Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's On People, Here's Your Party

At the risk of creating a potential fire hazard at the 10 Mile House, I cordially invite you, my constituents and friends of Affton, to the 2nd Annual Mayor's Economic Development Ball this Friday the 28th. I'll be featuring the Sons of the Southside band again this year playing more of your 70's and 80's favorites similar to last year. Cocktails with the Mayor at 7PM, music around 9:30.

I'd love to see some faces from the ACBA, our state representatives (Mike Vogt, this party is totally up your alley), all the "Affton Junior Planners" from the UMSL Partnership the last two years, and the fine folks from St. Louis County Economic Development Council and County Planning and Zoning. These are the people who really put in the time, blood, sweat, and tears to improve Affton's future as opposed to my online shenanigans.

Charlie Dooley, I understand if you have other obligations or if you are still bitter about the Billy Ocean thing, but you're welcome too as I know you have a sense of humor.

(Oh, and if Capt. Belmar and his staff from the County Police could drive by around 10PM and make sure I haven't been assassinated by all these folks, that would be great.)

Happy Holidays,
The Mayor

Finally, Resolution on Gravois!

Well, my Afftonians, it appears that the Angry Villagers in Grantwood Village are no longer so angry. The Suburban Journal is reporting this week that the new plan for a senior assisted living center on the acreage next to Cor Jesu has met with everyone's approval. I'm very pleased that the developer, Erickson Retirement Communities, of Catonsville, Md. was responsive to issues brought up by the residents. This is the way it should happen and shows that it IS possible to get the public's support for a well-planned development. I'm also very pleased that Cor Jesu got what they wanted in the deal and will be able to expand and to stay competitive.

I'm a bit dismayed that the population of the community will be only seniors. There was a real opportunity here to bring much needed new housing for middle class families to Affton that would bring some new life, energy and ideas to our area. Instead we will have more voting seniors who have been sent off by their families to grow old outside of their homes.

While the Carondelet neighborhood, a new haven for young families, is moving forward with their plans for an aquatic center for example, Affton will remain unable to compete until some more progressive minds move in.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Open Letter to Residents of St. George

Dearest Neighbors:

It is with great sadness that I read about your mayor (small "m") and his submission to drugs and kiddie porn. I have quietly been watching this unfold and did not jump to conclusions, but now I'm going to let it rip since You Tube, CNN and High Times are done with you.

Thanks to this guy, your Google search for "St. George in St. Louis County" will forever be marred with this scarlet letter of disdain. Shame on your council for not questioning this man throughly before letting him run for office! While bigger and more respectable leaders have been pot-heads (Clinton comes to mind) child porn absolutely crosses the line.

While the Mayor of Affton may have inhaled before, there is absolutely NO excuse for the exploitation of children except:
1) Using their small hands to get screws or tools dropped into small spaces that Daddy cannot reach during home improvement projects.
2) Using their cuteness to sell things...almost anything.
3) As a cheap labor force in making fashionable clothing overseas.

St. George, I'm writing today to offer you my services as your new Mayor. You need respectable, cutting-edge leadership to turn your image around and that's exactly what the Affton Mayor's office is about. Make the right choice. I await your call.

BTW, Bella Villa, watch your ass. I still haven't forgotten your shenanigans from a year ago!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bad to Worse?---Influx of Seniors Headed for Andy Busch's Land!!

The actual headline reads "Cor Jesu plans to double size of campus". The truth behind the headline is that the highly controversial residential development originally planned for the dozens of acres west of the school (owned partly by Andy Busch) are now going to become senior housing.

The Suburban Journals reported this week that Andy Busch and Erickson Retirement Communities of Baltimore have agreed to give Cor Jesu the land they wanted for future expansion in a deal that is part purchase and part donation. All this hinges on the change in zoning needed which is scheduled for hearing on Oct. 31. Your Mayor is pleased that the school has come out a winner in this deal, however this development will insure that Affton gets bombed back to the Stone Age.

Voting records and friends of the Mayor's with the County will confirm that it has been the Affton seniors that have voted down increased funding for Affton and Bayless schools, my beloved water park plan, and now hey are trying to kill the trash consolidation program. All of these things would make life better and more attractive to new families which would propel with future economic viability of the Affton area. Instead we will now have potentially hundreds of new seniors that will likely continue the status quo in our area.

It is my sincere hope that the great work done recently by the Affton Community Betterment Association and the fine folks at UMSL will be successful in reaching out to the Bosnian community in the area. Our only hope to get anything approved that might involve a vote on any tax increase for schools or amenities in Affton seems to lie in their hands. The families with children are far outnumbered by the seniors already.

Let me also make clear...I'm not a "senior hater" by any means. (I could not have been elected without them!) Not everyone over 55 automatically votes down a tax increase. But the recent trash consolidation issue could actually get us some savings on trash removal. It makes great sense financially and environmentally and the hundreds of vocal seniors are the ones trying to shut it down.

Links to some previous posts and backstory on the original land deal:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mayor's Adventures on Craig's List

Unless you've been living under a rock you've probably wandered onto Craig's List
and poked around. I make it a regular habit and I've lately become enamored with the BARTER section. Most are trades for work in exchange for electronics gear. This one however was posted by a fellow Afftonian and was so beautiful in its simplicity and demand, I had to share it with you. I also put their reply-to address in case you want to get in touch with them. I'm a Busch man, myself.

Reply to:
Date: 2007-09-09, 12:34AM CDT

i have a tall boy of budweiser. what do you have

Location: affton

Talkin' Trash

In order to keep you, my Afftonians, in the know, I'm posting about this important forum.
Clipped and edited from the Suburban Journal:

St. Louis County will have a public forum Monday in the auditorium of Affton High School, 8309 Mackenzie Road. on its trash district plan at 7 p.m. County officials will give a presentation on their proposal to divide the unincorporated area into eight to 10 waste-hauling districts and assign one trash hauler to each district.

This plan has been very controversial...and surprisingly so to your Mayor. The last forum on this brought out about 300 pissed off folks, most of whom were irked at the number of different trash trucks going down their streets.

My position is that this plan will save you money...end of story. By consolidating the trash hauling, your bill will decrease. Now, my people, many are the complaints of our senior residents who have difficulty keeping their living costs low. As a result, they vote down my chance at a community pool, vote down tax increases for schools and anything else that might make Affton an attractive place to raise a young family. This is also a bit of an eco-friendly choice as fewer trucks will be driving duplicate routes.

Now these seniors have a chance to get a reduction on a bill and it appears many REFUSE IT claiming that they don't want to lose their ability to hire and fire their trash hauler. Seriously, when's the last time you had a real problem with the trash guy? How many times in the last 5 years have you actually FIRED your trash service? I think the opposition to this measure is not based in a "solid waste" of brain cells.

Either way, go to the forum and get heard.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mackenzie & Heege Update and Public Forum Tomorrow!

At last, your Mayor has found a moment to update the Mayor's Blog! For those of you interested, the Mayor has been understudy to a developer in the City of St. Louis on a residential high rise condo conversion. Since the real estate market has taken a bit of a slump, it's a good time for me to write again!

While much is going on in Affton lately, I caught this recently in the paper:

Developer John McLain seeks commercial zoning for 1.8 acres at Heege and Mackenzie roads. He plans to build a small shopping center on the property, which currently has the old Heege School.

McLain told the St. Louis County Planning Commission that the development would have stores and offices.

I'm hoping the developer is an avid reader of the Mayor's long-winded posts on this interesting corner.


This is a reminder that ACBA will be hosting a community forum this Thursday (August 30th) at 7pm at Bayless Elementary in the Cafeteria (4530 Weber Road).
The presentation for the evening will begin at 7pm and be on the Property Tax System and Housing Reassessments. County employees and a policy analyst from UM-St. Louis Public Policy Research Center will be available to answer your questions.

Monday, April 23, 2007

County Resident Survey

Citizens, your federal government has seen fit to endowing the county residents with $5.5 million in Community Development Block Grant funds this year. As long as the funds are used for housing and community improvement, it's open season.

To this end, the County wants your input. Sadly, the survey is not available in an online format. But here is a link to the paper survey. If you want to have the Dave Matthews Band play your block party, you can advocate for that here. If you think the fire department needs a shinier truck, you can ask for that too.

As a resident of Affton, may I humbly suggest rating the following highly in an effort to make our community a better place for the long-term needs of its residents and to attract more visitors to the area:

1) Job Creation & Retention
2) Park & Recreational Facilities
3) Community Centers
4) Sidewalk Improvements
5) Accessibility Improvements
6) Facade Improvements
7) Start Up Business Assistance

I like to hear from you as well on your thoughts.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Long Lost Relatives Nearly Long Lost in Long Grass at Mayor's Mansion

The Mayor's sister-in-law is getting married in a little over a month and the wedding shower was at the Mayor's Mansion over the weekend. Much to my chagrin, the weather conspired against me yet again and I was unable to get the grass cut before the event. I would not have been surprised if guests could not find the house due to the jungle growing outside.

This has been the case for nearly every weekend this season since the grass started growing. (The other two "nice" weekends were spent at funerals.)

For the past couple weekends, I've been watching it rain or freeze while I drank my coffee on the couch each morning, contemplating this humiliation. As a guy, nothing can be more important in making impressions at these events than your yard. We don't make the cake, we don't plan the event, we don't write down who gave what, and we CERTAINLY don't write the 'thank you' notes. Thanks again, Mother Nature for making me look like a total failure. Your power even usurps the Mayor's. I can only hope my neighbors, who appear to have cut their grass somehow, don't try to oust me.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Representation Without Sanitation

Recently at issue in the local news, my Afftonians, was the emergency meeting called by Councilman Campisi regarding the proposed consolidation plan for residential trash services in unincorporated St. Louis County. Your Mayor was notified of the meeting with less than 24 hours notice and could not attend. To me, this decision is a no-brainer and I was shocked to hear of the ensuing uproar by you, my people.

The story as reported in the Journal.

Results of the meeting as reported in the Journal.

Of the 300 people attending the "trash bitch-in" who was the old fart that referred to the county as "Communist China"? For the love of god people. You complain and complain that taxes are going up and then when your elected officials have the chance to lower the cost of a municipal service, you call them Communists!!! WTF??!!

More shocking to me than the outright opposition, was that the issue seemed more about reducing the number of "those noisy" trash trucks on streets and not about the economy of consolidating trash services to reduce cost to residents! Not to mention that the County's proposed changes provide curbside recycling services.

Recycling at my curb ALONE makes this worth supporting. Too often am I tripping on pizza boxes and Busch Beer cans strewn about my garage for weeks being "saved" for a car trip to the recycling center by the (environmentally conscious) First Lady!

From the County's web site:

Extensive research has demonstrated that losing the option of choosing a trash hauler is outweighed by the benefits communities receive when hauling companies competitively bid to serve a defined area. St. Louis County is aware of the importance of good customer service. Not only will customer service be a key component of the bid specifications, but also penalties for poor service will be factored into the contract.

One of St. Louis' greatest hindrances to achieving greatness is the fragmentation of government. St. Louis is host to about 771 local, regional and municipal government agencies. This is extremely high challenging even Philadelphia for the top slot. While I, as your duly elected Mayor, understand everybody's desire for representation and choice, why would one choose NOT to save money under these circumstances?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mayor Goes Green: Abandons Crappy Car

Friends, inspired the Mayor was at the sight of Al Gore and Melissa Ethridge accepting Oscars a few weeks ago. After much thought, I have decided that it's time to do my part. As of tomorrow I will no longer be driving my car to commute to work. I will be opting for Metrolink.

While this has been brewing in my brain for quite a while, the recent success of An Inconvenient Truth, the rising price of gas and continued shame about my 1996 Nissan Altima with three hubcaps (obtained by marriage to the First Lady) has finally driven me to the brink.

While celebrating the St. Pat's holiday with the First Lady and the kids, I found myself talked into partaking in the run/walk downtown along Market Street. I realized that I was enjoying myself even though the temperature was in the low 40's.

Truthfully, Metrolink has only offered me one bad experience, but hey it was Mardi Gras. Watch this spot as I tell you of money saved, pounds shed and productivity gained as I ride the rails!

Monday, February 26, 2007

ACBA Quarterly Forum: Better Than Reality TV

Better than reality TV of course because IT IS REALITY. Why the hell would I want to watch "Men In Trees" on Thursday night when I can watch two sitting Missouri State Representatives (Pat Yeager D-96th and Mike Vogt D-66th) and sour grapes (losing) candidate from the 96th District Ronald Levy engage in verbal combat! (Mr. Levy if you take offense at my comment, remember that my hat is off to you because you ACTUALLY RAN for office as opposed to creating a fictitious one for yourself to claim!)

The topic of the night was education funding in Bayless as opposed to Affton. While Affton does generally not fair the best in the region, it looks like a gold brick next to Bayless. It was a compelling presentation (which I will try to obtain and post.) Largely at issue was a description of the new state school funding formula. It is the proverbial "doozie." (Pull out your nerd glasses and graphing calculators now.)

As I understood the explanation, it bases funding on a statistically impossible goal set by (among others) a school's average daily attendance. After I heard that, the rest of the formula was shot for me. It does not take a genius to realize that even if your average is 95%, you still have to PROVIDE for 100% of the students. There is a LOT more ridiculous math that goes into this (phased in over many years, making the funding amounts based on up to 5 year old data!) Perhaps that's why half the schools in Missouri sued the State in retaliation.

ANYWAY...far more fun was listening to Ronald Levy. He also thought the school issue important and proposed that we adopt a method similar to Proposition 13 passed in California. This bill basically freezes real estate taxes at the purchased price and only allows up to 2% increases per year regardless of any increase in appreciation value. This idea may have merit in Affton for some reasons, but I don't think it's going to fix school funding.

I understand that seniors are having a hard time with increasing tax burdens on their homes and there are some programs (two at this link) out there to help them.

While I support everybody's right to argue their tax assessment (I've done it successfully myself!) I think arguing it in court twice in four years is excessive and a waste of MY TAXPAYER DOLLARS. Just look at the amount of writing time that had to go into these cases!
LEVY v. "The Assessor" 2002

I'm no political adviser, but I don't think calling the assessor "discriminatory" without any evidence to support the point is appropriate for a State Representative candidate!
LEVY v. "The Assessor" 2004

Thursday, February 22, 2007

ACBA Public Forum Tonight!

The ACBA is hosting a public forum tonight. This is the 2nd of promised quarterly meetings. Get there, get involved, and meet the Mayor!

When: Thursday, February 22, 2007 At 7:00 PM

*Refreshments will be served. *

Who: All Affton/Bayless Residents

Where: Bayless Elementary Cafeteria 4530 Weber Road


Ø Learn What Every Taxpayer Should Know About Education Funding in Missouri

Ø Meet Some of Your Local Government Representatives

Ø Speak with Representatives from St. Louis County and Area Organizations to Hear about Resources, Activities, and Programs Available in Affton and Bayless

Ø Discover How You Can Get Involved in Your Community

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Mayor's Holiday Economic Development Ball

The First Lady and I love to throw great parties. Halloween Costume Balls, Murder Mysteries and all that stuff. This year, we planned a big campaign "fundraiser" party to end the year. The First Lady and I decided that we'd do our part for Affton's economic development by inviting about 150 devotees to the Ten Mile House...most of whom had never been there.

If Affton needs one thing, it's focused economic development. That only occurs when new, imported dollars come to town from the outside. "What's easier than having friends over for drinks?" I thought.

Anyway, I threw a band together with some great and talented friends and a few fun wigs and we classic rawked our way through the 70's and 80's with all our friends. I was amazed. We must have timed it well with the holiday break becuase there were friends in from Chicago, Pensylvania and other places. I think about 10 people from O'Fallon spent the night at the Mayor's Mansion.

Folks seemed to have really great time. It was great night of fun and a real pleasure getting introduced to some of the constituents. It was a feel-good event for me too, because ultimately, Affton was the winner. If I can find a bigger venue, perhaps I can make a public invitation on the web site next year. Who loves you, Affton? The Mayor, that's who!

Band Setlists from the Party:
Green River / Suzie Q
Wild Night
Drive My Car
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
All Right Now
Whole Lotta Love
Purple Haze / Fire
Rockin’ Into the Night
Two Tickets to Paradise
Don’t Stop Believin'

Livin’ on Prayer
Working for the Weekend
Double Vision
Summer of 69
What I Like About You
White Wedding
New Year’s Day
Where the Streets Have No Name
Encore: Separate Ways

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Some of you may have noticed that my posts are less frequent. I have been trying to get my blog off of Blogger to move it to a new home with more features for you, the Afftonians. 'Twas to be my holiday gift to you.

It's the holidays and you're busy anyway. Go ahead and party like it's 1979. Affton will be here for us in 2007. With any luck, my new site will be as well at

Happy/Merry HannaKwanzChristmasukkah. Happy Festivus.
And Happy Boxing Day, whatever that really is, you wacky Canadians!

More Powerful Than "A Streetlight Banner Campaign"

Your Mayor recently attended the Affton Community Betterment Association's Strategic Planning meeting. Pleased I was to see nearly 100 of you get involved as well!

While the ACBA has been around for several years, my first impression was that it was a ship without a rudder. With little financing or real power, it seemed that it was unlikely that the group could really make a difference. In addition, the group seemed to lack goals. I need to clarify however that my time sitting in with the ACBA has been very short so I do not assume to know their whole history or previous strategies or hurdles to create and reach attainable goals. What I can say is "thank god for grant money and graduate students." It appears that the ACBA is about to become "born again." I'm not talking about the type of "born agains" who attend mega-churches where GOD appears in hi-definition and 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound. I'm talking about an actual rebirth based on a powerful intervening force.

Thanks to a $200,000 grant from HUD, some fine folks from UMSL (based in the Mayor's original 'hood in Normandy) are about to whip our butts into shape for the new year. It's very much like HUD has given us a personal trainer for Affton!

You should all exercise as follows:
Start your workout slowly by viewing the presentation from the Strategic Planning Meeting.
And Rest.
Do 50 sit ups.
And Rest.
Consider carefully how you will get involved. You are now able to join committes charged with tackling an issue in Affton. You can choose something you like to do that's within your skill set or you can pick whatever topic you crab about most to the Mayor's Office and GO FIX IT.

Watch this space for info about new Affton Committee meetings.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Holidays Begin

Well the holidays are upon us. It's earlier every year thanks to the commercialization of Christmas. Peeved I was to see the holiday lights and chachkis out just a few days BEFORE Halloween.

Halloween is a very underrated holiday in my opinion. Some of my best parties were Halloween parties. For some reason though a lot of conservative college-age women think it's merely a chance to dress in slutty outfits. (See pic of Lindsay Lohan at left.) I know this from the time I worked at SLU and personal experience.

Regardless, the Mayor's Mansion will be empty this Thursday as we will be traveling all the way to Webster Groves for the traditional meal. We hope that you enjoy some time off.

Of note this week...

While voting I noticed that Rogers Middle School has begun work on construction of new, permanent classrooms to replace the "temporary" trailers in the yard. Way to go!

Buck Collier had a good piece in the Journal detailing how St. Louis' numerous governmental bodies hinder regional planning efforts. So true. There are upsides, however to a large number of governments. Primarily that there is excellent representation of citizens opinions. At 31.7 government units per 100,000 residents in the area, I'm amazed the reps don't visit each resident personally just to see if there's anything they could do. The study in in progress is on the East-West Gateway's web site.

This begs the ever-lingering question of "should Affton incorporate?" Even though it's nearly impossible thanks to the recent rule changes by the Boundary Commission, here's a few pros and cons:

Lower Taxes...while one of the big arguments against incorporation is that taxes would increase, it may be a wash. I conversation I had with folks from Shrewsbury (who have a map proposal in place to annex much of Affton) said that they can provide fire protection at a substantially reduced rate.

Increased Representation...since we would have an actual election actual mayor and other positions, the response to local citizenry and opportunity for citizen involvement would increase. We may lose some of our regional oversight and planning help from the County though.

What do you think?
Sound off in the comments section.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Time For Action!

Folks, this is why it all started...The Mayor's, well truth be told, it was started as a funny joke, then a mock campaign....but involvement! INVOLVEMENT!! Civic engagement!! Being able to make a difference!! Now I've never asked you for anything, but I continue to give and post things for you, the Afftonians. I'm calling in the favor. Just passed to me from Beth in the County office: This invitation for you to participate in creating the next evolution of Affton's history.

Affton Community Betterment Association is Hosting a Community Forum
When: Wednesday, November 29, 2006 At 7:00 PM *Refreshments will be served. *
Who: All Affton Residents
Where: Affton High School Cafeteria 8309 Mackenzie Road
Ø Hear ACBA’s plans for action
Ø Find Out What is Going on in Affton
Ø Discover How You Can Get Involved

Bring questions, your urban planning hat, and I'll see you there.

Elections Over...Phone Stops Ringing

The Mayor's Mansion has been full of "potty mouth" lately due to the incessant robo-calls from tape recorders looking to get elected. Thankfully that mess is behind us now and I hope you voted and your candidates did well.

Sadly, Kurt Odenwald was unseated from his County Council post by Barbara Fraser. Now it's not like Kurt and I were friends, but he was smart enough to email me information for the people of Affton and his assistant, David was good-spirited enough to actually address me as "the Mayor" at the ACBA meetings. These things make me laugh, and also make me think that this blog is worth continuing. With this in mind, I'd like to announce that I will soon be moving to a proper domain and hopefully an improved blog system in the next week or so.

And with that in mind, I invite Barbara Fraser and her staff to the next ACBA meeting on Nov. 16th. I know U. City is a long way to come, but hopefully you can make it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mayor Interviewed By CNN Radio!

I happened to be walking downtown today and I was approached by Ed McCarthy of CNN. He was here covering the World Series, but it seems the other agenda on all reporters minds is the Talent/McCaskill/Michael J. Fox race for the Senate. I was not asked who I was voting for, but I was asked my opinions of the race. I said that the dirty campaigns sucked and really detracted from any examiniation of the issues and that dirty politics was a crappy way to win anything. I'm not sure what seat Fox is running for but he still is better looking than the quickly aging McCaskill. I would ceratinly not cast votes on looks, but I like Fox in the commercials over her.

Thank god we AREN'T voting on looks! In Affton my choices for County Council are Barbara Fraser and the venerable Kurt Odenwald. Barb is well made up in her ads, but is touching a lot of old people in them and giving me the creeps. Odenwald on the other hand sent me a postcard this week and he has the good sense to be casual in his pics. As incumbent he can afford that. He should however have the printer ramp down the cyan and magenta. On the card, Kurt's skin is as orange as Fr. Biondi's and (as former SLU employee) that also gives me the creeps.

In the interview, I was also asked what I thought the future of politics held. I explained that I foresee a large number of average-Joe citizens, so disgruntled with the current system, and so removed from the "old boys" network of candidates that become engaged. I think that the younger teachers next door or the president of a neighborhood association will start running campaigns and filling in local seats. I think there's going to be a lot more Jessie Venturas, Al Frankens and Ahhh-nold Schwartzeneggers running races and running the states. Maybe there will be more pretend Mayors too.

I also must note the ridiculous Cardinals Fever downtown. There are cameras everywhere! Tents going up, stages being built, money being made. It's great to see. I myself personally am sporting a Scott Spiezio-inspired "naturally red" goatee for the Series. Go Cards!!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

We have Much To Discuss

After finally returning to the ACBA meetings, I have some good news for you, my Afftonians! The jobs are in fact returning to the former Nestle plant. 40 of them to be exact and that number is scheduled to grow with time. The Kerry Group of Ireland is moving in. Now originally, I was told that they were a candy company. When I think "Irish" and "Candy" I can only think of whiskey. Alas, they make food additives and not the sweet nectar of my people that makes one dance on tables, get in fights, and procreate. The Mayor's Office, also fellow Irish folk, would like to officially welcome the Kerry Group to town. According to my sources, they are pretty amped up about moving here and would like to employ a number of local folks.

NEW CONTACT INFO: POSTED 11-14-06--Julie Horras is the HR contact for Kerry Group. She is accepting resumes by email and fax at 773-247-4945.

In other news, I was bent on going in there actually and asking what the ACBA's purpose or mission was. Happily, I found out that the UMSL group are planning that for us. Hopefully it will spell a new beginning to the ACBA and a lot of civic action for Affton. These things take time, but I will keep you updated.

We have some volunteer crews out doing home repairs for seniors. If your business has any building materials they can donate, please contact me.

Lakewood Meeting: There was a meeting for the Lakewood neighborhood on 10/9 and attendance was huge. About 125 folks went. While the meeting was planned by the County to hear residents' issues about property and such, the purpose was never really stated to the residents, nor was it published on the County's web site. I was told at the ACBA meeting that it was not published because it was simply a neighborhood meeting and those residents also got flyers in the mail, but I don't see the harm in publishing it. Hell, I didn't know about it until a resident emailed me asking to know what it was all about! What's the worst that could happen...people from outside that neighborhood might become interested in that neighborhood? Hey Charlie Dooley! Please publish those meetings!

Sleeper School: Bayless. This is one school district you rarely hear about. It's a shame too because I wish I had the spirit and spunk of Superintendent Dr. Clancy-May running my first grade school! She seems to have a lot of pioneering programs in her district. To show it off, they are hosting an open house on Wednesday the 25th and would like your attendance. It's in the day between 8am and 1pm, so you can still catch the Cardinals' game. (You were going to blow off work anyway that day.) The High School address is 4530 Weber Road, 63123 and is located on the south west corner of the district campus. Parking is across the street at the Elementary School and along side of the High School (west side of entrance).

VOTE: Please remember to get out there and vote November 7. Wheel out your seniors, young folks, and new americans and prepare to get touchy-feely with the new voting machines.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Waking the Sleeping Dog

As if the Grant's View land deal was not wild enough for our community, I am beginning to hear qualified rumors that Andy Busch may be filing suit against the parties that halted the planned development. I think he has a great case.

The Mayor has been fully in support of the development based on the demand for new housing in the inner ring suburbs, not to mention the huge increase in tax base, economic multipliers as more shoppers shop Affton and, of course, more voters getting involved.

It seems likely to speculate that not only would the County Economic Council be sued, but Grantwood Village, or the Grassroots on Gravois organization also would be sued as they mounted the legal horse to stop the development. Boy, that would really put the Angry Villagers in a pickle! If you thought affording the last lawsuit was going to be expensive, think about this one! You have tangled with someone who has infinite amounts of time and money on his side. No doubt, there is some informal agreement with Busch and the developers to meet again once all this ugliness gets ironed out and Busch gets the land and entitlements in place.

Once this gets going, I'm going to crack a few smooth Busch beers and watch the sparks fly.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Jobs May Return to Affton

After much speculation, it appears that the County Econ. Development folks have courted a suitor for our beloved and very vacant candy plant. From the Suburban Journal:

County sweetens deal to reopen Willy Wonka factory
Steve BirminghamOf the Suburban Journals
Oakville-Mehlville Journal,South County Journal

Veruca Salt would not be pleased, but Willy Wonka's factory in Affton may crank up candy production without her.The St. Louis County Council passed a resolution last week spelling out their intention to issue $10 million in industrial development revenue bonds to help an Irish company purchase the former Nestle USA manufacturing plant at 8021 New Hampshire Ave., in Affton.The plant formerly manufactured Willy Wonka chocolate products, Sweet Tarts and other candies but was closed by Nestle USA, which also closed a factory at 100 Water Street in South St. Louis in 2003. Almost 355 employees were laid off in the closings.The bonds would be issued for Kerry Inc. of Tralee, Ireland, which would reopen the plant to also manufacture sweets. A report on the project from the St. Louis County Economic Council said Kerry would spend $3 million on real estate and $7 million on equipment within the first three years, and bring an estimated 200 new jobs to the area. Kerry also is seeking a 35-percent abatement on real estate and personal property for 10 years and a sales tax exemption on building materials for the project.
Council Chairman Kurt Odenwald, R-5th Dist., said the Affton school and fire districts have already been notified of the proposal. Odenwald said he wanted to do "everything that's necessary to get this company to invest in the plant and get the facility open."Under the plan, revenues from the bond sales would finance the costs of purchasing, constructing and equipping the plant and the bonds would be payable solely from payments, revenues and receipts from the leasing the facility to Kerry.According to the plan the bonds and the interest on them will not be a debt of the county or the state and neither will be financially liable for them.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Grant's View Article

Here's the article from the PD about the development. While all of you pray for land, the First Family is praying for an end to the road construction. The following work was going on simultaneously:

1. Resurfacing of Mackenzie Rd. up to Watson.
2. Major repairs closing River Des Peres Blvd.
3. Resurfacing of Watson from City Limits west to City of Marlborough.

These three major arterials surround the Mayor's neighborhood making for many sleepless nights and traffic headaches at the Mayor's mansion! This was in addition to the Shrewsbury MetroLink station construction and the very popular resurfacing project on I-44 at the RDP bridge. I'm all for progress, but sheesh! Bring on winter to end this.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Pray for Land or God Will Smite You!

This was circulating on the email yesterday among some alumni of Cor Jesu. By way of disclaimer, this was NOT sent out by the school:

I am sending this to any person that I think has a connection to Cor Jesu and might be interested in the recent developments with the property at Grant's Farm.
I spoke with Sr. Sheila today and she says that the contract that existed between Andrew Busch and the developers has now expired. In other words, we are back to Square One with the property. There are no binding anythings on anyone. At this point, Cor Jesu again has the possibility of persuading Andrew Busch to sell them up to 15 acres of land directly. Previously, the school was going to have to pay $500,000 an acre for the 3+ acres the developers were going to sell them. The developers would have paid "only" $250,000 per acre and would thus make a handy profit. All that is gone now. Sister is trying to reach Mr. Busch to see if he is now willing to sell directly to Cor Jesu.
Sister asks that everyone pray for success in this area. I think Sister did an outstanding job of acting in a Christian manner with all the commotion that happened earlier. As a result, no bridges were burned. She is also very happy that they did not enter into any of the lawsuits that were brought forward. In other words, Cor Jesu is still free of binding agreements with other groups and can act freely. Please pass this message on to any and all CJ supporters so that we all pray for success for the school, its students and families. It's urgent that we pray NOW, so please put the word out. Thanks!

Now I find it truly ridiculous that, even if there is actually power in prayer, that people would think PRAYING FOR LAND was OK in God's eyes. It's been a while since I called myself Catholic, but I think there was something in the teachings about rejection of material goods and worldly posessions. While I think "Acting in a Christian manner" looks good on paper, let's not forget that acting this way also brought us things like The Inquisition and the Crusades.

God just may not see the need for parking cars and girls running on a track next to Cor Jesu as a prayer worth answering.

Fair and Biased Coverage

Yesterday the Journal landed on my lawn and in addition to the Mayor's favorite Town Talk, there was a story with high praise for the new Loughborough Commons development at Hwy. 55. While a few residents were impressed at the produce selection, the article largely touted the new development as a big achievement, primarily with the help of the government officials.

There was merely a footnote of Steve Patterson's Urban Review blog as a dissenting voice about the project due to it's near total lack of pedestrian and bike-friendly connections. The Journal made it seem as if only Patterson was in opposition. What was not covered were the dozens of like-minded comments posted on his site.

In addition, he posted just today about how the reasons for the use of blight to take properties have not been fufilled. It's an interesting story to follow and I think one that could easily happen in the Affton area due to it's lack of adequate and local representation by citizens and government.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Deal

Upon further investigation, I have found out that the proposed Villages at Grant's View development plan appears to be scrapped.

At the end of announcements at Cor Jesu Academy, the new principal relayed that there would be no 4 acres for Cor Jesu as originally planned in the deal with the developers. This was followed by the shrill shreiking of hundreds of teenage girls.

It would now appear that the developers never actually closed on the land and, for one reason or another, the entire deal is off. The girls at Cor Jesu were instructed to pray that the school can now have the opportunity to buy all the land they need directly from Andy Busch.

This now begs the question of whether or not the land will be for resale for any desperately needed new housiong stock. While I think Cor Jesu SHOULD benefit from the sale of the land, I think that the demand for new housing far outweighs the needs for 20 acres of a sprawling Catholic High School.

Friday, September 01, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: Cor Jesu Land Deal Goes Sour

So much for the power of prayer!

I have not got much information to share just yet, but I'm hearing reports that the 99 year land-lease deal orchestrated by former principal of Cor Jesu, Sr. Shiela, has fallen apart. The deal would have given the school 4 acres for expansion from the developers of the controversial Villages At Grant's View development on Gravois.

As you heard here first, the deal hinged on the fact that the developers would provide a signal at the entrance to the school. MoDot is strongly opposed to this idea as it would impede traffic flow significantly as it is too close to the signal at McNary Rd. This fact did not prevent Sr. Shiela from making a deal with the developers. My guess is that they cannot uphold their end of the bargain if MoDot prohibits construction of the light.

More as I am made aware.....

Monday, August 28, 2006

Metrolink Opens...Affton and City Both Under-represented!!

Well the new extension of the MetroLink opened Saturday with much fanfare and the First Family was all over it. In addition to free rides along the route, we opted to partake in the festivities that were planned at the Shrewsbury station. My first beef with this was that it involved closing the few remaining feet of River Des Peres that are not under construction. The entire area south of Landsdowne was blocked to traffic.

But first, the train...parking is more than ample at the station. My recent change in jobs now allows me to take the train to work which I did today and plan on trying to do most days. I can't tell you how actually beautiful River Des Peres could be if it were allowed to have water in it all the time. It had rained a lot Friday night and was flowing well when our train pulled out over the bridge that extends over I-44. Get a glimpse of it soon if you can. The ride was delightful and full of people out for a free test ride which was nice to see.

On our return, we headed toward the party across Landsdowne. There was plenty of free stuff to do as well as food and live music. Your Mayor and First Father-in-Law even got to have a beer (making all encounters with in-laws universally better!) The BIGGEST spoiler for me the entire day was the fact that I spied a mexican food vendor with margaritas AND THEY WERE FROM O'FALLON!!!! WTF? This party was less than one mile from (Mayor's favorite) El Maguey and no one invited them to the party??? Clearly someone screwed up big time.

Why on earth would you invite ANYTHING from St. Charles County...a place that has no public transportation, votes down any involvement in MetroLink expansion, and has one of the largest disparities between workforce housing and the grand opening of METROLINK???!!! The Mayor demands an explanation for this.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sour Grapes, Grantwood Village People

Well, apparently the Grantwood Village People have decided that they can't have their cake, but they are going to eat better despite themselves.

Back around the end of June, at the height of opposition to the proposed development, Grantwood Village proposed their own annexation plan with the Boundary Commission and (what a surprize) they want to aquire the future site of the Villages at Grant's View next to Cor Jesu Academy.

Boundary Commission: Don't Test Me!

As promised, I am writing to inform you, fine Afftonians, that the hearing for annexation proposals with the Boundary Commission has been scheduled. It will be at Affton High (home of the Cougars) in the cafeteria on Tuesday, August 22. The Mayor will be in attendance.

The Journal reports that proposals will be heard from Bella Villa and St. George, but oddly there is no mention of SHREWSBURY'S EVIL PLOT to annex most of Affton over several years. While I love to call this evil, I think little will come of it. Becuase of the rules, Shrewsbury would be forced to annex mostly cemeteries first which holds little interest for them as a tax base.

Also of vexing note, the Boundary Commission web site feature that allows you to enter a zip code to see if you are affected by a proposal is not working...again! This happened back in the spring as well. They fixed it thanks to my email. Today, the Exec. Director notified me that the site is undergoing maintenance and that we can still scroll down to see the proposals. Curious that twice Affton is affected and twice the information system is not functioning properly. In fairness, they have been very responsive on making repairs.

FURTHER, the Journal notes a start time of 7PM for the meeting. The Boundary Commisssion lists both 6:30 and 7. I think I'll be early just in case Shrewsbury decides to spring something on us.

Don't forget..the ACBA meets tomorrow morning at 9AM at Commerce Bank. I am not able to be there this month, but feel free to show up on behalf of the Mayor's Office and listen in.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

O-O-O'Reilly's Nice Guys

Generally speaking, auto and auto parts dealerships are not good for neighborhoods. They tend to junk up the area and have a bunch of folks working on cars in a public parking lot detracting from an area's appeal. (See the Auto Zone on S. Kingwhighway if you don't believe me.)

Affton is fortunate to have some good-looking chain stores that I'd consider more of an asset than a liability. In our case, the folks at the O'Reilly's store at 9445 Gravois are worthy of kudos in spreading the Affton love. Even the Mayor shops there to keep his 2-hubcapped hooptie running.

I had a chance to buy some wiper blades and a brake light bulb for the First Lady's car this weekend. On my arrival, I noticed a sweet 1970's VW bus running in the parking lot. While checking out, the owner of the van came in accompanied by a huge Great Dane to say goodbye to the store staff. It seems my checkout guy, Brian and many of the others at the store put in some long after hours work to help this guy fix his van. The kid was on a road trip to Phoenix when the van broke down in Affton. He stayed for three days while they got parts and installed them to get him back on the road.

The store staff gathered around to wish him well as the van sputtered off in that sound only an old VW makes. Why can't everyone be this nice? If you are in the market for mud flaps or gear shifters that light up, consider a visit to these fine representatives of Affton pride.


Be sure to cast your ballot today and let me know what you think of the new voting machines with your emails or comments. The new system has complicated the way we used to be able to look up our local issues, so here's how to do it:

Enter your address here.
This form will result in your district information and show you your elected officials.
Click here to view a listing of candidates and issues. You will need to compare these to see if you folks are running for reelection.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Kenrick's Feeds a Good Meal to Ameren Crews

The Mayor has a few guests at his day job in the form of 300 out-of-town Ameren restoration workers from all over the Midwest. (They're staying in the dorms, drinking beer, and gawking at the college girls while not on duty.) How pleased was I to see that Affton's own Kenrick's Meat Market & Catering was providing the box lunches to the crews!! In my contact with the group, I was offered one of the extra lunches.

Now I've eaten my fair share of box lunches, but this was head and shoulders above the rest! A HUGE turkey breast sandwich on a bun, individually wrapped toppings INCLUDING PICKLE (a sorely overlooked topping or side dish depending on how you look at it,) baked beans, fruit cup, granola bar thing, Doritos and the absolute masterpiece...a Twinkie. Seriously, when was the last time you ate a Twinkie? It's some fourth-grader goodness even at my age!

This gave me a great idea. Perhaps Kenrick's could combine the golden spongecake snack and their amazing meat cutting ability to create a Twinkie entree? While most would consider it a bastardization of meat cutting (as it would likely be processed meats) they could make them fancy delicacies by using meats like French canard.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Does Affton Have a Prostitution Problem or a Homeless Problem?

Word came to the Mayor last weekend that there is a blonde woman walking around the Affton/Concord Village area who may be either homeless or a prostitute. Apparently she has been written about before, although no one could tell me the publication source nor could I find it on Google.

What makes this woman so obvious is the fact that she totes three suitcases with her at all times. Additionally she does not move quickly due to the fact that she can only move two suitcases at a time. It is not uncommon to see her crossing the street, placing two bags, then recrossing to fetch the third case.

WHO IS THIS WOMAN? Has anyone else seen her? How can the Mayor's Office help? I have some citizens engaging in reconaissance to try and obtain evidence, but I advise all citizens to stay informed, vigilant and not to succumb to any such woman of potentially loose moral virtue!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Reach Out and Touch the Electorate

People, another election day is upon us this August. No, I'm not campaigning this term, but I cannot tell you how important it is to get out and vote. I think there is a lot of frustration out there and I urge you to seek out information about your candidates and pick the lesser of the evils as many of us do.

Even if you hate everyone running, vote yourself as a write-in candidate. Can you imagine the stories if we had the highest voter turnout in the County and elected NONE of the candidates? Wouldn't it be great if we could select "None of These" on a ballot just like those annoying tests in high school? Sadly, gone are the hanging chads and pregnant chads.

The County recently rolled out TWO electronic voting machines for this election and they are supposed to be pretty easy. See a demo here.

Now why are there TWO machines? I applaud the County for making voting more accessible to more voters, but why confuse them with two machines? I have a friend who says "a camel is a horse designed by committee" and I'm wondering if we citizens bought a camel. Further, there are supposed to be events at which citizens can see the machines before the elections. So far, the County has no dates posted on the site.

The ACBA talked about having the machines at Affton Days in September. This is a great idea, but that's too late for the August elections. I'd still like to set up some Affton Days issues on the machines and get the citizens' input. Think of the fun we could have with these at Affton Days!!:

"What should be Affton's Official Sno-Cone Flavor? ---Blueberry or Tiger Blood"
"Which Afftonian Should Be Placed in the Dunking Booth from 3pm-4pm?"
"Who should be winner of today's 'Best Mullet' competition?"
"Do you like the idea of free, family movie nights in Mathilda Park?"

Hey, I think I'm on to something good here.

"Powerful" Reason to Stay Unincorporated

Well, the Mayor has been out surveying damage and Affton was not spared the storm's wrath. Much of central and southern Affton was without power from the beginning and some of it remains so. Today in the Post, they have the numbers of folks without power listed as of 9:24 this morning. I found this interesting:

63121 9490 12825 74%
63122 2449 8865 27.63%
63123 3474 25026 13.88%

The zip codes represent Normandy, Kirkwood/Oakland, and Affton respectively. The next numbers show those without power, and then total customers, and the percentage without power.

Now Normandy is the place I grew up and also the current home of County Executive Charlie Dooley. Charlie has to answer to the whole County so I guess his power goes on last and the voters get served first. Kudos to Charlie, but please look in on your neighbors as there are a lot of seniors up there as there are in Affton. Lots of small municipalities in that zip code to deal with such as Pasadena Hills, Pasadena Park, Bell Nor, Bell-Ridge, etc.

Is it any wonder though that the Kirkwood area, so rich and important that is has it's own Public Works Department, is not getting the power on as quickly as those in Affton? This type of localized thinking is really a major downfall of the St. Louis region, especially in an emergency. If you were part of a large, regional system, you wouldn't have to compete so much with your neighbors for things like power or development.

My Afftonians, if you are hot and still without power, please stop by the White Rogers Community Center at 9801 Mackenzie. They lost power early on, but are back at full power.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

State of Emergency Declared!

It was on, it was off, it was on, it was off. That's how the lights and TV sets were at the Mayor's mansion last night during the storm. I nearly took the cork off the "State of Emergency" declaration bottle, but no. The lights stayed on as the storm subsided.

As I watched those in lesser communities suffer on TV, the call came in...


(Oh, be sure to click on this.)

The Mayor has decided to leave the mansion indefinitely to go and serve his people in the field. I will report back when possible. My sincere apologies to the ACBA folks whose meeting I missed today due to Mayoral duties. We'll chat next month.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Affton = Good Italian

Last night the First Lady and I tried out the new Trattoria Toscana restaurant on Gravois next to the Ten Mile House. Let me first say that earlier I told a friend that I was going out to Affton's newest Italian eatery and he said "Fazoli's?" Chris, you are a jerk and so are you Fazoli's. I hate Fazoli's food and apparently they hate Affton since they don't have a location here.

Trattoria Toscana was a delight. While it was clear that they are just getting off the ground the food and service were top notch. Maybe it was because they knew the Mayor was dining there but I hope the service extends to the rest of their customers. It is moderately pricey but you would expect that from a white tablecloth joint with guys in tuxedos waiting on you. We spent less than $40 for two pastas, salads and a glass of house cabernet (tip included.) While it is technically in a strip mall, you can hardly tell from the decor and Frank Sinatra on the stereo. The lobster ravioli are second to none. All in all, it's a great place to go on a date with your special lady friend or significant other, business dinner, or for a special treat. I hope they survive as we are in dire need of such dining options in Affton. They are at 9416 Gravois.

ALSO: As I have long said, Affton property is a "buy and hold." Proof came to me this week as I was informed that my neighbors are expecting. The tide is turning folks. Hopefully I can get the vote for an Aquatic Center back on the ballot in the next few years. See my previous post on that.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I was working on the backyard project most of the weekend. While at the Ace Hardware at Gravois & Mackenzie this weekend, I looked longingly at the Ten Mile House and the alluring Busch Beer neon sign in the window. On closer inspection I noticed a "NOW OPEN" sign hanging at the new Italian restaurant Trattoria Toscano just next door. I will try it out this week and report back to you. I invite you to do the same.

Fair-to-Middlin' at Best

The First Family of Affton was tuckered out from baseball games and other activities this weekend, but managed to go to the Twin Oaks fireworks. (As Affton has no fireworks, we look elsewhere.) Now Twin Oaks is basically the Manchester/Ballwin area. They were AMAZING. I have never been so CLOSE to fireworks in my life. I was holding the First Daughter as we watched when to my amazement, bits of paper--some still burning--landed around us. The wind had shifted a bit during the display carrying the shrapnel and smoke towards us. We all got away unscathed but the cars were largely peppered with bits of burned paper.

I made the decision early this year to NOT attend the festival formerly known as the "VP Fair." I have decided that Fair St. Louis is like the French Quarter in pre-Katrina New Orleans. I'm glad we have it, but it's not for the locals. It's really a tourist attraction. The entertainment has been a joke for years. The fireworks are magnificent but I think they had Huey Lewis three times in the decade of the 90's. Now while I think it's great that Lewis supposedly has the largest "unit" in rock'n'roll**, I don't qualify him as great entertainment in the 90's.

It's not that I was even a huge fan of the actual fairground activity, but I was always attracted to all the bands that played on the tight streets of Laclede's Landing in sort of an anti-fair party. This did not happen this year along with the incredibly popular air show. How can we not have an air show? Because of costs? It's our tax dollars! It's already paid for! Apparaently the owners on the Landing thought the Fair was going to be as lame as I predicted and didn't book any entertainment.

I do have to say that I like having more bands for free under the Arch as the summer rolls on. In lieu of finding a corporate sponsor to pay for the highly successful Live On the Levee series started in 2004, the Fair got smaller and they are spinning the Fair this year as a kickoff event for the ongoing concert series. Teriffic. Let's book the Spin Doctors.

**This comment personally heard by ME during a radio interview long, long ago with supergroupie Sweet Sweet Connie (of "We're An American Band" fame by Grand Funk.) She claims it was as long as "two beer cans" stacked together. The smallest unit reportedly belongs to Peter Frampton in case you were wondering.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Celebrate Your Independence By Blowing Up Some of Your Tax Dollars

The Mayor will be presiding over a few family events, the backyard construction and a few cold ones over the holiday.  Join me and the First Family tomorrow at the JB Blast with music by Fanfare from 5 to 9 p.m. and fireworks after the concert.   Your Affton Chamber of Commerce is one of the sponsors.  Lawn seating is available and coolers full of intoxicating goodness are encouraged. The event begins at 5 p.m. Friday at Jefferson Barracks Park, South Broadway and Kingston Drive, Lemay. The event is free. For more information call 314-849-6499.

Sale of Grant’s Farm Imminent?

The Grantwood Villagers’ blog is reporting today that rumors abound that Grant’s Farm could be on the selling block.  See the post here and I’ll let you know if I get to the bottom of this.

The Grass Could be Greener

The Mayor attended a conference on Sustainable Development this morning hosted by the Urban Land Institute.  Most of the discussion was old hat for the Mayor as I am well aware of the concepts that create such developments.  What was enlightening was to see actual reports and data that proved the return on investment to developers that choose to “go green”.  A representative from Clayco explained that there was a 1%-5% premium for designing sustainable properties, but what developers are now interested in is the dollar savings over time as the buildings are completed.  From his perspective, green building is booming in St. Louis and starting to catch on across the country.

The keynote address by Ed McMahon (not the one of Johnny Carson and sweepstakes fame) of the Urban Land Institute touted many of the claims taught in my Urban Planning training.  He called fighting development a “national pastime” and I could not help but think of Affton’s own Angry Villagers fighting the Villages at Grant’s View project.  

While clearly ours is a suburban style project, whose design style has come and nearly gone as it is innately unsustainable, I’ll allow it as it is within the context of the current developments.  However we need to be arguing for things like increased access to Grant’s Trail for its health benefits and smarter parking and road design to decrease the runoff from the project.  I think these are things that would benefit The Grantwood Village People, the new residents, the ladies at Cor Jesu, and folks downstream from us on Gravois Creek.  I think a lawsuit-battered developer will be far less likely to sit down and discuss these topics which will ultimately benefit more people in the long run.  McMahon cited a National Assn. Of Realtors’ study from 2002 that noted that 36% of homebuyers preferred their home to be near a walking or nature trail versus 6% that wanted to live on a golf course.  To me, this shows that largely, people will support development that is increasingly more dense.

Stone Walled!

For those of you who asked, the stone wall coming down east of McNary Drive is nether because of the proposed development NOR your friends at MoDot. While it was believed that they were removing the wall as part of their right-of-way for the redevelopment of the Gravois Creek bridge in 2008, I have confirmed with one of their project engineers that it is not their doing! More on this later as I investigate.

(Further, I am not so supportive of their desire to close the Thurman Ave. bridge in the Shaw neighborhood of the City.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gravois Creek Bridge and Grant's View Development

Well, two days ago the Mayor had a huge post prepared for you and Firefox's browser decided to crash and lose everything. I will recap for you now.

Last Thursday I went to the MoDOT open house. They are planning on reconstructing the Gravois Creek bridge just west of Grant's Trail and McNary Drive. The new bridge will have five lanes and a new signal. The work will take two months if they close Gravois completely. If they keep one lane open in each direction, it will be drawn out to six months. They were showing off a very nerdy and cool software called Sim Traffic that takes known traffic data and simulates what traffic would look like under altered conditions. Believe me. No one wants to see what it looks like on Laclede Station Road with that traffic backed up. I supported the full closure. It will be the dead of winter in 2008 and there will not be that many folks using the trail (which will remain unaffected.) My only complaint was a sidewalk on the south side that seemed to connect to nothing.

The big coup of the weekend was the arrival at the Mayor's Office of a huge package of architectural site plans for the Villages at Grant's View. One of the site plans was shown at the last ACBA meeting, so I asked the County Planning Dept. for a copy. I got 8 huge pages that will be nearly impossible to scan. I'll do my best to detail the plans here. Here's a map to get you oriented.

The latest revision of the plans call for 434 dwelling units. This is split into two areas of development: The 193 single family homes and 76 attached villas hug Musick Road on the West, and the very northwest corner at Gravois (about 1/2 of the area from Musick to McNary). Everything in front of Affton Athletic to the north is open common ground most likely as it is flood plain. There are two entrances to this part of the development, both on Musick Road.

The 164 condo units occupy the area east of McNary ajacent to Cor Jesu and bounded on the west by Grant's Trail. Access as it is shown right now is only via Gravois.

OTHER MAJOR POINTS: There is no access to McNary Road via Cor Jesu. This needs to get worked out, because according to Cor Jesu, their land deal rested on the fact that they got a signalized intersection in front of their place. MoDot says "no way" as they don't want signals within about 1000 ft. of one another as it never works. I point to the newly redone intersection of Laclede Station/Watson and Heege as a glowing example.

The developer is putting a sidewalk in along Musick and all the way down Gravois. This may also go as far as Laclede Station Rd. if they get the land for free to improve. I'm in support of this as it will increase access to the Trail. I think Trailnet will support this as well as long as there is not a vehicular crossing over the trail.

I am largely in support of this development. I know there are a few votes at risk here for me, but there is unquestionably a demand for new housing in inner ring suburbs. Price points on the condos are rumored to start about $150,000 which is similar to some of Affton's older single family homes. In addition, these units will likely sell at a high price which will benefit the surrounding residents. While I agree that it is a dense development, I don't think that anything can be too dense if there is enough demand for it to sell. Further, this will turn into a whole lot of new voters in Affton!

The Grantwood Village People have recently filed suit against the County to delay the development. (Ironically, not only has the name of the development changed, but so too has the name of the opposition to "Grassroots on Gravois".) To quote The Angry Villagers' blog when the developers changed their name: "BS by any other name is still BS, so we won't be fooled!!"

While I support their right to fight this development, I think they are going to suffer a major defeat if they mount a full-on lawsuit. Fortunately, I don't think they will get the chance. Since they are fighting the County, they now need a certain number of petition signatures from basically all over the county to take it to court. I think they will not succeed in this effort. Further, I think their lack of focus on the issues has muddied their chances. Here's a snip from their blog calling folks out to a meeting just over a month ago. Their issues are listed with my comments afterward. I think this shows that most of their issues have been dealt with or were ridiculous to start with:

TRAFFIC 900+ cars
(Your Mayor did the math on this. In most units the development allows 1.5 parking spaces per dwelling unit plus .5 spaces for guest parking. They have more than ample parking, meaning more than required by law totalling 928 spaces. However I think it unlikely that EVERY single space, including ALL guest parking spaces, will ever be used simultaneously. I think it less likely that they will all be on Gravois at the same time either.)

SAFETY Grant Bike Trail potential hazard
(Potential, yes, but the plan in my hands shows no access to McNary Rd. I think the developer would rather not have a grade crossing at Grant's Trail either.)

DENSITY 438 units (3 story high condos) 3 and 4 attached Villas
(I have no idea what the Angry Villagers have against 3-story buildings. The density arguement is only strong if they point to a number of people per acre and say that it is too high.)

FLOODING rain water run off/ sewage waste into the environment
(I'm all for less pavement in the world, but I don't think that government environmental agencies are about to let anything in this highly scrutinized development sneak by. On what evidence do they think that sewage is going into Gravois Creek or being treated differently then sewage anywhere else?)

(I'd estimate that about 1/3rd of this is greenspace as it is in the flood plain. In section 4 of the plans, it outlines the possibility of Recreational Uses permitted by leasing the common ground area for parks, picnic areas, trail access and so on, as long as it's approved by County Planning and the Parks Dept.)

POOR DESIGN aggressive uniform linear alignment
Proposed curb cuts at Glenshire and Charrette with interior connecting street

(Now the Mayor has been a student of Urban Planning and I've never even heard of "aggressive uniform linear alignment" so I Googled it. All I found was help with algebra equasions. As for the curb cuts, they are exactly the same width and shape as the two streets mentioned. Do they also suffer from "poor design"?)

Hopefully my point is well taken that had the Angry Villagers a real case here, they would have been sticking to the point from the get-go. If the issue is density, it should have a number attached to it and they should be fighting for that number. All the other issues they had seem to have been mitigated haven't they?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

REMINDER: Gravois Creek Bridge Public Hearing Tonight

As the headline says, if you drive on Gravois near Grant's Farm, you need to charge up your Rascal or Lark Scooters now so you can attend tonight's public forum on the proposed construction which should start late this winter.

Your friends at MoDOT will be presenting the options and hearing your input. So PUT OUT!

Affton White Rogers Commty. Center between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Where the Cool Kids Are

Your Mayor was once accused by an infamous St. Louis blogger of accepting cold beverages in exchange for my praise of the new QuikTrip on Gravois. While I do like cold beverages, nothing could be further from the truth and I don't want you to think that's the case in this story. I'm writing today to point out how a market opportunity is turning Affton into an attractive place for young professionals to experience our community for the first time.

I turn your attention, my 21-and-up Afftonians, to the historic Ten Mile House at 9420 Gravois. Since the demise of Frederick's Music Lounge at Kingshighway and Chippewa, the alt-country-punk cool kids have not really had a place to call their own once the sun went down. Enter the booking agents at the Ten Mile. In recent months, the bills at the venue have gotten significantly better. Better bands are starting to creep into the lineup.

If this continues, and they work to actively seek out the best up-and-comers, they could really capture most of Frederick's scenesters. It's not easy as there is a fine and gray line between "hoosiery bands" and bands that are hoosiery with tongue firmly in cheek. If the Ten Mile can lean towards the latter, they will win the battle for class, but can they woo the City folks out of the City Limits for a show?

I need to do more investigating, but I think I can attribute this to an old friend of the Mayor, singer songwriter and bad-assed vocalist Jimmy Kennedy (pictured). Jimmy is a regular host of the open mic nights (Thursdays) at the Ten Mile. I have a feeling that he has been cross-pollenating the Fred's crowd and bands with the venue at the Ten Mile. If I can confirm this, I will be issuing official Mayoral proclamations to both Jimmy and the Ten Mile House in thanks for their economic stimulus and excellent timing of the music market.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Life, Death, and Road Construction

Well it's that time of year. (I already posted about parish carnivals, silly.) I'm of course talking about the record number of orange sticks, cones and barrels that litter our roads as summer projects get rolling. The Mayor had a rough day yesterday, I was up late the night before, went to the ACBA meeting yesterday morning, had a death in the family, then attended to family and business matters until after midnight. To top it off, MoDOT was grinding the road surface off out in front of the First Family's house all night long! Needless to say, the Mayor is having difficulty with his "A" game today.

CHECK IT, YO: Our good friend Beth from St. Louis County Economic Council reminded the Mayor's Office that the public hearing is coming up for the reconstruction of the bridge over Gravois Creek near Grant's Farm and the bike trail. The public hearing is between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 22 at the Affton White Rogers Community Center. More info is here.

YE CAN'T SUE WHAT YE CAN'T FIND: The official name of the controversial development going next to Cor Jesu has officially changed. This "came out" in yesterday's ACBA meeting. It is now called "The Villages at Grant's View".

Perhaps this was to keep the Grantwood Village People (pictured) from successfully filing suit against the development.

Rejected names include: "The Villages Formerly Known As The Villages At Gravois Creek" and

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Mayor Goes Postal for Affton Pride

I think like most folks, I have a real love/hate relationship with computers. The First Family's name has an apostrophe in it. Now since the dawn of computers and data entry, no one has clearly stipulated how to enter an apostrophe into a computer. Furthermore many computers simply don't accept apostrophes as part of the written world. There is nothing so annoying as being told that your "tickets are not in our system" or "you do not seem to be our customer" as a result of someone looking for the name in a computer search. TO WIT:

My name regularly shows up as the following on mail and other things:
1) O'Brien (the correct way)
2) OBrien (no apostrophe)
3) O Brien (space lieu of apostrophe)
4) Obrien (auto corrected for Proper Case by computers resulting in lower case "b")

Now my family name goes back a long way into Ireland when Brian Boru was the ruler of the country for 73 years around 1100 A.D. It's a proud tradition and the world has spelled it correctly since his descendants were called "O'Brien" (meaning "son of" Brian or simply "of" Brian's Family.) ALL OTHER INTERPRETATIONS ARE A BASTARDIZATION!!! If you pulled such crap back in the day, you would have met with my sword and had my coat of arms embossed on thy forehead!

I urge everyone in Affton to immediately stop allowing this similar bastardization:

XXXXX Gravois Road
St. Louis, MO 63123

This is a travesty! What I'm getting at is that Affton (or "Aff's Town" as it began) denoted the place that the mail was to be delivered. Although unincorporated, it is STILL WHERE THE MAIL IS TO BE DELIVERED! Affton has it's own post office and it deserves to be recognized as such. Should the Affton High Cougars become the Unincorporated St. Louis County Cougars? I think not. Please folks, let's make it "Affton, MO 63123" the way it should be.

Begin showing your town pride by contacting your creditors, vendors, friends and junk mailers and make them change your address! Furthermore, get new stationary, sticky return labels and address plaques. Our work will be done when someone can get our trash carrier, Allied Waste, to stop putting "LEMAY, MO 63123" on my trash bill. BELIEVE ME. I've tried. I think the Mayor of Lemay built their database.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Extreme Makover: Affton Edition

AFFTON MARKET RESEARCH FACT: Twenty and thirty somethings who grew up in the Affton area and have lived in other areas of St. Louis never want to come back to Affton.

Rationale: They do not see the area as desirable when compared to other areas nearby that have centralized "downtowns," civic organizations, better schools, better housing stock, parks, pools and other public amenities. They also still see the area as being "hoosiery" and strive to disassociate themselves from that image.

On my recent trip to Baltimore, we were joined by an associate of my youngest sister. She is a St. Louisian, 26 years old, and single. Not to my surprise, she found the prospect of relocating to Affton very appealing. She cited the affordability of decent housing as the primary reason for this.

Affton must get out of the box and directly market to these young folks interested in starting families. This is a market segment SORELY underserved by current housing developments as only high-end homes and condos are the primary market. Even better if NON-Catholics are targeted. The realignment of City schools and Catholic parishes are points AGAINST locating families in the City right now. Affton's reasonably low taxes and relatively decent schools can be used to lure folks from fashionable City 'hoods such as St. Louis Hills and South Hampton.

* This represents my own, personal investigative research and not anything the good taxpayers forked out for.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

CMT and Shrewsbury Plan Metrolink Charrette

This just in to the Mayor's desk this morning:
Citizens for Modern Transit is hosting a charrette on June 17 with the help of Shrewsbury Mayor Bert Gates and Alderwoman Donna Baringer to look at the site surrounding the future Shrewsbury-Lansdowne-I-44 MetroLink Station that should open later this year. Transit oriented development will be the focus of the charette. Architects and planners are needed to help with the event. June 17, 2006 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Shrewsbury City Center--5200 Shrewsbury Ave.
MORE INFO: or call 314.231.7272.

N0w many of you have questions about Metrolink, I'm sure, and I'm sure the long hours listed here will not be for residents, but the facilitators. Althought it's put on by our annexation-happy neighbors to the north, consider yourself invited.

This event will NOT be addressing the possibility of Metro's plans to extend this line further south into Affton, rather it will be about increasing connectivity for residents of all the surrounding areas to the station, probably through increased bus service or other options. I highly urge you all to go, especially all you Town Talkers bitching about the price of gas. I myself have been taking my bike on the bus occasionally (using the handy bike racks on the front bumpers) and I have found it very enjoyable and economical. It is likely that I will be serving our community as one of the meeting facilitators, taking your ideas down on paper, so come meet the Mayor and represent!

I Thought It Was Your Turn to Do the Dishes

From the Affton Precinct of the Police blotter as reported in the South County Journal on June 7:

"Burglars stole a dishwasher sometime on June 3 from a home in the 8400 block of Mathilda Avenue. The dishwasher was discovered missing at about dinnertime..."

So there I was, washing up things after dinner when I noticed I was loading the dishes into a 30-INCH GIANT HOLE UNDER MY COUNTER.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Reading from the Letter of St. George

St. George is having their parish carnival this coming weekend. Some things need no embellishment to be funny. Note the use of exclamation points. Verbatim from the St. George parish bulletin this week:
The 2006 St. George Summer fest is ready to roll on June 10, noon until 10 pm! We are very excited to offer the exotic petting zoo this year!! Not only will you have the opportunity to feed and pet the animals - you can ride a CAMEL!! The inflatable activities are going to be a challenge - a climbing mountain, a bungee run, and a defender dome are just some of the offerings! Armbands will be available the day of the picnic. The price for the armband for the child inflatables is $20. The price forthe armband for the adult inflatables is $25. Both the exotic petting zoo and the inflatables will be in operationfrom noon until 6 pm. Admittance to the petting zoo willbe $2.50 for all entering! Test your luck with Bingo at 2pm and again at 6:30 pm!! Come hungry as Hodak’s Chicken Meals will be available from 4 - 7 pm!! After your meal, enjoy the German Band in the German beergarden while munching on chicken wings and peanuts! Now, we all need to pray for GREAT weather!!!
As always, to make this event possible.. WE NEED WORKERS! Some booths, still need a chair… the Chuck-a-Luck, the Bell Ringer/Hammer Booth beingtwo of these! These booths will not be offered if we donot have chairs and workers!

SET UP will begin at approximately 8:30 am on Friday, June 9th and will continue all day long!! WE NEED HELP HERE FOLKS!! Take down will occur on Sunday, June 11th at 8 am.. Again, WE NEED HELP!! Forthose who have tools, we can use not only your body but also your 1/2” deep well socket drill for setup!!
Do you think they need help?
Child armband: $20
Adult armband: $25
Watching the drunk adults Chuck-a-luck Hodak's Chicken Meals from the top of a camel?
Priceless. See you there.