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

Vinita Terrace trustee Mary Tevlin speaks in favor of a proposed merger with Vinita Park at a public hearing on May 24, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

If a public hearing Tuesday night was any indication, a proposed merger between Vinita Park and Vinita Terrace would have no trouble being approved.

Everyone who spoke to the St. Louis Boundary Commission, which handles consolidations, thought the merger was a good idea. When asked, no one in the crowd at Washington Elementary School raised a hand in opposition.

Chad Sabora of the Missouri Network for Opioid Reform and Recovery answers question from the public safety committee on May 24, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The public safety committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved Tuesday a measure that supporters say will reduce the number of fatal heroin overdoses in the city.

The so-called "good Samaritan law" would give heroin users immunity from drug possession charges if they call 911 for someone who has overdosed. They could still be arrested for other crimes, or if a warrant has been issued against them.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly a year ago, a new sheriff of sorts arrived in town. The city of Vinita Park announced that it was taking over policing duties for Wellston, its larger neighbor, and changing its name to the North County Police Cooperative.

Now, the Cooperative patrols five cities in north-central St. Louis County. And residents say they have noticed big changes.

Vinita Park police logo
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Boundary Commission will, for the first time in its 25 years, take public testimony on a proposed consolidation.

St. Louis residents and the Ways and Means Committee listen as budget director Paul Payne outlines the fiscal year 2017 budget on May 18, 2017.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The Ways and Means committee for the St. Louis Board of Aldermen took their work on the 2017 budget on the road Wednesday night, to the New Northside Conference Center in the North Pointe neighborhood.

It's one of the few chances the public has to weigh in during the process of crafting the $1.042 billion spending plan, which goes into effect July 1.

McCulloch and Belmar announce on 3/15/15 the arrest of suspect Jeffrey Williams in shooting of police
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

A young man accused of shooting and wounding two police officers outside the Ferguson Police Department in March 2015 will take his case to trial.

Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed signs legislation creating a civilian oversight board for St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Updated 9:35 a.m. May 17 with news of first complaint - The Civilian Oversight Board has cleared another major hurdle. On May 9, staff began accepting complaints against St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officers.

"We're very excited," said Executive Director Nicolle Barton. "We have had a few phone calls already, so we've contacted every one of the individuals and gave them specific instructions on what to do. We're looking for a few people to start coming in."

Harris County Sheriff's Office | Provided

Updated at 12:20 p.m. Tuesday with comments from police chief Sam Dotson. — A former St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer is facing first-degree murder charges for fatally shooting a man after a car chase in 2011.

e-MagineArt.com | Flickr

Updated May 13 with initial vote - The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday gave initial approval to a measure that creates a regional prescription drug database with St. Louis County.

"It seems pretty much like a no-brainer to me, considering we have 49 other states that have done this," said  the sponsor, Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward. "It's kind of embarrassing to me, frankly, that our state won't do it. But we won't."

St. Louis City Hall
Richie Diesterheft | Flickr

St. Louis aldermen began working Wednesday morning on the $1.04 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The budget has very few major changes from last year. The city bridges the gap left by the departure of the Rams by shifting some special funds into the general fund, and spending less on things like ward capital projects and demolition.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch speaks at a forum about policing post-Ferguson at Saint Louis University School of Law on Feb. 20, 2015.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Nearly everyone agrees the grand jury that investigated the August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown was "unusual."

The jurors started hearing the case before police had finished their investigation. Officer Darren Wilson testified. And after jurors declined to indict Wilson, prosecutor Bob McCulloch made the evidence public.

But is "unusual" shorthand for "failed to do his job as prosecutor?" A group of activists contend yes, and want a special prosecutor to investigate the way McCulloch handled the case.

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

The introduction of honored guests is a weekly ritual at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Residents of the city's 28 wards are welcomed to the chambers, and allowed to sit on the floor rather than up in the gallery. But more often than not, most of the honored guests would be considered lobbyists.

A group of younger aldermen wants to make the weekly welcomes take a lot less time by banning lobbyists from the floor of the Board while they are in session — "if for any reason at all, optics," said Alderman Megan-Elliya Green, D-15th Ward.

Ferguson-Florissant schools superintendent Joseph Davis watches as Gov. Jay Nixon vetoes a measure that would have changed the state's school funding formula on May 4, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 12:27 p.m. May 5 with House veto override - The same day that Gov. Jay Nixon, D-Mo. vetoed a measure that would have changed the way school funding is calculated, the Missouri Senate voted to override that move. One day later, the House overrode the veto as well. The measure now becomes law.

According to the governor, "The cheapening of the foundation formula would break a promise that we have made to our local schools and students that they educate. This is a cynical policy that I cannot and will not support." He made his comments Wednesday at an appearance at Ferguson Middle School, in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

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

In 2011, the members of the Monarch Fire Protection District board and representatives from the International Association of Firefighters Local 2655 sat down and negotiated a three-year contract that would expire in December 2013. It included the following "evergreen" clause: "This agreement shall remain in effect during good faith negotiations, and shall continue to remain in full force and effect until until such time as a new agreement is agreed upon." 

By 2013, when the terms were set to expire, the make-up of the board had become more anti-union. Its members sued, saying that evergreen clause improperly binds the board into a contract with no end date. A previous legislative body, the board argued, cannot force a new legislative body to agree to a contract it didn't sign. A St. Louis County judge said it was wrong.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

Lawmakers, prosecutors, and first responders are hoping that two bills introduced Friday at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen will help control the region's opioid addiction crisis.

The first bill, sponsored by aldermen Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward, Cara Spencer, D-20th Ward, Dionne Flowers, D-2nd Ward, and Megan-Ellyia Green, D-15 Ward, would set up a prescription drug monitoring program similar to one in place in St. Louis County. The second, which is sponsored by Spencer and Krewson, is a "good Samaritan" bill intended to convince more people to call 911 when people overdose.

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

The departure of the Rams to Los Angeles may mean budget cuts for some St. Louis agencies.

The city's top three elected officials on Tuesday approved a proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2017, which starts July 1. The $1.04 billion budget is about 2.5 percent bigger than last year, but revenue growth is projected at only 1 percent, driven mostly by hits to the sales and amusement taxes. 

Students, faculty and guests listen to U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens at Graham Chapel on the campus of Washington University on April 25 2016
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The friendship that endured between justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia despite their ideological differences is well-known, but not uncommon, according to a former colleague.

"Nino was well-liked by his colleagues across the judicial spectrum," retired Justice John Paul Stevens said of Scalia, who died in February. "Nino's friendships with his colleagues, including both those who frequently disagreed with his views and those who more regularly shared his views, is legendary."

Vanessa Hughes, right, releases purple balloons in honor of her son Justin, who received a heart transplant in 1997.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Raido

In their own ways, Larry Hughes and Cara Spencer are St. Louis celebrities.

Spencer just finished her first term on the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, representing the 20th ward in south St. Louis. Hughes was a basketball standout at Christian Brothers College High School and then for a year at Saint Louis University before embarking on a 14-year professional career.

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

Updated at 7:40 p.m. with comments from the U.S. Justice Department — Ferguson's police department and municipal courts are officially operating under a consent decree.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry on Tuesday approved the document, settling a federal civil rights lawsuit. Attorneys for both the city of Ferguson and the Department of Justice had asked her to accept the consent decree, which will implement vast changes in the city's municipal code and policing practices.

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

Monday is the last day of the Board of Aldermen session that began back in April. Things start fresh again the very next day.

Aldermen introduced 324 bills in the 41 weeks they were in session. Ninety-two percent of them passed, most without fanfare or controversy. Some, however, rose to the level of national news. Here is a look back at the aldermanic session that was.

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