Recorder of Deeds: St. Louis Voters Ignore Scandals, Elect Sharon Carpenter

Steve Truesdell
Neither scandal or troubling audits could keep Sharon Carpenter from retaking the St. Louis Recorder of Deeds office.
Shrugging off the nepotism scandal that forced her resignation last summer as St. Louis' recorder of deeds, Sharon Carpenter steamrolled her way back into office yesterday, reclaiming her old job with 61 percent of the vote.

Carpenter was appointed as the city's recorder in 1980, won her first election in 1982, and remained a fixture of the St. Louis' Democratic political and power base for more than three decades. But in July, evidence that she'd violated the state's nepotism statute -- she had hired a great-nephew as a summer intern -- forced her to resign the remainder of the term, but that was as far as her punishment went. She vowed to return.

"What I know is that I know how to record deeds," she told Riverfront Times last month, echoing her campaign's focus on her years of experience and name recognition. "I know how to serve citizens, and I know how to build a staff that is the best in all city government."

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St. Louis Is Still Having Trouble Getting Rides from Uber, But That's Changing

St. Louis only has 119 black cars to split between Uber Black rides, business trips, airport pickups, wedding shuttles and more.
Does this sound familiar?

You're all glammed up, ready to hit the town on a weekend night, and you check your phone to book a ride. You click the Uber app to find a disappointing disclaimer: "There are no cars available at the moment." You hope things will be different at the end of the night, when you'll be in no state to drive yourself. But the Uber app falls through again: "No black cars available."

Uber Black technically launched in St. Louis October 9, but several Uber enthusiasts say they still haven't been able to catch a ride with the new, app-based service.

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What Are We Missing? How to Send News Story Tips to Riverfront Times

There's been no shortage of journalists in St. Louis lately. National and international media outlets have jumped at the chance to dive into one of the most difficult moments in St. Louis history. But just because there are more reporters in STL doesn't mean our city's story is being told correctly.

Here at Riverfront Times, we've been doggedly pursuing stories about police misconduct, racial tensions and community-building efforts long before Ferguson became #Ferguson, "ground zero" for protests, looting and standoffs with law enforcement. And we'll continue to tell those stories when the camera crews are gone for good.

So we're reaching out to you, the people of St. Louis, for guidance. We're looking for the stories that aren't being told, and we'd love your input.

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Ballwin Rejects "In God We Trust" Sign After Atheist Mother's Passionate Plea [VIDEO]

"This is what an atheist looks like," Nikki Moungo tells the Ballwin City Council.
Ballwin officials voted Monday to reject a plan to to put up an "In God We Trust" sign on city property.

The Holy Infant Knights of Columbus had pledged $750 to putting the motto on a sign in this St. Louis suburb. All the plan needed was the approval of the city's board of aldermen.

The aldermen voted 6 to 2 against displaying the motto "In God We Trust" in four-inch letters behind the dais, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Ballwin originally seemed to support the proposed sign until Nikki Moungo, a Ballwin resident and self-proclaimed atheist, spoke out at an aldermanic meeting, asking the board not to alienate non-religious residents.

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Protesters Briefly Stop Traffic on I-270 Despite Michael Brown Sr.'s Request to Postpone

Image courtesy of Argus Streaming News
Protesters stand in the middle of I-270 near West Florissant Avenue to block traffic in honor of Michael Brown
Despite calls to postpone a mass shut down of Interstate 270 yesterday, a few protesters halted traffic on the highway near West Florissant Avenue, the street that's been the site of demonstrations since the August 9 killing of Michael Brown.

Hours before the highway shutdown was supposed to happen Monday, Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., along with other protest leaders -- Zaki Baruti, Anthony Shahid and Anthony Gray, the family's attorney -- announced a postponement of the protest. But a few people ventured out onto the highway anyway.

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With Schools Closed, Teachers and Volunteers Hold Class at Ferguson Library

Photo by Mitch Ryals
Shaila and Janeatha Evans show off their art projects at the Ferguson Public Library.

For the past three nights, Shaila Evans has packed her book bag and set it by the front door hoping to go to school the next day. And every morning she has been disappointed.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District was supposed to begin classes Thursday, August 14. Owing to the protests and riots, the district postponed the beginning of the school year to the following Monday, August 18, but then canceled classes for the entire week altogether.

"She's really anxious to start school," says her mother, Janeatha Evans. "She loves school, and she's been saying how she wants to start learning and making new friends."

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Ferguson Residents Try to Make Do Living in a War Zone of Tear Gas, Explosions

Photo by Danny Wicentowski
Tear gas wafts over West Florissant Avenue Sunday night
Brittany Townsend sat on her front stoop Sunday around 10 p.m. with a weary look on her face. An hour earlier police on nearby West Florissant Avenue began shooting tear gas at protesters in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Now the noxious fumes had drifted into her yard as they have nearly each night since demonstrators in Ferguson began protesting the police shooting of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown.

"It's not been easy living here," said Townsend, who's home on Lang Drive back up to the Public Storage on West Florissant. "I have a two-year-old daughter, and to throw tear gas down a residential street in front of my house, in the back of my house, past my house is not right."

Townsend's complaint is echoed by other nearby residents whose lives and comfort have been upended by the nightly sting of tear gas in the air and chaos occurring just a block or two away.

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Momentum Grows for Police Dashboard Cameras, Body Cams in Wake of Ferguson

Thumbnail image for dashcam3.jpg
Image Via
Authorities in Kentucky released a dash cam video last April for what they argued was the justifiable shooting of nineteen-year-old driver.
Much of the frustration in Ferguson since the police shooting of Michael Brown on August 9 has been with the excruciatingly slow trickle of information coming from law enforcement. On Friday -- six days after Brown was killed -- Ferguson police finally released the name of the officer, Darren Wilson, as well as an incident report suggesting that the eighteen-year-old victim had been involved in a convenience-store robbery moments before the cop's run-in with Wilson.

Authorities have yet to release, however, an incident report of the shooting or any photos of Wilson, who the Ferguson Police Department says was savagely beaten by Brown prior to the shooting. Last week the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit yesterday against St. Louis County and the St. Louis County Police Department for violation of Missouri's Sunshine Law. The ACLU requested the incident report involving Brown's death under Missouri Revised Statues 610 claiming that the report is a public record.

But regardless of when the police report of the shooting enters the public domain, there's one thing it's unlikely to contain: a police video of the incident. That's because Ferguson police do not have dash cams in their vehicles or wear body cameras as a growing number of police agencies do.

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Watch Police in Ferguson Arrest, Tear Gas Journalists [VIDEO]

Ray Downs
Demonstrators protest Antonio French's arrest outside the Ferguson Police Department. French, an alderman in St. Louis city, is a former journalist and has been filming the unrest.
As demonstrations against Ferguson police descended into a fourth night of tear gas, rubber bullets and chaos, heavily militarized police officers briefly detained two national journalists, arrested a St. Louis alderman sharing video of clashes and tear gassed a broadcast news crew.

Police actions against the press seem to be part of the reason Governor Jay Nixon finally decided to cut his Missouri State Fair trip short. The governor says he'll arrive in St. Louis County Thursday morning to manage what's increasingly becoming a volatile, violent and devastating time in St. Louis history.

Read all Riverfront Times coverage of the unrest in Ferguson and the aftermath of Michael Brown's shooting.

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St. Louisans From Far and Wide Clean Up Ferguson After Protests

Photos by Mitch Ryals
A group of volunteers clean up trash on West Florissant Avenue Wednesday morning.
Nighttime in north county is mired with heated confrontations between protesters and police, but during the day people from all over the city come to clean up.

Though looting ended on Sunday, nightly protests persist, and broken glass and garbage -- not all left over from protests -- line the streets.

About 100 people gathered at First Baptist Church in Ferguson Wednesday to clean up trash and ask business owners what other help they need. One volunteer passed out "I Heart North County" signs before the group dispersed. People traveled from places including Arnold, Winfield, St. Charles and St. Peters to help. After a brief prayer, half of the group went to South Florissant Road near the Ferguson police station, and half went to West Florissant Avenue where the looting took place Sunday night.

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