The St Louis Contrarian

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

St Louis Can Really be a Good Place to Live

St. Louis is taking it on the chin, much of it deserved. There are demonstrations in the streets, unjust policing, crime, murders, racial strife and more. I believe much of the criticism of our city is on target but unfair. Much of the national coverage makes our city seem as though our problems are unique; they are not. I don’t need to run statistics for most of you to understand that other cities share our problems. We have a lot of good things and people in St. Louis and have first rate cultural attractions, sports, universities, and restaurants. Our problems are not unique, are positives are. Written by Paul Dribin


Again Healthcare and Housing

Housing and healthcare are one and the same. I don’t need to restate the obvious; people with poor housing options tend to be less healthy, and people who are less healthy tend to live in substandard housing.

I am putting some ideas together to address this. Think of this scenario which often happens. A patient cannot be released from the hospital in a timely manner because they are homeless. The daily cost in the hospital is $3000. Wouldn’t it make sense for hospitals to subsidize the rent for these individuals and get supportive services for them? A second issue. Many readmissions to hospitals could be avoided if people lived in decent housing. As I said, I will be putting a project together to address this. Paul Dribin

Landlord Lockouts

Tony Messenger had a good article in the Post today about a subject of which I had been aware but needed reminding. That is a situation that is common in St. Louis and probably elsewhere; landlord lockouts and illegal evictions.

What happens is that a tenant who is behind on their rent discovers their apartment is padlocked and they cannot gain entry. A second scenario might involve their possessions being put on the sidewalk. These intimidation techniques often result in the tenant leaving on their own and forfeiting their security deposit. Of course in Missouri as in all states there is a judicial process which involves a court hearing if the tenant requests it.

In St. Louis such actions are not criminal offenses. The board of aldermen is attempting to pass an ordinance criminalizing this behavior. I would like to see huge fines imposed on landlords in these situations for their greedy behavior. Ironically, the courts will always rule in the landlord’s favor if the tenant is behind on their rent. Most landlords, particularly the larger ones do not engage in this behavior. Written by Paul Dribin

Housing Affordability: More Voices

Price Tags

Following the platform announcement by the NPA civic by-election candidate (who wants to see Vancouver-wide rezoning and higher housing density everywhere) more council candidates have joined the call.

So far, the calls for an end to Vancouver’s exclusionary zoning seem to be edging upward among many other ideas about improving housing affordability. There is also a steady drift towards improving availability and protection for those who prefer to rent.

With thanks to Mike Howell in the Vancouver Courier:

First: Pete Fry of the Green Party wants inclusionary zoning, plus support for renters:

 . . . the party’s housing plan is focused on what can be achieved with existing tools at city hall. He, too, advocated for inclusionary zoning to create affordable housing and tie that type of housing to median local incomes.

Other measures include creating a city tenants’ office to support tenants and prevent “renovictions” and short-term rental…

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Good Decision by Stenger

County Executive Steve Stenger has said he will probably not approve another $500000 of county money for the loop trolley project. I consider this project a boondoggle. Good decision

Character Based Loans

I read an article today in Shelterforce Weekly which talked about “Character Based Loans”. This type of loan would be made by a financial institution to individuals who did not quite meet up to credit standards but had good character, whatever that means. As the article points out, loans of this nature used to be made all the time in a racially discriminatory manner, never to people of color. It seems to me this program is simply grasping at straws to get people into homeownership who do not deserve it.

With my work at HUD, I can say with certainty that bad credit scores were a strong predictor of failure. Loan officers should and do consider mitigating circumstances but cannot overlook really bad credit. Written by Paul Dribin

Recommendation Regarding Pine Lawn

The Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank has recommended that the community of Pine Lawn go out of business and become part of St. Louis. This is in an effort to save inner city suburbs. This is such an obvious conclusion. I hope this study did not cost a lot of money. Written by Paul Dribin

St. Louis and Amazon’s New Site

You all know that Amazon is now in the market for a second headquarters. St. Louis of course is putting a package together to lure Amazon here. This of course is astronomically more important than a sports team. I think St. Louis would actually be a good site with a central location, great universities and culture, low cost of living and so on. When reading the criteria, I don’t think we have a chance and should not waste resources on this endeavor. (The criteria do not include having an NFL team).

They do want things like a growing economy and a highly educated workforce, both things we lack. Anyway here are the criteria and judge for yourself. Written by Paul Dribin

Factbox: Amazon Lays Out Preferences for Second Headquarters Site


September 7, 2017

(Reuters) – Inc on Thursday dangled the prospect of as many as 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars in direct and indirect investment to communities vying to host its second North American headquarters.

The $5-billion project would be comparable to the giant internet retailer’s current Seattle headquarters, which spans 8.1 million square feet in 33 buildings and which generated $38 billion for that city’s economy from 2010 through 2016, the company said.

Amazon listed several key preferences for the new headquarters:

Metropolitan area with a population of at least 1 million.

There are 53 metropolitan areas in the United States and six in Canada with populations that meet that criteria, according to government census data.

* Cities and states, as reported by Reuters, that have indicated they are in talks with or are interested in opening talks with Amazon about the new headquarters’ location:

– Seattle, its current headquarters location

– Chicago, Illinois

– Dallas, Texas

– Houston, Texas

– Denver, Colorado metropolitan area

– St. Louis, Missouri

– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

– Toronto, Ontario

– State of Michigan

– State of Kentucky

– State of Indiana

– State of Minnesota

– State of Rhode Island

A diverse population, “excellent” higher education institutions and a local government “willing to work with the company.”

A stable and business-friendly environment and tax structure, along with the potential to attract and retain “strong” technical workers.

– According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, the 2017 State Business Tax Climate index ranks these ten states as the best for how well they structure their tax systems:

1) Wyoming

2) South Dakota

3) Alaska

4) Florida

5) Nevada

6) Montana

7) New Hampshire

8) Indiana

9) Utah

10) Oregon

The 10 worst in 2017:

41) Louisiana

42) Maryland

43) Connecticut

44) Rhode Island

45) Ohio

46) Minnesota

47) Vermont

48) California

49) New York

50) New Jersey

Amazon said the site can be urban or suburban as long as it is within 30 miles from a population center and within 45 minutes of an international airport with daily direct flights to Seattle, New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. It must also be no more than 2 miles from a major highway with direct access to mass transit systems. Existing buildings of at least 500,000 square feet and greenfield sites of about 100 acres will be considered.

The availability of incentives including site preparation, tax credits and exemptions, relocation and workforce grants, and fee reductions. “The initial cost and ongoing cost of doing business are critical decision drivers,” according to Amazon.

– Amazon’s sprawling operations in the United States are generally staffed with non-union workers. Unions, according to news reports over the years, have not made much progress in unionizing the company’s workers. In considering is headquarter location, states with “right to work” provisions in their laws could be a factor in the decision making process.

– According to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, states with right to work provisions in their laws are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Optimal fiber connectivity and service.

(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Editing by Daniel Bases and Nick Zieminski)

A Plan for Vacant Units in St. Louis

Since moving to St. Louis almost 22 years ago, I have been taken with the number of vacant buildings in the city and the seeming resistance to doing anything about them. Now St. Louis is embroiled in a legal battle to do something about them. In a recent election Proposition NS received 57% of the votes in the city. The Board of Elections ruled that the measure had failed because 67% of the vote is required for a proposal such as this. The city has a lawsuit going over the issue, contending that the state law only requires a 50% majority and that law should prevail. I wish the city luck in this endeavor. In the past on other issues such as minimum wage they have argued that home rule prevails. We shall see. Written by Paul Dribin

Homelessness in St. Louis

I have some interesting news about the status of homelessness in St. Louis. Earlier this year a major shelter led by Reverend Larry Rice was shut down. For years he snubbed his nose at the establishment, housed more people than code allowed, and didn’t let the city inspect the place.

When the news of the shutdown became known, many in the community predicted dire consequences. What would happen to the clients?

After the dust has settled I have learned that all the occupants were easily rehoused. St. Patricks Center rehoused people who wanted it in their facility. I help serve lunch at Biddle Place associated with St. Patricks. We anticipated many more people for meals after Rice’s facility was closed. Interestingly, this didn’t happen.

I have two conclusions, Either Reverend Rice did not house as many people as he said, or some of those people did not need the level of services provided by St. Patricks. Written by Paul Dribin

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