St. Louis Board of Aldermen

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio intern | File photo

A three-year effort to limit the amount of money flowing into city elections took a small step forward at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Tuesday.

The city's Legislation committee, on a 9-0 vote, approved Alderman Scott Ogilvie's, D-24th Ward, measure capping contributions at $10,000 to each candidate every four years. A similar bill Ogilvie introduced in 2013 never received a vote.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed announced on Tuesday he's making another bid for mayor.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed is hoping the second time is the charm.

Reed announced on Tuesday morning that he would join the wide-open scramble to be St. Louis’ mayor. The three-term Democratic citywide officeholder ran for the post in 2013 and lost to Mayor Francis Slay.

credit cards
Frankieleon | Flickr | http://bit.ly/293yef2

A St. Louis alderman wants to give the city's municipal court a way to cover the cost of processing credit card payments.

It is much more convenient to pay a fine on a credit card all at once, rather than dropping off a payment in person or going to court every week. But the convenience comes at a cost for the court, because credit card companies charge for each transaction.

The full Board of Aldermen is expected to take up the stadium funding plan next Tuesday.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Do not fear, lobbyists — your place on the floor of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen is safe for the foreseeable future.

The city's rules committee on Wednesday voted down a piece of legislation sponsored by Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green, D-15th Ward, that would have banished lobbyists to the hall, the galleries, or the side rooms at City Hall. Just one committee member, Alderman Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, voted yes.

The full Board of Aldermen is expected to take up the stadium funding plan next Tuesday.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

St. Louis aldermen want to place stricter regulations on “payday loan” establishments, part of a broader movement to combat institutions that provide short-term cash to primarily low-income individuals.

Payday loan companies tend to provide small, short-term loans to people. Some critics of the institutions say that they place high interest rates on the loans, which send low-income people who use the service into a cycle of debt.

Alderman Lyda Krewson
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson jumped into the wide-open race for St. Louis mayor, promising to bring her mixture of legislative and fiscal experience to the city’s top job.

Chad Sabora of the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform & Recovery watches as the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approve the Good Samaritan bill he supported.
Liz Schlemmer | St. Louis Public Radio intern

A bill that aims to reduce fatal heroin overdoses is on its way to Mayor Francis Slay’s desk.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved the so-called Good Samaritan bill. It offers immunity from drug possession charges for those who seek medical help for someone experiencing an overdose.

Individuals could still be arrested for other crimes, or if they have outstanding warrants.

St. Louis Alderwoman Donna Baringer, D-16th Ward, is considered an ally of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. But she says voters should have a say in whether to extend bonds for the new stadium.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

A commission that would accept ethics complaints against elected officials in the city of St. Louis could have its duties expanded.

The commission is part of Alderman Scott Ogilvie's, D-24th Ward, measure capping campaign contributions $10,000 for both citywide and aldermanic races. As the bill is currently written, members of the panel would investigate complaints about financial disclosure or conflicts of interest.

Budget director Paul Payne gives a presentation at a public hearing on the city's 2017 spending plan on May 18, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

For the past two weeks, the heads of city departments have come to the Ways and Means Committee asking the aldermen for additional money to cover their needs.

On Monday, it was the aldermen's turn to have their say on the spending plan for 2017.

Lawmakers in St. Louis are limited in how they can affect the budget. The city's budget must be balanced, so any addition to one department has to be balanced by a subtraction from another area.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie, D-24th, leveled harsh criticism on the stadium proposal during Thursday's meeting.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

When St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie proposed limiting political donations for St. Louis-based offices three years ago, the 24th Ward Democrat wanted to place curbs on what he felt was an abnormal state campaign finance system.

He’s introducing the legislation again, and there may an added sense of urgency to pass Ogilvie’s bill – especially if a campaign finance ballot initiative makes it into the Missouri Constitution.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson takes questions from Alderman Sam Moore (in hat), D., 4th Ward, at a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee on June 1, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Aldermen in charge of St. Louis' budget heard more requests Wednesday from department officials who say they can't do the jobs they should without additional staffing.

Representatives of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the circuit attorney's office and recorder of deeds Sharon Carpenter all asked members of the Ways and Means Committee to find the money for additional positions. The St. Louis Fire Department made a similar request last week.

St. Louis residents and the Ways and Means Committee listen as budget director Paul Payne outlines the fiscal year 2017 budget on May 18, 2017.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The Ways and Means committee for the St. Louis Board of Aldermen took their work on the 2017 budget on the road Wednesday night, to the New Northside Conference Center in the North Pointe neighborhood.

It's one of the few chances the public has to weigh in during the process of crafting the $1.042 billion spending plan, which goes into effect July 1.

St. Louis City Hall
Richie Diesterheft | Flickr

St. Louis aldermen began working Wednesday morning on the $1.04 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The budget has very few major changes from last year. The city bridges the gap left by the departure of the Rams by shifting some special funds into the general fund, and spending less on things like ward capital projects and demolition.

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio intern | File photo

The introduction of honored guests is a weekly ritual at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Residents of the city's 28 wards are welcomed to the chambers, and allowed to sit on the floor rather than up in the gallery. But more often than not, most of the honored guests would be considered lobbyists.

A group of younger aldermen wants to make the weekly welcomes take a lot less time by banning lobbyists from the floor of the Board while they are in session — "if for any reason at all, optics," said Alderman Megan-Elliya Green, D-15th Ward.

Mow to Own
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio)

The parcel next to Eltorean Hawkins’ home looks like his side yard.

He’s been mowing the grass and cutting the weeds since he bought his house two years ago, even though the land belongs to the city's Land Reutilization Authority.

Now all Hawkins has to do is pay $125 and keep mowing for another two years, and the deed goes to him.

It’s called Mow to Own.

Because a pending state bill doesn't pre-empt local minimum wage laws passed before August 28, Board of Aldermen members may act fast on passing a minimum wage increase.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

The departure of the Rams to Los Angeles may mean budget cuts for some St. Louis agencies.

The city's top three elected officials on Tuesday approved a proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2017, which starts July 1. The $1.04 billion budget is about 2.5 percent bigger than last year, but revenue growth is projected at only 1 percent, driven mostly by hits to the sales and amusement taxes. 

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio intern | File photo

Monday is the last day of the Board of Aldermen session that began back in April. Things start fresh again the very next day.

Aldermen introduced 324 bills in the 41 weeks they were in session. Ninety-two percent of them passed, most without fanfare or controversy. Some, however, rose to the level of national news. Here is a look back at the aldermanic session that was.

Tom Villa
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann break down St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s stunning decision not to run for a fifth term with St. Louis Alderman Tom Villa.

After he told Rosenbaum in late March that he would run for another term, Slay shocked the political world last week by effectively changing his mind. The decision sets up an unpredictable race to replace Slay, which may involve citywide officials, state lawmakers, aldermen and business leaders.

A view looking out on the rotunda from the second floor of St. Louis city hall.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Starting next session it should be easier to find out how St. Louis aldermen vote on board bills. The Board of Aldermen Friday approved a bill to put a record of their votes online in a searchable database.

Right now votes can only be found online via a PDF of the city’s weekly journal.

Alderman Megan Green speaks to reporters after Friday's Board of Aldermen meeting. The 15th Ward Democrat alleged that "bribes" were offed by a proponent of a riverfront stadium.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Updated 3 p.m. Feb. 19 with Green's statement - Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green on Friday apologized to Alderman Sam Moore in an ongoing dispute over allegations of bribery.

"I have come to understand that he felt personally attacked by my comments," Green said. "My only intent was to refer to his testimony from the Dec. 11 Ways and Means meeting. I felt that his personal experience lent credibility to some of the other things I thought were going on."

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

As the St. Louis Rams prepare to depart from St. Louis, the second team to do so in a generation, city leaders are scrambling to fill the Edward Jones Dome-sized gap they will leave in the city’s economy. The president of St. Louis’ Board of Aldermen, Lewis Reed, has been tweeting about the loss and how to make up for it in the coming year.

Cara Spencer
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On another edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome St. Louis Alderman Cara Spencer to the program for the first time.

Spencer represents the city’s 20th Ward on the Board of Aldermen. The ward includes several south St. Louis neighborhoods, including Gravois Park, Marine Villa, Mount Pleasant and Dutchtown. And it takes in part of Cherokee Street, one of St. Louis’ most eclectic business districts.

Protesters outside St. Louis County headquarters on Feb. 2, 2015 call for reforms of the municipal court system.
File photo by Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Following the police shooting death of Michael Brown in August 2014, there was a flurry of activity surrounding police and municipal court reform, as a well as public safety. Those efforts spilled over into 2015, which saw some changes come to St. Louis and St. Louis County.

On Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” we discussed the year’s biggest public safety, courts and police news with St. Louis Public Radio reporter Rachel Lippmann, who has been covering these issues for several years.

Alderman Megan Green speaks to reporters after Friday's Board of Aldermen meeting. The 15th Ward Democrat alleged that "bribes" were offed by a proponent of a riverfront stadium.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

A St. Louis alderman is contending that debate over a proposed riverfront stadium plan took a corrupt turn when a “loved one” was offered a political favor in exchange for her dialing down her opposition to the project.

But Alderman Megan Green’s charges are getting pushback – especially from her colleagues on the Board of Aldermen.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, left, talks with Aldermen Sam Moore, center, and Antonio French about a stadium funding deal. All three voted in favor of the proposal aimed at keeping the St. Louis Rams in town.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:15 Friday -- Plans for a $1 billion riverfront stadium cleared a major hurdle Thursday when a financing proposal passed out of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s Ways and Means Committee. And the measure passed with a big assist from one of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s biggest detractors. The full board will consider this bill next week.

A member of the St. Louis stadium task force places signage in the room before the announcement that National Car Rental has agreed to pay $158 million over 20 years for naming rights for the proposed NFL stadium in St. Louis on October 7, 2015.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | October 2015

Updated with committee vote - The aldermanic Ways and Means Committee has sent the NFL stadium plan to the full board for consideration. The 7-2 approval means the aldermen could take an initial vote on the measure tomorrow.

Most observers agree that Reed doesn't have a majority of the Board of Aldermen aligned with him. That means he's sometimes at the losing end of some big-ticket issues -- or he ends up supporting initiatives from Slay or other aldermen.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

With the St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s Ways and Means Committee expected to vote on a stadium financing package on Thursday, Alderman Chris Carter is getting pressure from unusual sources – like the general manager of his gym.

Dave Peacock of the St. Louis stadium task force testifies on Thursday before the Board of Aldermen's Ways and Means Committee.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Dave Peacock didn’t mince any words about how important it is to get a stadium financing plan through the Board of Aldermen.

“We don’t have a plan if they don’t,” said Peacock, one member of Gov. Jay Nixon’s two-person stadium task force.

jack coatar
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

This week's Politically Speaking podcast with Alderman Jack Coatar includes discussion about a new football stadium on the riverfront. He is sponsoring the bill laying out the financial plan for the proposed stadium, which Mayor Francis Slay and others hope will persuade the Rams to remain in St. Louis – or attract another NFL team.

Earlier today, 15th Ward Democrats President Richard Buthod said there’s widespread public skepticism about publicly financing stadiums. His group released results from a poll showing overwhelming opposition to city taxpayer dollars going to sporting facilities.

HOK | 360 Architecture

There are few fans in St. Louis quite like Ram Man.

Ram Man — whose real name is Karl Sides — wears a hat molded in the shape of a snarling beast with spiraling horns. His jersey is adorned with patches celebrating the St. Louis Rams' achievements. And his unique admiration was worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But it will take more than extraordinary fan loyalty to keep an NFL team in St. Louis.

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