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Top Stories Of 2012

Tom Bodine

Kansas City got started on a streetcar line. The balance of Kansas politics changed for years to come. And a remark made in a Missouri Senatorial race became the bane of the GOP nationally. KCUR's Steve Bell guides through a tour of the top area stories of 2012 on KCUR’s Year-End News Review.

Akin “Legitimate Rape” Remark Leads To McCaskill Landslide

Challenger Todd Akin gave incumbent Claire McCaskill the biggest gift of her campaign when he said in a TV interview that in cases of what he called “legitimate rape” a woman's body had ways of shutting down processes that lead to pregnancy. The quote became the most played sound bite in the country. It caused Akin's candidacy to be rejected by women's groups and by top GOP officials and presidential candidate Mitt Romney. McCaskill, who had been the underdog before Akin's gaffe scored a 15 point-spread victory and some analysts said the Akin remark cost Republican candidates votes all across the nation..

The Election: Little Change In Missouri, Major Change In Kansas

Missouri Democrats won all statewide offices except Lt. Governor, but Republicans continued to control both houses of the legislature.

But the balance of Kansas politics changed dramatically with conservative Republicans defeating moderate incumbnts and winning control of both houses of the legislature.

Big Win For Conservatives Bolsters Brownback

Governor Sam Brownbck was a major force in the conservative takeover, having openly endorsed conservative candidates and drummed up financial support for them in the primary election. And Brownback was already on a roll, winning legislative victories for a privatizing Medicaid and enacting massive income tax cuts. Brownback said the tax plan, which eliminates all income tax for some businesses would produce thousands of jobs and make Kansas a favored destination for new business investment. Opponents said the tax cuts would mean reduction in services.

Bleak Future For State Participation In Health Insurance Exchanges

A Missouri ballot measure making voter or legislative approval necessary before any health insurance exchange could be set up passed heartily, and reelected Governor Jay Nixon said two days later that with its passage, a looming application deadline and the legislature not in session, Missouri participation in creating a state insurance exchange was impossible “at this time.” Governor Sam Brownback also rejected the idea of a health exchange in Kansas, saying it would be prohibitively expensive and a case of “extreme overreach: by the federal government..

Bishop Finn Plea Bargains, Convicted Of Failure To Report Sexual Offenses

Robert Finn, Bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, became the highest ranking Catholic official ever convicted on criminal charges related to sexual abuse by clergy. Finn pleaded guilty and his attorneys negotiated a plea-bargain that precluded jail time. In the courtroom, Finn admitted failure to report offenses committed by former priest Shawn Ratigan and apologized for the pain caused to victims and their families.

Sly James On A Roll With Tax Hikes, Streetcars

Kansas City, Missouri voters gave mayor Sly James a half-cent sales tax increase for a plan to start fixing aging sewers, step up street repairs and increase parks department funding . And in December James won another voter victory when a sales tax to support a downtown streetcar line passed by a wide margin. Only residents of the downtown streetcar district could vote in that election. Only 549 did.

Drought Breaks Records, Cracks Foundations

Every Missouri and Kansas county was declared a disaster area in record-breaking a drought that stunted crops, forced livestock producers to take cattle to market early, wilted lawns and cracked home foundations. Kansas City's year-to-date precipitation at year-s end was still almost 17 inches below normal.

All Star Game A Success, Border Wars End

In sports, Kansas City hosted baseball's All-Star Game and declared it a success.

MU and KU called it quits, ending a 104 year football and basketball rivalry as the Tigers headed for the SEC.

Crennel Coaches, Chiefs Falter

At the year's start, Chiefs GM Scott Pioli gave interim head-coach Romeo Crennel the job full time. At the time, Pioli said better performance by the team during the 3 games Crennel was temporary coach influenced the decision. But that effect didn't last. By Christmas the Chiefs were tied for last place and a game away from their worst win-loss record ever.

Ownership Changes Board Of Trade, Sprint.

Ownership Changes At Board Of Trade, Sprint

Kansas City's 156-year-old Board of Trade was bought by the owner of the Chicago Board of Trade, prompting predictions that trading in Kansas City would be phased out.

And Japanese wireless carrier Softbank agreed to buy70 percent of Sprint Nextel for $20 billion. CEO Dan Hesse said the cash influx “couldn't come at a better time” becaise ot would help the company in the “investment phase”of its development. A major part of those investment plans is completion of the purchase of 100 percent of network company Clearwire for $2.2 billion.

Google Fiber Becomes A Reality

Other providers increased speeds and lowered prices as Google connected the first households to its new ultra-high-speed optical Internet/television service. The first active customers were in Kansas City, Kansas, but Google promised the service would expand rapidly in the metropolitan area. Google also announced that it would soon announce the details of new high-speed services for businesses.

Congressman Caught In Naked Swim

In raised eyebrow” news, Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder admitted to a midnight skinny-dip in the Sea of Gallilee. He apologized and assured his constituents that he had been drinking wine but was not intoxicated at the time of the incident. Yoder was reelected in a race in which he ran unopposed.

Grand Jury Shrugs Off Arboretum Statue Protest

A group called the American Family Association demanded that a bare-breasted statue be removed from the Overland Park Arboretum. The statue depicted a headless, fragmented female torso aiming a digital camera at the place where the head would have been. The objectors maintained that the statue was obscene and promoted “sexting.” When the statue was not removed, a petition drive produced sufficient signatures to call a grand Jury. The grand jury met for less than one day and ruled that the statue was not in violation of any law.

Eras End At KCUR – Patricia Cahill Retires...

The year included two expected but major changes at KCUR.

Long-time general manager Patty Cahill retired. Cahill led the station from obscurity to success over a period of 25 years. Cahill said she plans to spend more time in her roles as grandmother and Chair of the board of directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

And Walt Bodine ends 72-Year Broadcasting Career

And after a 72-year radio career, talk show pioneer Walt Bodine also retired . Bodine began his career in Sedalia in 1940, and returned to Kansas City in 1947, and ventured into talk radio with his “Conversation” show on WDAF radio in 1960. Subsequently, Bodine hosted talk shows on WHB and KMBZ, then moved his program to KCUR,where he remained for 29 years. He is also an author, was news director of KCIT-TV and did televisioncommentary on WDAF-TV AND KMBC, TV-9. And there's more. Quite a career! “Imagine that!”


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