Category Archives: Local

State Withheld Evidence in Smith Suit

imagesBy MCNS Staff

Local reports indicate that attorneys representing the state of Missouri withheld key evidence from Anthony Lamar Smith’s family during a 2012 civil lawsuit, investigations have found.

The Smith family’s attorney, Albert Watkins, says that lawyers did not tell them about or submit “vital” DNA evidence.

Smith, a 24-year-old black man, was killed in 2011 by a white St. Louis police officer in 2011 after a high high speed chase before which he threatened to kill Smith. The city paid a $900,000 settlement to Smith’s daughter.

Attorney General Josh Hawley commissioned the investigation after Watkins complained in September about the missing lab reports. Watkins lodged similar complaints in 2016.

For more on the investigation uncovering state-withheld evidence from this high-profile case,click here:

STL NAACP Honors Civil Rights Attorney Frankie Freeman

By MCNS Staff

Civil Rights icon Frankie Muse Freman.

Civil Rights icon Frankie Muse Freeman.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis City chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) honored civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman by dedicating a bronze statue of her at Broadway and Chestnut Street, near the Old Courthouse.

Freeman’s legacy has inspired generations of young people who are fighting injustice. said the Rev. Darryl Gray, social justice chair of the Missouri Baptist State Convention.

“When young folks say ‘this ain’t my grandmama’s movement,’ I look at the very same things they’re doing today, and I look at what Ms. Freeman did yesterday, and I say ‘yes it is,’” said the Rev. Darryl Gray, social justice chair of the Missouri Baptist State Conention. “Our St. Louis has become our Selma; our Jeff City has become our Birmingham.”

For more on the Frankie Freeman statue dedication and honorific ceremony, click here:

Prop P Passes, Police and Firefighters Get Raise

5a0249f647bd7.imageMCNS Staff

St. Louis city voters have given police and firefighters a raise.

Needing a simple majority to pass, Proposition P won easily last Tuesday with roughly 60 percent of the vote.

With the passage of the measure, sales taxes in most areas of the city will climb from 9.2 to 9.7 percent on April 1. The increase is projected to bring in about $20 million annually, most of which will be spent to hire more police officers and increase their salaries. Firefighters will also get a raise.

Mayor Lyda Krewson says she wants to use the $4 million from a corresponding business use tax increase on crime prevention programs.

“I recognize that we can’t arrest our way to a safer city, and I’m thrilled that voters agree,” Krewson said. “Passing Prop P means we can make significant investments on the prevention side, with funding for after-school and summer job programs, recreation, social and mental health services and also demolishing vacant buildings.”

Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner thanked voters for the additional $1 million of the new revenue her office will receive.

Opponents of the proposition were looking to use recent protests of the non-indictment of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley to build momentum against the measure. They raised the issues of the measure in protests, phone banks and get-out-the vote initiatives.

While they weren’t able to defeat the measure, they continue to argue the tax will unfairly affect the city’s poorest and most vulnerable residents. They have also called for reforms to policing in the city and suggest that the passage of the proposition amounts to giving police a raise for bad behavior and racist practices.

Steve Stenger Sued by Council Members

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger

By MCNS Staff

According to local reports, four members of the St. Louis County Council sued County Executive Steve Stenger and two other county officials last Monday, claiming they have interfered with the county auditor.

Staffing in the auditor’s office has been one battleground in a county government war of many issues that has waged since Stenger himself was a member before his election as executive.

The council hired Mark Tucker, a friend of Council Chairman Sam Page, in a February 4-3 vote, with Page’s strong backing. According to reports, Stenger has criticized Tucker from the beginning, saying he lacks the requisite accounting experience for the job. Stenger is a CPA.

The county charter requires the auditor to have at least five years of accounting experience, although it does not mention a degree or license. Tucker, who has a bachelor’s degree in business administration, previously worked as a legislative policy adviser for the state Office of Administration, as a lobbyist, and as an account manager for a medical equipment firm, according to a LinkedIn profile.

According to stltoday.com, last month, Stenger called for the council to fire Tucker because he has a $91,000 personal federal tax lien; the county executive has refused to spend money on auditing staff as long as Tucker is in charge. The council has taken no action on Stenger’s demand for Tucker’s removal, and several members have vowed to stand by the man they hired to be the county’s chief fiscal watchdog.

When members of the council threatened to sue, Stenger said he would try to block any expenditures of money on staff with an outside lawyer.

According to local reports, so far, Tucker has not submitted an audit report. This month, he issued a three-page “investigative assessment” of MetroLink that was thin on scope and specifics. Stenger derided the document as unprofessional and a waste of taxpayer money.

Stenger says Tucker is unqualified and his work is poor compared to previous auditors who produced eight to 10 audits per year.

“In effect, the plaintiffs lawsuit is asking the public to pay for another full-time employee that the County does not need merely to cover up for Tucker’s incompetence,” a statement reads.

The lawsuit, filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court by Page and council members Ernie Trakas, Rochelle Walton Gray and Hazel Erby, “seeks to enforce the separation of powers and checks and balances that exist in the county charter, which the executive branch must not deliberately frustrate.” County counselor Peter J. Krane and director of personnel Sue Daniels are also named as defendants in the suit.