I am so excited to have our first preschool storytime event this week! It is free and will be held at the Compton Heights Christian Church (2149 S. Grand) on every Wednesday at noon. Isaiah 58 is holding a weekday worship service and we thought to hold storytime as a relief for any parents or caregivers in attendance, but it is certainly not limited or exclusive to those clients. There will be a light luncheon following the service that is provided by Isaiah 58 as well.
All our reader volunteers have been background checked, and have received boundary training (guidelines on appropriate methods when working with children) and storyteller training. We will use books from the St. Louis Public Library, or from our own collections – we also would love any donations (hint-hint) so let me know if you have any picture books that you would like to donate. One goal is to let each child go home with a book, but we’ll see how many books and children we will have!
It has been fun to “re-live” the preschool stories that my kids liked to hear and also refresh my memory on the sing-alongs and finger games that we will try to incorporate into the 20 minutes. If you would like to volunteer, please PLEASE let me know – the storytime is every Wednesday at noon, but that doesn’t mean a weekly commitment – you can read as often as your schedule allows. Also, if you can put the flyer in your business or around the neighborhood or have access to a church bulletin, etc., we’d appreciate the PR help! Storytime flyer2
The City Journal contains the minutes from the past week’s Board of Aldermen meeting as well as public notices of hearings and permits, RFPs, City job openings, and other official records. I use it to keep track of what is happening downtown and am glad to have it available online for free.
Military Sexual Assault Prosecutions – Passage – Vote Passed (97-0, 3 Not Voting)
Senators finished work on reforming the military’s practices for reporting and prosecuting sexual assaults within its ranks on Monday, passing a bill written by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO. The bill would amend the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 to require special victims’ counsels in sexual assault cases and forbid using the defendant’s military record in defense arguments. The bill would also require the evaluation of whether commanding officers have established a climate in which allegations of sexual assault are properly managed and fairly evaluated and a victim can report criminal activity without fear of retaliation or ostracism.
Sen. Roy Blunt voted YES
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES
Child Care Block Grant Reauthorization – Enzi Amendment – Vote Agreed to (98-0, 2 Not Voting)
On Wednesday, the Senate agreed to an amendment (S.AMDT.2812) offered by Senator Michael Enzi, R-Wy., to the reauthorization of child care block grant programs. The amendment requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the Secretary of Education, to conduct a review of Federal early learning and care programs and make recommendations for streamlining the various programs. The block grant program was reauthorized through Fiscal Year 2019 on Thursday.
Senators approved a bill to slow National Flood Insurance Program premium increases that are needed to achieve the program’s full actuarial rates. The measure would also require the Federal Emergency Management Agency to certify its flood mapping approach before raising insurance rates in the future.
The House overwhelmingly passed a resolution Tuesday condemning the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity by military forces of the Russian Federation for their actions in Crimea.
Rep. William Lacy Clay voted YES
Federal Water Rights – Passage – Vote Passed (238-174, 19 Not Voting)
On Thursday, House members passed a bill that would prohibit Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from making any transfer, relinquishment, or other impairment of any water right a condition of the issuance of any permit, lease, or other use agreement concerning federal lands. The law would apply to lands covered by interstate water rights compacts as well.
On Friday, the House agreed to repeal the sustainable growth rate model of physicians’ compensation rates under Medicare. The bill would establish a single conversion rate of cost increases for physicians’ services at .5 percent through 2018 and would completely freeze updates thereafter through 2023. The bill would also require certain federal agencies to perform studies of access to health care and cost controls for some procedures under Medicare.
There was a meeting of the Eighth Ward Independent Democratic Association this past Thursday. Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly gave some updates from his office and asked for support for his re-election next Fall. Alderman Jeffrey Boyd spoke about a ballot initiative he is sponsoring regarding job placement for military veterans and also asked for support in his bid for License Collector. Rep. Mike Colona told us about problems in underfunding Missouri schools in this year’s budget, a bill that was signed by the Governor this week to allow insurance to cover the costs of oral chemotherapy drug, and proposed legislation to allow neighborhood associations to enter into lawsuits with owners of nuisance properties. Rep. Michael Butler spoke about the school transfer plan that he considered “80% bad, 20% good” and elaborated. Senator Jamilah Nasheed gave an update on her legislative activities. Committeewoman Mattie Moore, Chair of the St. Louis City Democratic Central Committee, gave an overview of the committee and current activities. Alderman Conway gave an update on ward activities and spoke about the Entertainment/Music Festival bill that was introduced at the Board of Aldermen last week. Committeeman Stelzer thanked all of the elected officials for their attendance and I informed the membership about a used shoe drive at Mt. Olive church (donations accepted at Mama Josephine’s, 4000 Shaw), an award that the St. Louis Development Corporation is giving to Shaw Market/Regal Food for their updates, an e-waste recycling event held at SMOS school, and a new urban farm to be organized in Shaw thanks to a grant from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.
As these aren’t the “official” minutes, I apologize in advance for any omissions or errors. The next meeting will be on Thursday, April 10, 7:30pm at SMOS church basement. Let me know if you have any questions.
Thanks to founders and 8th ward residents, Monte Abbott and Jeanette McDermott, Sustainable in St. Louis has been awarded a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant to create a new urban farm in the Shaw Neighborhood in partnership with The Word at Shaw and Mt. Olive Lutheran churches. I will definitely be staying tuned for updates on this activity since I have never had much luck growing veggies in my shady backyard!
Just found out that the St. Louis Development Corporation wants to give Berhe Beyent, the manager of Shaw Market (at 4200 Shaw) an award at the May 5 SNIA meeting! Shaw Market received grants and support from the agency through the Healthy Corner Store program last year. I had the pleasure of helping to craft the grant and have been working with Berhe and his wife Genent to continue to promote and tailor the store to the Shaw neighborhood. Congrats to them!!
COLUMBIA, Mo. – After a three-month delay, the Missouri Housing Development Commission released funding for $137 million in low-income housing tax credits that were withheld last year as a part of a deal orchestrated by Gov. Jay Nixon to pass a tax credit package in an attempt to lure a new Boeing line to St. Louis.
At the time, Nixon successfully pushed legislation that would allow for up to $150 million annually in new tax credits targeted at the aerospace industry – specifically Boeing, which was mulling St. Louis as a place to locate its new 777x commercial airliner production line. To get that through the General Assembly without a Senate filibuster, Nixon negotiated an agreement with conservative stalwarts to delay issuing the tax credits until this week, so the commission would be able to weigh whether Boeing would use the credits and whether a tax credit reform measure had made its way through the legislature.
Boeing ultimately chose against locating its new line in Missouri, and the legislature has not acted on tax credit reform, and on Friday, the MHDC moved to release the millions in tax credits for low-income housing developers.
The delay drew criticism from Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, who cited concerns about low-income residents having access to housing and developers being delayed in their projects. Kinder, a member of the commission, said after the meeting on Friday that his criticism has been about more than just the tax credits.
“The governor has subverted the independence of the commission and devastated the credibility of the commission with lenders, others in the financial community, and with developers who are looking to other states to do business in,” he said. “It is clear the governor has a regime of unrelenting hostility to this commission, and people notice that.”
State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, a Democrat and another member of the commission, said the delay was just part of the process the commission goes through in approving tax credits, considering any number of factors – including other tax credits.
“Obviously it is not an ideal situation to delay projects when they’re in the middle of the process, but that’s what happened and we’ve moved along and they were approved within 100 days,” he said. In direct response to Kinder’s criticism, Zweifel added, “I was told very clearly by the governor’s office that there was a compromise established between some Senators and his office that would allow them to move forwarded on the legislation to attempt to attract Boeing, but delay those credits for a set period while the debate happened. Is it an ideal situation? No. But it seems like a responsible result.”
The move comes just days after Republican State Auditor Tom Schweich issued a scathing audit of the program, claiming that for every dollar of the $144 million spent on the low-income housing tax credit in 2013, only 42 cents went to building actual housing. The remainder of it goes to federal taxes, firms, and investors. He was also critical of the economic impact, noting that the credit only created 63 jobs, or approximately $61,000 per unit of housing or $2.3 million per job.
Schweich recommended that the state mull making the tax credits refundable, using a direct appropriation to build low-income housing, and reduce the number of hers over which the tax credits are spread (currently dispersed in pieces over 10 years).
The City Journal contains the minutes from the past week’s Board of Aldermen meeting as well as notices of hearings, public notices of hearings and permits, RFPs, City job openings, and other official records. I use it to keep track of what is happening downtown and am glad to have it available online for free.
We have secured the funding to pay HUD back the acquisition price for the vacant lots on Detonty. UIC (the developer of Olio and City Garden Montessori), will now be able to develop the 16 new homes. Since securing the funding, they have now purchased the property from the City, and are now platting the property lines.
There is a mix of housing sizes and styles with the ability to have a first floor master bedroom suite. You can view the project and housing styles at www.livegreenstl.com. This project will be complimented by the two the renovation into townhouses of the decaying dinosaurs next to Sasha’s.
I would like to thank Mayor Slay’s office, CDA, Shaw Neighborhood Housing Corporation and UIC for the their efforts.