On the Trail

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, leads the Democratic end-of-session press conference as state Rep. Karla May, D-St. Louis, looks on.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio |file photo

Updated July 23 with the nominee — Democratic committee members in St. Louis and St. Louis County have nominated House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, as their party’s candidate to replace former state Sen. Joe Keaveny.

Keaveny resigned as the state senator for Missouri’s 4th District after the 2016 legislative session to become an administrative law judge.

Bruce Franks and state Rep. Penny Hubbard
Courtesy of Bruce Franks' campaign and House Communications

It’s almost like clockwork: Whenever a member of the Hubbard family is on the ballot in the St. Louis area, their political adversaries exude confidence about beating them at the ballot box. These opponents usually point disparagingly to the family’s political alliances and voting patterns — and contend that they’d act in a more progressive fashion.

With one notable exception, all of these challengers failed to win — and have largely faded from the political scene. And as a result, the Hubbard family won races for state representative, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen and the St. Louis Democratic Central Committee. The subtext of it all? Beating a Hubbard is really, really hard.

Catherine Hanaway looks on as Eric Greitens speaks at St. Louis Public Radio's GOP gubernatorial candidate debate.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If Missourians tuned into their NPR affiliated station Wednesday night expecting an easy-going session from Lake Wobegon, they were in for a big surprise.

That’s because the debate between Missouri’s four GOP hopefuls for governor was a, dare I say, lively event. It came as Catherine Hanaway, Eric Greitens, John Brunner and Peter Kinder head into the final stretch of the high-stakes and expensive campaign.

Cornel West, center, is part of a 15-person platform drafting committee that met last week in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When Democrats gather in Philadelphia next month, the focus will probably be on whom delegates select to be the party’s presidential nominee. But that’s not the only piece of official business.

Democrats will also ratify a platform, which is effectively a statement of principles for the party. While the document isn’t binding, it could provide a glimpse of what’s to come if Hillary Clinton becomes the next president. And it could provide a voice for the millions of people who supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

A supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is seated for the Missouri Democratic Party convention in Sedalia.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

You could say that Ken Jacob was for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid before it was cool.

The former Democratic state senator from Columbia backed Clinton when she ran against then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama in 2008. Eight years after narrowly falling short both in Missouri and nationally that year, Clinton is poised to become the Democratic presidential nominee when the party meets for its national convention. And after being selected a Clinton delegate at congressional caucuses, Jacob will get to witness Clinton getting the nomination later this summer in Philadelphia.

Gov. Jay Nixon made expanding Medicaid a top priority when he first ran for governor. While he made some small steps, he was largely unsuccessful in achieving that goal.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

After Gov. Jay Nixon placed his signature on legislation that could expand Medicaid for Missourians who are disabled or elderly, I couldn’t help but think back to when the Democratic official visited Bob Pund’s apartment.

Nixon was a mere attorney general when he ventured into Pund’s residence back in 2007. Pund is paralyzed from the shoulders down and had been critical of major cuts made to Medicaid in 2005. As Nixon sat in Pund’s living room, the aspiring governor vowed to make reversing those reductions a priority of his eventual administration – even if he was faced with a Republican-controlled legislature.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie, D-24th, leveled harsh criticism on the stadium proposal during Thursday's meeting.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

When St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie proposed limiting political donations for St. Louis-based offices three years ago, the 24th Ward Democrat wanted to place curbs on what he felt was an abnormal state campaign finance system.

He’s introducing the legislation again, and there may an added sense of urgency to pass Ogilvie’s bill – especially if a campaign finance ballot initiative makes it into the Missouri Constitution.

State Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, D-Kansas City, raises his hand to speak before the House of Representatives adjourned.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It's fair to say that Deb Lavender is quite persistent.

The Kirkwood Democrat ran unsuccessfully for a state House three times before finally winning election in 2014. None of the races were easy: She had to knock on a lot of doors, raise a lot of money and lose to former Rep. Rick Stream three times before reaching the legislative promised land.

Margaux Harris, 7, granddaughter of Rep. Mike Lair, throws papers in the air shortly after members of the House did the same to mark the end of the legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For the most part, the dwindling moments of the 2016 session of the Missouri General Assembly were familiar: Paper got tossed. Press conferences transpired. And lawmakers get to spend the next few months far away from Jefferson City (with the exception, of course, of the legislators that represent that town).

But the last week of session did provide some notable insights and surprises: From the passage of a wide-ranging gun bill to the somewhat surprising resignation of a state senator, there was plenty of news to keep bespectacled reporters busy.

Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss greets residents, supporters and protesters at the city police department hours after being sworn in as chief.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Delrish Moss saw the turmoil and chaos unfold in Ferguson, it hit close to home.

Before he was sworn in on Monday as Ferguson’s top law enforcement officer, Moss spent several decades in the Miami Police Department. He said the unrest that followed Michael Brown’s death was reminiscent of what he’s witnessed firsthand in Miami.

Cheryl Roberts makes her case to become a Democratic delegate for Hillary Clinton. Last week, Democrats and Republicans chose delegates for their national conventions.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

With all the focus on the results of primaries and caucuses lately, it’s easy to forget that it’s the delegates — not the voters — who are directly responsible for nominating a president.

Heck, it wasn’t too long ago that being a delegate was more than just a ceremonial honor — it was an invitation to change the course of history. For instance: Venerable Pike County legend Champ Clark looked like the person to beat going into the 1912 Democratic National Convention, only to have that dastardly Woodrow Wilson swipe it away. If not for delegates, Harry S Truman would have been the second Missourian to be president.

Members of the Ferguson Commission lead a moment of reflection on Monday in St. Louis. The Commission held its final meeting in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Since its inception, the Ferguson Commission faced doubters wondering whether a group of gubernatorial appointees could heal decades-long divides throughout St. Louis. And before she joined on as the commission’s communications director, Nicole Hudson shared some of that skepticism.

Missouri's five major gubernatorial candidates
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The so-called religious shield law, SJR 39, has already made a big impact on the Missouri General Assembly’s session. And depending on what the Missouri House does in the next couple of weeks, the proposed constitutional amendment could loom very large over the race for Missouri governor.

The proposal would legally shield people from participating in or selling services to a same-sex wedding. To say the measure stoked controversy would be an understatement, especially after GOP senators used a parliamentary maneuver to cut off debate and get it to the House.

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio intern | File photo

Monday is the last day of the Board of Aldermen session that began back in April. Things start fresh again the very next day.

Aldermen introduced 324 bills in the 41 weeks they were in session. Ninety-two percent of them passed, most without fanfare or controversy. Some, however, rose to the level of national news. Here is a look back at the aldermanic session that was.

Blues musician Bobby Rush, museum leaders and Mayor Francis Slay celebrate the opening of the National Blues Museum on Saturday, April 2, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

It was just a couple of weeks ago that St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay unequivocally told this reporter that he would run for a historic fifth term.

Now, the Democratic official has changed course and won’t be running for another four years in office. And that means next year’s mayoral contest could be a free-for-all of epic proportions.

Eric Fey, the Democratic director for the St. Louis County Board of Elections.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

It would be an understatement to say that Tuesday was not a good day for Eric Fey.

The Democratic director for the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners is in charge of the largest and most complicated local electoral jurisdiction in the state. And during yesterday’s slate of municipal elections, polling places across the county ran out of paper ballots — even in the early hours of the morning. Things got so dire that a court ultimately extended voting hours — after the polls had already closed.

Normandy Mayor Patrick Green, center, speaks to the media after a judge struck down numerous aspects of SB5.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

As he stood with his fellow mayors in corridor of the historic Wilson Price Hunt House, Normandy Mayor Patrick Green declined to gloat over the judicial body blow dealt to a landmark overhaul of municipal governance.

Instead, Green took the opportunity to extend a hand to lawmakers who had substantially restricted the percentage of fine revenue St. Louis County cities could keep in their budgets. The truce offer, though, had a caveat: St. Louis County cities had to be treated the same as the rest of the state.

Michael Brown Sr. and organizers with his Chosen for Change Foundation talk outside the Ferguson Community Center after the City Council's vote to approve the terms of the Department of Justice's consent decree.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A few months ago, Starsky Wilson ended his time on the Ferguson Commission with stirring and strong words for politicians who would have to do the work ahead.

“If the win for you is getting elected, we don’t need you,” said Wilson, the president and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation. “If you eat steak because you got what you wanted in the community that’s still fighting for a generation, you’re not the one.”

Tim Woodson shows off his pirate ship at the Progressive Insurance St. Louis Boat and Sportshow. The event was held at the Edward Jones Dome, the former home of the St. Louis Rams.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Ever since the St. Louis Rams started packing up for the Los Angeles area, local policymakers have tried to embrace a potential silver lining – more space on the calendar for lucrative events. When the Rams weren’t losing lots and lots of games in the Edward Jones Dome, the facility was used for conventions, trade shows, monster truck rallies and awesome boat shows. The thought was that with the Rams no longer occupying the Dome during the fall, non-football events could fill the void.

Donald Trump expressed that the media does not show the love that is at his rallies, as 3 young girls express their affection for him while watching the the non supporters of him express their feelings for him Friday morning at the Peabody Opera House.
Lawrence Bryant I St. Louis American

It would be a big stretch to say that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump pulled off yuge victories in Missouri’s presidential primaries. As of Wednesday morning, the pair's apparent wins are so small that the Associated Press has refrained from declaring either presidential contender the winner.

Photos by Jason Rosenbaum and Bill Greenblatt

In most presidential election years, primary voters in Missouri and Illinois often wouldn’t have that much impact on picking potential commanders in chief.

But 2016 isn’t like most presidential years.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger signed the prescription drug monitoring bill into law on Wednesday.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Don’t look now, but St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and company may be trailblazers – at least when it comes to setting up a prescription drug monitoring program.

With the Missouri General Assembly unlikely to approve a statewide drug tracking program, Stenger and the St. Louis County Council gave their blessing to a county database last week. It’s aimed at stopping someone from getting certain controlled substances at multiple pharmacies, which database supporters say is a big precursor to heroin abuse.

Christian Morgan and his son, Schaefer, 3, share ice cream at the Lincoln Days ice cream social.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Few events on Missouri’s political calendar truly compare to Lincoln Days. The statewide soirée is a chance to hear messaging from the state’s Republican faithful – and an even grander opportunity to fill out one of John Combest’s bingo cards.

For political reporters, Lincoln Days is a good time to catch up with some of the Missouri’s top Republican leaders in an informal setting. Some of the best political tidbits are exchanged within crowded hallways or in creatively decorated hospitality suites – especially the secret to marshaling the perfect ice cream scoop.

The Missouri Capitol Building at dusk
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

I usually start off this column with a snappy quote, noteworthy anecdote or a rather tenuous connection to a 50 Cent song.

But after experiencing a very, very, very eventful week in Jefferson City filling in for St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin, I thought it might be worthwhile to trot out some loose observations that might have fallen through the cracks:

Muhammad Yaacoub is the owner of Sam’s Meat Market in Ferguson. And he says that business has been slow since he reopened his doors last August.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On a foggy morning in Ferguson, customers trickled in and out of Sam’s Market to pick up soda pop and snacks. This small grocery story reopened last summer after being looted three times and set on fire during the riot over Michael Brown’s shooting death.

Muhammad Yaacoub, the owner of Sam’s Meat Market, says that business has been slow since he reopened last August. And despite promises of economic redevelopment, empty lots and abandoned buildings surround his business on West Florissant Avenue.

Mizzou's Columns
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When Sen. Kurt Schaefer ventured into electoral politics, the Columbia Republican promised to be a zealous advocate for his hometown university.

Moments after finishing off his victory celebration in 2008 over state Sen. Chuck Graham, Schaefer told this reporter about how he would champion higher education funding in the midst of a national economic collapse. After all, he said, "an investment in the University of Missouri is not just an investment for Columbia — it is an investment for the state."

Mike Weber puts down new flooring in front of the bar at the Pacific Brew Haus on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. The bar and restaurant, which occupies the first floor of the historic McHugh-Dailey building, was damaged by flooding in late December.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If you rumble up to the top of Blackburn Park, you’ll get a picturesque view of the city of Pacific. You’ll see rows of tidy houses and retail shops settled beside gently rolling hills. At the center of it all is a sturdy brick structure shipped to the 7,000-person city at the conclusion of the 1904 World’s Fair: the McHugh-Dailey Building.

Ferguson resident Emily Davis waits to speak at a 2015 Ferguson City Council meeting. Davis is part of the Ferguson Collaborative, a group that's been following the consent decree process closely.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

For Emily Davis, the future of Ferguson will come down to attitude.

Davis is part of the Ferguson Collaborative, a group of people who live, work and pray in the beleaguered St. Louis County municipality. Davis has been closely watching Ferguson and the debate over a consent decree with the Department of Justice, which came into public view on Wednesday after a 131-page document was released to the public. 

Contrary to social media speculation, Gov. Jay Nixon didn’t use his final State of the State speech to endorse Bernie Sanders, do a backflip or find the Afikoman.

Compared to those death-defying feats (especially seeking out the hard-to-find Afikoman), the Democratic governor’s address was fairly tame. He stuck to themes embedded within his other seven State of the State addresses, such as a desire to expand Medicaid, freeze college tuition and boost K-12 education spending.

The future of the Edward Jones Dome is a big topic of discussion now that the St. Louis Rams are gone -- especially since there's outstanding debt on the facility.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Now that the St. Louis Rams are Los Angeles-bound, fans of the (formerly) Greatest Show on Turf are likely mulling over whether to start rooting for another team – or tune out the NFL entirely.

But policymakers throughout the state have more salient issues to deal with than whether to hop on the Indianapolis Colts' bandwagon -- especially how to pay off the Edward Jones Dome debt. Might the state stop its payments?

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