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.

Ways to Connect

St. Charles County executive Steve Ehlmann, Mayor Francis Slay, and St. Clair County executive Mark Kern (right) at the State of the Region breakfast on January 12, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The top elected officials from the city of St. Louis and St. Louis, St. Charles and St. Clair counties gathered in one of the city's poshest hotels Thursday to give business and government leaders their take on where the metro area stands on a variety of development issues.

Like everyone, the region is facing a lot of change. There are new faces in Jefferson City and Washington, D.C., and soon there will be a new face in St. Louis' City Hall. This event was the last State of the Region event for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, who is not running for a fifth term. 

Members of the public and the city's Ways and Means committee listen as Nahuel Fefer, an economic policy assistant to Mayor Francis Slay, answers questions about a proposed sales tax increase on January 11, 2017
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The committee that handles budget issues for the city of St. Louis went to Cherokee Street Wednesday night to hear from members of the public about a proposed half-cent increase in the sales tax to fund economic development. 

Aldermen want to put the measure before voters in April. If approved, the tax would generate an additional $20 million a year.

The two dozen speakers were generally supportive of using some of the sales tax revenue to fund a partial north-south expansion of MetroLink. It's what else is, and isn't, in the bill that caused concern.

Vinita Park Mayor James McGee speaks against proposed standards for polcie departments in St. Louis County in December 2015.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that the St. Louis County Council overstepped its boundaries when it tried to impose certain minimum standards on the 50 or so municipal police departments in the county's borders.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner takes the oath of office at the Old Courthouse on January 6, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the rotunda of the courthouse where Dred and Harriet Scott sued for their freedom, the first African-American circuit attorney for the city of St. Louis took the oath of office Friday night.

"I'm humbled and honored that you have entrusted me with this responsibility of this very essential office," Kim Gardner told the crowd of more than a hundred at the Old Courthouse in downtown Friday night. "As a community we have a lot of challenges and opportunities to address the criminal justice system. The team at the circuit attorney’s office and I are ready and eager to take on this work for the community."

city hall with flowers
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Filing for the March 7 primary is over, and we've got a pretty good idea about who wants to be an officeholder in the city of St. Louis.

The seats for mayor, comptroller and odd-numbered wards are up this cycle. There will also be a special election in the 16th Ward to fill the unexpired term of Donna Baringer, who was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in November.

This list may change. Independent candidates have until Feb. 13 to file for office, and primary candidates have until Jan. 26 to can drop out. With those caveats, here's the field.

The Chain of Rocks bridge
Chris Yunker | Flickr

Updated at 12:00 p.m. with comments from Clemons' supporters. — Missouri's attorney general will be taking over the retrials of Reginald Clemons.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison granted the request of circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce late Thursday evening, agreeing that the turnover that happens after an election had left her office understaffed and unable to prosecute the case.

Alderman Donna Baringer D-16th Ward (center) receives a resolution from her colleagues on Dec. 16, 2016, her last day at the Board of Aldermen.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Two former St. Louis aldermen will be among the new lawmakers joining the Missouri General Assembly next year.

Fred Wessels, who was the 13th Ward alderman until he took a job in the mayor's office until 2013, ran unopposed for the 81st House District seat in southeast St. Louis. A former colleague from City Hall, Donna Baringer, D-16th Ward, easily won the state House seat in the neighboring 82nd District. She officially resigns her city position on Dec. 31.

Aldermen President Lewis Reed
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Public funding for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium near Union Station is already facing opposition from Gov.-elect Eric Greitens. And St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed isn't making things easier for supporters at the local level.

Green, Ingrassia and Alderman Sam Moore, D-4th Ward, listen as the Board of Aldermen's Tuesday session continues.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday to reflect conversations between the sponsor and city attorneys. — Two St. Louis aldermen, in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, have launched an effort to make the city a sanctuary for reproductive rights.

“We are a board of people who are very aware of the challenges for women that are being brought forth at both the state and national level. And so it’s up to us at the local level to really ensure that women’s rights are protected," said Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green, D-15th Ward.

Runners pass the Confederate Monument in Forest Park.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

On Christmas Eve last year, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay used what is traditionally a quiet period for news to announce that he wanted a 102-year-old monument to Confederate war dead removed from Forest Park.

A year later, the statue remains in place. But city officials say they are committed to fulfilling the mayor's promise.

Mayoral hopeful Lyda Krewson, the 28th Ward alderman, selects the number that will set her position on the March 2017 ballot at the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners on November 28, 2016.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Police Officers Association has endorsed Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward, for mayor.

"This particular election is probably one of the most important that we're going to see here in the last decade," union president Joe Steiger said at the Wednesday afternoon announcement. "As police officers, it's extremely important to us, with the rising violent crime here in St. Louis. Lyda was, by far, the candidate that was most friendly with law enforcement."

The city of Pine Lawn is still struggling to properly manage its municipal court.

Nicole Galloway, auditor for the state of Missouri, released the follow-up review on Monday. An previous audit, from June, gave the Pine Lawn court a "poor" rating, which triggered the need for a second look.

"Municipal courts have an obligation to conduct themselves with fairness. This court has a long way to go to meet the standards that any citizen should have of a local government," Galloway said.

The proposed office building would be on the west end of Ballpark Village, across the street from Busch Stadium.
St. Louis Cardinals

Updated Dec. 19 with Greitens opposition to public stadium funding - The St. Louis Board of Aldermen considered millions of dollars in economic development incentives Friday, sending some to Mayor Francis Slay while setting others up for approval in the New Year.

At a meeting that stretched over three hours, aldermen gave final approval to $56 million in incentives for the second phase of Ballpark Village and to an agreement with Saint Louis University that gives the school control over the development around its planned new hospital.

The agreement between the St. Louis County Family Court and the Justice Department, almost a year and a half in the making, is aimed at correcting violations in young people's due process and harsher treatment directed at black children.
Bloomsberries | Flickr

Updated at 5 p.m. Dec. 15 with comments from juvenile justice advocates. - The U.S. Department of Justice and the St. Louis County Family Court have reached a deal to settle claims that the court routinely violated the civil rights of juveniles it served.

"We applaud the St. Louis Family Court for taking these important steps to begin implementing critical reforms," Vanita Gupta, the head of the department's Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. "We hope that juvenile courts around the country review this agreement and use it as a model to protect the constitutional rights of all children."

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles listens to public testimony on Saturday about a proposed consent decree. Knowles and the rest of the city council could vote on whether to accept the 131-page agreement on Tuesday.
File photo |Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

The city of Ferguson took a big step Tuesday night toward a major policy requirement of its federal civil rights consent decree.

Council members introduced legislation that will make changes to the city's civilian review board. The council originally approved the board back in April, but it never met at the request of the Department of Justice, which wanted changes in the way it was set up.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger
File photo | Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis County law that would have set minimum operating standards for police departments in the county is in the hands of a three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The law, approved in December 2015, set staffing, training and hiring standards. Departments would have been required to have at least two officers on duty 24-7 and conduct background checks on prospective officers that included psychological screenings. Elected officials in cities that failed to comply could be jailed, or the St. Louis County police could take over public safety services in the city.

Ferguson Police Department
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In September 2016, the city of Ferguson seemed to be floundering in its efforts to comply with a federal civil rights consent decree.

"We are not where we had hoped to be," said Justice Department attorney Christy Lopez said at the time. "Certainly, some deadlines have passed." 

But at a hearing Tuesday in front of judge Catherine Perry, the city, the Justice Department and the team overseeing the city's compliance with the decree all finally seemed to be pulling in the same direction.

 In this photo by Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce updates members of the media on her strategies to reduce crime on Monday, December 5, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

In 2015, circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce announced several new initiatives to help combat gun violence. On Monday, she met with the media to discuss whether she thinks those plans are working.

The efforts focused on three main areas:

  • Resolve — Making it clear to the community how much the office needs its help to solve gun violence.
  • Redirect Moving low-level or first-time gun offenders out of the criminal justice system through diversion programs or stricter terms of probation.
  • Remove — Finding ways to get tougher sentences for those prosecutors consider a real danger to society.

Hundreds gathered at Graham Chapel at Washington University to honor and remember Court judge Richard Teitelman on Dec. 1, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds packed Graham Chapel at Washington University Thursday to remember Missouri Supreme Court judge Richard Teitelman. 

Teitelman died overnight Monday at his home in St. Louis at the age of 69. A native of Philadelphia, he moved to St. Louis to attend Washington University Law School and never left the state. After two years in private practice, he joined Legal Services of Eastern Missouri in 1975 and became its executive director in 1980.

Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan appointed him to the state Court of Appeals in 1998. Another Democrat, Bob Holden, elevated Judge Teitelman to the state high court in 2002.

Missouri Supreme Court Judge Richard B. Teitelman pictured in this June 1, 2016 file photo, has died at the age of 69. Teitelman was the first legally blind and Jewish judge to serve on Missouri’s highest court.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday with audio of obituary.

 A leading liberal voice in the Missouri legal community has died.

Judge Richard Teitelman was 69. The Missouri Supreme Court confirmed his death, saying Tuesday that he had died in the morning at his home in St. Louis. Teitelman had been experiencing health problems for some time, including complications from diabetes.

city hall with flowers
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Though it's been underway for months, the race to replace Francis Slay as the mayor of St. Louis has officially begun.

Three of the top candidates for mayor were at the doors of the city's Board of Election Commissioners at 8 a.m., Monday — the start of filing for the March Democratic primary.

Ferguson resident Emily Davis waits to speak at a 2015 Ferguson City Council meeting. Davis is part of the Ferguson Collaborative, a group that's been following the consent decree process closely.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The election of Donald Trump as president won't change the fact that Ferguson and its police department are operating under a federal civil rights consent decree. But how that decree is enforced could look very different.

Petras Gagilas | Flickr

Homeowners and businesses in the city of St. Louis could see their water rates go up by more than 20 percent over the next three years under legislation being considered by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

People started a blue ribbon chain at St. Gabriel the Archangel Church near Francis Park to honor a police sergeant shot Nov. 20. The ribbon extended to Pernod and Hampton, where the shooting occurred.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 21 at 8  p.m. with video from Chief Dotson — St. Louis Metropolitan Police  officials say the suspect in the ambush of a police officer has been killed in a shootout. Chief Sam Dotson said 19-year-old George P. Bush III was shot hours after he pulled up beside a marked police car near the Hampton Village Shopping Center in south St. Louis and shot a 46-year-old police sergeant, who was released from the hospital Monday morning.

File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 22 with comments from plaintiff Willis Johnson. — A federal judge has ordered the Ferguson-Florissant School District to vote for its board members using cumulative voting.

Judge Rodney Sippel's order, filed Monday, closes a nearly 2-year-old civil rights challenge to the way the district has run school board elections. Sippel ruled in August that the old method of selecting candidates in at-large elections violated the federal Voting Rights Act, and halted the April 2017 school board elections until a solution could be found.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Back in October, St. Louis Public Radio put a little non-political, unscientific poll in the field — which Curious Louis question should we answer next?

Stephanie Pasch, a Shaw resident, posed the winning question: I live near 39th Street. What happened to 24th through 38th? And where do 59th, 81st and 82nd come from?

Tishaura Jones high-fives guests at a campaign kickoff party for her mayoral run at Exodus Gallery on Delmar Blvd. on Nov. 15, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

And then there were six.

On Tuesday, Treasurer Tishaura Jones kicked off her campaign to replace Mayor Francis Slay in front of a crowd of about 200 at Exodus Galleries on Delmar.  

falkow | Flickr

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys in St. Louis are applauding an appeals court ruling outlining what information must be provided to defense attorneys in criminal trials.

Paramedics with the St. Louis Fire Department tend to a person who had taken the synthetic marijuana known as K2 outside the New Life Evangelistic Center on Nov. 10, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Social services providers in St. Louis are working to combat a spike in the number of people overdosing on a synthetic marijuana known as K2.

Since Monday, the St. Louis Fire Department had treated at least 100 people suffering the effects of the drug.  Many of the victims were clustered around downtown homeless shelters and service providers.

Bills sponsored by Ald. Dionne Flowers, D-2nd Ward, would boost the age to purchase tobacco products in the city to 21
Drongowski | Flickr

Updated with first-round board approval Nov. 10 - Measures boosting the age to buy tobacco products in the city of St. Louis sailed out of the Health and Human Services committee on Thursday (Nov. 3).

The bills, sponsored by Alderman Dionne Flowers, D-2nd Ward, would bring the city in line with St. Louis County by making it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy tobacco products. The new requirement applies to both traditional tobacco products like cigarettes, and newer ones like electronic cigarettes.

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