St. Louis

March 31, 2005

Stir Crazy and the ensuing Stream of Consciousness

And in other good news, Stir Crazy of Creve Coeur is now completely non-smoking. I went there for a business lunch today and was pleased to note that.

For the past year, except for business meals where I have no control over these things (yes, I COULD quit my job), I've only eaten in smoke-free restaurants. What an amazingly pleasant experience that's been.

So add one to the list.

St. Louis County has a countywide smoking ban in contemplation right now. That'd certainly open up the places I could go, including the casino that's located in my municipality. I think that'd be a great experiment. A casino with non-toxic air. The single most place that wants you to forget time and where you are and have you continue in your gambling ways for days on end if possible. I'm surprised none of them have experimented with this. Harrah's, the casino in question, of course is fighting the ban tooth and nail. As is my municipality, beneficiary of its tax dollars (to the extreme, let me tell you).

I care. Immensely. There's a public hearing on April the 12th that I plan to attend, work willing. If it doesn't pass, I still have hopes that more and more places will come around to the notion that, hey, the 70+% of America that doesn't smoke really doesn't want to spend its time breathing other people's noxious fumes. Or perhaps an inventor will patent the smoke containment suit. Can't wait.

In other related news, Clayton has opened up a non-smoking jazz bar and restaurant. We are so there...perhaps even this weekend. Check it out - Finale.


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December 04, 2003

Gephardt and Unions

Big stuff here in archland - all that was really on the news on the 6:00 p.m. drive home (with the exception that there are some computer-drawn images of the new St. Louis Cardinals ballpark to be).

A couple of unions request the head of one of Richard Gephardt's campaign managers on a platter. Stat.


    Gerald McEntee and Andrew Stern, presidents of two of the largest AFL-CIO unions, demanded in a sharply worded letter that Gephardt fire Joyce Aboussie, his campaign vice chair, saying she issued an "ultimatum" to their unions during a meeting Monday in St. Louis County that also included Gov. Bob Holden.

    Aboussie suggested that she would take steps to get a key collective bargaining order for state workers rescinded if the two unions tried to help Dean in Missouri, McEntee and Stern said.
Yesterday, on KMOX, there was a short soundbite from Aboussie. The Post-Dispatch quotes it in this article.

    Aboussie issued a statement Wednesday saying her meeting with the AFSCME and SEIU officials was "not authorized" by Gephardt or the campaign. "In a candid discussion of Missouri politics, I expressed my belief that people in Missouri Democratic politics were upset by the SEIU/AFSCME endorsements of Howard Dean," she said. "If anyone felt threatened by what I said, I apologize."
Gephardt's applying the Teflon™ approach.

    A Gephardt campaign spokeswoman, Kim Molstre, said Aboussie would not be fired. But she quickly tried to distance Gephardt from the incident. "Dick knew nothing about this. He did not give authorization for this to happen. And as far as he's concerned . . . when Joyce was in this meeting, she was not speaking as a representative for the Gephardt campaign," Molstre said.
And the meat of the issue.
    McEntee and Stern said Aboussie warned that if they didn't comply, she would send a letter signed by 22 Democratic state legislators calling for the repeal of Holden's executive order giving state employees collective bargaining rights, a longtime public service union goal.
Such infighting! Can't we all just get along?

The Sophorist wrote on this also.


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November 28, 2003

Eurofest 2003

Today's Post-Dispatch has a headline "Musicians unknowingly play for white supremicists."
    When German and Irish musical groups gathered for a folk festival in south St. Louis earlier this month, they were hoping for a night of food and fun. Instead, the unsuspecting musicians found themselves performing at a recruitment rally sponsored by a white supremacist organization that the FBI says presents "a continuing terrorist threat."

    Now, the performers are angry because they had been duped into thinking that Eurofest 2003 was simply an ethnic celebration.

    "We obviously had no idea what this event was before we played, or we wouldn't have performed there," said Matt Pantaleoni, leader of the Invera'an Pipe Band, a local bagpipes group.

    Pantaleoni said that, after the band played, he noticed a few men in the crowd with "White Power" and two lightning bolts - the symbol of the German Nazi Waffen SS - tattooed on their bodies.

    The men were members of the National Alliance, a group that the local Anti-Defamation League office calls "the BMW of neo-Nazi groups." They were among an audience of about 250 on Nov. 8 at the meeting hall of the German Cultural Society, near Jefferson Avenue and South Broadway.
Never heard of 'em, but I'll be watching now. I need some right-wing kooks to mock. Perhaps we can jail them in the same area as the ELF folks when they commit and are caught for wrongdoings.

In other St. Louis news of the "white supremicist" variety, the Riverfront Times castigates Earl Holt III. This is following Arch Pundit's hate mail from said person. Interesting reading (both) if you've got the time.

While, hey, this is America, and you can speak your mind, you an be DAMN sure I'd never take anything coming out of that man's (Holt's) mouth or keyboard seriously. Pure opinion and invective couched in some facts about black people and jail. Lovely. Mr. Holt - are you sure that IQ isn't 129.5 and you're bluffing for effect? I'd hate to think we have something in common beyond *yawn* the color of our skin.


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October 09, 2003

Local Lockout

And in other news, grocery stores in the St. Louis metro area have undergone some unplanned and unexpected staffing changes...temporarily, at least. Here's today's report.

I have a Schnucks near me, and a Dierbergs near work. Milling strikers clutter the parking lot entrances. People honk and the strikers wave.

Unions are foreign to me. I understand the concept, but, in my experience working in Human Resources, the benefits don't go to the little guy - the same "guy" whom unions are purporting to protect.

Custodians for the University of Missouri, Columbia had a pay range with four steps and a "Lead" title that could allow one to achieve a fifth "step." These were non-negotiable (having already been negotated by someone other than the singular custodian, of course). When you'd been with the University x amount of time, you received y pay. Period. End of story. No merit increase, pure seniority.

That bites.

You could clean the toilets twice a day, use fewer cleaning supplies than the other 27 custodians, bring up the mood of others around you, and do twice as good a job as anyone who'd ever worked there. Guess what - doesn't matter.

And that's the problem I have with unions.

Back to the case in point, though - the grocery store lockout. Not many facts about this strike/lockout are available. This is from an article on 10/6/03:

    Union workers who gathered this morning at America's Center voted 4,252 for a strike, 1,670 against the strike. That means 72 percent approved the strike, more than the two-thirds necessary of those voting.
Okay - conditions that caused the vote to be so negative, also in this article:
    Just two weeks ago, union leaders and supermarket officials were working closely to win ratification.

    The four-year pact would give many workers a 75-cent-an-hour raise over three years; baggers would get a 15-cent-an-hour raise during that period. All workers would have gotten a 20-cent-an-hour bonus if the contact had been ratified. They still would receive the bonus if there's no strike, grocery officials have said.

    The contract also would require employees to pay a greater share of their medical costs through new annual deductibles and co-pays on services, such as emergency-room treatment and chiropractic visits.

    The proposal would no longer cover spouses who are offered health insurance at their own workplaces. But workers still would not pay health-care premiums.

    Supermarket executives say they need the concessions to remain competitive with non-union rivals, including Costco Wholesale Corp., Walgreen Co. and particularly discount giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

    For the first time, union leaders used a mail-in ballot on the original vote, a move intended to maximize response and increase the chances for passage, experts say. Both the companies and union officials hoped workers would have time to study the 47-page contract in the privacy of their homes, not in a noisy mass meeting., the site from which I'm taking this information, yesterday held a poll - would you cross the picket line to get your groceries. At the time I voted, it was 51% yes and 49% no.

I was a yes. This thing's gonna last a while.


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September 06, 2003

Thelma and Louise Meet To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

Because no one was injured, this is the local ha-ha of the day.

    Two men in women's clothes held up a credit union employee in north St. Louis County on Friday morning, forced her into the building and got away with an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.

    The robbery happened just before 8 a.m. at Vantage Credit Union, 11654 West Florissant Road. Two men wearing wigs, baggy dresses and aprons - like those worn by hotel housekeepers - were hiding behind a garbage bin, police said. They sprung out on the first employee to arrive for work and forced her inside at gunpoint.

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