Not Such E-Z Terms for the E-Z Hotel

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen have passed a bill funding the new convention-center hotel, but many of the lawmakers aren't very happy with their handiwork; plus, other St. Louis follies and foibles

One of the political cognoscenti lining the walls at Friday's meeting later admitted that the deal is scary, depending far too heavily on public financing: "Who's gonna be the first one to say this is a bad deal? Whoever it is, there'll be a stampede behind him. But one thing's for sure -- it won't be the mayor. He needs this thing to happen." No one, aside from Ald. Sharon Tyus (D-20th) and Ald. Freeman Bosley Sr. (D-3rd), had the verve to speak out against the new financing package, because such an affront might be construed as civic blasphemy.

Both Slay and Ald. Fred Wessels (D-13th) used the "not one more dime" line. Wessels, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Committee, said he "reluctantly voted" for the hotel. "There's not going to be any more money for this," he says. "I don't care how much the construction costs go through the roof -- they better find the money somewhere else. I just want to emphasize that, because a lot of people here feel the same way. So this is it."

A PARTY BY ANY OTHER NAME MIGHT NOT BE AS GREEN: Tired of the same old candidates? Distressed that, come November, the choice will be, as George Wallace used to say, between Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum? (Or, in the case of Pat Buchanan, Tweedle-Dumber?) Well, show up at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 2, at the Gateway Greens headquarters, 6101 Delmar Blvd., one block east of Skinker Boulevard. That's when the Missouri version of the Green Party will hold its nominating convention.

In 1996, the Green Party's candidate on 22 state ballots was consumer activist Ralph Nader. This year, Nader is one of four candidates competing for the Green nomination. Also in the race are Jello Biafra, former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys; Stephen Gaskin, founder of the Farm, a 30-year-old cooperative community in Summertown, Tenn.; and Joel Kovel, an author and professor at Bard College in New York.

Four years ago, the petition-gathering process didn't start until May, and the effort to get Nader's name on the ballot in Missouri was several thousand signatures short as of the mid-July deadline. The goal for this election is to get about 15,000 signatures, exceeding the 10,000 required by Missouri. "We want to get started right after the nominating convention," says Don Fitz of the Gateway Greens. "We have much more organization now. There'll be a lot more people working on it."

The monklike Nader says that in his previous national attempt, he spent less than $5,000 of his own money and won about 1 percent of the national vote. This time, he says, he'll get together enough funds to pay campaign workers but will not "spend a nickel" on polling, consulting firms or television ads. In his campaign announcement, Nader says that "the unconstrained behavior of big business is subordinating our democracy to the control of a corporate plutocracy" and that there were "astonishing shortcomings during a period of touted prosperity." If only Ralph could be in one of those prime-time debates. That's something the apparent heirs, Al and George, would never let happen. The mere thought must make their palms sweat.

The Green Party has about 80 official members in the area. The storefront scheduled for the local convention can accommodate about 100 people, Fitz says. For more info, call 721-3192.

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