Saturday, February 19, 2011

Eminent Domain

Some of the first apartments I lived in when I moved away from home were in the Central West End in St. Louis. This was in the 70s and Barnes Hospital/Washington University began what seems a never ending process of expansion.

I would end up losing three apartments to them before I gave up and moved back to the Soulard neighborhood.

The last one they forced us out of was owned by an old woman named Effie. She told us Effie meant grandma in Polish. She and her late husband had moved from Poland during WWII.

Effie owned two 4 family flats. She loved visiting everyone. She putzed around like she was working on the place, but it was really only an excuse to see what everyone was up to.

Effie came to us in tears with news that Barnes was taking her buildings. There was nothing she could do about it. They found her a little bungalow on the south side, but she still didn’t want to sell.

Effie’s son fought it out in court for her, but Barnes had too much money and power. Effie died in that little bungalow a year later.

There is a legal battle in St. Louis over a sign painted on the side of a building near my house. The brick house is owned by a non-profit ministry called Sanctuary in the Ordinary and managed by Neighborhood Enterprises, Inc., which is headed by Jim Roos. They used to manage a 2-family building of mine.

The city's Board of Adjustment voted 4-1 in July to uphold the city's denial of a permit allowing a 369-square-foot painted sign on the south side of the building. The sign is visible from Interstates 44 and 55 and Gravois Avenue coming into downtown.

Roos and the Missouri Eminent Domain Abuse Coalition decided to appeal. The issue is now in federal court.

Roos says the mural is on the building to protest the potential that it and other property between 13th Street and Tucker Boulevard south of Lafayette Avenue could be taken by eminent domain for a shopping center to the west.

While the city sent out letters in May saying it is no longer interested in the property, it didn't remove the blighting designation that allows the city to take it if it wanted.

Apparently the sign could stay if it depicted an American flag, said something about Jesus, or could be considered art.

This is turning into a big problem for the city because if they deny Roos’ right to display the sign based on content, it’s a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Personally, I think the city just can’t stand anyone getting such a great advertising space for free.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thanks Ronnie!

What a man!

Ronald Reagan cut social spending, creating the homeless problem by turning hundreds of thousands of mentally ill people out on the streets.

He appointed Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court.

He cut school funding, trying to classify ketchup as a vegetable.

He traded arms, money, drugs, and hostages between Iran and the Nicaraguan rebels.

He claimed that trees cause most pollution.

He lowered taxes in 1981, creating debt so bad he raised taxes each of the next six years and still didn't make up for it. And while he streamlined the complex and exemption-riddled income tax, his changes created the largest-ever shift of tax burden from the wealthy to the middle-class and working poor.

Reagan ignored the health crisis caused by AIDS.

Reagan spent billions on SDI, an "anti-missile shield". Which, incidentally, violated
the ABM treaty.

Reagan more than tripled the national debt.

Surgeon General C. Everett Koop discovered that a woman
did not suffer long-term physical or emotional trauma as a result
of having an abortion. Reagan suppressed the report.

Reagan provided Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons.

When a Marine barracks was blown up by terrorists in Lebanon, Reagan
responded by pulling American forces out of Lebanon and invading the
small Caribbean island of Grenada.

Reagan's attorney general, Ed Meese, was investigated
by three different special prosecutors for involvement in three
different scandals.

Over 100 Reagan appointees were convicted
of crimes committed while in office.

Reagan convinced millions of Americans that the threats they faced were: African-American welfare queens, Central American leftists, a rapidly expanding Evil Empire based in Moscow, and the do-good federal government.

He almost totally sabotaged the behind the scenes work of Gorbachev. They already had signed agreements when Reagan made his grandstanding speech, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

In his First Inaugural Address in 1981, Reagan declared that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."----and here we are.