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. 

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Reverend Larry Rice is suing the city of St. Louis and Public Safety Director Eddie Roth for condemning a homeless camp he tried to set up last month near Interstate 44. 

The federal lawsuit filed Friday claims Roth failed to give a hearing prior to closing down the vacant lot on Vandeventer and interfered the group’s religious freedom.

“They went and condemned that vacant ground," Rice said. "And in a matter of hours they told us we had to get off the property and if we didn’t that we’d be arrested – of which I was arrested. And there was no violation.”

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri cellphone users can now register their numbers on the state’s no-call list under a bill signed by Governor Jay Nixon Thursday.

The law prohibits telemarketers from calling or texting those who sign up and gives the attorney general’s office the power to punish violators.  

Attorney General Chris Koster says the law expands Missouri’s no-call list enacted 12 years ago for land lines.   

“12 years ago the no-call list saved the dinner hour in this state," Koster said. "Today’s action extends that protection to a new technological era.”

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says cutting the fire department’s pension costs will enable the city to take 30 police jobs off the chopping block.

The Board of Police Commissioners voted Monday to hold onto 30 of the 80 police positions this year’s budget eliminates through attrition, but only if a pension reform bill is passed by the Board of Alderman.

Slay says the bill, which requires firefighters to pay more into the system and prevents full retirement benefits until age 55, would save the city more than $8 million.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

The bulk of Mayor Francis Slay’s firefighter pension reform bill stalled today in the St. Louis Board of Alderman’s Public Safety Committee.

The committee passed a provision barring trustees of the Firemen’s Retirement System from suing the city over the design or benefits of the pension plan. But the committee postponed voting on major reforms that would make firefighters to pay more into the system and prevent retirement until age 55.

Alderman Larry Arnowitz says he’s certain if reform passes, firefighters will fight the changes in court.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The road to the Olympics in London passes through St. Louis this week.

Starting tomorrow, some of the world's top gymnasts will be competing at the Chaifetz Arena for a spot on Team USA.

St. Louis Sports Commission President Frank Viverito says about 50 athletes will be vying to make the cut, including gold-medalist Nastia Liukin and St. Louis native Sarah Finnegan.

St. Louis Public Radio

A Republican candidate for Missouri attorney general says the office must do more to help veterans and those serving in the military.

St. Louis attorney Ed Martin is calling out incumbent Chris Koster for not making veteran’s mental health care a top priority.

“We have coming a tsunami of men and women," he said, "who are facing serious mental health PTSD issues and to not acknowledge it is to be making a terrible mistake and disrespecting our priorities.”

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

The size of St. Louis's ward districts could more than double under a proposal moving through the Board of Alderman's Legislation Committee this week.

Members discussed a bill today that would eliminate about half of the city's aldermanic seats - from the current 28 down to 12.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie supports the change but says the board must consider how the duties of aldermen would be affected. 

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Rev. Larry Rice is taking a new approach in his crusade to shelter homeless persons in St. Louis.

Rice was arrested two weeks ago for trying to set up a homeless camp on private land. Now, he’s asking city aldermen to directly support a tent community by providing one acre of land owned by the city’s Land Reutilization Authority.

“We have tent cities that are illegal here in this city right now," he said. "Let’s have a legal tent city for the sake of homelessness. The homeless should not be criminalized. These people just want a home.”

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

The small town of Alton, Ill. boasts of having the longest consecutive Memorial Day Parade in the country. The community has honored the sacrifices of its sons and daughters in uniform for 145 years. 

Korean War veteran Harry Kortcamp says he was a boy the first time he marched in Alton’s Memorial Day Parade.

“When they had victory in Germany, I marched in that parade," he said. "When they had victory in Japan, I marched in that parade as a member of the Alton Legion Drum and Bugle Corps.”

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Trayvon Martin's father returned to his hometown of East St. Louis Friday to honor the memory of his son and spread the message of peace.

Several hundred community members congregated at North End Missionary Baptist Church to hear Tracy Martin and Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, talk about ways to end gun violence.

Tracy Martin says many things have changed since he graduated from East St. Louis Senior High School in 1986.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)

Updated at 5:50 a.m. Friday with additional reporting. Reporting from KRCU's Jacob McCleland was used in this story.

The anesthetic that caused the overdose death of pop star Michael Jackson is now the drug for executions in Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Corrections is switching from its longstanding three-drug method to a single drug, propofol, which has never been used in an execution in the U.S. That's causing a stir among critics lijke Death Penalty Information Center director Richard Dieter.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

A local church is taking a more low-key approach in its struggle with city officials to set up a homeless camp in St. Louis. 

Rev. Larry Rice of the New Life Evangelistic Center was arrested last week as he attempted to open a tent city called Integrity Village on a two-acre plot of private land at Vendeventer Ave. north of Interstate 44. City officials cleared the site and condemned the area as a health hazard. But Rice's son, Rev. Chris Rice, says they aren’t giving up.

(Johanna Mayer/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated 4:23 p.m. May 22 with name of person arrested, charges filed:  From the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office:

"Darick Stallworth has been charged with three counts of animal abuse and two counts of 1st degree animal neglect."

Here's a link to the probable cause statement related to the case.

Updated 8:30 a.m. May 22:

St. Louis police have arrested a suspect in an animal abuse case in north St. Louis.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Rehabilitation of the 138-year-old Eads Bridge is moving forward after two years of delays and ballooning project costs.

The project was to begin in 2009 with $24 million in federal stimulus funding, but labor disputes between contractors and unions, and the project’s pricetag, which inflated to $36 million, kept the bridgework from getting started.

John Nations, Metro’s President and CEO says the bridge’s age also made the bidding process difficult. 

Metro raises fares

May 18, 2012
St. Louis Public Radio

Metro Transit’s governing board voted Friday to increase the cost of passes and transfers starting in July.

According to Metro’s Chief of Planning and System Development, Jessica Mefford-Miller:

(via Twitter/courtesy @JosephHainline)

Will be updated.

A manhole cover was blown apart following a small underground explosion downtown St. Louis in an area near Lucas Ave. and 17th St. No one was hurt. 

Heath Borders says he was working at his desk when he heard the explosion about 50 feet away from his office at 17th St. and Washington Ave.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Plans to re-route Interstate 70 over the new Mississippi River Bridge are facing a roadblock from stakeholders in the Metro East. The $55 million project includes eliminating the east-bound ramp that connects Interstates 70 and 44 to the Poplar Street Bridge.

St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern told the East-West Gateway Council of Governments Wednesday that cutting access to the bridge would strangle an already struggling economy.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slays says Rev. Larry Rice’s plan to host a homeless camp on Vandeventer Ave.  north of Interstate 44 is a bad idea. 

Speaking today on "St. Louis on the Air," Slay said he’s concerned about the same safety and health problems that plagued the tent cities by the Mississippi riverfront.

“If they’re on the property without the proper permits – the occupancy permits and other things under the zoning laws – they will be asked to leave and if they continue to violate the law people will be moved,” he said.

Homeless St. Louisans displaced from three riverfront camps north of downtown will now have a new place to pitch their tents.

The Rev. Larry Rice yesterday unveiled his plans for "Integrity Village," which will be established today on two privately-owned acres near Interstate 44 and Vandeventer. Rice says the camp will be Christian-based and drug-free.

City officials say they won't permit this newest camp - but Rice says he'll be protected by the First Amendment.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis city work crews demolished tents and makeshift structures with heavy machinery at another homeless camp north of the Arch grounds downtown this afternoon.

Fewer than 50 homeless persons were living at the camp known as Hopeville. All were gone by the time bulldozers and debris bins arrived today. 

St. Louis Director of Human Services Bill Siedhoff says before leaving they were given federally-funded vouchers to cover the cost of permanent housing.

IndofunkSatish/via Flickr

Judge approves settlement in lawsuit over mental health care for the deaf

A federal judge has approved a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought against two Missouri state agencies on behalf of more than a thousand deaf residents.

Plaintiffs in the 2010 lawsuit alleged that the state departments of Mental Health and Social Services failed to provide adequate mental health care for deaf persons in crisis.

The departments were sued under the  Americans with Disabilities Act.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Police chief outlines plan to preserve patrol officers despite cuts

The St. Louis police chief says he’ll reduce the department’s command structure and turn some desk jobs currently held by officers over to civilians in an effort to blunt the impact of budget cuts.

Chief Dan Isom unveiled his budget plan to a Board of Aldermen committee yesterday.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Blues on the brink of new ownership

Two years to the month after being put up for sale for the second time in six years, the St. Louis Blues appear to have a new owner.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Fifteen start-up companies are getting a boost from St. Louis business accelerator Arch Grants. The winners of Arch Grant’s global business plan competition will each receive $50,000 to help them get started in the city.

Arch Grants co-founder and president Jerry Schlichter says the recipients were selected from more than 400 applicants.

“Arch Grants will be working hard to make these entrepreneurs a success," he said.  "And, we’re going to be working equally hard to try to continue to build Arch Grants to make it a true game-changing program for St. Louis."

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

The first of three homeless camps has been razed north of downtown near the riverfront. City clean-up crews removed about ten wood structures and graded the camp known as Dignity Harbor.

St. Louis Director of Human Services Bill Siedhoff says the vacated residents have been given federally-funded vouchers to cover the cost of permanent housing.

He says the camp was too dangerous to live in.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

About 150 activists marched outside Peabody Energy’s annual stockholder meeting in downtown St. Louis today.

The protesters decried an unfair tax code that they say allows  the energy company to dodge paying its fair share of taxes. For instance, they say Peabody paid $0 in federal income taxes in 2008 and 2009; and $0 in state income taxes in 2010.

Peabody Energy's Corporate Communications Director Meg Gallagher says, however, the group’s numbers are inaccurate.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission says that the Rams have submitted their alternative proposal to revamp the Edward Jones Dome.

The details of the club's plan, however, will remain confidential.

Today is the deadline for the Rams to submit their proposal.

A pair of statements released today indicates action in the process but gives little information on actual changes:

The CVC's statement:

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Counterproposal for Edward Jones Dome upgrades due tomorrow

The St. Louis Rams have until tomorrow to offer their own price tag for upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis.

The Rams' lease requires the Dome to be in the "top tier" of stadiums in the National Football League. That tems is not clearly defined, but it's generally meant within the top 25 percent. Otherwise, the Rams are free to depart St. Louis in 2015.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Protesters marched from the homeless camps north of the Gateway Arch to St. Louis City Hall today demanding city officials freeze plans to raze the encampments next month.

About 50 people live in the three riverfront camps that the city’s Department of Human Services has deemed a risk to public health and safety.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderwoman Phyllis Young is sponsoring a bill to cut the size of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen by more than half. Similar proposals have failed over the decades, but Young says this is the first time the call comes from inside the Board itself.

The bill so far has the support of 11 of the 15 aldermen needed to pass.Young says in addition to saving money, cutting the board from 28 to 12 will better reflect the city’s changing population.

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