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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KCUR News
10:04 am
Fri January 8, 2010

Council Calls for New Snow Removal Plan

Snow plows have cleaned the main thoroughfares in the lingering storm system, but the city was criticized for its service on neighborhood streets.

Kansas City, MO – Besieged with complaints about snow removal on residential streets, the Kansas City City Council discussed the matter at length Thursday. And they took their first action to try to improve the service the same day.

The council learned that Kansas City has already overspent its $2.5 million dollar snow removal budget by $300,000, and that situations like the repeated snows and below freezing temperatures are not covered in the city snow removal plan.

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KCUR News
2:43 am
Fri January 8, 2010

Council Says "No" on E-Tax Repeal Initiative

Mayor Mark Funkhouser urges the city council to study a proposed initiative measure,not reject it.
Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – The latest clash between Mayor Mark Funkhouser and the city council is over a Missouri initiative petition drive that would outlaw the earnings taxes in Kansas City and St, Louis.

Funkhouser told a Kansas City Star reporter last week that he thought the idea merits some consideration. Other council members didn't agree.

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KCUR News
7:34 pm
Wed January 6, 2010

Council Scraps Dress Code Commission Idea

Former councilman Alvin Brooks makes his point against the citizens' commission idea while Alex Thomas and Carol Coe wait their turn.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – A city council committee deferred to civil rights leaders yesterday, and scrapped Mayor Funkhouser's plan to create a citizens' oversight committee to look into dress code discrimination and other violations of the public accommodations ordinance.

The man who lost to Funkhouser in the last election, Alvin Brooks, led a delegation whose size was shrunk by the snowy weather.

Brooks said he represented a sizable group of civil rights, community and religious leaders, whom he named as he enumerated their organizations.

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KCUR News
10:49 am
Tue January 5, 2010

Tough Recession Comes Late to Commercial Real Estate

Kansas City, MO – Ask just about anybody in the commercial real estate field in Kansas City how business has been affected by the recession, and very early on, they will emphasize that the market here has not been affected as severely as in some other cities.

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KCUR News
2:29 am
Fri December 18, 2009

Council Exempts Combat Pay from E-Tax

Kansas City, MO – Federal and state law exempt combat pay from income taxes, but nobody at City Hall had ever thought of it until Jim Kissinger, a northland resident, suggested it to Mayor Funkhouser and Councilman Russ Johnson.

Kissinger has a son-in-law, Ryan Paulson, who is serving in Afghanistan with the Missouri National Guard. Funkhouser put together an ordinance, and it became of the quickest measures to pass in recent memory.

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KCUR News
2:33 am
Thu December 17, 2009

Council Considers 'Deck' Over I-670 Downtown

Kansas City, MO – The idea has been around for several years - make the below-grade sections of I-670 between Wyandotte and Oak disappear by capping the freeway with a big deck more than a third of a mile long.

It recently gained momentum when MoDOT said four bridges over 670 in the area would have to be replaced within the next ten to fifteen years. Why not, said some planners, build the deck in conjunction with the bridges.

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KCUR News
2:43 pm
Mon December 14, 2009

KU Introduces Turner Gill As Football Coach

New KU football coach Turner Gill answers reporters' questions at a Monday news conference in Lawrence.
Photo courtesy of the University of Kansas.

Kansas City, MO – Turner Gill was introduced Monday as the new head football coach at the University of Kansas.

Gill comes to the Jayhawks from Buffalo, where he guided the Bulls to the Mid-American championship in 2008 and their first bowl game in half-a-century.

He said his first order of business was to address the returning players Monday night.

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KCUR News
2:43 am
Fri December 11, 2009

Council PutsTeeth In Dress Codes Resolution

Kansas City, MO – Violation of the Kansas City, Missouri dress code enforcement and public accommodations ordinances now become punishable with a license suspension. The council made that decision Thursday and gave the department of Regulated Industries the power to act on it.

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KCUR News
7:51 pm
Mon December 7, 2009

Secretaries of State Tout Military Voting Changes

National Guard members and fellow chief election officers listen as Robin Carnahan talks about voting from combat zones.
Photo by Steve Bell. Click to enlarge.

Kansas City, MO – Voting will soon become easier for military service members stationed in other countries. That's the gist of a report the Secretaries of State of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska gave at Liberty Memorial yesterday.

The four election officials summarized progress on implementation of overseas voting changes passed by Congress in October.

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KCUR News
10:17 am
Fri December 4, 2009

Council Endorses Downtown for New GSA Building

Kansas City, MO –
A 33 million contract with Motorola for new emergency responder radios sailed through the city council Thursday without a dissenting vote. The council also decided unanimously to take one more week to work out the details of a monitoring commission for the Power and Light District dress code... then turned its attention to getting some major bricks and mortar. KCUR's Steve Bell reports.

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KCUR News
8:25 am
Thu December 3, 2009

Kansas City Council Considers Emergency Responder Radio Upgrades

Kansas City, MO Assistant City Manager Rich Noll

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City city council will vote today on a finalized contract with Motorola to provide a new emergency responder radio system.

The Finance and Audit Committee approved the contract yesterday.

Assistant City Manager Rich Noll provided a timetable for the upgrade.

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KCUR News
5:40 pm
Wed November 25, 2009

Clergy, Brooks Protest Cauthen Firing

Former mayoral candidate Alvin Brooks listens as the Reverend Wallace Hartzfield says the firing of the city manager was Handled in a \"wrong and immoral\" way.
Photo by Steve Bell.

Kansas City, MO – African-American clergy protested the way City Manager Wayne Cauthen was fired. The group, called Concerned Clergy, held a news conference Wednesday in the foyer of a Swope Parkway church at which three ministers spoke.

One was long-time civil rights leader Wallace Hartzfield, who said of the way Cauthen was fired, "It may have been legal, but it was wrong.

Hartzfielda continued by saying that Cauthen was treated in an inappropriate and dehumanizing way.

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KCUR News
8:06 pm
Tue November 24, 2009

$24-Million Federal Grant Powers Smart Grid Plan

One version of a new smart grid digital home electric meter. The meters are equipped to connect with other display and computer equipment, and offer two-way communication.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Kansas City, MO – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and officials of Kansas City Power and Light announced a $24 million federal grant for the Green Impact Zone on Tuesday. The money will be used to develop a state-of-the-art "smart grid" electrical power system in the central east-side district.

The stimulus money will pay half the cost of a $48 million project that aims to install the new technology in what has been a disadvantaged area of the city.

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KCUR News
3:09 am
Fri November 20, 2009

Council Talks Tough To Power & Light District

Councilman John sharp tells his colleagues he has declined a seat on the Cordish-proposed dress-code review committee.
Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – In the early afternoon business session on Thursday, the city council endorsed a city study released last week that strongly implies that the Power and Light District has discriminated against blacks and Latinos.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser started the discussion with a strong statement: "In my estimation, civil rights of individuals were violated, and that is not in this city going to be tolerated. We are going to enforce the public accommodations law."

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KCUR News
1:55 am
Thu November 19, 2009

City And ATA Plagued By Larger Shortfall Forecasts

Kansas City, MO – A city council committee got the financial reports it asked for Wednesday, and it didn't brighten Kansas City's budget future.

The latest, most accurate figures show the city has pared expenses by an actual five percent or so, but the general fund balance trails last year's by about six million dollars and as revenues continue to lag, the prediction is now that at current service levels spending in next year's budget will have to be cut by another sixty to sixty-five million dollars.

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Theater/Performance
1:16 pm
Fri November 13, 2009

Groundbreaking on New Home for the Kansas City Ballet

Friday, November 13, 2009 marked the remodeling equivalent of a ground-breaking for a new home for the Kansas City Ballet.

Kansas City, MO – Friday, November 13, 2009 marked the remodeling equivalent of a ground-breaking for a new home for the Kansas City Ballet.

The building known as the Power House, west of Union Station will be transformed into the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity, a 60,000 square-foot facility for rehearsing, costuming and other aspects of the ballet's operation.

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KCUR News
6:54 pm
Fri November 6, 2009

Suspects, No Motive Yet In Abduction-Murder

Carol Thomas, 23, felt apprehensive about accepting a ride from acquaintances. Police say those acquaintances killed her and dumped her body in a field.
Photo provided by law enforcement agencies. Click to enlarge.

Kansas City, MO – Law enforcement officials still have nothing to say about a possible motive in the killing of 23-year-old Carol Thomas. But suspects are in custody and details are emerging on her abduction from outside a friend's house in Excelsior Springs.,br>
Carol Thomas was with friends, an older couple, Wednesday evening and expressed concerns about the acquaintances she had asked to give her a ride. The friends were appalled when they saw the people who picked Thomas up start beating her and then throw her in the trunk and drive away.

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KCUR News
2:54 am
Fri November 6, 2009

Citizens Again Not Satisfied

Councilwoman Beth Gottstein implores her colleagues to work to end the perception that City Hall leadership is ineffective and unethical.
Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2. Click to enlarge.

Kansas City, MO – City Auditor Gary White presented the latest quarterly citizen satisfaction survey to the city council yesterday, and it was no cause for celebration.

Overall, there wasn't much change from the preceding quarter.

Maybe there was another slight gain in satisfaction with the way streets and public facilities are being maintained. Definitely more people were unhappy about bulky item trash pickup and difficulty reaching a representative at the 3-1-1 city services number.

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KCUR News
8:17 am
Fri October 30, 2009

Future Of Kansas City Overhaul Base Uncertain

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City Aviation Director Mark VanLoh gave the city council a report on American Airlines' planned closing of its overhaul base at KCI yesterday.

VanLoh said there are no immediately pressing environmental clean-up issues, and that the airline assured city officials it will continue to pay its rent and environmental monitoring costs.

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KCUR News
9:54 am
Thu October 29, 2009

One-Time Revenue Paying Kansas City's Bills

Kansas City, Mo – Kansas City's Finance and Audit Committee got a wake up call yesterday, in the form of the latest revenue and expense figures. For one thing, revenue may be starting to lag behind projections by several million dollars. But there was more.

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KCUR News
9:13 am
Tue October 27, 2009

Clay County Sheriff Calls For Tax Renewal

Kansas City, MO – Clay County officials kicked off a drive for "Proposition A", which would renew a 1/8-cent sales tax that pays for much of its jail operations.

Council members from Northland Districts and Clay County Sheriff Bob Boydston told reporters that the 1998 sales tax pays for about a third of the cost of operating the county detention center, Sheriff Boydston says ending the tax won't save any money because by state law the prisoners would still have to be housed - for a fee - at some other jail.

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KCUR News
3:24 am
Fri October 23, 2009

Council Turns Focus To Urban Core

Dr. Linwood Tauheed says the idea for his urban Community Development Credit Union is based on a model used successfully in Denver.
Photo courtesy of KCCG Channel 2. Click to enlarge.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City city council took the power to do something about crumbling nuisance properties Thursday and heard an important report on reviving the urban core.

The council passed an ordinance based on a state law that lets cities get nuisance properties put into receivership for renovation and sale.

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KCUR News
4:42 pm
Tue October 20, 2009

Reward Increased In Hereford House Blaze

The picture at the top, released this week, seems to show a man who is larger or at least stockier-built than the man fairly clearly pictured in photos released in February. Both appear to be wearing very similar baseball caps.
Photos from video security cameras.Click to enlarge.

Kansas City, MO – Authorities have doubled the reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the million-dollar fire at the Hereford House restaurant downtown last year.

They're now offering $10,000 - and have posted a previously unreleased security video photo that shows what appears to be a second suspect in the dimly lit restaurant shortly before the 1 AM fire.

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KCUR News
1:50 am
Fri October 16, 2009

Council Keeps, Toughens 3 a.m. Closing

Councilman John Sharp argues for a uniform 2AM time for bar closings, not the current system of 1:30 AM or 3:00 AM closings.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – After nearly two years of debate Kansas City, Missouri has changed its rules for establishments that serve liquor by the drink. And one places things could change is on the city's college campuses.

One purpose of the new liquor ordinance is to bring Kansas City into line with a Missouri law that allows colleges and universities to choose to apply for a license to serve alcohol at sports events, plays, concerts and the like.

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KCUR News
3:33 pm
Thu October 15, 2009

Chastain Kicks Off Double Petition Drive

Clay Chastain tried a fiery oratorical style as he announced his latest ballot initiatives at Union Station. (Click to enlarge.)
Video frame courtesy of TV-9.

Kansas City, MO – Activist Clay Chastain is back in town to kick off petition drives for two ballot measures.

Chastain and his supporters will be circulating petitions for his latest transit plan - and for a revision to the city charter that would take away the city council's power to veto it if it passes. Such was the fate of a Chastain plan voters approved in 2006.

His latest one features a 3/8-cent sales tax to help finance a 35-mile light rail spine, a Union Station hub and redone Penn Valley Park with a Ferris wheel.

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KCUR News
3:35 am
Thu October 15, 2009

City's Shortfall Eases But Budget Still Tight

City budget director Troy Schulte appeared relaxed as he told the Finance and Audit Committee \"reasonably good\" budget news.
Video frame courtesy of Channel 2, KCCG.

Kansas City, MO – After taking last week off, the Kansas City, Missouri City Council went back to work on the budget yesterday and got some relatively good news from the city budget director. Between belt tightening and some revenue windfalls, Kansas City is operating in the black -- at least so far.

Sharp pencil wielder Troy Schulte came out of the budget basement, surveyed the damage of the economic storm and proclaimed it a relatively good day.

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KCUR News
11:50 pm
Tue October 6, 2009

Winfield: The Walnut Valley Mystique

Babies on their backs the ladies of Prairie Acre join the other band members in an old time fiddle tune on the fairgrounds midway at Winfield. (click photo to view larger)
Video frame by Steve Bell.

Winfield, Kansas –

CLICK HERE TO WATCH AN AUDIO SLIDESHOW AND A VIDEO FROM THIS YEAR'S WALNUT VALLEY FESTIVAL

(Music under the announcer lead-in was by the band Sawmill Road.)

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KCUR News
1:42 pm
Fri October 2, 2009

Proposal To Limit Mayor's Powers Fails 11-1

Councilman Ed Ford assails the mayor about recent appointments to economic development commissions.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – Two weeks ago it looked like the city council might limit the mayor's power over appointments to boards and commissions. But support for the idea vanished Thursday.

Three weeks ago councilman Ed Ford proposed requiring that nominations to commissions that make spending recommendations be in the form of ordinances. (Proposed ordinances automatically go to committee.)

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KCUR News
8:31 am
Fri October 2, 2009

Council OKs Bonds For New Radios

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Council approved issuing up to $35 million in bonds to pay for a new emergency radio system. Before the vote, Assistant City Manager Rich Noll told council members recent history has changed the concept of emergency communications.

Noll: "When we built this system when you were talking about interoperability you were talking about Police being able to talk to Fire being able to talk to Public Works. Ever since 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina interoperability means one city being able to talk to another city in the region."

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KCUR News
9:53 am
Thu October 1, 2009

Committee Approves Funding For Police Radios

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Council's Finance and Audit Committee advanced a resolution to devote up to #25 million dollars in general obligation bonds to financing a new emergency responders' radio system. Assistant City Manager Rich Noll explained what the resolution will do if the full council approves it.

Noll: "It enables the finance department to proceed with the financing and enables us to proceed with reaching a contract within the next three to four weeks with Motorola - even in advance of having issued the bonds."

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