East St. Louis

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is enlisting East St. Louis church leaders in his fight to rein in the city’s late-night entertainment industry.

The Democrat met with more than fifty members of the New Salem Baptist District Association Wednesday. He urged ministers to pressure Mayor Alvin Parks to close the city's nightclubs and liquor stores at 11 p.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends. 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

When it’s “last call” on weekends for St. Louis bars and clubs, East St. Louis’ nightlife is just getting started. The city’s slack liquor laws allow nightclubs and liquor stores to operate well into the morning. Many critics say the laws are the root of the city’s chronic violent crime.

The problem poses a delicate balancing act for Mayor Alvin Parks who says East St. Louis’ late-night entertainment industry is keeping the city alive.

A Senator's strong words 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

East St. Louis nightclubs and other local businesses are bankrolling extra weekend police patrols after a series of violent crimes.

Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. says the city needs more officers on the street but cannot afford them on its own.

“This is taking already existing officers and paying them to work this special detail," Parks said. "A detail that will be about six officers downtown and another two in the rest of the city where there might be late night activity.”

Joseph Leahy, SLPR news

East St. Louis lays off more employees

A tight budget has forced East St. Louis to lay off seven more employees, leaving the city's police officers without a support staff.  

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the latest layoffs include Police Chief Michael Floore's secretary, the department's director of community programs and a records room employee responsible for logging all of the city's tows.

The city also cut employees in the mayor's office, the city clerk's office and the city treasurer's office.

UPI/Paul Newton/The Southern

Southern Ill. denied federal disaster aid

The parts of southern Illinois destroyed by deadly storms and a tornado last month will not be declared federal disaster areas.

U.S Senator Dick Durbin says FEMA's decision will make it tough on local government, businesses and individuals affected by the storms.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

A U.S. senator is stepping up his efforts to limit nightclub hours in East St. Louis.

Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday that earlier closing times for nightclubs and liquor stores would improve safety for city residents. The Illinois Democrat specifically challenged Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. to do his part in reducing crime rates. (Read the full letter from Durbin to Parks).

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is touting new measures to increase security for public housing residents in East St. Louis. The federally-funded plan includes installing cameras at six high-rise properties and hiring a new security coordinator.

"We're going to be putting up lighting and fencing," Durbin said. "We're going to move forward to try to make sure the almost 4,500 residents of public housing in East St. Louis have a safer place to live."

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

The law enforcement officer who resigned has East St. Louis' police chief in 2009 has his old job back.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Michael Baxton was sworn in Wednesday in the southwestern Illinois city of about 30,000 residents.

It's been a rocky ride for Baxton. He was police chief in nearby Alorton in October when a state board barred him from law enforcement because of a 1982 robbery conviction.

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

Illinois State Police are helping authorities in East St. Louis investigate the shooting death of a man who's become the city's 25th killing this year.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that 31-year-old Timothy Jones of Swansea was shot multiple times Friday night as he sat inside his pickup truck. He died later at a hospital.

There's no word on any arrests or charges in the killing, which brings the city's total of homicides this year past the 24 recorded last year.

(Courtesy of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

A woman accused in the shotgun deaths of two of her children says in a jailhouse letter to a judge she was hearing voices the day of the killings and is "truly sorry."

The Belleville News-Democrat reports 25-year-old Yokeia Smith told St. Clair County Circuit Judge Milton Wharton she believed police were after her even before the Aug. 31 killings.