Sunday, October 18, 2009

Police Incident Reports, Soulard, Oct. 11 - 18

Incident reports for Soulard from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department - as recorded on an official department website at - for the seven day
period of Sunday, Oct. 11 through Sunday, Oct.18 include:

2 theft: 900 block of Lafayette, reported at 10:35 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11; 2300 block of S. 13th, reported at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11.

2 stolen autos: 1200 block of Sidney, reported at 11:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 16; 2500 block of S. 18th, reported at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

1 peace disturbance: 2300 block of S. 10th, reported at 2:45 a.m. of Sunday, Oct. 11.

93 service calls, including accidents (7), assault (2), disturbance (8), indecent act, prowler attempting entry, etc.

Interestingly, this blog received an anonymous posting regarding the murder/suicide, first brought to our attention by Cynthia Harrison, chairman of the Soulard Special Business District during a SSBD forum, held Sept. 30, 2009 and mentioned in the last two incident reports.

The posting simply said: "There was no murder/suicide. The swat team did show for a drug bust at a home which turned out not to have any drugs. Who knows where murder/suicide started!"

Another item brought up at the Sept. 30 forum was that the SSBD was going to start a web site in order to reduce neighborhood rumors, especially those involving crime. At the same meeting, they contribute to the rumors, if the anonymous posting is to be believed.

We are sort of at a loss for words. What kind of people have been appointed by the mayor to be in charge of spending approximately $282,000 in special tax funds? Are they incompetent? Do they have any concept of what they are supposed to do?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baetje Farms Wins the Gold for Remarkable Cheese

Baetje Farms LLC has received gold award recognition for their Coeur de la Creme Three Pepper Blend of goat cheese after judging in October by the United Kingdom’s Guild of Fine Food. Called the World Cheese Awards, the judging was held in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, only the second time the awards have been held outside Britain in their 21 year history.

In addition, Baetje Farms won bronze for their Coeur de la Creme Bavarian Lemon Creme, as well as for their Coeur de la Creme Garlic and Chives. These and other flavors of their pure farmstead artisan cheese are available at the Soulard Farmers’ Market, Fridays from 8 a.m. until 1, Saturdays from 7 a.m. until 1, brought to you by Steve and Veronica Baetje and their staff.

The World Cheese Awards judging attracted 2,440 entries from 34 countries. Judges came from 24 countries, including Mexico, South Africa, Japan and Australia and 140 cheeses from around the world were awarded with gold by the international jury. For additional information about the judging, visit

Steve and Veronica produce their goat cheese products fresh with milk from their own herd of registered Saanen dairy goats.

Fed on an all natural diet of whole grain ration, locally grown alfalfa hay and browse pasture, weather permitting, the goats also receive an unlimited supply of filtered spring water. The cheeses are made by hand, using old world cheesemaking techniques coupled with high standards of quality and precision.

Steve and Veronica Baetje have been working with goats for over 10 years and have been licensed to produce cheese for retail sale since Sept. 2007. Veronica has completed the Advanced Cheesemaking course from the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese through the University of Vermont in Burlington, where experts are brought in from around the globe to give hands-on experience and to further the craft of artisan cheese here in the United States. Baetje Farms boasts a state of the art plant, built with the guidance and direction of Neville McNaughten with Cheezsorce.

Madame Chouteau, who loves the Baetje products, congratulates Veronica and Steve for awards well-deserved, and reminds area cheese enthusiasts of how lucky we are to have their outstanding products available at the Soulard Farmers’ Market.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Police Incident Reports, Soulard, Oct. 4 - Oct. 11

Incident reports for Soulard from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department - as recorded on an official department website at - for the seven day
period of Sunday, Oct. 4 through Sunday, Oct.11 include:

1 serious assault: 900 block of Barton, reported at 12:36 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10.

1 burglary: 2300 block of S. 7th, reported at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

4 theft: on Tuesday, Oct 6: 800 block of Soulard (7 p.m.), S. 13th and Russell (5:40 p.m.), 900 block of Wyoming (3 p.m.), and 1500 block of S. 7th, reported at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10.

2 stolen auto: 1000 block of Ann, reported at 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, 2600 block of S. 13th, reported at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9.

1 minor assault: 3300 block of S. 7th, reported at 5:50 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9.

1 weapons: Gravois and Russell, reported at 8:50 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4.

1 peace disturbance: 800 block of Allen, reported at 12:14 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10.

171 service calls, including accident (23), assault (2), assist motorist (16), attempt larceny, attempt suicide, cutting, destruction of property, disturbance (15), flourishing, shots fired (3), supposed sudden death.

Madame Chouteau has been unable to obtain any more information on a murder/suicide, rumored to have occurred in Soulard and mentioned last week. The only conclusion that can be reached is that major crimes are not reported in the incident reports of the above mentioned web site, possibly so the customers of the many bars in Soulard are not concerned about crime.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Our Special Oktoberfest Festival

The Oktoberfest event has again landed on Soulard, another commercial exploitation of this historic district by private interests. Striving mightily to pretend that it is a neighborhood event, instead of a private, money-making activity, Oktoberfest further degrades the quality of residential life, distracting attention from growth and improvement, focusing on a party.

At the Soulard Special Business District forum, held on Sept. 30, a question was raised regarding security during Oktoberfest. It was interesting to listen to Alderwoman Phyllis Young during the ensuing discussion. She assured those attending that the responsible organization - Soulard Oktoberfest Benevolent Association - had assumed full responsibility for security.

She also said that the so-called festival will no longer be held in Soulard after this year. "They have promised this is the last year," she said, ignoring the fact that the organizers promised the same thing last year. She could have made the point that the organizers will say (and promise) anything to continue the event in Soulard.

Finally, she added that Oktoberfest was growing in popularity, and any who "did not like this event in their neighborhood should make their voices heard." She neglected to say to whom comments should be directed. Perhaps Santa Claus? The Easter Bunny?

St. Louis Post-Dispatch readers will recall that Alderwoman Young seems not to be a fan of Oktoberfest, possibly because she doesn’t want another over-the-top commercial event added to her legacy. She has good cause for embarrassment.

The Soulard Mardi Gras has grown to its present state of disorder as a public drunk during her reign as alderwoman. It gets a free pass from the City of St. Louis because our wise City Fathers are so desperate for revenue, no matter what the cost to a city neighborhood, no matter how disgraceful the event.

SMG has changed the tone of the entire neighborhood, transforming the culture from neighborhood growth and improvement to "let’s have a party." Thus, it gets a free pass from the Soulard Restoration Group, an organization now devoted to drinking. Their glib motto is: "If you don’t like Soulard Mardi Gras, then it’s time to move." And many otherwise contributing people have done this.

Anyway, after some skirmishing in the pages of the Post-Dispatch, Alderwoman Young wrote a letter - on Board of Aldermen stationary - on May 30, 2009 to Mr. Victor Wendl, President, Soulard Oktoberfest Benevolent Association, 7321 S. Lindbergh, Suite 208, St. Louis, MO 63125.

The letter pretty well catalogues the impact of Oktoberfest and reads as follows:

"I have reviewed the plan of action that you have submitted for curtailing the problems that have arisen in the past from the Oktoberfest. While I can see that you have made some effort I still have concerns. I’ll address the issues as you presented them.

"ISSUE 1: PUBLIC URINATION. Additional porta-potties in the area will be appreciated if they are used by your visitors. Will the ‘stationary officers’ patrol and issue tickets?

"ISSUE 2: PERSONAL PROPERTY DAMAGE. That might help; however, again what will the patrols do to curb this behavior? Will they issue tickets for damage?

"ISSUE 3: DAMAGE TO VEGETATION IN SOULARD MARKET PARK. Fencing the flower beds would be appreciated.

"ISSUE 4: DAMAGE TO PARK GROUNDS. That’s an item to take up with the Parks Director.

"ISSUE 5: IMPACT ON MARKET PARKING. Have you discussed this with the Market’s Merchant’s Association? In my discussions with them it was felt that the elderly and handicapped as well as those people who shop for large families will not come to the Market due to the inconvenience or inability to deal with large quantities of food on a shuttle bus. This is not an acceptable approach for resolving the Market’s issue.

"ISSUE 6: IMPACT ON MARKET SALES AND TRAFFIC. There has been no growth shown in the number of younger shoppers at the Market after either Mardi Gras or Oktoberfest. While you moved your date to the second week of October the checks for those dependent on Social Security generally arrive on the 5th of the month. Therefore, the date you have chosen is also the one that is generally the busiest of the month for the Market.

"You need to work more closely with the merchants at Soulard Market to limit the damage to their revenues. In effect your event causes them to lose a week’s revenues. It would be similar to closing a Soulard bar for a week. Keep that in mind as you plan your event.

"I’m told that the 50 cent coupons that were issued last year to offset the decrease in sales were never funded by your organization. Therefore, I am skeptical that the vendors would get reimbursed if people from food pantries came in with Soulard Oktoberfest Dollars. To show good faith to the Market Merchants a check with an agreed upon amount should be provided to the Merchants Association for deposit in an account two weeks prior to Oktoberfest to insure that the program would be funded.

"ISSUE 7: JULIA STREET VENDOR PARKING PROBLEMS. Again this is an issue to take up with the Park Director.

"ISSUE 8: EXCESSIVE DRUNKENNESS. I applaud the mandating of TIPS training for nonprofit organizations selling alcohol at Oktoberfest. I request that ID’s be checked with every sale. You’ll make the older folks feel young and be certain that everyone is of age to drink. In addition the state and local Excise officers should be asked to be at the event ticketing underage drinkers.

"ISSUE 9: GROWTH OF THE FESTIVAL TO UNMANAGEABLE ATTENDANCE. I agree that an entrance fee will help the event. I’m told that there was a $10 fee previously so I don’t understand the $5 one now proposed. You should also provide flexibility to hire additional security if the crowd builds.

"ISSUE 10: USE OF ALTERNATIVE LOCATIONS OR DISBURSE ACTIVITIES. (1) I have no information about why Strassenfest failed downtown; however, the split that brought Oktoberfest to Soulard was likely a part of it along with the fact that it occurred in the hottest part of our St. Louis summers. (2) If Oktoberfest is a German Cultural festival why not hold it at the German Cultural Center on S. Jefferson and build on the decision to locate that facility in that location. There is also a large parking lot adjacent to the St. Louis Gast Haus on Chouteau which could promote the event and the restaurant. (3) Alderman Ortmann has also agreed that your event could locate in Lyons Park in the shadow of the brewery.

"ISSUE 11: BOISTEROUS PEOPLE WHO BOTHERED RESIDENTS. While you can post on the website and throughout the neighborhood, unless there is some penalty imposed by the officers you hire there is no enforcement for this problem. What specific measures are you taking to insure the residents that your participants will be responsible and respectful?


"ISSUE 13: CLOSING OF LAFAYETTE STREET NO EARLIER THAN NOON ON FRIDAY. These are the Director of Streets requirements. You may close 8th St on Thursday morning to construct the stage as was done last year, however, Lafayette Street will be available on Friday at noon. You may use the parking lanes and sidewalks for prep and staging provided that you leave the driving lanes open. You’ll need permits for all of this.

"I appreciate the thoughts and efforts of the group to meet the concerns expressed; however, I believe that more work is needed to protect both the adjacent neighbors and the Soulard Market Merchants. I will await you ideas.

"Sincerely, Phyllis Young, Alderwoman, 7th Ward"

Copies were sent to Alderman Ken Ortmann, Gary Bess, Todd Waeltermann, Jim Price, Johnny Daus, Joannie Thomas and Ann Chance.

Wow, that is some letter. These issues raise the obvious question: why let private interests - and private wallets - wag the dog and on the public dime, too?

An analysis of the issues reveals that Oktoberfest is nothing more than a microcosm of the Soulard Mardi Gras, and both events offer insights into the leadership skills - the degree of incompetence and venality - of those who run the neighborhood and the City of St. Louis. So if you don’t like what you see, well, then, it is time to move, as the neighborhood party people would say.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Police Incident Reports, Soulard, Sept. 27 - Oct. 4

Incident reports for Soulard from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department - as recorded on an official department website at - for the seven day
period of Sunday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 4 include:

1 serious assault: 1300 block of Gravois, reported at 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

3 theft: 1500 block of S. 7th, reported at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3; Menard and Allen, reported at 10 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27; 2500 block of S. 11th, reported at 11:45 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28.

1 stolen autos: 1500 block of S. 7th, reported at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3.

1 minor assault: 1000 block of Ann, reported at 2:05 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27.

3 peace disturbances: 1700 block of S. 9th, reported at 12:40 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27; 1000 block of Lami, reported at 11 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2; 2400 block of S. 12th, reported at 10:40 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27.

120 service calls, including accident (11), accident with injuries (3), auto theft (2), disturbance (15), etc.

As an aside, there was an interesting incident which occurred during a scheduled meeting of the Soulard Special Business District, which held a public forum on Sept. 30 at the Soulard Preservation Hall. Cynthia Harrison, Chairman of the commissioners of the SPBD, revealed that sometime during the past 30 days there had been a murder/suicide - apparently the result of a domestic altercation - in the 700 block of Russell. A swat team had made an appearance during the course of this event.

No other details were provided.

It is odd that this event was not identified on the web site where all of above material was obtained and has been obtained for the past numbers of weeks. This absence was brought up during the meeting, and the response to the question made absolutely no sense.

One interpretation of the answer was that the event, which apparently involved two life partners, was too personal to be put on the web site and to be exposed to public comment. We cannot see the sense in this interpretation. All crime is personal. Just ask the man who lives a half block from us how personal it was to feel a pistol barrel placed on the back of his head in the middle of the night, all part of a robbery reported earlier on this blog.

If crime and incidents are not listed because they are too personal, where does this begin and end? Would any crimes be listed?

We asked Terry Hoffman, Treasurer of the SSBD, to please provide additional details of the murder/suicide so that we might research it on the web site. We look forward to hearing from him, and we hope that the absence of information to date is no more sinister than a clerical error. If it is more than a clerical error, then what else is being left out?