Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Jo Mannies

Political Reporter

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter.  She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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The U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
(via Flickr/Wally Gobetz)

Missouri’s U.S. senators may have been on opposite sides during the 2016 presidential contest, but both plan to be present when President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in on January 20.

Sen. Roy Blunt, a fellow Republican, is overseeing the proceedings as chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., criticized President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday for his criticism of U.S. intelligence experts.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.,  contends that members of Congress in both parties – and the public – should be disturbed by President-elect Donald Trump’s recent comments criticizing the nation’s intelligence community.

Among other things, Trump has been firing off comments on Twitter that question the conclusions of intelligence experts that the Russian government was involved in hacking during the presidential campaign.

stacks of money
sxc.hu

Missouri state government’s income was almost flat in December, compared to a year ago, a possible sign that Gov.-elect Eric Greitens may face tougher financial decisions than he had expected.

The state’s latest revenue numbers, released Wednesday, show that Missouri’s income growth for the current fiscal year is less than half the increase needed to fully fund the state government’s current budget.

portable metal detector
Reyham Dhuny | Flickr

The Missouri Capitol is restoring security procedures, and metal detectors, that have not been in place at the complex for almost 14 years.

As of  Tuesday, most visitors to the Missouri Capitol – including journalists and lobbyists – will be subject to security searches and be required to go through metal detectors. The new procedures won’t apply to elected officials.

Phyllis Schlafly speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Gage Skidmore | Flickr

In a few weeks, the St. Louis area will be Ground Zero for the dueling factions of  the Eagle Forum organization set up decades ago by conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, who died in early September at age 92.

Schlafly’s daughter, Anne Cori, says leaders of the Eagle Forum’s official political arm, which goes by the same name, will gather at the Frontenac Hilton on Jan. 26 for an educational policy conference, followed by a “roundtable’’ of state chairs from around the country.

Jay Ashcroft
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Secretary of State-elect Jay Ashcroft is planning to overhaul the office’s operations when he takes over Jan. 9.

Transition team member Steele Shippy confirmed Friday that some employees have been told they will lose their jobs, but he denied that most or all of the office’s 270 workers are being targeted.  "There's been no blanket email or communication that says they are all being let go,'' he said.

"Is the office going to undergo changes? Absolutely. We're doing a reorganization of the entire secretary of state's office."

A marching band in Missouri's 2012 inaugural parade in Jefferson City.
Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens is showing right off the bat that he’s eager to break with tradition. He’s nixing the traditional inaugural parade – featuring high school bands and convertibles – that in the past has snaked through Jefferson City before the swearing-in ceremony, set for Jan. 9 at noon.

Instead, a spokesman told reporters Thursday that Greitens plans to review a formation of National Guard troops on the grounds of the state Capitol.

Fred Wessels Dec 2016
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome state Rep.-elect Fred Wessels to the program.

The St. Louis Democrat — a former alderman and city official — was elected this fall to represent the 81st House District, which takes in most of southeast St. Louis. He defeated two other Democrats, Steve Butz and Adam Kustra, in August, which was tantamount to election in the heavily Democratic district.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., criticized President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday for his criticism of U.S. intelligence experts.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Less than two months after president-elect Donald Trump  won in November, some of his allied groups are zeroing on U.S. Senate Democrats like Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

She’s among 10 Democrats in the Senate  who represent so-called “red states” where Trump won big – and who will be on the 2018 ballot.

A new TV ad is airing on cable stations in the St. Louis and Kansas City markets this week that seeks to pressure McCaskill to support Trump’s agenda, notably his calls for tax cuts and his promise to repeal the health-insurance program known as Obamacare.

Peter Kinder December 2016
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder back to the show for the third time.

Originally from Cape Girardeau, Kinder is rounding out roughly 24 years in elected state government. He served three terms in the Missouri Senate, eventually becoming the first GOP Senate President Pro Tem in generations. Many Republicans credit Kinder for turning a largely Democratic Senate into a Republican stronghold. 

Once perceived as all-powerful, Missouri’s two major political parties have been relegated to the balcony ever since the state got rid of campaign-donation limits in 2008.  That change allowed the bulk of the state’s political cash to flow directly to the candidates. 

The state Republican and Democratic parties found most of their income eliminated, and ended up being beholden to their top politicians for payments just to keep their offices open and staffed. 

But now, unless the courts rule otherwise, Missouri once again has campaign donation limits for some elective offices, courtesy of Amendment 2, which almost 70 percent of the state's voters approved last month. 

House Speaker Todd Richardson and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard spent time talking in the Senate chamber on Wednesday.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photos

House Speaker Todd Richardson joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum for the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast.

In his third appearance on the show, Richardson – a Republican from Poplar Bluff – lays out his key objectives for the coming legislative session. For the first time in eight years, the GOP will control the legislative and executive branches of Missouri state government.

John Hancock Dec. 2016
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock, as he prepares to leave that post in a few weeks.

Hancock, a former state legislator from St. Louis County and a political consultant, has been state chairman for arguably two of the most eventful years in the Missouri GOP’s modern history.

Todd Graves
LinkedIn

Updated Dec. 14 with Graves' comments — Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens is naming former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves, now a Kansas City lawyer, as the new chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.

Graves is the brother of U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, and served as U.S. attorney for Missouri’s western district from 2001-2006, a post filled by then-President George W. Bush.

“Todd Graves is the governor-elect’s choice and he will make a fantastic chairman,’’ a Greitens spokesman said. Graves said in an interview that he's honored to take the job, particularly after the Missouri GOP did so well in the November elections.

Republican president-elect Donald Trump’s victory margin in Missouri appears to have set a state record for a presidential contender, beating out the old one set by Democrat Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

On Nov. 8, Trump captured 523,443 more votes than the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. In 1964, Johnson defeated Republican Barry Goldwater by 510,809 votes.

Trump's number of Missouri votes – 1.594 million – also appears to set a state record for a presidential candidate.

Sen. Brian Munzlinger
Marshall Griffin I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome Sen. Brian Munzlinger.

Munzlinger is a Republican from Williamstown, an unincorporated community in Lewis County in northeast Missouri. He represents a mammoth district that includes Adair, Chariton, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Macon, Marion, Pike, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, Ralls, and Randolph counties.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, was one of the biggest proponents of using the previous question to pass "right to work."
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri will become a right-to-work state. The chief question is how soon the General Assembly will put a version of the anti-union measure on the desk of soon-to-be Gov. Eric Greitens.

The other unknown is what particular form of “right to work’’ Missouri’s new law will take.

Under "right to work," unions and employers cannot require all workers in a bargaining unit to pay dues or fees. Although some versions of right to work say a worker cannot be required to join a union, federal law has barred such a requirement for a long time.

Eric Greitens, left, and Chris Koster
Carolina Hidalgo and Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Governor-elect Eric Greitens appears to have set a record as he outraised and outspent all comers in his successful bid for Missouri’s highest office.  He collected about $31 million and spent about $29 million, combined, in this year's primary and general-election contests.

But the final campaign reports, filed Thursday, show that Greitens, a Republican, was actually outspent during the three-month general election fight by his losing Democratic rival --  Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says St. Clair County's proposal for the NGA's relocation to Scott Air Force Base is better than those for three Missouri sites.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are honored to welcome U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin to the program.

The Illinois Democrat serves as the Senate minority whip, making him the second most powerful member of his party next to the minority leader. He recently won another term in office in the 2014 election cycle.

stacks of money
sxc.hu

Updated Dec. 8  from Dec. 1 article to reflect more donations and suit actually filed - Opponents filed suit Wednesday to block part of Missouri’s new campaign donation law slated to go into effect Thurday. The suit doesn't challenge the new campaign-finance limits, but does ask the court to block a ban on some donors.

Meanwhile, some politicians – notably Gov.-elect Eric Greitens – appear to be taking advantage of the guaranteed one-month window to stock up on cash before the new limits go into effect. On Wednesday, the final day of unlimited donations, Greitens collected $2,382,860.

Air Force One, the typical air transport of the President of the United States of America, flying over Mount Rushmore.
Air Force photo | Wikipedia

Updated with Trump's latest comments:

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is continuing to hammer away at some GOP hints that Republicans might try to trim or privatize Medicare and Social Security. But on Tuesday, she also took on an issue closer to home – defending Boeing Co. from President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump, a Republican, caused Boeing’s stock to briefly go into freefall Tuesday after he tweeted that he wanted to cancel the aircraft giant’s contract to build new Air Force One aircraft. Trump claimed the price was too high.

Gov.-elect Eric Greitens and Gov. Jay Nixon talked about transition on Nov. 10, 2016
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Weeks before the new Missouri governor is about to take office, he’s faced with a state-government budget shortfall that requires immediate cuts of several hundred million dollars.

But the governor-elect in question isn’t Republican Eric Greitens, who will be sworn in Jan. 9 amid concern over a current state budget that may need trims of $200 million.

The governor-elect with the much larger budget headache was Democrat Jay Nixon in January 2009, as he prepared to become Missouri’s new governor.

Rep. Stephen Webber
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated on Dec. 3 to reflect the results of the party's office electionsAfter taking a beating in last month’s elections, top Missouri Democrats have picked new leaders charged with bringing the party out of the political wilderness.

Members of the state Democratic committee chose outgoing state Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, to be the party's chairman. Webber served four terms in the Missouri House and narrowly lost a highly competitive state Senate race on Nov. 8 to Republican Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.

Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

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

The St. Louis Democrat recently won his third term in the Missouri House without major opposition. He was recently elected to House Democratic leadership, taking on the role of minority caucus chairman.

Chief Jon Belmar said police questioned three people regarding the shootings but they did not turn up any suspects
File photo | Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County voters will be asked April 4 to approve a sales tax hike to provide more money for police protection.

The County Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to place the proposal on next spring's ballot. It would impose a county-wide sales tax of one-half of one percent.

Missouri Supreme Court Judge Richard B. Teitelman pictured in this June 1, 2016 file photo, has died at the age of 69. Teitelman was the first legally blind and Jewish judge to serve on Missouri’s highest court.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday with audio of obituary.

 A leading liberal voice in the Missouri legal community has died.

Judge Richard Teitelman was 69. The Missouri Supreme Court confirmed his death, saying Tuesday that he had died in the morning at his home in St. Louis. Teitelman had been experiencing health problems for some time, including complications from diabetes.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, left, presents Congressional Gold Medal to the widow of blues legend Johnnie Johnson, to mark his service in World War II.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is praising Missouri’s new governor-elect – Republican Eric Greitens – for reaching out to her in what she sees as a signal of possible cooperation, at least in some areas.

In an interview, McCaskill said the two talked right before Thanksgiving. “Governor Greitens called me and we had a great conversation,” she said.

Frances Johnson, widow of blues legend Johnnie Johnson, holds congressional gold medal awarded for his military service.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Fans of blues legend Johnnie Clyde Johnson long have complained that – although a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – the native St. Louisan’s stellar musical talents were often unfairly overshadowed by others.

As U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill put it, “He wasn’t quite as ‘showy’ as some of the other musicians he hung out with.”

Gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster became the first Democrat endorsed by the Missouri Farm Bureau for a statewide office.
File Photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Stunned by the magnitude of their Election Day losses, Missouri’s Democratic leaders are taking stock as they seek to regroup.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she’s in the midst of “a listening tour’’ to gauge where she and other party activists went wrong, and what needs to be done. But McCaskill emphasized in an interview that she doesn’t buy into the narrative that Missouri Democrats were punished at the polls for ignoring rural voters and working-class whites.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
File photo

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she’s “absolutely’’ seeking re-election in two years, despite her party’s shellacking at the polls less than two weeks ago.

In the meantime, McCaskill plans to play an aggressive role in fighting Republican proposals – already being publicly discussed -- to revamp the nation’s Medicare program, which provides health care for 55 million Americans age 65 and over.

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