Good morning! Here are a few of today's starting headlines:
The Jennings City Council voted 6-to-1 last night to enter a contract with the St. Louis County police department to handle the municipality's police services. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the lone no vote came form Councilwoman Yolanda Austin , who is claiming she has flied a lawsuit to block the contract. St. Louis County has been overseeing the Jennings police Department since November 1. The one-year contract would cost $2.8 million. The Post-Dispatch reports the current budgeted cost for Jennings to run its own department is about $3.1 million.
A Missouri House Republican wants to require labor unions to get written permission from their members before deducting dues form their paychecks. The legislation by House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller would require workers to sign a forma every year authorizing the deductions. They would also have to give written consent for their dues to be used for political activities. Schoeller, from Willard, says workers should be able to decide how to spend their own money. Labor groups say the bill would require too much paperwork. They also say dues are not used for political activities. They say those activities are financed from a separate fund to which members make voluntary contributions.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Police Retirement System endorsed changes Monday to pension benefits for newly hired St. Louis police officers. The changes call for all participants, including those currently enrolled, to contribute 9 percent of their salary, up from 7 percent. According to the system's executive director, the changes would saved the city about $600,000 a year to start, and about $10 million annually after about 20 years. The Post-Dispatch reports that new officers would have to wait longer to be eligible for benefits and would not be able to receive a lump sum refund on their contributions upon retirement. Exacerbated by the bad economy, cost for city contributions to police, firefighter and other employee pension systems have ballooned by millions in recent years. City leaders have said employees face almost certain layoffs if cost cannot be trimmed.
St. Louis residents pay for the city’s police force, but the state controls it.
While St. Louis’ mayor sits on the Board of Police Commissioners, Missouri’s governor appoints the other four members.
It’s been that way for 150 years, since the outset of the Civil War.
In recent years, the drumbeat to bring local control back to the city has been growing louder.
As part of St. Louis Public Radio’s continuing Bound By Division series, Maria Altman reports the reasons for and against local control have changed since the Civil War, but it’s still an issue that pits the city against the state.
South County Republican state Senator Jim Lembke says the opinion issued last week by attorney general Chris Koster still doesn't convince him that some municipal ordinances authorizing red light cameras are legal.