An Open Letter To Missouri Governor Mike Parson & Staff

 

 Dear Governor: This post is in response to a Post-Dispatch story pointing out an error in a department website. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is vowing to prosecute the staff of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the newspaper says it uncovered security vulnerabilities on a state agency website. The governor is …

Last Mile to Cahokia Mounds Is Impossible For Pedestrians

 

 I’ve working on my bucket list in the last two years living with stage IV kidney cancer. Right after Memorial Day I was able to visit Milwaukee, my very first time in Wisconsin. I’m also working on items closer to home that I can safely do during a pandemic. To help …

New Book — ‘Curbing Traffic: The Human Case for Fewer Cars in Our Lives’, by Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett

 

 This is the first of three books I received in July, so they’re newish. My health insurance is better now so I’m getting caught up. I’ve posted before about my interest in electric cars, but also interest in and use of public transportation. My electric “vehicle” is a 2008 power …

We Saved Money On Our Electric Bill By Switching Rate Plans

 

 For years there was no financial incentive to reduce electricity use during peak periods. Running the dryer &  air conditioning while cooking dinner at 5pm weekdays cost the same as doing them at other times.  With Ameren Missouri’s new smart meters and Tine of Use (TOU) rate plans reducing electric …

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St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 29 of 2019-2020 Session

January 24, 2020 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 29 of 2019-2020 Session
 

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 29th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 28.

Today’s agenda includes five (5) new bills.

  • B.B.#193 – Tyus – An ordinance repealing Ordinance Number 70333 and containing an emergency clause. WHEREAS, ordinance number 70333 became effective August 14, 2016. As such the ordinance was designed to create a centralized process for traffic complaints received by the City of St. Louis so that they could be managed in an efficient manner to be called the City of St. Louis Traffic Calming Policy.
  • B.B.#194 – NUMBER NOT USED THIS SESSION
  • B.B.#195 – Tyus – An Ordinance directing the Director of Streets to permanently close barricade or otherwise impede the flow of traffic in the north-south bound, approximately 240
    linear feet., alley located between Palm Street and Lexington Avenue in C.B. 4456, approximately 95 linear ft. east of Kingshighway Memorial Boulevard east curb line and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#196 – Vaccaro – An Ordinance establishing a three-way stop site at the intersection of Mardel Avenue and Macklind Avenue regulating all traffic traveling eastbound on Mardel Avenue at Macklind Avenue and regulating all traffic traveling northound and southbound on Macklind Avenue at Mardel Avenue, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#197 – Murphy – An ordinance approving a blighting study and Redevelopment Plan for the 3808 Wilmington Ave. Redevelopment Area.
  • B.B.#198 – Tyus – An ordinance pertaining to vendors; establishing comprehensive rules and regulations for vendors within the Kingsway East, Kingsway West, Penrose and Mark Twain Neighborhoods, prohibiting street vendors within the except within designated city park vending districts; establishing a city park vending districts within the Kingsway East, Kingsway West, Penrose and Mark Twain Neighborhoods, prohibiting vending on any LRA owned property, expressly prohibiting the distribution or sale of newspapers, pamphlets, handbills or other written or printed matter sold or distributed for the purpose of disseminating news and information in the Kingshighway Memorial Boulevard Median that runs from the southern end at Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard to the northern end at West Florissant Avenue, requiring The Director of Street to post No Vending, No Soliciting Signs in both of the medians of Kingshighway Memorial Boulevard intersecting Natural Bridge, promulgating rules and regulations for vending within vending districts; containing definitions, a penalty clause, a severability clause and an emergency clause.

The Board of Aldermen meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Split on Residency Requirement for Police

January 22, 2020 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers Split on Residency Requirement for Police
 
Bank of holding cells at police HQ

The City of St. Louis has had an employee residency requirement for years now. The concept is simple, if you want to work for the city you need to live in the city. Their wages stay in the community and multiply as spent locally. It’s easier to understand a community when you’re part of it — not just an outside observer.

Fifteen or so years ago I listed a friend’s south city house for sale, the buyer was moving to St. Louis after accepting a city job. I recently saw the buyer at an event — she and her husband still live in the house and she still works for the city. This is the ideal outcome.

It seems the St. Louis Police are having a hard time filling vacant positions because qualified applicants in the region don’t want to move. This is common, as people all over the St. Louis region tend to commute to their jobs — they don’t necessarily move to the municipality where each new job is located.  This explains why I-64 and I-270 have daily backups as motorists commute to/from work.

This is one of those rare issues where I’m undecided. Here’s the non-scientific results of the recent Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis Police shouldn’t have to live in the city.

  • Strongly agree: 15 [31.25%]
  • Agree: 6 [12.5%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Disagree: 11 [22.92%]
  • Strongly disagree: 9 [18.75%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [2.08%]

While I’m undecided I’m also not sure how I feel about removing the residency requirement for only one of many city jobs. Is the law enforcement profession so different than refuse handlers, bookkeepers, etc?

Oh right, some cops in St. Louis beat up a black colleague working undercover as a protestor. So here’s my question— would dropping the residency requirement mean we’d have more or less racist police? Or would the percentage remain unchanged?

— Steve Patterson

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

January 20, 2020 Featured, MLK Jr. Drive, North City Comments Off on My 15th Look at St. Louis’ Martin Luther King Drive
 

Today is the annual holiday to honor the civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.

Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.

King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With the SCLC, he led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. The following year, he and the SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War. He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”. J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI’s COINTELPRO from 1963 on. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital liaisons and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting. (Wikipedia)

Following King’s death many cities began renaming streets in his honor. In 1968 the Veterans Bridge, opened in 1951 over the Mississippi River, was renamed to honor King.   Four years later, after much debate, St. Louis joined other cities by renaming two streets through the city after King — beginning at the Missouri end of the Martin Luther King Bridge.

Dr. Martin Luther King Drive starts down by the Mississippi River’s edge, and follows what was Franklin Avenue, making fits and starts in the convention center. King Drive continues westward, following old Franklin until just west of Jefferson Avenue. There, it abandons Franklin and gives King’s name to Easton, which, for generations, was an important shopping and socializing avenue for the blacks and whites in the northern part of the city and the inner ring suburbs of St. Louis County. (St. Louis Public Radio)

By 1972 the Wellston Loop shopping district, once second only to downtown, on Easton at the city/Wellston city limits, was already in decline. In 1965 Northwest Plaza had opened a short 15 minute drive further into St. Louis County.

In 1972 some wanted a more prominent street renamed after King — Lindell, for example. These days streets are not renamed, an honorary designation is added but addresses aren’t changed.

Let’s start today’s look at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at the west end at the Wellston Loop.

For decades this was the point where streetcars turned around to head back downtown. The last few years a tarp had cover the roof, but it is no longer in place.
In this view you can see the lack of tarp protecting the building from water damage.
The street is increasingly sparse. I still miss the 4-story building that was on the other side of the Loop building. Click image for more information on that building.
As it looked in 2013
2017
The 2-story building on the NW corner of MLK Drive and Hamilton is now gone. It wasn’t remarkable, but it was part of a continuous group on that block — now a hole. This is part of the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood which was getting a huge demolition focus in 2019. 
Just after demolition in August 2019.
Up close in July 2019
Last year
The group a year ago.
Just west of Union is the vacant site, I’d watched the home deteriorate for years.
In 2017
In 2013
East of Union is a still intact group of commercial buildings. One looks like it was hit by a car. Reviewing Google Streetview this happened after August 2017.
Just east of Kingshighway (4965 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr) a new building has been under construction since last summer, but the future occupant is unclear. City records list WM Grand Plaza LLC of Ballwin as the owner.
Recently palleted bricks site on the sidewalk where a building once stood.
Last year I said this was “Another building in need of stabilization.” It was actually two buildings, both from 1893. 4740-42 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.
The former John Marshall School at Newstead is still vacant and deteriorating.
4208-4216 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive is in the final stages of demolition.
Last year bricks were starting to fall from it, I said then “It should be stabilized, but it’ll likely be allowed to crumble until neighbors demand it be razed.”
Another building I’ve been watching crumble is 3047 Dr. Martin Luther King, the back wing has now completely collapsed. Built in 1880 it is owned by the City’s Land Reutilization Authority (LRA)
In 2012 the rear wing was still intact…sorta.
At Tucker the former Post-Dispatch newspaper building is being converted to offices for Square.

In some of the years past long vacant buildings were getting renovated, new housing being built. Those positives remain, but otherwise the deterioration  continues.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Police Continue To Be Required To Live In The City?

January 19, 2020 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Police Continue To Be Required To Live In The City?
 
Please vote below

For the nearly 30 years I’ve lived in St. Louis all city employees must live within the city’s limits. This has included members of our police department.

This may change — for the police only.

“Right now, we have a clean bill,” Hicks said in a committee hearing on the proposal on Tuesday. “We have a good path through the House; we have a good path through the Senate right to the governor’s desk. He himself told me he’ll sign the bill if we can get it there the way it is written.”

Currently, St. Louis police officers must live inside city limits for at least seven years. This legislation would allow officers to live anywhere that is within a one-hour response time to their precinct.

Mayor Lyda Krewson and Police Chief John Hayden would like to see the requirements changed. They both believe this will help with retention and recruitment problems the city is experiencing. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Police residency is the subject of today’s poll.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 28 of 2019-2020 Session

January 17, 2020 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 28 of 2019-2020 Session
 

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 28th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 27.

Today’s agenda includes two (2) new bills.

  • B.B.#191 — Rice/P.Boyd/Spencer/Navarro/Ingrassia/Guenther Green – An Ordinance amending Ordinance 68597, by creating and defining six Temporary Food Permit Types with a permit fee schedule; identifying Low Income, Low Access census tracts; establishing a Temporary Food Safety Training Special Fund to help pay for Temporary Food Safety Training; recognizing and requiring a free application with the Health Department for Cottage Food Production Operation Temporary Food Permit waivers, established by RSMo. § 196.298; and further explaining what happens to a new annually approvable food permit that is not approved within ninety (90) days, all to be codified in Chapter 11.42 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis.
  • B.B.#192 – Vollmer – An Ordinance authorizing the Amendment to Ground Lease (“Amendment”) between the City of St. Louis and Lucas-Hunt Associates, L.P., a Missouri limited partnership, for property and improvements commonly known as the Hampton Gardens Apartments located at 5927 Suson Place, St. Louis, Missouri 63139.

Their informal calendar includes one Bill for perfection— a public vote to reconsider reducing the size of their body in half.

Board Bills for Perfection – Informal Calendar
IGA B.B.#11 – Muhammad/Vaccaro – An ordinance submitting to the qualified voters a proposed amendment to the Charter of the City to maintain the Board of Aldermen as a body of twenty-eight Aldermen representing twenty-eight wards and preventing its reduction beginning December 31, 2021 to a body of fourteen Aldermen representing fourteen wards as called for under Article I, Section 3 of the City Charter; proving for an election to be held for voting on the proposed amendment and the manner for the voting; and for the publication, certification, deposit, and recording of this ordinance; and containing an emergency clause.

I’m still in favor of cutting the number of members from 28 to 14 — what matters more to me is how the new ward boundaries are drawn.

Republican senators rolled out a plan Tuesday to ask Missouri voters to undo key parts of a nationally unique redistricting model that directs a demographer to draw new legislative districts with “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” as top criteria.

The Republican proposal would abolish the demographer position and relegate political fairness and competitiveness to the bottom of the priority list, behind such criteria as compact and contiguous districts that keep communities intact. (AP via NBC News)

The Board of Aldermen meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

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