Democratic Debates Begin Tonight: Progressives vs Centrists

 

 The first debate of the 2020 presidential election is tonight, with part 2 tomorrow night. The debates will be available to watch on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo at 9 p.m. [8pm central] on both nights and will be available to stream for free on NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, and the NBC News …

Noxious Weeds Outside St. Louis’ Gateway Transportation Center

 

 The city-owned Gateway Transportation — home to Amtrak, Greyhound, and Megabus — has a landscaped area between it and the adjacent Civic Center MetroLink station. The landscaping has never been noteworthy.  I was at the ribbon cutting in November 2008, but my exterior landscaping pics aren’t that old. On the …

Sunday Poll: Who Do You Think Will Be The Final Four Democratic Presidential Candidates Running In 2020?

 

 Today’s poll is similar to a poll here just over 4 years ago. At that time the GOP field was huge, most picked Jeb Bush as the GOP candidate most likely to be on top. Yes, a lot can change in the year prior to nominating conventions! The 2020 election …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 10 of 2019-2020 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their  10th 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 9. Today’s agenda includes three (3) new bills: B.B. #76 – Vaccaro – An Ordinance …

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St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 6 of 2019-2020 Session

May 23, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 6 of 2019-2020 Session
 
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their  6th meeting of the 2019-2020 session.

They usually meet on Fridays, but are meeting today because of Memorial Day weekend.

Today’s agenda includes one new bill — on a topic I posted about back in November:

  • B.B.#47 – Murphy – An ordinance prohibiting persons and entities selling or offering for sale consumer goods or services at retail in the City from refusing to accept cash as a form of payment to purchase goods and services unless otherwise provided in this ordinance.

The 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

Opinion: Access To Birth Control, Abortion, Must Remain Legal

May 22, 2019 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: Access To Birth Control, Abortion, Must Remain Legal
 
Missouri Capital, Jefferson City, MO, April 2011

In an ideal world there would be zero abortions, but reality is often less than ideal. Women get raped, sometimes by a relative. They can also find themselves pregnant at inopportune times.

Pregnancies have been terminated for centuries, regardless of laws.

Abortion bans, unsurprisingly, have always been about racism, controlling women.

The state [Alabama] first made abortion a crime a bit more than 150 years ago, and others passed similar measures through the middle of that century. Prior to that wave of legislation, common law had allowed abortion until quickening, when the woman first perceived fetal movement — usually around the middle of a pregnancy. Only at the point of quickening was life recognized as having begun. A small group of elite physicians working to professionalize medicine initiated a campaign to criminalize the practice of “bringing on the menses.” They aimed to eliminate their competition by casting midwives and “irregular” doctors as criminals.

To gain legislative support, these doctors raised questions about exactly who was having babies, who was aborting and who should populate the nation. They knew well-to-do white women were having fewer children, and that the families of immigrants, Catholics and, after the Civil War, freedpeople, were larger. To put it plainly: Lawmakers hoped to force middle-class white women to have more babies by removing the option of abortion, thus preventing the country from being “taken over” by “foreigners” and people of color. (Time)

Even when laws banned abortion, women with means & connection could still terminate their unwanted pregnancy. From a woman who’s now 74:

When I was 23, I had an illegal abortion arranged by the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion. I was young, in no position to raise a child, and had gotten pregnant by a man I barely knew. The Clergymen’s Committee was a group of ministers and rabbis who arranged for physicians to provide safe, albeit illegal abortions in different cities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Though I lived in New York, mine was scheduled in a city about an hour’s flight away.

My parents helped pay for the procedure and my friends knew about it, but I chose to go to this appointment alone. What I was doing was illegal and I didn’t want to implicate friends or family. I flew to Pittsburgh and caught a bus to the center of town, near the hotel room where I met the doctor. He was an older gentleman, a respected doctor at one of the local hospitals, and though he was pleasant as he explained what he would be doing, I noticed that his instruments were wrapped in a soiled cloth. (HuffPost)

Some want abortions to go back underground, into back allies again.

Laws that restrict access to abortion are not an effective way to end or greatly reduce the number of abortions because people will continue to have abortions regardless of the law. We actually know how to reduce the number of abortions. Most of those ways involve being honest about how and when people have sex and giving people the information they need to have sex responsibly.

Yet most who favor these highly restrictive laws do not seem terribly interested in pursuing policies that would do any of these things. Every state that has passed a restrictive law around abortion in recent weeks requires that sex education “stress” abstinence. Neither Alabama nor Missouri mandates sex education, though when it is taught, both states require that it emphasize the importance of “sex only within marriage.” Georgia, which does mandate sex education, does not require that information about contraception be included.

This simple fact suggests to me, when I am in a less generous mood, that they are not concerned about preventing abortions. They are instead interested in enforcing their own reactionary views with regard to women and sex. (VOX)

If we really want to reduce the number of abortions then we need to all work to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. This means increasing realistic sex education classes, increasing access to contraceptives (including Plan B), and allowing all women, regardless of races/means, to control their own bodies.

Most of you, like most of the country, agree.  Non-Scientific results from the recent Sunday Poll:

Q: Should Roe v. Wade be overturned?

  • Yes, absolutely! 7 [16.28%]
  • Yes: 0 [0%]
  • Sure: 0 [0%]
  • Neither yes or no: 0 [0%]
  • Probably not: 0 [0%]
  • No: 6 [13.95%]
  • Definitely not! 30 [69.77%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Hopefully Roe v Wade will not be overturned.

— Steve Patterson

9th & 10th Streets Need To Be Two-Way North of Cole Street

May 20, 2019 Featured, Neighborhoods, Planning & Design, Transportation, Walkability Comments Off on 9th & 10th Streets Need To Be Two-Way North of Cole Street
 

Five years ago I suggested 9th & 10th Streets through the Columbus Square neighborhood (Cole to Cass) be uncoupled so that both are two-way streets again. See Columbus Square: 9th & 10th Streets from May 19, 2014.

In short, 9th & 10th have been a one-way couplet (opposite directions) to facilitate vehicular travel between I-70 and downtown — passing through the Columbus Square neighborhood.  Due to the construction of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge 9th/10th hasn’t connected to I-70 in 8-9 years. Yet, these excessively wide one-way streets remain through the neighborhood.

What has changed in the last five years?

I moved to the neighborhood nearly 5 months ago and 9th Street immediately south of Cole Street will close if the convention center is expanded. Living here, frequently crossing 9th & 10th, I can tell you they’re substantially wider than necessary. Being wide and one-way their design encourages drivers to travel at much higher speeds than should be in a residential neighborhood.

Five years ago the main obstacle to correcting this problem was the cost to alter/replace 3 traffic signals. The possible convention center expansion project includes significant changes to Cole Street — including new signals at 9th & 10th. That leaves only the relatively new signal at 9th & Cass to modify — minor work since 3 out of 4 approaches is currently two-way.  Some additional stop signs will be necessary at intersections between Cole & Cass.

Looking North on 9th Street toward Cass. It’s 44 feet from curb to curb.

We measured the width of 9th & 10th in various places five years ago, 9th @ Manhattan Place (south of Cass) was a very wide 44 feet. For comparison, Locust at 16th is a much busier street and is 42 feet wide. You need 8 feet for each parking lane, plus a max of 12 feet for each travel lane — a total of 40 feet. I’d prefer 10 or 11 foot travel lanes. There’s no money to physically narrow the streets, but a wide center “median” could be painted with stripes.

This pair of streets should’ve been returned to two-way during the 2010-2013 bridge project, but they weren’t. With the convention center project closing 9th and altering Cole, we’ve got another opportunity to correct the problem of one-way highway access streets through the center of a neighborhood — with an elementary school in between.

— Steve Patterson

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Sunday Poll: Should Roe v. Wade Be Overturned?

May 19, 2019 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Roe v. Wade Be Overturned?
 
Please vote below

On Friday the Missouri House passed a restrictive abortion bill. Gov. Parsons is expected to sign it into law.

Missouri’s Republican-led House on Friday passed sweeping legislation designed to survive court challenges, which would ban abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy.

If enacted, the ban would be among the most restrictive in the U.S. It includes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Doctors would face five to 15 years in prison for violating the eight-week cutoff. Women who receive abortions wouldn’t be prosecuted.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson pledged to sign the bill , but it’s unclear when he’ll take action. When pressed on the lack of exceptions, he told reporters that “all life has value.” (Associated Press)

Missouri is not alone:

After a series of conservative appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, a growing number of states have moved to drastically restrict access to abortion. Over the past few months, several states, including Missouri, Ohio and Georgia, have pursued “heartbeat” bills – legislation that would ban abortion as soon as a physician is able to detect a fetal heartbeat.

None of these new laws have yet gone into effect, and abortion is still legal in every state. Ivey herself admitted that the Alabama bill is likely “unenforceable” thanks to the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which asserted that Americans have a fundamental right to an abortion until a fetus is viable. However, these bills are designed to provoke the Supreme Court to make a ruling that will weaken abortion protections, or to even overturn the landmark ruling. (Time)

The sponsor of Alabama’s law is up front about seeking to challenged the 1973 Supreme Court decision.

Alabama House Rep. Terri Collins, who sponsored the bill, told NBC News on Tuesday evening that legislators wanted to keep the bill’s text as clean as possible, specifically to address the language in Roe v. Wade, and revisit the question on whether a baby in the womb is considered a person. (NBC News)

Though Missouri’s fetal heartbeat law wasn’t designed as a challenge to Roe v Wade, it’ll end up in the courts like all the rest. At some point the nation’s highest court may again take up the issue. This is the topic for today’s poll.

Today’s poll will close at 8pm. Results and my thoughts on the subject Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 5 of 2019-2020 Session

May 17, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 5 of 2019-2020 Session
 
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their  5th meeting of the 2019-2020 session.

Today’s agenda includes seven (7) new bills:

  • B.B.#40 – Green/Ingrassia/Rice/Guenther/Navarro/Narayan – An ordinance submitting to the qualified voters of the City, a proposal to amend the Charter of the City by adding a new Article, Article XXVII which shall pertain to Campaign Finance, and a new Section thereunder to prohibit candidate committees for individuals who are candidates for an elective public office of the City from accepting campaign contributions from individuals or entities that are competing or submitting an application for any City contract during the period beginning ninety (90) days prior to any solicitation or request for proposals are issued by the City of St. Louis and ending ninety (90) days after the corresponding contract has been awarded; and containing
    an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#41 – Green/Ingrassia/Rice/Guenther/Navarro/Narayan – An ordinance submitting to the qualified voters, a proposal to amend the Charter by adding a new Article, Article XXVII which shall pertain to Campaign Finance, and a new Section thereunder mandating that no contribution to a candidate for an elective public office of the City shall be made or accepted, directly or indirectly, in a fictitious name, in the name of another person, or by or through another person in such a manner as to, or with the intent to, conceal the identity of the actual source of the contribution, with a rebuttable presumption that a contribution to a candidate for an elective public office of the City is made or accepted with the intent to circumvent the limitations on contributions imposed by any City ordinance or the Charter of the City, or other applicable state or federal law, when a contribution is received from a committee or organization that is primarily funded by a single person, individual or other committee or organization that has already reached its contribution limit under any City ordinance or the Charter, or other applicable state or federal law, and a committee or organization shall be deemed to be primarily funded by a single person, individual, or other committee when the committee or organization receives more than fifty percent of its annual funding from that single person, individual, or other committee; and providing for an election to be held for voting on the proposed amendment thereat and for the publication, certification, deposit, recording of the ordinance; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#42 – Green/Ingrassia/Rice/Guenther/Navarro/Narayan – An ordinance submitting to the qualified voters, a proposal to amend the Charter of the City by adding a new Article, Article XXVII which shall pertain to Campaign Finance, and a new Section thereunder to prohibit individuals holding an elective public office of the City and individuals who are candidates for an elective public office of the City from directly or indirectly accepting a gift of any tangible or intangible item, service, or thing of value from any lobbyist or lobbyist principal valued in excess of five-dollars per occurrence, excluding campaign contributions made in accordance with this ordinance and all applicable Federal, Missouri State, and City campaign finance laws and regulations; and providing for an election to be held for voting on the proposed amendment thereat and for the publication, certification, deposit, recording of the ordinance; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#43 – Pres. Reed/Vollmer – An Ordinance pertaining to the Transit Sales Tax imposed pursuant to Section 94.660, RSMo., as adopted and approved by the voters on August 2, 1994, pursuant to Ordinance 63168 creating the “City Public Transit Sales Tax Trust Fund” directing the Treasurer of the City to deposit funds received pursuant to said sales tax into the “City Public Transit Sales Tax Trust Fund – Account ONE” appropriating $11,580,000 from the said sales tax for the period herein stated to the Bi-State Development Agency for certain purposes; providing for the payment of such funds during the period July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020; further providing that in no event shall the Comptroller draw warrants on the Treasurer for an amount greater than the amounts of the proceeds deposited in the “City Public Transit Sales Tax Trust Fund” during the period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#44 – Pres. Reed/Vollmer – An Ordinance pertaining to the Transit Sales Tax imposed pursuant to Section 94.660, RSMo., as adopted and approved by the voters on November 4, 1997, pursuant to Ordinance 64111 creating the “City Public Transit Sales Tax Trust Fund” directing the Treasurer of the City to deposit funds received pursuant to said sales tax into the “City Public Transit Sales Tax Trust Fund – Account TWO” appropriating $11,580,000 from the said sales tax for the period herein stated to the Bi-State Development Agency for certain purposes; providing for the payment of such funds during the period July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020; further providing that in no event shall the Comptroller draw warrants on the Treasurer for an amount greater than the amounts of the proceeds deposited in the “City Public Transit Sales Tax Trust Fund” during the period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#45 – Pres. Reed/Vollmer – An ordinance appropriating the sum of $21,940,000, as described and defined in Section 94.600 through 94.655, RSMo. 2000 as amended for the period herein stated, which sum is hereby appropriated out of the “Transportation Trust Fund” to the Bi-State Development Agency for transportation purposes; and further providing that the appropriation is conditional upon the Bi-State Development Agency supplying the Board of Estimate and Apportionment an annual evaluation report; further providing that in no event shall the Comptroller draw warrants on the Treasurer for an amount greater than the amount of proceeds deposited in the “Transportation Trust Fund” during the period from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020; further providing that the appropriation is conditional upon Bi-State requiring the payment of prevailing wages and benefits to employees of outside service contractors; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#46 – Middlebrook – An ordinance amending Ordinance 69782 approved June 25, 2014 by modifying the terms of real estate tax abatement and amending Section C of the attached Redevelopment Plan by extending the time of completion to June 25 2021.

The 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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