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St. Louis’ Turn-Of-The-Century Transit Renaissance

Heartland Urbanist, Columbus-based organizer Matt Caffrey digs into the story behind St. Louis’s light metro system. In the mid-1980s, while many other transit agencies were moving toward developing trams – slow street-running light rail – St. Louis made the bold choice to build a light rail system on dedicated right of way. Opened in 1993, it’s now a 46-mile light rail system with two lines and 6.7 million riders in 2022. It’s also, he explains, a massive driver of private investment. Part of the reason why residents and visitors are able to take advantage of this system was local organizers with a St. Louis nonprofit, Citizens for Modern Transit.

Voters Reject Stadium Sales Tax To Help Fund New Royals Ballpark

Jackson County voters handed the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs a major setback on Tuesday, rejecting a stadium sales tax extension that would fund a new downtown baseball stadium and renovations at Arrowhead Stadium. Question 1 would have repealed Jackson County’s existing 3/8th-cent sales tax and replaced it with a tax at the same level until 2064. The results mean that the existing sales tax will end in 2031, when the Royals and Chiefs’ leases expire, and can only be used on the existing Truman Sports Complex properties.

Toyota Workers At Critical Engine Plant Launch UAW Union Drive

Auto workers at a Toyota engine plant in Troy, Missouri, have signed up 30 percent of their 1,000 co-workers to join the United Auto Workers (UAW)—a first at Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, on the heels of the union’s announcements of organizing campaigns at Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz. Workers at the plant just outside St. Louis build 2.6 million cylinder heads per year. Should they stop building them, it would cut off supplies for all of the company’s engine plants in North America. Toyota is still working to build up its supply of chips and other inventory, following pandemic lockdowns and global supply-chain snarls.

Block The Bombs: Palestine Activists Protest Boeing Facility In Missouri

Hidden in plain sight along a particularly drab stretch of Route 94, just west of the Missouri River in St. Charles, MO, lies a large, plain white building. Almost completely nondescript apart from its size, it is distinguishable from the road only by a pair of small signs identifying it as Boeing Building 598. It is, at present, perhaps the deadliest building in the state. Amidst an ever-growing civilian death toll exacted by Israel’s relentless bombing campaign against Gaza, the displacement of the vast majority of the city’s 2 million residents, and numerous other human rights atrocities of various descriptions, the increasingly urgent calls for a ceasefire finally appear to have gained significant political momentum.

One-Stop Shops Can Change The Game For City’s Small Business Growth

In February, researchers at the Institute for Justice published a study analyzing barriers to starting small businesses. “Too often, entrepreneurs struggle with local regulatory burdens, finding themselves trapped by high fees, long wait times, and complex paperwork,” the report begins. “These burdens amount to a death by a thousand cuts, unless aspiring business owners can successfully navigate them before reaching opening day.” The study analyzed the steps required to open a business in 20 large and mid-sized U.S. cities, and their findings were stunning. Opening a restaurant in Boston involves a staggering 92-step process. In Detroit, it’s 77 steps. In Atlanta, it’s 76.

The Two Types Of Death Penalties

A political prisoner is a person targeted or imprisoned because of their political actions, affiliations and/or beliefs. A political prisoner is also an individual, who while incarcerated, transforms themselves from a social prisoner by gaining clarity, embracing and maintaining political struggle. Thirty-seven-year-old Kevin “KJ” Johnson is scheduled to be executed by the State of Missouri on November 29th; most would not view him as a “political prisoner.”  However, given the poverty, neglect, suffering and abuse that comes with being a captive in domestic colonies and urban enclaves within a capitalist and imperialist state, from the onset Kevin was undoubtedly a victim of US politics and policing. On July 5, 2005, 19-year-old Kevin “KJ” Johnson witnessed his 12- year-old brother, “Bam Bam” collapse while police conducted a search of their grandmother’s home. 

Call For Solidarity After FBI Raids African People’s Socialist Party And Uhuru Movement

The specter of a Biden administration-authorized Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated McCarthy-era witch hunt was posed in bold relief last week as FBI agents took aim at a Black liberation organization that has been a sharp critic of the U.S./NATO-backed war in Ukraine and a defender of poor nations threatened with U.S. sanctions, coups, embargoes and blockades. These include Cuba, Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Iran. Replete with flash/bang grenades deployed at 5:00 am on Friday, July 29 to startle African Peoples Socialist Party (APSP) leader Omali Yeshitela and his wife at their home in St. Louis, Missouri, FBI agents, carrying federal search warrants, ordered them to come out with their hands up. They were handcuffed and ordered to sit on the curb.

2,500 St. Louis Machinists Union Members To Strike Boeing Aug. 1

Nearly 2,500 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 837 have voted to strike the Boeing Co. in St. Louis. IAM District 837, which represents workers at three Boeing Defense locations, released the following statement regarding the rejection of the company’s offer: “Our members have spoken loudly and with one voice. We reject Boeing’s current contract offer and will strike at all three St. Louis area locations, starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. We cannot accept a contract that is not fair and equitable, as this company continues to make billions of dollars each year off the backs of our hardworking members. Boeing previously took away a pension from our members, and now the company is unwilling to adequately compensate our members’ 401(k) plan. We will not allow this company to put our members’ hard-earned retirements in jeopardy.

St. Louis’s Movement-Backed Mayor Promised To Close An Infamous Jail

St. Louis, Missouri - “What is the delay in closing the Workhouse?” moderator Maquis Govan asks Mayor Tishaura Jones at a virtual town hall on “re-envisioning public safety” February 8. The event was co-organized by Action St. Louis, an affiliate of the Movement for Black Lives. The group’s 501©4 arm, Action St. Louis Power Project, endorsed Jones during her 2021 mayoral run. The Rev. Michelle Higgins opened the event by thanking Jones warmly for “valuing and loving the constituents of this city in this way: taking the time to listen to our questions directly.” Now, activists want clarification on when the mayor will fulfill her campaign promise to close the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, more commonly known as the Workhouse, which activists have been trying to shut down for years.

Missouri Supreme Court Voids ‘Paycheck Protection’ Bill

A 2018 law adding sweeping changes to how labor organizations — exempting, however, public safety unions — conduct business was struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court Tuesday. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision rendering the GOP-backed HB 1413 null for violating public employees’ right to collective bargaining “through representatives of their own choosing.” It also said the law violated the state constitution’s equal protection clause by exempting public safety labor organizations. The state’s highest court concurred with the circuit court in finding the offending provisions could not be severed from the legislation as a whole. Dubbed the “paycheck protection” bill, HB 1413 from Rep. Jered Taylor added a myriad of changes for how labor organizations could operate, including mandating public employees to opt-in to dues and fees annually, preventing supervisory employees from being included in the same bargaining unit as employees, and requiring groups be approved by an election before the State Board of Mediation in order to be certified, among other things. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision rendering the GOP-backed HB 1413 null for violating public employees’ right to collective bargaining “through representatives of their own choosing.” It also said the law violated the state constitution’s equal protection clause by exempting public safety labor organizations.

Self-Emancipation Continues To Rise At The St. Louis City Justice Center

In the early morning hours of April 4, 2021, a day that many Christians recognized as Resurrection Sunday, detainees, at the St. Louis City Justice Center moved in the spirit of insurrection to challenge their oppressors and well documented repression at the jail. After the first major rebellion at the jail grabbed national attention on February 6, 2021, government bureaucrats in collaboration with “activists” of the social justice state scrambled to mystify what is really happening to detainees at the city’s jails through sham reports and pseudo-independent investigations.  The attempt to paper over the status quo of cruelty and inhumanity exacted on detainees in the aftermath of the February 6th jail uprising has proved unsuccessful.  

St. Louis Justice Center Inmates Rise Up Again, Demand Hearings

St. Louis, MO - St. Louis police responded to the city's downtown jail Sunday night after inmates broke windows, set fires and threw debris onto the street below Sunday night. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department sent out an all-points bulletin across city police radios Sunday night after inmates on the third floor of the City Justice Center reportedly covered cameras. A short time later, inmates began breaking the windows and throwing things onto the street. At around 9:30 p.m., smoke was pouring out of the broken windows. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's Civil Disturbance Team was among the officers responding to the scene Sunday night. By around 10:20, the inmates had moved away from the windows, and police officers could be seen inside the windows looking around with flashlights in hand.

Housing Justice Group Puts Power Back In Tenants’ Hands

Brandy Granados’s road to activism began in November 2018 when the heater in her Kansas City, Missouri, apartment exploded. She went without heat for two months during a winter that included multiple blizzards. She continued to pay rent, she said, but in response her landlord didn’t fix the heater; instead he tried to evict her and her children.  Desperate for help, she was connected with Tara Raghuveer, an area native who had returned after graduating from college with the goal of solving residents’ housing insecurity. “I figured I could either just sit there and be mad about my situation, or I could do something about it,” Granados said.  She was able to fight off the first eviction attempt in court, but the landlord removed her to retake possession of the house. She ended up in a homeless shelter for three months. The loss of her home has left her son suffering from anxiety and trauma.

KC Tenants’ Month Of Activism Broke The System

Daniel Halferty was behind on rent. “When I made a partial payment in October, [my landlord] texted me, berating me.” Halferty had been hunting for a job since April, but with a history of cancer and traumatic brain injury, he was cautious about finding a job that would be fairly safe from COVID-19.  Halferty started his new job at the end of November, and made a payment plan to catch up on past-due rent. That was fine with his landlord, Ellis Real Estate, until Halferty asked to delay just 2 weeks, so he could prevent his utilities from being shut off. Then his landlord stopped communicating. “They just cut out all communication to me, and then Christmas Eve, we had the notice from the lawyer on our door that we were going to be sued for $2,925. They had 30 days to collect the payment and get the apartment back.”

St. Louis Inmates Take Over Units After Weeks Of Complaints

More than 100 inmates at the St. Louis City Justice Center took over two units of the jail early this morning, shattering fourth-floor windows and setting small fires as they called out jubilantly to a crowd of supporters who gathered on the street below. The uprising began around 2:30 a.m., and detainees held control of the units for more than six hours before teams of city sheriff's deputies and police regained custody. For weeks, tensions have been high at the downtown jail. Inmates staged two protests in late December and early January to complain about COVID-19 protocols and other conditions in the facility, where the majority of the city's detainees are now housed.
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