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Dennis J. “DJ” Wilson: April 14, 1952-April 20, 2019

April 22, 2019 Featured, Media Comments Off on Dennis J. “DJ” Wilson: April 14, 1952-April 20, 2019

St. Louis lost a great resident on Saturday. Dennis J. Wilson, or simply DJ, lost his fight with cancer. He’d written for numerous publications and worked for East-West Gateway Council of Governments.  For many DJ is best known for his KDHX radio show/podcast ‘Collateral Damage‘.

DJ Wilson hosting Collateral Damage on December 8, 2008.

I’m not an eloquent writer, so I’ll share some words of others.

St. Louis Magazine’s Jeannette Copperman:

More sentimental and sensitive than he’d ever let you guess, DJ was always keenly aware that for most of us, life is hard, and while he might down a few beers and watch a soccer game to forget that fact for a minute, he never tried to pretend or romanticize. He faced brain cancer the same way, reminding me by text of a British colleague who’d announced calmly, after suffering after a soon-fatal aneurysm crossing Grand Avenue, “Something untoward has happened in my head.”

I worked with DJ first at Saint Louis University. So laidback it took a while for his sharp intelligence to hit you, he kept his feet propped on his desk whenever possible, a huge hole visible in the sole of his shoe. He was the first vegetarian I’d ever met, and I was charmed to see that he ate junk food readily; this was principle, not a health crusade. Later, we shared an office at the RFT. One day I was diving into research for a story on shock therapy, and he reached about two-thirds of the way down a stack of old newspapers and clippings that was taller than the divider (the fire department later ordered it dismantled) and located, on the first try, an article on the topic from the late 1970s. He repeated such feats regularly, knew something about everything, steered me to what mattered and called bullshit on what didn’t.

Former 2-term Alderman and new transportation planner Scott Ogilvie:

I’d been a guest on Collateral Damage prior to my February 2008 stroke, once while in the hospital, and numerous times since. For a couple of years there I was either the most frequent guest or in the top 5. I was often his go to person when a guest cancelled, as  I was usually available. A couple of times I was free but couldn’t get to KDHX, DJ came and picked me up in his old Volvo 240 wagon.

Looking back through his Facebook profile he had only one favorite quote:

“Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.” ? George Orwell

St. Louis was a better place because DJ was part of it.

— Steve Patterson


Readers: ‘2019’ Should Be Pronounced ‘Twenty Nineteen’

January 2, 2019 Featured, Media Comments Off on Readers: ‘2019’ Should Be Pronounced ‘Twenty Nineteen’
Cover of a ‘Twenty Nineteen” spiral notebook from Barnes & Noble.

Happy New Year everyone! In the coming weeks I’ll post about why I’m optimistic as we enter 2019. Before that, however, I need to address an issue that drives me crazy…and, by extension, my husband crazy: how years are pronounced.

In watching television I can’t help but wonder if they’ve accidentally typed “2,018” or “2,019” into the teleprompter. If you got a bill for $2,019 you’d say “two thousand nineteen.” The bill total would almost never be $2019 — it’s generally $2,019. But we don’t use the thousands separator for the year.

You’d never write “I’m considering buying a new 2,019 truck.” Yet every Sunday morning Jane Pauley, host of CBS Sunday Morning, would say “two thousand eighteen.” Weekdays I know I know if John Dickerson opens CBS This Morning he’ll say “twenty nineteen”, but his co-hosts will say “two thousand nineteen.” Local news is hit or miss. I don’t listen to radio anymore to know how they’re pronouncing the year.

I recognize that I make grammatical errors in nearly every blog post, who am I to criticize others? I just think local/national news anchors should be held to higher standers.

Readers who responded to the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll agree with me on the pronunciation:

Q: How should ‘2019’ be pronounced?

  • Twenty nineteen: 30 [76.92%]
  • Any of the three are ok: 8 [20.51%]
  • Two thousand nineteen: 1 [2.56%]
  • TIE: 0 [0%]
    • Two thousand and nineteen
    • Unsure/No Answer

A little over 20% are open to any of the variations. I wish it didn’t bother me, but it does.

Hopefully news directors & producers will get a clue and begin to type “twenty nineteen” in the teleprompter rather than 2019.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: Do Local Blogs Provide Valuable Information Not Found In Traditional Media?

October 28, 2018 Featured, Media, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Do Local Blogs Provide Valuable Information Not Found In Traditional Media?
Please vote below

Since I began in 2004, this blog has always been a way for me to express my thoughts, flattered others take the time to read my posts….thousands of them. Wednesday marks the 14th anniversary of UrbanReviewSTL.com.

A lot has happened in these 14 years, including my stroke over a decade ago. I also ran for public office, started grad school, bought a 50cc scooter, went car-free (twice), got married, etc. When I began blogging about St. Louis YouTube, Twitter, etc didn’t yet exist. Facebook had been around for less than 9 months, limited only to Harvard then.

Different blogs have different focuses, purposes. Today’s poll is about blogs and more traditional media sources (newspaper, radio, tv).

This non-scientific poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson



Opinion: Wholesale Demolition Has Not Served St Louis Well, Yet Many Still Think It Is The Solution

May 23, 2018 Featured, Media, Planning & Design Comments Off on Opinion: Wholesale Demolition Has Not Served St Louis Well, Yet Many Still Think It Is The Solution

I applaud KMOV’s Doug Vaughn for raising questions about the appearance of the riverfront to the north & south of the Arch grounds. Yes, we can and should improve these areas.

If you’re  unfamilar, see the following three Doug Unplugged videos:

  1. Urban Decay
  2. We can preserve historic buildings and still revitalize the riverfront
  3. Clean up the eyesores

Vaughn repeatedly used the term “eyesore” which is highly subjective. It means “something unpleasant to look at”Different people can see the same thing very differently. What Vaughn views as unpleasant I see as beautiful, historic, with great potential.

While I agree a problem exists, I strongly disagree as to the best solution to solve the problem(s).

Vaughn’s proposal is tear down what exists and plant grass.  This is been St. Louis’ answer for well over a century, we’ve been tearing down our city for generations. Luther Ely Smith, who has a square named after him in front of KMOV’s building, was the one who championed the project that would erase 40 city blocks of our city’s origins. He was also instrumental in hiring Harland Bartholomew, who spent decades tearing down many hundreds pf acres of St. Louis, ignoring calls for commuter rail to the new suburbs, and making a car a requirement. Bartholomew famously miscalculated the impact of his massive tear down and rebuilding projects — population dropped rather than increase, as he had thought.

KMOV’s Doug Vaughn wants to continue generations of removing the old from view. Yet it’s the renovation of the old that we celebrate today and has been shown to boost population. Forty years ago Vaughn would’ve spoken in favor of razing Union Station  — it was such a vacant eyesore it was used in the filming of the post-apocalyptic film Escape From New York.

The beauty of Carl Milles’ work with Union Station in the background

Thirty years ago Vaughn likely would’ve advocated razing all the vacant warehouses just West of the downtown business district, the streets around these had also been in the 1981 film. Thankfully few were razed, and most have been converted into condos & apartments. It took the city investing in narrowing Washington Ave. to get long-stalled loft projects off the drawing boards and under construction. Private investors needed to see the city was committed. Once they saw the commitment, they invested.

Formerly vacant eyesores now fully occupied, Washington Ave at 16th
A 2011 interior photo of our loft, where I’ve lived for over a decade.

The North & South riverfronts have had no such commitment from the city. In fact, the city has repeatedly sent the message to investors the North riverfront is expendable. You can’t blame developers for not investing in an area the city doesn’t care about.

In one “unplugged’ segment Vaughn suggested tearing down the old elevated railroad trestles.

Doug Vaughn is obviously unaware these elevated rail lines are still in use. Yes, the auto lanes on top of the old MacArthur Bridge has been abandoned since 1981 — but the rail level is used daily by freight and Amtrak. . The bridge and elevated lines are owned by the Terminal Railroad Association — acquired in an exchange for the Eads Bridge. These rusty old trestles are part of what I love about St. Louis. Their repetition is pleasing to my eye, the shadows they cast intriguing.

Razing and planting grass hasn’t worked yet for St. Louis yet those without vision who like vinyl-clad boxes with faux “shutters” too small to cover adjacent windows continue to advocate this failed strategy. Sadly, for too long people have listened. Our city & region can’t afford to continue listening to those who espouse a tired failed strategy.

Each Sunday’s poll typically gets about 32 votes — plus or minus 20% depending upon the topic. I could tell right away the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was being hijacked but I decided to let it go — I wanted to see how far they’d go to defend failed ideas — and I wanted the ad revenue.

Q: Agree or disagree: KMOV’s Doug Vaughn is right, the old vacant buildings on the North & South riverfront should be torn down.

  • Strongly agree 120 [65.57%]
  • Agree 23 [12.57%]
  • Somewhat agree 13 [7.1%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [1.09%]
  • Somewhat disagree 3 [1.64%]
  • Disagree 7 [3.83%]
  • Strongly disagree 15 [8.2%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

The vote total in 12 hours was 183 — 571% more than usual for a typical week of regular readers. Clearly someone orchestrated a campaign to get the results that support their view.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a “preservationist.” I’m an urbanist — someone who loves urban environments,  which is best when it’s a mix of old & new. The North & South riverfronts could be incredible neighborhoods — if we renovate the remaining buildings and fill in the holes with new construction. Perhaps we can organize a charrette to brainstorm a vision for these areas beyond…grass.

— Steve Patterson


Some Local Media Confused On Write-In vs Independent Candidacy

March 17, 2017 Featured, Media, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Some Local Media Confused On Write-In vs Independent Candidacy
Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

Late last week new state rep Bruce Franks Jr. was considering a run for mayor as a write-in candidate, but half a day later he decided not to leave the 78th district that elected him to replace Penny Hubbard.

Today’s post isn’t about Franks or the mayoral race — it’s about write-in vs independent candidates. Some local media understands the difference, some do not.  Below are three reports when Franks was considering a write-in campaign:


Under state law, Franks has to sign a declaration of intent and deliver it the Board of Election Commissioners by March 24 to become certified as a write-in candidate. 


Earlier Thursday afternoon, Franks sent a tweet posing a simple question: has St. Louis elected a write-in candidate as mayor?

Franks has until March 24 to obtain the necessary signatures, sign a declaration of intent, and deliver them to the Board of Election Commissioners to appear on the ballot.


In order for Franks to be on the April 4 ballot, state law requires franks get necessary signatures, sign a declaration of intent and deliver them to the Board of Election Commissioners by March 24. 

The last two mention required signatures but the first doesn’t. All three mention a declaration of intent. So what’s the deal? Let’s start with Fox2’s last sentence:  “Franks has until March 24 to obtain the necessary signatures, sign a declaration of intent, and deliver them to the Board of Election Commissioners to appear on the ballot.” (Emphasis added)

Yes, signatures are required if a candidate wants to appear on a general election ballot as an independent (non-party) candidate. A write-in candidate, however, is trying to get voters to write-in their name because they’re not on the ballot.

I shouldn’t be surprised some media didn’t get this right, the St. Louis Board of Elections page How To File For Office fails to explain th three types of candidacy: political party, independent, and write-in.  The Missouri Secretary of State website does a much better job of explaining this to candidates:

Primary Election August 7, 2018
The 2018 primary will be held on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 (the 1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday in August for even numbered years, Section 115.121.2, RSMo.). The filing period for candidates for the August 2018 primary election is from February 27, 2018 and ends at 5:00 p.m. on March 27, 2018. (Section 115.349, RSMo.) Individuals voting in the primary election may select a party ballot of his or her choice. 

Voters who do not wish to select a party ballot may request a ballot containing other issues, if their jurisdiction’s ballot contains issues.

The five established parties in Missouri are: Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green, and Constitution.


Independent Candidates
Deadline for submitting petitions for independent candidate nominations for the November 6, 2018 election: 5:00 p.m. July 30, 2018 (Section 115.329.1, RSMo.)


Write-in Candidates
Deadline for submitting a write-in candidate declaration of intent for the November 6, 2018 election: 5:00 p.m. October 26, 2018 (Section 115.453(4), RSMo.)

A write-in candidate is a person whose name is not printed on the ballot (Section 115.453(4-6), RSMo.) and who has filed a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for election to office with the proper election authority prior to 5:00 p.m. on October 26, 2018 (Section 115.453(4), RSMo.) It is not necessary to file a declaration of intent if there are no candidates on the ballot for that office (Section 115.453(4), RSMo.)


Establishing a New Party
The deadline for submitting petitions for new parties and candidate nominations for the November 6, 2018 election is 5:00 p.m. on July 30, 2018 (Section 115.329.1, RSMo.) Please contact the Elections Division for more information at 573-751-2301 or email at elections@sos.mo.gov.

Locally officials don’t want the public to know how to run, but the April 4th ballot includes 6 candidates for mayor.  Writing in a name for someone not officially declared as an independent candidate doesn’t count — even if that name got the most votes.

— Steve Patterson