WBEZ | St. Louis http://www.wbez.org/tags/st-louis Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Decision clears way for Illinois high-speed rail line http://www.wbez.org/news/decision-clears-way-illinois-high-speed-rail-line-104465 <p><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; The Federal Railroad Administration has taken action that will allow the full build-out of a high-speed rail corridor between Chicago and St. Louis.</p><p>The administration said Tuesday the Rock Island Corridor is the most efficient route between Joliet and Chicago. Officials also chose a route through Springfield that consolidates trains on the city&#39;s 10th Street corridor.</p><p>The decisions were the final step needed for environmental approval of the project.</p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn praised the action. He said design and construction work may begin once funding is available.</p><p>The $1.5 billion in improvements to the Illinois line are expected to enable speeds of 110 mph over 70 percent of the route by 2015.</p><p>That is expected to shave about an hour off the journey between Chicago and St. Louis.</p></p> Wed, 19 Dec 2012 08:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/decision-clears-way-illinois-high-speed-rail-line-104465 Occupy St. Louis to meet with city's leaders http://www.wbez.org/story/occupy-st-louis-meet-citys-leaders-93856 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/stlouis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>ST. LOUIS — City leaders will meet Tuesday with protesters involved in the Occupy St. Louis movement to try to resolve a dispute over the occupation of a downtown park. The mayor's chief of staff, meanwhile, said the city will do everything it can to avoid a violent confrontation if occupiers refuse to leave.</p><p>Jeff Rainford, chief of staff for Mayor Francis Slay, and city Parks Commissioner Dan Skillman were scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. with protesters at the Edward Jones Dome. Slay is not scheduled to attend the meeting.</p><p>Slay, Rainford and other city leaders are calling for an end to the occupation of Kiener Plaza. A few dozen protesters have been camping in tents at the park, a few blocks from Busch Stadium and the Gateway Arch, for the past several weeks as part of the nationwide Occupy movement.</p><p>"We've given them a wide berth because of their First Amendment rights," Rainford said. "But now we're getting complaints."</p><p>He said the complaints are varied: The area smells bad and the tents are unsightly; the occupiers are taking up park space that should be open to everyone. Some complain simply because they don't like their politics, Rainford said.</p><p>"We're caught in the middle," Rainford said.</p><p>City Hall leaders, police and others have developed a plan for what to do if the protesters refuse to end the encampment "that seeks to minimize the possibility of violence," Rainford said. He did not offer details of the plan.</p><p>Calls to a spokeswoman for Occupy St. Louis, Chrissie Brooks, were not immediately returned.</p><p>In a blog last week, Slay cited the approaching cold weather and the need to clear space for other events. Kiener Plaza is typically decorated for Christmas and is often the location for downtown events ranging from charitable gatherings to pep rallies to performances by school bands or choirs.</p><p>"I know, and the Occupy participants know, that they cannot stay there forever," Slay wrote.</p><p>Rainford said that by camping at the park, occupiers are violating at least two city laws: The 10 p.m. park curfew, and a law prohibiting the placement of structures — in this case, tents — in public parks.</p><p>Occupy St. Louis on Monday responded on its website, accusing the city of caving to "Big Business" and saying the Occupy movement has generated "vast support across the country and around the world."</p><p>"How ironic, then, that Mayor Slay has decided to stop listening to the complaints of the people and instead heed the complaints of the corporate groups that control the city," the statement read.</p><p>The statement also cited what it called false accusations against the protesters. Rainford has said Kiener Plaza "reeks of urine," which the statement called false.</p><p>"The occupiers have done a remarkable job of maintaining a clean and orderly place," the statement said, citing the group's safe space policy that calls for the area to be free of alcohol, drugs, weapons, hate speech and violence.</p><p>A police spokeswoman said there have been no reports of violence at the encampment. The only arrests came in early October, when 10 protesters were cited for curfew violations.</p><p>The statement also discounted Slay's claim that the area needs to be cleared for other events, saying the group has already shared the space with many others. And the group sought to turn the tables on Slay, citing a list of problems during his 11 years in office, ranging from failed or delayed development projects to high infant mortality rates.</p></p> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 17:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/occupy-st-louis-meet-citys-leaders-93856 EPA: Lead levels too high in Pilsen air http://www.wbez.org/story/epa-lead-levels-too-high-pilsen-air-87913 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-15/Kramer.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday said the air in a swath of Chicago’s Southwest Side does not meet federal standards for lead. The finding is preliminary, but could lead to a crackdown on a copper smelter.</p><p>The finding supports an Illinois determination that the air in an area of the city’s Pilsen neighborhood exceeds 2008 federal limits for lead. The area’s borders are Damen Avenue, Roosevelt Road and the Dan Ryan and Stevenson expressways.</p><p>Cheryl Newton, who directs the air division of an EPA region that includes Illinois, says the process could lead to a state plan “to make sure those elevated levels come down.”</p><p>A cleanup could be a problem for a Pilsen smelter owned by H. Kramer and Co. In April a U.S. EPA legal complaint accused Kramer of violating lead-emissions rules. Illinois regulators, meanwhile, asked the state attorney general to take action.</p><p>A Kramer spokeswoman said the company had no comment on the U.S. EPA’s preliminary finding.</p><p>Pilsen and an area near St. Louis are the only Illinois locations whose air, according to the state, does not meet the standards for lead. Early childhood exposure to lead, a heavy metal, can trigger learning disabilities.</p></p> Thu, 16 Jun 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/epa-lead-levels-too-high-pilsen-air-87913 Chicago men indicted over contraband cigarettes http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/chicago-men-indicted-over-contraband-cigarettes <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/cigarette packs.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Eleven men from the St. Louis and Chicago areas are facing federal indictment for allegedly trafficking in contraband cigarettes.</p><p>The U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis announced the indictments on Thursday. Four of the men are from suburban St. Louis, five are from Chicago and two are from Chicago suburbs.</p><p>Authorities say the illegal enterprise supplied hundreds of thousands of contraband cigarettes to people in Missouri and Illinois. The participants allegedly sold the cigarettes without paying state and local cigarette taxes.<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 06 Jan 2011 21:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/chicago-men-indicted-over-contraband-cigarettes U.S. bishops reject candidate tied to Chicago sex abuse http://www.wbez.org/story/news/us-bishops-reject-candidate-tied-chicago-sex-abuse <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Kicanas2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. Catholic bishops have chosen a New York prelate to lead their organization for the next three years. The move is an unexpected defeat for an Arizona bishop under fire for his links to an imprisoned Chicago child molester.<br /><br />At a meeting Tuesday in Baltimore, the bishops elected New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, a St. Louis native, as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dolan&rsquo;s victory is the first time in decades the nation&rsquo;s bishops have passed over a sitting vice president for their top post.<br /><br />That vice president, Tuscon Bishop Gerald Kicanas, once served as rector of a Chicago archdiocese seminary in northwest suburban Mundelein. In that post, Kicanas heard about three instances of alleged sexual misconduct by a student named Daniel McCormack.<br /><br />The nature of those incidents is murky. An archdiocese-commissioned report describes one as &ldquo;sexual abuse of a minor&rdquo; and says they occurred when McCormack attended a nearby seminary college&mdash;before he arrived in Mundelein.<br /><br />Kicanas approved McCormack&rsquo;s 1994 ordination. As a Chicago priest, McCormack sexually abused more than a dozen boys. Cardinal Francis George had started receiving allegations about the abuse by September 2005 but didn&rsquo;t pull McCormack out of the ministry until Chicago police arrested the priest in January 2006. The roles of Kicanas and George, the outgoing USCCB president, were the subject of a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/undefined/sex-abuse-lurks-behind-catholic-election">WBEZ report</a> last month.<br /><br />The National Catholic Register last week pressed Kicanas for his reactions to the report. A written response from the bishop said revelations about the three alleged sexual-misconduct incidents led to a church evaluation of McCormack. He said the evaluation sought &ldquo;to determine if he could live a celibate life and if there was any concern about his affective maturity.&rdquo;<br /><br />The evaluation found that McCormack&rsquo;s alleged misconduct was &ldquo;experimental and developmental,&rdquo; Kicanas added. &ldquo;I would never defend endorsing McCormack&rsquo;s ordination if I had had any knowledge or concern that he might be a danger to anyone.&rdquo;<br /><br />On Sunday morning some victims of priest sexual abuse led a Chicago protest against Kicanas, warning that it would be a mistake for U.S. bishops to elect him. Some conservative Catholic bloggers, meanwhile, seized on the controversy and cited additional reasons to oppose Kicanas. They said he wouldn&rsquo;t uphold many Catholic teachings strictly enough.<br /><br />Kicanas, 69, has pushed for dialogue between the church&rsquo;s liberal and conservative wings. In Arizona, the bishop has spoken against abortion and gay marriage but hasn&rsquo;t denied communion to politicians who favor abortion rights. On immigration, Kicanas has sided against a tough new Arizona law and pushed for a federal overhaul that would include a legalization of undocumented residents. Kicanas promoted &ldquo;comprehensive immigration reform&rdquo; as recently as Friday, when he gave the keynote speech at a church conference in Hammond, Indiana, just southeast of Chicago.<br /><br />Dolan, 60, appeals to many Catholic conservatives as a more aggressive defender of church orthodoxy. Last year, he signed a statement that united leading evangelicals and Catholics against abortion and gay marriage.<br /><br />The Vatican installed Dolan as New York archbishop last year. He had spent almost seven years as archbishop of Milwaukee.<br /><br />In Baltimore, where the bishops are holding their annual fall meeting, Dolan beat Kicanas in the third round of voting, 128-111. Dolan will replace Cardinal George as president this week. In another win for conservatives, the bishops elected Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz to take Kicanas&rsquo; place as their vice president.<br /><br />An expert on the U.S. bishops says it&rsquo;s hard to know whether the latest McCormack flare-up shifted votes against the Tuscon bishop. &ldquo;Clearly Kicanas was being attacked and accused of making bad decisions when he was rector of the seminary,&rdquo; says Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. &ldquo;On the other hand, Dolan has also been criticized by victims of sexual abuse.&rdquo;<br /><br />In August, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Dolan &ldquo;quietly, recklessly and deceptively&rdquo; let a priest resign from his Harlem parish without mentioning that &ldquo;at least nine men&rdquo; had accused the priest of sexually abusing them as children.<br /><br />But a SNAP statement applauds Tuesday&rsquo;s defeat of Kicanas: &ldquo;We can hope that his shocking defeat will help deter future clergy sex crimes and coverups by the Catholic hierarchy.&rdquo;<br /><br />The USCCB has no formal authority over bishops but helps them promote Catholic teachings and coordinate positions on national issues such as marriage, immigration and health care. The organization has also formed policies to protect children from sexually abusive priests and other adults.</p></p> Tue, 16 Nov 2010 21:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/us-bishops-reject-candidate-tied-chicago-sex-abuse