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Politics & Issues

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File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2:10 p.m. Nov. 20 with comments from Chief O'Toole — The U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to investigate whether the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department violated the Constitution in the way it has handled recent protests demanding more police accountability.

Jeffrey Jensen, the federal prosecutor in St. Louis, announced the review in a brief statement Monday. It is based on a request made by Mayor Lyda Krewson and others, including U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City.

Reedy Press owner Josh Stevens talks about the damages done to his business from a warehouse fire.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

This week, a warehouse five-alarm fire near 39th Street and Park Avenue caused substantial damage and losses. Among the warehouse’s tenants is Reedy Press, a local book publishing company.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to Reedy Press owner Josh Stevens about the damages done to his business from the fire. He said the experience has been traumatic. 

Beyond Housing's Chris Krehmeyer stands in a vacant unit inside Rosie Shields Manor in Pagedale. Krehmeyer's group has developed a number of projects using the low-income housing tax credit.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens cast a key vote Friday to block state spending for its low-income housing tax credit program, saying such development efforts “sound nice, but don’t get results.”

The Republican governor is among the state officials who sit on the Missouri Housing Development Commission, which oversees construction projects that receive state assistance, primarily through state tax credits.

Mazy Gilleylen (standing in front), a transgender girl from Overland, cemmemorates lives lost with her brother Seth and parents Amber and Donte Gilleylen, on the 2015 Transgender Day of Remembrance at the Transgender Memorial Garden.
File photo | Provided | Yuting Jiang

So far this year, at least 25 transgender people have been murdered across the country, two in Missouri, one  of which was in St. Louis.

On Monday, supporters in the St. Louis area will pay tribute to those victims as part of a national effort, the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The annual event is held every Nov. 20.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken speaks Saturday at the Truman Dinner in St. Louis. The Minnesota senator was the keynote speaker for the Missouri Democratic Party event.
Courtesy of the Missouri Democratic Party

Less than two weeks after U.S. Sen. Al Franken headlined the Missouri Democratic Party’s biggest event of the year, the Minnesota Democrat is back in the news over a groping allegation that is stirring up the state’s U.S. Senate race.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. and a longtime friend of Franken’s, announced Thursday that Missouri food banks will be getting $30,000 from her – representing the campaign aid she has received from Franken’s political action committee since 2006.

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Gov. Eric Greitens is facing growing opposition from lawmakers for possibly ousting Margie Vandeven as Missouri’s education commissioner, who oversees K-12 schools across the state.

Greitens’ five appointees to the State Board of Education — Claudia Onate Greim, Doug Russell, Eddy Justice, John “Tim” Sumners, and Marvin “Sonny” Jungmeyer — could vote next week on whether to fire Vandeven.

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

After spending eight years as executive director of ArchCity Defenders in St. Louis, Thomas Harvey will move to California to take on a much bigger role.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to Harvey about his career and what work he hopes to continue. Harvey will move to Los Angeles at the end of the year to establish a national organization that will bail out people held in jail who cannot afford their temporary release.

Contributed Photo / Leila Sadat

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to local professor, Leila Sadat, about her work on finding a global solution to prevent and punish crimes against humanity.

Sadat is the James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law and Director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute at Washington University School of Law.

Gage Skidmore | Flickr

UPDATED Thursday, Nov. 16, with U.S. House vote:

Top Missouri and Illinois officials in both parties are becoming increasingly active in the fight over proposed federal tax cuts, which now have a health care component.

Missouri’s two U.S. senators – Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Roy Blunt – illustrate the opposing sides. He’s for the latest version of the bill, while she’s against it.

The U.S. House version passed Thursday, with Rep. Ann Wagner of Ballwin among all six Missouri Republicans voting for it.  The state's two Democrats -- Lacy Clay of St. Louis and Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City -- opposed the bill.

A street medic assists a protester after St. Louis police officers sprayed checmicals into a crowd of demonstrators near Busch Stadium on Sept. 29, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 15 at 2:00 p.m. with comments from ACLU, Mayor Krewson — A federal judge has ordered the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to alter tactics its officers use to respond to protests, especially demonstrations aimed at changing law enforcement policies.

In a 49-page opinion issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry blocked the department from ordering protesters to disperse unless there’s an immediate threat of violence. Perry also limited when officers can use chemical agents like pepper spray or mace.

Crews with Rosenbloom Monuments Company lift headstones back onto their bases in February, 2017.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The number of hate crimes reported in the United States rose for the second year in a row, according to an FBI report released on Monday.

Law-enforcement agencies reported more than 6,100 hate crimes in 2016, about a 5 percent increase from the previous year. Jews and Muslims were most likely to be targeted, and more than half of all reports were motivated by either race or ethnicity.

Missouri reported 88 hate crimes last year, down from 100 in 2015. Illinois reported 111 hate crimes in 2016, up from 90 the previous year. Some observers say many hate crimes likely go unreported by authorities and victims.

St. Louis city police officers detain protesters downtown on Sept. 15, 2017 after the acquittal of Jason Stockley was announced.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis aldermen are weighing whether to put new limits on the way the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department interacts with protesters.

The Public Safety committee on Tuesday heard two hours of testimony in support of the bill sponsored by Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward. It’s modeled on an ordinance in place in Washington, D.C.

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

A recent three-part series on local VA healthcare included a lot of criticism of the Department of Veteran Affair’s healthcare services.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh addressed the criticisms raised by local veterans with representatives from the VA St. Louis Health Care System.

 “We’re not perfect…we have come a long way but we’ve got a long way to go,” Keith Repko, medical center director at the VA St. Louis Health Care System, said.

County Executive Steve Stenger, second from left, argues with Council chairman Sam Page at an August meeting
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is pledging that “county government will not increase taxes or cut services,’’ and accuses St. Louis County Council Chairman Sam Page of inaccurately asserting otherwise.

At issue is Stenger’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins Jan. 1. Although it is a proposed balanced budget for 2018, Page is pointing to projections in the budget document that indicate the 2019 budget might face a deficit of $18 million.

Sister Mary Antona Ebo, a pioneering woman in the Catholic Church, died Nov 11, 2017
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated at 3:40 p.m., Nov. 13 with information on services — Sister Mary Antona Ebo, one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most reluctant but eventually most powerful converts to the civil rights movement, died Saturday. She was 93.

When King called on the nation’s religious leaders to join the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights march, Sister Ebo was a Franciscan Sisters of Mary nun in St. Louis. She was aware that hundreds of earlier marchers had been beaten bloody by Alabama state troopers and one, a young, white minister named James Reeb, had died of his injuries.

But she answered the call.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley shares evidence included in a motion to dismiss Backpage's lawsuit against him.
File photo I Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s attorney general is trying to find out if Google has violated the state’s antitrust and consumer protection laws.

Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Monday that he is issuing a subpoena to the tech giant. Among other things, the Republican official wants to see how the tech giant is gathering personal information from users.  According to a news release, he also wants to know if Google is manipulating its search algorithm to “preference websites owned by Google and to demote websites that compete with Google.” 

State Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Missouri state Rep. Joe Adams, a Democrat from University City.

It’s the first appearance on the podcast for Adams, who has been involved in area politics for more than three decades.

The majority of people housed at the Medium Security Institution in St. Louis do not have air conditioning. (July 19, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated November 13 at 3:30 p.m. with comments from attorneys and the city — A local legal nonprofit has sued the city of St. Louis, saying conditions at the Medium Security Institution violate the rights of inmates.

ArchCity Defenders filed the federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of seven inmates who spent time at the jail. The suit accuses the city of ignoring unsanitary conditions that led to a variety of health problems, and providing inadequate medical care. Guards are also accused of goading inmates into fights, and sexually harassing female inmates.

Bob McCulloch is sworn in for another term as St. Louis County Prosecutor in 2015.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Nearing the end of his seventh term, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch says he plans to seek an eighth one next year because he says he still has unfinished business.

“I truly enjoy the work,” McCulloch told St. Louis Public Radio.

This will be McCulloch’s first time on the ballot since a grand jury he oversaw in 2014 declined to indict a Ferguson police officer for killing a black man. That episode touched off sharp criticism from protesters who had sought more police accountability.

Jonathan Jones, owner of Southwest Diner, will continue to pay employees $10 an hour. July 14, 2017.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A campaign committee angling to put a minimum wage increase on next year’s Missouri ballot has received more than $500,000 from several nonprofit groups.

These contributions come amid a fierce debate over politically active nonprofits’ influence on elections. Such groups are not required to reveal their contributors or how they spend their money.

DACA activists rally outside an event organized by U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay at Saint Louis University. Nov. 10, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay said Friday that he won’t support the year-end spending bill necessary to keep the government running unless it includes provisions to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation.

The remarks came at a Saint Louis University forum organized by Clay to discuss the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave 800,000 young immigrants work permits and relief from deportation over the last five years.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

The outcome of Tuesday’s election to raise the city’s sales tax by a half-cent came down to turnout and money. 

“You have to look at the money what was spent if you want to say okay, well, how could we have gotten our message out further, how could we have let people know that this isn’t the only mechanism.” said Alderman Dan Guenther, D-9th Ward.

Guenther’s ward was one of only four that voted against Proposition P. It passed in parts of the city with majority white and majority black populations. 

My St. Louis VA, Part 3: 'Getting Back to People'

Nov 10, 2017
The stories of St. Louis-area veterans are featured in a three-part series.
Monica Ramirez | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Mission Continues fellow and former U.S. Army combat correspondent Monica Ramirez and production engineer Aaron Doerr took us through the final part of a three part series about veterans getting health care and related services through the St. Louis VA Health Care System.

Through sound-rich narration and storytelling, we heard the perspectives of eight local veterans and their families as they weighed in on what is troubling, isolating, encouraging, and healing about the VA.

State Rep. Bruce Franks answers reporter questions outside City Hall on Sept. 29, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A diverse crowd of Democrats packed a recent party meeting in Richmond Heights to hear from state Rep. Bruce Franks, a St. Louis Democrat who’s become a prominent voice for police accountability amid protests throughout the St. Louis region.

You could hear a pin drop when Franks bluntly asked his audience, “Can somebody tell me how black folks are supposed to vote for Claire McCaskill?”

Tim Yandell, 53, served in the United States Army for eight years as a Morse Code Interceptor.
Monica Ramirez | St. Louis Public Radio

The number of veterans seeking care from the VA has shot up in the last few years but across the country, the number of medical staff available to provide healthcare services has not.

Police line up against the Workhouse fence to prevent protesters from shaking it. July 21, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday, St. Louis voters approved Proposition P, a half-cent sales tax increase intended to give police and firefighters a raise. Prop P passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

Its support primarily came from voters in the 12th, 16th and 23rd wards, in the southwest part of the city, which together accounted for more than a quarter of all the "yes" votes. Voters in the 8th and 15th wards, covering much of the Shaw and Tower Grove neighborhoods, cast the most "no" votes.

My St. Louis VA, Part 1: ‘Hoops & Cracks’

Nov 8, 2017
Laurie Ootey is pictured with her husband, Donald Ootey.  Donald Ootey died in 2015.
Monica Ramirez | St. Louis Public Radio

The number of veterans seeking care from the VA has shot up in the last few years but across the country, the number of medical staff available to provide healthcare services has not.

A 2014 law, the Veterans Choice and Accountability Act, funneled $2.5 billion to VA medical centers for assistance in hiring more doctors, nurses and other medical staff. However, an investigation by NPR and local member stations conducted earlier this year found that wait times have not improved.

Jeff Roorda, the St. Louis Police Officers' Association's business manager, and Alderman Joe Vaccaro, receive the news that Prop P passed. Nov. 7, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 12:15 a.m., Nov. 8, with additional comments — Police and firefighters in St. Louis will get a $6,000 raise in July, after voters on Tuesday easily approved a half-cent sales tax hike.

The tax increase measure, known as Proposition P, passed with close to 60 percent of the vote. It will kick in in early 2018, and is expected to generate about $20 million a year. Most of the money will go toward the raises, though the circuit attorney’s office will receive about $1.3 million.

Sen. Mike Cunningham, center, is handling a plan aimed at restoring cuts to in-home health care services for low-income people.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate is waiting to go into special session on securing in-home health care benefits for more than 8,000 state residents.

State Rep. Shane Roden, R-Cedar Hill
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Missouri state Rep. Shane Roden to the program for the first time.

The Cedar Hill Republican represents portions of northwest Jefferson County in the Missouri House. He was first elected in 2014, a year when the GOP took control of most of that county’s legislative offices.

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