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Politics & Issues

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Big Spring State Park
Missouri Division of Tourism | Flickr

Missouri’s recent state park windfall, which came at the end of former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s tenure, is in jeopardy.

Four of the parks, scattered across the Ozarks, were shuttered or never opened. Republican legislators said there just isn’t the money to maintain the parks and some have suggested selling the land to private developers.

But all of those parks are near active mining operations, raising fears among environmentalists that now-protected land will become a for-profit enterprise.

A crane lifts the top off the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park on Thursday, June 8, 2017. A spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson says it will take a while to remove the entire piece.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

A teacher at New City School in St. Louis is using the controversy over Confederate monuments, including the recently-removed Confederate Memorial in Forest Park, to teach fifth graders about diversity, inclusion and conflict resolution.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from that teacher, Stephanie Teachout Allen, who also serves as director of diversity and inclusion at the school, and David Cunningham, a professor of sociology at Washington University, about how they have hosted these conversations with children and others in their lives.

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 St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann back to the program.

The Republican has served as St. Charles County’s top office holder since 2007, and is one of the region’s longest-serving officials. Previously, he was a circuit judge, state senator, private-practice attorney and public school teacher.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill makes a point during a town hall meeting on August 23, 2017, in Bowling Green.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

BOWLING GREEN -- U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s August recess town hall tour stopped in northeast Missouri on Wednesday, a historically Democratic stronghold that went heavily for Republican President Donald Trump last November.

It’s part of a rural tour of sorts that McCaskill said is vital for Democrats like her to undertake — especially as she gears up for a potentially tough re-election battle next year.

Crevonda Nance, Herring's sister-in-law, is supported by community activists – including Gina Torres, to the left of her, whose son was killed by police in June. Nance drove to St. Louis from Mississippi after finding out Herring was killed by police.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:24 p.m. — Members of the LGBTQ community, activists and advocates are outraged that police shot and killed a transgender black woman this week.

Frustrated by the shooting — and that police identified Kenneth “Kiwi” Herring as a man — about 40 people gathered outside the building in which Herring was shot Tuesday for a vigil and to express dissatisfaction with a police force they said was disrespectful and too quick to shoot.

Our monthly legal roundtable returns to discuss pressing issues of the law with Bill Freivogel, Rachel Sachs and Mark Smith.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, our monthly Legal Roundtable convened to discuss pressing issues of the law.

An illustration of Missouri death-row inmate Marcellus Williams.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:15 p.m. with McCulloch statement — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens cited new DNA evidence in postponing Tuesday’s scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams.

Greitens also will appoint a five-member board of inquiry that will include retired Missouri judges. That hasn’t happened since 1997, according to Greitens spokesman Parker Briden.

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, right, and candidate Bill Haas, center, speak as state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal answers a question.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s Senate leadership made the rare move of stripping Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of her committee assignments on Tuesday.

It’s because of a Facebook comment she posted and later deleted last week that hoped for President Donald Trump’s assassination. She has resisted numerous calls from Republicans and Democrats, including Gov. Eric Greitens and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, to step down.

DiAnne Mueller, the Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the prevention of child abuse in the St. Louis region with DiAnne Mueller, the Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery

The organization provides emergecy intervention, respite care and family support. The five nurseries and nine outreach centers under the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery umbrella serve more than 6,800 children every year. Over the past 31 years, they’ve served over 110,000 children.

Union members gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall on Aug. 8, 2017, to notarize and turn in petitions to force a statewide vote over Missouri’s right-to-work law.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri labor unions were successful in getting enough signatures to all but guarantee the state’s new right-to-work law won’t go into effect a week from now as Gov. Eric Greitens had planned.

But the real battle is just getting started. Come November 2018, voters around the state will determine whether to kill or keep the law, which bars unions and employers from requiring all workers in a bargaining unit to pay dues. Ten percent of Missouri workers are in a union.

Marcellus Williams' execution was postponed in August.
Missouri Department of Corrections

Updated at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21 with governor's office declining comment — A nonprofit that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions has asked Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to put Tuesday’s scheduled execution on hold.

The Midwest Innocence Project said new DNA evidence presented last week shows Marcellus Williams didn’t kill former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle in 1998.

Organizers of the Black Pride Festival set up a tent on Sunday in St. Louis' Grove neighborhood.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump’s words and actions were at the forefront of people’s minds on Sunday at St. Louis’ Black Pride Rally.

One of the longest-running black LGBTQ community events in the nation, this year’s gathering coincides with a summer in which the president announced on Twitter that transgender people were banned from serving in the military and, more recently, assigned some blame to counterprotesters for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Donald Trump leaves the stage after a March 2016 speech at the Peabody Opera House.
File photo I Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri residents backed President Donald Trump by overwhelming numbers in last year’s election.

But some of his backers told St. Louis Public Radio that they aren’t completely happy with how he’s reacted to last weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one person was killed and more than a dozen people were injured when a car rammed through a crowd of anti-white supremacist protesters, and two state troopers died when their helicopter crashed.

More than 1,000 union members gathered Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, in the Missouri Capitol.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:25 p.m. with law suspended — With the submission of more than 300,000 signatures Friday, Missouri’s right-to-work law won't go into effect Aug. 28 and its fate likely will be put to voters in 2018.

The law is suspended, Secretary of State spokeswoman Maura Browning told St. Louis Public Radio. The office still needs to verify that at least 100,000 of the signatures are from registered voters — the minimum to force a statewide vote in November 2018.

She said the count will take weeks and that if there isn't enough, the law will be put in place.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal walks out of the Senate chamber as the Senate adjourns for the session earlier this year in Jefferson City.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 2:20 p.m. Aug. 18 with lieutenant governor calling for expulsion — Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Parson said Friday the state Senate should expel Maria Chappelle-Nadal due to her Facebook comment in which she hoped President Donald Trump would be assassinated.

An illustration of Missouri death-row inmate Marcellus Williams.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri will use two of its 34 vials of the sedative pentobarbital on Tuesday when it executes Marcellus Williams, who was convicted in the 1998 killing of Felicia Gayle, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter.

The state has enough pentobarbital for 17 executions, Williams’ included, according to a document obtained by St. Louis Public Radio. No one except the state of Missouri knows where the stockpile comes from, despite lawsuits from inmates and media outlets.

State Reps. Jon Carpenter, D-Kansas City, and Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City
Photos by Tim Bommel of House Communications & Jason Rosenbaum

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Reps. Lauren Arthur and Jon Carpenter onto the program.

The two Kansas City Democrats represent portions of Clay County. Arthur was first elected in 2014, while Carpenter won his first race in 2012.

St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announceson Nov. 24, 2014, that a grand jury has chosen not to charge Darren Wilson in Michael Brown's death.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated at 3:10 p.m. Aug. 16 with comments from oral arguments, new headline  — A grand juror who was on the panel that did not  charge ex-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown asked the Missouri Court of Appeals on Wednesday for the right to speak about that experience.

A strip of paint that runs through Rainmaker art studio in Makanda, Illinois is meant to mark the line of totality for the upcoming eclipse.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Adam Kirby stood in the path of totality, deep in the hills of Southern Illinois, and acknowledged that he has absolutely no idea how many guests to expect on his farm on Aug. 21 for the Great American Eclipse.

He’s turning this field of dreams — just outside the village of Goreville — into a one-day-only parking lot for eclipse-watchers: Ten bucks for cars and trucks; $30 for RVs.

The St. Louis County Council passed a resolution Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, asking municipalities to spend Proposition P solely on policing. The resolution is non-binding.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In an effort to block municipalities from using a recently passed “public safety” tax increase on things like potholes and snow removal, the St. Louis County Council passed a resolution Tuesday asking for the money be strictly spent on policing.

Problem is, the resolution doesn’t actually do anything.

The interior of the Scottrade Center on Jan. 2, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:45 a.m. Aug. 16 with statement from Darlene Green— The owners of the Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis have gone to court to kick-start the planned $100 million upgrade of the home of the St. Louis Blues.

Kiel Center Partners asked a St. Louis circuit judge on Tuesdsay to force Comptroller Darlene Green to issue the bonds for the project. This is the second lawsuit related to the work in a week: three St. Louis residents sued Friday, saying it’s illegal to use public dollars to help private companies make more money.

Marcellus Williams' execution was postponed in August.
Missouri Department of Corrections

Updated at 5 p.m. with comment from Williams' lawyer, governor's office — The Missouri Supreme Court will not stop next week's scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams, it said Tuesday. 

St. Charles County

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann will try for a fourth term in 2018, he announced Monday.

If he wins, the Republican would become the county’s longest-serving official.

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

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has jogged with soldiers, done push-ups with state troopers and rolled up hoses with firefighters since becoming governor of Missouri.

On Monday, he'll serve food to prison inmates near Jefferson City.

It's part of an initiative that eight governors, Republicans and Democrats, a lieutenant governor and an attorney general will take part in this week as a way to understand the needs of prison workers. The push is backed by the U.S. Justice Department, the National Reentry Resource Center and the Association of State Correctional Administrators.

The gift shop at the state historic site is selling commemorative T-shirts but is out of eclipse glasses. August 11 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Several hundred people are expected to show up at Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville on Aug. 21 to observe the solar eclipse from the “City of the Sun,” even though the historic site is just outside the path of totality.

The state historic site will experience about 99.5 percent totality and is not planning special events that day, said assistant manager Bill Iseminger.

He expects that most of the eclipse-watchers will want to climb the 156 steps to watch from the top of Monks Mound, the largest of the mounds built by the ancient Mississippians between 1000 and 1400 A.D.

A memorial rests for Rashad Farmer, who was shot and killed in 2015 on the 5800 block of Lotus Avenue in St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a grim trend tucked into St. Louis’ 2017 homicide statistics: More than half of the victims are black males under the age of 29 and close to half of those suspected of doing the shootings are in the same age range.

It illustrates a stark reality in the city’s crime-ridden neighborhoods. Officials with the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment say employment and education are an answer to reducing the number of young people killed. But those who have made connections with the city’s youth say there’s more to be done.

City of St. Louis

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson picked one of her former aldermanic colleagues to serve as the city’s chief record keeper.

Krewson is appointing Alderwoman Dionne Flowers to head the Office of the Register. That appointed officeholder is responsible for maintaining the city’s official records, as well as certifying city elections. 

Flowers represented the 2nd Ward, which takes in six neighborhoods in north St. Louis. She was first elected to her aldermanic seat in 1999.

Union members gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall on Tues., Aug. 8, 2017, to notarize and turn in petitions to force a statewide vote over Missouri’s right-to-work law.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

(Revised Aug. 10 to clarify the activities of Americans for Prosperity) --It appears that Missouri labor groups will be able to block the state’s new right-to-work law from taking effect Aug. 28.

They’ve collected more than 300,000 notarized signatures in the fight to force a statewide vote over the law in November 2018, state AFL-CIO president Mike Louis and other union leaders say. That’s more than three times the number needed.

In Missouri, 415 judges and commissioners operate in courthouses across the state to hear roughly 2 million cases each year. Circuit Court includes associate, probate, juvenile and municipal divisions.

Opinions can then be appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, which is comprised of 32 judges over three districts; Springfield – Southern, Kansas City – Western, and St. Louis – Eastern.

Michael Brown Sr. places roses along Canfield Drive before the start of a moment of silence for his son, Michael Brown.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There were tears shed, prayers said and more than four minutes of silence observed Wednesday at the site of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting in Ferguson three years earlier.

Michael Brown Sr., who is encouraging people to also support other organizations that help local kids during this memorial week, was there at the Canfield Green Apartments in Ferguson.

“Aug. 9 will always be hard, because it’s in memory of Mike Brown Jr. and just remembering what happened to him,” the elder Brown said during the gathering. “But moving forward, we’ll be doing a lot of positive things in memory of his name.”

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