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The St Louis Contrarian

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

Biking in the St. Louis Region

A good story about the St. Louis region is that we have some of the best and most advanced bike trails in the country. Praise needs to be given to Trailnet , the people who founded it, led by Peter Sortino, and the taxpayers who voted to pay for it. Trailnet is recommending that visitors tour the area on bikes. An excellent idea. Written by Paul Dribin

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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

St. Louis Museum District and the Suburbs

St. Louis has a fabulous set of museums parks and public institutions. They include the zoo, history museum, planetarium, art museum, and botanical gardens. Most of these attractions are world class and they are free. For some reason the Botanical Gardens charge admission. They are paid for from property taxes on St. Louis City and county residents.

The rub in the whole thing is that people outside the city and county pay nothing in taxes and get to visit for free. When this board was originally established, there was not much population outside the city and county, and not many visitors from around the country and world. Now there is a need for additional funding.

I would recommend that the remainder of the region either pay through taxes or pay admission fees. This is only fair.

Written by Paul Dribin

Trolley Follies Again

The St. Louis Business Journal has written an editorial called Trolley Follies, criticizing the trolley effort in University City. I am disappointed they stole my headline and more disappointed I have been proven correct on this issue. Now we are stuck with the unsightly tracks that disrupt traffic flow. When will we learn? Written by Paul Dribin

Gentrification and Urban Development

Gentrification tends to have a negative connotation with urban development junkies. Their basic premise is that higher income people move into improving neighborhoods and drive out the indigenous peoples. I have read in recent publications gentrification referred to as fascist or even compared to the army driving native Americans off tribal lands. Yet isn’t it a good thing if young people with money are willing to move into previously dangerous neighborhoods? Would St. Louis be better off with more gentrification?

For St. Louis I would argue, bring on more gentrification, we don’t have enough of it. In what neighborhoods have development activities driven out previous residents? We actually have too little gentrification. As an ideal, development efforts must include providing affordable housing and rehab funds for existing low income residents. In reality, this is hard to do. A hot market ends up driving all activity and resources for development of affordable housing are scarce. Certainly a certain number of jobs should be set aside for neighborhood residents. If we waited for the ideal conditions to develop, there would never be any neighborhood development. 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

The Latest in Sports in St. Louis

Ballpark Village is expanding which is good. Unfortunately they have received too large of a public subsidy. The decision about the repairs and upgrades to Scottrade Center has not been resolved. Alderman Cara Spencer has proposed a use tax on tickets to pay for the upgrades. Sounds like a good idea to me. Who better to pay for these improvements than the people actually using them. Written by Paul Dribin

Amazon and Incentives

I have considered the considerable effort St. Louis is putting forth to lure Amazon a waste of time. It is time to say again that every economist I have heard of has opined that incentives to companies to locate in a city are a waste of money. St. Louis does not have a snowballs chance in hell of being approved. 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

Privatizing Lambert Airport

The Post had a long article this weekend on the pros and cons of privatizing Lambert Airport. This idea was proposed by Rex Sinquefield, a very wealthy conservative in the area who had the ear of former Mayor Francis Slay. I honestly don’t know if the idea is good or not, but I am suspicious of most things put forward by Rex. It may be a case of cognitive dissonance. It is hard for me to understand how the city would save money by this privatization. Written by Paul Dribin

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