By Lindsay Toler
By Chad Garrison
By Brett Koshkin
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Riverfront Times
By Danny Wicentowski
By Pete Kotz
The highway's closed, the Cardinals are rebuilding, the Rams suck and we're still bummed about almost topping the charts in violent crime. Face it, we got problems — among others, toasted ravioli. We need a fix and we need it fast. So, in the final days of 2007, Riverfront Times visited with some three dozen St. Louisans from all demographic walks of life (we even spoke with a butcher, a baker and candlestick maker), and asked them this: "If you could change or improve one thing in St. Louis in 2008, what would it be, and how would you accomplish it?"
Here's what they had to say.
I know that St. Louis is big on its toasted ravioli, and I'm sorry, but I don't think it should exist. I just don't understand toasted ravioli. Ravioli isn't toasted. It's soft and floppy and has a stuffing. One of the stories I've always heard was that someone accidentally knocked a ravioli into a deep-fryer. This to me was not like discovering a vaccine or penicillin. Many ideas are accidents, but they're not always good ideas. Maybe it's my Jersey roots — not that it's necessarily ravioli heaven back there. If I could go back in time, I would keep the perpetrator from knocking it into the vat. There's always the possibility of changing all of human history from that moment forward, but I'd take the chance.
Bill Streeter, creator and producer, Lo-Fi Saint Louis
I would make the city part of St. Louis County again and move the county seat into the city. A lot of people seem to get confused about what exactly making the city part of the county again means, because they often talk about it as if all of the county would become one giant city or something. But all it would really mean is that St. Louis City would just fall under the jurisdiction of the county — the city limits wouldn't move or anything — except maybe in some of the closer unincorporated parts of the county. How would I accomplish this? Largely by a campaign of blatant propaganda and small armed militias. And while I'm dictator of this military junta, I'd bring back streetcars, extend the rail system and enact a moratorium on the destruction of historic buildings and new construction of parking lots. Also, ban all strip malls from the city limits and tear down existing ones to create new parks in their place. Shit, as long as I'm dictator, I might as well ban cigarettes pretty much everywhere.
Paul Ha, director, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
Simple: I would make the completion date of the upcoming closure of Highway 40 much earlier! However, since this is ultimately out of my control, I will instead look at the closure as the improvement itself. Even though this is stressful for many who live and work in St. Louis, it is also the perfect time to lower your blood pressure and "take the long way home" — literally. In your exploration of alternate routes, you are sure to stumble across some of the wonderful, unique outdoor spaces St. Louis has to offer — the Arch grounds, the Botanical Gardens, Tower Grove Park, Forest Park, Crystal Lake Park, Queeny Park — all of which you will pass driving along the outskirts of the interstate. Trust me, after living in New York for years, I quickly found a new appreciation for the nature readily available in St. Louis, just minutes from my everyday route.
Steve Roberts, St. Louis developer and president of The Roberts Companies
Our political leadership has to be more sensitive to the needs of all people, not just a small group. All of the region's problems are connected. For example, our political leadership must work closer with the business leadership. Businesspeople understand that education is connected to employment. If you don't have a work force that is educated, you will not have a very good work force. But in the case of the schools, there are all these political subdivisions. When you approach school boards, their attitude is, "What can you as an outsider do to help us?" instead of asking, "How can you give us resources that can help us improve our student achievement?" When the mayor decides to ignore a large segment of the community he has been elected to serve, to make an appointment that isn't fair, that makes people feel further disenfranchised. We need the political will to embrace avenues of communication between all segments of the population in order to benefit the region.
Sherman George, former St. Louis fire chief
I would like to see the city be one city instead of a divided city. I think we need a chief executive officer who treats the city fairly and has the interests of the entire city at heart and not just his own.
Greg Pusczek, farmer, Natures Way Gardens, Marine, Illinois
As the downtown area continues to fill with new residents, one major issue continues to stand out: The downtown community desperately lacks basic services. This forces people to leave and spend their money elsewhere on books, magazines, prescriptions, cleaning supplies, hardware and many domestic items. It's clearly about time to give service businesses incentive to relocate downtown to begin to meet the growing needs. The city is more than willing to give incentives to large developers and corporations to build or relocate downtown. It should give the same advantages to small businesses to help develop needed services and improve the quality of downtown living.