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

A proposed $55 million indoor-outdoor sports complex in the Chesterfield Valley, billed as the largest in North America, won’t move forward because the developer failed to meet a June 1 deadline to secure funds from St. Louis County for water and sewer lines.

St. Louis Public Radio reported last week that the deal for the POWERplex was in jeopardy because Big Sports Properties LLC, run by Dan Buck, had not provided given Chesterfield officials the required documents. Rather than negotiate a new deal, Buck said Monday night that he’ll take the project — and its estimated $6 million in tax money a year — elsewhere.

Mayor Lyda Krewson said Friday that she’s “beside herself” over a rash of gun violence in St Louis this week that killed seven and injured 13 others, including a 7-year-old girl.

But even as she pledged more money for police officer salaries, Krewson seemed at a loss for how to bring the spiraling violence under control.

The developer hoping to build in Chesterfield what’s touted as North America’s largest indoor sports facility wants more time to secure vital financial support from the region’s economic development group.

But the long-in-the-works deal for the $55 million POWERplex project, for which St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is an ambassador, may be in jeopardy, because developer Dan Buck didn’t meet a Thursday deadline for one of four requirements — a commitment from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership to help pay for water and sewer lines. That’s why, according to documents obtained by St. Louis Public Radio and confirmed by Chesterfield officials, Buck plans to ask for an extension. The City Council will discuss the request Monday.

St. Louis is poised to meet a Monday deadline to move homeless men from a temporary emergency shelter in a city warehouse.

Mayor Lyda Krewson, comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen president Lewis Reed signed a 10-month lease on Tuesday for a space at 23rd and Pine streets, west of downtown. The lease starts Thursday, about a week before hundreds of local government officials, social service providers and community and business leaders will meet to seek a more regional approach to reducing homelessness.

The Missouri Supreme Court said Tuesday that it won’t hear a group of lawsuits that aims to force the state Department of Corrections to release the name of the pharmacists who supply the state’s lone execution drug, the sedative pentobarbital.

The case declined by the high court was an appeal of a Feb. 14 ruling by the Missouri Court of Appeals.

Updated May 31 with oral arguments — A case that could expand legal protections for the state’s LGBTQ community is in the hands of a three-judge panel of Missouri’s Court of Appeals.

Judges Anthony Gabbert, Victor Howard and Cynthia Martin heard arguments Wednesday in the case of a 17-year-old transgender boy from the Kansas City area who wants to be allowed to use the boy’s restroom and lockers rooms at his school. His attorneys argue that the decision by the Blue Springs R-IV district to deny the request violates Missouri’s Human Rights Act.

The interim chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department asked the city’s Board of Aldermen on Wednesday to find money for hiring more officers and providing better pay. Liberal activists, however, want city leaders to ignore the drumbeats of demands for more officers and instead find funding for social services that could help stem crime.

The request from the police department will be competing with other urgent public safety needs, including funds for the drug Narcan, which reverses opioid overdoses.


A top Democratic backer of the effort to limit fines and fees in St. Louis County believes Missouri lawmakers will have to play a role in forcing cities to change.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out parts of a 2015 law that capped the amount of money cities could make from fines and fees and required them to meet minimum standards like having an accredited police department. 

The three counties that fund MetroLink signed an agreement Thursday they say will help keep the train system safe.

The deal among the city of St. Louis, and St. Louis and St. Clair counties, would eventually put all law enforcement officers assigned to patrol MetroLink under the command of one person. Eventually, those police and sheriffs' deputies also would get the authority to work anywhere on the system, a process known as cross deputization.

The Missouri Supreme Court capped the amount of money cities can take in from traffic fines and fees at 20 percent statewide in a ruling issued Tuesday.  It also throws out parts of a law that was the Missouri legislature's main attempt to deal with the aftermath of Michael Brown's 2014 death in Ferguson.

Investigations following Brown's shooting by a police officer revealed the extent to which small cities in St. Louis County relied on their municipal courts to fund city services, with the burden falling heavily on poor defendants of color.

Two homicides on or near MetroLink trains less than a month apart this year put crime on the transit system back in the spotlight, to the point that officials set aside $20 million for public safety and changed how the system that spans the Metro East and the St. Louis area is policed.

Those efforts and talk of adding turnstiles will mean nothing, however, if the people who ride the rails and buses don’t feel safe. Plus, closing off the system by adding turnstiles will take millions of dollars and several years.

A St. Louis woman has died Wednesday after being shot by police because she refused to drop her gun.

Officers began receiving 911 calls about a woman firing a gun in the Holly Hills neighborhood around 11:45 Wednesday morning, interim St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said in a briefing that was broadcast on Periscope.

St. Louis County police say they’re investigating at least seven claims that security guards on MetroLink trains and platforms acted like police officers — allegations the Bi-State Development Agency,  which runs the system, denies.

The department wrote its first report about a MetroLink guard attempting to make an arrest on April 8, St. Louis County Police spokesman Sgt. Shawn McGuire said Tuesday, though such incidents may have happened prior to that. The guards are not licensed as officers by the state and therefore don’t have arrest powers.

St. Louis police are investigating how a fan at Tuesday’s St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium was hit by a stray bullet. Experts say it’s not as far-fetched a scenario as you might expect.

Police said it was the first time such an incident had happened at the stadium, which opened in 2006. The 34-year-old woman was not seriously injured.

The St. Louis County municipal court system has a new website that developers believe will help reduce arrests of people who don’t show up to court, but detractors say more access to that kind of information doesn’t necessarily make officers’ ticketing proclivities more fair.

For the first time in its history, the St. Louis Police Department can look beyond its ranks for a new chief, something that officers and community members say the city should take full advantage of.

“That person shouldn’t have any connection to the department,” according to Sgt. Heather Taylor, the president of the Ethical Society of Police, which represents officers of color.

Missouri's auditor said Wednesday she’s "disheartened" by the results of an audit of Ferguson's municipal court, which found improperly stored records and thousands of dollars in illegal fees.

 

But Ferguson City Manager De’Carlon Seewood noted that the audit covered the 2015 fiscal year, before Ferguson signed a federal agreement to reform its courts, and said it was unfair for Galloway’s office to ignore all of the reforms the city has made.

Updated April 26 with result of E&A voteSt. Louis aldermen will have another $2.3 million to distribute when they start looking at the city’s budget for fiscal year 2018.

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment approved changes Wednesday to the draft budget, leaving the new use tax revenue available for things like public safety and affordable housing. Previously, the entire amount had gone to closing a $17 million deficit.

A new homeless shelter north of downtown St. Louis violates the U.S. Constitution by promoting segregation, according to a complaint lodged Monday with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development by two St. Louis-area state representatives.  

Jeffrey Perry doesn’t mind having to leave his St. Louis neighborhood to shoot some hoops with friends.

“It’s not the hoop, it’s the company,” Perry said as he and Calvin Lonzo played a little one-on-one in Fox Park recently. But he remembers when he didn’t have to go as far away from his home in Shaw to find a court in a public park.

It’s been more than a week since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he wanted to review all agreements between the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and local police departments — a move that could have a major impact in Ferguson.

If the consent decree that came after the August 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown goes away, there would be no independent monitor to oversee the significant changes to the police department’s training and operations, including a new use-of-force policy. It’s not clear who would pick up the accountability baton.

St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner  is wrapping up 100 days in office this week as the first African-American to hold the position.

Gardner, who is the city's top prosecutor, has used most of her first weeks trying to improve the relationships between law enforcement and people of color.

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. 

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