Sam Page | St. Louis Public Radio

Sam Page

Voting stations at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on March 10, 2020.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s 2020 campaign season is effectively on ice because of the focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

But that doesn’t mean that candidates haven’t been signing up to appear on the August primary ballot.

By the time the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline hit, 490 people filed to run for federal, state, county, city and judicial posts. That included 31 stragglers who decided to make the trek to Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office on Tuesday.

St. Lous County Executive Sam Page spoke about the coronavirus outbreak on the Politically Speaking podcast on Wednesday, March 25, 2020
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said Wednesday he expects coronavirus cases to reach their peak in the region in late April — a surge that could overwhelm the hospital system. 

Page talked to St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue on the Politically Speaking podcast remotely Wednesday via Zoom phone conferencing. Below are edited excerpts from that conversation.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council on Tuesday approved spending $1.5 million to help the health and police departments combat the coronavirus.

The move came as St. Louis County Executive Sam Page warned that revenue will plummet because of the virus.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson
File photos I Carolina Hidalgo and Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:15 p.m. March 21 with comments from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson

St. Louis and St. Louis County residents will be under mandatory stay-at-home restrictions beginning Monday. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Parson said the state would take a different approach, announcing new social distancing measures to limit interactions in Missouri. 

Congregation members pray during one of the final services at Grace Baptist Church in St. Louis Place neighborhood in June 2016.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition met Thursday with Mayor Lyda Krewson at St. James AME Church to ensure the city does not overlook its most vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to discuss the social and spiritual impact that social distancing has on churches.

Krewson advised a group of about 10 clergymen that their churches should adhere to the 10-person-or-fewer rule for gatherings — which the city announced on Tuesday — while conducting services, because there are confirmed cases of the virus in the city as well as in St. Louis County. Others may have COVID-19 and unintentionally pass it on.

Teams work on responding to COVID-19 at the St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management in Ballwin on March 13, 2020.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:40 p.m. with details on Gov. Mike Parson's declaration of a state of emergency and two new confirmed cases of COVID-19

St. Louis County will ban gatherings of more than 250 people to limit the spread of the new coronavirus in the region, County Executive Sam Page announced Friday. 

Page said the county is in a state of emergency. His announcement came a day after St. Louis banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page addresses reporters on Sunday regarding Missouri's presumed first case of the new coronavirus.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated at 10:20 p.m. March 9 with additional comments by St. Louis County officials

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page on Monday again expressed frustration with the family who broke a coronavirus self-quarantine. But as more cases are confirmed in Missouri, Illinois and Kansas, Page said the time has come to “move forward” and focus on prevention and treatment.

 

St. Louis Health Director Dr. Fred Echols addresses media on Feb. 28, 2020. Echols says although there are no coronavirus cases in Missouri, residents should be prepared to prevent the virus.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-area health officials say they expect to see the new coronavirus arrive in St. Louis, and they want residents to be prepared. 

At a press conference Friday, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said that the respiratory disease's arrival in the Midwest was not a question of "if" but of "when."

“We know how epidemics travel, those models are predictable,” said Page, a doctor. “It will be in our community at some point, and we will be prepared to treat it.”

Sam Page, Beth Huebner, Julia Fogelberg
August Jennewein | University of Missouri-St. Louis

St. Louis County’s jail population has dropped significantly over the past couple of years, from an over-capacity total of 1,242 in the summer of 2018 to 930 inmates as of last week. The sustained decrease has been touted as one positive outcome among the justice reform efforts that followed protests in Ferguson.

Much work remains — and thanks to five years of research led by University of Missouri-St. Louis professor of criminology and criminal justice Beth Huebner and funded by the John and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, collaboration continues between the researchers and the county, its circuit court and service providers.

During this year’s Pierre Laclede Society Community Confluence donor event at UMSL on Feb. 20, St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske talked about ongoing efforts in the county and addressed lingering challenges.

St. Louis County Police Board members Ray Price and Michelle Schwerin
JULIA O'DONOGHUE | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

At a meeting in Florissant to get public comment on selecting a new St. Louis County police chief, residents said they want a leader with integrity and the ability to communicate effectively with people from different communities. 

Several people who attended the meeting Wednesday also said the county’s new chief should come from within the department’s ranks.

“We need someone who has strong relationships with the community and is ready to lead on day one,” said Terry Wilson, a councilman and school board member in Jennings. 

Mark Mantovani
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 11:45 a.m. with comments from Mantovani

The Democratic primary for St. Louis County executive is becoming a little more crowded.

Mark Mantovani announced Wednesday he will run for St. Louis County’s top post, less than two years after he nearly upended an incumbent county executive. 

That puts him on a collision course with St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman, who have already announced they're in the August race.

St. Louis County jail
File photo

The St. Louis County Council is taking more time to review a contract to provide tablets to inmates after a complaint from the jail’s current vendor about the bidding process.

But Council Chairwoman Lisa Clancy, D-Maplewood, said she has yet to find any wrongdoing.

“I’m still doing my due diligence to make sure this is a sound recommendation, but so far, I have a lot of confidence in this process,” Clancy said. “This is a [bidding process] that prioritizes lowering and eliminating fees on people in the justice center, and that’s a good direction to go in.” 

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page speaks with reporters on Feb. 11, 2020, about a settlement for Lt. Keith Wildhaber.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council will consider a bonding plan to pay, at least temporarily, for a discrimination settlement with a St. Louis County police officer.

It’s a move that’s likely to pass, even as St. Louis County Executive Sam Page’s administration will seek to recoup the funds from insurance plans.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar speaks with a St. Louis Public Radio reporter at his office in downtown Clayton on Tuesday. Nov. 5, 2019
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:45 p.m. Feb. 10, with details of Lt. Keith Wildhaber's $10.25 million settlement with St. Louis County

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar will retire April 30 after 34 years with the department, six as chief

“It has been an honor to work with and for the women and men of the St. Louis County Police Department,” Belmar said in a statement released Monday. “The dedication, sacrifice, and bravery of those that work for this department is unmatched. The citizens and businesses of St. Louis County deserve nothing but the best, and I firmly believe they receive that from us every day.”

He was not available for any additional comment Monday, according to the department.

St. Louis County jail
File photo

Internal affairs investigators concluded that St. Louis County jail staff repeatedly didn’t listen to inmates who said they were sick and could have done more to treat the men before they died while in custody last year.

The investigators criticized the jail staff’s actions in the days and hours before the inmates died, according to reports that were released by the county this week. 

The internal affairs investigators wrote that the jail’s nurses and correctional officers responded to one inmate’s health crisis “without a sense of urgency” and violated another inmate’s “right to health care” by not responding to his medical needs.

St. Louis County executive candidate Mark Mantovani was defeated by incumbenon Tuesday by about 1,100 votes. Mantovani has not yet decided whether to seek a recount, Aug. 8, 2018
File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis County member of the Board of Freeholders has resigned as he considers another run for county executive. 

Mark Mantovani sent a letter to County Executive Sam Page on Thursday, saying he believed he could be more useful to the community in other ways. 

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced the plan for a $15 hourly wage for the lowest paid county employees on Jan. 30, 2020.
St. Louis County

Updated on Jan. 31 with new information on negotions between SEIU Local 1 and contractors.

The janitorial bargaining team representing SEIU Local 1 has reached a tentative agreement with Clean-Tech, the contractor that employs the union's members to clean buildings around metro St. Louis, including St. Louis County government buildings. The union is not releasing details, but members will vote on whether to accept the tentative agreement in the coming days.

Original Story from Jan. 30:

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced Thursday a proposal to raise some county government employees’ hourly wages to $15 by 2022. 

Officials estimate that implementing the change will cost $2.9 million over a three-year period. The pay will be increased incrementally starting with $13 for 2020. Page said the change will take several months to take effect.

File photo | Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments is considering a study about regional governance of St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

During a board meeting Wednesday, elected officials from St. Louis and counties across the region discussed the idea but did not vote on it. 

Conversations among regional leaders about the airport’s future have been growing since St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson pulled the plug on airport privatization in December. 

St. Louis County jail
File photo

Updated at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 28

The St. Louis County Justice Services Board canceled its Thursday meeting with jail director Raul Banasco about the circumstances surrounding an inmate's death in late December.  

St. Louis County Council established its own prescription drug monitoring program in 2016 to fill the void left by the absence of an official statewide program. Seventy-five jurisdictions across the state now participate in the program.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Public health officials in St. Louis are expanding their efforts to reduce opioid addiction statewide.

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health unveiled new online resources Wednesday designed to connect doctors with information on opioids, pain management and substance abuse. The toolkit is the latest addition to the county’s prescription drug monitoring program, which was established in the absence of a statewide program. 

St. Louis County Prosecutors, Investigators File Lawsuit Against St. Louis County

Jan 14, 2020
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page made 9 appointments to the 19-member Board of Freeholders, which could present a city-county merger plan to voters.
File Photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Police Officers Association is suing St. Louis County, saying county officials have refused to begin contract negotiations since they unionized about a year ago. 

The SLPOA represents 45 St. Louis County prosecutors and six investigators. They are looking to negotiate their hours, pay, assignments, job descriptions and transfers, said Neil Bruntrager, a lawyer representing the union.

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

Democrats took over both leadership roles on the St. Louis County Council on Tuesday night.

The council unanimously selected Lisa Clancy, D-Maplewood, as its chairwoman. Rochelle Walton Gray, D-Black Jack, was selected as vice chair on 4-3 partisan vote, with Democrats’ support and Republican opposition. 

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger walks out of federal court after pleading guilty to federal charges of bribery, mail fraud and theft of honest services.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When historians look back at Missouri politics in 2019, they may get whiplash from all the twists, turns, scandals and controversies.

These past 12 months brought seismic change to the St. Louis region, especially with the sudden collapse of St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s administration and a nearly six-year effort to merge the city and county. In Jefferson City, Gov. Mike Parson dealt with a host of difficult policy issues — including economic development, Medicaid and abortion.

Former Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ray Price
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, former Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ray Price talks with St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue and Jason Rosenbaum about his legal career and his new role as chairman of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page appointed Price to the board that oversees the police department this fall. Page has now appointed four of the five members — and could replace former county executive Steve Stenger’s final appointee at any time.

Raul Banasco, director of St. Louis County's Department of Justice Services, poses for a portrait in his office.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Raul Banasco has dealt with a host of vexing challenges during his 32-year tenure as a corrections officer, including prisoners dying by suicide and others escaping. 

Those experiences may be some of the reasons he felt ready to take on the high-pressure task of becoming director of the St. Louis County Department of Justice Services.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page hired Banasco last month. The New York native is the department’s first permanent director in nearly two years. His tenure begins months after several inmates died in the county jail.

St. Louis County jail
File photo

St. Louis County plans to launch a six-month pilot program in January that tracks people accused of crimes by using a smartphone app. 

County Executive Sam Page told the County Council in a letter Monday that his administration plans to hire eHawk Solutions, based near Kansas City, to provide the software. 

The county’s smartphone monitoring program could be the biggest one of its kind in the U.S., according to the company. County officials are hoping such a program could reduce the local jail population. 

Members of the Board of Freeholders listen to concerns from St. Louis aldermen during the board's first meeting earlier this year.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It would be easy to chalk up the delay in seating St. Louis’ Board of Freeholders nominees to dysfunction and gridlock — perhaps showcasing the inability of the city and county to work together.

But that would be an overly simplistic takeaway. In reality, the Board of Aldermen impasse showcases long-standing tensions about how some sort of city-county union would affect municipal services and black political power. And it also spotlights how vagaries in the Missouri Constitution make it difficult to figure out what inaction means.

St. Louis County Police car
Paul Sableman | Flickr

In October, attorneys for St. Louis County fighting a discrimination case filed by a gay police sergeant made the argument that a judge should rule against him because Missouri law doesn’t include sexual orientation as a protected class.

The legal maneuver prompted an angry response from County Executive Sam Page, who said he was “horrified and surprised that argument was used, and I don’t want to see it used again.”

But outside attorneys hired by the county made that exact argument in a court filing this week.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page speaks to guest at an event to kick off his 2020 re-election campaign on Nov. 21, 2019, in Bridgeton.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Saying there’s more work to be done, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page officially announced his bid to keep his job on Thursday.

With a Democratic primary on the horizon, Page told a crowd of supporters at the Machinists Hall in Bridgeton that he’s the best person to pick up the pieces of a county that went through a tumultuous time — and still faces big challenges.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said he needs a lot more money to run his office properly.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell wants at least $1.4 million more in next year’s budget than the county executive has recommended his office receive. 

Sam Page has included $11.9 million in general funding in his 2020 spending proposal to the county council. At a county council budget hearing Thursday, Bell asked to have that bumped to $13.3 million.

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