Michael Butler Will Give Out Your Social Security Number

recorderdoorMichael Butler, candidate for St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds, wants to make marriage records, including their Social Security Numbers, available online to the general public. What has caused Butler to make such an unfortunate campaign pledge that would require violating Missouri law?

Butler may not know that many Marriage Applications, and occasionally Marriage Licenses, contain Social Security Numbers. The use of Social Security Numbers during the Marriage License process is regulated by State law, not individual Recorders. As a state representative, if Butler wanted to change that law, he had every opportunity to try but did not.

Butler may not know that in the St. Louis City Recorder’s office, a Marriage Application, any attachments such as parental consent Affidavits, and the Marriage License, are all digitally scanned and indexed together by License Number and without redaction of Social Security Numbers. Currently 1940something to Present are scanned, as well as 120,000+ marriage records from 19th Century.

Butler may not know that State law requires redaction of the Social Security Number from the marriage record before a copy can be provided to a customer. That cannot happen if the customer is making the copy off the internet. Again, as a state representative, if Butler wanted to change that law, he had every opportunity to try but did not.

Butler may not know that in Missouri both Marriage Applications and Marriage Licenses are public records accessible by anyone. They are not similar to Birth and Death records where access is restricted to the party named on the record or immediate family. If the City’s marriage records are available online, then anyone will have access to Social Security Numbers and the Recorder doing so will have violated State law.

Another possibility is that Butler is getting very bad campaign advice from one or more persons associated with the defeated April 4, 2017 Prop A campaign funded by Rex Sinquefield.

Spokespersons for the Prop A campaign, including State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, now a supporter of Butler, repeatedly gave misinformation in 2017 that the Recorder was not needed to issue Marriage Licenses. They said the State Health Department’s Vital Records Bureau could do it.

The State’s Vital Records Bureau does not issue Marriage Licenses. It does not sell Marriage License copies. It maintains data, a statewide Marriage Registry for marriages 1948 to Present. For a fee by mail, the State will issue a statement with the names of both spouses, date of marriage and county where the marriage was recorded. It is not a Marriage License copy, let alone a Certified Copy with a raised seal used as legal proof of a ceremony. The State’s Vital Records web page clearly states, “A certified copy of the original marriage license may be obtained by contacting the Recorder of Deeds in the county where the license was obtained.” 

bcampaign2Butler also wants you to pay more and wait longer for Birth and Death Certificate copies by using VitalChek. It’s possible that he saw VitalChek offering copies of Marriage Licenses from other states, which are processed at the county of origin, and mistook that as digital delivery available for Missouri counties, including City of St. Louis. He keeps referring to Marriage Licenses as Vital Records, as did Nasheed during the Prop A campaign, which the State Health Department controls. My money is on he doesn’t understand that Birth and Death Records are State records and Marriage Licenses are County records, including marriage records issued and maintained by the City Recorder.

You don’t have to go to City Hall to purchase a copy of a marriage record. I don’t know where Butler comes up with this nonsense. You can order a copy of  a St. Louis City issued Marriage License and pay for it online with a credit card. It’s the same online order service St. Louis County uses, as well as many other counties.

You don’t have to come to City Hall to research many marriage records. The St. Louis City Recorder provides Marriage License indexing searchable online for free.

Another important issue, Butler’s pledge for online copies of marriage records would be a dramatic change in Recorder policy related to the office’s response to Missouri’s Safe At Home program for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, human trafficking, or stalking. Online access to the most recent forty years of Marriage License indexing has been restricted by the current Recorder to avoid conflicts with the program and protect victims.

St. Louis County does not offer any Marriage Index searches online yet.

You can also purchase copies of Marriage Applications and License by mail. It’s sent out same day received. Counter service for walk-in copy customers takes a few minutes.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

Disclaimer: I have worked at the City Recorder of Deeds for a very long time, before I was elected a committeewoman. My job is not dependent on my politics. My ward organization has not endorsed in the Recorder’s race yet (6/17/2018). This post was written without consultation with my supervisors or the Recorder. I represent myself here and no one else.

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Why Does Michael Butler Want You To Pay More For Birth Certificates?

I was shocked when I saw Michael Butler’s responses to the 15th Ward Democrats candidate survey questions for St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds candidates.

10. How are you working/would you work to make this office a 21st Century office? 
Yes, I will improve our online image, online access to vital records, and digitize our archives.

The “digitize our archives” was truly bizarre because digitizing records- new and old- has been going on for quite some time at the Recorder of Deeds. Scanning takes place in four Recorder departments. When employees aren’t engaged in customer services, they are working on document conservation, preservation (digital scanning), and access (indexing) of records new to very old. One of the great improvements to the office over the past three years has been the increased cross training. At the St. Louis City Recorder’s office, everyone is an archivist to some degree.

Butler saying he will “digitize our archives” is like saying he is running for Recorder of Deeds to record deeds, as if deed recordation was something new he had invented.

But what really blew me away was his advocacy of “online access to vital records.” That access would be via VitalChek. The “service” costs more and takes longer than services by the St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds.

Walk-In Birth Certificate service by the Recorder at City Hall costs $15 (or $16.50 if by credit card because of the service fee) and takes a few minutes.

Mail-In Birth Certificate service by the Recorder at City Hall costs $15 and 50 Cents postage. It goes out by regular mail same day received and generally gets to a customer in 1-3 days.

Online VitalChek Birth Certificate service costs $24.50-$27.25. It goes out by regular mail in 3-5 days and you can expect it in 7-10 days, per the company.

Overnight Express is an additional $19.00, meaning $43.50 Total. But Overnight Express will still take 1-2 days to process and on the 3rd day you may get it.

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VitalBirth2

The additional cost and wait is not the only problem with VitalChek. The pull down menu for ordering favors the Missouri Department of Health. That’s who will process the copy request and get the $15 copy fee portion of the payment, revenue currently generated to the City of St. Louis.
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The State of Missouri Health Department’s Vital Records Office in Jefferson City ran out of Birth Certificate forms last week. So if you are waiting on a VitalChek copy, it may be awhile. The City Recorder’s Birth and Death Certificate offices have never run out of forms.

The City Recorder generates somewhere around $1 Million a year to the City of St. Louis from Birth and Death Certificate copies. The City cannot afford a drop in revenue from any source. Butler’s plan to use VitalChek would be a costly mistake to both customers and the City.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

Disclaimer: I have worked at the City Recorder of Deeds for a very long time, before I was elected a committeewoman. My job is not dependent on my politics. My ward organization has not endorsed in the Recorder’s race yet (6/10/2018). This post was written without consultation with my supervisors or the Recorder. I represent myself here and no one else.

Thursday Christopher Harris Youth Violence Prevention March

ChristopherHarris

6-9 pm Thursday, June 7, 2018
Christopher Harris Youth Violence Prevention March
Sponsored by State Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr.
Begins at Compton Hill Reservoir Park
Ends at Christopher Harris Statue outside Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital

Public Transit Info…
Compton Hill Reservoir is served by the following buses
#8 Bates-Morganford
#70 Grand 
Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital is also served by #70 Grand 

Bruce was 6 when his 9 year old brother Christopher Harris was used as a human shield during a gunfight, was shot in the back and killed on June 7, 1991.

This year, the Missouri General Assembly passed House Concurrent Resolution 70, sponsored by Bruce, to “declare youth violence as a public health epidemic and support the establishment of statewide trauma-informed education;” and declare June 7th ‘Christopher Harris Day’ in Missouri to remember children in St. Louis and throughout the state of Missouri lost to violence.”

Monday Drinking Liberally Happy Hour With State Rep. Bruce Franks

May20186:30-9 pm Monday, May 21, 2018
Drinking Liberally St. Louis Chapter
Nadine’s, 1931 S 12th in Soulard
Host: Marie Ceselski
Guest Speaker: State Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr.
RSVP mtceselski@aol.com

We’ll go around the tables and ask Bruce questions, similar to past two happy hours.

We’ll play Rex Bingo. Prizes will include kale and collards seedlings.

Please bring single serve packaged food donations for Lafayette Park United Methodist Church Brown Bag Meal Program serving our unhoused neighbors 
(Only Items Needing NO Refrigeration, Cooking, Assembly)
Cans of Vienna Sausages
Packages of Tuna/Chicken & Crackers
Packages of Peanut Butter Crackers
Single Serving Boxes of Raisins
Single Serving Fruit/Applesauce Cans
DLphoto3 - Copy

I Contacted Bi-State About Bus Cuts. Now Your Turn. Deadline Today/Friday.

busbuschEmail reimagined@metrostlouis.org

Information on Bus Routes to be eliminated (disregard meeting info, the post is a bit dated)

My letter to Bi-State Development Agency

I am writing in opposition to proposed cuts to bus service which pose public safety risks. I am also writing in criticism of the process by which these services are being proposed for cuts, and to review some past mistakes made by Metro/Bi-State Development on service cuts as examples of where service is needed.

The #8 Morganford travels Russell to South 12th and north to Downtown. It serves the Allen Market senior housing at Russell and South 12th, bar and restaurant workers in Soulard and on Grand, and Downtown workers and customers of Fields Foods (on Lafayette) who live in Soulard and McKinley Heights. The public transit option proposed for these current riders is #10 Gravois. This would require crossing six-lane Gravois at Russell, a very dangerous intersection that includes a highway off ramp and traffic from a gas station/convenience store and fast food business, an intersection with frequent accidents.

The #19 St. Louis Avenue would no longer serve the workers and customers of Old North’s 14th Street Mall, Crown Candy, LaMancha Coffee, other businesses, and senior housing. The public transit option proposed is six-lane #74 Florissant in an area with crime problems.

The #20 South Broadway travels through Soulard on South 12th to Downtown. It serves customers of Vincent’s Market at South 12th and Barton, the Allen Market senior housing at Russell and South 12th, bar and restaurant workers in Soulard, and Downtown workers and customers of Fields Foods (on Lafayette) who live in Soulard, as well as homeless persons coming and going to our various service providers. The public transit option proposed for these current riders is #10 Gravois, which would be of no use to customers of Vincent’s Market. See also #8 Morganford for public safety concerns.

The #73 Carondelet would no longer serve the bar and restaurant workers and customers of Cherokee Street. The public transit option proposed is #11 Chippewa on Jefferson. The area has crime problems. Walking in the dark to Jefferson would not be safe.

In each of these cases, an unsafe option is proposed. It doesn’t matter whether planners assumed that captive customers like dish washers will use the unsafe option because they have no alternative, or simply didn’t research what institutions were on the bus routes, the result is the same, a bad proposal.

Over the past five weeks I have sought out bus riders at bus stops on the aforementioned affected routes. I spoke with 57 bus riders that I was not acquainted with. Not a single person knew their bus stop was proposed for elimination. When I mentioned the lack of community outreach to Metro/Bi-State staff at the April 17th meeting, staff insisted that the brochure handed out at transit centers and on buses was sufficient notice. Said brochure said nothing about service cuts. It was dishonest.

You can increase ridership by providing bus service to places you once did and screwed up by eliminating it.

You should return bus service to Busch Stadium. People do not want to take a bus to the train to Busch. Eliminating bus service to ball games was a huge mistake. It resulted in more people driving.

You should return bus service to City Hall and Civil Courts. People do not want to walk from Civic Center transit center to City Hall and Courts, particularly when it is raining or snowing out. 25 years ago about 1/4 of the employees at City Hall rode the bus to work. Now it’s about a dozen people. You really messed up on that one. Today you have buses that travel on Clark, go right past City Hall without a stop for riders. It’s ridiculous.

Probably the worst part about participating in the recent transit meetings was hearing from Metro/Bi-State staff that the reason the transit “hearing” was not attended by Bi-State Development Commissioners is because they don’t know anything about bus routes.

That’s our problem right there, the governing body for public transit has no idea what the product is, let alone how poor a product it is.

—Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman