Francis Slay

Bill Greenblatt/UPI

(Updated 11:40 a.m. Friday, June 27)

Just a few weeks ago, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster  was publicly exhorting Missouri Republicans to change their party’s platform, which endorses the state’s 10-year-old constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

via Wikimedia Commons

Last updated 3:59 p.m.

Mayor Francis Slay issued marriage licenses to four same-sex couples Wednesday night, in a direct challenge to Missouri's ban on such unions. 

"St. Louis is a city that doesn’t tolerate discrimination," Mayor Francis Slay said in a statement. "We are sending a message on what’s right, and I can’t think of anything more right than this."

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

In many ways, breaking ground on St. Louis's first Ikea store is a lot easier than putting together the Swedish furniture maker's latest bookshelf. For Mayor Francis Slay, he just needed a shovel and speech. 

“Fortunately for a groundbreaking, you don’t need an Allen wrench or instructions,” Slay quipped. 

(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.