Tuesday, June 5, 2018

WPKN Local News

WPKN Local News 
brings you daily local coverage of Connecticut and Long Island news
on WPKN 89.5 fm Bridgeport and streaming on wpkn.org 

Sources include our own reporters:
and CT Mirror, CT NewsJunkie, Westfaironline/Fairfield News, East End Beacon, 
The Suffolk Times, Times Union, Riverhead Local and Newsday.

Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors, producers, newsreaders and reporters: 
Trace Alford, Ramzi Babouder-Matta,Thomas Byrne, Tony Ernst, John Iannuzzi, Hazel Kahan, Lee Yuen Lew, Mike Merli, Kristiana Pastir, Francesca Rheannon, Matt Stutterheim, Gretchen Swanson, Neil Tolhurst, Danniella Tompos, Melinda Tuhus and Pauline Yeats.

To find out about joining our volunteer news team, while working at home, please send an email to: news.director@wpkn.org.

For WPKN Local News daily content
For news reports before February 2015 

Monday, June 4, 2018

June 2018

Tuesday June 19, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Trace Alford, Michel Zweig and Thomas Byrne)  

In the news tonight: New Haven police hold newest hires pending investigation; People’s United buys rival Connecticut bank; study recommends New York legalize recreational marijuana; LIPA ratepayers pay heavily for power plant bailout
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Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent reports:
New Haven Police Chief has placed a hold on hiring up to 37 new members pending an investigation of the department’s background investigation unit. Allegations include fabricating background interviews attesting to the candidates’ integrity.

Officer Leah Russo resigned from the force after the department discovered she had fabricated up to 17 background reports. 

Police Commissioner Chairman Anthony Dawson said: “There’s no way that we could move forward without looking at every application to see if any other fabrication has taken place.”

Officials have reassigned the remaining six members of the background investigation unit to other duties. Senior officers will conduct a new review of all the background checks. 
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Jordan Grice and Alexander Soule for the Connecticut Post report:
Bridgeport-based People’s United Financial will acquire Farmington Bank and its parent company First Connecticut Bancorp for $544 million. Farmington Bank has 28 branches across central Connecticut and western Massachusetts. 

As of June 2017, the bank ranks 12th for deposit market share in Connecticut with nearly $2.2 billion and fourth in Hartford County, one spot ahead of People’s United. Combined, the banks would leapfrog TD Bank in Hartford County and trail only Bank of America and Webster Bank.

Last year, People’s United bought Long Island’s Suffolk Bancorp and Philadelphia-based Leaf Commercial Capital.
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Bethany Bump reports in the Albany Times-Union that a study ordered by New York Governor Cuomo recommends the state legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational, adult use, the state's top health official announced Monday.

Governor Cuomo has in recent months shifted his public stance on marijuana, a drug he once lambasted as a "gateway" to other, more dangerous drugs. In January, citing legalization in neighboring states, he said "facts have changed" on marijuana and that, as a result, state policy may have to change as well.

The state-led study examined the effect that legalization in neighboring states would have on New York, as well as the impact legalization might have on public health, safety and the economy. It also looked at how recreational marijuana would be taxed, where it would be grown, how it would be distributed, the age of use, and the potential for drugged driving.
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Karl Grossman with Riverhead Local reports:
Long Island Power Authority ratepayers are paying a disproportionate share of the $7.6 billion bailout of four upstate nuclear power plants. The bailout runs for 12 years and kicked in last year with an added charge in the electric bills of all New York State residents, businesses and other entities.

A lawsuit is underway in New York State Supreme Court to end the bailout.

The rate is based on a formula developed by Exelon, which owns in whole or part the four plants, and approved by the state. A plaintiff in the lawsuit calculates that LIPA ratepayers are overcharged many millions of dollars a year. 

The bailout is based on the governor’s claim that nuclear power plants do not generate greenhouse or carbon gases and should receive “zero emissions credit.” It has become a model for other states developing their own nuclear power plant subsidy programs financed by ratepayers.
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Monday June 18, 2018  (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Neil Tolhurst and Gretchen Swanson.)

In the news tonight: Gov. Malloy Issues Order Declaring State Water Supply A 'Public Trust'; Connecticut awards first offshore wind project; JFK Airport Security Workers Charge Ongoing Wage Theft; Long Island college students get help from on-campus food pantries
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Gregory B. Hladky reports for the Hartford Courant:
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued an executive order Wednesday to implement a new state water management plan, including the controversial declaration rejected by the legislature that Connecticut’s water be “a public trust.”

Malloy’s State Water Plan is designed to take into account the changing nature of regulations, climate and economic conditions. Mandatory water conservation during the state’s recent two-year drought had increased public concern.

Environmentalists and consumer activists want more safeguards over the distribution of Connecticut’s public water. “Public trust is a policy that recognizes the public’s inherent right to clean air, clean water and a healthy environment,” said Alicea Charamut, a river steward with the Connecticut River Conservancy.

Water utility officials insisted public’s water supplies are adequately protected dismissing the proposed “trust” language as “duplicative and unnecessary.” Malloy’s order directs the state Water Planning Council to implement the plan with help from an advisory council and to resubmit the plan to the General Assembly by Dec. 1, 2018.
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Jan Ellen Spiegel for The CT Mirror reports that Connecticut has entered the offshore wind energy world.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recently awarded its first offshore wind project to Deepwater Wind for a 200-megawatt installation in the state-owned area halfway between Montauk and Martha’s Vineyard.

The project is expected to create 1,400 direct and indirect jobs and other economic benefits, including a $15 million investment in refurbishing the port of New London, a research partnership with UConn at Avery Point, and local partnerships with New London.

Deepwater developed the nation’s first, and so far only, offshore wind project for Block Island. With projects in the works for Long Island, Maryland, and a 400-megawatt project for Rhode Island.

The Connecticut project could begin providing electricity to the state by 2023.
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Andrea Sears reports for the Public News Service that workers at Kennedy airport allege Global Security Consulting Group is a repeat offender in continuing to violate New York state wage and hour laws. They say the company has not been paying required uniform allowances, wage premiums for people who work split shifts, and shifts longer than 10 hours.


"It appears that even after settling the lawsuit for $700,000 of wages for workers that they didn't pay, they're continuing the same practice of stealing from their workforce," said Rob Hill, a vice president of the worker's union. Other airport companies schedule workers so they are paid for all hours they are there.



Global schedules work by flights, leaving workers with hours of unpaid time between shifts.

  Global employees at JFK recently delivered a petition to management asking that their wage and scheduling issues be addressed.
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Michael Cusanelli reports for Newsday:
Thirty-six percent of college students nationwide struggle with food insecurity, defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as limited or uncertain availability of nutritious and safe foods.

One on Long Island is Luigi Pesce, a Stony Brook University Ph.D student from Venezuela. For nearly a year, his main source of food came from attending campus events where free food was provided. He learned about the University’s food pantry in 2015.  Pesce said: “Eating [only] once a day definitely affected my studies, so I’m very grateful.”

Six of the 17 colleges on Long Island have a food pantry, including Stony Brook, Nassau Community College, SUNY Old Westbury, Hofstra University, St. Joseph’s College and Suffolk County Community College. SUNY Farmingdale is developing one. To access pantries, students just show their school IDs.

There are more than 570 campus food pantries nationwide, up from fewer than 10 in 2009.
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Friday June 15, 2018  (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Trace Alford, Tony Ernst, Danniella Tompos and volunteer reporter Hazel Kahan)

In the news tonight: Malloy vetoes changes to Hartford Bailout, animal abuse registry;
New York comptroller finds $1.28 billion in unnecessary Medicaid payments; Riverhead residents protest police, sheriff collusion with ICE
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Christine Stuart for CT NewsJunkie reports:
Governor Malloy vetoed a bill Thursday that would have changed how the state board overseeing Hartford’s finances would have operated.

The legislation, which received bipartisan support, would have required the continued financial support of Hartford for five years, but allow the state to reduce other municipal aid in the sixth year if the city failed to meet its obligations. Senate Republican President Len Fasano said the veto “demonstrates the governor’s arrogance and lack of respect for taxpayer dollars.”

A second bill vetoed Thursday would have created a registry of individuals convicted of animal abuse. Malloy said the registry would encourage more plea bargaining to avoid registration, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals opposed the legislation because it would “leave animals more vulnerable to abuse.”

Legislators will hold a veto override session Monday, June 25 to reconsider some of Malloy’s vetoes.
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Bethany Bump reports for the Albany Times-Union:The New York State Comptroller’s Office found the state's Medicaid program paid $1.28 billion worth of premiums it should not have over a six-year period for people already receiving comprehensive, private health insurance. The bulk of it cannot be recovered, but the state Health Department has recovered more than $34.7 million.

The inappropriate payments occurred from January 2012 through September 2017 and stemmed from how the state pays for Medicaid recipients enrolled in mainstream managed care plans.

More than half of the inappropriate payments unearthed by the comptroller's audit were made without the state’s knowledge of overlapping coverage. The rest, however, were made despite that knowledge.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says the Health Department could prevent unnecessary payments in both circumstances by improving monitoring efforts that would prevent, detect and recover inappropriate managed care premiums.
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Community members packed the Suffolk County Legislature Building in Riverhead on Thursday to urge the Public Safety Committee to act on the consequences of Police and ICE cooperation. Hazel Kahan has more:
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Suffolk County Police and the Sherriff’s Department are cooperating with Immigration Enforcement Agencies. If someone is detained for low-level offenses such as driving without a license, they can be held and transferred to the custody of immigration enforcement. On Thursday, community members and clergy testified at the legislature’s Public Safety Committee on their experiences as court witnesses.

One of those was Reverend Marie Tatro, Vicar for Social Justice of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island: “We are here to make sure that the rules the police department and other law enforcement are supposed to follow are actually being followed. And if they’re not - if they are colluding with ICE, we want the committee to do its job and investigate those incidents.”

The Reverend Tatro says the response of the Committee was positive: “The committee seemed taken aback that despite the story the police department is giving them, that the testimony of individuals who are actually experiencing these things is completely contradictory to what the police is telling them and contradictory to the law.”

For WPKN Radio News, I’m Hazel Kahan
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Thursday June 14, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN news editors Thomas Byrne and Mike Merli)

In the news tonight: child advocates in Connecticut dissect Governor Malloy’s veto of school expulsion bill; Connecticut takes steps in supporting Maternal Mortality Review; GOP names 22-year-old to challenge Huntington Democrat; Southold issues citations to food trucks parked near wineries
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Jack Kramer writing for Connecticut News Junkie reports:
Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s decision to veto a bill that allowed teachers to remove physically violent students in the interest of classroom safety prompted a spirited discussion Tuesday. Malloy said he wouldn’t sign the bill because it would unfairly target students of color for punishment.

Those who worked on the bill gathered at the Legislative Office Building on Tuesday to express anger and frustration, but also hope that it would eventually produce an improved bill.

The legislation would require local and regional school boards, as well as the State Department of Education (SDE), to address daily classroom safety in the same way current law dictates they address bullying and teen violence. It would allow teachers to remove students threatening harm to other students or teachers from the classroom.

Malloy said: “As written, this bill creates too great a risk that students of color and those with disabilities will be disproportionately affected by its new removal powers.” 
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Christine Stuart writing for Connecticut News Junkie reports:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 700 women in the United States die each year following pregnancy-related complications, a rate that has more than doubled since 1987. In Connecticut, there were eight pregnancy-related deaths from 2011 to 2014.

So far no post-2014 data exists and, given the lack of funding, the situation is unlikely to change.

On Tuesday, Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill into law that would establish a Maternal Mortality Review Program within the state Department of Public Health to conduct a comprehensive, multidisciplinary review of maternal deaths.

But data collection and analysis are crucial if maternal death is to be understood and prevented. The state has gradually reduced funding for the Maternal Mortality Review Committee, eliminating it altogether in 2015.
Previously, the state had provided funding to the committee to support reviews of medical charts of mothers who died in childbirth. 
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Rick Brand writing for Newsday reports:
Jeremy Williams of Huntington Station has been named by the Huntington Republicans to run against Democratic state Assemblyman Steve Stern. 

This is Williams’ first time as a candidate.  He is 22 years old.Stern took office after winning a special election in April.

Williams has been a Republican committee member for about three years and works as a consultant.

Stern, who was term-limited as a Suffolk County legislator last year, won a special election to fill former GOP Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci’s seat after Lupinacci won election for Huntington Town supervisor in November. 
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Mark Harrington of Long Island Newsday reports:
Some vineyard owners on Long Island’s North Fork can’t make sense of their Town’s edict that food and wine don’t mix.

The town of Southhold has begun issuing citations to vineyards that allow parked food trucks to sell food.  Bill Ruland, Southold Town Board Member, said “The town code doesn’t permit retail sales in residential and agricultural zones.”  However, those with a peddler’s license can stay at one location for 15 minutes or less.

Steve Bate, the Long Island Wine Council’s acting director, said the crackdown doesn’t make sense since state law requires wineries to “regularly keep food available for sale or service to its retail customers for consumption on the premises.” Bate added that these latest restrictions reflect “another unfortunate decision … to restrict winery activity.” Southold Town code has a limited allowance for food trucks: 

Perhaps there is cause for optimism: Anthony Sannino, owner of Sannino Vineyard in Peconic, said “with careful thought the town could revise the code to fit [food trucks] into the code.”  Mr. Ruland is encouraging winery owners to attend town meetings to make their voices heard.
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Wednesday June 12, 2018  (Thanks to WPKN reporters and editors Tony Ernst and John Iannuzzi)

In the news tonight: Mounting Litigation Against Stamford Based Drug Maker Purdue Pharma; Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim’s Petitioning Campaign For Governor takes a big step forward; Shinnecock Indians Protest and Educate as U.S. Open Comes to Southampton
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Along with the Massachusetts attorney general, city officials in Norwalk and Danbury Connecticut announced Tuesday they were suing OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma over alleged deceptive marketing of its drugs, fueling their states’ opioid crisis.

In the lawsuits, Stamford-based Purdue is accused of misrepresenting opioids’ benefits. The Massachusetts suit asserts the company recklessly pressured doctors to give higher, and more dangerous doses, to keep patients hooked on the drugs longer. 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says: “Purdue Pharma and its executives built a multibillion-dollar business based on deception and addiction.” The drug maker denied the allegations, although they said they shared Healey’s concerns about the opioid crisis.

There were 1,038 fatal drug overdoses in Connecticut last year, up 13 percent from 2016, according to the state Chief Medical Examiner’s Office. The cities of Ansonia and Derby joined Norwalk and Danbury in filing in state Superior Court their lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, which names as defendants a number of other pharmaceutical firms as well.
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Only In Bridgeport reports:
In his quest to qualify for an August 14 primary against Democratic-endorsed Ned Lamont petitioning candidate, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim has amassed roughly 32,000 signatures, 10,000 from Bridgeport, about twice the verified number he needs. Yesterday was the last opportunity to submit signatures to local elections officials who will review the petitions to verify that they are Democratic electors in Connecticut before final tabulation by the office of the Connecticut Secretary of the State.

Petitioning candidates need a surplus of signatures because many will be rejected for lack of party affiliation compliance. In some instances, one-third, or perhaps more, will be rejected. 

New Haven, along with Bridgeport, is where the Ganim campaign operation has piled up a majority of the signatures. In a recent interview with the New Haven Independent Ganim gave a closer look into his campaign strategy saying: “Many people who signed this petition will not be out on their yachts in August or in the Hamptons or the Cape. They’re going to be struggling in a hot summer on the streets.”  

Ganim’s main opponent, the endorsed candidate Ned Lamont, is a successful businessman living in Greenwich Connecticut. 
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The US Open tournament at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Course has brought crowds and traffic woes to Southampton this week. On the nearby Shinnecock Indian Reservation it’s revived memories of desecrated grave sites and stolen land. Tribal members and their supporters have been holding a demonstration this week near the golf course.  Tony Ernst reports for WPKN News:

Organizer Nicole Dennis-Banks is a former Shinnecock tribal trustee: "I'm here today to use the us open as a platform to bring awareness to the issues that indigenous people face, not just here in Southampton, but all across Indian country. Currently we have the Shinnecock Hills that was stolen from us and it's unfortunate that we are still fighting for these hills that our ancestors are buried in and we have to protect our secret sites. We currently have remains that are buried up in those hills and they are playing golf on them.”

Shinnecock Kelly Dennis is an attorney and a conference organizer. She says the tribe’s land claims have never been resolved: “The tribe has never been compensated or obtained any other redress for the illegal taking of the Shinnecock Hills. We haven’t been able to have our day in court. We need this to obtain justice for the … land claim that includes the Shinnecock Hills. And we also need to make our concerns known about many other issues: grave protection, clean water, natural resources, beach access, fishing, hunting. the many stereotypes that are still perpetuated, and racial injustice.“

The Shinnecock Hills Protectors demonstration continues from 6 to 7 am through Saturday at Montauk Highway and Tuckahoe Road, Southampton. 

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018  (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Trace Alford and Thomas Byrne)

In the news tonight:  Connecticut home prices, job recovery lag; consumer advocates vow to restore net neutrality in Connecticut; Board of Regents tentatively OKs new state test opt-out rules; North Fork creates League of Women Voters chapter
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Jamie Kasulis of the CT Mirror reports:
Connecticut home prices still have not recovered from 2008’s Great Recession, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Connecticut also is the only New England state with less than 100 percent job recovery since the recession, according to recent Bureau of Labor statistics.

Over the last five-year period, home prices in Connecticut have risen only eight percent while the national average was 34 percent. Hartford ranked seventh from the bottom for metropolitan areas. 

DataCore chief economist Don Klepper-Smith described housing demand in Connecticut as “soft” because of years of out-migration, an aging and shrinking population, and a slow-to-recover labor market. He said, “As the health of the labor market goes, generally, so goes the health of the housing market.”

Klepper-Smith said Connecticut has recovered only 78 percent of the jobs lost since the recession but that recent data show employment increasing and that full recovery should occur by 2020.
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Bill Cummings for the Connecticut Post: 
Connecticut legislative leaders and consumer advocates pledged Monday to block President Trump’s repeal of net neutrality rules that prevented internet providers from throttling speeds or blocking content.

Several states passed legislation requiring internet providers to adhere to net neutrality practices. A similar bill passed the Connecticut Senate this year but stalled in the House. The bill required internet service providers to register with the state as a utility and pledge to treat internet content fairly and equally.

State Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz said without net neutrality, providers will be "at the mercy" of large internet providers who can block, throttle or discriminate against access to content.

ACLU of Connecticut executive director David McGuire agreed that lawmakers must take action. He said, "The end of federal net neutrality protections is a sad day for democracy, free speech, justice, education, health and small business, but the fight is not over."
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John Hildebrand reports for Newsday:
New York State’s Board of Regents tentatively agreed to controversial new rules aimed at school districts on Long Island and across New York where large numbers of students boycotted state tests.

According to a Newsday survey, nearly half of all eligible students in Nassau and Suffolk counties declined to take the state’s April English Language Arts assessments in grades three through eight. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires at least 95 percent of eligible students in every public school nationwide to take annual state tests in English and math. Only a handful of schools on Long Island met that requirement due to a series of boycotts. 

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia says a final Regents vote on the rules will take place in September and the public has opportunity to comment in the meantime. 
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Kelly Zegers reports for the Suffolk Times that organizers of a new North Fork chapter of the League of Women Voters were surprised by the large turnout for their first exploratory meeting. 

About 60 people showed up at the Cutchogue New Suffolk Free Library last Monday, twice as many as anticipated. 

The next meeting will take place on Monday, June 25, at 6 p.m. at the Library, to discuss forming committees, said Barbara Best of Cutchogue. Also planned is a voter registration kiosk at the Cutchogue Library, with emphasis on registering 18-year olds.

The League of Women Voters is a national organization focused on issues and voter rights, and does not support one party over another. Ms. Best said, “We like that this is bipartisan. And it’s not only for women. We also encourage men to come, so it’s really an open forum.”
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Monday June 11, 2018  (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Gretchen Swanson, Neil Tolhurst and Tony Ernst)

In the news tonight: Connecticut Bond Sale Goes Better Than Expected; group aims to attract residents and out-of-towners to Bridgeport events; New York to audit school safety; Bankruptcy Court approves Dowling sale to Triple Five
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Treasurer Denise Nappier announced Connecticut easily sold $492 million in bonds with so many additional orders that interest rates were lowered.

Christopher Keating writing the Hartford Courant reports this was the first time Connecticut's bonds included a specific covenant, or promise, the state will improve its fiscal condition. The Wall Street Journal described the covenant as “a rare step in the world of municipal debt.’’ The covenant includes spending and bonding caps inserted into the bipartisan budget agreement by Republicans, passed and signed into law by Gov. Malloy last fall.

The largest portion of money from the bonds will pay for school construction.  Also to be funded are cleaning up contaminated brownfield properties, economic development, town grants, capital improvements and clean drinking water programs.

The covenant also included a “volatility cap’’ advocated by Hartford's Sen. Fonfara that forces the legislature to place money into the rainy day fund for fiscal emergencies. 
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Jordan Grice reports for CT Post that:
I Luv Bridgeport, a group dedicated to promoting the city and changing its reputation, welcomes people from surrounding towns, but its main focus these days is on bringing out the city itself. 

Co-founder Razul Branch said: “We are citizens, residents, business owners and graduates…deeply invested…for a long time in Bridgeport.”

Since its formation in 2013, I Luv Bridgeport has been developing projects to bolster the city’s economic and social growth. It is hosting a series of programs, including Downtown Thursday, the seven-week concert series kicking off July 12, which previously was geared toward attracting visitors from other communities.  I Luv Bridgeport is also partnered with the Bridgeport Arts and Cultural Council, on the East End farmers market, and the July Art Fest.

Branch said: “Those are some things that are necessary to create the socialization you’re expecting in Bridgeport…beyond just popping in apartments or building larger projects.” 
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Ken Lovett of the New York Daily News reports:
New York State Controller Thomas DiNapoli announced his office has begun audits into whether the New York City and State education departments are ensuring that schools have adequate and current safety plans in the event of either a school shooting or major emergency.

A law enacted in 2000 requires schools to develop policies and procedures covering safe evacuation, communication in emergencies, emergency responder access to building plans, and school violence prevention training.
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A U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York this week approved the sale of Dowling College’s Brookhaven Campus in Shirley to Triple Five, the Edmonton, Canada-based international conglomerate, according to Denise Civiletti writing for Riverhead Local. Triple Five Aviation LLC will pay $14 million in cash for the 105-acre property.              
           
The Shirley campus has adjacent access to an operating airport with two 4,000-foot runways and was home to the Dowling College School of Aviation and the National Aviation and Transportation Center. 

According to company spokesperson Stuart Bienenstock, Triple Five sees the Shirley site as “synergistic” with the EPCAL site it hopes to buy, envisioning EPCAL as the “epicenter” of eastern Long Island becoming again a hub of the aviation industry.

According to Bienenstock, the company anticipates closing on the deal “within 45 days,” although a Brookhaven Town spokesperson says no site application has been submitted.

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Friday June 8, 2018 (Thanks to Danniella Tompos and Trace Alford)

In the news tonight: Malloy vetoes school discipline bill; Protesters rally outside federal immigration offices in Hartford; “I Love NY” signs not coming down yet; Long Island opt-out leaders call for un-linking exam results and teacher evals 
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Emilie Munson reports for the Connecticut Post that on Thursday, GovernorMalloy vetoed a bill that would change how a child was removed from the classroom after an alleged incident.
He objected to the bill’s language as too vague, giving a teacher too much discretion in removing a student, and complicating the student’s return to the classroom.
The Caucus members Representatives Christopher Rosario and Brandon McGee urged the rejection, writing that Black and Puerto Rico students are suspended twice as often as their white peers, adding, “Mandating additional disciplinary action in schools will only worsen the existing disparities and fuel the school-to-prison pipeline.”
The Connecticut Education Association willask the legislatureto overturn Malloy’s veto.Executive Director Donald Williams said, “This veto undermines safe schools and the opportunity for students to get assistance before school issues become criminal justice issues.”
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Several groups from around Connecticut organized a protest outside the federal building in Hartford, which houses federal immigration offices, to target abuses at the border. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has more.
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They were protesting the recent deaths of two women migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as the Trump administration’s recent decision to separate parents seeking asylum in the U.S. from their children, even very young children, in an effort to discourage immigrants from trying to enter the U.S. They also pointed to mistreatment of immigrants right here in Connecticut.

One of the speakers was Vanesa Suarez, with Unidad Latina en Accion:  We are a transitory people whose ancestors have traveled through this land for thousands of years. We were here before the white man, and what do they do? They kill us! They murder us! So we have a right to be here. We have a right to migrate in a safe way.”

After many speeches and chants, several dozen people held a die-in, blocking the entrance to the building. They dispersed after police warnings that they’d be arrested if they didn’t
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News
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Jon Campbell for Democrat&Chronicle reports: 
The blue “I Love NY” signs along New York's highways likely won't come down by the summer as expected.
Governor Cuomo's administration had pledged to remove and replace the controversial signs by the summer tourism season after the Federal Highway Administration docked the state $14 million because the signage doesn't comply with federal and state rules. The signs don't contain any navigational information—a key requirement.
With state and federal governments gridlocked on replacements, the current signs remain. The rules could be temporarily suspended if the state receives federal approval to experiment with new signs.
According to the highway administration, if the state removes the signs by September 30 the $14 million will be returned.
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John Hildebrand reports for Newsday:
Opt-out movement leaders criticized proposed legislation, for insufficiently reducing student scores in evaluating teachers.  They said they would probably continue the exam boycott even if the state legislature approves the measure.
The legislation, in part, would make using students’ state test scores optional rather than mandatory in evaluating teachers’ jobs. 
Long Island parent representatives said the law should be entirely repealed. However, New York State United Teachers contends the legislation would support progress in decoupling standardized tests and job-performance ratings. 
Fierce opposition to standardized state tests ingrades3-8 in Nassau and Suffolk counties has led to more than half the region’s eligible students skipping state English assessments in April. Concerns include the contention that linking students’ scores to teachers’ evaluations places undue pressure on both groups.
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Thursday June 7, 2018 (Thanks to Mike Merli and John Iannuzzi)
In the news tonight: DMV teams up with Nutmeg Credit Union for express service in Connecticut; Southold is closer to introducing local helicopter legislation; Riverhead appellate court upholds master plans and key zoning codes 
and Sag Harbor launches water quality initiative.
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Jack Kramer writing for Connecticut News Junkie reports:
A new state-of-the-art Department of Motor Vehicles Express Center, where people can renew their licenses and ID cards, opens this morning at a Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union location in Milford, Connecticut.

The center will replace eight New Haven and Fairfield County AAA offices that discontinued the same services when it failed to reach agreement with the state at the end of 2016.
Non-Nutmeg members will pay a $5 fee to complete transactions; this fee will increase to $8 on July 1st. AAA had also been charging a $5 fee.

The Milford express center location will enable customers to renew driver’s licenses and ID cards while using services that will offer the convenience of scheduling appointments, having service tickets stamped with same-day times, the use of self-service information kiosks, and communication via text and email.  Eligible customers will also be able to register to vote.
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Kelly Zeger writing for The Suffolk Times reports:
Southold Town is continuing to develop a potential code change to address issues residents have with helicopter noise.

At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Town Board liaison Bob Ghosio said that he, the town’s helicopter noise steering committee, and local pilots are expected to meet Friday to get closer to developing a comprehensive and balanced draft law.

The promotion by helicopter companies of wine tours that bring customers from Manhattan to the East End is one area of concern. Wings Air Helicopters is currently promoting a North Fork winery tour that will fly from Manhattan and land at the Mattituck airport, where a waiting sedan would provide transport to the wineries. 
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Denise Civiletti writing for Riverhead Local reports: 
Riverhead’s 2003 master plan and key zoning codes aimed at protecting agricultural lands and preventing commercial sprawl have been upheld by a state appeals court.

In three separate decisions dated April 18th, the Appellate Division panel upheld a July 2014 trial court decision in favor of the town, upholding the 2003 master plan and the Rural Corridor and Agricultural Preservation Zone codes. In a fourth decision, the court annulled a 2005 town board resolution implementing the transfer of development rights program. 

The court ruled that the town failed to give proper notice of the measure to the Suffolk County Planning Commission as required by state law.

Overall, the decisions represent a major victory for the town’s land use plan, which sought to preserve agricultural land and prevent large-scale retail development outside the Route 58 corridor.

Wednesday June 6, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN Volunteer editors Ramzi Babouder-Matta and Tony Ernst and WPKN reporter John Iannuzzi 

In the news tonight: Ganim Cries Foul Over Being Shut Out of Candidates Forum; Policy For High School Transgender Athletes in Connecticut Questioned;
Suffolk Community College tuition would rise without increase in county contribution
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Petitioning Candidate for Governor of Connecticut, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim finds himself on the outside looking in, as four candidates who have met the criteria set by the Rell Center for Public Service prepare for a televised forum on Thursday. 

Only in Bridgeport reports event organizers are denying petitioning candidates not yet approved for the ballot, participation in tomorrow evening’s broadcast from the Lincoln Theater in West Hartford. 

Ganim is petitioning to primary Greenwich Businessman Ned Lamont in August, and he needs roughly 15,500 verified signatures from Democratic electors. The campaign reports it has already amassed about 25,000. The Bridgeport Mayor tells WPKN if he was allowed to be a part of the forum, his message would remain consistent. 

For his part, endorsed candidate Lamont is taking aim at struggling cities like Ganim’s. He says the answer is not bailouts, but shoring up transportation infrastructure. 

Organizers say the criteria for tomorrow’s forum, which was developed weeks ago, was to invite party endorsed candidates for governor and candidates who secured 15 percent delegate support at the respective party conventions. That leaves Lamont as the only Democrat that will be on stage. 

Meanwhile Endorsed Republican Mark Boughton, Mayor of Danbury will be joined by Former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and Navy veteran Steve Obsitnik received enough support at the Republican convention for August primary ballot spots.
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The Hartford Courant Reports: 
Parents, athletes and coaches in some communities are calling for a change in Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference rules allowing high school athletes to compete in the gender specific sport in which they identity. 

They assert a possible competitive advantage after the success of transgender female athletes participating in high school track and field events. 

Continued success by transgender athletes has prompted two petitions from critics who say transgender athletes have an advantage. Together, the petitions have about 150 signatures, though neither has been submitted to CIAC officials. 

Bianca Stanescu, mother of Glastonbury sophomore sprinter Selina Soule, has been circulating a petition at track meets calling on the state legislature to require athletes to compete in sports based on their gender at birth, unless the athlete has undergone hormone therapy. But advocates for greater inclusion of transgender athletes and other competitors in Connecticut are pushing back, rejecting the position by petitioners as narrow and discriminatory. 
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Rick Brand at Newsday reports: 
County Executive Steve Bellone has rejected Suffolk County Community College trustees’ request for a 4 percent increase in the county contribution to their proposed budget, offering a 1.84 percent hike instead. 

Bellone said he also has filed a legislative resolution to reject the trustees’ proposed $226 million budget, which would cost the county an extra $1.6 million. 
College officials say they will continue to lobby county lawmakers for a higher county contribution to keep the proposed tuition increase of $350 next year from going higher. 

Without a 4 percent hike in county aid, the tuition would rise from the current $4,870 to $5,270 a year. 
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Tuesday June 5, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Danniella Tompos and Trace Alford and WPKN reporter Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight: Connecticut special session won’t include online gambling;  Connecticut asks FEMA for storm damage assessment; Proposal calls for pharmaceutical company-funded drug collection boxes in New York;New York gubernatorial candidate suggests easier tax cap override 
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Mark Pazniokas and Clarice Silber report for The CT Mirror:
The Connecticut General Assembly is unlikely take up online gambling during its special session to consider legalizing sports betting — saying the smartphone-betting concept requires deeper study and public input.

House Majority Leader Matt Ritter asks, “How do you verify age? How does it work when you go across the border? Are there daily limits?”

Governor Malloy said he is negotiating with the state’s two federally recognized tribes, the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that opens all states to sports betting.

If Connecticut legalizes sports betting, the tribes are permitted under the federal Indian Regulatory Gaming Act to open sports books at their casinos. It is unclear whether the tribes’ gambling agreements with the state will permit them to claim a share of the state’s sports action or exclusive rights to sports wagering.
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Jim Shay reports for the Connecticut Post:
Connecticut has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to conduct a joint damage assessment in Fairfield, Litchfield, and New Haven counties created by the May 15th tornadoes and macroburst.

The request asks for the preliminary damage assessments to begin next week. 

The assessment is a key step toward getting federal funding for storm damage and cleanup. Governor Malloy will send the completed aid application to FEMA and ultimately to the president for approval.

Danbury officials estimate nearly $4.8 million in repairs, about $1.8 in New Fairfield, and almost $3.8 million in Brookfield. Other towns hit hard by the storm include Oxford, Beacon Falls, Seymour and Bethany.
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Denise Civiletti for Riverhead Local reports:
New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation wants permanent prescription drug collection boxes at all retail pharmacies throughout the state. 

The proposal calls for a sweeping statewide pharmaceutical stewardship program to be developed, implemented and paid for by a newly created pharmaceutical organization fully funded by drug manufacturers. 

The organization would bear the approximately $5.75 million cost of supplying collection receptacles for all 4,600 retail pharmacies in New York and $10.6 million for box liners and disposal.

Manufacturers agree to their key role in the program but not to being its only funders.

Although the proposal requires new legislation, the appetite of state legislators for adopting such a plan, especially if opposed by the powerful pharmaceutical industry lobby, remains to be seen.
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Rick Karlin for the Albany Times-Union reports:
Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon proposes a simplified override of the state’s 2 percent cap on school property taxes by allowing a school board rather than the public to start an override with a 60 percent majority.

Nixon said: “I think if a municipality wants to increase taxes on itself to pay for something like schools that we should not make it so onerous.”

Currently, residents of a school district can exceed the 2 percent cap, with a 60 percent margin during the budget votes but Nixon is suggesting that 60 percent of a school board could vote for a higher increase. 

The Cuomo campaign criticized the suggestion. Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Fashouer said: "That's not a cap. It is undoing the cap." Cuomo often points to the cap as an accomplishment meant to protect homeowners from rising taxes.
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Monday June 4, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Gretchen Swanson and Neil Tolhurst)

In the news tonight: Malloy Expresses Reservations About Insurance Mandate For Pregnant Women; Cold Spring sixth grader organizes environment rally in Wooster Square; As Hurricane Season Opens, Pressure Mounts to Update National Flood Policy; Krupinskis, influential East End couple aboard fatal plane crash
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Daniela Altamari reporting for the Hartford Courant:
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday expressed serious concerns about a bill to expand insurance options for pregnant women.
 Praising the bill for its “public policy goal,” Malloy also predicted that it would destabilize the insurance market, causing premiums to rise.

The measure would allow women to sign up for health insurance when they learn they are pregnant, instead of waiting until an open enrollment period. Bipartisan advocates said that classifying pregnancy as a “qualifying life event” would help pregnant women gain access to prenatal care. 

Malloy did not sign the bill, a signal of his discomfort with the measure and the first time Malloy has allowed a bill to become law without his signature.

In a letter to lawmakers, Malloy said he took that approach to draw attention to the issue. 
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All the sixth graders in a New Haven private school had to do projects on sustainability. One student took his project one step further and organized a rally in a local park on Thursday. 
WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there.
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Sam Rosenberg, joined by classmates from Cold Spring School, his teacher, some parents and local activists, called on several speakers at the rally in Wooster Square, including a Yale professor, a representative of Sen. Chris Murphy’s office, and a member of the Sierra Club and of a New Haven group who are pushing for 100 percent renewables in the power sector by 2030 or sooner. 

Rosenberg was the wrap-up speaker.
(applause) "This is our fight. It is our responsibility to keep the environment healthy. It’s our fight to think about our impact to the climate. It’s our fight to do things that will lower our carbon footprints. It’s our fight to let our representatives know how we feel!"
Afterwards the 50 or so people marched around Wooster Square. (applause, cheering) It’s our fight!
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
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Newsday staff reports: 
Bernard Krupinski and his wife, Bonnie Krupinski, both 70, were among four people on board a small plane that crashed Saturday afternoon, in the ocean about a mile and a half south of Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett. Their grandson William Maerov, 22, and pilot Jon Dollard, 47, were also aboard. 

Bernard Krupinski was an East Hampton native and builder to the stars. Bonnie Krupinski was a developer and businesswoman. The couple’s influence was far-reaching, from board positions to social and political contacts, and among their many friends.

In statements released Sunday: 
Billy Joel said, “Ben was always a gentleman and a fair person to deal with. I liked him personally very much.” Martha Stewart said, “Ben and Bonnie were my friends from the moment I met them. They were generous philanthropists and supporters of East End businesses.” Stewart described Will Maerov as “an outstanding young man. I will miss each of them so very, very much.” 
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Andrea Riquier reporting for Market Watch:
A new report from CoreLogic, based on forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), nearly seven million homes are at risk of hurricane storm surge, 726,000 of them in New York.  

As it did in 2017, the National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire in the middle of hurricane season if Congress fails to act. Emergency management experts are calling on Congress to fix the 50-year-old program, which is billions of dollars in debt. 

Total reconstruction costs are forecast to exceed $1.6 trillion this year, an increason of 6.6% over 2017, due to higher costs for construction, equipment and labor.



Although the federal program is the only option for many homeowners in areas where insurance is mandatory, reform though private-sector options has proved challenging.  
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Thursday, May 31, 2018

May 2018

Reports for the month of May are currently unavailable although we plan to post them as soon as we can.

Monday, April 2, 2018

April 2018

Wednesday April 25,  2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors John Iannuzzi, Michael Zweig and Tony Ernst)  In the news tonight: Connecticut Jobs Gained by Incentives Overstated; candidate for Governor taps running mate from Connecticut’s “Gold Coast”; New York Assembly Hearings Examine Aid-in-Dying Law; Empire State Joins Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium
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Erin Stewart, the Mayor of New Britain Connecticut, announced her candidacy for Governor about 3 months ago. Since that time, the 30-year-old candidate has been playing catch up in the fundraising game with the plethora of other announced candidates. 

Stewart is halfway to the $250,000 threshold to get public financing. Yesterday she announced her running mate would be Peter Tesei the six-term First Selectman of Greenwich, the state’s wealthiest municipality. WPKN News asked Mayor Stewart is she chose her running mate strictly based on his ability to provide large donor dollars to her efforts 

Tesei, first elected Greenwich’s top official in 2007, could combine finances with Stewart if they each receive the party’s endorsement at the convention next month. 

Mayor Stewart’s inability to reach the quarter million dollar mark has kept her from participating in GOP debates in Connecticut thus far. 
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Rachel Silberstein writes in the Albany Times-Union that the New York State Assembly's health committee on Monday convened the first of two public hearings on a proposed law that would give certain terminally ill individuals who have less than six months to live the option to use medication to die in their sleep if their suffering is unbearable. 

New York's Medical Aid in Dying Act would allow terminally ill patients who are determined to be mentally stable to end their lives using medication provided by a doctor. Patients argue that doctor-assisted dying is often the only alternative to a long and excruciating death. 

Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried cited growing interest as the impetus for further exploration of the issue. Oregon was the first to legalize medical aid in dying more than 20 years ago, and Washington, Montana, 

Vermont, California, Colorado Washington, D.C, and Hawaii have since followed. 
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David Lombardo in the Times Union reports: 

Along with five of its neighboring states, New York is joining a regional gun violence research consortium. 

The goal of the new partnership will be to collect and analyze data in order to reduce gun violence and potentially fill the research void from the 1996 ban on federally-funded gun violence research and will include the creation of a central database for use by the public.

In a statement Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “The consortium is a major step in our multi-state partnership to research responsible gun safety legislation and take new steps to prevent illegal guns from crossing state lines,” 

The coalition (a public-private partnership) also includes New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Puerto Rico.
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Tuesday April 24, 2018  (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors, Michael Zweig and Thomas Byrne)

In the news tonight: Judicial Nominations Cause Concern For Budgetary Reasons; Casino Inaction Sparks Inquiry; local elections boards tighten steps to secure balloting; Group for the East End Launches Online Wildlife Portal
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Christine Stuart of CT News Junkie reports:
The State of Connecticut has 30 Superior Court Judge positions to fill but may not have enough benches to seat them, no enough money, support staff, or even caseloads for them.  House Minority Leader Themis Klarides said: “Simply put, we cannot afford 30 more judges right now.”

The Judiciary Committee is currently vetting nominees within a budget from the Governor for up to 17 judges. Since each Superior Court Judge with support staff costs an estimated 300,000 dollars a year, Chief Court Administrator Judge Patrick Carroll III said it would cost an additional 4 million dollars to funding 13 more judges.  

With insufficient support staff to run the court room court session are very often delayed and “accommodating an additional 30 judges would be a challenge in most courthouse locations,” Carroll said.  

Klarides insists the state budget needs reworking and unsustainable new funding levels “that don’t make sense for the Judicial Department” be  removed. 
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Kenneth R. Gosselin reporting for Hartford Courant:
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s inspector general is probing the department’s decision to take no action on amendments to long-standing tribal casino revenue-sharing agreements with the state of Connecticut, an Interior spokeswoman confirmed. The state’s first commercial casino in East Windsor faces a legal obstacle without a decision.

The state’s third casino was intended to limit the competitive impact on Connecticut of the  MGM Resorts International casino complex, scheduled to open in Springfield in September. Approval for Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun to jointly establish East Windsor casino was conditioned on the amendments. 

On Sunday, Politico reported that Trump administration officials rejected 
recommendations from staff members for an approval, leading to the delay and that, “career staffers were circulating what they labeled ‘approval letters’ just 48 hours before their political bosses reversed course” and refused to either approve or reject the amendments. 
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David Lombardo writing for TimesUnion reports:
 Existing security efforts that go into New York’s special elections are being expanded to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act.
The local boards of elections, which administer elections, are required by the state to submit their certification testing software to an independent review.

Of particular concern are hacker attacks of New York’s voter database and statewide registry.  While New York's website wasn't targeted by Russian hackers in 2016, state Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin said: "We have basically reacted as if we were.”

Although the state Board of Elections received only $5 million of the requested $15 million for additional security upgrades, it has received $19 million recently appropriated by Congress, which will allow comprehensive assessment of the state’s vulnerabilities and establishment of a cyber-incident response team.

The upgrades should be in place for the 2020 presidential election.
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Beth Young reports in the East End Beacon that New York State has identified local species like black ducks, horseshoe crabs, and hard clams to be in need of protection. The state’s recently-released Wildlife Action Plan lists 366 “species of greatest conservation need,” of which 166 are deemed “high priority,” including many East End species.  

The Group for the East End has put together a new website, nyswap.org, which gives information about the animals at risk, what to do when you see an animal in distress, and how to get involved in monitoring their populations, restoring their habitats, and where people can go to spend time in nature.

DEC Region 1 Director Carrie Meek Gallagher said the website will be useful in helping the DEC communicate with other agencies, and with members of the public, to let them know how they can help with citizen science projects and habitat restoration.
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Monday April 23, 2018  (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Lee Yuen Lew and Neil Tolhurst)

In the news tonight: drug-related deaths rise in Connecticut as opioid prescriptions decrease; Murphy promotes ‘Medicare for Everyone’; better GPS warnings may help avoid New York overpass hits; Suffolk County Community College proposes $350 tuition hike
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Jack Kramer reports for CT NewsJunkie:
Despite Connecticut’s climbing rate of overdose deaths, a new report shows that the state has one of the most significant reductions in opioid prescribing. 

Contract research group IQVIA prepared the report that states opioid prescriptions in Connecticut went down about 27 percent over the last four years and 11 percent from 2016 to 2017. The number of drug-related overdose deaths in Connecticut topped 1,000 in 2017, the highest since the opioid epidemic began.

American Medical Association Opioid Task Force chair Dr. Patrice A. Harris said, “These statistics again prove that simply decreasing prescription opioid supplies will not end the epidemic.”

In 2014, the Connecticut State Medical Society launched an opioid committee that has worked with the AMA and other state medical societies to address legislation and regulation, including prescription drug monitoring programs, continuing medical education, restrictions on opioid use disorder treatment, and enacting naloxone access.
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Rick Brand of Newsday reports: 
Suffolk County Community College trustees proposed a $226.3 million budget last week. This would increase tuition for full-time students by a record $350 and up the county’s contribution by four percent. The move also set up a potential confrontation with County Executive Steve Bellone who told the school to include only a 1.5 percent increase.

SCCC officials said that without a four-percent boost, tuition could rise by $400, or cutbacks could be needed. The proposed budget, which increases spending by $5.3 million, would boost annual full-time tuition from $4,870 to $5,220. Full-time tuition at Nassau Community College is $5,102. NCC will not set its 2018-19 tuition until May.

A Bellone spokesman said the county executive will oppose a larger county contribution. He said the trustees’ budget runs counter to a study last year by the administration, legislature and college that called for an annual 1.5 percent increase for five years. 
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Friday April 20, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Trace Alford, Thomas Byrne, and Danniella Tompos)

In the news tonight: Connecticut Senator working to resolve tribes’ joint casino snag;
Connecticut considers homeowner tax to help crumbling foundation crisis; the largest opioid bust in Suffolk County history; New York Governor grants parolees right to vote
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Brian Hallenbeck reports for The Day:
Connecticut State Senator Cathy Osten remains confident the East Windsor casino the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes plan to build will come to fruition despite a snag in receiving federal approval.

The U.S. Department of the Interior failed to act on gaming-agreement amendments signed by the state and the tribes, and Osten is working to resolve that. Approval from the Interior is a condition of a 2017 law authorizing the new casino.

It's been suggested that the tribes could eliminate the need for federal approval of their gaming amendments by guaranteeing that they continue sharing with the state slot-machine revenues generated by Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun.

State Attorney General George Jepsen told legislative leaders that since the Interior Department has not approved the gaming amendments, "authorization to conduct casino gaming in East Windsor is not yet effective." 
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Jack Kramer and Christine Stuart report for CT NewsJunkie:
Connecticut House leaders revisited the crumbling foundation issue when they pledged to schedule a vote on a $10 fee for all Connecticut homeowners. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said if the bill passed, it would help as many as 30,000 homes. A mineral used in the concrete aggregate is now causing the foundations to crumble.

The state is setting up a captive insurance company to handle claims from homeowners staring at six-figure bills to replace their foundations.

Insurance Association of Connecticut president Eric George wrote to legislative leaders, “Traditional homeowners’ insurance covers sudden accidental losses. It is neither designed nor intended to cover slow deterioration or to serve as a warranty for construction materials and workmanship.” He said that’s why it’s unfair to increase costs for insurers to pay for the crumbling foundation problem. 
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Robert Brodsky for Newsday reports:
Federal agents seized more than 90 pounds of fentanyl and heroin from a Wyandanch  home Wednesday, the largest opioid bust in Suffolk history, and charged a major supplier to Long Island drug dealers.

Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said Drug Enforcement Agency agents executed a search warrant and recovered 33 bags of heroin and fentanyl, a $10 million street value.

Thirty-eight-year-old William Velasquez faces charges of operating as a major drug trafficker and criminal possession of a controlled substance. If convicted of all charges, he faces 25 years to life in prison. 

Sini said the amount seized equates to more than 1 million doses of fentanyl, the leading cause of fatal overdoses in the county. He said, “The number of lives that were potentially saved by this operation is tremendous. 
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Rachel Silberstein of the Albany Times-Union reports:
Convicted felons on parole in New York had their voting rights restored effective immediately per an executive order signed by Governor Cuomo Wednesday. The order directs the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to automatically pardon the electoral rights of about 35,000 convicted felons on parole.

The governor said: “It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have paid their debt and have re-entered society.” Republicans objected to the order, saying it bypassed the legislative process. Others supported the measure, stating that it is similar to voting rights for paroles in other states.

Cynthia Nixon, who is running against Cuomo in his re-election bid, criticized him saying: “Voter suppression in New York should have ended eight years ago.” 

The order is not permanent and only lasts as long as the Cuomo is in office. 
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Thursday April 19, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Mike Merli and John Iannuzzi)

In the news tonight: Connecticut state Senate passes minimum wage increase; Dick’s Sporting Goods will be destroying all assault rifles it has pulled from the shelves; and immigrants’ Advocates Push for Passage of Driver License Bill
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Christine Stuart writing for Connecticut News Junkie reports:
On Tuesday, the Connecticut state Senate forwarded a minimum wage increase to the House.The increase passed the Appropriations Committee 27-24.

The committee was largely divided along party lines, with Democrats supporting, and Republicans opposing.

The bill would raise the state minimum hourly wage from $10.10 to $12 on January 1, 2019; from $12 to $13.50 on January 1, 2020; and from $13.50 to $15 on January 1, 2021.
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Christine Stuart writing for Connecticut News Junkie reports:
A bipartisan agreement to give about 3,800 undocumented students in Connecticut the option to apply for financial aid sailed through the Senate yesterday and is headed to the House. SB4 passed 30-5. Senators Len Suzio, Joe Markley, Eric Berthel, Tony Guglielmo, and Scott Frantz, all Republicans, voted against the measure.

The bill is modeled in part on DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was created in 2012 to give temporary legal status to immigrants brought illegally into the United States by their parents or other relatives when they were children.

For years, since gaining the right to in-state tuition rates, youth leaders with Connecticut Students for a Dream have been coming to the state Capitol in their caps and gowns lobbying for access to financial aid.

They don’t have access to federal financial aid because of their immigration status, so the institutional financial aid is the only pot of money they may be able to access outside of private scholarships .As recently as last week, the students came to the Capitol to lobby during their spring break. 
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William Axford writing for Houston Chronicle reports:
Dick’s Sporting Goods says it will be destroying all of its assault rifles after the company’s pledge to remove them from its Field and Stream stores. 

A company spokesperson said in an email: “We are in the process of destroying all firearms and accessories that are no longer for sale as a result of our February 28th policy change. We are destroying the firearms in accordance with federal guidelines and regulations.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods removed “assault-style rifles” from its main stores after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.

According to a press statement from the chain, the rifles will also be removed from all of its 35 Field and Stream stores. The company has not said how many firearms it is destroying.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the rifles will be destroyed at the company’s distribution center and the parts will be recycled. 
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Andrea Sears reports for the Public News Service:
Immigrants and their supporters are calling on the state to pass a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for New York State driver licenses.The bill would authorize the DMV to issue standard drivers’ licenses without requiring a Social Security number and with restrictions on what information can be retained or shared.

Currently, people are driving unlicensed, unregistered and uninsured, with high risk of detention and potential deportation.  This is especially true in rural areas where, in the absence of public transportation, undocumented immigrants have few options for getting to work, shopping or transporting their children.

Emma Kreyche, organizer with Worker Justice Center of New York, points out that a more mobile immigrant community will improve the economy for everyone else. "This will generate fees and income for the state," she said. "We expect that our auto sales will increase, there'll be revenue from taxes, there'll be increased economic activity." Supporters also says that Empire State drivers would save on car insurance as more drivers buy policies.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia currently allow residents to apply for licenses regardless of their immigration status.
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Wednesday April 18, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Michael Zweig, Tony Ernst, Thomas Byrne and John Iannuzzi)
 In the news tonight: assistance for Bridgeport’s Minority Police Recruitment Efforts; Students Plan Another Walkout Friday; environmentalists in Southampton celebrate victory in battle to protect drinking water; and NYCLU Targets Long Island’s ‘School-to-Deportation’ Pipeline
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An on again off again ally of Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim is back in the fold, this time to assist in the Park City’s efforts to recruit minority candidates for an upcoming Bridgeport police test. 

Only In Bridgeport.com reports State Representative Charlie Stallworth has returned as a consultant to the Civil Service Office, to attract more Bridgeport residents to the police exam. Stallworth, a city minister, will be paid $2,500 for the next month. 

According to the Mayor’s office the scope of consulting includes grassroots outreach to local community groups and organizations to help reach and identify possible qualified candidates.  Stallworth will share information about eligibility, qualifications and requirements for Candidates through community forums, meetings, events, as well as provide one-on-one information sessions.

The exam will be announced on April 23. 
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Matthew Ormseth reports for the Hartford Courant:
One month after students in Connecticut and across the country poured out of classrooms to protest mounting gun violence in schools, those same young activists are hoping to sustain the momentum with another national walkout Friday.

The April 20 walkout was organized by Connecticut native Lane Murdock, a sophomore at Ridgefield High School. Murdock planned the walkout to coincide with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school massacre.Murdock’s plan calls for students to wear orange Friday, the color hunters wear, which means: ‘Don’t shoot’ 

At Ridgefield High, students plan to walk out of class and make for the football field where they can register to vote and speak to their classmates on an open-mic basis.

In Connecticut, some other walkouts are scheduled for Newtown, Darien, Fairfield,  Staples, and New Haven High Schools, and on Long Island at Hampton Bays, the Ross School, Mattituck, Center Moriches, Shoreham - Wading River, Ward Melville and Centereach High Schools. The events are all planned for 10am on Friday. 
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Joan Gralla of Newsday reports:
A New York Appellate Court ruled recently that the Town of Southampton can regulate mining activities occurring within the town that may be polluting an aquifer. The appellate court overturned a town justice ruling and rejected the mining company’s argument that only the State could govern these activities.  

Said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the nonprofit Citizens Campaign for the Environment: “After 5 years of battling this, the Town now has the tools to fix the problem.” 

As a result of the ruling, the Town Justice must now rule on four violations issued to the quarry, Wainscott Sand and Gravel. The Suffolk County Department of Health is awaiting testing results of water samples which private testing has shown high contamination levels of heavy metals and other contaminants.

Other legal issues awaiting resolution include a State Supreme Court review of the Town’s request for an injunction to stop the quarry from crushing debris and a Department of Environmental Conservation determination on whether the quarry can expand its operations.  Representatives from the gravel company had no comment. 
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Jano Tantongco reports in longislandwins.com that the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed suit against the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) after it failed to respond to Freedom of Information Law requests for details about its role in the identification, arrest, and detention by federal authorities of immigrant students accused of gang involvement. 

The NYCLU reports collaboration between the SCPD, the South Country Central School District in Brookhaven, and federal immigration authorities has resulted in a “school-to-deportation pipeline,” through which children are being separated from families, detained, and ordered to be deported on dubious claims of gang involvement. 

“Eight months after filing our records requests, New Yorkers still have no answers from the Suffolk police about its role in the Trump administration’s immigration dragnet,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “During that time, ICE rounded up dozens of Long Island teens only to later concede they pose no threat.“ 
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Tuesday April 17, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Trace Alford and Michael Zweig)

 In the news tonight: Connecticut General Assembly examines its harassment policies;  Esty to refund certain campaign contributions; developer sues Southampton for $100 million over plan’s defeat; Governor Cuomo to announce artificial reef expansion off Long Island
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Mark Pazniokas reports for The Connecticut Mirror:  
The Connecticut General Assembly examined its policies on sexual conduct during a hearing Monday hosted by the Legislative Management Committee. House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a Derby Republican, says the goal was to “learn what we’re doing well and what we can improve on.”  

The subject has touched Connecticut politics: U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty recently ended a campaign for re-election over her handling of a harassment complaint against her former chief of staff, Tony Baker.   

Formal complaints of harassment at the General Assembly are rare. Senator Paul Doyle, a Wethersfield Democrat, says he assumes that is due to concerns over job security and whether the complaint process is welcoming to employees who feel victimized.  

Jonathan Griffin of the National Conference of State Legislatures says the policy should have a clear definition of sexual harassment and provide confidentiality to the greatest possible extent. 
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Rob Ryser reports in Connecticut Post that U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty is giving money back. The embattled three-term Democrat, who dropped her re-election bid after news broke that she covered up an office abuse scandal, had nearly $1.6 million in campaign cash on hand at the end of March, according to the latest filing with the Federal Elections Commission.  

How many refunds Esty winds up making will come down to how many supporters request their money back. Federal election law does not require candidates to refund contributions designated for the primary election, which accounts for as much as 85 percent of her campaign money, her office estimated.  The only contributions that must be refunded if a candidate drops out of the race are those designated for the general election, the FEC says. 

Tim Daly, her chief of staff, noted that Esty is returning primary contributions to voters who request them. 
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Vera Chinese reports for Newsday: 
The developers behind a proposed seasonal East Quogue golf community filed a $100 million lawsuit against Southampton Town, seeking damages for the town board’s denial of the project.  

The lawsuit challenges the town’s denial of developer Discovery Land Co.’s proposed 118 seasonal units and golf course. The lawsuit names the town, the town board, Councilman John Bouvier and Councilwoman Julie Lofstad who voted against the plan.  

With the 3-2 vote, the board did not have the supermajority needed to approve a mandatory zoning change.  Two weeks after the project’s rejection, Discovery filed a pre-application for a similar plan that included an 18-hole golf course, which developers said as a “residential recreational accessory” would not need a zoning change or town board approval.
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Mark Harrington for Newsday reports:  
Governor Cuomo will announce today on Long Island the largest expansion of the state’s artificial reef program. Material from the demolished Tappan Zee Bridge and decommissioned vessels will be submerged in waters around Long Island.  

Nearly 50,000 cubic yards of cleaned bridge material, jetty rock and 29 former canal vessels will be added to six existing underwater reefs. Five reefs are in the Atlantic Ocean and one is in Long Island Sound.  Work will start in May and continue through the summer.   

Not everyone approves of the plan. New York Fish director Daniel Rodgers says: “They’re just trying to hide their garbage for free, and patronize New York fishing interests while doing it.” His group is pushing the governor to more aggressively fight the state’s low share of the fluke fishery and to reform its permitting system.
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 Monday April 16, 2018  (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Neil Tolhurst, Gretchen Swanson and Lee Yuen Lew and WPKN reporter Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight: dueling groups protest Syrian bombing on New Haven Green; first African-American woman to brew beer in Connecticut; Riverhead hospital, police and EMS stage massive active shooter drill; vaping on the rise in Riverhead
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Two groups with different views regarding Syria faced off on the New Haven Green Friday evening, just before President Trump announced a “limited” bombing campaign against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. 

WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has more:
The ANSWER Coalition staged a small rally that focused on criticizing the U.S .role in Syria. Chris Garaffa said Assad’s army had rid the country of ISIS and an al Qaeda affiliate.

"This really isn’t as much about Assad as it is about U.S. imperialism. Assad is the democratically elected leader of Syria. Even the Syrian Communist Party itself has said that in this time of crisis we need to stand with Assad against the foreign invaders. And we’ll take up the further struggle after we’ve gotten rid of the foreign invaders."

Down the block, a handful of people who identify with the loose-knit CT Syria Group, said they do not support U.S. intervention, but they are opposed to Assad, whose election they argue did not represent the Syrian people. 

Sina Moravej, an Iranian-American, opposes Iran’s and Russia’s support for Assad:  
“A lot of people who talk about Syria fall into this narrative that we either have to support U.S. intervention or we need to support anti-imperialists. But the true anti-imperialist position isn’t represented, because I’m trying to give a voice to a very vibrant revolution that existed in the country, that rose up as part of the Arab Spring to oppose totalitarianism, authoritarianism.”

His group walked to the site of the ANSWER rally and handed out leaflets stating their opposition to U.S. military action and supporting seven non-military options, including air-dropping food and getting the International Criminal Court to charge the Assad regime with crimes against humanity. Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
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Claire Dignan reports for ctpost:
Alisa Bowens-Mercado is the first African-American woman in Connecticut to brew beer and one of only a handful brewing craft beer across the country. She got into the craft beer scene to pay homage to her grandmothers, who she remembers drinking beer as they sat talking together. 

Bowens-Mercado owns Rhythm Brewing Co. which produces an unfiltered lager, Rhythm, at Overshores Brewery in East Haven. 

Unfiltered beer means “keeping the good stuff in,” Bowens-Mercado said. Rhythm sold out 100 cases in only two weeks, the mark of a very well-selling beer. Filtration removes the yeast, while the pasteurization “cooks” the beer, killing any microorganisms that escaped the filtration. 

Excessive filtration can strip away “the natural goodness of beer,” according to Beer Magazine, and “take out color, hop bitterness and proteins that add body and help form the beer’s head.” 
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Denise Civiletti Reports for Riverhead Local:
In Riverhead on Saturday, more than two police and emergency services agencies held a massive training exercise at Peconic Bay Medical Center. While the hospital and emergency department remained open and fully operational, they staged a mass shooting drill in an administrative wing.

A handgun shooter enters the simulated emergency room. Within three minutes, 25 people — patients and staff — are shot and injured. Police respond in under a minute, locate the shooter and shoot him dead. Victim-actors, mostly student volunteers, are transported by ambulance to Brookhaven, Southampton and Eastern Long Island hospitals.

The drill tested the ability to bring a number of resources into Riverhead in a short period of time. Hospital, law enforcement and emergency officials all said they were very pleased with the result. 

Hospital CEO Andrew Mitchell said: “We conduct other, smaller-scale drills throughout the year. We learn from these drills, assess our response and improve procedures.” 
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Denise Civiletti reports in Riverhead Local:
At a community event by the CAP Community Coalition in Riverhead, CAP executive director Felicia Scocozza said that parents of teens and other older adults are often unfamiliar with vaping.

Vaping is the increasingly popular practice of inhaling aerosol produced by an electronic device known as an e-cigarette or vape pen. Vaping materials are manufactured and marketed by big tobacco companies with names and flavors attractive to kids.  Student presenters reported there are more than 500 brands of e-liquids.

Besides nicotine addiction, the long-term effects of vaping are still unknown although Scocozza said “…preliminary research shows damage to lungs, brain and heart.” CAP surveys indicate roughly half of Riverhead HS seniors have tried vaping and 20% said they did not consider e-cigarettes harmful.

New vape stores in Riverhead are causing great concern although CAP community prevention specialist Kelly Miloski said “… compliance checks around town…found 100 percent compliance.” Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said the town will investigate how other municipalities have dealt with these issues.

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Please note: Posts for the week of April 9 is not currently available.  We hope to complete the update shortly.
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Monday April 2, 2018  (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Neil Tolhurst, Gretchen Swanson and Lee Yuen Lew)

In the news tonight:  

Breaking news: Representative Esty has just announced she will not run for re-election;

Democrats Join Calls For  U.S. Rep. Esty To Step Down; Trumbull electrifies as more drivers go green; New York passes $168 billion budget; school threat reports surge in Suffolk and Nassau

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Russell Blair and Neil Vigdor report for the Hartford Courant:
The top Democrat in the state Senate, Martin Looney, joined other Democrats calling for U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty to resign over her handling of acts of domestic violence by a since-fired chief of staff against a former aide.

Tony Baker remained on Esty's payroll for three months after Esty learned of the allegations of abuse involving aide Anna Kain before firing Baker. Kain was granted a restraining order against Baker, whom she once dated, after she signed a sworn affidavit that he punched and threatened to kill her.

Baker received a $5,000 severance payment and a favorable recommendation from Esty that led to his hiring by the Sandy Hook Promise group.

  
Esty said she will not quit over the scandal. 
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Sophia Kunthara reports in Connecticut Post: 
Trumbull is rolling out its first two publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations at Westfield Trumbull Mall.

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, DEEP, supports electric vehicle infrastructure for air quality, health and climate reasons. DEEP spent $1.1 million between 2013 and 2017 to help ensure electric vehicle drivers can easily access chargers while driving. 


By 2050, DEEP plans to reduce emissions by 80 percent from 2001 levels. Electric vehicles are part of that plan, but still a small fraction of cars on the road. DEEP offers up to $5,000 in cash incentives for purchasing one.Connecticut has more than 300 publicly accessible charging stations. But most in Fairfield County are clustered around the I-95 corridor. Trumbull, Monroe and Newtown lack publicly accessible chargers. 


The two new electric vehicle chargers, located near Lord and Taylor, are the result of a partnership between Westfield Trumbull Mall and CT Green Bank.

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Rachel Silberstein of Times Union reports:
Lawmakers finalized New York's $168 billion 2018-19 spending plan less than 24 hours before the April 1 deadline. The final document includes measures to protect New Yorkers from federal tax changes, sweeping sexual harassment legislation, $26.7 billion in education aid, and $12 million for the city of Albany to plug its 2018-19 budget gap.

Calling this spending plan his most difficult, Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted the $4.4 billion budget deficit facing the state and that the recent federal tax overhaul has capped state and local tax deductions known as SALT.


Stripped from the spending plan were controversial policy items from Cuomo's 2018-19 agenda including the Child Victims Act, the DREAM Act, early voting and the bump stock ban.


Provisions in the budget include the creation of a $100 million opioid stewardship fund and a voluntary retirement plan for employees of private employers. More than $13 million were added for agriculture programs along with support for environmental, veteran and health issues.

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Joie Tyrrell reports for Newsday:
Officials say the number of threats against Long Island schools reported to police have surged this year, most notably since the Parkland mass shooting. Police have investigated each threat. Most have not resulted in charges, and some have proved to be unfounded.

Describing people as “hypervigilant,” Suffolk County acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron said: “I absolutely encourage people to report it to the police…we thoroughly investigate every one of them.”


Suffolk police reported 189 threats so far this year, 74 reported since the Florida shooting. In comparison, a total of 104 threats were reported last year.


Law enforcement and schools also report threats originating outside the region that directly or indirectly reference Long Island schools and that spread rapidly through social media. 

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