Investment Firm

April 10, 2017 Featured, Retail Comments Off on Panera’s St. Louis Beginnings Not Part Of Narrative, Sold To European Investment Firm
 
Panera Bread, Carbondale IL

Last week we learned that Panera is being sold to a German European investment firm:

JAB Holding Co., the owner of Caribou Coffee and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, said Wednesday that it would buy Sunset Hills-based Panera Bread Co. in a deal valued at about $7.5 billion, including debt, as it expands its coffee and breakfast empire.

Unlike other St. Louis-based companies that have been bought up, there were no financial struggles indicating a sale was coming, no succession questions, no negotiation drama. Panera’s sale came out of the blue, even to analysts who follow the industry. (Post-Dispatch)

Panera locations locally are called St. Louis Bread Company, the name used on the Kirkwood location opened in 1987.  As I said in a recent post, Panera CEO Ron Shaich is from Boston — and he continues to live there.

Nationally Panera’s connection to St. Louis isn’t mentioned at all:

Ron Shaich, Panera’s personable chief executive who controls roughly 15 percent of its stock, said one of the biggest attractions to the JAB deal was the chance to take his company private.

“For the last 20 years, I’ve spent 20 percent of my time telling people what we’ve done to grow and another 20 percent of my time telling people what we’re going to do to grow,” Mr. Shaich said in an interview. “I won’t have to do that anymore.”

Investment analysts have speculated for years that Mr. Shaich, 63, has been looking for a way to reduce his role at the company after spending more than two decades building it up from a tiny 400-square foot cookie store in Boston. (New York Times)

The original creator of St. Louis Bread Co., Ken Rosenthal, sold out back in 1993 — his small chain is not part of Panera’s narrative. To be fair, it is mentioned in their history:

The Panera Bread® legacy began in 1981 as Au Bon Pain Co., Inc. Founded by Louis Kane and Ron Shaich, the company prospered along the east coast of the United States and internationally throughout the 1980s and 1990s and became the dominant operator within the bakery-cafe category.

In 1993, Au Bon Pain Co., Inc. purchased Saint Louis Bread Company®, a chain of 20 bakery-cafes located in the St. Louis area.

The company then managed a comprehensive re-staging of Saint Louis Bread Co. Between 1993 and 1997 average unit volumes increased by 75%. Ultimately the concept’s name was changed to Panera Bread.

By 1997, it was clear that Panera Bread had the potential to become one of the leading brands in the nation. In order for Panera Bread to reach its potential, it would require all of the company’s financial and management resources. (Panera)

When the deal closes in the 2nd half of this year, Panera will be a subsidiary of JAB Holdings. The good news is other JAB subsidiaries appear to keep their headquarters where they were when purchased.

— Steve Patterson

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