Christopher Connelly | KERA News

Christopher Connelly

Fort Worth Reporter

Christopher Connelly is the first KERA radio/digital reporter based full time in Fort Worth. He specializes in criminal justice and politics, and his reporting regularly is picked up by national shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace.

Christopher’s a supremely versatile reporter. He profiled Opal Lee, the 89-year-old who walked many miles between Fort Worth and Washington, D.C., to make her pitch for a national Juneteenth holiday. He got a rare look inside William “Tex” Moncrief’s home while reporting on a remembrance for powerhouse lawyer Dee Kelly. And he earned the only mainstream media interview with a reclusive state Board of Education candidate in East Texas who’d called then-President Obama a gay prostitute. That story earned Christopher a Lone Star Award from the Houston Press Club.

His coverage of policing after five Dallas officers were gunned down last summer was key to KERA winning “overall excellence” honors among the biggest radio stations, public and commercial, in Texas and Oklahoma in the regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Christopher came to Texas from WYPR in Baltimore, where he was state legislative reporter. His most memorable moment there involved dodging tear-gas canisters (and having a microphone ripped from his hand) while covering the violent reaction to the death of Freddie Gray, an African-American who died while in police custody.

He cut his public-radio teeth as a Joan B. Kroc Fellow at NPR – that’s a prestigious one-year post-graduate fellowship that allowed him to train as a reporter, show producer and digital producer at network HQ in Washington, D.C.

Christopher is a graduate of Antioch College in Ohio, and he earned a master’s in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. He was born in Ohio, but his Texas roots run deep: He has aunts, uncles and cousins here, and he spent summers with his grandparents in Fort Worth.

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Fort Worth's police officers are on their way to a new contract. They'd been working under an old contract that was supposed to expire last fall as discussions between the police association and the city dragged on for nearly a year and a half. The tentative agreement, reached Thursday, offers a range of incentives and pay raises for the city’s 1,625 officers.

Across the country, there's a backlog of kits containing potential evidence of sexual assaults. Victim advocates say the situation threatens public safety. Lawmakers in dozens of states are pushing for funding, and in Texas, one state representative has offered an innovative solution.

Thousands of rape kits sit sealed and untested in forensics labs and law enforcement offices in Texas. What's missing is state and local funding to pay to analyze the evidence in many of those kits.

Rachel Osier Lindley / KERA News

One of the most heated debates in Austin this legislative session is over Senate Bill 6. Introduced as the Privacy Protection Act, the "bathroom bill" would bar people from using restrooms or locker rooms in schools and other government buildings that don’t match the gender on their birth certificates.

Courtesy of the Joyful Heart Foundation

When you go to the Department of Public Safety office to apply for a driver’s license, the application asks if you want to donate a buck or more to support veterans or organ donation or people who are visually impaired. If Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, has her way, you’ll be asked if you’d like to help the state pay to test DNA evidence from sexual assault cases.

Paul Moseley / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary is spending some time in North Texas. Ben Carson is on a multi-city listening tour to hear from people who rely on public housing.

Max Faulkner / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Fort Worth City Council members and top city staffers climbed onto a bus Tuesday and took a tour of the Stop Six neighborhood in East Fort Worth. The historic African-American neighborhood has long struggled with high crime, high unemployment and low incomes. Now, the city is trying a new approach to make life better for the people who live there.

Paul Moseley / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

A new report shows the number of people who are homeless in Tarrant and Parker Counties has not changed much over the past year. The Tarrant County Homeless Coalition released its annual homeless count on Thursday. It found 1,924 people living on the streets or in shelters, 14 fewer than last year.

Linah Mohammad/KERA News

The Republican leadership in Congress will spend next week hammering out details in their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Some of that will happen in the committee chaired by Pete Sessions.

flickr user rep.louiseslaughter

When Congressman Pete Sessions opens his town hall at Richardson High School on Saturday, he’s likely to face the same kind of raucous reception his fellow House Republicans have seen in recent weeks. More than 2,000 people have signed up for the town hall, and submitted more than 1,200 questions for the man who represents Texas’ 32nd Congressional district.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram photo

A major effort to overhaul the bail system in Texas was rolled out Thursday, and the reforms have some powerful backers. The target is a system that releases people held in jail before trial based in part on their ability to pay their bail or a fee to bond out. It’s a system that leaves many of the state's poorest residents to wait in jail until their court date arrives, which advocates say wastes taxpayer dollars and unnecessarily upends lives.   

Brandon Wade / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

There’s not much Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on in Austin these days, but criminal justice reform is one area that has found bipartisan support over the past decade. 

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Two North Texas lawmakers took a break from the legislative session to share a stage in Dallas Friday. Republican Senator Don Huffines and Democratic Representative Rafael Anchia debated a range of hot button issues being considered in Austin. Neither Huffines nor Anchia shied away from the controversial topics swirling under the Capitol dome.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Pronouncing the city in strong shape on Wednesday, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told a gathering of hundreds of business and civic leaders during her sixth annual State of the City address that the fast-growing city faces a lot of opportunities as well as significant challenges.

Christopher Connelly / KERA

A Republican fundraiser brought a who’s who of Republican lawmakers to Fort Worth on Saturday, and it also attracted a couple hundred protesters. The demonstrators were part of a nationwide organizing effort to put pressure on GOP officials to hold town halls and get an earful from their constituents.

Scott Beale via flickr

At the Texas Capitol in Austin, battle lines are sharpening around one of this year’s biggest fights over social issues. It’s a battle over bathrooms, specifically which bathrooms transgender people should be allowed to use. 

Christopher Connelly / KERA

Wind is now the top source of renewable power in the nation. In the latest report from the American Wind Energy Association, Texas leads the nation in wind power production. 

Anthony Graves Foundation

Public radio stations from across the state collaborated on this series looking at the death penalty in Texas – its history, how it’s changed, whom it affects and its future. 

Texas executed Terry Edwards on Thursday evening, making him the second man to be put to death by the state this year. In Texas, more than 240 people sit on death row awaiting execution. Long the leading executioner in the U.S., the Lone Star State put to death fewer people last year than it has in two decades. 

Brandon Formby / Texas Tribune

The 2016 elections scrambled the U.S. political map, but one trend did not change: Almost every big, urban county voted for Democrats. Not so in Texas’ third biggest county, where Fort Worth is the county seat. Tarrant County became the most conservative metropolitan county in the country, giving Donald Trump the widest margin of victory than any of the 20 largest counties in the U.S.

Rodger Mallison Star-Telegram

Donald Trump was propelled to the presidency thanks in part to Tarrant County. Fort Worth and its suburbs make up the only metropolitan county in Texas that still votes Republican for president. And it's one of just two of the nation’s 20 largest urban counties that favored Trump. So why is Tarrant County so reliably red?

Can Texas Republicans Hold America's Reddest Large Urban County?

Jan 17, 2017
Brandon Formby / Texas Tribune

Even though he can openly carry a handgun in Texas with the right permit, Jonathan Grummer thinks that still doesn’t allow him enough freedom in a country where firearms rights are enshrined in the Constitution.  

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

A viral video of a white Fort Worth police officer forcefully arresting a black woman and her daughters in December has put a spotlight on the city's police chief, Joel Fitzgerald. As the investigation is beginning to wrap up, many are waiting to see how he handles the fallout.

Christopher Connelly / KERA

William Madison McDonald is far from a household name these days, but he was a legend in his day. Born 150 years ago, McDonald is widely believed to have been the first black millionaire in Texas.

Scott Thomas via flickr

Texas could lose big if it pursues policies that curtail the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents. That’s the message from a study commissioned by the Texas Association of Business, the state’s chamber of commerce. The study finds that the state potentially faces huge losses, and it comes as fights over LGBT rights are brewing in Austin ahead of the next legislative session.

Robert White / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

A proposed bill from a Tarrant County lawmaker is causing a stir in education circles. Texas Sen. Konni Burton said the bill is intended to bolster a parent’s right to information about his or her child. But critics say it’s vaguely worded, and some worry it could put LGBT kids at risk.

Dave Wilson via flickr

The next legislative session doesn’t start until January, but the battle lines are being drawn. One issue is sure to be contentious: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Lawmakers have introduced a number of bills, some intended to help LGBT folks, others that would strip protections and reverse recent gains.

Paul Woolrich via flickr

While Donald Trump won Texas handily, Hillary Clinton won most of the state’s big cities. Dallas County went blue by a big margin, and Democrats dominated local races. While they flipped a handful of state house seats, Democrats fell short of the gains they had hoped for. In Dallas County, just one seat moved from red to blue.

Christopher Connelly/KERA News

The Texas Rangers will be getting a new stadium. That news after voters in Arlington overwhelmingly approved a plan to use local tax dollars to pay for half of a $1 billion ballpark with a retractable roof.

Texas Public Radio

Election Day in Texas hasn't been without issues at the polls. At a high school in Richmond, near Houston, machine problems reportedly caused dozens of people to leave without voting. KERA has received reports of long lines, last-minute polling station changes and some voter ID confusion. 

Christopher Connelly/KERA News

Throughout North Texas, there are very few competitive state legislative races, and they all happen to be in Dallas County. Democrats in the county are hoping that changing demographics, higher turnout and Donald Trump might be the right combination to help them take a handful of Republican-held seats.

Christopher Connelly/KERA News

If you build it, they will…stay? That’s the pitch from supporters of plan to build a new, $1 billion ballpark for the Texas Rangers in Arlington. Voters there will decide whether or not to pay for half of it with city funds. Opponents say it’s a bad deal for the city.

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