The city should have required living wage on subsidized hotel: Ray Hartmann's piece on the convention-center hotel was right on target ["The Hotel from Hell," RFT, Nov. 29]. It is indeed a classic case of St. Louis city officials' giving away the store. What Hartmann failed to add -- and the Riverfront Times has largely ignored -- is that the same low-road business interests that are driving this deal home and using our mayor and other elected officials as tools are behind efforts to kill the St. Louis living-wage law.
While the living-wage measure passed in the city with 77 percent of the vote and a majority in every city ward, Mayor Clarence Harmon has fronted for business and declared downtown St. Louis a "living-wage-free zone." In Boss Clarence's view of the world, downtown is his plantation, where living-wage and prevailing-wage laws should not apply. The living wage would likely cover about 400 employees of this hotel. For a virulently anti-union hotel operation like Marriott Corp., this would likely mean a $2- to $3-per-hour raise for those 400 workers.
The Living Wage Campaign, led by ACORN and Service Employees Local 880, has long argued that our cash-strapped city needs to ensure that when our elected officials invest public money in private companies, we get a good return on that investment in the form of jobs that at least keep workers off food stamps. The convention-center hotel is a classic example. With a wide variety of tax breaks and public subsidies, St. Louis should at least be able to require jobs that pay a living wage.
Whether the hotel deal will fail is up in the air; what is clear is that we'll be reminding the voters of Harmon's slap in the face as they go to vote in March.
St. Louis Living Wage Campaign
"Talk" About Bad
Yet another new low for the Riverfront Times: The downward spiral of the RFT has never been so pathetically evident as in the recent "Street Talk," which posed the question "How would you dispose of a murdered body?" If you were aiming for entertainment, you missed the mark with this disgusting, degrading, low-minded excuse for journalism. If your intent was humor, God help us all.
I guess murdered bodies are in such cheap abundance these days that droll cynicism is the strongest emotion your interview subjects could muster. I don't feel the loss of human life is "like when you find a dead dog on the street." Even a dead dog deserves better than the responses you chose to publish! Your lack of respect for your readers is appalling -- likewise the columnist's lack of integrity as a writer, editor and human being.
Colleen Kelly Warren
Putting out the unwelcome mat: Last month I purchased a home in Lafayette Square. I had a romantic notion of being friends with the community-conscious people of the neighborhood and being a part of a group of people committed to Our City's future. Boy, have I been disappointed.
I attended the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee meeting mentioned in D.J. Wilson's column ["Those People on the Bus," RFT, Nov. 29]. I left after 15 minutes, appalled at the level of snobbery and short-sightedness. I was fuming over LSRC's commitment to prohibiting school-bus access to Park Avenue as an exchange point. These buses are going to meet somewhere; why not on our wide street conveniently located between interstates? I left feeling that the association was using its might in a manner contradictory to the liberal, hip, urban-renewal-conscious image they try to project.
The LSRC will use its influence to move the exchange point to a neighborhood whose citizens are not as organized and are less affluent. I suspect that if the exchange point is moved to another part of town, its citizens will accept the buses as part of the urban landscape, not as a nuisance or boil on the butt of their Edenlike island in the city but as a part of the deal when you live in an urban setting where lots of other people live.
This elitist view seems to be par for the course for Lafayette Square. On more than one occasion, neighbors thought they were doing me a favor by telling me what is and what is not good form for "the neighborhood." I understand that the setting of and enforced adherence to certain standards is what saved this area from the wrecking ball and helped return it to its original splendor. But the community is a little too fond of itself and has lost sight of itself as a part of a greater whole. Overprotective attitudes and neighborhood nationalism can tarnish this community. If Lafayette Square "deals with our borders" by closing them off, the city at large is the loser. If the good people of Lafayette Square want a gated community where they don't have to look at buses and black people, they can move to St. Charles.