St. Louis Board of Aldermen Week 35 of 2017-2018 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 35th week of the 2017-2018 session. NEW BOARD BILLS ON THE AGENDA* FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 2/23/18: *Note that just because a bill is on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll be introduced, similarly, bills not on the agenda might be introduced …

Readers: We Need More Gun Control

 

 Every time we have a mass shooting in America I’m reminded the rest of the world doesn’t have this same problem. How can we have such a major problem but nobody else does? They have firearms, are not immune to mental illness, play the same video games, etc. After the …

New Book | The Great Uprising: Race Riots in Urban America during the 1960s by Peter B Levy

 

 I was alive during the 1960s…but only the last few years. As such, I have no memory of the many cultural changes that took place between 1960-1970. I asked my oldest brother, 67, about becoming a teenager in the 60s…in our hometown of Oklahoma City. His reply: Race Riots, rampant …

Sunday Poll: More Gun Control or Just Enforce Existing Laws?

 

 Last week’s shooting in Florida has sparked heated debate about solutions to the rising number of mass shootings: More than a dozen school shootings have already occurred so far in 2018. According to non-profit organization Everytown for Gun Safety, a total of 17 shootings have occurred on school campuses across the United States …

Recent Articles:

Opinion: Take Parking Away From Treasurer’s Office

January 3, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: Take Parking Away From Treasurer’s Office
 
One of many garages owned and operated by the treasurer’s office

Former St. Louis treasurer Larry Williams reminds me of a small town version of New York’s Robert Moses (1888-1981), using the state legislature to give him money & power while also remaining free of oversight. At least Williams got elected. Over & over because St. Louis voters can’t think beyond the incumbent. Moses would’ve been proud of Williams:

The job grew even more powerful and its duties vastly expanded in the 1990s, when Larry Williams successfully lobbied the state Legislature for bonding authority. He went on to create an empire of jobs, parking meters and garages. (Post-Dispatch)

With a few exceptions, if an incumbent runs for another term they’ll be re-elected. Even if they must resign amid scandal they’ll get re-elected.  So when Larry Williams announced in 2012 he wouldn’t seek another term, there was suddenly a chance for other politicians to move up to a cozy position.

In the 2012 Democratic primary for St. Louis Treasurer only one of the four candidates questioned the logic of a treasurer being responsible for parking This candidate, as a then-state rep, also indicated having the knowledge & experience necessary to change state law back to the way it was before longtime treasurer Larry Williams had it changed to give himself more money & power.  This candidate for treasurer said numerous times they didn’t want to be a “parking czar.”

This was exactly what I wanted to hear. But after winning the primary, general, and being sworn into office the tune, however, was different. I liked Tishaura Jones before she became what she explicitly said she didn’t want to be — a parking czar. Regardless of who is treasurer, it makes no sense to continue Williams’ self-serving manipulation of the state legislature. In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll more than half agreed — though the number of votes was low:

Q: Agree or disagree: City parking responsibilities (& revenues) should remain within the County-level Treasurer’s office

  • Strongly agree 3 [12.5%]
  • Agree 1 [4.17%]
  • Somewhat agree 3 [12.5%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [4.17%]
  • Disagree 3 [12.5%]
  • Strongly disagree 11 [45.83%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [8.33%]

Hopefully the latest lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of this odd arrangement will be successful.

— Steve Patterson

Goodbye Twenty Seventeen, Hello Twenty Eighteen

January 1, 2018 Featured Comments Off on Goodbye Twenty Seventeen, Hello Twenty Eighteen
 
Fireworks on July 4 2012, with the Arch and St. Louis skyline in the background. Taken with an iPhone 4S.

The ten year period 2000-2009 made sense to start off with  “Two Thousand…” when saying the year. For the last 8 years (2010-2017), however, it made more sense to start off with “twenty…” These last few weeks it seemed like I’ve been hearing more reporters, anchors, commercials saying “twenty” than “two thousand..”An exception was Jane Pauley hosting CBS Sunday Morning yesterday. she said every year as “two thousand…”

This is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

Still, I know many of you will continue saying “two thousand…”  But in two years it’ll be 2020. Will you say the obvious “twenty twenty” or the awkwardly long “two thousand twenty”?

 

Regardless of how you say it, have a great 2018!

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should Parking Stay Within The Treasurer’s Office?

December 31, 2017 Downtown, Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Parking Stay Within The Treasurer’s Office?
 
Please vote below

When St. Louis voted itself out of St. Louis County in 1876 it became an “independent city” with city & county elected offices. In the years since this has produced conflicts as “county” office holders are elected independently and don’t answer to the mayor or aldermen. Sometimes lawsuits are filed.

A lawsuit that’s been moving steadily through the courts since January questions whether the Parking Commission of St. Louis should even exist under Missouri’s constitution. In August, a member of that commission — Jeffrey Boyd, who heads the board’s streets, traffic and refuse committee — became a plaintiff suing the state and the city. Another plaintiff in the suit is James J. Wilson, the former city counselor under Mayor Vincent C. Schoemehl Jr. (Post-Dispatch)

The court case ix 1722-CC00338 – JAMES WILSON ET AL V CITY OF ST LOUIS ET AL (E-CASE). It can be found on Missouri Case.net. This bags the question about who should be in charge of parking and the revenues it generates?

Here is the last non-scientific poll of 2017;

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

A Review of Posts From 2017

December 29, 2017 Featured, Site Info Comments Off on A Review of Posts From 2017
 

This is the next to last post for 2017. Including a new poll on Sunday, I will have posted 190 times this year. Today I’ve listed a quarter of these — from each month — as my favorite posts for 2017. The reasons why I selected each vary, but I think they represent why I continue writing this blog — now in its 14th year.

JANUARY 2017

There’s A New Sheriff In Town

Senior Apartments To Be Built Adjacent To Swansea MetroLink Station Parking Lot

Annual Look At Changes Along St. Louis’ Dr Martin Luther King Drive

Accessibility To Food Trucks Is Often Lacking Due To Location Issues

 

FEBRUARY 2017

Finally Visited The National Blues Museum

New Arch To Riverfront Ramps Are A Great Improvement

Marti Frumhoff 1957-2007

Tonight: My Last Night In My 40s Happy Hour @ 360 St Louis, 4pm-7pm

 

MARCH 2017

Grocery Delivery: Easy & Convenient…But Costly

Moral Crusader George Peach Charged In Prostitution Sting A Quarter Century Ago

Safety Expert Killed Crossing 4th Street 15 Years Ago Today

APRIL 2017

Trump Tweets Gateway Arch Should Be Changed To Gold Color

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

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

MAY 2017

Richard Serra’s ‘Twain’ Is 35, Remains Unloved By Most St. Louisans…Including Arts Patrons

Learn From Embarrassing History, Don’t Brush It Under The Rug

Remembering The Old Kiener Plaza

A Look At The New Kiener Plaza (Photos & Videos)

Confederate Memorial in Forest Park Built During A period of High Racial Tensions in St. Louis

JUNE 2017

Crossing Hampton At Elizabeth

50 Years Since Unanimous SCOTUS Decision In Loving v Virginia

Autonomous Vehicles Will Change Urban Areas

 

 

JULY 2017

Judge: Special Business District Did Not Comply With State Law, Board Members Failed To Disclose Conflicts of Interest

Pine @ Tucker Treated Different Than Locust @ Tucker

Opinion: Razing Vacant Buildings A Short-Term Strategy With Negative Long-Term Consequences

16th & Market Curb Ramp Slightly Less Shoddy Than It Was

 

AUGUST 2017

The Gateway Transportation Center Is Now Amshack #3

Opinion: Missouri GOP Gutted Missouri’s Civil Rights Law

The Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center Reopens Today…Smoke-Free!

St. Louis Does the Opposite of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)

The Total Eclipse In St. Clair MO

Wheelchair Users Locked Out Of St. Louis Public Park

SEPEMBER 2017

One Building On Locust Being Renovated While Another Awaits Demolition

‘The Walk’ Two Decades Later

Bus Stop Design In The St. Louis Region De-Prioritizes Transit

 

 

OCTOBER 2017

Taco Bell Sans Drive-Thru

Opinion: Our Gas Prices Are Way Too Low

Opinion: Professional Lobbyists Shouldn’t Be Aldermen

Opinion: Doubtful St. Louis Will Be A Finalist For Amazon’s HQ2…And That’s OK

13th Anniversary Of UrbanReviewSTL

NOVEMBER 2017

Opinion: St. Louis Should Legalize Marijuana

Land Reutilization Authority Selling Vacant Lot That Is Less Than An Inch Wide

The LRA’s 10 Smallest Properties For Sale

Opinion: Generations of Shortsighted Decisions Continues To Dog St. Louis Region. Will Likely Continue

 

DECEMBER 2017

Opinion: Shake Shack Kinda A Big Deal For St. Louis

Opinion: Downtown Needs More Residential Units — Apartments Are Right for the Times

Many Holiday Gifts Came Likely Came From St. Louis’ Jaccard & Co Jewelry

Opinion: Tax Bill Xmas Gift a Lump of Coal for Many

FINAL THOUGHTS ON 2017

Like every year, 2017 had ups & downs — this is true for me personally, and for the city & region. Twenty-eighteen will also have highs & lows.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Tax Bill Xmas Gift a Lump of Coal for Many

December 27, 2017 Featured, Taxes Comments Off on Opinion: Tax Bill Xmas Gift a Lump of Coal for Many
 

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll asked about the Fair Tax Act of 2017. I made it the Xmas-eve poll topic because of the president characterizing it as a gift.

It’s a gift alright…for the wealthy. For the rest of us it appears like a gift…but within a decade it turns to coal.

In trying to justify the Republican tax bill, conservatives are quoting Bernie Sanders, of all people. The problem is that they’re taking the Vermont senator out of context.

In an interview last week, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Sanders, “Next year, 91 percent of middle-income Americans will receive a tax cut. Isn’t that a good thing?”

“Yeah, it is a very good thing, and that’s why we should have made the tax breaks for the middle class permanent,” Bernie replied. “But what the Republicans did is make the tax breaks for corporations permanent, the tax cuts for the middle class temporary.”  (Conservatives take Bernie Sanders out of context to justify their tax bill | Salon)

Yes, those cuts designed to thrill Trump’s base are minor and temporary. He’ll be out of office before they realize what happened..if they realize it even then.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has nothing to do with economics. It is pure politics. Economists struggling to understand the unwieldy legislation are like biochemists attempting to explain contemporary ballet. Nobody seriously believes that the bill will boost growth. Everybody knows that it will massively increase the deficit; the only argument is whether it will be by $1.5 trillion, or just $1 trillion. The legislation has been drafted at breakneck pace, with few opportunities for costings or analysis: a recipe for errors. Senator Elizabeth Warren joked that she spent more time choosing her new refrigerator than the Senate managed for tax reform.  (The new tax plan is the worst Christmas present for the middle class | Brookings)

Me in front of the White House, October 2001. I wore a watch and on my belt a case for a point & shoot camera!

But it’ll help the middle class…

There are elements of the bill that help middle-class Americans. It nearly doubles the standard deduction—the amount taxpayers can deduct from the annual income figure on which they’re taxed—to $24,000 for families and $12,000 for individuals. At the behest of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the final version of the bill hikes the child tax credit, allowing parents to subtract $2,000 per child from your tax bill. (Both changes are temporary, set to expire along with the individual tax cuts in 2025.)

But ultimately this is a bill for businesses and the people who own them. “The most important part of this tax reform is the corporate tax reform,” says Dr. Wayne Winegarden, an economist with the Pacific Research Institute, a free-market think tank. “How each individual is going to fare will depend on their unique circumstances.”

Many small businesses in the United States known as “pass-through” companies—after the way income “passes through” to their owners—are currently taxed as individuals. The tax bill will grant these businesses a 20% deduction. But the jury is out on whether the windfall for businesses will contribute to significant economic growth as Republicans claim, or whether corporations will pump their profits into hiring more employees.

In other words, the new bill will be a test of trickle-down economics, the Reagan-era economic policy that many experts now consider a flawed theory. Even some Reaganites are unimpressed by the legislation.
(The GOP Tax Bill Isn’t for the Middle Class. And It Was Never Meant to Be | Time)

Many know trickle-down doesn’t work…just look at Kansas for a recent example:

For five years, Kansas’s Republican governor, Sam Brownback, conducted the nation’s most radical exercise in trickle-down economics — a “real-live experiment,” he called it. He and the GOP-controlled legislature slashed the state’s already-low tax rates, eliminated state income tax for most owner-operated businesses and sharply reduced vital government services. These measures were supposed to deliver “a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy,” Brownback said.

It ended up being a shot of poison. Growth rates lagged behind those in neighboring states and the nation as a whole. Deficits mounted to unsustainable levels. Services withered. Brownback had set in motion a vicious cycle, not a virtuous one. 

Last week, finally, the legislature — still controlled by Republicans — overrode Brownback’s veto of legislation restoring taxation to sane levels. The nightmare experiment is coming to an end.
(Trickle-down economics is a nightmare. Kansas proved it. | The Washington Post)

The poll results:

Q: Agree or disagree: the massive federal tax cuts “will be an incredible Christmas gift for hard-working Americans.”

  • Strongly agree 4 [12.9%]
  • Agree 2 [6.45%]
  • Somewhat agree 2 [6.45%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [6.45%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [3.23%]
  • Disagree 3 [9.68%]
  • Strongly disagree 16 [51.61%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [3.23%]

This tax code change will be a disaster for those of us not in the top income brackets.

— Steve Patterson

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