Why Every American Should Visit St. Louis

Categories: Of the People

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Joseph Novak via flickr
Looking for a historic hidden gem of a city to visit this summer? The travel website Orbitz says St. Louis should be on your bucket list.

In honor of the long Fourth of July weekend, Orbitz senior editor Jeanenne Tornatore published a list of the five beautiful places every American should visit. St. Louis earns a spot on the list with its historical attractions, including the Old Courthouse, the Museum of Westward Expansion, the Museum of Transportation and Forest Park, home to the 1904 World's Fair.

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Why St. Louis Should Stop Turning Its Street Grid Into Cul-De-Sacs [VIDEO]

Categories: Of the People

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Lindsay Toler
We could have two cul-de-sacs facing each other, or St. Louis could open up the streets and heal the grid.
Sometimes, getting around St. Louis by car feels like driving in a maze.

A straight line is not the shortest path from one neighborhood street to another when the road is blocked off by planters, barriers and Schoemehl pots -- the concrete sewer pipes filled with dirt named for former mayor Vincent Schoemehl -- to make a cul-de-sac.

An electrical engineer and the man behind the @STLUnite Twitter feed, Richard Bose, says if he had his druthers, St. Louis would ditch the cutoffs, open up the streets and, as he puts it, "heal the grid."


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Alderman Ogilvie Introduces Resolution to Remove Elevated Lanes of I-70 from Downtown

Categories: Of the People

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The section of I-70 in question.
Alderman Scott Ogilvie is trying to get City Hall to talk about eliminating the elevated lanes of I-70 to provide a seamless connection between the riverfront and downtown.

Today at the Board of Alderman's full meeting Ogilvie introduced a resolution that calls on the board to "work toward the removal of the elevated lanes of Interstate 70 and their replacement by a suitable at-grade roadway upon the opening of the new Mississippi River bridge [in 2014]."

You might remember chatter about the idea amidst the City + Arch + River design competition in 2010. An editorial in the Post-Dispatch once called that stretch of highway near the Eads bridge "the scar that separates the Arch from the public."

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St. Louis Dreams Come True? Creatives Launch Crowdsourced Marketing Campaign

Categories: Of the People

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Try Googling 'Rally Saint Louis.' In between recent news items about a shooting at a local fast food chain and a final campaign push from Todd Akin, you'll see that a new organization seeking to market and promote St. Louis' reputation has gained an enthusiastic following.

Rally Saint Louis held its kick-off event at Plush last night, and Mayor Francis Slay, half of all the marketing and creative professionals from across the greater metropolitan area, and some especially savory pastrami wontons were on hand to celebrate the project that has produced so much buzz this week.

Aaron Perlut and Brian Cross, partners at the PR firm Elasticity and the pair behind Rally Saint Louis, are asking residents to submit ideas that they think will improve the city--or maybe just the city's image--to a website that went live last night. On December 1 the public will be allowed to vote for their favorite projects and then, after a few more voting/judging rounds, choose to fund the ideas they like most. The winningest ideas will be put into action by Elasticity, other creative firms, and volunteers around the city.

All you have to do is stop Googling kitten gifs (for a few minutes) and submit an idea to www.rallystl.org.

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Despite Aggressive Home Defense, Help from Slay, Woman Forced from Home of 21 Years

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Leah Greenbaum
Movers from the sheriff's office ignore protesters, as they empty 4665 Penrose.
What do you say to a woman who is losing her home of 21 years, watching as strangers drop all of her possessions in trash bags on the curb?

"If anyone interferes with our movers, we're taking all of your things to the dump," a sheriff's deputy told Angelia Williams, who stood outside her Penrose home in tears this morning.

After years of trying to get through to Wells Fargo for a loan modification--and despite direct help from Mayor Francis Slay--Williams was finally evicted today. About 30 activists protested the forced eviction on Williams' lawn and several risked arrest to forcibly prevent sheriff's deputies and movers from entering her house.

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Cuts to Firefighter Pensions Pass City, Firemen Take Fight to Court

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Call it a burn, or call it cleaning up house. This firefighter is ready for either.
The Board of Alderman finally voted today to pass Mayor Francis Slay's firefighter pension overhaul, a bill that eliminates benefits that the city has deemed unaffordable.

Demetris "Al" Alfred, a firefighter and union representative to IAFF Local 73, said he was disappointed by the vote but that the firefighters union is ready to protest the cuts in court.

"We were willing to negotiate, we were willing to take concessions," Alfred said. "But the mayor played hardball."

The firefighter pension system's trustees have filed suit against the bill, and last week, a judge blocked Slay's move to stop them. A ruling on one part of the suit is expected later next month, but it looks like it'll be a long, hot summer in court for the city's firefighters.


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Aerotropolis -- Voices from McGurk's

Categories: Of the People
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Albert Samaha
"I think the state legislators are correct in cutting it down to size," said Manley.
We're deep into the third week of the Missouri legislature's special session and the economic development package featuring the "St. Louis Aerotropolis" proposal is still in the midst of serious debate. The gridlock emerged due to disagreement over how much tax credits should be allotted to the project and how those tax credits should be doled out. In fact, there's now talk of ending the session because it appears increasingly likely that the sides won't come to an agreement anytime soon.

The Aerotropolis project has elicited debate from the start. But while it began as a big picture back-and-forth on the overall legitimacy of the idea (as well as whether it is worth the cuts to low-income housing and historic preservation programs), it has recently evolved into a complicated discussion rooted in wonky policy talk-- from whether Aerotropolis should happen to how exactly it should be done.

So in this week's edition of Of the People, we went to John D. McGurk's Irish Pub & Garden to hear what the people thought.

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President Obama's Jobs Plan -- Voices from Barrister's

Categories: Of the People
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Albert Samaha
"Stimulus has become a bad word," says Lasky (left).
Last Monday in his jobs speech, President Barack Obama made a serious effort to wrest control of the Narrative away from the Republicans.

For months Democrats have complained about how they kept ending up negotiating on Republicans' terms, how Republicans dictated the discourse. But of course Republicans dictated the discourse, they controlled the Narrative. While Democrats worked to persuade people by reciting numbers and expert testimony, Republicans connected with people by telling a story. Numbers feel arbitrary; stories make sense.

All this came to a boil during the debt-ceiling debate, and Obama has since learned his lesson. Now he is telling stories the way he did in '08. Now he is recognizing the importance of the Narrative.

In the speech he explained that the $447 billion American Jobs Act will spur the economy through a variety of mechanisms: tax cuts for workers and small businesses who hire, with added cuts for hiring veterans and the long-term unemployed; investment in infrastructure -- from roads to schools -- to provide jobs for construction workers; and funding to prevent teacher, police, and firefighter layoffs.

A major goal of the speech was to highlight the tools the government has to improve the economy, to dispel the growing notion that the government needs to just get out of the way and let the Free Market correct itself.

But did his message resonate?

In this week's edition of Of the People, we headed over to Barrister's in Clayton to find out.

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Fixing the Economy -- Voices from Mimi's Subway Bar and Grill

Categories: Of the People

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Albert Samaha
Lower the tax rate for businesses but they have to use the money to hire people," said Bob Saudefur

Next week, President Obama will unveil his Jobs Plan. The economy is the most important issue of this election cycle, and there seems to be exactly zero overlap between the strategies of each of the political parties.

Democrats, more or less, favor raising taxes on the wealthy, spurring the economy with a new stimulus, and extending the payroll tax break for working Americans. Republicans, more or less, favor cutting taxes for businesses, further deregulation, broadening the income tax base to include more people in the bottom 50 percent, and eliminating government entities like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Endowment for the Arts. November 2012 will be a referendum on each of these divergent paths.

So in this week's edition of Of The People, we went to Mimi's Subway Bar and Grill in Ferguson to hear what The People think the government should do to fix the economy.

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Local Control -- Voices from Three Kings

Categories: Of the People
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Albert Samaha
What did the patrons of Three Kings think about local control? A mix of support and indifference
In the special session a couple of weeks from now, Missouri legislators will vote on whether St. Louis should regain control of its police department for the first time since the Civil War era.

As we wrote in our cover story Just Who Does Jamilah Nasheed Think She Is? last week, the bill is likely to pass. Mayor Francis Slay, Speaker of the House Steve Tilley, and the House bill's sponsor Jamilah Nasheed all believe that the votes are in place, that state legislators have finally agreed that St. Louis should control its police force.

But what do The People think? In November, 61 percent of St. Louis voters supported local control by voting "yes" on Prop L. To see if these sentiments have hardened, we went to Three Kings in this week's edition of Of the People.


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