Lewis Reed | St. Louis Public Radio

Lewis Reed

Cheryl Walker, chairwoman of the poet laureate task force, is a St. Louis native. Her published work includes a poetry chapbook called Silence Isn’t Quiet.
Cheryl Walker

After months of discord over who should be the next poet laureate for St. Louis, the city could select a new voice this fall.

St. Louis has been without an official poet for more than a year after a disagreement between the task force that recommends a poet laureate to the Board of Aldermen and a former member of that group.

Now, a new task force is in place and its members are asking the public to play a role.

The Board of Aldermen chambers on July 7, 2017.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has given first-round approval to ballot proposals that would end the city’s residency requirement for most workers, and block the scheduled cut in the board’s size.

But as yet, Mayor Lyda Krewson has not taken a position on either proposal. And Friday’s vote for either measure wouldn’t be enough if she decides to exercise her veto.

Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward, speaks as Anthony Lamar Smith's parents, Annie Smith and Darvell Smith Sr., look on.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

As protests continue over the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen is honoring the man he shot and killed: Anthony Lamar Smith.

The Board’s actions on Friday came as St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson is embracing the Ferguson Commission report, a collection of dozens of policy recommendations that was laid out after the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, as the way forward.

Anthony Lamar Smith's mother, Annie Smith (center), watches a meeting of the St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment. Smith's son was killed in 2011 by former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ top elected officials said Wednesday they support a company’s offer to supply free body camera for police officers. But it’s not a sure thing that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will use them permanently.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, Comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed approved a proposal from Axon, formerly called Taser, to provide police officers with the cameras. In April, Axon said it would offer body cameras to all police departments for a year for free.

The three officials also voted to request bids from companies that would permanently supply the devices.

File photo: St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed said it would be unfair to appoint a poet laureate until the controversy is settle.d
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The delay in naming a new St. Louis poet laureate may soon be over.

in December, a poet laureate task force recommended local poet and educator Jane Ellen Ibur. The next step was up the Board of Aldermen, which oversees the position. But a dispute about whether the task force followed regulations has delayed the board’s vote for five months.

Board President Lewis Reed now says he believes Ibur will be offered the position. But first, he wants a board committee to look into the way task force chair Aaron Williams handled its affairs.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s the chicken or the egg argument.

Should city aldermen meet with stakeholders and then craft a bill? Or should the bill be proposed and then brought to the public for input?

St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green, 15th Ward, prefers the first approach when it comes to developing Community Benefits Agreements legislation.

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated April 26 with result of E&A voteSt. Louis aldermen will have another $2.3 million to distribute when they start looking at the city’s budget for fiscal year 2018.

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment approved changes Wednesday to the draft budget, leaving the new use tax revenue available for things like public safety and affordable housing. Previously, the entire amount had gone to closing a $17 million deficit.

Lyda Krewson speaks with reporters after winning the Democratic mayoral primary on March 7, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Lyda Krewson, the Democratic nominee to be St. Louis’ next mayor, acknowledges the obvious: More than two-thirds of the city’s Democrats preferred one of her six rivals.

She also recognizes some tensions likely remain from the March 7 primary. “Campaigns are tough. A lot of skinned knees and scabby elbows after a campaign,” Krewson said. “But fundamentally, we’re all Democrats and we want to elect Democrats in the city in April.”

Lyda Krewson thanks her supporters, family and campaign staff after winning the Democratic mayoral primary election by 888 votes.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson emerged from a crowded field of candidates, many of them well-known city leaders, to win Tuesday's Democratic mayoral primary. 

With all precincts reporting, Krewson had 32.04 percent of the vote to city Treasurer Tishaura Jones' 30.38 percent — just 888 votes.

On the Republican side, utility executive Andrew Jones handily beat out his two competitors — one of whom, Crown Candy Kitchen owner Andy Karandzieff, had said he entered on a whim and didn't really want to be mayor. Both Jones and Krewson move on to the April 4 general election, where they'll face at least five candidates from other parties.

Candidate Lyda Krewson responds to a question from the audience.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The melee to get closer to becoming St. Louis mayor is mere hours away from its conclusion.

 

The race has featured an endless amount of twists, turns and surprises. And the contest turned a spotlight on the seven Democratic candidates, who attended an array of forums, conducted scores of media interviews and blanketed St. Louis residents with glossy mailers.

 

 

Six candidates for St. Louis mayor participate in a forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12:45 p.m. March 1 with details about voting patterns — For decades, it’s been a given in St. Louis elections: The person who usually wins is of the race — white or black —that has the fewest candidates in the contest.

 

And studies have shown that many St. Louis voters prefer to support candidates of their own race. With that in mind, candidates and political parties often are accused of stacking contests.

But the city’s major mayoral contenders are banking on different dynamics in the March 7 primary.  That’s particularly true of the four best-known Democratic candidates who are African-American.

St. Louis St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed won a landslide victory in the Democratic primary. His lack of real competition may have affected voter turnout throughout the city.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson has raised more than $500,000 in just the last month, far more than her Democratic rivals to be the city’s next mayor. But Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed is heading into the final week of campaigning with the most money in the bank.

That’s the two biggest takeaways from the final campaign-finance reports, which were due Monday, for the March 7 primary. 

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been a violent couple of years in the city of St. Louis, one measure being the 188 homicides in 2015 and 2016.

A decrease in property crime drove the overall crime number down between 2015 and 2016, but violent crime was up more than four percent in 2016 compared to 2015.

All of the Democratic candidates for mayor know addressing crime will be a top priority if they’re elected. Most of them have very similar plans. Not all of them have faith in current Police Chief Sam Dotson to implement those plans.

Mayor Francis Slay signs legislation that will ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund a Major League Soccer stadium and a north-south MetroLink line. (Feb. 3, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If there’s one issue that’s provoked more fiery passions among St. Louis politicians, it’s using their constituents’ dollars to fund sports stadiums.

From the unsuccessful venture to keep Rams football in St. Louis to a pending proposal to nab a Major League Soccer team, there’s little question that opponents and proponents of the funding method have strong opinions — including the Democratic candidates seeking to become St. Louis’ next mayor.

Lewis Reed January 2017
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

It’s an odd-numbered year after a presidential election. And you know what that means? It’s time for a rough and tumble race for St. Louis mayor.

This isn’t any ordinary election. Because Mayor Francis Slay isn’t running for a fifth term, a big field of candidates have signed up to succeed him.

We’ve invited mayoral candidates to visit the Politically Speaking podcasts so they can give a lengthier view of their opinions on major city issues.

A boutique apartment tower going up at Euclid and West Pine avenues received tax increment financing in 2015. It sits across from a Whole Foods, which is housed on the lower level of another apartment building that received TIF. (Feb. 21, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s been a statistic tossed around frequently in the Democratic race for St. Louis mayor: The city has given away more than $700 million worth of tax increment financing and tax abatements over 15 years.

And those tools have become a big issue in the races for aldermen, and the mayoral primary.

St. Charles County executive Steve Ehlmann, Mayor Francis Slay, and St. Clair County executive Mark Kern (right) at the State of the Region breakfast on January 12, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In what turned out to be his final inauguration speech in 2013, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay described St. Louis County as a place that “we confidently expect to re-enter in this decade.”

The Democrat might have been a bit overconfident, as it’s 2017 and there’s still strong opposition to the idea of a merger throughout St. Louis County. No one really knows what an actual merger would look like, either: Would St. Louis become a county municipality? Or would St. Louis and St. Louis County coalesce into one big city like Indianapolis did in the 1970s?

Still, the lack of headway hasn’t kept the topic from being a prime talking point in the St. Louis mayoral race. Proponents of a merger believe that combining jurisdictions creates some cost savings — and makes it easier to bring in big-ticket development projects.

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
HOK

It looks increasingly likely that St. Louis voters will see two tax-related measures on the April ballot.

In a rare Monday meeting, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen gave initial approval to a proposed half-cent increase in the sales tax. The second measure would direct the resulting increase in the use tax to a proposed Major League Soccer stadium near Union Station.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis mayoral candidate Lyda Krewson appears to be heading into the final stretch of the primary contest with a huge financial edge over her Democratic rivals.

Krewson’s latest report, filed Thursday, shows the 28th Ward alderman with $576,199.41 in the bank.  She began running TV ads on Wednesday. A spokesman says she will be running the ads until the March 7 primary. About a quarter of Krewson's money was raised during the last three weeks.

Gov.-elect Eric Greitens' opposition to publicly funding a St. Louis soccer stadium may be placing the city's Major League Soccer bid in jeopardy.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When those who are working to bring Major League Soccer to St. Louis rolled out their stadium proposal, it seemed as though everything was in its right place.

The ownership group known as SC STL included people with experience with top-flight sports franchises. Many of the region’s top leaders were on board with the proposal. And in stark contrast to the failed bid to keep the St. Louis Rams, this group promised a public vote before any taxpayer funds were expended in St. Louis.

What soccer stadium proponents apparently didn’t foresee was what Gov.-elect Eric Greitens had to say.

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