Sam Page | St. Louis Public Radio

Sam Page

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.

Nurses at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center say without raises, more employees will continue to leave for the private sector.
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.

(L-R) St. Louis Public Radio's Jonathan Ahl talked with politic editor Fred Ehrlich and reporters Chad Davis and Jason Rosenbaum about changes in the St. Louis County Council County on Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been two months since Sam Page was sworn in as the new county executive replacing Steve Stenger in St. Louis County. On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jonathan Ahl will delve into changes that Page, the former St. Louis County Council chairman, has made, such as seeking to close a pay gap within county government between men and women and advocating for funding towards police body cameras and in-car cameras.

Joining the discussion were STLPR reporters Chad Davis and Jason Rosenbaum and politics editor Fred Ehrlich.

Lisa Picker of the Women's Foundation of Greater St. Louis speaks at a press conference on Tuesday June 4, 2019, with St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 9:50 p.m. with introduction of funding for body cameras —  St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is seeking to close a pay gap within county government between men and women.

And the Democratic official believes omitting one question could make a difference toward gender salary equity.

Why Missouri's The Last Holdout On A Statewide Rx Monitoring Program

May 21, 2019
U.S. map illustration
LYDIA ZURAW | KHN ILLUSTRATION / GETTY IMAGES

Missouri retained its lonely title as the only state without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program — for the seventh year in a row — after the legislative session ended Friday.

Patient advocates, politicians, experts and members of the medical community had hoped this would finally be the year Missouri would create a statewide electronic database designed to help spot the abuse of prescription drugs. After all, Republican Gov. Mike Parson had pushed for it and, more important, its longtime opponent was no longer in office to block it.

St. Louis County Councilmembers congratulate Hazel Erby for her tenure as councilwoman. Erby served on the county council for about 15 years. May 15 2019
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council is looking into eliminating pensions for county officials who commit a felony.

The proposal came from Councilman Tim Fitch, R- St. Louis County, who said it would apply to those who pleaded or are found guilty of a felony while in office.

The proposal comes a few weeks after former County Executive Steve Stenger pleaded guilty to federal public corruption charges. He resigned as county executive in late April. Fitch said the proposed legislation could affect Stenger’s pension.

St. Louis County council member Lisa Clancy expresses her support for Sam Page before voting for him as county executive Monday night.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the St. Louis County Council are mulling whether to prohibit the rejection of tenants because of how they earn their money.

Councilwoman Lisa Clancy introduced legislation to add source of income to the county’s fair housing codes. Currently, property owners cannot discriminate or turn anyone away from applying on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.

St. Louis County Council member Hazel Erby speaks to reporters after an emergency council meeting Monday night.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m., May 9 with comment from St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder and a list of Councilwoman Hazel Erby's potential successors — St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby is resigning from her seat to join County Executive Sam Page’s administration.

The University City Democrat will be in charge of a department overseeing the county’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, giving her more authority over a public policy area she’s been engaged in for years.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway, right, slammed Carpenter for "mismanagement" -- and criticized her response to the audit.
File Photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council wants state Auditor Nicole Galloway to look into county government in the wake of Steve Stenger’s guilty plea on federal corruption charges.

That move came as St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced that the county is getting back to the negotiating table with the owners of Northwest Plaza.

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

Updated 7:30 p.m., May 6 — Better Together is withdrawing its effort to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County through a statewide initiative petition, instead regrouping to focus its efforts on trying to get only city and county residents to approve a plan sometime in the future.

For now, it’s the end of an ambitious proposal that would have reshaped regional government — but also stoked opposition from across the political spectrum.

“I find that many people do not attend to things that they hear about until it’s right in front of them and confronts them,” said Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton, who was leading the effort to implement the merger plan. “And it’s evident that our community needs more education about what is necessary, the problems we face, and how best to solve them.”

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

Less than 24 hours after being named St. Louis County Executive, Sam Page is already erasing some of his predecessor’s mark on government.

And in a wide-ranging meeting with reporters Tuesday afternoon he expressed serious concerns about the proposal to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County, an opinion that could impact the creation of a metro government — and Page’s political future.

St. Louis County council member Sam Page leaves the dais after being voted in as the new county executive Monday night.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For Sam Page, Monday night marked a culmination of a long and at times frustrating political journey.

After an electoral career that featured bruising primaries and crushing defeats, Page completed his startling turnaround when he was picked to replace Steve Stenger as St. Louis County executive.

But there won’t be much time to bask in the moment.

St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page (left), joined by his wife, Dr. Jennifer Page, is sworn in by Administrative Hearing Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi Monday to take over as county executive following Steve Stenger's resignation from the office.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Sam Page is the new top official in St. Louis County. 

The County Council on Monday night appointed the Democrat to take over the post left vacant when Steve Stenger resigned Monday after being charged in federal court with directing county contracts to a campaign contributor.

Page, now the council’s chairman, will serve as county executive until a November 2020 election to fill the remainder of Stenger's term, which lasts through 2022. He will have to give up a lucrative anesthesiology practice to take the post.

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and his attorney Scott Rosenblum leave the federal courthouse in St. Louis Monday afternoon after Stenger pleaded not guilty to federal pay-to-play charges. April 29, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:15 p.m., April 29 with more information from Stenger's court appearance — Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he steered county contracts to big campaign donors.

Stenger appeared in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Noelle Collins Monday, hours after resigning as county executive. He was released without having to pay bond, but will not be allowed to travel outside of eastern Missouri without permission.

Members of the St. Louis County Council meet on March 28, 2019, to discuss whether outside attorneys should be brought in to respond to a federal subpoena.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County residents will vote Tuesday once again on whether to give the county council its own an attorney, an outgrowth of a longstanding fight between council members and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.

But detractors of the idea don’t believe it will actually change much, since the council’s attorney would still report to a county executive appointee.

St. Louis County Council members listen as Deputy County Counselor Micki Wochner, right, responds to questions about a federal subpoena issued to the county last week.
File photos I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The first St. Louis County Council meeting since news of a federal subpoena of County Executive Steve Stenger broke featured an agreement that no outside counsel was needed to respond to the request.  

But despite that decision, the meeting became testy when council members wondered why they couldn’t see the subpoena that has shaken up Stenger’s administration.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger (left) and Sam Page (right) attend a county council meeting. A new resolution calls on the prosecuting attorney to look into if Stenger violated county charter.
File photo | Andy Field | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 2:20 on Monday with news of St. Louis Economic Development Partnership subpoena.

A federal subpoena was issued last week seeking information about St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s administration.

One particular focus was how Stenger’s administration issued contracts, which has been a source of contention for months between the Democratic chief executive and the council.

The St. Louis County Council voted Tuesday to authorize departments to give 2,500 county employees a 2.8 percent pay boost.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Most St. Louis County employees will be getting a raise soon.

The St. Louis County Council voted Tuesday to authorize departments to give 2,500 county employees a 2.8 percent pay boost.

Councilman Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, and Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Council members Sam Page and Hazel Erby join the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast to talk about the tumultuous year in St. Louis County government.

Page, D-Creve Coeur, and Erby, D-University City, are the chair and co-chair, respectively, of the council. They’ve held those positions for two years amid tensions with St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.

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