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Taxpayers in Kansas City, Missouri, have a chance between now and March 3 to influence how the city spends their money.

Mayor Quinton Lucas released his proposed budget last week. The budget prioritizes fighting violent crime, increasing the city’s stock of affordable housing and fixing potholes, but it falls roughly $3 million short of another of the mayor's priorities: eliminating bus fares.

For the second year in a row, the St. Louis Chess Club hosted the Cairns Cup, which featured 10 of the best female chess players in the world.

The tournament marks the strongest ever all-female event to be held on American soil. Over the course of nine rounds, the elite field battled in an all-play-all format for a whopping prize fund of $180,000. The games played throughout the event were highly combative and produced many notable storylines.

The street-smart black friend of a white protagonist. The menacing black man. The sassy black woman. 

These stereotypical depictions of black people have filled television, movies and theater productions for years. 

Where do they come from? 

The Black Rep’s production of Ntozake Shange’s “Spell #7” at Washington University’s A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre makes the case that the one-dimensional, demeaning character types of 19th- and 20th-century minstrel shows still haunt the entertainment industry. 

Missouri health officials are taking steps to protect people against the potential spread of the new coronavirus that has sickened thousands in China.

There haven’t been any recorded cases in Missouri and only two in Illinois. But health systems are asking people more questions and creating plans to respond to any potentially infectious patients who come through their doors.

“Our motto is, ‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,’” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “In our case, we would much rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.”

Many early, unique dialects of German are preserved in communities in small towns in Missouri and Kansas. But they're endangered. Meet a handful of linguistic diehards in Cole Camp, Missouri, and hear about their valiant efforts to save their immigrant history. 

At a meeting in Florissant to get public comment on selecting a new St. Louis County police chief, residents said they want a leader with integrity and the ability to communicate effectively with people from different communities. 

Several people who attended the meeting Wednesday also said the county’s new chief should come from within the department’s ranks.

“We need someone who has strong relationships with the community and is ready to lead on day one,” said Terry Wilson, a councilman and school board member in Jennings. 

The St. Charles City Council passed a law Tuesday night that creates a Liquor License Appeals Board and modifies the punitive point system for bars and restaurants. 

Before, penalized owners would appeal to the same commission that issued them the points. Mayor Dan Borgmeyer said that was unfair.

Now, both the commission and the board will each have five members, including restaurant and business owners from North Main Street. 

The St. Louis County Council may soon approve restrictions on building in the flood-prone areas of unincorporated parts of the county to prevent damage from future floods. 

The St. Louis area has experienced three record floods in the last five years, causing severe damage to communities along the Meramec, Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The County Council is considering a bill that would lower the amount of water development can displace from one foot to one inch.

The St. Louis board responsible for the city’s real estate and financial decisions on Wednesday granted NorthSide Regeneration an extension on its troubled north St. Louis urgent care development. 

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment has given developer Paul McKee until August 2020 to secure financing for building the roads and part of the HealthWorks Hospital facility. The board also bumped the development’s next construction deadlines from June 2021 to September 2021. The full health facility project must still be completed by June 2023. 

Segment 1: Missouri looks to start opening medical marijuana dispensaries in June.

Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services has issued licenses for 192 medical marijuana dispensaries since a voter approved initiative for medical cannabis passed in 2018. Once patients are able to start purchasing, and in some cases growing, the product, the state could look to issue more dispensary licenses based on supply and demand.

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Thursday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

Last week, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced the 12 sites in the state which were added to the National Register of Historic Places during 2019. That’s the official federal list of properties that merit special attention and preservation. Every Illinois county has at least one property or historic district listed in the National Register.

The lengthy process to get a site federally recognized begins with locals recommending a place that has either architectural or historical significance to the community. After they are evaluated, the historic places are added to the National Register by the National Park Service based on recommendations from the State Historic Preservation Office, a division of the IDNR.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, guest host Emily Woodbury will learn more about the sites in Illinois that made it to the 2019 National Register of Historic Places, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa replica that was completed in the 1930s in Cook County. Joining the discussion will be Amy Hathaway, National Register and Survey Specialist for Illinois State Historic Preservation Office. 

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Thursday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

St. Louis’ Municipal Court is hosting a warrant amnesty program Feb. 24-27. It’s an opportunity for people with outstanding bench warrants —  excluding DUIs, leaving the scene of an accident and prostitution — to be able to pay their original fines and costs without penalty.

Screentime: The Good Place

Feb 19, 2020

The comedy about moral philosophy just wrapped up its fourth and final season.

NBC's The Good Place captured the imaginations of people across all kinds of faiths because of the way it imagined what happens when we die. It also touched on existentialism and what it means to be human. After all, what does it mean to be a "good" person in our morally compromised world? What does it mean to be a "medium" person? (Listeners beware: spoilers will be aplenty).

Updated at 11:45 a.m. with comments from Mantovani

The Democratic primary for St. Louis County executive is becoming a little more crowded.

Mark Mantovani announced Wednesday he will run for St. Louis County’s top post, less than two years after he nearly upended an incumbent county executive. 

That puts him on a collision course with St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman, who have already announced they're in the August race.

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Tuesday (Feb. 25). This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

As an actor, Ernest Emmanuel Peeples has portrayed a real range of characters — from Hamlet to the Ghost of Christmas Present. But in recent months, one particular theatrical role stands out from the rest: the opportunity to portray Lu, one of the adolescents at the center of Jason Reynolds’ wildly popular young adult novels, one of which is now also a play.

Like Peeples, the character Lu has albinism, a genetic condition involving a lack of pigment that affects one’s skin, hair and eyes. Having this in common with a character is a first for Peeples, and a meaningful one.

“Lu is given the opportunity to just be a normal person,” Peeples explains. “Typically when you see characters with albinistic characteristics, they’re presented in an overly antagonistic or monstrous way, devoid of true human emotions to the point that they're bad or angry or evil simply due to the fact that they're different. Or they're overly sympathetic.”

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Peeples will talk with host Sarah Fenske about his role in Metro Theater Company’s “Ghost,” which runs now through March 1 at the Grandel Theatre. The production is directed by Jacqueline Thompson, who will also join the on-air conversation.

When 76-year-old Mary Sennewald of St. Louis was a young woman, she was profoundly depressed and suffered from migraines. Therapy and medication weren’t working, and she decided to try LSD.

It was a time when Americans saw psychedelics as part of an emerging culture that questioned authority and sought deeper meaning. Today, psychedelic substances like LSD and “magic” psilocybin mushrooms are often still seen as a vestige of that hippie culture or even a dangerous threat.

But a growing number of recent studies at Johns Hopkins University and other institutions show psilocybin can treat depression, addiction, PTSD and other mental health concerns.

As the Missouri General Assembly is poised to give voters another chance to decide how to draw state House and Senate maps, one of the lesser-discussed parts of the debate is how judges will gain expansive power if voters scrap the Clean Missouri system.

Under a ballot measure that recently passed the Senate and will likely be approved in the House, bipartisan commissions will have first crack at redistricting instead of a demographer. But the truth is the commissions have been historically irrelevant because they tend to deadlock along party lines and then turn over authority to appellate judges. 

There’s been little insight into how the judges actually came up with House and Senate districts — until now.

The St. Louis County Council is taking more time to review a contract to provide tablets to inmates after a complaint from the jail’s current vendor about the bidding process.

But Council Chairwoman Lisa Clancy, D-Maplewood, said she has yet to find any wrongdoing.

“I’m still doing my due diligence to make sure this is a sound recommendation, but so far, I have a lot of confidence in this process,” Clancy said. “This is a [bidding process] that prioritizes lowering and eliminating fees on people in the justice center, and that’s a good direction to go in.” 

Hundreds of gun-restriction advocates visited the Missouri Statehouse on Tuesday to encourage lawmakers to pass stricter gun control measures. 

The specific legislation Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action want would prohibit anyone with a domestic offense conviction or an order of protection from purchasing a firearm.

Illinois Lawmakers Take Aim At 'Prior Authorization' In Health Insurance

Feb 18, 2020

Illinois lawmakers want to reduce delays in medical care caused by the requirements of insurance companies.

They said the process, known as “prior authorization,” is time-consuming and raises unnecessary obstacles for people in need.

Isabella McKenna has been dealing with arthritis since she was age 14. She said several times in her life, she had to wait for prior authorization to get medical care, often leaving her impaired.

As city and state governments across the country legalize marijuana, Kansas City’s mayor wants to make it easier to clean the slate for people convicted of some cannabis-related offenses.

Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced an online system Tuesday afternoon that lets people convicted on municipal marijuana possession charges in Kansas City ask for pardons — free of charge.

“What I want to be able to do for these folks is to say, ‘You might’ve made a mistake at some point, but that we’re going to be fair in how we apply the law in Kansas City and in Missouri,’” Lucas said.

A federal judge in Kansas City, Kansas, who was publicly reprimanded last year for workplace misconduct is resigning after more than 20 years on the bench.

U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia tendered his resignation effective April 1, 2020, in a letter to President Trump that was released by the federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, on Tuesday afternoon.  

A crossing guard employed by the city of Kansas City, Kansas, died Tuesday after he pushed two schoolchildren out of the way of an oncoming car. 

The incident occurred just before 8 a.m. along the 5400 block of Leavenworth Road outside the Christ the King Catholic School. Kansas City, Kansas, Police have identified the victim as 88-year-old Bob Nill. 

A federal jury’s decision last week to side with Missouri’s largest peach producer could have implications for other dicamba-related lawsuits awaiting trial.

The jury in Cape Girardeau found that ag giants Monsanto and BASF Corporation are responsible for extensive dicamba damage on Dunklin County-based Bader Farms.

The jury’s verdict also found the companies conspired to damage crops in order to increase profits of dicamba-tolerant seed and related herbicides. Total damages add up to $265 million.

Scott Air Force Base Is Testing Surrounding Water Sources For Chemical Contamination

Feb 18, 2020

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat.

Chemicals known to cause serious health problems, including cancer and birth defects, may be contaminating water sources near Scott Air Force Base.

Studies commissioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revealed that a toxic class of chemicals, known as PFAS, have saturated the ground at seven sites on base. Those chemicals may have leached into local water supplies, according to an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

If you placed a Super Bowl wager in Missouri or Kansas this year, chances are good it was probably illegal.

But in Missouri, the smart money is increasingly on legal sports betting. That might become a reality by the end of the year, thanks to a 2018 Supreme Court case that gave states the right to organize sports betting.

Segment 1: Odds are good that sports betting won't be illegal in Missouri for much longer.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled two years ago that states have the power to legalize sports betting, and 2020 may be the year that the Missouri General Assembly gives it the green light. If new tax revenue from legalized sports gambling in Iowa is any indication, the initiative could be a moneymaker for the Show-Me State. 

Scott Frantz has been quietly preparing for what lies ahead since Kansas State’s football season ended at a bowl game on Dec. 31. It’s a future that could change NFL history.

Frantz, an offensive lineman from Lawrence, is gay. His teammates and the Wildcat faithful have known that for three years. But not since Mizzou’s Michael Sam has a college football player been out publicly before seeking a pro career. 

Seg. 1: The famously dry comedian is coming to Kansas City and we're here for it.

You might remember her as the comedian who did a set about getting cancer, but there's a lot more to her awkward sense of humor, which she'll be bringing to the Uptown later this month.

Seg. 2, beginning at 14:49: The restaurant owner/chef is mixing things up in the Kansas City food scene.

This interview will air on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Monday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

Today’s teachers and school administrators are under increasing pressure on many fronts. There is the increased focus on standardized testing, the large class sizes and the funding issues, not to mention the outside-the-classroom challenges complicating their students’ ability to learn.

In the midst of all of this comes a refreshing focus — and a new graduate-level course — from two University of Missouri-St. Louis-connected leaders: Mindy Bier, co-director of the university’s Center for Character and Citizenship, and Tom Hoerr, assistant teaching professor and scholar in residence in the College of Education and former head of the New City School

During this year’s Pierre Laclede Society Community Confluence donor event taking place at UMSL Thursday evening (Feb. 20), Bier and Hoerr will talk with St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske. They’ll discuss how a servant leadership model can help educators avoid empathy fatigue and foster social-emotional learning among educators and children alike.

The conversation will be recorded for broadcast and will air during Monday’s noon show (Feb. 24).