St. Louis County | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County

Mark Mantovani
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Businessman Mark Mantovani — a Democrat challenging St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger — joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies for the latest episode of Politically Speaking.

A graduate of St. Louis University High School, Mantovani grew up in the region and is a former lawyer making his first bid for public office. He is arguably the best-known and best-financed of all of Stenger’s potential opponents for the job overseeing the state’s largest county and its 1 million residents.

Mackenzie village board members, including Pat Arrendell and Dorothy Berry, sat up front for a community meeting on March 21 about what would happen if their village disincorporates.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Mackenzie Village’s voters go to the polls Tuesday, the fate of their south county community will hang in the balance.

They will decide whether to dissolve the 72-year-old village — made up of 134 residents, 68 homes, one park and three streets.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated March 21 at 6:15 p.m. with additional comments — The presiding judge in St. Louis County has ruled that nearly 80 percent of the circuit’s public defenders have caseloads that leave them unable to effectively represent their clients.

In an order issued Monday, Circuit Judge Douglas Beach proposed several solutions, including a waitlist for defendants who are not in jail and having private attorneys handle low-level felonies.

State Rep. Cloria Brown
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

By her own admission, Cloria Brown didn’t expect to get involved in Missouri politics. But after a highly successful business career, Brown felt it was the right time to give back to her community in south St. Louis County.

“I never had any political ambitions,” Brown said during a 2015 edition of Politically Speaking. “But I didn’t want the job to just be given to someone. And I thought I represented the area pretty well. I was doing service, and I said, 'This is another way to serve.’”

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

After a record number of influenza cases in St. Louis County in the last week of 2017, the numbers have dipped, but only slightly. 

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health reports 1,282 cases of influenza in the first week of January. That's compared to 1,304 in the last week of December, a record for the county.

St. Louis Public Radio’s interim political editor Jason Rosenbaum.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Don Marsh talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s interim political editor Jason Rosenbaum about the friction between St. Louis County executive Steve Stenger and the St. Louis County Council.

With elections looming, tensions continue between the St. Louis County Council and County Executive Stenger
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council has slashed $31 million dollars from County Executive Steve Stenger's 2018 budget proposal, a move rarely seen in the region’s largest jurisdiction.

Stenger was caught off-guard when he learned of the council’s plans shortly before it convened Tuesday night. Soon after, the seven members voted 6 - 1 to approve Council Chairman Sam Page's substitute budget. 

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s new campaign donation restrictions have given new status to St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.  He now is collecting more large contributions than any other political candidate in the state.

Tracy White sits in front of her mother's house, where she's living after serving more than 18 years in prison.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Gun violence is the result of a series of choices, some of them spur-of-the-moment, others made after much consideration.

The vast majority of men and women in Missouri convicted of gun crimes eventually go free. Next comes navigating life with a felony record, which is a complicated process.

They often have to go back to the neighborhoods where they were arrested, making it hard to escape feuds that had them protectively carrying guns. And the lucrative world of drug dealing can be a temptation when it’s tough to find or keep a job.

A rendering of the St. Louis Ice Center at Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park.
St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

The National Park Service has ordered the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to stop construction work for a proposed ice recreation facility in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. 

In a letter to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources last Friday, the federal agency expressed its concerns about the St. Louis Ice Center.

"We are concerned that the Ice Center would act as a stand-alone attraction and would not encourage further outdoor recreation at the rest of the site," wrote Carol Edmondson, an outdoor recreation planner at the National Park Service.

Nate Birt | Provided

A team of researchers and service providers in St. Louis County says they've made “substantial progress” toward cutting the number of days people spend in the county jail, but they acknowledge they fell short of their goal.

WOW air, which will start flights in St. Louis next year, was launched in 2011by Icelandic entrepreneur Skúli Mogensen.
BriYYZ | Flickr

The St. Louis region is about to get a direct link to Reykjavik. Iceland-based WOW air will begin four flights a week between St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Keflavik International Airport in May. From there, passengers can go on to European cities including Berlin, Paris, and London.

Paul Knittel | flickr

The assessed value of residential homes in St. Louis County has shot up an average of 7 percent since 2015 — the county’s strongest showing in almost a decade. St. Louis’ numbers beat the county: a nearly 12 percent increase in the same time frame.

Experts say it’s a sign the region has recovered from the economic downturn of the late 2000s.

An illustration of pills.
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s statewide prescription drug monitoring database will come online next month. There’s a key difference between it and databases throughout the U.S. and even in St. Louis County, which actually covers nearly 60 percent of the state.

The program, created by Gov. Eric Greitens by an executive order, will collect who is writing opioid prescriptions and dispensing the drugs, but only the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services can access the data. In every other state, pharmacists and doctors can see that type of data — which is the most successful way to stem opioid abuse, according to Sherry Green of the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.

House for sale
Paul Sableman | Flickr

The St. Louis County Assessor's office has started informal conferences with property owners concerned their taxes are too high.

Assessor Jake Zimmerman says the average county property value has gone up roughly 7 percent, compared to the last review a couple of years ago. He attributes the increase, in part, to a hotter real estate market, with properties selling faster and for more money.  

Councilman Mark Harder's (left) bill aimed at replacing two bridges in western St. Louis County sparked a war of words between councilmembers and County Executive Steve Stenger.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger always was going to have a hard time getting along with most of the St. Louis County Council. After all, the county voters filled the majority of those seven seats with people who have longstanding disagreements with the Democrat.  

That expected acrimony has come to pass in the form of a dispute over replacing bridges, prompting some council members to question Stenger’s ability to effectively communicate with them.

A MetroLink train
File Photo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Police Department is investigating at least seven claims that security guards on MetroLink trains and platforms acted like police officers — allegations the Bi-State Development Agency,  which runs the transportation system, denies.

The department wrote its first report about a MetroLink guard attempting to make an arrest on April 8, St. Louis County Police spokesman Sgt. Shawn McGuire said Tuesday, though incidents are alleged to have happened before  that. The security guards are not licensed as officers by the state and therefore don’t have authority to arrest anyone.

A screenshot of the newly released Your STL Courts website May 2017
Screenshot | yourstlcourts.com

The St. Louis County municipal court system has a new website that developers believe will help reduce arrests of people who don’t show up to court, but detractors say more access to that kind of information doesn’t necessarily make officers’ ticketing proclivities more fair.

Rising rivers threaten St. Louis area towns, roads

Apr 30, 2017
Pallets full of sandbags that stayed dry during the floods sit in the parking lot of City Hall in Valley Park in January 2016.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 1 with new road closure information - Rising rivers in the St. Louis area that are already threatening homes and businesses will also cause major traffic headaches for at least the rest of this week.

More than 70 roads have been closed in the area due to engorged rivers and streams. (See a complete list here.) Officials say more will be added to the list this week. That includes Interstate 44, which will close in both directions at Route 141 Monday night. Missouri Department of Transportation engineer  Tom Blair says it will mark the third spot on the interstate to close since the heavy rains hit the state this past weekend.

A print by Mitchell Eismont, cut from linoleum depicts noted physicist Albert Einstein above the words "Einstein was a refugee."
Courtesy of the St. Louis Artists' Guild

Ohio-based artist Mitchell Eismont’s interest in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis developed while he was producing posters for East Coast musician Chadwick Stokes' “Forced to Flee” tour. Inspired by Stokes' dedication, Eismont began work on a series of prints supporting immigrants and refugees, featuring cultural figures like the Dalai Lama, Jesus and Albert Einstein.

“I think it’s probably the crisis of our generation,” Eismont said of the crisis, which stems from a long-running civil war. “I think it’s important to try and help with the situation.”

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