Missouri Highway Patrol

Ray Howze / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Highway Patrol Superintendent Ron Replogle will retire on May 1, Gov. Jay Nixon announced  Wednesday.

The news came hours before the state legislature began its probe into the governor's handling of the unrest in Ferguson. The grand jury's decision not to indict former Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown touched off a violent night of rioting in Ferguson on Nov. 24.

But Nixon said the timing of the announcement and the hearing were not related.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

After protests in Ferguson flared up overnight, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson says he’s ready to use the riot gear that became a staple of the August demonstrations over Michael Brown’s death.

But Johnson said he’s not willing to place automatically a larger police presence on West Florissant Avenue, adding that he’s monitoring the situation on a “day-by-day” basis.

Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Councilman Steve Stenger says St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley should have taken the county into a state of emergency at beginning of the unrest in Ferguson. 

Stenger, the Democratic nominee for county executive, said that move would have allowed Dooley to temporarily take control of the St. Louis County Police Department – which he said could have avoided a “leadership vacuum” throughout August.

(Courtesy Hawker Beechcraft)

A state audit released today sharply criticizes the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) for spending $5.6 million on a new airplane.

According to the audit, the state of Missouri operated 23 aircraft prior to the purchase of the King Air 250.  State Auditor Tom Schweich (R) says that included five passenger airplanes. 

"There were 113 days in which none of the five existing planes flew, and there were no days in which all five of them flew," Schweich said.  "So that leads to the question about why do you need to spend $5.6 million on a new plane?"

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Last updated at 11:57 a.m. 2/22. Will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Lawmakers in the Missouri House and Senate continue to grill members of Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) administration as to why it was necessary to spend $5.6 million on a new airplane.

Colonel Ron Replogle of the Missouri State Highway Patrol told Senate budget writers on Wednesday that he made the call to buy the King Air 250.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri senators have confirmed Gov. Jay Nixon's appointee to a key administrative post, despite concerns about his role in approving the purchase of a new $5.6 million airplane.

The Senate on Monday signed off on the appointment of Doug Nelson as Commissioner of Administration.

Nelson had been scheduled for confirmation last week. But that was delayed after lawmakers learned Nelson — as Acting Administration Commissioner — had approved the purchase of the plane by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol is defending the agency’s purchase of a new airplane.

Colonel Ron Replogle told House budget writers that it was his idea to buy the $5.6 million aircraft.  More than one committee member asked him about the quick timetable on the plane’s purchase, as the bid went out around December 6th and was awarded on the 17th.  Replogle says Beechcraft was offering a discount on that particular King Air 250 because it was a year-old model.

(Courtesy Hawker Beechcraft)

Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) choice to head up his Office of Administration will have to wait a bit longer before permanently taking over.

Acting Commissioner Doug Nelson’s confirmation is being delayed in the Missouri Senate after news broke that the State Highway Patrol spent around $5.6 million on a new airplane, which has been designated for use by the Governor and other statewide officials.  State Senator Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia), who sponsored Nelson’s nomination, first wants to know who made the decision to buy the plane, and why.

(Courtesy Hawker Beechcraft)

Updated at 7:07 p.m. with comments from State Sen. Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City).

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