Temporarily Going From Four Posts Per Week To Infrequent Posts

 

 When I first announced last Halloween that I had stage 4 kidney cancer I said I hoped to continue blogging — keeping up my four posts per week schedule  November though February was manageable. March 2020 has been difficult. My last treatment was March 2nd. Since then my appetite has …

A Trip To The Nearest Park

 

 On Wednesday I went outside, the temperature was nice and I’d been in our apartment for three full weeks — 21 days! I was going stir-crazy. I decided that rather than just walk a few feet outdoors I’d take my power wheelchair to the closest public park. On the way …

Readers: Local Stay at Home Orders Are Good Public Policy

 

 Missouri, like most backwards states, didn’t issue a statewide stay at home order. That meant Kansas City, St. Louis City, and St. Louis County had to act on their own. In a matter of days, millions of Americans have been asked to do what might have been unthinkable only a …

A Difficult Three Weeks, But We Have Toilet Paper

 

 My most recent immunotherapy treatment was three weeks ago. Since then I’ve been especially tired and have had almost no appetite. Normally I’d be baking bread, making dinners from scratch, etc. I’d been eating so well I gained 5lbs my last visit. I’ll lose wait again my next treatment day, …

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Readers: Missouri Should Not Wait On Marijuana Legalization

February 5, 2020 Featured, Medical Marijuana, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers: Missouri Should Not Wait On Marijuana Legalization
 
Long lines for recreational marijuana this year in Illinois.

A number of years ago marijuana legalization proponents wanted to put the issue on the ballot, but the statewide polling showed it wouldn’t pass. Rather than face a certain loss, they waited. Many of us who’d hoped for full legalization were disappointed by the delay, but we understood why.

Then they realized starting with medical marijuana first, as other states had done, was the way to go. They sponsored one of several medical marijuana ballot initiatives that were on our November 2018 ballot — there’s was the one to pass.

Proponents of recreational marijuana legalization in Missouri have launched a campaign to place a question on the state’s November ballot.

Backers will have to move fast. To make the November ballot, the campaign Missourians for a New Approach will have to turn in more than 160,000 signatures by May.

That gives campaign workers just three full months for signature collection; a medical marijuana campaign spent much more time in 2017 and 2018 gathering signatures. (Post-Dispatch)

With a majority of Americans living in a state with some form of legal weed attitudes are changing. Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has pledged to legalize weed nationwide on his first day as president, through executive order.

A majority of readers in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll agree Missouri should move ahead on legalization.

Q: Agree or disagree: Missouri needs to wait a few years before considering legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

  • Strongly agree: 6 [21.43%]
  • Agree: 1 [3.57%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [7.14%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [3.57%]
  • Disagree: 8 [28.57%]
  • Strongly disagree: 10 [35.71%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

I’ll post again when petitions are available to sign,

— Steve Patterson

 

Volunteer Labor Should Be Considered To Restart Loop Trolley

February 3, 2020 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Volunteer Labor Should Be Considered To Restart Loop Trolley
 

Last week Mayor Krewson asked Metro to reconsider the idea of restarting the Loop Trolley by pooling unspent federal money. Metro’s board recently rejected the idea.

Loop Trolley 001, November 2018

If a way isn’t found to restart the short-lived trolley, St. Louis City & County might be on the hook for millions in federal funds used for the project.

That was a reference to a Federal Transit Administration official’s statement Friday that if the trolley wasn’t revived, his agency could file a lawsuit to recover $25 million in federal grant money that had been used to help build the trolley line and related projects.

The official, regional administrator Mokhtee Ahmad, said there would be no effort to recover $11 million in other trolley-related federal spending because those were “street projects that would be done anyway.” (Post-Dispatch)

While I’m not a fan of historic trolley lines, I hate to see this huge effort & financial investment go unused. I especially hate the idea of the City & County having to come up with another $25 million to repay the feds.

The green car over the service pit is a Melbourne car from Seattle, March 2017

Everyone, including myself, thought transit agency Metro was the only option to revive the trolley. The problem is the fares & sales tax collected collected in the transportation district aren’t enough to cover operating expenses. Either the revenue needs to go up, or expenses go down — or some combination.

My thought turned to historic trolley lines I’ve experienced, wondering how they’re financed & operated. How do they make it work? The cities I’ve experience vintage/heritage streetcars are: New OrleansLittle RockMemphisSan Francisco, and Dallas.

All of the above, except Dallas, are operated by the local transit agency. All have operated for years, some decades. All have been expanded from their original length.

At least San Francisco and Dallas use a nonprofit and volunteer labor. While I haven’t examined the operating budget, I have no doubt that labor is a large portion — so reducing labor to one or two nonprofit staff might help the trolley line break even.

Dallas’ McKinney Ave Trolley (aka M-Line) in July 2012

Dallas’ McKinney Avenue Transit Authority model is worth considering:

Founded in 1983 with the intent of returning heritage streetcars to the streets of Dallas, the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority successfully accomplished that goal in July of 1989. The M-Line’s air-conditioned and heated, restored vintage trolleys operate 365 days a year, providing safe, clean, and convenient public transportation, free of charge (except charters) in Dallas’ vibrant Uptown Neighborhood.

Since it’s beginnings, MATA’s fleet has grown from its original two cars to today’s beautifully restored seven car fleet, operating year-round for over half a million rides a year. The once 2.8-mile track now covers almost 5 miles from Cityplace’s Uptown Station to the Downtown Arts District and back.

For 30 years, MATA has seen the city grow around it, and is an institution serving Dallasites and visitors with this unique, fun, reliable transportation. (MATA)

It wasn’t always free, but they recognized asking for donations works better for them. Groups can also charter a trolley.

Dallas’ McKinney Ave Trolley in May 2015.

I fully recognize this idea might not work here, there might be unique circumstances to prevent it. We already have a taxing district working for some funding and a nonprofit that operated the trolley. From their volunteer page:

McKinney Avenue Transit Authority is looking for a few good men and women!

Ever dream of being a Motorman. . . of a restored, vintage streetcar? Like working with your hands restoring vintage trolleys? Enjoy woodworking, mechanics, problem-solving? You are in luck! McKinney Avenue Trolley needs your help.

We are seeking volunteers to be trained as Motormen or Conductors to operate and greet passengers on our 7-car fleet of trolleys. We also need skilled volunteers to help us restore trolleys – inside and out.

Like working on special events to help us raise funds or marketing campaigns or App design to help enhance the trolley experience? We can use your talents!

Interested? Complete the form below and we’ll set up an interview.

This could the best volunteer position you ever had!

Every region has residents who have an interest in operating old trolleys, or an interest in the maintenance side. I could also see a connection with our local trade schools.

As part of due diligence I think it’s worth considering a volunteer labor model.

—Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Wait & See Before Considering Legalizing Recreational Use of Marijuana?

February 2, 2020 Drug Policy, Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Wait & See Before Considering Legalizing Recreational Use of Marijuana?
 
Please vote below

The group that backed the successful medical marijuana constitutional amendment in 2018 is looking for a repeat in November 2020. New Approach Missouri plans to gather signatures to place a measure on the November 2020 ballot for legalization  of marijuana for recreational use.

New Approach’s petition would legalize adult use of marijuana for those 21 or older.

The state would tax sales at 15%, with the proceeds going to veterans, highways and drug addiction treatment.

People with marijuana convictions would also be able to apply for sentence reductions and conviction expungement. The petition would require local voter approval to ban dispensaries.

Fiscal analyses of the proposal estimate the program would generate between $93 million and $155 million for state coffers annually.

Running the program would cost the state $21 million initially and then $6 million a year. (Post-Dispatch)

Though the state has awarded licenses for medical marijuana businesses, actual sales won’t begin until the summer.

Today’s poll assumes they gather the required signatures in time.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 30 of 2019-2020 Session

January 31, 2020 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 30 of 2019-2020 Session
 

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 30th 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 29.

Today’s agenda includes eight (8) new bills.

  • B.B. #199 – Arnowitz – An Ordinance pertaining to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, P.K. 104- 91, as amended; amending Ordinance 68109 by repealing paragraph A. of Section Three and enacting a new paragraph A. thereof, specifically by adding re-designating the City’s Hybrid Entity Health Care Components to add the Department of Health of the City of St. Louis as such.
  • B.B.#200 – Howard – An ordinance to regulate employer and employee working relationships between the City of St. Louis and all employees under the Classified Service, including a compensation plan, terms and conditions of employment, benefits, leaves of absence, and authorization for a Deferred Compensation Plan; repealing Ordinance 70791; allocating certain other employees to a grade with rate; and including an emergency clause. The provisions of the sections contained in this ordinance shall be effective with the start of the first pay period following approval by the Mayor.
  • B.B.#201 – Howard – An ordinance approving a blighting study and Redevelopment Plan for the 3933 Delor St. Redevelopment Area.
  • B.B.#202 – Middlebrook – An Ordinance amending Ordinance No. 66570, Section One, authorizing the First Amendment to Lease, Assignment, and Sublease among The City of St. Louis, Missouri, 14580 MO Bottom LLC and Kienstra Materials Company, LLC prescribing the form and details of said First Amendment; authorizing other related actions in connection with such agreement; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#203 – Coatar – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan dated January 21, 2020 for the 300 North Tucker Blvd. Area.
  • B.B.#204 – Martin – An ordinance approving a blighting study and Redevelopment Plan for the 6924 Idaho Ave. Redevelopment Area.
  • B.B.#205 – Coatar – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan dated January 21, 2020 for the 1501 South 7th St. Area.
  • B.B.#206 – Todd – An ordinance authorizing and directing the Director of Streets to permanently close, barricade or otherwise impede the flow of traffic on the 4300 block of Finney Avenue by blocking said traffic flow at the west curb line of Pendleton Avenue at the intersection of the 4300 block of Finney Avenue and Pendleton Avenue.

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

Presidential Primary More Important Than General Election For Missouri & Illinois Voters

January 29, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Presidential Primary More Important Than General Election For Missouri & Illinois Voters
 
The St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners is on the first floor at 300 N. Tucker (@ Olive)

Based on the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll an overwhelming majority of readers plan to vote in the upcoming presidential primaries.

Q: Agree or disagree: I’m NOT planning to vote in the upcoming presidential primary (either major party).

  • Strongly agree: 2 [8%]
  • Agree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat agree: 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [4%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 2 [8%]
  • Strongly disagree: 20 [80%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Both Missouri & Illinois are open primary states, registered voters get to pick which ballot they want at the polls. Other states, like Oklahoma, are the opposite. In those states voters must register to a party, that’s the ballot they get when voting in a partisan primary. Anyone in Missouri or illinois who claims to be a registered Democrat or Republican is mistaken.

Unlike four years ago, only one major party has a competitive primary this year. We already know in the November general election that Missouri will go red, Illinois will go blue. So voters in these states who want to the Democratic nominee to win need to vote in the primary.

Primary dates:

  • Missouri March 10th
  • Illinois March 17th

Like 2016, I’m voting for Bernie Sanders. His policy positions are right for the country, and the best alternative to 45.

Voting on all races in the November general election is important, especially House & Senate races.

— Steve Patterson

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