Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jake's Leg and Schwag play the Old Rock House

Jake’s Leg and Schwag playing the same venue. I’ll be there often. Both bands tend to draw smoky crowds. The Old Rock House will likely need Marth Brother & Co machines in the coming months!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Resubscribe to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It saddens me so much to see the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shrink and her reporters fired. Though the Post has not always been a truthful paper, it had been a beautiful, even glorious paper. As someone interested in fine typography, I have kept pages of the Post as perfect examples of the intergration of photography and text.

Many conservatives and libertarians hate the Post for her past liberal bias. But the Post has lately done a great job of getting out arguments in conflict with her editorial positions. Letters by David Kuneman and I published within days of each other are a good examples, as is the kind feature about Keep St. Louis Free written by Margaret Gillerman:

I find that conservatives who don't subscribe to the newsprint Post are not informed about local political battles and events. They just aren't getting the information they need in the fight for local freedom and property rights online. Perhaps they feel they have made a moral stand by cancelling their subscriptions, but really they have just reduced their local political influence. And that is not a good thing.

I hope Mayor Slay and other candidates in the upcoming mayoral race address the plight of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and propose creative ways to help keep our flagship newspaper afloat. Some folks foolishly say that St. Louis can't be a great city without a smoking ban. But I think we can all agree that St. Louis would be greatly diminished as a city by the loss of her once great and beautiful newspaper.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

McGraw Millhaven Interview

McGraw Millhaven interviews Keep St. Louis Free again on Feb. 17:

McGraw is always tough on me, but we're getting to be friends.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Clearing the air: A smoke free St. Louis?

Great job, Kasey Joyce!

KSDK Video

Illinois smoking ban influence on St. Louis casinos

Looks like St. Louis casinos made some great business changes starting January 1st, 2008. Or, could it be there was some outside factor?

Take a look:

St. Louis Casino Revenues FY 2008-2009 from Missouri Gaming Commission:

Month-Year AGR in 000's Year/Year
07-07 $58,862 -0.86%
08-07 $57,390 0.02%
09-07 $54,818 -5.50%
10-07 $53,127 -0.80%
11-07 $52,846 -3.10%
12-07 $58,351 -3.10%

llinois Smoking Ban Goes Into Effect 01-01-2008

01-08 $60,036 +7.82%
02-08 $63,884 +13.10%
03-08 $69,957 + 9.62%
04-08 $63,666 +11.06%
05-08 $71,983 +22.72%
06-08 $64,105 +11.13%
07-08 $68,413 +16.23%
08-08 $70,129 +22.20%
09-08 $59,669 +8.90%
10-08 $60,239 +13.40%
11-08 $64,274 +21.60% \
12-08 $63,604 +9.00%
01-09 $67,706 +12.80%

Comment from Tony Palazzolo:

"These numbers are certainly compelling - but its only part of the story. We can calculate how much extra revenue was brought to Missouri from the ban ($19 million) in calender year 2008. But how much extra was brought in by the extra traffic. How much extra revenue did the city get from extra employment, extra sales, hotel revenue, bar revenue and others. That impact would be far greater than the gambling revenue. That would take an economist.... It would mirror the loss they had on the other side of the river. Since I live in Missouri - I should send a thank you note to the Illinois legislature."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ballwin Smoking Ban and Clayton Aldermen

Harry Belli just called me. He was the owner of Harry's West in Ballwin. He told me that he is willing to come to a Clayton Board of Alderman meeting and tell the real effect of the Ballwin smoking ban.

Mr. Belli says the Ballwin smoking ban absolutely put Harry's West and several other establishments out of business in Ballwin. Mr. Bellin says Harry's West immediately lost $2000 per week due only to the ban and overall his business went down 15 percent. Building a heated smoking patio didn't help either. The losses were soon too much and he closed. Mr. Belli wants to tell Clayton aldermen the truth about the Ballwin smoking ban.

Post article provokes great letter

The Post article about my fight provoked a great letter from a nonsmoker:

Hey, Bill,

I read the article in the paper today. I've been doing some thinking on the
subject. I have to tell you I detest smoking and have lost two relatives to the
nasty things. Also, it appalls me to see financially strapped people who cannot
afford to buy milk for their children, faithfully plop down significant sums of cash
to support their nicotine addiction.

Having made these brutal comments, I have to add that I'M ON YOUR SIDE!

Why? Because these people never go away! It's like the NRA fighting for you to
keep a fully automatic gun in your home, so that you can go target practicing with
your 16 year old son and his 22 rifle! If we don't fight at the edge of issues,
we'll be fighting for the most basic of common sense items. Have you heard that
MADD, having gotten most states to lower the alcohol limit to .08 from the previous
1. are now demanding .06 to become the new standard. Soon, we will be unable to
enjoy a glass of wine at "Grandmother's" for fear of Big Brother. We started with
seat belts, then shoulder harnesses, then you could get a ticket for not wearing a
seat belt while speeding and now you can get a ticket just for not wearing a seat
belt. 8 year olds as large as small adults must be in a booster seat. We will all
soon be wearing helmets when driving! Where does it all end?

OK, I've ranted long enough. Keep up the good work!!

Join Keep Missouri Free!

If you want to protect Missouri freedoms and property rights, please go the Keep Missouri Free website and sign up for free e-mail alerts.

IPCPR Says 'Show Me' Missourians Won't be Pressured into Smoking Bans

St. Louis, MO (PRWEB) February 15, 2009 -- The 'Show-Me' state is showing it won't be pressured by anti-smoking activists into legislating unnecessary smoking bans, according to the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association.

While some city, county and state legislators may be revisiting the possibility of new smoking bans in Missouri, smokers and non-smokers alike have been voicing their opposition to forced smoking bans, especially in places where children are not allowed or adults have an option to go elsewhere.

"The marketplace is deciding what businesses should allow smoking or not, and that's the way it should be. Government shouldn't be taking away the rights of business owners to run their enterprises as the market dictates, not big government" said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

McCalla cited a 2007 survey by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services that showed only 13 percent of the state's adults avoided restaurants where smoking is allowed.

"That means there are plenty of restaurants that already have declared themselves smoke-free, so there's no need to take away the rights of other business owners by forcing them to ban smoking on their premises," he said.

Efforts to ban smoking stoke man's willpower

Council member Barbara Fraser, D-University City, supports the Clayton ban, but says it won't fly countywide.

"Reading the political landscape of the council, the support is not there," Fraser said. "I know, certainly, that people say you can't get anywhere unless you try, but the council already tried and failed."

She was referring to unsuccessful efforts in 2005 and 2006.

"Nothing has changed since then," Fraser said

Stakes high in Missouri smoking debate

Smokers account for only about one-fifth of a casino's patrons, according to a University of Nevada-Reno study last year. But year-end industry numbers suggest that losing those gamblers - or making them get up from their machines to go outside to smoke - is having a crushing financial impact where smoking in casinos is banned.

A smoking ban at Atlantic City casinos was lifted late last year after slot machine revenues dropped nearly 20 percent in the first two weeks after the ban took effect. In Pennsylvania, which had allowed smoking on 25 percent of casino floors, the limit was raised to 50 percent after casinos showed that slots in the smoking areas made more than twice as much money as those in nonsmoking areas.

Any attempt to ban smoking in Missouri casinos will likely face fierce resistance from a gambling industry that spent $15 million last year in support of a successful ballot measure to remove the state's loss limits. The stakes will be even higher this time for the casinos, which will point to Colorado and Illinois - the only two gambling states to fully ban smoking in casinos - as examples of what could happen if smokers are sent packing.

Illinois' gambling revenues fell almost 21 percent - about $415 million - last year, according to the American Gaming Association. The result was a drop of $177 million in taxes paid to the state, with jurisdictions where the casinos are located losing $22.6 million.

Colorado banned smoking on the same day as Illinois. And with a gambling revenue drop of 12.3 percent - about $100 million - Colorado also joined Illinois as the only other state with a double-digit decline in 2008.

Meanwhile, casinos in all three states that border Illinois saw increased gambling revenues, led by Missouri with a 5.66 percent jump. Iowa gambling revenues rose 4.14 percent, and Indiana casinos saw a 1.65 percent increase.

“I think we've lost gamblers who aren't coming back,” said Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association. “We surveyed some people who frequented the casinos - pretty good patrons - and some said they are not coming back if they don't get to smoke.”

Friday, February 13, 2009

Economic fears are snuffing out smoking bans

DENVER - In this economy, lawmakers are more willing to let people smoke 'em if they got 'em.

As recently as last year, many states and major cities seemed ready to adopt complete indoor smoking bans. But the movement to kick all smokers outdoors has stalled as the recession worsens and lawmakers fear hurting business at bars, restaurants and casinos.

"This economy, it creates a little more sympathy for the business person. So when we say this is going to put us out of business, believe me, they're listening," said Mike Moser, executive director of the Wyoming State Liquor Association.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

5 Clayton establishments clear to air with Marth Brothers air filtration!

Bar Napoli, Barrister's, J.P Field's currently have Marth Brothers and Co. air filtration. Roxanne's and Barcelona are currently installing Marth Brothers and Co. air filtration.

Lumiere’s presence boosts business on the Landing

Across the river, the Casino Queen has been coping with a slump in business as well. “Obviously we have suffered from several things not under our control,” said General Manager Tom Monaghan. One of those ill effects has been the smoking ban, according to Monaghan. “It doesn’t help to have a neighbor in close proximity that offers smoking,” he said.

Revisiting 1776: Eminent domain subsidizes developers

Ron Calzone writes about eminent domain in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Keep St. Louis Free activists Darla Maloney and Lucy Hannegan worked so hard collecting signatures with the Calzones in hopes of stopping eminent domain for private gain in Missouri. It was heart breaking to see their efforts fall short.

Lawmaker: Vets' clubs deserve part of gambling pie

"The biggest jump was in the St. Louis market, where the newest casino, Lamiere Place, saw a 43 percent increase in attendance and Ameristar's St. Charles casino had a 19 percent hike.

Meanwhile, just across the river in Illinois, statewide casino revenues in January were down 9.28 percent from January 2008 and attendance was down 6.78 percent. That includes a 14.96 percent drop in both revenues and attendance at Argosy's Alton Belle casino.

Troy Stremming, a vice president for Ameristar Casinos Inc., said Missouri's St. Louis market is thriving for several reasons, including quality of casinos, removal of the loss limit and Illinois' smoking ban."

Clayton to target smoking

Bill Hannegan, with Keep St. Louis Free, said in an interview that his organization would oppose any attempt by Clayton to establish a ban. The group was involved in helping to defeat a proposed countywide ban in 2005 and 2006.

'Businesses should be free to allow smoking, especially if they clear the air with available technology," Hannegan said. He said that at least two restaurant-bars in Clayton used special air filtration systems.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New website:

I couldn't be more pleased by the appearance of new website that will address the cause of freedom and property rights at a state level. I am told the website will put forward the case against Missouri smoking bans in a systematic, accessible way. That is a lot more than I could ever manage on a helter skelter blog like this. With all the money being spent in Missouri to promote smoking bans, Missouri lawmakers and business owners are going to need such a resource in the near future.

"Missouri gambling industry cashing in on the repeal of loss limits"

"Statewide, Missouri gaming revenues were up a whopping 10 percent over January 2008, to $145.7 million.

St. Louis area casinos did even better, up 12.8 percent.

The upsurge in St. Louis was all the more remarkable on top of revenues that grew 7.8 percent in January 2008, when the market’s Missouri-side casinos began welcoming Illinois’ tobacco-using gamblers fleeing a statewide smoking ban that took effect that month.

Illinois’ slide continues. Last month metro casino revenues on the Illinois side were down 7.6 percent from January 2008 when they were down 17.4 percent from January 2007."

"We have nothing against a smoking ban..!"

"We have nothing against a smoking ban we just ask that the smoking ban be imposed by the business owner not government," says Hannegan. "Even if the county does do it the city has to hold on to every possible dollar and I think they may let the county go it alone.",0,4485864.story

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

St. Louis will never have a smoking ban!

Please don't misunderstand my quote in this article. Keep St. Louis Free is not throwing in the towel on smoking bans. St. Louis will never have a smoking ban. Keep St. Louis Free has more money to spend against smoking bans than ever before. We will begin to spend it as soon as the fight become serious!

Kansas City Star validates our Missouri casino numbers!

Tony Palazzolo and I spent most of Sunday going over figures that showed that St. Louis casinos were way up, 13 percent, for 2008. Could they be right!? We were preparing for a Monday morning Charlie Brennan show interview. It was Sunday so it was hard to find a casino industry expert or journalist to validate our numbers. But Rick Alm of the Kansas City Star kindly helped us go over the numbers, so I used the numbers on the Charlie Brennan Show. Today, Rick Alm published a story about the increase in the Kansas City Star!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Charlie Brennan Show Interview

Diana Benanti of Smoke-Free Louis City did a great job on the Charlie Brennan Show this morning.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

St. Louis Casinos up 13 percent, Illinois down 20.9 percent!

Missouri casino revenues are up 4.9 percent overall for 2008. St. Louis casino revenues are up 13 percent for 2008:

But according to Tom Swoik of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, Illinois revenues in the St. Louis market are down 20.3 for 2008. Statewide, Illinois casino revenues are down 20.9 percent. In December 2008, the first full month after casino loss limits were removed, the Kansas City Star reports Illinois casino revenues were down 28 percent.

The Illinois Licensed Beverage Association reports that the bar trade is down across Illinois. They say some bars along the borders of states without smoking ban are down 70 percent!

"The loss of casino revenue translates into a loss of taxes and jobs. According to Swoik, the Illinois casinos employed nearly 1,000 fewer people in October 2008 than they did just a year before. The state lost more than $177 million in revenue and local governments lost nearly $23 million. One of the cities in Southwestern Illinois that is taking it on the chin is Alton. The Argosy Alton Casino’s revenues fell 28 percent in 2008 from 2007."

24 .5 percent of St. Louis City residents do not favor a smoking ban in bars and coctail lounges. I would how many would leave the casinos alone too?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Jim Roos should keep his sign.

Jim Roos should be allowed to keep his sign along 44. That sort of freedom of expression doesn't hurt St. Louis. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch feels otherwise.

If you watch this video to the end, you find that Roos is not totally agaisnt eminent domain. I wonder if Roos opposed the taking of 20North by St. Louis University?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Fired Up: RFT readers are sharply divided on whether St. Louis bars should be smokeless

Some RFT readers don't get it. I am out to give bar owners a chance to get rid of the smoke through air filtration as well as a ban. I have nothing against smoking bans. But they should be imposed only by the business owner, not the government.

Monday, February 02, 2009

10,000 signed petition against County smoking ban.

Diana Benanti, Coalition Director of Smoke-Free St. Louis City, has got St. Louis wrong

Diana Benanti, Coalition Director of Smoke-Free St. Louis City, is a lot like former Ballwin alderman Charlie Gatton who got the only St. Louis smoking ban passed back in 2004. Both are reformed 3 pack a day smokers who can't stand the fact that St. Louis still allows indoor smoking. Both are willing to go to great lengths to get a smoking ban passed.

I am glad that Diana and Charlie quit smoking. 3 packs a day is an awful risk to take with one's health. But as Corey Lawson found when he tried to run rBar as a smoke-free bar, many people who don't normally smoke like to smoke when they go out. People who smoke minimally, socially and occasionally are not putting their health at grave risk. They should be left alone as should the business owners who want their business.

Diana expresses embarrassment that St. Louis still allows smoking in bars. Diana should instead be proud that St. Louis still respects the property rights of business owners and the free choice of adults. And St. Louis is too smart to be taken in by the false claims that fooled Illinois lawmakers.

Diana writes: "We need to spread the word about how the vast majority of City residents want to see St. Louis City join the 21st century and go smoke-free in bars and restaurants."

This is simply an untrue statement about St. Louis. According to a survey by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, only 24.5 percent of St. Louisan City residents favor a smoking ban in bars and cocktail lounges.

"The longer St. Louis City allows smoking, the more money the City loses—in convention revenue, lost business from commuters who will dine in Illinois to stay out of the smoke, health care costs, etc."

Diana, Illinois casinos are down 20 percent due to the smoking ban. If a smoking ban would be good for St. Louis business, why did St. Louis bars and restaurants, including the Missouri Restaurant Association, fight a smoking ban so hard in 2005 and 2006? Why are Columbia bars down 11 percent due to their smoking ban?

"It is inevitable that the city, county and even the state will be smoke-free eventually, but why not make it sooner rather than later?"

Keep St. Louis Free has beaten a smoking ban pushed by the powerful Kurt Odenwald three times. And the St. Louis County Council does not want a smoking ban. Even if St. Louis lawmakers were to pass a smoking ban, Keep St. Louis Free would put an exemption for adult venue back on the ballot.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Great letter in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Let the people choose

Regarding "Smoking ban issue resurfaces in St. Louis County" (Jan. 26): Can't the elected officials just let the people decide anything? Do they always assume we all are incapable of making decisions in our own best interests? Too many people insist on imposing their will on others instead of letting citizens, consumers and the markets shape our world naturally, as they should.

It's amazing how many people do not understand supply and demand. When the demand for smoke-free bars outweighs the supply, new bars will meet the under-served need if existing bars don't adapt. Forcing established bars and restaurants to change is unnatural and against free-market economics. Truly letting the citizens decide would mean leaving the issue alone and allowing the market to evolve. Dining and drinking out are "wants," not "needs," and their success or failure is tied to what the consumers want. Just let the people choose.

Nick Prosperi St. Louis County