Register for Sunday’s 5th & 7th Wards Democrats Downtown Happy Hour

2 pm Sunday, August 27th
314 The City Bar, 1117 Washington
Contact: 314-630-7599

Sponsored By 5th Ward Committeeman Rasheen Aldridge and 7th Ward Committeewoman Marie Ceselski

Register for Attendance Prize Drawings- event drinks/appetizers and 5th & 7th Ward business gift cards

Open to the Public
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Join Me for May 21st Seedling, Plant, Houseplant Swap Happy Hour

Sorry. We had to move this to May 21st.

Don’t throw out the extra seedlings in the tray/pack.

Don’t throw out the extra plant(s) from re-potting plants/houseplants.

Don’t leave that nice plant pot in the alley or let it collect dust in the basement.

Bring your extra seedlings/plants and no longer wanted nice plant pots to the 7th Ward Belated Earth Day Seedling & Plant Swap Happy Hour and swap for something you do want or need.

We’ll also be giving out Free Seeds (Marigold, Butterfly Weed, Cilantro, etc.) and have Voter Registration Applications.
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This Weekend

fish-fryFriday Fish Frys

4:30-7:30 pm McKinley Hts: Holy Trinity Serbian Church @ 1910 Serbian Drive – Catfish, Tilapia, Cod

4:30-7:30 pm Soulard: St. Agatha’s @ 3239 S 9th & Utah – Tilapia & Polish Beer

bruceonfloor5-8 pm Soulard: American Legion BKZ Post 422 @ 2601 S 11th @ Sidney – Cod

Politics

9-11:30 am Saturday 78th District Empowerment Rally with State Rep. Bruce Franks @ 2720 Cherokee – Legislative Updates, Ballot Issue Speakers, Community Resources, Donuts – Free

9 am Saturday St. Louis Democratic City Central Committee Meeting @ Best Place Event Center, 5736 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr – Open to the Public

milkweedGardening

10 am Saturday McKinley Heights: Spring Planting Day @ McKinley Meadows, 2258 Missouri

1-3 pm Sunday Soulard: 7th Ward Seed Swap Happy Hour @ Nadine’s, 1931 S 12th (RSVP)

Sunday 7th Ward Seed Swap Happy Hour

7th Ward Seed Swap Happy Hour
Sponsor: Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

When: 1-3 pm Sunday, February 12, 2017
Where: Nadine’s Gin Joint, 1931 S 12th, Soulard

Who/How: RSVP ward7stl@aol.com tell us what you’re interested in. We’re only bringing over seeds that you request.

You need not be a 7th Ward resident to participate.

Seed List and More Information

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Leonard Johnson Should Quit His Job To Run For Alderman

city-hall3If Leonard Johnson wants to become 7th Ward Alderman, the first thing he should do is quit his job with the City Treasurer. Current 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar resigned from the City Circuit Attorney’s Office before he announced running for alderman. And he made a very big deal about it during the campaign.

Johnson is Deputy Chief of Staff, management, a salaried position. He’s not on a clock. Staying on while running for alderman is unnecessary, bad publicity waiting to happen.

This issue is sure to attract more than a little attention because the City Treasurer, Tishaura Jones, is running for mayor. Her election is my political priority, and fast becoming my personal priority. We do not need distractions such as Leonard Johnson.

So why would Leonard Johnson do this? Is he that selfish? Doesn’t he get it? Is he actually trying to help another candidate for mayor? I don’t know the answer but I am leaning more and more toward the last.

Why doesn’t the City Treasurer fire Johnson or force him to take a leave of absence? I would think it has to do with the City Treasurer being a patronage office, not Civil Service. Patronage employees have First Amendment rights that Civil Service employees do not have. It’s not the first time a patronage office employee has run for alderman. In the case of the Treasurer’s office, however, it appears that employees have a right to run for public office without any restrictions.

Leonard Johnson told me that his boss initially resisted the idea of his running but was now OK with it. In reality, the City Treasurer cannot legally stop him from running or force him to quit or take a leave of absence. I am not even sure if there is such a thing as a three month leave of absence for other than medical/family leave.

There is huge difference between being OK with the decision of an employee and not being able to do anything about it. In my book, Johnson was not honest with me.

And this is a personnel issue with legal consequences, so I certainly understand why the Treasurer is not in a position to say much on the matter.

Leonard Johnson first approached me over two years ago about his interest in becoming alderman. Rumors were circulating that Alderwoman Phyllis Young wanted to retire, would resign, and there would be a special election. And then I didn’t hear back from him until recently. My guess was he was only interested in being alderman if there was no primary.

Leonard Johnson had two years to lay a foundation to run in 2017 against Jack Coatar and he didn’t do it. He had two years to become active in every neighborhood association, meet thousands of voters, understand the wants and needs of his would be constituents.

When he called me about running in 2017, he asked me for information on the Kosciusko neighborhood association. He wanted to be alderman and didn’t know Kosciusko is the industrial tract in the ward. Again, he had two years to learn 7th Ward 101. He made no effort.

But Leonard Johnson doesn’t really want to be alderman. That’s part of the problem here. His boss is running for mayor. He figures there are coattails. He figures at least one organization that will go door to door for him. He figures the 7th Ward Committeewoman and Committeeman can be bullied into endorsing him. He doesn’t really like city politics but he wants to be a state senator. That’s what is going on. He thinks becoming alderman puts him in play to replace term limited Jamilah Nasheed. I really wonder where this ridiculous idea came from. It’s quite a leap from alderman to state senator, almost as big as from state senator to mayor.

Johnson was scheduled to work the 7th Ward’s Sigel School polling place on General Election Day. He was supposed to hand out the 7th Ward Independent Democrat‘s sample ballot and Draft Tishaura flyers. 7th Ward Independent Democrats was making its endorsement of Jones for mayor early morning on election day. We wanted to be the first ward endorsement.

Johnson was given instructions to hand out ballots as people went into polling place and Draft Tishaura flyers as they came out. After the election, I found out Johnson had been handing out the ward sample ballot and his own campaign literature, not the Draft Tishaura flyers. He was basically using us to campaign for himself. Yes. Why on earth would I think he is either very selfish or helping another mayoral candidate, or both?

The 7th Ward needs a good candidate against Jack Coater. Unfortunately, that is not Leonard Johnson. Fortunately, filing just opened Monday and I am optimistic that a real choice will be on the ballot.

–Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

The Other Rex Sinquefield Petition- Changing Election Dates

I am a huge fan of changing local election dates for St. Louis City to state and federal election dates. It would, I believe, increase turnout for local elections and significantly reduce the budget for the Board of Elections. I have been advocating election date changes for about fifteen years.

Most recently, I  blogged about this reform idea in January 2015. In the 2015 7th Ward alderman election, candidate Chelsea Merta had pledged to work on this from both the Board of Aldermen and State Legislature angles. More on the latter in a moment.

So you might think that I’d be thrilled when a petition came along to change St. Louis City elections from March & April to August & November. But I’m not. The devil is in the details.

I was first approached to sign the petition outside City Hall. The signature gatherer told me it was to increase voter turnout by moving local elections to the Fall when state elections are held. I got excited.

But, like many other voters, I am going to be very hesitant about signing petitions after the Rex Sinquefield and Senator Jamilah Nasheed Body Cam Scam Petition.

Wanting to believe that someone had taken my idea and run with it with the best of intentions, I glanced over the petition, picked up the pen to sign, but then saw two names as sponsoring petitioners at the bottom of the first page: Stephanie Lewis and Martin Casas.

Stephanie Lewis was spokesperson for Rex Sinqefield’s No on E Tax campaign.

Martin Casas handles social media for Rex Sinquefield’s Better Together.

So, I did not sign.

I spent a number of days trying to get a screen shot of the petition’s three pages, so I could study it to find the horrible parts. Then I contacted Garrett Webb asking for a copy. Mr. Webb is a political consultant and also one of the sponsoring petitioners. He obliged and emailed the petition to me. The three pages are posted at the end.

Then I set up a meeting with Mr. Webb to discuss the problems I found, and there are huge ones. 7th Ward Committeeman Marty Murray, Jr. and me met with Mr. Webb last week to go over concerns. It was a friendly talk. I think some of the consequences were genuinely new issues for him.

One of the problems with initiative petitions is that the ballot issues are vetted by Board of Aldermen but no changes can be made. If this had originated in the Board, consequences would likely have come to light, changes made.

Here are the Issues: The petition if enacted would result in extra super low turnout for School Board, Community College District Trustee, and ballot issues because there would be no citywide or ward contests to draw voters out. The petition only moves municipal officers and aldermen from March and April to August and November without addressing other elections. Rex Sinquefield could and would run the table with charter amendments- including getting rid of the earnings tax- under 2% turnout scenarios. He could elect his own anti-public education School Board Slate.

None of the seven signature gatherers that I spoke with over the past weeks said anything about this petition reducing the cost of elections. That’s because it’s not intended to reduce the number of elections. It’s intended to reduce turnout in elections important to Rex Sinquefield.

Moving the elections is still a great idea, I think. But needs to happen in a specific way to make sure a billionaire who votes in the Ozarks does not bankrupt us. Instead of putting this on the March 2017 ballot, we should…

First, the Board of Aldermen and next Mayor should lobby the Missouri General Assembly to change our School Board and Community College District Trustee elections to state elections. Without the Legislature’s assent on this matter, moving election dates for other elected officials is putting the cart before the horse.

Second, if successful with the Legislature, the Board of Aldermen should then send voters a charter amendment requiring local ballot issues- referendum or initiative- go to voters during state elections. There needs to be some option for real emergency referendums, perhaps some extra super majority of aldermen consenting or unanimous vote by Estimate and Apportionment, but the language needs to be tight. Many of us are familiar with how emergency clauses work on legislation today, which is everything fits the definition of an emergency. Because of it, the right of the people to petition to undo legislation by public vote is just nice words in the City Charter.

Third, if voters pass the local ballot issues election date charter amendment, the Board of Aldermen should send voters an amendment moving the mayor, comptroller, board president, and aldermen elections to state elections. There needs to be a provision for special elections to fill vacancies, of course. And, I’d also like to see a sunset on the local officials election change- twenty or so years. We would evaluate how it worked and either vote to renew it or go back to the old election dates. I’d like to see it with a sunset clause so that the decision to have it back on the ballot is not left to aldermen or initiative petition.

Which brings me to the argument against moving local elections or local ballot issues to state elections- people are weary of long ballots. My answer to that is we can declutter the ballot by making it more difficult for people with big money- like Rex Sinquefield- to purchase ballot space via initiative petition. Petition Election Date Change Final_Page_1Petition Election Date Change Final_Page_2Petition Election Date Change Final_Page_3b

7th Ward Independent Democrats Candidate Survey Responses

VoteTreasurer – 7th Ward Independent Democrats and 7th Ward Committeewoman Marie Ceselski have endorsed Tishaura Jones for Treasurer.

Circuit Attorney – 7th Ward Independent Democrats and 7th Ward Committeewoman Marie Ceselski have endorsed Kim Gardner for Circuit Attorney.

Sheriff – 7th Ward Independent Democrats and 7th Ward Committeewoman Marie Ceselski have endorsed Vernon Betts for Sheriff.

7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman and Committeeman – 7th Ward Independent Democrats have endorsed Marie Ceselski for 7th Ward Committeewoman and Marty Murray Jr for Committeeman.