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Battle for Control of Cherokee Street

At 1pm this afternoon the Cherokee Street Business Association will hold elections for its board of directors and officers. Unlike most business assocations, where things just continue with little controversy, this meeting may well be as heated as they come. This meeting may be a glimpse of how the upcoming 20th Ward election will go.

You see, Ald. Craig Schmid is pretty much of the same ‘keep out things’ mode of thinking of Wallace and her supporters. In the past, I think this has served a valid purpose. But times change and we must learn and adapt along the way. Among the groups on Cherokee are professionals, business owners catering to Mexican clientele, restaurants and bakeries, various artists and art groups, and a somewhat “radical” left-wing element. Wallace seems to have issues with all of them.

Galen Gondolfi, a candidate for Schmid’s 20th ward seat, is among those seeking change on Cherokee. Jason Deem, a young business man whom I have met and consulted on a rehab project, is seeking to be the new President of the association. Deem has assembled a diverse group of people from the street, all running as a slate. You can view their flyer in: English or Spanish.

Will a win for Deem and his slate mean trouble for Schmid in the larger ward? Maybe, maybe not. But, a Deem win will mark a shift on the street that Gondolfi will certainly tout on the campaign countdown to March 6th. Craig Schmid is not among the favorites of St. Louis’ political establishments but I have to think they’d rather keep him over a more progressive Gondolfi. Ken Ortmann, whose ward includes part of Cherokee, is not up for re-election until March 2009.

At issue is more than just who controls the gavel at meetings. Cherokee is a special taxing district so those who control the board, along with the aldermen, control the use of monies collected from taxes. How this money is used, or not used, will be important in the coming years.

More information on the growing rift on Cherokee from the RFT archives:

The meeting will be held at 1pm on the 2nd floor of the Juvenile Court Building across from the Casa Loma Ballroom, at Iowa and Cherokee (map).  The group, under Wallace’s leadership does have a website, www.cherokeestation.com, which currently has only an announcement about a Cindo de Mayo this past May.


Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. anon says:

    What makes Gandolfi more “progressive” than Schmid?

    I wonder what Wallace’s folks are paying to have launched and operate that website?

    It seems that blogs are a much more suitable alternative to pay-as-you-go websites, especially for all-volunteer organizations.

    If all you’re trying to do is create buzz, distribute information, and give your organization a web presence, a blog is all you need.

    [UrbanReviewSTL — I think “Gondolfi” — with an O — is more progressive if simply for the fact he is an artist. Artists, by nature, are more progressive than attorneys.  LOL, yes that website looked mighty complicated didn’t it?  And yes, a low to zero cost blog is all most organizations need to effectively keep people informed of meetings, events and such.]

  2. anon says:

    The other group Gandolfi will be need to woo is the Dutchtown South Community Corporation. Dutchtown South is a mostly resident-based organization, and Schmid is their alderman.

    [UrbanReviewSTL — Yes and no.  Gondolfi — with an O — will need to talk to voters who live in the Dutchtown service area.  But, that organization does not control voters and Schmid is not the only alderman for their area.]

  3. anon says:

    Schmid is a musician, and a damn good one. Musicians are artists.

    What separates Gondolfi from Schmid? What makes him better? His artist cred doesn’t.

    Anything else?

    [UrbanReviewSTL — you are correct.  Schmid plays music and is therefore equally progressive as Gondolfi.  Frankly, I can’t tell them apart.]

  4. Schmid has those awesome glasses and kickin-rad socks. Not to mention he rocks the horn. I would vote for him.

    What I do know of Cherokee Street is that it is underutilized. Keeping the bad out, as in bars, will also keep the good out, as in Steve Smith.

    With appropriate Policing, leadership, and community involvement, this could be an even more excellent district. Every so often the status quo needs to change. What worked in the past is not justification for continuing that course. Roadblocking progress will only direct it elsewhere.

  5. Brian says:

    I’ll still support Craig because he has been brave enough to ignore aldermanic courtesy and is among the most respected southside aldermen among his northside colleagues for almost always seeing things from a citywide perspective. However, I agree that Craig’s method of keeping out the bad from Cherokee will also keep out the good, hence allowing the bad to ultimately rule the day, when the storefronts end up empty of anything good or bad to add some desperately needed life to city streets.

    Maybe a compromise is in order. Lift the moratorium on Cherokee, but leave it in place elsewhere in the 20th ward, still affecting other streets, like Chippewa. Ironically, streets like Chippewa seem to have much more desperate need for new businesses, but Cherokee is the best set street in the 20th to take off. So Craig, at least experiment with Cherokee, if you can’t lift the ban ward-wide.

    [UrbanReviewSTL — As you point out that is what makes this such a tough issue.  Craig has been the only one willing to go against the establishment and he has been severely punished as a result (having his ward moved!).  The compromise you suggest is quite logical and could be done in conjunction with some sort of master plan for Cherokee.  Chippewa, a once great commercial street, also needs major attention if only for the sake of the adjacent residential properties.  I’m not ready to endorse Galen Gondolfi just yet but I am encouraged by his candidacy.  At the very least, I hope it pushes Craig Schmid to step outside of his past role of running things out to bringing in new ideas.  If Schmid can’t bend a little and put together a vision, he has no place on the Board of Aldermen!]

  6. ATorch says:

    There are some interesting rifts developing on the street, the antique owners, some progressive, some not, are in a tough situation already because their industry is suffering and only a few modern/retro/vintage shops have taken the place of the numerous antique shops that have closed in the last 10 years. About 12+ years ago (before Ebay) Cherokee was THE PLACE for antiques, even out-of-staters that I talked to on the East coast were familiar with the location; but some of the die-hards don’t seem to get along with the artists and ethnic newbies in the area (like destroying public art projects and other nonsense) so this will be an exciting race to watch. Cherokee is going to have to open up to more bars and restaurants and mixed-use business’ (AND open up their minds) to stay vibrant. It could be said something MORE needs to happen with the Lemp-International Shoe-Complex too to help the area stimulate growth……

  7. Marti says:

    [UrbanReviewSTL — I think “Gondolfi” — with an O — is more progressive if simply for the fact he is an artist. Artists, by nature, are more progressive than attorneys…]

    Whoa, Steve….. hmmmm. Yea, I can see your point. Being an artist bodes head over heals in favor of being more progressive than simply caring about the ward you represent or your consituents. Forget the lawyer tag.

    You know, you have to wonder about an alderman who doesn’t always see things the way you see them, especially if he is willing to actually LISTEN to opposing viewpoints and even have an open, caring conversation about it all.

    [hitting my head against a freshly-tuckpointed brick building]

    [UrbanReviewSTL — the artist/attorney thing was half joking.  Caring about a ward and knowing what to do are two different things.  I’ve had many conversations with Schmid over the years and while I think he will listen to other viewpoints I don’t see him changing.  On the issue of liquor licenses I think he has stopped listening altogether.  We’ll see if this election (see next post) does anything to shift his thinking.]

  8. Marti says:

    [UrbanReviewSTL — the artist/attorney thing was half joking. Caring about a ward and knowing what to do are two different things. I’ve had many conversations with Schmid over the years and while I think he will listen to other viewpoints I don’t see him changing. On the issue of liquor licenses I think he has stopped listening altogether. We’ll see if this election (see next post) does anything to shift his thinking.]

    I just had another conversation with Craig about this very issue a few days ago and completely disagree with your assessment. This is not a simple issue and I find Craig very willing to try to work something out which will work for all parties involved.

    I have had three separate conversations with Craig about this over the past few months and every single time we talk, we talk about different sorts of possibilities for resolving this in a way that could work for everyone.

    I have not known Craig to be swayed by competition or elections. I don’t think that will make a difference here, either. He seems to put that sort of schtuff to the side and just focus on the issue. I respect that in him.

    I suspect, regardless of what you or anyone thinks about his position, he has his heart and mind focused on finding a solution which will work for all involved. Frankly, I believe it will happen.

    [UrbanReviewSTL – Well, we may have to agree to disagree.  I’m not rulling him out, just saying I don’t like what I’ve seen of late.]

  9. Some attorneys, Steve, are progressive and not hired guns for corporate America. Even though the number of corporate attorneys has grown disproportional to the number of personal ones, not all are conservative or simply a tool of ‘the man.’

    I wouldn’t condemn Craig for being an Attorney. For all we know he could be a member of the ACLU.

    This is rather interesting as I recently did an essay on tort reform, the litigation explosion, etc.

  10. Jeff says:

    All my corporate attorney friends are borderline socialists. Go figure.

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