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. 

(via Flickr/[F]oxymoron)

Updated 5:08 p.m.

Ameren Missouri is seeking approval from state regulators to raise electricity rates by almost 15 percent. Ameren President and CEO Warner Baxter said the company needs the additional $376 million to cover infrastructure upgrades and higher fuel costs. 

"With this electric rate increase filing," he said, "we are simply seeking to recover the costs and investments we have made to meet our customers' expectations for a safe and reliable clean energy." 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson says some schools in the archdiocese will have to close in the years ahead to sustain Missouri's oldest and largest school system.

"I just think it's inevitable when you look at the number of children families are having," he said.

The Archbishop said school consolidations are also likely to play a bigger part in addressing shrinking enrollment and tuition revenue, as when three south county elementary schools consolidated last year to create Holy Cross Academy. 

Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and the St. Louis Police Officers Association are throwing their support behind a voter's initiative proposal that would give St. Louis direct control of its police department.

The Safer Missouri Citizens Coalition is seeking 100,000 signatures by May sixth to put the proposal on this November's ballot. Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, said opponents who argue the bill would limit public oversight and access to records are misleading the public.

(file photo)

Anti-smoking advocates want more smoking bans

Groups against smoking are urging the St. Louis County Council to make changes to the smoking ban that went into effect last year.

Currently, businesses whose food sales result in 25 percent of gross sales including food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are eligible for an exemption from the smoking ban. There are 145 businesses that currently allow smoking in the county.

Flickr/jdnx

Gateway Arch project may not be finished by anniversary

The 50th anniversary of the Gateway Arch is three years away, but the project to improve and expand the grounds by then may not be finished on time.

Walter Metcalfe, director of the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, which is leading the effort, says it's more important to get it right than to get it done in time for the anniversary.

Ten grants are up for grabs for new businesses that set up shop in St. Louis. A local non-profit, Arch Grants, says it will award the $50,000 grants this May in an effort to bring innovative businesses to the city.

Arch Grants Co-founder Joe Schlafly said the for-profit start-ups that are selected will be required to stay for at least one year.

“St. Louis is not a dog-meat, down place," Schlafly said. "It is a place where things are happening. We’re open for business. We want to be on the short list, not just [on] no list.”

(via Flickr/peter.a_photography)

A Missouri marijuana advocacy group is protesting the citation of two petition gatherers in St. Charles over the weekend.  The volunteers for Show-Me Cannabis Regulation say they were detained by police shortly after midnight while collecting signatures. 

Dave Roland, an attorney representing the two, says no ordinance was violated because collecting signatures is a First Amendment right. 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated at 5:43 p.m. to include comments from Chief Isom and correction in data.

There's more good news on crime today in the St. Louis area.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is pushing his jobs creation strategy as the path to improving the state's economy this year.

Speaking at Jost Chemical Co. in St. Louis Friday, Nixon detailed his multi-pronged proposal which includes opening state export offices in Asia and South America and funding training for high-tech jobs.

"We'll work to make sure we attract next-generation automotive suppliers to Missouri," said Nixon.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

An Illinois Congressman and US transportation officials are talking up a Granite City river port to a Chinese delegation exploring new trade routes to the American market.

Congressman Jerry Costello touted the access America's Central Port has to railroads and highways during a visit from China's Vice Minister of Maritime Affairs, Xu Zuyuan.

Costello said a harbor to be completed next year will give a strategic advantage in moving imports and exports.

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St. Louis County Police are filling a law enforcement gap in Dellwood as efforts continue to disband the suburb's municipal police force. 

Dellwood's Mayor, Loretta Johnson, requested the county's help while eight of Dellwood's 16 police department positions remain vacant.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri is challenging language on a ballot initiative that would transfer control of the St. Louis Police Department from the state to the city.

ACLU Regional Program Director John Chasnoff says the initiative's summary, as it would appear on the ballot, fails to explain how the new law would restrict public oversight and access to records.

(via Flickr/photoactionusa)

Choosing the next Pope in Rome will be among a St. Louis native's new responsibilities when he is elevated to Cardinal next month.  New York's Archbishop, Timothy Dolan, is among 22 new Cardinals being appointed by Pope Benedict XVI.

Dolan grew up in the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin and attended high school at St. Louis Preparatory Seminary South. In the early 90s Dolan became vice rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

He said he is used to the color red.

Joseph Leahy

A year after one of the worst winters in decades, emergency officials say St. Louis is prepared for more severe weather. City and county officials were briefed Thursday on the American Red Cross's preparations at its national disaster warehouse in north St. Louis.

Mary Anderson, the Red Cross' regional director of disaster services says since last year's devastating tornados that struck Missouri, the Red Cross is making space in the 100,000 square-foot facility for more supplies.

(via Flickr/nan palmero)

Updated 5:05 p.m. with more information, comment

Schlafly Beer's parent company, St. Louis Brewing Inc., is selling 60 percent of its ownership interest to the local investor group Sage Capital.

Joseph Leahy

The director of a sexual abuse support group is denying that he helped violate a gag order in a lawsuit against a Catholic priest in Kansas City.

SLPRnews

In the year since St. Louis City and County banned smoking in most bars and restaurants, some business owners say that exemptions to the ban have hurt their bottom line more than the ban itself.

Marty Ginsburg, owners of the Sports Page Bar in Chesterfield, says bars where smoking is permitted have an unfair advantage.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

One year ago tomorrow a rare winter tornado tore through the St. Louis County suburb of Sunset Hills. Since then residents who could repair their homes have moved on, but as St. Louis Public Radio’s Joseph Leahy reports, those who lost everything are still battling city hall for the future of the neighborhood.

(St. Louis Public Radio file photo)

Spray painted threats against St. Louis Police have the department on alert in north city where an officer killed a man Tuesday.

Police shot the man in his car after he allegedly resisted arrest. Graffiti found later on the wall of a nearby restaurant said an officer would be next.

Police Chief Dan Isom says the department is taking extra precautions in the district where the shooting occurred.

(St. Louis County website)

St. Louis County goes on holiday recess with approved budget

The St. Louis County Council has approved a 2012 budget after a contentious season of fiscal wrangling with County Executive Charlie Dooley. Early this fall Dooley's county budget estimates convinced him to propose drastic cuts. Dooley drew sharp criticism for his proposal to shut down 23 county parks and lay off almost 200 county employees.   

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)

Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:

Slay authorizes $64 million in bonds for St. Louis parks

Funding for St. Louis City parks will no longer be siphoned into other capital improvement projects, following a bill signing by Mayor Francis Slay Monday night.

Joseph Leahy

St. Louis veterans who fought in the Battle of the Bulge are being honored today for their sacrifices 67 years ago.

At a memorial ceremony today in south St. Louis County surviving veterans saluted the 20 thousand American soldiers who died during the six-week battle.

Donald Green of south St. Louis County was an 18 year-old Private in the 106th Infantry Division the first time he saw a Tiger 1 German tank.  

(via Flickr/Senator Blunt)

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt says the failure of two balanced-budget amendments today shows Senate Democrats aren’t serious about dealing with the deficit.

The defeat of both bills – one from Democrats, one from Republicans – ends the current push to force a yearly balanced budget from Congress.  Blunt, who voted for the Republican-backed bill, says the fact that neither party could pass their amendment speaks to the heart of the Senate’s disfunction. 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

A report issued Monday by Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri concludes that US House members circumvented a ban on earmark spending more than 100 times. (read full report here)

House Republicans banned earmarks last fall for two years to curb government spending. But, McCaskill's report finds that the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee used tricks to allow more than $800 million in earmarks be inserted in the 2012 Defense authorization bill.

The University of Missouri has chosen its next president and expects to announce its decision next week.  Board of Curators chairman Warren Erdman says a search committee began with a pool of more than 100 candidates from academic and non-academic backgrounds alike.

"We had four interviews and we worked our way down to a couple second interviews," Erdman said. "Then there were a few telephone follow-ups.  In the end, the committee recommended a single finalist."

(via Flickr/Trailnet)

Members of the St. Louis County Council have reached a budget deal that avoids the closure of 23 county parks.

The two sides announced the compromise at a County Council meeting Tuesday night. The new 2012 budget keeps open all 50 of the county parks, and reduces the number of job cuts from 173 to about 40. It also maintains plowing in unincorporated areas that receive less than two inches of snow.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis city and St. Louis County officials say they've gotten federal approval that will help local companies compete in the global market. The area's Foreign Trade Zone has expanded to include all of St. Louis County and City.

The expanded zone will allow more local manufacturing and distribution companies to import goods duty-free and avoid other customs fees.

Mayor Francis Slay announced the expansion at Sunset Transportation in south St. Louis. Slay says the approval from the US Department of Commerce also streamlines the time it takes for businesses to qualify.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

About 14 acres of Forest Park burned today as part of a new effort to naturally maintain its wildlife areas.

Clouds of white smoke wafted above Kingshighway as fire consumed acres of dry grass and brush in a north-east area of Forest Park.  Peter VanLinn, a park ecologist says this is the first controlled burn in the park's 135-year history.

(via Flickr/Zahlm)

The Missouri Department of Transportation will be closing nearly all lanes of Interstate 64 leading on and off the Poplar Street Bridge Saturday.

Expect extra drive-time, says MoDOT engineer Deanna Venker, if you're driving over the Poplar Street Bridge this Saturday. Venker says all westbound and two eastbound lanes on I-64 will close between I-55 and Jefferson Ave.

"We are doing bridge deck repair, we will also be doing seismic retrofitting at the western edge of the bridge and we are replacing bearings on the eastern side of the bridge," Venker said.

(via Missouri Department of Transportation)

The new Mississippi Bridge Project  is facing a new obstacle. The Metro East Black Contractors Organization is suing to stop the Illinois Department of Transportation from handing out more contracts on the $760 million project until discrimination issues are addressed.

The organization says they aren't getting their fair share of work on the project. The group's attorney Eric Vickers says in addition to an injunction on awarding more contracts, the new lawsuit calls for IDOT to pay $650 million in damages.

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