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Government, Politics & Issues

Week in review: Unpaid city taxes, municipal court reform, beer and books

Yard signs for Ferguson City Council candidates sit outside of a home on April 6.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI
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Yard signs for Ferguson City Council candidates.

We know that you listen to us on air and check our website for news and information about our region. We hope that you look at our website every day, but we know that's not always possible. So, once a week, on Friday, we will highlight some of the website's top stories of the week.

Taxes? City waits

Northside Developer McKee leaves city property taxes unpaid

Developer Paul McKee outlined his plans for an urgent care hospital at 25th St. and Maiden Ln. in July of 2014.
Credit Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio
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Developer Paul McKee outlined his plans for an urgent care hospital at 25th St. and Maiden Ln. in July of last year.

In examining real estate property taxes, St. Louis Public Radio discovered Paul McKee’s company, Northside Regeneration LLC, owes the city more than $750,000 in taxes for 2013 and 2014. That total includes nearly $120,000 in interest and penalties.

The developer acknowledged the tax bill and said it would get paid.

Steps toward reform

Ferguson voters add 2 African Americans to city council

Ferguson residents voted to add two African Americans to the city council, a move that diversifies an elected body that was overwhelmingly white in a city with a majority black population. Eric Fey, the Democratic director for the St. Louis County Board of Elections, said that the turnout on Tuesday was around 30 percent. That surpassed recent municipal elections in Ferguson — and nearly doubled the roughly 16 percent turnout in the rest of St. Louis County.

Jane Dueker at the Missouri Supreme Court April 8, 2015
Credit Pool photo by Karen Elshout | Missouri Lawyers Media
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Jane Dueker argues at the Missouri Supreme Court in the Macks Creek case.

Missouri's top court weighs law limiting municipal revenue from traffic fines and fees

In a case with implications for reforming the state's municipal court system, the Missouri Supreme Court is weighing whether a 2013 version of the so-called "Macks Creek" law violates the state Constitution. The suit filed by the Missouri Municipal League does not challenge the 30 percent cap the law places on revenue generated by traffic fines and fees. Instead, it challenged an enforcement mechanism inserted in 2013.

80 municipal courts in St. Louis County agree to uniform fines for ordinance violations

"The point of it is to be fair," Overland municipal judge Frank Vatterott said. "If you get a ticket in Bellefontaine Neighbors, at the north end of the county, you shouldn't have to pay double for what you would have to pay for the same violation in Bella Villa, which is at the bottom of our county."

Vox populi

new stadium, St. Louis Rams
Credit Courtesy HOK | 360 Architecture
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Rendering of the proposed riverfront stadium.

Whether required or not, demand for vote on new stadium is growing louder

As currently conceived, the plan for the new riverfront stadium would be paid for partially by extending bonds now paying off the Edward Jones Dome. That arrangement, some say, makes it possible for the state and the city to pay off the new facility without a vote of the General Assembly or a citywide referendum. That’s not sitting well with elected officials across the political spectrum. They say that even if bonds for a new facility could be extended through a stroke of a pen, some sort of vote should happen anyway.

Window to the outside

prisonsign.JPG
Credit Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio
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Campus behind bars: Washington U teaches inmates at Pacific prison

Washington University philosophy professor Claude Evans remembers the day that one of his students leaned back so far in his chair that the chair broke and a foot-long piece of metal broke off and was lying on the floor. Right away, his students made sure that Evans took custody of the broken piece until the end of class. Why the urgency? Because Evans was teaching inmates  as part of a pilot program where offenders can earn college credit and prepare for the day when they rejoin society.

Cheers!

St. Louis Public Library's Central Library, which opened in 1912, was funded through monies from Andrew Carnegie. Five of the library's neighborhood branches funded by Carnegie are still in use today.
Credit Courtesy of St. Louis Public Library
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St. Louis Public Library's Central Library opened in 1912, thanks to money from Andrew Carnegie.

St. Louis Public Library has its own beer — and 9 other facts you didn't know about it

To celebrate its sesquicentennial year, the St. Louis Public Library has launched a website of historic images, "SLPL — Then and Now" and visitors can receive commemorative library cards. In addition,  the literary institution wanted to get creative and show it's "not your grandparents' library." So it's partnering with three local eateries -- Schlafly's, Ted Drewes, Pi Pizzeria -- to create special, library-themed treats.

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