St. Louis Named Top 5 City for Young Veterans

Categories: News

DVIDSHUB via flickr
Thank you for your service. Now come move to St. Louis!
St. Louis' recent downtown revitalization and low housing costs are just two of the reasons why young veterans should consider moving here after service, according to a study.

The USAA, which provides insurance and financial services to 10.4 million current and former members of the U.S. military, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation released a list of ten of the top cities where young vets can transition out of military life and into a civilian career. St. Louis ranks No. 5 this year, after not making the list at all in 2013.

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Time Is Running Out for St. Louis City's Free Warrant Forgiveness Program

Categories: News

Google Maps
St. Louis municipal courthouse at 1520 Market Street, where you can get a new court date and keep that warrant cleared.
Don't want a warrant on your record? St. Louis city is offering the 71,000 traffic offenders still facing warrants in the city a free way to get a new court date without facing arrest, but the program expires at the end of the year.

The city forgave 220,000 traffic-related warrants in October, one month after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, as protests in Ferguson shone a spotlight on municipal courts that use traffic violations and court fees to pad city budgets.

See also: "This Is What Jim Crow Looks Like": A Day in North St. Louis County Courts

That means if you had a warrant for a moving or non-moving traffic violation (except for alcohol-related charges, DWI, DUI or leaving the scene of an accident,) the city cleared it months ago.

But if you want it to stay cleared, there's one thing you have to do: schedule a new court date.

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Ferguson Protester Hit by Minivan in Central West End Blames Driver

Categories: Ferguson, News

Police arrest the driver of a minivan who stuck three protesters in the Central West End on Wednesday night.
St. Louis police say they are unsure of the sequence of events that led an armed minivan driver to plow into several protesters Wednesday night at the intersection of Euclid and Maryland avenues in the Central West End.

Police spokeswoman Leah Freeman says the department briefly detained the unnamed 57-year-old man after he flashed a gun at the angry crowd that surrounded his vehicle after the collision. But despite video footage and numerous witnesses congregated at the intersection, an incident report provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department cites "contradicting statements from the driver and individuals at the scene" as reason the man was released that night without charges.

One of the victims struck by the minivan tells Daily RFT there should be no confusion about what happened that night, placing blame solely on the driver.

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New Black Panther Member Arrested on Gun Charge Had Promoted Peace in Ferguson

Categories: News

Danny Wicentowski
In this August 14 photo, Olajuwon Ali, left, helps direct traffic during a celebratory protest in Ferguson. Ali, whose legal name is Olajuwon Davis, was indicted last week on weapons charges.
A U.S. District Court indicted two members of the St. Louis chapter of the New Black Panther Party Wednesday on federal weapons charges. The men were arrested Friday morning.

Brandon Orlando Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis are charged with lying on forms submitted during a gun purchase at the Cabela's sporting goods in Hazelwood earlier this month. According to a federal indictment, Baldwin had claimed to be buying two Hi-Point .45 ACP pistols for himself when he was actually acting as a straw purchaser for someone else. The indictment doesn't identify the intended recipient of the handguns.

Citing an anonymous police source, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that a months-long investigation uncovered Baldwin and Davis' plans to acquire weapons, "to do harm to law enforcement and the public." Yet other news media, including Reuters and ABC, cite their own anonymous sources to report that the FBI arrested Baldwin and Davis for allegedly planning pipe bomb attacks to take place during future Ferguson protests. KMOV also mentions the alleged pipe bomb plot, but its report doesn't make an explicit connection to Baldwin and Davis.

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Charles Manson and His St. Louis-Area Bride Apply For Marriage License

Categories: News

Charles Manson, the groom-to-be.
Cue the wedding bells and chill the Champagne. Charles Manson is getting married.

Afton Elaine Burton is the 80-year-old mass murderer's fiancee, as Daily RFT reported a year ago. Burton, a 26-year-old Susan Atkins look-alike who now goes by the name Star, grew up 40 miles north of St. Louis in Bunker Hill, Illinois, where her parents and two brothers still live.

The killer couple hasn't set a date yet, but Kings County has issued them a marriage license, according to the Associated Press. A prison wedding coordinator is organizing the ceremony, which will be in an inmate visiting room at California's Corcoran State Prison. The couple is allowed to invite ten non-inmate guests.

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Sharon Carpenter Misspent $130,000+ from Recorder of Deeds Office: Audit

Categories: News, Politics

Sharon Carpenter is hoping St. Louisans reelects her to Recorder of Deeds on November 4.
Former Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter misspent $130,274.08 of city funds between July, 1 2010 and and June 30, 2014, according to a draft version of an audit conducted by the St. Louis Comptroller's Office.

The expenses included reimbursements to employees for restaurant, travel and hotel bills during conventions, as well as picking up the tab at meetings with vendors. According to the audit, which was acquired by Daily RFT through a Sunshine Request, Carpenter payed for those items by tapping the Technology and Archival Account, a fund whose usage is restricted under state statute to "record storage, microfilming, and preservation, including anything necessarily thereto."

Notably, the draft of the audit makes no mention of the nepotism allegations that led to Carpenter's resignation in July, or the fact that Carpenter -- who was first appointed to recorder in 1980 -- withdrew roughly $12,000 from the Technology and Archival Account to pay her great-nephew's intern salary and parking costs.

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Recorder of Deeds Whistle Blower: Campaigns are Failing St. Louis Voters

Categories: News, Politics

Steve Truesdell
After 34 years heading the Recorder of Deeds Office, Sharon Carpenter was an untouchable power broker and pillar of St. Louis' old guard politicians. Now she wants her old job back.
It's that time again -- campaign season has peaked and democracy lovers everywhere are prepping their voting muscles for tomorrow's election.

Yet while national pundits fret over which party will control Congress, the election in St. Louis has it's own wild drama, centered on a little-known office that, until recently, never made headlines -- the Recorder of Deeds. Sharon Carpenter, a Democrat, headed the office since 1980, but she resigned in July after admitting she'd violated Missouri's nepotism statute by hiring her great nephew. Now she's campaigning to get her job back.

Carpenter's downfall was arguably engineered by Marie Ceselski, a nearly 20-year employee in the Recorder of Deeds office and an unapologetic whistle blower. It was Ceselski who first leaked evidence of Carpenter's shenanigans to political opponents, official auditors and the media. Since Carpenter's resignation, Ceselski, a 7th Ward Committeewoman, has continued to air Carpenter's dirty laundry on her blog, The Great State of St. Louis.

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Missouri Supreme Court Disbars Attorney Tied to Chuck Norman Estate, Real Estate Scam

Categories: News

Image: 3D Judges Gavel by Chris Potter (2012) / / CC BY 2.0

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday disbarred Lisa Krempasky, an attorney caught up in a massive real estate scam that cost St. Louis investors tens of millions of dollars.

Last year Krempasky agreed to give up her law license for three years following an investigation by the Secretary of State's Office that found she misled financial backers caught up in the scheme. The St. Louis attorney has since appealed to the court to shorten those sanctions to one year. But in disbarring her this week, the Supreme Court in effect lengthened the penalty against her by two years. (Disbarment in Missouri lasts for five years.)

"The court finds that [Krempasky] is guilty of professional misconduct and should be disciplined," wrote Chief Justice Mary Russell in an order handed down October 28.

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Greene County Sheriff Candidate Beats Felony Charge Filed by Current Sheriff

Categories: News

Courtesy of Luke Lamb
Luke Lamb (left), a "constitutional sheriff's candidate," beat a jury-tampering charge last week and is back on the campaign trail.
Luke Lamb has reason to be wary of juries. A candidate for sheriff in Greene County, Illinois (about 60 miles north of St. Louis), he was charged in March with unlawful communication with a juror -- a felony -- after posting a few giddy Facebook comments to a friend who had been selected for jury duty.

Last week, however, it was a jury that saved Lamb's political career. After a two-day trial, twelve jurors unanimously voted not guilty on October 23. That means Lamb can restart his political campaign against the cop who cited him with jury tampering -- current Greene County sheriff, Robert McMillen.

"It felt amazing to be free," says Lamb, who was forced to put his campaign on hold for months while his lawyer fought the felony charge. Now, it's all election, all the time. He's leaving fliers on doors, shaking hands, erecting lawn signs shaped like paper Liberty Bells and delivering speeches from the back of a pickup trucks. He's got a lot of ground to cover before the November 4 election.

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Here's the Agreement that Ended the Occupation of Saint Louis University

Danny Wicentowski
Hundreds of protesters swarmed the Saint Louis University campus last week, demanding action. It seems the university's president listened.
The sit-in dubbed Occupy SLU ended quietly this weekend. By Saturday afternoon, not a tent could be found near the clock tower where protesters massed during the early morning hours of October 13, waving upside-down American flags, raising fists in the air and calling to Saint Louis University students -- "Out of the dorms, into the streets!"

The movement to occupy the private, Jesuit institution kicked off last week's "Moral Monday," and by that day's end more than 50 people had been arrested in a series of protest events around St. Louis. On October 18 protesters and school officials agreed to end the sit-in. In a written statement, SLU president Fred Pestello attributed the end Occupy SLU to "many intense hours of outreach and conversation" with protesters and other community activists.

However, it seems that those intense conversations yielded more than just a broadly worded statement from SLU's president. Shortly after protesters left the campus, a photo of a printed agreement between the school and three protest groups began circulating on social media and right-wing blogs.

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