Politics & Issues | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics & Issues

Cathy "Mama Cat" Daniels stirs a pot of chili while prepping food to deliver to shelters and to people experiencing homeless. January 27, 2019.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis agencies and community organizations that work with the region’s homeless population are calling on city and county residents to volunteer time and donate supplies.

The groups are stretching resources to keep people warm and fed as weekend forecasts warn of more sleet, snow and freezing temperatures.

(Jan. 18, 2019) Lauren Kohn Davis (left) and Heather Fleming (right) discussed the logistics and goal of the third annual St. Louis Women's March.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

A winter weather advisory goes into effect at midnight Friday and will last until Saturday evening, but the St. Louis Women’s March is still set to take place 10 a.m. Saturday in downtown St. Louis.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh previewed the march with two of this year’s local organizers and marchers: Lauren Kohn Davis and Heather Fleming.

“Absolutely the march is still on,” Kohn Davis said. “I think one of the important things to remember is that it's just a little cold, it's just a few flakes. One of our other organizers said it best when she said, ‘If the unhoused population in our community can deal with this daily, we can deal with it for a few hours – we’re women, come on.’ Lace up your boots. Let's get out there.”

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson joined "St. Louis on the Air" on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

About seven weeks out from St. Louis’ March 5 primary race between several city politicians vying for Board of Alderman president, Mayor Lyda Krewson declined to specify on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air which Democrat will have her vote.

“I haven’t made an endorsement yet,” she told host Don Marsh with a laugh. “It’s almost two months away, Don.”

Krewson did confirm that she plans to run for a second term that would begin in 2021.

“Of course, yes, I am,” said Krewson, who became St. Louis’ first woman mayor in April 2017. “And you know, you can’t get everything that you want done in four years.”

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson holds a press conference on Jan. 17, 2019, with members of his cabinet.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is scaling down the agencies and employees the Department of Economic Development oversees in an effort to better target its mission.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivers his first State of the State address at the Missouri State Capitol building Wednesday afternoon. Jan. 16, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivered his first State of the State address Wednesday, giving the GOP chief executive a chance to detail an ambitious agenda for state government.

Parson took the opportunity to flesh out his main priorities of bolstering workforce-development programs and improving roads and bridges. He told lawmakers that he wants to reorient economic-development programs to train people for local jobs — and fight opioid abuse and boost money for drug courts.

Beverly Nance and Mary Walsh pose for a portrait at their home in Shrewsbury on August 28, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A district judge dismissed a lawsuit against a Sunset Hills retirement community today.

Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance took Friendship Village to federal court for sex discrimination in July, after the senior-living facility denied the same-sex couple’s housing application. Friendship Village cited its ‘Cohabitation Policy’ as the reason for the rejection. The policy defines marriage as between one man and one woman, as “marriage is understood in the Bible.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker addresses students and community leaders at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois’ new Gov. J.B. Pritzker has promised to improve the state economy. He took an early step towards that goal Wednesday by signing an executive order that will require the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to evaluate its labor industries.

The order gives the department 90 days to deliver a report on its findings.

The department will review three parts of the state’s economy.

St. Louis resident Andy Magee takes a selfie while visiting San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico.
Andy Magee

Barricades and “park closed” signs weren’t quite the sort of sights Andy Magee anticipated photographing when he embarked a couple weeks ago on a 365-day tour of the National Park Service’s 418 units around the U.S. But so far, his “418 Parks” Facebook page is full of such photos – evidence of the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government.

Magee, who is a local artist and a co-owner of Cioci’s Picture Mart in Kirkwood, has continued on his journey anyway and is currently in the Carolinas. He joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Wednesday for a conversation about what he’s been observing.

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

In January 2018, concerns over whether city resources are equally distributed among the entire population prompted an effort to measure equity between black and white St. Louisans. The results are in after a year of the Equity Indicators project: St. Louis scored a 46 out of 100.

The Equity Indicators tool measures racial equity across 72 indicators, focusing on priority areas selected by the Ferguson Commission: youth at the center, opportunity to thrive, and justice for all.

St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page, a member of the council's ethics committee, talks to St. Louis County Economic Development Partnership board members Karlos Ramirez, left and Kathy Osborn, center, after the two testified to the committee on Jan. 15,
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The chair of the board that oversees economic development in the St. Louis region is pledging to increase communication with the St. Louis County Council.

Karlos Ramirez, who is also president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, told the council’s ethics committee Tuesday that the board was not aware the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership was supposed to regularly communicate with the council until recently.

Just two weeks after being inaugurated, St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell joined "St. Louis on the Air" on Tuesday.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9:30 p.m. with Bell's appearance at the County Council meeting Tuesday night.

St. Louis County’s newly inaugurated prosecuting attorney, Wesley Bell, has hit the ground running since his Jan. 1 inauguration. The first African-American to hold the post, Bell said his work so far has involved a lot of listening.

“There’s a lot of great people in [the county prosecutor’s office], and we want to make sure we take advantage of the institutional knowledge in that office,” he said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “And so I’ve been very deliberate about meeting with every single person in that office.”

When host Don Marsh followed up by asking about Bell’s dismissal of an assistant prosecutor responsible for presenting evidence to a grand jury in the wake of the police-involved shooting death of Michael Brown in 2014, Bell said he didn’t think it appropriate to comment on the employee matter at this time. When pressed about any connections between the dismissal and the 2014 case, he added that “there’s no connection.”

Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker delivers his remarks after taking the oath of office to become the 43rd Governor of the State of Illinois, at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield, Illinois on January 14, 2019
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Monday marked the inauguration of Illinois’ new governor, J.B. Pritzker. He outlined his plans for his term before an energetic crowd that afternoon.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Illinois Public Radio statehouse reporter Brian Mackey joined host Don Marsh to discuss the inauguration. Mackey, who recently spoke at length with Pritzker, highlighted key moments of the Democrat’s speech and touched on what’s ahead for the governor and the state.

Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, talks with reporters on the first day of the 2019 legislative session.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Missouri Senate are expressing misgivings about who could be voting on a proposal to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County.

Better Together, a group that’s been studying the concept of a city-county union for more than five years, is slated to release a plan on St. Louis-St. Louis County consolidation this month. One major detail — first reported by the St. Louis Business Journal — that’s united both GOP Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh is the idea that the plan will be decided by a statewide vote — and not just residents of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

Pritzker, Democrats Celebrate "Bright Tomorrow" For Illinois

Jan 15, 2019

It was a good day to be a Democrat in Illinois as Governor J.B. Pritzker was sworn in on Monday along with a diverse group of statewide office holders. In his inaugural speech, Pritzker set the stage for an ambitious progressive agenda in the upcoming legislative session. But, the Democratic governor along with a Democratic majority in the General Assembly have their work cut out for them.

The report on the wealth gap relies on data from the Federal Reserve Board from 1983 through 2016.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A new report focusing on the racial dimensions of inequality in America connects the richest 10 percent of households getting richer and the wealth of the median, or typical, American family declining.

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) report also cites low levels of black and Latino wealth, combined with their growing proportion of the population, as key factors in the overall decline in median household wealth from about $84,000 in 1983 to $82,000 in 2016. Together, blacks and Latinos make up about 30 percent of the U.S. population.

J.B. Pritzker is set to become the 43rd governor of Illinois on Monday. He won in part by promising to make college more affordable, improve the state’s finances, and reform the criminal justice system.

Statehouse editor Brian Mackey sat down with Pritzker over the weekend for a conversation focused on his policy agenda, the problems facing Illinois, and ethics in government.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum as the latest guest on Politically Speaking.

The Springfield Democrat was elected as minority leader late last year, succeeding former Rep. Gail McCann Beatty of Kansas City. Quade was first elected to the House in 2016 to represent part of Springfield.

Alderman Terry Kennedy, left, has been dealing with the aftermath of a police shooting in his ward. The 18th Ward Democrat says the past couple of days showcases unconfortable truths about poverty and trust in St. Louis.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Aldermen Terry Kennedy is using his last few months in office to push for more criminal-justice reforms in the city.

The 18th Ward Democrat — who is not running for re-election after being named clerk of the board — introduced two bills on Friday. One cleans up language and procedures in the 2015 ordinance that created the Civilian Oversight Board. The second calls on the city to draft regulations around law enforcement technology.

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Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis region has been buzzing in recent days with renewed talk of potentially merging St. Louis and St. Louis County, which have been separate jurisdictions for nearly a century and a half.

The organization Better Together is expected to soon release its proposal for such a plan, potentially reversing what has become known as “the Great Divorce” of 1876. A proposal to consolidate the St. Louis Metropolitan and St. Louis County police departments has also attracted attention.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Terry Jones, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, about the history of the jurisdictions, previous efforts to unify them and the latest efforts to do so.

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

After a four-decade career, St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jo Mannies is retiring, although she will work part time for the radio station beginning in March.

Mannies began her journalism career with a brief stint as a newspaper reporter in Indiana. She arrived at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1976, and although she covered sports for a brief time, she gravitated toward political coverage.

“[Sports reporting] is not my first love. It’s always been politics, ever since I was a little kid,” Mannies told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

Judge Jack Goodman, left, swears in Elijah Haahr as speaker of the Missouri House on Jan. 9, 2019.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr is the latest guest on Politically Speaking, where he talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about what to expect during the 2019 legislative session.

The Springfield Republican was elected as House speaker on Wednesday. Republicans will have a chance to accomplish a lot since the GOP holds commanding supermajorities in both of the General Assembly’s legislative chambers.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Criminal-justice reform advocates and public defenders are calling on the St. Louis circuit court to reduce its use of monitoring systems that require defendants on bond to pay hundreds of dollars in fees to a private company while awaiting trial.

In a six-page letter sent Thursday to judges of the 22nd Circuit Court, advocates argue that forcing people to pay for court-ordered ankle monitors and check-ins as a condition of their release from jail is an unconstitutional and unnecessary financial burden. Payments are made to Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services – commonly called EMASS – a private company based in St. Charles.

Senators take their oath of office on Jan. 9, 2019, at the beginning of the 2019 legislative session.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers gaveled themselves into session on Wednesday, marking what could be a legislative session full of complex policy with the usual politics thrown in the mix.

As was the case in the past two years, Republicans hold commanding majorities in the House and Senate. And the leaders of both chambers have similar priorities, including paring down business and lawsuit regulations.

Judge Robin Ransom poses for a portrait at the Civil Courts Building in St. Louis.  Dec. 27, 2018
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The first African-American woman to serve as presiding judge in St. Louis has gotten a promotion.

Gov. Mike Parson announced Wednesday that he had appointed Circuit Judge Robin Ransom to the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District. Ransom will replace Lisa Van Amburg, who retired in August.

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, Jan. 7, 2019.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner sees herself as a survivor who’s out to warn fellow Republicans from the suburbs that they are an endangered species – and face potential extinction in 2020 – unless the national party changes course.

By all accounts, the suburban “blue wave’’ last November swept the Democrats into control in the U.S. House.

“Obviously, there’s no mystery, no question. We lost a lot of Republican seats in suburban districts,” said Wagner, R-Ballwin.

St. Louis County Councilman Tim Fitch takes the oath of office on Tuesday afternoon.  Jan. 1, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

New St. Louis County Councilman Tim Fitch wants to reinstate nearly $5 million in funding for the police department to hire more officers.

The proposal comes a month after the county council voted to cut $35 million from the 2019 budget, including the money for the new officers.

 St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell outlines his plans to expand the county's drug and mental health courts on January 9, 2019, as court and prosecutorial staff, as well as his supporters, look on.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell wants to boost the number of people accepted into the county’s drug and mental health courts and enhance the services available to participants.

“The principle behind this program is simple,” Bell said Tuesday at a news conference unveiling the expansion plans. “When non-violent offenders receive treatment, they are less likely to reoffend, which can help break the cycle of escalation that so often starts with addiction or mental illness and ends in violent crime or death by drug overdose. By turning these lives around, we will make St. Louis safer for everyone.”

Republican politician Jeb Bush, pictured here at a 2015 event, joined "St. Louis on the Air" for a conversation ahead of his Jan. 22 St. Louis Speakers Series appearance at Powell Hall.
Gage Skidmore

When St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Monday asked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush if he was glad to see the end of 2018 – which marked the passing of both of his parents – Bush acknowledged it had been a difficult year but focused on the celebration of what he called “purposeful lives.”

“It was a sad time,” Bush said, “but at the same time it was a wonderful time to be able to celebrate the life of my mom and dad and to see the outpouring of love and incredible support to our family.”

He joined the talk show ahead of a visit to St. Louis set for Jan. 22, when he’ll be giving an evening talk at Powell Hall as part of the St. Louis Speakers Series. He said he plans to “paint a picture of where we are as a country.”

Just two months ago, Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment to change how the state draws legislative boundaries. The state's lawmakers, who return to session this week, aren't having it and may seek to nix or rewrite the anti-gerrymandering law.

Missouri was one of four states where voters last year decided to make significant changes to the redistricting process in the name of curbing partisanship and reducing political influence on legislative and congressional maps.

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

St. Louis County Councilwoman Lisa Clancy joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies to talk about a slew of issues affecting county government.

Clancy was sworn in last week to represent the council’s 5th District, which takes in more than a dozen municipalities in eastern and central St. Louis County.