Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Patriotic Fervor -- Generations Ago

Back in 1918 -- ninety years ago -- about half a dozen streets in St. Louis were renamed from "German" names to "American" names due to anti-German sentiments during World War I.

The St. Louis Street Index compiled by the St. Louis Public Library lists these cases, and the history behind many other street names, in great detail.

It's been ninety years. Why can't we change some of these names back? I'm not saying that the WWI heroes aren't worth memorializing; but the previous names also reflect on a significant portion of our local heritage that's also worth remembering.

Cecil Place was originally Hapsburger Avenue, renamed in 1918 for Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, League of Nations co-founder.

Enright Avenue was, in part, originally named Von Versen Avenue, in honor of Alice Von Verson, a daughter of Eliza Clemens who laid out an early subdivision in that area. It was renamed in 1918 for Jack Enright, one of the first Americans killed in World War I.

Gresham Avenue was at first called Kaiser Street, but was renamed in 1918 for one of the first soldiers killed in World War I.

Pershing Avenue was named Berlin Avenue, but was renamed in 1918 for General John J. Pershing.

Providence Place was at first called Knapstein Place, but was renamed in 1918.

Many people know about the Pershing re-naming, but few know about the other streets, probably because (other than Enright, a pretty well-known street in its own right) they are fairly short, residential streets in South St. Louis.

Monday, August 04, 2008

August Primary: It Snuck Up on Me!

EDIT 8/05/08: I totally spaced on the AG Office race. I voted for Margaret Donnelly.

OK, so I admit I've been extremely busy lately, between my work duties, my home duties, and my dissertation toil, so it's been a bit difficult to keep up with the political scene.

But I do feel competent -- thanks in part to the great work by the Saint Louis Beacon-- to make a few endorsements of my own:

Metropolitan Sewer District Proposition Y

Vote YES. The Beacon sums it up well in their headline: "Pay now or pay more later." Basically, if you vote yes, you approve a bond issue to finance major needed sewer improvements. You'll still pay a higher sewer bill, but it would rise much faster without the bond issue. There's no tax increase; I'm pretty sure the last round of MSD bill increases included eliminating the small MSD property tax, anyway. So this is strictly about user charges. Granted, it's a charge you are pretty much compelled to pay, because if you don't, it becomes a lien against your property just like unpaid property taxes.

Democratic Primary

Governor -- Jay Nixon, of course.

Lt. Governor -- Sam Page would be the sensible, traditional choice, although Michael Carter's robo-calls that note that he brought back the time-and-temperature phone service and offering a 'political do-not-call list' certainly are bemusing. Whoever wins will have a tough time unseating Peter Kinder.

State Treasurer -- Since she used to be the director of one of my major funding agencies, and seems to have done a good job there, I (along with Michael Eric Dyson, according to her radio ads) am supporting Andria Simckes (back then known as Danine Lard). However, Clint Zweifel seems likely to be the winner.

State Senate District 5 -- I'm going for Robin Wright Jones. She just seems like the more publicly-minded of the two candidates. This race, for various reasons, didn't seem to be getting much media attention as compared with the District 4 race that Jeff Smith won two years ago. But I think it's equally compelling to watch, especially in recent days as the mailings have piled up in my mailbox, trading barbs about whose education (teachers' unions vs. charter schools and pseudo-vouchers) and redevelopment (i.e. "Mr. McKee's Neighborhood") policies are better.

Obviously, I'm re-electing Jeanette Mott Oxford in House 59, along with Mark Rice and Lorraine Ura in the Ward 20 committee posts.

I will be curious to see what happens in House 67. I've seen numerous yard signs for all four major candidates (Landmann, Colona, Beffa, and Stelzer), although it seems like Colona and Stelzer have the most, generally. Again, I'm not sure how serious a gauge of popularity yard signs are, but without much media attention, what else is there to guess?

Also in the Tower Grove area, Ward 15 committee slots have an actual race occuring, with yard signs! There's apparently an old-line slate (Greg Thomas and Alice Nicolas) against the younger slate (Gregg Christian and Jan Clinite). This one should be interesting as well. (Note: Both Gregg and Jan have campaign blogs! That's very unusual, if not unprecedented, in St. Louis ward politics for committee slots.)

In the city races, of course the incumbents will probably win handily, but you have to give Dan Schesch credit for trying for the City Treasurer slot. I think I will vote for him, just because new ideas are probably worthwhile in that position; although I suspect Larry Williams will retire pretty soon anyway. Also, Dan Schesch's campaign has great attention for detail.