Steve Bell

News Reporter

Afternoon reporter Steve Bell brings more than 40 years of news experience to the KCUR newsroom. Fifteen of those years he served as a news or program director. His first newscast was at KANU in 1958. He has hosted news and talk programs on five Kansas city AM-FM stations and two commercial TV stations and was for many years the the signature voice of KCPT-19. Since joining KCUR in 2001, Steve has won two  first place awards from Public Radio News Directors International -- for best newscast and best feature reporting.  He has also received a number of awards from the Missouri Broadcasters Association and the Kansas City Society of Professional Journalists.  Steve  has a Ph.D. in psychology and dabbles in guitar and banjo playing.

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Education
7:34 am
Wed February 19, 2014

New Plan Eases Threat Of Kansas City Schools Takeover

Missouri is no longer threatening a quick take-over of the Kansas City school district.

The state's latest proposal instead centers around performance contracts, advice and financial help from the state and a five-tiered school performance ranking system. If an unaccredited district like Kansas City's fails to meet its goals, it would fall to the lowest, or “lapsed” category and likely be taken over by the state.

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Government
9:31 am
Wed February 12, 2014

FAA Will Pay Little For New KCI Terminal, But It Might Pay For Itself

 

Representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration told Kansas City's Airport Terminal Advisory Committee Monday that their agency wouldn't pay very much of the cost of building a new terminal. But a consultants report suggested a new terminal building might help pay for itself.

Sandwiches, coffee and soft drinks could help pay for a new terminal according to Garfield Eaton of transportation consultants Frasca & Associates. He says KCI finished in last place for concession revenues among 20 airports studied - about 66 cents for each departing passenger.

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Government
7:18 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Nonprofit Taxis Would Serve Elderly, Blind

Preparing for a week off to attend meetings of the Missouri Municipal League, Kansas City's city council moved ahead with programs to benefit the young and the elderly yesterday.

After establishing a commission of young people to advise the city on youth programs, such as those at community centers, the council turned its attention to a discounted non-profit taxi service for the elderly and blind persons.

Councilman John Sharp, a sponsor of the plan, called it "a great asset to our older citizens, some of whom are getting rather frail to drive."

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Government
8:03 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Kansas City Deploys Tandem Plows To Deal With Snow

A snow storm that went on and on coupled with extreme cold and gusty winds has Kansas City, Mo., changing the way it handles snow removal.

With snowfall of over an inch and a half an hour plus drifting Tuesday it was hard to keep traffic arteries cleared. So late in the day Mayor Sly James announced that the city would be using tandem plow teams in areas and at times of day single plows would usually be deployed.

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Government
6:16 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

State And City Officials Encourage Residents To Stay Home

The snow storm approaching the Kansas City metro area could deliver the deepest blanket of white this year.  The storm is prompting calls for people to stay off the streets Tuesday – when the heaviest snowfall is expected between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

The prospect of further clogged highways and streets in and around Kansas City has brought pleas from both the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Missouri Department of Transportation.

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Government
7:48 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Kansas City Police Chief Answers Racial Bias Questions

Police Chief Daryl Forte addresses council racial bias questions
Credit KCCG Channel 2

Kansas City's police chief answered questions about bias in enforcement of the city's youth curfew Wednesday. Chief Darryl Forte gave his report to a city council committee.

Only 62 young people were hauled in city-wide for curfew violations last year, and only 20 of those involved congregating and rowdy behavior in entertainment districts.

But the fact that about 90 percent were African-American caused concern for some council members. Chief Forte' said those concerns were unfounded.

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Government
7:26 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Kansas City Council Axes Controversial Charter Changes

Kansas Citians will vote on changes to their city charter in April. But the two controversial proposals won't be on the ballot.

The council voted against sending voters a proposal from some minority organizations to change the structure of city government.  No one on the council thought smaller districts and no at-large council seats was a good idea. But five, including Mayor Sly James, voted to put it on the ballot.

The mayor says he too, opposed the change.

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Government
7:56 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Kansas City Charter Change Suggestions Advance

Plans for an election on changing the Kansas City, Mo., charter are heading into the home stretch, but there is still some disagreement on what should go on the ballot.

One sticking point as the full city council debated the changes Wednesay was: “why send the voters any proposed change most council members consider a bad idea?” – for example doing away with at-large council seats.

Mayor Sly James's answer: because some citizen groups have proposed the changes and the Charter Review Commission thought the voters should consider them.

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Government
10:05 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Proposed Kansas City Budget Supports Arts Funding

Kansas City City Manager Troy Schulte submitted his official proposed budget for 2014-2015 to Mayor Sly James Wednesday afternoon.

The plan calls for an overall 2.7 percent increase in spending. About 40 percent of that $37 million increase will go to start fully funding the city's share of its long underfunded employee pensions.

Basic services budgets remain at about 2013-2014 levels, but cuts are planned in the municipal court and in jobs at City Hall.

Schulte did include funds to meet a council commitment to increase spending for arts programs by $325,000.

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Government
7:38 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Plan Could Increase City's Benefits For Same-Sex Couples

A proposal before the Kansas City Council Thursday would gather information to expand the employee benefits available for same-sex couples.

One factor prompting the plan is the increasing number of same-sex couples who have legally married in other states. Another is to remain competitive with other states.

Councilman Scott Taylor says the sponsors simply believe it is the right thing to do.

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Headlines
8:22 am
Sat December 28, 2013

KCUR's Top Stories Of 2013

Broken gas main triggers disastrous Plaza fire

Witnesses said the explosion shook their homes and businesses blocks away, and spawned flames more vicious than an ordinary fire. And as they feared, there were people inside JJ's Restaurant when it exploded. Fifteen were injured and one died in the blast and fire that resulted when an excavating contractor broke a gas line. In addition to lawsuits, the fire prompted an ongoing debate on how companies and cities should prepare for and respond to natural gas leaks.

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Headlines
11:28 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Top Stories Of The Week

KCI Public Vote Group Falls Short, Tries Again

A neighborhoods-based group that wants a public vote on the future of KCI Airport came up almost 600 short of enough signatures to get their measure on the ballot. John Murphy said “Friends of KCI” hasn't given up yet. They have about a week to come up with the additional signatures.“Friends of KCI” is concerned that building a new airport terminal might take funding away from infrastructure and basic services.

Petition Drive Asks State To End School District

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Government
7:39 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Council Still Divided on Mayoral Power, Districts

The Kansas City city council spent two hours discussing the two most controversial suggestions for changes in the city charter Thursday. At the end of it, they still remain divided on both issues.

The most time was devoted to discussing the charter commission's recommendation that the city do away with at large council seats and have twelve council members, each representing a specific district.

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Headlines
8:28 am
Sat December 14, 2013

Top Stories Of The Week

Turmoil, lawsuit over possible unaccredited KC schools transfers

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Education
7:41 am
Fri December 13, 2013

KC Schools Ask Court To Block Student Transfers

The Kansas City school district will go to court to attempt to stop a state Supreme Court ruling from allowing students to transfer to adjoining accredited districts from taking effect. 

After a closed meeting of the school board yesterday, board president Airick West said the district will file for an injunction  blocking the transfers today. West said the action is being taken to protect the students and the progress they and the district have mad over the past 24 months from what he called "outside circumstances that threaten the growth of that achievement."

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Government
6:49 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Kansas City Red-Light Cams Will Stay Suspended, For Now

Red-light cameras in Kansas City will be suspended for at least a while longer.
Credit Intel Free Press / Wikimedia --CC

Kansas City's red-light traffic camera program will stay suspended for a while longer.

Before writing a new ordinance, the city is appealing the decision that turned the cameras off to the Missouri Supreme Court.

City Attorney Bill Geary says the legal staff is not only perplexed by two contradictory appeals court decisions, but also concerned that one of them would allow a class action lawsuit against the city by every person who was ticketed at a red-light camera.

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Business & Tech
6:40 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Kansas City Council Endorses New Downtown Hotel Project

After years of discussion, Kansas City is on the way to having more downtown hotel space. A city council committee has endorsed a $46 million, 10-story venture at 16th and Baltimore.

Developer Rob Schaedle told the council committee that the city and the site are so promising that his company won't even have to ask for financial help from the city in building the hotel.

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Education
7:01 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Missouri Education Board President Defends Nicastro Amid Email Controversy

Missouri Education Commissioner, Chris Nicastro.
Credit State of Missouri

The president of the Missouri board of education is criticizing groups that are calling for Missouri Education Commissioner, Chris Nicastro, to resign. Meanwhile, one of those lawmakers says the Kansas City district has no voice on the state board.

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Headlines
9:15 am
Sat December 7, 2013

Top Stories Of The Week

Concussion lawsuit filed against KC Chiefs

Five former Chiefs players sued the team over the long-term effects of football field concussions. Attorney Kenneth McClain said his clients won't get much relief under an earlier NFL settlement. McClain adds that the suit is possible because of a particular provision of Missouri law and that it is possible the St. Louis Rams will face a similar lawsuit

Sporting KC prepares for MLS soccer championship game

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Government
7:37 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Kansas City Council Committees Stall On Downtown Drive-Thru, Traffic Cams

Drive-thru moratorium stuck on 2-2 vote

Opponents of a downtown drive-through restaurant and supporters of red-light cameras made no headway in Wednesday's KCMO city council committee meetings, but but neither are ready to throw in the towel.

Supporters and opponents of a proposed moratorium on all drive-thru restaurant construction in the downtown loop argued for more than two hours at a public hearing held by the Planning and Zoning committee.

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Cops & Crime
7:15 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Bomb Hoax Shuts Down City Hall, Airport Hearing

Credit City of Kansas City

A public hearing on future terminal plans at KCI Airport was among the city business interrupted Tuesday by a bomb threat that shut down City Hall for more than five hours.

 Only four members of the public had a chance to speak to the Airport Terminal Advisory Group when a telephone bomb threat prompted the evacuation of the building.

Early on police found and subsequently destroyed a suspicious but harmless package outside City Hall. But business didn't resume until after 2 p.m.

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Headlines
8:56 am
Sat November 30, 2013

Top Stories Of The Week

Court deals heavy blow to red-light cameras.

On the day the city council was to vote on changes to save Kansas City's red-light-cameras from one court decision, a second decision cast doubt on whether that could be done,

The ruling says running a red light is a moving violation and you can't ticket a driver for such a based on a photo of the rear of the vehicle.

GOP makes it official: Convention is KC possibility

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Government
7:34 am
Wed November 27, 2013

New Court Ruling Threatens Kansas City Red-Light Cameras

Just as city attorneys thought they had come up with changes to save Kansas City's traffic-cam ordinance from one court decision, another court rendered the changes useless.

As he withdrew the revised ordinance, Councilman John Sharp expressed frustration. “It's been very difficult for us to follow court direction when we're getting different court directions in a very brief period of time," he commented.

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Government
7:23 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Kansas City Council Moves To Save Red-Light Cameras

Credit The Pelican Institute

The Kansas City council committee has endorsed changes to the city's red-light camera ordinance. If the full council agrees Tuesday the cameras will be back in operation in ten days

Kansas City stopped issuing red-light camera tickets earlier this month after a Missouri court ruled that running a red light is a moving violation, and must be charged against a specific driver.

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Arts
8:15 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Kansas City Arts Task Force Presents Findings To Mayor

Mayor Sly James spoke to artists at a public meeting in January 2013 at ArtsTech in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

After about two years of research, work and community engagement, Kansas City Mayor Sly James' Task Force for the Arts presented its findings on Thursday during the City Council’s business session.

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Headlines
8:04 am
Sat November 23, 2013

Top Stories Of The Week

Phase II streetcar expansion corridor defined

The city council approved further study of three extension routes for the downtown streetcar system.

The proposed extensions are two eastward branches (Independence Avenue and in the 31st Street-Linwood corridor) and a south extension as far as Waldo. Consultants hope for 50 percent federal funding.

Corinthian Hall KC Museum, collection could change hands

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Government
6:25 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Streetcar Expansion Routes Narrowed, Studies Continue

The Kansas City, Mo., city council has approved a report that supports adding another eight to 10 miles of streetcar track to its 2.2 mile starter system over the next decade. 

Favored routes are eastward branches along Independence Avenue and the Linwood-31st Street corridor and a southern extension as far as Brookside or Waldo.

Members of the study group say federal grants should fund 50 percent of the cost.

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Business & Tech
8:16 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Auto Manufacturing Expanding In Kansas City Area

The Kansas City city council is expected to approve tax incentives for an expansion of the area's automotive manufacturing industry this afternoon.

Wednesday, a council committee endorsed ten-year tax abatement and $10.5 million in industrial revenue bonds to help turn a building in the east bottoms into a manufacturing facility for auto interior components. Troy Curran of Grupo Anolin says the company already has 2700 people working n North America.

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Headlines
7:35 am
Sat November 16, 2013

Top Stories Of The Week

Missouri to honor same-sex joint income tax returns

Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that Missouri would honor joint tax returns of same-sex couples who married in states where those marriages are recognized.

Republican leadership in Jefferson City expressed outrage, accusing Nixon of ignoring the state constitution and the will of the voters.

Nixon calls for truce with Kansas on economic border war

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Headlines
7:26 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Top Stories Of The Week

Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Chiefs made it nine in a row. Kansas City won a big convention. And Jackson County turned down the idea of a sales tax for medical research. Those are some of the stories we revisit on KCUR's Saturday News Review.

Sales tax proposals soundly defeated

Eighty-four percent of Jackson Countians who voted Tuesday voted against a half-cent sales tax for medical research.

The “vote no” campaign on the Jackson County tax measure was so strong that Mayor Cannon Ross said it also defeated a Blue Springs sales tax measure for a community center and parks projects.

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