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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

On Friday’s "Behind the Headlines" on St. Louis on the Air, we took an in-depth look at one of the top news stories of the week. This week, we continued the conversation about the vandalism at one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the region, the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery.

Joining the program were three people, all of whom have loved ones buried in that cemetery. They shared their personal reflections on the week's events.

Mayor Francis Slay signs legislation that will ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund a Major League Soccer stadium and a north-south MetroLink line. (Feb. 3, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If there’s one issue that’s provoked more fiery passions among St. Louis politicians, it’s using their constituents’ dollars to fund sports stadiums.

From the unsuccessful venture to keep Rams football in St. Louis to a pending proposal to nab a Major League Soccer team, there’s little question that opponents and proponents of the funding method have strong opinions — including the Democratic candidates seeking to become St. Louis’ next mayor.

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
File photo | Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

There will be at least five new faces when the St. Louis Board of Aldermen returns in April — the largest freshman class since 1991. And depending on the results of the March primaries, as many as six others could join them.

That much turnover could change the way the Board works and the policies it passes.

Gov. Eric Greitens accepts a gift from an attendee at a cleanup event at Chesed Shel Emeth on Feb. 22, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is one of the more prominent Jewish political leaders in America today. For him, his response to this week’s vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City  goes hand-in-hand with his “go to the front lines” philosophy.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens delivers his first State of the State address last week in Jefferson City.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

While Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is still seeking to cut funding to a Medicaid program and K-12 school transportation, the size of those proposed cuts are smaller, thanks to an extra $52 million.

Karen Aroesty, Lynne Wittels and Andrew Rehfeld joined St. Louis on the Air on Thursday to discuss the recent spate of threats against the Jewish community in St. Louis.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

While the more than 150 headstones that were toppled and damaged at one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis have all now been righted, waiting only to be resealed, the damage still felt in St. Louis’ Jewish community is palpable. This weekend’s actions have compounded the emotional damage from a recurring spate of national and local threats made against the Jewish community, including a January bomb threat to St. Louis’ own Jewish Community Center.

A Missouri House subcommittee is investigating claims of harassment and retaliation at the state Department of Corrections. Photo taken in mid-February 2017.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

A longtime Missouri Department of Corrections employee says the agency is rampant with nepotism and fraternization.

Travis Case, who works at the northeast Missouri correctional facility at Bowling Green, testified Thursday in front of the Missouri House subcommittee on Corrections, Workforce Environment and Conduct. That panel is investigating allegations of harassment and retaliation against department employees by supervisors and coworkers.

Andy Karandzieff in 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 mayoral candidate Andy Karandzieff to the program.

Karandzieff is the owner of Crown Candy Kitchen, a culinary institution on St. Louis’ north side. He’s running as a Republican, though he freely admits his candidacy is more a publicity stunt.

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Project 404 / Creative Commons

Updated at 2:15 p.m. Feb. 23 — The debate over which bathrooms transgender students can use has come to Missouri.

A Missouri Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday on Senate Bill 98, which would require students at K-12 public schools throughout the state to use restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities that correspond to their "biological sex."

Bill Haas, January 2017
David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

On this edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome St. Louis School Board member Bill Haas to the program.

Haas is one of seven Democratic candidates running to become the next St. Louis mayor. Each of the Democratic candidates have been interviewed on the podcast ahead of the March 7 primary election.

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

With Missouri facing slower income growth, Gov. Eric Greitens isn’t sparing the state’s Department of Agriculture from proposed budget cuts. 

The agency will receive about $14 million dollars less in the coming fiscal year, which new agriculture director Chris Chinn says is more like "belt tightening." But she made it clear that farmers and ranchers will receive the same level of services they currently see.

Vice President Mike Pence points into the audience after delivering remarks at Fabick Cat in Fenton, Missouri.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Vice President Mike Pence was nostalgic Wednesday, citing his teenage years working at his family’s gas station to make his point that he, like President Donald Trump, understands business.

 

“I’ll make you a promise. President Trump is the best friend that small businesses will ever have,” Pence told several hundred Republican supporters in Fenton at Fabick Cat, a family-owned business that specializes in construction equipment.

 

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

Portions of this article first appeared in the St. Louis American. This story has been updated and now includes audio.

This April, St. Louis will elect a new mayor for the first time in 16 years. St. Louis Public Radio, along with 13 other community and media organizations, hosted a mayoral forum Wednesday that focused on how to create a more racially equitable city.

The Forward Through Ferguson report served as a guide for crafting the questions, which gave candidates a chance to hold forth on a wide range of topics, from policing to affordable housing and inclusivity.

Updated 2:30 p.m. Feb. 23 — Both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly are working on versions of a bill this week that will bring the state into compliance with a federal law meant to make IDs consistent across the country.

Missouri is one of five states that hasn’t complied with the federal Real ID Act of 2005, the others being Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington state.

Missouri has until Jan. 22, 2018, to adhere to the regulations, otherwise state residents will need to use a passport in order to board planes or enter federal facilities.

Stakeholders attend a New American Alliance community meeting to discuss ways to better serve and connect with new immigrants to St. Louis.
Jacquelyn Ballard | New American Alliance

Recent immigrants to St. Louis have a new resource they can tap when adjusting to life in the United States.

The New American Alliance is a referral system for immigrants and refugees that started to take shape this past summer.

For example, if a recent refugee needs help finding a job, access to healthcare, or an affordable place to live, the Alliance reviews their situation and connects them to an organization that can help.

Jessica Liss is a managing principal of Jackson Lewis, P.C. Much of her work deals with employment law.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the issues surrounding harassment in the workplace, whether it’s based on sex, religion or disability.

Joining him was Jessica Liss, J.D., a managing principal of Jackson Lewis, P.C. Liss works with employers about workplace discrimination issues.

Adrian Levin, of St. Louis County, visits Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery to check on the headstones of his wife's relatives. (Feb. 21, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Vice President Mike Pence is speaking out against an act of vandalism this past weekend that left 154 gravestones toppled at one of Missouri's oldest Jewish cemeteries.

Pence made a surprise stop at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City on Wednesday afternoon, where more than 700 people gathered to help clean up and attend an interfaith vigil.

Pence said the outpouring of support showed "the heart of the state."

Lewis Reed January 2017
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

It’s an odd-numbered year after a presidential election. And you know what that means? It’s time for a rough and tumble race for St. Louis mayor.

This isn’t any ordinary election. Because Mayor Francis Slay isn’t running for a fifth term, a big field of candidates have signed up to succeed him.

We’ve invited mayoral candidates to visit the Politically Speaking podcasts so they can give a lengthier view of their opinions on major city issues.

A boutique apartment tower going up at Euclid and West Pine avenues received tax increment financing in 2015. It sits across from a Whole Foods, which is housed on the lower level of another apartment building that received TIF. (Feb. 21, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s been a statistic tossed around frequently in the Democratic race for St. Louis mayor: The city has given away more than $700 million worth of tax increment financing and tax abatements over 15 years.

And those tools have become a big issue in the races for aldermen, and the mayoral primary.

Protesters gathered in downtown Clayton in February 2017 to show soldarity with immigrants and refugees following the announcement of President Trump's executive orders.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Department of Homeland Security’s latest announcement on the Trump administration’s immigration policies have alarmed local immigrants and their advocates.

In two memos released Tuesday, the department expanded the scope of immigration raids, undermined sanctuary areas and called on local law enforcement to help with federal immigration enforcement.

St. Louis immigration lawyer Jim Hacking said his office phone lines have been busy since the announcement, with clients unsure of how to move forward.

“People are really and utterly freaked out,” he said. “They’re wondering if they should carry their papers on them, they’re wondering what they should do, they want to have a lawyer on speed dial. Frankly, people are scared.”

Planned Parenthood supporters march silently past the organization's Central West End clinic as anti-abortion activists pray the Rosary Feb. 11, 2017.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Charles County lawmaker seeks to reverse a new ordinance in neighboring St. Louis that bars employers and landlords from discriminating against women who are pregnant, use contraception or have had an abortion. 

House Bill 989 was filed late Tuesday by Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters. He said in a written statement that it's a direct response to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay signing of the so-called "sanctuary city" measure into law, which took effect last week.

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we turned our attention to the use of tax increment financing (TIF) and tax abatement as an economic development tool. Is it used too much in St. Louis? Is it used in the best way possible?

We spoke with two people who have different perspectives on the subject.  

Alderman Antonio French, January 2017
David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

On this episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jenny Simeone and Rachel Lippmann welcome Alderman Antonio French to show for the first time.

The 21st Ward alderman is one of seven Democratic candidates running to succeed St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. 

Workers with Rosenbloom Monuments Company re-set headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on Tuesday morning.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 10:15 p.m. with additional information from the cemetery. — The Jewish community throughout the St. Louis area is trying to understand what’s behind an act of vandalism that left 154 gravestones toppled in one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the state of Missouri.

The damage happened some time over the weekend and was first noticed by workers making the rounds at the University City cemetery on Monday morning, according to Chesed Shel Emeth’s executive director, Anita Feigenbaum. 

The St. Louis research team for Mobilizing Millions. From left to right: Debadatta Chakraborty, Neeraja Kolloju, Kristen Barber, Debaleena Ghosh and Trisha Crawshaw. All five work with the Sociology Department at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
Provided | Kristen Barber | SIUC

Did you attend the Women’s March on St. Louis? An Illinois professor and her team of graduate students want to hear about your experience.

The Mobilizing Millions study, based at the University of California, Santa Barbara, aims to identify what motivated people to turn out en masse across the nation and around the globe.

“So many people are participating in politics who maybe have never participated before,” said Kristen Barber a sociology professor at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, who is part of the research team. “So, the questions really revolve around how this engagement might impact the size of future protests and participation.”

Legal Roundtable returned on St. Louis on the Air on Monday with Daniel Epps, William Freivogel and Mark Smith.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis on the Air

On Monday, St. Louis on the Air’s monthly legal roundtable returned to address pressing issues of the law. 

St. Charles County executive Steve Ehlmann, Mayor Francis Slay, and St. Clair County executive Mark Kern (right) at the State of the Region breakfast on January 12, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In what turned out to be his final inauguration speech in 2013, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay described St. Louis County as a place that “we confidently expect to re-enter in this decade.”

The Democrat might have been a bit overconfident, as it’s 2017 and there’s still strong opposition to the idea of a merger throughout St. Louis County. No one really knows what an actual merger would look like, either: Would St. Louis become a county municipality? Or would St. Louis and St. Louis County coalesce into one big city like Indianapolis did in the 1970s?

Still, the lack of headway hasn’t kept the topic from being a prime talking point in the St. Louis mayoral race. Proponents of a merger believe that combining jurisdictions creates some cost savings — and makes it easier to bring in big-ticket development projects.

A hand distributing cash with a dialogue box.
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s political power just got a big boost, even if he wasn’t aware of it.

That’s because the Missouri Ethics Commission just declared that candidates can spend money on, say, political ads for or against other politicians as long as there’s no direct coordination with a campaign. Since municipal and county candidates can take donations of an unlimited size, they could be used as a pipeline to help or hurt other candidates.

MoDOT's district manager Greg Horn announcing construction work in St. Louis region on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 outside at the Missouri Department of Transportation - February 17, 2017
Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis region can expect several major road construction projects this year.

The Missouri Department of Transportation announced on Friday that most of the road work will be maintenance and bridge repairs.

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