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Lights illuminate the commemorative plaques that line a memorial walkway near Kirkwood City Hall. The plaques honor those killed at City Hall 10 years ago. Feb. 6, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The choir will sing soothing words of hope when the community gathers Wednesday evening at Kirkwood United Methodist Church for a prayer service marking the 10th anniversary of a tragedy that time has not yet tempered.

“Peace fall like a gentle snow ... Fall fresh on the wounded heart ... Come blanket our every fear and let the healing start ...”

The church commissioned “Canticle of Peace’’ by Joseph M. Martin in 2009 and dedicated it to a community still healing from the City Hall shootings. On Feb. 7, 2008, Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton, armed with two handguns and a festering grudge against city officials, fatally shot two council members, the director of public works and two police officers before being shot and killed by responding police officers.

St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger
Carolina Hidalgo | 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 St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger to the program.

The Huntleigh Republican represents the council’s 3rd District, which includes municipalities such as Kirkwood, Manchester, Fenton, Sunset Hills, Frontenac and Valley Park. Wasinger has represented her district since 2007.

Legislation passed by the Missouri House last month banning most gifts from lobbyists has been altered by a Senate committee.

The original version would ban all gifts except plants, flowers, and catered events in which all state lawmakers and elected officials are invited. Now, the bill would allow officeholders to accept no more than $40 worth of gifts per day, and would require them to reimburse the lobbyist for anything above $40.

(L-R) Jeffrey Croft, Maggie Duwe and David Bennett talked about the effects of the fatal shooting at Kirkwood City Hall 10 years ago.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

The City of Kirkwood faced a tragic night a decade ago, when a gunman went on a shooting rampage at a city hall meeting, leaving six people dead and two others injured. The shooter, Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton, was a disgruntled resident of Meacham Park, a predominately black neighborhood in Kirkwood.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the issues raised by the shooting at Kirkwood City Hall and how they may have been addressed.

George Allen and his mother Lonzetta Taylor speak to reporters on Nov. 14, 2012 after a judge threw out Allen’s 1983 conviction for rape and murder. His family has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit for $14 million.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

The city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri will pay nearly $14 million to the family of a man wrongfully convicted of the 1982 rape and murder of a St. Louis court reporter.

George Allen died in 2016. His sister Elfrieda and his mother, Lonzetta Taylor, agreed to a settlement in the the federal civil rights lawsuit in December, although the case was not officially dismissed until last week. The first payment of $5 million was due in January.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden poses for a portrait in his office at police headquarters on Olive Street.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

2017 was a violent year in the St. Louis region. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department handled 205 homicides. St. Louis County detectives investigated 55 more.

Getting the 2018 numbers down is a priority for law enforcement at all levels, and the team leading that effort looks much different than it did last year.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate is considering legislation that would target protesters who block interstate highways.

The bill would make it a Class A misdemeanor to block lanes of interstate or other limited access highways, punishable by fines between $1,000 and $5,000 and up to 30 days in jail. And protesters could be held liable in civil suits filed by patients whose ambulances are delayed by blocked interstate highways.

Most of Missouri's Republican statewide officials join state party chairman Todd Graves, left, during forum at state Lincoln Days festivities, held Feb. 3, 2018 in Kansas City.
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 5 at 3:55 p.m. with "St. Louis on the Air" segment – KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With federal tax cuts leading the way, some top Missouri Republicans predict they’re on a path to a stronger election-year showing than many critics have predicted.

“I expect it to be a good year for Republicans in Missouri, “ said U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, who hosted Saturday’s breakfast at the state Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Days festivities, held this year in downtown Kansas City.

“It seemed like when the tax bill passed in December, it was almost like a light switch flipped on,” Blunt explained.

File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Lobbyist gifts, a tax credit for the elderly, and a bill frowned upon by labor unions are on next week’s tentative agenda for the Missouri General Assembly.

Some Senate members appear to be close to their own version of a proposal to ban most gifts from lobbyists. Details are being withheld at the moment, but Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said it could be voted out of committee next week.

File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation designed to combat human trafficking in Missouri is on its way to Gov. Eric Greitens.

The bill would require airports, bus and train stations, hospital emergency rooms, strip clubs, and any business with prior citations for prostitution to display posters that contain a national hotline number. Republican Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis sposoned the bill in the Senate. 

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens helped engineer a freeze on low-income housing tax credits. And that decision is likely to stand unless the legislature makes substantial changes to the program.
File photo I Carolina Hidaglo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens upset a bipartisan contingent of legislators when his interim appointees made major public policy decisions.

That includes how the Republican governor and his appointees in December 2017 helped halt state low-income housing tax credits, an incentive that encourages developers to produce affordable housing for the working poor and elderly.

Erise Williams, wearing a gray and white striped shirt, stands by the window, talking with guests at Rustin's Place, a drop-in center  serving mostly young, black, gay men. January 2018
Erise Williams

Black History Month is a time to spotlight African-Americans who made a difference. But many people don’t know that prominent African-Americans were part of the LGBTQ community.

Among them was Bayard Rustin, an openly gay black man who worked side-by-side with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The civil rights strategist who died in 1987 is honored every day at a little storefront in St. Louis’ Vandeventer neighborhood, called Rustin’s Place. It’s a drop-in center that largely serves LGBTQ people, particularly gay African-American men.

St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder
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 back St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder to the program.

The Ballwin Republican represents the council’s 7th District. It takes in a number of large municipalities in St. Louis County, including Chesterfield, Wildwood, Ellisville and Ballwin.

city hall with flowers
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time in 10 years, Missouri’s auditor is going to take a closer look at the way the city of St. Louis operates.

The city is required to undergo a financial audit every year. But the review announced Wednesday by Auditor Nicole Galloway will also look at whether the city is following its own rules and policies when it comes to things like budgeting, contracting and open meetings.

Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley and Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
Durrie Bouscaren & Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has bankrolled $1.2 million so far for his GOP bid to oust U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is regarded as among the nation’s most vulnerable Senate Democrats.

But Hawley’s fundraising pace is well behind that of McCaskill, who has amassed more cash than almost all other U.S. senators in the country on this fall’s ballot.

Every day is an exercise in tight decisions for Corey Robinson. “If you only make $8.50, you gotta use your money wisely,” he said. “Do you feel like eating today, or do you feel like getting on the bus?”
Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

On his first job out of college as a corrections officer for St. Louis County in 1984, Perez Maxwell noticed that no black men had social work roles. When he sought a promotion to social worker two years later — a position he said he had the education and training to win — he hit a wall.

That was just the first of several jobs where Maxwell observed that he and his black colleagues lost out on leadership roles that went to white counterparts with similar education.  

He can’t help but think that helps explain why many black people in St. Louis continue to be paid much less than white people. Black households made 49 percent of what white households made in St. Louis, based on median incomes in the most recently available census data, which detailed how the nation changed in 2016.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

In his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Trump is expected to take a bipartisan tone. He is expected to focus on jobs and the economy, infrastructure, immigration, trade and national security. NPR journalists specializing in these areas and more will be adding context and analysis to his remarks in real time. 

Editor's note: The transcript will be updated throughout the speech. While we are working to correct errors, it may contain discrepancies and typographical errors.

(L-R) Tory Russell, Regina Dennis-Nana and Bobby Williams talked about the protest of prison systems in the past versus now.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

More than four decades ago, a three-day inmate sit-in protest over conditions at the St. Louis City Jail faced a violent end, with more than 30 inmates injured. That led to a 21-day protest outside the jail by activists demanding improved conditions in the cells.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with citizen negotiators during that protest in 1972 and compared the experience with the protests of today. Joining the discussion were Regina Dennis-Nana and Bobby Williams, who were both citizen negotiators during the sit-in protests 46 years ago.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said it's not a sure thing that Gov. Eric Greitens' nominees to the Board of Education will get a committee hearing.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and Republican lawmakers are angling for tax cuts during this year’s legislative session. It’s a policy push that the GOP officials believe will make the state more attractive to businesses and potential residents.

But with the state facing yet another tough budgetary year, members of both parties worry that cutting taxes will deprive Missouri of revenue needed to fund basic state services. Some fear that Missouri is marching in the same direction as Kansas, where tax cuts have been criticized for hurting the state.

Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, resigned his seat in the Missouri Senate in January to fill a vacancy on the Public Service Commission.
Courtesy of Silvey's Facebook page

Ryan Silvey began 2018 as the state senator for most of Clay County in the Kansas City metro area. On the second day of this year’s legislative session he resigned his seat in the Senate in order to accept an appointment to the Missouri Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities.

And his new job comes courtesy of someone he’s often criticized, fellow Republican and governor, Eric Greitens.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin talked with Silvey about why he made the switch and how his new job is going:

ArchCity Defenders new executive director Blake Strode talked about the organization's mission to continue helping underserved citizens.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

The non-profit civil rights law firm ArchCity Defenders is a legal advocacy group established less than a decade ago in St. Louis. After the organization’s co-founder Thomas Harvey announced his resignation as executive director, attorney Blake Strode became his successor.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Strode, the St. Louis native, Harvard Law School graduate and former Skadden fellow. He returned to St. Louis to use his law degree to work on social and racial justice issues.

Gov. Eric Greitens sits down 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 is unveiling more details of his tax overhaul, which seeks to pair income and business tax cuts with paring down some popular tax breaks.

Greitens’ proposal would cut Missouri's income tax to 5.3 percent. Legislation that was passed in 2014 is already gradually reducing the state income tax to 5.5 percent. The proposal would also lower the corporate income tax from 6.25 percent to 4.25 percent. And it would institute an earned income tax credit for certain types of workers.

House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, center, stands with the rest of the House Democratic caucus during the first day of the 2018 legislative session.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty to the program.

The Kansas City Democrat has been the leader of Missouri House Democrats since 2017. She’s often the public face for a 46-member caucus that regularly faces an uphill battle to outflank the Republican supermajority on key issues.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill answers questions during a town hall at Harris-Stowe State University. Jan. 27, 2018
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After holding dozens of town halls in rural and suburban parts of the state, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s first one in St. Louis was a largely cordial affair — with the Democratic senator answering numerous questions on the recent government shutdown.

But she saved her harshest criticism for the GOP governor and legislators that control Missouri’s government.

The Missouri Capitol building.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers continue to work on several bills, including one that could result in the first filibuster of the 2018 legislative session.

A bill sponsored by State Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, would ban participation in the federal program formerly known as food stamps, now called SNAP, for heads of households able to work but who choose not to. Food benefits would also be cut off to dependents living with that individual, including children.

Jerry Dunn (left) and Linda McQuary (right) talked about how to spot, treat and prevent sexual abuse.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Last year, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Greater St. Louis at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, interviewed about 700 child victims of sexual abuse. They found that about 90 percent of the perpetrators were someone the child liked, loved or lived with.

With elections looming, tensions continue between the St. Louis County Council and County Executive Stenger
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

To some of his critics, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s strained relations with many members of the County Council is payback.

During his last years as the 6th District councilman, it wasn’t unusual for Stenger to publicly joust with then-Executive Charlie Dooley at council meetings. Stenger won their 2014 confrontation at the polls.

But now, others see a broader conflict over power and who wields it.  Stenger and the council continue to battle over a variety of issues as this year’s November elections loom. Their feud has gone on for over a year.

A police officer speaks to a woman after an October 2016, shooting.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

After 205 people died from gun violence in St. Louis last year, the city's research universities and hospitals decided to take steps to reduce such deaths. Police data show there have been 10 homicides in St. Louis this year so far. 

The St. Louis Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program, to begin this summer, will employ medical treatment and therapy to reduce deaths and new injuries among gunshot, stabbing and assault victims.

Washington University, Saint Louis University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis will collaborate on the effort. The medical centers involved include, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s voter-approved contribution limits curbed the amount of money that some candidates could take from a political donor. What it didn’t do is stop a candidate from encouraging big contributors to send money to political action committees that could help their electoral pursuits.

Facebook launched News Feed 11 years ago so users could see friends’ posts without having to visit their profiles. Today, News Feed is the unofficial homepage of the internet with billions of viewers each month.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed how users will experience new changes on Facebook and how media organizations such as St. Louis Public Radio and NPR are dealing with the changes.

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