Friday, April 04, 2003

More April 8th Ballot Items:

Also on the April 8th ballot in the City of St. Louis are:

General Election for Board of Aldermen.

Jim Shrewsbury (Democrat) faces Don DeVivo (Green) for President of the Board of Aldermen. I've met Don DeVivo - he's involved with Forest Park Southeast, where he lives, as well as being a real estate developer of sorts in the Wellston and Northwest City areas. He's an interesting character, and his main issue is the City's not redeveloping vacant property fast enough. Perhaps he has some valid points, but I still like Jim.

Most ward races are uncontested. However, in Ward 4 incumbent Peggy Ryan is facing an independent, Norma Leggette. I don't know anything about Ms. Leggette. I assume she is not related to Ronald A. Leggett, Collector of Revenue, although it's unfortunate their names are similar. Mr. Leggett, who is white, ran several ads in the South Side Journal during the November 2002 campaign, that were quite racist, against his opponent, Howard Hayes. Hayes, chair of the Land Reutilization Authority board and a St. Louis Public Schools employee, is African-American and lives in Soulard.

In Ward 24, incumbent Tom Bauer faces a Green Party opponent, Bud Deraps.

And in Ward 16, Jim Shrewsbury's turf, Democrat Donna Baringer faces Republican Carol Wilson. This race may be competitive - the 16th used to be Republican before young Shrewsbury was elected in 1983. He has backed Baringer, but Carol Wilson has plenty of friends in St. Louis Hills and Southampton, since she helped establish and coordinate one of the more popular events in the area, the annual Francis Park "Run for the Hills." Southampton Neighborhood Association president Phil Klevorn has endorsed her, but that's probably because of the bad blood between him and Jim Shrewsbury over the Southtown Famous-Barr site. Klevorn was a leader in the Southtown Coalition which pushed for development of multiple, pedestrian-friendly shops on the site. Their proposal was similar to what is actually to be developed on the site. Shrewsbury backed a K-Mart, because it would mean jobs and sales tax revenue quickly. Shrewsbury endorsed Donna Baringer, rather than Steve Malle, who got the 16th Ward Democratic Organization endorsement, but placed 3rd in the Democratic primary in March 2003.

Perhaps the most exciting ward race is in Ward 21, where a recall was held in March, and Melinda Long was ousted. Not to be deterred, Melinda is running for the seat again, as an independent. Two other independent candidates also filed - Bennice Jones King, who Melinda beat four years ago, and the leader of the recall petition drive; and Linda Primer, one of the leaders of the O'Fallon neighborhood group. She maintains the O'Fallon website, and works with The Neighborhood Council, which is a block grant funded development organization in the 3rd Ward. The Democratic nominee for the special election is Fernandel French, part of the French family that includes his mother 21st Ward committeewoman Myrtle French, and his brother, school board candidate Antonio French. Along North Newstead in the 21st, signs have sprouted which simply say "Vote French". (Next thing you know, Jacques Chirac will be running for alderman).

Then there are the Bond Issues. Although no tax increases are proposed citywide, the proposals are:

$2 Billion in bonds for Lambert Airport expansion. A lot of money. All City employees received a letter from the members of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (Shrewsbury, Mayor Slay, and Comptroller Darlene Green) asking for support.

$120 Million in bonds for air conditioning in selected St.Louis Public Schools. Seems like bad timing, with a big school board election as well. And frequent City voters received full color large format postcards about the bond issue asking "Do Our Children Deserve to Learn in a Healthy Environment?", and asserting, among other things, that air conditioning helps prevent asthma attacks. Guess they've never heard of Sick Building Syndrome. And the kicker: In tiny type at the bottom, the mailer claims to "neither support, advocate, nor oppose" the bond issue. This despite the obviously leading question, and the big checkmark next to the word "YES."

Also there's a City charter amendment to increase the maximum purchasing amount without competitive bids from $250 to $5,000. It's a big jump, but only because it hasn't been changed, I think, since the charter was adopted in 1914. So it's a change long overdue, but it's failed several times before. I would vote yes, but in these financially tough times, others may not.

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