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Black Lives Matter posters were placed on the Confederate monument in Forest Park on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The question of whether a Confederate monument in Forest Park should be removed was explored on our weekly Behind the Headlines segment amid the controversy surrounding it.

Some people want it removed, including St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and Treasurer Tishaura Jones, who launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for its removal.

Tracy McCreery, May 2017
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Tracy McCreery.

The Olivette Democrat has represented the 88th District since the beginning of 2015. Her district includes portions of Creve Coeur, Olivette and Ladue.

Gov. Eric Greitens leads people who attended a rally during the special session into the Capitol on Tues., May 23, 2017.
Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ first special session was a success.

On Friday, the Senate passed a bill 24-5 designed to reopen an aluminum smelting plant once operated by Noranda, as well as to build a new steel plant nearby. The bill will take effect the moment the Republican governor signs it.

Councilman Mark Harder's (left) bill aimed at replacing two bridges in western St. Louis County sparked a war of words between councilmembers and County Executive Steve Stenger.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger always was going to have a hard time getting along with most of the St. Louis County Council. After all, the county voters filled the majority of those seven seats with people who have longstanding disagreements with the Democrat.  

That expected acrimony has come to pass in the form of a dispute over replacing bridges, prompting some council members to question Stenger’s ability to effectively communicate with them.

A family flees violence in East St. Louis following the 1917 race riots.
Courtesy of East St. Louis 1917 Centennial Commission and Cultural Initiative

The social, economic and political factors that led to the deadly East St. Louis race riots 100 years ago will be examined at a conference that begins Friday. 

The point is to educate people about the riots while beginning an ongoing conversation about what the region still faces today, said the Rev. Joseph Brown, chairman of the East St. Louis 1917 Centennial Commission.

Firefighters work outside of the Loy-Lange Box Company building on South 3rd Street. (April 3, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

 

 

April's deadly boiler explosion at the Loy-Lange Box Company in the Soulard neighborhood occurred because steel at the bottom of the tank had deteriorated, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said in a report released Thursday.

The board noted that investigators found the metal in the area of the tank that ruptured was less than one-third of its original thickness.

The number three
Tom Huesing | Flickr

According to estimates released by the U.S. Census, three local cities are among 10 in Illinois and Missouri that gained the most people between 2015 and 2016. The  numbers are estimates of the population for cities and towns across the United States.  

Wentzville, in St. Charles County, grew by more than 1,800 people, second only to Kansas City. O'Fallon, Missouri was 4th on the list, gaining about 1,400, and Clayton, in St. Louis County came in 8th, with an increase of around 750.

Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

Updated May 25 with the day's actions — The special legislative session called by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is getting closer to the finish line.

A Missouri Senate committee voted 10-1 Thursday to pass a bill designed to reopen an aluminum smelting plant in southeastern Missouri that was operated by Noranda. They made no additions to the bill, which goes before the full Senate on Friday.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers raise their weapons at a preshift meeting 3.23.15
File photo | Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

The interim chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department asked the city’s Board of Aldermen on Wednesday to find money for hiring more officers and providing better pay. Liberal activists, however, want city leaders to ignore the drumbeats of demands for more officers and instead find funding for social services that could help stem crime.

The request from the police department will be competing with other urgent public safety needs, including funds for the drug Narcan, which reverses opioid overdoses.

Starting June 1, Missouri residents will be required to show a photo ID to vote. Missouri isn't the first state to enact a law like this — several states, including North Carolina and Texas, have it, too. But requiring identification to vote hasn't been without controversy.

What questions do you have about the new photo ID law? Ask Curious Louis and a St. Louis Public Radio reporter may follow up on your question. 

Lezley McSpadden addressed the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans on July 2, 2016. She will receive her high school diploma from Jennings High School on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

Lezley McSpadden, the mother of the late Michael Brown Jr., will receive her high school diploma from Jennings High School on Friday, as part of the school’s 100th commencement.

McSpadden, 37, worked with Jennings School District Superintendent Art McCoy Jr. to start the Adult Education Program through which she earned her diploma as its first graduate.

“When I first met with Lezley, I wanted to help with her foundation,” McCoy told The American.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks in front of the Capitol during a rally in support of the Noranda bill on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House expects to send the Senate a bill Wednesday that would reopen a shuttered aluminum plant in the Bootheel region — long known as Noranda — and build a new steel plant next door.

What the Senate will do remains to be seen, considering at least one Republican is using the special session to again harangue fellow GOPer Gov. Eric Greitens for his agenda-pushing nonprofit.

These nine legislators scored an A and are listed from left to right from the top: Rep. Justin Hill, Rep. Dean Plocher, Rep. Clem Smith, Rep. Randy Pietzman, Rep. Karla May, Rep. Nick Schoer, Rep. Kirk Mathews, Sen. Dave Schatz, Rep. Chrissy Sommer.
Facebook, Missouri House Communications, Office of Missouri Senate

As students across Missouri receive their final report cards, the age-old measurement of progress and success, St. Louis Public Radio decided to hand them out for Missouri legislators, too.

We’ve graded lawmakers A-F for the 2017 regular session by using a complicated formula that took into account their time in office, the number of bills sponsored and co-sponsored and how far those went, as well as committee or subcommittee chairman positions. In a twist, the lawmakers were asked to grade themselves as well, though not everyone did.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard told St. Louis Public Radio that St. Louis' governmental structure is woefully inefficient.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard hinted that next year’s legislative session could “shake up” the St. Louis region, especially if lawmakers back plans to combine St. Louis and St. Louis County or merge county municipalities.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Joplin Republican’s proclamation to St. Louis Public Radio elicited a mixed response. Some are willing to have the legislature help pare down the region’s cities, police departments and fire districts. Others, like Vinita Park Mayor James McGee, are not happy at the prospect of the state making wholesale changes to St. Louis’ governance, as opposed to St. Louis area residents.

Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O'Fallon, May 2017
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 welcome state Rep. Nick Schroer to the program for the first time.

The O’Fallon Republican represents a portion of St. Charles County in the Missouri House. He was first elected to the 107th  House District in 2016.

Missouri Capitol, May 2017
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:45 p.m. May 22  with number of bills filed Monday – On the eve of his first legislative special session, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his allied nonprofit group are attacking one of the pivotal legislators  needed to win approval of the governor’s favored bill.

The nonprofit group is called A New Missouri and can collect unlimited donations from unidentified donors. It is targeting state Sen. Doug Libla, a Republican whose southeast Missouri district includes the now-closed aluminum smelting plant that Greitens hopes to reopen, along with a possible steel mill.

Libla says he supports the projects. But the senator questions some provisions in the expected special-session bill that he says could reduce state oversight over Ameren, which provides electricity to much of eastern Missouri.

Alex Ihnen, Future Great City.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Alex Ihnen, the creator of the popular development, transportation and design website nextSTL.com, will soon move to Cincinnati with his family as his wife begins a residency in pediatric neurology.

Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Missouri Capitol, 2013
MoBikeFed | Flickr

On Friday’s “Behind the Headline” with St. Louis on the Air, we took an in-depth look at some of the top news stories of the week.

Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy stands near a grassy path near South Florissant Road. She says a new state law limiting traffic fine revenue will make it harder for her city to pay for new sidewalks.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A top Democratic backer of the effort to limit fines and fees in St. Louis County believes Missouri lawmakers will have to play a role in forcing cities to change.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out parts of a 2015 law that capped the amount of money cities could make from fines and fees and required them to meet minimum standards like having an accredited police department. 

Metrolink 2014
Paul Sableman | Flickr

The three counties that fund MetroLink signed an agreement Thursday they say will help keep the train system safe.

The deal among the city of St. Louis, and St. Louis and St. Clair counties, would eventually put all law enforcement officers assigned to patrol MetroLink under the command of one person. Eventually, those police and sheriffs' deputies also would get the authority to work anywhere on the system, a process known as cross deputization.

Renovations have given Kiener Plaza a more open and greener look. May 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louisans will get their first peek at Kiener Plaza’s lush new gardens, splash pad and colorful playground when the downtown park reopens at noon Friday.

The bronze statue of The Runner is back and selfie-ready, with a new fountain and LED lighting that can change colors to mark holidays and special events, like Cardinals-playoff red and Stanley Cup-blue.

Sen. Claire McCaskill in May 2017
Provided | Office of Senator Claire McCaskill

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said Thursday she thinks it’s important for Congress to “repair, not repeal” the federal Affordable Care Act, which she says is under threat by the Trump administration’s hints that it won’t continue to pay subsidies to participating insurance companies.

About 40 counties in Missouri have only one insurer participating in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace.

Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, 2016
Ethan Weston | Flickr

Updated May 19 with Gov. Eric Greitens' plans to campaign for the legislation  — Missouri lawmakers will return to Jefferson City next week to consider legislation aimed at boosting the chances that the Noranda aluminum smelter plant will reopen and that a new steel plant will be built.

Gov. Eric Greitens is holding four rallies Saturday to promote legislation he says will help both southeast Missouri projects. The session will begin at 4 p.m. Monday.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to reporters after the 2017 adjourned. Greitens didn't have the smoothest relationship with legislators — including Republicans that control both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly.
Carolina Hidalgo

Eric Greitens’ successful campaign to become Missouri’s governor was based on the premise that politicians were ruining the state and that an outsider’s help was needed.

But with the 2017 legislative session in the books, some of the elected officials Greitens decried believe he got in their way and took an unwarranted, heavy-handed approach — despite the fact that the Republican stands to implement policies his party waited generations to complete.

Tameka Stigers, left, and Ivy Perry, right, braid LaQuinn Laws hair in June 2015 in St. Louis.
Provided | Institute for Justice

This spring a few Missouri state lawmakers fought and failed to pass a proposal that would have stripped the requirement for hair braiders to obtain a cosmetology license.

Under current law, those who want to pursue hair braiding as a profession must attend 1,500 hours of cosmetology classes and spend at least $12,000.

Members of the Missouri State Senate work through the final day of the General Assembly's legislative sessions.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s workers will bear the brunt of sweeping policy changes that were approved during the 2017 session.

With Republicans firmly in control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature, they took the opportunity to back long-awaited policy proposals, including making it harder for employees to sue for discrimination and blunting the power of labor unions.

The Vietnam War memorial in Wentzville has been expanded and now includes lighting and landscaping. May 2017
Provided by city of Wentzville

The city of Wentzville will cut the ribbon on an updated memorial to Vietnam War veterans at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The city recently expanded the memorial site and added landscaping, lights, and a ramp, so disabled veterans can visit. The memorial is at 209 W. Pearce Blvd., next to the fire department.

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, thet director of the St. Louis Lambert International Airport discussed privatization, REAL ID, growth at the airport and more on Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

During peak air travel season this summer, St. Louis Lambert International Airport will see about 260 flights per day, with about 71 total non-stop flights. This June, Terminal 2’s E Concourse will expand by four more gates to accommodate Southwest Airlines travel. 

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Lambert International Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge joined host Don Marsh to discuss recent growth at the airport, REAL ID compliance, the recent spate of airline controversy and talks about privatizing the airport. 

File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court capped the amount of money cities can take in from traffic fines and fees at 20 percent statewide in a ruling issued Tuesday.  It also throws out parts of a law that was the Missouri legislature's main attempt to deal with the aftermath of Michael Brown's 2014 death in Ferguson.

Investigations following Brown's shooting by a police officer revealed the extent to which small cities in St. Louis County relied on their municipal courts to fund city services, with the burden falling heavily on poor defendants of color.

Republican state Reps. Jay Barnes, center, and Justin Alferman converse with Rep. Shawn Rhoads during the last day of the Missouri General Assembly's legislative session.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It may have seemed like a mad-dash finish for Missouri’s Republican-majority legislative body, pushing dozens of bills to Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk before the end of the 2017 regular session.

But St. Louis Public Radio veteran political reporter Jo Mannies, who has covered Missouri politics for 40 years, said the end of the session wasn’t that unusual, when compared to previous ones — with a few notable exceptions. Among those exceptions was the lack of debate on issues that are generally popular with social conservatives, including gun rights and abortion restrictions.

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