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The St Louis Contrarian

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

Archive for the category “st. louis”

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

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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 Decline in Convention Business

The St. Louis Business Journal published a story today indicating that convention business in St. Louis during 2018 is down 20% from 2017. This is bad news. Two factors seem to be in effect. First the Ferguson episode discouraged many organizations from choosing St. Louis as the site of a convention. Second, the professionals in the field claim the relatively small size of the convention center. Part of the problem is the shortage of hotel rooms.

I like some real experts am skeptical of the convention size issue. While the problem is technically true, other cities are also expanding. The overall national convention business is down. Unfortunately I don’t have any answers.

Update on Paul McKee and Northside Project

Little is happening in this arena. KWMU came upon a renegotiation agreement that requires relatively little of the northside group to keep the deal going. As I have said, I know McKee and consider him an honorable purchase. I think he has been squeezed by too many parties in the city. Written by Paul Dribin

Too Much Democracy

I am getting tired of do gooders who are looking for more civic involvement, community development, etc. I just had an aborted lunch with just such a person who complained that urban development has been wrong all along and she knows a better way.

We have a representative government. That means we rely on our elected officials to make key political and administrative decisions. As citizens we should provide input to our elected officials and hold them accountable. Direct democracy does not work. The biggest problem with community based decision making is that the local community does not and cannot look out for the overall good of the larger community. They tend to be opposed to changes in governance and other large issues that do not have immediate payoffs.

St. Louis has too much democracy. It seems that everyone in town no matter how ill informed has a voice and potential veto power. The division of power among both the aldermen for the legislative branch and the mayor, comptroller, and President of the Board of Aldermen is dysfunctional. Written by Paul Dribin

Gentrification?

Professor Todd Swanstrom wrote a wonderful article that I read in Urban Observatory. In that article he very intelligently took apart much of the misinformation in St. Louis. Advocates have decried any effort at city development that does not specifically address poor people. They complain that gentrification is moving poor people out of the central corridor and the Tower Grove area. Professor Swanstrom points out the data does not support this assumption. True gentrification requires a substantial increase in housing costs that drive out poor people. This is not happening in St. Louis. The contrary problem has taken place; depopulation of many areas of the city.

You would think we would welcome development with open arms. Oh well!

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.

THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS REENTERING ST. LOUIS COUNTY – Cities Strong

THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS REENTERING ST. LOUIS COUNTY – Cities Strong
— Read on citiesstrong.com/hello-world-4/

A challenging article by Terry Jones in the difficulties of St Louis City joining the county

More Bad McKee Stuff

The Post had some thoroughly documented stories about Mr. McKee over the weekend. These stories which were quite difficult to follow seemed to say that once again McKee scammed the tax credit system to derive funds for projects that never materialized. Bad stuff. Written by Paul Dribin

Another Update on Biddle House

I was at Biddle House today as usual on Tuesdays, to help serve lunch. The facility was vacant as the City of St. Louis is taking over and changing furniture etc. Hopefully services will not be disrupted. I do not have confidence the city can carry out this program until the permanent operator, Home Full takes over in the fall. Written by Paul Dribin

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