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. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City officials are trying to figure out how to proceed after receiving a letter from the nation's largest airport design firm saying it was interested in a new single-terminal deal at Kansas City International Airport. 

The Kansas City Star first reported the letter from AECOM, which Councilwoman Jolie Justus says she received about 2:30 Thursday afternoon — hours after a second public hearing to discuss a proposal put forth by Kansas City engineering firm Burns & McDonnell to design, build and privately finance a new terminal. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James last week unveiled a plan for a new terminal  at Kansas City International Airport funded privately by engineering firm Burns & McDonnell.

The firm proposes to foot the bill for the terminal in exchange for exclusive rights to design and construction. They’d be paid back over time with airport fees usually collected by the city. 

James and other city leaders hope to get the project approved by voters in November, and they're anxious to get moving. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

A highly-anticipated election will soon be underway in Kansas City, Missouri, but you might not know about it — and most Kansas City residents won't get to vote in it.  

In fact, the immediate future of the UMKC streetcar extension is in the hands of about 30,000 registered voters who live in the area roughly between the Missouri River and 53rd street, and State Line Road and Campbell. 

Tim Samoff / Flickr - CC

Water rates in Kansas City, Missouri, have soared over the last several years. The average water bill has gone from $48 in 2009 to more than $100 today. 

That's due, in part, to infrastructure upgrades mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Those mandatory upgrades were not accompanied by federal dollars, which means the cost fell to rate payers. 

Joseph Morris / Wikimedia Commons

This post was updated at 1:38 p.m. on Thursday.

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to approve the American Health Care Act, touted by the GOP and President Donald Trump as a better alternative to President Obama's signature health care effort, the Affordable Care Act. The final vote, 217 - 213. All 193 Democrats in the House, joined by 20 Republicans, opposed the bill. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

The Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education unanimously voted Wednesday night to name Dr. Kenny Southwick as interim superintendent for Shawnee Mission schools.

Jim Hinson, who has headed the district for the past four years, unexpectedly announced his retirement last week. His last day is June 30.

Sam Warlick / National League of Cities

Earlier this month Kansas City, Missouri, residents raised their own property taxes for 20 years in part to help pay for federally-required improvements to public buildings under the Americans With Disabilities Act. 

Office of the Missouri State Auditor

Updated, 4:40 p.m. Thursday: The Missouri Department of Revenue has turned a stack of documents over to the State Auditor's Office, according to a news release.

Auditor Nicole Galloway took the unusual step of issuing a subpoena Wednesday after the Department of Revenue failed to comply with an earlier request.

Galloway initiated the audit six weeks ago to ensure Missourians owed tax refunds were being paid on time. State law requires returns not paid within 45 days be paid with interest, which Galloway says isn't good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

File photo / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City needs to do a better job investigating and documenting employment discrimination complaints.

Kansas City Auditor Doug Jones says his office initially set out to audit the Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity (EEO) office because it was told that complaints take too long to resolve.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

When it comes to the Buck O’Neil Bridge (formerly known as the Broadway Bridge,) Kansas City is in a tough spot.

More than 50,000 people drive across the bridge each day, according to The Mid-America Regional Council, whose Beyond The Loop project is studying the bridge and its surrounding area.  

KC Pet Project

Kansas City residents handed city officials a big victory Tuesday night when they approved an $800 million bond package and property tax increase to address the city's infrastructure needs. 

City officials are eager to get to work. City Manager Troy Schulte says his team has already been developing a first-year implementation plan for the first tranche, or portion, of the money. He says he plans to deliver a final version of that plan to the city council by May 1. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri voters approved all five questions that appeared on Tuesday's special election ballot.

The first three all dealt with a massive $800 million infrastructure bond package, which includes annual property tax increases. The city plans to issue the bonds over 20 years to chip away at looming infrastructure needs. Each question required a 57.1 percent super majority. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

The intersection of Hillcrest Road and Oldham in Swope Park needs work. The narrow bridge here has been considered structurally deficient since 2014.

And at night, especially when it rains, the sharp turns can be dangerous.

Two fatal crashes happened here in just the last few months.

Guard rail and bridge repairs would make this intersection safer. But it’s only one of hundreds of project all over the city in need of attention. 

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 89.3

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 89.3

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.

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