Autonomous Vehicles Will Change Urban Areas

 

 The auto industry is quickly moving toward full self0-driving cars. The impact on cities, including St. Louis, could be huge. You might be thinking it is a decade or more away, but earlier this month GM announced a a major accompaniment. General Motors said Tuesday it has finished making 130 …

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

 

 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 …

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

 

 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 …

Readers: Consolidated Government Not Too Extreme To Consider

 

 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 …

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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

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Board Bills 62-75 (UPDATED)

June 16, 2017 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Board Bills 62-75 (UPDATED)
 
St. Louis City Hall

There are 15 new bills to be introduced at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen today. Some further butcher the street grid, others related to development projects.

ON AGENDA FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 6/16/17:

(Note: as of 7:30pm last night the pages with full bill language were not available). The following was updated at 7am on 6/22/17 — a few changes from the original agenda.  Looks like one bill was pulled so the last on the list was moved up so all wouldn’t need to be renumbered.

  • B.B.#62 – Ogilvie –An ordinance recommended by the Board of Public Service to conditionally vacate above surface, surface and sub? surface rights for travel in the western 65 feet of the 15 foot wide east/west alley in City Block 4649?A as bounded by Eitman, Sulphur, Columbia and Clifton Park Terrace/ C. B. 4700 (aka Clifton Park).
  • B.B.#63 – Coatar –An ordinance recommended by the Board of Public Service to conditionally vacate travel in the southern north/south alley in City Block 483?E as bounded by Hickory, Grattan, Park and Dolman.
  • B.B.#64 – Martin –An ordinance recommended by the Board of Public Service to conditionally vacate travel in Primm Street from Reilly Avenue westwardly to a point in City Blocks 3126 and 3150.
  • B.B.#64 – Muhammad –An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 4025 Shreve Ave.
  • B.B.#65 – Bosley –An ordinance recommended by the Board of Public Service to conditionally vacate travel in the 20′ wide n/s alley in City Block 2485 beginning at Carter Ave. and extending southwardly to the northern line of the 20′ wide alley in City Block 2485 as bounded by Carter, Grand, Penrose and Obear.
  • B.B.#66 – Kennedy/Muhammad –An Ordinance setting out regulations regarding the use of surveillance technology by the City, requiring the submission of Surveillance Program Plans and review by the Board of Aldermen before such plans can be put into practice; and containing a severability clause and an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#67 – Ogilvie – An Ordinance designating a portion of the City as a redevelopment area known as the 6300 Clayton Avenue Redevelopment Area pursuant to the Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act; adopting and approving a redevelopment plan, adopting and approving a redevelopment project with respect thereto; adopting tax increment financing within the redevelopment area; establishing the 6300 Clayton Avenue Special Allocation Fund; authorizing certain actions by City officials; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#68 – Ogilvie –An Ordinance authorizing the execution of a redevelopment agreement between The City and Hibernia Dogtown Development, Inc.; prescribing the form and details of said agreement; authorizing other related actions in connection with such agreement; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#69 – Ogilvie –An Ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the issuance and delivery of not to exceed $3,800,000 plus issuance costs principal amount of tax increment revenue notes (6300 Clayton Avenue Redevelopment Project) Series 20__?A/B; prescribing the form and details of such notes and the covenants and agreements made by the City to facilitate and protect the payment thereof; prescribing other matters relating thereto, and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#70 – Conway –An Ordinance designating a portion of The City as a redevelopment area known as the Municipal Courts Building Hotel Redevelopment Area pursuant to the Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act; adopting and approving a redevelopment plan, adopting and approving a redevelopment project for the portion of the redevelopment area known as RPA 1; adopting tax increment financing within RPA 1; making findings with respect thereto; establishing the Municipal Courts Building Hotel RPA 1 Special Allocation Fund; authorizing certain actions by City officials; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#71 – Conway –An Ordinance authorizing the execution of a redevelopment agreement between The City and MCB Hotel Owner, LLC; prescribing the form and details of said agreement; authorizing other related actions in connection with such agreement; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#72 – Conway –An Ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the issuance and delivery of tax increment revenue notes (Municipal Courts Building Hotel Redevelopment Project) Series 20__?A/B, of The City of St. Louis, Missouri, in the principal amount of not?to? exceed $9,870,000 plus issuance costs; prescribing the form and details of such notes and the covenants and agreements made by the City to facilitate and protect the payment thereof; prescribing other matters relating thereto, and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#73 – Davis – An ordinance authorizing the honorary street name, Justine M. Petersen Pathway. Justine M. Petersen Pathway will begin at the intersection of N. Grand and Windsor Place and run west on Windsor Place to the intersection of N. Spring Avenue and Windsor Place.
  • B.B.#74 – Kennedy –An ordinance approving a blighting study and redevelopment plan for Cook Ave. & Finney Ave. Scattered Sites Redevelopment Area; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#75 – Vaccaro – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 3118 Watson Road.
  • B.B.#76 – Muhammad –An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 4025 Shreve Ave.

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: Remove Payroll Tax Exemption From Not-For-Profit Employers With More Than 20 Employees

June 14, 2017 Featured, Taxes Comments Off on Readers: Remove Payroll Tax Exemption From Not-For-Profit Employers With More Than 20 Employees
 
Saint Louis University is among those currently excerpt

Employers in the city pay a one-half of one percent payroll tax, but many have been exempted from this requirement. Ald Conway wants to end the exemptions for those with 21 or more employees:

BOARD BILL NO. 58 INTRODUCED BY ALDERMAN STEPHEN CONWAY An ordinance pertaining to the payroll expense tax, repealing, subject to voter approval, those exemptions from the tax in section nine of ordinance 60737 for religious and charitable organizations and institutions, not-for-profit civic, social, service or fraternal organizations, not-for-profit hospitals and not-for-profit educational institutions that employ more than twenty (20) employees; submitting to the qualified voters the question whether the exemptions to the payroll expense tax for religious and charitable organizations and institutions, not-for-profit civic, social, service or fraternal organizations, not-for-profit hospitals, and not-for profit educational institutions that employ more than twenty (20) employees shall be repealed and a payroll expense tax of one-half of one percent (0.5%) imposed; providing for the conducting of an election on such a question; providing, upon voters’ approval of such repeal of the exemptions, for the effective date for imposition of the payroll expense tax upon religious and charitable organizations and institutions, not-for-profit civic, social, service or fraternal organizations, not-for-profit hospitals, and not-for-profit educational institutions that employ more than twenty (20) employees; with an emergency clause.

If you look at the language in Board Bill 58 you’ll see it doesn’t mention any by name, just “religious and charitable organizations and institutions, not-for-profit civic, social, service or fraternal organizations, not-for-profit hospitals, and not-for profit educational institutions ” I’ve never been a fan of Ald Conway, but I agree with him on removing exemptions.

I’m not sure how 20 employees become his threshold. Why not 15 or 25? No threshold at all? Hopefully this will be discussed in the committee hearing on the bill. Ald Conway just happens to be Chair of the Ways & Means Committee. The committee meets at 9am this morning, but #58 isn’t listed on the event page.  Either it isn’t being considered or the website is out of space to list additional bills.

Committee members are:

  • Stephen Conway, Chair
  • Pam Boyd
  • John Collins-Muhammad
  • Marlene E Davis
  • Carol Howard
  • Samuel L Moore
  • Beth Murphy
  • Joseph Vaccaro

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll a majority of readers agreed these should no longer be exempt:

Q:  Agree or disagree: Large not-for-profit employers should remain exempt from a St. Louis payroll tax.

  • Strongly agree 5 [16.67%]
  • Agree 1 [3.33%]
  • Somewhat agree 4 [13.33%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [3.33%]
  • Somewhat disagree 3 [10%]
  • Disagree 8 [26.67%]
  • Strongly disagree 8 [26.67%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

If the Board of Aldermen approves this bill citizens would vote on removing the exemption. Just because a majority here favored removing the exemption doesn’t mean voters would do the same.

— Steve Patterson

 

50 Years Since Unanimous SCOTUS Decision In Loving v Virginia

June 12, 2017 Featured Comments Off on 50 Years Since Unanimous SCOTUS Decision In Loving v Virginia
 
Mildred & Richard Loving, 1967

Half a century ago today the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled laws outlawing interracial marriage were unconstitutional.

On June 12, 1967, the nation’s highest court voted unanimously to overturn the conviction of Richard and Mildred Loving, a young interracial couple from rural Caroline County, Va. 

That decision struck down the anti-miscegenation laws — written to prevent the mixing of the races — that were on the books at the time in more than a dozen states, including Virginia. (NPR)

The first 9 years of their marriage included arrests, moving to DC, and prolonged legal battles.

Few cases were more aptly named than Loving v. Virginia, which pitted an interracial couple – 17-year-old Mildred Jeter, who was black, and her childhood sweetheart, 23-year-old white construction worker, Richard Loving – against Virginia’s ‘miscegenation’ laws banning marriage between blacks and whites. After marrying in Washington, D.C. and returning to their home state in 1958, the couple was charged with unlawful cohabitation and jailed. 

The Lovings left Virginia and went to live with relatives in Washington, D.C. When they returned to visit family five years later, they were arrested for traveling together. Inspired by the civil rights movement, Mildred Loving wrote to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy for help. The couple was referred to the ACLU, which represented them in the landmark Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia (1967). The Court ruled that state bans on interracial marriage were unconstitutional. (ACLU)

Mildred Loving was on Indian descent, but often viewed as black. Nevertheless, she wasn’t white.

The Lovings, who had married in the District of Columbia on June 2, 1958, were in violation of Virginia code 20–54, which declared marriages between “white and colored persons” unlawful, as well as code 20–58, which made it unlawful to go out of state to marry with the intention to return and cohabit as husband and wife. The original legislation, which became the Racial Integrity Act on March 20, 1924, defined a white person as having only Caucasian blood. The Virginia ruling class, however, claiming descent from Pocahontas and John Rolfe, successfully lobbied the legislature to revise the definition to include what became known as the “Pocahontas Exception,” meaning that those with no more than 1/16th American Indian ancestry would be legally considered white.(Time)

Virginia’s position was interesting:

The State does not contend in its argument before this Court that its powers to regulate marriage are unlimited notwithstanding the commands of the Fourteenth Amendment. Nor could it do so. Instead, the State argues that the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause, as illuminated by the statements of the Framers, is only that state penal laws containing an interracial element as part of the definition of the offense must apply equally to whites and Negroes in the sense that members of each race are punished to the same degree. Thus, the State contends that, because its miscegenation statutes punish equally both the white and the Negro participants in an interracial marriage, these statutes, despite their reliance on racial classifications, do not constitute an invidious discrimination based upon race. The second argument advanced by the State assumes the validity of its equal application theory. The argument is that, if the Equal Protection Clause does not outlaw miscegenation statutes because of their reliance on racial classifications, the question of constitutionality would thus become whether there was any rational basis for a State to treat interracial marriages differently from other marriages. On this question, the State argues, the scientific evidence is substantially in doubt and, consequently, this Court should defer to the wisdom of the state legislature in adopting its policy of discouraging interracial marriages. 

Because we reject the notion that the mere “equal application” of a statute containing racial classifications is enough to remove the classifications from the Fourteenth Amendment’s proscription of all invidious racial discriminations, we do not accept the State’s contention that these statutes should be upheld if there is any possible basis for concluding that they serve a rational purpose. The mere fact of equal application does not mean that our analysis of these statutes should follow the approach we have taken in cases involving no racial discrimination where the Equal Protection Clause has been arrayed against a statute discriminating between the kinds of advertising which may be displayed on trucks in New York City or an exemption in Ohio’s ad valorem tax for merchandise owned by a nonresident in a storage warehouse. In these cases, involving distinctions not drawn according to race, the Court has merely asked whether there is any rational foundation for the discriminations, and has deferred to the wisdom of the state legislatures. In the case at bar, however, we deal with statutes containing racial classifications, and the fact of equal application does not immunize the statute from the very heavy burden of justification which the Fourteenth Amendment has traditionally required of state statutes drawn according to race. (Source)

Here’s the trailer for the 2016 film based on their story.

A 4-minute vintage news report:

I know an interracial couple who were married prior to the Loving v Virginia decision — but my friends were from Manhattan so it wasn’t illegal, However, that doesn’t mean their relationship was met with approval or their children weren’t teased.

Loving v Virginia was cited in the 2015 SCOTUS decision in Obergefell v Hodges allowing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Mildred Loving wrote in 2007:

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

— Mildred Loving 

Richard Loving was killed in a car accident in 1975, Mildred died in 2008 (source). I’m forever grateful to both of them — and the ACLU.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should Large Non-Profits Remain Exempt From A Local Payroll Tax?

June 11, 2017 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Large Non-Profits Remain Exempt From A Local Payroll Tax?
 
Please vote below

On Fridsy a bill was introduced at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen to increased revenue to pay for more police, and increase their salaries.

Alderman Stephen Conway says he’d like to end the city’s exemption of the half percent payroll tax granted to nonprofits.

“We are losing officers,” Conway says referring to the higher salaries being offered in nearby St. Louis County.

Conway estimates the payroll tax on large nonprofits could generate over $8 million a year to go towards giving police officers a raise and hiring more. (KMOV)

The official summary of Board Bill 58 is:

An ordinance pertaining to the payroll expense tax, repealing, subject to voter approval, those exemptions from the tax in section nine of ordinance 60737 for religious and charitable organizations and institutions, not?for?profit civic, social, service or fraternal organizations, not?for?profit hospitals and not?for?profit educational institutions that employ more than twenty (20) employees; submitting to the qualified voters the question whether the exemptions to the payroll expense tax for religious and charitable organizations and institutions, not? for?profit civic, social, service or fraternal organizations, not?for? profit hospitals, and not?for profit educational institutions that employ more than twenty (20) employees shall be repealed and a payroll expense tax of one?half of one percent (0.5%) imposed; with an emergency clause.

Which brings us to today’s poll:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

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