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

Sam Dotson and officers listen to James Clark before a hotspot patrol in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood.
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

Crime in the city of St. Louis continues to be higher in 2015 compared to the numbers from last year.

Statistics released Tuesday by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police show crime was up nearly 14 percent overall in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period last year, though the rate of increase has slowed each month. Every category of crime except rape and arson was up by double digits.

City of Pine Lawn website

The former mayor of Pine Lawn will spend 33 months in federal prison for extorting money from businesses in the tiny North County town.

Sylvester Caldwell pleaded guilty on April 13 to forcing the owners of a towing company and a convenience store to pay at least $2,600 to protect their businesses. He also admitted that he frequently took items from the convenience store without paying. The plea agreement included a recommended sentence between 27 and 33 months. 

St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch delivers a keynote address at a Saint Louis University law school  symposium on policing after Ferguson on February 20, 2015.
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 9:00 am Tuesday with a copy of the order.

A St. Louis County judge has short-circuited an effort to oust prosecutor Bob McCulloch from office.

Judge Joseph Walsh on Thursday dismissed what’s known as a quo warranto action filed by four North County activists. The group was asking Walsh to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the way McCulloch handled the Darren Wilson grand jury. That prosecutor could have officially challenged McCulloch’s right to hold office if misconduct was discovered.

Jamala Rogers (bottom left) and John Chasnoff (bottom right) after the civilian oversight board they have championed for 30 years received initial approval on April 15, 2015
Katelyn Petrin/St. Louis Public Radio

The process of getting the new St. Louis police civilian oversight board up and running has taken another small step forward.

An aerial view of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at 3200 South 2nd Street.
NGA

Legislation authorizing the city of St. Louis to borrow as much as $20 million to buy land to keep a major employer within the city's borders narrowly squeaked through preliminary approval on Thursday.

The Board of Aldermen approved the measure Thursday by a 13-11-1 vote amid confusion about the final outcome. It needs one more vote before going to Mayor Francis Slay's desk.

Steakpinball | Flickr

Defendants in St. Louis municipal court who face the risk of being arrested because they didn’t pay a fine or fee are getting a second chance.

The city announced Wednesday it is cancelling a total of 56,000 warrants that had been issued to individuals who failed to pay. Those 29,000 people will get a letter offering them a new court date and a chance to explain why they did not pay the initial fines and court costs.

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, D-21st Ward, listens in at a recent hearing of the Board of Aldermen's Legislative Committee.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

An effort by St. Louis alderman Antonio French to add an additional set of eyes to police policy is running into some headwinds.

French introduced a resolution on May 21 that would create a special committee to look at officer-involved shootings between January 2014 and the end of this year and recommend changes to policy or city law. The board's rules committee held its second hearing on the measure Wednesday without taking a vote. A third hearing of that standing committee is scheduled for next week.

(via Flickr/M Glasgow)

The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld a constitutional amendment that broadened gun rights in the state.

Voters approved Amendment 5 in August 2014 with 61 percent of the vote. It made the right to own firearms, ammunition and other accessories in the state "unalienable," and said any form of gun control should be subject to "strict scrutiny." The amendment also allowed the open carrying of guns.

(Chris McDaniel/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated June 30, 2015 with appeals court ruling - A Missouri appeals court panel has rejected an effort by St. Louis-based activists to limit the economic incentives by the city to Peabody and other energy companies.

(via Wikimedia Commons/California Department of Corrections)

Updated 9 a.m. Tuesday with news of Supreme Court's action - The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a challenge by Missouri death row inmates to the state’s execution protocol.

The high court on Monday denied a request from the inmate's attorneys to consider the case. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that in order to win their claims that Missouri's lethal injection cocktail amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, inmates had to show that a viable alternative was available.

Arlene Zarembka and Zuleyma Tang-Martinez got married in Canada in 2005.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

In a resounding victory for the rights of same-sex couples, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the U.S. Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to those couples.

Jim Obergefell is the lead plaintiff in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that will likely decide whether same-sex marriage is legal throughout the country.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated on June 26 with news of ruling  — Today in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution required states to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in that case, sat down to talk with St. Louis on the Air three weeks before the decision was handed down. 

Our original story.

Stadium Approach from the Southeast
HOK | 360 Architecture

It's now up to a St. Louis judge to decide whether city voters get to approve any public assistance for sports stadiums.

Aerial View Looking Southwest Toward Downtown.
HOK | 360 Architecture

On Thursday afternoon, three sets of attorneys will gather in the small chambers of St. Louis Circuit Judge Thomas Frawley to debate what is required of the city of St. Louis before public funding goes toward a new football stadium.

It’s one of several legal challenges to the bare-bones financing plan outlined by Gov. Jay Nixon’s two-man task force looking to keep the Rams in St. Louis.

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

A working group studying how to improve municipal courts in St. Louis is specifically recommending that the state Supreme Court force those courts to consolidate.

It was one of several recommendations finalized Tuesday by the Ferguson Commission's working group on municipal courts and governance. Members of the group considered consolidation at the request of Rich McClure, a co-chair of the Ferguson Commission.

(via Flickr/kat93117)

Updated at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday with comments from the Archdiocese of St. Louis

St. Louis prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against a priest in the St. Louis Archdiocese accused of abusing a student at St. Louis the King  School.

(via Flickr/John Picken)

(Updated 3:50 p.m., June 16, 2015 with ruling from the Supreme Court.)

The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that Ameren Missouri is not responsible for the deaths of two young children who drowned after being electrocuted on the Lake of the Ozarks.

Ameren owns the lake, which is part of its Osage power plant. Alexandra and Brayden Anderson were swimming in the lake on July 4, 2012, when they were shocked by a stray current from the family's dock and drowned. Their mother sued Ameren, saying the company regulated the installation of docks on the lake and was therefore liable for the deaths.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

(Updated 2:00 p.m. Wednesday with further statements from the St. Louis Cardinals.)

In a statement released Wednesday, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak and team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. strongly condemned the alleged hacking.

"These are serious allegations that don’t reflect who we are as an organization,” DeWitt said.   "We are committed to getting to the bottom of this matter as soon as possible, and if anyone within our organization is determined to be involved in anything inappropriate, they will be held accountable."

Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis judge has blocked an Ohio man from carrying a gun into the Saint Louis Zoo to test a state ban on weapons in certain educational and child care facilities and amusement parks.

Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward, is sponsoring a big overhaul of the city's business regulations.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen are trying to streamline how the city licenses and regulates businesses.

But the St. Louis’ license collector is strongly opposing some aspects of the legislation, contending it will drain the city’s coffers.

Elizabeth Beard Davis announces a $25,000 reward for anyone who has information about the death of her brother Rick, near the intersection where he was hit while riding his bike on June 20, 2014.
Sarah Kellogg/St. Louis Public Radio intern

The family of a cyclist who was killed while biking on city streets nearly a year ago is now offering a $25,000 reward to find the person who struck him.

Rick Beard was an Army veteran and a safety-conscious cyclist who would stop to chastise other bikers who were not following the rules, said his younger sister, Elizabeth Beard Davis. He had just turned 54 on June 20, 2014 when he was hit by a car at the corner of Sarah St. and Cook Ave., just west of Grand Center.

Updated at 10:45 pm to correct spelling of psychiatric in headline.

A proposed outpatient psychiatric treatment facility for uninsured adolescents and children will get an additional $2 million in federal funding.

The city agency that oversees the distribution of federal Community Development Block Grant dollars plans to re-distribute about $7 million in unspent funds from prior years. Some of the leftover money dates back to 2008. Block grants run on a Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 schedule.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay
Alex Heuer I St. Louis Public Radio

There has been much discussion about ways to improve safety in St. Louis. As of June 10, St. Louis police have recorded nearly 80 homicides in the city, close to half of the total number of homicides for the entire year of 2014. Police department statistics show that just 24 of them are considered closed, meaning an arrest has been made.

(via Flickr/bloomsberries)

It’s now up to the Missouri Court of Appeals to decide if the former mayor of Wellston should get her job back.

A three-judge panel of the court heard arguments Tuesday on whether a St. Louis County judge was correct when he threw Linda Whitfield out of office in May 2014.

Circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce on SLOTA June 3
Alex Heuer/St. Louis Public Radio

Circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce has been in the news quite a bit recently. Her decision not to charge a St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer in the shooting death of VonDerritt Myers sparked protests at her house, which led to multiple arrests, and internal investigations into the way police officers handled the incident.

North County Police Cooperative chief Tim Swope (center) with Vinita Park mayor James McGee (left) and Wellston mayor Nathaniel Griffin (right) at a press conference announcing a policing contract arrangement on June 2, 2015.
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

The streets of the city of Wellston are now being patrolled by a new police department.

The Wellston City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to disband its police department and contract for services with Vinita Park, a tiny municipality a few miles to the west.

Police cars park outside of the Bel-Ridge Municipal Complex, which includes spaces for Village Hall, its municipal court, and the police department.  11/8/14, Durrie Bouscaren
Durrie Bouscaren/St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

A voluntary effort to reform the municipal courts in St. Louis County is getting a financial boost from the MacArthur Foundation.

A group that includes researchers from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and officials from local municipal courts, the St. Louis County police, St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch's office, and state court administrators has received $150,000 to get a better understanding of who is coming into the municipal court system in St. Louis and why they are ending up in jail. The funds will also help the group refine programs to reduce that number.

Mayor Francis Slay signs the bill authorizing a vote on new capital-improvement bonds.
Provided by the mayor's office.

After nearly 14 months of political gridlock, a $180 million bond issue is on its way to St. Louis voter in an August election.

The Board of Aldermen approved, and Mayor Francis Slay signed the authorizing bill Tuesday. The bonds would help pay for major capital needs like road and bridge projects, new equipment for the fire department and upgrades to the security system at one of the city's two jails. 

Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia police commissioner and leader of President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department

St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers, their families and supporters gathered in downtown St. Louis Friday morning to remember colleagues who have been killed in the line of duty.

One hundred sixty four officers from the department have been killed since 1863. The last name to be added to the list was in 2011, when Darryl Hall was killed while responding to a fight at a nightclub while he was off-duty.

kevindooley via Flickr

A $180 million bond issue that would fund critical capital needs like new fire trucks and city building repairs remains on track to go to the voters in August.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen gave their initial approval to the measure Thursday. They will return on Tuesday to send the measure to Mayor Francis Slay for his signature. He must sign the bill, and it must be transported to the city's Board of Election Commissioners, by 5 p.m. on May 26.

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