Thursday, July 20, 2017

July Monthly Meeting - 7/27

Welcome back to a living, breathing, resisting Democratic organization. Please come to our July meeting at Mekong, Grand and Hartford, 7 PM, Thursday, July 27. Bring a friend, bring a neighbor, bring a family member. Come early, buy supper, stay to argue.

   When: 7pm, Thursday, July 27
   Where: Mekong Restaurant (3131 S. Grand Blvd.)


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May Monthly Meeting - Thursday, May 25

Our May meeting is Thursday, May 25, at 7 PM back at the Mekong Restaurant at Grand and Hartford.  Big doings in the 15th Ward as usual. And, since elections are over for a while, they mostly are celebrations. Come hear about our June 15 party which will have a special emphasis on recruitment of new members. We will need lots of help here.  Gay Pride celebrations in our neighborhood and city wide are also on the horizon in June.

   When: 7pm, Thursday, May 25
   Where: Mekong Restaurant (3131 S. Grand Blvd.)





Monday, April 24, 2017

April Monthly Meeting - Thursday, April 27

In the age of Trump, we must show up for marches and we do. Marching is fine as far as it goes, but it is the start of action, not the end. We know politics and public policy happen every day. Please join us at our April meeting this Thursday, 4/27, at 7 PM at Friendly's (3503 Roger) to learn about voter registration drives, Pride events, our annual picnic, petition opportunities (and warnings) to stand up for workers, and new directions in the city.

Lots to do, lots of heads and hands and hearts are needed.





Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sample Ballot - April 4th Election

The 15th Ward Democrats endorse the following for the April 4th General Municipal Election:






Sunday, March 19, 2017

March Issues and Candidates Forum - March 23rd - Carpenter Branch Library

Now that we're past the democratic primaries for Mayor and Alderman, it is time to focus on the rest of the ballot on April 4th. Here's your chance to make informed choices at the polls.

Time: 6:30pm - 8:35pm
Location: basement meeting room - St. Louis Public Library - Carpenter Branch (3309 S. Grand)
Agenda:
       6:30pm - 8:00pm Propositions - speakers will be allotted 5 minutes to present their case
                                for or against each ballot measure, followed by brief Q&A from the audience.
       8:00pm - 8:35pm Brief speeches from each of the candidates for the Board of Education

From the sample ballot on the Board of Elections website, the Propositions are focused on the following:

*PROPOSITION A
AMENDMENT TO THE CITY CHARTER
(Proposed by Initiative Petition)
A proposed ordinance submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis an amendment to Article XV of the City Charter repealing Sections 4 and 5 and enacting in lieu thereof four new sections, Sections 4, 4a, 4b and 5, the purpose of which is to abolish the Office of Recorder of Deeds and consolidate the functions of that office with that of the Assessor, and place any realized cost savings in a special fund known as "the police body-worn camera fund" dedicated to the purchase and use of police body-worn cameras by the city Metropolitan Police Department subject to appropriation from the fund by the Board of Aldermen for the express purpose of the fund (the full text of which is available at all polling places).

*PROPOSITION B
AMENDMENT TO THE CITY CHARTER
(Proposed by Initiative Petition)
A proposed ordinance submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis an amendment to Article II of the City Charter repealing Sections 1, 2 and 3 and enacting in lieu thereof four new Sections 1, 1(a), 2 and 3, the purpose of which is to move the Primary Municipal Election date from March to August and the General Municipal Election date from April to November in even-numbered years, commencing in 2020 and continuing every two years thereafter, and providing for a transition to accomplish those changes (the full text of which is available at all polling places).

*PROPOSITION C
AMENDMENT TO THE CITY CHARTER
(Proposed by Ordinance)
Shall Section 4 of Article XVIII of the Charter of the City of St. Louis be amended to add paragraph (f), which provides for the enactment of an ordinance establishing a residents' preference to residents of the City of St. Louis upon successfully passing a civil service examination for civil service positions with the City? Section 4. Ordinances to be enacted - The mayor and aldermen shall provide, by ordinance: (f) City Residents' Preference. For a preference to be granted to residents of the City of St. Louis who successfully pass an examination for a civil service position.

*PROPOSITION 1
(Proposed by Ordinance)
Shall the City of St. Louis impose a sales tax at a rate of one half of one percent for economic development purposes including (1) North/South Metrolink, (2) neighborhood revitalization, (3) workforce development; (4) public safety, and (5) to upgrade the city's infrastructure, with annual public audits?

*PROPOSITION 2
(Proposed by Ordinance)
Shall the use tax paid by businesses on out-of-state purchases and derived from the one half of one percent increased use tax, which corresponds to approval and levy of an Economic Development Sales Tax in the City of St. Louis, be used for the purposes of minority job training and business development programs, and a portion of construction costs, but not construction cost overruns, of a multipurpose stadium for soccer, local amateur sports, concerts and community events? A use tax is the equivalent of a sales tax on purchases from out-of-state sellers by in-state buyers and on certain taxable business transactions for which a sales tax is not levied. No taxpayer is subject to a sales tax and a use tax on the same transaction. The City shall be required to make available to the public an audited comprehensive financial report detailing the management and use of the portion of the funds each year.

*PROPOSITION NS
BOND ISSUE ORDINANCE
(Proposed by Initiative Petition)
A proposition submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis a proposed Ordinance authorizing and directing the issuance of general obligation bonds of The City of St. Louis, Missouri, not to exceed $40,000,000 principal amount in aggregate (of which no more than $6,000,000 in principal amount shall be issued annually) for the purpose of stabilizing, as limited by the Ordinance, residential properties owned by public entities, as described in the Ordinance, and authorizing the execution of an agreement relating to the expenditure of the sale proceeds of such bonds (the full text of which is available at all polling places).

Below are 7 candidates running for the St. Louis Board of Education, listed in the order they will appear on the ballot. (4-year term; vote for 3 on April 4th)
   BILL MONROE
   NATALIE VOWELL
   DAVID LEE JACKSON
   DOROTHY ROHDE-COLLINS
   BRIAN P. WALLNER
   JAMES IRA REECE
   SUSAN R. JONES

The actual sample ballot can be found here.




Sunday, March 05, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February Monthly Membership Meeting

Join us at our monthly meeting this Thursday, February 23 at 7pm at Friendly's South City STL Sports Bar and Grill (3503 Roger Pl.).  We'll be discussing plans for the March primary and the April general election.  Also, support a local business by ordering dinner (great fried chicken!), and know that Friendly's is cash only (ATM available).  The March primary is just around the corner, and we'll be covering things we can do as a neighborhood for election day.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Candidate Questionnaire Responses - March 7th Primary

The 15th Ward Democrats sent a questionnaire to each Democrat running in the March 7th primary election for St. Louis Mayor, St. Louis Comptroller and 15th Ward Alderman.  We present here the responses received from the candidates.  We hope that this information will assist you as you make your decision in the March 7th Primary.

The 15th Ward Dems will vote on endorsements in each of these races at an endorsement meeting of all eligible voting members.

For Mayor, City of St. Louis:
   Antonio French - Response
   Lewis Reed - Response
   Jeffrey Boyd - Response
   Tishaura O. Jones - Response
   Lyda Krewson - Response
   William [Bill] Haas - Response
   Jimmie Matthews -

For Comptroller, City of St. Louis:
   Darlene Green - Response
   Alexandra Johnson - Response

For Alderman, 15th Ward:
   Jennifer Florida - Response
   Megan Ellyia Green - Response





Response from Jennifer Florida, Candidate for 15th Ward Alderman

1. What do you view as the key role(s) and/or attributes needed for this position?

Key roles of an alderman are legislator (policy maker), advocate, representative and chief problem solver, allocator of resources, fair and equitable employer. An alderman's primary responsibility is the overall welfare of the residents they serve and then to the residents of City. An Alderman has a responsibility to improve safety, housing, foster thriving business districts, education, advocate for residents, allocate capital for infrastructure and work with the Board of Aldermen to improve the quality of life for all residents. An effective alderman is knowledgeable of the legislative process, has keen understanding of City services and how our government works and understands our budget process. Working well with others is hugely important! Working closely with neighborhood leaders, business districts, block captains in the Ward and the Aldermen, Mayor, President of BOA and the Directors and Commissioners of the Depts at City Hall is critical to success.


2. What education (schools attended, degrees attained), experience, and attributes do you have that qualify you for this position?


Bachelor of Science, Illinois State University, Criminal Justice Sciences 1983

Gamaliel Leadership Training, Advanced Training, Community Organizing Internship with Churches United for Community Action, now MCU for St. Louis, 1998, 1999.

15th Ward Alderman 2001-2014.


3. Why do you think you are the best choice for 15th Ward Alderman? What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

Experience, proven track record, knowledge of government, services, tools and vast wealth of relationships differentiate me from my opponent. I served as the alderman for fourteen years, elected to four terms. I understand how important it is to work together. I worked closely with all neighborhood organizations, neighborhood leaders and the business districts and the surrounding communities as well as closely with the Board of Aldermen, City Departments and especially the St. Louis Police Department. Alderman Conway and I were forced to lead our not-for-profits - Grand Oak Hill, Shaw and Southwest Garden - to consolidate into Tower Grove Neighborhood Community Development Corp. The funding mechanism changed which required capacity and a broader service area. This huge change that we gave birth to facilitated the Tower Grove South Neighborhood Association, completed two new construction homes in vacant lots (last two housing projects I supported), acquired a drug house at Bamberger and Gravois, now affordable housing and a SLMPD Police Substation and conducted Visioning for all three neighborhoods around Tower Grove Park! It is amazing what we can do when we work together! I see the results of our 14 years of accomplishments every day!



4. Please describe your previous involvement in the ward / neighborhood.

I have lived in the neighborhood for 24 years. I became a block captain and worked to strengthen our neighborhood by attending neighborhood meetings and working with other block captains at that time in Tower Grove Heights, Grand Oak Hill, Park side Neighborhood and Fanning. I became a leader in C-4, Churches Committed to Community Concerns, now MCU for St. Louis, spearheading the Re-Development of Gravois Plaza, saving South Side National Bank from demolition, and was leader in the South Town Coalition.

I am a founding member of the 15th Ward Democrats. I served as 15th Ward Alderman from 2001-2014.


5. What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)

Most pressing issues are: Increased Violent Crime. I plan to work with our neighborhood leaders and the Block Captains and Business Districts to initiate and implement community based safety initiatives, support putting more police on the street and tools such as the real time crime lab and mobile cameras in hot spots.

Reverse the trend of disinvestment as identified in the 2013/14 Market Value Analysis Study with a focus on Grand and Gravois, Gravois and Bamberger Wedge and MorganFord in the way of housing and economic development. Work with the Tower Grove Neighborhood Community Development Corp, Business Districts to address vacants, develop affordable housing or promote development opportunities and strengthen the business districts. Tower Grove CDC secured a grand to do "Visioning." Let's move from visioning to a Community Based Strategic Plan.

Promote and support our educational institutions. Working together we saved Mann School from closing. It is accredited. I would like to see our educational institutions become center to community.


6. Public safety is a concern for our neighborhood and the entire city. What can you do on day one and what can you hope to achieve on day one plus ten years?

Support budgeting more police, more pay for police, and more training.

Support budgeting additional money for recreational and educational programs for youth.

Support budgeting money for Anti violence, conflict-resolution initiatives

Support alternatives to prosecution and incarceration for youthful, non violent offenders. Expand the use of Drug Courts.


7. The Ferguson Commission Report asks government to look through a "racial equity lens" in developing policies. Specifically, what does that mean to you?

I would work as I did before, with the African American Caucus at the Board of Aldermen, President of the BOA and Mayor to eliminate racial disparities in opportunities, education, resources, housing, life expectancy.


8. How would you approach representing a ward as diverse as the 15th Ward?

I represented our diverse ward from 2001-2014. I met people where they were. I was responsive and worked as an advocate. I supported the International Institute. We translated City information into whatever language required. I celebrated Pride, the Vietnamese New Year, Festival of Nations. I attended block parties, organized block units and attended town hall meetings. I hosted town hall meetings. I attended church meetings, safety meetings and neighborhood meetings, wedge meetings, community garden meetings, Save Mann School meetings, School Board meetings. I participated in the life of our neighborhood. I will be wherever needed.


9. Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.

I will work with the neighborhood organizations, block captains and business districts, St. Louis Police Department to initiate community based safety initiatives.

I will work with the Board of Aldermen, President of the BOA and Mayor to increase funding for more police, more recreational and educational youth programs.

As I have in the past, I will work with the Tower Grove Neighborhood Community Development Corp to develop affordable housing, promote development opportunities. Engage our community and move from visioning to a Community Based Strategic Plan.

As I have in the past, I will work with the business districts, St. Louis Development Corp, Economic Development Partnership and SLATE to strengthen our business districts by attracting business and growing jobs.


10. What role should the Alderman have in working with the neighborhood business districts? What role should the Alderman have in working with resident organizations? How do/would you balance the needs of the residential and business districts of the ward so both are strong and vibrant?

I have worked closely with the business districts as an advisor and resource. I worked closely with our 15th Ward Commercial Business District Manager. The neighborhood and business districts have a symbiotic relationship. My primary role is that of representative and advocate to the people I serve. There is a balance. Together we thrive. South Grand Great Streets is an excellent example of a community based project. More than 900 residents participated in the public engagement, and as a results we have increased safety, growth, greening and placemaking. Grand and Gravois, MorganFord deserve the same attention.


11. How do/will you use the Alderman position to affect delivery of city services for the Ward?

Constituent advocacy and service is a priority. I will be your advocate. I am very familiar with all of the City Departments and will work to make sure that you get the services you deserve.


12. What process do you believe should be used to reduce the Board of Aldermen to 14 members following the 2020 census?

The census will be done in 2020. Redistricting will occur in 2021. The bill provides a transition and staggers the terms of even odd. A map of 14 wards will be drawn in 2021. In the last redistricting we tried to redistrict keeping neighborhoods intact. Each ward has to be roughly the same population and African-American Minority Opportunity Wards factors in as well.


13. If you could ask your opponent one question, what would it be?


Why did you not think that the Aldi's expansion was important?










Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Response from Antonio French, Candidate for St. Louis Mayor

1. What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position? What experience/attributes do you have that qualify you for this position?

The next Mayor of St. Louis must be held accountable for the quality of life improving in every neighborhood. I’ve spent my career cutting through the clutter and getting things done, whether that has been at the Board of Alderman or as the founder of North Campus, the year-round free educational and enrichment program for kids.

St. Louis families, in every neighborhood, deserve a mayor who is more than a bunch of talking points and buzzwords. I’ve never been shy to take on the establishment and to stand up for what’s right as opposed to doing what is easy. For example, I’ve said on day one that I’ll fire the Police Chief and if the violence isn’t reduced during my term in office I won’t run again. That’s standing up and being accountable, something St. Louis has been lacking at City Hall for a long time.


2. Why do you think you are the best person for this position? What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?


I’ve been to many of these joint forums and debates over the course of the last several weeks and it is shocking at how out of touch some of my opponents seem to be in regards to the issues facing St. Louis. I’ve been to the crime scenes, consoled the families; I’ve spoken to the business owner in south city who wants to hire more employees and has so much red tape to cut through that she’s ready to throw her hands up in the air. I’ve visited with the veteran who finds it ridiculous that a ban on guns is going to solve our problem of gun violence. In short, I am about finding real solutions to our problems while my opponents are out of touch and using the talking points from their latest poll.

For example, I keep hearing a few of them talk about how they are going to view the issues of St. Louis through a racial equity lens. Do they plan on pulling it out of their pocket and looking through it before making a decision? No one who has ever visited for more than 5 minutes a family living in Dutchtown or Walnut Park or Bevo Mill wants to hear about how they’ll use a racial equity lens, they expect you to have that built in your DNA and not have to think twice about using it.


3. What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)

      1. Reducing Violence – On day one I’ll fire the current Police Chief and then for the first time in our city’s history I will open up the search nationally to find the best person for the job. You can read more about my plan at comprehensiveplan.org.

      2. Jobs – St. Louis needs jobs, good paying jobs. We are not going to fix the economic issues with our city by focusing on one or two giant stadium projects; we are going to do it with encouraging businesses to come to our city and putting this amazing city back to work. Under employment is too high as we have men and women working two and three jobs just to make ends meet. We will focus on bringing jobs to both sides of Delmar Avenue, and not just focus on the central corridor.

      3. Improving the quality of life throughout every neighborhood – Our city can do better with making it easier and better to live here by improving things like snow removal and trash pick-up. We can improve the technology the city utilizes and make public transportation easier with real time bus schedules and improved city services. It’s time we bring St. Louis into the digital age.


4. Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.

There’s a saying, you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar. I’ve never been one to say it’s my way or the highway, I have always been one to work with people to achieve our goals. However, I’ve also been the one who has stood up to the “this is how we’ve always done it’ crowd and taken on the establishment when needed. 

I believe in the people of St. Louis; we’ve always come together when needed and I will rely on that spirit of inclusion when I go to work every day at City Hall.


5. Who are your 3 largest campaign contributors? Are there donors from whom you will not accept campaign contributions?

Well, this is an easy one as I am relying on grassroots contributions. Trust me, it’s not that I wouldn’t love to have the hundreds of thousands of dollars the establishment candidates have, but the $20 contribution from a family who wants to see positive change in St. Louis means the world to me.

I won’t take contributions from Paul McKee or anyone associated with him; I won’t take money from Rex Sinquefeld or anyone associated with him nor will I take campaign contributions from anyone who expects a quid-pro-quo relationship. Never have, never will and no one will ever question my ethics as to who is paying for things or who I am focused on helping.


6. Public safety is a concern for our neighborhood and the entire city. What can you do on day one and what can you hope to achieve on day one plus ten years?

On day one I will instruct the Public Safety Commissioner to fire Sam Dotson and I will use the full weight and bully pulpit of the Mayor’s office to see that is done. His policies have not worked, and anyone who believes we are on the path to a safe and viable city with him at the helm has their head stuck in the sand. The very next thing I will do is open up the search for the next Chief nationwide, something that has never been done in St. Louis. It’s time we have a new perspective and approach to policing and it will be about finding the best person for the job, not just the next person for the job.

In ten years, it’s my hope that with a new Police Chief and a focus on community policing instead of the feeling of an occupying force who has a horrible relationship with the neighborhoods they serve we will look back and see the fork in the road we came to during the mayoral campaign of 2017 and be so thankful that the people of St. Louis chose positive change as opposed to more of the same.


7. The Ferguson Commission Report asks government to look through a "racial equity lens" in developing policies. Specifically, what does that mean to you?

I hear this and think to myself, “does someone really need to tell you that in order to develop policy?” I literally am the lens that other people use, it’s sad but true.


8. The causes and effects of homelessness are serious issues in St. Louis. What are your plans for addressing each?

Homelessness is a problem that we need to address but more from a point of compassion as opposed to the business development/economic hindrance the current establishment uses in developing the policy. Proverbs 22:0 says that whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.

I believe we as a city can do better with the issue of homelessness. We don’t need to station a police car at a shelter and intimidate volunteers from coming down to help; we don’t need to look down on people who find themselves at a shelter. Trust me, no one grows up with dreams of living in a homeless shelter.

We can do better and as Mayor, I’ll make sure we address this problem because for too long the establishment has been looking to “fix” it, and that’s part of the problem because you can’t fix homelessness but you can address it and make sure people are receiving the assistance they need from job placement to mental and physical health care.


9. In 2016, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions formed the Alliance for a Sustainable Future with the goal of spurring public-private cooperation on climate action and sustainable development in cities. Will your administration participate in the alliance, and what specific local initiatives would you support to advance climate action?

Yes, I would support the alliance and my administration would step up the work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the consequences of climate impacts.

In 2015 the Post Dispatch published an article stating St. Louis was doing little to prepare for climate change. This is the establishment mentality, if we ignore the problem it doesn’t really exist. I will direct my administration to focus on solutions we know that work such as planting more trees to prepare for heat waves and cut the urban heat island effect and identifying the roads, bridges and other infrastructure that could be vulnerable to new weather patterns.


10. What are your plans, if any, for Metrolink expansion, particularly a North-South line?

St. Louis is the city of 1,000 plans. I’d stop studying the North-South line and I’d implement it but it would be a true expansion of Metrolink. I’d also make sure the expansion fits with my vision of upgrading the city’s technology as we are all connected via an ever expanding online presence, it’s time the city catch up with the times.


11. What process do you believe should be used to reduce the Board of Aldermen to 14 members following the 2020 census?

The state of Iowa has an independent commission for redrawing its electoral boundaries after each census, I believe that system would work in St. Louis for reducing the Board of Alderman to 14 members. The commission would draw the boundaries and then present it to the Board for an up or down vote, no amendments. If rejected, the commission would draw a second map and present it for an up or down vote. If that map is rejected, the commission would draw a third map and that map would be final.


12. What are your criteria for approving tax abatements and TIFs?

TIF and other incentive laws were designed to assist blighted and low income areas. They are very often manipulated to increase the profits of projects in the richest parts of our city. It’s time we used these tools in the areas they were designed to be used. Blighted neighborhoods where vacant schools, warehouses, and other buildings make it impossible to attract the kind of businesses and jobs communities need to grow.


13. If you could ask each of your opponents one question, what would it be? (You may specify a different question for each opponent or the same question for all.)

Question for all of the candidates: What does Delmar Blvd mean to you?