Morning headlines- Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | St. Louis Public Radio

Morning headlines- Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jun 13, 2012

St. Louis County Council gives initial approves $46 million budget for Metro

Last night the St. Louis County Council moved one step closer to approving two funding bills for the public transit agency, Metro -  despite one councilman raising concerns about how the agency has spent tax dollars in the past.

Councilman Steve Stenger had threatened to withhold around $6 million- the amount Metro transit paid to a developer in 2010 for spaces in a Brentwood parking garage.

The deal later became part of a federal whistle-blower lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed.

Stenger says he was just trying to make the point that taxpayer money should be spent wisely.

"There are two ways to withhold money from public transportation.  Certainly one way would be to spend unwisely and another would be to withhold what would otherwise be a full appropriation," he said. 

Stenger ultimately voted in favor of the full $46 million appropriation and said Metro management made themselves available for questions.  Councilman Greg Quinn was the lone no vote.

Also last night, Metro CEO John Nations told the County Council that St. Louis city is considering a vote on a quarter-cent sales tax hike for mass transit funding, according to the  St. Louis Post Dispatch. A quarter-cent sales tax kicked in in 2010 after the passage of Proposition A. The additional quarter-cent would bring the city's sales tax level for mass transit in line with the county.

City officials did not return phone calls to the Post-Dispatch.

Mo. to get more than $700K from MetLife settlement 

Missouri's insurance department says a settlement with MetLife Inc. resolves allegations that the life insurance company did not make adequate efforts to identify and pay beneficiaries of life insurance policies.

The settlement calls for MetLife to pay $40 million to states for their examination, compliance and monitoring costs. The state insurance department says Missouri's share of that will be about $730,000.

MetLife is the second-largest life insurer in Missouri, with nearly $138 million in premium sales in 2011.

Earlier this month the department announced a similar settlement with Prudential, which is Missouri's seventh-largest life insurer.

At least one death after river rescue

Updated with name of person killed, info from Coast Guard.

A towboat worker who went into the Mississippi River while trying to rescue stranded boaters has died.

The U.S. Coast Guard identified him as 55-year-old Kyle Hardman, of Bourbonville, Ky.

Coast Guard. Lt. Colin Fogarty offered the following narrative:

  • Around 7:30 pm Tuesday, the crew of a towing vessel along the Mississippi River near the Poplar Street Bridge saw a small recreational boat with five people on board being pushed up against the side of a barge.
  • Hardman and a colleague on the towboat, who has not been identified, launched a small vehicle in a rescue attempt. That boat flipped in the current.
  • Other crew members of the first towboat pulled Hardman and the colleague out of the water. Hardman was unresponsive. Crew members performed CPR before Hardman was transferred to Saint Louis University Hospital. He died there around 8 a.m. Wednesday.
  • The five people in the small boat were rescued by the crew of another towboat. None of them were injured.

The Coast Guard is invesgiating the incident. Lt. Fogarty could not say if Hardman drowned or died some other way, and declined to say whether he was wearing his life vest, though Fogarty added that that did not mean he wasn't, as most towboat crews wear life vests at all times.

Fogarty called Hardman's efforts "truly heroic."

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