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

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 | File photo

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.

Charlene Jones, a longtime political and education strategist who managed the Prop 1 campaign, speaks to a cheerful crowd at St. Louis Public Schools' downtown headquarters after watching election results come in.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis voters easily reaffirmed the city's earnings tax, a solid victory for city leaders and a stinging defeat for retired financier Rex Sinquefield.

And city residents also approved several other propositions, including a $25 million bond issue and a property tax increase for St. Louis Public Schools.

Concordance Academy president Danny Ludeman announces that (from left) St. Louis County executive Steve Stenger, St. Louis mayor Francis Slay, and St. Charles County executive Steve Ehlmann have committed $2 million to his program over the next three year
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A public-private partnership that tries to help prisoners readjust to society is getting a funding boost from regional government.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, and St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann on Tuesday announced they are committing a total of $2 million to Concordance Academy. The program, which is the brain child of former Wells-Fargo chief executive Danny Ludeman, provides a variety of services to prisoners both before and after they are released in an effort to keep them from re-offending.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District | provided

Customers of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District will see their bills go up after the election on Tuesday. By how much, and when, depends on the outcome of two ballot initiatives.

MSD is a wastewater and stormwater utility rolled into one. The services are funded through different revenue streams - hence the need for two different proposition.

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay is flanked by federal state and local political leaders as they celebrate the initial decision to keep the NGA in St. Louis.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Federal, state and local officials are celebrating the news that the federal government has picked a site in north St. Louis for an expansion of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Citizens gathered at the intersection of North Kingshighway and McPherson Avenue to keep watch over St. Louis police officers following an officer-involved shooting.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A 22-year-old man is in critical condition Thursday after he was shot during an apparent struggle with a police officer.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police chief Sam Dotson said the officer, a 27-year veteran of the department, pulled over a young man around 11:30 a.m. Thursday for running a red light. The officer had finished the traffic stop and was parked on McPherson east of Kingshighway doing paperwork when the man returned, parked behind him, got out of the car and began yelling at the officer.

A city tow truck brings a St. Louis Fire Department ambulance in for  repairs.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

For the second time in seven months, voters in the city of St. Louis are being asked to authorize borrowing for major capital needs.

Last August, voters rejected Proposition 1, which would have funded $180 million in borrowing with a property tax increase. On April 5, city residents will consider a smaller version of that proposal in Proposition F.

Mayor Francis Slay, along with officials from his administration and non-profit partners, announces new resources targeted at inmates awaiting trial at the Medium Security Institution on Sept. 8, 2015.
Nassim Benchaabane | St. Louis Public Radio

A six-month-old program designed to prevent young adults from returning to jail has been wildly successful, its supporters say.

St. Louis corrections officials and social service agencies launched Prison to Prosperity in September. It targeted social services and job training to young adults locked up at the city's medium security jail known as the Workhouse and had enough funding initially to help around 100 inmates.

Kelly Sikkema | Flickr

Though the age-old question remains unanswered (you know, the chicken-egg thing), it is certain that urban agriculture will not be expanding in St. Louis any time soon.

The Board of Aldermen soundly rejected Scott Ogilvie's measure on Friday that would have boosted the number of backyard chickens allowed from four to eight, and let residents keep sheep, goats and emu on larger lots.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers raise their weapons at a preshift meeting 3.23.15
Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Officers with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department likely won't be wearing body cameras until sometime next year.

A 90-day pilot program with about 70 sergeants wraps up next week, St. Louis Chief Sam Dotson told the city's public safety committee on Thursday. He'll then get feedback from the officers involved and the public, and decide whether to sit down and negotiate a camera policy with the St. Louis Police Officers' Association.

Legal Services Corporation president James Sandman speaks to students and faculty at Saint Louis University law school on March 1, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

In 2014, 1.8 million people appeared in New York courts without a lawyer. Included in that figure were 96 percent of eviction cases, 95 percent of child support cases, and two-thirds of the state's foreclosure cases that year.

The numbers are part of a broader "justice gap" in the civil courts, Legal Services Corporation president Jim Sandman told an audience at Saint Louis University law school on Tuesday. Declining federal money for legal aid programs, and a drop in other funding sources, mean the United States is no longer living up to a founding principle.

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

A working group created by the Missouri Supreme Court to recommend changes to the municipal courts is rejecting the idea that the state's highest court can force the smaller ones to consolidate.

Rep. Stacey Newman (left) and St. Louis circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce (center) listen to Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker as Baker announces her support for Newman's legislation on February 29, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The prosecutors in Missouri's two largest cities are joining with pediatricians to support legislation that would make it a crime to leave a loaded weapon accessible to children.

Rep. Stacey Newman, D-Richmond Heights, is the sponsor of the bill, which makes it a felony if a gun owner "knowingly fails to secure a readily available, loaded deadly weapon in the presence of a child less than 17 years of age." A weapon would be considered secure if it had a functioning trigger lock, was kept in a safe, or was unloaded.

The Ways and Means committee has approved the purchase of a site in the Botanical Heights neighborhood to house and maintain trash trucks.
Screenshot | Google Maps

St. Louis has picked a place to store and maintain its fleet of trash trucks, setting in motion a process that could lead to 200 new jobs in the city.

The Board of Aldermen on Wednesday authorized the city to spend about $12 million to purchase a site on Central Industrial Drive, between two railroad tracks in the Botanical Heights neighborhood, and to pay for the necessary build-out.

Protesters carrying a banner that reads demand constitutional policing work to interrupt a meeting of the Ferguson City Council on February 23, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The decision by the Ferguson City Council to reject a proposed consent decree and take a chance in court is no more popular now than it was two weeks ago.

Protesters chanted "no consent decree, bankruptcy!" "no justice, no peace" and called for the resignation of Ferguson Mayor James Knowles and city prosecutor Stephanie Karr. They unfurled a banner demanding constitutional policing as the council members conducted their business. 

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