Tag Archives: Amato

Arnold Streetlights: What Effect?

8 Jul

The Arnold City Council has adopted the trend of giving its ordinances and resolutions cutesy names. Usually, the bills are named after regime-friendly council members in order to advance their political careers. But sometimes the names tell us what the bill will supposedly do, kind of like how Obamacare is called the “Affordable Care Act.” But the claim attached to one recent Arnold resolution is speculative at best.

Arnold’s main bad-idea man, councilman Phil Amato, proposed a street light program by which the city would pay half the cost for subdivisions to install streetlights. Amato called this the “Crime Fighting Street Light Program.” He stated that “more light means less crime.” While this is a common assumption, the facts do not appear to support it. The effects of streetlights on crime are no better than mixed:

According to a 2007 systematic review of lighting experiments in American cities, increased street lighting in Indianapolis, Harrisburg, New Orleans, and Portland, Oregon, did not coincide with a drop in the affected areas’ crime rates, but it did in Atlanta, Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Fort Worth. Yet even in U.S. cities where lights “worked,” they didn’t appear to work consistently: While Fort Worth saw a decrease in all types of crime, Kansas City saw a decrease only in violent crime.

Why would this be?

[S]ome research indicates that an increase in number and brightness of streetlights actually increases the occurrence of crime, noting that street lighting allows perpetrators to monitor their own actions without the use of flashlights or other lighting devices that would make them visible to others. A case has also been made that offenders need lighting to detect potential targets and low-risk situations

Here are some more citations that show mixed or negative effects of new streetlights on crime.

Why oppose this street light program? After all, it may make people feel better. But what about light pollution? Some people like to be able to look up at the stars at night. Streetlights make it difficult to see anything up there.

But more importantly, homes all over Arnold are plagued by storm water problems, as this rainy summer has underlined. But rather than address these issues, the Arnold council spends money on frivolities. Two councilmen, Brian McArthur and Gary Plunk, voted against the street light program for this reason. From the June 25 Leader:

Both said they would like to see more streetlights in the older subdivisions, but they don’t think the city can afford the program right now. They said it would be better for the city to spend any extra money it has on solving longstanding stormwater problems before taking on streetlights.

Good for them. Unfortunately, the council majority has other things to worry about.


A Ray of Hope for Arnold Red-Light Camera Opponents?

11 Mar

In a previous post, I wrote about the dearth of good candidates in the upcoming Arnold City Council elections. I dismissed one of the challengers, Mike Evans, who is taking on Paul Freese. But I was wrong to do so, for he is against red light cameras.

That is correct. He says:

I am strongly opposed to red-light cameras and will make removing them from the city’s streets a top priority.

This is reason enough to vote for him, even if he agrees with Freese on everything else, although I can’t imagine he holds the enthusiasm for “free” trash that Freese does.

Having said this, let me advance a red-light camera scenario. Let’s say Evans wins this race, and Michelle Hohmeier manages to knock off Jeff Fitter. These two, along with incumbent Doris Borgelt, would be three votes against the cameras. I assume that, deep down, incumbent Phil Amato loves the cameras, but I also think he wants to run for mayor (or another office, but my guess is for mayor. He ran for, and lost, a race for mayor in 2009.). Recently, Amato voted against allowing the possibility of using eminent domain for road access to the planned CVS development, stating that he supported eminent domain for the Arnold Commons project and got heavily criticized for it (ignoring the distinction between using eminent domain for private developers vs. the public good). He also ran for Jefferson County Council in 2010 as a self-described conservative, despite his past record. This suggests he is willing to change his positions for political expediency.

So imagine a proposal is made after the election to remove the cameras, and Amato joins the anti-camera group? That would create a 4-4 tie, if all members are present. And what if Mayor Counts breaks the tie with a negative vote (I’m not sure he would, but stick with me here). This would be enough to have the cameras taken down.

Long shot maybe, but we can hope.

Assessment of the Impact of the Local Tea Party

24 Feb

The Jefferson County Tea Party is going through a leadership transition, as Ken Horton has stepped down to run for Jefferson County Treasurer. Steve Farmer will take the reins. At this time, I think it is worthwhile to take a look at the impact JCTP has had locally.

It is hard to separate the impact of JCTP from the impact of the national political climate. In 2010, the GOP had an historic election in the county, seizing the county executive seat and 6/7 of the county council (the only Democrat to win a seat ran unopposed). In addition, Ed Martin beat Russ Carnahan handily in the county voting for the 3rd Congressional District, although Carnahan squeaked out a win overall. But how much of this vote was due to Tea Party efforts? They had a rally in Arnold that was well-attended, and it’s possible that the movement helped recruit some council candidates, but I think it’s hard to say the JCTP had a major impact.

I think a place the organization could have had a big impact, but didn’t, was in the 2011 Arnold city council elections. Prior to that election, the council was divided between two common-sense councilmen, Bob Lindsley and Jason Connell, and six big government cronies. Connell did not run for re-election. The Tea Party put forth two candidates, Michelle Hohmeier and Stan Willis (I’d argue that Doris Borgelt, while connected to the Tea Party, came to the race on her own). The former was not a good candidate. She was rather new to the area, and ran a campaign heavy on vague Constitution talk that, while noble, is not really suited for nuts-and-bolts local races. In the end, she still only lost by 20 votes to her flawed, incumbent opponent, Bill Moritz. A better candidate would have won that race.

As for Willis, he foolishly (in my mind) ran more or less as a 3rd-party candidate, drawing votes from Lindsley, who may be a Democrat but was a force against foolishness on the council. This allowed self-aggrandizer and crony extraordinaire Phil Amato to swoop in and take the seat. So a bad 6-2 situation turned into a worse 7-1 situation.

To make matters worse, here in 2012, only 2 of the 4 incumbents have challengers. One of the challengers, alas, is Hohmeier. The other is Mike Evans, who dropped out of a legislature race in order to hand the nomination to Jeff Roorda. This suggests he likely won’t rock the boat much if elected (he would, however, remove the council’s thinnest-skinned whiner, Paul Freese). It is especially lamentable that no candidate was found to take on the execrable, in-over-her-head Cricky Lang. She could have been, and should have been, defeated.

You could argue that the 2011 election results in Arnold suggest people there don’t mind the group of miscreants they elected in Arnold. But considering that, as I recall, Horton stood up at a council meeting once and vowed to fight to remove incumbent council members from office, not enough effort was made to change the makeup of the council.

This election season will tell if 2010 was an anomaly or a harbinger of a shift in county political leanings. It will also tell if JCTP can have a demonstrable effect on local elections. If it wants to, it will have to step up its game.

The Empire Strikes Back

20 Feb

Democrats in Jefferson County were not happy with the 2010 election. Jefferson County is owned by the Democrats, but voters had the temerity to turn a bunch of them out of office and elect Republicans to replace them (it is clear from its coverage that the Jefferson County Leader is quite upset with the idea of a GOP-dominated County Council).

In 2012, at least one spurned politician will be trying to reclaim his rightful place in office. I refer to Jeff Roorda, former State Representative from the 102nd District who was defeated by Paul Wieland. Jeff Roorda is recently most famous for a bit of an altercation he had on the House floor in March 2010. In the wake of redistricting, he will be running in the 113rd District. He was going to run for State Senate in 2014, but he changed his mind (at least for now; he’ll probably still make that run when the time comes).

His path to the general election has quickly been cleared like a running lane for Rams’ running back Steven Jackson (oh, wait, bad example). His two potential challengers dropped out as soon as he announced. It is especially surprising that one challenger, Charles Huey, dropped out. That guy, a 27-year-old alleged political consultant, has been running for office left and right (literally) since at least 2010. He was a Tea Party Republican running for state legislature in 2010, then he was a Democrat and Phil Amato crony running for Health Department board or something in 2011, and as for 2012, who knows now? [ed. – Windsor School Board and Rock Ambulance Board] He really wants to be elected to something. But I digress.

I suspect it was Roorda’s connections that prompted the other candidates to drop out. The same connections that got Roorda not one, but two, offers for cushy placeholder jobs while he waited for election season to roll around. The first was “special assistant to the director of public safety” and the second was a newly-created business manager position with the St. Louis Police Officers Association.

Yeah, Roorda used to be a cop. He got fired from the Arnold PD in 2001 for some poor conduct, namely filing a report with false statements to cover a colleague, for one. Then he tried to take sick leave for his wife’s childbirth, was rejected, then alleged that his chief verbally abused and intimidated him via an Allegation of Employee Misconduct Report. Then he sued the city (all these details can be found here). Secret recordings were involved, too.

Roorda isn’t terribly liberal. He got a “C” grade from the Jefferson County Tea Party in 2010, and he talks a good moderate game. But shenanigans seem to follow him wherever he goes (even at his current job), which I think it would be best if he kept, instead of rejoining the legislature.

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