Rachel Lippmann

Reporter

Lippmann returned to her native St. Louis after spending two years covering state government in Lansing, Michigan. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and followed (though not directly) in Maria Altman's footsteps in Springfield, also earning her graduate degree in public affairs reporting. She's also done reporting stints in Detroit, Michigan and Austin, Texas. Rachel likes to fill her free time with good books, good friends, good food, and good baseball.

Ways to Connect

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III answers question from reporters following Tuesday's city council meeting.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 12 with comments from Mayor James Knowles III. -- The Department of Justice on Wednesday filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, alleging widespread constitutional violations in its police department and municipal courts.

The suit came less than 24 hours after the Ferguson City Council voted to attach conditions to a consent decree that would have eliminated the need for a lawsuit.

Ferguson's decision raised a number of questions about what comes next. We tackled a few of them here.

Ferguson court
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | file photo

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, alleging widespread constitutional violations in how it polices its residents. 

"The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday at a news conference. "We intend to aggressively prosecute this case, and we intend to win."

Missouri and Illinois have some similar gun laws, but several areas where they diverge.
M Glasgow | Flickr

The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld a state law that bans all felons -- even those convicted of nonviolent crimes -- from possessing a weapon.

"Missouri's constitution does not prohibit the legislature from restricting nonviolent felons' right to possess firearms," judge Laura Denvir Stith wrote for the five-judge majority in one of three opinions on the issue released Tuesday. "Section 571.070.1 survived strict scrutiny review under the prior version of article I, section 23, and this Court already has held that Amendment 5 did not substantially change article I, section 23. The statutory bar is valid."

Normandy N
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio

The long-running legal fight over the Missouri law that allows students in under-performing districts to attend school elsewhere heads back to court on Tuesday.

A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals will review how the Missouri State Board of Education handled a classification gray area: How do you accredit a brand new legal entity? And did the state board have the authority to do what it did?

Nicolle Barton is the executive director of the Civilian Oversight Board.
Courtesy of the Office of Mayor Francis Slay

A 15-year veteran of the Missouri Department of Corrections is the first executive director of the St. Louis Civilian Oversight Board.

Nicolle Barton will begin work on Monday, after a selection process that lasted four months. She was one of six finalists for the position and will make at least $63,000.

Gary Hern

An alderman from Dogtown wants to make urban farming a little easier.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie, D-24th Ward, introduced a bill on Friday loosening the restrictions on the number of backyard chickens and allowing city residents with larger lots to keep goats, sheep, ostriches and emus.

Ferguson court
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | file photo

Updated with details and comments from Rep. William Lacy Clay. — The city of Ferguson and the U.S. Department of Justice are approaching agreement on how to deal with the civil rights violations of the city's police departments and municipal courts.

Ferguson officials on Wednesday released a draft version of a consent decree. The city will accept written comments through Feb. 9, and at three City Council meetings. It must still be approved by the City Council and a federal judge — the agreement would end after the city completely complies with all agreement requirements for two full years.

Veronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Tuesday put a $25 million bond issue on the April ballot. Now, elected officials have to go out and convince their constituents to support it.

Aldermen approved, and Mayor Francis Slay signed, the additional borrowing on Tuesday. It was the last day to certify items for the April ballot.

Reginald Clemons in 2014
Missouri Department of Corrections

Updated at 4:50 p.m. with comments from Justice for Reggie campaign. A man whose death sentence and murder convictions were overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court in November will face a new trial.

Reginald Clemons was convicted in 1993 of murdering Julie and Robin Kerry, who were raped and thrown off the Chain of Rocks bridge in April 1991. The state Supreme Court last year threw out Clemons' first-degree murder convictions, saying prosecutors had failed to turn over evidence that lent weight to Clemons' claims that he had been assaulted by police before confessing.

On Monday, St. Louis prosecutor Jennifer Joyce announced she would try the case again, and again seek the death penalty.

Because a pending state bill doesn't pre-empt local minimum wage laws passed before August 28, Board of Aldermen members may act fast on passing a minimum wage increase.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

A required renewal of the city's earnings tax will be on the April ballot.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday approved the measure authorizing the vote. Mayor Francis Slay will sign it as soon as possible.

Jamie Case, the executive director of Gateway Pet Guardians, plays with Elvira, one of the dogs rescused by her organization.
Caleb Codding for St. Louis Public Radio

Law enforcement officials and animal welfare agencies say a new animal abuse task force in St. Clair County is working well.

St. Clair County state's attorney Brendan Kelly developed the protocol with the assistance of the Belleville Area Humane Society and Gateway Pet Guardians, a rescue organization that works primarily in East St. Louis and surrounding communities. It was first announced last March.

A piece of concrete from the city's municipal garage sits on the table in a Ways and Means committee hearing on Jan. 15 2016. Funds in a $25 million general obligation bond would fund repairs to the garage.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

April 2016 is shaping up to be a very crowded ballot in the city of St. Louis.

The Ways and Means Committee on Friday approved a $25 million bond issue to fund some critical capital needs in the city. Earlier this week,  the same committee passed legislation that sets up the required voter approval of the city's earnings tax.

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

There were few surprises in the 2015 crime numbers.

Three neighborhoods – Jeff/Vander/Lou, The Greater Ville, and Wells-Goodfellow – accounted for nearly a quarter of the city’s 188 homicides. In 2014, Wells-Goodfellow topped the homicide count at 14, though Dutchtown, on the city’s southeast side, was second that year with eight.

Though homicides were down in Dutchtown in 2015, it saw 122 people shot – more than any other neighborhood.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police chief Sam Dotson and Mayor Francis Slay discuss the 2015 crime numbers on Monday, Jan 11, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Crime in the city of St. Louis went up from 2014 to 2015, driven by a nearly 8 percent spike in crimes against persons.

"One hundred and eighty-eight people lost their lives to senseless and destructive violence the city of St. Louis in the past year," said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. "Overall crime was up 2 percent over the previous year. None of these deaths were warranted, and neither of those numbers are acceptable."

Stan Kroenke at a 2012 press conference at the Rams practice facility in Earth City.
File photo by Bill Greenblatt | UPI

As many of you are probably well aware, Stan Kroenke wants to move the Rams from St. Louis.

In a blistering letter, he cited almost every flaw he could think of with the city. The mayor of St. Louis fired back, noting "multiple inaccuracies and misrepresentations of St. Louis and our community's relationship with the Rams."

Provided by Nate Birt

St. Louis County hopes its efforts to reduce its jail population and reform the municipal court system will get a boost from the MacArthur Foundation.

Applications for the second round of funding from the foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge were due Wednesday. St. Louis County was one of 20 jurisdictions that received $150,000 to study its jail population and develop policies to reduce it. A second round of funding will help those jurisdictions fund the interventions.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, listens as state Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, explains the Fair and Impartial Policing Act. The two lawmakers are co-sponsors.
Caleb Codding | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3 p.m. with comments from Nasheed, Dogan and others - Police departments in Missouri that continually engage in racial profiling could be stripped of their certification under legislation introduced in Jefferson City on Tuesday.

The “Fair and Impartial Policing Act,” sponsored by state Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, and state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, would be the first significant update to the state’s anti-racial profiling law, which originally passed in 2000. In addition to tightening enforcement for failure to collect data, the new law also requires departments to document pedestrian as well as traffic stops and expands the information collected during the stops.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Grand Glaize facility
Screenshot | Google Maps

Updated on Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 1:30 p.m. with information on more evacuations and road closures.

Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard on Tuesday to help rain-weary communities deal with near-record flooding.

Nixon said in a statement that the guard would provide security in evacuated areas and direct traffic around closed roads. Forty roads remain closed due to flooding in the Missouri part of the St. Louis region, out of 225 statewide.

This photo of Coldwater Creek flooding was taken from the Dunn Road bridge on Monday.
Paul A. Huddleston

Update 2:30 Dec. 29 with guard activated - Floodwater from Coldwater Creek in north St. Louis County is not radioactive, but it could still pose a health risk.

That’s according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is testing and cleaning up contaminated yards and parks along the creek.

The only law enforcement agency licensed by the FAA in Missouri or Illinois to operate drones uses two UASs units.
Provided by Illinois State Police

The Illinois State Police drones have flown nearly 50 missions since May, and the department says they are fulfilling the goal of making police work more efficient.

The state police was the first law enforcement agency in Illinois to get permission to use unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles. They’ve mostly been deployed at accident scenes, for a total of 48 hours of flight time.

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