St. Louis County

St. Louis County councilman Steve Stenger, left, shakes hands with St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch after announcing he is in the race for St. Louis county executive.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch isn’t running for county executive, but his words could have signaled otherwise Tuesday as he presented a scathing critique of County Executive Charlie Dooley, a fellow Democrat – and a call for him to be replaced by County Councilman Steve Stenger.

At Stenger’s rousing kickoff in Clayton, McCulloch blasted what he called “the total destruction of the reputation and integrity of county government’’ under Dooley’s watch.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley officially has a challenger in next year’s Democratic primary: St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger.

Stenger said he decided to run after a string of controversies in the county.

“We’ve seen, you know, in the health department alone, basically $3 million walking out the door for a phony company,” Stenger said in front of union members and other supporters.

“Well that’s $3 million right there. Over the years, we’ve had quite literally millions upon millions of dollars of fat that has been wasted by the executive branch.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louis County Council member Steve Stenger, D-Affton, is expected to declare on Tuesday his plans to challenge St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, a fellow Democrat, in 2014.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

The head of the St. Louis County Health Department answered questions this afternoon about an ongoing investigation into a possible misuse of funds, but it remains unclear how much money could be missing.

At the center of the investigation is Edward Mueth, a top official in the department that allegedly set up a computer company that may have over billed the county for goods and services.   

Mueth committed suicide one day before he was scheduled to answer questions about a budget item that fell under his supervision.

(Erin Williams/St. Louis Public Radio)

A Florissant pastor nominated to the St. Louis County Police Commission has withdrawn his name from consideration.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Rev. Freddy Clark told County Executive Charlie Dooley Friday morning that he is no longer interested.  Clark is the founder of the Shalom Church in Florissant.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The grand opening of two new outlet malls in Chesterfield appears to have also launched a rekindled debate into St. Louis County’s complicated sales tax formula that pits “pool cities’’ against their “point of sale’’ counterparts.

The current setup, says Chesterfield Mayor Bob Nation, amounts to “redistribution of wealth in a bad sense.”

Maggie Crane

The St. Louis County Council has green lighted a plan that merges some economic development functions with St. Louis City.

The merger creates the St. Louis Economic Partnership, which among other things will create a central clearinghouse where businesses can find what sites are available and what incentives are offered in both the city and county.

County Executive Charlie Dooley said linking economic development efforts will help the region speak with one voice, but said getting St. Charles County to join the effort will be a critical next step.

(Maggie Crane)

St. Louis City and County are a step closer to merging some of their economic development functions.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday sent their version of the agreement to Mayor Francis Slay, who's expected to sign it. The St. Louis County Council will take a final vote on its measure on Tuesday.

Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis City and County have announced a new division to aid business startups and entrepreneurs.

Called “STL VentureWorks," the project is an extension of the recently-formed St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley says STL VentureWorks’ five locations will help connect startups to capital funding sources, as well as provide mentoring and training opportunities.

J_D_R / Flickr

The median residential property value in St. Louis County declined 7 percent over the past two years, according to preliminary numbers released this afternoon.

St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman says the numbers show that property values in wealthier areas held steady or only had slight declines, but areas with clusters of foreclosures saw the median property value drop by 12 percent.

(A full chart of how different areas compared is below)

Rob Lee / Flickr

The St. Louis County Council is considering changes to its purchasing procedures that would prohibit vendors from supplying it with garments made under sweatshop conditions. 

Councilman Pat Dolan said he introduced the changes during Tuesday night’s council meeting at the request of municipalities in his district.

While Dolan said he’d prefer everything bought by the county was made in America, these changes will ensure the basic civil rights of workers are being met.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley got behind the controls of a backhoe and started chipping away at the bombed-out looking Glasgow Village Shopping Center.

Susan Groves grew up around here and said it’s a little sad to see a part of her childhood torn down.

“But I think this is a good thing, too,” Groves said.  “This is a place for kids to come and tear things up and do things they shouldn’t be doing here.”

(Flickr/Creative Commons user SuperFantastic)

The owners of more than three dozen restaurants and bars in St. Louis County filed into the County Council chambers in Clayton today with one request - please let us continue to allow smoking.

The owners were there at the request of Councilman Mike O'Mara, who's introduced a bill eliminating nearly all the exemptions in the county's smoking ban. Currently, bars that make less than 25 percent of their revenue from food may receive an exemption. Bowling alleys and casino gaming floors are also exempt.

(via Flickr/kevindooley)

A mistake by the St. Louis County Department of Revenue will cost the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District about $2 million in expected tax revenue.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that employees at the department failed to add a surcharge to about 200,000 property tax bills. The revenue generated by the additional tax helps MSD control storm water runoff inside Interstate 270.

UPI | Bill Greenblatt

The St. Louis County Council is moving forward with a plan to put a sales tax initiative on the April ballot that would improve county parks, trails and the Arch grounds.

Council Chairman Michael O’Mara introduced a bill at this afternoon's council meeting that would authorize the ballot initiative and says he plans to campaign on its behalf.

Waitscm / Flickr

Tuesday night the St. Louis County Council passed a new ordinance that in part requires contractors have a U.S. Department of Labor approved apprentice program.

That provision drew criticism from some civil rights groups who said it was unfairly pro-union.

“You know there are any number of minority owned contractors who are not union contractors,” said Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis branch of the NAACP.   “We’ve fought this fight a hundred times about this language and how it excludes them simply because they’re not tied to the union.”

UPI | Bill Greenblatt

Supporters of a closer relationship between St. Louis city and county can take heart from a new survey.

The Missouri Council for a Better Economy, a group linked to libertarian billionaire Rex Sinquefield, conducted the survey of 700 voters at the beginning of September. It found that a strong majority of those polled thought some form of unification was worth exploring.

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

St. Louis County started construction on a new crime lab this afternoon and police say the facility will speed up processing time.

Department spokesman, Randy Vaughn, says the extra space will also give them the room they need for additional technicians to help take on a backlog of evidence.  

“This is also going to allow a separation of all the different types of forensics, chemistry, biology, our evidence custodians, our firearm custodians,” Vaughn says.  “That is going to make a vast difference in making sure we don’t have any type of contamination issues.”

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

A restraining order that prevents St. Louis County from enforcing a new law that would require banks to offer mediation to homeowners facing foreclosure continues this week.

St. Louis County and bankers are in the midst of a legal battle over whether or not the county has the authority to enforce the ordinance.

No matter what happens in the court case, St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay says the city should continue to push ahead with a similar law.

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

Casandra Sheperd is about to be evicted from her home in north St. Louis County.

On a recent afternoon, the soft spoken woman with an easy smile is standing in a room with 20 years’ worth of possessions stacked to the ceiling.

“Every box is hard, you know, because everything has a memory,” Sheperd says. “You know, you pack, you stack, you cry, but you keep moving."

Sheperd lost her job at an insurance company a couple of years ago and started getting behind on her mortgage payments.

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

The St. Louis County Council approved additional changes to an ordinance that requires lenders to offer mediation to homeowners on the edge of foreclosure.

The tweaks to the ordinance include removing the right for homeowners to sue lenders after they’ve gone through mediation, and they come in the shadow of an ongoing legal battle with lenders over whether the county even has the authority to enforce the ordinance.

Councilwoman Hazel Erby first introduced the mediation plan and is confident in the county’s case.  

borman818 / Flickr

St. Louis County has new accountants auditing its financial records and they want changes to how officials track extra cash left in bank accounts at the end of the fiscal year.

The county’s Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls says in the past they would consider the leftover money as revenue, but the audit recommends it now be accounted for as an asset.

“There’s a reason accountants have the reputation that they do,” Earls says.  “This is a perfectionism of the system, and I’d tell you outright that it is an asset of the county so we might as well count it as an asset.”

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

The Missouri Bankers Association has filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County over a new ordinance that requires lenders to offer mediation to homeowners facing foreclosure.

The trade group’s president, Max Cook, said they plan to argue that it has a laundry list of legal problems. 

“Not the least of which is statute that says when it comes to banking laws, and rules, and regulation, no entity, be it a county, a city, what have you, can pass an ordinance or a rule more restrictive than that of the state of Missouri,” Cook said.

St. Louis County website

Updated 12:42 p.m. with more details.

The Missouri Bar Association is out with its judicial retention recommendations.

The organization surveys judges, lawyers and jurors every election year to ask whether the state’s judges should be retained by voters in November.

Of the 51 judges evaluated by the Bar, just one – St. Louis County Judge Dale Hood – did not get a retention recommendation. This is the second time Judge Hood has received a sub-par rating from the group of attorneys.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:

St. Louis County attitude survey results presented

Last night members of the St. Louis County Council heard the results of a survey that measured how the attitudes of residents have changed over the past five years. Many don't think the county is going in the right direction but don't place the blame on their county government.

Five years ago, a little over 60 percent of people thought the county was going in the right direction; today that number is 44 percent.

(Tim Llloyd/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley is pledging to open an emergency homeless shelter in the county by the end of the year.

Dooley announced the shift in policy in a series of Tweets on Friday. The county will also be looking for agencies to operate transitional housing - which is a stepping stone between a shelter and a permanent residence - and will host a homeless summit in October.

(via Flickr/Trailnet)

The St. Louis County Parks Department presented its business plan to the County Council last night, and for now, no park closures are being discussed. 

Officials with the parks department said they’re doing their best to cut unnecessary expenses and uncover new revenue streams, but currently the department has a $500,000 budget shortfall for 2013.

The budget outlook could get much worse in 2014, and Parks Department Director Tom Ott said they would need to make drastic cuts without adequate funding.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Quinn to announce plan to address Illinois' drought

Gov. Pat Quinn plans  a visit to a southern Illinois farm today. The Illinois Farm Bureau says that so far, it's the sixth driest year on record. The average precipitation of the first half of the year was 12.6 inches. Much of Illinois' corn and soybean crop is suffering. Farm officials say southern Illinois is experiencing the worst of it.  Quinn is expected to detail whatever government relief may be available to drought-affected growers and ranchers.

(via Flickr/breahn)

The St. Louis County Economic Council is opening the doors to its new biotech incubator on Monday afternoon and the agency says it will serve as a launching pad for biotech businesses.

Officials say The Helix Center Biotech Incubator is a 17,000 square foot facility loaded with lab and office space with a prime location next to the Danforth Plant Center.

Entrepreneurial efforts are nothing new to the council, which runs four other incubators in the region.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Quinn will close two prisons, including Tamms

Rachel Otwell contributed reporting from Springfield, Ill.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn made it official on Tuesday - he will close two state prisons, including the state's supermax facility in Tamms.

Rep. Brandon Phelps, of Harrisburg, says he received a brief memo from Quinn, saying that Tamms and a prison in Dwight will close, as well as juvenile detention centers in Joliet and Murphysboro. That's despite legislators including money in the 2013 budget for the facilities.