Joseph Leahy

Reporter

Leahy anchors St. Louis Public Radio's weekday afternoon newscasts and produces news on local and regional issues. He previously produced and reported news for WERS 88.9 FM in Boston and is a former correspondent for the Boston Globe’s online news section, "Your Town." He holds a master's degree in print and multimedia journalism from Emerson College in Boston.  

Born in Kansas City, Mo., Joseph grew up migrating almost annually with his family between two disparate homes: rural Missouri and sprawling Los Angeles. He attended the University of California before transferring to the University of Missouri to complete a bachelor's degree in English.

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Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis hosted the kick-off to national Work Zone Awareness Week Monday, which is a campaign to prevent driving accidents at road construction sites. Missouri is the first state to host the event outside of Washington D.C.

At a road construction site in St. Louis County, state and federal transportation officials honored the 130 Missouri road workers who have been killed on the job since 1932.

Monica Slatten, whose son died while working at a MoDOT work zone in 2008, says no law or penalty can ensure responsible driving.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

A massive tornado tore through the St. Louis area a year ago this Sunday. Lambert Airport was hit particularly hard, but few signs of the damage remain today.  

Congressman Lacy Clay of St. Louis recalls seeing the airport just hours after the tornado struck on Good Friday.

“Once I got to the airport, I could not believe all of the glass that was blown out of the structure," Clay said. "And then looking at the parking lot: seeing the cars and vans that were on top of each other. It was just amazing.”

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis City officials says 80 officer positions must be cut from the city's police force to offset the department's rising pay, health care and pension costs. 

Police Chief Dan Isom and Mayor Francis Slay support eliminating the jobs through attrition. 30 positions, funded through federal grants, would end this year, when those grants are slated to expire.

Mayor Francis Slay says despite a 45 percent increase in police spending since he took office, spending for retirement benefits is out of control.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Occupy movement protesters blocked traffic outside Bank of America's regional headquarters Tuesday in downtown St. Louis. The group, including union workers, students, retirees, and clergy, staged a mock-game of dodge ball to protest how, in their view, corporations dodge paying their fair share of taxes.  

Zach Chasnoff, an organizer for the group, says the movement chose the IRS's filing deadline to call attention to an unfair tax system that favors corporations over citizens.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Tax Day can be a tough time for anyone, but it’s especially hard for seniors facing rising personal property taxes on a fixed income. That’s according to some local lawmakers who are asking the state to give seniors a break.

State Representatives Jill Shupp and Scott Sifton are pushing two bills in Missouri’s legislature to help seniors:

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Speaking in downtown St. Louis at the NRA's Leadership Forum today, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney emphasized his commitment to protecting the Second Amendment.  

But Romney's record on gun control is a tough sell for some members of the influential conservative group.  St. Louis native and NRA member Ed McNees says he can't trust Romney because he supported banning assault rifles while running for office in Massachusetts. 

Alex King/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Post-Dispatch employees are demanding corporate leaders at the paper's parent company, Lee Enterprises, give back their bonuses.  They say CEO Mary Junck and CFO Carl Schmidt together collected $750,000 in bonuses at a time of layoffs at several Lee papers and cuts to retiree medical benefits.

Shannon Duffy, business representative for the United Media Guild -- the Post's largest union -- says the company's corporate leadership is out of touch with reality.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated at 5:51 p.m. with more information, photo.

Thirteen businesses were raided in St. Clair County Illinois Tuesday in a new crackdown on illegal synthetic drugs. 

The raids on convenience stores, liquor stores and smoke shops stem from a law passed last year that broadens the chemical definition of the drugs.

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Most of the streets closed downtown following a steam pipe rupture last Thursday could reopen soon. Officials are waiting for surface sample tests to rule out asbestos as a health risk. 

Dan Dennis is general manager for Trigen-St. Louis Energy Corporation, which operates downtown’s network of underground steam pipes. He says most of the clean-up is finished and residents and business owners should have parking access again soon.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt says he expects most of his fellow Republican congressman will be lining up behind GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney by the end of the month. 

Senator Blunt was handpicked by Romney to garner endorsements for the former Massachusetts governor from his fellow Republican congressmen. He says his task is coming to a close.

With Romney’s primary sweep in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, DC this week, Blunt said he expects most GOP lawmakers to make up their minds in the next 30 days.  

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

When it’s “last call” on weekends for St. Louis bars and clubs, East St. Louis’ nightlife is just getting started. The city’s slack liquor laws allow nightclubs and liquor stores to operate well into the morning. Many critics say the laws are the root of the city’s chronic violent crime.

The problem poses a delicate balancing act for Mayor Alvin Parks who says East St. Louis’ late-night entertainment industry is keeping the city alive.

A Senator's strong words 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is renewing her call to end tax breaks for major US oil companies. Speaking at a gas station in downtown St. Louis Wednesday, the Democrat said the subsidies have done nothing to reduce gas prices across the country. 

"I do not think that what we give them now has resulted in any break at the pump," McCaskill said. "I think that is evidenced by the prices that we see around St. Louis and around Missouri in terms of gas prices."

A bill to end the subsidies failed in the Senate last week. 

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

A Justice Center prison guard is facing multiple charges of sexual contact with an inmate at the maximum security jail last year. 

St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce filed eleven felony counts against Stephanie Rodgers Monday. The acts are alleged to have occurred in the prisoner’s cell and a security tower.  

Assistant Circuit Attorney Dan Proost said officials learned of the affair through phone taps that were part of a separate investigation. 

(via Flickr/Jack W. Reid)

March’s average temperature in St. Louis this year is almost 15 degrees above normal. If the forecast holds true tomorrow, St. Louis’s unusually high temperatures will make this the warmest March on record.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Mark Britt says the average temperature this month will be almost 61 degrees.

“The previous record of 1910 was only about 57.5 so that’s a considerable breaking of the record,” he said.  

(Missouri Department of Transportation website)

Updated at 9 am to correct the name of the worker.

Updated at 11:45 p.m.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that divers have recovered the body of the carpenter, who East St. Louis police identified to the paper as Aaron Andy Gammon. The paper says Gammon was still tethered to the aerial lift that plunged into the water on Wednesday.

(david_shane)

Mo. Senator accuses state labor department of improperly manipulating wages with unions

A top Missouri Senate leader says the state labor department is improperly working with unions to manipulate wages paid on public works projects. The state calculates an annual "prevailing wage" for various construction trades in each county based on surveys of wages already paid on jobs.

Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, a Republican from Dexter, said Wednesday that state bureaucrats and labor unions had engaged in what he called "collusion.

The Missouri Attorney General’s office is hosting 120 town-hall-style meetings across the state this week to help homeowners affected by lending abuses and improper foreclosure procedures. 

Attorney General Chris Koster  says qualifying Missourians will split about $155 million of a $25 billion settlement reached with five of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill says the budget proposal of House Republican Paul Ryan would only hurt veterans and help the wealthy. 

Speaking with veterans Sunday at Soldiers’ Memorial Military Museum downtown, McCaskill called the proposal a “non-starter.” 

“The Ryan budget calls for a 33 percent cut in mandatory domestic spending," McCaskill said. "Mandatory domestic spending includes veterans. Now that is the same budget that gives an additional six-figure tax cut for multi-millionaires." 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

East St. Louis nightclubs and other local businesses are bankrolling extra weekend police patrols after a series of violent crimes.

Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. says the city needs more officers on the street but cannot afford them on its own.

“This is taking already existing officers and paying them to work this special detail," Parks said. "A detail that will be about six officers downtown and another two in the rest of the city where there might be late night activity.”

(via Flickr/derekGavey)

Silicon Valley has been the place for IT development since the dawn of the computer age, but new technology and cheaper resources are leveling the playing field for other cities across the country. As St. Louis Public Radio’s Joseph Leahy reports, a network of local business leaders is pushing to make St. Louis a regional hub for IT start-up companies.

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