The Big Mad: St. Louis' Half Solutions, Gov. Parson's 'Success' and Garza's Farewell

Another St. Louis problem shelved.
Another St. Louis problem shelved. DOYLE MURPHY

Welcome back to the Big Mad, the RFT's weekly roundup of righteous rage! Because we know your time is short and your anger is hot:

Mission Avoided: It would seem that nobody told the Delta variant, which is currently ripping through the southwest portion of the state at a rate so alarming that we're now making national news for our ever-increasing rates of infection and hospitalization, but Missouri is doing a really great job with COVID-19, actually — or at least that's the way our dumb governor sees it. This past week, Governor Mike Parson spoke out forcefully against the implementation of federal vaccine outreach efforts, saying the state "is not in crisis mode," even as Missouri has risen to the second-highest number of new cases per capita, according to the New York Times, and some of the lowest rates of vaccination in the entire nation. "I think we've took every action we could possibly take in the state of Missouri to prevent this," Parson told reporters last week, as he attempted to justify his decision to not take further action to prevent it. It's a continuation of the do-nothing approach to a deadly pandemic that has become Parson's calling card over the past year and a half, the latest in a series of inactions that includes no statewide mask mandates; a disastrous vaccine rollout that saw Missourians driving across the state to get their shots; a discontinuation of enhanced unemployment benefits meant to keep people from spreading the virus and even the signing of HB 271, limiting the ability of local health departments to implement orders protecting public health during a crisis. In a way, you've got to hand it to the guy — not for his COVID response, of course, but for the fact that though he may be utterly useless, he's at least consistent.

Garza Going Away: Dr. Alex Garza, who has led the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force through the COVID-19 pandemic, is about to start a different job. Garza has been a calming figure through all of this, offering sage advice and presenting scientific information in his frequent video briefings in a way that we can all understand. For the past year and a half, he's been our own local version of Dr. Fauci, but now we're going to have to get by without him. Garza will soon be stepping away from the task force because he's in the U.S. Army Reserve and he's starting a four-month deployment to Kuwait. He's "going from one crisis to another," as he described it on St. Louis Public Radio. That this American hero might return to us months from now to face what St. Louis County Executive Sam Page recently described as a "tidal wave" of COVID-19 headed for unvaccinated Missourians is beyond infuriating. Protect our troops. Protect your parents. Protect your children. Get the shot.

Taste of Summer: Panera, the artist formerly known as St. Louis Bread Company, has won our thicc hearts with its inflatable bread bowl pool float, a triumph of brand marketing that satisfies our need to float decadently during the Missouri summer while — bonus! — getting as humanely close to bread as possible. But it also lent buoyancy to our outrage that no other St. Louis food brands have seen fit to turn their products into summer accessories. Old Vienna — where is our Red Hot Riplets tanning lotion? And Imo's, if we're not catching waves on a sticky square surfboard before the end of summer, we might start looking at other, thiccer-crusted pizzas. It's bread bowl summer, ya'll. Step up.

Problem Shelved: St. Louis loves a half-assed solution to a problem. Maybe the best example is its roadwork, or its policing. And when you combine roadwork and policing, you get ... no, not a whole-ass solution. C'mon, you get more fuckery. Witness the problem with drag racing through downtown during those early, empty-street days of the pandemic. There was some legit craziness going on: Cars, motorcycles and quads burning up the roads (and sidewalks), leading to the kind of obliterated-vehicle crashes you usually only see on the highway. People blazing away with guns. A seventeen-year-old girl was killed in one of the crashes. So St. Louis puts in a bunch of concrete barriers to choke off the racetrack. And it helped some, but this is the part of the problem-solving process that seems to freeze city leaders. Instead of using quick fixes as something to buy a little time while they put real solutions in place, they move on. That's why we're still driving around barricades almost a year later and circling Kiener Plaza, looking for somewhere that doesn't have "temporary" concrete walls blocking off all the parking. Solid work, everyone.

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