Politics & Issues | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics & Issues

Mayor Lyda Krewson touts the city's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council on July 17, 2019 with Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards and Police Chief John Hayden. Hayden will be a member of the council.
Alexis Moore | St. Louis Public Radio

Several years ago, judges at the St. Louis Circuit Court came up with a simple idea: get everyone who handles criminal cases — from prosecutors to public defenders to police officers — together to share ideas about making improvements.

Now, legislation awaiting Mayor Lyda Krewson’s signature looks to turn an informal gathering into a professional endeavor with paid staff.

Women protest in downtown St. Louis on May 30, 2019, to influence Missouri Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer's decision on the fate of St. Louis' last abortion clinic.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When the National Women’s Political Caucus picked St. Louis to host its convention, it was well before the Missouri Legislature passed a ban on abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy — a move that drew national attention and controversy to the state.

Some members of the caucus, which seeks to elect women to office who support abortion rights, wanted to move the convention out of downtown St. Louis. But NWPC President Donna Lent said the furor over the abortion measure solidified the urgency to be in Missouri.

Chavisa Woods is the author of "100 Times: A Memoir of Sexism" as well as three books of fiction.
Seven Stories Press

While many writers pen memoirs because of something particularly distinctive or unusual about their lives, the reason Chavisa Woods gives for writing hers is pretty much the opposite.

“I felt that it was incumbent for me to put this on the page ... because my life is not exceptional,” Woods, the author of “100 Times: A Memoir of Sexism,” said on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “And I think when people hear that you’ve experienced 100 formative incidents of sexism, maybe the first reaction is, ‘Oh, I can’t believe that it influences your life so much.’ But I think when most women stop and think about discrimination, harassment, groping, sexual violence and also microagressions, you’ll see that you could easily compile [such a list]. ”

Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Bayer AG plans to relocate 500 jobs to Creve Coeur and promises a total capital investment of $164 million for the state of Missouri. 

The announcement, made on Tuesday from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s office, comes after Bayer decided to close its North American crop sciences headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina. The 500 jobs in St. Louis will be a combination of transfers from that facility and new hires.

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Jaclyn Driscoll joined St. Louis Public Radio’s newsroom a few weeks ago as its statehouse reporter to help cover all things Missouri politics. She previously covered Illinois’ state capital for two years while based at the public radio station in Springfield, Illinois.

Now based in Jefferson City, Driscoll talked with guest host Jim Kirchherr of the Nine Network on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, to discuss her new role at the station. 

FBI special agent Lesley Edge demonstrates her firearms skills on July 15, 2019. Edge is the only female firearms instructor in the St. Louis field office of the FBI.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Only 20% of FBI agents nationwide are women — and that number is less in St. Louis: 10%.

So, the bureau hopes an event scheduled for July 24 in St. Louis will encourage more women to consider the FBI as a career.

(JUly 16, 2019) Anita Manion (at left) and David Jackson joined Tuesday's talk show to discuss lobbying in Missouri and how it's evolved overtime.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio & David Jackson

Last November, Missouri voters approved a $5 limit on gifts to lawmakers to prevent lobbyists from spending a lot of money on politicians they’re looking to influence. A KCUR analysis of data released this month by the Missouri Ethics Commission shows there’s been a 94% decrease in spending from the 2019 to 2018 legislative session. 

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, guest host Jim Kirchherr of the Nine Network delved into how the new legislation has affected lobbyist spending, other ways lobbyists can still influence politicians and common misconceptions people have about the practice, which does fall under the First Amendment. 

Joining the discussion were University of Missouri-St. Louis political scientist Anita Manion and David Jackson, a principal with Gamble & Schlemeier, Missouri’s largest lobbying firm.

John Rallo (left) walks out of federl court after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges Tuesday
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 9:45 p.m.  Tuesday with effort to strip pension from Steve Stenger — An insurance executive who received contracts with St. Louis County in exchange for campaign contributions to then-County Executive Steve Stenger has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.

John Rallo admitted to bribery, mail fraud and theft of honest services in an appearance Tuesday in front of U.S. District Judge Richard Webber. He will be sentenced Oct. 15. He could face more than two years in prison, although Webber does not have to follow federal sentencing guidelines.

From left, Jessica Meyers and Poli Rijos joined Monday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, guest host Jim Kirchherr of the Nine Network discussed ongoing violence in the region, as well as solutions which aim to address it as a public health issue.

Poli Rijos of Washington University’s Gun Violence Initiative and Jessica Meyers of the St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission joined the conversation.

Comments from Marcus McAllister of Cure Violence, an organization which treats violence as an epidemic, were included in the discussion. Cure Violence has visited St. Louis recently as one of the violence prevention programs in contention for $500,000 appropriated in the city’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year. The city has not yet announced who will receive this funding. 

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jason Kander speaks at a labor rally in St. Charles earlier this fall. Kander is squaring off against U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt this November.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After a few months away from the public spotlight, Jason Kander is back.

But Kander isn’t venturing into the electoral arena. Instead, he’s leading the national expansion of a group that is trying to eradicate homelessness among veterans.

File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson vetoed a bill Friday that would have repealed the state’s mandatory helmet law because he disagreed with an unrelated portion of the proposal. 

The law would have allowed qualified motorcyclists 18 and older with proper health-insurance coverage to ride without a helmet. But the provision got tied into a larger, omnibus transportation bill covering everything from left turns onto one-way streets at red lights to motor-vehicle rental fees.

Abortion rights activists on Thursday gathered near the Gateway Arch to protest the potential closure of Missouri's only abortion provider. They marched to the Wainwright State Office Building, where some activists went inside. May 30, 2019
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court won’t reconsider an appeals court decision that effectively delays the ACLU of Missouri from gathering signatures to overturn Missouri’s recently passed eight-week abortion ban.

It’s a move that places the ACLU of Missouri’s referendum in serious jeopardy, because there may not be enough time to gather roughly 100,000 signatures to spark a 2020 election.

Gov. Mike Parson signs "Hailey's Law" surrounded by supporters of the legislation on Thursday, July 11.
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has signed legislation that will speed up the process of issuing Amber Alerts for missing children throughout the state.

The measure, known as “Hailey’s Law,” was named after 10-year-old Hailey Owens of Springfield. In February 2014, she was lured into a car by a stranger, raped and later killed. At the time, the Amber Alert process was burdened with several steps that kept alerts from going out sooner. 

Beyoncé tickets. Pricey steak dinners. Royals games. 

Lobbyists used to be able to spend thousands in an effort to influence Missouri lawmakers. Voters approved a $5 dollar limit on gifts for lawmakers in November. A KCUR analysis of data released this month by the Missouri Ethics Commission shows there’s been a 94% decrease in spending from the 2019 to 2018 legislative session. 

In this year’s session, lobbyists spent less than $17,000 on lawmakers. That’s a significant drop from the about $300,000 spent in the 2018 session. 

Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

State Rep. Chuck Basye is the latest guest on the Politically Speaking podcast. The Rocheport Republican talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about some of his accomplishments during the 2019 session — and some agenda items that remain unfinished.

Basye represents portions of Boone, Howard, Cooper and Randolph counties in the Missouri House. He was first elected to the General Assembly’s lower chamber in 2014.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner speaks to news reporters on July 11, 2019.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner says she acted appropriately when her office decided in 2018 to charge former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens with a felony.

“I steadfastly maintain that all of my actions were both legal and ethical, pertaining to my investigation or my decision to charge the former governor,” Gardner said Thursday at a news conference where she was surrounded by more than a dozen political and religious supporters. 

Nancy Miller (at left) and Vivian Eveloff discuss women's suffrage on  Thursday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

July marks 100 years since former Missouri Governor Frederick Gardner signed a resolution ratifying the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The action in the summer of 1919 made Missouri the 11th state to formally support women's suffrage – and white women across the nation gained the right to vote a year later. 

To honor the centennial, Gov. Mike Parson recently signed a proclamation recognizing the pivotal moment in suffrage history, and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft presented the proclamation to members of the League of Women Voters of Missouri and others earlier this week. 

Sticky notes left by protesters outside Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's office.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated on 3:35 p.m. on Wednesday with rejection of transfer.

A Missouri appeals court ruled Monday that a referendum aimed at overturning a ban on abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy can proceed.

The court reversed Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s rejection of the referendum.

While the ruling revives an effort from the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri to scrap the abortion ban, supporters won’t have a lot of time to gather roughly 100,000 signatures. And there could be more legal fights to come about whether a provision that goes into effect right away will derail the referendum in the future.

From left, Wesley Bell, Cristina Garmendia and Wally Siewert joined Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

With the Better Together proposal that had sought to consolidate much of St. Louis City and County government now no longer up for consideration, what’s next for the region, especially when it comes to addressing racial equity issues?

FOCUS St. Louis is asking this question and more at a free event sponsored by the organization this Thursday evening at the Missouri History Museum. Titled Equity in City/County Reform: Political Representation and Criminal Justice, the gathering will bring together a variety of speakers from both city and county.

James Clark, the vice president of community outreach at Better Family Life, accepts a $200,000 check from Ed Dowd, the president of the St. Louis Crime Commission, on July 8, 2019.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A leading figure in anti-crime efforts in St. Louis says the region has 18 months to get violent crime under control before it hits a skid that it’s “never seen before.”

“We have been naive for a very long time here,” James Clark, vice president of community outreach at Better Family Life, said Monday. “But the national perception of St. Louis is very, very dire. Corporations are not looking to come here. We are losing conventions. And the No. 1 reason is because of our crime and violence.”

Sticky notes left by protesters outside Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's office.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri appeals court ruled Monday that a referendum aimed at overturning a ban on abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy can proceed.

The court overturned Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s rejection of the ballot initiative.

While the ruling revives an effort from the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri to scrap the abortion ban, supporters won’t have a lot of time to gather roughly 100,000 signatures. And there could be more legal fights to come about whether a provision that goes into effect right away will derail the referendum in the future.

Sticky notes left by protesters outside Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's office.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri appeals court ruled Monday that a referendum aimed at overturning a ban on abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy can proceed.

The court overturned Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s rejection of the ballot initiative.

While the ruling revives an effort from the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri to scrap the abortion ban, supporters won’t have a lot of time to gather roughly 100,000 signatures. And there could be more legal fights to come about whether a provision that goes into effect right away will derail the referendum in the future.

Author Frank DiStefano joins Monday's show.
Frank DiStefano

Many Americans are worried that the nation’s political parties are crumbling, and author Frank DiStefano is convinced those worries are warranted. But he also sees what’s happening as part of a natural cycle built into the structure of the U.S. from the get-go.

In his latest book, “The Next Realignment: Why America’s Parties Are Crumbling and What Happens Next,” DiStefano explores a variety of factors contributing to the country’s current political environment as well as potential paths forward.

DiStefano joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jonathan Ahl for an in-depth conversation on Monday's St. Louis on the Air. 

technology computer upgrade
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council is on track to approve more than $650,000 for improvements to the county’s information technology system.

The council gave first-round approval to the upgrades on July 2. Final approval is likely to come at its July 9 meeting.

Missouri S&T researchers will look at ways to improve the life of roads, like this section of I-44 in Rolla
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 40 million motorists are expected to hit the road in the U.S. this holiday weekend, and many of them will encounter highways that are cracked or littered with potholes.

Missouri University of Science and Technology is part of an effort to make those roads last longer. 

Rolla City Councilman Daniel Jones, a outspoken proponent of cannabis, may be forced off the city council for a possession plea from 2012.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Phelps County Prosecutor Brendon Fox filed a petition in court this week to remove Daniel Jones from the Rolla City Council. 

He cited Jones’ 2012 guilty plea to a felony charge of cannabis possession as a violation of state law that prohibits convicted felons from holding public office. 

Adam Rockey, right, has been a "big brother" to Johnathan for more than 11 years. The local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters is recruiting first responders to be mentors for kids in the St. Louis area.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri is facing a volunteer shortage. 

More than 600 kids are waiting for a mentor — and about 80 percent are African American boys.

The local branch of the nonprofit is launching a program in the hopes of filling the volunteer gap and building trust within communities of color. The “Big Responders” program will pair police officers, paramedics and firefighters with kids in the St. Louis area. 

Iron County Medical Center in Pilot Knob is at risk of closing. The USDA is opposing its plan to emerge from bankruptcy.
Iron County Medical Center

Iron County is one of the state’s least healthy counties, according to the Missouri Health Atlas.

So when Iron County Medical Center in Pilot Knob, about 85 miles southwest of St. Louis, filed for bankruptcy protection last year, there was great concern.

“We’re all people around here have. It’s a very impoverished area,” said Joshua Gilmore, the CEO of the hospital.

A new report recommends that Clayton officials strengthen policing relationships.
File Photo | Flikr

A new report recommends that Clayton officials participate in more extensive police and community engagement opportunities as a way of improving relations.

Released Wednesday, the Strategic Plan for Clayton, MO: Community Engagement and Reconciliation report lists several recommendations, including more community interactions and gatherings between the Clayton Police Department, business owners and residents.

Illinois’ weed legalization law won’t take effect until next year, but the Illinois State Police is wasting no time. That agency is preparing to enforce new regulations surrounding legal cannabis.


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