Franklin County Democrats

The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

Browsing Posts published in October, 2011

On Thursday, October 27th the St. Louis County Economic Council released Jobs For The Future, St. Louis Regional Economic Adjustment Strategic Plan – Impact of Closure of Fenton Chrysler Plant.  with a presentation at Washington University. 

This report focused on the economic, fiscal, and real estate impacts on the 16 county St. Louis Metro Area.  Recommendations for future growth are also offered.  This study is an interesting and surprising read but I wanted to relay some of the information that caught my eye.

According to economist Chris Brewer, the Chrysler closure was ” a defining moment for this region.” 

  • Since 1997, the region has lost nearly 20.000 direct automotive jobs, severly limiting the biggest industrial sector in the area.  The Chrysler closure, including both indirect and direct jobs, accounted for over 43,000 lost jobs.
  • Since the closure and recession 25,000 fewer vehicles pass in front of the Chrysler site than in 2007 – a testament to the diminished economy.
  • Although manufacturing employment is a modest share of tltal Regional employment, output per worker is more than five times greater than in the services sector.  Higher output per worker is driven by greater integration with suppliers and supply chains, with each step adding value to the manufacturing process.

Most importantly, and a point with direct ties to a local issue:

One of the recommendations for future growth was – “to explore how the Region’s available supply of fresh water and considerable logistical connections can be used to grow a more vertically integrated food processing sector.”

Did the Franklin County Commissioners just vote to endanger our water supply, drinking water, and the very liquid asset that will be needed for this area’s economy to grow and prosper?

I’d gone down to OccupySTL on Saturday to listen to an a cappella women’s church choir called Inner Voices and to see how the encampment was getting on after a month. I ended up sitting in on an OccupySTL working group. I keep hearing how the protesters are just a bunch of disorganized, unemployed, 20-somethings with nothing better to do, but that’s not ever been my experience. The crowd has always been much more diverse and much more complicated than that.

What I see when I go down to OccupySTL is America. Not the sanitized version we are fed on the TV machine, but the good, the bad and the ugly version. We are a mixed bag of youthful idealism, of aging middle-class hope, of disenfranchised rage, and of untreated mental illness, literally surrounded by gleaming towers of unimaginable corporate wealth, power and privilege. For me, Kiener Plaza has become a metaphor for our nation state.

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The Pontifical Council for Justice has proposed an economic plan that features a transaction tax on speculators in order to discourage the kind of financial shenanigans that brought on this Great Recession.

The Catholic Church has for many years raised objections to the patterns of globalization, concentration of wealth and economic equality that have encouraged the massive redistribution of wealth upward that has made the rich richer, the poor poorer and the middle class more vulnerable than at any time in generations.

And, now, as the Occupy Wall Street movement raises the issue of economic inequality, the church is stepping up with a proposal to begin to address the extreme injustice of a system that taxes working people for necessities but allows speculators to avoid even the most basic responsibilities.

On the eve of the G-20 leaders, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has endorsed a series of reforms to the global economic financial and monetary systems that features as its centerpiece the development of a financial transactions tax.

Click here to view the beautiful Labadie Bottoms in Franklin County. Take a good look because soon Ameren will be destroying this floodplain, alive with wetlands critters, birds, and the magic of nature’s cleansing power.

On Tuesday, three county  commissioners decided to change the planning and zoning regulations to allow a toxic coal ash dump in the Missouri River floodplain. This has been a two-year struggle by well-informed, educated, powerfully professional citizens to stop an incredibly stupid plan by Ameren Missouri.

Ameren is a “power” company in more ways than one. They have absolutely no good arguments for what they want to do.  It’s just the cheapest (for them) and easiest solution to their waste disposal problem. They lied about having done a five-year study looking at alternative sites. When forced to produce such a study, they fumbled all over themselves with excuses. There was no study of alternative sites, and when local citizens gave them suggestions for alternative uses for the coal ash, they didn’t even bother to follow up on those ideas. Neither did the commissioners.

The fix was in from the beginning. (And I include the one “no” vote because that commissioner did nothing publicly to change the outcome. Ann Schroeder passively voted “yes” by her silence.)

By completing the installation of over 8,000 solar panes at Washington Redskins FedEx field members of IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Local 26 are helping to keep 1,780 metric tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.

In less than three months, the crew of over 100 Local 26 workers installed over 8,000 solar panels at FedEx Field, connected by over 19 miles of new wiring. Beyond the solar panels above the parking lot and affixed to the side of the stadium, more solar power is captured by the solar sculpture of a football player—affectionately dubbed “solar man” by the Local 26 crew—that can be seen outside one of the stadium’s main entrances. The solar panels create enough energy to meet all of the stadium’s power needs on non-game days, and about 20 percent of the stadium’s power during a game, keeping 1,780 metric tons of carbon out of the atmosphere while keeping the lights shining bright on the Redskins.

Think of all the jobs created, especially with American made solar panels and the productive capacity and knowledge developed with projects like this.  Will we ever see solar panels on the Edward Jones Dome?  Surely, they could block more carbon than the O-line is blocking blitzers!

This is just heartbreaking …

At 90,000 square feet, the Siegels’ Versailles is believed to be the largest private home in America. (The Vanderbilt family’s Biltmore house in North Carolina is bigger at 135,000 square feet, but it’s now a hotel and tourist attraction). The Siegels’ home is so big that they bought 10 Segways to get around—one for each of their eight children.

After touring the house, Ms. Siegel walks out to the deck, with its Olympic-size pool, future rock grotto, three hot tubs and 80-foot waterfall overlooking Lake Butler. Her eyes well up with tears.

Versailles was supposed to be done by now. The Siegels were supposed to be living their dream life—throwing charity balls and getting spa treatments downstairs after a long flight on their Gulfstream [...]

Yet today, Versailles sits half-finished and up for sale. The privately owned Westgate Resorts was battered by the 2008 credit crunch and real-estate crash. It had about $1 billion in debt—much of it co-signed by the Siegels.

The banks that had loans on Versailles gave the Siegels an ultimatum: Either pay off the loans or sell the house. So it’s now on the market for $75 million, or $100 million if the buyer wants it finished.

As she stands on her deck in the Florida sun, Ms. Siegel wipes away her tears. “Maybe it will still work out,” she says. “It always does, right?”

Well, not always.

Today, Governor Jay Nixon joined the Ford Motor Company and the UAW at a special event to announce a $1.1 billion investment in the Kansas City Assembly Plant and the addition of 1,600 new jobs at the facility.   For those keeping score that makes four automotive plants that have started or expanded operations in the last two years – Smith Electric, Emerald Automotive, General Motors-Wentzville, and Ford – Kansas City.

According to Senator Rob Mayer, President of the Missouri Senate, this would never happen without Right-to-Work for less legislation.

Mayer said Missouri has had trouble competing for new automobile manufacturing plants because of the right-to-work issue. He noted that all states that border Missouri, except for Illinois and Kentucky, have such laws.

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Well known climate change skeptic, Anthony Watts, endorsed a new climate study back in March, saying …

I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong. I’m taking this bold step because the method has promise. So let’s not pay attention to the little yippers who want to tear it down before they even see the results. I haven’t seen the global result, nobody has, not even the home team, but the method isn’t the madness that we’ve seen from NOAA, NCDC, GISS, and CRU …

But now that the study’s results are being made public and are statistically identical with those produced at NOAA, NASA, CRU, well …

I consider the paper fatally flawed as it now stands, and thus I recommend it be removed from publication consideration by JGR until such time that it can be reworked.

Imagine the possibilities …

I never thought I’d be thanking Republican pollster and political consultant, Frank Luntz, whose carefully crafted words and phrases have been the bane of Democrats for decades. But back in March when the GOP was calling for President Obama’s impeachment for providing air support to Libyan rebels in their fight against leader Moammar Gadhafi, Luntz had this to say

It’s a genuine test of foreign policy leadership. And this time, whatever happens can’t be blamed on his predecessor. Short-term, his base voters won’t be happy to see the US engaged in now a third conflict when they are strongly opposed to the other two. But in the long term, if this leads to Gaddafi being removed, he will score real political points among independents and swing voters. Basically, it’s a high-risk, high-reward strategy… I can imagine the line that opens the presidential debate on foreign policy: ‘Six presidents have talked about getting rid of Gaddafi. Six presidents talked. One president acted.’

“Six presidents talked. One president acted.” Behold the Schadenfreude.

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