Story, Headline Still Painted Same Old Negative Brush About North County
By Tom Anselm
Well, folks, you may have seen the recent front-page story and negative bold headline about North County’s housing problems that ran in the Sunday, Aug. 18th edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. If you haven’t, you might want to go to the archives to read it for yourselves. I was very unhappy with the tone and tenor of the story, especially since the reporter painted the whole of our region with the same negative brush at first, only later in the story offering a disclaimer of sorts that “North County is a big place, and can’t be painted with just one brush”—after doing just that.
I was able to get a “letter to the editor” published in the Wednesday, Aug. 21 Post to say that the article was “a serious disservice to the thousands of homeowners in the area who maintain their property, patronize the many fine business and restaurants who continue to come to our area, and live in harmony in one of the most racially diverse communities in the Greater St. Louis area.”
I attended a lunch last week sponsored by The Greater North County Chamber of Commerce. This is an organization that has been growing by leaps and bounds under the able leadership of Carolyn Marty and her marketing director Debbie Wright. At this meeting, several of the local elected officials expressed their discontent with the article, and pledged to develop a rebuttal to the way our region was presented in that piece. In addition, many of you have voiced your appreciation of my letter, and expressed shared sentiments. I appreciate the support. Letters followed in the PD from Don Zykan and Linda Caravelli. (On Friday, the Post did run sort of an op-ed response from former Mayor Robert Lowery. Current Mayor Tom Schneider has also sent a detailed letter to the Post.)
Now, it is no secret that there are some communities that are in trouble. Where my wife Jill and I grew up, there has been a very steady decline in housing, with multiple rentals, foreclosures and vacant homes. That has been sad to see, but real. And do you recall a year or so ago the documentary that was made about the downturn in the Spanish Lake community? So, yeah, there are some spots that are hurting.
The causes are myriad, from the subprime debacle where some banks criminally got people into homes who were unable to maintain their mortgages, to the gerrymandering and blockbusting that went on in the 1970s, to what has been called “white-flight” and all its ugly ramifications.
So what does all this mean for us who continue to live in the greater North County area?
In my work with this paper, I have the opportunity to get around a lot. I see businesses, national and local, cropping up all around. Have you been to downtown Ferguson lately, or driven down North Lindbergh? Crazy what’s going on there. I see some unbelievable neighborhoods, and some that are in need of a spruce-up. I see, and know of, teachers who are working hard to bring the world to students who are ready for that next step. So it makes me upset that an article like the one in the Post could take such a swipe at a community that is trying so very hard, and, for the most part, succeeding.
There are some troubled schools in the area. That is a serious children’s-future and property-value concern that I hope can find solution. What we don’t need is bad press, especially when it is not accurate. How do we counter that?
Let’s stand up for NOCO. Keep spending your hard-earned bucks locally. Continue to maintain your little piece of property, and get on those who do not (gently, of course). Pick up trash on the parking lot and curbs when you see it. Say hello to that neighbor you haven’t talked to for awhile. Support your kids school. Check on that elderly person down the street.
Let’s use this all as a catalyst to prove the naysayer’s wrong about our homeland.
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