Joseph Leahy

Reporter and afternoon newscaster

Joseph Leahy began his career in broadcast journalism at St. Louis Public Radio in 2011. He moved to Delaware in 2012 to help launch the state’s first NPR station, 91.1 FM WDDE, as a general assignment reporter, afternoon newscaster and host. Leahy returned to Missouri in 2013 to anchor St. Louis Public Radio’s local newscasts during NPR’s All Thing’s Considered and produce news on local and regional issues. His education includes a master’s degree in print and multimedia journalism from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Missouri. He graduated high school at Highland Hall Waldorf School in Northridge, California and grew up migrating almost annually with his family between rural Missouri and sprawling Los Angeles. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1982. 

Tower Grove Park

A new director is getting settled at Tower Grove Park in St. Louis for the first time in 28 years. St. Louis Public Radio’s Joseph Leahy spoke recently with Bill Reininger about his choice not to live at the director’s residence and his ideas for bringing new technology to the historic park.

Missouri Department of Transportation

A fuel tax increase now has more support than a sales tax increase to help pay for Missouri’s roads and bridges.

The Missouri Department of Transportation’s most recent survey finds 24 percent of Missourians favor raising taxes on fuel — an increase of 9 points since 2013. Meanwhile, raising the sales tax has lost support, falling four points to 17 percent.

Front entrance to the Illinois Veterans' Home-Quincy. Seven have died in an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease.
Jason Parrott | Tri States Public Radio

Illinois has confirmed three more deaths from Legionnaires' disease at a Quincy veterans' home, increasing the number of fatalities from the outbreak to seven. 

Officials have so far diagnosed 39 people with the disease and tests are pending for other residents. The veterans' home is working with the state and county health departments as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find the source.

Gateway ARch Sunshine
(photo by Tim Tolle via Flickr Creative Commons)

Two days of celebrations are planned for the Gateway Arch’s 50th anniversary this October.

According to organizers with the CityArchRiver Foundation and Great Rivers Greenway, citizens and dignitaries will gather on Wednesday, Oct. 28, near the Old Courthouse to commemorate the moment when builders set in place the landmark’s crucial keystone. The Missouri History Museum is also hosting an exhibit and panel discussion that day.

committee crowd at microphone
Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

A coalition of activist groups is planning a series of events this week to commemorate the first anniversary of Michael Brown Jr.’s fatal police shooting on Aug. 9, 2014.

Nearly a dozen groups are participating in the so-called “United We Fight” activities that begin Friday morning and culminate with a day of civil disobedience on Monday. 

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission postponed voting Wednesday on proposals that could clear the way for UberX and other transportation network companies to operate in the city and county.  

Uber staff help potential drivers with the ride-sharing company's application process during recruitment event in the Central West End.
Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

UberX says it will recruit 2,000 new drivers in the first year after local regulators permit the company and other smart-phone-based ride services to operate in St. Louis.

To spread the word and garner support, Uber has teamed up with St. Louis branch of the NAACP, the St. Louis Agency of Training and Employment (SLATE) and the employment initiative Ferguson 1000.

Jamie Bockenfeld-Parrott

(Updated at 1:00 p.m., on Friday, July 17)

Quincy city officials say that the state of emergency will be lifted at noon on Saturday. All streets are now passable and Ameren Illinois reports that nearly everyone's power has been restored.

(Updated at 4:30 p.m., on Wednesday, July 15)

Ameren Illinois reports nearly 10,000 customers remain without power in and around Quincy following Monday night’s powerful thunderstorm that choked the city’s roadways with toppled trees and downed power lines.

Quincy’s mayor Kyle Moore says 70 percent of the city’s streets are now passable and he expects power for most residents to be restored by  Wednesday night.

Garbage and recycling services are suspended for the rest of the week to allow crews to focus on clean up. The mayor says the city’s parks were hardest hit and some may take years to restore their tree canopies.  

(Our original story)

The city of Quincy is recovering after a powerful thunderstorm toppled trees and knocked out power for tens of thousands of area residents Monday night.

Many streets remained blocked by fallen branches and utility poles as of Tuesday afternoon and power is expected to remain off for thousands of homes until at least Wednesday, said Mayor Kyle Moore.

      

Water levels on the Mississippi River rise to flood stages underneath Eads Bridge.
Sarah Kellogg

Most of the major waterways in the St. Louis region have crested or are near their crests following the wettest June on record.  More than 13.1 inches of rain fell last month, nearly an inch more than the previous record set in 2003.

High water levels on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers are declining and the Missouri River at St. Charles is forecast to crest at about four feet above flood stage Saturday afternoon.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Metro Transit is adjusting policies for its Call-A-Ride service that some disability advocates had claimed were unfair.

Starting July 1, the service’s so-called “no-show” policy will base suspensions on a percentage of a rider’s overall Call-A-Ride usage rather than a fixed number. Riders will also be permitted five minutes, instead of three, before they’re penalized for being late for pick up.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

A new bridge over the Missouri River is opening Monday morning, underscoring how much St. Louis and St. Charles Counties have grown together over the past three decades.

State and local officials gathered Thursday to cut a ceremonial ribbon on the new eastbound span of the I-64 Daniel Boone Bridge.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann told an audience of about 50 people that the bridge is the 7th river crossing built between the two counties in the last 37 years.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The ride-sharing service UberX has yet to persuade local regulators why its drivers don’t need government background checks and drug tests to begin offering rides in St. Louis and St. Louis County.

Metropolitan Taxicab Commissioners met Tuesday to consider the pros and cons of revising its vehicle-for-hire code to permit UberX and other such transportation network companies (TNC).

About two dozen people attended the meeting to show their support or opposition including representatives from the local taxi companies and independent entrepreneurs.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

About 25 protesters rallied outside the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis Friday afternoon, demanding Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce convene a “town hall” meeting to push for reforms in police tactics and the municipal justice system.

Deputies from the St. Louis Sheriff’s Department outnumbered the group of peaceful demonstrators, lining up along the granite stairs of the courthouse’s main entrance on Market Street.  

Photo of police car
Jason Rojas | Flickr

Updated 6:20 p.m. June 2

Missouri state officials are under pressure to respond to a report that shows disparities between blacks and whites in traffic stops are the worst they've been since the state began collecting data 15 years ago.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s General Assembly adjourned this month without addressing a projected budget shortfall that transportation officials say will devastate the state’s roads and bridges over the next few years.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Some local mayors and transportation officials are supporting a legislative proposal to add two cents to the state’s gas tax that they say is critical to maintaining area roads and bridges.

To illustrate the problem, officials from the St. Louis County Municipal League, the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council and MoDOT gathered Friday near an overpass at Interstate 270 and New Florissant Rd.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

The outcome of East St. Louis’s mayoral election next month could play a major role in the city’s efforts to boost economic development and public safety. One key issue in the race involves the operating hours of the city’s late-night clubs and liquor stores.

Two-term incumbent Alvin Parks Jr. wants to allow the businesses stay open until at least 6 a.m. to generate extra tax revenue. Parks' name has been taken off the ballot by a court, but he's still running.

St. Louis Scottish Games

The world championship of Scottish athletics is coming to Chesterfield this fall. The sporting event, Masters World Championship (MWC), is coordinating this year with the annual St. Louis Scottish Games and Cultural Festival.

The success of the local event, held in Forest Park since 2001, has helped in drawing the global competition to the area, said St. Louis’s Scottish Games spokesman Mark Sutherland.

Alderman Antonio French said regular updates from St. Louis Police chief Sam Dotson would increase police accountability.
Joseph Michael Leahy

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s Public Safety Committee wants monthly updates from Police Chief Sam Dotson on the status of his department and crime in the city.

Committee members agreed Wednesday morning to request the updates as an interim solution while they work to establish a more permanent system of accountability. The police department has been under local control since 2013 after the city gained oversight from a state board.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Celebrations in St. Louis for Martin Luther King Jr. were interspersed with protests on Monday as activists continued their call for social justice in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown last August in Ferguson.

St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar speaks to reporters on Dec. 24, 2014 about the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Antonio Martin by a Berkeley police officer. Berkeley chief Frank McCall looks on.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

(Updated at 2:55 p.m., Wed., Dec. 24 with additional surveillance video)

(You can also follow live updates related to this story on our live blog).

St. Louis County police are investigating another fatal officer-involved shooting in north St. Louis County.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

An animal rights group is suing the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC), arguing that it has failed to regulate horse-drawn carriages in St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The St. Louis Animal Rights Team (START) filed a petition this month in St. Louis City Circuit Court. It maintains that the MTC must use its authority to ensure public safety and the well-being of the animals, said attorney Jessica Blome.

St. Louis City Hall
Richie Diesterheft | Flickr

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has directed the city’s Affordable Housing Commission to set aside an additional $1 million for its Home Repair Program.

The commission has already authorized more than $2.4 million from its Housing Trust Fund  to assist nearly 900 income-qualified applicants to  keep their aging homes safe and livable. 

According to a statement from the mayor’s office, the additional allotment will be prioritized for nearly 1,900 homeowners to finish needed work.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

At the end the year, Tower Grove Park in south St. Louis will replace its director for only the fifth time in its 146 year history.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Joseph Leahy recently took a tour of the park with outgoing Director John Karel as he prepares to turn over his stewardship and place of residence after nearly three decades.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Getting The Job

LEAHY: How did you come to be the director of Tower Grove Park?

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

A coalition that has played a large role in organizing protests since the police killing of Michael Brown is asking the St. Louis County Prosecutor for 48-hour advance notice before announcing whether Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will be charged.

The request is part of the Don't Shoot Coalition's response plan for widespread street demonstrations that are expected when the decision by a grand jury is released. County Prosecutor Bob McCullough has said the decision would be announced later this month.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

If you go out looking for the 13th floor of a tall building in St. Louis, you may have a hard time finding it.

An informal survey by St. Louis Public Radio of 68 skyscrapers in the St. Louis area finds about 41 percent skip over 13 in counting their floors. Not surprisingly, most of them are hotels or residential properties where people pay to stay.

“A lot of clients do not like to have a 13th floor. They think that it is bad luck,” said Catalina Freixas, an architect and assistant professor of architecture at Washington University.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis will no longer require job candidates to disclose previous felony convictions on their applications.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced the shift in hiring policy during a press conference at City Hall Tuesday.

“We’re really not changing our approach to who we hire. It’s just how we do it,” he said.

The change means potential employees will not have to check a box on their applications if they have a felony conviction.

Protest at Shaw and Klemm 10-8-14 re Vonderrit Myers
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis circuit attorney is pledging a thorough and transparent investigation into the shooting death of 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers. Myers was shot and killed Wednesday night in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis by an off-duty police officer.

9/30/14
Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The anti-violence initiative Stop the Killing has been wildly popular among street demonstrations in Ferguson since the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson police officer on August 9.

The campaign’s simple message with a design of purple hands held aloft, hearts on each palm, has seemed almost tailor-made to fit the protests of Ferguson's most popular chant “hands up, don’t shoot!” The chant stems from witness accounts that Brown’s hands were up when he was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson last month. 

Members of the ATU Latino Caucus joined local 788 and members of other local unions in a protest outside Metro headquarters on Friday, September 26, 2014.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Members of St. Louis’ local transit union demonstrated outside Metro headquarters Friday morning, in a protest dubbed a “Rally for Respect.”

Local workers were joined by members of other branches of the Amalgamated Transit Union, as well as members of other local unions to form a crowd of about one a hundred.

The group circled the Metro building for about an hour, chanting phrases such as “workers, riders, side-by-side,” and carrying signs that read “They called us an Oreo.”

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