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The Ferguson Police Department's new D.A.R.E vehicle, a surplus humvee, which residents have said is insensitive to use.
Ferguson Police Department

The Ferguson Police Department’s new D.A.R.E. vehicle, a Humvee, bears the usual markings of the national drug-prevention program with recognizable red letters and its lion mascot.

However, the mascot’s name — Daren the Lion — has grabbed the attention of some residents and parents in the north county municipality. They believe it’s insensitive because it's too similar to Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August 2014. That shooting touched off weeks of at-times violent demonstrations to which law enforcement brought military-style vehicles.

The rain started at the very end of 2016.

By Jan. 1, the rivers were just cresting, overflowing the banks of the Mississippi, Missouri and Meramec Rivers. The floods caused more than 20 deaths, forced hundreds of people from their homes and closed major interstate highways.  President Barack Obama declared the region a state of emergency which provided funds to help the thousands of people impacted by the floods.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaks to students about Middle East policy approaches at Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Ask most Americans what they think of the Middle East, says former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and their assessment can be boiled down to two words:

“A mess.”

But Albright, who served under President Bill Clinton, says the Trump administration’s travel ban has just made things worse.

Addressing Nerinx Hall high school students on Wednesday, Albright called the ban “one of the worst things I’ve seen’’ during her years as a diplomat.

The Moms Demand Action group poses for a photo on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, at the Missouri Capitol.
Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 200 volunteers from the national Moms Demand Action organization protested two new gun-concealment legislation at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

The measures would allow students and teachers in K-12 public schools and university campuses to carry concealed handguns. 

Becky Morgan, the head of the Missouri chapter, said they have support from university presidents, law enforcement leaders and leaders of college campuses.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger (center) speaks at the Proposition P campaign kickoff on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017.
Erica Hunzinger | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County voters are being tasked with another request for public funding, this time a half-cent sales tax increase for policing efforts in the April election.

Officials say they’re certain that the measure, which is estimated to bring in $80 million a year, is vital for public safety both in the county and in municipalities. But some communities aren’t sure they’ll benefit much. 

A crowd packs Luther Ely Smith Square after the St. Louis Women's March, Jan.21, 2017.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Organizers of last month's Women’s March on St. Louis are encouraging its thousands of participants to channel their energy into activism.

They hope to keep the momentum going through community meetings planned for March that will include strategy sessions on education, criminal justice, access to reproductive health care and other issues. The topics will be chosen from threads on a Facebook page for the marchers called DefendHERS. It shares its name with the non-partisan organization started by the women behind the march.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens delivers his first State of the State address last week in Jefferson City.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has reversed about 60 interim appointments that ex-Gov. Jay Nixon made to numerous state boards and commissions.

Officials say the about-face is pretty much business as usual and not terribly disruptive.

Voters cast electronic ballots at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on Nov. 8, 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A majority of Missouri residents said they wanted voters to have to show a photo ID at the polls, and lawmakers obliged.

Now, state officials must figure out how to pay for the law, which goes into effect June 1.

Logo for 2017 St. Louis election coverage
Graphic by David Kovaluk / St. Louis Public Radio

Most of the candidates vying to become St. Louis' first new mayor in 16 years are focusing on the city’s problems more than its successes.

Their forums frequently discuss the 253-year-old city's long-lasting crime and race issues, or how best to improve the city’s neighborhoods and bolster downtown. 

Gov. Eric Greitens signs legislation making Missouri the 28th right-to-work state at a ceremony Monday in Springfield. (Feb. 6, 2016)
Scott Harvey | KSMU

Gov. Eric Greitens took a road trip Monday in celebration of making Missouri the nation's 28th right-to-work state.

The Republican signed Senate Bill 19, which bars unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues, at three ceremonies. The first one was in Springfield at an abandoned warehouse before a small crowd of supporters.

Alderman Terry Kennedy listens as colleagues ask questions following a 19-7-1 vote to pass the stadium financing bill on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Terry Kennedy, known for his oratorical abilities, didn’t make intricate speeches or engage in tough questioning as his peers on the Ways and Means Committee repeatedly discussed proposed ballot issues to help fund a Major League Soccer stadium and fix up the Scottrade Center. 

But before aldermen sent a roughly $60 million plan laying out St. Louis’ financial responsibility for the proposed soccer stadium, the 18th Ward Democrat changed his approach, saying they had the wrong priorities and there needed to be “a paradigm shift.”

Mayor Francis Slay and Alderman Christine Ingrassia speak to reporters about two measures likely to appear on the April ballot.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Mayor Francis Slay has signed legislation that could lead to funding for both MetroLink expansion and a stadium for Major League Soccer.

One bill signed by the mayor on Friday asks voters to approve a half-cent sales tax increase, which is intended to partially fund a north-south MetroLink line, as well as neighborhood and workforce development initiatives. The second measure, also signed on Friday, asks voters if revenue from the resulting increase in the use tax should be directed to the new stadium just west of Union Station.

Jo Mannies, St. Louis Public Radio's political reporter, joined Behind the Headlines on Friday.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s "Behind the Headlines" on St. Louis on the Air, we took an in-depth look at one of the top news stories of the week.

On this week’s program, St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jo Mannies joined the program to discuss Gov. Eric Greitens’ just-released, proposed Missouri budget. The total proposed state budget is $27.6 billion.

Listen to the discussion here:

Bac Le, 70, picks up his grandson after studying for his citizenship test with a tutor from Bilingual International Assistant Services. Le moved to St. Louis from Vietnam to be near his children.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Between learning U.S. civics and history to acing all four parts of the naturalization exam — passing the U.S. citizenship test is no walk in the park. For older immigrants who don’t speak English, the learning curve can be even steeper.

“Think about your own grandmother,” said Jason Baker, executive director with Bilingual International Assistant Services. “Imagine her trying to learn a completely foreign language at an advanced age. And then in that foreign language learn about the Federalist Papers and be able to produce it on command. Some grandmothers will be able to do it. Others will not. Mine certainly couldn’t.”

Faizan Syed, Jessica Mayo and Anna Crosslin joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the local impact of President Trump's executive orders on immigration.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Last week, President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders that sent the lives of many into chaos — in St. Louis and across the world.

Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward, is sponsoring a big overhaul of the city's business regulations.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2:40 p.m. Thursday with comments from Lewis Reed — Departing Mayor Francis Slay has endorsed Alderman Lyda Krewson as his successor in office.

Slay, whose term ends in mid-April,  announced his endorsement of Krewson, D-28th Ward, in a YouTube video posted Thursday.

Members of labor unions watch speakers at a rally last year in St. Charles.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

In a purely technical sense, a right-to-work bill was sent Thursday to Gov. Eric Gretiens' desk after it passed through Missouri General Assembly.

But in reality, the seemingly endless fight to bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues ended last November at the Chase Park Plaza. That's when Democrat Chris Koster congratulated Greitens on his victory in the governor’s race. At that point, the measure essentially became a done deal.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' first state budget targets higher education for more cuts — $160 million less than the current spending plan. 

In effect, the Republican is continuing such cuts that he made shortly after taking office last month.

Greitens' general revenue budget, which funds most state services, calls for spending about $345 million more than in the current fiscal year.  But acting state budget director Dan Haug said  Thursday that a number of state departments will see a total of about $600 million less than what they currently receive.

A representative from HOK shows renderings of a proposed soccer stadium. (Feb. 2, 2017)
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

An aldermanic committee backed a financial plan spelling out how St. Louis would help pay for a professional soccer stadium – if it comes to fruition.

The Board of Aldermen’s Ways and Means Committee approved the financial plan on Wednesday evening. Many of the details have already been publicly laid out: If two ballot initiatives are placed on a ballot by a judge and pass, about $50 million in a use tax increase could go toward the stadium. The city would also contribute up to $10 million from 50 percent of the sales tax revenues generated in the project site.

The Jamestown Mall Dillards in December 2016.
Mike Kalasnik | Flickr

An effort to redevelop the shuttered Jamestown Mall is headed back to the drawing board.

The north St. Louis County mall has been closed for several years. A first step toward redeveloping the structure is classifying the mall as blighted, which allows the county to use eminent domain. But Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger have disagreed on who should oversee the effort.  

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
HOK

St. Louis is officially in the mix for a Major League Soccer franchise.

Whether professional soccer actually comes to the Gateway City is by no means a certainty.

Teenagers and chaperones with the Archdiocese of St. Louis look out on the crowd marching against abortion January 27, 2017.
Provided | Archdiocese of St. Louis

Some 2,000 St. Louisans boarded busses to attend the March for Life in Washington D.C. last Friday. The anti-abortion march marked its 44th year this year. It was originally created in protest of the United States Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from two local participants in the national march. Reagan Barklage is the western regional director of the Students for Life of America.

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
HOK

It looks increasingly likely that St. Louis voters will see two tax-related measures on the April ballot.

In a rare Monday meeting, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen gave initial approval to a proposed half-cent increase in the sales tax. The second measure would direct the resulting increase in the use tax to a proposed Major League Soccer stadium near Union Station.

Anna Crosslin is joined by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to talk about the importance of immigrants in the region. Jan 30, 2017
Erica Hunzinger | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis leaders are decrying the Trump administration’s executive order that bars refugees from coming to the United States for 120 days. The order also prevents those from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia – from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

Mo. Dept. of Corrections

Updated Jan. 31, 9:34 p.m. - The state of Missouri has carried out its first execution since May of 2016.

According to a statement from the Department of Corrections, Mark Christeson's lethal injection began at 6:57 p.m., and he was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m.

SC STL's Dave Peacock speaks at Thursday's Ways and Means Committee hearing.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

There are lots and lots of steps needed in order to make a proposed professional soccer stadium in St. Louis a reality. But in addition to passing two separate ballot initiatives and obtaining one of four Major League Soccer expansion slots, city aldermen added a new contingency: Getting the state involved in the project.

President Trump's executive order on immigration late Friday ignited nationwide protests — and a slew of legal challenges.

At least four federal judges across the country have blocked part of the order and temporarily ensured refugees and travelers who reached U.S. soil would not be deported.

Here's an explanation of what happened so far and what could come next.

Missouri lawmakers listen to Gov. Eric Greitens speak earlier this month during his State of the State address.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

If Missourians were near a television screen over the past year, they probably caught wind of how Eric Greitens wanted to overhaul the ethical culture in Jefferson City. His advertisements weren’t exactly a study in subtlety, especially when they showcased his desire to blow up politics as usual by sparking an explosion with a gun.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

It wasn't that long ago that Republican leaders in the Missouri House and Senate were deeply divided and nearly at each other's throats over tax credits.

In 2011, an entire special legislative session was devoted to approving a wide-ranging tax credit bill that centered around incentives designed to transform Lambert-St. Louis International Airport into an international cargo hub. But differing opinions over the role of tax breaks and concerns that they were getting out of hand sabotaged the special session, and there have been no major attempts since then to give the system a makeover.

Enter Gov. Eric Greitens in 2017.

Protesters gathered outside the Terminal 1 departure area at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on Jan. 29, 2017.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated to include information about Sunday's protest and official responses at 7:50 p.m.

St. Louisans gathered throughout the region over the weekend to protest President Donald J. Trump's executive order barring citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

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