Monday, October 30, 2006

Most Dangerous?

-No sooner do we have a half-million people celebrating the World Championship won by the Cardinals, than here comes that annual cockamamie a company known as Morgan Quitno Press, whoever they are...that ranks the most dangerous cities according to FBI stats. There's a big picture of the St. Louis skyline, featuring The Arch of course, at the top of MSN's home page today with a headline reading...America's Most Dangerous Cities--Report ranks St. Louis #1.

You know...I'm kinda tired of St. Louis taking a bad rap for it's crime when most of us know that the bulk of the stuff that this survey speaks to happens in North St. Louis and is mostly a threat only to those who live there. The North-side gang wars, drug shootings, and car-jackings go on...and on...and on. And, because of the lawlessness of that neighborhood, the rest of us who live in the suburbs have to explain why we habitate what some people believe is this century's version of the Wild West. The crime happens to take place in the city...but the city isn't the entire metropolitian area. Far from it.

They don't take into consideration the splintering of the municipalities in the St. Louis market. The city of St. Louis has a population of around 300-thousand. They don't measure the crime in the cities and counties around St. Louis that make up the 3 million or so people in the market as a whole. If they did, I'll wager that our city would be nowhere close to New York, Detroit (which came in #2), Washington D.C., Los Angeles, or several other cities in serious crime. St. Louis is handicapped by having a small geographic area for the city proper...and that's where most of the crime happens to take place. If they just included St. Louis county in their survey the results would be much different.

I don't think there were many of the Cardinal Nation faithful who stayed home from yesterday's victory parade because they were afraid to come to downtown St. Louis for it. The parade was organized right in the middle of where the near South-side projects used to be. The Truman Boulevard area has been cleaned up and made into a much cleaner and safer area than even just a few years ago. Wouldn't you think if St. Louis was so God-awful dangerous, and overrun with murderers and rapists, that some of the criminal element hell-bent on chaos would have shown up for the parade? I didn't hear about any horrible crimes at the parade. Did you?

At the same time, let's not kid ourselves into thinking that St. Louis city is paradise. There's a lot of stuff that needs to be fixed...crime being one of them. But downtown, with the new stadium and all the new development in the works, is poised for a big turnaround. It will take a while. But things look much better than they did just a few years ago. The Washington Avenue entertainment and loft district is changing the face of that part of the city too. Those are two development areas that, if nurtured properly by city officials, can continue to expand and eliminate some of the blight and cancer around them.

The bottom line of my rant here is that I think the methodology of this flawed survey should be challenged by someone in a position to do so. Maybe Dan Dierdorf who fronts for the Tourism Commission. Or Bob Costas, who lives in St. Louis because he likes it...not because he enjoys confronting danger might stand up for our town on his HBO show. Maybe Joe Buck should speak out next time he's on a national stage like the World Series. Somebody with some clout should say that this survey has as much validity as the predictions of those who counted out the Cardinals before they played the games.

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