In the news tonight: Bridgeport Democrats end their feud to beat a rival candidate; a locally grown label for produce becomes law in Connecticut; and, Long Island’s East End seeks more tourism funding.
Joseph Ganim’s potential return to the Bridgeport mayor’s office he disgraced more than a decade ago gave Democrats Bill Finch and Mary-Jane Foster a reason to end their years-long feud, according to the Connecticut Post.
Finch ended his bid for a third term as mayor Tuesday and endorsed Foster, co-founder of the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team and a University of Bridgeport vice president.
The truce came just under two weeks after the September 16 Democratic primary.
Despite Ganim’s 2003 conviction and seven-year prison term for running a pay-to-play enterprise out of City Hall, he won the primary, triggering the truce.
It took Ganim until this New Year’s Day to publicly admit his guilt and apologize, just in time for him to launch his comeback.
Foster campaigned as an outsider running against career politicians birthed by the city’s Democratic machine. Now, Ganim has the machine and veteran Democratic Town Committee Chairman Mario Testa on his side.
While Ganim’s victory was impressive, only 13,000 of the city’s 40,000 registered Democrats turned out to vote in the primary.
Voters will now choose Foster, Ganim or the Republican candidate, City Councilman Enrique Torres, on election day.
Connecticut farmers are celebrating a new law that takes effect October 1st which imposes more exacting standards on labeling foods, including vegetables, as Connecticut-grown.
Stacia Monahan of Stone Gardens Farm in Shelton, who was one of the driving forces behind the new law, joined Lt. Gov.Nancy Wyman and Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky at her farm Tuesday to celebrate the new legislation.
Monahan lobbied state officials because local farmers could not compete with sellers who purchased produce wholesale elsewhere and labeled it local.
The legislation was approved and signed by Gov. Dannel Malloy on July 1.
Farm products sold as “Connecticut-grown” at a farmers’ market must now be labeled with the name and address of the producer.
In addition, anyone advertising farm products as “native,” “native-grown,” “local,” “locally-grown” or “Connecticut-Grown” must furnish written proof within ten days of the sale that they were grown or produced within a ten-mile radius of the purchase.
The Suffolk Times reports that members of the East End Tourism Alliance asked County Executive Steve Bellone to increase the amount of tourism funding they get from a three-percent county room occupancy tax at a meeting in Riverhead Tuesday.
Currently, the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau gets just 24 percent of the money raised by the tax, capped at $2 million, according to Bryan DeLuca, the president and co-founder of East End Tourism Alliance.
Last year the tax it raised $9.1 million, of which the LICVB received $2 million.
Just under 30 percent of the money goes into the county’s general fund, and under county law the rest is used to support cultural programs relevant to the tourism industry, museums and historical societies and the care and maintenance of historic structures.
DeLuca said the tax does not supply enough money for a marketing budget in one of the most expensive media markets in the world.
Tonight’s debate between Riverhead Town Supervisor and Town Justice candidates has been cancelled following the death of Republican candidate Jodi Giglio’s mother.
The event, hosted by the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, has been rescheduled to Thursday Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Jamesport Meeting House.
Newsday reports two transportation delays:
The Ronkonkoma and Port Jefferson branches of the Long Island Rail Road were experiencing delays of about 10 minutes in both directions Wednesday afternoon because of congestion caused by a broken rail near the Westbury Station. This is the latest in a series of service delays the railroad has experienced this month.
And on the North Fork, Main Road – Route 25 - was closed after a Suffolk County Transit bus was involved in an accident in Southold just before noon today. No injuries had been reported at press time.
Tuesday, September 29 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford and Chris Cadra.)
In the news tonight: Violent crime is down in Connecticut; Bridgeport/Stratford’s Remington Woods office park is decades in the making; New York State agrees to fight for Plum Island preservation; and, Cuomo names members to Common Core panel.
Violent crime in the Connecticut dropped almost 10 percent in 2014 compared to the year prior, according to an FBI report issued Monday.
Only New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island reported a greater drop in violent crime.
While Governor Dannel Malloy acknowledged homicide numbers this year in Hartford have already eclipsed the 2014 numbers, he said the overall year-to-date violent crime rate continues to decline.
According to Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora B. Schriro, the new crime statistics reflect the lowest rate of violent crime since 1974. She said the rate of crimes committed with guns in 2014 was 16.7 percent less than 2010.
Malloy said it’s too soon to determine how much of that drop can be attributed to the 2013 gun law increasing the number of guns banned in Connecticut and prohibiting the sale of large ammunition magazines.
The Connecticut Post reports:
Development plans for the 422-acre property known as Remington Woods in Bridgeport and Stratford are beginning to take shape.
Used for decades as a munitions-testing ground, the site is fenced off with 24-hour security. After the sale of the Remington Arms Co. in 1993, the Sporting Goods Properties subsidiary of the DuPont Corp. took ownership of the site, and has been cleaning up the property for its eventual redevelopment as the Lake Success Business Park.
With up to five more years before the site is fully remediated, the current priority is finding and disposing of unexploded ordinance. About 80 percent of the ground surface has been safely cleared of UXO.
DuPont says the site will be a major source of new jobs while maintaining the majority of the property’s natural features. In April, DuPont, along with the mayors of Bridgeport and Stratford, unveiled a development plan that includes several large office buildings, several commercial flex buildings and a hotel-conference facility.
Development is not expected to begin until 2020 on most of the site, though some portions of the Stratford parcel could see redevelopment as early as 2017.
Elected officials from Southold Town, Suffolk County and advocacy groups are urging a New York State Assembly committee to preserve Plum Island.
The federal government owns the 840-acre island off Orient Point and is required by law to sell it in the next five to seven years. The island currently houses a Department of Homeland Security animal-disease research center.
State officials want to preserve the area as open space and avoid damaging its unique, diverse ecology. They are concerned the island could be sold to a private buyer and developed, thereby destroying the island’s natural habitats.
At Monday’s hearing, conservation supporters brought up several strategies to stop the sale to a private entity, including lobbying Congress to revoke the act to sell the island, or selling it to New York State or a non-profit group focused on preservation. If necessary, supporters would consider filing a lawsuit against the government.
North Fork Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo said the state would try to block the sale to the wrong owner.
Governor Andrew Cuomo named members to a Common Core review panel and called for fewer standardized exams Monday, but gave no sign of rolling back his controversial initiative to tie test scores to school closings and teacher evaluations.
Amid growing boycotts of standardized tests, Cuomo said the Common Core task force -- the second he has created in less than two years -- would conduct a "top to bottom review" of the state's academic standards, curriculum and exams. Richard Parsons, former chairman of Citigroup and Time Warner Inc., will lead the review.
One critic said the governor's program would do little to slow the "opt out" movement unless he de-emphasized the use of student test scores to evaluate schools and teachers.
In April, parents statewide pulled more than 200,000 students in grades three through eight out of testing in English Language Arts and math.
Monday, September 28 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Scott Schere.)
In tonight’s news: Bridgeport’s school-based clinics play an expanding role; Medford protests against a gambling outlet; the reporting date is pushed back on a drug-payment law; and, a New York State appeals court reversed course last week in a Southampton case.
Tisdale is poised to become the 15th Bridgeport school at which students can get an education and a throat culture under the same roof. According to the Connecticut Post, with the new Tisdale School-based health center, nearly half the students in the district will have access to virtually free health care at their schools, and in many cases free dental care and mental health services as well.
Optimus Health Care, along with Southwest Community Health Center, took over operation of the school-based clinics from the city health department in 2009.
The health center at Tisdale will open part-time to start, with a nurse practitioner, social worker and medical assistant. The hope is that it will become full-time in short order.
Charmaine Worthy, principal at Tisdale School, expects the clinic to help boost attendance, since students won’t have to miss school to go to checkups.
The cost to run the clinics is, for the most part, split between the state and the providers, who also tap federal grants and carriers of children who do have insurance. Combined, the clinics run by Optimus and Southwest get about $1.1 million from the state to operate.
State lawmakers, opposed to a planned video lottery and casino with 1,000 video slot machines in Medford, joined dozens of others Saturday morning in protest against the proposed gambling venue.
St. James Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, said: "Look, we're not prudes. We understand there is gambling . . . but we should not tolerate the expansion of gambling in the form of video lottery terminals to bail out political patronage machines that are the off-track betting corporations."
Sag Harbor Assemblyman Fred Thiele, said: “The negativity that comes with casino gambling far outweighs whatever benefits people think they see."
The protest was one of 125 events held nationwide in conjunction with the non-profit group Stop Predatory Gambling.
"A casino is inappropriate in Medford," said Brett Houdek, secretary of the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association, who also believes constructing a gambling venue violates Brookhaven Town code.
Medford resident Deanna Wade, 58, who attended Saturday's protest, said a casino would increase crime, traffic, cause gambling addiction and lower property values.
A Federal law known as the Physician Payment Sunshine Act requires public reporting of drug company payments to physicians and teaching hospitals. These incentives are alleged to influence the choice of drugs and medical devices prescribed by doctors and hospitals, often resulting in the use of more expensive drugs.
However, the Federal regulations ignored reporting requirements for payments to advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), who have prescribing powers comparable to regular doctors.
Connecticut attempted to close the gap by passing APRN legislation in 2014, calling for quarterly reporting beginning in July 2015. But that law was amended this spring and the effective date is now in 2017.
According to the Connecticut Post, the delay comes as an APRN at a pain clinic in Derby, Heather Alfonso, awaits sentencing on charges that she received kickbacks from the drug company Insys Therapeutics in exchange for prescribing a potent painkiller intended for cancer patients.
She admitted getting $83,000 in kickbacks from January 2013 until March 2015 and she has acknowledged that those payments influenced her prescribing of a potent painkiller called Subsys.
The charge of receipt of kickbacks in relation to a federal health care program carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.
A New York State Supreme appeals court reversed course this week, deciding that the Southampton Town Trustees are a separate government entity from the Southampton Town Board, a decision which will allow the Trustees to maintain control over their own finances.
According to the State Supreme Court Appellate decision, the Trustees are not required to turn over their revenues to the custody of the Southampton Town Board, as was mandated by a January 2014 court decision labeling them a division of the Southampton Town government.
With the successful appeal from the Trustees, the agency will not be subject to certain statutes that apply to the Town Board.
The decision maintains some of the rights of the board of Trustees, saying they have the right to control their own income which primarily derives from permits and dock fees, and money collected from selling dredged sand.
Richard Cahn, attorney for the Trustees said of the decision on Friday “They will not have to turn over their finances. They do not have to report to the Town Board, they do not have to follow the board’s instructions, they have complete autonomy.”
Friday, September 25 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Mike Merli.)
In tonight’s news: Republican lawmakers in Connecticut continue to push for a special session; a new partnership will allow Connecticut voters to register through AAA; proposed Southampton budget includes a zero percent tax rate increase; and, activists seek community support to preserve Plum Island.
Republican lawmakers continued their campaign Thursday to get Democratic lawmakers or Governor Dannel P. Malloy to agree to a special session to make changes to the state budget.
In addition to calling on Malloy and their Democratic colleagues to rescind a $63.4 million cut to hospital funding, Republicans also called for a repeal of some of the business tax changes approved in June as part of the two-year state budget.
They held their press conference in Fairfield, home to the General Electric headquarters.
GE announced in June that it was considering relocating to another state because of the changes Connecticut made to its business tax structure. Specifically, the company opposed the new unitary reporting requirement, which won’t go into effect until January 2016.
Unitary reporting requires multi-state companies to report their assets and profits in a more comprehensive manner to the state, which may increase their tax liability.
With the November 3 municipal elections approaching, Connecticut residents now have the option to register to vote at their local AAA offices.
This week, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill launched a partnership with AAA in which 14 AAA branch offices are offering voter registration services.
To register to vote, eligible residents can fill out a voter registration card at their local AAA branch. The cards will then be shipped to the state Department of Motor Vehicles for processing. Voters can also choose to mail their cards directly to their registrar of voters.
Merrill and AAA announced their partnership on Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day, in an effort to increase voter participation nationwide.
The deadline to register to vote, online or in person, is October 27. Polls will be open for municipal elections from 6am until 8pm on November 3 in most Connecticut municipalities.
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst proposed a 2016 budget on Tuesday that includes a zero percent tax rate increase for the sixth year in a row.
Her budget is proposed to total $91.1 million, up from $88.5 million last year. The budget must be adopted by November 20, after input from the town board and public.
The budget contains four new job positions throughout Southampton: two police officers, an environmental analyst in the Environmental Conservation Division, and a mechanic for the Hampton Bays Water District.
If adopted as is, the budget will carry a tax levy of $59.3 million, an increase from the $57.5 million levy in 2015.
The increase in the levy reflects an increase in assessed value on properties town-wide of approximately $2 billion or 3.5 percent.
Chris Cryder, special projects coordinator for Save the Sound, says that the preservation of Plum Island will depend largely on support from community members who oppose the federal government’s plans to sell it to the highest bidder.
Plum Island is currently on track to be sold off to the highest bidder to offset the cost of a proposed state-of-the-art facility in Kansas.
Plum Island operates the federally-owned Animal Disease Research Center. In addition, the island is home to a vast number of rare and endangered wildlife. The island is inhabited by 218 bird species and 16 rare plants.
Cryder has been traveling around Long Island, Rhode Island, and Connecticut giving presentations on the history of the 840-acre island, which is owned by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the General Services Administration.
He asked the public to write letters to local media outlets and to contact Governor Cuomo’s office to express support for the continuing preservation of Plum Island.
Thursday, September 24 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford and Kevin Brewer.)
In the news tonight: Connecticut borrowing approaches limit; casino border war flares up; Southold regulates fish farming; and, Southampton Trustees face major court fight.
The Connecticut Bond Commission is poised to put another $93.7 million on the state credit card next week when it meets to approve a number of projects.
The borrowing will bring it within $8.7 million of Governor Malloy’s self-imposed, $2.5 billion bond cap for the year.
Malloy told the three credit rating agencies in February that he’s increasing the amount of annual borrowing the state plans to do this calendar year to $2.5 billion.
Over the past two years Malloy, who controls the Bond Commission’s agenda, set a “soft” $1.8 billion bonding cap. He exceeded that cap last year by about $170 million.
In March, Malloy told Republican lawmakers that setting a $2.5 billion cap doesn’t mean the state won’t exceed that amount if it’s necessary. There are still two Bond Commission meetings scheduled before the end of the year.
Senator Scott Frantz, a Greenwich Republican, said Wednesday that the state continues to borrow at “too fast a rate.” He said he gets that interest rates are low, but the state still has to pay back the principal on these bonds.
Connecticut State Attorney General George Jepsen filed a motion for dismissal in U.S. District Court yesterday, in response to a lawsuit brought by MGM Resorts International.
The MGM suit seeks to block Connecticut's two tribal nations from working to open a third casino north of Hartford. MGM is opening a casino in Springfield, MA and doesn't want a Connecticut casino in the nearby I-91 corridor as competition.
The State suit counters that MGM is contractually barred from operating another casino within 50 miles--an exclusion zone that covers all of north central Connecticut.
While the two tribal nations have exclusivity deals with the state that allow slot machine operations, the Legislature did reject a request from the tribes for a third casino.
The state instead offered a measure that allows the tribes to negotiate with a community willing to host a casino, and then request state authorization to proceed with construction. Attorney General Jepson adds that MGM is free to apply for a new casino in the same way.
On Tuesday, the Town Board of Southold unanimously passed rules that limit aquaculture, or the growing of ocean life such as kelp and crustaceans for sale, to particular zoning districts.
While aquaculture is protected under state agriculture law, some residents, prior to Tuesday’s vote, took issue with permitting the practice in zoning districts that also allow homes.
Town officials said that if Southold didn’t have clear, local regulations, prospective business owners could sue and force their way onto properties.
Supervisor Scott Russell said the new codes ensure that aquaculture uses will have no impact on residential communities.
The rules focus on “land-based” aquaculture and do not affect water-based operations such as oyster farming in local waterways.
Karen Rivara, the president of the Long Island Farm Bureau’s board of directors, said the regulations were a good start.
The new regulations are expected to take effect later this fall.
The Southampton Press reports:
The Southampton Town Trustees are once again going to court, in what could be a final chance to preserve the Board of Trustees’ jurisdiction.
The Southampton Town Board voted on Tuesday to fund the Trustees’ appeal of three separate but parallel State Supreme Court decisions made in April.
The decisions claimed that the Town Trustees do not have the right to approve, or prohibit, erosion control structures along the oceanfront.
Lawsuits had been filed against the Trustees by the villages of Quogue and West Hampton Dunes, and by a contracter that performed work without a Trustees permit.
The decisions cited a 19th century state law that limited the Trustees’ authority over lands in Southampton Town, leaving them control over only fisheries, bay bottoms and activities in town waters.
The Trustees have traditionally held responsibilities on a portion of the oceanfront beaches as well.
Justice Mayer’s April rulings overturned a 2012 declaration by a State Supreme Court justice declaring that the Trustees could regulate activities along the oceanfront in the interest of protecting public access to the beaches and waters.
The Trustees maintain that access is jeopardized by the installation of hard protective structures buried in sand, and that such hard structures can impact other beaches nearby as well by worsening erosion.
Wednesday, September 23 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Anne Murray.)
In the news tonight: a report shows Black and Hispanic drivers in Connecticut are stopped and ticketed at higher rates; investigators focus on the real estate developers of the Stamford train station; Long Island’s unemployment is at the lowest level in eight years; and, Superstorm Sandy grants are set for New York’s fishing industry.
The Hartford Courant reports that Black and Hispanic motorists in Connecticut are pulled over at higher rates than whites and are more likely to be ticketed and have their cars searched, according to new traffic-stop data.
The Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project released data Tuesday on nearly 250,000 traffic stops between October 2014 and March 2015.
In April, it released a report on its first year of data which analyzed 595,000 traffic stops and identified 10 police departments and two state police barracks which found statistical evidence suggesting racial profiling.
The project is run by the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University.
Previous analysis by The Courant has shown black and Hispanic motorists are more likely to be ticketed than white motorists stopped for committing the same offense.
That same pattern exists in the newly released data for the six months ending March 2015.
When stopped for speeding, white drivers were given a speeding ticket 43 percent of the time, compared with 56 percent for black drivers and 59 percent for Hispanic drivers.
Politically connected real estate developers involved in the stalled half-billion-dollar expansion of the Stamford train station are reportedly the focus of a federal investigation into contracts in upstate New York, according to the Connecticut Post.
The offices of both Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Connecticut U.S. Attorney Deidre Daly declined comment Tuesday on whether an investigation into LP Ciminelli Construction of Buffalo, N.Y., includes a related real estate venture that was selected by the Connecticut Department of Transportation for the Stamford project.
New York news organizations have reported that investigators are looking into LP Ciminelli Construction, whose owner, Lewis Ciminelli, is a major contributor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
His brother, Paul Ciminelli, is president of the Williamsville, N.Y.-based family real estate company, which often works with the construction company.
Both brothers have given tens of thousands of dollars to Connecticut Democrats.
Requests for comment were not returned Tuesday by Ciminelli officials.
Newsday reports that Long Island's unemployment
rate fell to 4.5 percent in August, the lowest rate for the month in eight years, according to state Labor Department data released Tuesday.
The rate fell from 5.1 percent in August 2014, close to the economic definition of full employment, which is under four percent.
The number of unemployed fell to 66,600, down 7,700 from a year earlier and the number of employed rose to 1.42 million, up 25,700.
The rate drop came amid strong job growth, with the Island showing 20,500 more jobs in August, compared with a year earlier.
During most of 2014 and early 2015 the unemployment rate declined despite shrinking employment.
The unemployment rate declines were caused by people dropping out of the workforce, such as retirees or those who stopped looking for work, said Shital Patel, a Labor Department analyst.
But the August report showed an employment market strong enough to entice some of the discouraged workers back.
Three years after Superstorm Sandy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has made $3.6 million in grants available to New York fishing industry businesses that were impacted by the storm.
The grants will reimburse sectors of the fishing industry that suffered a loss of revenue due to the storm, including bait and tackle shops, for-hire fishing boat operators, marinas, commercial harvesters, commercial seafood dealers, shippers or processors and aquaculture facilities.
The Department of Environmental Conservation, in collaboration with the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, will administer the Superstorm Sandy Fishery Disaster Relief Program.
The owners of fishing businesses in eligible counties must complete an application by December 15 and provide documentation of more than $5,000 in revenue or gross income loss as a result of the storm.
Applicants can contact the DEC at 518.402.8044.
Tuesday, September 22 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Chris Cadra and Nadine Dumser.)
In the news tonight: A missed deadline knocks Finch out of Bridgeport mayoral race for now; Bridgeport’s gun buyback program collects 1,200 firearms; Governor Cuomo has plan to help convicted New Yorkers with re-entry; and, Peconic Green Growth launches pilot program for new septic systems in Suffolk County.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s plan to run as a minor party candidate after losing last week’s Democratic primary to former Mayor Joseph Ganim has come undone, according to the Secretary of the State’s office.
The Job Creation Party was widely seen as Finch’s back-up plan if he lost the primary, and he had announced immediately afterward that he would accept the minor-party endorsement.
However the deadline to do that was September 2, two weeks before the Democratic primary, thus leaving the two-term mayor without a place on the November ballot, said Secretary of the State spokesman Av Harris.
Finch also missed the deadline to file as a petitioning candidate. One of his remaining options includes running as a write-in candidate or, if another party-endorsed candidate resigns, he could have a shot at their ballot line.
Those other candidates are Republican Enrique Torres, and New Movement Party nominee Charles Coviello.
The Connecticut Post reports:
The Bridgeport police department held its third firearms buyback day of the year last Saturday, taking more than 100 guns off the street.
The department has bought back 275 guns so far this year, according to public safety spokesman Kevin Coughlin.
The department offered up to $200 for a working handgun, up to $100 for a rifle, and up to $400 for an assault rifle.
Since the buyback program began in 2012, a total of 1,200 guns have been turned in.
The goal is to take back more than 1,000 additional guns.
On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his administration would implement 12 recommendations aimed at easing re-entry and reintegration for New Yorkers with criminal convictions, according to the Times Union.
Cuomo tasked the Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration, created in 2014, with removing barriers that face formerly incarcerated people when attempting to re-enter their communities.
The 12 recommendations include adopting fair chance hiring at state agencies (applicants won’t have to disclose a conviction unless an agency has interviewed the candidate and is interested in hiring them); and, diverting some of the money sent to inmates to pay fees, allowing them to save money for use after their release.
The recommendations also address issues ranging from employment, to housing, to health care, making New York State a leader in the nationwide movement to successfully transition individuals who have served their time back into society.
For homeowners interested in a more environmentally-friendly septic system, Peconic Green Growth is offering to install eight alternative recharge dispersal fields as part of a pilot program with Suffolk County.
The new approach will replace leaching pits with a variety of setups that disperse wastewater higher up in the soil. That will reduce nitrogen that leaks into the soil and water; closer to the surface, microorganisms can process the element at a much higher rate.
PGG’s executive director Glynis Berry said nitrogen “could be reduced anywhere from 30 percent to over 90 percent compared to current systems.”
Denitrification is a “critical” issue on the North Fork: excess nitrogen can reduce the quality of drinking water, and when it runs into larger bodies of water, it can cause algal blooms that lead to massive fish die-offs, including the most recent instance in May.
Those interested in the pilot program can contact PGG at (631) 591-2402.
Monday, September 21 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers.)
In the news tonight:
A Connecticut judge scolds lawyers for delays in a suit against the state; New York State’s cash flow is increasing; Milford’s mayoral candidates hold their first debate Tuesday night; a North Fork nun gets to see the Pope live at the US Capitol; and, Francesca Rheannon reports on East Hampton’s plan to deal with climate change.
A trial that was scheduled for October 7 in a decade-old lawsuit against the state that could cost Connecticut taxpayers billions for alleged injustices in school funding has been postponed again, this time to January 11, according to the Hartford Courant.
The delay has prompted the new judge in the case, Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher, to issue a stern and unusual order saying he won't tolerate more delays, and will require strict standards of "courtroom decorum."
The judge wrote that both sides of the case “strictly follow the rules of courtroom decorum, including with respect to punctuality, speech, dress and deportment."
The plaintiff is a coalition of municipal officials and education advocates who claim that the state has short-changed poorer school districts through its education funding.
The case was filed a decade ago against former Governor Jodi Rell in her role as head of the state government, and in the years since it has bounced from state Superior Court to the Supreme Court and back again.
Moukawsher gave a schedule of 13 dates for preliminary matters such as filing of briefs and taking of witness depositions, between now and the January 11 start of the trial, adding that "no extensions of time beyond those permitted here will be considered.
As reported by the Albany Times-Union:
New York state is turning a profit.
A report released by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Friday shows that the state’s cash flow over the first five months of the fiscal year exceeded August projections by $609 million.
What’s more, state spending is $473 million below projections.That works out to about $5 billion in profits over the first five months of the fiscal year.
But, DiNapoli cautions, Wall Street’s volatility is leaving the state’s financial picture blurry.
DiNapoli said in a release: “With the state’s strong reliance on Wall Street profitability and the recent volatility in financial markets, the revenue outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year is uncertain.”
The Connecticut Post reports that Milford’s mayoral candidates will participate in their first debate at a free public forum that’s scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. this Tuesday, September 22, at the First United Church of Christ on 34 West Main Street in Milford.
The debate will pit incumbent Mayor Ben Blake, a Democrat, against his challenger, Republican and former alderman, Paula Smith.
Sister Margaret Smyth of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate has been invited by US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to hear the Pope speak during his first-ever visit to the United States next week.
Sister Margaret, who spends her life helping those in need, couldn’t be more excited by the honor and said Pope Francis has made a profound impact on mankind, for people of all beliefs and faiths.
Sister Margaret stated that the Pope “calls on all of us, to take a look at how we’re living our lives. It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or not, it matters if we are people of justice, of compassion. That kind of attitude is so important; it speaks to all people.”
Sister Margaret will be at the Senate building at 9 a.m. on Thursday and then will be escorted over to the gallery with all the others who received invitations.
The sea is rising along the eastern coast of the US faster than in many other parts of the world. Now, the town of East Hampton is set to consider a plan to deal with climate change impacts like sea level rise.
WPKN’s Francesca Rheannon reports:
"The town pledged to develop the climate action plan when it joined New York State's Climate Smart Communities program and asked the town's energy energy sustainability committee to develop the plan.
Committee member Gordian Raacke of Renewable Energy Long Island says the community faces substantial threats from climate change: "Our infrastructure, our community assets, our natural resources and public health are at stake so this is an issue that we as a coastal community take very seriously."
The climate action plan covers both mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. Under mitigation, the plans lays out how the town will meet its goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2020, not only in town-owned buildings and vehicles but also community wide.
On adaptation, the plan addresses protecting buildings, beaches and wetlands from the increased threat of climate change.
The climate action plan will be submitted to the town board on September 29. The earliest the town can vote on it is at the October 1 board meeting. The draft plan should be posted on the town's website soon.
For WPKN, I'm Francesca Rheannon."
Friday, September 18 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers.)
In the news tonight: Malloy congratulates winner in Hartford’s Democratic mayoral primary, Bridgeport is another matter; State eyes changes in bail system; in Riverhead the Guardian Angels recruit, and town will look for a new site for a medical marijuana dispensary; and, in Southold, Democratic Town candidates have a new ballot line, “Sustainable Southold,” in this November’s election.
With an appeal for Democratic unity in Hartford, Governor Malloy celebrated Luke Bronin’s capture of the mayoral nomination and praised the loser, Mayor Pedro Segarra.
But he hedged on how to respond to the victory by Joe Ganim in Bridgeport’s mayoral primary. Malloy was unwilling to embrace Ganim’s comeback after a prison stint or to endorse Finch’s candidacy as an independent in November.
Malloy said Wednesday: “I’m not doing anything on that race today. I have to have some conversations and take a look at it. The situation is an unusual one by national standards.”
The New Haven Independent reports:
If a judge sets a $20,000 bail for a relatively low-level crime, and the arrestee is poor, has no job, no credit card and no car—that person won’t make bail soon. And that person will wind up in state prison, not jail, because Connecticut has no county government system and therefore no jails.
Mike Lawlor, the governor’s undersecretary for Criminal Justice Policy and former co-chair of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee says the Malloy administration is on a mission to change that fact—and help thousands of lower-income people avoid getting stuck in jail for a minor arrest.
Over the next year, as the governor’s Second Chance Society law is phased in, the state will see a number of criminal justice issues addressed, including the state’s bail system, the way it works now and how it will change. The aim is to reduce the prison population, especially for those facing charges for low-level crimes.
Arnaldo Salinas of the Guardian Angels spoke last Sunday night before more than 500 people at Riverhead’s St. John the Evangelist’s Spanish Mass.
Salinas is the International Liaison for the neighborhood watch group.
He urged residents to get involved, to show solidarity as a community and help police prevent crime by being their eyes and ears.
The Guardian Angels were first invited to Riverhead by Town Supervisor Sean Walter.
They have patrolled a few times through downtown. Sunday night was the culmination of those visits by inviting residents to join their volunteer-based organization.
Salinas said that through their patrols, the Angels “are the eyes and the ears of the police,” and that sometimes they couldn’t wait for the [local] government or police to do it alone.
Salinas’ words resonated with 25 residents, who signed up for a future meeting to listen to the group’s mission in more detail.
In order to join, prospective members have to be over the age of 16 and be able to pass a background check that doesn’t list any major crimes.
Riverhead Town, Peconic Bay Medical Center and Columbia Care, a medical marijuana dispensary company, have agreed to look for a new location for a proposed dispensary.
At a meeting Wednesday night, there was overwhelming public opposition to a proposed moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the town.
The town had drafted a one-year moratorium on the dispensaries after learning in August that Columbia Care plans to open a state-sanctioned dispensary in a vacant building on Route 58.
People whose families have suffered from cancer, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury and were hoping for relief through medical marijuana, spoke against the moratorium.
After nearly two hours of testimony, almost entirely from medical professionals and the family members, the Board agreed to work with Columbia Care on a new site within Riverhead for the dispensary.
Felicia Scocozza, of the organization Riverhead Community Awareness Program, was the sole person who spoke in favor of the moratorium. She argued that the proposed location, was too close to the Riverhead High School.
After a petition drive of Southold voters, Democratic Southold Town candidates have won a new ballot line--“Sustainable Southold”--in this November’s election.
The candidates say they hope to use the ballot line to focus attention on their platform on sustainability issues, including overdevelopment, water quality and affordable housing.
Thursday, September 17 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Nadine Dumser and Kevin Brewer.)
In the news tonight: former felon takes Democrat Mayoral primary in Bridgeport; reforming Connecticut’s tax system; bow hunting for deer debated on Long Island; and, European telecommunication giant says it will purchase Cablevision and Newsday.
Bridgeport Democrats narrowly voted Wednesday to give a fallen ex-mayor a second chance.
The Connecticut Post says Joe Ganim’s uncanny popularity—despite seven years in federal prison on “pay–to–play” corruption charges—propelled him to victory over embattled Mayor Bill Finch in the party primary.
Final totals had Ganim at 6,264 votes and Finch with 5,859. The official tally includes 508 absentee ballots for Ganim and 722 for Finch.
Mary-Jane Foster, University of Bridgeport vice president, finished a distant third with 1,177 votes, unofficially.
Finch plans to make a third-party bid for Mayor in November which Ganim says he will challenge.
The public hearing held yesterday that was intended to discuss ways to reform Connecticut's tax system, instead became a critique of the $1.3 billion in tax hikes contained in Governor Malloy's two-year state budget that was approved earlier this summer.
While state tax panel leaders warned that its recommendations must be tax neutral--where a proposal to lower one tax must be offset by an increase in another tax--participants in the hearing largely objected to new rates and increased fees, without recognizing the need for tax neutrality.
State legislature Democrats and Malloy administration officials argued that the tax increases are not as oppressive or unfair as industry representatives claim.
More in line with the goal of tax neutrality was a call to periodically review the effectiveness of the $7.1 billion in tax breaks contained in income, sales and corporate taxes, a review that traditionally is not done.
Connecticut Voices for Children Director Ellen Shemitz said: "There is no reason corporations should have special status whereby they retain these tax credits indefinitely without review."
Officials of the Village of Head of the Harbor are considering allowing deer hunting, according to Newsday.
A public hearing was held Wednesday night in the village to potentially amend its firearms code to enable deer hunting by bow and arrow.
The amendment would be limited to areas designated by the village board of trustees, and hunting would require a village license in addition to a state DEC license.
Mayor Douglas Dahlgard said: "We're proposing a very limited action here, but some people may say that's a big step. It's a very divisive…topic."
Opponents were concerned about safety issues.
There is no deer census for the area and some people questioned whether a deer population problem even exists.
Residents with properties of about four to five acres say the deer are consuming the bulk of their properties' vegetation.
In addition to Head of the Harbor, Huntington Town and Belle Terre, north of Port Jefferson Village, are also discussing legalizing deer hunting. The East End towns and Brookhaven allow bow hunting of deer.
The New York Times reports that Altice, the European telecommunications giant, has agreed to purchase the Cablevision Corporation for $17.7 billion.
The purchase includes the Newsday and am-New York newspapers.
Earlier this year Altice purchased a St. Louis cable operator for $9 billion.
If approved, the deal would make Altice’s expanded American operations among the largest cable operators in the United States, behind Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications and Cox Communications.
The Times says that further consolidation could subject the deal to intense regulatory scrutiny.
Altice, founded and controlled by the 52-year-old French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, already operates big mobile and cable units in countries including France and Switzerland.
Altice is known for aggressively cutting costs to increase profitability in the companies it takes over, which has not always made for happy customers.
Wednesday, September 16 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Anne Murray.)
In the news tonight: Connecticut investigates the NRA’s campaign contributions; child advocate releases surveillance videos showing juveniles dragged into solitary confinement; a citizens group endorses a ban on summer beach drinking in Montauk; and, the plastic bag ban begins next week in East Hampton.
The Hartford Courant reports that the State Elections Enforcement Commission will investigate a claim by gun control advocates and family members of Sandy Hook shooting victims that the NRA violated Connecticut campaign finance rules.
The decision, reached Tuesday, means the complaint will be assigned to an attorney and examined.
The complaint alleges that the NRA's federal political action committee was used to fund contributions to candidates for state office in violation of Connecticut law.
The complaint was signed by Carlos Soto, whose sister, Victoria Soto, was a teacher killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting; Sarah Clements, whose mother survived the shooting; and Po Murray, the mother of four students.
It alleges that about $9,000 in campaign donations to Connecticut politicians came from the national NRA PAC.
The NRA said the donations were made from the Connecticut account.
Surveillance video from inside the state-run juvenile jails released Tuesday shows youths being forcibly restrained and dragged into solitary confinement, where some then attempt to injure themselves.
They were released by the Office of the Child Advocate as legislators grapple with the future of the locked jails.
Recent reports, including one from the child advocate, concluded that staff unlawfully restrained youths and that conditions were dangerous.
State Law only allows for the use of restraint and seclusion as an emergency intervention to prevent injury to an inmate or others.
The videos did not show the youths attempting to hurt themselves or others before they were restrained or confined.
On any given day, nearly 70 youths convicted of offenses not serious enough to land them in the adult corrections system are incarcerated at two facilities run by Department of Children and Families in Middletown.
In a statement Tuesday, DCF said it is committed to reducing the use of restraint and seclusion to the fullest extent possible.
The advocate found that one-quarter of youths at the DCF juvenile jails are restrained in any given month.
Newsday reports that a summer ban on drinking alcohol on the beach in downtown Montauk has been endorsed by a citizens group as the East Hampton Town Board considers measures to prevent the hamlet from erupting with unruly visitors again next year.
Members of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee voted Monday night in favor of a law that would prohibit drinking alcohol on the beach from midnight to 6 a.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
East Hampton Town Deputy Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc told the committee members at the Montauk Public School meeting that drinking on the beach has become a ritual for visitors who party at downtown bars.
He said police recommended that the board adopt some sort of ban on beach drinking because it adds fuel to the fire of the bad behavior.
Unruly partyers over this year's July Fourth weekend led to a record number of calls to police about various offenses, including public urination.
Nine months after East Hampton town adopted a ban on single-use plastic bags; the law is slated to go into effect next Tuesday, September 22.
East Hampton Village, Southampton Town, Sagaponack Village and Southampton Village have already implemented single-use bag bans.
Environmentalists have been urging the Southold Town Board to ban the bags, to no avail.
Riverhead Town, which contains most of the East End’s big box stores, does not appear willing to consider the ban.
In Southampton and East Hampton towns, any retailer caught breaking the ban will be fined up to $1,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 15 days.
The law is designed to encourage use of reusable bags, although merchants will be permitted to use paper bags.
The law does not ban produce bags; plastic bags that are more than 2.25 millimeters thick, which are considered reusable; bags used by fish markets and farm stands; and 100 percent recycled paper bags.
Tuesday, September 15 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford, Chris Cadra and Tony Ernst.)
In the news tonight: Absentee ballots foul Bridgeport primary; Connecticut’s propane tax for generators raises concerns; Suffolk Police swear in largest class in nearly a decade; and, Smithtown Supervisor foresees budget problems with state-mandated tax cap.
Absentee ballots for Bridgeport’s Democratic mayoral primary on Wednesday have stirred up trouble, according to the Connecticut Post.
Late last week, at the urging of the Secretary of the State, Bridgeport’s Town Clerk mailed 700 absentee ballots.
The original plan had been for the registrar of voters’ staff to hand-deliver absentee ballots to voters and then return them to the Town Clerk, to guard against fraud. Representatives from the campaigns of the three mayoral candidates could observe.
Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala said they should’ve stuck with the original plan, believing there wasn’t enough time for all voters to receive and mail back their ballots.
Critics argue that campaigns abuse the system, using the ballots to lock in votes ahead of Election Day by circulating them to unqualified voters and coaxing or pressuring those individuals to support a particular candidate.
Connecticut lawmakers want to change a tax on propane use. Currently, propane used exclusively to heat homes and businesses is exempt from an 8.81 percent tax, while propane supplied to generators, used for electricity, is not.
Connecticut residents in towns battered by recent storms like Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy who have purchased generators are subject to the tax.
According to David Daniels of Daniels Propane, exempt propane users account for about 800 to 1500 gallons of propane per year while those subject to the tax use approximately 12 gallons of propane per year to test-run their generator in the absence of a large storm.
Republican Senator Paul Formica of East Lyme finds the tax unfair and will sponsor legislation with Old Saybrook Representative Devin Carney during the 2016 session of the General Assembly to have the law changed.
A bill submitted earlier this year failed to get past the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.
Suffolk County swore in 106 new police recruits Monday, its largest class since 2006, Newsday reports.
During the ceremony at Suffolk County Community College's Brentwood campus Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told the recruits: "It is not an easy thing to be a police officer, particularly these days."
The recruits, part of the largest class since 2006, were admitted after the June 2011 police exam.
They will undergo months of rigorous training before graduating in April.
Three recruits interviewed by Newsday all agreed it is a tough time to go into law enforcement in light of the negative attention police have received nationwide. But they each said it's up to them to gain the confidence of the community.
There are 2,340 sworn officers, not including the new recruits, who are being hired under the police contract approved in 2012.
The hires cost $7.9 million and come from the 2016 police fund budget.
Bellone said Monday the selection of the next recruits depends on Suffolk striking a balance between what is needed to fight crime and what the county can afford.
Newsday reports: Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio recently cited concerns about producing budgets within the state-mandated two percent tax cap, predicting that future governments will face layoffs and steep service cuts.
He told the group meeting at Kings Park High School: "For example, it's not our fault that health care costs go up a half-a-million dollars [a year]."
Vecchio said in Smithtown's case, the town can only levy 0.73 percent more than last year's $55 million. That equates to about $400,000, which alone won't cover the health care increase.
Vecchio said about 40 town government positions remain unfilled after workers retired or quit, and the money for those jobs was allocated in the surplus account.
Surplus money is used to meet the tax cap, but the supervisor said that's a "double-edged sword" because bonding agencies have threatened to lower the town's credit rating if it funds budget using surplus money.
Smithtown will also lose anticipated revenue from mortgage taxes, which Vecchio had previously projected to be around $4 million, but is only about $3.3 million for 2016.
Vecchio said Friday that he does not intend to pierce the tax cap.
Monday, September 14 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Francesca Rheannon, Scott Schere, and Mike Merli.)
In tonight’s news: a new survey shows Connecticut business leaders are worried about the state’s economy; a new federal grant addresses untested rape kits in Connecticut; and, an Army Corps plan for dredging in Long Island Sound meets with opposition.
Most Connecticut companies earned a profit over the past year, but business leaders still worry about the state’s economy, tax burden, and other obstacles, according to a survey released last Friday.
In the past year, 63 percent of businesses report earning a profit, the largest share since 2006, according to the 2015 Survey of Connecticut Businesses.
The survey was released September 4th by BlumShapiro and the Connecticut Business & Industry Association at The Connecticut Economy Conference in Hartford. It was emailed to 5,500 businesses statewide in June and July and garnered 583 responses.
When asked to identify the major hurdles impeding their businesses, 43 percent of respondents named the state’s economy as the biggest problem , up from 34 percent last year, while 15 percent cited the tax burden, 12 percent said health care costs, 11 percent said the national economy, and 8 percent said regulatory costs.
When asked how lawmakers can help make businesses become more competitive, 53 percent of survey respondents said they should cut taxes. Another 22 percent suggested reducing the size and spending of government, and 21 percent said reducing regulations would boost competitiveness.
A $1.4 million federal grant to the Connecticut state crime lab requires the state to perform a comprehensive inventory of all backlogged rape kits in their custody, create a multidisciplinary working group from such fields as law enforcement, forensic laboratory personnel, prosecutors, and victim advocates; and designate a site coordinator to oversee the initiative’s implementation.
According to a July report by the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, 879 rape kits were sitting on the shelves of local police departments instead of being sent to a crime laboratory for testing. Among the state police barracks and major crime units, there were 32 untested kits.
Thirty-eight percent of those kits – named and unnamed – had been sitting there for more than five years.
The state crime lab, administered through the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, has received approximately half of the 879 kits from municipal police departments and the state police since the backlog came to light.
State law already stipulates that all rape kits should be sent to the lab for testing, but until this year state law has been silent on the timeline for transfer and testing.
A new law, which goes into effect October 1st, requires local police departments to transfer the kits to the state crime lab within 10 days. The lab must test the kit within 60 days.
The U.S. Army Corp of engineers is coming under fire from environmental groups and some local legislators for its plan to dump dredged sediments into the open waters of Long Island Sound.
Francesca Rheannon reports for WPKN:
"The sediments are being dredged from numerous harbors around the Sound, including industrial sites and urban areas. Environmentalists worry the plan will dump toxic materials into an estuary that is already struggling with massive amounts of pollution from septic systems, fertilizers and pesticide runoff...”
Kevin McAllister of the group Defend H20 explains:
“These harbors, particularly industrial harbors behave as sinks, so you could have heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, pesticides. The sediments themselves are very fine silts, so they themselves constitute a pollutant. So between the toxics, the fine sediments, you have serious environmental implications to water quality.”
Local fisheries could be affected, McAllister says, including lobster populations that are already being challenged by warming waters due to climate change.
The EPA has given the go-ahead for the plan.
McAllister says that contradicts the EPA's stated goal to clean up the Long Island Sound:
“There’s a longstanding management plan to try to address the pollution sources, the host of actions that are in play to ultimately bring back the health of Long Island Sound - this is a real contradiction.”
The Army Corps of Engineers will be holding two meetings next week to get comments from the public on the plan.
On Wednesday, September 16, a meeting will be held in Riverhead at Hotel Indigo on Main Street, starting 5:30pm.
On Thursday, September 17, a second hearing will be held in New Haven, CT. More information can be had on the Army Corps of Engineers website or at www.defendh2o.org
Friday, September 11 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Mike Merli.)
In tonight’s news: Connecticut gets a new training for registrars of voters; bids solicited for new tribal casino site; New York Governor proposes wider minimum wage; Judge rules Oyster Bay can’t ban day laborers from public sidewalks; and, a summary of primary elections held yesterday on Long Island.
The first-ever professional certification program for Registrars of Voters, who are in charge of Connecticut’s elections, begins on Monday.
Classes will be taught through the University of Connecticut School of Business, and the state’s 339 registrars will have to be certified within the next two years.
The certification process and training for registrars was part of legislation signed into law earlier this year to strengthen Connecticut’s elections.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said there have been discussions about developing a curriculum for registrars for years, but confusion and delays at her polling place in Hartford in 2014 may have created some additional momentum.
The legislation that creates the certification program also allows for the option to remove registrars in extreme cases of negligence or dereliction of duty.
The program itself consists of eight classes that are two to four hours each. A test is given at each class and the registrar must pass each with a score of 80 percent. They must pass a final exam with a score of 90 percent.
The tests for each of the eight modules can be taken twice and the final exam can be taken up to five times.
Cities and towns are required to pay for the new training, which costs $1600 per registrar.
Connecticut’s two tribal casinos staged a ceremony Thursday marking the start of a formal search for a community willing to accept a new gambling hall.
The new casino is designed to maintain market share against competition coming to Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, owners of Foxwoods Resorts Casino and the Mohegan Sun, want to jointly pick a development site and win local approval before asking the General Assembly in 2016 for legislative authorization that is less than a sure bet.
Pearce Real Estate was named as the agent to oversee an RFP process that will advertise the tribes’ requirements for a development site next month and close the process by the end of November.
Developers already have proposed sites in Enfield and East Hartford.
Workers and union organizers were cheering in New York City Thursday as Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his latest minimum wage proposal.
Andrea Sears reports for New York News Connection:
First the governor announced that the state Department of Labor has officially approved the recommendation to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to 15 dollars an hour.
But then he went a step further, saying that if fast food workers deserve a raise, then so do construction workers, home health care aids and taxi cab drivers.
Cuomo: "Every working man and woman in the State of New York deserves 15 dollars an hour as a minimum wage and we’re not going to stop until we get it done."
Cuomo will be asking the legislature to pass a bill increasing the wage from the current eight-dollars-seventy-five-cents an hour, phasing it in over three years in New York City and six years for the rest of the state, the same schedule as the raise for fast food workers.
A federal judge has ruled that the Town of Oyster Bay’s law banning day laborers from soliciting work on public sidewalks is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Denis Hurley ruled that the ordinance violates the First Amendment. He said the town's concerns about traffic problems could be addressed using existing state traffic laws.
Maryann Slutsky, who heads the immigrant advocacy group Long Island Wins, believes the law was less about traffic and more about unfairly targeting Latino immigrants.
Slutsky told New York News Connection: "It was targeted to the Latino day laborers who gather on street corners in Oyster Bay, and it was really kind of created to get those day laborers out of the town.The undertones there were really racism."
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto says the town's outside counsel has recommended appealing the ruling, but town officials haven't made that decision yet.
Venditto said the law was meant to address safety concerns about traffic hazards caused by day laborers gathering in various communities. Since being enacted, the law was never enforced because of the ongoing litigation.
From Newsday: A summary of primary elections held yesterday on Long Island:
In Islip, former Suffolk County Legislator Ricardo Montano, of Brentwood, led a slate of insurgent Democrats as he ran on the party's nomination for town supervisor against Thomas Licari, who has the backing of the Islip Democratic Party.
Licari won with 53% of the vote.
He will face Republican Supervisor Angie Carpenter in November.
In Riverhead, Supervisor Sean Walter lost in a GOP primary against town board member Jodi Giglio who has the town party's endorsement.
Giglio won with 51% of the vote to Walter's 49%.
Thursday, September 10 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Nadine Dumser and Kevin Brewer.)
In the news tonight: Unemployment still high among young people in Connecticut; Hartford Orchestra contract disturbs players; a New York bill would require companies bidding on state contracts to disclose employee compensation; Suffolk OTB wants court to force Town to permit Medford casino; and, today is primary election day in New York.
More than five years after the end of the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for Connecticut young people between 20 and 24 is still higher than 10 percent.
People are classified as unemployed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior four weeks, and are currently available for work.
Students are not counted in unemployment figures.
In 2010, young people in the state suffered the largest rate of unemployment of any age group at 16.2 percent. Since then, the rate has decreased until leveling off at 10.4 percent in 2013.
For young people between the ages of 25 and 34, the unemployment rate actually rose
Musicians and union supporters rallied on the steps of the state Capitol yesterday to air their dissatisfaction with a proposed new contract that they feel will destroy the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
The performers are union members of the Connecticut Valley Federation of Musicians and have been working without a contract since last year as negotiations have continued with the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, which houses and operates the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint with the Orchestra.
Union officials describe the proposed contract as a no-win offering that would cut the part-time musicians’ salaries by one-third, and alter evening rehearsal schedules that allow the musicians to hold daytime jobs.
Union officials say six-figure salaries for Bushnell management, including CEO David Fay's $369,000 pay, are being paid at the expense of the musicians.
The scheduled November 10 hearing date for the government's complaint against the Orchestra will be dropped, if a suitable agreement can be reached before that time.
New York News Connection reports:
Two state lawmakers say they'll introduce a bill to require companies bidding on state contracts to disclose employee compensation, including any difference in pay based on race, gender or ethnicity.
The bill is being drafted by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Deborah Glick. It would make companies submit equal pay reports, broken down by gender, race and ethnicity, as a condition to winning a bid on a state contract.
Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women of New York, says that would make companies assess whether they are paying their employees fairly.
“And,” Ossorio says, “it's a lever that the state has - therefore, taxpayers have - to take a look at pay inequality issues and try to deal with them."
The bill would use the same occupational categories as the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission but would not apply to companies with fewer than 100 employees.
The Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. has asked a federal bankruptcy court to force Brookhaven Town or the state to grant a building permit for a planned Medford gambling casino with 1,000 video slot machines.
OTB is depending on revenue from the video lottery terminals (VLTs), which were authorized under state law, to help the agency emerge from bankruptcy and turn a profit.
Brookhaven and Suffolk OTB had maintained that the state Gaming Commission had sole authority to approve the casino and that it was exempt from local zoning laws.
However, in a letter written on behalf of the Gaming Commission on August 10, the state General Services Office said construction of a new VLT facility in Suffolk had to have local approval.
Medford residents, who are suing to stop the casino from opening, concur with the Gaming Commission.
Today is primary election day in New York.
Voters have until 9PM to cast their ballots.
Wednesday, September 9 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Anne Murray.)
In the news tonight: gun-related suicides drop in Connecticut; union rallies to protest proposed job cuts at the Connecticut Department of Labor; New York state moves to revoke the license of a Southampton day-care center after two employees were arrested; and, Southold residents urge the town board to ban plastic bags.
Connecticut’s gun-related suicide rate has dropped by nearly 15.5 percent in the 20 years that permits and background checks have been required to buy a handgun, according to a new study.
It’s a stark contrast to Missouri, which repealed similar gun-safety regulations in 2007 and saw a more than 16 percent increase in firearms-related suicides.
The study, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was released by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Gun Policy and Research.
It showed that screening out those with histories of mental illness, drug abuse, domestic violence and criminal activity from obtaining handguns can also reduce the spur-of-the-moment opportunities that result in some suicides.
Casandra K. Crifasi, an epidemiologist and co-author of the study, said it was the first time a study showed a causal relationship between screenings and a reduction in suicide rates.
Union leaders have stepped up efforts to pressure the administration of Gov. Dannel Malloy to rescind 95 layoffs of Department of Labor employees set for the end of the month.
Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 269, rallied outside of the Department of Labor’s jobs center on Marne Street in Hamden Tuesday to urge the public to contact state lawmakers to express their concern over the layoffs.
Union leaders say the layoffs will lead to longer backlogs in serving the unemployed that could prevent people from collecting benefits in a timely manner.
Xavier Gordon, president of Local 269, said the layoffs are a mistake at this point in the economic recovery.
Malloy administration officials have said the layoffs are necessary because federal funding for the department is expected to decrease by $32 million over the next two years
The proposal calls for closing six of the 11 regional job centers and closing the unemployment call center in Hamden.
Newsday reports that the state has moved to revoke the license of a Southampton day care center after two of its employees were arrested late last month, stemming from reports of infant abuse.
The state Office of Children and Family Services confirmed that it moved on Saturday to revoke the license for Side By Side Child Care.
The two child-care workers -- Sarah M. Dawber, 23, of Patchogue and Kathleen W. Culver, 33, of Southampton -- force-fed and "slammed" infants to the ground, according to court papers.
Nine violations were issued to Side By Side Child Care after the arrests on Aug. 28.
Dawber is accused of grabbing an 18-month-old girl's head and forcing food into her mouth and police said Culver threw an 18-month-old boy to the floor.
Side By Side has 30 days to request a hearing to contest the proposed revocation.
Members of the North Fork Audubon Society and residents came before the Southold town board last night, asking for a ban on single-use plastic bags in town.
Anne Surchin of the North Fork Audubon Society, handed the board a petition with more than 1,000 signatures, and said 184 more had been collected on an online change.org petition.
Advocates of the ban painted a dire picture of the staggering environmental impacts of plastic bags and noted that East Hampton and Southampton Town have banned them.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said his concern was the burden Southold business owners would bear if the town adopted the ban and Riverhead did not.
He said unless Riverhead also agreed on a ban, it would not mean a level playing field for Southold business owners.
Councilman Bob Ghosio said he is willing to consider the ban and Russell said he was willing to consider the idea but not to committing to draft a law at this time.
Tuesday, September 8 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford, Chris Cadra and Tony Ernst.)
In the news tonight: Bridgeport mayoral candidate wants to see the city’s worst streets; Connecticut community colleges see a drop in enrollment; a school bus strike could affect dozens of Long Island students; and, New York State wants ideas on how to preserve Plum Island.
The Connecticut Post reports: Bridgeport mayoral candidate Joe Ganim wants to see all of the city’s broken sidewalks, torn up roadways and graffiti-covered buildings.
The former mayor, previously jailed for corruption, is once again campaigning to lead the city. He announced Monday that he’s holding a contest to find the “worst residential sidewalk or street” in Bridgeport.
Residents have until September 10 to post a picture on Ganim’s Facebook page. He said the winner will get the use of a small business to fix as much of the problem as possible.
The candidate said: “We have to demonstrate that public leaders care about the regular quality of life facing our residents and issues like fixing sidewalks and clearing snow are vital to daily life.”
Thousands fewer students showed up for the start of classes at Connecticut’s community colleges. The decline is a 6.1 percent drop since last fall semester.
Among the state’s 12 community colleges, Hartford’s Capital Community College experienced the largest enrollment drop. Other colleges with sizable decreases include Asnuntuck, Gateway and Quinebaug Valley.
College officials cite limited program offerings, rising tuition costs, a lower number of high school graduates and changes to the state’s financial aid program as reasons for the decline.
Budget officials anticipate $9 million less in revenue from student tuition and fees.
The college system plans to mitigate the shortfall through staffing attrition. The budget approved earlier this year already assumes major savings from staffing reductions.
Manchester Community College president Gena Glickman said contract obligations prohibit schools from doing more.
Because all but 350 of the system’s more than 4000 employees belong to a union, schools are restricted from laying off tenured employees—even if layoffs would better align college offerings.
Student enrollment is open for two more weeks. Last year, a few hundred students enrolled during the window.
Newsday reports: A labor dispute between one of Long Island's largest school bus operators and its drivers may shut down service in school districts across Long Island if the parties fail to reach a resolution at a federal mediation meeting Wednesday.
A strike would remove 1,200 drivers from about 800 buses that usually deliver students to and from Long Island schools daily during the school year, according to Timothy Lynch president of Teamsters Local 1205.
The union represents bus drivers who work for Ronkonkoma-based Baumann & Sons Buses Inc. and its affiliate, ACME Buses.
Lynch said: "There are hundreds of people making between $11 and $13 an hour and change. Our members are going to food pantries. Our members can't afford health insurance."
Dozens of school districts and many private schools, special needs schools and BOCES centers use Baumann/ACME to transport students.
The bus companies say they hope to reach a resolution through mediation Wednesday.
The Middle Country Central School District in Brookhaven says parents will be expected to find transportation if the strike does occur.
New York State wants your opinion on what the state can do to help preserve Southold’s Plum Island if the federal government goes ahead with plans to sell the 840-acre home of its animal disease laboratory.
The New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation is planning a public hearing in Farmingville this month on “what steps can be taken to preserve Plum Island.”
The hearing will be held in the Brookhaven Town Hall Auditorium at 1 Independence Hill in Farmingville on Monday, September 28 at 11 a.m.
Members of Save the Sound, an environmental advocacy group that is looking to preserve Plum Island, are drafting an argument that the sale of the island may not be constant with New York State law.
The Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation is asking all who wish to speak on September 28 to fill out a reply form and limit their oral testimony to 10 minutes. They’re also asking anyone who brings prepared comments to provide ten copies of their statement, either at the hearing registration desk or in advance of the hearing.
Friday, September 4 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Neil Tolhurst and Mike Merli.)
Governor Malloy suspends all state road and highway construction for Labor Day weekend; a new proposal seeks to stop storm water pollutants from reaching the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound; Southold and East Hampton debate deer hunting; and, Cuomo calls for review of school, curriculum, standards, and testing.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday that he was suspending all construction and paving on state roads and highways over the Labor Day weekend.
In a press release, Malloy said: “Even though we’re moving full speed ahead to transform our state’s transportation system, Connecticut holiday travelers should not have to worry about additional delays because of roadwork this weekend.”
The suspension started at 6 o’clock this morning, and will conclude at 8 o’clock Tuesday evening.
The Transportation Department is on track to resurface 340 miles of two-lane state roadway this construction season, with about 160 miles completed so far.
Construction season typically runs from April 1 through November 30 each year.
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) recently released a draft of its new proposal to stop storm water pollutants from reaching the Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River.
The new proposal reduces the street-sweeping schedule and catch-basin cleaning schedule. It also modifies the leaf management program.
According to attorneys for the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental group: “Storm water is one of the most significant sources of water pollution in the nation, at times comparable to, if not greater than, contamination from industrial and sewage sources…”
Dennis Schain, a spokesman for the DEEP, was quoted saying the agency has “made significant modifications” to the proposed permit and will hold an informational hearing to answer questions from municipalities and stakeholders.
The hearing will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, September 10, in the Gina McCarthy Auditorium at DEEP Headquarters, 79 Elm Street, Hartford.
Southold and East Hampton towns have both been busy in the past month debating the best ways to handle their deer-hunting seasons this coming fall and winter.
Each year, local authorities wrestle with the traffic dangers and the damage to local vegetation, but no long-term solution seems to be emerging.
Contraception, capture-and-spay and bow hunting programs have all been tried.
In Southold, the discussion has turned to a plea for more deer hunting, driven by many who’ve experienced the plague of Lyme disease.
In East Hampton, deer rights advocates have kept a watchful eye on the town board’s plans.
The North Fork Deer Management Alliance and the Southold Town Deer Management Committee met with the Southold Town Board at an August work session.
John Severini, a member of the Alliance, said that the numbers of deer still living in Southold after several years of active hunting has not diminished.
“At best we’re keeping the herd about the same. We think that’s an unhealthy level.”
Meanwhile, East Hampton Town is working on a new “selective deer hunting program” in which hunters who have been vetted by the town will be given sections of nature preserve properties to hunt.
The federal program that hired sharpshooters to cull the herd is not likely to return this year.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, citing growing parent opposition to Common Core testing, called Thursday for a sweeping review of the state's academic standards, curriculum guides and exams.
The governor's announcement made no mention of a related and highly controversial state policy that links students' scores on state Common Core tests to evaluations of teachers and principals. Cuomo has been a strong proponent of such job ratings, while leaders of the test opt-out movement have urged its elimination.
Cuomo wrote in a news release: "We must have standards for New York's students, but those standards will only work if people -- especially parents -- have faith in them and in their ability to educate our children. The current Common Core program does not do that. “
Cuomo said he would ask a group of academic experts, including the state's new education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, to make recommendations for changes in state policy within the next several months.
Cuomo said: "The fact is that the current Common Core program in New York is not working, and must be fixed… I am taking this action not because I don't believe in standards, but because I do.”
Thursday, September 3 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Kevin Brewer.)
Connecticut health insurance rates adjusted; more medical marijuana dispensaries coming; New York’s aging nuclear power plants may stay on-line to allow meeting federal air quality standards; squatters removed from abandoned Mastic Beach homes; and, the Shinnecock Pow Wow is back this weekend.
Health Insurance companies operating in Connecticut were met with a mixed bag of approvals and adjustments of their proposed rates for 2016 in decisions released by the Connecticut Insurance Department last Saturday.
Of 11 rate proposals filed by insurers, two were approved as submitted. Nine will require rate adjustments, with seven of those nine receiving approvals for rate hikes, but for smaller increases than proposed.
ConnectiCare Benefits will have to reduce their rates by 1.3 %, and HealthyCT was directed to raise their proposed rates that were deemed inadequate.
167,000 people obtain insurance in the state's individual insurance market, with 96,000 of those people purchasing policies through Access Health CT, the state's health insurance exchange.
But 72,000 Access Health CT customers will see no rate increases due to Federal subsidies of their premium costs.
Rate increases for all purchasers will vary relative to their age, their county, and the health care plan they have chosen.
The Connecticut Post reports:
The Department of Consumer Protection, which runs the Connecticut’s medical-marijuana program, on Tuesday issued revised guidelines for those seeking to apply for the next round of dispensary licenses.
Applications are due by 3 p.m. on September 18.
The new dispensaries would be in addition to the six already approved by the State.
The Department wants to put three new dispensaries in New Haven and Fairfield counties, where most of the state’s medical-cannabis patients reside.
Of interest to local groups, the applications being filed must include an air treatment system to reduce the off-site aroma of pot.
The revisions to the rules would also allow the four Connecticut producers to serve a retail function by opening dispensaries, under certain conditions.
Capital New York reports:
Governor Cuomo may have to keep the state’s struggling nuclear power plants open because of the revenue and jobs they generate for local municipalities and the pollution-free energy they provide. That’s according to a report by the global investment firm UBS.
The report did not evaluate the risks involved in operating the aging nukes.
UBS says closing them would increase air pollution rates since they produce energy that's carbon-free, unlike other power sources such as coal, oil and natural gas.
According to UBS, air pollution emissions would increase by about 7 percent if just one facility — the Ginna nuclear plant near Rochester — was shuttered.
That would also make it harder for the state to meet the tough new power plant emission rules set forth under the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.
Two other nuclear plants — the James A. Fitzpatrick and Nine Mile Point facilities near Syracuse — could soon be pushed into retirement and the Cuomo administration is actively working to close the Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester County.
The Village of Mastic Beach is cracking down on squatter homes and the people who illegally occupy them, according to Newsday.
Public safety officers have removed squatters from 13 homes since July.
By using affidavits from homeowners whose residences have been occupied by squatters, the occupants were removed before they were able to establish residency.
Under New York State's real property law, anyone living in a residence for 30 days or more is considered a tenant and can only be removed through a court eviction proceeding, which can take six months or longer, officials say.
Squatters must be first given a 10-day notice to "quit" the property. If he or she doesn't leave, the matter moves into the local district court.
Village officials say bank foreclosures on properties along with hundreds of homes that were damaged by superstorm Sandy in 2012 gave squatters ample opportunity to illegally move into many abandoned properties.
The Shinnecock Pow Wow starts Friday afternoon and continues through Labor Day weekend, at the reservation off Montauk Highway west of Southampton Village.
The Pow Wow was started by Henry Bess, the ceremonial Chief Thunder Bird, in his front yard on the reservation in 1947. It outgrew that venue long ago.
His daughter Chee Chee, Elizabeth Bess Haile, who passed away last month, started the traditional dance to the Lord’s Prayer which is continued by women of her family.
This year The Thunder Bird Clan is hosting a Handrum special.
Artisans, dancers and food providers from across the continent will be on hand.
The Pow Wow is a benefit for the Shinnecock Tribe and the Shinnecock Presbyterian Church.
Wednesday, September 2 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Nadine Dumser)
Governor Malloy touts natural gas; Igor Sikorsky honored with a monument; Long Islanders had a rough commute this morning; time running out for evicted mobile home owners; and, an update on primary elections.
Governor Malloy touted natural gas and hydraulic power as a way to energy independence at a conference of New England Governors and eastern Canadian premiers this past weekend, as reported by the Connecticut Post.
Malloy said more supplies of natural gas and hydraulic power “will make energy cheaper and more sustainable.”
Malloy maintained that much progress has been made in reducing carbon emissions linked to climate change, thanks to an increase in the supply of natural gas and less reliance on coal.
He said that Connecticut is working with neighboring states in an attempt to foster the transmission of more natural gas.
Malloy said that the high costs involved in expanding pipe lines are justified based on wintertime price swings in New England that have topped $5.5 billion a year, a figure that would pay for most of the transmission lines pending.
But environmental activists have been protesting plans to Invest in natural gas.
Jen Siskind of the Connecticut chapter of Food & Water Watch told WPKN’s Between The Lines in April that: “…fracked gas pipelines, toxic compressor stations, and a build out of infrastructure …is going to keep us tied to fossil fuels for decades to come.
What we need to do instead is move to renewable energy and we need strong leadership from Governor Malloy to get there.”
A permanent memorial to aviation pioneer and former Trumbull resident Igor Sikorsky will soon be landing in town. The name is familiar to local residents because the company he founded is still Fairfield County's largest employer.
The memorial, planned at Abraham Nichols Park on Huntington Turnpike, will pay tribute to the inventor of the modern helicopter and to his deep roots in Trumbull and southwest Connecticut.
The dedication will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday, September 24 with three of Sikorsky’s sons attending the ceremony, which is open to the public.
Today, the company Igor Sikorsky founded has 8,000 employees in the Stratford area and 15,000 globally.
In July, United Technologies agreed to sell the company to Lockheed Martin for $9 billion in cash.
The company later announced that Sikorsky will remain in its Stratford headquarters.
Sikorsky died at his home in Easton on October 26, 1972, and is buried in St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cemetery on Nichols Avenue in Stratford.
After nearly eight years fighting eviction, the remaining residents of the Syosset Mobile Home Park may have run out of time and options to stay in their homes.
A judge recently authorized eviction warrants, and the residents' Mineola attorney, John McGrath, said his clients likely have exhausted their appeals.
The park's owner, STP Associates LLC, started eviction proceedings in 2007 to make way for a development that a company spokeswoman at the time said was to include condominiums, rental apartments and a commercial area.
Residents say that for the first time, STP has offered them money to leave. But they say the offer -- $5,000 if they agree to leave by Sept. 19, nothing if they do not vacate by mid-October -- is a pittance compared to the cost of housing almost anywhere on Long Island and doesn't reimburse them for their homes.
Residents rent the land but most own their homes, which they say cannot be moved.
The mobile homes are an island of affordability in Syosset, where, according to Census Bureau estimates, the median home value is above $600,000.
The number of mobile home parks is decreasing Island-wide. Residents of a North Amityville mobile home community fought a losing battle to stay in a similar park that was taken over by developers last year.
Travel on the Long Island Railroad was disrupted this morning by a loss of power to signaling on the Long Island side of the east river tunnel, according to reports by Newsday and Patch.
The service problems resulted in large crowds at Jamaica and at subway stations in Queens.
It also stalled tennis fans heading to the U.S. Tennis Open at Flushing on the LIRR's Port Washington line.
At noon today, the railroad expected to restore service in time for the evening commute.
Here is an update on primary elections:
They will take place in New York towns on Thursday, September 10 and in Connecticut on Wednesday, September 16.
The dates were changed from the usual Tuesday due to religious holidays.
Tuesday, September 1 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford and Chris Cadra.)