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Politics & Issues

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Paul Curtman
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

State Rep. Paul Curtman, a Republican from Franklin County, says he’s running for state auditor next year, after months of entertaining a possible bid for the U.S. Senate.

Curtman is touting his conservative credentials and his service in the U. S. Marine Corps in stops around the state to officially launch his campaign.

Missouri candidates for statewide and legislative offices are having to learn the ropes of Amendment 2, which imposes campaign-donation restrictions.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Just over a year away from what could be a crucial 2018 election, Missouri candidates are grappling with the new restrictions to campaign donations mandated by the voter-approved measure known as Amendment 2.

Close to 70 percent of Missouri voters approved the constitutional amendment in 2016, putting an end to the state’s 10-year status as one of only a handful of states without donation limits. But flaws in the new system are prompting the General Assembly and political activists to seek more changes.  

St. Louis police arrest a protester in September, 2017.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Two protesters testified on Monday that they did not receive a warning before St. Louis police deployed pepper spray on them on Sept. 15.

The American Civil Liberty Union of Missouri claims that police officers violated the constitutional rights of protesters following St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson's Sept. 15 decision to find former police officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The ACLU has asked U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry to order police to limit when officers can give dispersal warnings or use chemical agents.

"Right now in St. Louis, pepper spray is the new fire hose," Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said during his closing argument.

Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

People don’t always understand or are easily able to define the term “white privilege.” Those who do not understand it might also take offense to it. But now there’s a journal to help change that.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh spoke to Tom Schweizer, a retired business executive who created a journal to help guide discussions and promote personal reflection about race and white privilege.

Nicolle Barton, the executive director of the St. Louis Civilian Oversight Board, talks to Christopher Reichard about the complaint he has just filed with the board. Reichard claims police pepper-sprayed him for no reason while he was protesting the verdi
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Many people demonstrating over former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder believe the Civilian Oversight Board needs more power.

But they are still being encouraged to file complaints with the board, which helps oversee police discipline.

House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, left, congratulates House Speaker Todd Richardson at the beginning of the 2017 session. Haahr will take over as House speaker in early 2019.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

On the latest episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr to the program for the second time.

The Springfield Republican recently emerged victorious in his party’s race to become speaker of the Missouri House in January 2019. He ended up defeating Reps. Robert Cornejo, and Holly Rehder.

Arlene Holt Baker, executive vice president emerita of the AFL-CIO, joins state Rep. Bruce Franks outside America's Center on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:25 p.m. Oct. 21, with details from Galleria mall protest — Missouri state Rep. Bruce Franks urged members of the AFL-CIO on Saturday to stand with protesters in St. Louis who are fighting to end police killings of black people.

A group of about 25 protesters gathered outside America’s Center, where the union is holding its convention. Franks had been invited to speak, but protesters were not allowed in until the national union’s leaders assured the convention center there would be no problems. A few hours later, protesters returned to the Galleria mall in Richmond Heights, where police declared their demonstration an unlawful assembly, but left without incident.

Deniya Irving, 7, smiles at her grandmother, Lawanda Griffin, after the Board of Aldermen adopted a resolution honoring the girl on October 20, 2017. Deniya was shot in the head in June in an incident that left her parents and another man dead.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly 160 people have been killed in St. Louis this year, putting the city on pace for almost 200 homicides for the third year in a row.

Deniya Irving, 7, was almost among them. She was shot in the head in June, an incident that left her parents and another man dead. She was not expected to survive, but can now walk with a cane and speak a few words at a time.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday adopted a resolution in her honor, promising to work “within our communities to reduce the senseless, violent crimes” like the ones that left Deniya and her sisters without their parents.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Three St. Louis police officers told a federal judge on Thursday that the police response to protesters in St. Louis on Sept. 17 was handled lawfully under police policies.

Their testimony came on the second day of hearings on a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Missouri. The suit alleged that officers violated the constitutional rights of protesters when they used chemical agents and arrested protesters and bystanders without warning.

Sgt. Brian Rossomano told U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry that police ordered the crowd to to disperse. But ACLU officials say St. Louis police officers are allowed too much discretion when responding to the protesters.

St. Louis police arrest a protester in September, 2017.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

People arrested in St. Louis during the first weekend of protests against the Jason Stockley verdict will have to wait longer to know if they’ll be charged.

On Wednesday, a judge sent home a group who appeared in her courtroom at the downtown City Justice Center.

City Court Judge Roberta Hitt told the protesters that they would be notified by mail if they face any charges.

Protesters linked arms on Sept. 15, 2017 in downtown St. Louis on Tucker St.
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.

The verdict immediately touched off protests in downtown St. Louis, which spread throughout the city, St. Louis County and to St. Charles County. The protests have continued almost daily

As you are making sense of what's happening in the region, what questions do you have about the ongoing protests? Share them here and we may consider your question in our reporting. 

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley shares evidence included in a motion to dismiss Backpage's lawsuit against him.
File photo I Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

As protests over Jason Stockley’s acquittal continue in St. Louis, some activists and politicians have called for outside prosecutors to investigate police-involved killings.

That includes elected officials who were previously wary about the idea, including Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

One specific proposal is to have the Missouri attorney general examine instances where a police officer uses deadly force. But the current inhabitant of that office, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, is not particularly enthusiastic to the idea.

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

Updated Oct. 31, 2017: Before a packed crowd, the St. Louis County Council gave final approval to a pay hike for county police beginning Jan. 1.  The vote of 6-0, with one absent, came after no debate. The result touched off lots of applause from police and their families packing the audience.

Our earlier story:

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.

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.

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