Sunday, October 21, 2012

Paul McKee's Clemen's House Is Gone!

Was someone not that long ago talking about renovating Clemens House? Well it is standing open to the public and the weather now, and it is clearly forever gone. Check out these photos taken and sent to me today.

Was someone not that long ago talking about renovating Clemens House? Well it is standing open to the public and the weather now, and it is clearly forever gone. Check out these photos taken and sent to me today.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Knock Out Game strikes again in South City.

The Knock Out Game strikes at Grand & Gasconade Tues 9 pm. 3 teen-aged attackers. 10-15 onlookers. No press so far.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Illegal use of CDC grant money in St. Louis County

Dear Senator Collins,

On May 1st 2012, you issued the following request to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:

"Please document each instance from fiscal year 2007 to fiscal year 2011 where CDC awardees used federal funds to pay for lobbying activities.  The activities to be reported include those which are listed in 18 U.S.C § 1913 and include:  any advertisement,  telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device (such as emails, websites, videos, audio, or other electronic communications), intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government (including local and state governments), to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation.  The information should be documented and provided in a word-searchable format that includes the name of the awardee, total amount of the award, date the award was granted, the stated purpose of the award, a list of all activities in the aforementioned list that the awardee carried out with federal funds, and an indication of whether or not the desired outcomes in state or local policy or legislative changes took place."

Senator Collins, I am writing to inform you of one clear instance where a CDC awardee  "used federal funds to pay for lobbying activities."   In 2010, the St. Louis County Department of Health, along with St. Louis University and its 501c3 Tobacco Free St. Louis, used a substantial portion of a $7,593,110 2010 CDC grant to lobby the St. Louis County Council and other St. Louis municipalities in order to alter existing legislation and impose new ordinances. Indeed the grant award summary lists these legislative changes among the objectives of the grant:

"Strengthen the clean indoor air bill recently passed by the citizens of St. Louis County. Increase the number of comprehensive ordinances in municipalitites and educational settings. Enact a minimum pricing retailer law."
Please find attached a contract in which St. Louis University agrees to lobby for these legislative changes through its group Tobacco Free St. Louis in exchange for $545,000 of federal grant money from the St. Louis County Department of Health.  

Furthermore, a substantial portion of a multi-million dollar ad campaign paid for by the CDC grant was used to pressure the St. Louis County Council to remove voter-approved exemptions from the current St. Louis County Clean Air Ordinance. One such ad, paid for by the CDC grant has been widely aired on many local radio stations and directly implores the St. Louis County Council to remove all exemptions. This ad is also  featured on the Tobacco Free St. Louis website under the heading Unfinished Business along with contact information of St. Louis County Councilmen.

Please review the compilation of quotes from local news stories at the end of this letter which documents the two year long use of federal money to lobby for the alteration of an existing County ordinance and the imposition of two new municipal clean air ordinances. The St. Louis County Council refused to yield to this illegal pressure, but the grant goal of two new muncipal clean air ordinances was achieved in the St. Louis County municipalities of Brentwood and Creve Coeur.

Senator Collins, this illegal campaign has been a great anxiety and strain on local businesses currently exempted under the existing voter-approved County ordinance. I ask that you ensure that any unspent grant money received by the St. Louis County Department of Health in 2010 from the CDC not be used for any further lobbying, but rather be spent legitimately to educate the public concerning the dangers of tobacco.


Bill Hannegan
Director of Keep St. Louis Free

  • St. Louis County, flush with a $7.6 million federal stimulus grant, is launching a major assault on smoking.

The project sets a goal of persuading the County Council by January 2012 to extend its smoking ban to all workplaces, restaurants and bars.

In addition, the project sets a goal of persuading at least two additional municipalities to adopt smoking bans more restrictive than the county's. Ballwin, Clayton and Kirkwood currently have such measures."

  • Fraser said frustration drove her last month to call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the agency that last year gave St. Louis County a $7.6 million federal stimulus grant to help end smoking. She spoke with Ron Todd, the CDC's grant liaison to the county."One of the county's stated goals in accepting the grant from the CDC was to eliminate the exemptions by 2012," Fraser said.
Persuading the County Council to end the exemptions is also one of the stated goals of Tobacco Free St. Louis, which is located on the campus of St. Louis University. When the county distributed money from the grant, it gave $545,000 to the university, which was to direct the money toward Fraser's group.

  • St. Louis County's health director, Dr. Dolores Gunn, said Thursday that an anti-smoking organization had broken no tax law in its use of federal grant money.
The organization, Tobacco Free St. Louis, is using $545,148 from a federal stimulus grant for anti-smoking efforts.
Bill Hannegan, an opponent of smoking bans here, had complained that Tobacco Free was lobbying the County Council on the smoking issue. Federal tax law allows limited lobbying by nonprofits like Tobacco Free to influence legislation.
Read more: 

  • Pat Lindsey, executive director of Tobacco-Free St. Louis, said the group intended to go to the County Council soon to ask it to remove the exemptions.

Bill Hannegan, who has fought smoking bans and heads Keep St. Louis Free, said he was not surprised by Tobacco-Free's effort because its "Obama stimulus money runs out" soon.
Tobacco-Free, based at St. Louis University, is the recipient of about $545,000 of a $7.6 million federal stimulus grant that St. Louis County received and distributed. The grant is expected to run out in June, a Tobacco-Free spokesman said Thursday.
Read more: 

  • Pepper also noted Tobacco-Free St. Louis has a contract with St. Louis County that should affect the group's tax-exempt status. Among the items in the document's scope of work is that the group would try to persuade the St. Louis County Council to include all workplaces, restauarants and bars in the ban and try to persuade at least two municipalities in the county to adopt "strong, comprehensive smoke-free ordinances." The county uses federal stimulus money to finance the contract.

Read more:

  • As Daily RFT first reported March 8, Tobacco-Free St. Louis recently received a county contract (paid for by federal stimulus dollars, natch!) worth $545,000. The group was charged with "developing and implementing an education and advocacy plan to educate St. Louis County Council members about the need to remove exemptions from St. Louis County's current smoke-free ordinance." 
That sounded an awful lot like lobbying to us. 

As we reported last week, the contract is being paid with federal stimulus funds, raising questions about whether federal tax dollars are being used to pay for lobbying (which is strictly verboten). "

  • "But now Daily RFT has learned that the county is using some of the money to hire a non-profit organization to "educate" its own elected officials -- the St. Louis County Council -- and "advocate" that the council toughen up the county's new smoking ban. Even though that effort is targeted at changing a county ordinance, the project manager at the department of health, Barry Freedman, insists that it is not a case of federal dollars being used for lobbying."

  • "As we reported last month, Tobacco Free St. Louis recently received a $545,000 contract with St. Louis County, paid for by federal stimulus funds, to (among other things) lobby for a tougher smoking ban in the county."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Interpreting the latest push to remove exemptions.

The St Louis County Health Department is running an ad blitz aimed removing the exemptions.  It’s the latest in several attempts over the last two years.  Like most advertising they omit basic facts, make up others and claim public support.

Joe Edwards Spot

It’s hard to not admire Joe Edward’s business acumen.  He was largely responsible for developing The Loop and helping it spread east in to the city.

In his spot he talks about how:
When they made (forced by law)the decision to make the Pin-Up Bowl smoke-free families started coming.  It doesn’t mention if business is up or down.  My guess is down since probanners love to talk about bans improve business.

He opened The Moonrise Hotel smoke-free.  Which is fine, we always support the owner making the decision. 

What he doesn’t say is how after the ban started he allowed smoking in the Halo Bar while he applied for an exemption.  The exemption was denied by the city.   If he truly believed that smoke-free was good for business then why did seek an exemption.

He ended with “If the entire country of Ireland can do it, then I think we can”.   First, Ireland is not that big.  Its population is less then Missouri.  The ban has decimated its pub industry.  I’ve been in pubs since the ban.  While I had fun, it lacked that energy that made Irish Pubs famous. 

Tony Palazzolo

Friday, February 10, 2012

IRS & Tobacco Free St. Louis


If Tobacco Free St. Louis goes back to lobbying I probably should do as Dr. Gunn suggests. Fill out the standard form and let the IRS decide:

Post-Dispatch Tobacco Free St. Louis Article

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Dr. Dolores Gunn Replies

Mr. Hannegan:

Thank you for your inquiry regarding Tobacco Free St. Louis, its activities, and our relationship with the organization.

In 2009, as you are probably aware, the Saint Louis County Department of Health applied to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for two Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grants – one focusing on tobacco control and prevention and one focusing on obesity prevention.  In the end, the department was only awarded one of those two grants – a $7.6 million grant to fund tobacco control and prevention efforts.

For the tobacco program application, CDC required applicants to either identify an existing local tobacco control coalition to work with or describe how they were going to build a local tobacco control coalition.  The department identified the Tobacco Free St. Louis Coalition as an existing local tobacco control coalition.

In order to meet some of our grant deliverables, the department contracted with Saint Louis University to act as fiscal agent for monies being expended in the community through the Tobacco Free St. Louis Coalition.  This aspect of our program is being run by Pat Lindsey, a long-time employee of the University.

The Tobacco Free St. Louis Coalition was one of three organizations specifically written into the department’s grant application.  The other two were the Center for Tobacco Policy Research at Washington University (to provide program evaluation services) and Young Choices, Inc. (to provide anti-smoking presentations to school children).

The Tobacco Free St. Louis Coalition is a 501(c)(3) organization with its own sources of revenue and its own ongoing activities.  Those funds and activities are kept entirely separate from grant-funded activities.  The Tobacco Free St. Louis Coalition maintains its own bank account for its independent fundraising and expenditures, whereas all grant-funded activities pass through Saint Louis University, which, as I mentioned previously, is acting as the fiscal agent for these monies.  This is a standard practice for this type of situation.

Our contract with Saint Louis University for the implementation of grant-funded activities by the Tobacco Free St. Louis Coalition is for $545,148.  The contract includes a detailed budget, a detailed scope of work, and all necessary Federal ARRA reporting requirements.  All coalition staff working on grant activities and paid by grant funds are, therefore, employees of Saint Louis University and receive their paychecks from the same.  To my knowledge, the University and the activities being managed on our behalf by Ms. Lindsey are fully in compliance with the contract and all applicable federal laws and reporting requirements.

The budget for our grant-funded activities at Saint Louis University is as follows:

Contracted Services

Any questions about the funding and activities of the Tobacco Free St. Louis Coalition that are outside of the grant deliverables will need to be addressed by that organization as they are out of our purview.

In general, the grant-funded activities of the Tobacco Free St. Louis coalition include:

·         The development of education and advocacy campaigns designed to educate the County Council and the general public about the need to remove exemptions from St. Louis County’s current smoke-free ordinance.
·         Working with our media team on a counter-marketing campaign focused on middle and high school youth.
·         Providing education and advocacy support in the effort to increase the number of municipalities that enact smoke-free policies that exceed the county ordinance.
·         Working with the CPPW team leaders on policy change in K-12 schools and colleges and universities.
·         Working with the CPPW team leaders to develop graphic warning signs to be used in a retailer-focused initiative to prevent underage tobacco use

Although their work is not yet complete, the Tobacco Free St. Louis Coalition has already achieved significant success in key areas of its overall scope of work.  Among the highlights are:

·         Successfully supported six (6) local colleges and universities in developing stronger campus tobacco policies. Those include:  Washington University, Fontbonne University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Harris-Stowe State University, Maryville University, and St. Louis Community College (all campuses).
·         Conducted visits to tobacco retailers to educate and inform them about the new FDA laws and regulations regarding the sale and distribution of tobacco products.
·         Developed, enhanced, and maintained an interactive website ( and Facebook page.
·         Developed written and electronic informational and educational materials about the effects of secondhand smoke, the economic and health inequities associated with exemptions, and public support for removing exemptions.
·         Disseminated this information to their members, policy makers, and the public.
·         Tested air quality in selected restaurants and bars and publicized results.
·         Assisted the department and other community partners to promote the adoption of comprehensive tobacco free policies in primary and secondary schools and school districts in St. Louis County.

In our initial grant application to the CDC, the department stated the following about Tobacco Free St. Louis:

“TFMO-STL, a 501 c (3) has worked successfully on smoke-free air policies at worksites, in communities, and at the County level. TFMO-STL was a leader in the passage of smoke-free ordinances for the County and the municipalities of Ballwin, Clayton, and Kirkwood. The Coalition assisted many major County businesses with tobacco-free policies including Boeing, SSM healthcare, and Missouri Botanical Gardens. They also worked with two of the major universities in the area to implement similar policies. DOH believed the collective voice and vitality of TFMO-STL was critical to continuation of positive steps forward in creating broad-based policy and environmental changes. For that reason, funding for key administrative positions for the TFMO-STL coalition was included in our proposal.”

As we look back over the almost two years since the effective date of our contract with the Tobacco Free St. Louis Coalition through Saint Louis University (it became effective on May 3rd, 2010), I think we made the right choice in working with this coalition and I think their record of achievement demonstrates that.

Thank you again for your inquiry.  Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide.


Dolores J. Gunn, MD
Director, Saint Louis County Department of Health

Dear Dr. Gunn,

Thank you for your very detailed answer to my inquiry concerning Tobacco Free St. Louis, and especially for the honest admission that Tobacco Free St. Louis is engaged in lobbying prohibited of 501(c)(3) organizations.  See the areas below highlighted in yellow. I believe a mistake was made when a 501c3 such as Tobacco Free St. Louis was selected to conduct extensive lobbying activity in St. Louis County. The only way to remedy the situation now would be for Tobacco Free St. Louis to give up its lobbying assignments or abandon its 501c3 status.


Bill Hannegan

Mr. Hannegan:

My response did not contain an, “honest admission that Tobacco Free St. Louis is engaged in lobbying prohibited of 501(c)(3) organizations.”  Your assertion that it did is inaccurate.  My exact quote was, “To my knowledge, the University and the activities being managed on our behalf by Ms. Lindsey are fully in compliance with the contract andall applicable federal laws and reporting requirements.

You have confused activities that are legally permissible for 501(c)(3) organizations (such as education and advocacy) with lobbying.  They are not the same.  I would suggest you contact the IRS for a clarification on how they define each of these terms and activities.

Dolores J. Gunn, MD
Director, Saint Louis County Department of Health

Dr. Gunn,
According to IRS rules "no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation... An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.",,id=163392,00.html
Clearly one of the main jobs assigned to Tobacco Free St. Louis was the altering of existing public smoking ordinances in St. Louis County. That sort of assignment is not permitted to 501(c)(3) organizations. The Health Department chose the wrong group for this task.
Bill Hannegan

Monday, February 06, 2012

Tobacco Free St. Louis 501c3 violations

A friend who runs a conservative 501c3 told me over the weekend that he would be "forthwith hung drawn and quartered" if he tried the extreme lobbying antics of Tobacco Free St. Louis with his group. He encouraged me to continue to call Tobacco Free St. Louis on their 501c3 violations. Why should Keep St. Louis Free have to pay sales tax on printing and mailing costs when Tobacco Free St. Louis gets a free ride? It isn't fair since we are essentially doing the same thing.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

St. Louis County Health Dept & Tobacco Free St. Louis

Dear Mr. Lefebvre,

I am writing to warn you that Tobacco Free St. Louis, a 501c3 nonprofit group directly or indirectly funded by the St. Louis County Department of Health, is currently engaged in a major public lobbying effort to pressure the St. Louis County Council to alter an existing, specific County ordinance, The Indoor Clean Air Code, in clear violation of IRS 501c3 rules.

Pat Lindsey, the Executive Director of Tobacco Free St. Louis, has stated in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the St. Louis County Department of Health is her de facto employer:

Therefore I ask the St. Louis County Department of Health to prevail upon Director Lindsey to keep the activities of her group within 501c3 guidelines.  Mr. Lefebvre, I have no desire to ever stifle free speech, but 501c3 groups that use the majority of their resources to directly lobby lawmakers to alter specific legislation must cease to do so or relinquish their tax-exempt status.

I would also point out that Tobacco Free St. Louis has been previously warned and cited for violating the rules of its 501c3 tax-exempt status through excessive lobbying:


Bill Hannegan 
Home phone: 314.367.3779 
Cell phone: 314.315.3779

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Letter to Tobacco Free St. Louis Directors

Tobacco Free St. Louis Directors:

In late 2010, the St. Louis County Department of Health signed a $545,000  contract with Saint Louis University for the services of Tobacco Free St. Louis, a 5o1c3 nonprofit anti-smoking organization based on its campus. Please find the  scope of work for this contract attached. 

In exchange for $545,000, Tobacco Free St. Louis agreed to:

"Develop and implement an education and advocacy plan to educate St. Louis County Council members about the need to remove exemptions for St. Louis County's current smoke-free ordinance, which becomes effective in January, 2011.

By January, 2012, amend St. Louis County's current smoke-free ordinance to induce all workplaces, restaurants and bars."

Yet according to a statement today by Tobacco Free St. Louis Director Charlie Gatton, "Tobacco Free St. Louis (TFSTL) is a volunteer organization. Money comes from dues and fund-raising, such as the annual Trivia Night event. It IS NOT funded by the CDC grant."

If Director Gatton is right and Tobacco Free St. Louis has received no money from St. Louis County's CDC grant, then where did the $545,000 actually go and what has it been used for? $545,000 is a lot of money and should be accounted for.

Also, members of the Tobacco Free St. Louis Board of Directors have in the past week begun directly lobbying and publicly pressuring St. Louis County Councilmen at Council hearings, as well as in print, on the radio and on television, to revise existing legislation in violation of 501c3 lobbying rules. I have no desire to ever stifle free speech, but those who directly lobby lawmakers should pay taxes on their funds as do ordinary citizens seeking legislation change.,,id=163392,00.html


Bill Hannegan
Home phone: 314.367.3779
Cell phone: 314.315.3779