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Readers: Find Another Way to Stop Meth

July 20, 2011 Crime, STL Region 16 Comments

In the poll last week readers made it clear they don’t want to need a prescription to buy common cold & allergy medication:

Q: Should St. Louis County & City Require Prescriptions for Cold & Allergy Medicines to Stop the Production of Meth?

  1. No, don’t punish innocents in an effort to stop the illegal activities of a few 52 [48.6%]
  2. Yes, meth is a regional problem 26 [24.3%]
  3. Only if the other four counties agree to fund homeless services in the city 12 [11.21%]
  4. No, rural counties don’t care about our problems, why should we help them? 8 [7.48%]
  5. Other answer… 7 [6.54%]
  6. Unsure/no opinion 2 [1.87%]

So much for regional cooperation. Here are the seven other answers:

  1. no, current laws are strict enough (and just shifting production to Mexico)
  2. Put it behind the counter
  3. These choices are ridicules. Yes, by prescription, to protect the innocent.
  4. Why isn’t the electronic tracking system, in place now, doing the job?
  5. Could write the law to expire in a few years?
  6. What do homeless services have to do with cold
  7. No. This will drive up the cost of the medicine by forcing everyone to see docs

The answer with the most votes was not originally one I provided.  The poll software allows me to convert a reader submitted answer into an official poll answer, which I did early on the first day of this poll.

– Steve Patterson


Can St. Louis Learn From Newark NJ & Cory Booker?

I’ve seen Cory Booker  on TV and in the news. Booker is the young mayor of Newark NJ. To some of you, 42 may not be young, but anything younger than me (44) is young in my book.

ABOVE: The Manhattan skyline as seen from the NJ Turnpike on January 15, 2008

I’ve been to Newark once.  More accurately, I saw the highway exit as I was driving to Rhode Island in January 2008. I wanted to stop and visit, but my schedule didn’t permit.

Troubled cities are attractive to me for some reason, perhaps the challenge of reversing negative trends? Newark, like Detroit and St. Louis, has serious issues.  I knew in 2008 that Newark had this new mayor, 37 when he was elected mayor. Booker’s lost to 4-term incumbent Sharpe James in 2002 but when James didn’t seek a 6th term in 2006 Booker won the non-partisan election.

As I watched Street Fight, the documentary of the 2002 race, I couldn’t help think of parallels to St. Louis:


Old urban city with a large African-American population, poor performing public schools, poverty & high crime, entrenched machine politics and the dirty tricks that go along with that to discourage challengers.

Famed urban engineer Harland Bartholomew worked for Newark before coming to St. Louis.  We’d have been better off had he stayed there.

Newark does have some differences from St. Louis. Their elections are non-partisan, their municipal council has only 9 members – five from wards and four at-large. Corruption in Newark is so bad “where every mayor since 1962 (except the current one, Cory Booker) has been indicted for crimes committed while in office.” (Newsweek)

I plan to learn more about Newark’s efforts to reduce violent crime, improve schools and attract jobs. I’ve started watching episodes of Sundance Channel’s Brick City series.

– Steve Patterson



Readers Overwhelmingly Support Bill Regulating Scrap Metal Dealers

ABOVE: Cash's Scrap Metal on N. Broadway couldn't pay customers in cash is a new bill becomes law

Last week readers voted overwhelmingly in support of BB86 which sets up requirements for scrap metal dealers to help reduce metal theft:

  1. Good, something needs to stop metal thieves 94 [77.69%]
  2. Something needs to be done but mailing checks isn’t realistic 15 [12.4%]
  3. Other answer… 5 [4.13%]
  4. Bad, more government regulation of private business 4 [3.31%]
  5. Requiring the mailing of checks will hurt honest scrappers 3 [2.48%]
  6. Unsure/no opinion 0 [0%]

The five other answers were:

  1. both the 3rd and 4th option
  2. I need more time to educate myself on the scrap industry and the legislation.
  3. Expropriate the property of all scrap/brick dealers
  4. Give them checks do not mail them.
  5. take photo, match to drivers license before paying

I still think requiring computerization and the mailing of checks is unrealistic. Time will tell.

– Steve Patterson



Poll: Should Scrap Metal Dealers Be Required To Mail Checks Rather Than Pay Cash?

ABOVE: Cash's Scrap Metal on N. Broadway couldn't pay customers in cash is a new bill becomes law

The poll this week relates to a bill at the Board of Aldermen:

The ordinance would force scrap yards to stop dealing in cash and to computerize records of what they buy and from whom. They could only accept air-conditioner coils from certified technicians and could lose their business license if they violate the ordinance.

It is the first item — requiring scrap dealers to pay their customers by a mailed check — that is causing the most consternation. But that’s the one element police say is a must if the city wants to curb scrap metal thefts that are costing property owners thousands in repairs and driving rehabbers out of St. Louis.

Since 2010, the city has seen more than $6 million in scrap metal thefts, $1.5 million of that since March. Police say drug addicts who steal scrap and sell it to support their daily habits would lose interest without the immediate payout of cash. (STLtoday.com)

Board Bill #86 sponsored by  16th ward Ald Donna Baringer on June 3, 2011. Co-sponsors listed are Troupe, Arnowitz, Wessels, Boyd, and Cohn:

An ordinance pertaining to the purchase or resale of scrap metal; repealing Ordinance 67424, presently codified as Section 15.159 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis, pertaining to electronic database requirements, purchasing HVAC scrap metal, establishing licensing requirements and rules and regulations for persons doing business in the City of St. Louis as scrap metal merchants; containing definitions; a penalty clause, a severability clause and an emergency clause.

I’ve read opposition on Facebook, saying this bill, if passed, will hurt legit guys who collect metal for a living. The argument is they depend on cash to buy food and pay rent.

I don’t have a strong opinion, but I’d like to see how readers feel about this issue so this is the poll topic this week. As always, the poll is in the upper right corner of the blog.

– Steve Patterson



Broken Planter Discouraging to See

February 15, 2011 Crime, Downtown 7 Comments
ABOVE: broken planter on Washington Ave sidewalk between 15th & 16th.

Not quite sure what to say about this broken planter I spotted last week.  Mostly I’m curious about who would do this and why.  My first thought was someone out partying after they’d had too much to drink. It was definitely discouraging to see.

– Steve Patterson