Morning headlines- Thursday, May 31, 2012 | St. Louis Public Radio

Morning headlines- Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 31, 2012

St. Louis Police debate workplace representation

Next month, St. Louis City police sergeants are set to decide who will represent their interests at work, and the St. Louis Police Officers Association says it is the best option on the table.

At a meeting last night, members of the St. Louis Police Officers Association made their case to sergeants.To punctuate their point they brought in Chuck Canterbury, the National President of the Fraternal Order of Police.

 "St. Louis Police Officers Association (has a) 44-year history of defending rank and file police officers," Canterbury said.  "And if there's a sergeant in St. Louis Who doesn't think he's a rank and file police officer I'll be real shocked, I'd sure like to meet him."

A similarly-named organization, the St. Louis Police Leadership Organization, which says it's focused on representing police management, has filed a lawsuit alleging that sergeants have been illegally denied overtime pay for the last three years. But the Police Officers' Association business manager, Jeff Roorda, says the better approach is negotiation before legal action.

"If you can't get this negotiated at the bargaining table then take a step back and say do we sue or do we not sue," he said.

Ballots are set to be cast June 14, but a voting mechanism has yet to be put in place.    

Mo. hospitals reporting more charity care

A new study reveals Missouri hospitals are providing more "charity care"- care provided without any expectation of payment. Hospitals are also seeing increases in “bad debts,” when payment is expected and not fully collected.

The Missouri Foundation for Health reports hospitals’ charity care costs rose by $98 million from 2004 to 2008. The Foundation says the bad debt expenses for hospitals increased by $120 million in the same four-year period, and notes the increase in charity care and amount of unpaid hospital bills rose as the percentage of people without insurance slightly increased.

Commuting delays as I-44 construction begins

Commuters can expect delays when construction begins on westbound I-44 near Antire Road next week. The project will rebuild pavement on 44, closing one eastbound lane and two westbound lanes. 

MoDOT Engineer Ed Hassinger says the westbound I-44 entrance and exit ramps at Antire Road will be closed through the end of June. In addition, he warns commuters of increased law enforcement on 44 during the construction period. 

“Right there on Antire Hill, people drive way too fast. And with work zones out there we need them to really pay attention to what they’re doing,” Hassinger said.  “We’re going to have continuous law enforcement out there to make sure people are driving safe.”

Hassinger anticipates the project being completed by Labor Day, but encourages commuters to avoid the 6:45-7:45 morning period.