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Politics & Issues

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State troopers stand outside the Missouri State Capitol at the start of the ceremony on Jan. 9, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Greitens just became the 56th governor of Missouri. And two of Missouri’s preeminent political podcasts have joined forces to analyze this historic day.

Right after Greitens took the oath of office, Brian Ellison of Statehouse Blend Missouri and Jason Rosenbaum of Politically Speaking interviewed the leaders of the Missouri House. First, the two podcasters interviewed House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, and state Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia.

Gov. Eric Greitens greets guests at this residence after being sworn in on Jan. 9, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If you spent enough time around Eric Greitens during his successful bid for governor, you probably heard the former Navy SEAL say, “If you want different, do different.”

That was one of the many slogans that echoed throughout Missouri over the last few months. And it’s fair to say that the Republican chief executive is going to bring some stylistic and policy changes to Missouri’s highest office. His first variation may have been at his own inauguration, when he scrapped the traditional parade to turn the spotlight instead on the state’s veterans, teachers and first responders. 

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to the crowd after taking the oath of office outside the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City on Jan. 9, 2017.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Eric Greitens took the oath of office as Missouri’s new governor today, he ushered in an era of complete Republican control of the state’s legislative and executive branches. It’s an opportunity that many members of the GOP are relishing – even though some warn that the party risks taking all the blame if it can’t govern to Missourians’ liking.

As Eric Greitens is sworn in today as Missouri’s 56th governor, he’s pledging to support the state’s constitution and to serve the more than 6 million people living in the Show Me state.   

Shortly after Greitens was elected in November, his spokesman, Austin Chambers said,  “… the governor’s priorities for this first session are jobs, ethics reform, public safety and education reform."

St. Louis Public Radio recently asked listeners and readers to share their priorities  for the new governor. In addition to issues Greitens has already raised, some of his new constituents cite discounts and tax breaks for older homeowners.

Missouri Gov-elect Eric Greitens offers a thumbs-up to supporters at his final 'thank you' rally, held in Maryland Heights Jan 7, 2017
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

As Missouri Governor-elect Eric Greitens prepares to be sworn in Monday, he’s completing a week filled with thanking the folks who helped get him there.

“I will always remember that I am standing here because of you,’’ Greitens said Saturday as he addressed supporters gathered in a Maryland Heights warehouse for his last official rally before taking office.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner takes the oath of office at the Old Courthouse on January 6, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the rotunda of the courthouse where Dred and Harriet Scott sued for their freedom, the first African-American circuit attorney for the city of St. Louis took the oath of office Friday night.

"I'm humbled and honored that you have entrusted me with this responsibility of this very essential office," Kim Gardner told the crowd of more than a hundred at the Old Courthouse in downtown Friday night. "As a community we have a lot of challenges and opportunities to address the criminal justice system. The team at the circuit attorney’s office and I are ready and eager to take on this work for the community."

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

Filing for the March 7 primary is over, and we've got a pretty good idea about who wants to be an officeholder in the city of St. Louis.

The seats for mayor, comptroller and odd-numbered wards are up this cycle. There will also be a special election in the 16th Ward to fill the unexpired term of Donna Baringer, who was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in November.

This list may change. Independent candidates have until Feb. 13 to file for office, and primary candidates have until Jan. 26 to can drop out. With those caveats, here's the field.

State Treasurer Clint Zwiefel
Courtesy of Clint Zweifel's office

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Treasurer Clint Zweifel to the program.

The Democratic statewide official was kind enough to record the show on his last working day in office. He’s departing from elective life on Monday, primarily because state treasurer is one of two statewide offices that have term limits.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visits students at Mason Elementary School in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Jay Nixon has begun what's in effect his farewell tour across Missouri before stepping down next week as governor.

It began Thursday in Jefferson City at the annual governor's prayer breakfast. The ecumenical event features elected officials and several hundred members of the public who buy tickets. 

The U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
(via Flickr/Wally Gobetz)

Missouri’s U.S. senators may have been on opposite sides during the 2016 presidential contest, but both plan to be present when President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in on January 20.

Sen. Roy Blunt, a fellow Republican, is overseeing the proceedings as chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., criticized President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday for his criticism of U.S. intelligence experts.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.,  contends that members of Congress in both parties – and the public – should be disturbed by President-elect Donald Trump’s recent comments criticizing the nation’s intelligence community.

Among other things, Trump has been firing off comments on Twitter that question the conclusions of intelligence experts that the Russian government was involved in hacking during the presidential campaign.

St. Louis Public Radio's Donna Korando and Dale Singer have led storied journalism careers in St. Louis. On Friday, they retire.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics editor Donna Korando and education reporter Dale Singer have made their marks on the St. Louis Public Radio newsroom, but they’ve also led storied journalistic careers in St. Louis at outlets including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Beacon.

As of Friday, both Korando and Singer will leave St. Louis Public Radio for their next adventures: retirement.

Gov.-elect Eric Greitens' opposition to publicly funding a St. Louis soccer stadium may be placing the city's Major League Soccer bid in jeopardy.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When those who are working to bring Major League Soccer to St. Louis rolled out their stadium proposal, it seemed as though everything was in its right place.

The ownership group known as SC STL included people with experience with top-flight sports franchises. Many of the region’s top leaders were on board with the proposal. And in stark contrast to the failed bid to keep the St. Louis Rams, this group promised a public vote before any taxpayer funds were expended in St. Louis.

What soccer stadium proponents apparently didn’t foresee was what Gov.-elect Eric Greitens had to say.

The Missouri Capitol Building at dusk
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A cold arctic blast greeted lawmakers, lobbyists and reporters who filtered into the state Capitol Wednesday for the start of Missouri's 2017 legislative session.

But it didn't take long for things to heat up, at least on the House side of the building.

stacks of money
sxc.hu

Missouri state government’s income was almost flat in December, compared to a year ago, a possible sign that Gov.-elect Eric Greitens may face tougher financial decisions than he had expected.

The state’s latest revenue numbers, released Wednesday, show that Missouri’s income growth for the current fiscal year is less than half the increase needed to fully fund the state government’s current budget.

portable metal detector
Reyham Dhuny | Flickr

The Missouri Capitol is restoring security procedures, and metal detectors, that have not been in place at the complex for almost 14 years.

As of  Tuesday, most visitors to the Missouri Capitol – including journalists and lobbyists – will be subject to security searches and be required to go through metal detectors. The new procedures won’t apply to elected officials.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The city of St. Louis’ Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce first started in that office in 1994 as the assistant circuit attorney. In 2000, she was elected as the city’s circuit attorney. Joyce just left the office at the end of 2016 after 22 years of service.

By all counts, Joyce, 54,  is the longest-serving circuit attorney in the history of the city of St. Louis.

The St. Louis County Council met for the first time this year on Tuesday.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is facing his most potentially adversarial County Council since he took office two years ago.

But the Democratic, countywide official is optimistic that he can work together with the seven-member legislative body – and avoid some of the pitfalls that bedeviled his predecessor.

St. Louis Blues Chairman Tom Stillman and Lewis Reed, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, leave the stage after presenting their ideas for improvements to the Scottrade Center.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

Some of St. Louis’ top officials are signing onto a large-scale renovation of the Scottrade Center, a facility that’s home of the St. Louis Blues and dozens of musical and sports-related events.

The plan comes as the owner of the Blues warns that the city could start losing lucrative events without the partially taxpayer-funded proposal.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

On Wednesday, January 4, the Missouri Legislature will open for its 2017 session. What will the year in legislation look like?

On Tuesday, St. Louis on the Air has assembled a panel to answer that question and give us a look at the year to come including St. Louis Public Radio reporters Marshall Griffin and Jo Mannies as well as Terry Jones, Founders Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Landon Brownfield and Wolf Smith take a short break from working to get St. Louis' new LGBT Community Center ready on December 29, 2016.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

A new LGBT Community Center near South Grand Boulevard will open to its first visitors on Sunday. The center is housed inside the Pride St. Louis offices at 3738 Chouteau Avenue.

The Center's programs stem from a collaboration of many local organizations: Black Pride, the MTUG transgender group and QTPOC organization of queer and transgender people of color, as well as Pride St. Louis.

Phyllis Schlafly speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Gage Skidmore | Flickr

In a few weeks, the St. Louis area will be Ground Zero for the dueling factions of  the Eagle Forum organization set up decades ago by conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, who died in early September at age 92.

Schlafly’s daughter, Anne Cori, says leaders of the Eagle Forum’s official political arm, which goes by the same name, will gather at the Frontenac Hilton on Jan. 26 for an educational policy conference, followed by a “roundtable’’ of state chairs from around the country.

Black semi-automatic pistol
(via Flickr/kcds)

A new law in Missouri this year allows most adults to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.

Lawmakers got final approval for the measure after overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto last September.

Gun owners are now no longer required to take safety training or have a criminal background check to carry their weapon concealed in most public places.

Eric and Sheena Greitens hold their sons, Joshua and Jacob, while speaking to reporters after casting their ballots the St. Louis Public Library in the Central West End on Election Day 2016.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 3:30 p.m. Jan. 2, with renewed opposition from Gov.-elect Greitens - If those who want state help to build a new Major League Soccer stadium in St. Louis had hoped for softening from the incoming governor, no change is apparent. At an event to announce a new public safety director, Gov.-elect Eric Greitens said he has "completely ruled out state funding for stadiums.

He repeated an earlier description the idea: "I do not support welfare for millionaires. I look forward to meeting with the leaders of the MLS project to see if there's a way for them to bring private sector funding to bring a soccer team to the state of Missouri."

Sikeston Director of Public Safety and Police Chief Drew Juden will lead Missouri's Department of Public Safety, following his selection by Gov.-elect Eric Greitens Monday, Jan. 2, 2017.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens introduced Sikeston Director of Public Safety and Police Chief Drew Juden to lead the state Department of Public Safety on Monday. St. Louis Fire Department Captain Gregg Favre will be deputy director. Greitens said their job is supporting those in the public safety sector and Juden said he would “have their backs.”

File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Not since Matt Blunt was governor of Missouri nearly a decade ago did the Republican Party control both the executive branch and both houses of the legislature. Even then, there were enough Democrats in both the House and Senate to block any veto override attempts, rare as they were then.

That will differ once Eric Greitens takes the oath of office and has the benefit of veto-proof GOP majorities in both chambers.

With the last shops closing more than two years ago, the entrance to Jamestown Mall in Florissant is blocked by barricades
Mike Kalisnik | Flickr

Updated Jan. 3, 2017 with County Council action: The St. Louis County Council did not vote on designating Jamestown Mall as blighted at the weekly council meeting Tuesday. Newly elected council member Rochelle Walton Gray, D-Blackjack, requested more time to review information about the proposal. The council will take up the matter at a later date.

Original Story from Jan. 2:

Plans to redevelop the vacant Jamestown Mall near Florissant could soon take shape.  St. Louis County officials say they hope to complete the legal steps necessary to own the entire mall property within months.

The first step is officially classifying the mall as blighted, which allows the county to use eminent domain. The County Council has scheduled a hearing at 4 p.m. Tuesday in its chambers in Clayton to get public input. Later that evening the council is scheduled for a final vote on the matter.

Jay Ashcroft
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Secretary of State-elect Jay Ashcroft is planning to overhaul the office’s operations when he takes over Jan. 9.

Transition team member Steele Shippy confirmed Friday that some employees have been told they will lose their jobs, but he denied that most or all of the office’s 270 workers are being targeted.  "There's been no blanket email or communication that says they are all being let go,'' he said.

"Is the office going to undergo changes? Absolutely. We're doing a reorganization of the entire secretary of state's office."

Joshua Johnson is the host of the new nationally-distributed public radio show 1A.
Stephen Voss | WAMU

We’re building this program as a safe place to be heard: a place where everyone is treated with respect and empathy, even as we discuss (or argue about) the major issues we face. If you’re tired of bracing for discussions with clenched fists and sharp elbows, then you’ll love 1A. We’re more of an “open arms” show. And we’ll talk about solutions, not just problems.

Rick Stream 2016
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

More than two years after narrowly losing a bid for the top job in St. Louis County government, Rick Stream is slated to become one of the most powerful elections officials in Missouri.

The St. Louis County Board of Elections Commissioners tapped Stream to serve as the Republican elections director. Two directors from each major political party are in charge of running the day-to-day operations of county elections board. But because Stream shares the same party with incoming Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, he’ll technically be in charge of the state’s largest elections jurisdiction.

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