EDITORIAL: Short takes on heroes, zeros and wayward politicians

St. Louis Post-Dispatch |

--Party now, pay later?

After planning a $3,000 event that taxpayers would fund but not be invited to, the Chesterfield City Council decided that was a bad idea and rescinded the money. That last part was a good idea.

The "Meet the Legislators" event, scheduled for during a concert at the Chesterfield amphitheater, was planned as an attempt to repair relationships with other municipal officials over a change in state law that lets Chesterfield keep more of its sales tax revenue than other municipalities.

"This party appears elitist," Councilwoman Barb McGuinness said in opposition. "The food and drink would be paid for by taxpayers but they're not invited." Councilwoman Michelle Ohley protested that "we shouldn't have taxpayers pay extra for us to build relationships, paying to let us try to fix what they didn't break."

Both are good points.

Councilman Guy Tilman said the city could still hold the event, and tell politicians to "pay for their own food or bring a picnic basket and we can keep taxpayers' money out of this," Post-Dispatch freelance writer Mary Shapiro wrote.

Or Chesterfield could act regionally, put more money into the countywide till, and not have to repair any relationships.

Daddy's girl

When it comes to men and daughters, it seemed questionable that anyone could out-creep President Donald Trump and Ivanka. But then along comes Michael Cohen, who makes the president's creepiness seem almost tolerable.

Cohen, Trump's personal attorney, recently posted to his 218,000 Twitter followers a black-and-white photograph of his 21-year-old daughter posed provocatively, wearing only black hosiery and a lacy bra.

His caption included a link to his daughter's Instagram account and said: "So proud of my Ivy League daughter ... brains and beauty channeling her Edie Sedgwick." The photo is similar to a famous Andy Warhol shot of Sedgwick, an actress and fashion model. There is nothing in it that displays signs of Samantha Blake Cohen's academic prowess or Ivy League credentials.

After critical responses on social media and accusations that the photo was pornographic, dad called one naysayer an "a-hole," and asked of another, "Jealous?" Both dad and daughter defended the photo, and Samantha Cohen said those who found it inappropriate were "merely Trump haters."

Honoring heroes

School bus driver Lavitta Conrod-Wooldridge was happy to see the 13 children she steered to safety when a driver cut her off, causing her to swerve and send the bus careening down an embankment on Interstate 44 near Lindbergh Boulevard.

Conrod-Wooldridge, 37, an experienced driver, was en route to Hanna Woods Elementary School in Manchester when the accident occurred. Authorities said injuries would have been much worse if Conrod-Wooldridge had not managed to keep the bus upright through the crash.

Students got some scrapes and bruises but were not seriously injured. Conrod-Wooldridge was taken to a hospital with serious injuries and released Tuesday. She was honored along with bystanders who rushed to help children off the bus in a ceremony at the school on Thursday. First responders and St. Louis Children's Hospital staff who treated the students also were invited.

Conrod-Wooldridge's daughter, Brianna Moore, said her mother wanted to see the students and had nightmares about the accident. "We had to ... reassure her that everything was OK," Moore said.

Must be present to win this honor

Laraya Griffith accomplished something nearly impossible these days. She is graduating from Francis Howell North with a perfect attendance record. Not just perfect attendance for her senior year or for all four years of high school. She received a certificate confirming that Laraya has not missed a single day of school since kindergarten.

Her mother, Cassandra Griffith, says her son also graduated in 2013 having not missed a single day of school from kindergarten through high school. Whatever mom has been serving for breakfast, she needs to package it and put it on the market.

Stalwart defenders of (big) business

The Republican supermajority in Jefferson City has consistently decried big government and over-regulation of business. The Legislature has consistently passed laws to help big businesses escape oversight and get out from under pesky consumer-protection laws. Well-paid lobbyists make sure legislators don't sit on those bills.

But when it comes to helping small businesses whose only service is to braid hair, the Legislature balked. It adjourned without revising a law that requires 1,500 hours of cosmetology training and a complicated licensing structure that typically costs applicants around $12,000. That proponents of the bill didn't hire expensive lobbyists, or that they primarily represented African-American small businesses, probably had a lot to do with the Legislature's lack of urgency to get it passed. But thank goodness lawmakers saw the urgency on the session's last day of honoring Jim the Wonder Dog.

Kiener Plaza's comeback debut

At long last, the $23 million remodeling of Kiener Plaza is finished and the park is reopened. The renovation is part of a $380 million package of improvements to the Gateway Arch grounds and surrounding public spaces, all of which are expected to be finished by the end of the year.

An expanded new concert area with a spectacular archway view now can accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 people, a big step up from the 500-person capacity of the old sunken amphitheater that occupied the park's west end. Newly planted trees, a playground, LED lights, a revamped "Olympic Runner" statue and winding pathways are designed to make the park more accessible and inviting for downtown visitors. The renovation was a long time coming, but worth the yearlong wait.


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