Jo Mannies

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter.  She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

The St. Louis County Council got an earful Tuesday before members unanimously gave initial approval to a measure increasing county police pay beginning Jan. 1.  

For almost two hours, council members heard mainly from St. Louis County police officers and their families concerned that the pay hike might be blocked by a pension dispute between Council Chairman Sam Page and County Executive Steve Stenger. 

Just over a year before the 2018 elections, Missouri’s incumbents are doing their best to raise enough money to scare off their competitors. And that also may be true for some of those rivals, as well.

Aside from the U.S. Senate race, the Missouri state auditor is the only statewide post that will be up for grabs next year. Campaign finance reports filed Monday show Democratic incumbent Nicole Galloway with $665,380 in the bank as of Sept. 30. She had raised $211,118 during the past three months.

With less than six months to go, at least one proposal to legalize medicinal use of marijuana in Missouri appears to be in a strong position to get on statewide ballots next year.

New Approach Missouri says it already has collected 100,000 signatures from registered voters, and expects to have well over the necessary 165,000 by the state’s May 6 deadline for submitting initiative petitions.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has amassed more than $7.1 million in her campaign account so far for her 2018 re-election bid. That’s almost twice the amount she had on-hand at the same point in her 2012 re-election campaign.

The Missouri Democrat’s latest campaign reports, due Sunday, show that she raised just over $2.9 million during the past three months — more than twice her tally in October 2011.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is continuing to hold town hall meetings in so-called “Trump Country,’’ part of her Democratic quest to improve her re-election chances next year through reaching every potential rural supporter she can find.

Wednesday marked her 46th town hall event this year, this one in in Washington, Missouri, where about 70 percent of last year’s presidential votes went for Republican Donald Trump. McCaskill told the crowd packing the Washington City Council chambers that she owed it to all Missourians, whether they support her or not,  to “show respect.”

Speaking  to a group of local health care professionals, Missouri U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt couldn’t resist deploying his renowned dry wit when he was asked about President Donald Trump’s social media feud with powerful Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.

Blunt quipped: “Did I mention it’s Mental Health Day?”

But while touching off laughter, Blunt said Tuesday that his fellow Republicans’ pointed exchanges could have serious consequences on some major policy issues.

Missouri’s new campaign donation restrictions have given new status to St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.  He now is collecting more large contributions than any other political candidate in the state.

The St. Louis County Council is preparing to go to court to determine if it has the power to hire county employees over the objection of County Executive Steve Stenger.

But first, a judge will have to decide who pays the council’s lawyers.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is urging people in the St. Louis region to make sure protests do not disintegrate into violence.

During a stop Thursday in East St. Louis, Carson said he hoped the protests would generate a broader understanding of the challenges facing the St. Louis region.

To grasp St. Charles County’s dramatic growth, one only needs to view two photos taken 47 years apart by Jim Karll.

Both show Highway K in O’Fallon, just south of Interstate 70. The first photo, taken in 1970, shows a remote road amid farmland and woods. In the second, Highway K is packed with traffic and flanked by shopping centers and businesses.

St. Charles County’s population skyrocketed from 90,000 in 1970 to almost 400,000 today — a pace unmatched anywhere else in the state. It also has the second-largest bloc of GOP voters in the state and attracts lots of businesses. But a few things threaten its upward trajectory, namely public transportation and a lack of diversity.

A few weeks after staying the execution of Marcellus Williams, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens named five retired judges Tuesday to the board of inquiry that’ll look at new DNA evidence.

Three of the five are from the St. Louis area: former state Appeals Court Judge Booker Shaw, former Circuit Judge Michael David and former U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson. Shaw will chair the panel, according to a news release from Greitens’ office.

 

The National Guard may be called in if the impending verdict in the murder trial of a former St. Louis officer leads to protests, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said Wednesday.

Greitens said he’ll bring in the National Guard if it’s necessary to keep order, but emphasized he isn't out to curb anyone's right to peacefully protest.

new website is being promoted as a tool to help student interns at the Missouri Capitol deal with harassment. But it will still be up to interns to initiate any accusations of improper behavior.  

The site is called the Intern Resource Network, and it's among the latest changes that backers say should provide more protection to interns.   The creators say they were spurred by issues a couple years ago with interns at the state Capitol, but the website doesn’t make that distinction.  

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri says coordination between private area transportation operations is crucial in the fight against sex trafficking, especially since St. Louis has become a hub in the illegal trade.

The Ballwin Republican met Thursday with representatives from rail and bus companies, along with Uber and Lyft ridesharing services. During the closed-door meeting, they discussed ways that drivers and employees can spot potential trafficking victims, who are often underage and forced into the sex trade.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann back to the program.

The Republican has served as St. Charles County’s top office holder since 2007, and is one of the region’s longest-serving officials. Previously, he was a circuit judge, state senator, private-practice attorney and public school teacher.

Updated at 3:25 p.m. with law suspended — With the submission of more than 300,000 signatures Friday, Missouri’s right-to-work law won't go into effect Aug. 28 and its fate likely will be put to voters in 2018.

The law is suspended, Secretary of State spokeswoman Maura Browning told St. Louis Public Radio. The office still needs to verify that at least 100,000 of the signatures are from registered voters — the minimum to force a statewide vote in November 2018.

She said the count will take weeks and that if there isn't enough, the law will be put in place.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Reps. Lauren Arthur and Jon Carpenter onto the program.

The two Kansas City Democrats represent portions of Clay County. Arthur was first elected in 2014, while Carpenter won his first race in 2012.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann will try for a fourth term in 2018, he announced Monday.

If he wins, the Republican would become the county’s longest-serving official.

Following up after the NAACP last week issued a travel advisory for the state of Missouri, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay is calling for Gov. Eric Greitens and other state officials to confront the fact that a new Missouri law and other policies are discriminatory.

Clay, a Democrat from University City,  says the state’s racial problems go beyond some of the legislative changes singled out in the the NAACP advisory, which warns travelers that they “could be subject to discrimination and harassment” in Missouri.

The assessed value of residential homes in St. Louis County has shot up an average of 7 percent since 2015 — the county’s strongest showing in almost a decade. St. Louis’ numbers beat the county: a nearly 12 percent increase in the same time frame.

Experts say it’s a sign the region has recovered from the economic downturn of the late 2000s.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. with attorney general office's having no comment — The NFL’s Rams left St. Louis, but some unsettled business — back taxes — apparently remains.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Los Angeles Rams may owe the state $352,000 dollars in unpaid state sales taxes for three of the years the team played in St. Louis.

The Missouri Court of Appeals has given labor its second boost in a month in unions’ two-pronged effort to  overturn the state's "right to work" law.

On Friday, the court overturned a judge's earlier decision changing the wording on labor's proposed referendum to block "right to work," which is slated to go into effect Aug. 28.

Places that were crucial to the civil rights movement in the mid-20th century are starting to deteriorate, U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay says, which is one of the main reasons why he’s pushing to preserve them.

Clay’s other angle: He has Republican support, including U.S. Rep. Jason Smith of Salem, Mo. The two are co-sponsors of a bill that passed the U.S. House on Wednesday that would establish the African-American Civil Rights Network.

The Missouri attorney general’s office said late Tuesday that it wants a federal appeals court to reinstate a ban on political action committees transferring money to each other during campaigns.

Updated at 9 a.m. July 26 with more details — There will be an investigation into whether the St. Louis County officers assigned to patrol MetroLink stations and trains violated any laws, the St. Louis County Council decided Tuesday on the heels of three reports by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Updated 7:15 p.m. July 24 with Senate reconvening — The Missouri General Assembly’s special session dealing with new abortion restrictions resumed Monday, though senators declined to take immediate action on Sen. Andrew Koenig’s bill. Several Republican senators were absent, which meant there weren’t enough votes to kill a Democratic filibuster.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. — Missouri state Rep. Courtney Curtis is blaming two thefts and bank errors for campaign-finance problems that prompted the Missouri Ethics Commission to fine him more than $114,000.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has raised slightly more than $100,000 since April 1 for his official campaign committee, which has taken a back seat in recent months.

Greitens' latest report, filed Monday with the state Ethics Commission, shows that he spent about $127,000 in campaign money during the same period.

The governor has spent far more in money raised by his nonprofit group, A New Missouri, which does not disclose its donors or spending. Greitens' senior advisor Austin Chambers said the nonprofit is paying at least $500,000 for the pro-Greitens TV ad campaign that began last week.

President Donald Trump on Friday nominated St. Louis lawyer Jeffrey B. Jensen to be the next U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. 

The top regional prosecutor’s post, once held by Richard Callahan, has been vacant since the Trump administration fired most of the nation’s U.S. attorneys in March.  All nominations must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

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