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Board Bill 198 Would Improve ‘Complete Streets’ Law

An incomplete street: The ramp is on the other side of the traffic signal base, opposite of the button. No crosswalk.
An incomplete street, Gravois @ McNair: The ramp is on the other side of the traffic signal base, opposite of the button. No crosswalk.

This morning I will testify before the Board of Aldermen’s Streets, Traffic and Refuse committee in favor of Board Bill 198:

BOARD BILL NO. 198 INTRODUCED BY ALDERMAN SCOTT OGILVIE, ALDERWOMAN LYDA KEWSON, ALDERWOMAN MEGAN GREEN, ALDERMAN SHANE COHN, ALDERWOMAN CHRISTINE INGRASSIA, ALDERWOMAN CAROL HOWARD An ordinance repealing Ordinance 68663, codified as Chapter 3.110.120 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis and in lieu thereof enacting a new ordinance relating to a “complete streets” policy for the City of St. Louis, stating guiding principles and practices so that transportation improvements are planned, designed and constructed to encourage walking, bicycling and transit use while promoting safe operations for all users.

The first reading of the bill was in November, this will be the first hearing on it. The full Bill, as introduced, can be viewed here (5 page PDF).  As noted in the summary above, it repeals & replaces Ordinance 68663 — a “Complete Streets” law adopted a few years ago.  This new bill is more — complete.

The best part is the creation of a Complete Streets Steering Committee, comprised of:

Directors or their designees from the Departments of Streets, Planning and Urban Design, Board of Public Service, Health Department, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry, and the Office of the Disabled.

This committee would meet quarterly and:

  • Develop short-term and long-term steps and planning necessary to create a comprehensive and integrated transportation network serving the needs of all users;
  • Assess potential obstacles to implementing Complete Streets practices;
  • Develop an action plan to more fully integrate complete streets principles into appropriate policy documents, plans, project selection processes, design manuals and  maintenance procedures;
  • Provide an annual written report and presentation to the Board of Aldermen showing progress made in implementing this policy.

We can do better, I’m glad some aldermen are trying. For more information see the National Complete Streets Coalition.

— Steve Patterson

A Decade Since Steve Patterson Filed To Run For The St. Louis Board Of Alderman

A decade ago today I decided I wasn’t going to let an incumbent win four years in office because of a lack of a challenger.  If she, Dorothy Kirner, wanted a four-year term she was going to have to work for it. Two months later I lost the primary, receiving 44.1% of the vote.  Not bad considering I started putting together my campaign after filing on the very last day, instead of months earlier.

Here I was a candidate but I had no team, no money, no plan.   My check for the filing fee didn’t even clear, thankfully then-Democratric party chair Brian Wahby allowed me to replace it rather than disqualify me from the race. At this point I was an unknown, this blog had only been around a little over two months.

I had been paying attention though, the day before filing I posted:

Carl Coats, a former city building inspector, had filed to challenge Dorothy Kirner for the 25th Ward aldermanic seat. On 1/4/05 he withdrew himself as a candidate. Unless someone files tomorrow Dorothy Kirner will win by default. This is my ward – I was hoping someone would mount a good challenge to Kirner. (See 25th Ward Challenger Carl Coats Has Withdrawn from Race).

That night I realized nobody else was going to run, but why not me? I was 37 and self-employed, so I had the time. I owned three properties in the ward, one co-owned with a friend, so I was invested. I had ideas I wanted to become part of the conversation during the election. I called a few people that night and the next day I went down to the Board of Election Commissioners to file.

People I know & people I just met stepped up to offer help, money, advice, etc. — too many to thank them all individually.

Steve Patterson speaking at a gathering at Gallery Urbis Orbis downtown, February 2005
Candidate Steve Patterson speaking at a gathering at Gallery Urbis Orbis downtown, February 2005
Patterson yard signs in the 25th Ward
Patterson yard signs in the 25th Ward
The yard sign graphic
The yard sign graphic with my campaign website prominently displayed
Kirner reused signs from the prior year, before the 25th Ward Regular Democratic Club had endorsed her in the current race
Kirner reused signs from the prior year, before the 25th Ward Regular Democratic Club had endorsed her in the current race
This rink in Mt. Pleasant Park was one issue during the campaign, none of us in the immediate area asked for this in the park -- it just appeared,
This rink in Mt. Pleasant Park was one issue during the campaign, none of us in the immediate area asked for this in the park — it just appeared

Early press was discouraging, such as the story ‘Incumbent aldermen assured of re-election’  in the South Suburban Journal five days after filling closed:

Incumbent Alderman Dorothy Kirner, 70, of the 3700 block of Taft Avenue, faces challenger Steven L. Patterson, 37, a real estate agent living in the 3100
block of Mount Pleasant Street. The primary is March 8.

“I have lived in the neighborhood for 48 years,” said Kirner, who was elected June 15, 2004 to succeed her husband, Alderman Dan Kirner, who died in office. Stressing her experience, she said, “I have been around longer than my husband was in the political field.”

But Patterson, who has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years, said he had a lot of experience in getting things done, in looking at development and managing people and projects.

“I think the fact that I haven’t spent many years in politics is actually a benefit to me. It’s time for a fresh approach to the ward,” he said.

As the campaign progressed the coverage did improve, from the Vital Voice, an LGBT publication, just days before the primary:

Steve Patterson is busy knocking on doors and talking to residents throughout the 25th Ward in hopes of becoming the first openly gay individual to serve in the 28-member St. Louis Board of Alderman.

Patterson, who turns 38 on Feb. 28, is mounting a serious challenge to unseat incumbent Alderwoman Dorothy Kirner in the March 8 primary. Kirner, 69, was elected last June to serve the remaining ten months of her late husband, Dan Kirner’s term.

“What brought me into politics is the desire to see change and realizing that I couldn’t sit here and complain that no one was taking charge without realizing that maybe that should be me,” said Patterson of his insurgent campaign. “The campaign experience is awesome. I’m really enjoying getting involved and being involved. It actually feels really good to be this civic minded.”

The 25th Ward, which includes neighborhoods around far South Grand is ethnically diverse with large Caucasian, African American, Bosnian and Vietnamese communities. The ward also has a representative gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community. Nevertheless, the heavily Democratic 25th is socially conservative and accordingly voted to approve Amendment 2 last August witch banned gay marriage in the Missouri Constitution.

Yes, only one of the city’s 28 wards voted in favor of Amendment 2 and I, an openly gay man, was running for alderman in that ward just 4 months later.  What was I thinking? I do remember knocking on one door, the woman who answered asked me if I supported gay rights or same-sex marriage. When I told her I was gay I turned a sceptic stranger into a voter, we remain friends today.

Although Kirner won a full 4-year term I have no regrets about running, one of the best decisions I ever made.  I do have some hindsight from my one and only political campaign:

  • Plan well ahead, don’t wait until the last day to file to start putting the campaign together.
  • Run to win, but know that becoming serious candidate makes you a winner even if you don’t win the election.
  • Video record your debate, I wish I’d done so!

This election was prior to social media — no Facebook or Twitter! Like I indicated in the photos above, I had a blog/website, one of the earliest aldermanic campaigns to have one. I raised & spent about $1,200m Kirner raised & spend about $12,000 — she  had to hire consultants to build a website.   She showed up for a debate on the issues, something she wouldn’t have had to do otherwise.

One issue raised during our campaign was a Citizen Review Board, I favored it while Kirner, whose late husband had been a police officer, opposed external review of the police. The Board of Aldermen passed a Civilian Review Board bill a year later — vetoed by Mayor Slay.

I received
I received 278 votes (51.5%) in the two precincts East of Grand, while Kirner received 292 votes (64.7%) from the two precincts West of Grand.  I lived East of Grand, Kirner West of Grand, her support was stronger than mine. Total votes was 437 vs 554.

After serving her one term, Dorothy Kirner didn’t seek a 2nd in 2009, setting up a 4-way race for the open seat. Openly gay Shane Cohn won the democratic primary with 487 votes (46.25%), this 4-way race had 1,053 votes vs 991 votes in my 2005 race.

Filing for the March 2015 primary has closed, though independent candidates can still get on the ballot in the April general by collecting signatures. Those of you in odd numbered wards who are considering running in 2017 should begin planning now.

Tomorrow I’ll look at the 2015 spring municipal races.

— Steve Patterson

Spring 2015 Municipal Election Season Has Started

The St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners is on the first floor at 300 N. Tucker (@ Olive)
The St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners is on the first floor at 300 N. Tucker (@ Olive)

The national midterm elections are only 3 weeks behind us, but already the Spring 2015 St. Louis municipal election season has begun, yesterday candidates filing for office in the city’s even-numbered wards. Also on the ballot will be the citywide office of President of the Board of Aldermen.

So far the following wards will have contested races in the Democratic primary: 4, 8, 15, 20, 24. 28.  The last day to file for office is January 2, 2015.  You can see a list of candidates that filed yesterday here.

— Steve Patterson

Independents Trounce Partisan Nominees In 15th Ward Special Election

The unofficial results from Tuesday’s special election in the 15th ward are interesting to me.  First, the turnout was a decent 17.5%. By contrast, the December 2011 special election in my ward, the 5th, just 10.37% of voters participated.

Here are some recent participation rates for the 15th ward:

  • August 2014 primary: 23.95%
  • March 2013 primary: 22.72%.
  • November 2012 general: 73.71%

Huge difference between big national elections, state elections, and a special local race. Here are the unofficial results from Tuesday:

  • MELISSA MCDANIEL (D) 123 [10.82%]
  • JOSHUA SIMPSON (R) 63 [5.54%]
  • MEGAN GREEN (I) 521 [45.82%]
  • RHONDA SMYTHE (I) 427 [37.55%]
  • Write-in Votes 3 [0.26%]

I made the following visual:

The two independent candidates received 83% of the votes cast
The two independent candidates received 83% of the votes cast

There was a time that being the democratic nominee meant easy victory, that may still hold true in many wards.  Not in the 15th this year, Melissa McDaniel only managed to get 11% of the total. Ouch!

None of the four candidates received a plurality, but we don’t have runoffs or instant runoff voting. Megan Green will be sworn in as the next 15th ward alderman. In early 2015 she’ll have to defend the office, in March if she switches to the Democratic party, or April if she remains an independent. I still want to see all local offices become nonpartisan.

— Steve Patterson

Reminder: 15th Ward Candidate Forum Tonight; Another Thursday October 2nd

A candidate forum will be held on Monday September 29, 2014 at the Carpenter Library, 7pm
A candidate forum will be held at 7pm tonight, Monday September 29, 2014, at the Carpenter Library

If you’re a registered voter in the 15th ward I urge you to attend the candidate forum at 7pm tonight, Monday September 29, 2014, Carpenter Library, lower level, 3309 S. Grand

Here are the four candidates, in reverse ballot order:

The special election is a week from tomorrow, Tuesday October 7, 2014. Previous post: Upcoming 15th Ward Special Election In Three Weeks; Candidate Forum Monday September 29, 2014.

Can’t make it tonight but want to meet the candidates?  The Royale St. Louis Bar & Grill has another forum on Thursday, October 2nd 9pm-10:30pm. Here’s the description of the Facebook event as of 9/18:

Megan Ellyia-Green (independent) – confirmed
Missy Pinkerton McDaniel (Democrat) – invited
Joshua Simpson (Republican) – confirmed
Rhonda Smythe (Independent) – confirmed

Michael R. Allen, moderator

In a special election on October 7, voters if the 15th Ward will elect a new alderperson. Three candidates are running for the open seat, and this event will allow them to share their views and passions. The format will be simple: the moderator will pose questions with yes or no answers, and then allow each candidate time for the short one-word answer and an elaboration. People will leave knowing without a doubt where these candidates stand. Clear answers make informed voters who make a stronger city.

The Royale is a great venue because it serves Tower Grove South, the ward’s largest neighborhood. While currently located in the 10th ward, the Royale has been previously included in other wards before including the 15th, and has many patrons within the 15th. In 2023, when the city reduces from 28 to 14 wards, who knows — the Royale could be represented by one of the four stars of this evening’s event!

Neither the Royale nor the moderator have endorsed or otherwise supported any of the four candidates, or any committee that has endorsed or supported them. Fair and impartial, y’all.

If you’re a 15th ward voter please try to attend one or both of these events.

— Steve Patterson

Upcoming 15th Ward Special Election In Three Weeks; Candidate Forum Monday September 29, 2014

A candidate forum will be held on Monday September 29, 2014 at the Carpenter Library, 7pm
A candidate forum will be held on Monday September 29, 2014 at the Carpenter Library, 7pm

The 15th ward seat on the Board of Aldermen became vacant in July when Jennifer Florida resigned to accept appointment as the Recorder of Deeds, which became vacant after Sharon Carpenter resigned to end investigation into charges of nepotism. Florida was reelected to the Board of Aldermen in the Spring of 2013. Now voters in the 15th ward will return to the polls next month or elect a new alderman.

Here are the four candidates, in reverse ballot order:

Rhonda Smythe

To my knowledge, the only one of the four I’ve met in person. I met Smythe through her work at Trailnet. As an independent candidate, Smythe submitted at least 106 signatures from valid 15th ward voters to be on the ballot.

Megan Ellyia Green

Green also gathered & submitted signatures to be on the ballot.

Joshua D. Simpson

  • Website: unknown
  • Facebook Page: unknown
  • Twitter: unknown

I was unable to find online information on this candidate or how the GOP nominated him. I did find the St. Louis Republican Central Committee website and Facebook page, no mention of Simpson on either.

Missy Pinkerton-McDaniel

Democratic Committeeman Tod A. Martin & nominated McDaniel, the Committeewoman, for the ballot.

So there are the four individuals seeking to become the next alderman representing the 15th ward. If you’re a registered voter in the 15th ward I urge you to look into all four and consider attending the upcoming candidate forum on Monday September 29, 2014. 7pm @ Carpenter Library, lower level, 3309 S. Grand

The special election is in three weeks, Tuesday October 7, 2014.

— Steve Patterson

Poll: Thoughts on Former Alderman Kacie Starr Triplett’s Personal Use of Campaign Funds

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

Kacie Starr Triplett was elected 6th ward alderman in March 2007, after getting just over 50% of the votes in a 3-way primary for the Democratic nomination, there was no challenger in the April 3, 2007 general election.  Triplett, reelected in 2011, was the youngest elected official in city hall until her resignation in November 2012.  Many, myself included, thought she had a long future at city hall. Resigning to take a non-profit job so soon after being reelected seemed puzzling, but plausible. A month prior to her resignation news broke about the FBI looking into the finances of Jesse Jackson Jr.

Then in February 2014 her sudden resignation began to make sense:

A former St. Louis alderwoman has sent out a letter of apology, admitting to using campaign money for personal use.

Kacie Starr Triplett says her illegal use of campaign funds was done on a small-scale, but did not disclose the amount of money she used. NewsChannel 5 obtained a copy of the Missouri Ethics Commission court filing, which states she misused as much as $18,900. (KSDK)

See her February 27, 2014 email here. On Friday we learned some of the consequences she’ll face as a result of her actions and admissions:

A once-rising star in city politics avoids possible jail time but agrees to a stiff fine in a deal with the circuit attorney’s office.

The deal between Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and Kacie Starr Triplett was signed on March 6th, but announced Friday only after Triplett made good on several payments.

In total Triplett has agreed to pay $22,000 in restitution, which that money will go to the St. Louis city public schools. (Fox2)

Jennifer Joyce, in an email reply, indicated the agreement is for 3 years, saying: “March of 2017 is when it will conclude.” Apparently she could also face a $100,000 fine from the Missouri Ethics Commission.

For the poll this week I want to know your reaction to her illegal use of campaign funds and the consequences, I’ve provided numerous answers but you can also add your own. Pick up to two.

— Steve Patterson

6th Ward Participatory Budgeting Project List (UPDATED)

A year’s worth of hard work by numerous volunteers paid off Saturday afternoon as 6th ward residents checked out 13 projects submitted by fellow 6th ward residents, and refined into legitimate projects by volunteers, also from the 6th ward.

6th ward residents checked out the Participatory Budgeting project expo on Saturday afternoon.
6th ward residents checked out the Participatory Budgeting project expo on Saturday afternoon.

This reminded me of competing in science fairs in middle & high school, standing next to our project board as each judge stopped by, asking tough questions. Zach Chasnoff  & Michelle Whithaus have logged hundreds of hours bringing Participatory Budgeting to St. Louis, big thanks to both of them. Also to 6th ward alderman Christine Ingrassia for being open minded enough to begin her first term in office with this project.

Of the 27 other aldermen, only Scott Ogilvie representing the 24th ward came out to see the projects and process, he remains on the fence. If you think your alderman should adopt Participatory budgeting I urge you to contact them by phone or email (list or find your alderman). Don’t live in the city but like the idea of voting on projects in your community? Contact the elected officials where you live!

$100,000 of 6th ward funds have been set aside to build the winning projects, residents will select their top three. Votes will be tabulated and winning projects announced. Here is a list of the projects:

  • Neighborhood signs, $28,000
  • New landscaping & planters, $90,000
  • Trash cans, $15,000
  • Eads Park Improvements, $20,000
  • Fox Park Restroom Renovation, $30,000
  • Perk Up Buder Park, $15,000
  • Decorative Bike Racks, $17,000
  • Crosswalk Light Jefferson and Park, $25,000
  • Bike Lanes, $30,000
  • Median at Jefferson and Park, $80,000
  • Traffic Calming on Compton, $50,000
  • Street Lighting, $50,000
  • Security Cameras, $30,000

I don’t have the final descriptions of the above, I’ll update this post once I receive the text that’ll appear on the ballots.  UPDATE 3/31 @ 9:50AM: SEE SAMPLE BALLOT HERE!

Voting starts tomorrow and continues everyday for over a week:

Tuesday, April 1st

Wednesday, April 2nd

Thursday, April 3rd

Friday, April 4th

Saturday, April 5th

Sunday, April 6th

Monday, April 7th

Tuesday, April 8th

  • 6 a.m.-7 p.m. @ Heritage House Apartments, 2800 Olive Blvd.
  • 7 p.m. Lafayette Square Neighborhood Meeting
  • 7:30 p.m. Compton Hill Neighborhood Meeting

If you live in the 6th Ward, or knows someone who does, please make sure they vote!

— Steve Patterson

Reminder: 6th Ward Participatory Budget Project Expo Tomorrow 3pm-5pm

Earlier in the week I posted about the next steps for Participatory Budgeting in the 6th Ward. This is a reminder a “project expo” will be held from 3pm-5pm tomorrow, Saturday March 29, 2014. The expo will be held at the Moulin event space, 2017 Chouteau.

Click image for PBSTL website
Click image for PBSTL website

Voting will take place next week:

Tuesday, April 1st

Wednesday, April 2nd

Thursday, April 3rd

Friday, April 4th

Saturday, April 5th

Sunday, April 6th

Monday, April 7th

Tuesday, April 8th

  • 6 a.m.-7 p.m. @ Heritage House Apartments, 2800 Olive Blvd.
  • 7 p.m. Lafayette Square Neighborhood Meeting
  • 7:30 p.m. Compton Hill Neighborhood Meeting

If you live in the 6th Ward, or knows someone who does, please make sure they can check out the project expo tomorrow from 3pm-5pm.

— Steve Patterson

Participatory Budgeting Next Steps: Project Expo & Citizen Voting

Extensive outreach through various methods, including door knocking, resulting in a diverse group of participants. Oct 2013
Extensive outreach through various methods, including door knocking, resulting in a diverse group of participants. Oct 2013

A year ago Participatory Budgeting in St. Louis was just an idea advanced by 6th Ward aldermanic candidate Michelle Witthaus. In a poll in March 2013, readers supported the concept of Participatory Budgeting.  The idea could’ve ended with the March primary election, when Christine Ingrassia won the 3-way race. Ingrassia liked the idea, asking Witthaus to spearhead the effort. They’ve worked together on this for a year now, along with many others. I’ve had the privilege of being able to sit in on meetings, events. After months of planning & strategy meetings the 6th ward assemblies took place in October 2013, gathering ideas from residents.

I should back up and explain what Participatory Budgeting is, for those who haven’t heard of it before:

In St. Louis, each ward is allocated a yearly budget for ward improvements. The budget is spent to improve things like sidewalks, streets, lighting, parks, etc. Usually the alderperson decides what projects get funded throughout the ward each year. Through participatory budgeting residents come together to share ideas on how they think the money should be spent, they create projects, then the entire ward gets to vote on which projects get funded for the year. It is a much more inclusive way of doing democracy. Essentially it gives more power back to people and allows the community to take more control of the decision-making process than ever before. (pbstl.org)

Since ideas were gathered in October, volunteer “delegates” have been busy working with city staff to turn the ideas into real projects, with real budgets. From 3pm-5pm on Saturday March 29, 2014 a “project expo” will be held. Here residents can come see all the projects and begin to decide how they plan to vote, helping decide how their ward funds are spent. The expo will be held at the Moulin event space, 2017 Chouteau.

Voting will take place over a week:

Tuesday, April 1st

Wednesday, April 2nd

Thursday, April 3rd

Friday, April 4th

Saturday, April 5th

Sunday, April 6th

Monday, April 7th

Tuesday, April 8th

  • 6 a.m.-7 p.m. @ Heritage House Apartments, 2800 Olive Blvd.
  • 7 p.m. Lafayette Square Neighborhood Meeting
  • 7:30 p.m. Compton Hill Neighborhood Meeting

Hopefully 6th ward residents will come out in large numbers to vote.  I look forward to seeing the projects and them seeing which were selected by residents. Hopefully other aldermen will adopt this process for at least a few of the other 27 wards. Half are up for reelection next year…

— Steve Patterson

SUNDAY POLL (8AM-8PM SUNDAYS)


Check back Sunday at 8am for a new poll.

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