Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Mary Delach Leonard

Work/Life Reporter

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined St. Louis Public Radio in December 2013 when it merged with the St. Louis Beacon. She had been a reporter for the Beacon since April 2008 -- after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by such organizations as the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat (in Illinois) after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.

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If current political advertising is a sign of the finger-pointing to come, it appears that some candidates -- most notably the non-incumbents -- are taking a page from Bill Clinton's now infamous campaign dogma about the importance of the ailing economy, but with a twist.

With all due respect, it's the bailout, stupid.

Does the figure $700 billion come to mind?

Author Sara Paretsky will be in town for a book signing at the St. Louis County Public Library on Aug. 31, the day "Body Work," her 14th novel featuring the exploits of private eye V.I. Warshawski, officially reaches the nation's bookstores.

Two local Illinois state representatives have issued their reactions to Tuesday's verdict in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Jay Hoffman is known as a longtime ally of Blagojevich; Ron Stephens is a longtime critic. Both voted to impeach Blagojevich in January 2009.

Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville:

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's one-count conviction Tuesday could reinforce the state's "cynicism virus" -- or galvanize voters to take action in the November elections, says the head of a watchdog group that pushes for political reform in the state.

Author Eric Jerome Dickey, who will be speaking at the St. Louis County Library Saturday, would probably take exception to this description promoting his appearance that appears on the library's website:

"Described as 'the king of African-American fiction' by Entertainment Weekly, Eric Jerome Dickey discusses his highly anticipated new novel 'Tempted by Trouble' -- a flaming-hot story set in the world of conmen and thieves."

Dickey says he prefers to be known simply as "author" -- no racial or ethnic description necessary.

Just as there is no magic pill to cure a hangover, it will take time -- at least two more years -- for the United States to recover from the economic binging of the last decade, says a local economist who was sounding the alarm about over-leveraging and cash-out home refinancing, even while the housing market was still bubbling along in 2005 and 2006.

new look for thomas coffee on right
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | 2010

The morning's last batch of coffee beans was out of the roaster and still cooling, as Bob Betz, the president and CEO of Thomas Coffee, guided visitors through his refurbished plant at 922 South Boyle Ave.

Betz and his partners cut the ribbon in April on a new beginning for an old St. Louis brand, known for the little Scottish terrier on the bright blue can. They bought the plant for $1.2 million and spent 14 months putting their new business in order.

While Cardinals fans waited to get their first look at Jim Edmonds in a Cincy uniform, second-baseman Brandon Phillips of the Reds couldn’t contain his disgust for Edmonds’ old team.

Phillips, who fouled a ball off his shin Saturday in Chicago, missed Sunday’s game but was apparently feeling well enough to spout off to Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News that there was no way he’d miss Monday night’s game.

Kent D. Syverud
Washington University photo

Kent D. Syverud, dean of the Washington University School of Law, has been appointed as one of two independent trustees of the $20 billion Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust fund established by BP to settle claims for damages from the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

In an interview with the Beacon Monday, Syverud said he understands the importance of the position.

“It is a public responsibility, and I care about it and understand the importance of it,’’ he said. “I will do my best.’’

Friday's employment news from the U.S. Department of Labor was sobering: Even though the nation's unemployment rate for July remained unchanged at 9.5 percent, the nation gained just 12,000 jobs overall for the month -- a drop in the economic recovery bucket.

According to the report, private employers added a net total of 71,000 jobs in July, but that was offset by government cuts at the local, state and federal levels, analysts said.

Here are two interesting facts from a new "green economy'' report commissioned by the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association:

 -- St. Louis has added 1,000 green jobs in the past two years, despite the recession.

 -- The number of green jobs in the region grew 54 percent between 1995 and 2008, while green job growth in California's Silicon Valley was 53 percent during the same time period.

Crown Square rehabbed 2010
File Photo | Rachel Heidenry | Beacon

Odessa Willis had been hearing about the redevelopment of a two-block section of North 14th Street where she once shopped on Saturday evenings, during a heyday that had become a memory, in a place that had become a symbol of failed urban renewal. She came to the party for the new Crown Square development Thursday afternoon to see for herself these historic buildings that have been reclaimed, rebuilt and reborn -- once again.

Odessa Willis comes home.

provided

One year after the NACA "Save the Dream Tour'' stopped in Cleveland, a local nonprofit advocacy group that offers foreclosure counseling in Ohio has posted a note on the front page of its website "reaching out to homeowners who've had difficulty with Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America."

On a miserably hot and steamy weekend last summer, struggling homeowners seeking mortgage salvation turned out by the thousands at the Chaifetz Arena for an event called "Save the Dream," a highly publicized multi-city foreclosure-prevention tour put on by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), a Boston-based nonprofit that touts "same-day permanent solutions."

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - While it can be argued that all levels of the lending industry played some part in the sub-prime mortgage collapse, economist William Emmons of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis adds another factor: household financial behavior.

Emmons believes the sub-prime mortgage meltdown was a long time coming and is linked to the downward trend in both U.S. personal and national saving.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: On Sept. 29, 1963 -- "Stan Musial Day" in St. Louis -- 27,576 fans rose to their feet as the 42-year-old Cardinals great was driven around the field seated on the back of a convertible. Team owner August "Gussie" Busch Jr. spoke on behalf of the loyal legions at Busch Stadium that Sunday afternoon and for the countless thousands watching the pre-game retirement ceremonies on live TV at home.

"We wish you could go on forever," Busch said.

Elsie Roth shows off a book that describes her father's heroism during World War I, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Mary Delach Leonard | 2009 St. Louis Beacon photo

If you visit the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington this Veterans Day, chances are you will not see the Distinguished Service Cross awarded to Army Sgt. William Shemin for heroism in France during World War I.

Shemin was awarded the medal -- the nation's second-highest military decoration -- for leaping from a trench into heavy machine gun and rifle fire to carry three wounded comrades to safety.

Vito Comporato, right, and another worker during the construction of the Gateway Arch.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Archives

On the morning of Oct. 28, 1965, ironworker Vito Comporato peered down from atop the Gateway Arch and watched what looked like hundreds of ants gathering on the riverfront 630 feet below.

There were Boy Scout ants with American flags and busloads of the city's schoolchildren ants.

The mayor ant was down there, too, probably with the rest of the VIP ants on a dignitary platform the size of a twig.

Chris Krehmeyer
Provided by Beyond Housing

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - She is a 34-year-old married mother of two who is whittling away at $20,000 of debt – a saga she shares on her Web site www.paidtwice.com.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Congress will approve a housing bill that includes foreclosure relief for troubled American homeowners promptly after the Fourth of July recess, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said Saturday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - The foreclosure numbers are staggering, acknowledges Colleen Hernandez, president and executive director of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation that manages 888-995-HOPE, a national hotline for Americans seeking counseling assistance.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Over the coming weeks, the Beacon, in partnership with KETC Channel 9, will be reporting on the sticky web of issues surrounding foreclosure - a crisis for nearly 2 million Americans, including thousands in the St. Louis region who have lost their stake in the American Dream.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - If you -- or someone you know -- are worried about making house payments, it's time to take action. Trouble is, mortgage talk is a language many homeowners do not understand. ARMs, resets, balloons ... and the dreaded F word: Foreclosure.

A sub-prime mortgage, for example, is not a reference to the interest rate of the loan but to the credit history of the borrowers.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Get help now. Open your mail. Answer the phone. Don't avoid those calls from your lender; deal with your mortgage problems while you still can.

Andrew Carroll
Provided by the publisher | 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Author Andrew Carroll believes America's warriors have plenty to say about their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and that no historian or journalist can tell their stories as well as they can.

Carroll is the editor of "Operation Homecoming" (Random House 2006), the well-received anthology of personal accounts of war gathered by the National Endowment for the Arts. A new paperback version of the book will be released on Memorial Day by the University of Chicago Press.

File photo

As the new superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Tom Bradley had to hit the Arch grounds running -- learning the daily operations while tackling the question of whether and how to include the park in downtown St. Louis revitalization efforts.

On May 8, after just a week on the job, Bradley announced that the National Park Service will begin a public discussion on ways to reinvigorate the grounds of the 43-year-old Arch, as encouraged by the Danforth Foundation.

Melissa (holding Ditto), Derek, David and Steve Squires have Mother's Day together.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Staff Sgt. Melissa "Missy" Squires can look at her photos from Iraq now:

  • The dramatic pictures of her Missouri National Guard unit, the 203rd Engineer Battalion, Company B, digging through the rubble of the U.N. building after a terrorist attack in August 2003.
  • The dozens and dozens of pictures of life on base, her unit's construction projects and posing with friendly Iraqis.
  • The video clips of her convoy crawling through a congested Baghdad neighborhood searching for an alternate route home after reports that an IED was waiting for them somewhere on the roadside.

Filmmaker Socheata Poeuv once asked her father to describe the worst part of his life under the Khmer Rouge, the nightmarish regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979 and was responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people from starvation, disease or execution.

It was the silence, her father said.

Rocky Sickmann
Provided by Anheuser-Busch

For Rocky Sickmann of St. Louis, the U.S. war on terrorism began nearly 30 years ago -- on the morning he was taken hostage by Iranian militants and survived, along with 51 other American captives, 444 days of torment.

"If you talk to a lot of the hostages, you know the war on terrorism started on Nov. 4, 1979, when we did not retaliate on Iran. And it seems like Iran has humiliated us and taken us for granted ever since,'' Sickmann says.

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