Celebrating Blog’s 19th Anniversary


  Nineteen year ago I started this blog as a distraction from my father’s heart attack and slow recovery. It was late 2004 and social media & video streaming apps didn’t exist yet — or at least not widely available to the general public. Blogs were the newest means of …

Thoughts on NGA West’s Upcoming $10 Million Dollar Landscaping Project


  The new NGA West campus , Jefferson & Cass, has been under construction for a few years now. Next NGA West is a large-scale construction project that will build a new facility for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in St. Louis, Missouri.This $1.7B project is managed by the U.S. Army …

Four Recent Books From Island Press


  Book publisher Island Press always impresses me with thoughtful new books written by people working to solve current problems — the subjects are important ones for urbanists and policy makers to be familiar and actively discussing. These four books are presented in the order I received them. ‘Justice and …

New Siteman Cancer Center, Update on my Cancer


  This post is about two indirectly related topics: the new Siteman Cancer Center building under construction on the Washington University School of Medicine/BJC campus and an update on my stage 4 kidney cancer. Let’s deal with the latter first. You may have noticed I’ve not posted in three months, …

Recent Articles:

Opinion: Climate Change Making Natural Weather More Intense, Frequent

May 15, 2019 Environment, Featured Comments Off on Opinion: Climate Change Making Natural Weather More Intense, Frequent

The St. Louis region has experienced flooding events since its founding, so it’s easy to think current flooding is usual Spring flooding.

The St. Louis riverfront the afternoon of May 5, 2019

It’s not.

The impact of climate change on snowfall in the Midwest and Plains is uncertain, but projections suggest that heavy snow events will become more likely in the northern Great Plains.

David Robinson, a professor at Rutgers University who manages the Global Snow Lab, said that in some areas where climate change causes winter temperatures to warm above freezing more often, more winter precipitation may fall as rain. But other areas may experience more snow.

“As the cold temperatures get closer to freezing, there’s more moisture being held by the atmosphere,” he said. “So ironically, there are some areas that should warm up and get snowier because the temperatures will still be below freezing.” (Yale Climate Connections)

Hers’s another way to look at the connection:

Climate scientists often use a baseball analogy to explain the connection between climate change and extreme weather.

Martha Shulski, Nebraska’s state climatologist, describes the analogy this way:

Say you’ve got a home run hitter and you put him on steroids. He still hits home runs, but now he’s hitting the balls farther and getting home runs more frequently.

That’s how climate change influences weather: It can increase the intensity and frequency of extreme events. (Omaha World-Herald)

Let me repeat that last point — extreme events will be more frequent and intense.

Here are the results of the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Our current flooding is normal, has nothing to do with climate change.

  • Strongly agree: 5 [25%]
  • Agree: 2 [10%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [5%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [5%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [10%]
  • Disagree: 3 [15%]
  • Strongly disagree: 5 [25%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [5%]

The following is not safe for work due to f-bombs, but it’s worth watching:

I saw the above as part of an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver  — you can watch the full 20 minutes here (again, NSFW).

— Steve Patterson

Neighborhood Streetlights Still On Because Electrical Station Is Blocked

May 13, 2019 Environment, Featured, Neighborhoods Comments Off on Neighborhood Streetlights Still On Because Electrical Station Is Blocked

A month ago I posted about how My Neighborhood’s Street Lights Are Always On. To get this resolved I sent the link to the blog post to the folks at the St. Louis Citizens Service Bureau (CSB). As always, the promptly responded.

Here’s one of the many images of street lights on during the day included on my April 12th post.

These lights are supposed to be pedestrian-scaled are also used frequently throughout the neighborhood. Many have the globe canted like this one. Carr at 8th 

The CSB said lighting department was to respond by April 17th. On May 3rd the lights were still on so I replied asking what’s going on.

Click above to view the thread on Twitter

Yes, the lights have been on in my entire neighborhood for months (years?) because a concrete barrier is blocking access. I went searching to see if I could figure out the location of the blocked access to the electrical station.

Manhole cover at 6th & Carr Streets. This might be the blocked electrical station

I”m not sure the above is the blocked location in question. In September 2014 it’s partially covered, and more so in August 2017.  Another nearby cover remains accessible.

Again, I don’t know if this is the correct location for the neighborhood electrical station workers need to access to get the street lights to come on only at night. All I know is the street lights, except the ones that are burnt out, remain on 24/7 a month after I notified the city.

We must have extra money to burn.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: ‘Climate Change’ Contributing to 2019 St. Louis Area Flooding?

May 12, 2019 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: ‘Climate Change’ Contributing to 2019 St. Louis Area Flooding?

Please vote below

Local rivers are still in flood stage, but nothing like they were a week ago:

Local news cameras captured dramatic aerial images of the moment floodwaters breached a levee in St. Charles County. Footage of the raging water surging over the Elm Point Levee in St. Charles County astounded those watching in the KSDK newsroom as one of the station’s news choppers broadcast images back to the control room. The station posted the video of the breach on Twitter. According to KSDK, the Elm Point Levee is situated between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, both of which are experiencing flooding.

FOX2 posted similar footage on social media showing the Elm Point breach along with a breach of the levee at the nearby Sand Fort Creek. Raw footage sent back from the FOX2 news chopper showed rising floodwaters inundating various buildings, including one that appeared to be leaking oil.

St. Charles County officials advised West Alton residents to evacuate due to the current Mississippi River crest projection of 35.5 feet on Monday. While the water levels in some areas along the Mississippi river are falling, many communities saw continued cresting in Missouri, according to the NWS office in St. Louis. (AccuWeather)

Today’s poll is simple, is this usual Spring flooding or is Climate Change a contributing factor?

Today’s poll will close at 8pm

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 4 of 2019-2020 Session

May 10, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 4 of 2019-2020 Session

St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their  4th meeting of the 2019-2020 session.

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

  • B.B.#35 – Roddy – An ordinance authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental cooperation project agreement among the City, the City Foundry Transportation Development District, and the City Foundry Community Improvement District prescribing the form and details of said agreement; making certain findings with respect thereto; authorizing certain other actions of city officials; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#36 – Navarro – An ordinance authorizing the Mayor and Comptroller to execute, upon receipt of and in consideration of the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) and other good and valuable consideration, a Quit Claim Deed to remise, release and forever quit-claim unto 6005 WESTMINSTER LLC certain city-owned property located in City Block 5423, which property is known by the address of 6001-5 Westminster Place.
    AGENDA NO. 3 MAY 10, 2019 3
    11. First Reading of Board Bills – (cont.)
  • B.B.#37 – Bosley – An ordinance providing that in the event that any City of St. Louis port district is expanded or additional port districts created in the City pursuant to Section 68.015 of the Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri the area or any portion thereof that lies within the boundaries set forth in Section One of this ordinance shall be excluded and left out of the designated area of such expanded or newly created port district.
  • B.B.#38 – Middlebrook – An Ordinance amending Ordinance No. 69650 relating to a Phase 2 Redevelopment Agreement between The City of St. Louis, Missouri and Carrie TIF, Inc. and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#39 – Ingrassia/Davis – An ordinance amending Ordinance# 62220 approved February 6, 1991 by modifying the terms of real estate tax abatement and amending the attached Redevelopment Plan by adding Phase IV to be completed by May 1, 2029.

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

Readers Split on Party-Corruption Connection

May 8, 2019 Featured, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County Comments Off on Readers Split on Party-Corruption Connection

Despite what some of you may think, neither major political party is immune from corruption. Elected officials from both can be drawn into corruption based on the amount of money involved. Common is a pay to play, also known as quid pro quo:

In the early 16th century, a quid pro quo was something obtained from an apothecary. That’s because when quid pro quo (New Latin for “something for something”) was first used in English, it referred to the process of substituting one medicine for another—whether intentionally (and sometimes fraudulently) or accidentally. The meaning of the phrase was quickly extended, however, and within several decades it was being used for more general equivalent exchanges. These days, it often occurs in legal contexts. (Merriam-Webster)

From Steve Stenger’s campaign website

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger pleaded guilty Friday to three counts of public corruption for steering county contracts to campaign donors and faces prison time when he is sentenced in August. Based on the offense level calculated in his guilty plea under federal guidelines, Stenger could get around three to four years in prison. Judge Catherine Perry emphasized she’s not bound by those guidelines, and set Stenger’s sentencing for Aug. 9. He will also be required to pay restitution. Although the exact amount isn’t clear it could be several hundred thousand dollars. The maximum sentence is 20 years and a $250,000 fine on each count.

Perry accepted Stenger’s guilty plea on charges of bribery, mail fraud and theft of honest services. The 44-page indictment made public on Monday accused Stenger of steering county contracts to his campaign donors and political supporters. (St. Louis Public Radio)

This is behavior an accountant & attorney should know better than to engage in. From Stenger’s re-election campaign website:

Steve Stenger grew up in Affton, the youngest of four children. His father was a union telephone lineman with Southwestern Bell. A 1990 graduate of Bishop DuBourg High School, he briefly toured as a singer with two local bands, The Stand and The Painted Faces. He graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, became a certified public accountant, and attended law school at Saint Louis University.

After law school, Steve went to work as an attorney and CPA at the firm of Ernst & Young. He later started the law firm Klar, Izsak and Stenger. In 2014, voters elected Steve to serve as the eighth St. Louis County Executive. He previously represented the sixth district on the St. Louis County Council for two terms.

As County Executive, Steve has focused his first term on improving public safety and bringing new economic investment to all parts of St. Louis County. Steve and his wife, Ali, have a 4-year-old daughter, Madeline, and a 2-year-old son, Lincoln. (SteveStenger.com)

In St. Louis, city & county, the biggest challenge is often from your own party in the primary. The general election is just a formality. In the city every elected  official is a Democrat. In St. Louis County three of seven council seats are held by Republicans.  Cross the Missouri River into St. Charles County and every elected official is a Republican.

Corruption can take different forms:

There are several types of political corruption that occur in local government. Some are more common than others, and some are more prevalent to local governments than to larger segments of government. Local governments may be more susceptible to corruption because interactions between private individuals and officials happen at greater levels of intimacy and with more frequency at more decentralized levels. Forms of corruption pertaining to money like bribery, extortion, embezzlement, and graft are found in local government systems. Other forms of political corruption are nepotism and patronagesystems. One historical example was the Black Horse Cavalry a group of New York state legislators accused of blackmailing corporations.

  • Bribery is the offering of something which is most often money but can also be goods or services in order to gain an unfair advantage. Common advantages can be to sway a person’s opinion, action, or decision, reduce amounts fees collected, speed up a government grants, or change outcomes of legal processes.
  • Extortion is threatening or inflicting harm to a person, their reputation, or their property in order to unjustly obtain money, actions, services, or other goods from that person. Blackmail is a form of extortion.
  • Embezzlement is the illegal taking or appropriation of money or property that has been entrusted to a person but is actually owned by another. In political terms this is called graft which is when a political office holder unlawfully uses public funds for personal purposes.
  • Nepotism is the practice or inclination to favor a group or person who is a relative when giving promotions, jobs, raises, and other benefits to employees. This is often based on the concept of familism which is believing that a person must always respect and favor family in all situations including those pertaining to politics and business. This leads some political officials to give privileges and positions of authority to relatives based on relationships and regardless of their actual abilities.
  • Patronage systems consist of the granting favors, contracts, or appointments to positions by a local public office holder or candidate for a political office in return for political support. Many times patronage is used to gain support and votes in elections or in passing legislation. Patronage systems disregard the formal rules of a local government and use personal instead of formalized channels to gain an advantage. (Wikipedia)

Here’s the results of the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: We have corruption in local governments because voters keep electing Democrats.

  • Strongly agree: 5 [18.52%]
  • Agree: 2 [7.41%]
  • Somewhat agree: 4 [14.81%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [3.7%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [3.7%]
  • Disagree: 3 [11.11%]
  • Strongly disagree: 11 [40.74%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Again, politicians from both parties have engaged in the above forms of corruption at some time or other.  Our region has a blue center ringed by red. From my perspective our city Democrats are too conservative.

I’m a firm believer that local politics should be non-partisan. Only 8 of the 30 most populous cities still have partisan elections (National League of Cities). Of course, this doesn’t root out corruption — it just removes the petty party finger-pointing that solves nothing.

— Steve Patterson