Jay Nixon

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

With a fateful grand jury decision expected any day, Gov. Jay Nixon swore in 16 people to serve on the so-called Ferguson Commission. It's a group charged with studying the underlying social and economic conditions that sparked protests over the death of Michael Brown.  

Ferguson public safety press conference, 11-11-14. Belmar, Dotson, Ron Johnson, Isom, Bret Johnson, Replogle
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

(Updated at 9 p.m., Mon., Nov. 17)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and called out the National Guard to protect “the two pillars: safety and speech’’ that he says could be tested in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision regarding the August police shooting that killed teenager Michael Brown. 

"Our goal is to keep the peace and allow folks' voices to be heard,'' Nixon said Monday night in a conference call with reporters.

Attorney for the family of Michael Brown Anthony Gray said private forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden testified Thursday before the grand jury, but would not speak to what he said. UPI/Bill Greenblatt
UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The forensic pathologist hired by Michael Brown's family to perform a private autopsy testified Thursday before the grand jury considering whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in Brown's fatal shooting.

Attorneys for the family would not elaborate on what exactly Dr. Michael Baden said to the grand jury.

"He believes...that the substance of his testimony should be left to the purview of the grand jury, so in respecting the process, we won’t be able to comment on that this morning," said family attorney Benjamin Crump at a press conference Thursday.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay held a press conference on Wednesday to calm tensions over the runup to a grand jury decision over Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

As St. Louis residents nervously await a decision regarding Michael Brown’s shooting death, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley had a simple piece of advice.

“Take a deep breath, stand back and calm down,” Dooley said.

Dooley and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay told reporters on Wednesday that law enforcement agencies are prepared to protect lives and property – and the rights of protesters – if Wilson isn’t charged with Michael Brown’s shooting death.

Ferguson public safety press conference, 11-11-14. Belmar, Dotson, Ron Johnson, Isom, Bret Johnson, Replogle
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has pledged zero tolerance for violence in anticipation of protests when the grand jury investigating the August shooting death of Michael Brown releases its decision later this month. But he and law enforcement officials at a Tuesday press conference made it clear that they want to protect both protesters and others' safety and property. 

Bill Greenblatt | UPI


Who should have the power over the Missouri budget? The legislature, which writes the budget? Or the governor who is constitutionally required to balance it?

The latest salvo in the ongoing battle between Missouri's Democratic governor and the Republican-led legislature over the state budget is Amendment 10 on the November ballot. 

Constitutional Amendment 10 would limit the governor's budgetary authority. Specifically, it would limit his ability to withhold money temporarily from the budget each year.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

The Missouri Club for Growth, a conservative campaign committee, has launched a barrage of TV ads around the state in favor of Amendment 10, a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the power of the governor to balance the state’s budget.

The ads are to run through Election Day, said Todd Abrajano, a consultant for the group.

Abrajano declined to say who has donated the money to pay for the ads – and says Gov. Jay Nixon is to blame for the anonymity.

Gov. Jay Nixon, at podium
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Less than a year after losing a bid for Boeing’s 777X commercial plane, state and local officials couldn’t be happier about the aircraft manufacturer’s latest announcement that some of the 777X’s parts will be built here – creating 700 new jobs.

The 700 comes on top of 500 defense-related jobs that Boeing is moving from Washington state, and up to 900 coming to St. Louis as part of a “global realignment,’’ as Boeing executive vice president Chris Chadwick explained at Monday’s news conference.

Rebecca Smith/St. Louis Public Radio

A tutoring program that now serves 150 students in north St. Louis could expand to help 350 more students in the city and north St. Louis County with the help of $500,000 in federal funds awarded by the state of Missouri.

Governor's Office

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to return to Jefferson City on Monday after an undercover, whirlwind trip to Afghanistan over the weekend.

It was Nixon’s fourth trip to the war zone, where U.S. troops have been present for more than a decade.

According to the governor’s office, he “arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday as part of a delegation of four U.S. governors that included Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Tennessee Gov. William Haslam.”

After facing intense heat from some of his party’s African-American leaders, Gov. Jay Nixon is tapping a former St. Louis-area senator to serve as a liaison to the state’s poor and minority communities. 

Jill Schupp at a recent campaign event with Gov. Jay Nixon
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon appears to be offering more political assistance to fellow Democrats competing for seats in the General Assembly, after years of embracing a lower campaign profile that even concerned some within his own party.

Tuesday night, Nixon stopped at a Democratic fundraiser in Frontenac to offer up a rousing endorsement of state Rep. Jill Schupp’s quest this fall for the state Senate in the 24th District, which takes in much of central St. Louis County.

photo of Thomas Schweich
Provided by the auditor's office

Missouri state Auditor Tom Schweich plans to unveil in a few weeks a new initiative to target municipal courts that he believes may be violating state law.

Schweich told members of the St. Louis Chamber at a luncheon Tuesday that his office soon will  “start picking five of the most suspect courts in the state each year and checking to see if they are complying with this new law -- whether they are mistreating any person of a different race or religion and also whether they are refunding money to the state or illegally keeping money for themselves."

DESE website

Now that she has announced her retirement at the end of the year, how should Chris Nicastro’s tenure as Missouri’s commissioner of education be graded?

Using the guarded tone of academia, Alex Cuenca, an assistant professor of education at Saint Louis University, gave this assessment Tuesday:

“I think she did the best she could with the circumstances she was given and the cards she was dealt.”

The response from state Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, who himself is about to leave public service after a long career in the General Assembly, was pithier.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

From looking at the raw numbers, Republican legislators might consider the Missouri General Assembly’s recent veto session a smashing success.

After all, the Republican-controlled body overrode 10 of Gov. Jay Nixon’s vetoes – and even more of his line-item vetoes. Nixon even faced a blistering condemnation from a Democratic senator over his response to Ferguson.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Budget leaders in the Missouri House and Senate say they’ll try to override at least 50 of Gov. Jay Nixon’s line-item vetoes in the state budget in the veto sessions starting Wednesday.

But the governor and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster say legislators may be wasting their time. And the legislators acknowledged that such override attempts may indeed be symbolic.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Tuesday with audio from the "St. Louis on the Air" veto session preview. 

The Missouri General Assembly’s veto session, which begins Wednesday, generally shuffles into the background during an election year. While legislators could have very busy day (or two), the unrest in Ferguson has sucked up most of the state’s political oxygen this year.

State Auditor's office

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich says an audit released Monday shows that Gov. Jay Nixon violated Missouri's constitution when he withheld money from two recent state budgets.

Schweich says the governor had no legal right to withhold $172 million from several state programs to help cover costs from the Joplin tornado and other recent natural disasters during fiscal year 2012.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri General Assembly’s veto-override session, which gets underway next Wednesday, once again is touching on familiar ground: abortion, guns, schools and state spending.

State House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, is particularly optimistic that legislators will override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill to extend the waiting period for an abortion to 72 hours, making Missouri only the third state in the country to do so.

But overshadowing all of that – and possibly upsetting predictions – is Ferguson.

Stephanie Lecci

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has lifted the state of emergency that he imposed several weeks ago in Ferguson – thus ending his power to replace St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch as the head of the local investigation into the police shooting that set off the community’s unrest.

Nixon’s announcement came shortly before a group gathered outside McCulloch's office in Clayton. The 40-some community and social justice groups that comprise the newly formed Don’t Shoot Coalition were demanding the governor replace McCulloch with a special prosecutor.