Friday, April 29, 2005

Impeccable Timing by Metro Transit

Bi-State Development Agency, aka "Metro" runs MetroLink and MetroBus service in St. Louis city and county. Their Arts-in-Transit division is a co-sponsor of St. Louis Earth Day 2005 in Forest Park.

However, on May 1st, 2005, when the Earth Day Festival is in full swing, MetroLink will not be operating normally.

Earlier this week, the drop-off loop at Forest Park MetroLink station closed (PDF link to press release). This makes it considerably more difficult to get to the station on foot.

And this weekend (April 30 and May 1), MetroLink Cross County extension construction will mean trains will not operate from Grand to Wellston MetroLink stations (another press release in PDF). Forest Park station, of course, is where the new line will begin, so it's smack in the middle of this construction.

As a result, in order to get to Forest Park, MetroLink riders will have to board buses at Wellston or Grand, depending where they're coming from, to ride the rest of the way.

That's not exactly the most convenient or quickest way to get to Earth Day. I should know; I ride buses and MetroLink every day!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Police Bored

Mayor Slay's campaign website has an online poll with 3 questions about police residency.

"How do you feel about the new residency rule?"
Currently running 85% in favor.

Perhaps respondents don't understand the question, or the implications, or they are mostly police officers themselves?

"Should police officers who live in the City receive financial incentives and an advantage on promotions?"
Currently running 55% opposed.

"Should St. Louis have its own police department or are you comfortable with the State of Missouri controlling our police department?"
Currently running 57% for City control.

Man, I really hope Room 200 isn't making policy based on online polls.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

No Sense of Humor...

Since I'm not a daily blogger, I rarely receive comments about my postings. It doesn't help that I haven't figured out how to make comment postings public; I just don't put that much time into my blog, since I do have other responsibilities, after all.

But somebody decided to comment on my posting about Pam Randall, the outgoing interim St. Louis Public Schools superintendent. This anonymous poster asked:

"What is the reason that you put former cheerleader and dancer first...and then just happened to remember that she was a principal. True, she was a cheerleader in highschool (so that is really irrelevent) and she did teach dance, but she is an educator first and foremost, so that is really all that matters."

Well, as many people out there may know, my wife and I both graduated from Metro in 1997 and I'm generally pretty proud of that fact. Whether my classmates were so impressed is another question. ;-)

In any event, many people were unimpressed with Pam's performance as Metro principal. She replaced the original principal, Betty Wheeler, who retired after 25 years. Pam started there in fall 1997, right after I graduated, so I don't have direct experience.

Nevertheless, I think she sought the Metro position, which she occupied before she even had Missouri principal certification, so she could have a record as principal of the best high school in the system, and get on the road to high-paying administrative positions.

Further, while the fact she was a cheerleader may be irrelevant to her performance as an administrator, it sets a tone when someone of that ilk (i.e., "popular girl") is principal of a high school populated largely by students who would in most schools be the "nerds" and get beaten up a lot. Metro was as much a haven for outcasts from throughout the City and County, as it was a cream-skimming operation.

And her support of Metro's adoption of the International Baccalaureate curriculum was not something I thought to be a good decision. If the IB diploma is so highly prized, why do so few highly-ranked schools participate? Lindbergh High is the only other school in the St. Louis region in the program; Clayton and Ladue, for example, are not. It just seems silly, more about status and appearances than anything else.

It would have made more sense to invest in more Advanced Placement courses, which can really save students time and money when they get to college. Coming out of Metro, I had 25 credit hours to "transfer" when I started at the UMSL Pierre Laclede Honors College. This helped me complete two bachelor's degrees, two minors, and a semester abroad in 3 1/2 years. Not that I'm bragging or anything. :-)

Anyway, I think Pam's administrative style is kinda superficial and not that much about substantive improvements to academic outcomes. And that's not the kind of style that helps a place like 801 N. 11th Street get moving. But I do wish her well in Chicago.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Police Bleep

Well - the moment we've been dreading has come.

"The Board of Police Commissioners voted 3-2 today to revise the residency policy by allowing officers with seven years experience to live elsewhere.

The new policy requires the officers who do leave the city to live within an hour's drive of St. Louis."

What the hell does that mean?? That is totally, totally unenforceable. Is that at rush hour, or at 4 AM? At the speed limit, or at 80 MPH? I thought the "St. Louis County only" proposal was lame, but this is even sillier. So this presumably means they can live in either Missouri or Illinois.

I don't want to think about what this will do to the Southwest City (and, to some extent, Halls Ferry Circle area) housing markets.

And, it's "effective immediately." Lovely.

What's next? Perhaps a drive to amend the City employee residence rule, with the firefighters union taking the lead in seeking parity with police.

Well, at least Fran voted against it.
I Need a Heteroskedasticity Test, stat!

Last night's E.R. was new and dramatic. But there was kind of a running gag about statistics, between Susan and that one annoying resident dude:

"Did you drop the p-values? They want [blah blah blah] expressed as a difference..."

"Did you include the 95% Confidence Intervals?"

Meanwhile, I noticed Carter made some disparaging remarks about the state of HIV/AIDS care in Chicago, and I thought 'hmmm... the producers and NBC will probably be getting a sternly worded letter from the local HIV/AIDS service providers in Chicago.'

And, finally, they kept referring to a woman on a hunger strike against the INS. However, as many people know, the INS no longer exists! It's major functions are now in the USCIS, in the Homeland Security Dept.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Cut Medicaid, but Don't Cut Our Health Plan!

A week ago, the AP reported that the Missouri House narrowly voted down a proposed amendment to one of the budget bills, to cut $281,602 from the state health insurance budget, with the intent of making legislators themselves feel the pain that poor Missourians are experiencing as a result of Medicaid cuts. The Springfield News-Leader has the rundown of who voted how.


"The 75-78 roll call by which the Missouri House defeated an amendment Wednesday that was intended to reduce state subsidies for the health care plans of elected officials.

"On this vote, a 'yes' vote was a vote to approve the amendment and a 'no' vote was a vote to defeat it.

"Voting 'yes' were 19 Republicans and 56 Democrats.

"Voting 'no' were 73 Republicans and five Democrats.

"Not voting were five Republicans and four Democrats."

Of those five Democrats voting no....


Mike Daus
Rodney Hubbard
Tom Villa

I have a great deal of respect for both Mike Daus and Tom Villa. I don't know much about Hubbard besides his feuds with the Ford family of the 5th ward, but he's certainly an important player, as vice-chair of the Special Committee on Urban Issues.

In any event, I can't really understand - when so many people in the City of St. Louis will be hurt by the Medicaid cuts - why three of our representatives would vote against sending the message that "we understand how hard it is to keep up with healthcare costs", etc.

While I realize none of them are from wealthy backgrounds, and may rely on the state health insurance for their families, it would be a nice message to send.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Pamela Randall Hughes to leave SLPS

At the end of an article in yesterday's Post-Dispatch, is tucked this tidbit. A St. Louis Public Schools press release confirms it.

"Dr. Pamela Randall, current deputy superintendent [and interim superintendent from December 17, 2004 to April 11, 2005], has accepted a position with the Chicago Public School District as an area instructional officer. Her last day with the St. Louis Public School District is May 5."

My only comment: I hope the former cheerleader and dance teacher (and, oh yeah, principal of Metro High School for a few years) doesn't have any more run-ins with board members or irate parents.

Monday, April 04, 2005

For School Board

Here's who I'm probably supporting, unless I make a drastic change:

Peter Downs - outspoken critic of the current board majority. He has kids in the public schools.

Veronica O'Brien - while she certainly isn't perfect, she's been willing to stand up to the current board majority.

Flint Fowler - on the mayor's slate, yes, but also a pretty effective leader and well-known face for children, as head of the Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club.

Note: I actually voted for Nancy Galvin, after all, but nevertheless Fowler and O'Brien, as well as Bill Purdy, were the winners. Hopefully, Downs will try again.