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

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.
File photo | Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

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. 

Nicolle Barton became the executive director of the Civilian Oversight Board on Feb. 8, 2016.
Nathan Rubbelke | St. Louis Public Radio

Though members of her family were in law enforcement, Nicolle Barton entered college to be a nurse.

"But I decided to take a criminal justice class, and I fell in love with the aspect of the system, and how it works, and what we could do to change things, improve things, and help people along the process," said Barton, a native of southern Illinois.

Alderman Megan Green speaks to reporters after Friday's Board of Aldermen meeting. The 15th Ward Democrat alleged that "bribes" were offed by a proponent of a riverfront stadium.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Updated 3 p.m. Feb. 19 with Green's statement - Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green on Friday apologized to Alderman Sam Moore in an ongoing dispute over allegations of bribery.

"I have come to understand that he felt personally attacked by my comments," Green said. "My only intent was to refer to his testimony from the Dec. 11 Ways and Means meeting. I felt that his personal experience lent credibility to some of the other things I thought were going on."

Photos from the cameras would be displayed at the real-time crime center at St. Louis Metropolitan Police headquarters.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | File Photo

The streets committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Thursday approved legislation that would extend St. Louis' fiber optic network and fund the installation of as many as 68 new traffic cameras.

The bill authorizes the city to spend the $3.4 million in federal money and commits $500,000 in matching funds. Laclede Gas and Downtown STL Inc. are contributing private dollars as well.

SLU and the city of St. Louis are eyeing improvements to the intersection and Grand and Forest Park.
Google Street View | screenshot

The city of St. Louis and Saint Louis University may team up to improve traffic flow at the intersection of Forest Park Parkway and Grand Boulevard in Midtown.

The process is in the very early stages, a SLU spokesman said, and there is no guarantee that changes would be made. The university would fund a traffic study and then work with the city and a consultant to come up with new designs for the intersection at the heart of SLU's campus.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III answers question from reporters following Tuesday's city council meeting.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 12 with comments from Mayor James Knowles III. -- The Department of Justice on Wednesday filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, alleging widespread constitutional violations in its police department and municipal courts.

The suit came less than 24 hours after the Ferguson City Council voted to attach conditions to a consent decree that would have eliminated the need for a lawsuit.

Ferguson's decision raised a number of questions about what comes next. We tackled a few of them here.

Ferguson court
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | file photo

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, alleging widespread constitutional violations in how it polices its residents. 

"The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday at a news conference. "We intend to aggressively prosecute this case, and we intend to win."

Free gun locks will be given out Friday at City Hall in St. Louis
M Glasgow | Flickr

The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld a state law that bans all felons -- even those convicted of nonviolent crimes -- from possessing a weapon.

"Missouri's constitution does not prohibit the legislature from restricting nonviolent felons' right to possess firearms," judge Laura Denvir Stith wrote for the five-judge majority in one of three opinions on the issue released Tuesday. "Section 571.070.1 survived strict scrutiny review under the prior version of article I, section 23, and this Court already has held that Amendment 5 did not substantially change article I, section 23. The statutory bar is valid."

Normandy N
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio

The long-running legal fight over the Missouri law that allows students in under-performing districts to attend school elsewhere heads back to court on Tuesday.

A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals will review how the Missouri State Board of Education handled a classification gray area: How do you accredit a brand new legal entity? And did the state board have the authority to do what it did?

Nicolle Barton is the executive director of the Civilian Oversight Board.
Courtesy of the Office of Mayor Francis Slay

A 15-year veteran of the Missouri Department of Corrections is the first executive director of the St. Louis Civilian Oversight Board.

Nicolle Barton will begin work on Monday, after a selection process that lasted four months. She was one of six finalists for the position and will make at least $63,000.

Pages