Laura Ziegler

Special Correspondent

Laura Ziegler began her career at KCUR as a reporter more than 20 years ago. She became the news director in the mid 1980's and  in 1988,  went to National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. as a producer for Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon.

In 1993, she came back to Kansas City as the Midwest correspondent for National Public Radio. Among the stories she covered - the floods of 1993, the ongoing farm crisis and rural affairs, and presidential campaigns.

After the birth of her 3rd child, Laura returned to KCUR as producer of Under the Clock, a weekly talk show broadcast live from Union Station. It was hosted by former Kansas City mayor Emanuel Cleaver. When he was elected 5th district Congressman in 2002, Laura returned to KCUR as a part-time reporter and producer.

Laura has won numerous awards for her work, including three regional Edward R. Murrow awards.

In 1992, Laura was awarded a Jefferson Fellowship in Journalism with the East West Center at the University of Hawaii which took her to China, Japan, Burma, Bangladesh and Thailand.  In 1990, she was part of a reporting trip to the then -Soviet Union with the American Center for International Leadership.

Laura graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Anthropology from Vassar College.

She, her husband, and their three children - Julia, Ellie, and Benjamin, live with Laura's father in the house in which she was born.

Ways to Connect

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The president of the Kansas City, Missouri, chapter of the NAACP told reporters and members of the community Tuesday that there was an “ugly urgency" to call on Governor Eric Greitens to veto Senate Bill 43.

The bill weakens protection for minorities and women, Rev. Rodney Williams said, by making it harder to prove discrimination is the cause of an employer’s disciplinary behavior.

Courtesy of the Jackson family

Transgender people have been in the news a lot in the last couple of years.

Think Caitlyn Jenner, who continues to make headlines.

Think the many states currently debating so-called “bathroom bills,” which regulate what bathroom transgender people can use.

All the visibility has been a mixed bag for one local family.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

This week marks beginning of the end of the Metcalf South Shopping Center in Overland Park, Kansas. It's officially demolition time — though it might be hard to tell for awhile.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

A stone’s throw from the childhood home of pilot Amelia Earhart in Atchison, Kansas, is Benedictine College. Benedictine monks started the college in 1857 to provide a Catholic education to the children of pioneers and to celebrate Mass with German and Irish settlers.

Today, about 40 monks live at the abbey on a hill overlooking the college and the Missouri River. They live much the same way Benedictine monks have lived since St. Benedict of Nursia established the order in sixth century.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

At one point in history, Atchison, Kansas was positioned to be one of the main connecting points for the railways between Missouri and Kansas. It's said there were more millionaires there than anywhere in the world. Can Atchison hold onto its grand past but carve out a new identity for young residents?

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Courtesy photo / Louis Memorial Chapel

Beth K. Smith, who died Wednesday at age 96, was out front as an activist before many women of her generation.

Smith was a civil rights and social justice pioneer in the 1960s, pushing for fair housing and taking an active role in helping to pass public accommodations in Kansas City.

She was an early advocate for women in the workplace and public life.  In 1980, she helped found the Central Exchange, which began in Crown Center as an unusual networking women’s club that received national recognition.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill stood on a stage at Park University Thursday and took questions from some of the several hundred people packed into the majestic college chapel.

It was the latest in a string of town halls she's holding around the state.

The Senator was in Sikeston and Hannibal earlier in the week. On Friday she’s scheduled to be in Springfield and Rolla.

The two-term Senator, a Democrat, has made it clear she plans to run for re-election in 2018.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

At one point in history, Atchison, Kansas was positioned to be one of the main connecting points for the railways between Missouri and Kansas. The town played an important role in the Civil War, and had many significant residents. But what's going on there today?

KCUR's Central Standard takes a rode trip to Atchison. Come along with us.

Guests:

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Atchison, Kansas, population 11,000, has some of the same challenges facing other small towns around the country - they've had a hard time keeping businesses, retaining jobs and attracting young people.

But one thing that feels different here is their economic struggles feel linked to the town's rich history as a 19th century gateway to the west.  

Mark Schierbecker / Wikimedia Commons

In a statement on Twitter Friday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, said she will oppose Federal Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Hate speech directed at the Islamic community should not be ignored, FBI and other federal officials told about 50 members of the Islamic Center of  Johnson County at a forum Saturday.

Dan Verbeck / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Chief of Police Darryl Forté announced Wednesday morning that he is retiring, effective May 20, 2017. The city's first African-American police chief, Forté made the announcement in a Twitter post.

Johnson County Sheriff's Office

The suspected gunman in the Feb. 22 shooting that left one man dead and two injured at an Olathe, Kansas, bar asked two Indian nationals if their “status was legal” before shooting them, according to a probable cause affidavit released Monday morning from Johnson County District Court. 

The document, which outlines the police case for detention of the suspect, says that roughly 30 minutes before the shooting, the three victims were seated in the patio area at the front of the neighborhood bar, Austins Bar and Grill near 151st and Mur-Len. 

Courtesy photo / Facebook, Srinivas Kuchibhotla

The shooting on Wednesday of three men at an Olathe, Kansas, bar has been headline news in India — in newspapers, broadcast outlets and on social media.

Two of the victims of the attack, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, had moved to Kansas from India. The third, Ian Grillot, is from the United States.

Adam Purinton, 51, is currently being held on charges of first-degree murder. 

Johnson County Sheriff's Office

Last updated Friday, 1 p.m. 

Members of the Indian community in Johnson County, Kansas, have reached out to the family of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, two of the victims in Wednesday night’s shooting at an Olathe bar, according to an official with the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Kansas City.

Kuchibhotla died of his injuries. Madasani and another man, identified as Ian Grillot, are recovering from their injuries.  

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

If you closed your eyes you could have been at a Trump rally.

Boisterous chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” rang across east 12th Street as hundreds of protestors joined in a national day of opposition to an executive order restricting immigration and refugees by the Trump administration.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

There were rumors on social media over the weekend that authorities would be waiting outside local churches in Kansas City to arrest undocumented worshippers.

Some Valentine's Day tips for making a meal romantic, then KCUR's food critics search out the best cocktails in and around KC.

Guests:

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

A family of nine Somali refugees, their journey interrupted by an executive order barring refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia, arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule at KCI Wednesday night.

They were welcomed by cheers and hand-made signs of good will. Some read “Welcome Home,” “You Matter” and "You Are Loved." The group of several dozen men, women and a few children smiled and waved.

One greeter handed one of the children, a young boy, a teddy bear.

Kurt Albin and his wife, Sarah were at the front of the crowd.

Updated 10:40 a.m., February 7th.

Just Monday morning, The Della Lamb Community Service Agency learned a family of nine scheduled to be resettled in Kansas City last week will now arrive on Wednesday.

The news comes after a federal judge in Washington rescinded President Trump’s travel ban on incoming refugees last Friday night.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Buried within the president’s executive order that, among other things, suspends the U.S. refugee program, there’s a provision that’s garnered little attention.

Down pretty far in Section 5 are a few lines that basically direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to see if state and local jurisdiction should be more involved in resettling refugees.

Courtesy Women's March on Washington in Kansas City

Angeliina Lawson lost her bid for a post in the Kansas legislature from western Shawnee, Kansas, earlier this year. In spite of, even because of that, she’s encouraging other women to step up and run for office – for school board, city council, mayor or state representative.

As vice president for the Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus, Lawson says a lot of women are intimidated by the idea of a campaign. The only way to counter that fear, she says, is to be around other women candidates, officials and advocates.

Ed Schipul / Flickr - CC

 This story was updated at 5:18 PM to include a comment from The Cordish Companies.

Reed Cordish, a vice president with the family-owned Cordish Companies that owns and operates The Kansas City Power & Light District, has been appointed to a position in the Trump administration.

Courtesy - Johnson County

Thursday's vote by the Johnson County Commission authorizes the spending of revenues from a quarter-cent sales tax voters approved last November.

The money will be used to demolish the old courthouse in downtown Olathe and replace it with a new nine story building across the street.  It will also subsidize a $20 million coroner's facility at 119th and Ridgeview for autopsies and toxicology exams.

The project is not to exceed $245 million.

Chief Counsel Don Jarrett says construction won't start until the existing courthouse is completely torn down.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was passed over for cabinet level posts as head of the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department, but reports  now suggest the Trump administration may be creating a special post just for him – that of “immigration czar.”

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was in New York on Thursday for another meeting with President-elect Donald Trump.

After his highly-publicized first meeting with Trump in New Jersey on Nov. 20, Republican party officials in Kansas are speculating this second round is more than a suggestion that Kobach will land a job in the new administration.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

At 3 o’clock in the morning on Saturday, Alvin Sykes sent a text followed by a phone call to North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr who was still on the floor of the Senate.

He didn’t hear back, so he assumed the worst. His bill was dead.

But at 5:33 a.m. Kansas City time, Burr responded. 

“He sent a text,” Sykes told me over coffee at a Kansas City, Kansas diner.

”He said 'It just happened. Sorry it took all night, but it’s done.’”

Stephen Koranda / KPR

After certifying the Kansas election results, Secretary of State Kris Kobach told reporters in Topeka this week he agrees with President-elect Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claim that ballots cast by non-citizens cost him the popular vote.

It comes as no surprise. Trump's assertion sounds like something that could have come from the secretary himself. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

It goes without saying that religious communities are not monolithic. That may be especially true after this election.

So when I got an assignment to get “the response of religious communities” to the presidential election, my impulse was to visit with every religious institution in the area. Not possible. So I arbitrarily selected representatives of a few denominations, knowing it would be but a sample, a snapshot, of what some houses of worship were feeling.

I began with mosques. 

Laura Ziegler 89-3

An anti-establishment wave that rippled across the country Tuesday night didn't seem to put a damper on support for a host of tax increases in Kansas and Missouri. Voters in a number of counties supported sales and property taxes to fund public services in a number of municipalities.

Here's a look at them:

The Combat Tax

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