Pine Lawn Trainwreck Continues, Mayor Pleads Guilty on Extortion Charges and Resigns

Categories: News

Sylvester Caldwell used this obviously Photoshopped portrait of himself sitting in the Oval Office as his official picture on the Pine Lawn city website.
Oh, Sylvester.

The saga of Pine Lawn and its mayor, Sylvester Caldwell, reads like cautionary tale of corruption and petty tyranny in St. Louis' north county. Though the municipality is tiny -- just six-tenths of a square mile -- Pine Lawn's track record of official misconduct has given it a toxic reputation among many residents and neighboring towns. It's a reputation Caldwell has nurtured during his nearly ten-year run as mayor.

On Monday, Caldwell interrupted his own trial in federal court to plead guilty on separate counts of extortion and attempted extortion. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Caldwell's guilty plea came days after a jury saw a recording of him shaking down Eduard Shapshovich, owner of Eddie's Towing in Wellston, by demanding a series of payouts via coded messages about "green Mountain Dew in a cup."

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Savage Love Is Returning to Riverfront Times This Week

Categories: Media, Sex

Tell anyone in St. Louis that you work at the Riverfront Times, and they'll generally have one of two responses.

One, they want to know what it's like working with Ray Hartmann.

Or, two, they want to tell you that the RFT sucks for no longer carrying Savage Love.

Sometimes they'll even give you both replies. That's when you know you've got a live wire.

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VIDEO: Gang of Flying Asian Carp Mount Aerial Attack on Washington University Rowing Team

Categories: Environment

Benjamin Rosenbaum via CNN
When Asian carp attack.
The scene was straight out of a horror flick: the seemingly placid lake, the beauty of early springtime, the sounds of paddles splashing against water as members of Washington University's first-year men's rowing team guide their vessel to the dock. What could possibly go wrong?

But somewhere below the surface of Creve Coeur Lake, Asian carp begin to swarm. They target the interlopers. First one fish, then another, then ten others -- an explosion of finned bodies leaping from the depths to attack the panicked rowers. Soon, the sound of paddling is replaced with screams of terror.

This was (sort of) the scene that greeted Benjamin Rosenbaum, captain of the men's rowing team, on Friday morning. He managed to film what happened when his teammates got caught in a massive airborne attack from the notoriously ornery Asian carp.

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Star Clipper to Hold Downtown Grand Opening on April 25

Categories: Bidness, Books

Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
The new Star Clipper will have the same fixtures and staff as the old location in the Delmar Loop.
Two months after Star Clipper closed its doors in the Delmar Loop, its new owners have set a date for its grand reopening downtown: April 25.

The soft opening may come even sooner, says Keya Matanagh, who will be managing the location for owners Fantasy Books Inc.

"We are definitely going to be open by then," Matanagh promises.

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Triggerman in Murder-for-Hire Case Says Death Row Inmate Kimber Edwards Is Innocent

Categories: Death Penalty

Thumbnail image for orthell_wilson_missouri_prisoner.jpg
MIssouri Department of Corrections
Orthell Wilson told police he was paid to kill Kimberly Cantrell.

When the Missouri Supreme Court cancelled the May 12 execution date for Kimber Edwards, the reason seemed pretty mundane -- Edwards' two attorneys would be tied up around then and unable to properly represent him.

However, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch just published a stunning interview with Edwards' supposed accomplice, Orthell Wilson. In it, Wilson recants his implication of Edwards in the 2000 murder of Kimberly Cantrell, Edwards' ex-wife.

"Did he pay you to kill his wife?" asked reporter Jeremy Kohler in a telephone conversation recorded from the Jefferson City Correctional Center.

"No, he did not," Wilson answered.

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Mad Men: What's Left After Achieving Everything?

Categories: Arts

By Inkoo Kang

American Movie Classics
Don Draper and Peggy Olson.
Mad Men has always been, among many other things, about the exit of the old guard and the entrance of the new — and the acceleration of that transition by the mood and the movements of the '60s. The pilot, set in 1960, finds the Sterling Cooper higher-ups scrambling to locate a Jewish employee within their ranks so that he can sit in on a meeting with a potential Jewish client, Rachel Menken (Maggie Siff). "Have we ever hired any Jews?" asks Roger Sterling (John Slattery), whose place at the top was guaranteed to him as a birthright. "Not on my watch!" jokes Don Draper (Jon Hamm), oozing the casual anti-Semitism of the era. Just seven years later, those same men hire a Jewish copywriter, Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) — who in turn becomes psychotically paranoid about being supplanted by the brand-new computer that's moved into his office.

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How Rumors of Jewishness Clouded Jay Kanzler's 2002 Campaign

Categories: News

Best of the STL via YouTube
Jay Kanzler.
Jay Kanzler was on the campaign trail when he first heard the rumors.

It was the summer of 2002, and Kanzler, a St. Louis lawyer and aspiring filmmaker, had driven the 180-plus miles from St. Louis to the town of Willow Springs, deep in the southern of part of the state. He was chasing the GOP nomination for state auditor, and he liked his chances: He had the full backing of the Missouri Republican Party, and eventually he would attract more than $100,000 to his campaign coffers. Kanzler's only opponent in the primary was a joke, an ornery septuagenarian with a criminal record.

Still, the budding politician needed advice, so Kanzler made the pilgrimage to the home of Wendell Bailey, a fixture of Missouri Republican politics since the '70s who served four terms as state representative and two terms as treasurer. Kanzler remembers how they sat on the front porch of Bailey's home, drinking iced tea and talking shop.

"It was the perfect portrait of politics," Kanzler says. "We were just talking, and I was telling him about myself. At the time, I was pursuing becoming an Episcopal priest, and he said, 'That's funny, I've heard people around here think you're Jewish.'"

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Missouri Supreme Court Stays Execution of Kimber Edwards

Categories: Death Penalty

MIssouri Department of Corrections
Kimber Edwards

Late yesterday, the Missouri Supreme Court vacated a warrant of execution for Kimber Edwards, a man convicted of murdering his ex-wife through a hit man. Edwards had been scheduled to die on May 12.

In August 2000, Kimberly Cantrell was shot twice in the head in her University City apartment. Witnesses said they'd seen another man, Orthell Wilson, knocking on her door just before the shooting. But Wilson told police that Cantrell's ex-husband, Edwards, paid him $3,500 and provided him with a key to her apartment. Wilson also led authorities to the place where he'd stashed the murder weapon.

Prosecutors said Edwards did not want his ex-wife to prevail in a child-support battle. Edwards claimed he was framed and his confession coerced.

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In Edwin Drood, There Are So Many Ways to Die

Categories: Arts

John Lamb
Stray Dog brings double the fun with The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Everything comes in twos in Rupert Holmes' jolly musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood. All the actors play two parts, all of the characters have hidden second natures, there are two acts. Even the stage itself is split down the middle, with one half of the house orchestra sitting on each side. The play also has two speeds — funny and funnier.

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Ferguson Court Clerk Fired for Racist Emails Says Losing Her Job Was Like "Being Raped"

Categories: Ferguson

Mary Ann Twitty thinks racist jokes are all right, as long as they're funny.
"It took me a while to get over the feeling of being raped and being thrown under that bus."

That was how Mary Ann Twitty, the former Ferguson court clerk, described getting fired from her job after the U.S. Department of Justice released emails containing a bunch of racist jokes that she'd forwarded to two police officers.

It was one of several off-putting responses in a raging garbage fire of an interview with KMOV (Channel 4) yesterday, during which Twitty also rejected the conclusions of the DOJ report that accused of her of setting high fines and encouraging officers to write more tickets.

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