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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Medium Security Institution/file photo
File photo | Nassim Benchaabane | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation that would give St. Louis a clearer picture of who's being held in solitary confinement in the city's two jails will be introduced Thursday at the Board of Aldermen.

Joe Vacarro, D-23rd Ward, said he saw the need for more information about the inmate population while campaigning for sheriff this year. 

Chief Sam Dotson stl police 1.27.15
File photo | Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio intern

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson has ended his run for mayor, just more than a month after it began.

Dotson said in a statement emailed to reporters that he believed he could best serve the city and work to bring down crime by staying on as police chief. "Crime is the No. 1 issue in our city," the statement said. "To combat it, we need less politics, not more. We need fewer divisions and more collaboration."

A payday loan shop on Natural Bridge Avenue east of Union Boulevard. The high interest rate of payday loans can leave people on the hook for paying more in interest than the original loan.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday gave initial approval to legislation that would put new restrictions on payday lenders in the city.

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

Residents of two North County municipalities will vote on Tuesday whether to become one.

The governing bodies of Vinita Park and Vinita Terrace jointly submitted an application for merger to the St. Louis Boundary Commission in April. That board voted in June to put the merger on the November ballot.

An infrared photograph shows a water main leak in Webster Groves. Water utility companies photograph roads at night to determine which pipes may be in need of repair.
Missouri American Water | Provided

Updated Nov. 1 with court arguments – The Missouri Supreme Court is weighing whether state law still allows Missouri American Water to charge its St. Louis County customers an infrastructure surcharge.

The Public Service Commission agreed to allow Missouri American to charge the $3 a month fee, even though St. Louis County's population dropped below 1 million during the 2010 U.S. census. But the western district court of appeals overturned that decision in March.

Arch City Defenders executive director Thomas Harvey speaking during a 2014 meeting of the Ferguson Commission.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Florissant has become the 16th north St. Louis County municipality to face a federal lawsuit for jailing defendants simply because they couldn't pay a fine or court cost.

The Arch City Defenders filed the class action lawsuit on Monday. It alleges that the five individuals were among hundreds, if not thousands, of defendants "threatened, abused, and left to languish in confinement until their frightened family members produced enough cash to buy their freedom, or until City jail officials decided, days or weeks later, to release them free of charge — after it had become clear the City would not be able to extract any money from them."

Police chief Sam Dotson addresses Tower Grove South residents at a community meeting on December 12, 2014.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

An attempt by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen to record its discontent with a sitting police chief running for mayor fell short on Friday.

The resolution from Alderman Joe Roddy, D-17th Ward, got just 13 of the 15 votes it needs to pass. It calls on St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson to resign if he officially files to run for mayor in November. The chief announced earlier this month he would seek the office, being vacated after 16 years by Mayor Francis Slay.

s_falkow | Flickr

Nearly every voter in Missouri is aware of the contests for president and governor.

But there are also 48 trial and appellate judges who are hoping to remain on the bench through retention elections. 

August 2014 St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson
File photo | Bill Greenblatt |UPI

The decision by St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson to run for mayor without resigning his current post isn’t a very popular one.

The Great America PAC, a super PAC supporting Donald Trump, is airing a TV ad encouraging his supporters to express their worries about a rigged election.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been warning his supporters for weeks that the 2016 election is rigged.

It's a claim that Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander calls "unfair" to local election authorities. The Illinois State Board of Election said in a statement that "allegations of a 'rigged' election are completely unfounded."

St. Louis Public Radio asked area election officials what keeps them up at night two weeks before a presidential contest. Here's what they said:

A view looking out on the rotunda from the second floor of St. Louis city hall.
File photo| St. Louis Public Radio

The financing package for part of Paul McKee's massive Northside Regeneration Project has gotten the first of two rounds of approval from the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Aldermen on Friday finalized the language for bills authorizing $2.8 million in tax increment financing incentives, and the creation of a new community improvement district, funded through a 1 percent sales tax. A final vote could come next week.

Alderman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, contended that there were better ways for the city to spend tax dollars than a new stadium.
File photo I St. Louis Public Radio

A change to St. Louis' problem properties ordinance could help people who have faced domestic violence stay in their homes.

The public safety committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved legislation Tuesday that says frequent 911 calls for domestic violence alone do not make a property a nuisance. Such a designation can lead to an eviction.

Nearly 100 people demonstrated outside the Missouri Supreme Court shortly after two cases were argued seeking higher minimum wages in St. Louis and Kansas City.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court is weighing two cases, one from St. Louis and the other from Kansas City, seeking to allow higher minimum wages in each place.

At issue is a law enacted during last year's veto session that bars cities from enacting a minimum wage that's higher than that set by the federal or state government. House Bill 722 was passed in response to both cities seeking higher minimum wages, along with Columbia's efforts to ban plastic grocery bags.

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

In 1957, Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House, Elvis topped the charts with “All Shook Up,” and Missouri lawmakers wrote the state’s juvenile code.

The system’s basic structure hasn’t changed in 60 years. And in 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice raised questions about how well that structure protects the rights of the kids who come into the system.

Maryland Heights resident Dan Hyatt speaks before the Ferguson Commission about his experience dealing with the municipal court system in Breckenridge Hills.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Municipal courts across Missouri are starting to figure out how to comply with new operating rules issued by the state Supreme Court.

The high court released the 16-page rule last week. In a speech to the annual meeting of the Missouri Bar and the Judicial Conference of Missouri, Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge, said they "make clear how municipal divisions must operate."

Civiliam Oversight Board members line up to get their picture taken after their first meeting in March for ID badges. (File photo)
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Ever since the Civilian Oversight Board was officially established in 2015, the St. Louis Police Officers Association has threatened to sue.

The promised legal action began earlier this month. On Monday, a St. Louis Circuit Court judge will hear arguments on whether the Civilian Oversight Board should be able to access records from internal affairs investigations of St. Louis police officers.

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome Bruce Franks to show. The St. Louis Democrat won a landslide victory last week in a special primary election over state Rep. Penny Hubbard. He will have a Republican opponent, Eric Shelquist,  in November.

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
File photo | Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

A three-year effort to limit the amount of money flowing into city elections took a small step forward at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Tuesday.

The city's Legislation committee, on a 9-0 vote, approved Alderman Scott Ogilvie's, D-24th Ward, measure capping contributions at $10,000 to each candidate every four years. A similar bill Ogilvie introduced in 2013 never received a vote.

Clara Norise (seated) speaks to Nicolle Barton, the executive director of the Civilian Oversight Board, after the board's meeting on Sept. 19, 2016. Norise was the first person to file a complaint with the board.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On May 12, Clara Norise made history.

On that date, Norise went to the office of the Civilian Oversight Board and became the first person to file a complaint with the board, which oversees internal affairs investigations. She alleged that a police SWAT team didn't have probable cause when it barged into her house on a drug raid earlier that month, and that it used excessive force in conducting the raid.

On Monday, the board voted not to do its own investigation of the case, and accept the punishment handed down by the Internal Affairs Division. Confidentiality rules prevent the exact nature of the punishment from being made public.

Bruce Franks Jr. speaks to his supporters after finding out he won the Sept. 16 special election for Missouri’s 78th District House seat.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:45 p.m. with comments from Franks. -- The second time is the charm for Bruce Franks.

Franks, an activist and small business owner, defeated Penny Hubbard Friday night in a court-ordered re-do Democratic primary in the 78th House District.

State Rep. Kathie Conway
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann welcome state Rep. Kathie Conway to the program.

The St. Charles Republican is in her third term in the Missouri House. She recorded Thursday’s show a little more than 24 hours after participating in the Missouri General Assembly’s veto session.

Bruce Franks talks with Jane Dueker, the attorney for his opponent Penny Hubbard, after oral arguments on Sept. 12, 2016.
Pool photo by Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Updated 4:00 p.m. Sept. 13 with comments from Jane Dueker. — ​The  re-vote in the 78th House District is on.

The Missouri Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower-court ruling  that the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners improperly accepted at least 142 absentee ballots, putting the results of the Aug. 2 primary between incumbent Penny Hubbard and challenger Bruce Franks in doubt. Hubbard's attorney, Jane Dueker, said that ruling will not be appealed.

Attorneys for Bruce Franks, Penny Hubbard, and employees with the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners examine absentee ballot envelopes during a court hearing on Sept. 1, 2016.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments Monday afternoon on whether voters in the 78th House District in St. Louis will get a chance to vote again.

Right now, the do-over Democratic primary is scheduled for Friday. It is one of the fastest turn-arounds the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners has ever faced.

Most of the briefs for the case have already been filed, so we've got a sense of what lawyers for incumbent Penny Hubbard and challenger Bruce Franks will say to the appeals court panel.

The casket of Phyllis Schlafly is escorted down the aisle of the Cathedral Basilicia of St. Louis following a funeral Mass on Sept. 10, 2016.
Pool photo by Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Updated at 9:00 p.m. Sept 11 to clarify ongoing legal action involving the Eagle Forum. Hundreds of mourners packed the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis Saturday afternoon to honor a woman known for her conservative activism and polarizing views.

Schlafly died Labor Day at 92. The views she pushed as the founder of the Eagle Forum were underpinned by her deep Catholic faith. 

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

The city of Ferguson has made halting progress toward complying with a federal consent decree it signed in April.

Attorneys for the city, the Department of Justice and members of the independent monitoring team assigned to the case were in front of Judge Catherine Perry on Wednesday to give her an update. It was the first public review of the document since Perry accepted it five months ago.

Of the 40 objectives whose deadlines have passed, seven have not been implemented, according to a spreadsheet provided to the court. Another 20 are listed as "in  progress." 

St. Louis Democratic Elections director Mary Wheeler-Jones shows her phone to Board of Election Commissioners chairman Erv Switzer. The Board had a special meeting on Wednesday go over logistical details for a special election in the 78th House District.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri secretary of state’s office is urging St. Louis’ prosecuting attorney to keep investigating absentee ballots from a state House primary.

Democrat Jason Kander, who is also running for U.S. Senate, released his brief report on the 78th House District on Wednesday.

Attendees for both a welcome rally for Ferguson's new police chief, Delrish Moss, and a protest against the city's attorney, Stephanie Karr, demonstrate outside the Ferguson Police Department on May 9, 2016.
File photo Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The team in charge of making sure that the city of Ferguson is complying with a federal consent decree will be in St. Louis on Wednesday to hear from the community.

Clark Ervin will meet as many individuals and groups as he can on Wednesday. The 15-minute meetings will take place between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and can be scheduled by emailing Ervin at clark.ervin@squirepb.com.

Attorneys Erwin Switzer (back left) and Al Johnson (back right) listen to Gov. Jay Nixon on Sept. 6 as he introduces them as the chair and secretary of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners.
Bill Greenblat | UPI

Gov. Jay Nixon has cleaned house at the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, four days after a judge found its employees responsible for absentee ballot problems that led him to schedule a new election  in the 78th House District.

Nixon replaced Democratic chairwoman Joan Burger, a retired judge, with Democrat Erwin Switzer, an attorney and a former member of the now-defunct St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners. Republican Al Johnson, also an attorney, replaces the Republican secretary Andrew Schwartz, who owns an adhesives company. 

Bruce Franks in court on Sept. 1, 2016.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:45 p.m. with comment from Dave Roland. - A St. Louis judge has ordered a re-do in a state House race marred by allegations of problems with absentee ballots.

Judge Rex Burlison set the new Democratic primary in the 78th House District for Sept. 16, the earliest date allowed by state law. The 78th covers a swath of eastern St. Louis, from just north of downtown to near the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

Judge Rex Burlison (center) listens to attorneys on the first day of a trial to determine if there will be a new election in the 78th House District.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On Aug. 5, 2016, incumbent state Rep. Penny Hubbard, D-78th District, beat challenger Bruce Franks by 90 votes. Her entire margin of victory came from absentee ballots.

Franks and his attorney, Dave Roland, sued in an an effort to force a new election, arguing that irregularities in the absentee ballots made the results invalid.

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