St. Louis Observer: October 28, 2022
Feds to monitor MO, KS polls; MODOC blocks families from records of deceased loved ones; EPA launches Midwestern lead remediation campaign
In response to the school shooting at Central Visual Performing Arts, the Mayor’s Office has partnered with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to offer immediate mental health assistance through Behavioral Health Response’s 24/7/365 Crisis Line and Youth Connection Helpline. If you or someone you know would like to talk with a clinician free of charge, please dial 988 in St. Louis, or 314-469-6644 or 314-819-8802 (youth). Young people can also chat online at www.bhrstl.com or text BHEARD to 31658.
Police, prosecutorial, and judicial accountability
Due to state control of its police department, Kansas City will be beholden to Missouri voters in November, when the entire state will weigh in on the decision to increase funding to Kansas City Police Department. Amendment 4 would force Kansas City to increase its allocation to police from 20% of the entire city budget to 25%. Kansas City is the only municipality in the state that does not exercise control of its own police department due to a Civil War-era [Rebecca Rivas/Missouri Independent]
Nearly five months after the mysterious death of LeVaughn James while he was in Missouri Department of Corrections custody, James’ mother Mary is still trying to find answers for the circumstances surrounding her son’s death. More than 100 men have died in MODOC custody this year, and state employees overwhelmingly have obstructed details of those deaths from families and the public. [Ryan Krull/Riverfront Times]
Two Kansas City, Kansas, men are challenging their convictions following the arrest of former Kansas City, Kansas police detective Roger Golubski, who was indicted earlier this year for sexually assaulting women while on duty and was known for preying on Black women. Brian Betts and Celester McKinney were convicted in 1997 for a murder that Golubski “investigated” and presumably tampered with, and they are seeking a new trial in light of Golubski’s indictment. [Peggy Lowe/KCUR]
Economic development & housing
Black homeownership has fallen nearly 10% since 2004, primarily due to the persistence of redlining, the 2008 Recession, rising gentrification, and an increased number of prospectors buying properties in divested neighborhoods. The gap between white and Black homeownership is currently wider than it was in the 1960s, with down-payment assistance cited as the most important help needed by Black homebuyers. [Tim Henderson/Missouri Independent]
The Environmental Protection Agency has adopted a new plan to increase lead testing in midwestern children, in an effort to reduce exposure and disparities. In addition to blood lead level screenings, the EPA calls for job training in careers in lead remediation and a public awareness campaign for the progress of the remediation campaign. [Samantha Horton/Midwest Newsroom]
After radioactive contamination was found in a Florissant elementary school, Missouri environmentalists are calling for better radiation cleanup as students in the contaminated school shift to virtual learning. Activists are also calling for warning signs to be placed along Coldwater Creek, which still tests positive for radioactive waste that originated from the World War II-era Manhattan Project and was improperly disposed of at the West Lake Landfill. [Miya Norfleet/St. Louis Public Radio]
Voters in Missouri and Kansas will be able to report harassment, intimidation, and discrimination at polling places directly to the U.S Department of Justice and to the FBI. Election authorities expect an increase in election interference, especially following a new Missouri law that allows persons to serve as partisan poll watchers anywhere in the state. Voters may also report instances of interference to the nonpartisan voter protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). [Staff/KCUR]
The InterTribal Buffalo Council, an Indigenous-led effort to return bison to tribal lands in the Midwest, plans to release around 1,500 bison to member nations. Since the 1980s, the Surplus Buffalo Program has reintroduced more than 20,000 bison, which are critical for managing prairies and restoring ecosystems. [Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco/Harvest Public Media]
A class action lawsuit has been filed in Chicago against L’Oréal and four other manufacturers, following a first-of-its-kind study that found that women who use hair straightening products are twice as likely to develop uterine cancer than women who do not. Black women may be at an increased risk due higher use of chemical straighteners and relaxers that contain formaldehyde-releasing compounds. The lawsuit alleges that L’Oréal knew that their products contained deadly chemicals and nevertheless targeted Black women through the marketing of those products. [Alvin A. Reid/St. Louis American]
Beyond the Paywall
To read the below articles in full, please visit SLPL.org and access these articles through the Digital Content tab. St. Louis City & County residents can read these publications free using their library cards.
“With no help from Jeff City, St. Louis must get creative to address gun violence, leaders say,” by Austin Huguelet, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“To shore up EMS, St. Louis Fire Department needs restructuring, Isom tells aldermen,” by Jacob Barker, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Missouri begins no-excuse early voting under new ID law,” by Associated Press, published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“St. Charles County settles sexual harassment claims against ex-police chief for $850,000,” by Erin Heffernan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Missouri prison system mum about apparent spike in opioid deaths,” by Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell seeks $1.8 million budget increase,” by Erin Heffernan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis City Board of Aldermen
BB 26 and BB 29, sponsored by Ald. Megan Green (Ward 15), would put before City voters the ballot issue of enacting a surcharge on developers who reduced the number of units for housing rehabs and redevelopment. The bills were assigned to the Neighborhood Development Committee on May 13 and have made no further movement since.
BB 87, sponsored by Ald. Pamela Boyd (Ward 27) and Ald. Carol Howard (Ward 14), would add a new police district to cover Lambert International Airport, raising the number to 7 total in the City of St. Louis. The bill was assigned to the Public Safety Committee on September 16.
Resolution 113, also sponsored by Alds. Boyd and Howard, would raise SLMPD’s pay rates to match the pay rates of the St. Louis County Police Department and would allow new perks to police officers not given to other City employees. The resolution passed out of the Public Safety Committee on October 12, 2022.