The Reverend and Homeless v. Loft-dwellers and Clubbers

There is a hearing today concerning the hotel-permit of the New Life Evangelistic Center homeless shelter on Locust Street downtown ran by Rev. Larry Rice.

Rev. Rice is a household name in St. Louis largely due to owning KNLEC Channel 24. One of the questions I ask passengers is if they know who Larry Rice is. If they say no I know they are either not from St. Louis or don’t know shit about the city.

Where the shelter is used to be a lot of garment factories. By the time I was coming up most were vacant. Washington Ave at that time was about St. Louis Center, Levins, Levines and most importantly Gus’s. Gus’s on Washington and Tucker is where everyone went to get their fly gear during the hip-hop golden-age and Gus was a real character. When you would leave the store though you had to look out for robbers. Once in middle-school a homeless guy pissed on my brand new suade Filas on 14th Street as I turned the corner. Later when I was a street-vendor I would buy from Korean wholesalers on Washington. All of that stuff is long gone now though besides Levines and Levins.

The new downtown centered on Washington is home to loft-dwellers who tend to be young or childless professionals and older couples. At night it comes alive with the party crowd frequenting the bars and restaurants. Most come from places like Soulard, the Central West End or West County. Some of the places are rather pricey. Amongst the people living downtown there are a lot of West County folks and transplants. They are not accustomed to some of the challenges and complexities of city living.

I have always supported Rev. Rice and thought of him as a good man doing the Lord’s work. My grandparents send him money from their social security checks. However, in recent years I have became a little sour on him for a few reasons.

First off I just see homeless people lounging around all day and night in the park and streets in the area. Fights are routine, women are turning tricks and it is not a good atmosphere. Last year I had to get out of my car and intervene as two men were beating another man over a Slurpee. Where is the treatment? Job-placement? What’s the program. Some people don’t wanna be and can’t be helped. Those that do need resources.

I know you cant put this all on Rev. Rice. St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson, Linclon, Franklin, Madison, St. Claire and other regional counties pretty much have one homeless policy- dumping their homeless downtown on the city of St. Louis.

A regional approach with everyone paying their fair share is needed. This funding, which others have been advocating for years, can create good programs for people in need spread throughout the metro area not just focusing on downtown.

The downtown crowd is also not immune to criticism. They should have known this wasn’t Chesterfield when they moved in. Drug-use is common at these bars along with fights, public-urination and rowdy behavior. That is not all of the downtown crowd or even most for sure. Just saying they have shit on their side of the fence as well.

I like the new downtown and make money from it. I want to see it succeed and continue to prosper. People such as ray Hartman doubted it would get this far. Ten years from now the sky is the limit I just see it getting better and better.

(Videos) Ferguson-Florissant Schools, Race and Dr. Art McCoy

When I heard that Dr. Art McCoy was suspended from his position as the superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District I did not know what to make of it. I had known Art as a teenager: but was unfamiliar with his work as an educator. I know that Florissant, like the rest of North St. Louis County is in a period of great transition. North County was built and grew as blue-collar industrial suburbs and our national economy has changed and factories have closed. TWA is gone, Ford is gone, the GM parts plant is gone, Lambert Airport is nowhere near what it used to be, and McDonnell-Douglas has long since sold to Boeing costing the district tens of thousands of taxpayers ( the district logo is the old company logo) .   There has also been a massive white-flight out of the district towards St. Charles and Lincoln Counties which has caused property-values to decline. Indeed Florissant and other parts of the district were hit very hard by the sub-prime meltdown. Harder than anywhere else in the state of Missouri. Kinloch now looks like a ghost-town, Robertson no longer exists, and parts of Ferguson and Cool Valley are downright ghetto.

I believe the district does has some issues. Like many schools with a large population of kids from broken homes you will be dealing with fighting, drugs, gang-activity and behavior problems. But that’s nothing new.  I went to McCluer North 20 years ago and participated in all four. Those are cultural and spiritual issues that can’t be solved in the classroom or by any educator. To lay the blame on any one person is unfair.

What is clear to me is the divide over Dr. Art McCoy is all about race. Everyone I heard speaking against him was white. Yet they didn’t say much. Art has clearly pissed a lot of white people off but why? The black attendees spoke at length about their support of Art. Why the secrecy from his detractors? Not trying to be funny. I really wanna know. Did he have Farrakhan Day? Substitute pumpkin pie for sweet potato pie? Or is it the whole Normandy and Riverview schools issue?

Again we come back to race. Florissant integrated slow and unenthusiastically. The courts merged the white Ferguson-Florissant  schools in the 1970’s with the African-American districts of Kinloch and Robertson. Berkeley soon became majority African-American afterwards. Ferguson began integrating first with apartment-complexes like Wyndhurst in the late seventies. Florissant held off the longest.

White Florissant officers were ordered to harass black motorists for years . A former drunken chief once confronted a black  man at a party and yelled “get this in your head Florissant is not an integrated city”. My sister once managed a local eatery as a teenager where she was told to put the forms of black applicants into the “do not hire” drawer. In the 1980’s McCluer North football star Dan McKeon was killed in a racial-fight at a house party by a black kid from Kinloch. I personally witnessed numerous racial fights attending Desmet Elementary, Parker Road Elementary, Cross Keys Middle School, and McCluer North. While there were cross-racial friendships and dating for the most part the schools were divided based on race.

The classic liberal logic is integration creates friendship and understanding. I’m not so sure.  Most of the white kids I went to school have said they don’t want their kids going to the same kind of schools they went to and moved out to St. Charles, Lincoln, and other counties.The numbers speak for themselves. The white student population of McCluer North for example has dropped by almost two-thirds since I was a student.

I am not saying all of the problems are on white people and black students are blameless. I am saying that racial issues that go unspoken about and lead to private actions with public consequences can never be good. For sure there are real issues: but deal with them in a public manor.

I am not a pessimist.  Normandy held a big meeting last year about the problems in their schools. Almost nobody showed up. 1500 people showed up last night at the school board meeting! Several-hundred students in the narcissistic Nikki Minaj Instagram era protested yesterday in support of Dr. Art McCoy! That is the sign of a healthy community that cares about education. The crowd represented the new flavor of the district. Hard-working black families. If they show up to vote this change will be reflected at the school board and other elected bodies.

The district has a great future. Not all whites are leaving. Look at what is going on on Florissant Road in Ferguson. Restaurants, coffee shops, a micro-brewery, a farmers market and what is developing into a North County version of the Delmar Loop. Not all white Florissant residents are mesmerized by what is going on west of the Missouri River either. Families are maintaining neighborhoods like Old Town Florissant and local businesses like Old Town Donuts, Fritz’s, BJ’s, Cugino’s, and Mattinglys are still thriving.

In addition to that the district is becoming home to a lot of Arab, West African and Latino immigrants. The 1950’s aren’t coming back: but if everyone works together the next decades can be the brightest for the district. However, for this to happen, a transparent board that can deal with the changing demographics is needed and what I saw last night from the board is far from transparency.  Fighting hard to hold on to yesterday will not create a better tomorrow.

Having a hard problem posting these videos for some reason but you can view of Redditt Hudson, Chuck Henson and school board member Robert Chabot at my Youtube Channel

Photos of Ferguson-Florissant Board Meeting After Dismissal of Dr. Art MCoy

Videos and write-up coming soon. Ran out of battery-life to record my public comment although I have been told it was on channels 4 and 5. As a bonus our state championship photos on the walls are included. God bless Charlie Sr. . A great man. Great turnout tonight. A new day is coming.

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St. Louis Post-World Series Thoughts

Now that the pain of the World Series loss to Boston is over allow me to say a few things:

– if you are the Cardinals fan who smiled and said “aww that is cute” because the Red Sox placed an ad in the St. Louis papers congratulating St. Louis for getting beat you are probably the kind of guy who likes watching his wife get banged and a born loser.

– I said from the beginning Jose Oquendo should have been hired as the manager and the Tea Party Cardinals fan base would not accept it. Can Mike Matheney  get the Cards to the finish line? Time will tell but he has had the tools two years in a row and came up empty.

– David Freese is a degenerate alcoholic. Alcoholism and athletics do not mix. This West County frat boy is a disgrace to the team. 2011 was 2011. I don’t wanna see him in a Cardinals uniform any more than I want to see him puking on a Central West End sidewalk again. His addiction has eroded his skills.

-Joe Buck was not cheering for the Red Sox. He just watched Big Papi and gets excited anytime a Dominican goes deep.

– I will say it again. Boston is a soft ass yuppie city second only to maybe corny ass cities like San Francisco or Seattle. On no day is Boston ever stronger than St. Louis. Check the numbers.  STL is Murder City.

-Other than that the Cards are in pretty good shape for next season.

Mosque Pedophilia and the Culture of Secrecy

I really don’t plan on writing very much on Islam in America anymore or the situation within the American-Muslim community. I am still basically on the “Jummah at the Crib” tip that I alluded to an in earlier post. Mosques, religious organizations and imams are not speaking to the needs of the people so people must organize themselves at a small level. The Earth is a masjid so surely your living room can suffice as a masjid.

For the last several days I have been thinking about an incident in Northern Virginia after speaking to a well-connected Muslim brother and friend there. I thought about our conversation again as I attended a Muslim Organizing meeting in St. Louis on Saturday. One of the attendees spoke to the communal nature of eastern cultures and the selfish individualistic nature of western societies. To a large extent this is true of course and there are pros and cons to both. Traditional Muslim cultures with their emphasis on families and tribes ensure many things. Homelessness is rare, loneliness is less common, marrying is easier, and there is a sense of belonging and shared responsibility. The negatives of course are this can stifle individuals which stifles creativity and leads to stagnation and often a culture of hiding and covering up anything that would make the group look bad even if it means the problem festers.  Which brings me back to Northern Virginia.

A few years ago I wrote about the situation with a security-guard at a large mosque in Northern Virginia. The guard was a middle-aged non-married man with a white-collar job who volunteered as a guard and became a trusted member of the community. In addition to his security duties he could often be found in the office of the mosque weighing in on other matters related to the administration of the mosque.

A single brother, decent looking with a good job will be courted by many Muslim sisters and families for marriage.  This brother never expressed any interest in marriage or women. Meanwhile he became very close to a number of young boys in the community and began hosting sleepovers. These same boys over time all began displaying effeminate behavior and formed a clique at the mosque of similar boys who all shared the connection to the security guard. At least one of the boys admitted in private to having been sexually molested by the guard during a sleepover.

Made aware of this situation a few years ago  while in Virginia I talked to a celebrity Imam living near the mosque and he approached the leadership who dismissed the information. It is important to note that one of the most influential people in the mosque and indeed one of the most respected people in Brotherhood circles in America had his own son at these sleepovers (who began displaying effeminate mannerisms shortly thereafter and is now living in DC in an openly gay lifestyle. Now his sexual-orientation is none of anyone’s business, that is not the issue, the fact that he was possibly molested by a mosque employee is another).

While at the time the mosque did nothing the security-guard was eventually fired and told not to come back to the mosque. I asked my friend the other day what explanation the mosque gave and he told me “they said he was messing around with the boys”.

Good riddance. Glad he is gone. However, pedophilia is illegal. A crime. People who molest children are not subject to the discipline of the Board of Directors of mosques they are subject to criminal prosecutions in America. This is precisely the problem Catholic Churches had. Instead of reporting pedophile priests to the authorities they handled the matter within the church and it festered. Priests were transferred and went onto abuse children again.  It was more important to uphold the reputation of the church than to protect children.

The same thing happened with Muslims in Northern Virginia. Not only was this matter not brought to the authorities but this individual is free to go work at other mosques again. To work with children again. To abuse children again. But why? Because revealing his crimes and taking them to the authorities would have hurt the reputation of the mosque, would have dishonored the families, and aired dirty laundry. So, injustice is less important than keeping up appearances in the community. Living your life for these communal expectations. Others knowing your boy was molested is a greater crime than actually getting molested. Instead of a victim the child would be seen as damaged-goods if made public.

So, I have a few questions:

1. Where is this individual today? Is he working security at another mosque? At a school? Is he working around children?

2. Or is something more sinister going on? This is a mosque where there have been several prosecutions of members.Numerous  members are serving lengthy prison-sentences.  At least one former attendee has been killed in a drone-strike. It is documented that the mosque has been under heavy-surveillance (indeed some of those middle-aged Ikhwaani uncles would speak to one another in whispers at times, meet with the lights off, or cover their mouths when speaking) . How could this behavior go unnoticed by the government? Or was it unnoticed? A guard in such a place has a lot of information at his fingertips about a lot of people. He hears a lot of conversations. There could be reward, or looking the other way, if he were to share such conversations with interested parties.

In conclusion it is no secret the problems the Catholic Church has had in this area. It is also no secret that The Gulf, Pakistan and the security guard’s home country of Afghanistan have had problems with the abuse of young boys. That is a problem we can do without and the backhome mentality of shaming the victim is not good there and it is not good here.