This is really infuriating to see the "passing of the buck" regarding safety on the Metrolink. A simple matter of which form to use to write tickets for non-payment of fares has resulted in zero enforcement the last couple years. Attempts to correct this issue have fallen short.
In meantime, STL County dramatically increasing number of officers on the trains, but their focus has been on major crimes, not fare enforcement. Bad guys have figured this out.
Read this story and it should really make you upset.
I'm visiting Vancouver, BC, Canada this weekend. Ran across this story in Huffington Post Canada about boosting energy efficiency. That city estimates that 55% of greenhouse gas emissions comes from thermal loss in buildings. The city spent $100,000 to have thermal imaging performed on roughly 16,667 homes ($6 per structure). They are making this information available online to the owners, so corrective changes can be made which will save energy and reduce the carbon footprint.
Our main energy source is Coal in St. Louis area. And we have rates of respiratory illness greater than other parts of the country. Could we reduce our carbon footprint, save money on our electric bills, increase our life expectancy and lower our health care costs? Perhaps.
See the story here:
Interesting article about Greitens appointing a McKinsey consultant to act as COO (Chief Operating Officer) for the state. The idea is to find cost savings and overall efficiency.
How can we apply this to finding cost savings for the City and County? Can standardized processes for typical city and county processes be found under the current structure? Can this be used as a stepping stone to eventually consolidate and standardize delivery of these services?
Came across this article, from a friend Bill Streeter (Hydraulic Pictures) and Sunyatta McDermott (Caveofswords band) on repurposing of old school buildings.
The key was energy efficiency (lowering utilities from $4500 monthly to $300 monthly through use of solar and other technologies. These old buildings are a huge asset to the city and should be repurposed now, while they can be saved.
Secondly, and even more importantly, the city and county school districts should look at the energy savings that could be possible, saving taxpayers money in the long run with the existing schools.
Here's a great benchmarking study on bicycling and commuting trends around the US. St. Louis is a participant in the study.
However we are listed in a group of "Other City" because this study counts only the city population (300,000+) in the national rankings.
Here is the study: https://www.nh.gov/dot/programs/bikeped/documents/2016benchmarkingreport_web.pd.pdf
There is great information here and we can see how we stack up.
Generally we are near the bottom in many categories country-wide and a little better as a city.
Could Technology Help With Getting Search Warrants?
Reading this story in STLToday:
Makes me wonder if our police have the tools they need for securing search warrants in an expeditious, but legal way.
The officer in this story apparently reused "boilerplate" language in the search warrant request, which caused the prosecutors to drop the charges against the suspects of a drug house.
What tools does the department have for requesting a search warrant in such a case?
Is there way to check off certain observations in a list? Then provide details such as make of car and description of suspects, or does the entire thing have to be typed or written out in its entirety?
Could a common set of tools used by the SLMPD and St. Louis County departments be used to improve both the quality of the information collected in a search warrant request, and also make sure that the information collected satisfies the need for a search warrant, while also helping the prosecution down the line?
Think it would be helpful to understand if we have equipped our officers with the best tools and best training for 2016, or if there are issues with the process or the technology that makes the officer's / department's job more difficult that it should be.
Here's well written story on history of racial relations in St. Louis.
The problems are complex, and many of them are self inflicted.
Hope we can find ways forward.
I'd like to see a combined City of St. Louis / St. Louis County. Not sure whether this would have STL city enter STL County, or if a combined City/County Government was created. Even if some existing St. Louis County municipalities would continue to exist, there would be a common Economic Development Arm which would span both City and County, and hopefully also include St. Charles County, Jefferson County as well. In addition, whatever entities that would remain would have shared services for accounting, purchasing, Street Departments, Park Departments, where economies of scale could be realized to reduce administrative cost and ensure uniform level of service across the area. City and County building codes could be made common, taking into account uniqueness of some building structures in the city. Also business licensing could be made common as well, but taking into account unique needs for certain areas of the city (zoning) to protect certain quality of life aspects.
Noticed these articles in STLToday and RFT regarding the company that wants to provide storage for concealed carry weapons to Cardinal fans during the games. The principal of that business makes some valid points about the difficulty in getting required permits to start up his business, although I think he should be able to navigate this minefield successfully if he chooses.
But in the City, there is really crazy process for moving things forward. It takes blessing from the local Alderman, plus getting one or many permits for various aspects of the business. Anywhere along the line, the new business owner can stumble, and lose valuable time, or just give up entirely. And that is just the city.
Typically, in the Bar and Restaurant industry, consultants are hired, who have the expertise to deal with this minefield, and its a necessary expense for the new business in bringing certainty and minimizing costly surprises in business startup.
And just think, this is only for the city. STL County has its own myriad set processes as well.
Part of unification should include simplified ways for the city and county to help businesses start up, while ensuring the public good. And doing so, in an efficient manner, reducing the burden on small and large businesses.
Here's link to the RFT article on the Gun Storage business.
An example of a good service for City of St. Louis Residents is the Citizen's Service Bureau. This is an application where residents can report various issues in their neighborhood, including street or alley issues, and many others.
You can report issues at this website.
There are improvements I'd like to see with this web application. First, there should be a mobile app created, which allows GPS on the phone, plus a movable pin to quickly identify the location where the service is needed. Second, this application should allow the citizen to take a picture and easily add this to their service request.
As part of unification, it would be great for an application like this to be available to everyone in STL Metro area.
Just wanted to provide an example in law enforcement where our fragmented government makes us less safe, and makes it easy for criminals to evade arrest and prosecution.
My sister had her car stolen while she was airing up her tires at a service station on Chambers Road (in St. Louis County police jurisdiction) close to the school district office where she works. Her purse and phone were also stolen with the vehicle.Read more