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.

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s_falkow | Flickr

A pilot program in courthouses in Madison and Bond counties in Illinois is designed to speed up simple family court cases.

The Third Judicial Circuit received a $5,000 state grant to pay for mediators who can help people without attorneys do the paperwork to make agreements in those cases legally binding. The program started Dec. 1.

A man crosses the street in Dutchtown on November 22, 2019.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Dutchtown neighborhood, in southeast St. Louis, has seen anti-violence initiatives come and go over the years.

Now it’s one of three neighborhoods selected for a nationally known program called Cure Violence. As its name suggests, Cure Violence treats violent crime such as shootings and homicides as a disease that can be cured with the right intervention.

In Dutchtown, there’s a sense of cautious hope that the latest initiative might make a difference in a neighborhood that’s seen 13 people killed and more than 130 shot this year alone.

Christine Ingrassia
JASON ROSENBAUM | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

St. Louis Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann on the latest episode of Politically Speaking.

The Democrat represents the city’s 6th Ward. Her district encompasses nine neighborhoods, including Lafayette Square and Fox Park. 

St. Louis County Police car
Paul Sableman | Flickr

In October, attorneys for St. Louis County fighting a discrimination case filed by a gay police sergeant made the argument that a judge should rule against him because Missouri law doesn’t include sexual orientation as a protected class.

The legal maneuver prompted an angry response from County Executive Sam Page, who said he was “horrified and surprised that argument was used, and I don’t want to see it used again.”

But outside attorneys hired by the county made that exact argument in a court filing this week.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt at a press conference on November 19, 2019.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is backing legislative efforts to make carjacking a state crime, and to lift the requirement that some St. Louis police officers live in the city.

“We are offering two solutions to two problems we know exist,” Schmitt, a Republican, said Tuesday at a news conference in St. Louis. “We need tougher sentencing for carjackings. And we have a police officer shortage. So let’s open up the talent base.”

Local and federal law enforcement make an arrest in St. Louis this summer during a three-month roundup of violent fugitives.
United States Marshals

Federal law enforcement officials say a three-month cooperative push to apprehend violent fugitives resulted in more than 160 arrests in the St. Louis region.

The U.S. Marshals announced the results of the operation Thursday. They say 16 of those arrested were wanted for homicide, and many were connected to violent gangs in the area.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page has nominated Dr. Laurie Punch, left and Thomasina Hassler to the county's Board of Police Commissioners.
Washington University School of Medicine, Thomasina Hassler via Facebook

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is keeping his promise to bring leadership change to the police department.

Page on Thursday announced that he had nominated Dr. Laurie Punch, a trauma surgeon, and Thomasina Hassler, a longtime educator, to the Board of Police Commissioners, which oversees the police department. He had two other nominees approved by the county council last week.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar speaks with a St. Louis Public Radio reporter at his office in downtown Clayton on Tuesday. Nov. 5, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Sgt. Keith Wildhaber’s nearly $20 million jury verdict hit St. Louis County government like a lightning bolt. 

The huge award sparked internal and external scrutiny of one of Missouri’s largest law enforcement agencies about how it treats LGBTQ employees. It’s also prompted a debate about whether Missouri should pass more explicit laws to protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Former Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ray Price and Michelle Schwerin, an attorney at Capes Sokol, were nominated to the Board of Police Commissioners Friday. Nov. 4, 2019
File photo|Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council on Tuesday approved two new members of the Board of Police Commissioners — a move activists said doesn’t do enough to improve a culture that fails to punish officer misconduct.

The council also approved funding for outside attorneys to help with a legal response to a nearly $20 million verdict against the county for discrimination. And members called on the city of St. Louis to be more transparent in conversations about privatizing St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar speaks with a St. Louis Public Radio reporter at his office in downtown Clayton on Tuesday. Nov. 5, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says he was surprised by a nearly $20 million verdict against his department for discriminating against a gay police sergeant.

“Without getting too much into a conversation about the verdict, yes, I was surprised by it,” Belmar said Tuesday. “But I would say that we have to take a look at these things as an opportunity to move forward.”

Attorney Michelle Schwerin, center right, and former Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ray Price, center left, speak with attendees after answering questions from St. Louis County councilmembers. Nov. 4, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar appears to have the support of the two nominees to the Board of Police Commissioners — at least for now.

Former Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ray Price and Michelle Schwerin, an attorney at Capes Sokol, answered questions Monday from all but one of the County Council members who will vote on their confirmation. That could come Tuesday if background checks are completed in time.

ArchCity Defenders' Blake Strode and Jacki Langum
St. Louis Public Radio's Lara Hamdan and ArchCity Defenders

Blake Strode, executive director of ArchCity Defenders, and Jacki Langum, the organization’s advocacy director, talk about the group’s 10th anniversary on the latest edition of Politically Speaking.

ArchCity is celebrating this week with a live taping of its podcast, a celebration of actor Danny Glover as a Racial Justice Champion, and a day-long racial justice roundtable.

Dr. Will Ross of Washington University in St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue, Jason Rosenbaum, Rachel Lippmann and others talk about Missouri and St. Louis politics. 

Here are the topics covered:
 

Members of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment meet Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, at St. Louis City Hall.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis aldermen have failed to act on Mayor Lyda Krewson's nominations to the Board of Freeholders, casting doubt on the city's ability to have a say in a process to revamp the way the region is governed.

A special meeting of the Board of Aldermen scheduled for Wednesday was canceled after Krewson and members of the Black Caucus failed to come to an agreement on the nominees. That means the city has missed a deadline set by the state constitution to approve its freeholders members.

But blowing past that deadline may not actually mean much, thanks to a court ruling from the 1950s.

Joe Hodes, 16th Ward Republican committeeman, introduces himself to a committee of the Board of Aldermen on Monday. Hodes is one of nine people Mayor Lyda Krewson has nominated to serve on the Board of Freeholders. Oct. 7, 2019
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 22 with further delay

St. Louis aldermen have once again delayed a vote on Mayor Lyda Krewson’s nominees to serve on a board that could rethink governance in the city and St. Louis County.

Members of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee remain at odds with Krewson over the number of Board of Freeholders nominees from north St. Louis. Krewson says four of her nine choices are from historically north side wards; committee members disagree. They took no action on Tuesday, opting to wait instead for another day in an effort to persuade the mayor to name new people.

Surveillance camera alert on South Broadway
Paul Sableman | Flickr

St. Louis aldermen will try again this year to develop policies that control the use of surveillance technology in the city. 

A committee could vote this week on a measure sponsored by Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward, that requires the director of public safety to draft those policies, which the Board of Aldermen would then approve or reject. Any city agency that wanted to use tools like security cameras or license plate readers would have to submit a plan that fit those guidelines.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen gave initial approval to extending an incentive package for an urgent care center.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 18 with final passage

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has approved nearly $8 million in incentives for a three-bed urgent care hospital proposed for the site of the old Pruitt-Igoe housing project in north St. Louis, in the footprint of Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration initiative.

“This is not a big business project for someone to get rich or anything but that,” Alderwoman Tammika Hubbard, D-5th Ward, told her colleagues Friday. “This is to fill a void in our community that we’ve experienced since Homer G. Phillips closed.”

St. Louis Alderwoman Sarah Martin
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderwoman Sarah Martin is the latest guest on Politically Speaking. Martin represents the 11th ward, which includes parts of the Boulevard Heights, Holly Hills, Patch, Mount Pleasant and Carondelet neighborhoods. 

Missouri’s attorney general and the federal prosecutor in St. Louis say a six-month-old initiative to reduce violent crime by boosting the number of cases prosecuted at the federal level is working.

“As a community, we are having important conversations about what we can do to tackle the crime epidemic,” Attorney General Eric Schmitt said Tuesday at a news conference. “We all have very important roles to play in that effort. My job is to prosecute those who have broken the law and have harmed victims and their families.”

Joe Hodes, 16th Ward Republican committeeman, introduces himself to a committee of the Board of Aldermen on Monday. Hodes is one of nine people Mayor Lyda Krewson has nominated to serve on the Board of Freeholders. Oct. 7, 2019
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The nine people nominated by Mayor Lyda Krewson to serve on a committee looking into consolidating government in St. Louis and St. Louis County will have to wait a bit longer to know if they cleared the first hurdle.

A committee of the Board of Aldermen on Monday spent five hours hearing testimony from the nominees to the Board of Freeholders, but did not take a vote. An exact reason for the delay wasn’t given. 

Darren Seals, the founder of an anti-violence group called the Sankofa Unity Center, speaks on Sept. 24, 201 in favor of a bill that allocates about $5 million for a program called Cure Violence. The measure passed the public safety committee unanimously.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 3 with approval by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment

Funding to start a nationally recognized anti-violence program in St. Louis has cleared another hurdle. 

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which oversees the city’s budget, approved spending $5 million of the city’s $23 million surplus on Cure Violence. The vote on Thursday comes less than a week after the Board of Aldermen gave unanimous first-round approval to the money, and sets up a final board vote on Friday.

Children Under Fire is a series examining how communities are affected when children are killed by gun violence.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Ten children have been shot to death in St. Louis since Memorial Day weekend — more than the total number of young people killed by guns in all of 2018.

The cause of the increase has vexed police, researchers and those who work with victims of violence.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced plans for the state to help combat violent crime in St. Louis and St. Louis County. Sept. 19, 2019
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has pledged money and manpower to help St. Louis and St. Louis County address an increase in violent crime.

“We know that we have a serious problem with violent crime that must be addressed,” Parson said Thursday at a news conference in St. Louis. “As your governor, and a former law enforcement officer for more than 22 years, protecting the citizens of our state is one of the utmost importance to my administration.”

The announcement came after a day of meetings with local political, religious and law enforcement leaders.

Bits of glass covers a sidewalk in downtown St. Louis after people broke windows on Sunday. (Sept. 17, 2017_
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis police officer has sued the city over the way he was treated while he was undercover during protests against police brutality.

Luther Hall was beaten by fellow police officers during a mass arrest of protesters in September 2017. He suffered serious injuries and has not returned to work. 

Adolphus Pruitt, the president of the NAACP in the city of St. Louis, outlines allegations that former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger violated the law around minority contracting at a news conference on Sept. 17, 2019.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

The president of the NAACP in the city of St. Louis says former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger may have violated federal law relating to minority contracting.

Adolphus Pruitt made the allegations at a news conference on Tuesday. He says he started looking into whether the county was following the rules after reading a letter the St. Louis County Council submitted to federal prosecutors as part of Stenger’s sentencing.

St. Louis City Hall
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis aldermen have voted against asking residents to lift a requirement that city employees live in the city.

Friday’s vote was the latest setback for Alderwoman Carol Howard, D-14th Ward. She has tried since last year to change the city charter and allow most employees to live where they would like. Elected officials and appointed department heads would still have a residency requirement.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen chambers on July 7, 2017.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis aldermen will spend at least part of Friday debating whether to ask voters to repeal the requirement that most city employees live in the city.

The bill narrowly received first-round approval in July. Its sponsor, Alderwoman Carol Howard, D-14th Ward, delayed a final vote until after the break, to give her time to secure more support.

Parson with Krewson addressing gun violence in St. Louis on Sept. 10, 2019.
Rachel Lippman | St. Louis Public Radio

Democratic lawmakers in Jefferson City again demanded Tuesday that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson expand a special session to include discussions of gun violence, with the governor saying it will take about 10 days to work out a plan to address the issue. 

Parson spent part of the day at St. Louis City Hall, meeting with Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, as well as representatives from federal, state and local law enforcement.

Bill Miller, center, Steve Stenger's former chief of staff, walks out of federal court Friday after being sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2:50 p.m. Sept. 6 with comments from court hearing

William Miller, the chief of staff to disgraced former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, was sentenced Friday to 15 months behind bars for working to make sure that a campaign donor to Stenger got a lobbying contract.

Miller pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting bribery, a felony, in May. The sentence handed down Friday by U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel was at the low end of federal sentencing guidelines for the crime and in line with what prosecutors had sought. The maximum under the guidelines was 21 months. Miller’s attorneys wanted probation.

technology computer upgrade
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is getting a chance to test how smart sensors can help city departments respond better to emergencies.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has spent more than a year developing ways that cities can use a network of smart devices. Now, a pilot program with the city will allow DHS to test the plans in real life.

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