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Some Positive Changes In The Last Ten Years

October 17, 2014 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Some Positive Changes In The Last Ten Years

In the last decade of blogging I’ve posted about the positive change that’s taken place in our region, it was fun looking back at the headlines of thousands of posts.

For today I’ve selected a positive post from each calendar year of this blog:

Here’s one example, the former St. Louis Centre mall:

Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006
Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006. Demolition of the oppressive St. Louis Centre bridge began in May 2010.
Same view yesterday
Same view yesterday, not only was the bridge over Washington Ave removed but so was the portion of St. Louis Centre that was over the sidewalk. St. Louis Centre opened in 1985.

Lots more great things happened in the city & region. Next Friday I’ll list some of the bad things from this same period.

— Steve Patterson


Training St. Louis Youth

September 8, 2014 Economy, Featured, STL Region 1 Comment

Getting a job isn’t easy, this is especially true for many from low income neighborhoods:

Millions of young adults in this country are facing social and economic injustice. Despite talent and motivation, they lack access to higher education and careers that provide them with a living wage. At the same time, our economy needs help. U.S. businesses are calling for more and better-trained talent to compete on the global stage, but there will not be enough skilled workers to meet that demand. (Year Up)

Year Up is an interesting program I learned about watching 60 Minutes, see Jobs Program Aids Fortune 500 and Underprivileged Youth. Year Up started in NYC, but now operates in 11 regions throughout the US, the closest is Chicago. Someone needs to bring this program to St. Louis.

The St, Louis Community College Center for Workforce Innovation (CWI) is  located in a former Circuit City near the Florissant Valley campus in Ferguson
The St. Louis Community College Center for Workforce Innovation (CWI) is located in a former Circuit City near the Florissant Valley campus in Ferguson

Closer to home:

Gov. Jay Nixon today applauded Centene Corporation’s plans to build a new claims processing center and create up to 200 jobs in Ferguson, Missouri. To facilitate the company’s expansion, Gov. Nixon’s administration is partnering with St. Louis Community College to provide targeted job training resources through the Missouri Works Training program. (Gov Nixon)

I too applaud Centene’s decision, but as a region we need to be proactive, not reactive. The Year Up program is one program that might make a huge difference in the St. Louis region. It wouldn’t be immediate, it would take a generation. Our people & our companies could do better.

— Steve Patterson


Readers: St. Louis County Needs To Act Like One, Not Compete Within

Nearly half the readers that voted in last week’s non-scietific poll picked the two answers that suggest creating a level playing field, a rising tide lifts all boats view.  By contrast, just under 16% took the ‘I got mine screw everyone else’ approach. Here are the results:

Q: Chesterfield is unhappy with the St. Louis County sales tax sharing system, what’s the solution? (pick 2)

  1. Consolidate all STL County municipalities into one 36 [25%]
  2. All sales tax into pool, distribute by population 32 [22.22%]
  3. Eliminate the sales tax pool, let municipalities sink or swim 23 [15.97%]
  4. Restrict municipal use of TIF financing 22 [15.28%]
  5. 3/4 cent earnings tax so county is less reliant on sales & property taxes 12 [8.33%]
  6. Leave it as is 8 [5.56%]
  7. Other: 7 [4.86%]
    1. Turn 64/40 to blvd
    2. f*ck stl county (edited)
    3. send them to st charles
    4. Simplify the system. The 1% countywide tax gets pooled, the rest doesn’t.
    5. relook at POS & pool cities – times change!
    6. Make it easier for munis to dissolve/merge, but not necessarily into one
    7. Let them go. Might be just the thing to encourage incorporating STL.
  8. Unsure/No Answer 4 [2.78%]

Less than 6% said to leave it as is, which suggests to me St. Louis County needs to have a productive dialog about taxation policy and acting together as a county, not just 90 separate municipalities plus unincorporated areas. Who in St. Louis County could lead such an effort to reach a consensus? Chesterfield Mayor Nation isn’t the right person, he’s already resorted to childish threats of taking his marbles across the river to St. Charles County.

A former elected official from an affluent suburb recently suggested to me that St. Louis County should institute a 0.75% earnings tax to reduce dependance on sales taxes. Get the city to reduce its earnings tax from 1% down to a matching 0.75%, then pool all the earnings tax revenue and distribute by population. This would put St. Louis City & County on a level playing field, where collectively we’d be stronger. Certainly worth examining.

— Steve Patterson


I’m Now a St. Louis Rams Fan

May 13, 2014 Featured, Popular Culture, STL Region Comments Off on I’m Now a St. Louis Rams Fan
The Rams proposed expanding the EJD across Broadway and Baer Plaza
The Rams proposed expanding the EJD across Broadway and Baer Plaza

I’ve never had an interest in football, despite my mom and a brother being huge fans. Back in the 80s, the architecture department at the University of Oklahoma was in the building under the bleachers of the football stadium, a huge distraction when trying to complete a project for a Monday presentation. In the 20 years since the Rams moved here from Los Angeles I had zero interest in seeing a game, we even sold the two tickets to a game we got last year. To my surprise, I’m suddenly a Rams fan.

The St. Louis Rams drafted Michael Sam, football player, in the NFL draft on Saturday. They drafted Sam in the seventh round, not because they thought the league or the world owed him a job because he announced he was gay on his way out of the University of Missouri. They drafted him because they thought he might be one of those low-round picks who might pay off and help them be a better team someday.

As good as Sam was in college, the SEC defensive player of the year as a senior, there were always going to be concerns about where he fit in the NFL, because of his height (6-foot-2), because he is smaller than most defensive linemen, because nobody was sure if he could make the switch to linebacker in the pros. (New York Daily News)

We still don’t know what the Rams will do about the Edward Jones Dome, they will be free to leave St. Louis after the upcoming season ends, a decade earlier because we’ve not upgraded the dome to be in the top quarter of NFL facilities. I still don’t like NFL downtown, but I’d like the Rams to remain the St. Louis Rams, staying in the region.

When Sam came out in February there were many who compared him to Tim Tebow, a distraction that couldn’t cut it in the NFL:

While some compare this to the distractions Tim Tebow brought to the team, the two couldn’t be more different. Sam won’t be tweeting about his sexual orientation and slipping his sexuality into every statement the way Tebow did with Jesus and the Bible. Tebow infused his religion into everything he did, praising god to the press, leading a very public team prayer after every game, kneeling before God after success on the field. For Sam, his sexual orientation is just part of him. He doesn’t feel the need to proselytize for the “gay cause.”

Unlike Tebow’s religion, Sam will not make his sexual orientation the story. Tebow invited the media attention; Sam is already doing what it takes to minimize its impact on his future team. (Time)

Until Sam takes the field we don’t know how good of a player he’ll be, but I’ll be rooting for him and the St. Louis Rams.

— Steve Patterson


East-West Gateway Survey & Where We Stand Update

April 3, 2014 Featured, Politics/Policy, STL Region Comments Off on East-West Gateway Survey & Where We Stand Update
Looking from the east to west at the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower
Looking from the east to west at the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower, click image for tower website

Our Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, is seeking feedback on how we engage in the community:

How Do You Engage in Improving Our Region?

East-West Gateway’s Public Involvement Plan helps EWG to ensure quality engagement and interaction with all of the citizens in the St. Louis metropolitan area. We need to know how we can design our outreach efforts in a way that makes your involvement easier, fuller and more likely. This survey will begin to form our public involvement plan. Please take a few minutes to respond. We appreciate your participation…Take Survey

Please take a few minutes to take the survey, then come back and share your thoughts on the questions being asked. They also just released the 7th update to most recent Where We Stand report (2011).

This update introduces new data on three measures of social mobility and discusses some of the community characteristics that are correlated with upward mobility.

The term “social mobility” refers to the idea that individuals can achieve a high standard of living, regardless of the circumstances into which they were born. The notion that even a poor child can work hard and get rich (or at least reach the middle class) has long had a hold on the American imagination, although numerous studies have documented that the United States has a far lower level of social mobility than most of the other wealthy nations around the world.

I’ve not had a chance to do more than scan the update, but I wanted to pass along the link.

— Steve Patterson