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Top Stories

Editor's picks for the top news stories of the day.

File photo. Cathy Serino, a transgender veteran, served 12 years in the United States National Guard. She now lives in Columbia, Missouri.
Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis transgender community and others are cheering a ruling that blocks President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban trans people from serving in the military.

Monday’s decision by a federal court judge in Washington, D.C. will allow transgender people to continue serving for the foreseeable future.

St. Louis voters will decide next Tuesday whether to boost the sales tax a half cent to fund raises for police and firefighters.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Voters in St. Louis will go to the polls next week to decide whether to give the city’s police officers and firefighters a raise by boosting the city’s sales tax by a half-cent.

Proposition P is the second sales tax on the ballot in six months. Approval would push the rate to nearly 12 percent in some parts of the city. And the current climate around policing in St. Louis is making the measure a tough sell.

Protesters walk down Olive Street in downtown St. Louis after the People's Town Hall event. Sept. 28, 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Mary Ann Tisdale’s 20s lined up with the peak of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the struggle for black empowerment.

Tisdale didn’t participate. She said she was scared of getting hurt, but she followed the movement closely — reading “everything there was to read.”

“You could say physically, I’m a coward, but I know what’s going on,” she said.

Veterans Home resident Curtis Washington, who served during the Korean War, shares his concerns. His wife Sandra holds the microphone.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

This story has been updated.

Missed medications. Falsified records. A veteran with dementia placed in a scalding hot shower, unable to move.

One by one, concerned family members and employees of the St. Louis Veteran’s Home — some angry, others in tears — took to a microphone at North Kirkwood Middle School late Monday. They alleged that the 300-bed facility in north St. Louis County is so mismanaged that its care of aging residents amounts to neglect. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are particularly vulnerable, they said.  

Rep. Clem Smith, D-Velda Village Hills
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 state Rep. Clem Smith to the program.

The Velda Village Hills Democrat has represented a slew of central and north St. Louis County municipalities since 2011. He will leave the House after the 2018 session due to term limits.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger (second from left) argues with Councilman Sam Page during a meeting of the St. Louis County Council on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. Page sponsored a bill halting construction at the site of an ice center.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A majority of the St. Louis County Council has filed suit to determine if it has any power to hire employees over the objections of County Executive Steve Stenger.

The suit was filed Monday in St. Louis County Circuit Court. It contends Stenger overstepped his bounds by refusing to hire more staff for county Auditor Mark Tucker.

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

Apparent Russian agents began reaching out to Donald Trump's presidential campaign as early as March 2016, the Justice Department established in documents released Monday, with appeals for partnership and offers of help including "dirt" on Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton.

That case is made in charging documents in the case of then-Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

A drone flies near a bridge
Sodapix | Thinkstock

Missouri could soon send flying drones to the state's bridges, using them to doing difficult and dangerous work long done by workers.

About 56,000 bridges in the United States require major repairs, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Missouri ranks No. 4 in the country for its number of structurally deficient bridges. 

AA Roads

While one legislative task force is touring the state to hear ideas about upgrading Missouri’s roads and bridges, another group of lawmakers is using an online survey to determine the best way to pay for it all.

Rep. Jeff Messenger, R-Republic, chairs the House Policy Development Caucus, which he said was formed to study “hard and difficult situations” in Missouri — including paying for transportation improvements.

Hundreds of volunteers donned stocking caps and work gloves Saturday to clean up empty lots and complete minor home repairs in University City.

Cold temperatures prevented workers from pouring concrete, but city residents and others from throughout the St. Louis region cleared brush, picked up trash, cleaned gutters and painted railings.

SixThirty Logo
SixThirty

The Chinese investor Fosun Group announced the investment in the financial tech company BondIT on Friday.

BondIT, based in Israel, has created a digital product to help investors in the bond market. The company took part in the St. Louis-based seed investor and accelerator SixThirty last year.

SixThirty Managing Partner Atul Kamra said it’s the latest company to attract follow-on funding.

Photographs taken during an investigation of fair housing compliance by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council.
Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council

A fair housing advocacy organization has filed federal complaints against five new apartment complexes in the St. Louis area.

The Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council claims the buildings do not meet accessibility standards for people with disabilities, further restricting an already limited supply of accessible housing in the region.

s_falkow | Flickr

The city of St. Louis has pledged to let most people charged with municipal offenses go home without having to pay bail.

These changes are part of a court order finalized earlier this month. They were prompted in part by a federal lawsuit from the MacArthur Justice Center over the way people protesting Jason Stockley's acquittal of first-degree murder were treated by the police and courts. That lawsuit has since been dismissed.

AT&T employees and T-REX members put together server stacks for the AT&T Open Source Lab at T-REX.
Photo provided | BJ Kraiberg | T-REX

AT&T is reaching out to St. Louis’ tech startup community with a new Open Source Lab.

The company is providing about $70,000 worth of servers, technology services and funding to create the lab, which will be located at the tech incubator T-REX in downtown St. Louis.

Jomo Castro, AT&T's regional director of external affairs, said it will allow for collaboration between startups, researchers and corporations.

A nursing student practices taking a blood sample for a lead test on a volunteer in Jennings.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

When a child has an elevated amount of lead in their blood, it’s often up to Tammi Holmes to find the source.

Once, it was a packet of turmeric, brought home after an international trip. Another time, it was the metal letter on an apartment door, traced by a little girl every day as she learned the alphabet.

“We’re missing a lot of kids,” Holmes told a group of educators during a free-testing day at the Gary Gore Elementary School in Jennings. "Sometimes people don't think about things like that, until we have that conversation." 

LaShell Eikerenkoetter addresses police officers after protesters saw them use a Taser on a demonstrator.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The search for a new chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department — underway since Sam Dotson retired in April — is into its sixth month.  Applications were due on Thursday, and a new chief should be in place by January.

The final steps of the process are taking place with the department under a bright spotlight from protesters demanding more police accountability, and the scrutiny could impact the way the rest of the search plays out.

Sign at a homeless tent encampment on sidewalk in downtown St. Louis on Oct. 26, 2017.
Chelsea Hoye | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

For a group of homeless people who've been living in tents on a downtown St. Louis sidewalk, it's the end of the road. 

Thursday was the deadline imposed by the city for them to leave the site.

In an act of solidarity, community activists gathered Thursday morning near Tucker Boulevard and Biddle Street to hand out food, winter clothes, and bus tickets to people who are homeless.

City officials had earlier announced that those in the tents would have to vacate the sidewalk, citing safety concerns.

Movie poster image. Melissa Leo and Margaret Qualley star in "Novitiate," set to open in Los Angeles and New York Friday, Oct. 27.
Provided | Sony Pictures

Contemporary classical music fans all over the country have enjoyed original compositions by St. Louis' own Chris Stark. But he may have found his biggest audience, ever, in a new group: moviegoers.

Stark, a composer and a professor of composition at Washington University, recently finished scoring his first film, a Sony Pictures release, “Novitiate.” It’s the story of a woman who joins a convent.  Margaret Qualley plays the aspiring nun and Melissa Leo, the mother superior, in the film directed by Maggie Betts.

In our latest Cut & Paste podcast episode, Willis Ryder Arnold and Nancy Fowler talk with Stark about his work for a major motion picture.

Students listen to a book reading during a giveaway event at Koch Elementary School in Riverview Gardens School District on March 2, 2017.
File | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The Riverview Gardens School District is falsely boosting its attendance numbers under an orchestrated effort to regain full state accreditation, two district principals allege in federal lawsuits.

The principals, Danielle DeLoatch and Amanda Bell-Greenough, filed the suits on Tuesday against the north St. Louis County district, alleging that they faced disciplinary action and retaliation for objecting to changing attendance records.

Riverview Gardens, which is trying to return to good standing with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, denies the allegations.

The Citizen Advisory Committee, formed by Mayor Krewson to give input on the city's search for a new police chief, listens to public comments at a meeting Tuesday evening.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Candidates interested in being the chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department have until Thursday to submit their applications for the job.

The city has been looking for a chief for the last six months after Sam Dotson's resignation. Phone interviews with qualified candidates are set to start in early November, with final interviews intended for mid-December. City officials hope to have a new chief selected by the end of the year.

Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley and Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
Durrie Bouscaren & Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican now running for the U.S. Senate, said he fully supports President Donald Trump’s overall plan to cut taxes – and accuses Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill of opposing the idea.

“She has been unequivocally ‘no’ on the president’s blueprint,’’ Hawley said in a conference call Wednesday with reporters. “She has said ‘no’ to the proposal that the president has on the table.”

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Parks Department will dedicate a sculpture and plaza at the Powder Magazine Museum at Jefferson Barracks Park on Friday.

The centerpiece of the plaza is a bronze monument by St. Louisan Barbara “B.J.” Mungenast that pays tribute to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as The Old Guard. The sculpture is a duplicate of a monument that Mungenast has created for Fort Myer, Virginia, where the regiment is based.

Michael Okello arranges his cassava harvest, untouched by viruses.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

To prove that a new-gene editing technology could be used to alter the cassava plant, scientists in the St. Louis suburbs zeroed in on a gene used to process chlorophyll. Before long, they had petri dishes full of seedlings that were white as chalk.

The plan is to use CRISPR — a cheaper, faster way to genetically modify crops — to grow cassava plants that are resistant to common plant viruses threatening food supplies in East Africa. But regulatory agencies have yet to finalize how they will treat the new crops.

“It’s only really been available for use in plants for three, four years,” said principal investigator Nigel Taylor, of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur. “Right now, it’s an experimental tool.”

Actor Robert Guillaume, who became the first black actor to win comedy Emmys for playing sharp-tongued butler turned lieutenant governor Benson DuBois on Soap and its spinoff, Benson, died Tuesday at age 89.

LaShell Eikerenkoetter and Rev. Darryl Gray have each been arrested during the Stockley protests.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The Rev. Darryl Gray marched alongside iconic civil rights figures, including Ralph Abernathy, who succeeded Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

St. Louis Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward, joins a wide-ranging coalition of groups on Oct. 24, 2107 to oppose Proposition P, a half-cent sales tax increase that will primarily fund higher pay for St. Louis police officers.
Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

A wide-ranging coalition is urging St. Louis residents to vote "no" on a proposed half-cent sales tax increase intended primarily for police officer and firefighter salaries.

If the measure passes in November, Proposition P would push the sales tax in some areas of St. Louis to nearly 12 percent. Opponents say it’s not fair to force already-struggling parts of the city to pay for policing that doesn’t benefit them.

Paul Curtman
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

State Rep. Paul Curtman, a Republican from Franklin County, says he’s running for state auditor next year, after months of entertaining a possible bid for the U.S. Senate.

Curtman is touting his conservative credentials and his service in the U. S. Marine Corps in stops around the state to officially launch his campaign.

Missouri candidates for statewide and legislative offices are having to learn the ropes of Amendment 2, which imposes campaign-donation restrictions.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Just over a year away from what could be a crucial 2018 election, Missouri candidates are grappling with the new restrictions to campaign donations mandated by the voter-approved measure known as Amendment 2.

Close to 70 percent of Missouri voters approved the constitutional amendment in 2016, putting an end to the state’s 10-year status as one of only a handful of states without donation limits. But flaws in the new system are prompting the General Assembly and political activists to seek more changes.  

A Jackson County judge on Monday declined to block a Missouri law requiring abortion physicians to meet with their patients three days before the procedure.

In rejecting a challenge to the law by Missouri’s two Planned Parenthood affiliates, Jackson County Circuit Judge S. Margene Burnett found that the requirement did not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.

St. Louis police arrest a protester in September, 2017.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Two protesters testified on Monday that they did not receive a warning before St. Louis police deployed pepper spray on them on Sept. 15.

The American Civil Liberty Union of Missouri claims that police officers violated the constitutional rights of protesters following St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson's Sept. 15 decision to find former police officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The ACLU has asked U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry to order police to limit when officers can give dispersal warnings or use chemical agents.

"Right now in St. Louis, pepper spray is the new fire hose," Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said during his closing argument.

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