Friday, August 17, 2012

Additional Insights into the Barcycle Contribution

At the conclusion of the last episode, we learned that the president of the Soulard Restoration Group had sent a letter to the St. Louis Taxicab Commission supporting the licensing of the BarCycle (“The St. Louis BarCycle is a 16 passenger party on wheels! Get your crew together and navigate the bars in Soulard on this pedal driven bar crawl machine!” - BarCycle website). There will be a second licensing meeting at the Taxicab Commission at 9 a.m. on August 26, apparently at the commission headquarters at 2628 Delmar. Executive Director Ron Klein will host the hearing.

The reason for the support, as stated in their letter, was that “Dan Lloyd [owner] has presented his revised operation procedure to our organization. We feel that with the new rules on hours of operation, noise levels, safety, and route, the BarCycle can be an asset to our Soulard neighborhood.” The letter, apparently representing the concurrence of the SRG membership, was signed by Sean Cochran, president of the organization.

Before we all jump on the SRG’s and the BarCycle’s bandwagon, it is interesting to note the testimony of Karen Landon, who also wrote a letter to the Taxicab Commission. Karen lives in the 2300 block of S. 11th Street.

She wrote: “When I bought my home, I chose a location away from the bar activity. Now, the new barcycles easily assault my block with abandon. They are intrusive, loud and dangerous. I live on a hill so it takes quite a bit of pedal-power to get that vehicle up the hill. On several occasions, it has stopped in front of my house and the drunks just hunker down to party – and party loudly. They use foul language, throw trash and have hit my car after falling off the bench. They quickly recover and pedal away screaming, leaving me with the remains of the day.”

She continued: “This is a residential neighborhood. We have small children on our block. Residents should have rights for safety and respect. The barcycles cruise down my hill on 11th street at rapid speeds. They scream with delight. They do not stop at the stop sign. They would not be able to stop for a dog, pedestrian or small child. They are drunk (although I am sure the driver says he/she is not drinking). This is a disaster waiting to happen and I do not feel I should have to be at the mercy of this new nuisance.”

Karen added: “Please have due respect for the residents. These vehicles are not only intrusive, but diminish the historic elegance and charm of the neighborhood. I do not feel I should have to tolerate mobile bars rushing into a residential area. Please stop these vehicles from damaging my neighborhood.” Well written. Karen notes in her letter that she has lived in Soulard for over 30 years.

Oddly, the BarCycle owner - Dan Lloyd - appeared at a recent SRG meeting to press his case for licensing by the Taxicab Commission. He left a handout for those attending, a peculiar two page letter which summarized the results of his meeting with Alderwoman Phyllis Young. Ms. Young’s letter was posted earlier on this blog. She is opposed to any licensing of the BarCycle.

Dated July 9th, 2012, the letter states: “If the license is granted by the taxicab commission, hopefully these guidelines will minimize the disturbance to Soulard residents while still maintaining a fun atmosphere for patrons and promoting Soulard businesses.”

Dan continued: “Allow me to first recap our conversation of the concerns you mentioned in your letter:

“1.) Prolonged operation without necessary permits. I want to reiterate that this was an unintentional oversight and not a devious plan to avoid paying fees and acquiring licences. I lived in Columbia, Missouri when I started the business and filed all of the necessary paperwork for the state of Missouri. Being unfamiliar with St. Louis when I started, I was under the mistaken impression that Soulard was separate from the city of St. Louis and did not consider that I would need to contact city officials as well. I contacted the president of the Soulard Business Association at that time before I started and when I got the go ahead from him I thought I was ready to go.

“Once I became more familiar with the city I should have realized more licensing was necessary with St. Louis but I was more concerned with the operation of the business and less focused on the start up procedures. It was clearly a mistake on my part and I should have done the proper due diligence at the start.”

Wow, can Dan sling it or what? He needs more than adult supervision. He needs a invitation to get out of town. But this isn’t the end of it. He continues:

On the issue of noise and his routes, he carries on like a true pro: “Noise on the BarCycle is something that can be reduced considerably. For starters, the onboard stereo will be turned down to a more reasonable volume going forward and there will be a new rule of no shouting or loud singing...Driving down alleys was a rare occurrence before and will not be done from this point forward. Additionally my rates are set to increase shortly which will likely draw an older and milder crowd.”

So Dan - although the letter has no name attached to it - has displayed a total lack of respect for the neighborhood. This is something SRG members can appreciate.

He concludes with the new rules for BarCycle patrons: “No screaming or excessively loud noises, no dismounting vehicle while in motion, no littering, no glass, respect neighborhood after tour is complete.”

Only after having his leash jerked does Dan acknowledge that there may be other people on the planet. His letter speaks volumes about what kind of a person he is - another sleazy sos who has washed ashore here on Happy Island. He is going to start respecting the residents of Soulard? Only SRG members would believe that.

Can we suggest that he go back to Columbia. We hope that the Taxicab Commission has more sense than to believe this guy. We sure don’t.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The 7th Ward's (Almost) Favorite Son

Wow, did Brian Wahby get his head handed to him in the primary election for Democratic candidate for Treasurer? That’s an understatement. After years of glad handing, smarmy Brian finished nowhere near the money in the August 7th primary.

The results spotlight Brian's lack of magnetism: Tishaura Jones won (with 13817 votes, 34.92% of the total), followed by Fred Wessels (10411, 26.31%), then Jeffrey Boyd (10092, 25.50%) and, finally, Brian, who garnered a distant 5250 votes, or 13.27% of the total.

How to explain this showing? Well, for one, his elegantly trimmed facial hair didn’t seem to do him any good. One person commented that he seemed a caricature of some kind of Lebanese bandit, a reflection of his attitude towards the position of Treasurer. Another said he looked like a mad magician, vainly trying to hypnotize the electorate.  Whatever.  He obviously spends too much time in front of a mirror.

We are sure that his attitude is that his loss is St. Louis’ loss. Never think that Brian doesn’t believe in his own talents, such as they are. Launching himself from behind the petticoats of Slay and the Democratic Party, for years he has prowled City Hall, settling scores behind the scenes, meddling, advancing his personal agenda, pretending, bullying. Now the voters have called his bluff.  He is revealed as nothing but a pathetic gasbag.

His focus as chair of the City Democratic Committee can only be described as sinister, as he has made free use of party funds for “expenses.” The same can be said of his years of affiliation with Mardi Gras, Inc., directing money where it will do him the most good. We have related how he sought favorable treatment from ward committee persons by distributed free $100 tickets to attend one of the all-you-can-eat and drink “party tents” during that disgraceful fest in 2012. We understand this is only the tip of the iceberg.  His influence over MGI is underlined by the fact that he used the fancy, refurbished MGI headquarters for campaign meetings. He has keys to the place. It figures. MGI is nothing but a nest of rats.  Look what they have done to Soulard.

When he entered the race, what was Brian thinking? That he is loved? He didn’t even carry his own ward. He came in third, only beating Jeffrey Boyd. Of course, the good news for Brian from Aug. 7 is that he retained his position as 7th Ward committeeman, garnering 925 votes and only challenged by 39 write-ins. Yes, that race was uncontested.  It was Brian's kind of race.

So why is he a committeeman and chairman at the same time? Why didn’t Brian have any competition for 7th Ward Committeeman? Because (1) Nobody else could fill Brian’s shoes, or (2) Nobody wants to sit on a dirty toilet seat, or (3) Nobody gives a rat’s patootie, or (4) Whats on second base. Any other suggestions?  Let us know.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Another Great Money Making Plan Welcomed by the SRG

Every sos this side of hallelujah wants to inflict his money making idea on poor Soulard.  Comes now the BarCycle, described on its website as “Way more fun than your typical party bus - the St. Louis BarCycle is a 16 passenger party on wheels!  Get your crew together and navigate the bars in Soulard on this pedal driven bar crawl machine!”

Beyond the exclamation points, this is a pedal driven noise and trash maker, and it works best when it is filled with drunks, according to the owner.  Just what we need, pedaling the streets of our neighborhood.  It must be historic, just like greed.  The charge is a reasonable $150 an hour, for a two hour tour of Soulard bars.  Just think, for $300 you and your friends can make pests of yourselves.  That’s cheaper than buying a motorcycle and disconnecting the muffler.    

Fortunately, after running around the neighborhood for a while, it was decided that this infestation needed some sort of license.  Ah, the St. Louis Taxicab Commission.  Oddly, Alderman Phyllis Young wrote a letter against the BarCycle to Ron Klein, Executive Director, St. Louis Taxicab Commission, dated July 11, 2012, as follows:

Dear Mr. Klein:

I am writing regarding your hearing on July 12th about the St. Louis Barcycle.  I have constituents who are concerned about this vehicle operating in the Soulard neighborhood.
I’d like to present a number of the issues I’ve heard about the business.
First, it advertises itself as a ‘barcycle’.  People ride the 16 passenger barcycle, drink, socialize, and pedal.  Granted the operator doesn’t serve the drinks, but advertises that they are available from bar stops or that coolers are allowed.  Unlike a bar where neighboring residents had to sign a petition about the location of a bar this vehicle is mobile and can go past your block at any time. It isn’t like a neighbor having a noisy party once or twice a summer. This vehicle can come by several times in a day or weekend.  Any response is solely up to the operator of the barcycle.  There is no way to protest the license.
I’ve met with Mr. Lloyd, the business operator. He has agreed to turn the music down on the onboard stereo and to ask his patrons to be quieter.  However, if they aren’t in agreement, what recourse does the neighborhood have?  Also, whose idea of a reasonable noise level should be the measure?
Mr. Lloyd has agreed that he’ll stay north of Russell after a certain time.  However, there are residents there who feel that they have enough challenges dealing with the bars alone in that area.  That portion of Soulard has the largest concentration of that type of business.  Is it fair to allow a mobile establishment to add to the concerns?
The other issue discussed is the conflict between the vehicle and the overall traffic of the neighborhood.  Soulard is quite crowded at particular times----ballgame nites, Saturday Soulard Market shopping, and special events.  During those times the streets are filled with pedestrians, cyclists, golf carts, shuttle vehicles, and automobile traffic.  Sometimes seniors on those motorized carts are there as well.  It can be very congested!
The solution offered is to go down other streets than 9th.  Ordinarily that would work; however, those are the streets that visitors are on---- looking for free parking, and they are mostly the residential blocks so that the noise again becomes a factor.
The operator says he can pull over to the side to let other vehicles pass.  That’s what the shuttle busses for the bars do now.  It’s very difficult to see around them so that passing is already dangerous.
As a Commission you are considering a new vehicle for the City.  If this is successful in Soulard will it or another be allowed to operate on Washington Avenue, in the Delmar Loop, along Grand Avenue, or in other popular sections of the City?  How would this fit into the traffic patterns for those neighborhoods, and how would the residents and businesses there receive this concept?
I appreciate the rules that Mr. Lloyd has proposed for his operation; however, I cannot support his proposal.  I have seen the barcycle operation, and I am not convinced that any rules will make it conducive to the neighborhood.  I understand that he has the support of the business association, but I also know that this activity is an enhancement for the bar business.  It is in my opinion a detraction from the residential quality of life in Soulard.  I believe there’s a delicate balance between the two entities, and I’m working to keep that balance.
I appreciate your consideration of my comments and opinions.  I understand that you have the jurisdiction in this matter.  I am hopeful that you’ll make a decision that is best for the neighborhood.

Sincerely, Phyllis Young

On July 20, James Rick followed up with another opposition letter to Mr. Klein.  He is a card carrying member of the Soulard Restoration Group, a Soulard resident and chair of the Safety Committee, we understand.  His letter follows:

Dear Mr. Klein:

We are writing in regard to your upcoming hearing about the St. Louis Barcycle. We are concerned about this vehicle operating in the Soulard neighborhood where we reside, and are writing to oppose granting it a Taxi License.
It advertises itself as a ‘barcycle’ whereby 16 people ride the barcycle, drink, socialize, and pedal. Since the operator has no liquor license he can’t serve the drinks, but advertises that they are available from stops at bars, or that coolers are allowed. Unlike a proposed bar where neighboring residents get to sign a petition about its location, this vehicle is mobile and uses our street, 9th, as its primary route to go north-south and vice versa. 9th Street is flat so it’s not like having a noisy party once or twice a summer. This vehicle can come by several times in a day or weekend. We have no way to protest the abusive use of a (non-existent) liquor license.
Plus, its on-board stereo is noisy, and the drinking patrons can be loud. But if they aren’t in the mood to tone it down, what recourse do we residents have? Also, what is the measure of a reasonable noise level? Do we have to bother the Police (who have far more important matters to attend to) every time a loud group rolls by?
This vehicle can also be in conflict with the overall traffic on 9th Street. With only two lanes for traffic, on busy weekends the street can be filled with pedestrians, cyclists, golf carts, shuttle vehicles, and automobile traffic. Sometimes seniors on those motorized carts are there as well. It’s a recipe for a nasty accident because passing is dangerous!
We’ve heard of a solution offered to go down streets other than 9th. Ordinarily that would work; however, visitors are on all those streets as well, looking for free parking. They are mostly residential (and hilly) blocks, so that the noise again becomes a factor.
As a Commission you are considering a new use for a commercial vehicle within the City. How would this fit into the traffic patterns for other neighborhoods, and how would the residents and businesses there receive this concept? We can also imagine the Police would be none too thrilled about the problems this barcycle would present.
We understand that the owner has the support of the Soulard Business Association, mostly comprised of bar owners who will benefit by increased bar business. Those of us who reside here need to be vigilant about retaining the residential quality of life in Soulard. There’s a delicate balance between these opposing forces, and we are simply asking you to be aware of the concerns outlined above.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of our comments and opinions. Our neighbors and we are confident you’ll make a decision that is best for the Soulard neighborhood and its property owners in this City we care so much for.

Sincerely Yours, James W. Rick (and) Jacqueline L. Torno

Well, not wishing to be left out, the Soulard Restoration Group big wigs  thought out the issue and decided in favor of the BarCycle.  Their letter, dated 7/20/2012, follows:

Dear Dan Lloyd, Phyllis Young and Ron Kline,

The Soulard Restoration Group (SRG) would like to share our support for the BarCycle business in the Soulard neighborhood.
Dan Lloyd has presented his revised operation procedures to our organization. We feel that with the new rules on hours of operation, noise levels, safety, and route, the BarCycle can be an asset to our Soulard neighborhood.
Hopefully, the BarCycle will provide another opportunity for people to see and enjoy all the Soulard neighborhood has to offer. The BarCycle will also raise awareness of the great Soulard establishments.
We believe Dan will address and solve any future issues that may arise.
Thank You.

Sean Cochran, President of The Soulard Restoration Group

Well, we certainly hope that Sean’s letter doesn't settle the issue.  After all, the SRG always says: “If you don’t like Mardi Gras, then it’s time to move.”  I guess now you just substitute BarCycle for Mardi Gras, and to hell with neighborhood residential assets.  

We look forward to the decision of the Taxicab Commission, and we thank our Alderman for displaying some balls, for once.