Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

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St. Louis City Hall
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has officially asked Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway to review the city’s spending.

Aldermen on Friday approved the resolution introduced by Alderman Joe Vaccaro, D-23rd Ward and Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward by a wide margin. It calls for a “comprehensive audit of the City of St. Louis,” including so-called county offices like the treasurer and the circuit attorney.

Sign at a homeless tent encampment on sidewalk in downtown St. Louis on Oct. 26, 2017.
File photo | Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

The head of St. Louis’ Department of Human Services has acknowledged the city is not doing enough to help people who need a temporary place to stay during prolonged cold weather.

“There certainly can be improvements that are made,” Irene Agustin, the Human Services director, told a Board of Aldermen committee on Thursday. “I think that’s important to really figure out how do we best respond more quickly.”

Setting sun highlights the Eagleton Federal courthouse.
File photo | Rachel Heidenry

A federal appeals court is considering whether Dorian Johnson, the man who was with Michael Brown during the now-infamous 2014 confrontation with former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, can sue Wilson and the city for violating his civil rights.

All 11 judges of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case Wednesday morning. In a 2-1 decision issued in June, a panel of the same court ruled that Wilson, former chief Tom Jackson and the city could be sued. Now the full panel is being asked to make a decision.

The interior of the Scottrade Center on Jan. 2, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green has dropped her legal challenge to a judge’s ruling that ordered her to approve financing for upgrades to the Scottrade Center.

A deal approved earlier this week clears the last remaining hurdle to the city issuing $100 million in bonds to cover the renovations, including new plumbing for the ice rink and updates to the lighting and sound systems.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden poses for a portrait in his office at police headquarters on Olive Street.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It did not take Col. John Hayden long to determine his top priority in his new position.

“The first thing for me to tackle is going to be violent crime,” said Hayden, a 30-year veteran of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. He was promoted to his position as its 36th chief last week, selected from six finalists.

The Rev. Ken McKoy hands sandwiches and snacks on North Kingshighway Blvd. on a cold night.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There were nearly four times as many opioid-related deaths — 712, according to the NCADA — last year than homicides in the St. Louis area. Overdose deaths hit individuals who are homeless especially hard. A 2013 paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association called it an emerging epidemic among the population.

Most of the social service agencies in the St. Louis area offer drug treatment programs, but advocates contend treatment isn’t always available when people in need are ready to accept the help.

John Hayden was picked on Dec. 28, 2017, to be St. Louis' next police chief. Hayden is a 30-year veteran of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated Dec. 28 at 2:45 p.m. with additional comments on Hayden's promotion — St. Louis Police Maj. John Hayden is the next chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Drawing of child and scales of justice
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Groups that advocate for juvenile defendants in Missouri hope the state General Assembly and the U.S. Supreme Court act next year to provide young criminal defendants with additional legal protections.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri wants the high court to consider the constitutionality of long sentences for juvenile defendants. The ACLU is also part of a coalition that wants to change what it means to be a juvenile in the state.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Dec. 20 at 2:00 p.m. with details of the buyback — St. Louis-area residents who have weapons they want to get rid of can exchange them for cash on Saturday, Dec. 23.

Private groups are financing and coordinating the program. People can turn in guns at the Omega Center, 3900 Goodfellow Blvd., between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Only working firearms can be exchanged for cash.

A spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson said the program is targeted at guns from St. Louis, St. Louis County and East St. Louis, but those running the buyback won't have any way of knowing where a gun comes from. The weapons will be turned over to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, which will check to see if the guns have been stolen or used in a crime.

Reginald Clemons, pictured here during a 2012, court hearing, has pleaded guilty to the 1991 rape and murder of Julie and Robin Kerry.
St. Louis Post Dispatch | Pool photo

Updated Dec. 18 at 5:10 p.m. with comments from attorneys for Clemons and former prosecutor Jennifer Joyce — A St. Louis man has admitted that he played a part in the 1991 rape and murder of two sisters on the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

Reginald Clemons pleaded guilty on Monday to robbery, two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of rape for the deaths of Julie and Robin Kerry. He will spend the rest of his life in prison. Prosecutors originally sought the death penalty.

St. Louis police chief candidates greet each other before the start of a town hall at Saint Louis University Law School. Dec. 14, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The six men and women who want to lead the 1,200 officers of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department met some of the residents they would serve Thursday night.

For the first time in department history, three of the finalists are from outside of the department. But the three internal candidates include interim chief Lawrence O’Toole, which angered some in the crowd.

Maj. John Hayden, left, commander of the St. Louis police department's North Patrol Division, and Chief Patrick Melvin, of the Port Arthur Police Department in Texas, center, and interim St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O'Toole.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Three outside candidates are among the six people vying to be the next chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Those six people introduced themselves to the public Thursday night at a public forum at Saint Louis University law school.

Lt. Col. Lawrence O’Toole

O’Toole, a 33-year veteran of the SLMPD, has been interim chief since April, when Sam Dotson retired suddenly on Mayor Lyda Krewson’s first day in office.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s looking more and more like state Auditor Nicole Galloway will be reviewing St. Louis’ spending.

A group called AuditSTL has been collecting signatures since August to force an audit of all city departments. St. Louis aldermen are now considering a resolution from Alderman Joe Vaccaro, D-23rd Ward, that would make the same request, although Galloway would not be required to do the review.

St. Clair County state's attorney Brendan Kelly holds a photo of Quiantez Fair, who was killed in East St. Louis in October. Kelly and law enforcement officials are asking people to help them solve the murder of Fair and 25 other people in the city.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Law enforcement officials in East St. Louis are making a year-end push for witnesses to come forward in unsolved homicides.

Thirty-four people have been killed in East St. Louis so far this year. But police have been able to solve just eight of those cases. That clearance rate of 24 percent is well below the national average, which was about 60 percent in 2016.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announces on Nov 24, 2014, that the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson on any of five counts that were presented to it.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated Dec. 12 at 4:50 p.m. with comments from Tony Rothert and Bob McCulloch — The Missouri Court of Appeals has become the latest to rule against a grand juror who wants to speak about what it was like to consider charging former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson with a crime in connection with the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Grand jurors take an oath of secrecy when they are sworn in. The unidentified juror wanted to be able to violate that oath in order to “contribute to the current dialogue around race relations” and to correct what the juror saw as misconduct by St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. In a unanimous opinion issued Tuesday, the appeals court said no.

The interior of the Scottrade Center on Jan. 2, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m. with a copy of the agreement — A St. Louis alderwoman and two other city residents have dropped a lawsuit challenging the use of public money to make upgrades to the Scottrade Center.

A circuit court judge was scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Monday. The agreement removes one of the last legal barriers to a plan passed in February that requires the city to sell about $100 million in bonds to finance improvements such as a new scoreboard and ice-making equipment.

OliBac | Flickr

The city of St. Louis is making additional beds available Thursday night for people who are homeless.

Temperatures were expected to drop into the teens overnight. The city is relying on a network of churches and other nonprofit groups this year to provide people who might not ordinarily seek shelter with a place to stay. Unlike previous years, it will not use the gym at the 12th and Park Recreation Center near the Soulard neighborhood.

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that the electric car maker Tesla can be granted a license to sell cars in the state.

A three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that the association representing Missouri car dealers did not have the right to sue Tesla, and dismissed the case. The ruling means Tesla can apply to renew licenses for its two Missouri stores, and potentially expand across the state.

The interior of the Scottrade Center on Jan. 2, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:10 p.m. Dec. 4 with comment from Green — St. Louis comptroller Darlene Green has decided to follow a judge’s order to issue $100 million in bonds to upgrade the Scottrade Center.

Green said in a statement that she has complied with the court ruling, and signed the required documents. But a spokesman said the bonds had not yet been issued, and Green may still appeal the ruling. Also on Monday, her attorney filed documents asking the judge to change the ruling.

An illustration of a group of four people sitting around a table.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen last week took a big step toward adopting one of the recommendations in the Ferguson Commission report.

By approving the Office of Community Mediation on a 26-0 vote, the city is embracing the idea that with a little help, communities can handle some disputes on their own, rather than relying on the police or the judicial system.

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