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Municipalities

Erica Williams is the founder and executive director of A Red Circle; David Dwight is the lead strategy catalyst at Forward Through Ferguson; and Colin Gordon is the author of "Citizen Brown."
EVIE HEMPHILL / ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

In 2008, with his book “Mapping Decline,” history professor Colin Gordon brought context to the issues of vacant houses, boarded-up storefronts and abandoned factories in the St. Louis region.

Gordon’s new book, "Citizen Brown: Race, Democracy, and Inequality in the St. Louis Suburbs," digs into how municipal boundaries and school district lines were drawn to exclude and how local policies and services were weaponized to maintain civic separation.

Mackenzie village board members, including Pat Arrendell and Dorothy Berry, sat up front for a community meeting on March 21 about what would happen if their village disincorporates.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Mackenzie Village’s voters go to the polls Tuesday, the fate of their south county community will hang in the balance.

They will decide whether to dissolve the 72-year-old village — made up of 134 residents, 68 homes, one park and three streets.

Jay Kanzler, the Almuttan family’s attorney for years, paces in front of Country Club Hills' empty city hall building. He says the city's mayor has been targeting the Almuttans for years.
Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

A Muslim man has filed a lawsuit against the city of County Club Hills, Mayor Bender McKinney and three aldermen, claiming that they discriminated against him.

In a suit filed last week in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Mohammed Almuttan, who is Palestinian,  claims he was denied a business license for a laundromat based on his nationality and religion.  He and his family, their attorney, and the Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations have called for McKinney's resignation.

Vinita Park Mayor James McGee speaks against proposed standards for polcie departments in St. Louis County in December 2015.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that the St. Louis County Council overstepped its boundaries when it tried to impose certain minimum standards on the 50 or so municipal police departments in the county's borders.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger
File photo | Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis County law that would have set minimum operating standards for police departments in the county is in the hands of a three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The law, approved in December 2015, set staffing, training and hiring standards. Departments would have been required to have at least two officers on duty 24-7 and conduct background checks on prospective officers that included psychological screenings. Elected officials in cities that failed to comply could be jailed, or the St. Louis County police could take over public safety services in the city.

Robert Cornejo
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Robert Cornejo to the program.

The St. Peters Republican is serving his second term in the Missouri House. He was a guest on the show about a year ago, after one of the wildest ends to a legislative session in recent history.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger's proposal would impliment minimum standards for police departments to follow. If they don't meet those benchmarks, Stenger's office could effectively disband departments.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A judge has thrown out a St. Louis County ordinance that requires municipal police departments to adhere to certain standards.

It’s a temporary blow to a big priority for St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who pushed the law as a way to bolster confidence in public safety throughout the county.

Maryland Heights resident Dan Hyatt speaks before the Ferguson Commission about his experience dealing with the municipal court system in Breckenridge Hills.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Seventy-nine municipal courts give the small towns and cities of St. Louis County significant autonomy in judging minor infractions as such speeding tickets, tall weeds or zoning violations. The judges and prosecutors work part time — in smaller jurisdictions, just two or three times a month for a few hundred dollars per each municipal court session.

via Flickr | Alex Ford

A new report is criticizing many local governments in the St. Louis area for a lack of transparency.

As documented in the nonprofit organization Better Together's "Transparency Report," the group attempted to obtain basic financial and operational information from dozens of area municipalities that should be publicly accessible under Missouri’s Sunshine Law.

File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A 2012 audit of the police department in Bel-Ridge is getting new attention from some members of the community's Board of Trustees.

Longtime resident and trustee Rachel White has been pushing for change since she found the audit this year in a stack of papers. It showed mismanagement and possible misconduct of officers. But the entity with the power to address it — the Village Board of Trustees —  had failed to make major changes.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 28, 2013 - The grand opening of two new outlet malls in Chesterfield appears to have also launched a rekindled debate into St. Louis County’s complicated sales tax formula that pits “pool cities’’ against their “point of sale’’ counterparts.

The current setup, says Chesterfield Mayor Bob Nation, amounts to “redistribution of wealth in a bad sense.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 5, 2013: Sherry Brackins is part of an exclusive group of St. Louis County residents who hail from Uplands Park. But if she had her way, Brackins would reside in a bigger governmental entity – unincorporated St. Louis County.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 2, 2013 - Dear Beaconites - Several years ago, our daughter-in-law set out for a run from our house in Kirkwood, took a wrong turn and soon found herself at a quiet intersection miles from home. When a car rolled to a stop, she asked for directions.

The concerned driver wondered whom she was visiting. "I've known them for years," he said when told and offered not only directions but a ride home. The Good Samaritan was Mike Swoboda, who cheerfully explained, "I'm the mayor. I know everybody."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites --

Several years ago, our daughter-in-law set out for a run from our house in Kirkwood, took a wrong turn and soon found herself at a quiet intersection miles from home. When a car rolled to a stop, she asked for directions.

The concerned driver wondered whom she was visiting. "I've known them for years," he said when told and offered not only directions but a ride home. The Good Samaritan was Mike Swoboda, who cheerfully explained, "I'm the mayor. I know everybody."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 18, 2012 - St. George has effectively been wiped off the map.

Bob Burns, the trustee appointed to oversee the final stages of dismantling the small south St. Louis County town, announced to the St. Louis County Council Tuesday that the work to dissolve the city was finished. That included turning $369,869.34 to the county, which he said would go into its general revenue fund.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 11, 2012 - While competition, usually for shopping centers, may grab the headlines, the 90 municipalities of St. Louis County actually cooperate in many ways, some of which are largely invisible to residents. Cooperative efforts include sharing swimming pools and community centers, buying salt for frozen roads and sharing jail space for prisoners.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 29, 2012 - Voters from around the St. Louis area will go to the polls Tuesday to decide on a flurry of municipal elections as well as a tax levy increases for local school districts.

Seven St. Louis County municipalities have contested mayor’s races, while nearly 80 towns and cities in the county have city council races with multiple candidates. A smaller number of contests are on the ballot in St. Charles County.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 10, 2011 - Mayors of some of St. Louis County's 91 municipalities say they're tired of being portrayed as one of the county's biggest problems -- and they hope to spend 2011 setting the record straight.

"There's a wrong perception that the number of munipalities makes (St. Louis County) less competitive,'' said Glendale Mayor Rich Magee, president of the St. Louis County Municipal League. "We're the solution, not the problem."

Commentary: The gradual growth of regionalism

Oct 14, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 14, 2009 - Because St. Louis has so many local governments, because all major consolidation attempts over the past 80 years have failed at the ballot box or in the courts, and because the conventional wisdom among most civic leaders and the local media has been to decry localism, St. Louis itself and the more extended metropolitan governance reform community have made the area the poster region for fragmentation.