A New Approach: Sustainable Urban Development

IMG_1738Kevin McKinney supports a new approach to revitalize St. Louis: Sustainable Urban Development.

Our neighborhoods need more than just high dollar housing. There was a time when we needed to foster that kind of development. If we only keep building and incentivizing high dollar housing, our neighborhoods will lose their diversity and identity.

Now is the time to head in a different direction.

Kevin McKinney knows how to develop communities in a smart, growth oriented ways that contribute to our urban fabric. He helps non-profit organizations create these developments for seniors and disabled persons. Kevin understands the importance of and how to utilize financial incentives for historic preservation.sample dev

Sustainable Urban Developments are the antithesis of sprawl. They are diverse, compact, walkable, and transit connected. This approach uses interconnected green spaces, complete streets, and mixed-use, mixed-income development and helps unify neighborhoods as economically sustainable units.

Only building more high priced housing won’t bring our neighborhoods to the next level; Sustainable Urban Development will.

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“It Takes A Village…”

kids sitting inparkA wise politician once said, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

It starts with expanding youth opportunities around our schools, developing before and after-school activities and tutoring programs. We need to better fund summer job programs for teenagers. When the city of Chicago provided jobs to teens, crime dropped and kids learned valuable life skills at their first job.

Sherman School sits vacant in the middle of our ward. While the building is no longer used as a school, it can still be a community center where we can partner with Not-For-Profit organizations to run after-school programs for neighborhood children. Kevin will work with the St. Louis Public Schools District to make this building, which belongs to all of us, an asset to this community.
Changing our city means we all have to support community programs.

St. Louis can be that village, and Kevin McKinney will work to take us there.

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Crime is Our #1 Crisis. Now is the Time for Solutions.

We have a crisis in St. Louis. Gun violence and homicide are at levels we haven’t seen in almost 10 years. And just recently, St. Louis had 6 homicides in a just half a day. The tragedy occurring in our streets is heart-wrenching and frustrating to anyone who cares for this city. Right now there are many opinions on what to do. Citizens are frustrated, baffled on how to address this, and our leaders only offer excuses.

However, this is a problem we CAN solve.

Cities across America have implemented policing policies that target and reduce gun violence and homicide. We can do the same in St. Louis. It just takes leadership with the vision and passion to make it happen.

The City of St. Louis has an unacceptable level of crime. While some neighborhoods are safer than others, every homicide, no matter where it occurs, affects all of us.

However, cities across America when confronted with an unacceptable level of homicide and gun violence, have taken steps to focus efforts and reduce these crimes. We can implement these policies here.

This Community Policing policy has drastically reduced gun crime and homicide in Kansas City, Minneapolis and Cincinnati among many others.

These policies are designed to engage the community and rebuild trust with residents, especially in the African-American community. They focus specifically on the groups of individuals committing a majority of crime and intervene.  Each group is confronted and offered a choice to stop, to put down the guns and drugs. In return for exiting an outlaw lifestyle, these individuals are offered social services to help gain employment, a GED, or other services.

In city after city, time and time again, these criminals choose to re-enter society and end the cycle of violence. We can heal the divide in our community and reduce crime and violence. It just takes the right leadership to make it happen.

The specific policy I am advocating was devised in 1995. In the early 1990’s, the City of Boston, when confronted with an unacceptable level of homicide, decided to confront gun violence among youths directly. The policing strategy they utilized produced “a 63 percent reduction in youth homicide and a 30 percent reduction in homicide citywide, what has been called the “Boston Miracle.[1] For the sake of comparison, a 30% decrease in homicide in STL would mean 48 fewer people killed next year and hundreds more uninjured.

Since that time, cities across America participating with this group have seen dramatic results. The people who developed this policing strategy have started a non-profit group, the National Network for Safe Communities, whose sole purpose is to assist cities implement this policy correctly. This strategy doesn’t require military vehicles, cameras, drones, gun courts, changes in state law or even more police officers. Just the leadership to change policy.

Recently, news from our cross state neighbor, Kansas City, is that homicide has dropped to the lowest rate in 40 years. Kansas City works with this group to utilize this policing strategy. We can too. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has discovered this policy and agreed in a recent editorial.

The only change we need to make this happen is a change in attitude from our elected leadership. As Alderman, I won’t rest until we use a policing strategy that makes sense and our streets are safe.

More About the Strategy:

Read more at nnscommunities.org

“The Group Violence Intervention (GVI) has shown repeatedly that a city can dramatically reduce homicide and gun violence when community members and law enforcement join together to directly engage with these groups and clearly communicate 1) a credible, moral message against violence; 2) a credible law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence; and 3) a genuine offer of help for those who want it …. A real working partnership among stakeholders within law enforcement, community members and social services is the strategy’s most important element and also its greatest challenge. The explicit aim is to reduce pro-violence peer dynamics within gangs by creating collective accountability, fostering internal dynamics that deter violence, establishing community norms and standards against violence, and giving gang members who want it an “honorable exit” from the street life.”

Reference Links:

National Network for Safe Communities

STLtoday.com Editorial

STLtoday.com Editorial2

RFT News


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On Civilian Review Board and Moving Our Community Forward

In the wake of the most recent deaths of Eric Gardner in New York City, 12 year old Tamir Rice in Ohio and the unrest surrounding deaths of Michael Brown and VonDerrit Myers Jr., these events have placed us all on the front lines of an issue that has uncovered a national problem that exists in our system of justice.

While the problems and disparate viewpoints of our community have been broadcast on an international scale, it is becoming clear that these chinks in the armor of Lady Justice exist through out our country. This is a problem that must be dealt with by Congress and the President but does not absolve us of the responsibility from acting on our own.

The fact that our community is the spark that started the flames means we have a responsibility to lead. To show this country that we CAN heal, that we CAN fight injustice.

And it all starts based on a simple goal, the idea of equal protection under the law granted to all American citizens by the 14th Amendment.

In the year 2014, it’s not unreasonable to expect our police to treat black people like they treat white people.

This is simply what we need and should expect in 21st Century America.

This simple goal is achievable. It begins with accountability. Civilian review boards and body cameras are good first steps. I don’t know why my opponent has opposed Civilian Review for so long. I support a Civilian Review Board for the City of St. Louis. But, we also need to examine the policing tactics, strategy and training of our police officers. If we are treating our own communities like war zones, then sending officers out trained to escalate violent situations, is it any wonder we have this violence?

We can change, it starts with our attitudes moving forward and realizing and actively working against institutionalized prejudice.

Let’s heal our neighborhood, St. Louis and America, together.

– Kevin McKinney

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Over the past week I was out of the country, celebrating my daughter’s wedding. Just prior to leaving St. Louis, the tragic death of Michael Brown occurred. Even on the day of my daughter’s wedding, my thoughts were drawn to the loss and tragedy beset upon the Brown family. My deepest sympathies go out to them.

For the sake of his family and the unrest this tragic event has ignited in Ferguson, I pray that the wheels of justice spin swift and true.

I don’t have all the answers, but once tensions de-escalate, and justice prevails, we must be committed to learn from it. We must look in the mirror, examine ourselves and our community for all its faults and misgivings. We must make a commitment to work towards healing the rifts that exist in race, in income inequality, in regional factionalism; and find a way forward, together.

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