St. Clair County | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Clair County

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Brendan Kelly, the Democratic candidate in the 12th Congressional District, talked extensively with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about his decision to enter the highly-competitive congressional contest.

Kelly is squaring off against Congressman Mike Bost, who became one of the first Republicans to represent the 12th District in generations when he captured the seat in 2014. The Bost-Kelly contest is expected to be one of the most competitive congressional races in the nation this year.

The John Robinson Homes opened in 1943 as a segregated apartment complex for black families in East St. Louis.
William Widmer | Special to ProPublica

The door is off its hinges in Farlon Wilson’s bathroom. Wilson said that’s an improvement from when she first moved in, when there was no bathroom door at all. She said she’s putting in work orders to fix the problems nearly every week.

“The tub won’t stop leaking and the floor is about to fall,” Wilson said while demonstrating how the floor bends under the pressure of her foot. “I have no access to my bathroom water, period. I’ve had to turn it off because it’s leaking in my kitchen.”

Downstairs in the kitchen, she motioned to a patch in the ceiling where water once leaked through and later talked about how she and her family’s breathing has been affected by mold. She pays less than $100 a month in rent.

Relatives of Mansur Ball-Bey stand on the courthouse steps as attorneys speak to reporters on Thursday afternoon.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit Friday against St. Louis and St. Clair County for alleged police misconduct during 2015 protests after Mansur Ball-Bey was fatally shot by police.

The lawsuit claims officers used excessive force on protesters by “shooting tear gas and pepper spray at them though they were unarmed, non-threatening, non-violent, non-resisting and not suspected of committing any crime.”

Amazon is searching for a second corporate headquarters to go along with its operation in Seattle. The current headquarters campus in that city includes 33 buidlings covering 8.1 million square feet.
Amazon.com/pr

Updated Jan. 18 with Amazon decision — Amazon will not consider St. Louis as one of the 20 finalists for the company's new headquarters.

Amazon will consider Toronto, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, Boston, New York City, Newark, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Washington, D.C., Raleigh, Northern Virginia, Atlanta and Miami. Those cities beat 218 others for their finalist spots. The second headquarters will bring more than $5 billion in construction investment and more than 50,000 jobs to its eventual home city, according to a statement on Amazon's website.

Lyda Krewson waves after taking the oath of office to become the 46th mayor of St. Louis on April 18, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Flanked by family, friends and four former mayors, Lyda Krewson became St. Louis’ 46th mayor on Tuesday — and, as she was sure to note, the first woman to do so.

Her address then took a swift, and somewhat surprising turn as she signaled that one of her main goals is to encourage an urban coalition that includes St. Louis County and Kansas City.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

School districts across the St. Louis region sought more money from taxpayers in Tuesday’s election. Also, there were three seats up for grabs for the St. Louis Public Schools’ elected school board., though the state still has oversight.

Here’s the breakdown of what passed and what didn’t:

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

School districts across the St. Louis area are asking voters Tuesday to consider various funding measures.

Two Metro East counties are hoping to join more than 40 others in Illinois that have started using sales tax increases to bolster school funding in the face of less state support due to a nearly two-year budget crisis.

And in St. Louis County, there are a half-dozen funding measures. Kirkwood would raise property taxes, while the rest are bonding measures, all of which need to pass with about 57 percent of the vote. The largest bonding measure, in the Rockwood district, seeks to spend $95.5 million on a new elementary school in Eureka and expand other buildings.

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.

East St. Louis gun buyback takes 100 guns off streets

Aug 7, 2016
Four hand guns on a red cloth.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Facebook

The St. Clair County Sheriff’s office is melting down at least a hundred illegal firearms it collected over the weekend at a gun buyback in East St. Louis.

$10,000 in Wal-Mart gift cards were handed out in 39 minutes Saturday in exchange for the guns.

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro,
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Illinois Congressman Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro< is asking for an investigation into the report that laid out the pros and cons for the proposed sites for a new $1.75 billion federal facility.

That’s after he and several other member of Illinois’ congressional delegation met with National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency director Robert Cardillo on Thursday.

Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis all but declared victory after the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s director gave the city the nod earlier this month for a new $1.75 billion facility.

Yet officials across the river aren’t giving up on a 182-acre site in St. Clair County.

An aerial view of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at 3200 South 2nd Street, the current headquarters for NGA West.
NGA

The likely winner of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency's new facility will be made public this week. A report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Friday will include the preferred location for the NGA's new west headquarters.

Proposition B asks to voters to allow their local city or county to continue collecting sales tax on cars bought out of state
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Voter registration deadlines are approaching for area residents hoping to cast a ballot in their presidential primaries. Official registration closes on today in Illinois, and on Wednesday in Missouri.

Both states hold their presidential primary on March 15, and Illinois will hold its general primary election that same day. (Missouri's general primary election is in August.)

Jamie Case, the executive director of Gateway Pet Guardians, plays with Elvira, one of the dogs rescused by her organization.
Caleb Codding for St. Louis Public Radio

Law enforcement officials and animal welfare agencies say a new animal abuse task force in St. Clair County is working well.

St. Clair County state's attorney Brendan Kelly developed the protocol with the assistance of the Belleville Area Humane Society and Gateway Pet Guardians, a rescue organization that works primarily in East St. Louis and surrounding communities. It was first announced last March.

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

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said Monday he believes it would make “good sense” to locate the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency at Scott Air Force Base due to both sites’ work on cyber-security.

St. Clair County officials are hoping to lure the NGA to a 200-acre site on the base when the agency relocates from its current location in downtown St. Louis. The base is the only Illinois location being considered for the agency’s new facility alongside three other Missouri sites, including St. Louis’ north side.

Natalie Creamer, the community outreach coordinator for Gateway Pet Guardians, holds a puppy that will be available for adoption through the agency.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Law enforcement and animal welfare agencies in St. Clair County, Ill., are using a new playbook for animal abuse cases that they say will make it easier to prosecute those cases in the county.

(Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat) / (http://www.bnd.com)

A former St. Clair County judge will spend two years in federal prison for federal drug and weapons charges. 

"When judges fall from grace, we expect them to land a little bit harder than the rest of us," said Judge Joe Billy McDade when he handed out the sentence to Michael Cook this afternoon. Cook pleaded guilty in November to heroin possession, and to being a drug user in possession of a firearm.

(Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat) / (http://www.bnd.com)

A federal court in Illinois has rejected a plea agreement that would have sent former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook to prison for 18 months on drug and weapons charges.

Judge Joe McDade, who normally presides over federal cases in Peoria, Ill., told attorneys for both sides today that he did not believe the proposed sentence was long enough to assure St. Clair County residents that their judiciary was in good hands. McDade was assigned to the case after two judges from the Southern District recused themselves. 

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon)

A group of citizens fed up with what they call a lack of transparency and responsiveness in St. Clair County government aired a wide variety of concerns today outside the county's headquarters in Belleville.

Illinois Judge Facing Drug Charges Quits

May 29, 2013
(Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat) / (http://www.bnd.com)

A St. Clair County judge whose colleague died of a cocaine overdose while the two were on a hunting trip is stepping down from the bench as he defends himself against federal heroin and gun charges.

Circuit Judge Michael Cook resigned Wednesday by letter to the chief judge, John Baricevic. Baricevic says the letter is brief and doesn't offer a reason for Cook's departure.

Cook was charged last Friday with possessing heroin and having a gun while illegally using controlled substances. He's pleaded not guilty. 

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