St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 20 of 2018-2019 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 20th meeting of the 2018-2019 session. Today’s agenda includes ten (10) new bills, including a few on candidates & elections: B.B.#138 – Roddy – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 4328 Swan B.B.#139 – Arnowitz – An ordinance relating …

Opinion: Larry Rice Should Not Reopen Homeless Shelter

 

 As a resident of the City of St. Louis for 28+ years I’ve interacted with homeless persons on many occasions, mostly in the last 11 years (as of next month) I’ve lived downtown. I’ve talked to many, bought beverages/food for some, and two have been to my loft for a …

Sidewalk Cleaning Is Important, Yet Not All Do It

 

 For nearly fourteen years now I’ve posted about many topics, often minor & obscure in nature. The little things, however, can also be important. First impressions can be lasting. Often conventioneers stay across the street in the Marriott St. Louis Grand hotel. They power wash their sidewalk along Washington Ave …

Sunday Poll: Should Larry Rice Be Allowed To Reopen His Homeless Shelter?

 

 Last month a 2nd court ruled against Larry Rice and his downtown homeless shelter: The Missouri Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling that found the city of St. Louis acted properly when it shut down the New Life Evangelistic Center homeless mission in April of 2017. The center’s director, …

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Opinion: St. Louis Region Should Stop Chasing Big Conventions, Should Instead Invest in Improving the Quality of Life for Residents & Tourists

October 10, 2018 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Opinion: St. Louis Region Should Stop Chasing Big Conventions, Should Instead Invest in Improving the Quality of Life for Residents & Tourists
 

Every region has an entity responsible for getting people from other regions to visit…and spend money.

The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (DBA Explore St. Louis) is the official destination marketing organization responsible for selling St. Louis City and St. Louis County as a convention and meeting site and as a leisure travel destination. Explore St. Louis works to attract citywide conventions, one-hotel meetings, sporting events, group tours and individual leisure travelers to St. Louis. More than 700 local and regional businesses are partners with Explore St. Louis.

The St. Louis Tourism Bureau was founded in 1909 by a group of local business leaders, after seeing the success of the 1904 World’s Fair. In 1984, the Bureau was restructured and combined with the St. Louis County Office of Tourism to form the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (SLCVC), a regional commission of the State of Missouri. Dedicated funding for the SLCVC and the Regional Arts Commission through a new tax on hotel rooms was implemented. The SLCVC’s board was reorganized in 1991 to reflect the organization’s new role in managing the expanded America’s Center Convention Complex including the 67,000-seat Dome at America’s Center, 1,400- seat Ferrara Theatre, a 28,000 square-foot ballroom and the St. Louis Executive Conference Center. (Prior to the expansion, the convention center had been operated by the City of St. Louis.)

The SLCVC’s 11-member Board of Commissioners is headed by a chairman appointed by the Governor of Missouri. Five Board members are appointed by the Mayor of the City of St. Louis and five are appointed by the St. Louis County Executive. According to the organization’s enabling legislation, three of each official’s appointees must be actively engaged in the St. Louis hotel industry. (Explore St. Louis)

Their name includes ‘convention’, which comes before ‘visitors’. So, like nearly every other region in the country, they chase conventions. It takes a lot of vacationing families of four to equal one convention with 6,000 attendees, so conventions are typically how cities/regions try to fill hotel rooms.

Cervantes Convention Center. 801 Convention Center Plaza. St. Louis Mo. August, 1977. Photograph (35mm Kodachrome) by Ralph D’Oench, 1977. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. NS 30747. Scan © 2006, Missouri Historical Society.

The choices for small conventions/conferences in the St. Louis region are numerous. Collinsville IL and St. Charles MO each have facilities, as do many hotels throughout the region. Events that would book these venues are too small for our downtown convention center, marketed as America’s Center. There are events that have been held here that have outgrown our current facilities, they’ve moved on to larger venues.

The meeting/convention market, like many others, is shrinking. Even big shows are having to change.

The Detroit auto show is moving from its traditional slot in January to June, seeking to reinvent itself after many automakers decamped for the week-earlier Consumer Electronics Show or lost interest in auto shows altogether.

The shift will take place in 2020. That means 2019’s show will be the last one in January.

The overhauled event aims to create a festival-like air with vehicle debuts, concerts, splashy displays and food trucks stretching along Detroit’s riverfront and into the city’s downtown when it begins June 8, 2020. (USA Today)

Every year my husband and I attend the annual Chicago Auto Show, held at the largest US convention center, McCormack Place — in 2020 we hope to check out the show in Detroit. I’ve been through Detroit only once — returning to St. Louis from Toronto on a bus in 2006.  I have many areas of interest in Detroit, including middle eastern food highlighted by Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef Marcus Samuelsson the first episode of No Passport Required on PBS. Food, architecture, etc is often why I want to visit other regions.

Those who host the big events have many choices already, with more regions spending millions annually to try to get their event to their newly built or expanded facility. It’s a buyer’s market.

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was deliberately used the word ‘visitors’ instead of ‘conventioneers.’

Q: Agree or disagree: We need to invest $175 million in our convention center to be able to attract visitors to the St. Louis region.

  • Strongly agree: 11 [34.38%]
  • Agree: 4: [12.5%]
  • Somewhat agree: 4 [12.5%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 3 [9.38%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [6.25%]
  • Disagree: 3 [9.38%]
  • Strongly disagree: 4 [12.5%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [3.13%]

Nearly 60% agreed, but I disagree. If our goal is to attract the shrinking convention business we need to spend a lot to do so.  However, if our goal is to attract visitors we still need to spend a lot — but in different ways.  Besides further blocking off the Near Northside from downtown, expanding the existing facility is wasting money that could, potentially, have a much greater impact if spent elsewhere. The city & county each contribute $6 million annually in hotel taxes. The current bonds will be paid off in a few years.

Now is the time to rethink our strategy for getting people to the region — visitors spend money and it takes money to get them here. I have no problem spending money on attracting visitors to our region, I just question spending ALL on chasing conventions being chased by every other region in the country. Maybe the focus shifts from conventions to culture (food, music, etc.)? Maybe I’m just pissed that 9th Street will also be closed now that I’m planning to move North of the already massive complex. Maybe it’s just upsetting one group has been working on getting rail transit on 9th/10th without knowing another was planning to close 9th.

If only we could turn our fragmentation into an attraction.

— Steve Patterson

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

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