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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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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KCUR News
7:39 am
Thu October 1, 2009

Kansas City Breaks Even As Sprint Center Profits

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Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center is doing well, paying the Kansas City, Missouri a $1.8 million dollar bonus for the year. That's because the city gets 50 percent of the arena's profits after Anschutz Entertainment Group reaches its guaranteed profit amount. But AEG also manages Kemper Arena, and Oscar McGaskey, who is in charge of the city's revenue-producing properties, says the contract estimates on the older arena just didn't pan out.

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KCUR News
6:41 am
Thu September 24, 2009

Chastain Returns With Petition In Hand

A light rail train like those envisioned in Kansas City beside a contemporary bus.
Picture courtesy of kansascitylightrail.org

Kansas City, MO – Die-hard activist Clay Chastain is returning to Kansas City with still another light rail plan. And this time he wants to change the city charter so the council can't repeal a voter-approved initiative as they did with his 2006 plan.

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KCUR News
3:30 am
Thu September 10, 2009

Council, Mayor Clash Over Appointee Approval

Kansas City, MO – Another storm appears to be brewing between Mayor Mark Funkhouser and the city council - this time over the amount of information provided on appointees to boards and commissions the council must approve.

Council members say they need more information on appointees to TIF and economic development commissions, citing tens, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars the city pays out in business incentives.

The mayor resists, saying appointees will decline the jobs if they have to be vetted.

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KCUR News
1:31 am
Fri September 4, 2009

Kansas Citians Happier With Services, Less So With Leaders

Mayor Mark Funkhouser enjoys some banter about improving city communications services after reading improved citizen satisfaction numbers.
Click to enlarge.

Kansas City, MO – Mayor Mark Funkhouser's "City that Works" campaign may be starting to work according to a new survey of citizen satisfaction released by the auditor's office Thursday.

Over a thousand households polled in June and July report Kansas City doing a better job for its citizens than a group questioned a year ago. The city's ratings improved on 47 items, and though it remains to be seen if those gains will hold up in the next quarter's survey, the Mayor was pleased.

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KCUR News
2:23 am
Fri August 28, 2009

Council Repeals Funeral Picketing Ordinance

A member of the Westboro Baptist Church smiles as she displays the group's message.
Photo from the Westboro Baptist Church web site.

Kansas City, MO – It is no longer illegal to picket at funerals in Kansas City, Missouri. The city council repealed what was said to be the nation's first municipal funeral picketing law Thursday.

Kansas City's leaders passed an ordinance prohibiting picketing at funerals several years before Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church started picketing the funerals of servicemen killed in action. But the ordinance was never enforced, even on the occasions the Church picketed military funerals in Kansas City.

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KCUR News
12:36 pm
Thu August 27, 2009

Liberty Memorial Asks To Tap Endowment Interest

Kansas City, MO – Facing a budget trimmed $300,000 by the city council, Liberty Memorial officials are asking permission to use 90 percent of the interest from the Liberty Memorial Endowment fund for routine maintenance on the Kansas City landmark.

The Liberty Memorial endowment fund was originally intended to grow by compounding interest for future major maintenance projects.

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KCUR News
1:24 am
Fri August 14, 2009

Funkhouser Veto Survives Override Attempt

Kansas City, MO mayor Mark Funkhouser and his wive, Gloria Squitiro.
Photo from Funk's Front Porch Internet blog.

Kansas City, MO – When a judge said the limitations that banned the mayor's wife from her City Hall volunteer post were unconstitutional, the council re-wrote them and put them back.

On Thursday, the mayor announced that he was vetoing the restoration.

His opponents were caught on legislative day with two supporters of the changes absent and needing 8 votes to override. They got five.

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KCUR News
2:32 am
Thu August 13, 2009

Council Looks at Funeral Picketing, Trash, Taxes and Loose Lips.

Assistant City Attorney Bill Geary tells a council committee that the funeral picketing ordinance is unlikely to withstand the scrutiny of the 8th District Circuit Court.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City city council had a busy day in its committees yesterday, making decisions related to taxes, confidentiality leaks, the troubled new bulky items pickup system and the ordinance banning picketing at funerals. KCUR's Steve Bell reports.

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KCUR News
9:38 am
Tue August 11, 2009

New Radios To Improve City's Emergency Response

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City emergency responders are looking forward to a new communication system that will let fire, police and ambulance crews talk to each other, and eventually, with units from other neighboring cities. KCUR's Steve Bell reports.

When every second counts, having to have a dispatcher serve as intermediary can be frustrating and time consuming. But that method will end when new interoperable radios are installed in all Kansas City, Missouri emergency response vehicles.

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KCUR News
1:50 am
Fri August 7, 2009

Council Revives Volunteer Limits Ordinance

Mayor Mark Funkhouser and his controversial wife, Gloria Squitiro, tell TV viewers of their battles over her volunteer service in his office.
Photo courtesy of TV-9.

Kansas City, MO – The battle over the volunteer duty of the wife of Kansas City's mayor is on again. The city council passed a revision of the volunteer ordinance that sponsor Ed Ford said addressed the points raised by a judge that declared the original ordinance unconstitutional last week.

Specifically, Ford's changes expand the limits on family members volunteering to include appointed officials and city employees, and define the "regular volunteer work" the first ordinance prohibited as anything over ten hours per month.

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KCUR News
1:24 am
Thu August 6, 2009

KC Trolley-Bus Plan Revived

Rubber tired trolley buses would run from the River Market to Waldo, evenings only, under a new plan.
Photo courtesy of Lamers Trolleys.

Kansas City, MO – The proposal for rubber-tired trolleys transporting people through Kansas City's various entertainment districts from the River Market to Waldo is back, in a scaled-down version.

The original plan involved a $400,000 loan from the city and daytime and evening operation. But the contractor had concerns about profitability, so the new plan is for a $200,000 loan and nighttime operation only.

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KCUR News
2:46 am
Thu July 30, 2009

KC May Repeal Funeral Picketing Ordinance

A Westboro Baptist Church member pickets the funeral of a service member killed in the Middle East.
Photo from the Westboro Baptist Church web site.

Kansas City, MO – A threat of a lawsuit made by the Fred Phelps family and their Westboro Baptist Church was met with defiance by a city council committee yesterday, but its members are calling it a "lose-lose situation."

The Phelps family sends an ultimatum: repeal the city's ordinance prohibiting picketing at funerals or face a first amendment lawsuit - a suit city legal advisors say the city would likely lose. A loss would invalidate the ordinance and force the city to pay the Phelps's court costs - upwards of $30,000.

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KCUR News
9:49 am
Fri July 24, 2009

Council Settles Bates Lawsuit For $550,000

Mayor Mark Funkhouser made a brief statement to media outside council chambers. He said he was \"disappointed,\" but ready to move on.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City city council has settled the Ruth Bates bias suit against the City and Mayor Funkhouser out of court... ending months of controversy and averting a trial that could have started next week.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser expressed disappointment. He said he was ready to go to trial and confident he would have been vindicated, but he had been focusing on his agenda, and "now, we can put this behind us and we can do that."

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KCUR News
1:29 am
Fri July 17, 2009

Council Moves To Settle Bates Discrimination Suit

Mark Funkhouser and his wife Gloria Squitiro. Former mayor's employee Ruth Bates says Squitiro made inappropriate racial and sexual comments.
KMBC TV-9 photo.

Kansas City, MO – With the trial set to start July 27, Kansas City's city council set the wheels in motion for a possible out-of-court settlement of a discrimination lawsuit against the city and the mayor.

Meeting behind closed doors, the council gave the city attorney the go-ahead on attempting negotiations on a lawsuit filed by former mayoral office employee Ruth Bates. Bates claims she was treated unfairly because of her gender and suffered racial insults from the mayor's wife, Gloria Squitiro.

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KCUR News
2:25 am
Thu July 16, 2009

Trolleys On Hold, Trash Piling Up

A bulky item waits by the curb for collection. In south Kansas City recently it has taken 3 weeks to schedule a pickup.

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City Missouri's new bulky-item pickup by appointment only program and a $400,000 loan to provide event and entertainment transit on rubber-tired trolleys came before city council committees Wednesday, with disappointment on both issues.

Public works officials told a council committee that it is taking as long as three months for some southland residents to get appointments to have bulky items picked up, but they hope to get everything back to the planned two-month schedule.

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