Green Light for Obama Boulevard

Barack Obama has not had his finest week, what with having to weather the political stink smelling up Illinois -- not to mention learning that its madcap governor recently called him a "motherfucker."

But perhaps that radiant trademark smile of his will return today when the president-elect -- who barely lost Missouri, though capturing more than 80 percent of the city's vote -- learns that Delmar Boulevard (at the least the portion running through St. Louis city limits) may soon be known as "Barack Obama Boulevard."

Earlier today, the city's Streets Committee approved of the symbolic demarcation, paving the way for a vote Friday before the Board of Alderman, who are expected to give their blessing to what is a purely ceremonial designation.

"This is not about Barack Obama. This is about America," proclaimed Street Committee chairman, Alderman Freeman Bosely Sr. Noting that the street itself has long served as a dividing line between the city's black and white community, Bosely added, "When I was a kid, there wasn't anyone that looked like me south of Delmar."

First-term Alderman Kacie Starr Triplett introduced the measure to honor Obama earlier this month.

Since then, committe members say they've been deluged with e-mail and phones -- most of it critical -- from constituents saying, in effect, that the effort is premature and to holdoff until he's accomplished something.

"I didn't expect to be some controversial," said Triplett, an early supporter of Obama. "But I think he has already accomplished a great deal."

"I'm going to pass on it," said 9th Ward Alderman Ken Ortmann. "I think it's better if we waited."

If enacted, signs will be erected at six intersections on Delmar, from Tucker Boulevard downtown to Skinker Boulevard, close to city limits. On maps and official documents, the street name will remain Delmar.

Moments before the measure cleared the Streets Committee, Bosely boomed, "I don't see this has a racial matter. I see it was as a flower being pinned on all Americans."

- Ellis E. Conklin

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