Frank Morris

National Correspondent and Senior Editor

Frank Morris has supervised the reporters in KCUR's newsroom since 1999. In addition to his managerial duties, Morris files regularly with National Public Radio. He’s covered everything from tornadoes to tax law for the network, in stories spanning eight states. His work has won dozens of awards, including four national Public Radio News Directors awards (PRNDIs) and several regional Edward R. Murrow awards. In 2012 he was honored to be named "Journalist of the Year" by the Heart of America Press Club.

Morris grew up in rural Kansas listening to KHCC, spun records at KJHK throughout college at the University of Kansas, and cut his teeth in journalism as an intern for Kansas Public Radio, in the Kansas statehouse.

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Photo: Frank Morris

Kansas City, MO – "It's a great day for all working people in the state of Missouri!" said Jim Wells, regional director for the Autoworkers union reflecting a pretty upbeat mood across the street from the Claycomo plant. Workers and politicians celebrated as governor Nixon signed the measure granting auto makers, and their suppliers up to 15 million dollars a year in tax breaks, for 10 years if they invest here.

"We are committed to making sure that Missouri is an automotive (manufacturing) state for years to come", said Nixon.

Kansas City, Mo. – Low-income working people tend to qualify for tax refunds, to get their taxes done early and to buy lucrative "refund anticipation loans". Until recently, H&R Block expanded aggressively to grab that business.

But Block's tax preparation work dove 5 percent this year. CEO Russ Smyth says the mounting popularity of tax preparation software cuts into their business, but that double digit unemployment among the working poor cuts deeper.

Kansas City, Mo. – 32-year-old Khalid Ouazzani, a U.S. Citizen originally from Morocco, has pleaded guilty to federal charges of providing material support to a terrorist organization.

Ouazzani ran Truman Used Auto Parts, on Truman Road in Kansas City. He has admitted to pledging allegiance to Al-Qaida and between August 2007 and February 2010, actively supporting the organization.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Kansas City , Mo. – Federal and Kansas City officials have agreed on a partial fix for the city's sewer system. It will cost more than 2.5 billion dollars and take 25 years the largest infrastructure project in the city's history. A consent decree lodged in US federal court Tuesday all but sealed the deal after years of negotiations pitting the city against the EPA and Justice Department.

Walt Covers KC's Worst-Ever Tornado

May 14, 2010

Kansas City – Tornadoes raked Kansas and Oklahoma a week ago, killing 5 people. But those storms were minor compared to the one that hit Kansas City on May 20th, 1957. The Ruskin Heights Tornado was among the most powerful ever recorded. It obliterated the new neighborhood that it's named for, and killed dozens of people. KCUR's Walt Bodine was there before the dust cleared.

Kansas City, Mo. – Westport High School is slated to close this spring after 103 years. KCUR's Walt Bodine attended classes there in the 1930s, when the school was relatively new, and affluent. A violent crime near a student hangout close to the school changed his life, and put him on the career path he's been on ever since. KCUR's Frank Morris spoke with him about his time at Westport High, starting with the impression that struck him, when he walked in the door for his first day of classes.

Kansas City, Mo. – Last summer General Motors was clinging to life, bankrupt, propped up only by a massive infusion of government cash. Wednesday, though, money was flowing the other way. The company announced that it's sinking a lot of cash into its Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas. It also trumped the fact that it has repaid a massive federal government loan, way early. Those two announcements in Kansas City lead to some rare, bi-partisan praise for the auto industry relief plan.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Kansas City, Mo. – A company called QM Power has moved its headquarters from Boston, Massachusetts to Kansas City, Missouri.

QM holds patents on technology the company claims can make electric motors and generators many times more efficient than they are today. It's moved into a University of Missouri-Kansas City building on Troost Avenue.

Company CEO P.J. Piper says QM will be hiring about 20 people over the next year.

Kansas City – House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank was in Kansas City at the behest of his colleague on the committee, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, to recognize UMB Bank and Commerce as the second and third most healthy banks in the country. This is according to ratings published by Forbes Magazine. Frank said institutions like UMB and Commerce have nothing to fear from bank reforms.

Frank Morris / KCUR

St. Joseph, Mo. – In 1860 the American west was booming, and the east was boiling. Civil war was at hand. A vast wilderness and high mountains blocked the rich west from the rest of the country. Rail and telegraph lines stopped in St. Joseph.

Cindy Daffron with the Pony Express museum here says that meant it took a month for news reports and government dispatches to cross that information abyss.

photo: courtesy of Missouri Valley Special Collections

Kansas City, Mo. – KCUR's Walt Bodine spent the Great Depression working at his parents' drugstore in Kansas City. That family business placed Walt right in the thick of one of the wildest periods in the city's history. It also launched his broadcasting career... sort of. KCUR's Frank Morris spoke with Walt about that turbulent time, and the store, situated on a once dynamic, now blighted, corner in midtown.

Frank Morris

Kansas City, MO – It looks like banking isn't the only industry coming in for some added regulatory scrutiny from the Obama administration. US Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack have launched a series of workshops probing anti-trust issues in agriculture. Some big agribusiness firms say the forums will showcase a well functioning, free market. But, many producers think they'll expose a system increasingly hostile to the traditional family farm.

GET BIG OR DIE

Kansas City, Mo. – The Pew Center for the States finds that state pension funds have promised retirees $1 trillion more than they have on hand to pay. Missouri's pension system is in relatively sound shape, but the one in Kansas is among the most troubled in the nation.

Kansas City, Mo. – A federal judge in Kansas City has sentenced three men for selling fraudulent credentials they claimed would make people immune to the requirements of citizenship.

The men are involved in the "sovereign citizens movement", an ultra-right wing outfit that rejects most federal government authority.

Frank Morris

Kansas City, Mo. –

Luke Ulrich, who grows corn and soybeans south of Lawrence, is thinking about spring. It's time to buy seed again, but hundreds of seed companies have gone under in the last two decades.

Kansas City, MO – The President of the Kansas City Wizards soccer team says work will start next week on a new stadium near the NASCAR track in Wyandotte County. That's bad news for Kansas City officials, who had, until recently, still hoped to lure the project back to the old Banister Mall area.

photo courtesy of <a href=\"http://www.kmbc.com/index.html\">KMBC TV Channel 9</a>

Kansas City, MO – Mayor Funkhouser dismissed the city manager Thursday afternoon, and asked him to leave the City Hall immediately. Six Kansas City council members supporting Wayne Cauthen said they were shocked today when they were notified that they'd be voting on his termination at today's council session. Councilman Ed Ford characterized it as a lack of respect.

MR FORD : "Government by ambush, is not the appropriate way for us to make what is probably the most important decision we make, which is the hiring and firing of a city manager."

Frank Morris

Kansas City, MO – For the last couple of years, feed prices have been so high that US farmers lost money on almost every pig they raised. China was one of the bright spots for US producers, their third largest, and fastest-growing export market. But H1N1 put a stop to that. Chinese officials said they were worried about catching "SWINE" flu from eating US pork, even though you can't. It was just cover, according to Ron Plain an agricultural economics professor at the University of Missouri.

Kansas City, MO – EBay has pulled the plug on an auction planned to raise money for the man accused of murdering Dr. George Tiller in Wichita.

A group of virulent anti-abortion activists had planned to auction artifacts of their movement to generate money for Scott Roeder.

Witnesses say Roeder shot and killed Gorge Tiller last spring.

Tiller had performed thousands of late term abortions.

Kansas City, MO – Union workers at the Ford Claycomo Assembly Plant have soundly rejected contract change concessions and the Sunday vote has national implications.

According to UAW local 249 officials, eight percent of rank and file voted in favor of concessions, soundly rejecting company proposals.

Ford wanted the changes to cut labor costs to put them on par with Chrysler and General Motors.

Frank Morris

Kansas City, MO – People from the city, neighborhood associations and the federal government officially broke ground on a new bus rapid transit corridor along Troost Avenue yesterday.

It's an almost 31 million dollar project, with four out of five of those dollars coming from Washington.

The MAX will run deluxe buses, three of them hybrid electric models, from South East Kansas City through downtown.

Frank Morris

Kansas City, MO – First thing Saturday morning at the big truck stop out in Oak Grove, Missouri the restaurant is not quite half full of truckers.
Jones: My name is Dee Jones. Dee is a nick name that I've gone by for 66 years, and I'm known nationwide by it.

Like many of the other guys Dee Jones is here killing time, and making calls, looking for work.

Kansas City, MO – Republican lawmakers are criticizing an Obama administration plan to move suspects held at Guantanamo Bay to a combination prison and court house facility. Administration officials are reportedly looking closely at two sites, one in Michigan, the other in Kansas. KCUR's Frank Morris reports.

Kansas City, MO – Trucking companies are posting big losses as the recession drags on. One of the largest, YRC Worldwide, lost more than 300 million dollars in the second quarter, and may be headed for bankruptcy. KCUR's Frank Morris reports.

The amount of stuff shipped by truck, as measured in tons, fell off steeply last year, and hasn't come back. It was down more than 13% in June. That makes for a lot of idled or under filled semis and steep losses for trucking companies.

Kansas City – In this recession pre-paid, the low end of the mobile phone market, is hot. Sprint established itself as a price leader in that segment early this year, coming out with its Boost, 50 dollar a month, unlimited voice plan. Virgin Mobile matched that. Now with Sprint taking over Virgin, the Overland Park based company will gain more than 5 million customers . But analyst Christopher King doesn't see a lot in the deal for Sprint, beyond that.

Kansas City, MO – Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing Dr. George Tiller in Wichita two months ago may enter a plea in court today. KCUR's Frank Morris reports.

Tiller was one of the few doctors in the country who provided abortions in the last months of pregnancy, and a long-time target of abortion foes.

photo courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Kansas City, MO – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, for a town hall-style meeting. The discussion airs in three parts beginning Monday on PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

Inside the Federal Reserve bank of Kansas City, Bernanke sat down to chat with Lehrer, and some local residents that his show had chosen. Bernanke was asked about Rep. Ron Paul's (R-TX) bill to require the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to review Fed monetary policy.

Kansas City, MO – Food, Inc., a documentary film about the modern agricultural industry, is a hit with big-city movie reviewers, small-scale organic farmers and vegetarians. Full of disturbing scenes depicting chickens, hogs and cattle being crowded into confined areas, the movie argues that large-scale agriculture produces inexpensive meat and vegetables at a high cost to the environment - as well as Americans' health.

Kansas City – Administrator Lisa Jackson's trip to Kansas City is mainly promotional, meant to encourage citizens to take more individual responsibility for cleaning up the environment. But, there the agency is taking a close look at the Kansas City area both as a place with problems to be solved, and as one that could stand as a national model.

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