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.

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Officials are considering "all options" to make the MetroLink system safer after the second fatal shooting on the light rail system in two months, the head of St. Louis' public transit agency said Thursday.

In an apparent vote of confidence, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles won re-election Tuesday over City Council member Ella Jones.

Knowles, who has been the face of the municipality since Michael Brown’s fatal shooting in 2014 by an officer thrust it and its racial divisions into the international spotlight, barely missed having to face a recall election in 2015. He beat Jones, who would have been the city’s first African-American mayor; unofficial results show the vote was 2,133 to 1,594.

Pledging money, research and expertise for local law enforcement, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought a face to the Trump administration’s pro-police message during a speech Friday in St. Louis.

He also made general mention of the 2014 unrest in Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white officer, and the tensions between police and African-Americans.

Tuesday’s election is the first in 16 years in which St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is not on the ballot and a Republican is running for the office.

Democrat Lyda Krewson and Republican Andrew Jones have been knocking on doors and meeting with voters for months now. Here’s a brief recap of who they are and where they stand on the big issues facing St. Louis.

Shortly after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer in August 2014, the department’s on-duty officers started wearing body cameras while on duty. And the federal government’s consent decree, which came in response to Brown’s death, mandated Ferguson officers wear them.

But a group of Ferguson residents wants to put the use of cameras into the city charter as a means of ensuring it continues long after federal oversight is over.

It's been nearly a year since the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Ferguson signed a consent decree to reform the city's police department and municipal courts. And both sides acknowledged Wednesday that they aren't as far along as they should be.

Voters in St. Louis County, various municipalities, and in St. Clair County in Illinois are being asked to open up their wallets during the April 4 election. Up for approval: a series of tax increases to boost spending on public safety.

There’s general agreement that the police and fire departments need the extra money, but requests by both specific municipalities and St. Louis County could confuse voters. Here’s a look at each ballot measure:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating another bomb threat, this one made Tuesday, against the St. Louis Jewish Community Center. 

It's the second one in less than two months, and also comes after more than 150 headstones were toppled at a historic Jewish cemetery in University City in February.

Someone emailed the threat on Tuesday night, according to St. Louis County Police Sgt. Shawn McGuire. K-9 units responded to both the Creve Coeur and Chesterfield JCC locations for protective sweeps around 9 a.m. Wednesday, though no one was evacuated. 

A St. Louis judge will not force the city's Board of Election Commissioners to put an independent mayoral candidate on the April ballot.

Kacey Cordes paid the required $1,318.20 fee when she filed for office on Feb. 13. But because she was running as an independent, she did not submit any signatures, claiming she was not required to do so as an independent candidate. The Board of Election Commissioners rejected her filing, and St. Louis Circuit Judge Joan Moriarity upheld that decision in a short ruling issued Monday.

A St. Louis man charged with making bomb threats against several Jewish institutions will remain behind bars until his trial.

Juan M. Thompson, 32, is too much of a threat to the community to be released without any restrictions, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Noce ruled Monday.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. March 9 with comments from Michael Barrett — A new lawsuit alleges the state of Missouri routinely violates the rights of people who need public defenders because of those attorneys’ large caseloads.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday alleging that public defenders cannot pay enough attention to their clients, who have been charged with crimes ranging from stealing to murder. That, the ACLU claims, violates the state and federal constitutions.

Let the turnover at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen begin. Voters in Tuesday's primary election chose their preferred Democratic candidates for five open seats and turned out one of six incumbents up for re-election.

The evening's upset was Dan Guenther, who won the 9th Ward with 64.2 percent of the vote. He beat longtime Alderman Ken Ortmann, who had the backing of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and the St. Louis Police Officers Association.

St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson emerged from a crowded field of candidates, many of them well-known city leaders, to win Tuesday's Democratic mayoral primary. 

With all precincts reporting, Krewson had 32.04 percent of the vote to city Treasurer Tishaura Jones' 30.38 percent — just 888 votes.

On the Republican side, utility executive Andrew Jones handily beat out his two competitors — one of whom, Crown Candy Kitchen owner Andy Karandzieff, had said he entered on a whim and didn't really want to be mayor. Both Jones and Krewson move on to the April 4 general election, where they'll face at least five candidates from other parties.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital is working to help kids avoid being a repeat victim of violence.

Margie Batek, the supervisor of social work at the hospital, developed the program in 2014. She will publicly present three' years worth of data for the first time Tuesday.

Tuesday’s primary election isn’t just the first step in choosing a new mayor for St. Louis, but also portends the beginning of significant turnover at the Board of Aldermen. In addition to five open seats, incumbents could be upset in a number of wards — including aldermen who have not faced serious opposition in more than 10 years.

 

Here’s a guide to the contested wards, the candidates and what they’re promising. Candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot:

Two judges and a lawyer from St. Louis are the candidates for the open seat on the Missouri Supreme Court.
 
The Appellate Judicial Commission, which interviews applicants for appeals court-level judges, announced the nominees Wednesday. Whoever is chosen will replace Judge Richard Teitelman, 69, who died in November.
 

Tuesday’s primary election isn’t just the first step in choosing a new mayor for St. Louis, it also portends the beginning of significant turnover at the Board of Aldermen, which expects its largest freshman class since 1991.

 

Updated at 5:50 p.m. Feb. 28 — St. Louis' minimum wage can go up to $11 by 2018, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Its unanimous opinion ruled that a 2015 ordinance does not conflict with the state’s minimum wage of $7.65 an hour.

Two of the three people arrested at Saturday's LGBT march in St. Louis were transgender women. And allegations made by one of them have raised questions about how transgender prisoners are treated in St. Louis.

St. Louis Public Radio could not independently confirm claims made by activists on social media that corrections officers threatened to put a transgender woman in a cell with men and deliberately used the wrong pronoun to identify her.

The transgender woman was never in a cell with men, said Maggie Crane, a spokeswoman with Mayor Francis Slay's office. The city houses prisoners based both on sexual identity and where they feel safest, not on biological sex, Crain said.

It’s been a violent couple of years in the city of St. Louis, one measure being the 188 homicides in 2015 and 2016.

A decrease in property crime drove the overall crime number down between 2015 and 2016, but violent crime was up more than four percent in 2016 compared to 2015.

All of the Democratic candidates for mayor know addressing crime will be a top priority if they’re elected. Most of them have very similar plans. Not all of them have faith in current Police Chief Sam Dotson to implement those plans.

There will be at least five new faces when the St. Louis Board of Aldermen returns in April — the largest freshman class since 1991. And depending on the results of the March primaries, as many as six others could join them.

That much turnover could change the way the Board works and the policies it passes.

There’s been a statistic tossed around frequently in the Democratic race for St. Louis mayor: The city has given away more than $700 million worth of tax increment financing and tax abatements over 15 years.

And those tools have become a big issue in the races for aldermen, and the mayoral primary.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. Feb. 17 — An alderman who is running for St. Louis mayor has asked the union representing city police officers to fire their business manager, Jeff Roorda, over a social media attack leveled at another mayoral candidate.

Thursday evening's statement from Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward, targets Roorda's Facebook post that called city Treasurer Tishaura Jones a race-baiter and, in a second post, "the worst person to occupy skin."

The organization that represents St. Louis' minority police officers plans to use a new whistleblower law to push for changes in the way officers are promoted, transferred and disciplined.

The law, which Mayor Francis Slay intends to sign before leaving office, allows city employees to report "Improper Governmental Activities" by other city employees to a variety of city agencies.

Mayor Francis Slay has signed legislation that could lead to funding for both MetroLink expansion and a stadium for Major League Soccer.

One bill signed by the mayor on Friday asks voters to approve a half-cent sales tax increase, which is intended to partially fund a north-south MetroLink line, as well as neighborhood and workforce development initiatives. The second measure, also signed on Friday, asks voters if revenue from the resulting increase in the use tax should be directed to the new stadium just west of Union Station.

Updated at 2:40 p.m. Thursday with comments from Lewis Reed — Departing Mayor Francis Slay has endorsed Alderman Lyda Krewson as his successor in office.

Slay, whose term ends in mid-April,  announced his endorsement of Krewson, D-28th Ward, in a YouTube video posted Thursday.

It looks increasingly likely that St. Louis voters will see two tax-related measures on the April ballot.

In a rare Monday meeting, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen,gave initial approval to a proposed half-cent increase in the sales tax. The second measure would direct the resulting increase in the use tax to a proposed Major League Soccer stadium near Union Station.

The bid for public votes on a sales tax for economic development and on public funding for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium near Union Station faces a new hurdle to make the April ballot.

The Board of Aldermen had until Tuesday to send the measures to Mayor Francis Slay for his signature to meet a state-imposed deadline for the general election.  Because the board did not do so, it will take a court order for the measures to appear on the ballot.

Updated Jan. 20 at 9:00 a.m. with comments from SC STL — Supporters of a Major League Soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis walked into the city's Ways and Means committee on Thursday, cautiously optimistic that a proposal for public funding was on track to go to the voters in April.

Six hours later, they walked out shell-shocked, as members of the committee refused to take a vote on the measure. The decision closes even further the window of opportunity available before a Jan. 24 deadline.

Updated at 9:30 p.m. with additional comments from SC STL. —They say nothing is ever truly dead in politics, and the proposed public funding for a professional soccer stadium near Union Station is proving that adage.

Just last week, Alderman Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, announced that she would not ask the Board of Aldermen to consider her bill directing extra use tax revenue to the stadium. The use tax will go up automatically if voters approve a separate measure boosting the city's sales tax by a half percent.

But on Wednesday morning, the stadium funding bill showed up on the agenda of the Ways and Means committee.

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