The St Louis Contrarian

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

Archive for the month “May, 2021”

Do We Need A Great Downtown

Much ado has been made of the crime and mayhem in downtown St. Louis. Billions of dollars have been invested in various projects in the area with little to show for it. I rarely go downtown except to a Cardinals or Blues game and am not alone.

A common bromide is that we need a great downtown to have a great city. That may have been true in the days when most office workers worked downtown, and shopping at department stores was common and indeed a treat.

Today most people do not work downtown and often work at home. The cultural institutions in St. Louis are not located downtown, so why try to develop it. More resources need to be put into neighborhoods with growth incurring more organically. Written by Paul Dribin

Why St. Louis is a Mess

Just some random examples of the mess we are in.

1. New mayor Tashaura Jones is elected, crime is at an all time high, and she wants to cut police budget.

2. The same mayor is trying to end support to the Foundary Project which is one of the few new projects in St. Louis and had already received city support. This decision makes no sense and puts ideology over practicality.

3. Metro Link, our light rail system is a haven of crime. Bi state which runs Metro Link won’t let cops carry guns while patrolling the trains. Furthermore, the three police departments who do this patrolling cannot communicate with each other over their respective radios.

4. There are concrete barriers blocking lanes on many of the streets in the downtown. Why? Because bad guys had been racing cars.

5. The covid vaccination program at the Dome was a big bust because we can’t get people from the black community to come down and get shots.

Written by Paul Dribin

Horrible Game Being Played with Medicaid in Missouri

www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/it-s-just-shocking-how-missouri-republican-politics-drove-twin-crises-in-medicaid/article_249f4a52-2a15-5f42-bf2f-52f0948047e4.html

Read this article. Republicans in legislature are tying up even routine funding of Medicaid over narrow interests concerning contraception and abortion. Missouri is just really fucked up. Sorry to use such crude language but that is the only description that is appropriate. Written by Paul Dribin

Illinois targets money to landlords to help tenants

www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/illinois-preps-to-give-away-1-5-billion-in-federal-rent-aid/article_c9dbc2fe-9d27-563a-a90c-863a35dadda6.html

A good idea. Much better than pure eviction moratorium which hurts landlords.

Coronavirus Vaccines and Masking

As someone who is fully vaccinated I was very pleased to see the CDC guidance that people who are vaccinated do not need to wear masks. This is what the science has shown through carefully constructed studies. What I am finding interesting, amusing, and frustrating is that many people, particularly on the left do not want to give up the mask even though it serves no purpose. I noticed students at St. Louis University last week walking around outside with masks which makes no sense at all even if you are not vaccinated. The mask has become a sign of social and political virtue on the left just as anti masking was a symbol of the right. I wish we could all be evidence and science based. Written by Paul Dribin

Metrolink says it is Making Progress on Security

www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/metrolink-says-new-security-approach-is-beginning-to-work-but-hurdles-remain/article_1380035b-c49b-57de-9ab8-06999507cf2d.html

There is a long way to go. Also important is that a lot fewer people are commuting to work

Medicaid Expansion in Missouri

Medicaid expansion in Missouri has reached a grinding halt. The voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment requiring the state to expand Medicaid in accordance with the federal Affordable Care Act. Most of the funds for the expansion are federal. The Republicans in the Missouri legislature have still blocked the expansion because they say there is no source of funding. This is appalling and a demonstration of why the public has lost faith in government. Ironically the rural communities represented by Republicans would benefit the most from expansion. Written by Paul Dribin

Paul Dribin Newsletter

The Most Honest Information About Urban America

Basic Principles

Paul DribinApr 20

Welcome to all readers. I am writing this newsletter as someone who has many years of experience working with urban policy issues. There are certain key principles that are important to me. Hopefully, they could provide some benefit to you. I will briefly summarize these issues and write about them in more depth in later issues.

  1. The information must be data driven
  2. It must not be governed by any overriding political issues.
  3. It must be practical so that average policy makers can implement it.

Overriding concepts:

  1. Urban policy should be governed by helping individuals rather than fitting individuals into programs. Often programs are inefficient.
  2. It is almost impossible to rebuild crime ridden underserved neighborhoods without gentrification. Poor people are better served moving to neighborhoods of opportunity with safe neighborhoods, good schools, etc.
  3. There must be more effort put on ending poverty by giving poor people money with some support rather than providing programs. The income transfers from the low income tax credit programs and social security have taken more people out of poverty than have the dozens of programs intended to do so.
  4. Universal pre kindergarten is a must.
  5. Many students do not have the availability of an adult who is a positive role model. Mentoring programs need to be put in place for such students and their families. I have been a mentor in such programs and have been surprised at the positive effect on the students.
  6. Crime is a huge problem. Middle class people are afraid to visit cities. Major police reform is imperative but there are many people for whom strong police action is necessary. Minority populations are most affected by crime.
  7. Drug possession should be de criminalized and treated as a health issue. Many African Americans are hauled into the criminal justice system and can’t get out as a result of drug possession.
  8. Urban Homesteading is a promising tool with which to populate areas with large tracts of vacant housing.
  9. To bring about substantive change people need to be willing to make the change and invest the effort in doing so.
  10. Job subsidies are a good way to go. This rewards work and provides individuals with a decent basic wage.
  11. Zoning, land use, and local codes are major barriers to affordable housing. These need to be reformed. Every thousand dollars of extra cost prices many people out of the housing market.
  12. Hospitals and homeless service providers need to work together to address chronic homelessness. Many homeless individuals show up at emergency rooms on a regular basis running up huge bills for hospitals. These hospitals should be willing to put up funding to support permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless people.
  13. T

Moratorium on Evictions

A federal court has stopped the federal moratorium on evictions during covid. This was an expected decision. I have never known how you could pass a moratorium on evictions that nullified a contract between the landlord and tenant and deprived the landlord of their property rights under the constitution. If the goal was to prevent evictions, then the landlord needed to be made whole in each case with payment. Many of these tenants arrears have nothing to do with covid and others face eviction for damaging the unit or drug use; not non payment of rent. Others were behind on their rent before covid. The court made a sensible decision. Written by Paul Dribin

City of St. Louis Takes Efforts to Stabilize Foreclosed City Owned Properties

www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/vacant-buildings-start-getting-facelifts-funded-by-special-st-louis-property-tax/article_ee892d25-c908-506a-8a67-8d86dea8c9a7.html

There are good intentions here but this program involves spending a lot of money on properties that have a questionable future. I don’t know why these properties languish in inventory so long, causing them to deteriorate further. Many more properties should be demolished and reconstructed. My experience show that there are never good results from letting vacant properties sit a long time on the market. Written by Paul Dribin

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