Politics & Issues

Political news

MetroLink trains make about 300 trips across the Eads Bridge each day.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Separate initiatives designed to be on the city's April ballot could fund a host of projects, including MetroLink expansion and a professional soccer stadium.

Two St. Louis Board of Aldermen bills were introduced on Wednesday. The first would have voters decide on a one-half cent sales tax increase. The proceeds, estimated at more than $20 million annually, would go toward things such as a North-South MetroLink line, infrastructure improvements and security cameras:

State Rep. Kip Kendrick
Nathan Lawrence | KBIA | File photo

Democrats in the Missouri House are calling on Gov.-elect Eric Greitens to keep his campaign promise to clean up Jefferson City.

They've pre-filed several bills that range from banning gifts from lobbyists to giving the state ethics commission the authority to prosecute violations. Democrat Kip Kendrick of Columbia said they want to see if the incoming Republican governor is serious about ethics reform.

David Cunningham is a professor of sociology at Washington University. His research centers on hate groups.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In the past few weeks you’ve heard a lot of reports about hate crimes, white supremacy and the ‘alt-right.’ What does it all mean? And, importantly, do hate groups exist here, in St. Louis, and how are they active?

Todd Graves
LinkedIn

Updated Dec. 14 with Graves' comments — Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens is naming former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves, now a Kansas City lawyer, as the new chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.

Graves is the brother of U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, and served as U.S. attorney for Missouri’s western district from 2001-2006, a post filled by then-President George W. Bush.

“Todd Graves is the governor-elect’s choice and he will make a fantastic chairman,’’ a Greitens spokesman said. Graves said in an interview that he's honored to take the job, particularly after the Missouri GOP did so well in the November elections.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles listens to public testimony on Saturday about a proposed consent decree. Knowles and the rest of the city council could vote on whether to accept the 131-page agreement on Tuesday.
File photo |Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

The city of Ferguson took a big step Tuesday night toward a major policy requirement of its federal civil rights consent decree.

Council members introduced legislation that will make changes to the city's civilian review board. The council originally approved the board back in April, but it never met at the request of the Department of Justice, which wanted changes in the way it was set up.

Officials found guilty of stealing public funds will face tougher penalties under a bill pre-filed in the Missouri Senate.

SB 176 elevates punishment for official misconduct in the first degree from a misdemeanor to a class E felony, which could bring up to a four-year prison term.

In November, Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky announced she would be leaving IPR for a position with WTTW-TV’s “Chicago Tonight” program in early January.

Vinicky has been a correspondent on St. Louis on the Air on many occasions and a correspondent on local newscasts. On Thursday, she joined the program to discuss what she's learned over her tenure with Illinois Public Radio and look back on the state of Illinois politics.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A Republican will hold the office of Missouri attorney general for the first time in 24 years when Josh Hawley is sworn in next month. He defeated Democratic challenger Teresa Hensley in November while styling himself as a constitutional scholar instead of a prosecutor.

As St. Louis Public Radio reported before the election, he stressed his credentials as a constitutional scholar. He served as a law clerk for U.S. Appeals Court Judge Michael McConnell of the 10th circuit and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. More recently, Hawley worked as a law professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Republican president-elect Donald Trump’s victory margin in Missouri appears to have set a state record for a presidential contender, beating out the old one set by Democrat Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

On Nov. 8, Trump captured 523,443 more votes than the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. In 1964, Johnson defeated Republican Barry Goldwater by 510,809 votes.

Trump's number of Missouri votes – 1.594 million – also appears to set a state record for a presidential candidate.

St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie speaks in favor of his bill exempting sheltered workshops from the city's minimum wage law.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Before voting against an incentive package for expanding Ballpark Village, St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie delivered one of the more unusual opposition speeches in recent memory.

In an address that could only be described as dripping with sarcasm, the 24th Ward Democrat claimed he was in support of the tax inducements for the development around Busch Stadium. After expressing his concern that aldermen had “taken our eye off the ball on the essential functions of local government,” Ogilvie said he was relieved that those aforementioned issues "must not be problems that the city faces.”

Sen. Brian Munzlinger
Marshall Griffin I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome Sen. Brian Munzlinger.

Munzlinger is a Republican from Williamstown, an unincorporated community in Lewis County in northeast Missouri. He represents a mammoth district that includes Adair, Chariton, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Macon, Marion, Pike, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, Ralls, and Randolph counties.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, was one of the biggest proponents of using the previous question to pass "right to work."
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri will become a right-to-work state. The chief question is how soon the General Assembly will put a version of the anti-union measure on the desk of soon-to-be Gov. Eric Greitens.

The other unknown is what particular form of “right to work’’ Missouri’s new law will take.

Under "right to work," unions and employers cannot require all workers in a bargaining unit to pay dues or fees. Although some versions of right to work say a worker cannot be required to join a union, federal law has barred such a requirement for a long time.

St. Louis Police officer Tom Lake (in the blue tie) poses for a picture with St. Louis aldermen on Friday.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In some respects, the fact that Tom Lake was able to stand before the Board of Aldermen is breathtaking.

The St. Louis Police Department sergeant was shot in the face less than a month ago while driving in his car in south St. Louis. He survived his injuries, and received a rousing welcome from city aldermen on Friday.

With wounds from the shooting still visible near his cheek, Lake told reporters was “doing as good as anybody could expect after the trauma that’s happened.”

Profile photo of CKE Restaurants Chief Executive Andrew Puzder.
CKE Restaurants Inc.

Donald Trump has chosen a former St. Louis lawyer to lead the U.S. Department of Labor.

The president-elect plans to tap Andrew Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Junior, Hardees and other fast food chains, to lead the department which oversees the welfare of wage earners, job seekers and retirees.

Eric Greitens, left, and Chris Koster
Carolina Hidalgo and Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Governor-elect Eric Greitens appears to have set a record as he outraised and outspent all comers in his successful bid for Missouri’s highest office.  He collected about $31 million and spent about $29 million, combined, in this year's primary and general-election contests.

But the final campaign reports, filed Thursday, show that Greitens, a Republican, was actually outspent during the three-month general election fight by his losing Democratic rival --  Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

Courtesy of HOK

The Missouri Development Finance Board is considering whether to award $40 million dollars in tax credits to St. Louis for a potential Major League Soccer stadium.

Otis Williams from the St. Louis development board made the request official Thursday. If approved, the incentives would be spread out over two years.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon remembers Judge Teitelman on Dec. 1, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Speaking with reporters in St. Louis on Thursday, Gov. Jay Nixon said he’s “ready to appoint if the chief justice wants to call a commission together.” That’s a reference to how Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge would have to start the process to replace Richard Teitelman, a Missouri Supreme Court judge who died last month.

“I’d be certainly be willing to do that and I think there’s a lot of good candidates for it,” Nixon said. “I have never in my eight years called a commissioner and asked them to put somebody on a panel. And in this situation, that’s up to the courts. I do think with an opening, you could get it done if there’s enough time to. But that’s their choice, not mine.”

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri's budget for the current fiscal year is being cut again.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced Wednesday that he's withholding $51 million from the FY2017 budget, which runs through June 30 of next year. The vast bulk of the temporary cut is coming out of Medicaid.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger
File photo | Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis County law that would have set minimum operating standards for police departments in the county is in the hands of a three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The law, approved in December 2015, set staffing, training and hiring standards. Departments would have been required to have at least two officers on duty 24-7 and conduct background checks on prospective officers that included psychological screenings. Elected officials in cities that failed to comply could be jailed, or the St. Louis County police could take over public safety services in the city.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says St. Clair County's proposal for the NGA's relocation to Scott Air Force Base is better than those for three Missouri sites.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are honored to welcome U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin to the program.

The Illinois Democrat serves as the Senate minority whip, making him the second most powerful member of his party next to the minority leader. He recently won another term in office in the 2014 election cycle.

Pearl Harbor survivor Bill Johnson reads the list of names inscribed in the USS Arizona Memorial.
Chief Journalist David Rush | U.S. Navy

Walter Schoenke was 9 years old when he survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Schoenke was not an active military member at that time, though he would go on to serve in the Air Force during the Korean War, but his father was. His father, Raymond, had moved to Hawaii to help construct the Schofield Barracks at Pearl Harbor, one of the targets of the attacks and Walter was born on the islands.

stacks of money
sxc.hu

Updated Dec. 8  from Dec. 1 article to reflect more donations and suit actually filed - Opponents filed suit Wednesday to block part of Missouri’s new campaign donation law slated to go into effect Thurday. The suit doesn't challenge the new campaign-finance limits, but does ask the court to block a ban on some donors.

Meanwhile, some politicians – notably Gov.-elect Eric Greitens – appear to be taking advantage of the guaranteed one-month window to stock up on cash before the new limits go into effect. On Wednesday, the final day of unlimited donations, Greitens collected $2,382,860.

Arjun Sidhu holds an American flag while sitting with his mother, Mandeep Sidhu, originally from India, at a naturalization ceremony held at Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site on Nov. 10, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

While much of the nation remains at odds over the results of the November elections, some people are feeling more optimistic for the future than ever. Newly naturalized U.S. citizens in the St. Louis region are excited to be a part of the country, and many are raring to vote.

At a naturalization ceremony held last week at the International Institute of St. Louis, 39 people from 24 different countries stood together in front of a crowded room for the first time as new citizens.

Among them was Lenilson Pereira Dos Santos Coutinho, a clinical medial physicist who was born in Brazil. Coutinho, who came to the United States for graduate school, laments not being able to vote on Nov. 8. Now that he’s a citizen, he can’t wait for future elections.

The Missouri House during veto session
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Republican lawmakers in Missouri are continuing their push for expanded gun rights by targeting businesses that operate as gun-free zones.

Legislation pre-filed in the Missouri House would allow people authorized to carry firearms to sue businesses that ban firearms on their properties if they're wounded in a robbery or assault while at that business. It's sponsored by Rep.-elect Nick Schroer, R-O'Fallon.

Air Force One, the typical air transport of the President of the United States of America, flying over Mount Rushmore.
Air Force photo | Wikipedia

Updated with Trump's latest comments:

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is continuing to hammer away at some GOP hints that Republicans might try to trim or privatize Medicare and Social Security. But on Tuesday, she also took on an issue closer to home – defending Boeing Co. from President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump, a Republican, caused Boeing’s stock to briefly go into freefall Tuesday after he tweeted that he wanted to cancel the aircraft giant’s contract to build new Air Force One aircraft. Trump claimed the price was too high.

Ferguson Police Department
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

In September 2016, the city of Ferguson seemed to be floundering in its efforts to comply with a federal civil rights consent decree.

"We are not where we had hoped to be," said Justice Department attorney Christy Lopez said at the time. "Certainly, some deadlines have passed." 

But at a hearing Tuesday in front of judge Catherine Perry, the city, the Justice Department and the team overseeing the city's compliance with the decree all finally seemed to be pulling in the same direction.

In these Nov. 28, 2016 photos, Jaimie Hileman, on the left, looks at threatening posts on Facebook. On the right, Amber Winingham and Gus stand on the corner where she said a truck veered toward them.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Every day, Amber Winingham walks around her south St. Louis neighborhood with her dog Gus, a Pointer-mix rescue dog who’s about a year old. When Amber and her wife adopted Gus, he was skittish. Now he has a new reason to be on edge.

The day after the Nov. 8 election, Winingham and Gus had just stepped out onto Magnolia Avenue at Louisiana Street, when she saw a man in a truck, barreling toward her.

Missouri Governor-elect Eric Greitens listens as wife Sheena talks about her expirence of being robbed to reporters in St. Louis.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

Updated after Eric and Sheena Greitens' Tuesday press conference - Gov.-elect Eric Greitens is praising the quick work of law enforcement, and expressing sentiments of forgiveness, after Missouri's future First Lady was robbed at gunpoint on Monday night.

St. Louis police said in an emailed statement to St. Louis Public Radio that Sheena Greitens was sitting in her car near Cafe Ventana in St. Louis' Central West End neighborhood. Her car door was suddenly opened by a suspect, who then pointed a gun at Sheena Greitens and demanded her property. She gave the suspect her laptop and cell phone.

Hannah Westerman | St. Louis Public Radio

Nine people were arrested Monday in the Metro East as part of a state and federal public corruption task force operation.

Known as Operation Watchtower, the joint task force began this spring.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly announced the arrests at a press conference at the Illinois State Police Headquarters in Collinsville.

Kelly says his office has prosecuted a large number of public integrity cases but they still present a unique challenge.

Katie Herbert Meyer and Stephen Legomsky discussed the efforts of Migrant & Immigrant Community Action Project in St. Louis on St. Louis on the Air.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Since Nov. 9 and the results of the presidential election, the phones have been “ringing off the hook” at St. Louis’ Migrant & Immigrant Community Action Project. MICA is a local nonprofit that provides immigration law services at a reduced cost for documented and undocumented immigrants who cannot afford to pay the thousands of dollars it would take to retain an attorney in asylum, work authorization and other kinds of immigration cases.

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