Sam Page | St. Louis Public Radio

Sam Page

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.
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. 

The Loop Trolley currently operates Thursdays through Sundays, beginning at noon.
File Photo | Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The Loop Trolley could become insolvent unless it comes up with $200,000 in November, according to the company’s president. 

The Loop Trolley Co. requested $200,000 from the St. Louis County Transit Fund in September to keep the trolley running for the rest of the year, company President John S. Meyer Jr. said in an email Saturday. It also requested $500,000 to operate next year. 

If the company does not receive financial assistance, the trolley could stop operating as soon as Nov. 15, Meyer said. 

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.

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

We’re trying something new on the latest episode of Politically Speaking. Instead of interviewing a single guest or zeroing in on a single topic, St. Louis Public Radio’s political team is introducing a show that rounds up the week’s news.

This week, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue, Jason Rosenbaum and Jaclyn Driscoll talk about the latest developments with the Board of Freeholders — a 19-person body that could place a plan before voters shaking up St. Louis and St. Louis County government. 

St. Louis County Council Chairman Sam Page declines to answer questions following a special meeting Thursday night.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page on Tuesday nominated nine people to serve on the Board of Freeholders, which will soon examine the future of St. Louis and St. Louis County governance.

The nominees include Mark Mantovani, who lost the 2018 Democratic nomination for county executive to Steve Stenger, and former Bi-State Development Agency CEO John Nations.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, Gov. Mike Parson and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson will appoint the Board of Freeholders.
File photos I Carolina Hidalgo and Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:30 p.m. with names of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's appointees. 

The clock is officially ticking to appoint the Board of Freeholders, a 19-member body that could determine the future of St. Louis and St. Louis County governance. 

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page must appoint most of the members to the board in the next 10 days. But the two Democratic officials have different interpretations on how much time they have to act — and how quickly the city and county’s legislative branches must approve the picks. 

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced plans for the state to help combat violent crime in St. Louis and St. Louis County. Sept. 19, 2019
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has pledged money and manpower to help St. Louis and St. Louis County address an increase in violent crime.

“We know that we have a serious problem with violent crime that must be addressed,” Parson said Thursday at a news conference in St. Louis. “As your governor, and a former law enforcement officer for more than 22 years, protecting the citizens of our state is one of the utmost importance to my administration.”

The announcement came after a day of meetings with local political, religious and law enforcement leaders.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page signs ethics executive orders on Sept. 18, 2019.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page has signed executive orders aimed at beefing up ethics regulations. 

It’s part of Page’s continued response to his predecessor Steve Stenger’s resignation and impending incarceration on corruption charges.

For many out-of-state visitors driving to St. Louis, the Gateway Arch is their first glimpse of Missouri.
File photo I David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Ben DeClue wants to be invited to a very exclusive club.

The Benton Park resident joined more than 100 people who live in St. Louis in trying to join what’s known as the Board of Freeholders. If he makes the cut, DeClue will be part of a 19-person body that could present voters with a plan to end the so-called “Great Divorce” between St. Louis and St. Louis County — or offer nothing at all.

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 region is about to rekindle a debate over whether to potentially merge St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The Municipal League of Metro St. Louis turned in the final signatures Monday to kick off what’s known as the Board of Freeholders. That 19-person body will have a year to present St. Louis and St. Louis County voters with a city-county merger plan.

Pat Kelly is the executive director of the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis, and Jason Rosenbaum is St. Louis Public Radio's political correspondent.
EVIE HEMPHILL | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Better Together, the plan to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County through a statewide initiative, withdrew its proposal this past spring. In its place developed a plan to put together a Board of Freeholders, which would have the ability to either draft a plan that could merge the city and county, or drop the idea altogether. 

The Municipal League of Metro St. Louis is in the process of submitting petitions to the election boards of the city and county that would begin the Board of Freeholders process. 

St. Louis County Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway
JULIA O'DONOGHUE | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway is the latest guest on the Politically Speaking podcast. The Chesterfield Democrat talked to St. Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Julie O’Donoghue about her childhood in rural Illinois and her first month in office. 

Members of the St. Louis County Council meet on Sept. 3, 2019.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council wants a 1,000-foot buffer zone in unincorporated areas between medical marijuana facilities and schools, houses of worship and day cares.

It’s a move that split the county council on Tuesday, with some members saying the buffer zone made sense — and others contending it’s too onerous.

St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page is a strong supporting of a prescription drug monitoring program.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The balance of power on the region’s transportation authority board has shifted toward St. Clair County in Illinois — and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page isn’t happy about it.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a new state law this week that gives St. Clair County another permanent seat on the Bi-State Development Corporation board. The change effectively gives St. Clair veto power over operations that include local light rail and bus service. 

St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder is sworn in on Tuesday afternoon. Jan. 1, 2019
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder is the latest guest on Politically Speaking, where he talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Julie O’Donoghue about the titanic changes in county government.

Harder represents the council’s 7th District, which includes Ballwin, Chesterfield, Ellisville and Wildwood. With recent departures of council members, the Ballwin Republican is now the most senior member of the council.

Officials are considering the addition of turnstiles to the MetroLink system.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council on Tuesday backed a bond refinancing plan for the Bi-State Development Corporation, which operates light rail and bus services throughout the region.

The move, which could help fund enhanced security services, comes as the transit service is asking for more money from the county — a request that’s going to be the subject of a council hearing in the coming weeks.

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger walks out of federal court Friday after pleading guilty to federal charges.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On this edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum reflect on the rise and fall of former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.

The Democratic official was sentenced to 46 months in prison last week for his role in a pay-to-play scheme. He’s been the subject of public scorn after a sentencing memo detailed vulgar and boorish comments about his political enemies.

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger walks out of federal court Friday after pleading guilty to federal charges.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County elected officials and employees who are found guilty of corruption will not be able to collect their pensions. 

The County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to revoke the pension benefits of those convicted of public corruption such as bribery. 

“The offenses had to occur while they were in office or in their county employment,” said Councilman Tim Fitch, R-St. Louis County, the sponsor of the bill. “Once you’re convicted, that’s when the ordinance would kick in.”

August 5, 2019 Dr. Sam Page
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Last Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s office dropped a bombshell: a sentencing memo that offered an extraordinary glimpse of an unfiltered Steve Stenger. Captured on federal surveillance, the then-St. Louis County executive revealed himself as profane, vindictive and utterly mercenary.

But for Dr. Sam Page, who replaced Stenger as county executive on the very day that his criminal indictment became public in April, the sentencing memo’s look at the real Steve Stenger was nothing new. Once a Stenger ally, Page soured on his fellow Democrat years before his downfall — and said he wasn’t surprised by the details revealed in the memo.

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

Updated at 5 p.m., Aug. 4 with response from Stenger's attorney —

Federal prosecutors say former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger should get the maximum prison term allowed — nearly four years — for a pay-to-play scheme that began even before he took office in 2015.

In a pre-sentencing memo filed Friday, prosecutors said Stenger, through his extensive criminal conduct, abused voters' "trust in a substantial and harmful way. He placed his own personal interests and political ambitions above all else, and engaged in a classic illegal pay-to-play scheme in order to fill his own political coffers to fuel his political campaigns.”

Democrat Kelli Dunaway and Republican Amy Poelker are squaring off in next Tuesday's election for the 2nd County Council District.
Provided photos

Special elections Tuesday in two St. Louis County Council districts will be critical in steering key legislative priorities through the 2020 election cycle.

While former state Sen. Rita Days is widely expected to capture the 1st District seat, neither party is taking any chances in the race for the 2nd District. Democrat Kelli Dunaway and Republican Amy Poelker are making a hard push for the north St. Louis County district that will determine which party controls the council. Republicans now hold a 3-2 advantage.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell poses for a photo at his office in downtown Clayton.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Many people around the country saw Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson as the catalyst behind a new civil rights movement.

But, even with the Ferguson protest movement going from the streets to the halls of government, political change in the St. Louis region was slow, as activist-preferred candidates lost elections and some policy demands went unmet.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell has a message for people who believe little has been accomplished or gained here in five years.

“I would say with all due respect, me sitting in this office now would be evidence of change,” Bell said. “And in my opinion obviously positive change.”

Cora Faith Walker
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A state representative from Ferguson is stepping down to take a position in St. Louis County Executive Sam Page’s administration.

Cora Faith Walker is resigning from the 74th District House seat to become Page’s director of policy. The Ferguson Democrat first won election in the district that includes portions of north St. Louis County in 2016.

St. Louis County Council Chairman Sam Page declines to answer questions following a special meeting Thursday night.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page has appointed five new members to the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership board.

It’s a move the Democratic official hopes will restore confidence to the beleaguered agency, which handles key economic development matters for St. Louis and St. Louis County.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar listens to U.S. Attorney General  Sessions' remarks. (03/31/17)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Police Department is closer to having its officers use body cameras.

The St. Louis County Council gave initial approval Tuesday night to bills cementing a five-year agreement with Utility Associates Inc. County officers would get newer technology over the life of the roughly $5 million deal — as well as cameras that will be in police cars.

St. Louis County is interested in joining a statewide eletronic monitoring program for people awaiting trial once Missouri gets it up and running.
FIle photo | Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County has suspended three jail employees following the death of a fourth inmate this year.

Daniel Stout died last week, hours after being transferred to the state prison in Bonne Terre. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported he was denied medical care while at the jail.

The suspensions were part of a series of changes in the Department of Justice Services that St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced Tuesday.

Representatives from organizations receiving funding from the Regional Business Council and Civic Progress pose for a photo. The Concil and Civic Progress announced more than $2 million in funding for these organizations on June 18.
Regional Business Council and Civic Progress

The Regional Business Council and Civic Progress on Tuesday announced more than $1 million in funding for eight St. Louis community organizations working to increase education and economic opportunities.

And the Business Council said it was giving an additional $1.2 million to a neighborhood cleanup program.

The emergency department at SSM Health St. Mary's in Clayton is one of several facilities in St. Louis County that County Executive Sam Page would like to have report non-fatal overdoses to the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

County Executive Sam Page plans to ask the County Council to require doctors to report nonfatal overdoses to the health department.

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Many people who overdose on opioids are surviving, thanks to the increased use of the opioid-reversal drug naloxone. Knowing how many people overdose — not just how many die — can help the county understand who needs help the most, Page said.

Health workers and law enforcement are starting to understand addiction and overdoses as a public health, not a criminal, issue, Page said. Other health crises, such as measles or flu epidemics, require physicians to report cases to the government. Overdoses should be no different, he said.

Members of the St. Louis County Democratic Central Committee met on June 8, 2019, in Bridgeton to choose the party's 2nd District nominee.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

There typically aren’t many high-profile or high-stakes elections for St. Louis County government in odd-number years.

But with two resignations for the St. Louis County Council, 2019 is proving to be an exception.

Voters will have a chance on Aug. 6 to shape the legislative body that’s proven vital for a county executive’s success. It will also be an opportunity for Democrats to retake control of the council in a county that’s become less favorable to Republican candidates in recent years.

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