Sam Page | St. Louis Public Radio

Sam Page

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 Chairwoman Lisa Clancy (left) and County Councilman Ernie Trakas (center) both have proposals to change the county's panhandling regulations.
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
File photo I 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.

Members of the St. Louis County Council gather for their last meeting of 2018 on Dec. 18, 2018.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Council members ended their 2018 session by approving a budget that’s roughly $35 million less than what St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger recommended.

And while Stenger panned the council’s decision-making, he has little recourse.

St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, answers questions on Dec. 11, 2018, about initial passage of the 2019 budget.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Council members gave first-round approval to the 2019 budget, including major cuts to what St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger recommended.

It’s the second year in a row that the council has made reductions to Stenger’s proposed budget — a move council members believe is necessary to prevent jeopardizing the county’s reserves.

The St. Louis - Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council trains  apprentices at its training facility in Affton.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council has overridden County Executive Steve Stenger's veto of legislation that does away with a requirement that contractors bidding for construction work have apprenticeship programs.

Tuesday's vote was 5-2, the minimum number needed. Two council Democrats — Chairman Sam Page and Vice Chair Hazel Erby — sided with all three Republican council members. The council took the unusual step of holding two meetings back to back, in order to obtain the necessary fifth vote from Councilman Ernie Trakas, a Republican from Oakville. He had been unable to attend the earlier meeting.

Labor union leaders had been lobbying heavily to prevent the override, contending that the change could lead to poorly trained construction workers on taxpayer-financed jobs.

Kerah Braxton, an employee of the St. Louis County Justice Center, speaks at the Sept. 4, 2018, meeting of the St. Louis County Council. Nurses and corrections workers will get between a 10 and 16 percent raise under a plan that could be finalized soon.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

After a long and bitter impasse, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and members of the St. Louis County Council are planning to provide a pay boost for nurses who treat county inmates.

The plan could get final approval from the council in the next few weeks.

Jefferson Barracks cemetery
File photo | Mary Delach Leonard I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:30 p.m. with council action on charter amendment veto

The St. Louis County Council took a big step Tuesday toward expanding Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

The plan involves selling more than 33 acres of the roughly 70-acre Sylvan Springs Park to the federal government, which could prevent Jefferson Barracks from running out of room.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger confers with Councilman Pat Dolan at a Dec. 19, 2017, meeting of the St. Louis County Council.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council isn’t finished changing up the county’s charter.

Council members on Monday sent four charter amendments for voter approval. The measures stem from an increasingly adversarial relationship between the council and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger. They’re slated for the Nov. 6 general election.

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

After ruling that a proposed St. Louis County charter amendment had a misleading ballot summary, a judge struck down a measure to enact campaign donation limits and restrict fund transfers between county departments.

It’s a decision that could have a major impact on future elections for St. Louis County executive.

Councilmembers Ernie Trakas, R-Oakville, and Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, talk to reporters after a July 24, 2018, meeting.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the St. Louis County Council may try to subpoena people who have served as members of the St. Louis County Port Authority.

It’s the latest salvo in a long-running feud between the council and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, a schism that will likely remain even if the Democratic chief executive wins his primary next month.

The St. Louis Council at its meeting on June 26, 2018. The empty chair belongs to County Executive Steve Stenger, who has skipped most of the meetings this year.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council is planning to set up a special task force to tackle the region’s opioid problem, and is offering up to $1 million in grants to encourage people to come up with solutions.

In a rare show of solidarity, the council voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of the plan.

The county already has a prescription drug monitoring program. But Councilman Mark Harder, a Republican from Ballwin, said the 11-member task force is a necessary addition.

The St. Louis County Council passed a resolution Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, asking municipalities to spend Proposition P solely on policing. The resolution is non-binding.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council plans to recommend that federal or state law enforcement agencies investigate whether County Executive Steve Stenger broke any laws when he moved some county operations to the old Northwest Plaza shopping center.

The 26-page report circulated this week by the council’s Ethics Committee takes aim at Stenger over his administration’s efforts to help redevelop the Northwest Plaza site in St. Ann.

The report – to be formally presented to the full council next week -- calls for the state attorney general or the U.S. attorney to look into the matter.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger confers with Councilman Pat Dolan at a Dec. 19, 2017, meeting of the St. Louis County Council.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is refusing to go along with legislation providing raises in the Justice Center — which includes the jail.

At issue is whether nurses that work in the Justice Center should get raises from a half-cent sales tax known as Proposition P.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger confers with Councilman Pat Dolan at a Dec. 19, 2017, meeting of the St. Louis County Council.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s recently-enacted donation limits don’t affect county and municipal candidates, which means contenders for, say, the St. Louis County Council or county executive’s office can take contributions of unlimited size.

That could change, if some members of the council get their way.

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