St. Louis County

s_falkow | Flickr

A U.S. Department of Justice report released last year raised concerns about how well St. Louis County protected the civil rights of kids in the juvenile justice system.

"The Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that the St. Louis Family Court fails to provide constitutionally required due process to juveniles appearing for delinquency proceedings," said Vanita Gupta, the head of the Civil Rights division in July 2015 at a press conference announcing the findings of a 20-month investigation. "The Justice Department also found the court's administration of juvenile justice discriminated against black children. They are less likely to be given diversion, more likely to be detained, and more likely to be committed to state custody than white children."

Juvenile justice advocates say little has changed in those 12 months.

Beth Huebner and Herb Bernsen are in the second year of a MacArthur Foundation grant to reduce the St. Louis County jail population by 15-19 percent.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh led a discussion about UMSL and St. Louis County’s partnership to reduce the county’s jail population by 15 to 19 percent over two years.

Beth Huebner, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at UMSL, is the lead researcher on a $2.25 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation that makes this work possible. She joined the show alongside Herb Bernsen, the director of justice services for St. Louis County, to discuss how the project is going.

Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Peters, sponsored the municipal governance overhaul in the House.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers have approved, and sent to the governor, an expansion of last year’s municipal overhaul, a bill that also includes a measure making it easier for cities to disincorporate.

This year’s bill would curb ordinance violations, such as tall weeds or housing code problems. It would also reduce the maximum traffic fine to $225. It would also create a sliding scale for non-traffic fines.

Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, was a major supporter of changing St. Louis County's sales tax distribution system.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate has approved a change to St. Louis County’s complicated and controversial system for distributing a 1-cent sales tax.

Now, it’s up to the Missouri House whether to support or reject the idea.  And then Gov. Jay Nixon will decide whether to agree.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger's proposal would impliment minimum standards for police departments to follow. If they don't meet those benchmarks, Stenger's office could effectively disband departments.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A judge has thrown out a St. Louis County ordinance that requires municipal police departments to adhere to certain standards.

It’s a temporary blow to a big priority for St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who pushed the law as a way to bolster confidence in public safety throughout the county.

I-64 W traffic highway
Paul Sableman | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1rzN9Hd

Since we launched the Curious Louis project last fall, we’ve received plenty of questions/musings/perplexed cries for answers regarding highways, byways and roadways in St. Louis. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh got answers to some of them by convening a panel of three experts.

Representatives from St. Louis City, St. Louis County and the state (MoDOT) joined the show:

Jacob Norlund / Flickr

The following questions recently came into Curious Louis from someone who wanted to be anonymous: Why do we (St. Louis residents) pay our personal and real estate taxes directly to Gregory F.X. Daly and not a department? How does that compare to other cities?

Daly, the collector of revenue for St. Louis, receives the questions so frequently that his office has set up a webpage to explain.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The question came into Curious Louis from Joellen Pickens: “Why is West Florissant the eastern-most of the other Florissants?”

Pickens is not the first person to wonder about the multitude of Florissants. The St. Louis Star-Tribune tackled it in 1950.

Nate Birt | Provided

Updated with comments from researchers. - A team led by University of Missouri-St. Louis researcher Beth Huebner will get more than $2 million to reduce the population of the St. Louis County jail.

St. Louis County  is one of 11 jurisdictions to receive a grant through the  John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge. Over the next two years, the county and its partners will use the funds to reduce the number of people held at the jail by at least 15 percent.

300 pixel elderly health care
National Institutes for Health

The St. Louis County Council is the first of area political entities to consider a new tax that would support programs that help older residents.

Councilman Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, introduced a bill that would raise property taxes by 5 cents for every $100 of assessed property. If the council passes Page's bill, the measure will go to the voters. And if county voters approve the measure in November, the proceeds from the tax increase will go into a fund that could be used for senior service programs.

car lot
Martin Kleppe | Flickr

On April 5, all St. Louis County voters, and residents of more than four dozen municipalities in St. Louis and St. Charles will see a variation of the following proposition, known as Proposition B  (A, V, or 1) on their ballot.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

The heroin epidemic is killing people from every corner of St. Louis County, especially people from relatively affluent neighborhoods.

According to a report released Wednesday by the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, people from the inner north and southern parts of the county are dying at the highest rate per capita. But there are high death rates in pockets throughout the county, including Chesterfield and Richmond Heights.

Nate Birt | Provided

St. Louis County hopes its efforts to reduce its jail population and reform the municipal court system will get a boost from the MacArthur Foundation.

Applications for the second round of funding from the foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge were due Wednesday. St. Louis County was one of 20 jurisdictions that received $150,000 to study its jail population and develop policies to reduce it. A second round of funding will help those jurisdictions fund the interventions.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A historic flood is already on the books for 2016 in the St. Louis region. What else will the year have in store for St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who took office just a year ago?

A white cross for every homicide in St. Louis and St. Louis County this year line the lawn of Mount Beulah Missionary Baptist Church Dec. 6, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

If you drive down Page Avenue between now and the end of the year, you’ll see row upon row of small white crosses lined up in front of Mount Beulah Missionary Baptist Church.

All told, the Hanley Hills church lawn has at least 220 crosses — one for each known homicide this year in St. Louis or St. Louis County. Crosses will be added as needed throughout December.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

This July 31, the U.S. Department of Justice released the findings of a 20-month investigation into the St. Louis County Family Court that sent a jolt through the system.

"The investigation found that the court fails to provide constitutionally required due process to children appearing for delinquency proceedings, and that the court’s administration of juvenile justice discriminates against black children, all in violation of the 14th Amendment," assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in a conference call.

Nate Birt | Provided

St. Louis County officials will soon decide whether to turn medical services at two county jails over to a private contractor. The decision is pending even as members of the medical community — including current justice center employees — have raised concerns over the dangers of privatizing healthcare in jail.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro readies himself to announce $26 million in federal funds to St. Louis County.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will provide more than $26 million to St. Louis County for residential and commercial development.

It’s the second time in recent months HUD made a high-profile resources-related announcement in the St. Louis area.

Ferguson October protesters
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and other legal groups are blasting a decision by the attorney for St. Louis County to charge Ferguson protesters, many almost a year after they were arrested.

But St. Louis County's counselor is defending the process for charging dozens of people — including a couple of  journalists.

The St. Louis County Building Commission (Jeff Aboussie, Barry Glantz and John Finder, right) listens to Sierra Club supporters on Wednesday. The model house is covered with the names of 529 area residents who want stricter energy efficiency standards.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Sierra Club is raising the alarm that new residential building codes under review by St. Louis County would reduce home energy efficiency below existing standards.

But the Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri (HBA) believes the changes are needed.

Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
YouTube | Fair Housing conference

Updated 4:30 p.m. with comments from Civil Rights Division and react - A 20-month investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has found the St. Louis County Family Court violates the constitutional rights of children in its custody.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

In St. Louis County, 36 people have died from a heroin overdose this year. Although the number is a 23 percent decrease from the 47 fatalities reported last June, there is still much to overcome.

Casey Lambert, a detective with the St. Louis County Police Department Bureau of Drug Enforcement, explained that raising awareness and reaching the right crowd is difficult. Many of the citizens who succumb to heroin addiction are often teens and young adults.

William Woods, the special agent in charge of the St. Louis office of the FBI, announces the Mission SAVE task force with chief Sam Dotson (L) and Mayor Francis Slay (R) Flanked by St. Louis Metropolitan Police chief Sam Dotson.
UPI | Bill Greenblatt

One hundred five people have been killed in St. Louis so far this year, putting the city on pace for nearly 200 homicides in 2015. Many more than that have been shot or put in danger of being shot.

Now, city officials are looking to a new local-federal task force to slow the pace of violence in the city.

Steve Stenger
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

St. Louis County government now has an Office of Strategy and Innovation. The office was pulled out of the Department of Planning to put a vision for the county into motion.

County Executive Steve Stenger has been touting the need for a comprehensive strategy in St. Louis County since his campaign. Now six months into his administration, the county council has officially approved the creation of an office tasked with that plan.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

A new bridge over the Missouri River is opening Monday morning, underscoring how much St. Louis and St. Charles Counties have grown together over the past three decades.

State and local officials gathered Thursday to cut a ceremonial ribbon on the new eastbound span of the I-64 Daniel Boone Bridge.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann told an audience of about 50 people that the bridge is the 7th river crossing built between the two counties in the last 37 years.

A group of activists say Andre Cole didn't receive a fair trial nor a proper defense. They're asking Gov. Nixon to halt Cole's execution Tuesday.
Courtesy of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

A group of activists is calling on Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to put a hold on Tuesday's execution of a black man they say was unfairly convicted by an all-white jury.

In addition, a letter they sent to Nixon asks him to establish a special board of inquiry to "investigate whether the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office has intentionally and systematically excluded African Americans from jury service in capital cases." 

Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

During his first 100 days in office, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger  has attracted more attention for what he won’t do.

  • He won’t advocate for some sort of reunification of the city of St. Louis with St. Louis County.
  • The county won’t help bankroll some of the costs of a proposed new stadium.
The St. Louis region grew slightly in 2014, but the city dropped by about 1,000 people, according to new Census data.
U.S. Marine Corps Flickr page

The latest U.S. Census Bureau data shows the St. Louis region has grown little in population since 2010, but also has remained fairly stable.

State Rep. Bob Burns' legislation would make it easier to hold disincorporation elections in St. Louis County.
Tim Bommel, House Communications

Legislation is advancing through the Missouri General Assembly to make it easier to dissolve St. Louis County’s municipalities.

via Flickr | Alex Ford

A new report is criticizing many local governments in the St. Louis area for a lack of transparency.

As documented in the nonprofit organization Better Together's "Transparency Report," the group attempted to obtain basic financial and operational information from dozens of area municipalities that should be publicly accessible under Missouri’s Sunshine Law.

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