Friday, February 10, 2006

Teetotaler keeping out the undesirable elements

I just saw Eve, an old friend of mine down in the restaurant just a few minutes ago. She pointed down to the paper and looked up to me and said "this is some bullshit." Eve is a teacher at U City High. She is a sharp one.

"I can't believe this!"

She shook her head. She pointed to this story on liquor licenses that came out in Wednesday's RFT. I asked her about what she was reading. I hadn't heard about this. The story covers some very important points about how these prohobitionist laws are keeping down huge areas of this town.

I went upstairs and talked to Helen. She is my assistant. She is in school to become an art teacher.

I showed her the article.

"That doesn't make any sense! Why would they do that?"

I just smile. These are young people who live in our town. We talk about making this town a place to attract and retain young people. Sad. So sad.

20 Comments:

Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

I just sat with Brian Marston and Amanda Doyle. Amanda's mom was in town. They had a nice meal at my restaurant that doesn't quite serve 50% food. Salads, entrees. I showed them the article and when I came back, they said "we think that is a load of crap!" Brian and Amanda run thecommonspace.org, former presidents of Metropolis and very involved in the community.

I looked over at the bar which was packed with people. There were a ton of attorneys, many from the PA office. The reasons why my bar brings in so much to throw off my food percentage.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Rick Bonasch said...

Who's the teetotaler?

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Steve, thanks for posting this article. Sounds like Craig Schmid is a fool. Drinking establishments saved the CWE, Soulard and it's certainly supercharged Lafayette Square.

Saying that liquor licenses are bad for neighborhoods is like saying blues is bad for the soul. Does Schmid see all the success in Soulard? Try having Mardi Gras without liquor licenses. That food percentage rule is a joke. The only thing it accomplishes is keeping business away.

And that Wallace woman is delusional. You don't want liquor stores and biker bars in a good neighborhood but you shouldn't discourage ALL liquor licenses. It's no surprise to hear that people like Wallace and Schmid are running the show on Cherokee (I've already said my two cents about that street).

It's people like Schmid that shouldn't be in power. He obviously has no vision for his neighborhoods. He should listen to developers like Pete Rothschild who actually know what it takes to make a neighborhood go.

Steve, you should run against Schmid, get him out of office. There are too many alderman to begin with but too many lack any vision for St Louis. I'll even campaign for you. :)

I think Mayor Slay has good ideas, he's a good mayor and he's trying to make the town more business friendly. But so many aldermen are simply clueless and are hurting the city's momentum.

I don't want to sound bitter in my rant but it's things like this that hold the city back. St Louis has endless potential but too many folks in City Hall don't share that view.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

I think it is pretty obvious who the teetotaling elements are.

While I was talking to Amanda's Mom, she was telling me how she lived in a dry county in the south. She said she had to travel outside of the county to get a decent bite to eat.

Schmid does have a vision for his neighborhood. Schmid is probably the hardest working and most determined Alderman. He is among the best intentioned and smartest Alderman.

I remember being on one of the boards for the Cinco de Mayo. They cancelled the one from last year. There was a lot of talk about the parade. The whole thing was disorganized. There was lack of support from all directions. Schmid said he didn't want the parade to be like Mardis Gra. I agreed with him. But I think the vision he had was different than what the organizers had hoped for. I would like to see a parade like they have in Chicago. A focus of the region on the area of town that is up and coming. Somehow I think the visions were somewhat different.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Steve, you know more about Schmid than I. I believe you when you say he's hard-working. But this article certainly doesn't paint him in a good light. It makes him sound oblivious to the needs of his neighborhood (it does the same for that Wallace woman).

I have a short fuse when hearing about the city preventing businesses from opening up or overcontrolling them. I find it counterproductive to a city that is on the cusp of greatness.

I've actually never been to the STL Cinco de Mayo. I don't think it needs to be as raucous as Mardi Gras but if gets bigger, I don't see a problem with that. Sounds like it's an event that needs a better steering committee, hopefully it's happen as the neighborhood improves.

Right now, so many parts of South City have stablized and continue to progress. Benton Park, Soulard, Lafayette Square, Tower Grove neighborhoods, they still have issues but have moved ahead leaps and bounds the past few years. I still see Cherokee Street, as well as the neighboring Benton Park West and Gravois Park neighborhoods, as severely lagging behind.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are the local residents on these issues?

If they were to be more engaged, people like Shirley Wallace would have less influence.

Oh, and there's a lot of attention being paid here to Craig Schmid, but don't forget that a large part of the Cherokee strip, including stretches west of Jefferson, is in Ken "The Cat's Meow" Oertmann's ward.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

Keep in mind that some of the wards elect the alderman on a couple thousand votes(more or less). We have tiny wards in relative comparison, and no citywide aldermanic seats. This often means large issues are hard to address and the micro issues get more weight. Small things influence votes greatly. The 20th and 9th wards are mostly transitory, and has been traditionally so with mostly renters. The voters in this ward are far older and whiter than the average resident, so the aldermanic connection to the average resident
s concerns is far less than in a ward with high home ownership.

And Mike- I am very diplomatic. You should be concerned with the city overcontrolling business. They shouldn't control business at all. The city licenses and regulates business, but it should not try to control. But is the process open and fair? Do the powers of the city keep the best interest of city vitality and revitalization in mind? Does it keep economic activity and incoming tax dollars in mind? When the city makes moves to control it drives out business, especially the better businesses.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous susan said...

I live in the 9th ward, and in the Marine Villa neighborhood (same as Craig). I can tell you most people in the neighborhood didn't even know about this- and are upset. I plan on writing the RFT and Ortmann and Schmid, but unless people decide to run against them in the next election, I don't expect them to take our opposition seriously.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Roo said...

This is the stuff that makes me insane about STL. I personally got burned by this type of crap two years ago when I was going to try to open the old sports attic at Big bend and Clayton as a small bar/music venue. We were told that even though the place had been a bar, they were only accepting retail in the space. punch line is its still empty and now he old Dale Hardware is too so that block is really bustling.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So let me make sure I'm following this...

Homeowners are the people that likely vote for aldermen...

Homeowners are less likely to support a proliferation of bars in their neighborhoods, while transients probably care less about it...

Aldermen cater to the whims of voters, who tend to be older and whiter than the average transient ward residents...

And, meanwhile, across Skinker, it sounds like similar problems are plaguing would-be bar owners in high rent areas of St. Louis County, like the corner of Big Bend and Clayton Roads.

So it's homeowners and aldermen who are ruining neighborhoods and keeping the city down.

However, if you listen to what other people say, like most aldermen, neighborhoods need more homeowners.

It appears the only solution is to get more homeowners to start supporting having more bars along Cherokee, or this problem may never be resolved.

Who's going to lead that effort? Maybe the transients will become homeowners...

But if they did, would they still support the proliferation of bars in their neighborhood?

Or would they turn into typical homeowner not-in-my-backyard types? :-/

1:18 PM  
Anonymous susan said...

I don't agree that homeowners aren't supportive of the bars. I'm a homeowner in the neighborhood and I would gladly live next to a bar- and all my neighbors seem to echo that. The aldermen would like you to believe that the homeowners don't want the bars- but I think their just using that as an excuse to support their own misguided ideas. Or maybe some of the older residents do feel that way- but the neighborhood has gotten progressively younger and more diverse just in the last few years.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

I live in this neighborhood as well, and I would love to have a club or bar at that location. The problem, I think, might be the people Craig does listen too: go to the neighborhood meetings and the only people there bitching and moaning are a bunch of dried up old farts. I appreciate that Craig is as hard working an alderman as one could possibly want, but I think there is something about how our city government by ward system is set up that gives each alderman's inner control freak too much control over what does or does not happen in their ward.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Steve...

Maybe you ought to rename your 20th ward drink a "Roy Rogers" until the city lifts its prohibition on new bars in that ward?

And to the folks who think the city's ward-based system of governance and aldermanic courtesy is an anachronism, check and see which aldermen were against charter reform: Pretty much every one of them except for Steve Conway and Lyda Krewson.

And to Susan, if you are convinced there are lots of 20th ward voters who support bar expansion on Cherokee, why don't you sit down with Craig Schmid and Shirley Wallace and share some of your ideas with them?

8:02 PM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

"Homeowners are the people that likely vote for aldermen..."

Sure

"Homeowners are less likely to support a proliferation of bars in their neighborhoods, while transients probably care less about it..."

Not necessarily. This is the belief of some alderman. There are plenty of other wards in which this is absolutely not the case. The most vibrant parts of town to name a few.

" Aldermen cater to the whims of voters, who tend to be older and whiter than the average transient ward residents..."

I would say average of all residents. There are residents who own property who cannot vote (non-citizens). This is probably on ly the case on the near south side, the area in which has had the most dramatic shift in demographics.

" And, meanwhile, across Skinker, it sounds like similar problems are plaguing would-be bar owners in high rent areas of St. Louis County, like the corner of Big Bend and Clayton Roads."

I am unfamiliar with the process in the county and municipalities, but I would not be surprised.

" So it's homeowners and aldermen who are ruining neighborhoods and keeping the city down."

I would not say that Phyllis Young and her residents are not ruining the neighborhood. Nor would I say this in most of the vibrant neighborhoods. It is more complex than just this. An alderman and the residents are not wholly responsible for the conditions of the neighborhood.

" However, if you listen to what other people say, like most aldermen, neighborhoods need more homeowners."

It is not going to hurt, that is for sure. But rental properties are an important part of housing. It is the introductory phase for new homeowners.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

In the few months I worked in BPW, it looked like rental properties ruled the day. A lot of shoddy storm doors on houses, garbage in yards, it wasn't well maintained area. But I lament the fact that Cherokee Street is barren, yet when people like Steve want to improve it, he gets stonewalled.

I saw Beachfront Properties had numerous projects taking place in BPW and many other buildings had signs in the yard. It always seems like a developers sign will sit in a yard for 8-10 months before work actually begins. A lot of developers have to finish existing projects, plus get the city on board before work can begin.

I'm not surprised to hear aldermen being opposed to charter reform, they have a lot to lose. And how many aldermen are there, 28 I believe? It's the same number we had over 50 years ago when the population topped out at over 850,000.

The same number of aldermen don't need to serve 350,000 people, especially if they're not improving their neighborhoods.

I agree that troubled neighborhoods need committed homeowners and urban pioneers to revive a neighborhood. Lafayette Square would have been dead years ago if its citizens weren't so committed. But when you have aldermen possessing such tunnel vision for the neighborhoods they represent, it makes the process twice as hard.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous susan said...

Although I live in Marine Villa- I live in the 9th ward. So I talked to my alderman Ken Ortmann last night. He says he doesn't agree with Craig on this moratorium. He says we don't have the same law in the 9th ward, if someone wanted to open a bar in the 9th ward, say Cherokee east of Jefferson, it would be fine except there might be resistance from some of the antiques stores. What Ortmann said that is most interesting is that he thinks this 20th ward moratorium is illegal and it wouldn't hold up in court. If Luke Reynolds or anyone else would take this to court, they would probably be able to get rid of this moratorium. Here's some typical ward politics though- Ken said he doesn't even bother discussing any of this with Craig because there is no changing Craig's mind.

We're having an interesting discussion about this on the Marine Villa listserve. Craig Schmid is on this listserve, although he has yet to say anything.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Here's a link to the MV list.

Anyway, as I posted yesterday on my blog, it's not like the 20th is the only ward with a liquor license moratorium.

Craig Schmid is a good guy. Shirley Wallace is an obstructionist, who does not live in the community but is power-hungry. I'm not afraid to say that. I know many other people on Cherokee (both sides of Jefferson) agree.

The guy should've done a bit more homework before getting a contract on the place; these ordinances are public and available on the public library web site.

On another note: it's really cool to see the Marine Villa email list being used! I started that thing back in 2001, nearly five years ago, when I was webmaster and later secretary for the Marine Villa Improvement Association.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

You are correct, it is not the only ward with this ordinance.

But doing homework? I have spoken with a half dozen large city based commercial developers/realtors about a new property, and all but one were unaware of this law. I am talking about Friedman, Rothschild, Slay and such not two bit operations. They are aware of it now though. And that is only because I told these guys and that I am a policy nerd that shows up to Board of Alderman meetings for fun. Look at what I read.

I am having to look outside of the 20th right now. I can't believe that I would be classified as a criminal if I were to open a business in that ward.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Tension Head said...

My block on my side of the street is in Ortmann's ward. There is a building for sale, maybe lease. Could a bar open there?
A friend of mine had an awesome idea. Someone should open the "50% Bar." Cheap food like Fast Eddie's. There'd be a running tally of food and liquor sales on a big sign. If food sales are below 50% you can't get a drink until somebody buys food. It would be a game. I'd go there!

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Tension Head said...

OOOOOHHH! And you could do the decor as a Speakeasy! And have prohibition memorabilia!
I wish I had money!! Anyone want to back me???

11:30 AM  

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