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Commentaries

Adelaide Mahaffey Schlafly - A Rememberance
Aired October 26, 2012
My mother, Adelaide Mahaffey Schlafly, was an unusual woman. When she was in her late thirties she decided to go to college. As the mother of three young children she most definitely did not match the profile of the typical undergraduate in the 1950s. Nevertheless, she enrolled at St. Louis University and graduated magna cum laude the month before her 41st birthday.

Remembering Arnold Grobman
Aired August 06, 2012
A chapter in Arnold Grobman’s life that was not mentioned in any of these obituaries was his service on the board of directors of the St. Louis Public Library from 1986 to 1988. I had the privilege of serving with him during this time. To say the least, it was ironic that I was the president of the board, while he was a distinguished scholar, more than 30 years my senior, with an international reputation. He was one of the best mentors I’ve ever had.

Corporate HQs Leaving St. Louis
Aired June 14, 2012
Despite impressive, local success stories, people still worry that businesses are leaving St. Louis. Even more worrisome is the conventional wisdom that the business climate in St. Louis is not conducive to start-ups, unlike, for example, places like Silicon Valley. Is the conventional wisdom true?

Missouri's Use of Lawsuit Settlements
Aired April 17, 2012
Missouri, like many other states, is facing serious fiscal challenges, and our elected officials have responded with some pretty creative solutions.

Changing the Meaning of "Blight"
Aired January 05, 2012
Although Missouri today is not an Orwellian society, some state and local governments have given some words definitions that won’t be found in dictionaries and are contrary to common usage and common sense. Take, for example, the word “boat.” Most of us picture something that floats, ranging in size from a canoe to a large yacht. Under the Missouri Constitution, however, a multi-story building that houses a casino near a major river is said to be a “riverboat.”

The evolving definition of the word “blight” is even more curious.

Mixed Messages
Aired November 02, 2011
To the extent that the protests reflect popular anxiety over globalization, it’s somewhat ironic that they’re aimed primarily at the financial industry. This is one area in which America is able to compete effectively in the global economy. Globalization has been blamed for much greater job losses in the American manufacturing sector than in the financial sector. Yet the wrath of the protesters is directed at bankers, not at the manufacturers who moved production overseas.

Remembering Bob Cassilly
Aired September 29, 2011
The monument to Bob Cassilly is not limited to his many artistic creations… whimsical, delightful, imaginative and provocative though they may be. No, the real monument to Bob goes beyond the things he made and is also more subtle. It includes the countless ways he broadened our horizons. Because of Bob, adults in St. Louis have felt the freedom to experience once again the joys of childhood. Because of him, St. Louis can rightly claim to be a Petri dish for artistic creativity, a place where artistic conventions are flouted along with dozens of other societal conventions. No longer do those with artistic inclinations have to look with envy towards the east or west coast. It’s cool to live in St. Louis. Bob Cassilly proved that it was.

Representative Government Vs. Direct Democracy
Aired September 02, 2011
Every word in the United States Constitution was thoroughly debated prior to being adopted. By contrast, very few Missourians had read the Hancock Amendment before adding it to our state constitution in 1980 and even fewer understood it. There are those who would say that not even Mel Hancock, who got credit for drafting the amendment, understood what was in it.

Wisconsin Judicial Flap Shows Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plans Strengths
Aired June 03, 2011
Does anyone seriously think that the special interests who poured millions of dollars into the Wisconsin Supreme Court election were actually concerned about conflicting interpretations of the state’s open meetings law? Closer to home, does Missouri want supreme court justices whose interpretations of our state’s open meetings law would depend on who benefits from a given piece of legislation? Do we really want special interests spending millions of dollars in an effort to buy decisions that suit them in our supreme court?

Books and Basketball
Aired March 29, 2011
March Madness is about to enter its third and final weekend. Seemingly everyone everywhere is talking about the Final Four, even folks who display little or no interest in college basketball throughout the other 49 weeks of the year.

In the midst of this frenzy it’s worth noting that there’s another, very admirable version of college basketball that has nothing to do with the road to the Final Four.

George Washington, Partisanship and Congressional Redistricting
Aired December 16, 2010
The partisan rancor predicted by (George) Washington will be especially bitter with the drawing of new congressional districts, as happens every ten years following the federal census. Even before Washington assumed the presidency, the process of awarding seats in the House of Representatives was contentious. One need look no further than the absurd constitutional provision that counted slaves as three fifths of a person for purposes of representation in the House. Today, we still have the same heated competition among states for seats in Congress as existed back in Washington’s day. We also have the even fiercer competition between the two major political parties for seats.

This fight will be particularly acrimonious in Missouri if, as some experts predict, the state loses one of its nine seats in the House of Representatives.

Thanksgiving - Not Just Giving Thanks, But Doing
Aired November 24, 2010
Thanksgiving is the holiday of gratitude, which is fine. I'm all for taking time out to be grateful for the many blessings we enjoy, but we shouldn't stop there. There should be more to Thanksgiving than simply appreciating what has been given to us.

The only way we can repay those who have done so much for us is to do something for others: through volunteer service, financial contributions or both. The needs in St. Louis are many. The opportunities to make a difference are there, whatever your interests might be.

Lessons from Shirley Sherrod
Aired September 21, 2010
Consider the campaigns now underway in the St. Louis area. In Missouri Democrats are hoping to win the Senate seat that will be left open by the retirement of Republican incumbent Kit Bond. In Illinois Republicans are hoping to win the seat formerly held by President Barack Obama. There are also races for several seats in the House of Representatives that are viewed as competitive, as well as those for numerous state and local offices.

In many of these campaigns the common denominator seems to be a strategy based on distorting opponents' records and taking comments out of context on a scale far greater than what was done to Shirley Sherrod.

Missouri's Insincere Anti-Smoking Efforts
Aired July 14, 2010
Governor Jay Nixon has expressed his opposition to increasing the tax, pointing out that Missouri voters have twice rejected proposals that would do so. This skepticism on the part of the voters is well founded. They need only look at the state's track record. Missouri has already collected billions of dollars in tobacco settlement funds and cigarette taxes. The percentage that has been spent on anti-smoking programs has been negligible. Who can blame the voters for being suspicious of how the proceeds of a higher tax on cigarettes would be spent?

An Unnecessary Solution to a Problem That Doesn't Exist
Aired April 15, 2010
Every year there are two things that can be said with certainty about the Missouri General Assembly. First, there are some very serious problems that it will not have time to address or resolve. Second, legislators will spend a lot of time coming up with unnecessary solutions to problems that don't exist. The latter is an apt description of Senate Bill 903, which would authorize cultural institutions in the Zoo-Museum District to charge admission to people who don't live in the City of St. Louis or St. Louis County.

"What in the World Were They Thinking?"
Aired March 08, 2010
The St. Louis area has some incredible treasures. All too often, however, we don't appreciate what we have until it's too late. That was the case with the Cahokia Mounds, the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico. It's now recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site and attracts visitors from all over the world. It wasn't that long ago that one of the mounds was destroyed in order to make way for a Grandpa's store and its surrounding parking lot. Looking back today one can only ask, "What in the world were they thinking?"

One generation later history is about to repeat itself at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

Charity Shouldn't End When the TV Crews Leave
Aired February 08, 2010
I have been to Haiti several times and have observed the desperate living conditions first hand. Even in the best of times, when there are no hurricanes or earthquakes, the poverty is far worse than what one finds anywhere in America. Long after the media have stopped covering the most recent earthquake and its aftermath, the need in Haiti will still be immense.

Mizzou Doesn't Need to Change Conferences
Aired January 11, 2010
Governor Jay Nixon recently said the University of Missouri would enhance its academic excellence by dropping out of the Big 12 athletic conference and becoming the 12th member of what would still be called the Big 10. According to Governor Nixon, Mizzou would be in better academic company with schools like Northwestern and Wisconsin than it is now with schools such as Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

Measuring the academic quality of colleges and universities is a controversial process that depends on arbitrary and subjective criteria...a lot like the BCS system for determining the best college football team.

Eero Saarinen's Vision Closer to Fruition
Aired December 14, 2009
The Arch itself is spectacular, but the national park around it is incomplete. (Arch Architect Eero) Saarinen's vision included a national park on both sides of the Mississippi. When the Arch was constructed, however, there were no federal funds for the Illinois portion of the park.

At this point Malcolm Martin, a lawyer who had worked with Luther Ely Smith, took it upon himself to fulfill Saarinen's plan. Six years after Malcolm Martin's death, it now appears that his and Eero Saarinen's shared dream might finally be realized.

Hiring Requirements Vs. Voting Requirements
Aired November 09, 2009
Some of the voters who went to the polls in Missouri last week were asked to provide proof of their identity. They could do so with a photo ID, like a driver's license, or a non-photo ID, like a bank statement or utility bill. While this requirement may have seemed burdensome to some, it's worth noting that federal law imposes far more stringent requirements on anyone seeking a job in the United States.

Our democracy depends on the integrity of our electoral process. If a single form of ID, with or without a photograph, is enough to vote in elections, why is it not enough to allow these same voters to work here legally?

Hate Crime
Aired October 12, 2009
Four weeks ago a student in Belleville suffered a severe beating on a school bus. After a videotape of the incident was seen all across America, people everywhere began asking whether the attack was racially motivated. There's no denying that the ensuing discussion has been both divisive and counterproductive. Ironically, this discussion was also inevitable under current state and federal laws.

The reason is so-called "hate crime" legislation that provides for enhanced sentencing when an attack is racially motivated.

Waiting Time
Aired September 14, 2009
People in the City of St. Louis and its suburbs don't always see things the same way. Consider, for example, the impact of a grocery store on a neighborhood.

Cards / Cubs Rivalry Brings Mixed Emotions
Aired August 10, 2009
Many years ago, before the Cubs won their most recent World Series in 1908, they had a second baseman named Larry Schlafly. He was a very, very distant relative. He also wasn't very good and may have done more harm than good for the team.

More than a century later the son of my former secretary is pitching for the Cubs. In all candor I view his success with mixed emotions.

Lambert Not Up to All-Star Standards
Aired July 13, 2009
As St. Louis prepares to host its first All Star Game in 43 years, our downtown is looking pretty good. Unfortunately, as nice as our downtown is, Lambert Airport, where thousands of visitors will get their first and last impressions of St. Louis, is definitely not up to All-Star Standards.

It hasn't always been this way.

More Hardship from Auto Industry Downturn
Aired June 08, 2009
Consider the plight of people who own bonds issued by automobile companies. Most of them paid a premium for what they thought was a safe investment, perhaps to fund their retirement. These bondholders have been pressured to give up their legal rights as secured creditors. They will now have to settle for a small fraction of what they are owed by the automobile companies.

Democracy Works - But Do the Electorate?
Aired May 11, 2009
Many of those who praise the wisdom of the electorate for the way it voted on banning concealed weapons and establishing a state minimum wage are the same people who said the same electorate was ignorant and misguided when it voted to ban gay marriage. Some of these same people fought to keep a proposition limiting affirmative action off the ballot saying the electorate couldn't be trusted to understand the issue and vote the right way.

Filling Congressional Seats: No Logic Required
Aired April 13, 2009
The election last November left two vacancies in Illinois's congressional delegation: Barack Obama's seat in the Senate and Rahm Emmanuel's seat in the House of Representatives. Logic would dictate that these vacancies be filled the same way. Logic, however, is not the same as reality.

Missouri, Tobacco and Irony
Aired March 09, 2009
There's currently a debate in Jefferson City about whether to use Medicaid funds to pay for programs to prevent smoking. The irony is that Missouri has already received more than a billion dollars for smoking prevention but has managed to find other uses for the money. The funds, which came from the settlement of a lawsuit against big tobacco companies, have mostly been spent for purposes wholly unrelated to smoking.

A further irony is that Missouri is now heavily dependent on the financial viability of the companies it sued.

A Dual Lesson from Gaslight Square and the Arch
Aired February 09, 2009
Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of a devastating tornado that I remember well. It passed within a few blocks of the house where I grew up, killing 21 people and injuring more than 350 others. It then touched down at the intersection of Boyle and Olive in the heart of Gaslight Square. This coming Saturday marks another important anniversary, that of the founding of St. Louis in 1764. I recall the bicentennial of this date 45 years ago, when the commemoration included the construction of the Gateway Arch. Today the Arch stands as a magnificent and enduring monument that not many people visit.

With the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis five years away, we should heed the dual lessons of Gaslight Square and the Arch.

St. Louis Lacks World Class Corruption
Aired January 12, 2009
There was a time when St. Louis had a national reputation for political corruption. When Lincoln Steffens published The Shame of the Cities in 1904 he devoted two chapters to greed and graft in St. Louis.

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Tom Schlafly

Tom Schlafly

Commentator

Tom Schlafly is an attorney in St. Louis.

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