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