WBEZ | Missouri http://www.wbez.org/tags/missouri Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Ferguson Hires A New City Manager, Looking Toward A New Era http://www.wbez.org/news/ferguson-hires-new-city-manager-looking-toward-new-era-113839 <p><p>Eight months after Ferguson&#39;s city manager resigned in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report, which found recurrent problems in the city&#39;s legal system, Ferguson officials have named a replacement.</p><p>De&#39;Carlon Seewood will replace John Shaw,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/03/10/392200035/ferguson-mo-city-manager-out-amid-shakeup">who stepped down in March</a>&nbsp;after&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/03/04/390713944/ferguson-report-justice-dept-says-wilson-won-t-face-civil-rights-charge">a federal investigation found</a>&nbsp;that the Ferguson Police Department&#39;s practices &quot;are shaped by the City&#39;s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs.&quot;</p><p>From St. Louis Public Radio, Wayne Pratt reports:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;De&#39;Carlon Seewood is a familiar face at Ferguson City Hall. He was assistant city manager for six years and most recently held a similar position in a Chicago suburb.</em></p><p><em>&quot;He replaces former city manager John Shaw, who resigned in March, shortly after a federal report highlighted racial profiling among Ferguson police and how the municipal court seemed to be driven by profit.</em></p><p><em>&quot;Those findings followed last year&#39;s shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer. In a statement released by the city, Seewood says he wants to bridge the gap for everyone who wants Ferguson to succeed.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>The Justice Department inquiry also uncovered racist emails that had been sent between officials, forcing the exit of the city&#39;s clerk and two police officers.</p><p>After that much-anticipated report came out in March, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/03/13/392835913/ferguson-mayor-ferguson-mayor-slams-hostile-language-from-eric-holder">said he would be staying in his job</a>&nbsp;leading the city.</p><p>Calling Seewood the right person for the job, Knowles said Tuesday, &quot;The choice wasn&#39;t easy, but we took into consideration several factors which included experience, fiscal accountability and a commitment to community engagement.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/18/456513979/ferguson-hires-a-new-city-manager" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ferguson-hires-new-city-manager-looking-toward-new-era-113839 Police step up patrols in St. Louis over string of church fires http://www.wbez.org/news/police-step-patrols-st-louis-over-string-church-fires-113451 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/The Newlife Missionary Baptist Church in north St. Louis as it sits with the front burned on Tuesday. A fire damaged the front doors, siding and an entrance to the small predominantly Africian-American church..jpg" alt="" /><p><div><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="The Newlife Missionary Baptist Church in north St. Louis as it sits with the front burned on Tuesday. A fire damaged the front doors, siding and an entrance to the small predominantly Africian-American church." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/21/62322141_h40244458_custom-ed6da956ba86225481680e843e0423b70890b7ea-s600-c85.jpg" title="The Newlife Missionary Baptist Church in north St. Louis as it sits with the front burned on Tuesday. A fire damaged the front doors, siding and an entrance to the small predominantly African-American church. (Bill Greenblatt/UPI /Landov)" /></div><div><div><p>Police in St. Louis have stepped up patrols after six churches in predominantly black neighborhoods were set on fire this month.</p></div></div></div><p><a href="http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/local-federal-investigators-probe-6-arsons-black-churches-10-days">As St. Louis Public Radio has reported</a>, the cases, which are being investigated by local and federal authorities, are being treated as arson. St. Louis Public Radio reports that the fires have been started when the churches are empty and when the &quot;arsonist lit exterior doors on fire.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/st-louis-police-add-patrols-trying-to-crack-string-of/article_26d2eb76-f517-5394-9a21-f31ccfdc024a.html">The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports</a>:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Anti-Defamation League suggested a racial motive may be at play. In a prepared statement, the ACLU of Missouri&#39;s executive director, Jeffrey Mittman, called the fires &#39;domestic terrorism.&#39;</em></p><p><em>&quot;&#39;It is a sad truth that, throughout our nation&#39;s history, African-Americans often have been met with astounding violence when they demand equality,&#39; he wrote. &#39;Those who commit this violence seek to instill fear. This is why arson against predominantly black churches has been a frequent tool of white supremacy.&#39;</em></p><p><em>&quot;But Dotson said investigators have yet to confirm that race was the motive. If race or religion proves to be the reason, he said, police will seek to have the incidents prosecuted as hate crimes.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p><a href="http://kplr11.com/2015/10/20/st-louis-religious-leaders-call-for-fires-to-stop-forgive-church-arsonist/">KPLR-TV reports&nbsp;</a>that authorities are offering a $4,000 reward for information that leads to the suspects.</p><p>The station adds:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;In statements Tuesday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster condemned the recent church fires in north St. Louis City and County.</em></p><p><em>&quot;Nixon said, &#39;These cowardly acts of violence against places of worship are deeply troubling. Houses of worship must be safe havens where people can come together in faith and fellowship &ndash; not the targets of hate and violence. The Missouri State Highway Patrol has been in contact with local and federal authorities and is ready to assist in the investigation of these crimes.&#39;</em></p><p><em>&quot;Koster said, &#39;A house of worship should be a place of peace and refuge. These targeted acts of arson strike at the heart of St. Louis by attacking its sanctuaries. The perpetrators must be found and brought to justice.&#39;&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/21/450581516/police-step-up-patrols-in-st-louis-over-string-of-church-fires?ft=nprml&amp;f=450581516" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 21 Oct 2015 14:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/police-step-patrols-st-louis-over-string-church-fires-113451 Grain prices down for the first time in years http://www.wbez.org/news/grain-prices-down-first-time-years-113016 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/0921_farmers-624x406.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Farmers in the Midwest are facing a situation they haven&rsquo;t seen for a while. Grain prices are down. And after some of the most lucrative years they&rsquo;ve ever seen, some producers could lose money on this year&rsquo;s crop.</p><p>Grant Gerlock&nbsp;from&nbsp;<em>Here &amp; Now</em>&nbsp;contributor Harvest Public Media, reports&nbsp;on how farmers are managing the downturn, and how it could affect the rest of the rural economy.</p><p>&mdash;<em><a href="http://kcur.org/post/farm-income-falling-putting-rural-economy-edge" target="_blank"> Harvest Public Media</a></em></p></p> Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/grain-prices-down-first-time-years-113016 Ferguson activists hope that momentum sparks a national movement http://www.wbez.org/news/ferguson-activists-hope-momentum-sparks-national-movement-111825 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ferguson-activists-getty_custom-9be109112ebd75dbb55f4093e1f9931ab8685b7b-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Ferguson activists march through downtown St. Louis during a protest last month. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)" /></div><p>Since August, several U.S cities have been at the center of protests about policing and race. Activists in Ferguson, Mo., demonstrated for months in the aftermath of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/11/25/366504599/protests-fires-follow-announcement-of-ferguson-grand-jurys-decision" target="_blank">shooting death of Michael Brown</a>, a black, unarmed 18-year-old killed by a white police officer last summer. They also have demanded resignations and pushed for new laws in what organizers say is the start of a national movement for justice.</p><p>On a crisp, sunny Saturday afternoon, about 100 people gathered at a school next door to Greater St. Mark Family Church in Ferguson. The church has been a gathering spot and safe haven for activists in the St. Louis region.</p><p>&quot;The responses that we&#39;ve seen over the last seven months wouldn&#39;t have happened without you actually being willing to be in the streets, without you being willing to be intentionally involved in movement-building,&quot; says 41-year-old Montague Simmons, head of the&nbsp;<a href="http://obs-stl.org/" target="_blank">Organization for Black Struggle</a>. It was one of the main groups coordinating protests in the aftermath of Brown&#39;s death.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s hard to reconcile the idea that in death, there is something being born out of it,&quot; he says. &quot;But they left him on the ground just long enough that his blood gave birth to something else, so that we can actually transform this predicament we find ourselves in.&quot;</p><p>The Organization for Black Struggle has been active in the area for several years, but other groups sprang up last summer, including the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dontshootstl.org/" target="_blank">Don&#39;t Shoot Coalition</a>, a collection of about 50 activist groups.</p><p>Co-chair Michael T. McPhearson says the coalition is working to keep a national spotlight on the issue of policing in communities of color. He acknowledges there are struggles regarding coordination, funding and internal disputes, but says there&#39;s a lesson to be learned from the movement of more than 50 years ago.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/corley-activists_custom-d361b0981a03a5950541a1566c947cc3fcc2b082-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 419px; width: 620px;" title="Activists gather at a school next door to the Greater St. Mark Family Church in Ferguson, Mo. for a meeting of what the Organization for Black Struggle was calling a 'People's Movement Assembly.' (Cheryl Corley/NPR)" /></div><p>Activist and hip-hop artist Tef Poe, co-founder of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.handsupunited.org/" target="_blank">Hands Up United</a>, says there are questions about persuading some street protesters to work with more structure.</p><p>&quot;For us, that is a struggle,&quot; he says. &quot;For the most part everyone is a rebel amongst rebels.&quot;</p><p>Still, Tef Poe says national coordination helped keep the movement going, including in New York City in the protests regarding the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man died after police used a chokehold on him during an arrest.</p><p>&quot;Police brutality &mdash; it&#39;s at the point now where it&#39;s too far gone in the black community,&quot; he says. &quot;It&nbsp;<em>has</em>&nbsp;to be addressed.&quot;</p><p>Brittany Ferrell, co-founder of&nbsp;<a href="http://millennialau.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Millennial Activists United</a>, says that while its important for activists to stay in the streets protesting, young people should also raise their voices in the traditional political arena. Ferrell points to the nearly all-white city leadership and police force in predominantly black Ferguson as a concern.</p><p>&quot;We need to be in positions of power and have a say in our spaces,&quot; she says.</p><p>Ferrell says she and other activists with her group have spoken at high schools and will work this summer to launch a political workshop series for young people &quot;to ready them potentially for running for candidates in their neighborhood, like aldermen and mayor, and what that means, and what your responsibilities would be and is this why you should do it,&quot; she says.</p><p>These activists say the national focus on policing &mdash; and the Department of Justice report&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/03/05/391041893/doj-report-condemns-ferguson-police-departments-practices" target="_blank">blasting Ferguson&#39;s police department</a>&nbsp;for widespread racial bias &mdash; has brought some change, resignations of top city officials and more minority candidates running for local office. They also say they plan to keep the momentum going to make certain their movement brings about lasting change.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 08:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ferguson-activists-hope-momentum-sparks-national-movement-111825 StoryCorps: Interracial couple travels to Ferguson, Missouri http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-interracial-couple-travels-ferguson-missouri-111086 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 141107 Helene Lucas_bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Helene Matumona was born in Zambia, but grew up in Canada.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago is very different from Vancouver,&rdquo; she says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;When you&rsquo;re here, you really feel like you&rsquo;re black. I think that&rsquo;s how I would describe my stay in Chicago: I feel black.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not trying to divide myself,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You know, ideally I want to live in a society where there aren&rsquo;t tensions. Where we can all just be cool with each other.&rdquo;</p><p>Matumona came to the booth with her husband, Lucas Weisbecker, who is white. He asked her about their recent visit to St. Louis and the protests in nearby Ferguson.</p><p>&ldquo;It was just really tense at times,&quot; she says. &quot;Because you could feel the anger and you could feel just how fatigued the African-Americans in St. Louis were.&rdquo;</p><p>Weisbecker asks: &ldquo;Going to those protests, did that change your idea of what it means to be black?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah. Cause I&rsquo;m an African immigrant,&quot; she says. &quot;And I feel like there&rsquo;s a difference there. Versus being an African-American and going through these struggles, the Civil Rights movement and slavery and all that. There&rsquo;s definitely a different story there. There&rsquo;s a different fight.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I went down there to try to see what was happening,&rdquo; Weisbecker explains. &ldquo;To try to feel the vibe of what was going on. And try to get a story from people that are actually there and experiencing like&hellip;because obviously there&rsquo;s a lot of underlying issues beyond just one kid getting killed. People react that way because there&rsquo;s a systemic problem and it&rsquo;s not being addressed.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And you go down there and you see kids being basically fed up with the way things are and trying to make a difference,&rdquo; Weisbecker continues. &ldquo;The one thing I kept thinking about though was how is this actually going to make a difference in the end.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There needs to be a direction. And there needs to be somebody or a group or an idea that puts everything into a direction, because if there&rsquo;s no direction it&rsquo;s just going to be unbridled anger, which is justified, but it is not necessarily going to change what it is that people are upset about.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It was so cool to see people out in the streets talking about politics and the issues. And I think that&rsquo;s the first step to developing a direction. And you really need to be so on point to make change. And it was like: We were marching, We were yelling. We were talking. And it was just like: Okay, what&rsquo;s the action? What are we going to do?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d say, I left with a lot of questions.&quot;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 16:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-interracial-couple-travels-ferguson-missouri-111086 Driver licenses for undocumented youths? http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immigrant%20map.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 369px; width: 600px; " title="WBEZ asked eight states whether they are planning to provide driver’s licenses to immigrants who receive Social Security and employment-authorization cards as a result of President Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy. (WBEZ map by Elliott Ramos)" /></p><p>Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are planning to provide driver&rsquo;s licenses to undocumented immigrants who get work papers under a new federal policy.</p><p>The Obama administration policy, called &ldquo;Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,&rdquo; will allow as many as 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to get Social Security and employment-authorization cards, along with a deportation reprieve. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications Aug. 15.</p><p>&ldquo;As long as the Social Security Administration issues an individual with a Social Security number, and they have the other documents that are required under Illinois law, then they can apply for a driver&rsquo;s license,&rdquo; said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees that state&rsquo;s driver licensing.</p><p>WBEZ surveyed eight Midwestern states about their response to the policy change. Along with the four states planning to provide licenses, Wisconsin and Iowa officials said they had not decided yet, while Minnesota and Missouri officials did not respond to numerous WBEZ inquiries.</p><p>The states planning to issue the driver&rsquo;s licenses differ from Arizona, Nebraska and Texas, where governors have vowed to block illegal immigrants from getting licenses.</p><p>The immigrants must meet several requirements to get the Social Security and work-authorization cards, including having been younger than 31 on June 15; having arrived in the U.S. before turning 16; having lived in the country continuously since June 2007; being a student or graduate, or having served in the military; and having no serious criminal record nor posing any public safety threat. The work authorization will last up to two years and, if the federal policy stays in place, be renewable. The policy does not provide a path to citizenship.</p><p>Assuming some of the immigrants have been driving illegally, states that enable them to get a license could make roads safer. &ldquo;They have to pass the road exam, they have to pass the written exam, and they pass the vision test,&rdquo; Haupt said about Illinois. &ldquo;We require so many different things of our young drivers and &mdash; by doing so &mdash; they, of course, become better drivers.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois also requires proof of liability insurance on the car the driver uses for the road test. So it&rsquo;s possible that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally could reduce the number of uninsured vehicles.</p><p>The immigrants themselves have more at stake. Karen Siciliano Lucas, an advocacy attorney of the Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., points out that driver&rsquo;s licenses are vital for working and attending school in most regions of the country. &ldquo;Not only that, it is a state-issued identification that shows who you are,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The issue is complicated because most states require driver&rsquo;s&nbsp;license applicants to prove &ldquo;lawful status&rdquo; or &ldquo;legal presence&rdquo; in the United States. Officials in some states say the work authorization under the Obama policy will be sufficient proof. But a USCIS statement says the policy &ldquo;does not confer lawful status upon an individual.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear whether courts will enable states to define lawful status differently than the federal government does.</p><p>States expecting Obama administration guidance about the driver&rsquo;s licenses could be waiting awhile. In response to WBEZ questions, the Department of Homeland Security sent a statement saying the department does not comment on state-specific matters.</p><p>Until federal courts weigh in, states are likely to face lawsuits no matter their course. &ldquo;We will see battles on this,&rdquo; Lucas predicted.</p><p>Making matters more complicated is the federal Real ID Act, a 2005 law aimed at fighting identity theft and keeping terrorists out of federal buildings and airplanes. Among other things, the act requires states to verify that driver&rsquo;s license applicants have lawful status in the United States.</p><p>The law is set to take effect in January, but it&rsquo;s not clear how the Obama administration will enforce it. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has fought for the measure&rsquo;s repeal, calling it unworkable.</p><p>That irks advocates for tougher immigration enforcement: &ldquo;If you want to protect against identify theft, you&rsquo;ve got to eliminate the fraud,&rdquo; said Janice Kephart, who focuses on national security policies for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. &ldquo;That means you have to eliminate the illegal-alien community out of that scheme. It doesn&rsquo;t mean that states cannot give driver&rsquo;s licenses to illegal aliens. It just means that they have to do it outside the Real ID Act.&rdquo;</p><p>Kephart praised Utah, which has created a &ldquo;driving privilege card&rdquo; specifically for undocumented immigrants.</p><p>At the moment the only other states that let undocumented immigrants drive legally are New Mexico and Washington, which provide them the same licenses that U.S. citizens can get.</p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 Bluntly put, endorsements have no impact for Romney http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2012-03-08/bluntly-put-endorsements-have-no-impact-romney-97100 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-08/AP120228067522.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" height="512" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-08/AP120228067522.jpg" title="Senator Roy Blunt (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)" width="483"></p><p>Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri <a href="http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/03/everyone-wants-you-know-roy-blunt-likes-mitt-romney/49629/">endorsed</a> Mitt Romney in the Republican contest Wednesday, just weeks after his state’s primaries, where Rick Santorum scored a victory with 55 percent of the vote.</p><p>But what exactly is the point here, Sen. Blunt?</p><p>The endorsement also comes in the aftermath of the Blunt amendment vote defeat (51 to 48 last week in the <a href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/romney-didnt-know-what-blunt-amendment-was%20defeated">senate</a>), which Romney initially said he was against, then turned around less than an hour later after getting his chain yanked by his campaign, and supported.</p><p>This is the bill that would have allowed employers to opt out of any aspect of healthcare coverage -- or all of it -- on personal moral grounds.</p><p>“Of course I support the Blunt amendment,” <a href="http://www.chron.com/news/article/Romney-clarifies-his-position-on-Blunt-amendment-3371654.php">Romney said</a>, as if there were any doubt at all, after he’d earlier said, just as unambiguously, "I'm not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, husband and wife, I'm not going&nbsp;there."</p><p>Anyway, days after his amendment defeat, Blunt has decided that Romney’s stumble didn’t matter. Now that the primary’s over in Missouri and there’s virtually no chance of impact, Romney -- for whom Blunt has served as Capitol Hill liaison for the last four years -- is Blunt’s man.</p><p>Blunt joins a long line of establishment figures whose Romney <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73762.html#ixzz1oYGcoeZF">endorsements have proved fruitless</a>. Last week, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Gov. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee all gave Romney their imprimaturs -- and Romney lost all three of their states by substantial margins to Santorum. Nikki Haley, the South Carolina governor, also endorsed Romney -- she campaigned heavily with him -- and he lost the state monumentally to Newt Gingrich.</p><p>Sure, there have been some endorsements that matched the victory, like Sen. John McCain in Arizona, but the entire GOP establishment came out for Romney there, and Santorum skipped Arizona. Ditto Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s nod in New Hampshire -- Romney had invested two years of his life in that state, and Ayotte came on board late in the game anyway.</p><p>Just this week, Romney racked up more <a href="http://www.mittromney.com/News/Press-Releases/Endorsement_Elliott?page=3%20">establishment endorsements</a>: Hawai’i’s former congressman Charles Djou, former Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, former Kansas senator and GOP VP candidate Bob Dole, Illinois congressman Aaron Schock, former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Tennessee Congressman Scott Desjarlais.</p><p>Most of these endorsement’s, like Blunt’s, come without money or manpower. They’re “value” endorsements to help convince voters of Romney’s conservative bonafides.</p><p>Yes, Romney’s still working on that...</p></p> Thu, 08 Mar 2012 19:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2012-03-08/bluntly-put-endorsements-have-no-impact-romney-97100 Joplin debris 'reborn' in Kansas City art project http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-26/joplin-debris-reborn-kansas-city-art-project-91131 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-27/joplin-debris-as-art-1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Pieces of twisted metal and scrap wood left behind by a massive tornado that tore through Joplin, Miss., are now sitting in a gallery in Kansas City. The sculptures and paintings from the wreckage are to be sold at auction Saturday.</p><p>Ann Leach is a grief counselor who has lived in Joplin for 14 years. She's one of the survivors of the May tornado, which left 159 people dead. When the tornado struck, Leach was protected by a slab of sheet rock that fell on top of her, forming a protective barrier.</p><p>Now, though her home is being rebuilt, she says she can't go back. Every day, Leach would remember a piece of her home, she says — where her favorite dishes used to sit, or an old piece of furniture she loved. Some of those pieces she remembers have now found a new home, and a new form, including a music box of her grandmother's.</p><p>"Luis Garcia created a new music box, with pages of the bible from [Leach's] home, and then from her ... decorative aluminum dishware collection, and then the music box that still works, so I can't wait to show her that," says Holly Swangstu, the curator of Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in Kansas City, which is housing the Reclamation Project.</p><p>The concept of artist Matthew Dehaemers, the project connects artists from Joplin and Kansas City. Debris from the town was used to create sculptures and paintings.</p><p>"All these objects and materials have a story behind them, and that story's only made through the people that own them," Dehaemers says. "So what I thought was in between us and them is this material that has a choice of being put in this giant landfill or it has an opportunity to be reborn in a new, positive way."</p><p>Back in Joplin, the billions of dollars of damage is still being cleaned up. Leach says the community has been resilient, and projects like these help the healing process.</p><p>"I can be emotional, and I can collapse in this pile of rubble and sob — and I have, don't get me wrong. But really, how is that going to serve me?" she says. "Change is something you don't have to be afraid of. A lot of people are, but when it hits you right between the eyes, it kind of forces you to respond and just trust that more good will come."</p><p>Project Reclamation is auctioning the pieces Saturday in Kansas City. The proceeds will go to help Joplin artists rebuild their studios and host art therapy classes to help continue the healing in a grieving town.</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Sat, 27 Aug 2011 04:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-26/joplin-debris-reborn-kansas-city-art-project-91131 Flooding prompts debate between Missouri farmers and Illinois residents http://www.wbez.org/story/flooding-prompts-debate-between-missouri-farmers-and-illinois-residents-85756 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-27/113208785.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Army Corps of Engineers is waiting to decide if it will intentionally break a levee to help relieve flooding problems in a Southern Illinois town. But farmers in Missouri are objecting to the plan.</p><p>Flooding in Cairo, Illinois is so bad, more than 100 people have been evacuated. It's a town of 2,800 residents at the southern tip of Illinois between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.</p><p>"I'm 50 years old, and I can't recall seeing it higher before," said Sheila Simon, Illinois' lieutenant governor.</p><p>She said she hopes the water levels start to go down, or else the Army Corps might have to poke holes in a Mississippi River levee near Cairo.</p><p>But farmers in Missouri say that would flood their land and ruin crops. In a statement, Blake Hurst, the head of the Missouri Farm Bureau, said 130,000 acres of farmland could be destroyed.</p><p>Missouri has filed a lawsuit to block efforts to break the levee. A court hearing is scheduled for Thursday.</p></p> Wed, 27 Apr 2011 19:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/flooding-prompts-debate-between-missouri-farmers-and-illinois-residents-85756 Sen. McCaskill Hits Political Turbulence; Didn't Pay Taxes For Private Plane http://www.wbez.org/story/2012/2011-03-21/sen-mccaskill-hits-political-turbulence-didnt-pay-taxes-private-plane-84047 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//sen-clair-mccaskill.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, was expected to have a difficult 2012 re-election campaign according to the political experts who handicap such things.</p><p>University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato <a href="http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/articles/category/2012-senate/">has her listed</a> as "very vulnerable."</p><p>So the last thing she could afford was to have a story erupt that will give her Republican opponent ready made negative campaign ads, assuming she doesn't have a primary challenge or survives same.</p><p></p><p>Unfortunately for her, that has happened. Politico <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50957.html">broke the story</a> earlier this month about McCaskill billing the government for the use of a plane she co-owns with her husband.</p><p>White there were no indications of illegality or ethics violations in terms of the flights and McCaskill has said she'd repay more than $88,000 to the U.S. Treasury, a realization of how toxic the story is in the current political climate.</p><p>But on Monday <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51675.html">the story</a> got even more poisonous for her political future. Politico reported that she and her husband failed to pay $287,273 in personal property taxes on the airplane.</p><p>McCaskill is known for being a frequent Twitter user but it <a href="http://twitter.com/clairecmc">doesn't appear she's tweeted</a> on this yet.</p><p>And that's despite obviously having some passionate feelings about the aircraft. A <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51675.html#ixzz1HGladgAT">Politico excerpt</a>:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>"I have convinced my husband to sell the damn plane," McCaskill said on a conference call with reporters. "I will never set foot on the plane again."</p><p></blockquote> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1300744045?&gn=Sen.+McCaskill+Hits+Political+Turbulence%3B+Didn%27t+Pay+Taxes+For+Private+Plane&ev=event2&ch=129828651&h1=Claire+McCaskill,2012,Congress,Democrats,It%27s+All+Politics,Missouri,Around+the+Nation,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=134742716&c7=1014&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1014&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110321&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=134743939,131551086,130215202,129919600,129828651,125942042&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2012/2011-03-21/sen-mccaskill-hits-political-turbulence-didnt-pay-taxes-private-plane-84047