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Politics & Issues

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St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar (center) listens to remarks by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (03/31/17, Eagleton courthouse)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Some of St. Louis County’s mayors say money from a recently enacted sales tax increase may not make the region safer — especially because cities with high crime rates aren’t necessarily getting the most money.

The half-cent sales tax, which takes effect later fall and is widely known as Proposition P, was billed as to be used on public safety. The breakdown of the money gives about $46 million a year to the St. Louis County Police Department, with roughly $34 million from the tax will be split among the county’s 89 municipalities.

Wes Mullins and Darlene Grene joined St. Louis on the Air on Friday, and Traci Blackmon joined by phone.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, we’ll go “Behind the Headlines.” This week, we discussed the current issues impacting African-American people in the LGBTQ community.

This week, St. Louis is host to a national conference sponsored by the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis called “Grounded in Love,” running through Aug. 5.

Joining the program to discuss the topic:

Paul Knittel | flickr

The assessed value of residential homes in St. Louis County has shot up an average of 7 percent since 2015 — the county’s strongest showing in almost a decade. St. Louis’ numbers beat the county: a nearly 12 percent increase in the same time frame.

Experts say it’s a sign the region has recovered from the economic downturn of the late 2000s.

When Norman Brown was 15, he served as a decoy while a man twice his age robbed a store and fatally shot its owner. Brown received life without parole for first-degree murder even though he wasn’t the shooter.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There are about 100 inmates in Missouri who were told as teenagers they would die behind bars for murder. All of them are now eligible for parole after serving 25 years due to two U.S. Supreme Court decisions and a change in state law.

But only three of the 23 men who’ve asked for their freedom know when they’re going home — a ratio that advocates say is unconstitutional.

Protesters walk down West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson on Aug. 9, 2016, two years after Mike Brown was killed by a Ferguson police officer.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A black U.S. Navy veteran sued the city of Ferguson this week, alleging his rights were violated during a 2012 arrest for ordinance violations.

It’s the latest in a series of court battles for the St. Louis County municipality, especially since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, touched off weeks of protests and exposed serious problems within Ferguson’s police department and courts.

Alderwoman Pamela Boyd, D-27th Ward, August 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome St. Louis Alderwoman Pamela Boyd to the show for the first time.

Members of the Missouri Senate work through the final day of the General Assembly's legislative session in 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers routinely have denied requests to make their emails available through open records requests. Now, a conservative nonprofit group is challenging the policy with a lawsuit that, should it succeed, will give the public more insight into how legislators make decisions.

The future of the Edward Jones Dome is a big topic of discussion now that the St. Louis Rams are gone -- especially since there's outstanding debt on the facility.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:10 p.m. with attorney general office's having no comment — The NFL’s Rams left St. Louis, but some unsettled business — back taxes — apparently remains.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Los Angeles Rams may owe the state $352,000 dollars in unpaid state sales taxes for three of the years the team played in St. Louis.

Members of the Chicago Teacher's Union take to the streets in during a strike in April 2016.
Charles Edward Miller | Flickr

Updated at 11:35 a.m. Aug. 1 with reaction from the Illinois Federation of Teachers — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner stripped millions of dollars for Chicago Public Schools from the school funding bill Tuesday and sent it back to the General Assembly just weeks before classes begin throughout the state.

Using what's called an amendatory veto, the Republican said in a statement ahead of a news conference that his changes make sure "enough resources flow to children in the poorest and most disadvantaged school districts across the entire state."

Hundreds of participants marched along  Vandeventer Avenue on Sunday evening following a rally at the Transgender Memorial Garden in support of transgender rights. July 30, 2017
Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump’s tweets announcing his plan to prevent transgender Americans from serving in the U.S. military fueled another rally in St. Louis.

On Sunday, several hundred advocates of LGBTQ rights, including some veterans, gathered at the Transgender Memorial Garden on 1469 S. Vandeventer Ave. to rally in support of transgender members of the military. Participants waved both transgender and American flags, and held signs that read “love makes a family,” “trans rights are human rights,” and “this is not OK.”

 

William Freivogel, Susan Appleton and Mark Smith discussed pressing issues of the law on Legal Roundtable on Monday.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

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

The conversation turned to Missouri's new abortion regulations, government and religion, President Trump's tweeted ban on transgender soldiers in the military, new standards for Missouri’s municipal courts, turnover in Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's office, St. Louis' Medium Security Institution, a new chief justice of Missouri Supreme Court, and more.

St. Louis Metro Police officers use bicycles to push back protesters at an anti-Trump rally in downtown St. Louis in November 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A white officer has settled a federal lawsuit he filed against the city of St. Louis in which he claimed that police officials promoted a less-qualified black officer to lieutenant colonel.

Maj. Michael Caruso's lawsuit is the third the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has faced in five years over promotions. The lawsuits were filed by black and white officers. Two of the suits, including Caruso's, blame individual decision-makers for alleged discrimination. A third, filed in state court, claims that the process is unfair.

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Mental illness is real in the African-American community and needs to be talked about.

That was the message of the final panel at the National Urban League conference, which wrapped up in St. Louis on Saturday. All three speakers were celebrity women of color who had had their own struggles with mental illness.

 

The Trump administration’s latest federal budget blueprint proposes less spending for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Advocacy group Empower Missouri estimates there will be at least $7.4 billion cuts in federal investments for housing for low-income people.

That concerns supporters of affordable housing and community development in Missouri. Jeanette Mott Oxford, executive director of Empower Missouri,  said she finds the effects from the suggested budget on Missouri’s low-income housing options worrisome.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Court of Appeals has given labor its second boost in a month in unions’ two-pronged effort to  overturn the state's "right to work" law.

On Friday, the court overturned a judge's earlier decision changing the wording on labor's proposed referendum to block "right to work," which is slated to go into effect Aug. 28.

On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., cast late night votes for and against the most recent health care bill making rounds on Capitol Hill.
Ryan Delaney, Gage Skidmore, Center for American Progress

After another Republican Senate loss early Friday, Missouri and Illinois senators are calling for a return to bipartisan talks to overhaul the nation’s health care law.

They include U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, who had tried to help his party’s leaders come up with the votes needed for a trimmed-back version of a bill that would have repealed key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the signature achievement of former President Barack Obama.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, we went Behind the Headlines with a top news story from the week. This week, we delved into the effects on pro abortion rights advocates and organizations of the legislation passed on July 25 to place further restrictions on abortion in Missouri.

For more background, read St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jason Rosenbaum’s story on the regulations from earlier this week.

St. Louis County Councilman Pat Dolan, D-Richmond Heights, July 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | 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. Louis County Councilman Pat Dolan to the program for the first time.

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-University City, speaks at a congressional forum hosted by the League of Women Voters at Christ Church Cathedral in July of 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Places that were crucial to the civil rights movement in the mid-20th century are starting to deteriorate, U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay says, which is one of the main reasons why he’s pushing to preserve them.

Clay’s other angle: He has Republican support, including U.S. Rep. Jason Smith of Salem, Mo. The two are co-sponsors of a bill that passed the U.S. House on Wednesday that would establish the African-American Civil Rights Network.

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
File photo | Seth Perlman | Associated Press

Updated 1 p.m. July 27 with lack of action on second day — Illinois legislators adjourned Thursday, the second day of a special session on school funding, after just a few minutes. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner summoned lawmakers to Springfield with the task of resolving a fight over a new funding calculation. Both chambers have approved a plan, but the Senate has refused to send it to Rauner, who says he'll rewrite it and send it back over objections to money for Chicago Public Schools.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has launched a website to show that most school districts stand to gain more state funding under his plan than under the Democrats' plan. How he calculated those numbers is a question reporters have asked repeatedly. We turned to the state board of education for answers.

People inside the Workhouse look out as protesters face off with St. Louis police officers. July 21, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ Medium Security Institution, also known as the Workhouse, has been the target of protests and lawsuits for years, including for its lack of air conditioning during the recent record-breaking heat.

While the city brought in temporary air conditioning units Monday, providing what city engineers said would be the ability to “sustain a temperature of 78 degrees inside the dorms,” the events sparked several questions. Here are some important facts about the Workhouse and the regulations it must adhere to.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson just passed the mark of 100 days in office as mayor.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

July 27 marked the 100th day in office for St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

She joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh in-studio for the full hour on Thursday, discussing her accomplishments thus far, missed opportunities and what challenges she foresees ahead.

While on the program, she addressed:

Leaders prepare to cut the ribbon in front of the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. It's on the site of the QuikTrip that was burned during protests following Michael Brown's fatal shooting.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated at 4:50 p.m. July 26 with additional comments from the ceremony — In 2014, the burned-out Ferguson QuikTrip quickly became a national symbol of a community’s frustration over police brutality. Local and national leaders hope the building that replaced the convenience store becomes a symbol of hope.

Nonprofit, corporate and political leaders gathered Wednesday to celebrate the grand opening of the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center. It also served as the opening of the National Urban League’s annual conference, which is in St. Louis through Saturday.

Josh Hawley takes part in a debate.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri attorney general’s office said late Tuesday that it wants a federal appeals court to reinstate a ban on political action committees transferring money to each other during campaigns.

A MetroLink train
File Photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9 a.m. July 26 with more details — There will be an investigation into whether the St. Louis County officers assigned to patrol MetroLink stations and trains violated any laws, the St. Louis County Council decided Tuesday on the heels of three reports by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, and Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, discuss abortion regulations on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3 p.m. on Wednesday with information about Greitens signing the bill: JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Physicians will have to meet with women seeking abortions three days before the procedure and Missouri’s attorney general will have the ability to enforce abortion laws under the bill that Gov. Eric Greitens signed into law on Wednesday.

Greitens spokesman Parker Briden confirmed that the Republican governor signed Sen. Andrew Koenig's bill into law on Wednesday afternoon. Koenig's bill, which will go into effect in late October, passed on Tuesday by a 22-9 vote and came after a Democratic filibuster. Supporters say the legislation will make clinics safer, while critics contend it will make it harder for women to obtain abortions. The legislation may also complicate Planned Parenthood’s bid to expand throughout the state.

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is the largest local branch of any other Urban League in the country.
Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

If you want to know why the National Urban League conference is in St. Louis this week, look no further than Michael Brown’s fatal shooting. The local chapter of the organization, which champions civil rights and economic empowerment for African-Americans, said it wanted to call attention to what it’s done since August 2014, and the work that remains.

But the location is also symbolic of the dilemma that the Urban League, which has been in the St. Louis area since 1918, and other long-standing organizations like the NAACP face: finding ways to stay relevant as movements like Black Lives Matter continue to rise to prominence.

More than a thousand demonstrators gather on Canfield Drive on Aug. 30, 2014 as part of a National March on Ferguson.
File photo | Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:45 p.m. to correct that the ruling may have violated Johnson's constitutional rights — A federal lawsuit filed by Dorian Johnson against the city of Ferguson, former officer Darren Wilson and former police Chief Thomas Jackson can go forward, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green takes the oath of office during an inauguration ceremony at City Hall in April. (2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Darlene Green first became St. Louis’ comptroller in 1995, making her the first most politically powerful African-American woman in the region. Twenty-two years and seven elections later, she’s still in office, and has lots of company, putting St. Louis on the leading edge of a national trend.

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