Friday, January 29, 2010

More Soulard Crime Problems

Following is information relayed by Terry Hoffman from the neighborhood blaster of Lisa Otke:

Soulard Incidents:

Please read the following information regarding car break-ins (larcenies) that took place yesterday. Please note that the police believe the suspects of such crimes may be armed and dangerous. You should not confront suspects in case this is true. CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY!! Information that could be helpful to the police includes a detailed description of any vehicles the suspect(s) may be driving, descriptions of the suspects, location, direction of vehicles/suspects if they leave the scene.

Please be careful. Be aware of your surroundings. If something is suspicious, call the police.
Thursday, January 28 at 3 a.m. a resident (near Victor and 18th) witnessed 3 males trying to break into several cars – they had a trunk open of one vehicle. The police were called and the evidence technicians also came to the scene. The locks were punched out of the cars that the suspects had tried or successfully broken into. Vehicles along Victor and 18th Street were vandalized.

While the witness was speaking to the police, they received a call that there were a group of males attempting to break into cars in the Shaw neighborhood where a girl tried to confront them and they shot at her.

The police returned to the witness’ residence at 4:30 and the witness accompanied the police to the location of a car (near Grand) which the police had stopped (3 suspects ran from the vehicle).

The witness was able to identify the car as the same car that had been occupied by the suspects in the Soulard break-ins. The car was stolen earlier from Eichelberger and stolen items such as radios were found in the vehicle.

Based on information from the witness and the police, this is an organized group which may hit as many as 20 cars in a night. They are usually armed and dangerous.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pursuing Real Estate Tax Questions: Seeking Edification

The following e-mail has been sent to, the address listed on the web site of the Collector of Revenue:

To the Honorable Gregory F. X. Daly, Collector of Revenue, City of St. Louis:

Today your web site on the St. Louis Community Information Network indicates that owners of property under two bar/restaurants in Soulard are in arrears in paying real estate taxes. The bills include special business district tax, lateral sewer fee, commercial surtax, total original tax, penalty and recording fee, where applicable.

This issue has been addressed in several articles on a blog titled Gumbo, which may be found at

The property owners include: Clementine Inc., owner of property described as 2001-2003 Menard, site of Clementine’s Bar, which is in arrears in the amount of $10,212.29 for 2009 and 2008. I note that the payment of their 2007 taxes was posted on 1/5/2010.

The other is Great Grizzly Blues LLC, owner of property described as 1027 Geyer, site of The Great Grizzly Bear. The property owner is in arrears in the amount of $21,865.38, the accumulated tax bill for 2007, 2008 and 2009. (A City of St. Louis Real Estate Tax System "Open Special Tax Bills Report" dated 10/02/09 notes that the same property owners were in arrears on their 2005 taxes, and before the year turned over, they were also on arrears in the 2007 taxes. Your web site only covers three years. Thus, I am unable to confirm whether these taxes have been paid.)

I note that the "St. Louis City Revised Code Chapter 8.02.010 Statement of Clearance - Required" ( ) states:

"The License Collection shall not issue any merchants, manufacturers, franchise, business or occupational license or renewal thereof, to any person, partnership or corporation, or anyone who contracts for personal service to be performed by individuals within the City, which under the law the License Collector is empowered to issue, unless and until the applicant for such license produces a written statement of clearance issued jointly by the Collector of Revenue and the License Collector certifies that the current or past personal property, real estate tax, payroll tax, business license taxes and/or earnings taxes are due and payable to the City and a statement from the Director of Revenue of the State of Missouri certifying that the applicant is in possession of a retail sales license, if such a license is required."

It seems to me that Chapter 8.02.010 suggests that businesses need to be good citizens, i.e., that they pay their real estate taxes in order to do business. There is a failure to display good citizenship by these two businesses. It seems that this failure is being aided and abetted by the Office of the Collector of Revenue.

I make this statement because the License Collector, The Honorable Michael McMillan, states that the businesses at the above addresses are in full compliance as far as payment of taxes, etc., in order for them to receive business licenses from his office. "Neither company you named, Great Grizzly and Clementine’s Inc., requires compliance action," Mr. McMillan states.

You may think that this matter is really none of my business. In fact, I feel the issue is entirely my business, since I am among a number of people in the Soulard neighborhood who feel that bars and their customers contribute to undermining the quality of life here. Trash, noise, crime, accidents and other problems are created and aggravated by these two businesses. Their failure to pay their real estate taxes mirrors their contempt for the neighborhood and for the general community.

Further, the inability of City of St. Louis officials and elected leaders to collect taxes reflects badly on their abilities, undermining confidence in government and implying corruption and favoritism. Large numbers of lots in the City of St. Louis are fallow, yielding no tax revenue because they are owned by the City. That this is widespread signals a failure of elected officials to nurture an environment conducive to prosperity. Slapping the face of tax payers is that tax abatement favors have been given to numbers of developers, further gnawing at the tax base and consuming confidence in governmental priorities.

At the same time, elected officials talk of budgetary problems and cuts in services. The conclusion is obvious: if a city cannot manage its tax base, then it is out of business. The question arises: why are businesses which negatively impact the community and which reflect badly on leadership allowed to game the system so effectively?

On these topics I seek edification and correction. Thus, I turn to you. I look forward to hearing your response to these issues, as will the readers of the blog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Neighbors Assume Greater Responsibility for Trash

"After Christmas I noticed that the alley trash dumpsters were overflowing and people were leaving trash next to them," commented Mary Ann Keitel, a Soulard resident since 1975. "The neighborhood was looking like a third world country," she adds.

"The only way to abate this problem that I could see was to get on the recycling bandwagon," she says, and "I had to get my neighbors to do the same thing."

Because of City of St. Louis budgetary problems, twice weekly trash collections are being reduced to once a week, Mary Ann learned after a short conversation with the Department of Streets, Refuse Division vehicle driver.

"So I started intensely recycling," she explains. Fortunately, as part of an extensive and thoughtful effort, the Refuse Division provides a row of dumpsters at the foot of Ann in Soulard for collection of recyclables. "And I started talking to my neighbors, asking them if they would help me," Mary Ann notes. She lives in the 2300 block of S. 11th Street.

Fran Cook, a Soulard resident for the last 7 years, immediately agreed that this was a good idea.

"I could see that the dumpsters contained a lot of stuff which could be recycled, and if we separated these items and took them to the provided dumpsters, then maybe we could reduce the problem of trash spilling into the alley," Fran believes. She is married and has two children.

She spent 21 years in the neighborhood while growing up. After she got married, she moved out to the county for a while before returning seven years ago.

"We are in this together," Fran observes, pointing out that "I am also talking to others in my building and to neighbors, just as Mary Ann is doing."

Going beyond her block, Mary Ann also solicited the assistance of Shirley Cartt-Cyr, 75, a homeowner on Sidney. "I am going to recycle with Mary Ann’s help," Shirley says. She adds that

"I sure wish the politicians were pitching in and working as hard as Mary Ann on this, since they seem to be the ones who spent all the money."

She adds: "Be that as it may, we all sort of need to pull together in tough times, to help each other, just like Mary Ann is doing." Meanwhile, Mary Ann has recruited others on her block, and she hopes other Soulard and City of St. Louis residents will step up their recycle efforts and encourage their neighbors to do the same.

Seventh Ward resident Maida Coleman, a community activist, observes that "what Mary Ann is doing is an excellent idea. She is coming up with solutions to make this new trash collection schedule work for everyone."

Maida says that "as city residents, we have to support the city in order to keep our services up to standard. We are all going to have to do a little bit more," she warns.

Monday, January 18, 2010

More Soulard Auto Break-ins

Following is a bulletin from Terry Hoffman’s neighborhood blaster. The original e-mail was sent on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010 by Angel Bostick, owner (along with her husband, Matt) of The Library - described on their website as "one of Soulard’s newest live music venues, The Library offers something for just about everyone." Following is the message as received:

"Just wanted to let everyone know that we had 10 cars broken into last night (Friday Jan 15) and one car was stolen. All of the cars were parked along a wall of a vacant building behind us. At 11:15 my staff had checked on the back and all was fine, then by 12 a customer discovered their car was broken into. The thieves mainly broke car windows, driver and passenger, in one car they actually broke the window after they got inside. Items stolen were a jacket, wallet, a GPS, even leaving more valuable items behind. These "thugs" mission seemed to be just to destroy. However they did steal one car. (A key for that car was left in the console which made it easy pickings.) I just wanted to report this to the group so everyone could keep a closer eye out on vehicles in the area to prevent this happening again. This was reported to the police. The Lieutenants advice was to hire a couple of off-duty officers to guard the parking areas. Hopefully they will catch these thieves quickly. We will be sending out security more often, but they struck within a 30 - 45 min window."

The Library is located at 706 Lafayette in the old Carnagie Library Building, across the street from the Soulard Farmer’s Market.

It is interesting to note that the Safe City Incident Mapping Site seems to cover this entire situation as "one theft" in the 700 block of Lafayette, reported at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 15. There is no mention of a car theft at this address. This is how it was covered in our earlier, weekly posting of crime in the neighborhood.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Remembrances of Mardi Gras Past

On April 20, 1999 the Soulard Mardi Gras Community Forum was held. It was an apres Mardi Gras event to uncover problems and complaints resulting from the Grand Parade Day. Some time after the forum there was made available a "summary of issues identified."

This summary is interesting reading, primarily because most of the issues raised and problems uncovered remain unresolved to this day. For example, at the top of the list is the category Unacceptable Behaviors of Crowd. Bullet point items were:
Public urination/defecation/vomiting
Public drunkenness
Underage drinking
Bringing in alcohol (coolers)
Vandalism/property destruction
Violence/personal injury
Sex acts
Lack of enforcement by police of existing laws

On this list, the one item which has been corrected is "bringing in alcohol (coolers)." This behavior is totally unacceptable to those who sell booze during the event. There are now paid guards at neighborhood entrances to make sure no miscellaneous booze is smuggled into Soulard during the Grand Parade Day drunk.

After a period of discussion, forum attendees were divided into 19 groups and asked to list their views of the event. Not wishing to bore readers, Madame Chouteau numbered 19 pieces of paper and choose one piece from a hat. Number 18 came up. Following are the items generated by Group 18:
Underage drinking
Coolers (outside liquor coming in)
Car access - in crowd areas
Neighborhood parking - lack of
Public urination
Vandalism/property destruction
Police response
Public nudity
Media coverage - negative
Event too large
Inconvenient to residents
Tuesday event was disaster

That the unsavory nature of the Grand Parade Day has not changed is underlined by a story titled "Mardi Gras revelry brings protest," printed in the Wednesday, March 26, 2008 issue of the South Side Journal. Written by Jim Merkel, the article begins:

"Lloyd Harvey has participated in sit-ins at segregated Woolworths stores during the Civil Rights era, fought for the homeless and victims of HIV/AIDS and formed a tenants association to fight a landlord.

"The 75-year-old artist is topping it off with a campaign to fight hours of jarring music and what he believes is rampant public urination once a year within close view and hearing of a South Side senior citizen apartment building.

"Harvey lives on the fourth floor of the Allen Market Lane Senior Living Apartments on the northwest corner of 12th Street and Russell Boulevard in the Soulard neighborhood.

"That’s five blocks west of the annual parade route and toward the edge of where thousands of revelers party for hours after the parade.

"Harvey has watched the antics of revelers during three Mardi Gras parade days. He’s looked out his window facing Russell and seen a street full of people celebrating and heard loud, jarring music all day, he said.

"This year, he said, he heard a DJ constantly shouting to people, ‘Let’s get drunk.’"

Article author Jim Merkel quotes a spectrum of St. Louis personalities who have fingers in the Mardi Gras pot. They all declare their shock and surprise about the complaints of Harvey, and they all express their apologies. Implied is their helplessness to correct problems, although they all testify that they sure are working on it.

A quote from Alderman Phyllis Young is symptomatic. As printed:

"Young agreed there’s a serious public urination problem which she’s seen around her own property. People will stand next to porta potties and urinate, she said. ‘It’s like they lose any sense of public decency that they had.’"

The Honorable Phyllis Young pretty much puts her finger on the problem: a lack of public decency, encouraged by the beneficiaries, the bars, and winked at by the political leadership of St. Louis, who apparently feels that the negatives of the event are outweighed by the positives: the money which trickles into the city coffers as the result of taxes collected.

In fact, this "festival" taints everything that comes into contact with it, including the annual Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball, a goofy celebration of how good things are going for St. Louis, when, in fact, problems for the City are looming in every direction. The "what me worry" attitude of this peculiar act of blindness, held at City Hall the evening before the Grand Parade Day debacle, is spotlighted in a blog posting dated Jan. 7, 2010 and titled "Francis Slay Touts Mardi Gras Ball, While 17,000 St. Louisans Cannot Find Work" by Thomas Duda at

Over the last decade, if thought and integrity had been devoted to growing St. Louis, rather than greed and stupidity to growing the Soulard Mardi Gras Drunk, St. Louis might not be in as bad a shape as it now is.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Demolition Concerns in the Village

Regular readers are referred to an excellent article written by Michael Allen and posted on his blog titled Ecology of Absence. The blog focuses on preservation of the architectural and cultural heritage of St. Louis and on the demolition problem.

The article of interest ( ) was posted on Oct. 18, 2009 and notes that "Rehab Girls LLC" sought permission from the St. Louis Preservation Board, an arm of the Cultural Resource Office, to demolish 1927-9 S. 10th Street, an old neighborhood structure. The address of Rehab Girls LLC, according to State of Missouri records, is the same address as that of Rothschild Development Ltd, an owner of a large number of rental properties in Soulard, under the name of Rothschild Properties Soulard LLC. Ecology of Absence implied that Rehab Girls LLC was in fact closely linked to Rothschild Development Ltd.

As an aside, it should be noted that Rothschild Properties Soulard LLC does not have a particularly great reputation in Soulard, a reflection of the casual attitude displayed.

One property owner remarked that clean out of newly vacated apartments by Rothschild personnel often completely fills dumpsters, and other tenants, not seeming to know any better, then deposit their trash next to the dumpsters, resulting in a mess. "One time they deposited a recliner in a dumpster," this witness observed. This same person commented that their tenants are frequently noisy, drinking and partying until the police are called, and after, too.

Another property owner actually complained to Rothschild's office about some consistently noisy, disruptive tenants. The response from office personnel was: "It sounds to me that you need to display more neighborliness," which is secret code for "screw you, we really don’t care what our tenants do."

Another manifestation of their casualness is their attitude towards paying their real estate taxes. Rothschild Properties Soulard LLC did not pay 2008 real estate taxes on a number of its properties until sometime after the Dec. 31, 2008 deadline, according to posting dates on the web site of Gregory F. X. Daly, Collector of Revenue. If anybody wants to research this, begin at the Assessor’s Office site at

Examples of late pays include:
1853 S. 9th (real estate tax payment for 2008 year posted on Collector of Revenue tax site on 10/08/2009),
1851 S. 10th (tax payment posted 10/08/2009),
900 Geyer (tax payment posted 10/08/2009),
1006 Geyer (tax payment posted 12/03/09),
1004 Geyer (tax payment posted 10/08/2009),
1005 Allen (tax payment posted 10/08/1009), etc. In all, as of 10/02/09 there were 22 Rothschild properties in Soulard in arrears. It is believed that all 2008 taxes have been paid by now.

Interestingly, note that real estate taxes on three properties owned by Kraiberg Properties LLC - registered agent: Robert W. Kraiberg, 1832 S. 8th Street - were also paid after the deadline. The tax bills were sent to the same address as that listed for Rothschild Properties Soulard LLC, which implies that Rothschild manages the properties. Examples:
1818 S. 8th (tax payment for 2008 posted on Collector of Revenue tax site on 12/10/2009),
1822 S. 8th (tax payment for 2008 year posted on 12/15/2009),
1824 S. 8th (tax payment for 2008 posted on 12/15/2009).

The Ecology of Absence blog posted the results of the request for the demolition permit in a story titled "Cultural Resources Office Stands Up for House in Soulard" ( ). Madame Chouteau certainly hopes that Rothschild, under the cover of Rehab Girls LLC, can do something with the building.

Monday, January 11, 2010

McMillan: Unpaid Real Estate Taxes Not My Problem

Following is the response from The Honorable Michael McMillan, License Collector for the City of St. Louis, regarding our story about Soulard as a Tax Haven. The response was dated January 5, 2010. It was received Jan. 9.

"We are in receipt of your email in reference to the article titled: "Soulard: The Tax Haven Revisited." Neither company you named, Great Grizzly and Clementine’s Inc, requires compliance action. Clementine’s is currently in compliance. Great Grizzly’s taxes are just due now.

"Allow me to clarify the role of the License Collector in matters such as these. We serve as a check and balance for other departments in City Hall. We verify that the requirements of those departments are met prior to issuing a business license. Once we receive a clearance from those departments we issue a business license. We recognize the difficulties that businesses are facing during these tough economic times and we allow them every opportunity to become compliant.

"We follow a process that includes the following steps:

"1. Any business coming to our office for a license must have a clearance from the Collector of Revenue on Earnings Tax, Payroll Expense Tax, and Personal Property Tax. Additional items requiring clearance are Occupancy Permit Status, Workers Compensation, Missouri Department of Revenue Clearance and Addendum Form. Any one or all of these items could result in a license not being issued. Real Estate Taxes are addressed solely by the Collector of Revenue.

"2. Our Office does not have the authority to close a business according to St. Louis City Revised Code Chapter 8.02.110; 8.02.120; and 8.06.160. Upon recommendation of the Collector of Revenue, when a business is not in compliance, we first contact the non-compliant business owner and offer them an opportunity to come into City Hall for a resolution hearing. If a resolution is not obtained, pursuant to state and local law, the License Collector has a duty to report such violations to the Circuit Attorney, Police and/or the Grand Jury for further action. Any further action is at their discretion. We do, however, continue to make attempts to collect outstanding taxes until the business either reconciles its account or closing occurs.

"Since taking office, my staff and I have worked to make the licensing process easier with on-line services, annual licensing fairs, industry briefings, increased fraud monitoring and consumer education. Our community outreach activities include creating networking opportunities with resource providers such as financial institutions and manpower assistance agencies to help businesses sustain and grow. Overall, we have initiated over 25-upgrades during my term for improved business services.
"Additionally, we initiated collaborations between multiple city departments to share information in order to ensure continuity and foster more expedient problem-solving actions. We have found that this cross communication decreases customer confusion, offers them accurate information, workable resolutions and results in more businesses being able to remain open. This benefits the city and the many organizations and city services supported by business taxes.

"For more information about our Office, please visit our website: We trust our response will help you to help others clarify these issues. If you have any additional questions, please call me at (314) 622-4643.
Michael McMillan
License Collector
City of St. Louis"

We must admit that we are somewhat disappointed by this response. According to the web site of the License Collector, under "additional links, frequently asked questions," we find that the law states as follows:

8.06.020 License - Payment of Taxes
"No license or permit provided for, or required by this chapter or any ordinance of the City shall hereafter be issued by any department, division or office thereof to any person, until all taxes, personal taxes, earning taxes, license taxes, permits, certificates and merchants tax due, if any, of such person for the preceding year shall first have been paid."

From what the License Collector says, "until all taxes" means all taxes - except real estate taxes - have to be paid. "Real Estate Taxes are addressed solely by the Collector of Revenue," Michael McMillan says.

In the meantime, as of 1:30 p.m., Monday, January 11, 2010, according to the web site of the Collector of Revenue, Great Grizzly Blues LLC, owner of 1027 Geyer (a.k.a. 1863-1865 Menard) owes real estate taxes:
for 2009 ($6,987.60)
for 2008 ($7,058.01)
for 2007 ($7,819.77), for a total amount due of $21,865.38. In addition, we believe that taxes for 2006 and 2005 are also owed. Unfortunately, the Collector of Revenue web site only goes back three years.

Also, Clementine Inc., listed as owner of 2001-2003 Menard, owes real estate taxes on this property:
for 2009 ($5,080.48)
for 2008 ($5,131.81)
for 2007 ($5,685.73), for a total amount of $15,898.02.

Both businesses are open for business. Doesn’t seem right. It implies something about our local government, particularly in these tough times of service cutbacks. And, obviously, the buck does not stop at the Office of License Collector.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Summary of Crime Reports, Soulard

Madame Chouteau wanted to produce a one year summary of crime/incident reports for Soulard from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department - as recorded on the official department website at Unfortunately, the site only displays reports for the last four months. Thus, following are the statistics from 9/1/2009 through 12/31/2009 for the Soulard neighborhood.

1 sexual assault: 1100 block of Lynch, reported at Saturday, Dec. 26.

5 robbery

4 serious assault

21 burglary

104 theft

40 stolen autos: it is interesting to note that there is a cluster of auto thefts reported near the intersection of Sidney and S. 13th Streets, which is the location of the bridge over I-55 connecting Soulard and Benton Park. It seems that traffic enters Soulard at this point with the intent to steal an auto. Also, there is a cluster along S. 8th and S. 9th streets and extending several blocks on both sides of Russell.

1 arson

2 domestic assault

1 minor assault

3 weapons

2 drugs

12 peace disturbances

1833 service calls, including 23 assaults, a large number of auto accidents, assist motorist, etc. on I-55, 142 disturbances, a carjacking (800 block of Geyer, reported Nov. 6), etc.

More detailed reports on crime in Soulard and Benton park can be obtained by visiting the site of The Messenger, Informing Soulard and Benton Park, an online newspaper. The address is: We welcome this effort and we appreciate the work of Teresa Moss, the editor.

We wish to add that the only murder that we know of in the neighborhood was reported on June 14, 2009 at 1 a.m. at 2117 S. 12th. This information is from the Post-Dispatch Murder Map, 2009, and we have no additional information about the matter. Anybody having any information about this or any other crime in the neighborhood is invited to send their contact information to us so that we may obtain additional details for possible posting on this blog.