One of our favorite features here at Patch is the Conversation Starter series, which poses a topical question to readers each and every Sunday.
Sometimes, these questions are tough to answer. For example, when we asked readers how schoold could boost security for students in light of the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.
But sometimes, they're fun, like when we asked readers if they liked food trucks.
No matter the case, there was no shortage of chatter amongst readers this year. Given the time of year, here are some of the most talked about conversation starters we had in 2012.
What Can Schools Do to Boost Security for Students?
A couple of days after , we knew that police locally have beefed up patrols around St. Louis County elementary schools.
As a parent, I think nothing of sending my child off to school every day. We just cannot wrap our heads around the thought of teachers, who should be explaining the three R's, not getting between our children and a gunman.
We think our children will be safe in the school when we put them on the bus or drop them off at the curb.
And when something horrible happens, we wonder if the schools should be doing more to protect them.
Is that unfair?
Twinkies Strike: Did Hostess' Bakers Cut Their Own Throats?
If your company said it must cut wages and benefits or it will go out of business, would you believe it?
That was really at the crux of the drama that played out over the 10 days surrounding Hostess Brands, the makers of iconic bakery names such as Twinkies, Ho-Hos and Wonder Bread.
The company says it won't survive without the cuts. The workers say they won't accept cuts. At what point does someone blink?
At what point do union members have a responsibility to say, "I'd rather have a job, even if it doesn't pay what it used to pay"?
Online Petition Seeks Missouri Secession after 2012 Presidential Election
Considering Mitt Romney easily won Missouri on Nov. 6, it's not surprising that there were some disappointed Republicans in the Show-Me State. Some of them are so disappointed that they're petitioning to leave the union and create a new government.
That's according to reports around the state and the country, where at least 30 other states have seen similar petition drives crop up.
Was this just post-election silliness or do you think there are actually people serious about this?
Can You Explain Republican-Democrat Divide in Missouri?
Explain this, kind Missouri voters.
You overwhelmingly voted to give Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney the 10 electoral votes that our state had up for grabs. By more than 450,000 votes, in fact, the state went red—as all the pundits had expected.
Close behind, however, were the race for U.S. Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, attorney general and secretary of state.
With the exception of Peter Kinder's huge win for a third term as the state's No. 2, every other race went blue:
- Democrat Claire McCaskill won re-election to the senate.
- Democrat Chris Koster won re-election as attorney general.
- Democrat Clint Zweifel won re-election as state treasurer.
- Democrat Jason Kander won a wide open race for secretary of state — the only race that didn't involve an incumbent.
What does it mean?
Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist at the City University of New York. He appeared for asegment last week on CBS This Morning to discuss the question of global climate change in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which bashed parts of Manhattan, the Jersey Shore and other regions of the country hard on Monday and Tuesday.
Are you a believer?
It's one of those hyper-divisive issues, and it's on the ballot on Nov. 6. Why is Proposition B so divisive?
Well, for starters, it involves two relatively unpopular practices: raising taxes and smoking. But here's the thing: If you don't smoke, do you really care about raising taxes on smokers? And if you smoke, are you ever going to vote for a hike in tobacco taxes?
That's what Prop B is about. In basic English, themeasure would boost state taxes from 17 to 90 cents on name-brand cigarettes. For off-brands, the state tax would rise to $1.47 a pack.
Did you support an increase in tobacco taxes? Why or why not?
For Catholics, a fundamental part of the doctrine is this: Neither abortion nor birth control are acceptable.
So much political debate centers on that fundamental part of Catholic or otherwise conservative philosophy: How much control should mankind assume over the bringing of life into the world?
Then we had word, reported on University City Patch and other outlets that a Washington University study—known as the Contraceptive Choice Project—links access to affordable or free birth control to a decline in abortion rates in the St. Louis area.
Is birth control an acceptable alternative to unplanned pregnancies and abortions? Why or why not?
Are You Better Off Now Than You Were 4 Years Ago?
It started with a debate point by Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Then we asked the same question more than 30 years later.
How do you see it? Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Is that the right question to ask this time around?
Rep. Todd Akin On Hot Seat Over 'Legitimate Rape' Comment in FOX2 Interview
Comments by U.S. Rep. Todd Akin suggesting that "legitimate rape" would not cause a woman to get pregant have raced like wildfire around the Internet and put the U.S. Senate candidate on his heels.
Akin, the Wildwood Republican, ran (and lost) for the Senate against incumbent Claire McCaskill. In an interview with Patch news partner FOX2 that aired on Sunday with Charles Jaco, Akin was explaining his position against abortion even in cases of rape.
Akin acknowledges the assertion of "legitimate rape" was a gaffe in his statement. Was that enough to put the issue aside?
Chick-Fil-A and Gay Marriage: Do You Support the Chain's Stance?
The nationwide media storm over the anti-gay-marriage stance by the president of Chick-fil-A came home to roost in the St. Louis area in August as local stores saw record traffic and huge crowds.
Most of the visitors said they supported the stance taken by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy in the Biblical Recorder on gay marriage. Later, in an interview on the topic, Cathy said: "As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than You as to what constitutes a marriage.'"
Do you agree with Dan Cathy's stated position on gay marriage?
Gun Control More or Less Likely After Colorado?
The gun control debate re-emerged with every shooting like the one in July in Aurora, CO: A man kills 12 and wounds more than 50 in a movie theater at a premiere of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."
On one end of the gun debate, Missouri Rep. John McCaherty (R-90th District), of High Ridge, is set to raffle off the civilian version of the military M16 rifle at a fundraising dinner Aug. 27. The rifle is a legally owned AR15 rifle that was given to him by the NRA.
But this raises the question again: Do you think events like this make stronger gun control laws more or less likely?
Food Truck Bans: Good or Bad for Business?
It's happened most recently in Maplewood, where city leaders have discussed possible restrictions on where food trucks can operate — or even if they can operate in the city at all.
The Show-Me Institute has campaigned in its writings against the bans on food trucks, which it says are anti-competitive. In a recent post on the Maplewood situation, the authors said a move to ban food trucks would "limit competition in the food service business." (That post incorrectly stated that the city had voted on the ban.)
Is it legitimate to be concerned for restaurants that invest in property and set up shop in a community?