Sam Zeff | KCUR

Sam Zeff

Metro Reporter

Sam is KCUR's Metro Reporter, focusing on Jackson County government, Kansas City and the KCPD. Before that, he covered education for KCUR. Before joining the station in August 2014 he covered health and education for KCPT.

Sam began his career at KANU in Lawrence. He hosted Morning Edition at WHYY in Philadelphia where he also covered organized crime, politics and government corruption.

The Overland Park, Kansas native has won a National News and Documentary Emmy for investigative reporting, four Edward R. Murrow awards and four National Headliner Awards.  Sam was assistant news director at the ABC station in the Twin Cities, executive producer at the NBC station in St. Louis and executive producer of special projects at the CBS stations in Minneapolis and Kansas City.

Sam was educated at the University of Kansas.

Ways to Connect

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Acting to exert greater control over the financially strapped American Jazz Museum, the Kansas City Council's Finance and Audit Committee Wednesday approved two ordinances that would halt any new city money going to the museum, remove Third District councilpeople from the board and, eventually, clear the way for Mayor Sly James to name a new board of directors.

Kansas Historical Society

The Missouri General Assembly is scheduled to convene a special session Friday to consider impeaching Gov. Eric Greitens.  

Only 14 governors have ever faced impeachment.

So who was the first governor to be impeached in America?

That would be Charles Robinson, the  first governor of the State of Kansas. He took office in February 1861, just a few weeks before the Civil War started.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A committee has narrowed the list of what might be renamed in Kansas City to honor Martin Luther King Jr. 

The advisory committee, named by Mayor Sly James, said it will vote on its recommendation Sunday.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The emergency call wait time crisis that troubled Kansas City Police Department commanders last year seems to be easing after a hefty investment by the city.

Last fall, it took 57 seconds, on average, for a call taker to answer a 911 call. KCPD commanders testified before the council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Committee that the wait time was down to 21 seconds as of April.

Overland Park municipal court
Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A judge found a Kansas City Fire Department paramedic not guilty on all charges Wednesday after he was accused of spitting on a black toddler at an Overland Park, Kansas, restaurant.

Terrence Skeen, 42, was charged with assault, battery and disorderly conduct after a confrontation at Hooters in February.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The woman at the center of a scandal that brought down the Jackson County sheriff has settled her lawsuit against the county—for no money.

Christine Lynde was a civilian worker in the sheriff's office when she sued the county in 2015, claiming she had been sexually harassed by two women in the office and the number two in the department, Col. Hugh Mills. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 4:20 p.m. Monday:  The committee who interviewed the five candidates for interim sheriff narrowed that list down to three Monday.

  • Retired Kansas City Police Department Chief Darryl Forte
  • Retired KCPD Major Rosilyn Allen
  • Captain Michael Rogers, who commands the Jackson County sheriff’s patrol division

The original post continues below.

If members of a select committee have their way, a more diverse workforce will be coming to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

The committee, which was appointed by Jackson County Executive Frank White to give him a recommendation, interviewed five candidates Friday. Two or three finalists are expected to be announced Monday, and White will make the final decision.

file photo / Kansas News Service

In the last year, the number of Cherokee County children in state custody shot up by roughly half.

The places available for those kids to stay, meanwhile, hasn’t changed.

So that’s meant shipping them two hours away — and regularly taking deputies from the 19-person sheriff’s department off patrol to drive the children to Andover, Kansas — the closest place available with any room.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The resignation of Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp over a sex scandal has, rather unexpectedly, brought to light an issue in the office—a severe lack of diversity.

The office Sharp inherited in 2009 and left two weeks ago is overwhelmingly white and male.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Since it was revealed that former University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was still on the payroll as a consultant, there have been questions about exactly what she is doing for her $510,000 salary.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Update, May 8 5:20 p.m.:

The Jackson County Legislature approved the proposed changes 6-3 Monday.

The changes will appear on the August primary ballot.

The original post continues below.

When Jackson County legislators convene Monday afternoon, they'll be taking the first step into determining their own future.

At that meeting, legislator Greg Grounds, who represents much of eastern Jackson County and is one of two Republicans in the county legislature, will introduce a controversial plan to change the county charter. 

Johnson County Sheriff

A 26-year-old Kansas City, Kansas man was arrested Thursday and charged with killing a pregnant woman in Olathe.

Devonte Dominique Wash is charged with capital murder for killing a woman and her unborn child, according to court documents. 

Ashley Harlan, who was 23 at the time of her death, was shot and killed near the townhouse she shared with her grandfather and was, reportedly, one day away from finding out of the sex on her baby.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A former guard at the Jackson County jail has pleaded guilty to corruption charges for taking a bribe to smuggle cigarettes, cell phones and phone chargers into the downtown jail.

Twenty-six year old Andre Lamonte Dickerson pleaded guilty to two of the four counts against him.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A pro-gun rally on the south side of the Kansas Statehouse drew about 200 people to Topeka on Friday morning as students around the country walked out of class to protest gun violence.

The rally was organized by the Kansas State Rifle Association and the NRA.

Speakers repeated familiar slogans, arguing that "only a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun," that progressives want to repeal the Second Amendment, and that if people are old enough to serve in the military, they're old enough to conceal carry.

File Photo / Sam Zeff KCUR 89.3

Editor's note: This story was updated April 20 at 4:20 p.m. to include information about how former Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp will be replaced.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker is conducting a criminal investigation into the woman caught up in a sex scandal with former sheriff Mike Sharp.

Although Baker confirmed to KCUR that a criminal investigation is underway, she wouldn't say what laws Christine Lynde might have broken.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Two men were arrested Wednesday  for allegedly running a cockfighting ring near 24th and Cypress in east Kansas City.

The city's Animal Health and Public Safety Division, backed up by Kansas City police, executed a search warrant on two adjoining houses on Cypress.

"We found a large number of fowl. And when I say foul we had roosters, we had hens, and we had baby chicks," according to Special Investigator James Donovan.

The actual cockfighting, city officials say, was done at a different location.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. with comments from the county prosecutor.

This story was updated at 2:00 p.m. with information from Sharp's resignation letter.

In a stunning development, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp has admitted to a "personal failing" in connection with a sexual relationship with an employee and has resigned the post he has held since 2009, effective Thursday.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A few conservative legislators in Jefferson City want to limit how much cities and counties can raise with locally imposed sales taxes.

Under a bill (HB 2168), which is moving slowly through the General Assembly, local governments could not impose a sales tax over 12 percent.

“It’s shortsighted and it’s non-productive," says Kansas City Mayor Sly James. "There is no good that comes out of weakening us.”

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Nashville-based company that provides health and dental care for the 1,000 inmates at the Jackson County Detention Center has told the county it is pulling out of its three-year contract early.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There seem to be two competing groups in Kansas City when it comes to deciding how to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A petition drive, backed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, seeks to rename The Paseo, an iconic Kansas City boulevard, after the slain civil rights leader.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

To many the new  Kansas City Urban Youth Academy near 18th and Vine in Kansas City is more than just a place for kids to play baseball and softball.

Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed calls it "a sacred place for everyone in Kansas City."

"This is where it should be," says Tony Reagins, who is head of youth sports for  Major League Baseball.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

For decades, city officials say Kansas City police would write about 300,000 traffic tickets a year. The last few years that's dropped below 120,000, according to Kansas City Police Department records.

While that may be good for drivers, it’s bad for the city’s bottom line.

“So what we’re seeing is, not only a decline in the number of tickets but a decline in the corresponding revenue that are used to support city operations,” says Kansas City City Manager Troy Schulte.

Jeff and Laura Jacobsen / Kansas Athletics

Coming out of the weekend, lots of fans in Lawrence and Manhattan were thrilled as their basketball teams advanced in the NCAA tournament.

But that also means some coaches are putting extra money in their pockets.

Most big time college coaches have lucrative bonuses in their contracts.

Kansas State University's Bruce Weber has already done very well.

He has earned an additional $344,000 dollars for making the Sweet 16, according to his contract.

Weber’s contract calls for a 16 percent bonus on top of his $2.15 million salary.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

It's already a challenge to run the Jackson County Jail. It's overcrowded and understaffed. Everything from the elevators to the plumbing needs fixing.

Now, add to that, the Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) is $1.7 million in arrears for housing state prisoners in the downtown jail, the most owed to any county in the state.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

While other big counties in Kansas have already bought new voting machines that create a paper trail, Johnson County has yet to upgrade their machines despite having the money to do so.

In 2016, the Johnson County Commission approved $13 million to replace the county’s 15-year-old voting machines.

Big Stock

The father of a 19-year-old Shawnee Mission South student says his daughter was sexually assaulted last April on a school bus as she was returning home from school.

The allegations are detailed in a lawsuit filed this week against First Student Inc., which last year lost its transportation contract with the Shawnee Mission School District.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Police Department could be getting even more money next year than first thought.

While most city department budgets will remain flat next year, KCPD is looking at a $5.6 million, a 2.2 percent boost.

Much of the increase will be used to hire 15 more officers and eight more dispatchers.

The department's 84 dispatchers are all working mandatory 12 hour shifts, according to Deputy Chief Roger Lewis.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There is so much illegal trash dumping in Kansas City that the city has more than doubled the number of investigators assigned to help clean it up.

The dumps have everything from hazardous waste to limbs and brush.

Illegal dumping investigator Alan Ashurst starts his day like a lot of people, with a stop at a QuikTrip for coffee and doughnuts. "I like the old-fashion doughnut. It’s good."

Williams Campaign

Update March 7 at 4:30 p.m.: Chris Haulmark has dropped out of this race and is now running against state Rep. Erin Davis, according to a Tweet.

The original story appears below.

There is yet another Democrat in the race for Rep. Kevin Yoder’s seat in the 3rd Congressional District of Kansas.

Sylvia Williams from Leawood is the seventh Democrat and second woman in the race.

Like the other six candidates, Williams has never held public office.

Johnson County Sheriff

The man accused of a hate crime killing at an Olathe bar last year may be headed for a possible plea deal.

Adam Purinton, 52, is charged with killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Austin’s Bar and Grill last February.

Purinton is also accused of shooting two others, Alok Madasani, a co-worker of Kuchibhotla at Garmin and Ian Grillot, who chased Purinton after he fled the bar.

According to online court records, a plea hearing has been set for March 6 at 1:30 p.m..

Purinton has already pleaded not guilty so a new hearing could mean he is changing his plea to guilty.

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