We know that you listen to us on air and check our website for news and information about our region. We hope that you look at our website every day, but we know that's not always possible. So, once a week, on Friday, we will highlight some of the website's top stories of the week.
Ferguson and beyond
The shooting deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson and 25-year-old Kajieme Powell in St. Louis have focused a bright spotlight on the authority that police officers have to use force – sometimes deadly – to keep themselves and others safe. Fatal use of force encounters are rare. But the questions raised when they happen reflect society’s broader struggles.
Local, county and state policymakers are considering substantial changes to municipal courts, both in the St. Louis region and around the state, as they learn of the disproportionate impact of fines and penalties on the poor. “Courts have got to start treating (poor) people as people with real-life problems,” said an attorney with Arch City Defenders. “Nobody’s listening to them when they say ‘I’m not scofflaw. I’m not a criminal. I’m a poor person who’s having a hard time making these fines.’ And when our clients hear from judges ‘I don’t care; give us the money,’ that sends the wrong message.”
The St. Louis region received poor marks in a new report comparing its levels of racial disparity and segregation to 34 similar metro areas. The comparison was grim. In seven of the 10 indicators of racial disparity, the St. Louis metro area ranked in the top 10 -- as graphs of comparable areas illustrate.
Much information has come out over the past month about the West Lake and Bridgeton landfills ― some of it contradictory and confusing. So when EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks offered an interview, science reporter Veronique LaCapra tried to clear up some of the confusion. Among the topics: the underground fire at the Bridgeton landfill and groundwater contamination in Bridgeton.
Schools as battlegrounds
As she moves toward her retirement after more than five years as Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, Chris Nicastro has definite thoughts about what she got done, what she would have liked to accomplish and what her successor needs to bring to the job.
The Civics Education Initiative is campaigning in Missouri and six other states for legislation to require students to pass the U.S. citizenship test before they earn a high school diploma or GED. "If you don’t how our government works, it’s very, very easy for the systems of government to be manipulated,” said a supporter.
Depending on whose opinion you get, this week’s meetings to draw up new school standards for Missouri students were a “Common Core cheerleading session” or a strong-arm attempt that was “hijacked by political extremists” on the right. Either way, the eight committees involved appear to have a long way to go to meet a deadline of having the new standards ready for approval a year from now.
St. Louis is not exactly a farm town, but you don’t have to look hard to find ag-related commerce here. One big example is Elevator “D,” a grain terminal at 4040 Duncan Ave., neighboring the soon-to-be home of IKEA, the much anticipated Swedish furniture store. So just what is this massive cement structure?
St. Louis founder Auguste Chouteau set out with a simple goal: he wanted to build one of the nation’s finest cities. Historian Fred Fausz believes St. Louis is living up to that goal: “The vibrancy of the city, the spirit of the city is still here, even if you have to include 90 other communities because we’ve created a metro area.”
Words of wisdom
What’s the secret to longevity? For 91-year-old Marian Meade it’s a combination of work and healthy living. A big part of both for her is Weight Watchers, where she works part time. Doing nothing is anathema to Meade. She drives her 2008 ivory Cadillac with the specially ordered chrome grill and big, spiky chrome hub caps to work five times a week. Her personal philosophy for aging well: “I don’t stay home. I go somewhere every day.”