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
3:09 am
Fri April 3, 2009

Council Passes Dress Code, MAST Takeover Plan

Dozens of MAST employees and their supporters packed the council chamber to urge an immediate decision of the ambulance service's future.
Video frame courtesy of Channel 2, KCCG.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City, Missouri city council passed an ordinance limiting dress code restrictions and advanced toward making the MAST ambulance service a city department Thursday.

The galleries were filled with MAST employees and their supporters who applauded when anyone made a point for starting the takeover process and waiving the city's residency requirement for present MAST employees unless they voluntarily move.

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KCUR News
3:19 am
Fri March 27, 2009

Council Spurns Funkhouser Police Pitch, Passes Budget

Mayor Mark Funkhouser makes one last pitch for a smaller reduction of the police budget.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – On the deadline day, Kansas City, Missouri has a budget designed to meet an $87 million shortfall... basically the same one the finance committee endorsed a week earlier.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser tried twice to persuade the council to restore some funding to youth and violence prevention programs and especially to the police department despite Councilwoman Jan Marcason's assurances that the number of officers on the street will not be reduced.

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KCUR News
2:00 am
Thu March 26, 2009

Council Advances MAST Takeover, Dress Code

MAST ambulance photo by Steve Bell.

Kansas City, MO – The idea of making MAST a city department was endorsed last week by a study group that included the present and past Medical Directors of Kansas City emergency efforts and City Hall's top financial heads.

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KCUR News
12:45 am
Fri March 20, 2009

City Moves Toward MAST Takeover

MAST ambulances would become city property with the completion of a plan to make the nonprofit service a department of the City of Kansas City, MO.
Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Ambulance Services Trust.

Kansas City, MO –
After several years of debate, the city council has started mapping a new future for Kansas City's ambulance service. MAST won't stay an independent organization, but it won't become part of the fire department, either.

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KCUR News
2:39 am
Thu March 19, 2009

Council Committee Advances Budget Plan

The Rev. Wallace Hartsfield and supporters of Aim4Peace urge a council committee not to eliminate funding for anti-violence and youth employment programs.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG,Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Council's Finance and Audit Committee has advanced the council's version of the city budget and recommended that the full council pass it next Tursday. But the debate isn't over yet. KCUR's Steve Bell reports.

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KCUR News
12:36 am
Fri March 13, 2009

Council Hears Benefits Plan, Buys Time On Budget

Kansas City budget director Troy Schulte explains to the council how a $6.5 million savings wasn't quite enough.
Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City city council had hoped to have a finished budget ordinance, but didn't accomplish that. On the day the council had hoped to put figures on the table, it heard a report on an employee benefit package that was both a victory and a disappointment.

Budget Director Troy Schulte and others had hoped to self-insure city workers at substantial savings. Turnaround time was to short for self-insurance, but Schulte told how a committee avoided a 12 percent cost increase current providers were going to charge.

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KCUR News
12:56 am
Fri March 6, 2009

Mayor's Budget Spares Police, Cuts Stadiums

City Council members Russ Johnson, Ed Ford and Bev Herman study the mayor's budget memo.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – Two weeks later than the council would have preferred, Mayor Mark Funkhouser submitted his budget suggestions for the coming year on Thursday. No one commented or asked questions as the mayor delivered his budget memo, which makes about $20 million worth of adjustments in the budget that was proposed by the city manager.

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KCUR News
1:35 am
Thu March 5, 2009

Recession Deals Nonprofits A Double Blow

Men cluster near the basement door of Grace Cathedral waiting for doors to open for the free lunch program. The noon crowds there have increased by 30%.
Photo by Steve Bell.

Kansas City, MO – At noon on a chilly February day the free lunch line outside the Grace and Holy Trinity cathedral downtown stretches the length of the parking lot and curves to span its width. Some in the line are the chronically unemployed, but these days more and more are people laid off due to the recession and looking for work.

A man volunteers to tell his story. His name is O'Connell, he says. Laid off from a warehouse he hasn't been able to find a job. Things are getting dire.

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KCUR News
1:08 am
Thu March 5, 2009

Tapes Inconclusive In Fire Truck Fatality

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Fire Department has released tapes of radio communications involved in an accident in which a 7 year old boy was struck and killed by a fire truck near ninth and Euclid. Some had questioned whether the fire truck's siren was activated when it struck the boy.

Was the siren blaring when Obarimomoya Nkani, seven, stepped in front of the fire truck and died?

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KCUR News
1:41 am
Thu February 26, 2009

Council Takes Aim At Cordish Dress Code

ACLU board member Lisa Watson speaks against the Power and Light District dress code.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.\">

Kansas City, MO – The two-year battle over the dress code at the Power and Light District continued yesterday, as a city council committee heard public testimony on a proposed tougher ordinance on what a dress code may not prohibit. The one at Power and Light bans athletic attire and garb associated with the Hip-Hop culture. Developer the Cordish Company says it is just about clothes. But the ACLU's Lisa Watson said it's really about who gets excluded for wearing the clothes.

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KCUR News
4:09 am
Fri February 13, 2009

Funkhouser Rejects Cauthen Budget

Mayor Mark Funkhousr tells the city coucil that the city manager's budget proposal is \"unaccptable.\"
Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel

At the Kansas City city council's business session Thursday, the mayor was disappointed with the budget, the council was disappointed with the mayor and solving the city's revenue shortfall was still at a standstill.

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KCUR News
8:05 am
Wed February 4, 2009

Short Meeting A Slap At Cauthen

Kansas City City Council Finance and Audit Chair Deb Herman.
Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City city council may have had the shortest committee meeting ever this week.

At last week's Finance and Audit meeting council members blasted City Manager Wayne Cauthen's two-weeks-in-a row avoidance of coming in to discuss the budget. Beth Gottstein even sent a messsage, telling a Cauthen aide: "I made a point to be on time this morning and I hope that he will make an equal effort to be on time next week."

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KCUR News
3:49 am
Thu January 22, 2009

Cauthen Faulted For Millions Of Shortfall

Kansas City city manager Wayne Cauthen: under fire from city council members as $11 million shortfall looms.
Photo by Steve Bell.\">\">\">

Kansas City, MO – There were hot words and hot water for City Manager Wayne Cauthen at this morning's meeting of the council Finance and Audit Committee. Budget director Troy Shulte presented the group with the latest estimate of the city's revenue shortfall for the current budget year - $11.6 million. And city CFO Jeffrey Yates was on hand to review current figures on departmental expenditures to date.

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KCUR News
2:22 am
Thu January 15, 2009

Kansas City Jail Would Close Under Merger Proposal

Cathy Jolly tells reporters about the jail plan as County Executive Mike Sanders and City Manager Wayne Cauthen listen.
Photo by Steve Bell.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Correctional Institution near the stadium would close and its 130 or so inmates would move to county facilities downtown under a proposal that will go to the mayor and council today.

Under the plan worked out by council members and Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, the city would pay the county to house inmates at its correctional facility at 13th and Cherry and/or in two now unused former downtown jails, one of which was in the upper stories of the courthouse.

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KCUR News
4:19 am
Sat December 27, 2008

Top Stories Of 2008

KCUR News
2:47 am
Fri December 12, 2008

Council To Investigate Funkhouser Ethics Allegations

Former mayoral aide Joe Miller provoked controversy with allegations his job involved ethics violations.

Kansas City, MO – Former Mark Funkhouser aide Joe Miller says he may have violated state ethics and open records laws while working in the mayor's office. On KCUR's Up to Date, Miller said the mayor held back an e-mail from a Freedom of Information Request, and that as a mayor's office employee he should not have been a campaign event organizer in the Light Rail campaign. As a result of these assignments and policies of the mayor, Miller says he felt "afwfu," as though he was "headed down the wrong path."

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KCUR News
3:39 am
Fri December 5, 2008

Council Rejects Funkhouser 'Mammygate' Solution

Councilman Ed Ford and Mayor Mark Funkhouser clash on a proposed settement to a discrimination suit involving the mayor's wife.
Video Frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – Fireworks erupted again in yesterday's city council meeting over the so-called "Mammygate" lawsuit filed by a city employee over alleged remarks by the mayor's wife.

Forty minutes into an otherwise routine council meeting, Mayor Funkhouser announced that outside attorneys hired to defend him and his wife had come up with a settlement of the suit against the city and the council. The council could pay the plaintiff $135,000... and approve about another $40,000 in attorney's fees.

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KCUR News
3:54 am
Thu December 4, 2008

Kansas City Shortfall Estimate Still Climbing

Councilwoman Deb Herman tells her colleagues the growing shortfall forecast for Kansas City now stands at 20% of next year's general fund budget.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City, Missouri city council began to grapple with the city's projected revenue shortfall this week. Budget chair Deb Herman explained how serious the current forecast is.

Herman says of the $490 million that went into the general fund last year, $315 million went to the police and fire departments, leaving $175 million for everything else. She emphasized: "Everything that comes out of this building, really, comes out of $175 million," noting that the still growing shortfall presiction for next year is $89.3 million.

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KCUR News
9:01 am
Fri November 21, 2008

Fed Forecast Amplifies Kansas City Shortfall Concerns

Federal Reserve economist George Kahn tells council members not to expect any significant recovery from the recession before the summer of 2009.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City city council set the wheels in motion for a comprehensive shared-use trails program yesterday, and resolved to develop more consistent parking policies to minimize downtown tow-aways. But a projected budget shortfall of $60 to 80 million loomed throughout their two meetings.

Federal Reserve economist George Kahn told the council members that fourth quarter sales will likely be down, and real recovery from the recession won't begin till the second half of 2009.

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KCUR News
11:41 pm
Tue October 28, 2008

Proponents Say Light Rail Would Bring Jobs, New Shopping Center

Click on the image for a larger view of the proposed layout of the Citadel Square Shopping Center at 63rd and Prospect.
Rendering courtesy of JSA Architects.

Kansas City, MO – Mayor Mark Funkhouser and light rail proponents gathered at 63rd and Prospect yesterday to promote the plan's economic benefits.

Two of the four corners at the southern terminus of the proposed light rail route are vacant lots. There is a nice new drugstore on the third. The fourth holds an aging gas station with not much traffic. Mayor Mark Funkhouser said that would change - that light rail will bring a new 55-acre village-style retail development to one of those now vacant properties.

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KCUR News
9:50 am
Wed October 22, 2008

Budget Chair Sees Red Flags In City Finance Report

Finance and Audit committee members Deb Herman and Jan Marcason hear worrisome budget news.
Video frame courtesty KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – Finance and Audit chair Deb Herman worked with colleague Jan Marcason to produce a budget for next year that was more in keeping with projected revenues. But after hearing yesterday's report on fiscal year 2007, she doesn't think they went far enough.

"I still need to do some more studying of it," she said, "but so far there's red lights flashing all over it."

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KCUR News
11:37 pm
Thu October 16, 2008

Council Approves Defense Plant Plan

Artist's conception of the planned $500 million defense plant. Click on this image for a larger view.
Rendering courtesy Planned Industrial Expansion Authority.

Kansas City, MO – First-stage plans for a new $500 million plant to build non-nuclear parts for America's nuclear weapons cleared the Kansas City city council Thursday afternoon.

The facility, in the Richards-Gebaur area, would replace the Honeywell plant on Bannister road, which the government is abandoning as outmoded. Terry Riley, whose Planning and Zoning committee advanced the measure yesterday said a vote against the plant won't stop the nation from making nuclear weapons, but a vote for it can do a lot for Kansas City.

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KCUR News
9:43 am
Wed October 15, 2008

Defense Plant Plan Sent To Full Council

School board member Duane Kelly was one of dozens of peace activists who objected to the building of a plant that makes parts for nuclear weapons. He said he was speaking as a private citizen.
Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – For the second week in a row, opponents outnumbered supporters yesterday at city council hearings on building a new $500 million defense plant to replace one on Bannister Road that is to be closed.

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KCUR News
11:51 pm
Mon October 13, 2008

Nixon, Hulshof Differ On Urban Education

Democrat Jay Nixon (left) and his Republican opponent in the Missouri Governor's race, Kenny Hulshof.
KCUR photo.

Kansas City, MO – Both Democrat for Governor Jay Nixon and Republican Kenny Hulshof would create more Missouri college scholarships. But Republican Hulshof also proposes making scholarships available for students in the troubled Kansas City and St. Louis school districts. Democrat Nixon says these scholarships amount to vouchers that would drain off precious dollars from the districts.

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Government
10:19 am
Wed October 8, 2008

Deadline for Voter Registration in Missouri; Some are Flawed

Kansas City, MO – There's bound to be more uproar about irregularities in voter registration cards turned in in Kansas City by the ACORN organization. The Jackson County election board had remained silent, though disgusted with the 900 or more dubious registrants until they got a call from Fox News, according to Bob Nichols of the election board.

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KCUR News
10:10 am
Wed October 8, 2008

Precious Doe Case Likely In Hands Of Jury Today

Kansas City, MO – The Precious Doe murder case could go to the jury as early as Wednesday afternoon. KCUR's Steve Bell reports.

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KCUR News
12:01 am
Wed October 8, 2008

Guilty Verdict In Precious Doe Murder Case

Kansas City, MO – Seven years after the headless body of a child was found in a wooded area near Swope Park, a jury has found Harrell Johnson guilty of first degree murder of the little girl known as Precious Doe.

Defense attorney Chris Slusher had told the jury that Harrell Johnson was not a premeditated killer.

"He did terrible things, he was using drugs. He was out of (his) mind. As Michelle said, 'those things take your soul away.'" Slusher said. "But he wasn't cool and he didn't want the child dead."

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KCUR News
1:30 am
Fri October 3, 2008

Council Updates Child Restraints Ordinance

Proper safety restraints for children 4 through 8 and under 80 pounds. Note that the booster seat and the child are secured by the seat belt.
Photo courtesy of www.seatcheck.org

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City council updated the city's child-restraint ordinance yesterday, making it match the Missouri state statute.

The altered law specifies that chldren under 4 should be in safety seats unless they weigh over 40 pounds - from then till 8 years old, a booster seat is required till the child weighs 80 pounds. Seat belts are mandated from that benchmark till age 16 or a height of 4-9. There is a soccer mom exemption for cases in which there are more kids in the car than there are seat belts.

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KCUR News
6:48 am
Tue September 16, 2008

Mo. Mayors Cooperate For Jeff City Clout

Legislators in the Missouri State Capitol will hear a more unified lobbying voice from the state's seven largest cities.
Photo Courtesy of Show-Me Missouri

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser first proposed the idea of combining the lobbying efforts of St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, St. Joseph, Joplin and Jefferson City. And he says yesterday's first meeting was an unquestionable success that resulted in a unified agenda.

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KCUR News
5:19 am
Tue September 16, 2008

Groundbreaking For New Arena In Independence

Kansas City, MO – The heavy machinery has already been on site, but Tuesday the formal groundbreaking took place on the new arena in eastern Independence.

Its primary tenant will be a minor league hockey team from the Central Hockey League. But Mayor Don Reimel of Independence says, as a multi-purpose facility, it will also have "entertainment by the stars that are on their way up and stars on their way down. They all have a cycle (laughter). Kind of like elected officials (more laughter)."

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