James Knowles | St. Louis Public Radio

James Knowles

Ferguson Police Department
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Tony Rice was waiting very patiently yesterday outside Ferguson City Hall.

With a cell phone in hand, Rice was awaiting the official announcement of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson’s departure, which sparked protests later that evening, which ended with two police shot.

John Shaw, left, resigned on Tuesday as Ferguson's city manager.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The shakeup of Ferguson’s government continued in earnest on Tuesday with the resignation of city manager John Shaw.

It’s easily the most significant departure yet from a Ferguson city official since a Department of Justice report sharply criticized the city's police department and municipal court system.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles reads from a prepared text reacting to a Department of Justice report on his city. Knowles did not answer questions from the media.
Bill Greenblatt, UPI

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles provided little indication how his city would respond to a scathing Department of Justice report documenting pervasive racial bias in the city’s police department and municipal court system. But he listed several steps the city was already taking to deal with allegations of bias.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon talks with reporters in St. Louis. Nixon was on the defensive Wednesday about not having National Guardsmen in Ferguson after a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Gov. Jay Nixon remained on the defensive Wednesday about his decision not to station the National Guard in Ferguson after a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson.

Ferguson City Manager John Shaw, left, and Mayor James Knowles on Nov. 30, 2014.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Over the past six months, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III found out what it was like to be transformed from a part-time mayor of a mid-sized suburb to a political figure on the international stage.

Mayor James Knowles III
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The problem with the Ferguson Commission, say some Ferguson residents, is its name.

“The makeup is basically business owners who don’t live in Ferguson; it’s clergy who don’t live in Ferguson,’’ said Cierra Douglas, a Ferguson resident who was among the applicants rejected for the 16-person panel. “Pretty much no one on the commission lives in Ferguson.”

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Dec. 2, 2014, at St. Louis Public Radio.
Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Since August, many people have been asking who’s in charge in Ferguson. Add James Knowles, the city’s mayor, to that list.

In an interview Tuesday with “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh, Knowles said he was kept out of the loop on state and regional efforts, including security and leadership decisions.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaking Monday at a news conference before the grand jury announcement on Monday, Nov 25, 2014
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

Within minutes after St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that the grand jury did not recommend that Darren Wilson face indictment for the shooting death of Michael Brown, reactions from area politicians came quickly. 

Before and after the grand jury’s decision was made public, area officials made clear Monday night that they understood the stakes.

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

It’s an open question whether the Ferguson Commission will produce ground-breaking changes or a report that gathers dust on a shelf. 

But it’s indisputable that a lot of people wanted to be on the 16-person commission. According to a spreadsheet released by Gov. Jay Nixon’s office, more than 300 people from all corners of the state applied. 

Mayor James Knowles III
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Thursday turned into a day of denials, as Ferguson officials denied national reports that the police chief is out, and St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch denied that the grand jury had leaked details about its probe into the Ferguson police shooting.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson City Council meetings have been tumultuous since Michael Brown’s death at the hands of Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson. But on Tuesday, the tone changed a bit when a diverse group of Ferguson residents came forward to make changes to their community. 

A racially diverse group of Ferguson residents used the council’s public comment section to introduce their new group – One Ferguson. The speakers want their group to be a conduit to make changes to the city’s police, economic development and judicial procedures.

Megan Green recently won election to a Board of Aldermen seat as an independent. It may have showcased that voters in her ward were less interested in party identification and more concerned about individual candidates.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

On paper, Megan Ellyia Green should have been the underdog in last week’s 15th Ward election.

After Missy Pinkerton-McDaniel snagged the Democratic nomination in the race to succeed Jennifer Florida in the south St. Louis ward, Green decided to run as an independent. Given recent history, she didn’t face particularly good odds of winning a city that almost reflexively elects identified Democrats.

State Auditor Tom Schweich stands next to St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann during his St. Louis press conference. Schweich announced he'll be auditing 10 municipal courts, including seven within the St. Louis metro area.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

State Auditor Tom Schweich will audit 10 municipal courts to see if they’re running afoul of a state law that restricts how much revenue from traffic fines a city can keep. 

The Republican official included Ferguson’s court in the tally; it has come under scrutiny since the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Besides Ferguson, Schweich will audit St. Louis County-based municipal courts in Bella Villa, Pine Lawn and St. Ann. He’ll also audit Foristell in St. Charles County and Foley and Winfield in Lincoln County.

10.02.14 Devin James said he is still serving as spokesman for the city of Ferguson on a pro-bono basis, though the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership fired him after it learned of his criminal record.
Rebecca Smith

Ferguson officials are working on plans to alert residents in case of future unrest, according to public relations strategist Devin James, who said he still represents the city on a pro-bono basis.

"Say for example, if there is an outbreak of something that goes on tonight and a protest goes from peaceful to violent, what are we supposed to tell residents to do? Are we supposed to tell them to evacuate, the National Guard is coming in? So a lot of those type of conversations are what they're working on now," James said.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Police forcibly dispersed dozens of protesters in Ferguson early Wednesday morning after hours of  confrontation and the smashing of a window at the Beauty Town shop. Tensions had been running high since Tuesday morning when a memorial for Michael Brown burned down close to where he was killed.

Meldon Moffitt says he had a bad experience paying a municipal fine in Jennings. Policymakers from across the political spectrum may change how cities administer their municipal courts.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson resident Meldon Moffitt is part of a hardy group of protesters known as the Lost Voices, mostly young people willing to sleep on the street to get justice for Michael Brown’s family.

Moffitt said he believes more than just Ferguson needs to change. He said, for example, he received a stiff fine in Jennings for driving on a suspended license, even though he said he had paperwork clearing up the matter.

It’s part of what of what Moffitt says is as an unfair system affecting African Americans like himself.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III is one of the few north St. Louis County elected officials who is active in Republican politics. Before Michael Brown's shooting death, he pitched the idea of making county offices in a merged St. Louis and St. Louis Count
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles won his most recent election without opposition. It’s a fact that’s been used to illustrate the lack of popular participation in Ferguson’s city government.   

But Knowles himself said that fact is a little misleading. He told St. Louis Public Radio last week that he had to slog through several difficult campaigns to become mayor. His unopposed re-election earlier this year, he said, doesn't mean that he was able to walk into the job without working for it.

Pasadena Hills Mayor Geno Salvati won election to his office in 2013 without opposition. It's fairly common for mayors and city council members to get elected without opposition in St. Louis County.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

When Pasadena Hills Mayor Geno Salvati met with this reporter in April at the Ferguson Brewing Co., it was months before Ferguson became internationally known -- or turned into a hashtag.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 9 p.m. on Wednesday with comments from Mayor Knowles)

When Louis Wilson spoke at a Ferguson City Council meeting -- a meeting filled with rousing moments and white-hot anger -- he turned his attention directly to Mayor James Knowles.

The 15-year resident of Ferguson came to the Greater Grace Church to demand change after one of the city’s police officers shot and killed Michael Brown. That change included altering the make-up of the Ferguson city council as well as mayor, all of whom were on the church’s stage.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

As Ferguson’s municipal government continues to face nationwide scrutiny, the city’s council is preparing to make big changes to the town’s police and municipal court systems.

Proposed changes on the agenda for a Ferguson City Council meeting Tuesday night include a citizen review board for the police department and a limit on how much Ferguson will rely on fines for general revenue. Other proposed steps would make it less likely that poor people would end up in jail for violating city ordinances.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III talks to NPR's Michele Martin on Aug. 28.
Durrie Bouscaren, St. Louis Public Radio

It’s fair to say that Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III has broken the mold for elected leaders in north St. Louis County.    

When he was first elected to his post in 2011, Knowles became one of the youngest mayors in the state. He is also one of the few Republicans who managed to electorally prevail in the heavily Democratic area. And he’s probably the only elected official in Missouri who emerged victorious in an amateur wrestling match against Randy Orton, a north St. Louis County native who became a famous professional wrestler.

An audience member shows Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III a rubber bullet wound that he says he received during unrest in the north St. Louis County city. A forum sponsored by St. Louis Public Radio became heated, with ire being directed at Knowles.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

A forum Thursday evening peering into Ferguson’s longstanding tensions as well as the St. Louis region’s racial divisions became angry and heated, with most of a crowd’s ire directed at the town’s mayor.

Audience members expressed searing criticism of Ferguson’s governance and leadership, both of which have come under fire since one of the Ferguson's police officers shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a Ferguson police officer brought about an intense examination of the conduct, racial composition and “militarization” of local police departments.

But one topic that hasn’t been talked about that much is how elected representatives exert fairly little direct control over the region’s law enforcement agencies.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

A group of attorneys is asking Ferguson’s mayor to “wipe the slate clean” and grant clemency to certain people who broke the city ordinances, such as speeding or getting a parking ticket.  

Three law professors at Saint Louis University School of Law and the head of Arch City Defenders are asking Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III to provide the amnesty. Specially, the attorneys are asking Knowles to:

Courtesy of Metro

Metro is building the North County Transit Center to make the public transit experience more comfortable for big chunk of its ridership. But Metro COO Ray Friem jokingly said his agency has an ulterior motive for the project.

“I’ll be honest with you. The real reason to do this is to say that a bus system took over a car dealership,” Friem said on Tuesday. “Who would have thought that was ever going to happen?”

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul is no stranger to fighting city hall.

At this point last year, Paul was clawing his way back into office after a high-profile – and at-times bizarre – impeachment saga. Despite an intense and expensive effort from his political adversaries to remove him, Paul eventually kept his job as mayor. His town has generally been out of the headlines ever since.

Pages