Jackson County | KCUR

Jackson County

Chelsea Engstrom / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: How the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the least fortunate among us.

One advocate for people experiencing homelessness says that population is always in crisis. When you add a worldwide pandemic to the mix, the stakes are even higher for them and the organizations that work to provide them the resources to survive.

Chelsea Engstrom / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: How the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the least fortunate among us.

One advocate for people experiencing homelessness says that population is always in crisis. When you add a worldwide pandemic to the mix, the stakes are even higher for them and the organizations that work to provide them the resources to survive.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

As April's rent becomes due across the Kansas City metro, tenants face an uncertain legal landscape subject to the vagaries of the coronavirus and how soon its spread can be stopped.

That's been the case for tenants such as Erin White, who rents an apartment in Skyler Ridge, a 200-unit complex on 115th Street just west of Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park.

File photo by Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: What Washington lawmakers are working on in response to the spread of COVID-19.

The federal response to the spread of coronavirus had "a clunky start," said Missouri's senior U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. Since then federal decision-makers have enabled state leaders, he said, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has enabled county and local leaders to get things done.

File photo by Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: What Washington lawmakers are working on in response to the spread of COVID-19.

The federal response to the spread of coronavirus had "a clunky start," said Missouri's senior U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. Since then federal decision-makers have enabled state leaders, he said, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has enabled county and local leaders to get things done.

Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash

Updated: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18

Kansas City, Missouri, announced its first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon.

At a news conference broadcast by KCTV-5, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said people should continue practicing social distancing.

“In some ways, we were a bit surprised by the amount of time it took to officially arrive but we certainly recognize that we are at a point now where I think folks need to even double down further … following those good hygiene practices,” Lucas said.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Property owners in eight Jackson County neighborhoods can expect "significantly higher assessed valuations in 2021," according to new County Administrator Troy Schulte.

In one of his first detailed briefings to county legislators earlier this week, Schulte laid out a litany of problems suggesting that the county's assessment mess of 2019 might not be fully cleaned up for years.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

While we’re glued to the news gushing daily out of Washington — impeachment, immigration, health care — the truth is we should be paying just as close attention to what local governments are up to.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

By the end of 2019, police expect 150 homicides in Kansas City, most at the point of a gun. Authorities say another 500 people will be shot and wounded.

Many of the survivors, plus their families and neighbors, will spend the rest of their lives dealing with the aftermath of a gunshot wound. A new program is seeking to give people the help they need to heal both their physical and mental wounds.

Google

Kyle Mead got more than he bargained for after he agreed to a one-year contract to temporarily house Kansas City inmates.

Mead is the president and CEO of Heartland Center for Behavioral Change. After ending its contract with the Jackson County jail in June, Kansas City offered Mead a $3.2 million contract to provide 110 bed spaces for what he said he thought would be inmates detained for low level offenses.

Segment 1: Heartland Center for Behavioral Change was not equipped to accept the full array of inmates brought in by the Kansas City Police Department.

Accepting prisoners from the Kansas City Municipal Court system was initially seen as a chance for the nonprofit organization to link inmates with resources that could help them reintegrate into the community. In retrospect, Heartland Center's CEO said serving as a temporary jail "is outside of our scope" of ability.

Bigstock

Immigrants and U.S.-born Latinos account for more than a third of residents without health insurance in the Kansas City area’s three largest counties.

That’s one of the findings in a study about the fastest growing segment of the local workforce, commissioned by the Reach Healthcare Foundation.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

There is no doubt Jackson County has some monumental, vexing problems.

The county jail is in desperate need of being replaced. The downtown courthouse needs to be renovated after flooding earlier this year. And the property reassessment process is a mess, with appeals that will stretch into 2020.

Riding in to apparently try and fix all of this is Troy Schulte, who in September announced he was stepping down as Kansas City's city manager after a decade on the job. The county legislature will discuss a proposed contract with him on Monday.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A pair of legal opinions, covering vastly different clients, supports some kind of blanket change in the 2019 Jackson County reassessment.

The first opinion, from Legal Aid of Western Missouri, landed with the Board of Equalization (BOE) a couple of weeks ago. Legal Aid is handling about 200 cases of low-income people in Kansas City whose property valuations jumped 200% to 300% on average and, in some cases, more than 1,000%, according to Legal Aid attorney Brandon Mason.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City could once again house inmates and detainees in the downtown Jackson County jail after Mayor Quinton Lucas and Sheriff Darryl Forté reached a deal in principle Thursday.

Since June the city has used a patchwork system to house prisoners. Some have gone to two county jails in Missouri and about a hundred have been housed at the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change.

“Our view is that this is in the best interest of public safety in our community,” Lucas said after a meeting at the sheriff's office in Lee's Summit.

Jackson County Government

A Jackson County sheriff’s deputy has been charged after shooting a woman in the back while trying to arrest her in August. 

Jackson County prosecutors on Wednesdsay charged Lauren Michael, 29, with first-degree assault and armed criminal action.

According to the charging documents, the shooting occurred after deputies tried to pull over a couple driving a Byrd scooter the wrong way down a street. The man was arrested but the woman fled.

John Cheng

A Grain Valley teen is one of five athletes picked to compete at the world gymnastics championships in Stuttgart, Germany for the United States women’s team.

Kara Eaker, 16, is competing for the U.S. on the senior level for her second straight year. She made the balance beam final at last year’s world championships in Doha, Qatar. 

Eaker looks back at the experience as a useful tool for this year’s competition, especially “being able to get used to going for that long (trip) away from home (and) also training with the gymnasts there in Doha.”

Segment 1: Jackson County legislators answer questions of current budget, property tax and working with county executive Frank White.

Jackson County lawmakers say recent budgeting and property tax issues have caused county residents to distrust their local government. Legislator Jalen Anderson attributed the root of the problem to a lack of transparency and communication between the legislative and executive branches. "The time for talking is done. There needs to be change now," Anderson said. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County Executive Frank White's proposal to cut property taxes by $3 million next year landed with a thud Monday in the county legislature.

It was criticized, ridiculed and eventually shot down by legislators.

They suggested the modest cut in the county's property tax levy was White's way of deflecting attention from the county's ongoing reassessment mess.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

On Friday, when Jerry Bausby got two life sentences for the sexual assault and murder of his 18-year-old daughter, it was the culmination of three years of work for Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.

Daizsa Bausby was a star student at the now-closed Southwest High School. She was a rule-follower and a go-getter with big dreams. But just a couple of months before her graduation, her body was found in a Kansas City motel room, dressed as though by someone else, according to examiners, who also concluded that she'd been sodomized and suffocated.

Jackson County Executive Frank White Thursday blasted the audit of the COMBAT anti-crime tax commissioned by the prosecutor's office. 

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

 

A Jackson County jury found in favor of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City and St. Joseph in a case brought by a Catholic school teacher who was fired after she got pregnant out of wedlock. 

Michelle Bolen’s 15-year career at St. Therese North Elementary ended abruptly two months after she told her pastor and boss, Father Joseph Cisetti, that she and her fiancé planned to keep the baby. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Over the last three years, millions of dollars generated by COMBAT, the anti-drug and anti-violence sales tax in Jackson County, has been spent with little or no oversight, according to a new audit.

The COMBAT sales tax was approved by voters in 1989, and it has recently generated more than $20 million a year. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker commissioned the audit after she took over the agency in 2018.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Jackson County Board of Equalization (BOE) will decide Tuesday whether to yet again extend the deadline for property owners to appeal their reassessments.

As of Friday, some 9,500 appeals had been filed with the BOE and staff expected hundreds more before the deadline at close of business Monday.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

As the deadline for Jackson County residents to file property tax appeals with the Board of Equalization approaches, neighborhood leaders worry the damage caused by such a contentious and confusing process will have lasting consequences for people in their communities.

Alan Young, who cofounded the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council with his wife, says folks in his part of town are going through a flood of emotions right now, primarily fear.

Segment 1: Jackson County reassessment disrupting more than property values

Though the Jackson County reassessment mess has been about market price, it is the people who own the homes and businesses who are most deeply affected. Three Jackson County residents discussed how their neighborhoods have reacted and the real-life implications for them and their neighbors should the new valuations stand. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The fight over the Jackson County reassessment mess is dragging on and becoming even more contentious as critics alleged the assessment discriminated against poorer areas.

The county Board of Equalization (BOE) on Thursday had a plan on its agenda that would throw out the assessment and cap property value increases at no more than 14 percent.

Jackson County Detention Center

David Jungerman, an 81-year-old Raytown man accused of killing a Kansas City lawyer in broad daylight, says he should be released from jail while he waits for his trial because he “has never killed anyone” and is not a flight risk.

In a rambling, hand-printed motion, Jungerman also appears to incriminate himself, admitting that it was his voice on a digital recorder police recovered, saying “it’s a shame I don’t have a .17 from a distance we could take ‘em out.”

Sam Zeff

In a move that caught the Jackson County Board of Equalization (BOE) off guard, one member proposed Monday that the entire reassessment should be tossed out.

“It’s essentially a do-over,” said Preston Smith who represents Blue Springs schools on the BOE.

Under Smith's plan any property whose market value increased by more than 200 percent would see a hike in valuation of 14 percent.

If the property jumped 100 percent to 200 percent, the valuation would increase 13 percent.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County property owners may have more time to appeal their valuations as the reassessment mess in the county rolls on with no solution in sight.

At the urging of a half dozen county legislators, the Board of Equalization (BOE) at its meeting Wednesday decided to consider extending the appeals deadline past Monday, July 8.

Pages