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

St. Louis Alderwoman Donna Baringer, D-16th Ward, is considered an ally of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. But she says voters should have a say in whether to extend bonds for the new stadium.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

A commission that would accept ethics complaints against elected officials in the city of St. Louis could have its duties expanded.

The commission is part of Alderman Scott Ogilvie's, D-24th Ward, measure capping campaign contributions $10,000 for both citywide and aldermanic races. As the bill is currently written, members of the panel would investigate complaints about financial disclosure or conflicts of interest.

Even though the school transfer issue aroused passionate debate last year, the issue still isn't resolved.
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

A Missouri appeals court has ruled that the the Missouri State Board of Education acted outside of its authority when it  changed the accreditation status of the new Normandy Schools Collaborative.

Budget director Paul Payne gives a presentation at a public hearing on the city's 2017 spending plan on May 18, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

For the past two weeks, the heads of city departments have come to the Ways and Means Committee asking the aldermen for additional money to cover their needs.

On Monday, it was the aldermen's turn to have their say on the spending plan for 2017.

Lawmakers in St. Louis are limited in how they can affect the budget. The city's budget must be balanced, so any addition to one department has to be balanced by a subtraction from another area.

Dennis Ball-Bey, Mansur Ball-Bey's father, hugs Shonettda Ball, Mansur's cousin, on the steps outside St. Louis city court Thursday afternoon.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:15 p.m. with comments from the family and prosecutor Jennifer Joyce. - Two St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers will not face criminal charges for the August 2015 shooting death of a young man in the Fountain Park neighborhood.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson takes questions from Alderman Sam Moore (in hat), D., 4th Ward, at a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee on June 1, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Aldermen in charge of St. Louis' budget heard more requests Wednesday from department officials who say they can't do the jobs they should without additional staffing.

Representatives of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the circuit attorney's office and recorder of deeds Sharon Carpenter all asked members of the Ways and Means Committee to find the money for additional positions. The St. Louis Fire Department made a similar request last week.

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

St. Louis aldermen used a meeting of the city's Public Safety Committee on Tuesday to blast the crime-fighting policies of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson.

"It is important that we make a distinction between criticism of the chief and the leadership and criticism of the officers on the streets," said Alderman Antonio French, D-21st Ward, and the vice chairman of the public safety committee. "Officers on the streets are just as frustrated. They can't say it publicly, but we hear it as aldermen."

e-MagineArt.com | Flickr

Updated May 31 with bill signing — St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay went to St. Louis County today to sign the bill setting up the city's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The bill allows the city and county to work together to form a cohesive system. The mayor and county Executive Steve Stenger are pledging to bring down drug overdoses.

Paul Sableman | Flickr | bit.ly/1sdAKc5

Domestic violence cases in Madison County will be handled a bit differently starting June 1.

The county will become the second in Illinois to establish a domestic violence accountability court, hearing all levels of cases between intimate partners. Two civil and two criminal judges will handle the docket, allowing for better coordination among criminal cases and orders of protection.

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.

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.

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.

Tom Villa
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann break down St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s stunning decision not to run for a fifth term with St. Louis Alderman Tom Villa.

After he told Rosenbaum in late March that he would run for another term, Slay shocked the political world last week by effectively changing his mind. The decision sets up an unpredictable race to replace Slay, which may involve citywide officials, state lawmakers, aldermen and business leaders.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The question came into Curious Louis from Joellen Pickens: “Why is West Florissant the eastern-most of the other Florissants?”

Pickens is not the first person to wonder about the multitude of Florissants. The St. Louis Star-Tribune tackled it in 1950.

Nate Birt | Provided

Updated with comments from researchers. - A team led by University of Missouri-St. Louis researcher Beth Huebner will get more than $2 million to reduce the population of the St. Louis County jail.

St. Louis County  is one of 11 jurisdictions to receive a grant through the  John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge. Over the next two years, the county and its partners will use the funds to reduce the number of people held at the jail by at least 15 percent.

Jason Smith
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbuam and Rachel Lippmann are pleased to welcome U.S. Rep. Jason Smith to the show for the first time.

The Republican lawmaker was elected to represent Missouri’s 8th Congressional District in 2013 in a special election. The 8th District encompasses a swath of southeast and south central Missouri, as well as portions of the St. Louis metropolitan area like Jefferson County and all of Ste. Genevieve County.

St. Louis fire chief, Dennis Jenkerson, is all smiles on April 6, 2016 after city voters overwhelmingly approved the earnings tax and a bond issue.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The overwhelming votes in St. Louis and Kansas City to keep the earnings tax may short-circuit efforts at the state level to eliminate it in St. Louis.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, is spearheading the measure, which would phase out the 1 percent tax over 10 years. On Thursday, Senate Republican leader Ron Richard said he will not push to bring his colleague's bill up for a vote.

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