Potential North-South & County Light Rail Line Should Include ‘Green Track’

 

 No, I don’t want the rails to be painted green. Instead I want the space between the rails to be green with vegetation, where possible. Why? Aesthetics, cooler temperatures, management of stormwater runoff, etc. Green track isn’t limited to only historic lines, it’s increasingly common in Europe with some limited …

Baer Plaza Now More A Dishonor Than An Honor, 25th Anniversary of Dedication Quickly Approaching

 

 I never met Robert J. Baer, but I see the plaza named for him all the time. Baer Plaza, across Broadway from The Dome (map), was named in his honor a little more than 20 years before his death in 2017. The 25th anniversary of the dedication is just 7 …

Glad the Illinois Primary is Tuesday, June 28th

 

 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 …

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 — …

Recent Articles:

New Book — ‘Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America’ by Angie Schmitt

December 11, 2020 Books, Featured, Walkability Comments Off on New Book — ‘Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America’ by Angie Schmitt
 

For months now we’ve all been living through the COVID-19 pandemic, but a silent epidemic has been going on for years: pedestrian deaths. Every week we hear about a pedestrian being hit & killed by a car. Often these are seniors just trying to cross a busy street — like 87- year old Phyllis Powers — she was hit & killed trying to cross MacKenzie Road to vote a month ago.

A recent book looks into the issue:

The face of the pedestrian safety crisis looks a lot like Ignacio Duarte-Rodriguez. The 77-year old grandfather was struck in a hit-and-run crash while trying to cross a high-speed, six-lane road without crosswalks near his son’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. He was one of the more than 6,000 people killed while walking in America in 2018. In the last ten years, there has been a 50 percent increase in pedestrian deaths.

The tragedy of traffic violence has barely registered with the media and wider culture. Disproportionately the victims are like Duarte-Rodriguez—immigrants, the poor, and people of color. They have largely been blamed and forgotten.

In Right of Way, journalist Angie Schmitt shows us that deaths like Duarte-Rodriguez’s are not unavoidable “accidents.” They don’t happen because of jaywalking or distracted walking. They are predictable, occurring in stark geographic patterns that tell a story about systemic inequality. These deaths are the forgotten faces of an increasingly urgent public-health crisis that we have the tools, but not the will, to solve. 

Schmitt examines the possible causes of the increase in pedestrian deaths as well as programs and movements that are beginning to respond to the epidemic. Her investigation unveils why pedestrians are dying—and she demands action.  Right of Way is a call to reframe the problem, acknowledge the role of racism and classism in the public response to these deaths, and energize advocacy around road safety. Ultimately, Schmitt argues that we need improvements in infrastructure and changes to policy to save lives.

Right of Way unveils a crisis that is rooted in both inequality and the undeterred reign of the automobile in our cities. It challenges us to imagine and demand safer and more equitable cities, where no one is expendable. (Island Press)

I want to talk about some issues addressed in this book, but first, here are the contents:

Introduction: Outline of an Epidemic
Chapter 1. The Geography of Risk
Chapter 2. The Profile of a Victim
Chapter 3. Blaming the Victim
Chapter 4. The Criminalization of Walking
Chapter 5. Killer Cars
Chapter 6. The Ideology of Flow
Chapter 7. A Hard Right Turn
Chapter 8. Pedestrian Safety on the Technological Frontier
Chapter 9. The International Context
Chapter 10. Families for Safe Streets

Yes, pedestrian deaths are an epidemic. A pandemic, like COVID-19, is worldwide. An epidemic, like pedestrian deaths, is largely a problem in one area such as the U.S.

Increasingly older adults are unable to continue driving, finding themselves in suburbs not designed for pedestrians. Timing of infrequent crosswalk lights are too fast for slow walkers. For many it’s too far to reach a designated point to cross an arterial so people attempt to cross where they can because they can’t do the extra distance.

The alarming rise in pedestrian deaths coincides with the switch from passenger cars to larger and larger pickups & SUVs. Why? A primary reason is the higher mass on the front of these vehicles — hitting people in their torso rather than legs.

These problems are worse in low-income & minority neighborhoods. The population that needs better pedestrian facilities often don’t get them.

The book details the problems and offers solutions.

Pedestrian safety expert Dan Burden (right) leads a “walking audit” on Delmar just west of Union in 2011 — that’s me in the wheelchair. Photo credit: Lou /AARP

This book is for anyone interested in addressing pedestrian safety and removing inequalities in our rights of way. The author and others discuss the epidemic of pedestrian deaths in a video here.

You can order from the publisher.

— Steve Patterson

Longtime Election Board Building Was Previously Police Headquarters (1907-1929)

December 5, 2020 Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on Longtime Election Board Building Was Previously Police Headquarters (1907-1929)
 

For most of the 16 years on this blog I’ve often used a vintage photo, below, when posting about local elections.

Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

Though I’d been using this photo I didn’t know anything about it. From the cars I knew not only was it from before I arrived in St. Louis (August 1990) but before I was born (February 1967). I also knew I’d never been to this building, the only location of the Board of Election Commissionrs I’d ever visited was the current, 300 North Tucker.

Another photo I use often for election-related posts:

The St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners is on the first floor at 300 N. Tucker (@ Olive)

Not sure where I registered to vote, but my first time going to the election board offices was in January 2005 when I filed to run for alderman — at 300 North Tucker.

Recently I was more and more curious about that vintage photo, so I contacted a lifetime resident who is a St. Louis political encyclopedia. He suggested I look in the book “We Elect! The Story of St. Louis Government and Politics”, published by the St. Louis Public Schools in 1967. I received a copy years ago as part of the Beckerle collection.

At the bottom of page 4 was the address — 208 South Twelfth Boulevard. In 1967 Twelfth hadn’t yet been renamed in honor of former mayor Raymond Tucker (12/4/1896-11/23/1970).
At the top of the next page is a photo of the building and the address again.

So now I know the address but that didn’t tell me when they moved out of the building and why. Was the building built for them or a previous occupant? I know the new city jail currently occupies that and additional land.

Let’s begin with the election board moving into the current location, 300 North Tucker. Thankfully St. Louis Library members can search Post-Dispatch archives online.

An August 1998 article (8/27/1998, p18) indicated the move from 208 South Tucker to 300 North Tucker will happen in December. A December 6, 1998 article indicated the move would happen on December 14, 1998. The earlier article mentions 208 South Tucker is 91 years old. Both articles indicate the election board moved in during the ‘late 1930s.” They got the decade right, the 1930s. But it wasn’t late in the decade — it opened on February 12, 1932 (P-D page 14 of 48).

The Post-Dispatch in 1998 said it was 91 years old, so built in 1907 — if they got that research right. That means the building was roughly a quarter century old. Who was the previous occupant?

The headline gave away the answer, the building was previously police headquarters. Growing city outgrew the police headquarters just a couple of decades after building it? Not exactly. As part of young Harland Bartholomew’s plan, the 12th right-of-way would be widened from 60 feet to a massive 150 feet, 40 feet would come from the east side of 12th. In 1919 a condemnation suit began to take the 40 feet from property owners.  Police would lose the front 40 feet of their headquarters, only 12 years old.

By March 18, 1926 a site for a new headquarters was secured on the southwest corner of 12th & Clark — consolidated from 18 owners.  That headquarters opened in late 1928 or early 1929.

The headquarters that became the board of elections was opened in August 1907, after a long delay. Three residences were bought and razed to construct the building.

Original plans called for the police department to occupy half the basement of the new city hall, but that was scrapped once the decision was made to make the basement ceilings only nine feet high.  Police would need to stay across the street at “four courts” building. Prior to Bartholomew’s arrival they already had plans to widen 12th, not sure how much. (P-D 4/24/1898, p9).

In July 2014 the St. Louis police headquarters moved again, this time to a renovated office building on Olive between 19th-20th.

— Steve Patterson

Only 92 Days Until St. Louis’ First Non-Partisan Municipal Election

November 30, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Only 92 Days Until St. Louis’ First Non-Partisan Municipal Election
 

Another presidential election is behind us…well, most of us. Now it’s time to think about St. Louis’ March 2021 primary.  It began a week ago when filing opened.

Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

Here’s a look at the important dates, from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners:

  • 11/23/20: Filing begins
  • 01/04/21: Filing ends
  • 01/20/21: Absentee voting begins
  • 02/03/21: Last day to register for this election
  • 02/17/21: Last day to request an absentee ballot
  • 03/01/21: Last day to vote absentee in person
  • 03/02/21: Election date

The March 2, 2021 primary will look very different from any previous primary in St. Louis history — every candidate is independent of a political party. Earlier this month voters approved a measure to change local elections to non-partisan.

The other major change is when you have three or more candidates. If no candidate gets at least 50% of the vote in the March 2nd primary then the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff in April.

No longer will the March primary be the de facto election, April should matter. Unless all races only have one or two candidates. And theoretically we could have races with 3 or more candidates but one gets at least 50% of the votes on March 2nd. Propositions and school board elections remain in April, first Tuesday.

It will eliminate printing primary ballots for up to five political parties (Democrat, Republican, Green, Constitution, Libertarian).  Fringe candidates often ran in a party other than democrat, this got them on the April general election ballot. No more of that thankfully.

We may still have fringe candidates on the March ballot, but they’ll likely not make a possible runoff in April.

What local offices are having elections in March 2021? The aldermen in the 14 odd-numbered wards, comptroller, and mayor. Two even-numbered wards (4, 12) have elections.

I believe the winners in the 14 aldermanic races will have 2-year terms, not the usual 4-year terms. This is because beginning in 2023 the number of wards will drop from 28 to 14. Voters approved this change a number of years ago.

As stated in the opening paragraph, filing began a week ago. Potential candidates still have more than a month to file, so if you’ve ever thought about running you’ve still got until January 4, 2021.

Fewer candidates have filed on the first day than I expected. Lewis Reed & Cara Spencer have both filed for mayor. Others like Tishaura Jones are expected to file. Mayor Lyda Krewson recently announced she wouldn’t seek a second term.

Only incumbent Darlene Green has filed for comptroller, not sure anyone else will file. Even candidates I like shouldn’t win simply because nobody ran against them.

As of the first day of filing no candidate has filed in four of the nine aldermanic seats, something I wasn’t expecting. The four are 1, 11, 17, and 27.

Unsurprisingly eight wards only have one candidate, so far. These are 3, 4, 7, 9, 15, 19, 23, and 25. Of these  six are incumbents: 4, 9, 15, 19, 23, and 25.

And my favorite— four wards have contested races: 5, 12, 13, and 21. The first three are the incumbent and a challenger. The 21st ward is the incumbent and three challengers! So far the 21st ward is the only race that might lead to an April runoff.

Sometime between the close of filing and the election I’ll look at the races and candidates. In the meantime I encourage those who are interested to run for public office. To see how to file for alderman click here.

— Steve Patterson

 

Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

November 28, 2020 Featured, Metro East, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Retail, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, STL Region Comments Off on Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance
 

Early this week the KMOV News (CBS/4.1) had a story on the Jefferson County Health Department approving a mask mandate — and the upset group protesting outside. The very next story was the St. Louis Area Task Force saying hospital beds, including ICU, beds were filling up with COVID-19 patients.

People were protesting wearing masks in public while area hospitals are announcing they’re filling up quickly. There’s a term for this: cognitive dissonance.

The mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in people is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: they reject, explain away, or avoid the new information; persuade themselves that no conflict really exists; reconcile the differences; or resort to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in their conceptions of the world and of themselves. The concept was developed in the 1950s by American psychologist Leon Festinger and became a major point of discussion and research. (Britannica)

Metro requires riders to wear masks on buses and trains. Metro doesn’t serve Jefferson or St. Charles counties.

How does this relate to masks?

Because of the intense polarization in our country, a great many Americans now see the life-and-death decisions of the coronavirus as political choices rather than medical ones. In the absence of a unifying narrative and competent national leadership, Americans have to choose whom to believe as they make decisions about how to live: the scientists and the public-health experts, whose advice will necessarily change as they learn more about the virus, treatment, and risks? Or President Donald Trump and his acolytes, who suggest that masks and social distancing are unnecessary or “optional”? (The Atlantic)

I don’t like wearing masks, but it’s the right thing to do around anyone other than my husband. The worst days are when I have treatment at Siteman Cancer Center, my mask is on for hours.

Then on Wednesday I saw a news story at Lambert airport on holiday. An airport spokesperson was explaining how everyone inside the terminal had to wear a mask — except she was inside the terminal and not wearing a mask! Two different travelers inside the terminal, both with masks, said they weren’t concerned because they were taking precautions — but their nostrils were visible!

My mom was a waitress for many years, so I feel for food service employees and restaurant owners. A recent story showed an owner upset at recent St. County restrictions prohibiting indoor dining. They argued it was unfair, if people could go into Target & shop they should be able to dine in. Uh, except that shoppers have to keep their masks on in retail stores — inside bars & restaurants the masks come off after being seated. Apples to oranges.

As I was writing this yesterday I saw a story on dine in supporters in St. Louis County. I wish as much effort was put into improving the carryout experience (ordering & packaging).

We’re back to limits on items because some placed their own important over that of the community.

A lot of this cognitive dissonance is due to the vastly different pandemic policies in different jurisdictions in the region. At least the Illinois side of the region has one uniform policy imposed by Governor Pritzker.  Here in Missourah Gov Parson has taken a hands-off approach, resulting in an infection rate double that of Illinois.   As a result each county has to go at it alone even though residents frequently cross over borders. Other than the hospital’s pandemic task force we have no regional leadership.

Our hospitals are full and their workers are exhausted. All because people aren’t willing to wear a mask in public or eat their restaurant dinner at home.

– Steve Patterson

POLL: Should Missouri’s Governor Mandate Masks?

November 22, 2020 Featured, Missouri, Sunday Poll Comments Off on POLL: Should Missouri’s Governor Mandate Masks?
 
Please vote below

The COVID-19 pandemic continues, but the response hasn’t been static since the start:

The number of states with statewide mask mandates has risen since the summer, when roughly half of states had statewide mandates in place. Today, almost three-fourths of states have a statewide mandate in place. (ABC News)

Missouri is among the states without a mask mandate, but earlier this month one group sought to change that.

The Missouri Hospital Association sent a letter to Governor Mike Parson urging him to implement a statewide mask mandate as hospitals become increasingly overwhelmed with record numbers of coronavirus patients, many requiring specialized intensive care unit beds that are quickly becoming scarce.

Governor Parson has largely been a proponent of encouraging, but not mandating, mask-wearing. (KRCG)

This is the subject of  today’s poll, the three answers are presented in random order.

After you’ve voted you can continue to see my thoughts on the matter of mask mandates.

… Continue Reading

Advertisement



[custom-facebook-feed]

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe