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Coleman makes final pitches in mayoral bid

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 3, 2009 - The 1400 block of Desoto Avenue is a place where dreams die early. It is a hopeless-looking site where young men in hats and hoods move aimlessly up and down crumbling sidewalks against a backdrop of mostly windowless, vacant buildings and unkempt lots that overwhelm the block.

It’s also the place that independent mayoral candidate Maida Coleman visited Friday morning to try to bolster her argument that development cited by Mayor Francis Slay has yet to find its way to places like Desoto, a few blocks west of the water tower on North Grand.

Coleman and Slay are competing in next Tuesday's city mayoral election. Among other things, Slay -- who is seeking a third term -- says more than $2 billion has been invested on the North Side since he became mayor.
 
Pointing to the crumbling real estate, Coleman says Slay talks about “getting rid of problem properties. What about these buildings?” She adds that, “Our mayor says he has all this new development going on in the city. On the North Side, obviously that’s not true.

Somebody is not doing their job.” She says aldermen and the mayor need to work hand in hand in shoring up city blocks like the one on Desoto.

Coleman has been endorsed by the Ecumenical Leadership Council, a church group that feels her election would mean more public dollars for neighborhood improvements.

Former St. Louis Fire Chief Sherman George, who was ousted by Slay, was the only city leader at Coleman’s press conference. Citing problems, ranging from the Police Department to the City Jail, George said, “If he (Slay) is going to take credit for what’s good, he has to take responsibility for what’s bad.”

George accused the mayor of “always blaming it (the problem) on someone else.”

Robert Joiner has carved a niche in providing informed reporting about a range of medical issues. He won a Dennis A. Hunt Journalism Award for the Beacon’s "Worlds Apart" series on health-care disparities. His journalism experience includes working at the St. Louis American and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he was a beat reporter, wire editor, editorial writer, columnist, and member of the Washington bureau.

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