Rebuilding St. Louis

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A lot of well-connected St. Louis Democrats like to say “everything’s fine” with the city and the St. Louis region. You know, though, that St. Louis is a mess. A hot, simmering mess covered with rot. (Check out StLouisPatina’s photo essay of St. Louis decay.) But the people responsible for St. Louis’s decay want you to pretend there are no problems. Of course, they do.

And it’s getting worse. You might find yourself wondering how bad things are in St. Louis. You might remember that St. Louis has a bigly jobs problem. Even the St. Louis Post-Dispatch admits that there are so few good jobs in St. Louis. So few jobs.

Since 2009, the year the recession ended, the number of jobs in the nation has increased by 8 percent. In metro St. Louis, it is 3.6 percent.

Then there’s the population loss. St. Louis City and St. Louis County are both losing people. In 1950, one year after St. Louis’s last Republican mayor left office, the city’s population was 856,000. Today it’s barely 300k and shrinking (source). St. Louis County had over 1 million people in 2000. By 2010, it had fallen to 998k (source). The 2020 census could be devastating. People are moving out of St. Louis

People are moving out of St. Louis because St. Louis is a mess. Why wouldn’t they?

Between 1993 and 2013, the area population grew by 6.7 percent, while the nation grew by 21 percent, according to the Census. (Source)

Then there’s the loss of big companies. In 1980, St. Louis was home to 23 Fortune 500 headquarters. Today, we struggle to hold onto the remaining nine. They could all go at any moment. While mergers and acquisitions pulled some of those HQs out of St. Louis, St. Louis’s many problems drove away others.

(Vanishing STL chronicles the city’s continued destruction.)

Then there’s the crime problem. Travel to another city and tell a native you’re from St. Louis. One of two things happens: 1) they say something like ‘oh, I hear St. Louis isn’t that bad,’ or 2) they freeze up in terror expecting to be robbed. Or worse. For a guy, it’s kind of cool to have everyone assume I’m tough and a little dangerous because I come from St. Louis. But it’s probably not a good reputation for tourism or migration.

You know what caused St. Louis’s remarkable decline: blame the Democrats. When the Democrats took over city politics, the city’s slow death began. (The last Republican mayor of St. Louis was Aloys P. Kaufmann from 1945 to 1949.)  When they took over the county council and county executive posts, the whole region started to collapse. It’s because Democrats tend to be very fixed-pie thinkers. To many, many Democrats, economic growth is a myth. So they cozy up to the wealthy by thwarting innovation (like ride-sharing services) and transfer wealth that dwindling pool of uber-wealthy folks to the poor.

If you want St. Louis to make a rebound, you have to end one-party rule in the city and county. You might find yourself voting for Republicans. It’s the only way to save St. Louis from Gary, Indiana’s fate.  City residents can start by voting Republican for Mayor. You’ll want to check out Andrew Jones for Mayor. Mr. Jones will reverse St. Louis’s terrifying decline and make St. Louis a place people want to live, work, and invest again.

Or you can get used to visiting your kids in some other city far away, where all the opportunities are. You don’t have turn St. Louis around. But if you want to, you’ll need some help from Republicans.

*Image Credit:

Kroenke’s Brilliant Move

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I figured it out about the same time Ben Hochman of the Post Dispatch did: Stan Kroenke wrote a letter designed to force the owners to move the Rams to Los Angeles right now.

The acrimony created by Kroenke’s relocation request letter makes the situation in St. Louis untenable for the team and its owner. In short, Kroenke calls St. Louis a second-rate, economically depressed, crime-infest toilet of a city  full of people so obsessed with baseball that no other sports franchise has the ability to compete for entertainment dollars.

The vicious attack on the St. Louis area and its people seems designed to make it impossible for the team to remain in St. Louis with Kroenke as owner. That’s actually a pretty shrewd tactic. He’s pretty much tied the hands of the other owners.

That conclusion was bolstered on Wednesday when the Los Angeles committee of owners cancelled today’s second day of meetings on recommending a proposal to the full ownership group next week. They made their decision. And that decision was sealed when Kroenke poisoned the waters in St. Louis.

From Ben Hochman’s story:

The worst part about his seemingly diabolical plan is this, right here. See, he wants columns and radio shows and tweets expressing how much St. Louis loathes him, about how he can’t turn back now and possibly own a St. Louis NFL team. Why does he want this? So the NFL owners will have to second-guess a decision to vote for the Chargers and Raiders to move to LA, with the owners believing that the Rams owner cannot make it work back in St. Louis.

Rich Owner No. 1: “Man, it sure seems pretty logical to move the two California NFL teams, without hopes of a new stadium, into a palatial new stadium in California’s biggest city.”

Rich Owner No 2: “Maybe, sure, but Stan can’t go back to St. Louis!”

Stan Kroenke is calculated in everything he does. So to prove his point that he must flee St. Louis, he took it out on St. Louis, the same fans who filled the dome for all those happy years — and many who still pay hard-earned money to watch that USFL team he puts out there to play against NFL teams.

The owners can move the Rams to LA or deal long-term with a terrible football team playing before 4,000 people in a terrible domed stadium built in a hurry to house the stillborn St. Louis Stallions. That’s not really a choice.

Four years ago, Stan Kroenke held a rare press conference to assure St. Louisans that the Rams are here to stay. But only a year later, stores in Los Angeles were selling LA Rams gear. I know. I saw two of those stores on my frequent visits to  LA County. While the license stamp could have been a fake, the gear had the NFL and Rams’ licenses. Two years ago Kroenke bought the land in Inglewood to build the Rams’ new home.

Only an idiot would believe Kroenke intended to keep the Rams in St. Louis when he acquired majority ownership.

The one thing Kroenke got right was this: St. Louis is a region in steep decline. I thought when he bought the team a billionaire from Missouri named after Cardinals hall-of-fame legends Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial would lend a hand in fixing his team’s home town. Instead, he counted St. Louis’s warts and used those problems–which existed before he bought the team–as weapons to belittle and humiliate the city.

Now I can go back to my football first love: the Gridbirds.

 

St. Louis Uber Nada

Reading Time: 2 minutes

About this time, a variety of railroads began trying to build their own networks to the West, but the St. Louis city government refused to grant the permits required for constructing railroad bridges across the river at their location, even though St. Louis was the logical choice and would have been a perfect place for a rail hub. Apparently, the politicians in St. Louis felt their duty was to protect the riverboat industry, at that time their life and blood, from any and all competition.

– via LinkedIn PulseDon Peppers, native St. Louisan, wrote that paragraph about cities and states blocking Tesla from selling its cars to the public. Missouri is one of those states, preferring to protect incumbent car dealers from competition over allowing the market to determine winners and losers.

It’s funny, in a sad sort of way. St. Louis was one of the fastest-growing cities in the western world in 1850 when goods and people moved on water. Then the city leaders tried to prevent railroads from spreading. Instead, the railroads moved to Chicago, stunting St. Louis’s growth.

St. Louis is in steep decline. Not as steep as Detroit or Gary, Indiana, perhaps, but, St. Louis is headed toward minor city status. We’re about to lose our second (and final) NFL franchise. We are dead last in the country in business formation. And we’re the largest city in the country without UberX.

That last problem isn’t Uber’s fault: it’s the fault of St. Louis’s parochial mentality. St. Louis protects incumbents, even when the incumbents fail the people.

Two weeks ago, Uber announced free uberX rides for the Independence Day weekend in St. Louis. Mothers Against Drunk Driving found:

In California, drunk-driving crashes fell 6.5% among drivers under 30 in the markets where Uber operates following the launch of uberX in the state. That represents potentially 60 fewer drunk driving crashes each month — a total of 1,800 crashes avoided — since July 2012.

July 4 weekend being a period of partying, free uberX rides might have saved lives or avoided accidents and drunk driving arrests.

[click to sign uberX petition]

But the Metropolitan Taxi Commissions said “no” despite St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s strong support of the free rideshare offer, the MTC blocked uberX.

Kim Tucci, co-founder of The Pasta House restaurant chain and member of the taxi commission, last week exhorted St. Louisans to stop criticizing the city and start talking it up. Yet, Tucci’s own taxi commission exemplifies St. Louis’s greatest weakness: parochial attachment to incumbent, crony businesses at the expense of growth and opportunity. According to St. Louis Business Journal, Tucci is one of the commissioners blocking uberX in St. Louis by demanding excessive regulation of the service.

St. Louis is dead last in business formation among the 50 largest metro areas in the US. St. Louis has lost innumerable Fortune 500 headquarters in the last 30 years. Yet St. Louisans still protect legacy companies from needed competition.

The world moves on with or without St. Louis. In the 19th century, the railroads moved to Chicago. Eventually, uber will give up on St. Louis and move to a smaller city eager for the future of transportation.

And Kim Tucci will continue happily serving pasta to a shrinking, aging customer base, ignoring St. Louis’s sad decline.

You can help save St. Louis by signing the petition to bring uberX to the Gateway City

Featured image by St. Louis photographer Naffziger clipped from www.stlouispatina.com.