Sam Page | St. Louis Public Radio

Sam Page

Jamie Tolliver
Courtesy of Jamie Tolliver

Jamie Tolliver, St. Louis County executive hopeful, is the latest guest on the Politically Speaking podcast. The University City resident talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about her bid. 

Tolliver is one of four candidates running in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary. All four candidates will appear on Politically Speaking in separate episodes released this week. 

Less Than $1K Of $1.67M In Public Contracts For County Morgue Went To Minority Firms

Jul 3, 2020
A construction worker carried tools past metal shelves built to hold bodies in an overflow morgue, the Dignified Transfer Center, in Earth City on April 17, 2020.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in the St. Louis American.

In early April, officials at the St. Louis County Department of Public Health made a grim realization: The region would need a temporary morgue for anticipated deaths from COVID-19. 

They worked with St. Charles County to build an overflow facility they called the Dignified Transfer Center in Earth City in about 10 days. The project cost almost $1.67 million, with St. Louis County paying more than $1.13 million and St. Charles County paying about $531,000. But, as with so many other aspects of the COVID-19 crisis, business opportunities resulting from these contracts were not awarded equitably.

A joint investigation by the St. Louis American and Type Investigations found that African American contractors earned only a tiny fraction of the publicly financed construction dollars available. Despite a county law requiring 24% of contract dollars go to minority-owned business enterprises, less than $1,000 was awarded. 

Mayor Krewson wearing a mask during a visit to an Affinia Healthcare COVID-19 mobile test site in north St. Louis in late April.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated at 6:50 p.m. July 1, with comments from St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlman.

St. Louis and St. Louis County will require people to wear face masks when in public to protect people from the coronavirus, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and County Executive Sam Page announced Wednesday.

The order, which takes effect at 7 a.m. Friday, is aimed at preventing the virus from spreading.

All people over age 9 will need to wear a mask or face covering when inside stores or other indoor public spaces. They will also need to wear one outside when social distancing isn’t possible. People with certain health conditions such as respiratory problems will be exempt from the requirement. 

St. Louis County Police car
Paul Sableman | Flickr

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is backing a privately funded study of the county police department.

It’s a move that comes a few weeks after the county’s police chief denied there was systemic racism within her agency, comments that drew widespread criticism.

"Our country is inundated with unfair criminal justice policies," said Sgt. Heather Taylor, president of the Ethical Society of Police.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the Ethical Society of Police expressed frustration with St. Louis County on Monday for its lack of urgency to acknowledge the police union and the racial discrimination its Black officers face. 

The African American police union said it sent a memorandum of understanding to County Executive Sam Page more than a year ago to try to build an open relationship with county officials. Page signed the document Monday, which the union felt was long overdue.

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 wants to make sure that roads and parks in the county are named for people who are aligned with the county’s values.

“Over time, chapters of our history have been forgotten or wholly rewritten to provide a convenient narrative that leaves out large segments of our troubling and complicated past,” Page said Tuesday during remarks to the St. Louis County Council. “Some of the names of those complications are emblazoned on street signs or the names of parks around the country. Perhaps at the time the streets were named, it was no big deal. But it is a big deal. The symbols that define our community should not be symbols that divide our community.”

MERS Goodwill stores closed fitting rooms and extended its return policy to two weeks. The store also marked the floors with arrows to direct the flow of shoppers and reduce congestion between the clothing racks. 05/18/20
File Photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis region saw an average of 142 new coronavirus cases per day in the week ending June 11, up 29% from the previous week, according to data compiled by St. Louis Public Radio.

Missouri had an average 234 new cases each day, an 11% increase.

But that rise in daily COVID-19 cases hasn’t stopped local and state officials from lifting more restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

Nurse Nellie Smith (L) holds down the hand of eight year-old Kayden Tree, before inserting a swab into his nose during a COVID-19 test, at a CareSTL Health testing Site, in St. Louis on Monday, May 11, 2020.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis and St. Louis County officials are urging people who may have contracted the coronavirus to get tested, even if they don’t have a cough, fever or other common symptoms.

County Executive Sam Page said Wednesday that two county-run health centers will begin providing free testing to people without symptoms on Monday. And St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson announced last week that asymptomatic people can now be tested for the virus for free at federally qualified health centers in the city and county.

Previously, testing has only been available to people who had symptoms or had been in contact with someone who was positive for the virus.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and county municipalities are trying to hash out a deal to send federal money to municipal police and fire departments.
File photo I David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County could send roughly $47 million of federal coronavirus relief money to municipalities to help pay for police and fire-related services.

St. Louis County received $173.5 million in federal funds from the CARES Act, which Congress passed earlier this year to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. And St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis appear to be in agreement that $47 million should be sent to municipalities to help with public safety costs.

Gov. Mike Parson answers a reporter's question at a press conference in Clayton on May 29, 2020.
David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Mike Parson said it made sense to give local governments like St. Louis County power to enact stricter coronavirus-related regulations than the rest of the state, saying a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for every corner of the state.

This comes as some St. Louis County residents have been criticizing County Executive Sam Page’s administration for not reopening certain businesses, such as gyms and fitness centers.

St. Louis County Councilman Tim Fitch speaks with reporters following a swearing in ceremony for elected county officials. Jan. 1, 2019
File Photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation set to be introduced at the St. Louis County Council next week would give the council some say over the length of states of emergency and public health orders.

Republican Councilman Tim Fitch said Tuesday he wants to change the county’s charter to limit an initial state of emergency declaration to 15 days. Any extension would need approval from two-thirds of the council. The change would also apply to public health orders.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page prepares to answer questions from reporters on April 30, 2019.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County officially opened for business today. But after nearly eight weeks of coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said it won’t be business as usual, much less party time. 

Reduced capacities, masks and barriers between customers and employees will be “our new normal,” Page previously explained. And for now, other St. Louis County businesses remain closed entirely, including gyms, swimming pools and bars that do not serve food. 

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Page explained that he believed the county was ready to reopen thanks to a 14-day dip in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

All Four Corners Picture Framing Studio in Ladue is among the businesses that plans to reopen this month. May 15, 2020.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

As businesses in St. Louis and St. Louis County prepare to reopen under new restrictions Monday, government officials say they expect a surge in reports of businesses failing to follow the health and safety guidelines.

Dr. Fredrick Echols, St. Louis Department of Health director, said his office is prepared to handle the influx in reports and help businesses get in line with the new requirements.

He said his office will focus on educating customers and businesses on the rules rather than strictly enforcing them. The rules include requiring employers to provide masks and limiting the number of people in enclosed spaces. Cease-and-desist letters and other formal notices would be used only if businesses refuse to comply with the orders, Echols said.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page removes his mask before talking with reporters on May, 8, 2020.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

Updated 1:35 p.m. with comments from businesses

Many St. Louis County businesses closed because of the coronavirus will be allowed to reopen May 18 with restrictions on occupancy, County Executive Sam Page announced Friday.

Businesses, personal services and religious institutions that are in buildings of less than 10,000 square feet are limited to 25% occupancy. And buildings of 10,000 feet or more are limited to 10% occupancy.

Taken on 4-22-20 amid local stay at home order
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:40 p.m. , May 6, with comment from St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

St. Louis and St. Louis County will start easing up on coronavirus public health restrictions on May 18, allowing businesses to reopen with some restrictions.

Any St. Louis County businesses wanting to reopen will be required to make its employees wear face masks. County Executive Sam Page announced that mandate at a Wednesday morning press briefing. He plans to release more details and rules in the coming days.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announces the formation of a small business relief fund on May 1, 2020.
David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is rolling out a federally funded program aimed at helping small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 economic crisis.

At a press conference on Friday, Page said he’s establishing a $17.5 million fund from the federal CARES Act responding to the coronavirus pandemic. That money is a small part of $173.5 million the federal government gave St. Louis County to fight COVID-19.

St. Louis County Councilmen Mark Harder, right, and Tim Fitch, left, speak to reporters on April 30, 2020, about their plan to reopen businesses.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Three Republican members of the St. Louis County Council are putting forward a plan that would start easing a stay-at-home order on Monday — contending such a move is needed to save businesses from economic ruin.

But the GOP council members acknowledged they don’t have the power to follow through on that plan. That’s up to St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, who is expected to chart out the next steps for the county’s COVID-19 response in the coming days.

Medical workers collect a sample from a patient at Mercy Health's drive-through novel coronavirus test collection site in Chesterfield on Monday afternoon, March 16, 2020.
File photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After weeks of often acrimonious debate, the St. Louis County Council voted along party lines Tuesday to give St. Louis County Executive Sam Page power over directing nearly $175 million worth of federal coronavirus funds.

It’s a move Democratic members of the council said they feel is necessary to act quickly to combat the deadly virus. But the council’s three Republicans, and some of Page’s opponents in the Democratic county executive primary, believe it creates an imbalance of power.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announces that some county parks will be reopened on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

More than 30 St. Louis County parks are now open after being shuttered by coronavirus concerns.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced at a press conference Tuesday at Creve Coeur Park that 33 parks are now open to the public. But officials stressed that some park amenities remain closed — and people need to follow social distancing guidelines.

Medical workers collect a sample from a patient at Mercy Health's drive-through coronavirus test center in Chesterfield in March. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page wants to purchase more tests for the county.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council delayed spending millions of dollars on coronavirus testing and protective equipment Tuesday night because Republicans and Democrats couldn’t reach a compromise over who should control the government’s relief funding.

The council failed to pass emergency legislation to spend $7 million on expanded testing that public health officials is needed to reopen businesses and government services. Council members also couldn’t put together the votes to allow the county to spend any of the $175 million in federal coronavirus funding it expects to receive later this week.

The Missouri state minimum wage will increase from $7.85 an hour to $8.60, after voters approved Proposition B in November.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Challengers for Missouri governor, Congress and St. Louis County executive raised more money in their campaign committees in the first quarter of 2020 than the people they’re seeking to oust from office. 

In at least two of those contests, the challengers still have a long way to go to close a gap when it comes to money in the bank — a key metric when examining campaign finance numbers.

Parson announces statewide stay-at-home order extended until May 3
Office of Missouri Governor

Missouri businesses and residents will see restrictions because of the coronavirus until at least May 3.

Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday that he is extending his statewide stay-at-home order until that date so the state can prepare to reopen some businesses on May 4. 

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page also announced indefinite extensions of their orders, which are stricter than the state’s.

Medical workers collect a sample from a patient at Mercy Health's drive-through novel coronavirus test collection site in Chesterfield on Monday afternoon, March 16, 2020.
File photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page wants to create a new fund that will be a landing place of sorts for federal money aimed at fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The Democratic official also wants to move $7 million from the county health fund to efforts to fight COVID-19, money that he says will likely be reimbursed once the county receives its share of what’s widely known as the federal CARES Act.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis County doesn’t know yet exactly how it will spend the $173.5 million it expects to receive from the federal government for pandemic relief. 

The county is waiting for federal officials to issue rules about how the money can be used.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson speaks about the city's response to COVID-19 during a news conference at City Hall on Thursday afternoon, March 12, 2020.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson is the latest guest on Politically Speaking. The Democrat joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann and Jason Rosenbaum to talk about how St. Louis is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The topics include Krewson’s decision to issue a stay-at-home order — and what impact that’s having on containing the virus.

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.

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