And the Emmy Goes To. . .

Week of December 12, 2001

The idea of sending people, some of them totally unqualified for any kind of real-estate appraising, driving down the street past houses at 30 mph and saying that satisfied the state requirement for a building inspection is so ludicrous that it deserves no further discussion among reasonable people. The misrepresentations and defiance Gogarty put forth to the County Council certainly didn't help him, either.

Oh, but Gogarty's numbers are right -- the people just naturally resent higher taxes and are only concerned for their self-interests, or so Gogarty apologists say. Wrong again. Gogarty's numbers are not right. There is abundant proof that the computerized system of reassessment through the use of "comparable" properties is deeply flawed. That's why the state law requires a physical inspection on increases of more than 17 percent. This simply was not done.

In short, how much egg on his face does a boss like Buzz Westfall have to take before he can dismiss an arrogant, know-it-all subordinate without being accused of "deflecting political fallout"?
Dan Stevens
University City

Develop or Die
Racing to the bottom: Just about a mile from the site proposed by Maplewood for the new hardware store is a perfectly good unused big-box hardware building [Safir Ahmed, " Selling Out," Nov. 28]. It is on Manchester Avenue in the St. Louis Marketplace. One would think that, absent public subsidy, moving into an existing building would be cheaper than a new building. With this suitable alternative already standing nearby, a new building that requires the razing of people's houses seems downright profligate. The problem, of course, is that the existing empty store is in a different city -- St. Louis. Opening a business in St. Louis won't do much for Maplewood. But it would be better for the region as a whole to use the resources that we already have.

Wasteful land-use policy is the inevitable result of dividing up the metropolitan area into 230 different cities. The competition among cities results in a race to the bottom for too many of them. The proposed Maplewood development is yet another example of how the political structure of the metropolitan area does not serve its citizens well.
Richard V. Gilpin
St. Louis

Why destroy housing? We already are short on decent affordable housing, both in the St. Louis area and nationwide. But we have plenty of commercial development. Would these people do this development if they did not receive tax breaks? Why is government subsidizing a business that will need to destroy housing to make room for itself?
Robert McFall
Shrewsbury

A necessary tool: Maplewood is not selling out. It is trying to move forward. It is regrettable that some residents will have to move. Yet the Hanley and Eager roads area has been a boom for Richmond Heights and Brentwood. Maplewood deserves the same experience. Tax credits have been debated, [but] Maplewood should not have to wait for laws to be changed. Many St. Louis city projects would not have seen the light of day without these tax credits. It's a necessary tool. If you go north of University City and look at the suburb ring beyond Wellston, Hillsdale, Pine Lawn and Jennings, [you'll find] these cities are struggling. Cities like Richmond Heights and Shrewsbury that develop, prosper.
Kevin Kelly
via the Internet

What It Is
Just plain stupid: Thanks for honestly describing the WB11 story about sex in public places for what it really was: sensationalistic, worthless and just plain stupid [D.J. Wilson, " Sex, Guys and Videotape," Nov. 21].
Ken Konchel
St. Louis

A Fitting Remembrance
One of the best: Thank you for writing such a fitting memorial to Julie Lobbia [Ray Hartmann, " J.A. Lobbia: A Tribute," Nov. 28]. We worked together at the Village Voice for a couple of years, and the one thing I remember most vividly about her is her sense of humor, her kindness and that bike she always wheeled around the office! Thanks so much for your spot-on read of one of the best people I've ever had the privilege to call a friend. If she's haunting you now, I'm sure she's cracking jokes the entire time.
Athima Chansanchai
Baltimore, Md.

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