John Collins-Muhammad | St. Louis Public Radio

John Collins-Muhammad

Members of the Board of Freeholders listen to concerns from St. Louis aldermen during the board's first meeting earlier this year.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It would be easy to chalk up the delay in seating St. Louis’ Board of Freeholders nominees to dysfunction and gridlock — perhaps showcasing the inability of the city and county to work together.

But that would be an overly simplistic takeaway. In reality, the Board of Aldermen impasse showcases long-standing tensions about how some sort of city-county union would affect municipal services and black political power. And it also spotlights how vagaries in the Missouri Constitution make it difficult to figure out what inaction means.

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

Updated 4:57 p.m. May 29 with comment from Pam Boyd, D-27th ward — A plan to implement the voter mandate to reduce the number of wards in St. Louis is underway. Exactly how it will be done, though, is still up in the air.

Alderwoman Heather Navarro, D-28th ward, chairs a yet-to-be-formed advisory committee that will design a transition plan to go from 28 wards to 14 by 2023. While the redrawing of ward lines will be left up to the Board of Aldermen, Navarro’s advisory committee aims to study how the smaller group of aldermen would equitably deliver city services, among other things.

That committee was meant to deliver a report on ward reduction by the end of May. The committee, however, has not yet been assembled. Navarro says that’s because she wanted the process to be as inclusive and transparent as possible.

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

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen is forming a Ward Reduction Advisory Committee to get public input as to what going from 28 to 14 wards would mean for the city.

The committee will study the effects of ward reduction on the Board of Aldermen, budgets and constituent services. The group will then be tasked with providing recommendations.

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri will provide pro bono legal support to residents and neighborhood associations in Hyde Park, the West End, Old North St. Louis and Academy. The grant money will prevent residents and land owners from displacement.
File Photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis homebuyers will soon be able to purchase some city-owned properties at a deep discount.

The going rate? One dollar.

Beginning this month, the Land Reutilization Authority will sell certain residential properties in the city’s land bank through the “Dollar House” pilot program. It’s part of an effort to reduce the number of vacant, city-owned properties and revitalize fading neighborhoods.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ budget committee on Wednesday approved the city’s $1.1 billion spending plan that is set to take effect July 1.

Members voted unanimously to send the budget to the full Board of Aldermen, a much different outcome than one last week when the committee deadlocked 3-3. The panel had to approve the budget this week in order for the full board to meet the deadline.

John Collins-Muhammad, shown here in a booking photo, was arrested March 12, 2018 for outstanding traffic warrants.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department

A St. Louis alderman has been arrested for a series of municipal warrants.

John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward, was taken into custody Monday afternoon after rear-ending a car at a stop sign. A computer check by police investigating the accident revealed the warrants — five from the city of St. Louis and one from Jefferson City.

St. Louis City Hall
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has officially asked Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway to review the city’s spending.

Aldermen on Friday approved the resolution introduced by Alderman Joe Vaccaro, D-23rd Ward and Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward by a wide margin. It calls for a “comprehensive audit of the City of St. Louis,” including so-called county offices like the treasurer and the circuit attorney.

State Rep. Bruce Franks took part in the protests sparked by Michael Brown's death in Ferguson. He's now joined demonstrations against Stockley's not guilty verdict.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On this edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum takes a closer look at how young African-American politicians are making an impact after a judge found former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad stands near the street where Jason Stockley killed Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Reps. Joshua Peters and Bruce Franks also spoke out against Stockley's not guilty verdict.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the hours after a judge acquitted former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder last week, St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad appeared at the street where Stockley fatally wounded Anthony Lamar Smith roughly six years ago.

The 21st Ward alderman is part of a younger group of African-American politicians who are fed up that, again, the judicial system has not punished a white police officer who killed a black person. Collins-Muhammad made clear last week that he and his fellow elected officials would continue agitating and advocating for change.

Protesting youth were stranded on the street after curfew when Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew in Ferguson in August 2014.
File photo | Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

The 2014 death of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old, at the hands of a white police officer unleashed anger and activism throughout the St. Louis area.

Some who marched in the streets of Ferguson after August 9 of that year remain committed to changing hearts, minds and laws throughout St. Louis and Missouri, despite setbacks at the ballot box and within legislative chambers. But activists also concede that policy alone won't bring St. Louis together: It'll require people of all stripes acknowledging the realities of a racially divided region and state.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson speaks with attendees before the start of a speech delivered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on March 31, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time in its history, the St. Louis Police Department can look beyond its ranks for a new chief, something that officers and community members say the city should take full advantage of.

“That person shouldn’t have any connection to the department,” according to Sgt. Heather Taylor, the president of the Ethical Society of Police, which represents officers of color.

Judge Jimmie Edwards swears in members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. The ceremony had to be moved outside after a bomb scare at City Hall.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Lyda Krewson dances with relatives, supporters and campaign staff after delivering her acceptance speech.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The demise of a publicly funded soccer stadium could mean the St. Louis Police Department sees more taxpayer money.

 

When voters approved a half-cent sales tax Tuesday for things like light rail expansion and neighborhood development programs, it automatically raised the use tax that businesses pay on out-of-state purchases.

John Collins-Muhammad, April 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Alderman-elect John Collins-Muhammad for the first time.

 

Collins-Muhammad will soon represent the city’s 21st Ward, which takes in parts of the north St. Louis neighborhoods of College Hill, Kingsway East, North Riverfront, O’Fallon and Penrose. After Alderman Antonio French vacated his seat to run for mayor, Collins-Muhammad won a three-way Democratic primary, and then won easily in the general election.