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County police and their families help pack the room as the County Council considers a police pay raise.
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council got an earful Tuesday before members unanimously gave initial approval to a measure increasing county police pay beginning Jan. 1.  

For almost two hours, council members heard mainly from St. Louis County Police officers and their families concerned that the pay hike might be blocked by a pension dispute between Council Chairman Sam Page and County Executive Steve Stenger. 

Orli Shaham
Christian Steiner / Courtesy of Orli Shaham

Classical pianist Orli Shaham knew that she would likely have a career in music when she was only 11 or 12 years old.

“I knew I needed to be part of that music making,” Shaham said, recalling how she thought after getting the opportunity play with an orchestra at a young age.

Although Shaham has performed frequently with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as a guest artist, for the final time, she will perform with the SLSO this weekend with her husband, David Robertson, as music director.

Waller McGuire (L) and Kristen Sorth (R) joined host Don Marsh.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

By the end of the year, 88 students will begin a program that could result in them earning a high school degree.

The Career Online High School is a partnership between the St. Louis Public Library and St. Louis County Library.

“We are trained to find ways to meet patrons where they are and come up with programs and services to help people in our community,” said Kristen Sorth, director of the St. Louis County Library.

Sorth along with Waller McGuire, executive director of the St. Louis Public Library, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Tuesday.

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. leads a chant inside the St. Louis Galleria. Sept. 30, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

“No justice, no profits.”

That’s one of several chants protesters have used in nearly daily events since Sept. 15, the day a St. Louis Circuit judge acquitted former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Activists have made it clear that economic disruption is a big part of their strategy.

And they’ve put a number on it. Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, who has taken part in many of the demonstrations, told a crowd late last month the economic impact was $10 million to $11 million.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Just over a year before the 2018 elections, Missouri’s incumbents are doing their best to raise enough money to scare off their competitors. And that also may be true for some of those rivals, as well.

Aside from the U.S. Senate race, the Missouri state auditor is the only statewide post that will be up for grabs next year. Campaign finance reports filed Monday show Democratic incumbent Nicole Galloway with $665,380 in the bank as of Sept. 30. She had raised $211,118 during the past three months.

Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

The Missouri House’s ethics committee will consider a complaint filed against a Republican lawmaker who wrote on Facebook that the people who vandalized a Confederate monument in Springfield should be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

Rep. Warren Love’s post sparked an immediate outcry from Democrats, who called on the Osceola Republican to resign and for House Republican leaders to discipline him.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Sarah Unsicker to the program for the first time.

The Shrewsbury Democrat was first won election in 2016 to represent the 91st House District, which takes in portions of St. Louis and St. Louis County, including most of Webster Groves, Shrewsbury and Crestwood.

Sammy Rangel (right), Executive Director of Life After Hate, is receiving the Hero of the Year award from HateBrakers, a local organization founded by Susan Balk (left).
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Life did not start well for Sammy Rangel.

“When I was 45, I found out that I was the second child my mom had tried to kill,” he said.

Rangel is the executive director and co-founder of Life After Hate, a nonprofit organization formed in 2011 by former members of far-right extremist groups in the United States.

On Tuesday, he will receive the fifth annual “Hero of the Year” award from HateBrakers, a locally-based nonprofit organization.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Third-grader students who live in low-income homes  underperformed their more well-off classmates by 50 percentage points in seven Illinois school districts in 2016, according to the advocacy organization Voices for Illinois Children. 

In its annual Kids Count report released last week, the group also noted that only 22 percent of Metro East third-grade students met expectations on the most recent state English test.

A prairie that contains the common big bluestem grass.
Provided by Kansas State University

Prairies in Missouri and southern Illinois could look shorter by the end of the century, according to a study from the Missouri Botanical Garden and Kansas State University. 

Researchers reported in the journal Global Change Ecology that tall varieties of the big bluestem grass that covers much of Midwestern prairies could be taken over by shorter forms of the plant over the next several decades. That's because climate change could reduce rainfall in many parts of the region, leading to drier conditions.

Protesters chant outside Busch Stadium during a Cardinals game on Sept. 29.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On Sept. 15, St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson ruled that former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.

Ferguson police officers arrest a protester on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017
Vincent Lang | St. Louis American

 

Ferguson police arrested a handful of protesters late Friday during a demonstration in front of the city’s Police Department.

The arrests, made about 45 minutes into a demonstration billed as a “liberation party,” came after a Ferguson officer used a bullhorn to warn that protesters who were blocking traffic on the street were in violation of a city ordinance.

After the officer had given three warnings, two city police vehicles moved slowly down South Florissant Road with sirens blaring at about 8:40 p.m. As they stopped near the crowd, other officers rushed to the street. Protesters said officers took five people into custody.

Faisel Khan, Brad Stoner and Maheen Bokhari
Aaron Doerr | St. Louis Public Radio

There was a hubbub earlier this week when St. Louis, which recently lost its crown for having the highest STD rates in the country to Alabama, was found out to be on top once again due to an accounting error.

A Murmuration
Zlatko Ćosić

Video artist Zlatko Ćosić has called St. Louis home since 1997, but it was his experiences growing up and eventually fleeing the former Yugoslavia that have most influenced his work. After the war in his homeland started, he was kicked out of the university and his father lost his job just because of their nationality and religion. They were eventually arrested and placed in forced labor for eight months.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Jimmie Edwards talks to reporters on Friday after being appointed as the city's public safety director.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson selected a nationally-renowned judge to head the city’s public safety agency, which oversees the police and fire departments.

Judge Jimmie Edwards’ appointment drew widespread praise, including from elected officials who have been supportive of the protests over former police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Signs held by demonstrators at a Sept. 6 rally in support of the DACA program outside the St. Louis office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. The photo was taken by Eddie Albarran who spoke at the rally. He is studying photography.
Provided | Eddie Albarran

Eddie Albarran recalls being nervous — but also very determined — as he waited to address about 60 people gathered outside the St. Louis office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill last month.

Albarran, who grew up in St. Louis, was about to acknowledge publicly a fact of his life that he usually keeps to himself: He is one of nearly 700,000 young immigrants who have temporary protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Obama administration created the DACA policy in 2012 for  children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents.

peter.a_photography | Flickr

With less than six months to go, at least one proposal to legalize medicinal use of marijuana in Missouri appears to be in a strong position to get on statewide ballots next year.

New Approach Missouri says it already has collected 100,000 signatures from registered voters, and expects to have well over the necessary 165,000 by the state’s May 6 deadline for submitting initiative petitions.

Drawing of child and scales of justice
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Black students in Missouri are four and a half times more likely to be suspended than white students, according to a report released Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.

The ACLU also found that black students with disabilities are more than three times as likely to be suspended as white students with disabilities.

What's the housing market looking like for millennials in St. Louis?
American Advisors Group | Flickr

Missouri could lose half a million dollars in federal housing funds because of a change to the state’s discrimination law passed earlier this year.

The new law, sometimes referred to as Senate Bill 43, primarily deals with discrimination in the workplace. It requires fired workers to prove discrimination was the main reason they lost their jobs — and not one of a few reasons. But it also places a higher standard on people making housing discrimination claims.

The Muny's 100th season includes several favorites that will return to the stage of the outdoor theater.
Provided | The Muny

The Muny outdoor theater today announced a 100th season that honors its St. Louis heritage, classic musicals and the African-American rendition of Dorothy’s journey into Oz.

The banner season includes several favorites such as “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Muny-goers last saw the musical about the tribulations of a St. Louis family against the backdrop of the 1904 World’s Fair nine years ago.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has amassed more than $7.1 million in her campaign account so far for her 2018 re-election bid. That’s almost twice the amount she had on-hand at the same point in her 2012 re-election campaign.

The Missouri Democrat’s latest campaign reports, due Sunday, show that she raised just over $2.9 million during the past three months — more than twice her tally in October 2011.

Courtney Berg and Kate T. Parker joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss "Strong is the New Pretty" and girls' empowerment.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Thursday's St. Louis on the Air, we turned our discussion to that of girls empowerment with Kate T. Parker, author of “Strong is the New Pretty,” and Courtney Berg, executive director of Girls on the Run, a local non-profit that uses running as a tool for youth development.

"When you have power, you get to know your voice and use it," Berg said of the need to teach girls earlier of their power.

Gas extraction wells on the Bridgeton Landfill in summer 2016.
File Photo |Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents and environmental activists expressed concerns at a public hearing Wednesday night that the state's pending stormwater permit for the Bridgeton Landfill does not require monitoring for radioactive waste. 

The Bridgeton Landfill sits above an underground smoldering fire, located about 600 feet from the World War II-era radioactive waste that's under the West Lake Landfill Superfund site. Concerns about radioactive contamination in stormwater rose over the summer, when the Missouri Department of Natural Resources released a report showing levels of alpha particles in runoff at Bridgeton Landfill that exceeded drinking water standards after heavy rains in late April. Alpha particles are a type of radiation that does not pierce the skin and must be ingested to damage human health.

Melanie Barrier was adopted at age 10 by a Columbia, Missouri ,couple, after living in 20 different foster homes.
Carolina Hidalgo| St. Louis Public Radio

Melanie Barrier went into the Florida foster care system as a newborn. She lived in 20 foster homes before she was adopted at age 10.

Stability existed in only one realm: music. As a child traveling from family to family, Barrier took along her beloved songs of the 1970s.

Daje Shelton and her high-school boyfriend, Antonio Shumpert, welcome their baby boy, Ahkeem, into the world.
File | Provided | Jeff Truesdell

By the time Daje Shelton of St. Louis was 17, she’d already lost lots of friends to gun violence. One was shot while waiting at a bus stop, another while walking to the store.

Shelton had few outlets for expressing her grief and coping with emotions about that trauma. In her world, fighting, not talking, was a typical way to address conflict. After one fight, she was expelled from high school.

Ding Lirin, at age 24, is one of the youngest champions in this year's World Cup.
Lennart Ootes | Sant Louis Chess Club

Whenever I am the Grand Master in Residence at the Saint Louis Chess Club, non-chess players often ask, “When did you start playing chess?” I gladly answer, 10 years old. Many talented players start very young and even become grand masters in their teens, but I recently noticed that there is actually a shift happening with chess professionals. According to recent results at the World Cup in Tbilisi and the strong tournament on the Isle of Man, experience seems to weigh more heavily than age.

Audience members express dissatisfaction with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's comments Wednesday at a meeting at Harris-Stowe State University. Oct. 11, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

During a frequently contentious forum Wednesday at Harris-Stowe State University, people who have been protesting for the past three weeks had choice words and asked pointed questions of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

What was billed as a forum to discuss how to transfer the activism of the protests into policy turned into more of a question-and-answer session with audience members demanding to know why it’s so hard to get a new police chief; why the city isn’t investing more in communities of color and why the city hasn’t followed the recommendations of the Ferguson Commission.

A cornfield
File Photo | Adam Allington | St. Louis Public Radio

The National Science Foundation has awarded $3.4 million to researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana and the University of California-Davis to study genes that promote high corn yields.

Advances in crop technology have helped boost corn yields by eightfold in the last century. But productivity of the staple crop has plateaued in recent years and that has pushed researchers to take a closer look at genes that can improve production and help feed the world's rising human population.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Flickr | McCaskill | April 2015

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is continuing to hold town hall meetings in so-called “Trump Country,’’ part of her Democratic quest to improve her re-election chances next year through reaching every potential rural supporter she can find.

Wednesday marked her 46th town hall event this year, this one in in Washington, Missouri, where about 70 percent of last year’s presidential votes went for Republican Donald Trump. McCaskill told the crowd packing the Washington City Council chambers that she owed it to all Missourians, whether they support her or not,  to “show respect.”

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri is doing a poor job of tracking the economic impact of tax breaks, according to an audit released on Wednesday.

Missouri state Auditor Nicole Galloway said state government has no idea if incentives, exemptions, and newer tax laws changes are working as intended. She said the state isn’t accurately measuring how much revenue it’s losing.

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