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Sunday Poll: Would Turnstiles Improve Safety On MetroLink?

April 16, 2017 Crime, Featured, Public Transit, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Would Turnstiles Improve Safety On MetroLink?
Please vote below

After two recent fatal shootings regional officials are looking for solutions:

After meeting privately for more than an hour Wednesday, St. Louis Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said they have a framework to improve security along the light-rail line that connects the three counties.

The announcement comes after two fatal shootings on MetroLink last month. At a news conference after the closed door meeting, officials offered few details other than to say physical barriers, such as turnstiles, were needed. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Today’s poll question is about turnstiles & public safety:

The poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson


Moral Crusader George Peach Charged In Prostitution Sting A Quarter Century Ago

March 13, 2017 Crime, Featured, History/Preservation, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Moral Crusader George Peach Charged In Prostitution Sting A Quarter Century Ago

The following is a slightly updated version of a post I did 5 years ago…

A year and a half after I moved to St. Louis a huge scandal broke — 25 years ago today:

The chief state prosecutor for the city of St. Louis, who has spent most of his 15 years in office crusading against obscenity, pornography and prostitution, was charged today with a misdemeanor offense of patronizing a prostitute.


Since being elected as circuit attorney in 1976, Mr. Peach has led a fight to rid St. Louis of pornography and prostitution. In the 1980’s he was responsible for closing the city’s major pornographic book and video stores. Last June, he endorsed changes in city ordinances that would make jail mandatory for prostitutes, pimps and customers who are second-time offenders. (New York Times)

Peach was busted three days earlier, on Tuesday March 10, 1992,  in a hotel in St. Louis County. In the days immediately following his arrest on the misdemeanor charge local officials were debating if he should resign or run for a 5th term as prosecutor.

ABOVE: AP story from 3/15/92, click to view article

A January 2004 story in the Post-Dispatch recounts many the sorted details including more criminal activity:

In an eight-month Post-Dispatch investigation in 1992, reporters disclosed that Peach financed his extracurricular activities with cash from a confidential city checking account he controlled. He also took money from a fund set up to aid crime victims. (Link no longer available)

A number of years ago an independent hollywood company began raising money to produce a film about Peach’s downfall, myself and many others donated money to help get the film made:

Heart of the Beholder is a 2005 drama film that was written and directed by Ken Tipton. It is based on Tipton’s own experience as the owner of a chain of videocassette rental stores in the 1980s. Tipton and his family had opened the first videocassette rental stores in St. Louis in 1980. Their business was largely destroyed by a campaign of the National Federation for Decency, who objected to the chain’s carrying the film The Last Temptation of Christ for rental.

The film won “Best Feature Film” awards at several film festivals. Critic Ryan Cracknell summarized the film, “There’s no shortage of material for writer-director Ken Tipton to work with here. That alone makes Heart of the Beholder a film of interest. It is in many ways a politically charged film as it touches on issues of freedom of speech, religious beliefs and all out fanaticism. Still, I didn’t think it was charged with enough balance and I think a large part had to do with the film’s inconsistent pacing.” (Wikipedia)

As one of thousands of uncredited producers I got the film on DVD, but here’s the trailer:

You can watch the entire film online, view chapter 1, do not watch at work! The film is also available on Netflix.

I recall a video store on the south side of Olive between Compton & Grand, now part of Saint Louis University’s campus, that closed in the early 90s. I only visited the store once, not sure if it was one of Ken Tipton’s Video Library stores or not.

– Steve Patterson


St. Louis Police Headquarters Opened Two Years Ago Today

July 19, 2016 Crime, Downtown, Featured 2 Comments

On Saturday July 19, 2014 — two years ago today —  the St. Louis Metropolitan Police showed off their new headquarters on Olive between 19th (which they had closed) and 20th

Saturday morning before the ribbon cutting
Saturday morning before the ribbon cutting
The open house began while the festivities were still going on outside. We started at the top, 7th floor, and worked our way down floor by floor.
The open house began while the festivities were still going on outside. We started at the top, 7th floor, and worked our way down floor by floor.

The building isn’t new construction, it was previously an office building.  On the day of the police headquarters open house they had some vehicles out front.

A vintage police vehicle
A vintage police vehicle
And what appears to be a former military vehicle
And what appears to be a former military vehicle

Nobody questioned the military vehicle out front, but three weeks later Michael Brown was shot &  killed in Ferguson. Many others have been shot by police in the last two years.

Recent shootings of black men in Baton Rouge & St. Paul, followed by the shooting of police officers in Dallas, Ballwin, and Baton Rouge, demonstrate we still have considerable work to do.

— Steve Patterson



Sunday Poll: Opioids/Herion vs Marijuana — Are They Equally Dangerous Drugs?

Please vote below
Please vote below

In late April singer Prince died at age 57, the corner found he died due to an opioid overdose:

Toxicology tests for Prince concluded that the entertainer died from an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl, according to a report on his death by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office.
Fentanyl, prescribed by doctors for cancer treatment, can be made illicitly and is blamed for a spike in overdose deaths in the United States. It’s 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin and 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (CNN)

Heroin is an opioid:

Heroin is an opioid drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.” (drugabuse.gov)

Prescription opioids include Vicodin & OxyContin. The government classifies drugs relative to each other in five levels, here are the descriptions of the two most dangerous as described by the DEA:

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:

heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote.

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are: 

Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin

For today’s poll I’m contrasting opioids/herion (Schedule 1 & 2) to marijuana (Schedule 1):

The term “dangerous” is how ever you define it.  The poll will close at 8pm tonight.

Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts with the non-scientific results of this poll.

— Steve Patterson


Gaslight Square vs. Washington Ave

The familiar Corvette from the Route 66 television series parked on Olive in Gaslight Square, from episode that aired November 30, 1962 -- click image for more detail at IMDB.
The familiar Corvette from the Route 66 television series parked on Olive in Gaslight Square, from episode that aired November 30, 1962 — click image for more detail at IMDB.

When I moved from Oklahoma City to St. Louis in 1990 our long-time neighbor across the street told me of his visits to Gaslight Square in the 1960s. By the time I’d arrived the buildings on the 2-block stretch of Olive were boarded up. I settled just West of there, on Lindell near Euclid. Euclid Ave, in the 90s, seemed to attract crime. Now it’s the greater downtown area — specifically Washington Ave.

First, a look at Gaslight Square:

By summer 1960, it was the place to be for beats, preppies, well-dressed adults, street troubadours and tourists. Olive pulsed with a happy cacophony wafting from places called the Crystal Palace, Left Bank, Laughing Buddha, and Dark Side. Jack Carl dished pastrami and genial abuse at 2 Cents Plain. A row of columns outside Smokey Joe’s Grecian Terrace anchored the landscape.

On March 24, 1961, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen anointed the obvious by renaming two blocks of Olive as Gaslight Square. Laclede Gas Co. later installed 121 gas streetlights, adding flicker to the buzz.

By summer 1961, Gaslight was noisier with more restaurants, taverns, nightclubs and shops. Some of the antiques dealers were squeezed out by rising rents. “The old gang doesn’t come around anymore, but perhaps it is a necessary evil of growing,” Massucci said as cash registers jingled.

Big and future names in show biz played the square. An 18-year-old singer named Barbra Streisand was warm-up for the Smothers Brothers. Allen Ginsberg recited poetry to mellow jazz. Miles Davis and Singleton Palmer were regulars. Earnest ministers opened the Exit, a coffee shop promising meaningful discussion and “jazz liturgy.”

But the crowds also attracted purse snatchers, car thieves and worse. On Dec. 30, 1964, Lillian Heller was fatally shot in a robbery in the vestibule of her apartment building at 4254 Gaslight, just east of Boyle. Heller, 61, and her husband, John, were artists.

Police added patrols and promised security. Young people flocked to discotheques such as Whisky a Go-Go, where hired dancers gyrated on platforms. But throbbing recorded music was drowning the live clarinet riffs. It became too crass and too much.

The old clubs began closing. Laclede doused some of the gas lights in 1967 for failure to pay. Police made drug arrests and thwarted a desperate bid to save the strip with topless waitresses. The Exit gave up the spirit in 1969, about when cultural pathologists pronounced the end of Gaslight. (Post-Dispatch)

Gaslight Square concentrated a lot into a couple of blocks of Olive. This concentration of money and activity attracted those who wanted some of that money.  Rising crime became too much for some so it began to die.

There are parallels to current events, but there’s time to avoid going down the same path. Ever since the Washington Ave streetscape was completed about 15 years ago (Tucker to 18th), so much attention has been focused on a tiny area.

From 2014: Weekend nights traffic gets backed up on Wash Ave between Tucker (12th) and 14th
From 2014: Weekend nights traffic gets backed up on Wash Ave between Tucker (12th) and 14th

The solution is to put less focus on Washington Ave, but also do like many cities: divide downtown/downtown west into geographic districts. Examples: Toronto, Oklahoma City, Kansas City. This has been talked about for years but it has never happened.

Some possible districts include:

  • Garment District
  • City Museum District
  • Ballpark Village District
  • Convention District
  • Union Station District
  • Columbus Square District
  • Library District
  • Central Business District
  • Arch District
  • MX District

None should have “downtown” or Washington Ave”  the name. Sure, crime will still happen, but this way an entire area won’t get stigmatized by something that happens 1-2 miles away. Branding districts could help with marketing efforts.

— Steve Patterson