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Politics & Issues

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County police and their families help pack the room as the County Council considers a police pay raise.
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council got an earful Tuesday before members unanimously gave initial approval to a measure increasing county police pay beginning Jan. 1.  

For almost two hours, council members heard mainly from St. Louis County Police officers and their families concerned that the pay hike might be blocked by a pension dispute between Council Chairman Sam Page and County Executive Steve Stenger. 

St. Louis County police officer Ben Granda trains in a simulator at the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy. The simualator, a gift from the Burges Family Foundation, helps officers practice the tactics that can keep them safe.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Use-of-force policies for both the St. Louis Metropolitan Police and St. Louis County Police departments say officers can shoot someone to “protect themselves or others from what is reasonably believed to be an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury.”

Protesters who have been marching throughout greater St. Louis, demanding greater police accountability for more than a month, say those policies give officers too much leeway. They want more limits on when officers can draw and fire their weapons. But an expert on deadly force says the solution isn’t more restrictions — it’s better training.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Just over a year before the 2018 elections, Missouri’s incumbents are doing their best to raise enough money to scare off their competitors. And that also may be true for some of those rivals, as well.

Aside from the U.S. Senate race, the Missouri state auditor is the only statewide post that will be up for grabs next year. Campaign finance reports filed Monday show Democratic incumbent Nicole Galloway with $665,380 in the bank as of Sept. 30. She had raised $211,118 during the past three months.

Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

The Missouri House’s ethics committee will consider a complaint filed against a Republican lawmaker who wrote on Facebook that the people who vandalized a Confederate monument in Springfield should be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

Rep. Warren Love’s post sparked an immediate outcry from Democrats, who called on the Osceola Republican to resign and for House Republican leaders to discipline him.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Sarah Unsicker to the program for the first time.

The Shrewsbury Democrat was first won election in 2016 to represent the 91st House District, which takes in portions of St. Louis and St. Louis County, including most of Webster Groves, Shrewsbury and Crestwood.

Sammy Rangel (right), Executive Director of Life After Hate, is receiving the Hero of the Year award from HateBrakers, a local organization founded by Susan Balk (left).
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Life did not start well for Sammy Rangel.

“When I was 45, I found out that I was the second child my mom had tried to kill,” he said.

Rangel is the executive director and co-founder of Life After Hate, a nonprofit organization formed in 2011 by former members of far-right extremist groups in the United States.

On Tuesday, he will receive the fifth annual “Hero of the Year” award from HateBrakers, a locally-based nonprofit organization.

Protesters chant outside Busch Stadium during a Cardinals game on Sept. 29.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On Sept. 15, St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson ruled that former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.

Ferguson police officers arrest a protester on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017
Vincent Lang | St. Louis American

 

Ferguson police arrested a handful of protesters late Friday during a demonstration in front of the city’s Police Department.

The arrests, made about 45 minutes into a demonstration billed as a “liberation party,” came after a Ferguson officer used a bullhorn to warn that protesters who were blocking traffic on the street were in violation of a city ordinance.

After the officer had given three warnings, two city police vehicles moved slowly down South Florissant Road with sirens blaring at about 8:40 p.m. As they stopped near the crowd, other officers rushed to the street. Protesters said officers took five people into custody.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Jimmie Edwards talks to reporters on Friday after being appointed as the city's public safety director.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson selected a nationally-renowned judge to head the city’s public safety agency, which oversees the police and fire departments.

Judge Jimmie Edwards’ appointment drew widespread praise, including from elected officials who have been supportive of the protests over former police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Signs held by demonstrators at a Sept. 6 rally in support of the DACA program outside the St. Louis office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. The photo was taken by Eddie Albarran who spoke at the rally. He is studying photography.
Provided | Eddie Albarran

Eddie Albarran recalls being nervous — but also very determined — as he waited to address about 60 people gathered outside the St. Louis office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill last month.

Albarran, who grew up in St. Louis, was about to acknowledge publicly a fact of his life that he usually keeps to himself: He is one of nearly 700,000 young immigrants who have temporary protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Obama administration created the DACA policy in 2012 for  children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents.

peter.a_photography | Flickr

With less than six months to go, at least one proposal to legalize medicinal use of marijuana in Missouri appears to be in a strong position to get on statewide ballots next year.

New Approach Missouri says it already has collected 100,000 signatures from registered voters, and expects to have well over the necessary 165,000 by the state’s May 6 deadline for submitting initiative petitions.

What's the housing market looking like for millennials in St. Louis?
American Advisors Group | Flickr

Missouri could lose half a million dollars in federal housing funds because of a change to the state’s discrimination law passed earlier this year.

The new law, sometimes referred to as Senate Bill 43, primarily deals with discrimination in the workplace. It requires fired workers to prove discrimination was the main reason they lost their jobs — and not one of a few reasons. But it also places a higher standard on people making housing discrimination claims.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has amassed more than $7.1 million in her campaign account so far for her 2018 re-election bid. That’s almost twice the amount she had on-hand at the same point in her 2012 re-election campaign.

The Missouri Democrat’s latest campaign reports, due Sunday, show that she raised just over $2.9 million during the past three months — more than twice her tally in October 2011.

Audience members express dissatisfaction with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's comments Wednesday at a meeting at Harris-Stowe State University. Oct. 11, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

During a frequently contentious forum Wednesday at Harris-Stowe State University, people who have been protesting for the past three weeks had choice words and asked pointed questions of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

What was billed as a forum to discuss how to transfer the activism of the protests into policy turned into more of a question-and-answer session with audience members demanding to know why it’s so hard to get a new police chief; why the city isn’t investing more in communities of color and why the city hasn’t followed the recommendations of the Ferguson Commission.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Flickr | McCaskill | April 2015

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is continuing to hold town hall meetings in so-called “Trump Country,’’ part of her Democratic quest to improve her re-election chances next year through reaching every potential rural supporter she can find.

Wednesday marked her 46th town hall event this year, this one in in Washington, Missouri, where about 70 percent of last year’s presidential votes went for Republican Donald Trump. McCaskill told the crowd packing the Washington City Council chambers that she owed it to all Missourians, whether they support her or not,  to “show respect.”

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri is doing a poor job of tracking the economic impact of tax breaks, according to an audit released on Wednesday.

Missouri state Auditor Nicole Galloway said state government has no idea if incentives, exemptions, and newer tax laws changes are working as intended. She said the state isn’t accurately measuring how much revenue it’s losing.

David French
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome the National Review’s David French to the program.

French was in St. Louis on Wednesday for a Washington University lecture about free speech on college campuses. It’s a topic that’s become more pronounced in recent months, especially after Donald Trump’s election as president.

Senator Roy Blunt speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC in 2011.
File photo I Gage Skidmore | Flickr

Speaking  to a group of local health care professionals, Missouri U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt couldn’t resist deploying his renowned dry wit when he was asked about President Donald Trump’s social media feud with powerful Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.

Blunt quipped: “Did I mention it’s Mental Health Day?”

But while touching off laughter, Blunt said Tuesday that his fellow Republicans’ pointed exchanges could have serious consequences on some major policy issues.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens sits  for an interview with St. Louis Public Radio in downtown St. Louis on July 17, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said Tuesday he’s willing to consider proposals to require outside law enforcement agencies to investigate police-involved killings.

It’s a proposal that’s gaining more attention amid protests over Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

St. Louis Alderwoman Sharon Tyus answers questions from fellow public safety committee members on Oct. 10, 2017.
Chelsea Hoye | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

A St. Louis Board of Aldermen committee has taken the first step to hear testimony from interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole.

Members of the board’s public safety committee on Tuesday approved a resolution sponsored by Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward. Tyus wants to question O’Toole about police department practices in response to protesters. The move comes after protests over former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Just two weeks before new regulations on Missouri abortion providers would take effect, the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates are challenging the provisions in state court.

Money from St. Louis County helped build a community center and garden in the Castle Point neighborhood. The county has received a $1 million federal grant to do more community outreach like this.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County has received $1 million from the U.S. Department of Justice to get the Castle Point community in north county more involved in fighting crime.

Parts of unincorporated north St. Louis County have struggled for years with high crime rates. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said the grant would help reverse that trend.

Ledy Van Kavage, a senior legislative attorney, with the Best Friends Animal Society.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A new slate of laws meant to protect animals will go into effect in Illinois come Jan. 1. The number of laws passed in the recent legislative session has skyrocketed the state to be considered the first-ranked in the nation in terms of animal welfare, by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Missouri, on the other hand, is ranked 36th. 

Josh Hawley takes part in a debate.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley will run for the United States Senate next year, ending months of speculation and intrigue about whether the 37-year-old would take on another high-profile statewide race.

It’s a move that could put Hawley on a collision course with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, provided that he can get past his current crowd of opponents in the Republican primary.

Once again, and sadly not for the last time, a mass shooting has stunned the nation and shocked the rest of the civilized world, spurring a national debate about guns and gun laws.

And once again, and surely not for the last time, that debate features the pre-eminent organization of gun owners, the National Rifle Association, known as the NRA.

Courtesy of Better Together

Discussions to merge the St. Louis city and county governments are underway by city residents.

About 100 people came out to a town hall meeting Monday night to express their support and concerns for a consolidation.

The nonprofit organization Better Together has organized a series of community discussions to encourage area residents to share their perspectives.

Marius Johnson-Malone is deputy director of community-based studies for the organization. He said he was encouraged by the crowd’s discussion.

House Republicans talk during the last day of the legislative session. May 17, 2017
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers still don’t have an agreement on how to restore in-home health care services for more than 8,000 low-income residents.

Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed a bill that would have maintained in-home care funding by using unspent dollars from numerous state boards and commissions. In vetoing the measure, he called it a “last-minute budget gimmick.”

Cunningham, Storch win key legislative contests

Oct 8, 2017

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 5, 2008 - State Rep. Jane Cunningham beat Gina Loudon for the Republican nomination for state senate in the 7th district - the seat held by Loudon's husband John. The margin was 46 percent to 38 percent.  Neal St. Onge finished third.

A gun show in Houston, Texas, in 2007.
M Glasgow | Flickr

It’s been almost a week since a gunman killed 58 people and injured hundreds more in Las Vegas. The shooter used a device called a bump stock to modify his gun so that it could function as a machine gun. Politicians have unified around one thing: further regulations around the bump stock. But dealers at a gun show in St. Charles this weekend said the demand for the bump stock was up.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed how protests over the Stockley verdict have evolved.

Earlier this week, St. Louis police arrested 143 demonstrators after Interstate 64 was blocked for a time.

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