The St Louis Contrarian

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

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

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

Crime in St. Louis

Mayor Tashara Jones is calling for the elimination of vacant police positions and an emphasis on social services to end crime. This is a mistake. There is no data to show this approach works, and some criminals need hard tactics by police. The social services need to be applied in addition to officers on the street. Written by Paul Dribin

Proposal to Turn Vacant Lots into Urban Farms

A good idea. Much discussed and needs all our support.

St. Louis Closing Workhouse Makes No Sense

St. Louis Mayor Tashaura Jones has committed to closing the medium security prison known as The Workhouse. This makes no sense and seems to confuse the institution for all the woes of the criminal justice system. Activists seem to believe that closing jails will make crime go away. Not true. Written by Paul Dribin

movement to Defund Police in St Louis

It would be a big mistake. Each officer on the street significantly reduces crime

Opportunity Zones Don’t Work

This article points out an analysis that those of us in the field already knew; Opportunity Zones Don’t Work. This program initiated by the Trump Administration provided deferral of capital gains taxes for businesses investing in underserved areas. Research has shown the investments were only made for projects which would have been built anyway. The Biden Administration is trying to change it which is a good idea. Written by Paul Dribin

Racial Equity Curriculum in Webster Groves

The school board of Webster Groves, my hometown is attempting to implement a racial equity curriculum for the district. There are all kinds of opinion on the subject, with some criticism and even a lawsuit from a national conservative organization. Such a curriculum is needed as long as it adopts data based research and is not just intended to make people feel guilty and other people feel they are victims. I have trust that the school board will do the right thing. Written by Paul Dribin

Exclusionary Zoning

An excellent article today in the New York Times about the detrimental effects of zoning and land use on affordable housing. The article makes the important point that this discrimination can be class as well as racially based. Communities need to address these barriers to allow their housing to be more affordable. Written by Paul Dribin

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