Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Rachel Lippmann

City Politics and Criminal Justice Reporter

Rachel Lippmann covers courts, public safety and city politics for St. Louis Public Radio. (She jokingly refers to them as the “nothing ever happens beats.”) She joined the NPR affiliate in her hometown in 2008, after spending two years in Lansing covering the Michigan Capitol and various other state political shenanigans for NPR affiliates there. Though she’s a native St. Louisan, part of her heart definitely remains in the Mitten. (And no, she’s not going to tell you where she went to high school.)

Rachel has an undergraduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism, and a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. When she’s not busy pursuing the latest scoop, you can find her mentoring her Big Brothers Big Sisters match, hitting the running and biking paths in south St. Louis, catching the latest sporting event on TV, playing with as many dogs as she possibly can, or spending time with the great friends she’s met in a decade in this city.

Rachel’s on Twitter @rlippmann. Even with 240 characters, spellings are still phonetic.

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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.

Steve Conway, who represented St. Louis' 8th Ward for 27 years, resigned Monday to become the city assessor.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:25 p.m. Nov. 27 with comments from Conway — A 27-year veteran of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen has resigned to become the city’s assessor.

Krewson’s office announced Monday morning that Alderman Steve Conway, D-8th Ward, would replace St. Louis assessor Freddie Dunlap, who recently retired. The assessor determines property values in the city.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court has set March 20, 2018, as the execution date for a Cape Girardeau man who shot and killed a romantic rival in 1996.

Russell Bucklew, 49, had previously been scheduled to die in 2014. But days before the execution date, he sued in federal court, arguing that he has a medical condition making lethal injection cruel and unusual punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution so the case could heard through the legal system.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2:10 p.m. Nov. 20 with comments from Chief O'Toole — The U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to investigate whether the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department violated the Constitution in the way it has handled recent protests demanding more police accountability.

Jeffrey Jensen, the federal prosecutor in St. Louis, announced the review in a brief statement Monday. It is based on a request made by Mayor Lyda Krewson and others, including U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City.

A street medic assists a protester after St. Louis police officers sprayed checmicals into a crowd of demonstrators near Busch Stadium on Sept. 29, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 15 at 2:00 p.m. with comments from ACLU, Mayor Krewson — A federal judge has ordered the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to alter tactics its officers use to respond to protests, especially demonstrations aimed at changing law enforcement policies.

In a 49-page opinion issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry blocked the department from ordering protesters to disperse unless there’s an immediate threat of violence. Perry also limited when officers can use chemical agents like pepper spray or mace.

St. Louis city police officers detain protesters downtown on Sept. 15, 2017 after the acquittal of Jason Stockley was announced.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis aldermen are weighing whether to put new limits on the way the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department interacts with protesters.

The Public Safety committee on Tuesday heard two hours of testimony in support of the bill sponsored by Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward. It’s modeled on an ordinance in place in Washington, D.C.

The majority of people housed at the Medium Security Institution in St. Louis do not have air conditioning. (July 19, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated November 13 at 3:30 p.m. with comments from attorneys and the city — A local legal nonprofit has sued the city of St. Louis, saying conditions at the Medium Security Institution violate the rights of inmates.

ArchCity Defenders filed the federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of seven inmates who spent time at the jail. The suit accuses the city of ignoring unsanitary conditions that led to a variety of health problems, and providing inadequate medical care. Guards are also accused of goading inmates into fights, and sexually harassing female inmates.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

The outcome of Tuesday’s election to raise the city’s sales tax by a half-cent came down to turnout and money. 

“You have to look at the money what was spent if you want to say okay, well, how could we have gotten our message out further, how could we have let people know that this isn’t the only mechanism.” said Alderman Dan Guenther, D-9th Ward.

Guenther’s ward was one of only four that voted against Proposition P. It passed in parts of the city with majority white and majority black populations. 

Jeff Roorda, the St. Louis Police Officers' Association's business manager, and Alderman Joe Vaccaro, receive the news that Prop P passed. Nov. 7, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 12:15 a.m., Nov. 8, with additional comments — Police and firefighters in St. Louis will get a $6,000 raise in July, after voters on Tuesday easily approved a half-cent sales tax hike.

The tax increase measure, known as Proposition P, passed with close to 60 percent of the vote. It will kick in in early 2018, and is expected to generate about $20 million a year. Most of the money will go toward the raises, though the circuit attorney’s office will receive about $1.3 million.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Voters in the St. Louis region will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide on some key financial issues.

Most of the attention will be on St. Louis, where residents are being asked to raise the sales tax by a half-percent in order to pay police and firefighters more. Voters in St. Louis and St. Charles counties will decide an array of tax-related issues.

For the first time in 18 years, St. Louis’ 2nd Ward is getting a new alderman.

The seat opened up in August when Dionne Flowers resigned to become the register, the city’s top record-keeper. The ward encompasses six north St. Louis neighborhoods, stretching from north of downtown to the border with St. Louis County. Three candidates are running to take her spot.

St. Louis voters will decide next Tuesday whether to boost the sales tax a half cent to fund raises for police and firefighters.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Voters in St. Louis will go to the polls next week to decide whether to give the city’s police officers and firefighters a raise by boosting the city’s sales tax by a half-cent.

Proposition P is the second sales tax on the ballot in six months. Approval would push the rate to nearly 12 percent in some parts of the city. And the current climate around policing in St. Louis is making the measure a tough sell.

s_falkow | Flickr

The city of St. Louis has pledged to let most people charged with municipal offenses go home without having to pay bail.

These changes are part of a court order finalized earlier this month. They were prompted in part by a federal lawsuit from the MacArthur Justice Center over the way people protesting Jason Stockley's acquittal of first-degree murder were treated by the police and courts. That lawsuit has since been dismissed.

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