St. Louis County Council | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Council

St. Louis County Council members meet on Oct. 2, 2018.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County may no longer require contractors bidding for work to have apprenticeship programs — a longstanding priority for labor unions.

The County Council voted 5-2 Tuesday night for Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger’s legislation that makes a host of changes to the county’s procurement regulations. One of the big changes is that it no longer would require bidders for certain contracts to either participate or maintain apprenticeship programs.

The St. Louis County Council approved three charter amendments earlier this month. One would provide the council with more authority over the county budget.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council has voted to temporarily withhold some of the county money that goes to the region’s Bi-State transit agency in a quest to improve security on the MetroLink light rail line.

The council’s action is in response to various violent incidents in recent months on or near the rail line, including one that resulted in the fatal shooting of a county health department employee.

All six council members present Tuesday night voted in favor of a bill withholding $5 million from the county’s funding for Metro security. That’s a fraction of the county’s overall scheduled spending of $157 million this year to help fund all Bi-State transit operations.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-South St. Louis County, speaks to reporters on Sept. 18, 2018.  A judge ruled that Trakas did not violate a charter provision against governmental employment when he did legal work for school districts.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Charles County judge ruled that a St. Louis County councilman did not violate a prohibition against working for a government agency.

The decision means that Councilman Ernie Trakas can remain on the St. Louis County Council — an outcome the south St. Louis County Republican said he expected.

St. Louis County Health Director Faisal Khan, left, and County Executive Steve Stenger declare a public health emergency due to the opioid crisis at a press conference Thursday in Berkley.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Department of Public Health Director Faisal Khan is leaving his post for a job in Kansas City.

Khan, who reports to County Executive Steve Stenger, said Friday that political tensions between the County Council and Stenger’s office have made it difficult to do his job.

“The gulf of trust that seems to have opened up between the two is the result of both sides being unwilling to come to the table and come to an agreement and understanding about the vital services provided in St. Louis County,” Khan said. “The apportionment of blame is equally to share.”

Kerah Braxton, an employee of the St. Louis County Justice Center, speaks at the Sept. 4, 2018, meeting of the St. Louis County Council. Nurses and corrections workers will get between a 10 and 16 percent raise under a plan that could be finalized soon.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

After a long and bitter impasse, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and members of the St. Louis County Council are planning to provide a pay boost for nurses who treat county inmates.

The plan could get final approval from the council in the next few weeks.

Jefferson Barracks cemetery
File photo | Mary Delach Leonard I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:30 p.m. with council action on charter amendment veto

The St. Louis County Council took a big step Tuesday toward expanding Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

The plan involves selling more than 33 acres of the roughly 70-acre Sylvan Springs Park to the federal government, which could prevent Jefferson Barracks from running out of room.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger confers with Councilman Pat Dolan at a Dec. 19, 2017, meeting of the St. Louis County Council.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council isn’t finished changing up the county’s charter.

Council members on Monday sent four charter amendments for voter approval. The measures stem from an increasingly adversarial relationship between the council and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger. They’re slated for the Nov. 6 general election.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is going into the 2018 election cycle with few strong allies on the county council.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

The race to represent the 5th District on the St. Louis County Council comes amid a backdrop of extreme discord between Council members and the county executive.

County Executive Steve Stenger came into office in January 2015, with most of the Council on his side. As time went on, six out of the seven members -- many of them fellow Democrats -- ended up against him. The upshot is that Councilman Pat Dolan has become Stenger’s lone ally.

Dolan, D-Richmond Heights, is hoping to retain that designation after the Aug. 7 primary election. He’s facing a strong challenge from Lisa Clancy, a Maplewood Democrat who wants to supply a “fresh voice” on the Council.

The St. Louis County Council continued its fight with County Executive Steve Stenger July 18, 2018, overriding three vetoes.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council has overridden three more of County Executive Steve Stenger’s vetoes — part of a longstanding fight over power.

But the stakes may be heightened, as the Aug. 7 primary looms.

Council Chairman Sam Page, a fellow Democrat, said after Tuesday’s votes that the members want to hold Stenger accountable.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas
Alex Heuer I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas’ political future is now up to a judge, who will likely rule before the summer ends whether Trakas violated the county charter by doing legal work for school districts.

If the answer is yes, then Trakas – who represents much of south county – would be removed from the council.

St. Charles County Circuit Judge Dan Pelikan held a brief hearing Thursday morning and ordered lawyers for both sides to submit any additional legal arguments within 30 days. Pelikan could then rule at any time, although the lawyers predict it likely will be August at the earliest before he announces his decision.

The St. Louis Council at its meeting on June 26, 2018. The empty chair belongs to County Executive Steve Stenger, who has skipped most of the meetings this year.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council is planning to set up a special task force to tackle the region’s opioid problem, and is offering up to $1 million in grants to encourage people to come up with solutions.

In a rare show of solidarity, the council voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of the plan.

The county already has a prescription drug monitoring program. But Councilman Mark Harder, a Republican from Ballwin, said the 11-member task force is a necessary addition.

The St. Louis County Council rejected legislation aimed at regulating rental property in unincorporated St. Louis County.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council’s focus on redevelopment efforts at the old Northwest Plaza site – and its related accusations against County Executive Steve Stenger – are now igniting concerns among St. Ann officials and civic leaders.

St. Ann city administrator Matt Conley was among several who contended that the council’s political fight with Stenger is hurting the city’s efforts to attract businesses to the former shopping center site, which once was a regional magnet for shoppers.

The St. Louis County Council passed a resolution Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, asking municipalities to spend Proposition P solely on policing. The resolution is non-binding.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council plans to recommend that federal or state law enforcement agencies investigate whether County Executive Steve Stenger broke any laws when he moved some county operations to the old Northwest Plaza shopping center.

The 26-page report circulated this week by the council’s Ethics Committee takes aim at Stenger over his administration’s efforts to help redevelop the Northwest Plaza site in St. Ann.

The report – to be formally presented to the full council next week -- calls for the state attorney general or the U.S. attorney to look into the matter.

The St. Louis County Council passed a resolution Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, asking municipalities to spend Proposition P solely on policing. The resolution is non-binding.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County voters will likely weigh in this summer on the ongoing power struggle between the St. Louis County Council and County Executive Steve Stenger.

The council voted 6-1 today to override five of his vetoes. Three of the measures are proposed changes to the county Charter that will be placed on the August ballot.

One of the changes would set campaign-donation limits of $2,600 for candidates for countywide office or the council. All three have provisions that would increase the council’s powers.

Members of the Fannie Lou Hamer Democratic Coalition stand with businessman Mark Mantovani, in back, at an endorsement event on May 5, 2018.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Several dozen Democratic African-American officials in St. Louis County are endorsing businessman Mark Mantovani for county executive — and opposing incumbent Democrat Steve Stenger.

“We need a person who’s going to work for all the people in St. Louis,’’ said Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy at an event Saturday at Mantovani’s new regional campaign office in north St. Louis County.

The group, known as the Fannie Lou Hamer Coalition, is pledging to help Mantovani in the August Democratic primary for the county’s top post. There is no well-known Republican seeking the job.

Kali takes a swim at the Saint Louis Zoo.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council is close to placing a sales tax hike on the November ballot to pay for improvements for the St. Louis Zoo.

While council members appear to want to let the voters decide, the one-eighth of one cent sales tax could face sharp questions later this year — especially since only St. Louis and St. Louis County directly pay for the attraction.

Two grizzly bear cubs arrived at the St. Louis Zoo in the summer of 2017.
File photo I David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County voters may be asked to put more tax money into improving the St. Louis Zoo.

St. Louis County Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray introduced a 1/8th of one cent sales tax increase at Tuesday’s council meeting. If County Council members put it on the ballot, St. Louis County voters would decide on the measure on Nov. 6. The tax would add about 12 cents to a $100 purchase.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger confers with Councilman Pat Dolan at a Dec. 19, 2017, meeting of the St. Louis County Council.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s recently-enacted donation limits don’t affect county and municipal candidates, which means contenders for, say, the St. Louis County Council or county executive’s office can take contributions of unlimited size.

That could change, if some members of the council get their way.

St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder to the program.

The Ballwin Republican represents the council’s 7th District. It takes in a number of large municipalities in St. Louis County, including Chesterfield, Wildwood, Ellisville and Ballwin.

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

To some of his critics, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s strained relations with many members of the County Council is payback.

During his last years as the 6th District councilman, it wasn’t unusual for Stenger to publicly joust with then-Executive Charlie Dooley at council meetings. Stenger won their 2014 confrontation at the polls.

But now, others see a broader conflict over power and who wields it.  Stenger and the council continue to battle over a variety of issues as this year’s November elections loom. Their feud has gone on for over a year.

Pages