For instance, this morning the Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a bill tightening the regulations of the scrap metal trade. Board Bill #86 would require scrap metal dealers to enter into an electronic database the personal information of the seller and prohibit scrap metal transactions between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The dealers have to install their electronic database by July 1, 2012.
The bill also specifically seeks to hinder air conditioner and copper thieves: It would prohibit scrap metal dealers from paying cash to a person who sells them copper or air conditioner parts unless the person presents a valid business license or copper property peddler's license; checks for the deals with unlicensed sellers must be mailed to the address on the seller's driver's license or other picture identification.
The belief is that people desperate for quick and easy cash-- often drug addicts-- turn to scrap metal stealing and selling because it is convenient. Make it harder to get that money, make it harder to remain anonymous, proponents say, and those people will be less likely to steal metals like copper spouts and air conditioning coils, which has been a serious issue in the city.
Sixteenth Ward Alderwoman Donna Baringer, the bill's sponsor, met with both law enforcement and scrap metal dealers over the past couple of months. The dealers were concerned that the added regulations will drive many of their customers to the county or across the river, where they would still be able to get cash and wouldn't have to go through so many hoops.
Accordingly, Baringer declared that she has been working with council members from surrounding regions to try to get them to pass the same bill. If the regulations are equal for everyone in the region, then the new rules don't create a competitive disadvantage for anyone. She argued that, by passing this bill, St. Louis City would be setting the standard for the rest of the region to follow.
"All the residents in this region -- in Cardinals Nation -- are affected by this," she said.
Several aldermen praised the bill then asserted that the next step for the city is to address the brick stealing, which has also been a serious problem.
First Ward Alderman Charles Troupe, meanwhile, wondered aloud why it took so long for a scrap metal bill to emerge.
"This bill is about 30 years late," he said. "Had it been passed 30 years ago, north St. Louis would still be standing."
But enough of these trivial matters. Game starts in a few hours.