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The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

St. Louis Airport Privatization

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen is horsing around with a bill which would require a public vote before airport privatization. They certainly seem to be bought off. I normally don’t like ballot initiatives, but in this case the elected officials are clearly not doing their jobs. I also heard today that they are hiring a “communications consultant.” This is in a city that can’t afford to repair garbage trucks. Written by Paul Dribin

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Safest Cities

Wallet Hub website rated the safest cities in the United States on a number of factors. Guess what, St. Louis came in the fourth from the bottom. Places like Detroit and Baton Rouge were the only cities that ranked lower. Good work. Written by Paul Dribin

Loop Trolley

A recent article showed that the trolley is hugely in debt. This is no surprise. What concerns me is that local governments may be called upon to bail them out. Please don’t. Let it die of natural causes. Written by Paul Dribin

Metro Link

Another recent story in the Post wrote that Metrolink ridership is down 20% in the last few years. That is a huge decrease. The article insightfully pointed out that crime alone is not the issue. Changes in the work climate including working at home, more part time jobs etc.also account for the drop. As I have pointed out numerous times, fixed route rapid transit is a thing of the past. We should be investing in ride sharing services instead of rail. Written by Paul Dribin

Green lining in St. Louis

I heard a talk today at one of the many marginally useful meetings on vacancies in St.Louis. The discussion was about green lining, an effort to artificially prop up property sales by financing the gap between appraised value and total development costs on single family houses.

The issue as presented seems dubious; that tons of people are waiting to do major rehab to houses on the north side who can’t get the appraisal they would need. The green lining program would put together a pool of institutional funding that would provide second mortgages to fund the appraisal gap.

There are several problems with this approach. The first problem is that the homebuyers would immediately be under water. What if they want to sell the property and cannot pay off the mortgage. Second, the proposal does not address credit issues which I think are a bigger problem than appraisals. The program should go all the way and guarantee the purchaser’s equity. But the real issue is creating demand in an area with high crime and poor schools. Written by Paul Dribin

Metrolink

Ridership has been down 20%, crime is up, operating costs staggering. What is wrong with our political leadership that anyone would consider expanding a system that is a disaster. Fixed route transportation systems will not work for the many reasons I have laid out before. Written by Paul Dribin

McKee Again

The Paul McKee effort on the north side of St. Louis appears to be going nowhere. I have been a fan of Mr. McKee and was impressed with his work at Winghaven in St. Charles County. I still believe him to be a sincere person.

The project he tried to undertake in St. Louis may have been too big for anyone to handle and he faced obstacles of community and political resistance. He certainly made his share of mistakes, especially in not engaging the community in a better manner. Nevertheless, he has not lived up to his commitment, has rehabbed almost no houses, and has needed the Geospatial Project buying out his properties to save him. Too bad. Written by Paul Dribin

Economic Development Agencies in the St. Louis Region

The Business Journal published an important but superficial article this week on the plethora of development agencies in the St. Louis area, the large amount of dollars they spend, and the poor results they achieve. Sounds like a recipe for madness, but we go on our merry way. I give the Economic Development Council of St. Charles County some high marks, but that is the only agency I would give that mark to. The St. Louis County group is especially suspect. In the end, development agencies don’t bring business, overall government policies and the desire of business owners is what matters. Written by Paul Dribin

River Port in Lincoln County

Lincoln County is working hard to develop a new port on the Missouri River. Many people including me consider this to be a poor idea. First, we do not need another port. If successful, it will only steal business from other ports in the region. Second, it will be an environmental disaster. I don’t know who thinks of these things. Written by Paul Dribin

Minority Participation in Tech Startups

David Nicklaus wrote an excellent article in the Post Sunday about this matter. The tech industry is still short on minority and woman participation. The organizations seem to be trying to do everything they can to train and hire minorities, but it is still a difficult and ongoing process. Written by Paul Dribin

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