Take Back St. Louis Proposal to Block Corporate Tax Breaks, Peabody Energy Headed to Ballot

Courtesy of MORE
Take Back St. Louis coalition delivering petitions.
A proposal to block St. Louis city tax breaks for corporations like Peabody Energy -- an initiative that officials say could be destructive to the local economy -- is on its way to a direct vote by city residents on an upcoming ballot.

The activists behind the initiative called Take Back St. Louis announced yesterday that the city Board of Elections has reviewed the petition signatures and certified the proposal -- which means that voters may get an opportunity to weigh in on the charter amendment that would drastically impact the funding of local corporations and other entities.

The measure, which would ban corporations like Peabody Energy from receiving public money, could be on the ballot next March or April -- if opponents don't stop it.

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Mississippi River: Untreated Wastewater Discharged Due to Bissell Point Power Outage

Categories: Environment, News

via Pallavpareek
Once again, millions of gallons of untreated wastewater have entered the Mississippi River due to a malfunction at a St. Louis treatment plant.

Yesterday afternoon, a power outage at the the Bissell Point Wastewater Treatment Plant resulted in the discharge, according to the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, which says that the problem persisted from about 12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. During that timeframe, approximately 3.5 million gallons of untreated wastewater entered the river from the plant, which is located at 10 East Grand Avenue, in an industrial section of north St. Louis.

The plant, the agency explains, utilizes two power feeds to operate and has a third one that acts as backup source. So when two of the feeds failed yesterday, the plant "ceased normal operations" -- and the discharge began.

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Delmar Loop Gets Traffic Roundabout -- Or Is It a Drunk-Driving Obstacle Course?

Photo by Al Sawyer-Dickhoff
Editor's note: Mr. Sawyer-Dickhoff is RFT's resident urban-planning critic who occasionally contributes commentary on important issues in our community.

In a move to curb alcohol-related fatalities on Delmar Boulevard's western reaches, University City has installed an obstacle course just west of its bar-friendly "Loop" commercial strip -- and conveniently near the HQ of the burb's po-po. According to a city source close to the project, the town's first ever "roundabout" -- apparently named after the equally confusing song by '70s prog-rockers Yes -- functions as a concrete virtual breathalyzer as county-dwelling imbibers make their way home from their favorite watering holes.

"We've found that anyone under .08 BAC should be able to negotiate it without much of a problem," our source says.

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Take Back St. Louis Ballot Initiative: Activists Target Peabody Energy's City Tax Breaks

via Facebook
Update below: Today, St. Louis activists who have regularly protested Peabody Energy with high-profile rallies are pushing forward with a new kind of action against the corporation -- one that they say has not been tried before in the city.

The coalition of groups, spearheaded by Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), plans to deliver more than 36,000 signatures to the city's election board this morning, marking the first step in the initiative petition process. If all goes according to the group's plan, voters will have the opportunity on an upcoming ballot to amend the city charter with a measure that would prohibit the city of St. Louis from granting tax incentives to companies like Peabody.

"A big part of this ballot initiative is trying to realign how the city thinks about development," MORE organizer Arielle Klagsbrun tells Daily RFT.

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Carter Carburetor Site Cleanup Approved; Rep. Cites History of "Environmental Racism"

Categories: Environment, News

via Google Maps
Carter Carburetor.
The highly polluted former Carter Carburetor site in north St. Louis is slated for a $30 million cleanup project that will begin next month, officials announced today.

The site is a ten-acre complex of buildings covering two city blocks along North Spring Avenue, where a gasoline and diesel carburetor manufacturing plant operated from 1915 to 1984. Congressman Lacy Clay staged a press conference this morning by the site, which, investigations have found, contains high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), trichloroethylene (TCE) and asbestos.

The full cleanup will take four years to complete, with the initial work of debris cleanup beginning in August, officials say. In his announcement, Clay references a history of "environmental racism" tied to "toxic dumping" on this site.

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Governor's Mansion Looking for Tall, Uncut, Well-Branched Evergreen Holiday Tree

Categories: Environment, News

via Flickr / MoNewsHorizon
The Missouri Department of Conservation is looking for a super-branchy evergreen to grace the governor's mansion this coming holiday season. But for the first time ever, the agency wants your super branchy evergreen. The MDC has sent out a casting call for a "white pine, Norway spruce, or eastern red cedar that is at least 40 feet tall and fully branched on all sides," according to their website.

In previous years, the search for a sufficiently grandiose holiday tree was shared amongst forestry division employees across the state, who simply kept an eye out for good-looking trees throughout the year. This year, MDC is hoping to enlist tree connoisseurs from the general population.

"We want that classic look so that it can be decorated and lit up to be a real highlight for all the people who are going to see it," MDC Community Forestry Coordinator Nick Kuhn tells Daily RFT.

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Ann Wagner Fundraising Pleas Say President Obama Personally Attacked Her -- But Did He?

Thumbnail image for ann-wagner-headshot.jpg
via Facebook
Representative Ann Wagner.
Update below: Here's one reason to donate to Rep. Ann Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin who represents Missouri's second congressional district: President Barack Obama is personally attacking her.

So says Wagner in recent fundraising tweets and e-mails. "Did you hear what President Obama said about me?" she says in one tweet and "I thought I've seen it all - but when the President attacks you personally- you know you have ruffled some feathers," in another.

There's only one problem, which some critics have pointed out to Daily RFT: Neither the president nor the White House have said anything about Wagner.

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Forest Park Named One Of The Most Beautiful City Parks In The World (PHOTOS)

Categories: Environment, News

via Facebook
St. Louis is home to one of the most beautiful city parks on Planet Earth!

So says a new top ten post from Yahoo, which has listed Forest Park as one of the best urban parks in the world, one of only four American locations to make it on the list.

Take that, haters!

The website's Travel & Leisure list puts St. Louis' Forest Park in the top ten alongside City Park in New Orleans, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and Balboa Park in San Diego.

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Untreated Wastewater Flows Into Mississippi, River Des Peres, Possibly 1 Million Gallons

Categories: Environment

Lemay Wastewater Treatment Plant.

A broken valve at an Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District pump station yesterday caused untreated wastewater to discharge into the River des Peres, officials say. That break happened less than three-quarters of a mile from the Mississippi River, eventually causing the discharge of wastewater from a site in south St. Louis county.

Given heavy rains, officials believe that the total volume that flowed could be up to 1 million gallons -- and as a precaution are warning residents to avoid contact with the rivers for the next two to three days.

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Walmart Improperly Dumped Hazardous Waste in Missouri, Must Pay $82 Million

Categories: Environment, News

Officials with Walmart pleaded guilty this week to mishandling hazardous materials at retail stores in Missouri and California -- and as a result will have to pay a total of more than $110 million in fines to resolve these cases. The company, authorities say, violated a slew of federal and state environmental laws.

"By improperly handling hazardous waste, pesticides and other materials in violation of federal laws, Wal-Mart put the public and the environment at risk and gained an unfair economic advantage over other companies," Ignacia Moreno, assistant attorney general for the justice department's environment and natural resources division says in a statement. "Today, Wal-Mart acknowledged responsibility for violations of federal laws and will pay significant fines and penalties, which will, in part, fund important environmental projects in the communities impacted by the violations and help prevent future harm to the environment."

What kind of violations occurred in Missouri?

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