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.
Raise your glasses
The motto of the Excel Bottling Co. in Breese, Ill., is “Good Things Don’t Have To Change.” And they really mean it. Here four generations of the Meier family have been selling soda for nearly 80 years. They make it the old-fashioned way with pure cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup and with using vintage bottling equipment that was already “secondhand” when it was purchased in 1936. Excel claims to be the last soda bottler in Illinois and Missouri that still uses returnable glass bottles.
Countdown to Election 2014
The latest salvo in the ongoing battle between Missouri's Democratic governor and the Republican-led legislature over the state budget is Amendment 10 on the November ballot. Constitutional Amendment 10 would limit the governor's budgetary authority. Specifically, it would limit his ability to withhold money temporarily from the budget each year.
Missouri voters have four constitutional amendments on the November ballot. The amendments cover a wide array of issues, ranging from early voting to the admissibility of prior sex crimes, teacher tenure and the governor's power over the state budget.
In the political world of 2014, social media – especially Twitter – are king. And if you are not on social media, you are missing lots of what is going on in a campaign. Politicians’ controversial public comments, actions or votes can be outed in seconds. And Facebook posts can be circulated to tens of thousands – make that millions – with just a few keystrokes by critics.
Actions often speak louder than words. The region’s two major candidates for St. Louis County executive – Democrat Steve Stenger and Republican Rick Stream – play down any talk that their campaigns target women voters, but both have deployed prominent women elected officials in their campaigns. Why? Women make up a slight majority of the county’s population; women usually cast a majority of the county’s votes; and women often make up the majority of undecided voters as an election gets closer.
The only statewide political office up for grabs in Missouri this year doesn't appear to be anywhere near up for grabs. State Auditor Tom Schweich, a Republican, is facing only token opposition from the Libertarian and Constitution parties, and the Democrats are not fielding a challenger. This contest may serve more as a campaign for Schweich's next political goal:
Back to the future
Cincinnati’s police reform following a deadly police shooting and riots in 2001 has lessons for Ferguson and St. Louis. One of the biggest lessons from Cincinnati is that any police reform will take a long time – many years, not many months. Among the most important reforms are: transparency when police shoot civilians, an early warning system to identify troubled officers, new policies minimizing use of force, a civilian review board and video and audio on police cars and officers.
The new Normandy Schools Collaborative has completed one quarter of its first academic year, but if the experience of one teacher is any indication, conditions in the beleaguered district have not gotten any better under the control of a state-appointed board. In a wide ranging interview, the teacher said that said nearly a dozen colleagues have resigned under the pressure of a heavy, intense workload, though in some cases new teachers were hired to take their place. Few substitutes are available to pick up the slack, class sizes have grown, honors classes are gone, some textbooks are in short supply and students who may have started the year behind academically have found roadblocks to catching up.
Black-owned galleries display African-American art all year long. Many others tend bring out such work only during February, Black History Month. But that’s changing, with exhibitions at the Philip Slein Gallery and the World Chess Hall of Fame, both in the Central West End. Another current local exhibition, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” directly responds to Michael Brown's death.