Ernie Trakas | St. Louis Public Radio

Ernie Trakas

Senator Claire McCaskill speaks at Lona's Lil Eats in St. Louis on Aug. 30, 2018.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s decision to vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is a key topic of the latest Politically Speaking podcast.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies look into how undisclosed political money is playing into the contest between McCaskill and GOP Attorney Josh Hawley. It comes as millions of 501(c)(4) cash is going to support Hawley’s bid — and to ensure McCaskill wins a second term.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-South St. Louis County, speaks to reporters on Sept. 18, 2018.  A judge ruled that Trakas did not violate a charter provision against governmental employment when he did legal work for school districts.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Charles County judge ruled that a St. Louis County councilman did not violate a prohibition against working for a government agency.

The decision means that Councilman Ernie Trakas can remain on the St. Louis County Council — an outcome the south St. Louis County Republican said he expected.

President Donald Trump arrives at St. Louis Lambert International Airport to attend a fundraiser for GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Josh Hawley.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This week’s Politically Speaking zeroes in on how President Donald Trump will affect Missouri’s election cycle — particularly U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s re-election bid against Attorney General Josh Hawley.

On the surface, Trump should benefit Hawley — especially because the GOP chief executive won Missouri by nearly 19 percentage points in 2016. Missouri’s public opinion polls show his approval ratings hovering around 50 percent. But Trump has faced a torrent of controversy this week with the Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen court proceedings.

The St. Louis County Council approved three charter amendments earlier this month. One would provide the council with more authority over the county budget.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is panning an effort to give the County Council more budgetary authority.

If Stenger vetoes the measure, the council is prepared to override the Democratic chief executive — setting up a showdown at the ballot box later this fall.

Councilmembers Ernie Trakas, R-Oakville, and Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, talk to reporters after a July 24, 2018, meeting.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the St. Louis County Council may try to subpoena people who have served as members of the St. Louis County Port Authority.

It’s the latest salvo in a long-running feud between the council and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, a schism that will likely remain even if the Democratic chief executive wins his primary next month.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas
Alex Heuer I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas’ political future is now up to a judge, who will likely rule before the summer ends whether Trakas violated the county charter by doing legal work for school districts.

If the answer is yes, then Trakas – who represents much of south county – would be removed from the council.

St. Charles County Circuit Judge Dan Pelikan held a brief hearing Thursday morning and ordered lawyers for both sides to submit any additional legal arguments within 30 days. Pelikan could then rule at any time, although the lawyers predict it likely will be August at the earliest before he announces his decision.

Kali takes a swim at the Saint Louis Zoo.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council is close to placing a sales tax hike on the November ballot to pay for improvements for the St. Louis Zoo.

While council members appear to want to let the voters decide, the one-eighth of one cent sales tax could face sharp questions later this year — especially since only St. Louis and St. Louis County directly pay for the attraction.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas
Alex Heuer I St. Louis Public Radio

A special prosecutor is recommending that St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas forfeit his post because his legal work for school districts violates the county charter.

The prosecutor’s petition, filed late Friday, is expected to set off a process that could force Trakas off the council within a few months. Trakas is part of a bipartisan, four-person council coalition that frequently is at odds with County Executive Steve Stenger, a Democrat.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas
Alex Heuer I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies welcomes St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas on the program for the first time.

The Republican from south St. Louis County was elected to the 6th District council seat in 2016. He represents a part of largely unincorporated south St. Louis, which means that he makes many of the development and zoning decisions for the area.