St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 20 of 2018-2019 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 20th meeting of the 2018-2019 session. Today’s agenda includes ten (10) new bills, including a few on candidates & elections: B.B.#138 – Roddy – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 4328 Swan B.B.#139 – Arnowitz – An ordinance relating …

Opinion: Larry Rice Should Not Reopen Homeless Shelter

 

 As a resident of the City of St. Louis for 28+ years I’ve interacted with homeless persons on many occasions, mostly in the last 11 years (as of next month) I’ve lived downtown. I’ve talked to many, bought beverages/food for some, and two have been to my loft for a …

Sidewalk Cleaning Is Important, Yet Not All Do It

 

 For nearly fourteen years now I’ve posted about many topics, often minor & obscure in nature. The little things, however, can also be important. First impressions can be lasting. Often conventioneers stay across the street in the Marriott St. Louis Grand hotel. They power wash their sidewalk along Washington Ave …

Sunday Poll: Should Larry Rice Be Allowed To Reopen His Homeless Shelter?

 

 Last month a 2nd court ruled against Larry Rice and his downtown homeless shelter: The Missouri Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling that found the city of St. Louis acted properly when it shut down the New Life Evangelistic Center homeless mission in April of 2017. The center’s director, …

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Thoughts on Tuesday’s Primary

August 10, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Thoughts on Tuesday’s Primary
 
Missouri Capital, Jefferson City, MO, April 2011

Today you get my thoughts on Tuesday’s election, starting in…Ohio’s special election to fill a vacant U.S. House seat. As you’ve likely heard, Ohio’s 12th District has been in GOP hands for decades. Trump won big in the district. Yet, GOP nominee Balderson is barely leading.

Election officials in Franklin County found 588 previously uncounted votes in a Columbus suburb. The result: O’Connor had a net gain of 190 votes, bringing the race’s margin down to 1,564.

“The votes from a portion of one voting location had not been processed into the tabulation system,” according to a Franklin County Board of Elections news release.

Balderson declared victory Tuesday night in the closely watched congressional district race in central Ohio. But O’Connor says he’s waiting for all votes to be counted. 

That includes 3,435 provisional ballots and 5,048 absentee ballots, which will be tabulated by Aug. 24.  (USA Today)

Interestingly, regardless of who is declared the winner these same two will face off again in November. Tuesday’s special election was to finish the term into January 2019. One may win now, but lose in November. The seat may stay in GOP hands, but it’s significant the race is so close. However, I don’t think this signals a nationwide “blue wave”, as each house district has unique circumstances, local economy, for example.

Here in Missouri I quietly thought deep red outstate voters would approve right-to-work. In May the vote on the referendum was moved up to August from November to increase the odds of passage — it still failed:

Missouri voters handed the state’s unions and the labor movement nationwide a win Tuesday evening, opting to reject the state’s right-to-work law.
Tuesday’s referendum in the state gave voters the chance to strike down a law the state Legislature passed last year that would prohibit employees from being forced to join a union or to otherwise pay “fair share” fees to a given workplace’s union. Rules like this are commonly referred to as “right-to-work” laws, and by prohibiting requirements for employees to join a union or pay fees to a union negotiating on their behalf, they are generally understood to weaken labor organizations in places where they are enacted. (CNN)

Maybe Missouri isn’t as red as I thought. Of course, it has gone for GOP presidential candidates for the last five presidential elections. Still, Missouri’s senior senator is moderate Democrat Claire McCaskill. As expected, she easily won the Tuesday primary. I voted for one of challengers to her left. Many of you know, in November 2016 I voted Green in the presidential race because I knew Missouri’s electoral college votes would go Red, not Blue. The U.S, Senate race is very different — every single vote matters. McCaskill is too conservative for me, but I’ll vote Blue in November to keep Hawley out and increase the odds of Democrats taking over the Senate.

It was exciting seeing Cori Bush campaign for the U.S, House with New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but incumbent Lacy Clay still won the primary.

Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, a longtime incumbent and the scion of a St. Louis political dynasty, held onto his seat in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District on Tuesday, fending off a primary challenger from Cori Bush, a nurse, pastor and progressive political activist. 

Bush had hoped to replicate the success of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who endorsed her and pulled off a similar upset when she defeated New York Rep. Joe Crowley in June. But Lacy Clay’s longstanding ties to the district were too much to overcome.

Before Lacy Clay won his seat in the 2000 election, his father ? Bill Clay, one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus ? had held it since 1969. Lacy Clay is a career politician, first winning office almost immediately after graduating college. (Huffington Post)

I loathe political dynasties. I like 2-term limits for President, but 8 year term limits in Jefferson City has been a disaster. I do think in the US House we need limited of stay 10-15 terms. We also need big money out of politics.

Another incumbent successfully fended off a challenger.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger narrowly survived a tough Democratic primary challenge on Tuesday, but there could still be trouble ahead.

More daunting than the November general election, where he faces nominal Republican opposition, may be governing Missouri’s largest county in partnership with an antagonistic county council. A bipartisan coalition there has clashed with Stenger for more than a year, and Stenger’s last consistent council ally was toppled by a young challenger in Tuesday’s vote.

“It’s going to be a very difficult four years for the county executive unless he develops some support on the county council,” said E. Terrence Jones, a professor emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis whose research includes metropolitan governance. (Post-Dispatch)

It’ll be interesting to watch St. Louis County politics play out. Also interesting to watch will be the County Prosecutor’s office, because incumbent Robert McCulloch, first elected in 1990, lost on Tuesday.

Political scholars and St. Louis-area lawyers said Wednesday that McCulloch lost for reasons other than Ferguson. Having served for nearly three decades, McCulloch dismissed Bell for his inexperience as a prosecutor and didn’t consider him a serious candidate. Part of his message during the campaign was that Bell had never prosecuted a felony case.

“It’s difficult when you’ve not had a tough contest in a long time to gear back up again,” said E. Terrence Jones, professor emeritus in the political science department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “Wesley Bell showed a tremendous ability to mobilize millennials and get them involved in the race, which enabled him to close much of the financial gap between himself and Bob McCulloch.”

Bell benefitted, too, from other Senate and House primaries on the Democratic ballot that boosted turnout in districts in north and central St. Louis County, Jones said. (Post-Dispatch)

I was 23 when I moved to St. Louis in August 1990 — McCulloch is the only St. Louis County Prosecutor during my time in St. Louis. It is unclear to me at this time if a prosecutor can implement changes like cash bail reform. Must Bell convince the County Council to pass legislation and get Stenger to sign it?

In St. Louis City Hall the incumbent License Collector & Recorder of Deeds candidates defeated primary challenges. As has been my experience for nearly 3 decades in St. Louis — very little will change.  Next week a look at the November ballot. [NOTE: This post originally indicated the incumbent was reelected as Recorder of Deeds — but challenger Michael Butler received just over 50% of the vote in the 3-way race. Incumbent Sharon Carpenter received less than 42%.] 

— Steve Patterson

Missouri Polls Open 6am-7pm

August 7, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Missouri Polls Open 6am-7pm
 
Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

Election Day is here, which means some TV ads will cease, but new ones will begin.

Though winners in today’s partisan primary still need to win in November, some races will effectively end with today’s results. Examples include Missouri’s 1st US House district. The district is deep blue so the winner of today’s Democratic primary will easily win in November. I hope that person is Cori Bush!

St, Louis County isn’t as blue as the city, but voters last elected a Republican for County Executive in 1986. The city’s “county” offices are the same way — the winner of the Democratic primary will be the winner on November.

Based on the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll, I’m likely preaching to the choir.

Q: Missouri’s midterm primary is Tuesday, will you be voting?

  • I’m a Missouri resident, but not registered to vote: 1 [3.85%]
  • I’m not a Missouri resident: 3 [11.54%]
  • I’ve already voted absentee: 2 [7.69%]
  • I’m a registered Missouri voter, but I won’t be voting in the midterm primary: 0 [0%]
  • I’m a registered Missouri voter and I will be voting on Tuesday: 20 [76.92%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

It’ll be interesting to look at turnout from today’s election and compare that with 4 years ago. I’d think both city & county will have higher turnout than it did in 2014. Click here to find your poling place and list of candidates/issues — anywhere in Missouri.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sidewalk Obstruction Removed After Annoying Pedestrians For 7+ Years

August 6, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Sidewalk Obstruction Removed After Annoying Pedestrians For 7+ Years
 

Last month I began going to the Downtown YMCA at the MX to workout (thanks AARP Medicare Plan). Locust would be direct, but crossing 13th in a wheelchair is awkward and construction has the sidewalk on the North closed at 10th. So I take Washington Ave East to 6th. It was there, next to the Eastbound Convention Center MetroLink station entrance, I encountered an obstacle. A wooden box with a yellow stick on top. At times I’d be meeting someone walking the other direction, one of us had to wait (usually me because of direction) while the other went by.

I snapped this photo on July 11, 2018 — my 6th visit to the YMCA at the MX. I didn’t share the pic.

By my 10th visit on July 11th I’d had enough, posting the following on Twitter:

On Facebook I posted this image and the one above with the same text. Reader Jim Zavist commented: “Based on Google Streetview, four bolts were imbedded in the sidewalk somewhere between 2009 and 2011 (for a sign?) and they’re apparently still there. Why nothing was ever installed is a very good question! https://goo.gl/maps/knG2vLWnEQ22”

When I got home I pulled up the link on my computer — Google Street View allows you to see current views, but you can also go back to see older views. I also looked through my photos to see why I had. Below is a mix of Google Street View screenshots & my photos. First, background history. The Convention Center Metrolink Station opened on July 31, 1993 as part of our original light rail line. The Eastbound entry/exit is located on the SW corner of 6th & Washington.

Eight years earlier St. Louis Centre indoor mall opened. So opening a  transit station adjacent to a mall is a good thing. After helping to kill downtown’s sidewalks, the mall closed.

October 2007 shows the unobstructed sidewalk, MetroLink station, tower & St. Louis Centre indoor mall . Source: Google Street View
September 2009 is much the same. Source: Google Street View
Looking west from 6th Street on May 22, 2010. The oppressive skywalk over Washington Ave would soon be removed as the indoor mall was turned into a parking garage with sidewalk-level retail. The adjacent office tower would also get a new entrance facing Washington Ave.
July 16, 2010 — the glass facade is being removed.
August 8, 2010 — — the bridge/skywalk is gone along with one bay of the old mall.
November 19, 2010 — the office tower’s new entry is taking shape
April 29, 2011 — new sidewalks are poured, new lighting installed.
June 2011 the exterior is basically done
July 2011 — Google Street View captures the recently poured sidewalks. Note the barrier…
Zooming in we can see 4 bolds sticking up from the newly poured sidewalk. Seeing the bolts made me think perhaps Metro planned some signs, I remember seeing new signs about this time.
October 11, 2011 — a worker installs a new sign on the other side of 6th. Recently I noticed this sign has a large base, way too big for the four bolts across the street. Perhaps a smaller version?
April 2015 — at least 4 years after the sidewalk with 4 bolts was poured a wooden box now hides them.
The box looks weathered, itself a trip hazard.
july 2015 — the box is still there unmarked. A Sherif’s van is parked on the sidewalk because that’s what we do in St. Louis.
july 2017 — by now someone added a yellow stick to the top of the box — to point out to pedestrians it is on the sidewalk

So when I posted about this on July 19th it had been an issue for over seven years. Seven years!

The box looks well worm by July 19, 2018

Either Metro or the MX developer planned something that was never going to be installed. Rather than cut the bolts off they built a wood box, then later added a yellow pole to said box to prevent people from tripping.  I know this is just one little sidewalk on a side street, but it illustrates how little concern there is for the pedestrian experience downtown — right next to a transit station.

The box & pole were still there on the morning of July 25th, but July 28th I came around the corner and saw they had been removed and the bolts cut off.

July 29, 2018 — no box w/yellow pole
Close up shows where thw bolts were cut off. No evidence of any electrical

It wold’ve been cheaper if the bolts had been cut off years ago, or realize the sidewalk was too narrow in the first place and the bolts not put in there in the first place!

In the big scheme of things St. Louis still has major problems, in that context this is insignificant. To me and others who use this sidewal, it is important,  There are still hundreds of other issues I deal with just downtown. I can’t solve St. Louis’ big problems, but I’ll take on small issues one by one.

Cities in which residents & tourists have challenges as a pedestrian are not going to have bustling sidewalks. Downtown retail/restaurants can’t survive without foot traffic. St. Louis would be wise to make life easier for pedestrians all over the city — but especially around major transit.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Will You Vote In Tuesday’s Primary?

August 5, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will You Vote In Tuesday’s Primary?
 
Please vote below

Today’s non-scientific poll has nothing to do directly with political parties, candidates, ballot questions, etc. Instead, today’s poll is simply about voting itself.

Americans appear to be more engaged with this year’s midterm elections than they typically are. Not only do about half of registered voters report being more enthusiastic than usual about voting, up from 40% in 2014, but turnout has surged in the 31 states that already have held their congressional primaries – particularly among Democrats.

In those states, nearly 13.6 million people – or 10.1% of registered voters – have voted in Democratic primaries for the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of state election returns. By this point in the 2014 midterm election cycle, fewer than 7.4 million people – or 6% of registered voters – had cast ballots in Democratic House primaries. (The same 31 states have held primaries as by this date in 2014.) (Pew Research)

Are you more engaged this year, will you be voting on Tuesday?  Here’s the official poll question:

As always, this poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

Missouri’s Primary is Tuesday August 7th

August 3, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Missouri’s Primary is Tuesday August 7th
 

Missouri’s primary election is next week, Tuesday. I’ve already voted absentee, hopefully you plan to vote. I covered the St. Louis ballot here, and St. Louis County here. However, last week I neglected to mention three charter amendments on every St. Louis County ballot, all are yes/no questions:

CHARTER AMENDMENT – ST. LOUIS CO. – PROPOSITION 2 
Shall the St. Louis County Charter be amended as proposed by Ordinance No. 27,057 enacted on the 29th day of May, 2018? Said charter as so amended would provide that the council may appoint an attorney, licensed to practice law in Missouri, to its executive staff, and enter into a contract with outside private counsel, who shall be an attorney licensed to practice law in Missouri.   

CHARTER AMENDMENT – ST. LOUIS CO. – PROPOSITION 3 
Shall the St. Louis County Charter be amended as proposed by Ordinance No. 27,058, enacted on the 29th day of May, 2018? Said charter as so amended would provide that the term employment as used in the County Charter, Section 2.170, shall be strictly interpreted as prescribed in state law, specifically 8 CSR 10-4.150, as that regulation existed on April 12, 2018.

CHARTER AMENDMENT – ST. LOUIS CO. – PROPOSITION 4 
Shall the Charter of St. Louis County be amended to provide for the regulation of campaign contributions, the regulation of interdepartmental fund transfers, and a website to publish certain county financial documents, as set forth in Exhibit A of Ordinance No. 27,059 on file with the St. Louis County Administrative Director and St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners?

I’m not familiar with the issues so I’m not going to weigh in on them, just want every voter to know what to expect so they can decide how they plan to vote before Tuesday. You can begin research into these amendments at St. Louis Public Radio.

Along the line of being an informed voter, I highly recommend every Missouri voter use Missouri’s Voter Outreach Center to find the candidates & issues based on your address & party preference.

— Steve Paterson

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