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Springfield City Council Tried to Stop Marijuana Reform Vote, Now Has to Pay Up $225,000

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Rotational/Wikimedia
A coalition of groups working toward marijuana reform has earned a six-figure settlement from the City of Springfield after council members there unconstitutionally quashed a petition to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Now Springfield will have to pay $225,000 to those pro-reform groups.

It all started back in 2012 when Show-Me Cannabis and the American Victory Coalition introduced a citizen-funded ballot initiative slated for the November 2012 election.

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MO Supreme Court Inaction Means Big Win for Critics of Red-Light Cameras

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Dave Dugdale
Judges say red-light cameras are now unconstitutional or invalid in five Missouri cities.
The Missouri Supreme Court will not take on two court cases involving red-light cameras in Ellisville and Arnold, effectively invalidating the cities' ordinances.

The Supreme Court has turned down five recent chances to have its say on the controversial cameras, leaving Missouri with a confusing patchwork of red-light laws.


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Wife of Alleged Auto Scammer Flips Out At KMOV: "I'm The Pretty Lady!"

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KMOV
Breaking news: Used-car dealerships sometimes screw their customers.
Say what you will about local TV news, but KMOV (Channel 4) delivered a hell of a show yesterday when reporter Chris Nagus confronted the wife of Tadarrell Qualls, an auto-lot owner who is being sued for duping customers into buying cars without titles.

KMOV has been hounding Qualls and the north-city car dealership he manages, Exclusive Imports, for years. But when KMOV's Nagus arrived on the lot, Qualls' wife LaTashia gave him an ear full.

"I'm the mystery lady! I'm the pretty lady!" she shouts at Nagus when he asks for her name. She wasn't done yelling, either.

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ACLU: Missouri Recognizes Out-Of-State Marriage For First Cousins, Why Not Gays?

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Tommy Wu
One of the ACLU's plaintiff couples, LeRoy Fitzwater and Alan Ziegler.
Save the date: September 25, 2014.

That's when oral arguments will kick off in Barrier v. Vasterling, the most direct legal challenge to Missouri's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage since the amendment became law in 2004.

"Missouri has traditionally recognized marriages from other states that were legally entered into," says Tony Rothert, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, which is suing the state on behalf of eight same-sex couples who were legally married elsewhere in the U.S.. It's unfair, he explains, that Missouri honors the union between two first cousins married in Tennessee and not the one between two women married in Iowa.


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Judge Rules Against Anti-Gay Marriage Effort in Legal Fight Over Missouri Taxes

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quinn.anya on flickr
For now, at least, married gay couples in Missouri can pay joint taxes.
Ever since Governor Jay Nixon altered Missouri's tax code to allow legally married gay couples to file joint taxes -- a move that puts the state in line with federal rules -- anti-gay marriage advocates are pulling out every trick in the book to stop him.

First, they filed a lawsuit. Then Rep. Nick Marshall tried to impeach Nixon.

The final trick in the anti-gay marriage playbook was a restraining order from four of Missouri's most committed conservatives who say changing the tax rule is tantamount to legalizing gay marriage in the Show-Me State.


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Spouses v. Husband & Wife: Fight over Taxes for Married Gay Couples Heats Up

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stevendamron on flickr
"Here? Where it says 'wife?' Can we change that to 'spouse?'"
Gay couples may be constitutionally banned from marrying in Missouri, but this year, for the first time, LGBT people who marry in other states and pay taxes here are allowed to file jointly, like any other married couple.

Conservative, "pro-family" activists want to change that. They've tried lawsuits. They've tried impeaching the governor, who changed the rule in the first place.

Now, they're trying a restraining order.


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As Fred Phelps Inches Toward Hell, Missouri Law Forbids Funeral Protests He's Known For

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Rev. Fred Phelps.
The hate-mongering piece of garbage that is The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., is almost dead, but at least he lived long enough to see a Missouri judge uphold a law forbidding his followers from one of their most antagonizing tactics: funeral protests.

Protesters at funerals must stay 300 feet away starting one hour before the funeral and ending an hour after the services, U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan, Jr., ruled last week.

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Stripper Suit: PT's Clubs Respond to Lawsuit Demanding Wages for Exotic Dancers

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electricnerve via flickr
Strippers on the East Side are suing over their wages.
VCG Holdings Corp., the company behind the PT's chain of strip clubs, says it will fight back in a lawsuit filed by two exotic dancers who say clubs cheated them out of wages by classifying them as "independent contractors," not employees.

The plaintiffs -- two strippers from Missouri named Brandy Apple and Amanda Sheer -- say in the class action suit that the clubs threatened retaliation on any of the about 300 dancers who wanted to change to full employees. The women also say their tips from table dances, lap dances and their other sexy services were unfairly taken from them -- first in a required tip split, then in an additional $1-per-song "tip-out" to managers, bartenders, bouncers and other employees.

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Petition Asks MO Attorney General Chris Koster to Release Cornealious "Mike" Anderson

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Courtesy LaQonna Anderson

Update 11:40 a.m.: This American Life just posted the petition to their Facebook page and the signature count has skyrocketed. Currently, there are over 1,300 names.

Last weekend, the national radio program This American Life ran a piece on Cornealious "Mike" Anderson. The report is based on a Riverfront Times feature we published back in September. It tells the strange story of how Anderson was convicted of armed robbery back in 1999, but was never picked up by Missouri authorities. The state finally realized its mistake this past July and re-arrested him. In the past thirteen years, Anderson rehabilitated himself and started a family with his wife. Today, he's back in prison. His release date is currently set for 2026.

Since it aired, RFT and Anderson's attorney, Patrick Michael Megaro have received a steady stream of e-mails from listeners asking how they can advocate for Anderson's release. In response, Megaro posted an online petition at Change.org, entitled "Release Cornealious Michael Anderson III From Prison." And the signature ticker is slowly rising.

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Strippers' Lawsuit Against PT's Clubs Makes Exotic Dancing Sound Like the Worst Job Ever

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wbeem on flickr
Brandy Apple is an amazing stripper name.
Two exotic dancers from PT's strip clubs have filed a lawsuit accusing owners of cheating about 300 women out of their minimum wage and benefits -- and threatening to steal their table-dance tips if they complained about it.

Brandy Apple and Amanda Sheer, both Missouri residents, filed the class-action lawsuit last month demanding back pay and damages for the hundreds of strippers who've worked for VCG Holding Corp. -- which owns PT's Brooklyn, PT's Centreville, PT's Sports, the Penthouse Club and Roxy -- without a wage or benefits, some for more than ten years.

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