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Local historian NiNi Harris is the author of 14 volumes focused on the Gateway City’s history and architecture. She joined Thursday’s talk show to share highlights from her latest published work, “This Used to Be St. Louis.”
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

When NiNi Harris isn’t busy writing, she’s most likely reading – old documents such as city directories, that is.

“It sounds like I have a pretty boring life, doesn’t it?” the local historian said with a laugh on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “I read old census records.”

But it’s that very attention to such records that has led Harris to some of the most fascinating stories she tells in her books – 14 of which she’s published thus far.

Missouri State Board of Education member Vic Lenz, board President Charlie Shields, and interim Education Commissioner Roger Dorson during the state school board's first meeting Thursday in six months.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri State Board of Education started advancing education policy in the state for the first time in six months with just enough members to do so.

The Muny is looking to extend its lease to 2071, and free up some funds earmarked for parking lot upkeep. A city fund for that purpose has a surplus of approximately $180,000.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

The Muny is one step closer to extending its stay in Forest Park. The Board of Alderman’s Parks Committee voted 4-0 Thursday to extend the outdoor theater’s lease to 2071 and make other changes. The full board is expected to give final approval before its summer recess in mid-July.

The Muny’s lease with the city had been set to expire in 2031. The early extension will help the organization secure donors for its $100 million capital campaign,  Dennis Reagan, Muny president and CEO, told board members.

State Sen.-elect Lauren Arthur flipped a seat that had been held by Republicans for 12 years.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Marshall Griffin go “on location’’ to welcome Missouri state Sen.-elect Lauren Arthur.

A Democrat, Arthur has touched off a minor political earthquake with her June 5 success in handily winning a state Senate seat in suburban Kansas City that had been held by Republicans for 12 years. Both parties are examining her success to figure out how to duplicate it, or cut it short, in November.

Plant scientist Thomas Brutnell
Brutnell Lab

This story was updated at 3:10 p.m. — The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center has dismissed one of its researchers on suspicion of sexual misconduct.

The Danforth Center “has ended its relationship” with Thomas Brutnell, according to a statement released today from the Danforth Center’s President Jim Carrington. Brutnell's biography was also removed from the center’s website.

An investigation into Brutnell’s behavior began in May “upon receiving a complaint of inappropriate conduct and comments of a sexual nature” from Brutnell. Danforth officials then placed him on leave. The statement does not elaborate on the allegations against Brutnell.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' most recent Shakespeare in the Streets production, Blow, Winds, will be on stage this weekend at the Central branch of the St. Louis Public Library.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is one of the most prominent theater companies in town, yet it doesn’t own a stage.

The organization shares its various stages — Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park, local schools and even city streets — with the public. With programs like Shakespeare in the Streets, which tells a community’s story, that sharing comes with great responsibility.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill answers questions during a town hall at Harris-Stowe State University. Jan. 27, 2018
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump is joining some fellow Republicans who are attacking U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill for using her family’s private plane to make campaign stops around the state.

Said Trump in a Wednesday-afternoon tweet:

“Senator Claire McCaskill of the GREAT State of Missouri flew around in a luxurious private jet during her RV tour of the state. RV’s are not for her. People are really upset, so phony! Josh Hawley should win big, and has my full endorsement.”

At issue is the senator’s recent campaign tour to visit with military veterans around the state. Although she often traveled on a campaign RV, McCaskill has acknowledged that she also at times used her family plane.

Gov. Mike Parson greets attendees after a meeting with business and community leaders and elected officials at Cortex Innovation Community.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

New Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says that improving the state’s roads and bridges appears to be one of the top issues all over the state that has bipartisan support.

Parson ended his 10-stop listening tour on Wednesday by visiting the Cortex business complex in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis. He said that in all of his meetings — in rural and urban areas — civic and business leaders called for improving Missouri’s infrastructure.

“I think it’s so important that we move forward on infrastructure. We just can’t keep kicking the can down the road and expect any different result,” he said. “And it really does matter how we move forward as a state to do that. So I think we’re going to be working hard on that.”

St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Michael R. Allen | Flickr

A proposal to explore privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport has finally been cleared for takeoff.

The City’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment voted Wednesday to approve a contract with an advisory team charged with soliciting proposals from private firms to manage and oversee the operations of the airport.

The board is made up of Mayor Lyda Krewson, Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed and Comptroller Darlene Green. Krewson and Reed voted to approve the contract, while Green voted no.

On Wednesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” international journalist and St. Louis native Daniel Estrin (at left) talked with host Don Marsh in front of a live audience at St. Louis Public Radio.
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

Like other journalists based in Jerusalem and the region surrounding the ancient city, Daniel Estrin is often associated with one overarching, ongoing news headline: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He’s covered many of the latest developments within that continuing story during his time reporting in the Middle East. But there have been many other stories for him to tell over the course of that decade, too.

“Every day surprises me there,” the NPR correspondent and St. Louis native said Wednesday on St. Louis on the Air. “You meet so many different voices and so many different perspectives … and oftentimes you’ll hear, ‘The Israelis think this, the Palestinians think that.’ But actually there are so many different perspectives among Palestinians. There are so many different perspectives among Israelis. And that’s the kind of texture that I like to bring out in my reporting.”

Cheryl Walker, chairwoman of the poet laureate task force, is a St. Louis native. Her published work includes a poetry chapbook called Silence Isn’t Quiet.
Cheryl Walker

After months of discord over who should be the next poet laureate for St. Louis, the city could select a new voice this fall.

St. Louis has been without an official poet for more than a year after a disagreement between the task force that recommends a poet laureate to the Board of Aldermen and a former member of that group.

Now, a new task force is in place and its members are asking the public to play a role.

The Muny is looking to extend its lease to 2071, and free up some funds earmarked for parking lot upkeep. A city fund for that purpose has a surplus of approximately $180,000. 6/14/18
The Muny

Directly behind the stage at the Muny on a recent morning, workers were hammering, sawing and welding together sets that will appear onstage this season, in some of the theater’s seven productions.

“As we’re performing one show at night we’re actually building two to three other shows during the day,” said Sean Smith, the operations director for the outdoor theater. “We’re finishing up sets for the opening on Monday but then we’re also looking at the next few shows, building for ‘The Wiz,’ which is coming up next.”

As it begins its 100th season this week, the Municipal Theater Association of St. Louis has one eye on the past. But it has another on the future, in the form of series of planned renovations due to be completed after this summer season and before the 2019 campaign.

The St. Louis County Council passed a resolution Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, asking municipalities to spend Proposition P solely on policing. The resolution is non-binding.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council plans to recommend that federal or state law enforcement agencies investigate whether County Executive Steve Stenger broke any laws when he moved some county operations to the old Northwest Plaza shopping center.

The 26-page report circulated this week by the council’s Ethics Committee takes aim at Stenger over his administration’s efforts to help redevelop the Northwest Plaza site in St. Ann.

The report – to be formally presented to the full council next week -- calls for the state attorney general or the U.S. attorney to look into the matter.

Attorneys Ross Garber and Ed Greim were hired by former Gov. Eric Greitens to represent him "in his capacity as governor." June 2018
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

The chairman of a Missouri House committee that investigated former Gov. Eric Greitens doesn’t want the state to pay for his lawyers.

Greitens hired attorneys Ed Greim and Ross Garber to represent him in his official capacity as governor. When questioned under oath by the House investigative committee last month, the two confirmed that they were billing the state for their services – Greim was billing the state $340 an hour, while Garber was billing $320 an hour.

Rev. F. Willis Johnson on "St. Louis on the Air"
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

After serving his community in Ferguson for more than seven years and emerging as a leader following the killing of Michael Brown in 2014, Rev. F. Willis Johnson is being transplanted to Columbus, Ohio, where he will grow a new church.

Johnson was the pastor of Wellspring Church in downtown Ferguson until it recently closed. He is also the co-founder/director of the Center for Social Empowerment and author of “Holding Up Your Corner: Talking About Race in Your Community.” On Tuesday, Johnson joined host Don Marsh on St. Louis on the Air to discuss his time in St. Louis.

Northside Regeneration owns much of the land in the TIF. Looking north from the intersection of Cass and Jefferson Avenues, the future site of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is visible at right.” 4-10-2018.
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10 p.m. Tuesday with comments from NorthSide Regeneration — After nearly 10 years, the city of St. Louis wants to cut ties with developer Paul McKee and his NorthSide Regeneration initiative.

Fur traders Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau are credited with settling The Landing's original nine-block area in 1764.
LacledesLanding.com

An effort to revitalize a once-bustling section of downtown St. Louis is underway. Developers are pumping roughly $20 million into Laclede's Landing for retail, office, restaurant and residential space.

The investments follow some tough years for the area with Gateway Arch grounds construction and a down economy.

"We're done licking our wounds," said Laclede's Landing Community Improvement District President John Clark. "It was a dusty mess and there was some tragedy along the way. We lost a few businesses."

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The roster on the Missouri State Board of Education is deep enough to hold a meeting for the first time since December.

Gov. Mike Parson appointed two people to the board Tuesday morning, ending six months of paralysis in which the school board — short of a quorum — was unable to vote or advance education policy in the state.

Jennings school kids pick up lunches delivered June 4, 2018 by Operation Food Search at Hanrahan Elementary School. The north St. Louis County district serves meals as part of its summer school program.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

During the school year, Stacey Vehlewald’s kids are able to grab bagels in the cafeteria before class, and chow down on chicken nuggets at lunchtime. When summer break arrives, those free meals from the school cafeteria aren’t available.

Even with trips to the food pantry and shopping discounts, last summer Vehlewald's grocery bill went up at least $300 per month.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Hazelwood School District, one of St. Louis County’s largest school systems, will have a balanced budget for the second straight school year, but at the cost of further reducing its teaching staff.

The district held a public hearing Monday on its first budget since a state audit found some poor bookkeeping and potential overspending by district administrators.

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