Lisa Rodriguez

Afternoon Newscaster, Reporter

Lisa Rodriguez is KCUR's afternoon newscaster. 

Born in Santiago, Chile, Lisa loves traveling and lived abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before moving back to Kansas City in 2011 (she grew up in Overland Park.) She graduated with degrees in journalism and Spanish from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. 

Before joining KCUR, Lisa kept busy waiting tables and tending bar at some of Kansas City's best restaurants, which taught her how to deal with just about every kind of person. Talking to people and hearing their stories is what continues to drive her today.  Years of late nights closing up dining rooms also explains her aversion to mornings. 

Lisa is loving living in Kansas City at a time when the city seems to really like itself. She's a Royals fan and a Chiefs fan and is also pretty into pro-wrestling. 

Dank Depot / Flickr - CC

More than half of states have legalized marijuana for either recreational or medical use.

Kansas City voters won’t be considering that exact question on April 4th, but they will get to decide whether to reduce the penalties for marijuana possession.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

On Thursday, the Kansas City Council approved a $1.59 billion budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The new budget takes effect on May 1. 

Courtesy of Daniel King

Updated, 8:20 a.m. Tuesday: Fire officials in Overland Park say “skeleton crews” are on hand Tuesday, monitoring the smoldering remains of a massive fire that destroyed an unfinished four-story apartment complex yesterday.

The fire also badly damaged another apartment building under construction and damaged at least 17 homes nearby, destroying 8 of them, according to Overland Park city officials.

Stand Up KC

Councilman Quinton Lucas says Kansas City needs to act to raise the minimum wage — now. 

In the past few weeks, the debate over raising the minimum wage is Kansas City has been revived. Here's a quick overview of what's happened so far:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that St. Louis can raise their minimum wage to $11 by 2018. 

This reverses a lower court's decision in 2015, which struck down the increase because it would conflict with a state law that prohibits municipalities from enacting a minimum wage higher than the state's. 

Hickman Mills School District

The Hickman Mills School District has selected its own Yolanda Cargile to serve as its new superintendent. 

Cargile is currently associate superintendent of student services at Hickman Mills.

Current superintendent Dennis Carpenter is leaving the district at the end of June to serve as superintendent in the Lee's Summit school district. 

Laura Patterson / Wikimedia Commons

From her home in Kansas' Flint Hills, Former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum reads news about politics (in paper form, "I don't do e-mail ... Facebook")  with a touch of sadness. 

"We have to find ways to come together," she told Steve Kraske on KCUR's Up To Date

Known as a voice of reason during her 18 years as a senator, Kassebaum left public life in 1997. Twenty years later, she says politics have fundamentally changed and she's not sure she'd make it out of a Republican Primary if she ran today.

FoutchBrothers LLC

The Kansas City Council on Thursday agreed to sell Kemper Arena for one dollar to developer Foutch Brothers to turn it into a youth sports complex. 

Why a dollar?

“Because we couldn’t give it away. And also because it saves us money in the long run so we don’t have to spend millions to tear it down and we don’t have to spend millions to keep it up,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said during Thursday's city council meeting. 

Esther Honig

Public Safety will get the biggest increases in Kansas City's budget next year — while the rest of the city tightens its belt.

On Thursday,  Kansas City Mayor Sly James and City Manager Troy Schulte submitted the fiscal year 2017- 2018 budget with the primary focus on firefighters and police.  

Elle Moxley / KCUR

When Mayor Sly James and his staff first proposed an $800 million general obligation bond to address the city's basic infrastructure needs, he acknowledged it would be a tough sell.

At a town hall meeting in Kansas City's Waldo neighborhood Monday, James had a chance to make his case. 

About 100 area residents showed up to ask the mayor just how the city plans to spend the money and how it will affect their own pocketbooks. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

An ordinance seeking to raise the minimum wage in Kansas City to $15 an hour by 2021 failed to get enough votes from the city council to make it onto the ballot in April.

After Thursday's decision, Dr. Vernon Howard, president of Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City called the no vote “morally bankrupt.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR

On the deadline to approve items for the April ballot Thursday, the Kansas City council reached a compromise and unanimously approved an ordinance for an $800 million dollar infrastructure bond package.

The plan includes a property tax increase over 20 years for the purpose of repairing, rebuilding and maintaining the city's existing infrastructure. 

The agreement comes after 43 days of back and forth between council members and Mayor Sly James.

Councilwoman Jolie Justus says the ordinance doesn’t give everyone what they want. 

Dank Depot / Flickr - CC

Despite concerns, a resigned Kansas City Council committee today recommended the full council put a petition to reduce penalties for marijuana possession on the ballot this April. 

The recommendation came after Tuesday's Missouri Supreme court decision, which ordered the city to put a minimum wage petition — which had previously been declined by the council  for contradicting state law — on the ballot. 

Courtesy - SCLC-GKC

Across the city, people celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with parades, dancing, singing and community service. 

For Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City, the best way to honor that legacy is through activism.

This year, paired with a celebration of King's life, is the official launch of a campaign for a ten-year, one-eighth cent sales tax increase to benefit the city's East Side. 

On Monday, the SCLC-GKC sponsored a community forum to discuss the proposed tax increase. 

Cody Newill / File Photo / KCUR 89.3

Despite Mayor Sly James' hope that the Kansas City Council would agree on ballot language for a major infrastructure bond  issue, joint committees on Thursday decided to put the discussion on hold until next week. 

The leaves just one week to come to a consensus on language if they want to get the issue on the ballot April 4 — which they do. 

Adam_Procter400 / Flickr - CC

A state program that gives Missouri colleges and universities additional funding for meeting performance goals needs a lot of work, according to state auditor Nicole Galloway.

The program awards institutions a portion of state funding — up to 5 percent of each school's core higher education funding —based on measures such as graduation rates and learning quality. 

The level of success is determined by how well each college compares to its peers. 

Kevin Marsh

Members of Kansas City's service industry and restaurant community are mourning the death of Jennifer Maloney, long-time executive chef of Cafe Sebastienne at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Maloney died Christmas Day at North Kansas City Hospital after a short, sudden illness. The cause of death is still unclear.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Over the last few years, the country’s tech giants — Google, Twitter and Facebook — have all been called out for their mostly white and mostly male staffs.

Diversity has become a top priority in Silicon Valley. 

Vewiser Dixon, an area entrepreneur, wants to help Kansas City avoid the image plaguing Silicon Valley — by building a tech space from the ground up, with diversity hardwired into its core.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is long overdue for a fix up.

That's the message Sly James is trying to get to voters before April, when an $800 million infrastructure bond package will likely appear on the ballot. 

Speaking on KCUR's Up To Date, James said when he took office in 2011, the city already had $6 billion worth of deferred maintenance. 

That number will be a lot bigger, he said, if the city doesn't act soon. 

City of Kansas City Missouri

Kansas City officials kicked off the redevelopment of Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine Jazz district on Monday with the demolition of the old Black Chamber of Commerce Building at the corner of 18th and Paseo.

The building was vacant and not historic. 

The demolition marks 150 days since the Kansas City Council approved $7 million for the first phase of re-development, which includes renovating historic buildings and building a new streetscape and street lighting to better connect the jazz district to the Crossroads district.

Corbis / CC

Recent headlines detailing sexual harassment and discrimination at the Missouri Department of Corrections have caught the eye of State Auditor Nicole Galloway — namely because the state uses taxpayer dollars to settle those lawsuits.

Galloway’s office announced Friday it would be reviewing the state’s legal expense fund, which is the pool of money used to make those payments.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Keeping roads and bridges maintained in a city as big as Kansas City can be never-ending — and expensive.

That's the reason Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte came before a joint committee meeting of the City Council on Wednesday to advocate for an $800 million bond proposal to address the city's infrastructure needs for the next 20 years. 

The plan, which will likely come before voters on April 4, 2017, includes a property tax increase  over 20 years for the purpose of repairing, rebuilding and maintaining the city's existing infrastructure. 

chocolatsombre / Flickr--CC

Animal rights groups in Kansas City are taking action after Saturday night’s accident involving a horse-drawn carriage on the Country Club Plaza. 

According to Kansas City police, a horse pulling a carriage with four passengers started running out of control and crashed into a fence on the bridge at Ward Parkway and Wornall. Three people were injured, as well as the horse.

The incident has sparked debate on social media over animal rights. Some people believe it's time to end the practice of horse-drawn carriages in the city.  

Eric Hunsaker / Flickr-CC

Following a similar move in Jackson County, Missouri, earlier this year, Kansas City will establish a prescription drug monitoring program. 

Kansas City Council members Thursday passed an ordinance to establish a city-wide prescription drug database, a tool used to track patients who abuse painkillers and to prevent “doctor shopping” by individuals seeking prescriptions from multiple physicians.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

A million-dollar housing project in Kansas City is being built to achieve two things: get homeless veterans permanent housing and restore blighted, abandoned properties in the urban core. 

Neighborhoods United, an area non-profit, is teaming up with the Kansas City, Missouri, branch of the NAACP and the Black Economic Union to restore empty properties in blighted neighborhoods and convert them into energy-efficient duplexes for veterans and people with disabilities. 

Startup Stock Photos / Flickr - CC

Small businesses have an increasing chance at surviving their first 5 years in Kansas City, but overall business ownership hasn't increased, according to a new report from the Kauffman Foundation

The Main Street Entrepreneurship Index measures established small business activity — that’s businesses five years and older, with fewer than 50 employees. 

Public Domain

After several months of collecting signatures, area marijuana reformers have submitted enough petition signatures to bring a decriminalization ordinance to the April ballot in Kansas City, Missouri. 

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' Kansas City branch submitted more than 4,200 signatures to the city clerk's office on Tuesday. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday afternoon in front of City Hall in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, to condemn president-elect Donald Trump.

The protest, which lasted several hours and remained peaceful throughout, differed from anti-Trump rallies in the city earlier in the week — there was little chanting, and no marching.

Instead, people lined up to speak through a megaphone, sharing their personal stories, expressing their feelings, and calling for people to mobilize for change. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

To cheers from an enthusiastic crowd, the full Kansas City council unanimously approved a resolution in opposition to the construction of the planned Dakota Access Pipeline.

Various groups in Kansas City have joined protests across the country in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has led a movement against the construction of the pipeline on native lands. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Just days before the November 8 election, Democratic organizers and elected officials gathered in Kansas City, Missouri, to urge people to keep volunteering and not let down their efforts. 

Saturday's "Nasty Women Unite" rally in downtown Kansas City featured an impressive lineup of speakers — U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II, Jackson County Legislator Crystal Williams, and City Councilwomen Jolie Justus and Alissia Canady, to name a few. 

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