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. 

Missouri’s U.S. Senators are seeking answers from the Department of Veterans Affairs  about reports of lax mental health services in St. Louis’s VA hospital system.

The inquiry stems from allegations by the system’s former Chief of Psychiatry, Dr. Jose Mathews, regarding an “artificial backlog” of patient care created by staff who treat veterans for only a fraction of the workday.

According to the Associated Press, Mathews claims in a federal whistleblower complaint filed last year that he was demoted after his efforts to make employees work harder and more efficiently.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Grand Master chess players from across the country have assembled in St. Louis’ Central West End for the 2014 U.S. Chess Championship.

Round 1 of the two-week tournament kicked off Thursday afternoon at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.

A local favorite to follow this year is Grand Master Ray Robson, 19, who is a member of Webster University's chess team that won the 2013 national collegiate chess championship, said CCSCSL Executive Director Tony Rich.  

Wikimedia Commons

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri could play a crucial role in approving the controversial Keystone XL pipeline this week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated a vote could be held in the next few days to authorize the pipeline that would carry Canadian crude oil through the U.S. to the Gulf Coast.

McCaskill is one of the few Senate Democrats in favor of the project. During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, she argued the oil will be flowing regardless of the pipeline’s approval.   

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Perhaps the most visible sign of St. Louis’ baby boomers growing old is the local construction surge of senior licensed care facilities. Over the past three years, construction, renovation and expansion projects in the metro area have added up to nearly one quarter of a billion dollars with more development on the way.

(via Flickr/functoruser)

Voters in St. Charles County could decide this August whether to ban red light cameras on their roads.

District 2 Council Member Joe Brazil (R-Defiance) is expected on Monday to propose amending the county’s charter. If approved by the council, the proposal would appear on the ballot Aug. 5.

“Since we are a charter county and we’ve had the ability to do this, we’re just going to go ahead and do it,” he said.

St. Peters is currently the only municipality in the county that employs the controversial cameras, which are set up at seven intersections.

Office of Rep. Jay Hoffman.

The Illinois House is considering whether to ban law enforcement agencies in the state from requiring officers to meet traffic ticket quotas.

The measure which passed the Senate last week would prevent departments from using ticket quotas in officer performance evaluations.

Democratic Rep. Jay Hoffman of Swansea is sponsoring the legislation.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) says he will work to extend production of EA-18 G Growlers at Boeing’s defense facility in north St. Louis County.

Kirk, who toured the assembly line and met with company leaders Monday, told reporters he will try to convince Congress to approve and appropriate funds for 22 more of the radar-jamming aircraft.

Building the fighters, he said, supports about 5,000 jobs in the St. Louis area and is critical to the Navy for future conflicts.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois is joining President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats in an election-year push to bridge the pay gap between men and women.

Speaking on the Senate Floor Tuesday, Durbin called on his Republican colleagues to help pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

“It says that women cannot be discriminated in the workplace simply because they are women,” he said.

Flickr/Jeremy Noble

Missouri lawmakers are weighing what role bicycles should play in the future of transportation spending. 

A proposed constitutional amendment would raise the state sales tax by a penny to bridge any anticipated shortfalls over the next ten years. Most of the money would be for roads and bridges, but 10 percent could be earmarked by local governments for alternative forms of transportation including bicycle, air, rail, and pedestrian projects.

File photo

Missouri's efforts since the recession to be more business-friendly have cost the state about $1.7 billion in corporate tax revenues.

That's according to a report co-published Monday by the Center for Effective Government, National People's Action and GrassRoots Organizing.

Researchers found that corporations are paying Missouri about 26 percent less in income taxes than they did at the beginning of the recession six years ago.

Flickr/Jeremy Noble

St. Louis could be the next U.S. city to host an urban bike-sharing program. Great Rivers Greenway is conducting a feasibility study to determine how successful such a program would be in the area.

“We want to look at the destinations where our residents are traveling to on a daily basis, whether that’s [to] work or shopping areas, or dining areas,” said Assistant Project Manager Elizabeth Simons. 

The Defense Department has chosen one of Boeing’s aircraft concepts as a candidate for its Vertical Takeoff and Landing X-plane program.

The company's St. Louis-based defense branch is competing to develop an aircraft that takes off and lands vertically, hovers and efficiently flies at speeds up to 400 knots, said Garrett Kasper, a communications representative for advanced Boeing military aircraft.

CityArchRiver2015

The Walnut Street Bridge downtown near the Gateway Arch reopens Friday afternoon along with a new permanent traffic configuration.

MoDOT has been working over the past two months to replace the span with a wider, two-way bridge over I-44 as part of the CityArchRiver2015 redevelopment project.

On both sides of the highway, Memorial Drive will be permanently rerouted to make way for the new park that will bridge the Arch Grounds to the rest of downtown, said MoDOT engineer Deanna Venker.

Interstate 64 in St. Louis will be closed in both directions between Kingshighway and Forest Park Avenue starting at 8 p.m. tonight (Friday). That includes eastbound highway ramps from McCausland Avenue to Papin Street and westbound ramps from Grand Avenue to Pine Street.

Missouri Department of Transportation engineer Deanna Venker said road crews will be working through the weekend on building a new interchange at Tower Grove and Boyle avenues.

via Flickr/Michael R. Allen

Lambert Airport is now screening luggage checked at Terminal 1 with a new automated baggage system.

The $50.7 million assembly of ramps, conveyor belts and X-rays replaces the bomb detection machines that were installed in ticketing areas after the 9/11 terrorists attacks.

Watch below for a bag’s-eye-view of the bomb-detecting security system:

St. Louis Public Radio Staff

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen is taking a stand against so-called "right to work" legislation that's moving through the Missouri Legislature.

Forest Park Forever president and executive director Lesley Hoffarth said public input will help guide future changes and upgrades at the city's most well-known green space.
(via Flickr/pasa47)

Emerson Electric is giving $5 million to help restore and maintain Forest Park.

The gift is the largest ever given by a publicly traded company to Forest Park Forever – the private non-profit that's partnered with the city to maintain the 1,371-acre park.

The money will help pay for new improvement projects and secure the park for future generations, said Forest Park Forever President and Executive Director Lesley Hoffarth.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is unusual among American cities in having so many streets and places with French names.  Over centuries, its residents have also adopted some unusual ways of pronouncing them.

While these interpretations could make many modern French speakers cringe, some echo the original dialect of the city when it was still a part of New France. In other words – maybe we shouldn’t feel so bad about how we pronounce “Chouteau” these days.

 

 

St. Louis Public Radio Staff / St. Louis Public Radio

Metro is proposing to increase its bus and train fares this July, pending approval by the Board of Commissioners. The fare hikes are needed to offset rising operational costs, including fuel, vehicle parts and medical benefits for staff, said Communications Director Patti Beck.

"This fare increase will help financially support our existing Metro transit system and preserve plans for future service enhancements,” she said.

Metro is proposing three options in changing fares, to raise an additional $2.2 million. 

Veronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri has retaken its position as the number two beef cow producer in the nation. The USDA’s annual inventory shows the state surpassed Nebraska with a 63,000-increase in cows from 2012 to 2013.

Dry weather across the country had a lot to do with Missouri reclaiming the spot which it held from 1983 to 2008, said University of Missouri agriculture economist Scott Brown.

St. Louis County Assessor's Office

The St. Louis County Assessor’s Office will undertake a review of all tax-exempt properties in the county to confirm their owners still qualify for the tax break.

Exemptions have been granted to thousands of non-profit groups because their properties are used for charitable, religious or educational purposes, but some of them no longer qualify, said County Assessor Jake Zimmerman.

Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon

Thousands walked above the icy Mississippi River Saturday as governors, senators and U.S. representatives from Illinois and Missouri cut the ribbon on the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.

The $230 million, cable-stayed structure is the culmination of a decades-long effort to relieve congestion on the nearby Poplar Street and Martin Luther King Bridges.

Kristi Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

  • Construction began in April 2010.
  • The bridge cost came in at $670 million including land acquisition, utility relocation and construction
  • The total bridge span has 16.367 million pounds of structural steel and 12 million pounds of reinforcing steel.

Area residents will have a rare chance Saturday to see the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge up close before it officially opens to vehicle traffic on Sunday.

St. Louis Public Radio

Leaders of the multi-pronged plan to transform the Gateway Arch Grounds and surrounding streets downtown gave their fourth presentation in as many years Wednesday about the progress and challenges faced so far on the $380 million project.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The Food and Drug Administration has a plan in the works that may affect your appetite. It wants to ban partially hydrogenated oils -- the major source of artificial trans fats in the U. S. food supply.

How will that impact St. Louis area bakeries, donut shops and grocery stores?

Like many mom-and-pop donut shops in St. Louis, the Donut Stop in Lemay fries with partially hydrogenated shortening – good for glaze retention, shelf life, and mouth feel.

via Wikimedia Commons

After spiking in early January, cases of the flu appear to have subsided in the St. Louis area.

According to the St. Louis County Health Department, the 92 influenza-like illnesses recorded for the week ending Jan. 19 was 151 fewer than the first week of January. St. Louis City numbers for last week have yet to be released.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Thousands of St. Louis-area residents celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with ceremonies, music and marches over the three-day weekend.

Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis hosted readings on Monday of King's writings, sermons and speeches from the same pulpit where he once preached 50 years ago.

via Wikimedia Commons

Officials at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis say nine people have died from the H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu, over the past six weeks. Another 35 patients were sick enough to be treated in the hospital’s intensive care unit, although, many were transported from outside the area.

Infectious Disease Physician Steven Lawrence says those who died ranged in age from their mid-20s to their mid-60s.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated Jan. 13, 2014:

The legal back-and-forth over the release of the names to the plaintiff continues. The state Supreme Court today blocked the Archdiocese from having to comply with Dierker’s order until further notice.

Updated Jan. 10, 2014:

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis City officials are mobilizing to protect the city's homeless population as an arctic weather front is forecast to plunge the region into sub-zero temperatures late this weekend.

The National Weather Service says a winter storm could dump nearly a foot of snow on the St. Louis area by Sunday evening. The overnight low temperature on Sunday is forecast to reach -8 degrees with daytime highs on Monday peaking near -2 degrees.

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