Francis Slay

(Parth Shah/St. Louis Public Radio)

Over the next several months, the city of St. Louis will spend $276,000 to tear down 26 vacant, crumbling buildings in the Vandeventer neighborhood. 

"We have two goals," said Mayor Francis Slay as he stood Monday at the first two demolition sites in the 4300 block of Evans Ave. "First, we want to reduce crime and improve the quality of life for the people and families who live here. Second, we want to prepare the neighborhood for new private sector development."

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis area leaders squelched any doubts last week about how they want to spend money from a transportation sales tax. 

Sure, some of the regional projects funded with the .75 percent sales tax increase would bolster mass transit service or bike trails. But that's the exception rather than the rule: Most of the roughly $1.5 billion worth of requested projects would go toward roads, highways and bridges.

/Via Flickr/ KOMU news, Manu Bhandari

The city of St. Louis and St. Louis County have plans for nearly $1.1 billion worth of transportation projects if a statewide sales tax increase passes this August. 

St. Louis and St. Louis County officials revealed their wish list of projects that would be funded with the .75 percent sales tax increase.  If the transportation tax passes in August, St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties and  the city of St. Louis, are expected receive about $1.49 billion over a 10-year period from the state’s transportation commission.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews)

If you had $1.49 billion for transportation projects, how would you spend it? Would you repair highways? Bolster mass transit service? Enhance bike lanes?

This isn’t some academic exercise. The St. Louis region’s political leaders are considering how to divide the potential proceeds from a 0.75 percent sales tax increase for transportation. These decisions could have a transformative impact on how St. Louis area residents get around.

But here’s the twist: You have to make this decision very, very quickly.

Maria Altman (St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is asking businesses in the city to help put 500 young people to work this summer through a program called Stl Youth Jobs.

One corporation stepped up Wednesday.

JPMorgan Chase announced a $100,000 donation, and the company is asking other businesses to help.

"It is very important for this city that we build that base, that base of people that understand how to work, love to work and want to be part of this community," said Scott Bush, a managing director and market leader with the firm.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

A major river commerce group endorsed a plan Tuesday to increase container-on-barge traffic on the Mississippi River. 

The Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals Association supports shipping goods in containers on barges up and down the Mississippi River. That’s seen as an alternative to using trucks or rail. The group made the announcement at its annual conference in St. Louis.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The mayors of St. Louis and Kansas City traveled to the the Missouri Capitol Monday to speak out against legislation to nullify federal gun laws within the Show-Me State.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, a Democrat, calls the legislation  "absurd, embarrassing and reckless."

Lincoln Brower

The City of St. Louis and several partners are launching a project to help monarch butterflies.

It involves encouraging area residents to plant milkweeds -- a plant with large fruit pods that release fluffy seeds in the fall.

The Saint Louis Zoo is one of the partners in the “Milkweeds for Monarchs” initiative, along with the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The zoo's curator of invertebrates, Edward Spevak, says milkweeds are critical to the monarch’s survival.

St. Louis Public Radio

Local architect Dan Jay is conducting a thought experiment: What would the city of St. Louis look like if it regained a population of 500,000? (That would mean an increase of 185,000 residents).

After decades of population decline in the city, Jay wants to think big about what a population increase would look like—and what it would take to get there.

(Historic American Building Survey at the Library of Congress)

On Friday, Arch Grants announced the finalists for its 2014 Arch Grants Business Plan Competition. The field has been whittled down to 46 entrepreneurs. Twenty of those finalists will win $50,000 each along with business support services to help them launch amazing businesses. In exchange for winning, they have to locate, or relocate, to St. Louis for at least a year.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Chris Sommers is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to the minimum wage. 

Sommers is the owner of six Pi Pizzerias restaurants and Gringo in the Central West End. Instead of waiting for Congress or the Missouri General Assembly to act, he’s heeding President Barack Obama’s call for business owners to voluntarily raise the minimum wage his employees.

Starting on April 1, everybody who works at one of Sommers’ restaurants will make at least $10.10 an hour. It’s a move Sommers said will help entry-level workers make a decent living.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Missouri Court of Appeals will hear arguments tomorrow on whether the city of St. Louis had the right to make changes to the pension benefits it offers its firefighters.

In lobbying for the changes in 2012, Mayor Francis Slay cited the financial burden pensions were beginning to place on the city. Its budget for fiscal year 2013 included a $31 million contribution to the system, up from $23 million the year before.

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Monday, March 3, 2014 to include audio from St. Louis on the Air.

Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar remembers a time when his home city was described by travel writers as “Indianapolis No Place.” 

When the Indiana Republican became mayor of Indianapolis in the 1960s, the city was mired in a “mediocre, flat situation.” He said it received “very little interest to anybody outside who was not involved parochially.”   

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 1:30 p.m. on Friday)

Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar says bringing local governments can strengthen the health – and brighten the future -- of urban communities. 

The Indiana Republican was the keynote speaker for a St. Louis University Law School symposium on merging St. Louis and St. Louis County. He was a key figure in banding together city of Indianapolis with Marion County in the 1970s.

Lugar says merging the two governments had skeptics. But he says it attracted jobs, sports teams and tourists – and reinvigorated civic life.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon's Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum talk about the week’s politics. 

St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green joins the podcast this week. Green is the city's chief fiscal officer and one of the longest-serving comptrollers in modern history.

(courtesy of Housing and Urban Development department)

City officials are bullish about a comprehensive data analysis aimed at providing guidance to steer money more strategically for housing and community development programs.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently released a "market value analysis" of the city of St. Louis. It’s a snapshot that provides detailed information about foreclosures, housing prices, construction permits and commercial development around the city.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon

St. Louis’ streets director faced a harsh reception from aldermen for how the city responded to a January snowstorm.

During an appearance before the aldermanic  committee,  Streets Director Todd Waelterman faced a torrent of criticism for how the city responded to the January snowstorm.


Barring a last-minute legal challenge, St. Louis voters will be asked on April 8 to decide the fate of a proposed amendment to the city charter to bar tax breaks for Peabody Energy or any other firm involved in “unsustainable energy production.”

“We know for a fact that it’s going to be on the ballot in April,’’ said Mary Wheeler-Jones, the Democratic elections director for the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. The only roadblock would be if a lawsuit successfully knocks the proposal off the ballot, she said.

Updated 3:23 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17

State Sen. John Lamping, R-Frontenac, has yet to say if he’s running for re-election this fall, in what could be the region’s top legislative contest.

But his campaign money could be speaking for him. He has very little.

Meanwhile, his Democratic challenger — state Rep. Jill Schupp of Creve — has raised a lot.

The latest campaign-finance reports for the two, filed this week, show that Schupp raised more than $108,000 during the past three months. She now has $261,202 in the bank.

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:58 p.m. 1/10/13 with map of plow requests.

For the first time in recent memory, the city of St. Louis is plowing its residential streets. 

It’s a policy shift that came amid widespread complaints that the city did an inadequate job of cleaning up after Sunday’s snowstorm. 

(Flickr Creative Commons User Andres Rueda)

The opportunity was too good to pass up. 

When Boeing decided to move production of its 777X passenger plane out of Seattle, states across the country were eager to offer their services. Missouri's political and business leaders were no exception.  They simply couldn't miss out on the chance to cement thousands of high-paying jobs for decades to come.

(Kate Essig/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis turns 250 in 2014, and to celebrate, stl250 has planned an entire year of birthday celebrations. On Monday, the volunteer led non-profit announced the final plans for its signature events. 

The birthday celebration begins on New Years Eve at Grand Center's First Night, where attendees can celebrate by making birthday hats, recording birthday wishes and decorating cupcakes.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - When Better Together, a group tasked with studying a potential reunion between St. Louis and St. Louis County, launched last week, there was a lot of talk about the “lines” dividing the region.

Mayor Francis Slay said that few people cared if they “were crossing the line” while staying in the Cheshire Inn, a hotel straddling the city-county border. But, he later said, “the line does exist and many other lines exist as well.”

(Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Beacon)

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel joins the St. Louis Beacon’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum to talk about the week’s politics. Pinch-hitting for Chris this week was St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - The chief executives of St. Louis and St. Louis County helped kickstart an endeavor to gather data -- and public input -- that could lead to a potential reunion of the two jurisdictions.

(Flickr Creative Commons User Daniel Leininger)

A new coalition called Better Together launched an effort today Tuesday to study whether St. Louis city and county should re-unite.

Yet coalition members were quick to explain they’re not advocating for a merger.

"We are not advocating reentry. We’re not advocating merger," said former Ambassador George Herbert Walker III, who is chairman of the group. "We’re just saying let’s get all the data together and then as a group decide what is best for St. Louis and the city of St. Louis at this time."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - In recent years, various officials and civic denizens have debated changes to governmental organization in St. Louis. Beginning in 1949, there have been efforts to streamline the table of organization and end a weak mayor system. Major charter changes put before the voters all failed, save one. And we’ll get to that in a little bit. Other changes occurred because of state legislative action or referenda.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated with additional quotes.

The French utility company Veolia has decided not to go forward with a $250,000 contract that would have reviewed the operations of the city of St. Louis water department.

Opponents of the company had raised questions about Veolia's corporate behavior and environmental record.

Mary Ellen Ponder, the deputy chief of staff to Mayor Francis Slay, announced the company's decision today at a committee hearing on a bill that would have stripped the funding for the contract from the budget for this year.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The chair of St. Louis city’s budget committee has launched an effort to strip the funding for a controversial consulting contract with the French utility company Veolia.

(Via Wikimedia Commons)

A lot has changed in the world of baseball since 1946. But a familiar pair of elite teams are once again playing in the Fall Classic.  For the fourth time, the St. Louis Cardinals are facing off against the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Previous matchups took place in 1946, 1967 and 2004.

And this year's matchup has some striking similarities to the team's first meeting in 1946. Then, as now, St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Dodgers in playoffs before facing off against the Red Sox.