Kansas City Missouri | KCUR

Kansas City Missouri

Illustration by David Kovaluk / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s school report cards are out, and they don’t look anything like they did last year.

The redesigned Annual Performance Report (APR) does away with the percentile score that the state uses to make accreditation decisions and replaces it with color-coded bar graphs meant to give parents a more detailed look at how their school district or charter school is doing. 

But educators aren’t sure how accessible all that information really is.

Sabrina Staires/sabrinastaires.com

James Martin, an independent consultant and curator, writer and educator, has been hired by the city of Kansas City, Missouri, to serve as its public art administrator. The position has been vacant since April 2018. 

Martin's appointment fills a crucial need, coming just as questions and tensions mount over the most expensive public art project in the city's history: a new $1.5 billion single terminal project at Kansas City International Airport budgets $5.6 million for art as part of the city's longstanding One Percent for Art program.

More than a handful of public art projects are also in the pipeline.

"Kansas City has had such a long commitment to public art," Martin told KCUR. "You know, we've had a great run, and I'm just thrilled to be able to continue that tradition and contribute my part."

Ron Jones / KCUR 89.3

KCUR is part of StoryCorps' One Small Step initiative to bring together people of differing political opinions for real conversations. This is one we've chosen to highlight.

Mike Parker and Ellen Carmody met for the first time as part of KCUR and StoryCorps' One Small Step project, but they tackled heavy topics. Parker, a veteran with five decades of military and government service, asked Carmody, an assistant school principal, what she thought about mass shootings at schools.

Nicole Bissey / Nicole Bissey Photography

Performer Christopher Barksdale has given it a lot of thought, and has come to the conclusion that it's quite possible Jesus lived in a "cancel culture" just like we do. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

A vintage Vornado fan hooked to a bicycle wheel pushes a tumbleweed in a circle. Two sandstone rocks grind against each other to create a small pile of fine sand. A clockwork movement sends a feather swinging in an arc.

 

Segment 1: How Ukranians view the whistleblower case

For many Americans, the whistleblower scandal surrounding President Trump is a matter of politics and presidency. For the other country involved, Ukraine, the perception of these events is part of a larger web of scandals.

  • Anna Yakutenko, Journalist for Kyiv Post

Segment 2: Hispanic Leadership Lowrider Bike Club

Segment 1: Council rookies relate what the first month on the job has been like.

In her first weeks on the Kansas City City Council Andrea Bough realized, "it puts you in the position of ... making a decision based upon what's good for the city as a whole." She and other fellow first-timers talk about learning how the council operates, and the urgent issues, like gun violence, that were waiting for them when they arrived.

Segment 1: Lawmakers from urban districts want their counterparts from rural Missouri to come witness the devestation guns create in their cities.

Members of Missouri's Legislative Black Caucus expressed frustration with Gov. Mike Parson for his unwillingness to take up gun violence in next month's special session. They say they're not shocked, but disheartened, by the lack of urgency to address the issue.

School of Economics

If you grew up in suburban Kansas City in the 1990s, you probably remember taking a field trip to Exchange City or the Blue Springs School of Economics, simulated towns run entirely by 10-year-olds.

Exchange City closed years ago, but the Blue Springs program still teaches 12,000 elementary students a year about money, scarcity, opportunity cost and supply and demand. And next month, the School of Economics is opening a new downtown location in the UMB bank building.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s first charter school for girls only opens next week with a staff that reflects the diversity of its students and the community.

Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy is entering a crowded charter market, but school leaders are counting on a curriculum that highlights the contributions of women and people of color to attract and keep students.

Parent Monique Cannon decided to move her daughter, Dieerin Jamison, from another charter school so she could have more teachers of color.

Dan Loarie / Creative Commons

This year’s catastrophic flooding has created hard times for many people in Midwest, but it’s created a nirvana for mosquitoes.

Kansas City and the surrounding region could potentially become a hotbed for mosquito-borne viruses like West Nile virus in the coming years due to increasing temperatures and more frequent flooding, which are predicted by climate experts.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Missouri workers providing care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities make less than a Walmart or Target worker, even after a pay increase that went into effect last month. 

The low pay is the main reason about half of Missouri workers quit each year, according to Missouri Developmental Disabilities Division Director Val Huhn.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Astry Sosa has a good job at Prier Products, a manufacturer of plumbing products, but she’s the first to admit that she’s never been able to save money.

“I could just never seem to make it stay in a single place, you know?” she says with a laugh. “I’d always talk myself into ‘Oh well, what’s $20 on something?’’”

So when the 25-year-old Sosa took over payments on a pickup truck her parents owned, it was tough.

Jim Lightfoot

Missy Koonce has figured out that "weird ages well."

For 30 years, the actor, writer and director has entertained Kansas City with her character acting, parodies of old shows like "Bonanza," and for a while, as owner of Bar Natasha.

That local legacy will be capped this fall when Koonce moves to Indianapolis, Indiana, where her partner has been transferred for work.

"I think what I'm most excited about, about going someplace new, is nobody knows me there," she said.

Segment 1: Kansas City, Missouri's mayor reflects on his time in office. 

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James leaves office July 31. He discusses his eight-year legacy before he hands over the job to the next mayor.

  • Sly James, mayor, Kansas City, Missouri 

Segment 2, beginning at 37:13: The legacy of a Kansas City theater director, actor, and entertainer.

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.”

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James doesn’t officially hand over the keys to his office until the end of July, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying a victory lap of sorts Sunday afternoon.

Speaking at an event dubbed “Sly’s Farewell Cookout,” the outgoing mayor told supporters that Kansas City “used to be the city that always wanted to be like Denver or St. Louis, or someplace else.” 

“Those cities now want to be like us,” James said. “Take it to the bank.”

KCMO Public Works

A cold, snowy winter left Kansas City roadways riddled with potholes. Now, historic amounts of rain have delayed public works crews' ability to fix them.

Some city departments, such as those in Overland Park, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, are sending crews out on rainy days to try to patch them. Other municipalities don’t even bother.

“If it’s raining all day, crews aren’t going to be able to get out and patch potholes,” said Dave Reno, the Public Works community engagement officer for the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

The summer months tend to be among the most violent, and Kansas City is on pace for more homicides than last year, so officials are offering something to help solve crime: more cash, with no questions asked.

The city’s Crime Stoppers program, which rewards anonymous tips that lead to an arrest, features a sliding reward scale based on the severity of the crime.

A typical gun crime, such as illegal possession of a firearm, might dole out $1,000.

David Kovaluk / St. Louis Public Radio

A state court judge in St. Louis on Friday ordered Missouri to restore Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in that city.

Judge David L. Dowd ruled that the legislature’s fiscal 2019 appropriations bill for the Medicaid program violated the state constitution by barring payments to abortion providers and their affiliates.

He found the bill ran afoul of the constitution’s requirement that appropriations bills can’t refer to other laws when fixing their amount.

Segment 1: Kansas City native reveals how her interest in politics developed.

Sarah McCammon discussed her coverage of abortion including what has occurred in her home state, how she started in public radio and what her Kansas City childhood was like. 

Segment 2, beginning at 25:43: Kansas City mayoral candidate conversations

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

After her mother died of cancer almost ten years ago, Bernadette Esperanza Torres says she experienced an awakening. Her mother was always working, always helping other people. She'd planned to take a vacation when she retired.

"When my mom was dying she was like, 'I guess I'll never retire,'" Torres remembers. "She would not even take a day off to go to the doctor to help herself."

BigStock Images

The Missouri Attorney General's 2018 report on traffic stops shows black drivers were even more likely to be stopped than white drivers compared to the year prior. Statewide in 2018, blacks were 91% more likely than whites to be stopped by law enforcement. That's based on the driving-age population of both groups in the 2010 census. For 2017, the figure was 85%.

In relation to the entire population of Missouri, blacks were stopped at a rate of 76% in 2018 compared to 72% in 2017.

Segment 1: Incumbent and challenger are campaigning to represent a district that runs from the Country Club Plaza to north of the Missouri River. 

A current Kansas City, Missouri, council member and a former businessman are vying to win the city's 4th District at-Large seat in the June 18 election. The candidates differed on government spending, develoment, climate change and crime.

Bob Wasabi Kitchen / Facebook

The transition from the cold winter to warm summer can bring about a shift in food tastes: Instead of soup, we look for fresh dishes. And in recent years, raw foods like poke and sushi have become more popular in landlocked Kansas City.

Segment 1: Mayoral candidate Jolie Justus shares her plans for Kansas City if elected.

Crime is one of the top concerns Jolie Justus hears when speaking with voters. The mayoral candidate explains why criminal justice reform is in her plans to address the city's crime rate. Justus also discussed her approach to using economic development incentives. 

Andrew Birgensmith / Kansas City Symphony

Whether money’s tight or you have more moolah than you need, why pay more for your go-and-do than you have to?

Corbis / Creative Commons-Flickr

The family of a woman who died in custody at the Jackson County Detention Center in 2017 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming workers ignored the woman's pleas for help and falsified her medical records.

ReGina Thurman died "a horrible and preventable death" about 14 hours after arriving at the jail on Jan. 20, 2017, according to the lawsuit filed in Jackson County Circuit Court by Thurman's family earlier this month. The Kansas City Star first reported the lawsuit on Monday. 

Segment 1: A preview of Making Movies' latest album

Making Movies, a Kansas City band, has a new album that's catching a lot of attention for reviving a Lou Reed song that never was. We listen to some tunes from it and visit with the band's frontman to hear about his project to teach teenagers the ins and outs of music production.

Segment 2, beginning at 27:40: Taliban Safari

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Setting children up for academic success is Annie Watson’s driving passion.

The Kansas City, Missouri, native is the director of early education and parent success at Turn the Page KC, a non-profit that aims to have all children reading at grade level by third grade.

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