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Jamie Hobbs / KCUR 89.3

Public defense attorneys are often overworked and underpaid, leaving them vulnerable to negative mental health consequences.

“I have a number of lawyers who will talk about their anxiety… waking up at night, or family issues,” says Ruth Petsch, who oversees the Kansas City public defenders office.

Each of the office's 35 attorneys is assigned 100 or more cases, and the pressure is steadily getting worse.

Segment 1: Heavy caseloads and long hours are taking a toll on Missouri's public defenders.

Officials say public defenders in Kansas City, Missouri, are sometimes handling more than 100 cases at a time, and staffing and workload situations have been dire for years. We speak with leaders of the public defender's office to find out how those pressures are affecting attorneys' mental health and the ability of clients to get a fair trial.

Segment 1: Weekend shootings in Kansas City spark concern about public events

This weekend saw multiple fatal shootings in Kansas City, one of them occurred shortly after First Friday in the Crossroads, where thousands of people had congregated. The incident has community members and leaders reconsidering Kansas City's violent crime problem, and how to rein it in. 

Segment 1: Why we don't fix things any more, and why that matters.

There's a national movement encouraging people to learn how to fix things as an antidote to consumer waste and excess spending. But fix-it-yourself workshops happening around the country are having trouble getting off the ground in Kansas City. Our guests give the spiels they'd deliver at such workshops, if they did exist here.

Segment 1: Ryana Parks-Shaw and Edward Bell II discuss their plans to take over Kansas City's 5th District Council seat. 

Continuing our Kansas City Council debate series, the 5th District candidates discussed new policing strategies, the addition of pocket parks and how to minimize violent crime.

In the 1990s, the near future looked like a place where distance would no longer matter.

In an increasingly online economy, location would matter less than connection. The internet appeared destined to make working from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, much the same as tackling a job from Pittsburg, Kansas.

Yet three decades later, location matters as much as ever.

Shelley Staib

Shelley Staib held the "best job ever" for 30 years. In 1975, the Shawnee writer was one of the first women to become a lineman for Bell Systems. The position gave her a great deal of independence, allowed her to work outside, and every day was different.

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library

Inasmuch as Detroit relied on automobiles, or Pittsburgh on steel, Kansas City once relied on a meatpacking industry that, in turn, depended on a multi-ethnic, low-wage, but organized labor force.

Segment 1: A developing program in Missouri would help foster youth find gainful employment.

Youth in the foster care program who are not placed with a permanent family face disproportionate levels of unemployment and homelessness. FosterAdopt Connect's new program helps pair young adults with hiring businesses, and ensures employers are prepared for the employees' unique needs associated with growing up in the foster care system.

Segment 1: Teacher pay in Missouri comes in almost dead last compared to the other 50 states.

Missouri places 49th in a study ranking teacher pay state-by-state. In this conversation, we discuss why that is and look into how the issue affects local educators.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: The cost of higher education has shot up faster than family income in recent decades.

Wikimedia Commons

Around 20,000 state employees in Kansas now qualify for paid parental leave.

Baby steps, say groups that advocate for families and women. They’re celebrating, but they really want Kansas to join the six states and Washington D.C. that make private-sector companies give paid leave, too.

The Women’s Foundation and Kansas Action for Children want paid family leave that Kansans can use for everything from bonding with babies to taking an elderly mom or dad to a doctor’s appointment.

Segment 1: The local impact of a minimum wage increase.

In November, 62% of Missouri voters supported Proposition B, a measure to raise the minimum wage across the state, gradually, to $12 an hour by 2023. On this episode, we explore what happens to local economies when the minimum wage increases and its societal effects.

patientcaretechniciansalary.net / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: What health care coverage is right for you, and what to do if you need help enrolling.

More coverage options have been added to the health insurance marketplace — some as part of the Affordable Care Act and some not — and premium costs this year are expected to remain the same, or even decline in some states. Today, we answered open enrollment and coverage questions to help listeners make the best choice for themselves and their families.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Terry Chester was 15 when he got his first job at the I-70 Drive-In, making $2.90 per hour. That was minimum wage at the time.

Decades later, after the recession, he found himself working for minimum wage again as a sacker at Sun Fresh. Chester, 53, has been there five years and now makes $9.85 an hour. He said he lives paycheck to paycheck.

Catina Taylor wearing headphones and seated at a microphone in the KCUR studio.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: KC Fed releases results of study looking at black women starting businesses.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Three Kansas City Symphony musicians recently performed their final concerts with an arts organization they've been with since its inception. 

Principal tuba player Steve Seward, bassoonist Marita Abner and oboe and English horn player Ken Lawrence retired after the Symphony's season ended last weekend. All three were hired by the Symphony in 1982, when the orchestra was founded by R. Crosby Kemper, Jr.

Wikipedia / CC

It's official: There are not enough workers for all of the new jobs in the United States. The number of job openings exceeds the number of job seekers for the first time on record, the U.S. Labor department said this week.

In Missouri, employers struggle not with the quantity of workers but how qualified they are, says Jeff Pinkerton, senior researcher with the Mid-America Regional Council.

Segment 1: What does diversity in the workplace look like today?

When people talk about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it's usually from the standpoint of the employer. But what about the employee perspective? And for local professionals of color, how does it translate to the day-to-day realities of going to work?

Seg. 1: Leaving KC. Seg. 2: Ukeleles.

Apr 12, 2018
Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Why are educated professionals leaving Kansas City?

A recent study showed that more people with college degrees are leaving Kansas City at a faster rate than they're coming in. A look at why, and what that means for the city as a whole.

Segment 1: How will automation affect the future of work?

Self-driving cars, ATMs and self-checkouts ... many fields have been affected by technology. And studies project that half our current work activities could be automated by 2055. What kind of work will we do — and will there be enough of it?

Segment 1: Can our employers help us get more sleep?

We've heard that getting a good night's sleep makes everything better; it's good for our health, our cognition and our relationships. Sounds simple, right? But falling asleep (and staying asleep) can be hard. Tomorrow, the KC Chamber of Commerce is hosting a forum on sleep for the business community. We hear from people who are trying to make their work culture more compatible with good sleep habits.

file photo / Heartland Health Monitor

Income that doesn’t come close to the poverty line. Persistent job insecurity. Shifting schedules and irregular hours. Cumbersome barriers to state assistance meant for the neediest Kansans.

A new report from the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities paints a stark picture of the Kansas welfare system.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Roughly 80 politicians gathered Wednesday for an early morning meeting at the Kansas Statehouse.

The session wasn’t technically mandatory, more encouraged by legislative leaders determined to be seen as doing something in response to the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations.

Several of the women in attendance nodded at what they heard — that four in five women and one in five men have suffered some form of sexual harassment.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

It seems like news is constantly breaking about men accused of sexual misconduct, harassment or assault. There's a feeling of change in the air, but there is also confusion.

We explore how Kansas Citians are responding. We hear what women want in the workplace, and we talk to men who are rethinking their behavior and perspectives. Plus: your thoughts and questions.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Overland Park writer Jen Mann was inspired to create her People I Want to Punch in the Throat blog by, well, all the people she wants to punch in the throat. Today, we speak with the New York Times best-selling author about the latest installment in her snarky series, and about the people she's worked with who almost — almost! — forced her to fisticuffs.

The federal government is the largest employer in Kansas City. Who are these employees and what do they do? A talk with federal employees in the Midwest, and what the government looks like from their perspective.

Plus, a local artist is reviving the video store. She operates a VHS lending library out of her bedroom, and she'll be going mobile to bring VHS tapes across the plains.

Guests:

What do Kansas Citians expect from higher education? A job that pays well? The chance to learn for the sake of learning ... or something else?

As the cost of college goes up, saddling graduates with debt, we explore the point of higher education ... and whether its concepts are in touch with today's reality.

Guests:

Missouri unions assess losses, victories on May Day

May 1, 2017

International Workers’ Day, often marked by protests, marches and celebrations by organized labor, may be muted in Missouri this year due to restrictions passed by the state legislature.

“We’ve definitely taken a few hits this year, there’s no doubt,” said Pat White, president of the St. Louis Labor Council AFL-CIO.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

In 2010, Kansas City Public Schools closed nearly 30 schools, mostly because of declining enrollment and a budget deficit. Some of these buildings are still in limbo, and others have been sold, leased, or mothballed for future use.

At the former Westport Middle School at 200 E. 39th Street, classrooms, where students used to work on projects, are now co-working spaces for entrepreneurs. 

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