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The St Louis Contrarian

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

Archive for the category “crime”

Maplewood Nuisance Ordinance

Maplewood an inner suburb of St. Louis has had a nuisance ordinance which has been challenged by the ACLU. In a settlement the city agreed to change the ordinance.

The sticking point was that more than a certain number of calls to the police could get a tenant evicted. In the case of a woman suffering from domestic abuse, calling the police is usually a necessity.

I believe nuisance ordinances serve an important service. They need to be reasonable in how they are enforced.

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St. Louis Circuit Attorney Controversy

Kim Gardner, Circuit Attorney of St. Louis has been a controversial figure. Many of her attorneys have quit because of her abrasive management style. She indicted former Governor, Eric Greitens in a case which would not have stood up. Now she has said that she will not prosecute cases from a certain number of specific police officers. The implication is these officers are either corrupt, incompetent, or both. If any of that is true they should be fired. In the meantime criminals can walk free. Something is seriously wrong in this story. Written by Paul Dribin

Metrolink Safety

One of the biggest problems affecting Metrolink safety is that police in the various jurisdictions along the routes have radios with different frequencies. The county taxpayers had approved a small sales tax increase to address this issue. The money is there but the issue remains unresolved. Why? Written by Paul Dribin

St. Louis American Article About the Significance of Bell Win

Elections are usually about the merits of individual candidates, but every now and then they’re about something more. Zeitgeist is a German word that means “spirit of the times.” It’s regularly used to describe what in a larger sense may be going on culturally, intellectually or politically. There are events and phenomena that one invokes as representative of a defined Zeitgeist.

One of the burning questions for people whose political activism was forged in the sixties is whether the progressive moment we are currently witnessing is a sixties déjà vu, or is seeing a relationship between Black Lives Matter, MeToo, Never Again and the sixties a case of hope triumphing over experience? Just as the Black Power and the Anti-War movements were examples of the sixties Zeitgeist, we believe Black Lives Matter, MeToo and Never Again will come to be seen as examples of the Zeitgeist of this generation.

It’s impossible to know how the August 7 Democratic Primary will be considered in the larger scope of history, but today it feels like a major paradigm shift for the St. Louis region generally and the black community specifically. August 7 has permanently changed St. Louis politics in the way the August 9, 2014 police killing of Michael Brown and its aftermath forever changed the St Louis region. In fact, you cannot understand what happened politically on August 7 outside of the context of August 9.

First, we congratulate Wesley Bell on his historic victory and commend him on a very well executed campaign. We judge candidates in a campaign like we judge young basketball players during a season: Are they learning, evolving, getting better? Wesley Bell, starting as a long-shot but closing like a sure-shot, did all three of those. The candidate who claimed the mantle of victory was not the candidate that filed for office in February. We expect this impressive growth to continue as this inexperienced prosecutor takes office and begins to make some of the changes he has promised us.

We also commend the activist community, not only for providing bodies, energy and legitimacy to the Bell campaign, but for their political maturity that made this victory possible. In order to make progress in the political system, you have to resist the urge to make the perfect the enemy of the good. When the best is not available, but better is, you take better and move the chains. As The Rolling Stones sing, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need!” The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri was especially damaging to McCulloch in educating the community about his record as a prosecutor in an unprecedented public education campaign.

Also, the larger, older African-American community of St. Louis County should be commended for a genuine willingness to pass the baton to a new generation by embracing Bell’s candidacy. For a community to remain healthy and strong, it must always have people willing to serve, but it also needs people who recognize when their service is no longer required and graciously accept the role of supporter. Bell’s absence of a primary challenger was a testament to restraint from many older, more seasoned attorneys who might have liked their chances.

August 7 also showed that the white community of St. Louis County in 2018 does not have the political will of the white community of 2014. Something happened. We doubted Bell when he told us that he was finding support among white voters, but there are not enough black voters to elect Bell as county prosecutor. For Bell to beat McCulloch 103,018 votes (56.62 percent) to 78,934 votes (43.38) in a county whose population is less than 25 percent black, clearly a critical number of white voters decided they have had enough of McCulloch’s tough (i.e., ineffective) on crime approach and his unapologetic arrogance in the face of a worsening crime crisis and over-incarceration. While Michael Brown’s death was a tragedy, how the aftermath of that tragedy was handled was an unmitigated disaster from which the region is yet to recover. Clearly, many county voters are ready to move on.

More than any other public official, Bob McCulloch became St. Louis’ official face for Ferguson. It was McCulloch who made the August 7 primary worthy of the attention of the New York Times the day before the election. White voters in St. Louis County realized they couldn’t restore the county’s reputation and their good name as long as McCulloch was their prosecutor. They moved on.

Oppressed people – the weak, the powerless, the disenfranchised – are taught from an early age about the moral superiority of forgiving those who have been responsible for their oppression. But in politics, the players – and voters – live by the brutal law of payback. We owed McCulloch, and we settled the score. There is nothing wrong with revenge, as long as it advances your interest. By the way, it’s best served cold. Enjoy.

Urban Parks

nyti.ms/2KHwnyT

A good New York Times article about a new urban park in Tulsa funded by a billionaire. Can parks bring urban peace and development?

Ferguson

www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/four-years-after-michael-brown-was-killed-ferguson-neighborhood-still/article_3ef83c33-eb08-5016-9a83-2b7f7529355c.html

This article discussed the lack of improvement in the part of Ferguson where Michael Brown was killed.

The Syrian Refugees Escaped War, Only to Land in One of St. Louis’ Toughest Neighborhoods | Feature | St. Louis News and Events | Riverfront Times

At the dinner to benefit Syrian refugees, there aren’t enough seats for the Syrians. The room at the Boo Cat Club is packed, and Jessica…
— Read on www.riverfronttimes.com/stlouis/syrian-refugees-escaped-war-only-to-land-in-one-of-st-louis-toughest-neighborhoods/Content

A decent article. Syrian refugees left horrific conditions and were relocated here in St. Louis in a neighborhood which is also horrific, unsafe, bad housing. Written by Paul Dribin

Police Department Underhiring

I heard from a reliable source yesterday that the City of St. Louis is about 140 police officers short of their hiring authority. This source said the problem was that the pay was low and the work more difficult and dangerous than in the surrounding communities. Something must be done to change this situation. I also wonder what bureaucratic city policies might be getting in the way. As we are getting nearer a full employment economy, we need to figure out a way to hire more officers and cure our serious crime problem. Written by Paul Dribin

A Decline in Ticketing Fines

The St. Louis Post Dispatch published an interesting article last weekend about the decline in ticketing in all communities in the St. Louis region. Police departments are taking the position that they have better things to do with their time than ticket drivers. Revenue from tickets has declined significantly. This is mostly good, makes sense, and most important unburdens low income people and many people of color of being thrown in jail for minor offenses.

The question that puzzles me is how do we deal with people who violate the law if there are not fines. People who drive without insurance, or with cars that are unsafe can hurt other people. I do not have a solution. Written by Paul Dribin

Metrolink Again

The light rail system in St. Louis, Metrolink is just too easy of a target. Ridership on the system is down and crime is up. The Post Dispatch reported on its editorial page that there is still not a common approach to policing the trains, and that the police of the 3 entities responsible for policing cannot communicate with each other by radio. Metro which runs the trains and the St. Louis County police point the finger at each other for the problems. All of this and Metro wants to expand the system. Go figure. Written by Paul Dribin

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