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.


KCMO City Hall
1:24 am
Thu April 15, 2010

Council Committee Contemplates Plaza Melee

Photo courtesy of Country Club Plaza Association.

Kansas City, Mo. – A clearer picture of Saturday night's "flash mob" conflicts on the Plaza emerged in a city council committee meeting Wednesday. But it was also a meeting with conflicts of its own.

Most of the 900 or so young people police dispersed from the upscale shopping area were 16 or under. Many arrived by bus. Only a few, mostly among the older youths, were involved in fights.

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2:45 am
Fri April 2, 2010

"Equality Index" Shows Recession Tough On Metro Blacks

Urban League president Gwendolyn Grant tells the city council the recession has been particularly tough on African-Americans.
Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, Mo. – Urban league president Gwen Grant gave the city council an overview of the latest "State of Black Kansas City" study Thursday, and said the recession has been very hard on African-Americans.

The study shows an unemployment rate for blacks 3 times that for whites in Missouri counties, 2 times in Kansas. More blacks than whites were stopped, searched and arrested though when stopped whites were more likely to be carrying contraband. African-American test score averages were five points below the cutoff for college admission.

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2:01 am
Fri March 26, 2010

New KCMO Budget Preserves Services, Raises Fees

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri has an official city budget for the year beginning May first.

The $1.2 billion in spending the council approved preserves basic city services. But parks and boulevard medians will be mowed less frequently and fees for water, sewers and extra trash bag stickers will go up.

There's a property tax increase, but most owners won't feel it because it's designed offset lower property values.

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KCMO City Hall
2:20 am
Fri March 12, 2010

Council Nixes New Department, Reinstates Another

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri will not get a new city department to manage construction projects. The city council voted that down 7 to 6 yesterday. But the city Human Relations Department was re-empowered in a last-minute move.

The Human Relations Department has always been a department according to the city charter. But former city manager Wayne Cauthen gave it division status within his office. That means HRD didn't have its own separate budget, and some council members also said it "degraded the status" of HRD.

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2:13 am
Thu March 11, 2010

50-Cent Increase For Downtown Events?

Kansas City, Mo. – The price of attending most events at Bartle Hall or Municipal Auditorium will go up a little if the city council approves a plan approved by the Finance and Audit Committee Yesterday. The committee approved a flat fifty-cent increase in the city's one-dollar-per-ticket-sold use fee.

It's the first increase in the fee in 14 years, and Oscar McGaskey, who is in charge of Kansas City's event facilities says it is low compared with the fee charged by other similar-sized cities, some of which charge as much as $2.45.

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2:14 am
Fri March 5, 2010

Council Told Convention Efforts Need Boost

Kemper Arena: The council is told the white arena is a white elephant that will lose $1.6 million next year.
Photo courtesy of the City of Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri's city council continued hearing from departments on next year's budget yesterday. They discussed items including public health, public works and the city's convention and tourism efforts.

Oscar McGaskey, who is in charge of the city's convention facilities told the council that in addition to declining major convention business, the city continues to be saddled with a large deficit for Kemper Arena, projected to lose $1.6 million next year.

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2:01 am
Fri February 26, 2010

Council Rejects Northland Annexation

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri will not annex 316 acres near the airport. The city council voted the proposal down Thursday, 8 to 5.

Sponsor Ed Ford called it "a gift from heaven" and a net revenue producer. The mayor, often a rival, joined with him in supporting annexing 316 acres near the airport that would eventually contain a subdivision of more than 659 new middle class homes.

But it was the reasoning of Jan Marcasson that prevailed.

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6:52 pm
Thu February 18, 2010

Bannister Complex Air Safe, More Tests to Come

Behind this wall at the soon-to-be retired Bannister Federal Complex is a defense plant that used toxic solvents.
File photo.

Kansas City , Mo. – The old Bannister Federal Complex passed round one of EPA testing for hazardous pollution this week, but there are more tests to follow.

The environmental agency remained silent until the results were in. Volatile solvents, some of them carcinogens, have left no traces at the old Honeywell plant that pose a health hazard from breathing the air inside the buildings.

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2:40 am
Fri February 5, 2010

Council Finalizes Defense Plant, Fixes Zoning Glitch

Architect's rendering of the proposed Honeywell Botts Road defense plant.
Click to enlarge.

Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City city council endorsed the new Honeywell defense plant project yesterday and allocated almost $21 million in bond proceeds toward its construction.

The new facility, known as the Botts Road plant, will replace the aging structures on Bannister Road where non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons are made.

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12:57 am
Thu February 4, 2010

Northland Annexation Clears Council Committee

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri moved one notch closer to annexing 316 Northland acres near Platte City into its boundaries Wednesday when an annexation proposal was approved by a city council committee.

There definitely is opposition to the annexation requested by Tomahawke Ridge developer Tim Dougherty. He wants to build 657 single-family homes in the area around Highway 92 and North Winan Road over the next 20 years.

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1:40 am
Wed February 3, 2010

Bartle Testifies For 'Pay To Play' Grand Jury

State Senator Matt Bartle talks with reporters on the courthouse steps about a bill he sponsored that some say was killed in a \"pay to play\" maneuver.
Video frame courtesy of KMBC, TV-9

Kansas City, Mo. – A federal grand jury investigating whether there is a "pay to play" system in the Missouri legislature heard testimony Tuesday from Lee's Summit Republican Senator Matt Bartle and the chairman of a political committee involved in money transactions that some allege led to the killing of a Bartle bill toughening restrictions on the adult entertainment industry.

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7:23 pm
Wed January 27, 2010

Snow Storms Drain City Rainy Day Fund

Orange snow plows contrasted with gray skies and white snowbanks as 2010 began.
File photo.

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City Public Works Director Stan Harris told the council Finance and Audit Committee Wednesday that the full year's 2.5 million snow removal budget was no match for the series of storms that ushered in 2010.

Harris said as of January 3, at the end of that storm, his department had expended a total of roughly 2.8 million dollars, about 300,000 dollars over the budget for the full year.

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5:17 pm
Wed January 27, 2010

Feds Say KC No Longer Tops List For Mercury Storage Site

Kansas City, Mo. – To a neighborhood's relief, the federal government is backing off from the idea of making the Bannister Road federal complex a toxic waste storage site after the defense plant there closes.

The idea of storing tons of toxic mercury at the site drew the unanimous objection of the city council over the summer because the facility is in a residential area and also in a flood-plain, raising the possibility of contaminating the water supply.

Councilman John Sharp called making it a waste dump a stupid idea as early as July.

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3:06 am
Fri January 22, 2010

Council Approves Overhaul Base Lease

The American Airlines overhaul base at KCI.
Photo courtesy of KMBC TV-9 News.

Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City city council wasted no time in approving a lease on the overhaul base at KCI. The proposed deal with Jet Midwest was first announced last week, and today the contract is ready for the inking.

What can you say when you come up with a deal to fill most of a space due to soon become vacant for about $700,000 a year... with the possibility of up to 600 good-paying jobs within three or so years?

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7:18 pm
Wed January 20, 2010

Council Girds To Defend E-Tax

Kansas City, Mo. – With an eastern Missouri millionaire contributing a half-million dollars to a campaign to end earnings taxes, Kansas City's city council is the threat to revenues seriously.

Council Finance and Audit chair Deb Hermann says it's not that City Hall is in love with the idea of an earnings tax, but that the tax contributes $200 million a year toward paying the city's bills. She says, "loss of that revenue without something in place ahead of time to replace it would be devastating."

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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