Elle Moxley

General Assignment Reporter

Elle joined KCUR in 2014 as a general assignment reporter. Most recently, she covered Indiana schools as an education reporter for NPR’s StateImpact project.

Previously, she reported for The Examiner in Independence, Mo., and KBIA-FM in Columbia, Mo.

She is a graduate of the University of Missouri.

Ways to Connect

Javier Giribet-Vargas / KERA News Special Contributor

After a deadly night for police officers in Dallas, a frustrated Sly James addressed reporters at Union Station Friday morning.

“You’ve got police officers being shot at from high altitudes by people with killing machines,” says James. “Weapons that were meant for war. The type of weapon I used when I was in the Marine Corps.”

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

The four Republican candidates for Missouri governor kicked off their debate Wednesday night with a variety of statements about the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion. KCUR fact-checked some of those statements. Here’s what we found:

Catherine Hanaway:

“Obamacare has failed in every regard. We were told it was going to reduce premiums. On average, premiums went up for the exchange in Missouri over 23 percent last year.”

Prof Cloverdale / Flickr--CC

The investment firms that bought Hostess brand snack cakes for $185 million three years ago are about to make bank on the recovering Kansas City-based company. The firms announced Tuesday that they’d reached a deal to sell a majority of the company for $725 million.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Incumbents and political hopefuls lined up Monday morning before the 2016 Lenexa Community Days Parade.

Kansas Sen. Greg Smith was near the front, right behind U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder.

“It’s just a fun event,” Smith said, adding that he participates even in non-election years. “If you’re in Northeast Johnson County, this is the place to be.”

Smith’s primary challenger, Dinah Sykes, was in the middle of the parade pack, marching alongside other moderate Republicans campaigning on public education.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansans who register to vote using a federal form at the Department of Motor Vehicles will have to provide proof of citizenship as a lawsuit plays out, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The League of Women Voters and other civil rights groups had sought a preliminary injunction to block such rules in Kansas, Alabama and Georgia.

“Because it’s a barrier to voting,” says Dolores Furtado, the immediate past president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “The percentage of eligible registered people that vote is sometimes terrible.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation stepping up oversight of the state’s 360 Community Improvement Districts.

“When residents vote to improve their communities through local taxing districts, they expect those districts to be held accountable and follow the law,” Nixon said Wednesday in Kansas City. “They need a watchdog, and that watchdog needs to have teeth.”

The bill Nixon signed makes that watchdog State Auditor Nicole Galloway. Before, Galloway could only audit a CID if a citizen petition requested it.

CC--Wikimedia

Misdemeanor assault convictions for domestic violence were enough to invoke a federal ban on firearms, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

Annie Sturby is the community safety assessment coordinator for the Kansas City-based Rose Brooks Center. She works with police, prosecutors and others in the community who interact with victims of domestic abuse.

Rarely do women ask for help obtaining a gun of their own, Sturby says.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Unified Government broke ground Friday on a new police station in Argentine, next to the Walmart Neighborhood Market that opened in 2014.

“This facility is the second police station command center we have opened in my tenure, the last three years,” Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland said at a ceremony. “It’s putting the police in a place that is most effective for the community and most effective for customer service.”

United States Mission Geneva / Wikimedia Commons--CC

Four former governors have banded together to “Save Kansas” from Gov. Sam Brownback and his supporters.

In a letter circulated Friday, former Govs. Kathleen Sebelius, Bill Graves, Mike Hayden and John Carlin urged Kansas Democrats, Republicans and Independents to band together “to regain our fiscal health and stop the calculated destruction of our revenue stream and our educational, healthcare, and transportation systems.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon came to Kansas City Wednesday to sign legislation strengthening laws against human trafficking.

“We tend to think of human trafficking as something that happens in a distant, undeveloped country,” Nixon said. “But the tragic reality is, right here in the United States, human trafficking is a real and growing problem.”

U.S. Department of Transportation

Kansas City lost out to Columbus, Ohio, in a bid to become the first Smart City, but it’ll still get help from the U.S. Department of Transportation to turn its ideas into reality.

On Tuesday, as Columbus media reported their city won the $50 million challenge, the DOT said it would back all seven finalists as they build better-connected cities.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A few years ago, Blue Springs police officers were fielding daily calls about disturbances at two apartment complexes near Interstate 70 and Woods Chapel Road.

Now disturbances are down at the complexes, which are  under new management. Both have been renovated recently .

Police Department Deputy Chief Bob Muenz credits the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, a national initiative to clean up apartment complexes.

Participating landlords attend training and attach a “crime-free” addendum to their lease.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Johnson County superintendents and local chambers of commerce are asking for a return to Kansas's old school funding formula and for a provision that would “hold all districts harmless.”

The Kansas Supreme Court has given lawmakers until June 30 to come up with an equitable funding formula or risk closure of the state’s schools. As it stands, Blue Valley, De Soto, Gardner-Edgerton, Olathe and Shawnee Mission will lose money under state lawmakers’ plan to equalize funding.

Unsplash / Pixabay

More Kansans are commuting to work than were in 2010.

That’s the latest from the Wichita State-based Center for Economic Development and Business Research, which on Thursday released an occasional report on Kansans’ commuting patterns.

“The choices about where we work are driven by the business cycle and what’s happening in that industry,” Pattie Bradley, senior research economist, says. “The choices we make about where to live are much more varied.”

Schools, crime, the cost and availability of housing, other amenities – all factor into the decisions people make.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Can data help Kansas City, Kansas, reverse decades of urban decay?

Mayor Mark Holland thinks so.

It’s economics 101, the mayor says: property values plummet when there are more houses than people. That’s what happened when white families started to leave Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1960s. 

“Thirty-thousand fewer people is about 10,000 empty homes,” Holland says, “which has become about 6,000 vacant lots.”

More minorities moved in but not fast enough to make up for the population loss. Today, fewer than 150,000 people live in Kansas City, Kansas.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

Horrified. Sad. Distraught.

That’s how Kansas Citians felt Sunday after a weekend shooting at an Orlando gay club left 50 people dead.

But they also weren’t surprised.

“I just feel like mass shooting in this country happens really often,” John Lim said.

The alleged gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, had ties to ISIS, NPR reported. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police after a nearly 3-hour standoff.

Another 53 people were injured.

Paul Mullenex, walking on the Country Club Plaza Sunday afternoon, took a grim view of what happened in Florida.

U.S. Department of Transportation

With $40 million from the Department of Transportation, Kansas City would build on the network Google Fiber brought to town five years ago.

That’s the pitch Mayor Sly James made Thursday before U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx. Kansas City is one of seven finalists in the Smart Cities Challenge.

“This isn’t about technology,” James said. “It’s not about streets. It’s about people.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A proposed $227 million extension of Kansas City’s streetcar line could add nearly four miles to the current route.

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance – a citizens’ group not affiliated with the city or the KC Streetcar Authority – filed a petition in Jackson County Court Wednesday to fund an expansion of the current line with a new taxing district along Main Street.

“You think about the shops we have here,” UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton said Thursday morning outside the Colonial Shops on 51st Street. “You think about the Plaza. You think about the Nelson art gallery.”

Frances Burnett, 91, switched her party registration from Democrat to Republican so she could vote in the Senate District 34 primary for Ed Berger.
Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

For the first time in more than 30 years, there’s a Democrat running in every Kansas Senate district. But their fellow left-leaning Kansans might not be voting for them in August.

That’s because some are so fed up with Gov. Sam Brownback, they’d rather switch parties to vote for a moderate Republican in the primary than allow the governor’s supporters to stay in the Legislature.

A lifelong resident of Arlington, Kansas, 91-year-old Francis Burnett laughs when asked if she’s a Democrat.

Anton Novoselov / Flickr--CC

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon returned from a trade mission to Cuba Wednesday with high hopes the state’s farmers will find an export market there.

“This is a country that imports about 50 percent of its food right now,” said Nixon, who spoke to reporters on a conference line from Miami. “They have not yet moved toward modern, productive agriculture at anything near the same level as farmers and ranchers in Missouri.”

Nixon rattled off a long list of products he thinks could be sold in Cuba: soybeans, corn, rice, beef, dairy, poultry, hogs, cotton, wine and biodiesel.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

William Conway. Charles Luken. Frank Rohrback. Maurice Bedell. Wesley Walden. Thomas Medina. James Reynolds.

“Those are the men, the deputies, who are carved in this monument,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 40 President David Toland said Wednesday at the dedication ceremony for a memorial honoring fallen Wyandotte County sheriff deputies. “I hope these are the last.”

An emotional Rick Whitby, president emeritus of FOP Lodge 40, shared personal stories about two of the fallen deputies.

Whitby said he was the last to talk to Reynolds before he died in 1984.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker doesn’t think victims and first responders should lose their right to privacy just because they’re witnesses in criminal proceedings.

Baker filed a friend-of-the-court brief Tuesday firing back at a St. Louis judge who in several cases has ordered the City Circuit Attorney there to disclose the home addresses of crime victims and law enforcement officers scheduled to testify in court.

“We're not trying to hide them,” Baker says. “But what we are trying to do is balance their privacy right against our system of justice.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A Kansas City nonprofit that helps connect homeless veterans with housing and jobs held a “stand down” Friday outside the World War I Museum and Memorial.

“We have an extraordinarily high homeless population,” says Art Fillmore, founder and co-chairman of Heart of America Stand Down. “A couple of years ago, it was up to around 1,700 homeless veterans.”

Fillmore says while city and county leaders have been proactive in addressing homelessness, that number is mostly going down as Vietnam veterans die.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Congressman Kevin Yoder says it remains to be seen if Kansans will back presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in November.

Though Yoder has endorsed Trump, he waited to do so until after Ted Cruz and other candidates had dropped out of the race.

“My position is I support the nominee,” says Yoder.

Yoder says while Trump wasn’t his first choice, he doesn’t think Hillary Clinton reflects Kansas values.

Much of metro Kansas City is experiencing severe weather with multiple watches and warnings throughout the listening area.

“Some of these storms are capable of producing tornadoes," says Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. "All of them are capable of producing damaging winds in excess of 60 miles per hour and large hail, and we’ve had reports of up to baseball-size hail over Northeast Kansas.”

DonkeyHotey / Flickr - CC

June 1 is the last day party-affiliated voters can change their registration in Kansas before the August 2 primary.

But the Executive Director of the Kansas Democratic Party, Kerry Gooch, says he’s more focused on registering unaffiliated voters.

“I think Democrats should vote for Democrats in the primary, and I think Republicans should vote for Republicans in the primary,” Gooch says.

Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republicans, expressed similar sentiments about party-switching in an email.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

United Methodist leaders are trying to avoid a church schism over gay rights.

“We have gay and lesbian people who are married,” says Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. “They have children. We welcome them. We’re not going to tell them they should get divorced and divide up the children. We’re going to say, ‘We’re glad you made a lifelong covenant.’”

But Hamilton acknowledges that his congregation, the largest of United Methodists in the United States, has many conservative members who believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A plan to turn Kemper Arena into a youth sports complex received a warm reception Wednesday at a city council committee meeting held at the facility.

Large, framed photos from soccer games, livestock shows and concerts line the walls – a glimpse of what the old West Bottoms arena used to be.

But with its only tenant, the American Royal, seemingly poised to move to Kansas, Kemper has sat largely empty in recent years.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

For Michelle Rice’s son, the problems started when he was in fourth grade at a Kansas City charter school.

“He was under the supervision of a teacher who was Caucasian,” Rice says, “and regularly, he was either in the principal’s office or sent to the computer lab.”

The more time Marquelle spent out of class, the further behind he fell, and his behavior problems escalated. Soon, he was receiving out-of-school suspensions for what Rice describes as minor infractions.

Missouri Department of Transportation

The aging Grand Avenue bridge over Interstate 670 will have to be replaced, the Missouri Department of Transportation announced Friday.

The bridge has been closed since May 6, when small pieces of concrete started falling off of it, District Engineer Dan Niec says.

It cannot be repaired.

“The current design of that bridge was modern for that time, for that era, when it was built back in the ’60s,” Niec says. “Those types of bridges are no longer built.”

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