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Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf, of St. Joseph, sponsored the Senate drug monitoring bill.
Courtesy of Harrison Sweazea, Missouri Senate Communications

Technically speaking, Missouri is closer to setting up a statewide prescription drug monitoring program with the state Senate passing a bill Thursday.

Realistically, however, Missouri won't be joining the rest of the United States in setting up such a program this year unless the two chambers agree to allow doctors and other health professionals to access a patient’s prescription records.

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The National Urban League Conference will be in St. Louis this summer.

The event will be held July 26-29 at the America’s Center.  

President and CEO Marc Morial said on Friday that St. Louis proved itself back in 2007 when it first hosted the national conference. But he said this year’s conference, with the theme “Save Our Cities,” is coming back in part because of the challenges African-Americans face in St. Louis.

Tyson Richardet holds his son, Kwinton, 5, while surveying the damage to his auto body shop. (Perryville, March 1, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

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Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to the crowd after taking the oath of office outside the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City on Jan. 9, 2017.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens says he’s receptive to having Missouri’s transportation department spruce up state land to make way for a professional soccer stadium in St. Louis.

His remarks during a news conference Thursday in Jefferson City appear to be his most direct response regarding the critical state involvement with the proposed stadium, which is on land owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation. For months, Greitens has spoken out against using taxpayer money to build stadiums.

Kent Coffel as Zorba and Dominic Dowdy-Windsor as Nikos in New Line Theatre's production of "Zorba"
Jill Ritter Lindberg

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Hundreds of demonstrat0rs gathered in downtown St. Louis to express their disgust, concern and fear with President-elect Donald Trump on Nov. 13, 2016.
File | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, like many parts of the United States, has seen an uptick in marches and protests since President Donald Trump took office.

In late January, thousands took to the streets for the St. Louis women’s march. Many of those participants have also been a part of demonstrations calling for immigrants’ rights and protections for the LGBTQ community.

Priscilla Dowden-White is a history professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who studies civic activism in the 20th century. She says movements of the early to mid 20th century are rife with lessons for today’s protesters — but that comparing the two too closely can be reductive.

Overgrown greenery almost entirely obscures a gravestone at which a giant white paper mache heart is positioned.
Provided by Jennifer Colten

When Terri Williams’ daughters brought home their Black History Month assignment from school, she noticed most of the historical figures were entertainers or athletes. 

This contrasted with the uniquely heroic lives she saw represented by the figures interred at Washington Park Cemetery — people like Ira Cooper, the first black police lieutenant in St. Louis, George L. Vaughn, the attorney who fought for J.D. Shelley in the Shelley vs. Kraemer court case that eliminated courts’ abilities to enforce housing segregation.

William’s learned about such figures while researching the cemetery for the new exhibit “Higher Ground: Honoring Washington Park Cemetery Its People and Place,” which opens at The Sheldon this weekend.

The Missouri Capitol Building at dusk
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate passed a bill along party lines Thursday that would make it harder for employees to prove discrimination when fired from a job.

Under Senate Bill 43, an employee has to prove "race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, or age" was the main reason for dismissal, not just a contributing factor. The measure now goes to the House.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush visits the Missouri Capitol. (March 2, 2017)
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told Missouri lawmakers on Thursday that expanding charter schools is a way to help students improve their performance.

His visit comes as Missouri lawmakers will consider allowing charter schools beyond St. Louis and Kansas City this session. Gov. Eric Greitens is a backer of school choice.

Julie Dubray, co-author of the children's book Goodnight St. Louis, reads to students at Koch Elementary Schools on March 2, 2017.
Ryan Delaney / St. Louis Public Radio

Second-graders at a predominantly low-income north St. Louis County school district went home with new books Thursday as part of a national reading day.

Two St. Louis children’s authors spent part of the afternoon at Koch Elementary School in the Riverview Gardens district, which is struggling with reading proficiency. Just 17 percent of third-graders at Koch Elementary School were considered to be at state standards for reading in 2015, though the district has improved enough regain provisional accreditation.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to reporters Thursday, March 2, 2017, as part of the annual Missouri Press Association/Associated Press Day at the Capitol.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ relationship with the media has had its ups and downs.

Greitens has willingly answered questions from reporters, provided that those questions directly correspond with the topic of the news conference, and has agreed on a few occasions to exclusive interviews. He generally announces things directly to the public on Facebook and Twitter videos, seldom disseminating it to reporters ahead of time.

Courtesy of the City of St. Louis

Tuesday’s primary election isn’t just the first step in choosing a new mayor for St. Louis, but also portends the beginning of significant turnover at the Board of Aldermen. In addition to five open seats, incumbents could be upset in a number of wards — including aldermen who have not faced serious opposition in more than 10 years.

 

Here’s a guide to the contested wards, the candidates and what they’re promising. Candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot:

Wednesday: The best new St. Louis restaurants to try during the month of February
Michelle Volansky

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The Sound Bites team at Sauce Magazine is back and ready to help you plan your nights out at St. Louis restaurants during the month of March.

Officer Nate McCraw enjoying a chess game with public school students.
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The current climate of community and police relations in our country has forced law enforcement agencies to examine what tactics work well and what areas pose challenges. Officers work extremely hard day in and day out to keep the citizens of our community safe. However, the focus on building relationships while performing their jobs should also be a priority and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is committed to finding opportunities to build better community relationships, especially with youth. Now, they are doing so through chess.

Blunt – Flickr/Gage Skidmore; McCaskill – Flickr/SenatorMcCaskill

Updated 3:20 p.m. March 2 — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any Justice Department investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election. 

Sessions faced mounting pressure from both Democrats, including Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, and Republicans to step aside after revelations that he had twice talked with Moscow's U.S. envoy during the presidential campaign. Sessions' conversations with the ambassador seem to contradict his sworn statements to Congress during his confirmation hearings. 

Ina Boon at a 1985 health fair.
Boon Family

The longtime, indefatigable regional NAACP leader, Ina Boon, whose name became synonymous with the organization in the St. Louis region, has died. She was 90.

For more than half a century, Ms. Boon was a bold advocate for racial justice through her leadership roles with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. During her tenure, Ms. Boon worked closely with some of the NAACP’s most well-known civil rights leaders, who all became her boss, including Roy Wilkins, Rev. Benjamin Hooks, Chavis Muhammad (formerly Benjamin Chavis) and Kweisi Mfume.

Choreographer Stephanie Martinez worked with Big Muddy Dance Company to create a piece inspired by Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, who died in 1957.
Provided | Dance St. Louis

A 20th century Chilean poet who wanted her daughter to be more than just a princess is the inspiration for a dance performance on stage in St. Louis this weekend at the Touhill.

The dance that is rooted in the poem is called “Destino, Roto.” It’s one of three pieces in Dance St. Louis’ “Women Who Inspire,”  the name of the organization’s fifth annual New Dance Horizons presentation.

Lisa White Hardwick (L), Benjamin Lipman (C) and Brent Powell (L) are the three nominees to replace Richard Teitelman on the Missouri Supreme Court.
Supreme Court of Missouri

Two judges and a lawyer from St. Louis are the candidates for the open seat on the Missouri Supreme Court. The Appellate Judicial Commission, which interviews applicants for appeals court-level judges, announced the nominees Wednesday. Whoever is chosen will replace Judge Richard Teitelman, 69, who died in November. 

Randall Williams appears before the Missouri Senate committee on Gubernatorial Appointments on March 1, 2017.
Marshall Griffin |St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens' nominee to run the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services faced some tough questions Wednesday about his previous job in North Carolina. 

Randall Williams was North Carolina's public health director for about a year and a half. Officials had said that hundreds of wells near Duke Energy power plants were deemed to be contaminated by what's left over when coal is burned. Williams, however, reversed a written warning to the well owners about those toxins. 

 

Senator Gina Walsh, D-St. Louis County, asked Williams why he did that.

Jimmie Matthews, January 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On this edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann welcome former St. Louis Alderman Jimmie Matthews to the program.

Matthews is one of seven Democratic candidates running to become St. Louis’ mayor.  We’re seeking to interview as many candidates as possible before the March 7 primaries.

Bill Siemering was instrumental in the founding of National Public Radio and the creation of "All Things Considered." Today, he runs Developing Radio Partners.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

National Public Radio will serve the individual: it will promote personal growth; it will regard the individual differences among men with respect and joy rather than derision and hate; it will celebrate the human experience as infinitely varied rather than vacuous and banal; it will encourage a sense of active constructive participation, rather than apathetic helplessness.

That’s an excerpt from a 1970 mission statement that Bill Siemering wrote at the outset of National Public Radio, of which he was one of the original organizers and its first program director.

Courtesy of the City of St. Louis

Tuesday’s primary election isn’t just the first step in choosing a new mayor for St. Louis, it also portends the beginning of significant turnover at the Board of Aldermen, which expects its largest freshman class since 1991.

 

Five aldermanic seats are open. Here’s a look at who is running and what they’re promising. Candidates are listed in order they will appear on the ballot.

Carrie Tripp, with the Perry County School District, spent Wednesday helping residents clean their damaged homes. (March, 1, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4 p.m., March 1, 2017 — Residents of Perryville, Mo., are recovering from a tornado that ripped through the town late Tuesday, killing one man and damaging more than 100 homes.

Many homes in the community about 90 miles south of St. Louis were left only with a foundation, Perryville Fire Chief Jeremy Triller said.

Among those who lost their homes to the tornado was Lisa Ervin, who works at the Subway in Marble Hill, Mo. Her A-frame house was destroyed.

“It’s no longer there,” she said. “Our attic is over there in our neighbor’s yard.”

Sidney Keys III, the founder of Books N Bros.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If you Google the terms “boys and reading,” you will find thousands of results laying out the state of the gender gap between boys and girls when it comes to reading and literacy. “The Boys Have Fallen Behind,” writes Nicholas Kristof. “Why Women Read More than Men,” says NPR.

(via Flickr/Tracy O)

Some trustees for the St. Louis Public School Retirement System have been traveling extensively on the system’s dime and answered questions at Monday's board meeting about the benefits of such trips.

The seeming infighting among members of the board, which controls the pension fund for about 10,000 current and retired employees, stems from two trustees racking up the bulk of the nearly $117,000 in travel expenses from 2012 to 2016.

Lyda Krewson in a February 2017 file photo.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the this edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Alderman Lyda Krewson to the show for the second time.

The 28th Ward alderman is one of seven Democratic candidates running to succeed St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. We’re trying to get as many contenders on the podcast as possible before the March 7 primary.

Six candidates for St. Louis mayor participate in a forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12:45 p.m. March 1 with details about voting patterns — For decades, it’s been a given in St. Louis elections: The person who usually wins is of the race — white or black —that has the fewest candidates in the contest.

 

And studies have shown that many St. Louis voters prefer to support candidates of their own race. With that in mind, candidates and political parties often are accused of stacking contests.

But the city’s major mayoral contenders are banking on different dynamics in the March 7 primary.  That’s particularly true of the four best-known Democratic candidates who are African-American.

 A right-to-work law could result in less money for unions — and that could weaken their political power, critics say.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Organized labor was able to stop “right to work” in Missouri for decades, most notably when voters rejected a 1978 ballot item. But their luck ran out last month when Gov. Eric Greitens, who says it’ll spur job creation, signed right to work, which bars private-sector unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues.

The true economic impact of the law on Missouri’s estimated 260,000 union members, which goes into effect Aug. 28, probably won’t be clear for some time. And some unions are trying to challenge the law’s passage. But according to responses to St. Louis Public Radio’s Public Insight Network, many of Missouri’s union members don’t see a lot of reasons to celebrate the policy’s implementation.

St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones responds to questions from the audience while alderman Lyda Krewson looks on.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The leading Democratic candidates for mayor of St. Louis all say they would boost support for the arts if elected.

Aldermen Antonio French and Lyda Krewson, Board President Lewis Reed and St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones all made that commitment Monday at The Mayoral Town Hall on Arts and Culture. Kara Turrentine, a consultant for Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, also voiced his support for artists.

River Roads Lutheran School

Updated 5 p.m. Feb. 28 with decision on school's future – The 78 students of River Roads Lutheran School on St. Louis’ north side will not need to find a new school to attend mid-year.

The school community raised $136,000 — enough to stay open until at least June, principal Yvonne Boyd announced Tuesday.

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