Politics & Issues | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics & Issues

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 11, 2011 - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster appeared to have caught many current and previous political colleagues off-guard today with his friend-of-the-court brief that challenges the mandate in the federal health-care law that requires most Americans to buy insurance by 2014. 

A group known as Better Together is proposing a plan to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County. They're planning to get the measure on the 2020 ballot.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Public Radio newsroom has been fielding a wide range of questions from listeners the past few weeks concerning Better Together’s recently unveiled proposal for a reunification of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh and several STLPR journalists provided answers to a number of those Curious Louis queries that haven’t already been answered – and took additional questions from listeners as well.

Ameren Missouri

Ameren Missouri is planning $5 billion worth of improvements to its energy grid, company officials announced Friday.

The Smart Energy Plan includes 2,000 electric projects to be completed during the next five years, including a new substation in Hazelwood and upgrades to the underground grid that serves downtown St. Louis. The utility also plans to spend $1 billion on wind energy in 2020.

This interview will be on "St. Louis on the Air" at noon Monday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh will delve into the way in which police departments use civil asset forfeiture as well as its legal implications.

Joining the discussion will be St. Louis Public Radio city politics reporter Rachel Lippmann and legal expert William Freivogel, who is a professor at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale.

Gov. Mike Parson talks with an official from the Missouri Department of Transportation on Feb. 14, 2019. Parson stopped in Jefferson County to promote a bonding plan to repair bridges.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Mike Parson swung through Jefferson and Franklin counties Thursday to promote his bonding plan aimed at repairing 250 bridges across the state.

It comes as the proposal appears to be gaining traction in the Legislature — and buy in from key GOP leaders.

(Feb. 14, 2019) Jenny Murphy (left) and Mary Ruppert-Stroescu joined Thursday's "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss how people can become more become more conscious consumers to alleviate some of the harmful effects of fast fashion.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

High fashion designs can take about four to six months to come to life and into the market. Fast fashion, however, is a term used by fashion retailers to describe the practice of making those high-fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers. A clothing design can make it from sketch to mannequin in six weeks.

Media personality Kim Kardashian criticized the fast-fashion trend last week. She posted a picture on Instagram sarcastically asking fast fashion brands to wait until she actually wears a dress before selling a knockoff version

A recent Wash U study by associate professor Christine Ekenga examined how the practice has ended up hurting the environment, workers and society. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh delved into its effects and what people can do to become more conscious consumers.

Bill Schmutz, a former deputy warden at Algoa Correctional Center, poses for a photo at the Missouri Corrections Officers Association office outside Jefferson City.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri ranks just behind Mississippi for the lowest-paid correctional officers in the country.

The average annual pay for a correctional officer in Missouri was $30,870 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, well below the national average of $47,600. Even with a recent pay bump of $1,050 a year, the department is struggling to retain and attract correctional officers for the state’s 21 prisons.

Missouri Supreme Court building
David Shane | Flickr

Updated Feb. 13, 2019 with Supreme Court ruling — The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that a woman from southwest Missouri does not have the right to sue over the state's laws governing abortion.

In a ruling issued Wednesday, the seven judges agreed that the woman, identified in court documents as Mary Doe, had failed to show that the state's informed consent law and 72-hour waiting period violated her beliefs as a member of the Satanic Temple.

State Representative Raychel Proudie
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

State Rep. Raychel Proudie is the latest guest on Politically Speaking, where she talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about her first year in the Missouri House.

Proudie represents the 73rd district, which takes in St. Louis County municipalities like Ferguson, Berkeley, Kinloch, St. Ann and Hazelwood.

A new lobbying group says it plans to promote Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s agenda using secret money. It’s being run by a close Pritzker ally.

More Than 3 Years Later, Fairview Heights Still Hasn’t Filled Its City Administrator Job

Feb 11, 2019
Fairview Heights Mayor Mark T. Kupsky
Belleville News-Democrat file photo

In October 2015, about six months after Mark Kupsky was elected Fairview Heights mayor, the city agreed to part ways with its then-city administrator, Jim Snider.

At the time, Kupsky said he looked to possibly restructure the position and search for a replacement within the next three to four weeks for a home-rule community.

However, more than three years later, there is no formal replacement for Snider, even though the city’s online city ordinances say the mayor “shall” appoint a city administrator with the consent of the council.

Rhetoricians Lauren Obermark (at left) and Paul Lynch joined Monday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

While the art of persuasion and the study of public discourse have enriched human civilization for millennia, negative connotations frequently surround contemporary notions of rhetoric. Politicians are dismissed as “all rhetoric, no action,” and talking heads on TV make everyday people sigh over “all the rhetoric” of the 24-hour news cycle.

But for those who conduct research in the academic field of rhetoric – and anyone interested in the work that words can do – the term “rhetoric” still holds great hope and possibility for society.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with two local scholars about cultural understandings of rhetoric, its positive uses and the ever-shifting ways in which humans communicate.

A group known as Better Together is proposing a plan to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County. They're planning to get the measure on the 2020 ballot.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A group seeking to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County sent a new version of their constitutional amendment to Missouri’s secretary of state’s office Monday that contains mostly minor changes.

Better Together described the changes to the amendment as “technical,” dealing with the handling of pensions and existing debt. It also makes some clarifications to language creating a new fire-protection district encompassing St. Louis. (Click here to read the new petition and here to read the summary of changes.)

Provided by Missouri S&T

A two-night History Channel series, “Presidents at War,” will tell the stories of eight men who served in active duty and who would later become presidents of the United States.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with military historian John McManus, a professor of history at Missouri S&T, who is featured in the show. In it, McManus specifically comments on the role of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Shelley House Rededicated By Realtors, Community Groups, Leaders

Feb 11, 2019
Eric Friedman of St. Louis REALTORS; Erich Morris, who grew up in the home; Michael Burns, president of Northside Community Housing Inc.; Alderman Sam Moore; Morris' sister Mary Easterwood; and U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay participated in the rededication.
Steven Engelhardt | St. Louis American

When Mary Easterwood’s family moved into their home at 4600 Labadie St. about 60 years ago, the neighbors had tried to explain the history behind the house.

“But they couldn’t quite get the story together,” Easterwood said. “As we got older and we started to study, then we found out about the Shelley v Kraemer case,” decided in 1948.

Easterwood’s father, Lenton Morris, had bought the home from another African-American man, J.D. Shelley. When Shelley purchased the home, the title included a racially restrictive covenant – which was an agreement that prohibited the building’s owner from selling the home to anyone other than a Caucasian.

State Senator and Board of Aldermen president candidate Jamilah Nasheed poses for a portrait on Jan. 18, 2019.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, is the newest member of the exclusive Five-Timers Club on the Politically Speaking podcast. She joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann and Jason Rosenbaum to talk about her bid for president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Nasheed’s main competitors are incumbent Lewis Reed and Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward. (You can find Reed’s podcast here. Green has recorded an episode that will air later this month.)

In theory, closing off China’s soybean market due to the trade dispute with the U.S. on top of generally low prices for the commodity should affect all industry players, big to small. Agriculture economist Pat Westhoff begged to differ.

A group known as Better Together is proposing a plan to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County. They're planning to get the measure on the 2020 ballot.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Questions about Better Together's proposal to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County continue to pour in from St. Louis Public Radio listeners and readers via our Curious Louis project.

According to the CDC, 1,307 Missourians died from gunshot wounds in 2017.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri has one of the highest rates of gun-related deaths in the nation.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rank Missouri sixth in U.S. for gun death rate, including intentional and accidental shootings. The CDC reports 1,307 Missourians died from gunshot wounds in 2017, an increase over the previous year.

Beth Hundsdorfer, St. Louis Public Radio's new investigative reporter, joined Friday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh went behind the headlines to discuss what critics have called a “broadside attack” on Missouri Sunshine Law by state legislators.

Joining the discussion was St. Louis Public Radio’s new investigative reporter, Beth Hundsdorfer, who offered her insights into some of the processes and challenges involved in accessing public records in the bi-state region. Longtime political reporter Jo Mannies also participated in the conversation. Both women have made many records requests during their years in journalism, and Hundsdorfer noted that sometimes gaining access to those records requires a lot of time or resources.

“I have one [request] in Illinois that’s been pending for eight years,” she said, referring to a request she made to a community college while reporting for the Belleville News-Democrat.

Former Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan
Missouri Secretary of State

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh delved into a local parallel to the current controversy involving Virginia’s top leaders – Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment and Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring – who recently admitted to appearing in blackface decades ago.

Joining him for the conversation was longtime political reporter Jo Mannies, who discussed her coverage of a similar case in Missouri in 1999, when a photo of then-Gov. Mel Carnahan in blackface – taken in 1960 – surfaced during Carnahan’s campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Under Better Together's proposal, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger (right) would serve as the transitional mayor of a united St. Louis metro government until 2025, assuming he stays in office through January 2021.
File photo I Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

The leaders of St. Louis County’s municipalities are trying to jumpstart a process, known as the Board of Freeholders, to get a St. Louis-St. Louis County merger plan to only city and county voters — an alternative to a proposal from a group known as Better Together that would take that issue statewide.

There’s one problem with that approach: St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson are responsible for appointing most of that board and both are solidly behind the Better Together plan. That gives them little incentive to endorse a process that could produce a competing proposal.

Have We Been Misspelling J.B. Pritzker's Name?

Feb 8, 2019

There is a mystery at the heart of Illinois government. Statehouse reporters have been in private discussions about it for weeks. After internal deliberations here at public radio, we thought it was finally time to go public.

The majority of Missouri state representatives decided Thursday to subject local officials to the same lobbying and campaign contribution limits that state legislators face, as well as limit the amount of official records that can be made public.

On Wednesday night, around 13 members of "Saint Louis Metro Airbnb Hosts" gathered at the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center. Bryan Young (pictured center) is an advocate designated to work with policymakers. February 6, 2019
Andy Field | St. Louis Public Radio

Although St. Louis Airbnb hosts brought in more revenue and more guests than anywhere else in the state last year, some are worried a proposed city bill could hurt business.

A group called the Saint Louis Metro Airbnb Hosts has formed to oppose new regulations introduced in the Board of Aldermen in December.

Chief John Hayden said police believed the rash of killings over the weekend  to be drug related in a press conference on Monday.
File photo | Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Mayor Lyda Krewson says she continues to have confidence in the leadership of the St. Louis police department despite seven officers being charged with felonies in two months.

“I think about it in this way, which is that those issues are being addressed,” Krewson said during a news conference Thursday. “While of course I hate that officers have been indicted, I certainly think that if that is the situation, then that is the result.”

Rabbi Susan Talve, of the Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis, recently returned from Guatemala.
Christine Han Photography

The southern border of the U.S., along with the people who live somewhere beyond it, can seem far removed from the St. Louis region. But for local Rabbi Susan Talve, who recently returned from Guatemala, the difficult situations facing many of America’s southern neighbors feel more urgent than ever.

“I have been to the southern border, to shelters in Mexico,” she wrote last week in the St. Louis Jewish Light, “and recently to Guatemala to witness the human suffering, the injustice and the part American policy continues to play in the instability and migration in the global south.”

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Talve about her observations during her trip, which took place as part of a Global Justice Fellowship run by the American Jewish World Service.

Missouri remains the only state without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, though it is a step closer. Again. 

This north St. Louis house has been owned by the Land Reutilization Authority for more than five years, and can be purchased for $1. Feb. 6, 2019.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has launched a pilot program to sell some 500 city-owned homes for just $1 a pop.

But that low cost comes with strings attached. Purchasers will have to invest in extensive renovations before they can move in to the homes, which have sat vacant for at least five years.

Here’s what you need to know about how to buy those homes, where they are located and what it takes to rehabilitate a property that has spent years deteriorating.

Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, right, talks with Sen. Wayne Wallingford on Nov. 8, 2018.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden is the latest guest on Politically Speaking. The Columbia Republican talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about the lay of the land for the 2019 legislative session.

Rowden was first elected to the Senate in 2016, winning one of the most expensive legislative races in history against Democratic Rep. Stephen Webber. He represents Boone and Cooper counties in the Missouri Senate.