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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mayor's Chief of Staff indirectly reveals that Blairmont has "major plans"

"This is the first guy who's gone up there with major plans in fifty years."

That is KMOX's Charlie Brennan quoting Mayor Slay's chief of staff Jeff Rainford, defending McKee's activities on the near North Side.

The broadcast is a couple days old, so this isn't news per se, but the quote bears repeating.

This is the first official (albeit secondhand) announcement that McKee actually has plans for the area. Now, we all expected the same. And they are apparently, as we also imagined, "major". But is it not the worst smack in the face to hear that the Mayor indeed has known McKee's plans for some time but has not said so much as a sentence to ease the minds of his worried constituents?

This is poor, conservative leadership in a city that needs bolder change.

Simply applying for whatever awards come up for "redeveloping cities" and aggressively campaigning for these PR opportunities is not enough, Mayor Slay. The citizens of St. Louis deserve to know what McKee's plans are and to be included. Our built environment should never have been so intentionally chipped away at.

Ironically, the whole to-do over the World Leadership Forum's award to St. Louis for "urban renewal" was predicated on rehabilitation of historic buildings. Former lead St. Louis Planner Rollin Stanley entitled the presentation "From Vacancy to Vibrancy". Both Slay and Stanley seemed to suggest their leadership brought about all the new rehabber activity in the city of St. Louis. It wasn't mentioned that the Mayor had nothing to do with the writing of the historic tax credit act in the late 1990s (pre-Slay) that is the actual reason for the newfound "vibrancy". It was also not mentioned that Slay and/or the Board of Aldermen not only presided over but had a major role in the dismantling of Gaslight Square, McRee Town, Bohemian Hill, the Century Building, and now the Blairmont neighborhoods.

That's a lot of neighborhoods to have joined the lengthy list of demolished neighborhoods in the relatively short span of Slay's two terms. And yet, he's at it again, promoting St. Louis's being named a finalist in the 2008 All-America City Award (dubbed the "'Oscar' of Community Recognition"). Interestingly, the "St. Louis Region" is up for an award typically given to cities, and occasionally to counties. Still, Slay is willing to accept credit for regional innovations such as the Great River Ring.

All I can say is I am happy I kept my voter registration in Missouri!


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