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

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.

Updated at 11:50 a.m. with additional comments and information on the replacement process.

A leading liberal voice in the Missouri legal community has died.

Judge Richard Teitelman was 69. The Missouri Supreme Court confirmed his death in a brief press release Tuesday morning.  Teitelman had been dealing with health problems for some time, including complications from diabetes.

Updated Nov. 21 at 8  p.m. with video from Chief Dotson — St. Louis Metropolitan Police  officials say the suspect in the ambush of a police officer has been killed in a shootout. Chief Sam Dotson said 19-year-old George P. Bush III was shot hours after he pulled up beside a marked police car near the Hampton Village Shopping Center in south St. Louis and shot a 46-year-old police sergeant, who was released from the hospital Monday morning.

ALEX HEUER / St. Louis Public Radio

A former Navy SEAL will be the next governor of Missouri. Republican Eric Greitens defeated Democratic attorney general Chris Koster by a wide margin.

Despite polling well behind Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the Missouri, Greitens rode the same wave of anti-establishment anger to a convincing win.

“Tonight we did more than win an election," Greitens said. "We restored power to the people and we took our state back.”

But Greitens pledged to serve those who had supported his opponent as well. Koster, for his part, urged the two parties to cooperate.

For years, the public defender system in Missouri has fought to alleviate a growing caseload it says leaves them unable to fairly represent clients.

Now, the man blamed for the crisis is being asked to help alleviate the crunch by heading into the courtroom.

Citing his authority under Missouri law, Michael Barrett, director of the Missouri State Public Defender system has ordered Gov. Jay Nixon to represent a criminal defendant in Cole County.

Updated 12:27 p.m. May 5 with House veto override - The same day that Gov. Jay Nixon, D-Mo. vetoed a measure that would have changed the way school funding is calculated, the Missouri Senate voted to override that move. One day later, the House overrode the veto as well. The measure now becomes law.

According to the governor, "The cheapening of the foundation formula would break a promise that we have made to our local schools and students that they educate. This is a cynical policy that I cannot and will not support." He made his comments Wednesday at an appearance at Ferguson Middle School, in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

Federal, state and local officials are celebrating the news that the federal government has picked a site in north St. Louis for an expansion of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

The prosecutors in Missouri's two largest cities are joining with pediatricians to support legislation that would make it a crime to leave a loaded weapon accessible to children.

Rep. Stacey Newman, D-Richmond Heights, is the sponsor of the bill, which makes it a felony if a gun owner "knowingly fails to secure a readily available, loaded deadly weapon in the presence of a child less than 17 years of age." A weapon would be considered secure if it had a functioning trigger lock, was kept in a safe, or was unloaded.

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, alleging widespread constitutional violations in how it polices its residents. 

"The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday at a news conference. "We intend to aggressively prosecute this case, and we intend to win."

Updated with details and comments from Rep. William Lacy Clay. — The city of Ferguson and the U.S. Department of Justice are approaching agreement on how to deal with the civil rights violations of the city's police departments and municipal courts.

Ferguson officials on Wednesday released a draft version of a consent decree. The city will accept written comments through Feb. 9, and at three City Council meetings. It must still be approved by the City Council and a federal judge — the agreement would end after the city completely complies with all agreement requirements for two full years.

Updated at 3 p.m. with comments from Nasheed, Dogan and others - Police departments in Missouri that continually engage in racial profiling could be stripped of their certification under legislation introduced in Jefferson City on Tuesday.

The “Fair and Impartial Policing Act,” sponsored by state Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, and state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, would be the first significant update to the state’s anti-racial profiling law, which originally passed in 2000. In addition to tightening enforcement for failure to collect data, the new law also requires departments to document pedestrian as well as traffic stops and expands the information collected during the stops.

Updated on Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 1:30 p.m. with information on more evacuations and road closures.

Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard on Tuesday to help rain-weary communities deal with near-record flooding.

Nixon said in a statement that the guard would provide security in evacuated areas and direct traffic around closed roads. Forty roads remain closed due to flooding in the Missouri part of the St. Louis region, out of 225 statewide.

About a year ago, Missouri attorney General Chris Koster sued 13 municipalities in St. Louis County who weren’t complying with the state’s law on traffic revenue.

It was one of a series of cases at the state and local level filed against cities for the way they operate their municipal courts. And the architects of the strategy say it's working.

Starting Thursday, more than 150 people from all parts of the criminal justice system with gather at Washington University to ponder a radical remake of the way this country uses incarceration.

The conference is the first major undertaking for the Smart Decarceration Initiative. Carrie Pettus-Davis, an assistant professor at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University, is one of the organizers.

A report by the U.S. Department of Justice examines a chaotic and often uncoordinated response to the protests that erupted after the shooting death of Michael Brown in August 2014.

The Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services on Wednesday released its after-action report on the police response to the 17 days between when Brown was shot and killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and his funeral.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Updated with comments from Dave Peacock, John Ammann, and Mayor Slay - A St. Louis judge has ruled that city voters do not have a right to weigh in on public spending for a proposed new football stadium north of Laclede's Landing.

"Judgment shall be, and hereby is, entered in favor of Plaintiff Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority and against Defendant City of St. Louis on Plaintiff’s Petition for Declaratory Judgment. City Ordinance 66509, Chapter 3.91 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis, is hereby declared INVALID."

A 24-year veteran of the Glendale, Ariz., police department will take the reins in Ferguson for the next six months.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles announced Wednesday that Andre Anderson, who has led Glendale's Criminal Investigations Division, will take over the 50-officer Ferguson department on July 23. He'll have the job for six months, replacing Al Eickhoff, who took over after former chief Thomas Jackson resigned in March.

Updated 9 a.m. Tuesday with news of Supreme Court's action - The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a challenge by Missouri death row inmates to the state’s execution protocol.

The high court on Monday denied a request from the inmate's attorneys to consider the case. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that in order to win their claims that Missouri's lethal injection cocktail amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, inmates had to show that a viable alternative was available.

Pages