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

Maryland Heights resident Dan Hyatt speaks before the Ferguson Commission about his experience dealing with the municipal court system in Breckenridge Hills.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Municipal courts across Missouri are starting to figure out how to comply with new operating rules issued by the state Supreme Court.

The high court released the 16-page rule last week. In a speech to the annual meeting of the Missouri Bar and the Judicial Conference of Missouri, Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge, said they "make clear how municipal divisions must operate."

Civiliam Oversight Board members line up to get their picture taken after their first meeting in March for ID badges. (File photo)
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Ever since the Civilian Oversight Board was officially established in 2015, the St. Louis Police Officers Association has threatened to sue.

The promised legal action began earlier this month. On Monday, a St. Louis Circuit Court judge will hear arguments on whether the Civilian Oversight Board should be able to access records from internal affairs investigations of St. Louis police officers.

Bruce Franks
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome Bruce Franks to show. The St. Louis Democrat won a landslide victory last week in a special primary election over state Rep. Penny Hubbard. He will have a Republican opponent, Eric Shelquist,  in November.

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio intern | File photo

A three-year effort to limit the amount of money flowing into city elections took a small step forward at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Tuesday.

The city's Legislation committee, on a 9-0 vote, approved Alderman Scott Ogilvie's, D-24th Ward, measure capping contributions at $10,000 to each candidate every four years. A similar bill Ogilvie introduced in 2013 never received a vote.

Clara Norise (seated) speaks to Nicolle Barton, the executive director of the Civilian Oversight Board, after the board's meeting on Sept. 19, 2016. Norise was the first person to file a complaint with the board.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On May 12, Clara Norise made history.

On that date, Norise went to the office of the Civilian Oversight Board and became the first person to file a complaint with the board, which oversees internal affairs investigations. She alleged that a police SWAT team didn't have probable cause when it barged into her house on a drug raid earlier that month, and that it used excessive force in conducting the raid.

On Monday, the board voted not to do its own investigation of the case, and accept the punishment handed down by the Internal Affairs Division. Confidentiality rules prevent the exact nature of the punishment from being made public.

Bruce Franks Jr. speaks to his supporters after finding out he won the Sept. 16 special election for Missouri’s 78th District House seat.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:45 p.m. with comments from Franks. -- The second time is the charm for Bruce Franks.

Franks, an activist and small business owner, defeated Penny Hubbard Friday night in a court-ordered re-do Democratic primary in the 78th House District.

State Rep. Kathie Conway
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann welcome state Rep. Kathie Conway to the program.

The St. Charles Republican is in her third term in the Missouri House. She recorded Thursday’s show a little more than 24 hours after participating in the Missouri General Assembly’s veto session.

Bruce Franks talks with Jane Dueker, the attorney for his opponent Penny Hubbard, after oral arguments on Sept. 12, 2016.
Pool photo by Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Updated 4:00 p.m. Sept. 13 with comments from Jane Dueker. — ​The  re-vote in the 78th House District is on.

The Missouri Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower-court ruling  that the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners improperly accepted at least 142 absentee ballots, putting the results of the Aug. 2 primary between incumbent Penny Hubbard and challenger Bruce Franks in doubt. Hubbard's attorney, Jane Dueker, said that ruling will not be appealed.

Attorneys for Bruce Franks, Penny Hubbard, and employees with the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners examine absentee ballot envelopes during a court hearing on Sept. 1, 2016.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments Monday afternoon on whether voters in the 78th House District in St. Louis will get a chance to vote again.

Right now, the do-over Democratic primary is scheduled for Friday. It is one of the fastest turn-arounds the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners has ever faced.

Most of the briefs for the case have already been filed, so we've got a sense of what lawyers for incumbent Penny Hubbard and challenger Bruce Franks will say to the appeals court panel.

The casket of Phyllis Schlafly is escorted down the aisle of the Cathedral Basilicia of St. Louis following a funeral Mass on Sept. 10, 2016.
Pool photo by Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Updated at 9:00 p.m. Sept 11 to clarify ongoing legal action involving the Eagle Forum. Hundreds of mourners packed the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis Saturday afternoon to honor a woman known for her conservative activism and polarizing views.

Schlafly died Labor Day at 92. The views she pushed as the founder of the Eagle Forum were underpinned by her deep Catholic faith. 

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles sits with City Council members as residents comment on the consent decree in February.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

The city of Ferguson has made halting progress toward complying with a federal consent decree it signed in April.

Attorneys for the city, the Department of Justice and members of the independent monitoring team assigned to the case were in front of Judge Catherine Perry on Wednesday to give her an update. It was the first public review of the document since Perry accepted it five months ago.

Of the 40 objectives whose deadlines have passed, seven have not been implemented, according to a spreadsheet provided to the court. Another 20 are listed as "in  progress." 

St. Louis Democratic Elections director Mary Wheeler-Jones shows her phone to Board of Election Commissioners chairman Erv Switzer. The Board had a special meeting on Wednesday go over logistical details for a special election in the 78th House District.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri secretary of state’s office is urging St. Louis’ prosecuting attorney to keep investigating absentee ballots from a state House primary.

Democrat Jason Kander, who is also running for U.S. Senate, released his brief report on the 78th House District on Wednesday.

Attendees for both a welcome rally for Ferguson's new police chief, Delrish Moss, and a protest against the city's attorney, Stephanie Karr, demonstrate outside the Ferguson Police Department on May 9, 2016.
File photo Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The team in charge of making sure that the city of Ferguson is complying with a federal consent decree will be in St. Louis on Wednesday to hear from the community.

Clark Ervin will meet as many individuals and groups as he can on Wednesday. The 15-minute meetings will take place between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and can be scheduled by emailing Ervin at clark.ervin@squirepb.com.

Attorneys Erwin Switzer (back left) and Al Johnson (back right) listen to Gov. Jay Nixon on Sept. 6 as he introduces them as the chair and secretary of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners.
Bill Greenblat | UPI

Gov. Jay Nixon has cleaned house at the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, four days after a judge found its employees responsible for absentee ballot problems that led him to schedule a new election  in the 78th House District.

Nixon replaced Democratic chairwoman Joan Burger, a retired judge, with Democrat Erwin Switzer, an attorney and a former member of the now-defunct St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners. Republican Al Johnson, also an attorney, replaces the Republican secretary Andrew Schwartz, who owns an adhesives company. 

Bruce Franks in court on Sept. 1, 2016.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:45 p.m. with comment from Dave Roland. - A St. Louis judge has ordered a re-do in a state House race marred by allegations of problems with absentee ballots.

Judge Rex Burlison set the new Democratic primary in the 78th House District for Sept. 16, the earliest date allowed by state law. The 78th covers a swath of eastern St. Louis, from just north of downtown to near the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

Judge Rex Burlison (center) listens to attorneys on the first day of a trial to determine if there will be a new election in the 78th House District.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On Aug. 5, 2016, incumbent state Rep. Penny Hubbard, D-78th District, beat challenger Bruce Franks by 90 votes. Her entire margin of victory came from absentee ballots.

Franks and his attorney, Dave Roland, sued in an an effort to force a new election, arguing that irregularities in the absentee ballots made the results invalid.

Ferguson-Florissant parent Redditt Hudson, attorney Dale Ho, and past school candidate Willis Johnson at a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the Ferguson-Florissant schools on December 18.
Diane Balogh | ACLU of Missouri

Updated Aug. 22 with Sippel's ruling. — A federal judge has ruled that at-large elections for seats on the board for the Ferguson-Florissant School District violate the rights of African-American voters in the district.

Bruce Franks, center, walks with supporters to the St. Louis  courthouse to file an official challenge to his state House primary contest on August 17.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A candidate who lost the Democratic primary for a Missouri House seat in north St. Louis has officially asked for a re-do.

The incumbent in the 78th District, Penny Hubbard, beat Bruce Franks on Aug. 2 by about 90 votes — a margin of victory that came solely from absentee ballots. Franks won among those who voted in-person on election day.

Rochelle Walton Gray
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On a post-election edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio reporters Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann welcome state Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray to the program for the first time.

The Democrat from Black Jack provided a thunderbolt of sorts to the St. Louis County political scene on Tuesday when she defeated incumbent St. Louis County Councilman Mike O’Mara, D-Florissant, in the primary. Her resounding victory marks a big change for the politics of north St. Louis County — and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s ability to push controversial items through the St. Louis County Council.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was dismissive of the Rams' 29-page document explaining why the team wants to relocate to Los Angeles.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

For years, the public defender system in Missouri has fought to alleviate a growing caseload it says leaves them unable to fairly represent clients.

Now, the man blamed for the crisis is being asked to help alleviate the crunch by heading into the courtroom.

Citing his authority under Missouri law, Michael Barrett, director of the Missouri State Public Defender system has ordered Gov. Jay Nixon to represent a criminal defendant in Cole County.

Paul Sabelman | Flickr

In March 2014, Rose Marie Hewitt was pulled over in St. Louis, where she lived at the time. Police found Vicodin in an unmarked bottle — narcotics Hewitt says she was holding for her boyfriend at the time to keep him from taking too many.

Police charged her with two counts of drug possession. "And that's a felony," she said.

Hewitt originally wanted to take her case to trial. But her lawyer told her that would probably result in two years of probation and a criminal record. Instead, she took a chance on the circuit attorney's Felony Redirect Program.

Mae Quinn is the director of the MacArthur Justice Center's St. Louis office, which started taking cases this we
Raquita Henderson | MacArthur Justice Center

Since Michael Brown's death in 2014, firms like the Arch City Defenders and the legal clinics at Saint Louis and Washington universities have become household names.

Now, they have a new partner in their fight

s_falkow | Flickr

A U.S. Department of Justice report released last year raised concerns about how well St. Louis County protected the civil rights of kids in the juvenile justice system.

"The Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that the St. Louis Family Court fails to provide constitutionally required due process to juveniles appearing for delinquency proceedings," said Vanita Gupta, the head of the Civil Rights division in July 2015 at a press conference announcing the findings of a 20-month investigation. "The Justice Department also found the court's administration of juvenile justice discriminated against black children. They are less likely to be given diversion, more likely to be detained, and more likely to be committed to state custody than white children."

Juvenile justice advocates say little has changed in those 12 months.

Members of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment conduct a silent protest during a public hearing on municipal court reform on Nov. 12, 2015.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly two years ago, Michael Brown's death brought to light abusive municipal court practices in the St. Louis area. A new report released by auditor Nicole Galloway on Wednesday shows the problems exist statewide.

"We've seen repeated challenges that prevent Missourians from having the municipal courts they deserve," Galloway said in a statement accompanying the report. "Courts should operate efficiently, effectively and fairly, and these audits shine light on problems and make recommendations, so that work can begin toward regaining citizen trust."

Rescue crews from the Monarch Fire Protection District work at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on May 3, 2016.
Monarch Fire Protection District | Facebook

Updated July 26, 2016 with appeals court ruling. — A Missouri appeals court says firefighters in the Monarch Fire Protection District can continue working under their old contract while negotiating a new one.

Tuesday's ruling upholds an "evergreen" clause that says the current contract, negotiated in 2013, remains in effect as long as good faith negotiations are going on between the board and the union. The district provides fire and ambulance service for parts of west St. Louis County.

Money gift
Flickr

With a week left to go, Missouri’s four Republican candidates for governor are engaging in a final money-raising – and spending – frenzy.

Just since July 1, the four – former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and businessman John Brunner – combined have raised almost $6 million and spent more than $10 million.

Most of that spending is for the mass of TV ads that are flooding Missouri homes.

William Bailey | St. Louis Planning Department |Provided

After a two-day delay, a new homeless shelter in St. Louis is back on track to being ready to operate.

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment on Friday approved a $360,000 contract with St. Patrick Center, which will run the facility at the old Biddle Market north of downtown. Mayor Francis Slay and Comptroller Darlene Green voted to approve the funding; board president Lewis Reed maintained his opposition from Wednesday.

Marty Murray, a candidate for 7th Ward committeeman, talks to Stacy Kistler while knocking doors in the Lafayette Square neighborhood of St. Louis on June 10, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated July 21 with additional Mobilize Missouri endorsements. — The biggest races in August are getting all the attention. But a group of seats on the St. Louis Democratic Central Committee could prove to be just as important in the long run.

Candidates from across the city have their sights on being committeemen and committeewomen, in an effort to push for change in the party now and at future elections.

St. Louis City Hall
Richie Diesterheft | Flickr

No one is quite sure when St. Louis began charging $35 to cancel a municipal court warrant. But a deal reached on Monday between the city and thousands of defendants who paid the fee over a seven-year period means it will never be charged again.

Ballwin Police officer Mike Flamion
Ballwin Police press release

Updated July 18 with news on Flamion's condition — The Ballwin police officer shot during a traffic stop on July 8 is paralyzed from the neck down.

The bullet that struck 31-year-old Michael Flamion caused "catastrophic damage" to the spinal cord, Ballwin Police Chief Kevin Scott said on Monday. Flamion remains on a ventilator to help him breathe.

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