Home » Featured » Recent Articles:

Glad the Illinois Primary is Tuesday, June 28th

June 23, 2022 Featured, Metro East, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Glad the Illinois Primary is Tuesday, June 28th
The old Illinois capital building in downtown Springfield IL

I’ve lived in two states my entire life, Illinois isn’t one of them. But as a St. Louis Missouri resident for nearly 32 years I’ve seen plenty of Illinois campaign television advertisements. Of course, Illinois residents in the St. Louis metro area have seen more than their share of Missouri political ads.

The Illinois primary is Tuesday, June 28, 2022.

While there are many races on ballots in Illinois it is ads for two that are the ones we’ve all been seeing. A lot. Governor & 15th congressional district.

Let’s begin with the race for congress, both GOP candidates are incumbents!

U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis and Mary Miller are running in the Republican primary for Illinois’ 15th Congressional District on June 28, 2022. This race is one of six U.S. House incumbent-vs.-incumbent primaries occurring in 2022 as a result of congressional redistricting after the 2020 census. (Ballotpedia)

Illinois lost one seat in congress as a result of population loss in the 2020 census, so two Republican colleagues are now in a bitter campaign against each other. Each is trying to paint themselves as the most pro-Trump and the other as being less conservative than themselves.

The head-to-head contest is an offshoot of new congressional boundaries drawn by state lawmakers in Springfield following the federal census and Illinois’ loss of one of its current 18 U.S. House seats. Miller’s home was narrowly drawn into a district with another Republican, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro, but she opted instead to challenge Davis. Members of Congress do not have to live in the district they represent. (Chicago Tribune)

The 15th is the most conservative district in Illinois, which means the democratic nominee won’t stand a chance. Either Davis or Miller will be out of office in January 2023, a week from now we should know who will be sworn in again and who will pack up their D.C. apartment.

In the Illinois race for governor the situation is very different. Democrat J. B. Pritzker is seeking a second term, he’ll easily win his primary. Half a dozen Republicans are running to become the GOP nominee to challenge Prizker in November.

Six candidates are running in the Republican primary for governor of Illinois on June 28, 2022. Darren Bailey and Richard Irvin have led the field in fundraising and media coverage.

Bailey is a farmer who serves in the Illinois State Senate. He was first elected to office in 2020. In his campaign ads, Bailey has highlighted his support for reducing taxes and government spending while serving in the state senate, his support for law enforcement, his support for Donald Trump (R), and his opposition to Governor J.B. Pritzker (D). A campaign ad said, “In Springfield, Darren stood up for working families and fought against every single tax increase. When Governor Pritzker tried to close Illinois, Darren sued him and won to keep our state open. Now, Darren is running for governor with a plan to cut our taxes, fund our police, and impose term limits on politicians.”[4]

Irvin is an attorney who has served as mayor of Aurora, Illinois since he was elected in 2017. Irvin’s campaign ads have highlighted his work as a prosecutor and his support for increasing police department budgets, his experience as a veteran, his opposition to J.B. Pritzker, and his economic record as mayor of Aurora. A campaign ad said, “Running our second-largest city, crime’s come down because the police budget has gone up. I hired more cops each year. We’ve recruited new companies […] and we’ve controlled spending, balanced budgets, so residents got property tax relief. My city is now stronger, safer, and full of opportunity. I want that for Illinois.” (Ballotpedia)

I’ve seen ads for only [two] three of the six. Like the 15th congressional district ads, the spots from the top two challengers have been vicious. I’ve also seen a few ads for Paul Schimpf. Nothing from the other three candidates. If Bailey loses either the primary or general he’ll no longer be in public office because his term as state senator ends. However, Irvin was just re-elected to a second term as Aurora’s mayor last year. If he doesn’t become governor he’ll still be mayor.

Past Illinois Democratic governors have been vulnerable at election time, but Prizker appears to be in a better position than his predecessors.

Illinois U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is seeking another 6-year term. I’ve not seen a single ad for the seven (7) Republicans on Tuesday’s primary ballot who want to go against her in November.

It’ll just be nice having a break from divisive political ads for a bit, though I know Missouri’s primary is only 5 weeks later, on August 2, 2022.

— Steve Patterson

 

b

 

New Residential Building Will Replace Short 1968 Bank Building at 620 Market in Downtown St. Louis

June 20, 2022 Downtown, Featured, Real Estate Comments Off on New Residential Building Will Replace Short 1968 Bank Building at 620 Market in Downtown St. Louis

The 2-story building at 620 Market Street, at 7th, was built in 1968. Most recently it was Mike Shannon’s restaurant, originally it was a bank with drive-through tellers. My first time in this building was in the early 1990s when the offices for the East-West Gateway Council of Governments — the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The building faces 3 streets: Market, 7th, and Walnut.

620 Market is located on the SE corner of Market & 7th. March 2022.
Alley between 620 Market (left) and the back of the Hilton parking garage (right). This alley may be privately owned by the hotel, not sure. March 2022.
Original bank night deposit box facing the alley on the east side.
The bank’s drive through tellers were accessed from Market Street. The access to the new building’s garage parking will be on this side. March 2022

Soon the building will be razed so a new building can be constructed on the site. Good riddance. Seriously, it’s awful for a central business district, but it’s exactly what to expect from the 1960s. Here’s more photos from years past.

Seventh Street faced of 620 Market, at Walnut. May 2012
The Walnut side, facing south toward Busch Stadium II when new. This was taken in April 2013 during phase 1 construction for Ballpark Village.
This May 2015 view from the Railway Exchange shows the context before phase 2 of Ballpark Village was built. Click image to see larger version.
620 Market top center in March 2016, during the removal of the old Kiener Plaza. Looking at 7th & Market.
The Market Street entrance to 620 Market, February 2016.

 

The new building won’t be an office building, but rental units over parking — exactly what you’d expect in today’s current development climate.

The construction will be a 3-story garage with 5 stories of wood-frame units above. There will be both street and paid garage parking. Public dog park areas abound and a 3rd floor courtyard facing the east will provide residents with an outdoor pool and yoga. A roof top viewing deck of the Arch and the Stadium and the skyline will be a great amenity. An on-site leasing office, cyber cafe and a community/fitness area will be placed on the ground floor along with 4955 square feet of retail/restaurant space. (Garrison Companies)

The developer’s website mentions the Ballpark MetroLink station only a couple of blocks away, and the new residential building over a new Target under construction at the Grand MetroLink station. Though they think Grand is “only a light rail stop away.” These light rail references combined with the “paid garage parking” tells me a parking spot won’t be included in the rent — such unbundled parking is ideal. Hopefully I’m reading this correctly.

While all the downtown condos I’m aware of all have an assigned space, many rental buildings don’t include a parking spot. Less “free” parking means fewer cars, greater use of public transit.

620 Market is on the left side. some units in the new building will have great views of Kiemer Plaza and parades on Market Street. May 2017 photo.

 

 

North-South MetroLink Study Update Looking To Stay On Jefferson Avenue, Avoid Previously Planned Circuitous Route

June 16, 2022 Environment, Featured, Planning & Design, Public Transit, Transportation Comments Off on North-South MetroLink Study Update Looking To Stay On Jefferson Avenue, Avoid Previously Planned Circuitous Route

The idea of a North-South MetroLink light rail line has been discussed for many years — too many. We’ve had a couple of studies and locally preferred alternatives over the 15+ year period. Currently Metro is looking at the most recent and “tweaking” it to make it work financially with the city funds from our transit tax. So when I heard this would be included in the Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT) June “Talking Transit” online event I immediately registered. It took place a week ago, but it’s online — link in a moment.

The last alternative was eastbound on Natural Bridge, coming south on Parnell/Jefferson to Cass (to include the large NGA workforce), east to 14th, eventually to 10th, back over to 14th, west on Chouteau, south on Jefferson.

2018 detail map showing the North-South MetroLink in orange. This is no longer possible because of the convention center expansion project closing 9th street.

So basically on Jefferson north of Cass and south of Chouteau, but taking a highly circuitous detour to go through downtown — and briefly east of Tucker.  The distance between those two points on Jefferson is 1.6 miles — in basically a straight line that would require no left or right turns.m

In a 2006 post I suggested a modern tram route on Jefferson, with a new MetroLink station where Jefferson crosses over the existing light rail line, so riders could transfer between lines. Well 16 years later they’re looking at doing basically just that — run in-street light rail on Jefferson with the addition of a MetroLink station at Jefferson. This was disclosed by Bi-State Development President & CEO Taulby Roach at 3:23 in CMT’s event a week ago (watch 0n YouTube).

Bi-State graphic, the orange-yellow mostly vertical line in the center shows the initial phase being evaluated now.  The pink sections are “areas of persistent poverty.”

 

With the NGA, Centene Stadium (MLS) and planned new hotels (Jefferson & Market) this a hot corridor.

The rail wouldn’t be a tram in mixed traffic, it would be in a separate dedicated center section, still low-floor though. The vehicles for both are nearly identical. In-street light rail vs tram basically means dedicated right-of-way and fewer stops, to improve overall speed.

Obviously I’ve long thought a stop at Jefferson on the original MetroLink was a good idea — the distance between the Union Station & Grand stations is just so excessive. I often talk about focusing on corridors, not circuitous routes, and Jefferson is an obvious corridor for a transit project.  It’s not a perfectly straight line, but it would eliminate a huge amount of turns.

Like previous North-South studies, the idea of going out west on Natural Bridge allows a future phase to connect into North County. This could help get county residents to employment opportunities at NGA, and in Downtown West/Midtown.

The American-made Brookville Liberty vehicle can go off-wire for short distances. Dallas TX April 2015

The study update is looking at the latest low-floor vehicles to use. Because of some tight points they’re looking at vehicles that could run for short distances on battery, with the usual catenary most of the distance. This is called off-wire. An example is the Brookville Liberty, in use in cities like Dallas, Milwaukee, and Oklahoma City.  I have no idea which specific vehicles Metro is considering, but the technology to go without a catenary for a short distance is proven.

Interior of Brookville Liberty with low center section and step up seating at each end. Dallas TX, April 2015.
Brookville Liberty at a stop in Milwaukee WI, June 2021
Low-floor center section of Brookville Liberty makes boarding easy. June 2021.

I’d hoped to have visited Oklahoma City by now and ride their Brookville Liberty vehicles., but rental cars & flights have just been too expensive. Again, I’m not sure what vehicles Metro is considering, this is the only off-grid vehicle I’ve ever ridden before.

In the CMT event on Zoom Taulby Roach indicated they’re planning on closed platforms  — having to pass through a fare gate to reach the platform.  This coincides with Metro’s platform project to install fare gates at all MetroLink stations in Missouri & Illinois.

Hopefully Metro’s latest look at North-South rail will result in actual construction, eventual operations.

Steve Patterson

 

 

Lewis Reed’s 25-Year Political Career (1997-2022)

June 8, 2022 Featured, History/Preservation, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Lewis Reed’s 25-Year Political Career (1997-2022)

Former 21st ward alderman John Collin-Muhammad resigned two weeks prior to a federal indictment against him and two others was unsealed. Jeffery Boyd resigned his long held seat as 22nd ward alderman the day after the indictment became public.

The third indicted was board president Lewis Reed, who resigned yesterday.

All three may avoid guilty verdicts in court, but politically they’re finished.

I never trusted Lewis Reed, I never could get a direct answer from him. He’d always just laugh and change the subject. Huge red flag in my book. Yuge!

Thankfully I can proudly say I’ve never voted for Lewis Reed. Not when he first ran for the citywide office in 2007, or re-election three times since. I never voted for him when he ran for Mayor.

Here’s a brief outline of Reed’s political career in St. Louis.

Reed was the campaign manager for 6th ward alderwoman Marit Clark’s 1997 independent run for mayor against Democratic nominee Clarance Harmon. Reed’s day job was as a computer network manager for a hospital group.

Harmon won the race but Reed got himself appointed to the St. Louis Port Authority, quickly becoming the chair. By 1999 Clark decided to retire from the Board of Aldernen, Reed was one of three candidates to become Alderman in the 6th ward. The other two were Patrick Cacchione and Brian Ireland.

Lewis Reed won his first election in St. Louis.

In the Spring of 2001 board president Francis Slay was elected mayor, alderman Jim Shrewsbury elected board president.

It was as 6th ward alderman that Reed came to my attention in 2006, over a planned police substation in the Tower Grove East neighborhood. It was known in the Fall of 2006 that Reed would be challenging board president Jim Shrewsbury in the Spring of 2007, causing people to begin planning to replace him on the board, representing the 6th ward.

From Reed’s 2007 campaign website running for board president. Saved on 3/6/2007 — knew it would eventually be useful.

Reed won his first citywide election in the March 2007 partisan primary by defeating 2-term president Shrewsbury, becoming president of the board the following month.

In March 2013 Reed ran for mayor for the first time, losing to incumbent Francis Slay. He remained president of the board since it was elected two years off from the mayoral race.

In Spring 2017 Reed again ran for mayor, but this time incumbent Slay wasn’t seeking a 4th term. The Democratic primary was packed with people wanting to become mayor. Others on the ballot included then 21st ward alderman Antonio French, Treasurer Tishaura Jones, 22nd ward alderman Jeffrey Boyd, and 28th ward alderwoman Lyda Krewson. Krewson became the city’s first female mayor. Every other candidate kept their existing elected sears that year, except Antonio French. John Collins-Muhammad was elected 21st ward alderman, succeeding French.

There’s a lot more detail I probably could’ve researched/included, but I think you get the overall picture of Reed’s 25 year political career in St. Louis.

— Steve Patterson

 

My Maternal Ancestors Farmed In Ukraine, Russia For A Couple Of Centuries

June 2, 2022 Featured, Politics/Policy, Religion Comments Off on My Maternal Ancestors Farmed In Ukraine, Russia For A Couple Of Centuries

Few living today have seen war between European nations, until the last few months. Russia President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine is horrific. The whole world is watching, especially neighboring countries. Eventually this may become World War 3.

When Russia invaded Ukraine I began looking at cities on Google’s Streetview, beautiful. Google has since removed this feature, at least from Mariupol. Satellite views are still available — I love how you have a dense city up to a point then rural farmland — none of the auto-centric sprawl visible in every region in the U.S.

But this post isn’t about present cities in Ukraine, or the war. It’s about my familial connection to Ukraine, Crimea, Poland, Russia, other European nations mentioned nightly on the evening news for months. It’s also about religious freedom.

As the headline states, numerous generations of my ancestors lived in Ukraine and South Russia. However, I’m not Ukrainian or Russian. All eight of my maternal great-grandparents were Mennonites living in settlements in Russia & Ukraine before immigrating to the U.S. and Canada in the late 19th century.

Mennonites are members of certain Christian groups belonging to the church communities of Anabaptist denominations named after Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland. Through his writings, Simons articulated and formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders, with the early teachings of the Mennonites founded on the belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus, which the original Anabaptist followers held with great conviction, despite persecution by various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. An early set of Mennonite beliefs was codified in the Dordrecht Confession of Faith in 1632, but the various groups do not hold to a common confession or creed.

Rather than fight, the majority of the early Mennonite followers survived by fleeing to neighboring states where ruling families were tolerant of their belief in believer’s baptism. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic peace churches, due to their commitment to pacifism. (Wikipedia)

In short, Mennonites and other anabaptists don’t believe in baptizing a baby. They believe baptism is something a person should decide for themselves.  This distinction from other Christian religions subjected anabaptists (Mennonite, Amish, etc) to religious intolerance.

All my mom’s ancestors for hundreds of years were Mennonite, but that ended when she married my father, who wasn’t a Mennonite.

My maternal ancestors moved every few generations, trying to find a place to farm and follow their religious beliefs.

Vistula delta Mennonites were a historic Mennonite community, established in the mid-16th century in the Vistula river delta in Poland. It originated from the Netherlands and present-day northern Germany. The Mennonite community played an important role in the drainage and cultivation of the Vistula delta and the trade relations with the Netherlands. In the late 18th century a significant number of Mennonites emigrated further and formed the nucleus of the Mennonite settlements in Russia, while many remained in the region after the annexation of the region by Prussia in the Partitions of Poland. With the end of World War II and the flight and expulsion of Germans (incl. Germanized Dutch settlers) the Mennonite settlements in the Vistula delta ceased to exist.

The Plautdietsch language, a mixture of Dutch and the local Low German dialect, originates from the Vistula delta and is still used by Mennonite communities worldwide. (Wikipedia)

This is the context that prompted my ancestors in the late 1700s and early 1800s to move to Russia, Ukraine, and Crimea — the hope of farming and being left alone. They didn’t attempt to assimilate, they set up rural isolated Mennonite villages in settlements.

The Molochna River, Ukraine. Photo from internet, by ??????? ???????. June 2017

My recent research has found my ancestors lived in at least 16 different settlements, but the one with the most was the Molotschna Colony.

Molotschna Colony or Molochna Colony was a Russian Mennonite settlement in what is now Zaporizhzhia Oblast in Ukraine. Today, the central village, known as Molochansk, has a population less than 10,000. The settlement is named after the Molochna River which forms its western boundary. The land falls mostly within the Tokmatskyi and Chernihivskyi Raions. The nearest large city is Melitopol, southwest of Molochansk.

Initially called Halbstadt (Half-city), Molotschna was founded in 1804 by Mennonite settlers from West Prussiaand consisted of 57 villages. Known as the New Colony, it was the second and largest Mennonite settlement in the Russian Empire. In the late 19th century, hundreds of people left this colony to settle in North America. Colonies there had groups that later relocated to Latin America, where Mennonites settled in several countries. After many Mennonites left or were deported during and after the last days of World War II, this area became populated largely by Ukrainians. (Wikipedia)

Some of their surnames included: Klassen, Neufield, Weins, Zacharies, Wall, Kruger, Kroeker, Fast, Thiessen, Bornn, Toews, Loepp, and Loewen. My maternal ancestors all immigrated to the U.S. and Canada in the late 19th century. It’s still unclear to me the proximity of their villages to the Pale of Settlement:

A western region of the Russian Empire with varying borders that existed from 1791 to 1917 in which permanent residency by Jews was allowed and beyond which Jewish residency, permanent or temporary, was mostly forbidden. Most Jews were still excluded from residency in a number of cities within the Pale as well. A few Jews were allowed to live outside the area, including those with university education, the ennobled, members of the most affluent of the merchant guilds and particular artisans, some military personnel and some services associated with them, including their families, and sometimes their servants. The archaic English term pale is derived from the Latin word palus, a stake, extended to mean the area enclosed by a fence or boundary. (Wikipedia)

This coincides with the time frame my maternal ancestors were in that part of Europe. My understanding is Jewish people weren’t allowed to farm, they were in cities doing trades. My ancestors, on the other hand, were farmers in small self-sustained rural villages. Recent pictures (before this war) of these areas were simply gorgeous, very beautiful.

Political changes & religious intolerance is why many Mennonites immigrated to North America in the late 19th century. Many Jewish people also left the Pale in the same period.

It’s weird that prior to this war I had little interest in Ukraine and my familial connection. Now I see news reports of fighting in certain regions so I look to see if my ancestors lived there, or nearby. The answer is usually they did.

It has been nearly 150 years since my ancestors lived there, but I feel a connection. The loss of life, disruption of families, destruction of cities, etc is all very upsetting.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



[custom-facebook-feed]

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe