Is it the Wild West out in Chesterfield? Some might think so, because bulletproof vests are now available to the three board members of the Monarch Fire Protection District, which has one of the thorniest relationships with its firefighters union anywhere. One recent disagreement is over the rehiring of a firefighter—as assistant chief—who was among those fired in the wake of a gender discrimination suit a few years ago. The two female firefighters who filed the suit won, and in upholding the decision on appeal, the judge described the district’s working environment as abusive. But board members reportedly say that Cary Spiegel, the new assistant chief, is a man of integrity who is committed to looking forward. (This is not the same board that fired the four firefighters in 2011; new members since have been elected.) Meanwhile, Spiegel and his chief also have vests near their offices.

[central west end]
Madison County, Ill., is the horseradish capital of the USA; Las Vegas the capital of debauchery and decadence—I mean, gambling; Louisville, Ky., the horse racing capital. Here, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is lobbying to have the Gateway City officially dubbed the ‘National Chess Capital,’ and in so doing has brought to bear some major political heft from the Show-Me State. Located in the Central West End, the St. Louis-based nonprofit has retained the public relations firm of former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent and the lobbying firm of former Missouri Rep. Earl Thomas Coleman. The resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives, H. Res. 169, was introduced by U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. and at this writing has 28 co-sponsors. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has introduced a Senate version of the resolution that has but one co-sponsor at present. Lobbyists hope to beef up support in both houses. Our region is chess-rich, indeed, what with the national champ collegiate chess team being castled at Webster University. (Hey, one of the original buildings even looks like a castle!)

Creve Couer
Creve Coeur

[creve coeur]
After being ferreted out by authorities, the hacker at De Smet Jesuit who slowed down and otherwise messed up online communications at the high school changed tone significantly. The culprit, an unidentified student self-proclaimed as ‘De Smet Internet,’ shifted from somewhat menacing to quite apologetic: The nefarious mask of Anonymous at first used as a profile picture on Twitter was replaced by a teddy bear. We’ll have to see whether school administrators and law enforcement officials are forgiving in turn. We aren’t sure that ‘Aww, shucks, what a cute little stuffed animal’ is a strong enough sentiment for folks to ignore what essentially is a cyber crime. The law—and most parents—aren’t likely to smile about that offense in this day and age.


A fixture in Frontenac for a half-century—nearly as long as the city itself has existed—Shriners Hospital for Children will relocate its operations to a brand-new facility in the Central West End by next April. (The hospital on Lindbergh Boulevard opened about 10 years before Plaza Frontenac, just to the north, was a gleam in developers’ eyes. It is the second location for the Shriners, who first established a hospital here in 1924.) As is the case with Shriners Hospitals throughout the country, it has been committed to helping children with catastrophic orthopedic illnesses regardless of a family’s financial resources. Under construction on grounds of nearly 4 acres, the new hospital is slated to open in the CWE sometime during April 2015, on the BJC HealthCare campus on Clayton Avenue between Taylor and Newstead. There will be three operating rooms, 12 patient beds and rooms for family members awaiting the results of outpatient surgery. Researchers on one floor will investigate orthopedic anomalies and genetic bone diseases. Our fezzes are off to the Shriners, whose benevolence in working toward cures for deadly childhood diseases is an inspiration.

The Pioneers of Kirkwood High will be in the swim soon, and in a big way. The Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker Foundation has donated $10 million toward a new aquatics complex at KHS to be called, fittingly, Walker Natatorium. Design for the facility is set to begin soon, with groundbreaking this summer, and hopes are for the project to be completed by the 2015-16 school year. In addition to providing a place to train and compete KHS water polo, swimming and diving teams, the natatorium will enable the school to add water safety to the physical education curriculum. At least three generations of Walkers have attended KHS, and the foundation has been a longtime supporter of the school. In 1993, it donated funds for a commons area that encompasses the school’s theater lobby and an orchestra pit, and in 2007 it initiated a campaign in support of new science facilities.

What could you do if the cops were trying to arrest you? Here’s one approach: If you can’t fight ’em, bite ’em. This is what Maplewood’s finest accused a woman of doing when they tried to arrest her. They had arrested her companion, who allegedly displayed a gun in a dispute over a parking spot at the Maplewood Commons shopping center. (The complaint came from a couple with a baby who apparently were trying to park until they saw the gun, which naturally trumps ‘I got here first.’) Cops report they saw a holster in the woman’s vehicle, and concerned there may have been another weapon, at first tried to coax her outside. But she refused, and allegedly became combative, trying to kick and bite the officers, who say they had to subdue her with a stungun. An attorney for the woman has complained, among other things, that the cops used excessive force. He may pursue a suit … depending on the outcome of her resisting arrest charge.

[sunset hills]
Write-in candidates never win, right? Wrong. Bill Nolan didn’t expect to be sent packing. But the mayor of Sunset Hills was upended by Bill Furrer, a write-in candidate who also didn’t think he had much of a chance against the incumbent. Especially since Furrer didn’t make his plans known until less than two weeks before Election Day. He received 53 percent of the vote, in essentially a one-issue race. Residents here must be either big supporters of carpooling or big detractors of new convenience stores. Two commuter lots at the Interstate 270 and Hwy. 30 (Gravois Road) interchange were on their way to becoming a Quik Trip, a step Furrer is dedicated to halting.

[university city]
Politics can be, well, ugly. Five U. City firefighters have been suspended without pay for three months because they appeared in a city council hopeful’s campaign photo. But it’s illegal in Missouri for first responders to participate in political campaigns while on duty. Although those pictured may not have been on duty, they were dressed in work gear and a fire truck was in the photo, which was, unfortunately, reprinted in a campaign flyer. There has long been friction between city hall and the union over contracts and staffing, and the U. City police and fire departments threw their support behind write-in mayoral candidate Steve McMahon, whose main platform was a promise to get the departments what they needed. Shelley Welsch, the incumbent, handily won reelection last month. As far as the recent conflict is concerned, a union rep pointed out that the suspended firefighters weren’t dressed in U. City gear. Well … for that matter, it also wasn’t clear whether the fire truck was from U. City. At any rate, it brings to mind the old adage about the two topics to avoid: religion and politics.

[webster groves]
Instead of going to prison for the 1999 robbery of a Burger King, Mike Anderson settled down in Webster Groves, married and started a family. He went to church. And he has stayed on the right side of the law since he was supposed to have reported to prison in 2002, when his appeals ran out. But a clerical error had worked in his favor, meaning he slipped through the cracks—actually, through the bars of a cell, if you will. A few months ago, the system finally caught up with him, and he has been in prison ever since. His lawyers sued, contending the state’s error means that the time Anderson has spent outside should be considered time served. In some very good news for Anderson, Chris Koster, state attorney general agreed. To a point. Anderson will remain in the joint to serve two years of the original 13 he was given. Reportedly, he is not resentful and remains positive that everything will turn out OK. Now, if this is not a story that warms the cockles of your heart, maybe it gets you somewhere in the sub-cockle area.