Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Rachel Lippmann

Justice Reporter

Rachel Lippmann covers courts, public safety and city politics for St. Louis Public Radio. (She jokingly refers to them as the “nothing ever happens beats.”) She joined the NPR affiliate in her hometown in 2008, after spending two years in Lansing covering the Michigan Capitol and various other state political shenanigans for NPR affiliates there. Though she’s a native St. Louisan, part of her heart definitely remains in the Mitten. (And no, she’s not going to tell you where she went to high school.)

Rachel has an undergraduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism, and a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. When she’s not busy pursuing the latest scoop, you can find her mentoring her Big Brothers Big Sisters match, hitting the running and biking paths in south St. Louis, catching the latest sporting event on TV, playing with every dog she possibly can, or spending time with the great friends she’s met during her time in this city.

Rachel’s on Twitter @rlippmann. Even with 240 characters, spellings are still phonetic.

Ways to Connect

Tashonda Troupe, whose son Lamar Catchings died in the St. Louis County jail in March, addresses the St. Louis County Council on April 23, 2019.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The new interim head of the St. Louis County jail wants to bring in an outsider to help figure out why three inmates have died in custody since January.

“I want an unbiased opinion about what’s going on at the jail,” Lt. Col. Troy Doyle told reporters Tuesday after a meeting of the St. Louis County Council. “I work for St. Louis County and county government, but I think that would be reassuring to not only the workers there but the families.”

Boxes of signatures were delivered to the Sec. of State's office on May 2, 2018, for a ballot initiative that would raise Missouri's minimum wage.
File photo | Erin Achenbach | St. Louis Public Radio

In the last month of Missouri's legislative session, lawmakers are likely to change — if not completely eliminate — some of the initiative petitions the state’s voters passed in November.

Republican leaders in both the state House and Senate said they are prepared to make changes to Amendment 1, an ethics proposal also known as Clean Missouri. The House has already passed a bill chipping away at the minimum wage increase, and the Senate has debated, though not approved, a measure that would allow younger employees and tipped workers to make less.

Opponents of a new transmission line across northern Missouri sit in the rotunda of the Missouri Capitol on April 16, 2019.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A federal appeals court will hear arguments in St. Louis on Friday in a case that challenges the idea that unpaid lobbyists have to register with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

A divided panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in November that Ron Calzone, a conservative activist, had to fill out the required forms and pay a fine for failing to do so. In a rare move, all 12 judges of the court will reconsider the case.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., delivers remarks to the Missouri House of Representatives on April 17, 2019.
Tim Bommell | Missouri House Communications

Senator Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, was the first in his family to go to college.

Yet the good economic news in the state, and especially his hometown of Springfield, has him championing other routes than four-year degrees, such as certificate programs and associates degrees.

Outgoing Alderman Terry Kennedy, D-18th Ward (center, in tie), stands with his family on April 15, 2019 after being recognized at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen for 31 years of service.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Monday recognized two colleagues who came to the chamber in different ways yet left their mark on the institution and the legislation it passed.

Terry Kennedy, D-18th Ward, stepped into his father Samuel’s seat 31 years ago, then won re-election eight times. Scott Ogilvie, D-24th Ward, won his 2011 election as an independent after the Democratic incumbent lost to a former alderman who had been recalled. He ran for re-election in 2015 as a Democrat.

Drawings by a joint venture between McCarthy Building Companies and HITT Contracting show an aerial view of the new western headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis.
Provided | McCarthy-HITT

St. Louis residents are getting their first look at what the new headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis will look like.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing construction at the 97-acre site, released the drawings for the spy agency’s new campus on Tuesday. The office building, garages, visitors center and security checkpoints are being designed and built by a combined venture of McCarthy Building Companies, which is based in the St. Louis suburb of Rock Hill, and HITT Contracting, which is based in the Washington, D.C. area.

The St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis and St. Louis County residents on Tuesday rejected a Metropolitan Sewer District tax increase aimed at stopping erosion and flooding.

Voters also endorsed designating an attorney to represent the St. Louis County Council, while in Ferguson Fran Griffin defeated Michael Brown’s mother, Lezley McSpadden, and incumbent Keith Kallstrom for a seat on the city council.

Shamed Dogan May 2016
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri House committee has approved major changes to the state’s criminal justice system, including giving judges more leeway in nonviolent crime sentencing.

The action Thursday by the House Special Committee on Criminal Justice is just the first step in what its chairman, Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, acknowledges could be a long fight.

Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, stands near the memorial to her son on August 10, 2018 to announce that she will run for Ferguson City Council. Aug. 10, 2018
File photo I Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly five years after Michael Brown’s death sparked protests and a movement over police treatment of African-Americans, his mother, Lezley McSpadden, is running for a Ferguson city council seat in the southern part of town where her son died.

“I hope that people will see that I’m still standing after all that I’ve been through,” McSpadden said. “And I’m still fighting. And I will always be a voice for Michael Brown and all of our other black and brown children who are being mistreated and who have been up against police brutality.”

Union members and supporters gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall this month to notarize and count petition signatures to block Missouri's new right-to-work law. (Aug. 8, 2017)
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

An election cycle in Missouri that saw 371 petitions submitted to change the state’s laws or constitution is prompting a new discussion among lawmakers about ways to limit the process.

The House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials heard several hours of testimony on nine proposals Wednesday, though it did not vote on any of them. Measures making similar changes are awaiting first-round approval in the Senate.

election voting illustration
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Voters in the Ferguson-Florissant School District will select their school board members much differently on April 2.

The new method, called cumulative voting, settles a Voting Rights Act lawsuit filed in 2014 by the ACLU of Missouri and the NAACP. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in January.

Flooding along Maline Creek, in north St. Louis County, is eroding away the yards of homes on Cedarhurst Drive.
Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is asking its customers to pay a little more for stormwater service in an effort to fix problems caused by erosion.

The new fee, which would be based on how much of a property can absorb water, would cost the average homeowner about $27 a year. It’s expected to generate about $30 million to stabilize creek and stream banks and repair the damage, and deal with flooding.

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi talks about the importance of voting rights at the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center on Monday.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The country’s top elected Democrat came to Ferguson Monday to push the party’s efforts to expand voting rights across the country.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, are among hundreds of co-sponsors of two bills: one that sets new requirements for when states must get federal approval to change their voting or election laws, and another that reduces the amount of money in campaigns, including eliminating so-called "dark money" from unidentified donors.

Lindsey Michalowski | Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

The lead public defender in St. Charles County says a new mobile phone app he helped design could reduce the need for cash bail.

Michael Sato and a team of five developers came up with the idea for Freecog as part of the Global Legal Hackathon, which looks to use technology to solve criminal justice issues. Their proposal won the St. Louis event — the team will know by March 25 if they have advanced to the finals.

A participant in STL Youth Jobs fills a tub with medical supplies. The program provides low-income youth with a summer job, plus financial literacy and other job-skills training.
Susan Bennet | Ooh St. Lou Studios

The city of St. Louis is hoping to expand its summer-jobs program for low-income youth.

Mayor Lyda Krewson said she wants 1,000 people to participate in STL Youth Jobs this summer, up from about 740 last year — a goal she calls “ambitious” but “doable.”

St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed declares victory on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, after defeating three other candidates for re-election.
File photo I David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed’s narrow victory on Tuesday required some unusual political coalitions and allies to come together.

Reed bested state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed and Alderwoman Megan Green in easily the toughest re-election bid since he captured the presidency of the Board of Aldermen in 2007. It came after years of political toil for the Democratic official, featuring two unsuccessful bids for mayor and high-profile fights over some contentious issues.

Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed celebrates winning re-election in Tuesday's primary election. March 5, 2019.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis voters have sent aldermanic president Lewis Reed back to City Hall.

Reed edged out his two major opponents — Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, and state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis — with 36 percent of the vote in unofficial but complete results in Tuesday’s primary. It was Reed’s most competitive race as board president since he was first elected in 2007. Nasheed and Green both got about 31 percent of the vote, and were separated by just 144 votes. No Republican or independent candidates filed for the April election.

In addition, all 11 incumbent aldermen won re-election, though some by narrow margins. Turnout citywide was almost 18 percent.

Mailers from across the city for the 2019 Board of Aldermen races
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

While the race for the president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen has dominated the lead-up to the municipal primary, voters in the city's even-numbered wards will also effectively select their representatives on Tuesday. And depending on the results, policy in the city could shift drastically.

Brandon Bosley thanks his family and friends as aldermen introduced their special guests.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Two St. Louis aldermen are launching a petition to recall Mayor Lyda Krewson, saying she is not doing enough to protect the interests of the city in the debate over consolidation.

“She cannot continue to be the chief executive voice within the city and be trying to dissolve the city at the same time,” said Alderman Brandon Bosley, D-3rd Ward.

Zachary Taylor | St. Louis University

Since Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson nearly five years ago, hundreds of local governments have committed to making sure their policies and laws address racial inequalities.

New research by a team at St. Louis University will help them figure out if the new laws are having the intended effect.

In the past two decades, the federal government took in $36.5 billion in assets police seized from people, many of whom never were charged with a crime or shown to have drugs.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

This story is part of a collaborative-reporting initiative supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. All stories can be found here: https://taken.pulitzercenter.org/

Law-enforcement agencies in St. Charles County got a budget windfall of more than $1 million in 2017.

The unplanned money wasn’t the result of higher taxes or donations, but instead came from a court process known as civil asset forfeiture.

Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, poses in St. Louis Public Radio's green room on Jan. 24, 2019
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, has done a lot of campaigning over the last 29 months.

Between October 2014 and April 2017, Green ran in three elections to secure a full term representing the ward, which covers parts of the Tower Grove South and Tower Grove East neighborhoods. Pretty soon after that last election, she set her sights on higher office. In the race for president, her main opponents are incumbent Lewis Reed and State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis. (You can find Reed’s episode of Politically Speaking here, and Nasheed’s episode here.)

Missouri Supreme Court building
David Shane | Flickr

Updated Feb. 13, 2019 with Supreme Court ruling — The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that a woman from southwest Missouri does not have the right to sue over the state's laws governing abortion.

In a ruling issued Wednesday, the seven judges agreed that the woman, identified in court documents as Mary Doe, had failed to show that the state's informed consent law and 72-hour waiting period violated her beliefs as a member of the Satanic Temple.

State Senator and Board of Aldermen president candidate Jamilah Nasheed poses for a portrait on Jan. 18, 2019.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, is the newest member of the exclusive Five-Timers Club on the Politically Speaking podcast. She joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann and Jason Rosenbaum to talk about her bid for president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Nasheed’s main competitors are incumbent Lewis Reed and Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward. (You can find Reed’s podcast here. Green has recorded an episode that will air later this month.)

Chief John Hayden said police believed the rash of killings over the weekend  to be drug related in a press conference on Monday.
File photo | Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Mayor Lyda Krewson says she continues to have confidence in the leadership of the St. Louis police department despite seven officers being charged with felonies in two months.

“I think about it in this way, which is that those issues are being addressed,” Krewson said during a news conference Thursday. “While of course I hate that officers have been indicted, I certainly think that if that is the situation, then that is the result.”

Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed
Kae Petrin I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed is the latest guest on the Politically Speaking podcast. He joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann to talk about his re-election bid.

Reed is squaring off against three other Democratic candidates in the March 5 primary, including state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed and Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward. Nasheed and Green have recorded Politically Speaking episodes that will air later this month.

St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden speaks to news reporters on Thursday afternoon.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden says allegations that his department is obstructing the investigation into the death of an officer at the hands of another are “insulting.”

Hayden’s comments, made Thursday in his first public appearance since just after Officer Katlyn Alix was shot and killed Jan. 24, are the latest in a tense dispute between police and prosecutor Kim Gardner.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, left, listens as the Rev. Phillip Duvall addresses the importance of diversion programs on Jan. 30, 2019.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner says her office will stop requesting cash bail for many low-level felonies, such as drug possession.

Flanked by criminal-justice reform advocates Wednesday at a church in north St. Louis, Gardner also pledged to boost the number of people accepted into her office’s diversion programs, which combine probation-like requirements with access to services like job training and mental health care to keep people out of jail.

Public Safety director Jimmie Edwards defends the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department on Jan. 29, 2019 against charges that officers are obstructing  Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's investigation in the death of Katlyn Alix.
Andrew Field | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ public safety director has offered a vigorous defense of his police department following charges against two more officers Tuesday and criticism from the St. Louis prosecutor in another case.

“There is not a social pattern of dysfunctionality in the St. Louis police department,” Jimmie Edwards said Tuesday at a news conference. “We have an excellent police department. We ask them to go out and do a very difficult job every single day. And you know what? Most of them do it well.”

St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Michael Butler
Ryan Delaney I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Michael Butler is the latest guest on Politically Speaking, where he joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum to talk about his first few weeks on the job.

Butler was elected to the citywide office in November 2018 after defeating longtime incumbent Sharon Carpenter in a Democratic primary. His office is responsible for issuing birth and death certificates, as well as filing real estate deeds.