Rachel Lippmann

Reporter

Lippmann returned to her native St. Louis after spending two years covering state government in Lansing, Michigan. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and followed (though not directly) in Maria Altman's footsteps in Springfield, also earning her graduate degree in public affairs reporting. She's also done reporting stints in Detroit, Michigan and Austin, Texas. Rachel likes to fill her free time with good books, good friends, good food, and good baseball.

Ways to Connect

Missouri's attorney general has accused St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger of multiple violations of the Missouri Sunshine Law.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Josh Hawley, a Republican, accuses Stenger, a Democrat, of failing to respond to records requests by the deadline set in state law. Stenger’s office is also accused of failing to have one person handle all records requests.

A plan by the top two public safety officials in St. Louis to battle crime by directing more resources to higher-crime areas has the backing of aldermen on the public safety committee.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden and public safety director Jimmie Edwards spent more than two hours addressing questions from committee members on Wednesday. Both pledged to come before the committee as often as needed to update its members on the progress of the plans, but asked for help from the lawmakers as well to meet their goals.

A St. Louis alderwoman wants to lift the requirement that St. Louis employees have to live in the city.

Carol Howard, D-14th Ward, said she introduced the measure after hearing from the director of personnel that requiring people to move into the city was making it hard to fill vacant positions.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen may act this year to give the panel that reviews police discipline the authority to issue subpoenas.

A board bill introduced last week has 13 co-sponsors and the support of Mayor Lyda Krewson, but it’s already facing opposition from the St. Louis Police Officers Association.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has officially asked Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway to review the city’s spending.

Aldermen on Friday approved the resolution introduced by Alderman Joe Vaccaro, D-23rd Ward and Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward by a wide margin. It calls for a “comprehensive audit of the City of St. Louis,” including so-called county offices like the treasurer and the circuit attorney.

The head of St. Louis’ Department of Human Services has acknowledged the city is not doing enough to help people who need a temporary place to stay during prolonged cold weather.

“There certainly can be improvements that are made,” Irene Agustin, the Human Services director, told a Board of Aldermen committee on Thursday. “I think that’s important to really figure out how do we best respond more quickly.”

A federal appeals court is considering whether Dorian Johnson, the man who was with Michael Brown during the now-infamous 2014 confrontation with former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, can sue Wilson and the city for violating his civil rights.

All 11 judges of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case Wednesday morning. In a 2-1 decision issued in June, a panel of the same court ruled that Wilson, former chief Tom Jackson and the city could be sued. Now the full panel is being asked to make a decision.

St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green has dropped her legal challenge to a judge’s ruling that ordered her to approve financing for upgrades to the Scottrade Center.

A deal approved earlier this week clears the last remaining hurdle to the city issuing $100 million in bonds to cover the renovations, including new plumbing for the ice rink and updates to the lighting and sound systems.

It did not take Col. John Hayden long to determine his top priority in his new position.

“The first thing for me to tackle is going to be violent crime,” said Hayden, a 30-year veteran of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. He was promoted to his position as its 36th chief last week, selected from six finalists.

There were nearly four times as many opioid-related deaths — 712, according to the NCADA — last year than homicides in the St. Louis area. Overdose deaths hit individuals who are homeless especially hard. A 2013 paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association called it an emerging epidemic among the population.

Most of the social service agencies in the St. Louis area offer drug treatment programs, but advocates contend treatment isn’t always available when people in need are ready to accept the help.

Updated Dec. 28 at 2:45 p.m. with additional comments on Hayden's promotion — St. Louis Police Maj. John Hayden is the next chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Groups that advocate for juvenile defendants in Missouri hope the state General Assembly and the U.S. Supreme Court act next year to provide young criminal defendants with additional legal protections.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri wants the high court to consider the constitutionality of long sentences for juvenile defendants. The ACLU is also part of a coalition that wants to change what it means to be a juvenile in the state.

Updated Dec. 18 at 5:10 p.m. with comments from attorneys for Clemons and former prosecutor Jennifer Joyce — A St. Louis man has admitted that he played a part in the 1991 rape and murder of two sisters on the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

Reginald Clemons pleaded guilty on Monday to robbery, two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of rape for the deaths of Julie and Robin Kerry. He will spend the rest of his life in prison. Prosecutors originally sought the death penalty.

The six men and women who want to lead the 1,200 officers of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department met some of the residents they would serve Thursday night.

For the first time in department history, three of the finalists are from outside of the department. But the three internal candidates include interim chief Lawrence O’Toole, which angered some in the crowd.

Three outside candidates are among the six people vying to be the next chief

It’s looking more and more like state Auditor Nicole Galloway will be reviewing St. Louis’ spending.

A group called AuditSTL has been collecting signatures since August to force an audit of all city departments. St. Louis aldermen are now considering a resolution from Alderman Joe Vaccaro, D-23rd Ward, that would make the same request, although Galloway would not be required to do the review.

Law enforcement officials in East St. Louis are making a year-end push for witnesses to come forward in unsolved homicides.

Thirty-four people have been killed in East St. Louis so far this year. But police have been able to solve just eight of those cases. That clearance rate of 24 percent is well below the national average, which was about 60 percent in 2016.

Updated Dec. 12 at 4:50 p.m. with comments from Tony Rothert and Bob McCulloch — The Missouri Court of Appeals has become the latest to rule against a grand juror who wants to speak about what it was like to consider charging former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson with a crime in connection with the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Grand jurors take an oath of secrecy when they are sworn in. The unidentified juror wanted to be able to violate that oath in order to “contribute to the current dialogue around race relations” and to correct what the juror saw as misconduct by St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. In a unanimous opinion issued Tuesday, the appeals court said no.

Updated Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m. with a copy of the agreement — A St. Louis alderwoman and two other city residents have dropped a lawsuit challenging the use of public money to make upgrades to the Scottrade Center.

A circuit court judge was scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Monday. The agreement removes one of the last legal barriers to a plan passed in February that requires the city to sell about $100 million in bonds to finance improvements such as a new scoreboard and ice-making equipment.

Updated Dec. 20 at 2:00 p.m. with details of the buyback — St. Louis-area residents who have weapons they want to get rid of can exchange them for cash on Saturday, Dec. 23.

Private groups are financing and coordinating the program. People can turn in guns at the Omega Center, 3900 Goodfellow Blvd., between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Only working firearms can be exchanged for cash.

A spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson said the program is targeted at guns from St. Louis, St. Louis County and East St. Louis, but those running the buyback won't have any way of knowing where a gun comes from. The weapons will be turned over to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, which will check to see if the guns have been stolen or used in a crime.

The city of St. Louis is making additional beds available Thursday night for people who are homeless.

Temperatures were expected to drop into the teens overnight. The city is relying on a network of churches and other nonprofit groups this year to provide people who might not ordinarily seek shelter with a place to stay. Unlike previous years, it will not use the gym at the 12th and Park Recreation Center near the Soulard neighborhood.

The Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that the electric car maker Tesla can be granted a license to sell cars in the state.

A three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that the association representing Missouri car dealers did not have the right to sue Tesla, and dismissed the case. The ruling means Tesla can apply to renew licenses for its two Missouri stores, and potentially expand across the state.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. Dec. 4 with comment from Green — St. Louis comptroller Darlene Green has decided to follow a judge’s order to issue $100 million in bonds to upgrade the Scottrade Center.

Green said in a statement that she has complied with the court ruling, and signed the required documents. But a spokesman said the bonds had not yet been issued, and Green may still appeal the ruling. Also on Monday, her attorney filed documents asking the judge to change the ruling.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen last week took a big step toward adopting one of the recommendations in the Ferguson Commission report.

By approving the Office of Community Mediation on a 26-0 vote, the city is embracing the idea that with a little help, communities can handle some disputes on their own, rather than relying on the police or the judicial system.

Updated at 4:25 p.m. Nov. 27 with comments from Conway — A 27-year veteran of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen has resigned to become the city’s assessor.

Krewson’s office announced Monday morning that Alderman Steve Conway, D-8th Ward, would replace St. Louis assessor Freddie Dunlap, who recently retired. The assessor determines property values in the city.

The Missouri Supreme Court has set March 20, 2018, as the execution date for a Cape Girardeau man who shot and killed a romantic rival in 1996.

Russell Bucklew, 49, had previously been scheduled to die in 2014. But days before the execution date, he sued in federal court, arguing that he has a medical condition making lethal injection cruel and unusual punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution so the case could heard through the legal system.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. Nov. 20 with comments from Chief O'Toole — The U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to investigate whether the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department violated the Constitution in the way it has handled recent protests demanding more police accountability.

Jeffrey Jensen, the federal prosecutor in St. Louis, announced the review in a brief statement Monday. It is based on a request made by Mayor Lyda Krewson and others, including U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City.

Updated Nov. 15 at 2:00 p.m. with comments from ACLU, Mayor Krewson — A federal judge has ordered the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to alter tactics its officers use to respond to protests, especially demonstrations aimed at changing law enforcement policies.

In a 49-page opinion issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry blocked the department from ordering protesters to disperse unless there’s an immediate threat of violence. Perry also limited when officers can use chemical agents like pepper spray or mace.

St. Louis aldermen are weighing whether to put new limits on the way the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department interacts with protesters.

The Public Safety committee on Tuesday heard two hours of testimony in support of the bill sponsored by Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward. It’s modeled on an ordinance in place in Washington, D.C.

Updated November 13 at 3:30 p.m. with comments from attorneys and the city — A local legal nonprofit has sued the city of St. Louis, saying conditions at the Medium Security Institution violate the rights of inmates.

ArchCity Defenders filed the federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of seven inmates who spent time at the jail. The suit accuses the city of ignoring unsanitary conditions that led to a variety of health problems, and providing inadequate medical care. Guards are also accused of goading inmates into fights, and sexually harassing female inmates.

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