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Politics & Issues

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush visits the Missouri Capitol. (March 2, 2017)
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told Missouri lawmakers on Thursday that expanding charter schools is a way to help students improve their performance.

His visit comes as Missouri lawmakers will consider allowing charter schools beyond St. Louis and Kansas City this session. Gov. Eric Greitens is a backer of school choice.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to reporters Thursday, March 2, 2017, as part of the annual Missouri Press Association/Associated Press Day at the Capitol.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ relationship with the media has had its ups and downs.

Greitens has willingly answered questions from reporters, provided that those questions directly correspond with the topic of the news conference, and has agreed on a few occasions to exclusive interviews. He generally announces things directly to the public on Facebook and Twitter videos, seldom disseminating it to reporters ahead of time.

Courtesy of the City of St. Louis

Tuesday’s primary election isn’t just the first step in choosing a new mayor for St. Louis, but also portends the beginning of significant turnover at the Board of Aldermen. In addition to five open seats, incumbents could be upset in a number of wards — including aldermen who have not faced serious opposition in more than 10 years.

 

Here’s a guide to the contested wards, the candidates and what they’re promising. Candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot:

Blunt – Flickr/Gage Skidmore; McCaskill – Flickr/SenatorMcCaskill

Updated 3:20 p.m. March 2 — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any Justice Department investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election. 

Sessions faced mounting pressure from both Democrats, including Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, and Republicans to step aside after revelations that he had twice talked with Moscow's U.S. envoy during the presidential campaign. Sessions' conversations with the ambassador seem to contradict his sworn statements to Congress during his confirmation hearings. 

Ina Boon at a 1985 health fair.
Boon Family

The longtime, indefatigable regional NAACP leader, Ina Boon, whose name became synonymous with the organization in the St. Louis region, has died. She was 90.

For more than half a century, Ms. Boon was a bold advocate for racial justice through her leadership roles with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. During her tenure, Ms. Boon worked closely with some of the NAACP’s most well-known civil rights leaders, who all became her boss, including Roy Wilkins, Rev. Benjamin Hooks, Chavis Muhammad (formerly Benjamin Chavis) and Kweisi Mfume.

The Illinois Senate’s so-called grand bargain was put on hold Wednesday. After months of negotiations and a deadline from their own caucus leader, Senate Republicans say they aren't quite ready to vote.

Democrats blame the last-minute withdrawal on interference by Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

Lisa White Hardwick (L), Benjamin Lipman (C) and Brent Powell (L) are the three nominees to replace Richard Teitelman on the Missouri Supreme Court.
Supreme Court of Missouri

Two judges and a lawyer from St. Louis are the candidates for the open seat on the Missouri Supreme Court. The Appellate Judicial Commission, which interviews applicants for appeals court-level judges, announced the nominees Wednesday. Whoever is chosen will replace Judge Richard Teitelman, 69, who died in November. 

Randall Williams appears before the Missouri Senate committee on Gubernatorial Appointments on March 1, 2017.
Marshall Griffin |St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens' nominee to run the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services faced some tough questions Wednesday about his previous job in North Carolina. 

Randall Williams was North Carolina's public health director for about a year and a half. Officials had said that hundreds of wells near Duke Energy power plants were deemed to be contaminated by what's left over when coal is burned. Williams, however, reversed a written warning to the well owners about those toxins. 

 

Senator Gina Walsh, D-St. Louis County, asked Williams why he did that.

Jimmie Matthews, January 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On this edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann welcome former St. Louis Alderman Jimmie Matthews to the program.

Matthews is one of seven Democratic candidates running to become St. Louis’ mayor.  We’re seeking to interview as many candidates as possible before the March 7 primaries.

Courtesy of the City of St. Louis

Tuesday’s primary election isn’t just the first step in choosing a new mayor for St. Louis, it also portends the beginning of significant turnover at the Board of Aldermen, which expects its largest freshman class since 1991.

 

Five aldermanic seats are open. Here’s a look at who is running and what they’re promising. Candidates are listed in order they will appear on the ballot.

Lyda Krewson in a February 2017 file photo.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the this edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Alderman Lyda Krewson to the show for the second time.

The 28th Ward alderman is one of seven Democratic candidates running to succeed St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. We’re trying to get as many contenders on the podcast as possible before the March 7 primary.

Six candidates for St. Louis mayor participate in a forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12:45 p.m. March 1 with details about voting patterns — For decades, it’s been a given in St. Louis elections: The person who usually wins is of the race — white or black —that has the fewest candidates in the contest.

 

And studies have shown that many St. Louis voters prefer to support candidates of their own race. With that in mind, candidates and political parties often are accused of stacking contests.

But the city’s major mayoral contenders are banking on different dynamics in the March 7 primary.  That’s particularly true of the four best-known Democratic candidates who are African-American.

 A right-to-work law could result in less money for unions — and that could weaken their political power, critics say.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Organized labor was able to stop “right to work” in Missouri for decades, most notably when voters rejected a 1978 ballot item. But their luck ran out last month when Gov. Eric Greitens, who says it’ll spur job creation, signed right to work, which bars private-sector unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues.

The true economic impact of the law on Missouri’s estimated 260,000 union members, which goes into effect Aug. 28, probably won’t be clear for some time. And some unions are trying to challenge the law’s passage. But according to responses to St. Louis Public Radio’s Public Insight Network, many of Missouri’s union members don’t see a lot of reasons to celebrate the policy’s implementation.

A sign shows support of transgender students at the St. Louis LGBT rally. ( Feb. 25, 2017)
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

It appears Missouri’s Republican legislative leaders may be hesitating over whether to allow the so-called “bathroom bill” to move forward in its current form, though the measure’s sponsor says that isn’t the case. 

Senate Bill 98 would require transgender students at K-12 public schools to use restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities that correspond to their gender at birth. Schools could designate alternate facilities for transgender students, but if those students choose to use other facilities, it would have to be for their gender at birth.

Bruce Arena, head coach of the U.S. Men’s National soccer team, has a beer with the owners of the Amsterdam Tavern after speaking with reporters and fans.  (Feb. 28, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Bruce Arena, the head coach of the U.S. Men’s National soccer team, is bullish about how devoted St. Louis-area residents are to his sport.

 

Arena spent part of Tuesday morning fielding fan questions at the Amsterdam Tavern in St. Louis. He was in town to appear at an event with a team sponsor, as well as visit St. Louis-based Enterprise, which he described as a “potential sponsor” for Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer.

 

 

Nimrod Chapel, the president of the Missouri Chapter for the NAACP (far right), hosted a news conference on Tuesday about workplace discrimination bills on Feb. 28, 2017. Also shown (from left to right): Michael Louis, Jeff Stack and Jeanette Mott Oxford.
Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

Two weeks after Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel was silenced by a House Republican committee chairman on bills he believes are discriminatory, he stood at the Missouri Capitol to decry the “hyped-up Jim Crow” measures that are “fundamentally flawed.”

A day after after he wasn’t allowed to speak at the Feb. 13 hearing, Chapel said House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, told him the chamber was not at its best and assured Chapel he'd be given the opportunity to share his complete testimony. But no hearing has been scheduled yet.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay signs an increase in the St. Louis minimum wage into law on Aug. 28, 2015.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:50 p.m. Feb. 28 — St. Louis' minimum wage can go up to $11 by 2018, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Its unanimous opinion ruled that a 2015 ordinance does not conflict with the state’s minimum wage of $7.65 an hour.

Six candidates for St. Louis mayor participate in a forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Last Wednesday, on Feb. 22, St. Louis Public Radio, in collaboration with 13 other community and media organizations, hosted a mayoral forum with six candidates who qualified ahead of the March primary. Joining the forum were: Antonio French (D), Lewis Reed (D) Lyda Krewson (D), Jeffrey Boyd (D), Tishaura Jones (D) and Andrew Jones (R).

St. Louis St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed won a landslide victory in the Democratic primary. His lack of real competition may have affected voter turnout throughout the city.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson has raised more than $500,000 in just the last month, far more than her Democratic rivals to be the city’s next mayor. But Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed is heading into the final week of campaigning with the most money in the bank.

That’s the two biggest takeaways from the final campaign-finance reports, which were due Monday, for the March 7 primary. 

Handout photo from Washington University

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is optimistic that the United States can be the 21st century's leader — unless “Washington messes things up." 

Speaking at Washington University on Monday, Romney said the key is for the U.S. to be “not just strong and powerful, but a nation that is good. Because I’m convinced that goodness is essential to greatness.”

Janie Oliphant, left, fixes a LGBT rights flag held by Cody Copp and Samuel Taylor so they can have their picture taken at a rally and march in St. Louis on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017.
File Photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Two of the three people arrested at Saturday's LGBT march in St. Louis were transgender women. And allegations made by one of them have raised questions about how transgender prisoners are treated in St. Louis.

St. Louis Public Radio could not independently confirm claims made by activists on social media that corrections officers threatened to put a transgender woman in a cell with men and deliberately used the wrong pronoun to identify her.

The transgender woman was never in a cell with men, said Maggie Crane, a spokeswoman with Mayor Francis Slay's office. The city houses prisoners based both on sexual identity and where they feel safest, not on biological sex, Crain said.

A crowd waits to enter Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery for a volunteer clean-up event in February 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the wake of vandalism at a historic Jewish cemetery last week, the St. Louis region showed an outpouring of solidarity that reflects its long-standing interfaith relationships.

But some faith leaders also said they have renewed urgency to build on these existing bridges and further spread their message of tolerance to a region of diverse religions and backgrounds.

Andrew Jones, February 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 Rachel Lippmann welcome St. Louis Republican mayoral candidate Andrew Jones to the show for the first time.

Jones is a utility executive and one of three GOP candidates vying to succeed St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. Andrew Karandzieff appeared on the podcast last week, while efforts to reach Jim Osher to appear on the show were not successful.

Missouri's chief public defender, Michael Barrett (right), appears before the House Budget Committee on Monday, Feb. 27, 2071.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The head of Missouri's Office of the State Public Defender has been seeking more money for years, to no avail. Now, he says it's crucial: Outposts around the state may have to close, including the division that handles death penalty cases.

For the coming fiscal year, Michael Barrett asked for $67 million — a $27 million increase over the current state allocation of $41 million. But Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposed budget only allots $40 million for next year, a million less.

Six candidates for St. Louis mayor participate in a forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Last Wednesday, on Feb. 22, St. Louis Public Radio, in collaboration with 13 other community and media organizations, hosted a mayoral forum with six candidates who qualified ahead of the March primary. Joining the forum were: Antonio French (D),  Lyda Krewson (D), Jeffrey Boyd (D), Tishaura Jones (D), Andrew Jones (R), and Lewis Reed (D).

Tishaura Jones 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome back St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones to the show.

Jones is one of seven Democratic candidates running to succeed St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. All seven contenders in the March 7 primary have now taped an episode of the podcast.

Jones, the daughter of former St. Louis Comptroller Virvus Jones, made her first bid for public office in 2008, when she successfully ran for a state House seat  slice of eastern St. Louis.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been a violent couple of years in the city of St. Louis, one measure being the 188 homicides in 2015 and 2016.

A decrease in property crime drove the overall crime number down between 2015 and 2016, but violent crime was up more than four percent in 2016 compared to 2015.

All of the Democratic candidates for mayor know addressing crime will be a top priority if they’re elected. Most of them have very similar plans. Not all of them have faith in current Police Chief Sam Dotson to implement those plans.

LGBT rights activists at a St. Louis march on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated, 2:15 p.m. Feb. 27 — Three people were arrested toward the end of  Saturday’s LGBTQ rally in downtown St. Louis, according to the city police department and event organizer Keith Rose.

Two of them, 21-year-old Edward Pingleton and 19-year-old Aideen O'Brien, face misdemeanor charges. O'Brien is accused of jumping on the back of an officer who was trying to arrest another protester, and Pingleton allegedly attempted to punch an officer. Neither had attorneys listed in court records. They're next due in court April 5th.

A third person was arrested, issued city summonses for "Interfering with a Police Officer" and "Resisting Arrest" and released.

Video allegedly showing the arrests were posted on a couple of social media sites. They show the crowd walking toward and chanting at officers on bicycles. At least one person ends up on the ground and is restrained by officers as people in the crowd pull on her. The crowd soon begins chanting “Who do you serve, who do you protect.” The video that had been on Facebook was no longer posted Sunday morning.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at Lincoln Days in Springfield, Missouri, on Feb. 25, 2017.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri’s top Republican leaders, who now control most of state government, said this weekend that it’s time to move past applauding the November victories. Rather, they exhorted supporters at their annual Lincoln Days festivities, it’s time for action.

 

“We won the election. Now, we have to win the agenda,’’ state Republican Party chairman Todd Graves told St. Louis Public Radio on Saturday. “It doesn’t do any good to be elected if we don’t implement the agenda.”

Gov. Eric Greitens signs a bill. (20170
Courtesy of Office of Gov. Eric Greitens

Updated March 31, 2017 – Stiffer penalties are now in place for anyone who misuses dicamba and other herbicides in Missouri.

Governor Eric Greitens signed House Bill 662 into law Thursday, but also held an official signing ceremony Friday at the University of Missouri’s Fisher Delta Center in Portageville, which conducts agricultural research in the Bootheel region.

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