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The St Louis Contrarian

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

Archive for the category “poverty”

Video Cameras for Police

An article today in the New York Times demonstrated that police wearing video cameras did virtually nothing to change the behavior and especially the use of force by police. The study was done in Washington DC and contrasted the behavior of police with or without cameras. The results were almost identical.

This could be a major setback for those of us who have argued that cameras will make a difference. There is no solid evidence as to why these results occurred. Written by Paul Dribin

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How Will Self Driving Cars Affect our Future

Self driving cars are on their way. They may be here in a few years or 20 years, but they will be here. They will have a dramatic effect on the world and on communities such as St. Louis. Here are some thoughts:

1. Public transport systems will suffer, go bankrupt, or go out of existence. Why should people ride buses or trains when they can dial up a car and go door to door in minutes?

2. Further investment in metrolink is absurd.

3. A good strategy would be for transport companies to develop their own ride sharing programs.

4. Roads should be less crowded.

5. There will be far fewer traffic injuries and deaths. Police can be freed up to fight crime.

6. There could be a real problem of equity for poor people. If someone has bad credit or a criminal background will they be allowed to order a car? If not, will poor people once again have trouble getting to work? Right now taxis and Uber are reluctant to go to the inner city. Will the same policy exist for self driving cars?

Written by Paul Dribin

Correlation Between Crime and Housing Values

An interesting article today reprinted by Next St. Louis. A comprehensive review using regression analysis shows there is very little correlation between crime and housing values. This is a little surprising to me. Part of the reason in the St. Louis area is that housing values are relatively low anyway all over the region. Another interesting part of the analysis is that when you aggregate crime statistics for the city and county, the incidents of crime are relatively low. The high crime areas in the city are as high as anywhere in the world. Written by Paul Dribin

Lyda Krewson

I usually don’t get into politics, but my first public administration class pointed out you can’t separate politics from policy. Elliot Davis of You Paid for It Fame on tv wrote a passionate facebook post in which he postured that Mayor Krewson the first woman mayor of St. Louis is not up for the job. He provided a number of good examples.

Unfortunately, I would have to agree with Elliot. She seems like a nice person but is just going through the motions of being mayor. She has not leadership skills. If I was a police officer or member of an officer’s family, I would have been outraged after her comments making nice to the demonstrators and indirectly criticizing the police. She has done nothing substantive to address crime, job loss, or racial inequality. The Mayor likes to have feel good meetings and is using that process to take 9 months to hire a police chief. I also think the effort to lure Amazon here is a waste of time and money. Written by Paul Dribin

A More Balanced View of Protests in St. Louis

I have grown tired of the characterization of some in the protest movement here in St. Louis that police actions alone or mostly are the cause of problems in the black community. Let’s look at the data. To date there have been 144 murders in St. Louis to date. Of these 135 of the victims, or 93.75% are African American and all the suspects are African American. Police might kill a handful of people a year, and most of those killings would be considered justified by an impartial party.

The focus of the protests have been on the police. Even if the police totally cleaned up their act and never killed anyone, there would be a big murder and crime problem in the black community. Through the years when I have worked with impoverished African American communities, when asked what they need, residents asked for more police. If the police were so terrible, why did they want more of them?

Finally I am concerned that the community expects a level of perfection from police that is not possible from them or anyone else. Sometimes they will say stupid things or act harshly. There is no question the police, too often act prejudicially and inappropriately with members of the black community. Protesters have done a real service in pointing out the injustices of the municipal court systems. But even the prejudicial behavior can be somewhat explained because usually what the police see is criminal behavior. We all need to be a little tolerant, understanding, and mindful of the facts. Written by Paul Dribin

Amazon Deal Will be Killed by Social Unrest

Reuters ran a story today which said that there would be no chance to St. Louis to be selected by Amazon for its’ headquarters due to the social unrest here. This of course is not a surprise. 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

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

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