Only 92 Days Until St. Louis’ First Non-Partisan Municipal Election

 

 Another presidential election is behind us…well, most of us. Now it’s time to think about St. Louis’ March 2021 primary.  It began a week ago when filing opened. Here’s a look at the important dates, from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners: 11/23/20: Filing begins 01/04/21: Filing ends 01/20/21: …

Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

 

 Early this week the KMOV News (CBS/4.1) had a story on the Jefferson County Health Department approving a mask mandate — and the upset group protesting outside. The very next story was the St. Louis Area Task Force saying hospital beds, including ICU, beds were filling up with COVID-19 patients. …

POLL: Should Missouri’s Governor Mandate Masks?

 

 The COVID-19 pandemic continues, but the response hasn’t been static since the start: The number of states with statewide mask mandates has risen since the summer, when roughly half of states had statewide mandates in place. Today, almost three-fourths of states have a statewide mandate in place. (ABC News) Missouri …

Population Loss in Six North St. Louis Wards

 

 As I pointed out recently, north St. Louis continues experiencing population loss. In my post on the election results I wrote: Despite the increase in registered voters, six contiguous north city wards (1,2,3,4,21,22,27) had decreases in registered voters. These same six also had decreases in 2016. When the 2020 census …

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Hoping For A Better World Before I Stop Breathing

June 8, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, Popular Culture, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Hoping For A Better World Before I Stop Breathing
 
Black Lives Matter sign along Gravois

I can still breath, but far too many can’t anymore — due to police brutality.  Here’s how Cambridge Dictionary defines brutality:

/bru??tæl.?.ti/ behavior that is very cruel or violent and showing no feelings for others.

Cruel or violent. No feelings for others.

The Police aren’t cruel & violent toward everyone, their clear target is black women & men. Breonna Taylor & George Floyd were the most recent victims.

I was just over a year old when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. The killing of unarmed black men had been going on for decades at that point, though it didn’t make the news then. Now it seems we’re still grappling with one senseless killing when another occurs.

Since I was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer last fall I’ve cried a lot. But I’ve come to accept I have 1-10 years left to live. What’s harder to accept is my final years will likely be marked by a deadly virus and the continued killing of young unarmed black women & men.

I know as a white male I’ve been fortunate. My mom didn’t have to worry if I’d be killed just for being myself. Actually that’s not quite true, as a very out gay man my mom worried about AIDS or me being beaten to death.

Still I’ve lived my 53+ years unafraid of the police. I’ve been pulled over before and given the officers a hard time about not wearing their seat belts — a black person could never do such a thing. I grew up in Oklahoma City but never heard a word about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre when white mobs entered and destroyed a thriving segregated Black Wall Street. Not. A. Word.

Aerial over Washington DC shows BLACK LIVES MATTER in huge letters leading to the White House

Peaceful protests are the foundation of our democracy. Seeing the many protests all over our region is very encouraging. I have friends out protesting, I’d join them if it was physically possible.

Those who started riots & looting are not protestors, they’re agitators. They come out when the opportunity arises. The protestors are not rioters. Protestors are not looters.

The 7-11 at 17th & Pine was burned a week ago.

White folks are often uncomfortable during times like this when there are mass protests. Good! Black folks are uncomfortable every day so it’s about damn time white folks feel uncomfortable.

When I’ve cried the last few weeks it’s not because I’m going to die in the coming decade, but because young black  women & men have died so violently at the hands (knees) of police, citizen vigilantes, etc. Recently I also cry every time I see the video of the old white man shoved to the pavement by police in Buffalo NY. They just kept walking past him. Cruel & violent indeed.

Homemade billboard along SB I-55 in Illinois demonstrates the slave owner mentality still exists. Location is just south of Farmersville IL in Montgomery County.

The defense is often just following orders, following the lead of higher rank police. The culture of the institution is the problem, in every city from coast to coast. It’s pervasive. Old institutions take forever to change, but my time is limited.

I thought after Rodney King things would change. I thought so again after Michael Brown. Small incremental changes around the edges isn’t enough. We must rethink what policing means in 21st century America, including discussions around dismantling & defunding.

We must stop treating our black citizens like escaped slaves.

My bucket list includes travel and such, but I’d forget it all just to not have any more unarmed blacks killed. I’d like to go out knowing the world will get better, not worse, after I’ve stopped breathing.

Black Lives Matter!

— Steve Patterson

NEW POLL: Will You Vote In Person or Absentee In The Next Election In Your State?

May 31, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on NEW POLL: Will You Vote In Person or Absentee In The Next Election In Your State?
 
Please vote below

The Republican-controlled Missouri legislature passed a bill making it easier for some in the state to vote through the end of 2020:

State lawmakers earlier this month sent [Gov] Parson a bill that would allow people considered at-risk — those age 65 and older, living in a long-term care facility or with certain existing health problems — could vote absentee without needing to have their ballot notarized. Anyone else could cast a mail-in ballot but would need to get it notarized.

Parson hasn’t taken action on the bill yet. It would only apply to the August primary and November general election. (Post-Dispatch)

As a disabled voter I’m automatically sent an absentee ballot request form for every election, though it doesn’t have the thrill of voting on Election Day. But that doesn’t matter when the weather, or my health that day, would prevent me from getting to vote.

With the current pandemic the subject of mail-in voting is being strongly debated. Today’s poll is not about policy, but what you personally plan to do. Answers are shown in random order, I’ve included the option  for you to include your own answer if one of mine isn’t satisfactory. Note that if you type in an answer I’m the only one who’ll see what you’ve written — it’ll be shown as “other” on the public results.

This non-scientific poll will close at 8pm tonight.

If you want more information on absentee voting here are links for readers in the primary audience:

No matter how you vote, just be sure you vote — in all races on the ballot!

— Steve Patterson

Demolition of St. Louis Centre Bridge Over Washington Ave Began A Decade Ago

May 21, 2020 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Demolition of St. Louis Centre Bridge Over Washington Ave Began A Decade Ago
 

Ten years ago today work began on reversing a mistake that had been in place for 25 years prior — the pedestrian bridge over Washington Ave created a dark environment at the sidewalk level.

Taken two days before the bridge bash you can see how dark it was underneath

The “Bridge Bash” event started with comments from numerous white men, followed by Mayor Slay operating the wrecking ball, pyrotechnics made breaking glass a little more exciting.  Here’s the video I uploaded from the scene — the action starts at 8:45.

St. Louis Centre was part of the ‘bring the suburbs to the city’ movement. The inwardly focused mall was a killer to the sidewalks downtown — especially under the Washington & Locust wide bridges connecting to Dillard’s & Famous-Barr, respectively.

Looking west from 6th Street on May 22, 2010
Looking west from 6th Street May 2010
Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006
Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006
Same view yesterday
Same view after the bridge was removed

Removal of this oppressive bridge and facing the ground level retail of the MX (formerly St. Louis Centre) has done wonders for this part of downtown. If only we hadn’t wasted decades trying to be like the burbs.

— Steve Patterson

It’s Opening Day! No, Not Baseball

May 18, 2020 Economy, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on It’s Opening Day! No, Not Baseball
 
Source: Food & Drug Administration

Every year opening day in the St. Louis region is a big deal, Cardinals baseball fans celebrate every year. But baseball isn’t starting today — some businesses in St. Louis City & County are being permitted to reopen, with restrictions. Not all businesses that can open, will open. Others that want to reopen aren’t yet permitted to do so, such as gyms.

Many will still be celebrating today. In contrast, others think reopening businesses now is a huge mistake. As businesses reopen today it’ll be impossible to enforce new reduced occupancy and other rules.

As someone that hasn’t been able to work for over a decade I understand getting bored at home, money running out, etc. I wanted to get back to normal, but I had to accept that my stroke meant I had to adjust to a new normal. This took me over two years.

The normal that everyone had at the start of 2020 will not be returning. Ever. Anyone who thinks otherwise will struggle to adapt.

This is not a democratic hoax, Coronavirus won’t just “disappear”. In fact, it may “never go away”.  A mass-produced vaccine won’t be ready to distribute this year, that won’t happen until at least the 2nd quarter of 2021. It could well take more than a year from now.  When it does arrive we don’t know if it’ll be free.

In the meantime we’re going to see repeated waves of infections, deaths will continue to escalate. Our economy will be stopped again with each wave. Until at least 70% of the population is vaccinated social  distancing, face masks, etc need to continue — 2021 or after.

Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong, but I don’t think I need to worry about that happening.

— Steve Patterson

Eads Bridge Pedestrian Path Finally Accessible Again After 4+ Years Inaccessible

May 14, 2020 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Eads Bridge Pedestrian Path Finally Accessible Again After 4+ Years Inaccessible
 

The renovation of the Arch grounds a few years back greatly improved accessibility for the public. Going from the top of the steps down to the riverfront used to be a major challenge if you were pushing a stroller, or using a wheelchair. New ramps now make it very easy.

But the project accidentally cut off access to the pedestrian walkway on the Eads Bridge, as early as May 2015. This month it was finally rectified, though the solution created another problem.

Looking west heading into St. Louis from the Eads Bridge. May 13, 2020

Let’s do a quick recap of the problem caused when a contractor busted through into the light rail tunnel below.

The earliest I can find the issue on Google Street View is from May 2015, how much earlier it began is uncertain.

May 7, 2017 is my oldest photo of the problem. This is when I began conversations with various officials about being able to access the pedestrian walkway in my wheelchair.
By March 16, 2019 the broken concrete had been removed but the height from steel plate to bridge sidewalk was too much for 99.9% of wheelchairs.

In January of this year I posted about the problem, see Eads Bridge Remains Inaccessible Years After Arch Project “Completed”. I was told a fix was in the works, but I’d been hearing excuses since 2017.

A week ago a friend sent a pic to me showing work happening. Yay, finally! Yesterday I went by to see the result, approaching from the North.

Approaching from Laclede’s Landing. I’m happy to see a smooth transition to the bridge, but the width of the crosswalk markings have no relationship to the width of the ramps on either end. 

I’m happy to report the accessibility is better than it ever was. The slopes, cross-slopes, ramps, etc. are all improved. I was very relived to be able to access the bridge. I then went to head West toward downtown.

Approaching the corner from the Arch grounds. At left is the point to cross the street to head into downtown proper.
Here’s a more direct view. Like before, the crosswalk is much wider than the ramp, but that’s not the main problem.
The stupid “beg button” for a walk signal is set back too far from the curb — only by leaning and stretching could I reach it.

Walkable areas shouldn’t have buttons to get a walk signal — they should always come up in the cycle. But if you’re going to make us press these damn buttons at least place them where they can be reached! I can see bottlenecks here post-covid with lots of tourists coming and going.

— Steve Patterson

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