Politics & Issues | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics & Issues

Missouri has a website designed to make government more transparent, according to state Treasurer Eric Schmitt.

Schmitt’s office recently launched ShowMeCheckbook.mo.gov, which he calls “a one-stop shop” for information on state finances, revenue, payroll, expenses and cash flow.

On Aug. 31, 2013, then-Mayor Francis Slay signed an executive order returning control of the St. Louis police department back to the city.
FIle photo | Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Five years ago, control of the St. Louis police department returned to the city.

For more than 150 years, a state-appointed board had overseen the department, even though city residents paid for the services.

Opponents and supporters of the transition have different takes on how the last five years have gone.

St. Louis resident Megan Vitale and her nine-year-old daughter Sophia, who has cerebral palsy, participated in the Ride to Unite event on September 1, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

When Erika Wolf was young, she loved riding her bike.

But when she was 11, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa — a rare genetic disorder that causes a person to lose their vision over time.

Wolf is now blind, but she hasn’t stopped cycling. This is her second year riding a tandem bike in “Ride to Unite,” an annual event that pairs champion cyclists racing in the Gateway Cup with riders who have disabilities. The goal, say organizers, is to help make cycling a more inclusive sport.

File photo | Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated September 1 at 4:25 p.m. with response from Gardner — The St. Louis chief of police says none of his department’s leadership was involved in developing a list of officers who will no longer be allowed to bring cases to court, contradicting claims of Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

“There is no indication that the list was properly vetted,” Chief John Hayden said in a statement released Saturday.” This list is an unnecessary overreach which would be better handled on a case-by-case basis.”

Attendees listen as President Donald Trump speaks at a Granite City Works warehouse. July 26, 2018
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann round up some of the week’s biggest developments in the 2018 elections.

One of the topics Rosenbaum and Lippmann take a look at this week is President Donald Trump’s aluminum and steel tariffs — and how they may affect Missouri’s U.S. Senate contest.

St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner announces on May 30, 2018, that her office will drop a felony computer-tampering charge against Gov. Eric Greitens.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis prosecutor’s office will no longer accept cases from 28 St. Louis police officers, and is reviewing the testimony they have offered in others.

Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner provided no details on why she is excluding the officers. In a statement, she called it her responsibility to defend the integrity of the criminal-justice system.

The Christopher Columbus statue has been a source of controversy over the last few years due to Columbus's violent history.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Discussions about removing the Christopher Columbus statue in Tower Grove Park have re-emerged.

Activists have banded together to plan an event, Plotting in the Park for Columbus removal. The event, posted on Facebook, takes place on Sept. 1. The brainchild of Chris Singer, the gathering aims at reaching out to community members to discuss what actions can be taken to remove the statue. Singer said Columbus’ controversial conduct with indigenous peoples should not be celebrated.

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

Both of the major candidates for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat were in the St. Louis area on Thursday, seeking to emphasize issues that will help their cause in November.

For McCaskill, Thursday’s topic was her support for a minimum-wage hike and opposition to right to work. Hawley zeroed in, once again, on Brett Kavanaugh’s pending nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The latest episode brings the voices of the descendants of J.D. and Ethel Shelley to listeners as they share the story of their family’s place in American history.
The Copeland Collection

There’s no shortage of people who remember the 1948 U.S. Supreme Court decision Shelley v. Kraemer and can talk about how it changed housing practices across the nation – plenty of historians and legal experts, for instance. But when the producers of St. Louis Public Radio’s We Live Here podcast decided to take another look at the pivotal case, they opted for different voices: those of the Shelleys’ descendants.

“There’s a certain kind of human truth that can only really be found by talking with family members who have this story that’s passed down generation to generation,” co-host/producer Tim Lloyd said Thursday on St. Louis on the Air. “It was a great episode for us – we really enjoyed putting it together.”

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

After nearly eight years, members of the Women Initiate Legal Lifelines to Other Women — or the WILLOW Project — have made a significant gain in the case of a woman convicted of helping in the 1994 murder of two elderly women in Missouri and Iowa.

The Missouri Parole Board granted Angel Stewart parole this month after spending 25 years behind bars. She’s still serving a life sentence in Iowa without the possibility of parole, although she and those helping her maintain she was not a part of the women’s murders.

Jefferson Barracks cemetery
File photo | Mary Delach Leonard I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:30 p.m. with council action on charter amendment veto

The St. Louis County Council took a big step Tuesday toward expanding Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

The plan involves selling more than 33 acres of the roughly 70-acre Sylvan Springs Park to the federal government, which could prevent Jefferson Barracks from running out of room.

Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Paul McKee amassed more than 250 acres in north St. Louis as part of his $8 billion redevelopment plan.

In June the City of St. Louis announced that McKee's Northside Regeneration had defaulted on its agreement with the city after nearly a decade. McKee vehemently denies that.

St. Louis Public Radio examined two specific accountability measures included in those agreements that were ostensibly meant to track maintenance and complaints for McKee’s properties. What the reporting found was that only portions of the requirements were met, and the city did little to ensure that the developer followed through completely.

The St. Louis Street Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department are working together to install barriers along North Broadway to reduce cruising.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

On the evening of July 4 of this year, the Energy Express Travel Center on North Broadway Street looked like the scene of a neighborhood party. Video footage from that night released by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department shows dozens of cars converging on the gas station lot. Soon, individuals carrying firearms and wearing ballistic vests appear. 

Video footage from that same location on July 29 shows a similar gathering, but this time people begin firing their weapons into the air before returning to their cars and racing off into the night.

Developer Paul McKee owns much of the land in this picture, looking north from the intersection of Cass and Jefferson avenues. After nearly 10 years, the city of St. Louis wants to cut ties with McKee and his NorthSide Regeneration initiative.
File Photo | Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

In 2009, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved developer Paul McKee’s $8-billion plan to transform nearly two square miles of north St. Louis. In exchange for $390 million in tax incentives, McKee promised new housing, parks, schools, churches and major employment centers.

Nearly a decade later, with very little work completed, the city tried to cut ties with McKee. But a 2016 agreement, struck with very little public input, could complicate that effort, and has already led to litigation.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., speaks to a group of people representing Missouri manufacturing and agircultural interests on Aug. 27, 2018.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill continued her criticism of President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, which she says could do lasting economic damage to Missouri’s agriculture and manufacturing economies.

At a meeting Monday in St. Louis, the Democratic senator heard from companies and agricultural-commodity groups affected by the tariffs as Trump announced a trade deal with Mexico.

Office of Gov. Mike Parson

Gov. Mike Parson has removed the interim tag from Sandra Karsten’s job title as director of the Department of Public Safety.

Last week, the superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol was named interim director of the safety department when the governor announced he was parting ways with Drew Juden, who was appointed last year by former Gov. Eric Greitens.

Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley and Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
Durrie Bouscaren & Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s U.S. Senate contest is attracting more outside money – at least $25 million so far –  than any other Senate race in the country.

More than half of the money is being spent by a conglomerate of Republican-leaning groups seeking to help the state’s GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

The rest is mainly coming from a political-action committee tied to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat aiding the incumbent, Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Nick Kasoff
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Libertarian Nick Kasoff joins Politically Speaking to talk about his bid for St. Louis County executive.

Kasoff is one of four candidates running in the Nov. 6 election. They include incumbent Democratic County Executive Steve Stenger, GOP challenger Paul Berry III and Constitution Party nominee Andrew Ostrowski.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge, built in 1951, is a major thoroughfare connecting Illinois and downtown St. Louis.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

The Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge will be closed for a year, beginning Monday.

Both directions of the bridge over the Mississippi River, connecting St. Louis and East St. Louis,  will be shut down as a part of a construction project led by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The $24.3 million project includes the demolition and replacement of a smaller, nearby bridge that spans I-55 and I-64.

From left, Sara McGibany, Nathan Grimm, Susie Harris and Sean Crawford
Mary Edwards | St. Louis Public Radio

During this election season, NPR Illinois, the public radio station in Springfield, is partnering with stations across the state and AARP on a series of forums examining fiscal solutions to the prominent issues in the upcoming Illinois elections and exploring why people are leaving Illinois. The forum in the Metro East area was held Aug. 16 at the Post Commons in Alton.

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