Viola Murphy

Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy stands near a grassy path near South Florissant Road. She says a new state law limiting traffic fine revenue will make it harder for her city to pay for new sidewalks.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Viola Murphy can’t afford a new sidewalk for her town. For now, she’ll have to settle for a grassy path created with the imprints of pedestrians.

Murphy is the mayor of Cool Valley, a 1,200-person north St. Louis County municipality that borders Ferguson and Normandy. She was able to get a federal grant to create a sidewalk along one side of South Florissant Road. But because of a new state law that caps traffic fine revenue, her city can’t afford the match for the other side.

Sen. Eric Schmitt
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A Republican lawmaker is taking another look at how municipalities govern themselves around the state — and especially in St. Louis County.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, handled legislation passed in the spring that reduced the percentage of traffic fine revenue cities could have in their budgets. But the legislation did not restrict non-traffic revenue, such as fines for not keeping up a property. (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed that out earlier this year).

Schmitt’s pre-filed bill, according to a release from his office, would “limit how much revenue they can keep from not only traffic violations, but also other ordinance violations — such as letting your grass grow too high.”

Attorney David Pittinsky stands with mayors of numerous St. Louis County cities on Thursday. Pittinsky is leading a lawsuit against a state municipal overhaul.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A dozen St. Louis County cities are challenging a far-reaching municipal overhaul, which was arguably the most significant state action taken in response to the unrest in Ferguson.

The lawsuit, filed in Cole County Court where the state offices are located, takes aim at a new law, still referred to as Senate Bill 5, that lowers the percentage of traffic-fine revenue cities can keep. It also sets standards for St. Louis County cities and provides new guidelines for how municipal courts should operate.

A man with an American flag stands in front of a Ferguson Police car earlier in July.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

If you’ve developed an interest in legislation inspired by the unrest in Ferguson, then you’ve probably seen some strong adjectives attached to a law known as Senate Bill 5.  

Sen. Eric Schmitt’s legislation has been described as “sweeping,” “multi-faceted,” “massive,” “broad” and "significant.” It lowers the percentage of traffic fine revenue cities can keep; prompts St. Louis County cities to adhere to certain standards; and provides new guidelines for how municipal courts should operate.

Normandy Mayor Patrick Green and Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On a special edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum welcomes two mayors of small north St. Louis County to the show talk about a sweeping overhaul of the state’s municipal courts system.

Beyond Housing CEO Chris Krehmeyer, left, Normandy Mayor Patrick Green and Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy pose for a photo after talking about municipality government with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Feb. 5, 2015.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

If coalitions can get into schoolyard fights, then they did Thursday afternoon.

For nearly a year, the Better Together coalition has explored whether St. Louis and St. Louis County should consider merging services. Within St. Louis County, some believe there also is a need for consolidation: Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, has introduced a bill that would eliminate some of St. Louis County's smaller municipalities.

Beyond Housing CEO Chris Krehmeyer, left, Normandy Mayor Patrick Green and Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy pose for a photo after talking about municipality government with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Feb. 5, 2015.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis and its municipalities have come under fire after the August shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. While some are calling for consolidation, local leaders say there’s a reason the municipalities exist.

Greendale Mayor Monica Huddleston, center, and Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy, right, converse during last Tuesday's St. Louis County Council meeting. Murphy and Huddleston have pushed back against the movement to disincorporate St. Louis County towns --
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Minutes before he took the oath of office, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger waded into the thorny thicket that is municipal consolidation. 

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

The few long-time regulars at  St. Louis County Council meetings may be longing for the legislative body's customary 10-minute meetings after the past few weeks.

That’s because in recent weeks, the meetings have turned into lengthy – and often bitterly hostile – clashes between St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and most of the council. But it's more than just legislative melodrama; a coalition of five council members (out of seven) have managed to block quite a bit of Dooley’s agenda.