Maria Altman


Maria is a reporter at St. Louis Public Radio, specializing in business and economic issues. Previously, she was a newscaster during All Things Considered and has been with the station since 2004. Maria's stories have been featured nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on Marketplace.

Maria has won numerous awards, including from the Illinois Associated Press, the Missouri Broadcasters Association, the Missouri Bar Association, and the Missouri State Teachers Association.

She came to St. Louis from Dallas, where she worked at KERA. Maria has also worked at WUIS in Springfield, and WSIU in Carbondale, Ill. She received her M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield and a B.A. in journalism from the University of Iowa.

In her spare time she serves as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Maria lives in St. Louis with her husband and two kids.

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(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill Friday on workplace discrimination laws, saying it would scale back protections that took decades to gain.

The Democrat took the action outside St. Louis’ Old Courthouse, where the famous Dred Scott case was tried.

The bill requires workers who claim discrimination in wrongful firing lawsuits to prove that bias was a "motivating" factor, not just a "contributing" factor as the law now states.

Nixon said it would be a step backwards.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Jurors heard testimony Thursday from the mistress of Chris Coleman, the Metro East man accused of killing his wife and two young sons.

Tara Lintz of St. Petersburg, Florida had gone to high school with Coleman’s wife, Sheri.

In the Monroe County courtroom Thursday Lintz testified that she and Chris Coleman began a relationship in December 2009 and that they had exchanged promise rings. She indicated that she was wearing hers in court today.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 1:51 p.m. April 28:

Via the Associated Press:

The Black River is receding at Poplar Bluff, Mo., and some 1,000 evacuees are now allowed to go home.

Officials in the southeast Missouri community of 17,000 residents on Thursday lifted a mandatory evacuation order for a large section of town, where river water has been pouring over the top of the levee.

Residents in the impacted area can return home whenever they choose.

Many will find a mess left behind by the murky water. Officials don't yet know how many homes were damaged in Poplar Bluff and in a rural area of Butler County also protected by the levee.

The National Weather Service said Thursday that after a crest of 21.4 feet on Tuesday, the Black River at Poplar Bluff was down to 19.1 feet.

Updated 11:14 a.m. April 27:

Via the Associated Press:

The Army Corps of Engineers says it will wait until this weekend to decide whether to intentionally break a southeastern Missouri levee along the Mississippi River.

The Corps has said it may have to blow holes in the Birds Point levee to ease rising waters near the Illinois town of Cairo which sits near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Missouri has sued (see 12:58 update) to block the effort because it would swamp farmland. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

But Corps spokesman Bob Anderson tells The Associated Press that even if a judge gives the go-ahead, the agency will wait until it gets a better forecast of the river crests to see if the breach is necessary. That decision isn't likely to come until at least this weekend.

Updated 5:06 p.m. April 26:

Via the Associated Press:

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is defending the idea of intentionally breaching a Missouri levee to reduce flooding in Cairo.

Missouri officials object to the plan, saying it would endanger 130,000 acres of prime farmland.

But Simon told The Associated Press on Tuesday that farmers will be compensated for their losses and will be able to use the land next year. On the other hand, flooding could devastate the poor town of Cairo.

She noted an Illinois levee was intentionally breached during 1993 flooding.

Simon also says the Army Corps of Engineers would not break the Birds Point levee until water had already topped the levee.

The Corps of Engineers says it will put off a decision until at least Wednesday.

Updated 4:20 p.m. April 26:

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill says she has concerns about the intentional breaching of the levee at Birds Point (via a press release):

“While emergency responders and volunteers work to save lives and protect property as best they can, the Army Corps of Engineers are working to find a solution to alleviate the stress from our levees.  I have grave concerns about the plan to intentionally breach Bird’s Point Levee that is being considered. In the effort to prevent more damage, we may do additional significant harm to the agricultural economy of the region that will last well after the flood waters recede.”

The release says McCaskill has already communicated her concerns with the Army Corps of Engineers' leadership.

(Wikimedia Commons/Kelsey Proud, St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis city and county split in 1876 in what has come to be called “The Great Divorce.”

There have been several efforts to reunite the two, but voters, whether in the city or the county, have rejected them time and again.

In the last year there’s been renewed talk of St. Louis re-entering the county, but leaders in the city and county say they’re exploring a slower approach.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Supreme Court has affirmed the murder conviction for Gregory Bowman, but reversed the sentence that put him on death row.

The court ruled today that St. Louis County jurors should not have heard about Bowman's two prior murder convictions during sentencing because those convictions were overturned.

Ulysses S. Grant
(via Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Library of Congress)

Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation is trying to raise money for a driving trail exploring Ulysses S. Grant's path through the state in the first year of the Civil War.

The group is hosting a fundraising dinner next Wednesday at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis.

Foundation president Gregory Wolk says they're working on a segment of the Grant Trail in St. Louis County and in talks with other counties about future projects. 

(Wikimedia Commons/Online Congressional Guide)

Missouri Congressman Russ Carnahan says the stalemate in Washington over the budget has more to do with ideology than numbers.

A government shutdown will begin at midnight if Congress is not able to reach an agreement on the remainder this year's budget.

Carnahan says Republicans are targeting Planned Parenthood, the EPA, and public broadcasting as part of their proposed cuts.

"Certainly people are entitled to their own opinions about that,” Carnahan said. “But this is not the way to do it."

(via Leslie Hindman Auctioneers)

A signed photo of notorious Missouri outlaw Jesse James sold at auction Tuesday for $51,240.

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago had estimated the photograph would sell for between $20,000 and $30,000.

(via Flickr/ FiredUpMissouri)

Extended unemployment benefits will end this Saturday for thousands of Missourians after the state Senate failed to reauthorize participation in a federal program.

St. Louis County senator Jim Lembke led the effort to block the 20-week extension of federal unemployment benefits, filibustering the legislation along with three other Republican senators.

Lembke said he did so in order to send a message to Washington that the federal government needs to rein in its spending.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

On Tuesday, voters in St. Louis and Kansas City will have their first change to determine the future of their cities’ 1 percent earnings taxes, which are imposed on the wages of everyone who lives or works in the cities.

It’s on the ballot following statewide approval last November of Proposition A.

The lead-up to the vote has been very different in the two cities.

Today, we have two reports.

Maria Altman will look at how quiet the campaign has been in St. Louis.

But first, Maria Carter of KCUR reports that things have been much more heated in Kansas City.

(via Leslie Hindman Auctioneers)

The only known signed photo of Jesse James, the notorious outlaw from Missouri, will go to auction next week in Chicago.

The photo shows James with slicked back hair and gazing away from the camera at an angle. It’s signed J.W. James. (His middle name was Woodson).

Mary Williams with Leslie Hindman Auctioneers says she was skeptical until she saw the signature first-hand and noted its similarity to a letter James is said to have signed.

(via Flickr/ahisgett)

DNA testing confirms that a tuft of hair left on a fence in south central Missouri belonged to a mountain lion.

A man reported he saw the cat cross the road near Rover, Mo. and get caught momentarily in a barbed wire fence.

Missouri Department of Conservation officials retrieved a tuft of hair the size of a cotton ball and sent it for testing.

(via Flickr/jennlynndesign)

Missouri is one of 24 states where citizens who gather enough signatures can put a question on the ballot.

They’re called voter initiatives.

While voters have the ability to enact laws in Missouri, those laws can be changed or even overturned by legislators.

This year, two voter-approved laws, one on puppy mills, the other on the minimum wage, have been targeted at the state capitol.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports.

(UPI/Missouri Department of Corrections)

A St. Louis police officer has been implicated in taking and releasing a photo of a suspect killed in a shoot-out with law enforcement officials.

Carlos Boles shot and killed a federal marshal, injured another marshal and a St. Louis police officer as they attempted to take him into custody on a warrant earlier this month.

(via Flickr/pasa47)

An environmental group is urging St. Louis voters to approve Proposition E in the April election.

The proposition asks voters whether the city can retain the 1 percent earnings tax, which generates about one-third of the city’s budget.

The Sierra Club is encouraging St. Louisans to vote yes.

John Hickey says the earnings tax is the main source of funding for the city’s parks.

Despite a campaign ad attacking the practice, Governor Jay Nixon says he has no plans to scale back his air travel.

Earlier this week the Missouri Republican State Committee began airing radio spots criticizing the Democratic governor’s air travel, dubbing him “Air Jay.”

Governor Nixon also has come under fire from the legislature and the state’s auditor, for billing state agencies for his trips on state planes, about $400,000 over two years.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri’s exports grew by 35 percent last year, and the state’s governor is visiting several businesses today to spread the news.

Governor Jay Nixon stopped at Volpi Foods this morning, a family-owned business on The Hill in St. Louis, which exports dry-cured Italian meats to several countries.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri's Republican State Committee is taking aim at Governor Jay Nixon already.

There's no Republican candidate yet in the 2012 race for Missouri governor.

But the GOP committee is already running a radio spot that lambasts the Democratic governor's air travel expenses, referring to him as "Air Jay".

Nixon has come under fire for billing state agencies $400,000 over two years for his air travel around the state.

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.