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.

Missouri Budget Director Dan Haug says the state’s general-revenue income is expected to be enough to balance the budget for the current fiscal year.

That good news, though, is tempered by the impact of federal and state tax cuts that just began going into effect in January. Haug says those cuts will trim the state’s income by $109 million for the first six months of 2018, or $218 million for the entire calendar year.

“I think costs are generally under control,” the budget director said in an interview. “Revenues are right now on track where we thought they would be.”

A special prosecutor is recommending that St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas forfeit his post because his legal work for school districts violates the county charter.

The prosecutor’s petition, filed late Friday, is expected to set off a process that could force Trakas off the council within a few months. Trakas is part of a bipartisan, four-person council coalition that frequently is at odds with County Executive Steve Stenger, a Democrat.

By a three-vote margin, residents of Mackenzie Village — a 72-year-old community in south St. Louis County — have voted to dissolve and become an unincorporated part of the county.

Tuesday’s vote was 18-15. The 33 votes represent roughly a quarter of the village’s 134 residents.

The village is the third small town in St. Louis county to dissolve or merge since 2011. The decision was among the most closely-watched issues on Tuesday.

The state of Missouri’s general-revenue income in March dropped slightly compared to a year ago, which could ignite legislative concerns as lawmakers craft a budget.

March’s decline was just under 1 percent. It was fueled by a continued drop in state corporate tax collections, which were down almost 24 percent compared to March 2017. The decline is linked to business tax cuts approved by lawmakers several years ago.

When Mackenzie Village’s voters go to the polls Tuesday, the fate of their south county community will hang in the balance.

They will decide whether to dissolve the 72-year-old village — made up of 134 residents, 68 homes, one park and three streets.

In the last hour of Missouri’s candidate filing, real estate agent Bill Ray of University City became the second Democrat to challenge St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger in this summer’s primary.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is calling for Congress to do more to curb sharp increases in prescription drug prices.

 The Missouri Democrat on Monday unveiled a new congressional report showing that, since 2012, the top 20 drugs prescribed for Medicare recipients have gone up in price far faster than inflation.

“What we found is startling; in some ways it’s shocking, and it’s certainly troubling,’’ the senator said at a news conference held at the Five Star Senior Center at 2832 Arsenal St., which serves elderly residents in parts of southeast St. Louis.

UPDATED March 28 with lawsuit:  St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger says he is committed to an “exhaustive search” to find a new director for the county’s animal shelter.

Stenger fired former director Beth Vesco-Mock earlier this month because of what he says was “inappropriate behavior.”

“Racist or discriminatory behavior is not going to be tolerated by this administration,’’ Stenger said in an interview. He declined to be specific, but referred to a hearing that the council held last month on problems facing the shelter.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his lawyers have repeatedly attacked St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s investigation into the governor’s personal and political activities, and the related grand jury indictment.

But the governor and his team are notably silent about the state House panel that could decide his future.


President Donald Trump swung through the St. Louis area on Wednesday to provide a financial boost for GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Josh Hawley.

The visit comes as Hawley is viewing Trump as an asset in his bid to oust U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

The fact that President Donald Trump has chosen Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley as the first GOP Senate candidate to get presidential help this year says a lot about the importance of the state’s Senate race.

And of Trump’s continued popularity in Missouri.

“The main objective of a presidential visit is to raise money,’’ said former Missouri Republican Party chairman John Hancock, now a GOP consultant.

With Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens promising to fight for his job, members of both political parties already are focusing on how the governor’s woes — whether he stays or goes — could affect this fall’s elections.

The question, eight months out, is how big the impact will be.

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio's Jo Mannies and Marshall Griffin welcome back state Sen. Jill Schupp, a Democrat from Creve Coeur.

Schupp’s 24th District takes in part or all of at least 20 municipalities in St. Louis County. She’s finishing up her first four-year term and has filed for re-election this fall. Her first Senate race in 2014 was the most combative and expensive in the state that year.

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio's Jo Mannies welcomes back U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner to the program.

The Ballwin Republican represents Missouri's 2nd Congressional District, which takes in parts of St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson Counties. She recently filed to run for another term earlier this week.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill took aim at a variety of targets Thursday, as she reinforced her views on guns and drug companies – and offered up advice to some of the players involved in Gov. Eric Greitens’ legal fight.

McCaskill, a Democrat who is seeking re-election this fall, announced that she is sponsoring a bill to end tax write-offs for prescription drug advertising. McCaskill noted that only the United States and New Zealand offer such tax incentives.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is launching one probe into Gov. Eric Greitens’ activities while clearing him in another.

Hawley’s deputy chief of staff said Thursday that it is looking into the charitable activities of a nonprofit called The Mission Continues, which was set up several years ago by Greitens – before he was a candidate – to help fellow military veterans.


William H.T. “Bucky” Bush, a St. Louis native and brother of former President George H. Bush, has died at his home in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Bucky Bush was the uncle of former President George W. Bush.

Bucky Bush was 79 at the time of his death Tuesday.  

Former state Rep. Keith English, who had represented the north St. Louis County area for two terms as a Democrat and an independent, has died.

State Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh, a Democrat from Bellefontaine Neighbors, said Wednesday that she had learned of his death in the morning from his relatives.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The coffee flowed, sweet rolls abounded and the candidates flooded in.

Tuesday marks the kickoff of candidate filing in Missouri for the August and November elections. And in Missouri’s state capital, it’s a tradition for candidates to pack the secretary of state’s building to try to become the first on the ballot for their particular office.

When it comes to Gov. Eric Greitens’ legal troubles, the split among Missouri Republicans was obvious Monday during back-to-back news conferences.

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Republican from Poplar Bluff, announced that he has set up a bipartisan committee to investigate the issues surrounding the governor’s indictment Thursday for allegedly taking a photo of a partially nude woman without her consent.

Right after the speaker’s brief event, two St. Louis area lawmakers held a rival news conference that urged the governor to resign.

Missouri Republicans are split over what to do about Gov. Eric Greitens, a fellow Republican who’s been indicted for felony invasion of privacy after allegedly taking a semi-nude photo of a woman without her consent.

The state Republican Party contends that the indictment is “a political hit job’’ engineered by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat. But there are increasing calls from GOP lawmakers, especially in the state Senate, for Greitens to at least consider stepping down.

For Missouri Democrats, success or failure this fall will likely hinge on whether they can persuade about 300,000 area voters to drop their habit of skipping mid-term elections.

Most of those infrequent voters are believed to be  urban and suburban Democrats. And their absence at the polls in 2010 and 2014 are among the reasons why the state’s Democrats have found themselves seriously outnumbered in the Missouri Capitol.

Which helps explain why the state party set up an unusual schedule for Minnesota U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who’s vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, when he flew into St. Louis earlier this month.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has hired a new lawyer – former St. Louis Judge Jack Garvey – to represent him in the investigation underway by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

Gardner is looking into whether Greitens broke any laws during his admitted extramarital affair, which took place in 2015, more than a year before the governor was elected.

Garvey, who also is a former St. Louis alderman, confirmed Sunday to St. Louis Public Radio that he now represented the governor. Garvey said he was hired “late last week.” Garvey said he was not representing any members of the governor’s staff, some of whom apparently have been subpoenaed by Gardner’s office.

Updated with Democratic counter-ad:   Another wave of conservative ads blasting U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill will be airing this week on Missouri TV stations and the internet.

For U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, the political question may well be whether lightning can strike twice.

In Missouri, 2012 was shaping up to be a strong Republican election year when the party’s U.S. Senate nominee, Todd Akin, went on St. Louis TV station Fox2 and offered up his opinion regarding why an abortion ban wouldn’t affect rape victims:

“If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has  ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” 

Now, some in both parties wonder if a replay is looming.

Updated Feb. 5 at 3:55 p.m. with "St. Louis on the Air" segmentKANSAS CITY, Mo. – With federal tax cuts leading the way, some top Missouri Republicans predict they’re on a path to a stronger election-year showing than many critics have predicted.

“I expect it to be a good year for Republicans in Missouri, “ said U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, who hosted Saturday’s breakfast at the state Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Days festivities, held this year in downtown Kansas City.

“It seemed like when the tax bill passed in December, it was almost like a light switch flipped on,” Blunt explained.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has bankrolled $1.2 million so far for his GOP bid to oust U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is regarded as among the nation’s most vulnerable Senate Democrats.

But Hawley’s fundraising pace is well behind that of McCaskill, who has amassed more cash than almost all other U.S. senators in the country on this fall’s ballot.

To some of his critics, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s strained relations with many members of the County Council is payback.

During his last years as the 6th District councilman, it wasn’t unusual for Stenger to publicly joust with then-Executive Charlie Dooley at council meetings. Stenger won their 2014 confrontation at the polls.

But now, others see a broader conflict over power and who wields it.  Stenger and the council continue to battle over a variety of issues as this year’s November elections loom. Their feud has gone on for over a year.

Former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch is pledging to accept no campaign donations for his Republican campaign for St. Louis County Council. And if elected this fall, he says he’ll work for a county charter change that would limit campaign donations for county officials.

At his campaign kickoff today in Sunset Hills, Fitch blamed the lack of donation limits for some of the rancor between council members and County Executive Steve Stenger.  He contends that large contributions to Stenger, in particular, have exacerbated some of the disputes.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies welcomes St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas on the program for the first time.

The Republican from south St. Louis County was elected to the 6th District council seat in 2016. He represents a part of largely unincorporated south St. Louis, which means that he makes many of the development and zoning decisions for the area.

Pages