Politics & Issues | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics & Issues

Surveillance camera alert on South Broadway
Paul Sableman | Flickr

St. Louis aldermen will try again this year to develop policies that control the use of surveillance technology in the city. 

A committee could vote this week on a measure sponsored by Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward, that requires the director of public safety to draft those policies, which the Board of Aldermen would then approve or reject. Any city agency that wanted to use tools like security cameras or license plate readers would have to submit a plan that fit those guidelines.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen gave initial approval to extending an incentive package for an urgent care center.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 18 with final passage

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has approved nearly $8 million in incentives for a three-bed urgent care hospital proposed for the site of the old Pruitt-Igoe housing project in north St. Louis, in the footprint of Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration initiative.

“This is not a big business project for someone to get rich or anything but that,” Alderwoman Tammika Hubbard, D-5th Ward, told her colleagues Friday. “This is to fill a void in our community that we’ve experienced since Homer G. Phillips closed.”

The Loop Trolley during a test drive on June 13, 2018.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue, Jason Rosenbaum and Jaclyn Driscoll break down some of the week’s biggest stories in federal, state and local politics.

Of particular interest for many St. Louis area residents is the financial peril surrounding the Loop Trolley.

Protesters marched through downtown St. Louis on Sunday to protest ongoing U.S. Supreme Court cases that could leave LGBTQ workers in Missouri with few laws protecting them against discrimination.
Andrea Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s a brisk Sunday morning, and nearly 100 people are singing hymns at the steps of St. Louis City Hall. The congregation waves rainbow and transgender pride flags and hoists picket signs that demand civil rights for LGBTQ workers.

Among the protesters is Beth Gombos, who says they’re "terrified" by the possible outcomes of three ongoing U.S Supreme Court cases.

The court could rule next year that federal civil rights law doesn’t prevent employers from firing people for being gay, bisexual or transgender. If the court decides against the employees in the cases, Missouri’s estimated 180,000 LGBTQ adults would be left with little recourse against discrimination in the workplace. 

St. Louis Alderwoman Sarah Martin
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderwoman Sarah Martin is the latest guest on Politically Speaking. Martin represents the 11th ward, which includes parts of the Boulevard Heights, Holly Hills, Patch, Mount Pleasant and Carondelet neighborhoods. 

Edwardsville Approves Shopping Bag Fee. Will Other Metro East Cities Follow Its Lead?

Oct 17, 2019
Mike and Vicki Blunt, of New Douglas, load their vehicle with groceries in single-use plastic bags at Schnucks in Edwardsville in March. The couple usually bring their own reusable bags, but on this day, they bought too many groceries and needed more.
Teri Maddow | Belleville News-Democrat

Edwardsville will become the first city in downstate Illinois to require retailers to charge for single-use plastic and paper shopping bags to help protect the environment.

Edwardsville City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved an ordinance that was first proposed by a grassroots organization called Bring Your Own Bag Glen-Ed. Members argued that single-use bags pollute land and water, harm wildlife and human health and waste resources.

The intersection of Collinsville and St. Louis Avenues in East St. Louis is where a mob of white rioters first gathered before they rampaged through the city, seeking out and killing black residents.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

BELLEVILLE — Illinois’ slow but steady population decline could jeopardize the home rule status some Metro East cities enjoy.

Home rule grants cities broad taxing and regulatory powers, making it easier to quickly tackle local issues and fund projects and services. Status is automatically granted to any Illinois city with more than 25,000 residents. Towns can also achieve home rule through a referendum, as Fairview Heights did. 

Joe Hodes, 16th Ward Republican committeeman, introduces himself to a committee of the Board of Aldermen on Monday. Hodes is one of nine people Mayor Lyda Krewson has nominated to serve on the Board of Freeholders. Oct. 7, 2019
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has delayed voting on Mayor Lyda Krewson’s nominees to a board that will consider changing governance in St. Louis and St. Louis County.

Members of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday decided not to take a vote on any of Krewson’s nine nominees to the Board of Freeholders. Members of the Black Caucus, who are concerned about the racial and geographic makeup of the nominees, want to present their own names to Krewson to consider.

Kathy Howard, who has worked as a sexual assault nurse examiner for decades, shows an unused rape kit. Sept.  27, 2019
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri has more than 10,000 untested rape kits sitting on shelves in police departments and hospital — some have been there for decades — but the state is finally set to have a full inventory of those kits by the end of the month. 

Once the inventory is complete, Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office can move forward with creating an electronic database to not only keep track of the untested kits, but to help prosecute rapists and provide justice for victims. 

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page's nominees to the Board of Freeholders await a committee hearing on Oct. 15, 2019, in Clayton.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council on Tuesday grilled most of County Executive Sam Page’s nominees to the Board of Freeholders, a 19-person body that could rearrange the governance of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

One particular point of contention was that only one of Page’s selections lives in unincorporated St. Louis County. Other council members wanted to know the potential board members’ views on whether St. Louis should become a municipality within St. Louis County.

St. Louis County Councilwoman Lisa Clancy.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council is expected to take up a proposal to ban the use of self-deleting text message apps for government business.

Councilwoman Lisa Clancy, D-Maplewood, asked staff last week to draft legislation that prohibits the use of self-deleting text apps when communicating about county business. She said she plans to introduce the policy at a county council meeting over the next several weeks. 

A recent study in the U.S. indicated that 3.6 million teens used e-cigarettes in 2018, a steep climb from 1.5 million teens in 2017.
File | Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Calling vaping-related illnesses among Missouri’s youth an epidemic, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday signed an executive order mandating education to discourage usage. 

Thousands have been sickened across the country due to vaping-related illnesses. In Missouri, there have been 22 reported illnesses and one death as of Oct. 4. The majority of those cases involve people between the ages of 15 and 24. 

Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

NPR Silicon Valley correspondent Aarti Shahani has written a memoir about her family’s journey from pre-partition India to Casablanca to New York. It’s called “Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares.” 

Shahani said that her father lived the nightmare, but that she lived the dream. 

“Not that it was easy,” she added. “I detail in this book how the justice system derailed my life. I grew up in the shadow of a legal case that was supposed to go away, but never did, and that’s a very common experience in America.

Illinois residents across the state, and across party lines, largely support more gun regulations. That’s according to the results of an NPR Illinois - University of Illinois Springfield survey. We took a look at the new data and explored what might be behind the numbers.

The Loop Trolley during a test drive on June 13, 2018.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The presiding officer of the St. Louis County Council won’t introduce legislation to provide more money for the Loop Trolley — a move that could make it difficult to get the measure past the finish line.

It’s a setback for a service that’s trying to piece together enough money to remain solvent through the rest of the year.

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."

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.

Mary Harris poses outside her new townhouse in Pine Lawn. Nonprofit group Beyond Housing built dozens of affordable homes in the area using a low-income housing tax credit. Oct. 7, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s low-income housing tax credit is a complicated program that often gets debated in terms of dollars and cents, but for Mary Harris, the incentive that creates housing for the poor, elderly and disabled isn’t some philosophical concept.

Harris lives in a townhouse in Pine Lawn. Thanks to a tax credit to developers, she pays significantly less money in rent than for other places she’s lived throughout the St. Louis area. It’s an arrangement that’s had a profound impact on her life.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
File photo |Tim Bommell | Missouri House Communications

In this week’s Political Speaking news roundup, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Julie O’Donoghue and Jo Mannies discuss Sen. Roy Blunt’s reaction to the Democratic House’s move toward impeaching President Trump and the Ukraine controversy.

We also chat about the ongoing discussion over new gambling machines that have popped up in gas stations, fraternal lodges and convenience stores across the state. House lawmakers held a hearing in Jefferson City on Thursday regarding whether the new machines are legal and the challenges with regulating them.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 12, 2013 - Douglas MacArthur once remarked, “The history of failure in war can almost be summed up in two words: too late.” George Patton said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” These men understood the urgency of warfare and the subsequent need to act with alacrity and dispatch.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 11, 2013 - Drug trafficking is the No. 1 illegal trade in the world, and trafficking in human beings is No. 2. President Barack Obama, among others, calls human trafficking — for labor or for sex — "modern slavery."

When Barbara Eagleton was searching for a speaker on the topic of human trafficking for the Women’s Democratic Forum, she was thinking in terms of "people brought into the United States illegally. They think they’re getting great jobs," but they end up being forced into unpaid or low-paid domestic or agricultural jobs, or they’re exploited for sex.

Judy Gladney poses for a portrait at the University City High School auditorium on Oct. 10, 2019.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Before Judy Gladney was among the first black students to integrate University City High School, she and her family were the first black people to move into a gated community in the city called University Hills.

For Gladney, 67, being among the first was almost a family tradition. 

“We were a family of firsts," Gladney said. “My father was a physician. He broke down many barriers. He was the first (black) head of a department of medicine at St. Louis U. We were one of the first black families at Pilgrim Congregational Church. So it was a lifestyle for us to constantly be in diverse environments.”

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson poses for a photo at St. Louis Public Radio. 10/10/19
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For 17 months, St. Louis has been weighing the idea of leasing its airport to a for-profit entity. As a member of the city’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment, Mayor Lyda Krewson is among the three city officials who have the ultimate say in whether any deal goes through — the others being Comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.

International students from Webster University celebrate graduation in 2015. Students are among the foreign-born people who call the St. Louis region home.
Mosaic Project | Facebook

Recent data shows the St. Louis region’s foreign-born population is growing at a faster rate than most of the country’s largest metro areas.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the region’s foreign-born population grew by 5,640 people, or 4.1%, between 2017 and 2018, rising to a total 141,894 people. This population is comprised of immigrants, refugees and temporary migrants such as international students. 

Abortion Opponents Want Fairview Heights To Stop Planned Parenthood From Opening Clinic

Oct 9, 2019
Anti-abortion groups rallied Wednesday outside of the new Planned Parenthood clinic in Fairview Heights. The clinic will offer medicinal and surgical abortions when it opens. This comes as St. Louis' clinic may lose its license. 10/9/19
Derik Holtmann | Belleville News-Democrat

Between an iron fence and temporary barricades while holding signs that said “Planned Parenthood hurts women,” “Stop Abortion Now” and “Shut them down,” demonstrators called on Fairview Heights to keep the future Planned Parenthood clinic from opening.

The narrow stretch of public right of away next to a drainage ditch did not deter the crowd of hundreds of people who rallied Wednesday outside the new Planned Parenthood clinic in Fairview Heights that will open later this month.

Bill To Let College Athletes Make Money Gains Support In Illinois House

Oct 9, 2019
Illinois State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Hillside) filed a bill last week to that would allow college athletes to get endorsement deals. Welch played baseball at Northwestern University.
Matt Radick | Flickr

Last week, when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law allowing college athletes to get endorsement deals, he set off a wave of copycat legislation proposed in at least a dozen more states, including Illinois. 

State Representative Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Hillside) filed a bill to make sure Illinois keeps up. 

"If I'm a coach in California right now, this is an amazing recruiting tool, and I think it places them at an advantage in the recruiting arena. And so I'd like to make sure colleges and universities in Illinois have the same tool that California universities do,” Welch says.

Most farmers haven't had a single good year since President Trump took office, and Trump’s policies on trade, immigration and ethanol are part of the problem.

Yet farmers, who broadly supported Trump in 2016, are sticking with him as the impeachment inquiry moves forward.

“You see everyone circling their wagons now, and the farm community is no different in that,” says John Herath, the news director at Farm Journal.

A MetroLink train
File Photo | St. Louis Public Radio

This story was updated at 2:49 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2019 with comments from Bi-State CEO Taulby Roach. 

The St. Louis County Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to send the Bi-State Development Agency about two-thirds of the money it requested for its annual budget.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 8, 2013 - St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley says a recently passed ordinance mandating background checks for nominees to the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners is slowing down the process of filing up the depleted panel.

Earlier this summer, Dooley nominated Democrat Freddy J. Clark and Republican Dave Spence to serve on the five-person police board.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 11, 2013 - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Monday that he has ordered the state's Office of Administration to review all contracts in connection with a rodeo event at the Missouri State Fair where a clown wearing a mask of President Barack Obama was chased by a bull.

The governor, who appoints the fair board, emphasized that he was committed "to determine what actions can be taken to hold those people accountable."

Cassie Boness (at left) and Dan Kolde joined Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the role of emotional support animals and the legalities that surround them.
Cassie Boness & St. Louis Public Radio

Do a quick Google Image search of “emotional support animals,” and you’ll see various photos of animals on planes or in airports dressed in vests denoting their purpose. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, passengers needing to travel with an emotional support animal can do so with some basic documentation. 

There are limitations.