Politics & Issues | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics & Issues

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-South St. Louis County, speaks to reporters on Sept. 18, 2018.  A judge ruled that Trakas did not violate a charter provision against governmental employment when he did legal work for school districts.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Charles County judge ruled that a St. Louis County councilman did not violate a prohibition against working for a government agency.

The decision means that Councilman Ernie Trakas can remain on the St. Louis County Council — an outcome the south St. Louis County Republican said he expected.

Logan Chrislaw heards cattle on Monday, September 3, 2018 at his farm in Howard County, Mo. Chrislaw began farming with his father about eight years ago.
Jennifer Mosbrucker | special to St. Louis Public Radio

Despite recent rainfall, more than half of Missouri is still in a drought, hitting hard at one of the state’s key economic engines: agriculture.

Missouri hay — the primary feed for livestock — has hit its lowest production levels in 30 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ideally, each acre of pasture produces two tons of hay a year, which would be two of those large circular rolls often seen in farm fields. In 1988, the average acre in Missouri only yielded 1.2 tons, and this year it’s been 1.5 tons.

A St. Louis police officer looks out at protesters outside of police headquarters Sunday night, Sept. 17, 2017.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

More than a dozen people who were arrested protesting the Jason Stockley verdict filed suit Monday against the City of St. Louis saying police tactics violated their civil rights.

The nonprofit law firm ArchCity Defenders filed the 12 federal lawsuits on the anniversary of the mass arrests near Washington Avenue downtown. The individuals arrested included protesters, observers, an undercover police officer and members of the media.

Gage Skidmore | Flickr

Both of Missouri’s senators want their colleagues to investigate allegations of sexual assault against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

It comes as Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the high court was expected to get a key vote later this week.

Former U.S. Sen. Tim Talent
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies on the latest episode of Politically Speaking. The Republican served in various federal and state capacities for more than 20 years.

While Talent is no longer a candidate himself, he is leading the charge against a constitutional amendment known as Clean Missouri.

Lawyers for Friendship Village retirement facility say the community’s decision to turn away the couple was due to the “faith-based nature of the organization.”
Friendship Village

Lawyers for Friendship Village have asked a federal court to dismiss a same-sex couple's discrimination lawsuit against the St. Louis County retirement community.

In a response filed Friday, lawyers for Friendship Village deny the facility discriminated against Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance on the basis of sex. The lawyers argue that the retirement community denied the couple housing based on the organization's religious convictions.

In denying their housing application in July 2016, the senior living community in Sunset Hills mailed the couple a copy of its “cohabitation policy,” which defines marriage as between a man and a woman as it is “understood in the Bible.”

File | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s mission accomplished for Gov. Mike Parson, as the Missouri Legislature’s special session is all but over.

The Senate Friday debated and passed both revised bills the governor wanted – legislation to allow expansion of treatment courts in Missouri, and to create an online science, technology, engineering and math curriculum for middle-school and high-school students.

Green Party candidate Jo Crain, Republican candidate Attorney General Josh Hawley, independent candidate Craig O'Dear and Sen. Claire McCaskill participate in a candidate forum in Maryland Heights on Sept. 14, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen Claire McCaskill and state Attorney General Josh Hawley went toe-to-toe on health care, the Supreme Court, immigration and tariffs in their first forum of the campaign Friday.

Hawley, a Republican, said the public will choose between a “heartland way of life’’ and a “radical left-wing agenda.”

McCaskill, a Democrat, said the public should focus on “the ones who actually have a track record of working in a bipartisan way and actually getting things done.”

Kim Gardner began serving as the city’s top prosecutor in January 2017.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Updated at 2:46 p.m. Saturday with clarification — St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim  Gardner has been on the job for a little over a year and a half now, and her office has been the subject of some controversy and criticism over the course of that relatively short time period.

Earlier this week, Gardner was the focus of an in-depth piece in the Riverfront Times. On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, she joined host Don Marsh for a conversation in light of the recent news coverage, and Marsh started by asking the prosecutor what she thought about the recent description of her office as a “chaotic” one.

“In any transition period when you are a new elected official, taking over an office can be difficult, and transition is difficult and hard for people,” Gardner responded. “So, of course, as [with] any prior prosecutor, there’s going to be transition. People will leave. And some people may say it’s chaos, but I say that’s change.”

State Auditor Nicole Galloway, left, and her Republican challenger Saundra McDowell participated in a debate Friday.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s state auditor candidates tangled Friday over the role of the job in their first — and possibly only — joint appearance.

They also differed over the fate of a disputed ballot measure called Clean Missouri.

 

House Republicans talk during the last day of the legislative session. May 17, 2017
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A Cole County judge ruled Friday that a bid to overhaul the state’s ethics and state legislative redistricting laws contained too many subjects — and therefore can’t appear on the November ballot.

Proponents of the Clean Missouri initiative are appealing the ruling. But the clock is ticking for judges to make a final decision.

Lane closures on the Poplar Street Bridge began this week doubling commute times. One westbound lane will reopen in early October.
Credit Flickr| Paul Sableman

Two westbound lane closures on the Poplar Street Bridge have caused a headache for Illinois and Missouri commuters this week, doubling commute times for some.

The closures come on top of the full shutdown of MLK Bridge at the end of August, compounding traffic congestion. The lanes on the Poplar Street Bridge will remain closed through early October while the Missouri Department of Transportation replaces a joint in a bridge.

The Boys & Girls Club of St. Louis broke ground on the Teen Center of Excellence on September 13, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sept. 13 at 3:50 p.m., to include information from Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

Four years after protests rocked Ferguson, a nonprofit is expanding youth services in the area.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis broke ground on a teen center in Ferguson, Thursday morning. The $12.4-million facility will be located on West Florissant Avenue, less than half a mile from the spot where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in August 2014.

Cami Thomas, producer of the Smoke Screen documentary series with fellow filmmaker Calvin Tigre.
Cami Thomas

St. Louis activist and filmmaker Cami Thomas moved back to St. Louis from college a year after Michael Brown’s death. While news of the 2014 shooting and the protests that followed grabbed national attention, she was miles away at school — grappling with the developments and fallout.

When she returned to St. Louis, Thomas said people told her she was fortunate to move back “after the smoke cleared.” In talking with neighbors and friends, however, she wondered if locals weren’t still wrestling with age-old problems — namely segregation and discrimination.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

While the special legislative session moves forward, Missouri lawmakers have wrapped up their annual veto session with no overrides.

The House did vote in favor of overriding four of Gov. Mike Parson’s line-item vetoes, which would’ve restored $785,546 to the current state budget. But the Senate needed to override them, too, and it didn’t.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Attorney General Josh Hawley spoke in the St. Louis area on Aug. 30, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Once again, Republicans are raising questions about U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s personal finances – or rather, those of her husband, wealthy businessman Joe Shepard.

But this time, she’s accusing her GOP critics of being hypocrites because they’re not making the same demands of President Donald Trump.

Her Republican rival, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, contends that McCaskill wants to hide her family’s “dark-money’’ finances.

In the wake of Ferguson unrest, longtime St. Louisan Henry Biggs felt a pull to do something about the issues facing the St. Louis region.  He chose to swim.
Swimming to Ferguson

University City resident Henry Biggs remembers hearing “a lot of talk” about bridging St. Louis’ racial divides and disparities in the months that followed Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson four years ago.

“But I didn’t really see many people saying, ‘OK, well, what’s the thing that I could do?’” Biggs recalled this week on St. Louis on the Air.

For Biggs – a longtime St. Louisan, scholar and athlete – that one thing ended up involving a whole lot of swimming. He decided to swim the entire 28 miles of water surrounding Manhattan in New York City, and he asked people to pledge a dollar per mile to support “things that would make the Ferguson area better.”

This composite photo taken on April 10, 2018, shows the planned new site of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. McKee owned nearly 60 percent of the land in the 97-acre site.
File Photo | Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

An eminent domain bill meant to secure the land needed for the headquarters of a federal spy agency cleared a committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Wednesday.

Officials say the move is necessary to protect the city against a lawsuit that seeks to take back some of the land in the 97-acre planned location of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s $1.75 billion facility.

Missouri 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Cort VanOstran
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Cort VanOstran joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies to talk about his Democratic bid in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District.

VanOstran is squaring off against Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner, a Ballwin Republican who has represented the 2nd Congressional District since 2013. The district includes parts of St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties.

The Bail Project plans to bail out tens of thousands of people in dozens of cities. Since January, its St. Louis team has bailed out 756 people.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The first time Michael Milton helped buy somebody’s freedom, he didn’t expect it would be so simple.

He filed some paperwork, handed over cash and waited. Several hours later, the 19-year-old for whom Milton posted bail walked out of the St. Louis City Justice Center. The teenager had spent three months behind bars because he didn’t have $750 to make bail.

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