Sunday, October 1, 2017

October 2017

Tuesday October 31, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford and Danniella Tompos)

In the news tonight: Malloy wants hospital tax fix; UConn looks at cuts in new budget;
Schumer decries delay on East River tunnel repairs; and, Suffolk D A election poll puts Sini ahead
The Connecticut Post reports:
Governor Dannel Malloy has asked legislative leaders to rewrite a portion of the spending package on the tax paid by Connecticut’s 29 hospitals. The governor requested the General Assembly reconsider a section of the budget to conform with language that would assure hundreds of millions of dollars in reimbursement for state hospitals.

Malloy wants the General Assembly to act before Wednesday to ensure the taxes Connecticut imposes on hospitals are properly reimbursed.

The multi-part hospital tax is based on total income hospitals received in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016 and sets a new tax rate based on a complicated calculus with separate in-patient and out-patient services.

The governor said that “the language is too rigid and needs to be replaced.”  Senate Republican leader Len Fasano of North Haven said he was told by hospital lawyers that the language of the bill was acceptable and would not jeopardize federal support.
CT News Junkie reports: 
In a letter to the University of Connecticut community, UConn President Susan Herbst says a hiring freeze and service reductions could be on the horizon following passage of the two-year, $41 billion state budget last week in Hartford, Herbst says the University can’t simply turn to philanthropy or external grants to shore up their operating budget.

While it will be painful, the $143 million dollar cut over two years, is much better than the $309 million cut the university faced under the Republican budget that passed with the help of eight Democratic legislators. At one point, UConn Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma even said he would give up his $2.4 million salary to help end the budget stalemate. Herbst indicated that the hiring freeze would still protect “research and meet teaching needs.”

Governor Malloy has until Wednesday to sign or veto the proposal.
Newsday reports: 
Senator Chuck Schumer is decrying Amtrak’s plan to put off repairing superstorm Sandy damage inside the East River tunnels until as late as 2025, more than a dozen years after the passages were flooded with corrosive saltwater. Schumer, who is credited with securing $432 million in federal funding to pay for the repair project, said it is not acceptable to delay the beginning of the repair effort or to set a completion date so far in the future.

Long Island elected officials and commuter advocacy groups are concerned about safety as the tunnels continue to deteriorate.

An Amtrak spokesman said they have been undertaking the planning, design and prep work forward. The next steps require the cooperation of the MTA and New Jersey Transit to schedule and fund the repairs.

Also, Amtrak said they prefer to wait until after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority 
Newsday Reports: 
Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, a Democrat, holds a 14-point lead over Republican attorney Ray Perini in the race for Suffolk County district attorney, according to a Newsday/Siena College poll. Sini leads Perini 46 percent to 32 percent, while eighteen percent of voters said they hadn’t decided or had no opinion.

The present Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota announced last week he will leave office as a result of his indictment on federal obstruction of justice charges.

Perini, 70, of Huntington, was a Suffolk County prosecutor for 14 years. Four years ago he challenged Spota in a Republican primary.  Spota, a Democrat, had been cross-endorsed by all major and minor parties for his last three elections. Sini, 37, of Babylon Village, was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District for four-and-a-half years.  He is presently Suffolk County Police Commissioner. 
Monday October 30, 2017   (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Lee Yuen Lew)

On the news tonight: Bridgeport Harbor Yard Amphitheater gets committee approval; what else is in the Connecticut budget; Senator Schumer criticizes MTA railroad safety system delays; and, East Hampton Trustees consider opposition to Methoprene to control mosquitoes.
The Fairfield County Business Journal reports: 
The transformation of Harbor Yard baseball stadium into a music amphitheater took a major step forward last Wednesday when the Contracts Committee of Bridgeport’s City Council approved a facility development and operating agreement.

The stadium will be turned into Harbor Yard Amphitheater and is scheduled to open in spring 2019. The stadium will be renovated to seat more than 6,000 people in a weather-proof setting, and will host 50 to 75 different events between April and October.

The project’s renovation budget is planned for $15 million, with the city contributing up to half of the budget and development company Harbor Yard Amphitheater LLC covering the remainder, including potential overruns.

A public hearing on the project is scheduled for October 30, and the full City Council is 
CT News Junkie reports:
Governor Malloy had five days to decide whether he’s going to sign or veto the bipartisan budget compromise, which passed Thursday 33-3 in the Senate and 126-23 in the House.  But the budget passed with what are considered veto-proof margins.

There are a lot of little changes in the budget that haven’t been reported yet and weren’t part of Thursday’s debate. For example, it eliminates a requirement for the Firefighters’ Cancer Relief Program to be funded by charges for the 911 system.

A spokesman for House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said the Program will be funded with money from the general fund. The program was created last year to help provide funds for firefighters who received a job-related cancer diagnosis. 

The budget would establish a 14-member commission to develop and recommend policies to achieve state government fiscal stability and promote economic growth and competitiveness. It also establishes a 13-member commission called the Connecticut Pension Sustainability Commission to study placing state capital assets in a trust and maximizing them for the state pension system’s sole benefit.
Newsday reports:
New York’s Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, pressured the Metropolitan Transit Authority or MTA, on Sunday to ramp up installation of automated safety technology on the Long Island and Metro-North Railroads, after the agency warned it might miss its current project deadline.

The MTA, is spending $1 billion to install the system, known as positive train control (or PTC), which increases safety by using radio transponders on trains and tracks to prevent crashes. After already delaying the date from 2015 by three years, MTA this month announced it needed more time.

Schumer said that PTC “will save countless lives” and that the new request by the MTA is unacceptable. Schumer said he still believes the MTA can get the system operational according to its current timeline, set for the end of 2018.
The East Hampton Star reports:
The Suffolk Legislature is expected to decide soon on the county’s 2018 vector control protocol. This will determine the methods used to reduce the number of mosquitoes in the County’s bays and estuaries.

Last year, the County agreed to try an experiment aimed at reducing the aerial application of methoprene, a mosquito larvicide, in Accobonac Harbor, rather than institute a ban. Water samples from the harbor, were analyzed for mosquito larvae, and spraying occurred based on the results.

At the East Hampton Trustees meeting last Monday, Kevin McAllister, of the environmental advocacy group Defend H2O, urged the trustees to reiterate their opposition to the use of methoprene.  The county used methoprene and Bti, a biological agent thought to be harmless to nontarget species, over approximately 18,000 acres in Suffolk last year. McAllister says Methoprene also kills other insects and crustaceans. Connecticut banned methoprene’s use in coastal areas in 2013.  Both New York City and Rhode Island have restricted its use in some areas. 

The 2018 vector control plan, which includes the use of methoprene, will be sent to the Legislature’s Council on Environmental Quality next month.If approved it will move to a public works committee and, in December, the full Legislature for a vote.
Friday October 27, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford, Keith Galgot, and Phil Hall)

In the news tonight: Connecticut tribal spokesman denies claims to bypass Indian Affairs; Harbor Yard Amphitheater project gets committee approval; Suffolk County DA resigns in wake of federal indictment; state of emergency in East Hampton for southern pine beetle outbreak
CT NewsJunkie reports: 
A lawyer representing a gaming competitor warned of a legislative effort to bypass federal approval of Connecticut’s first commercial casino planned on non-tribal land in East Windsor by the state’s two tribal nations.

MGM Resorts lawyer Ken Salazar alleges that state legislative allies of the tribal nations are attempting to insert language in the budget that relieves the tribes of federal Bureau of Indian Affairs approval.

Spokesman for the tribes’ joint venture Andrew Doba said, “reports of a ‘fix’ are completely false” and accused MGM of planting the story without evidence.

The East Windsor casino was intended to head off traffic to the MGM casino expected to open in Springfield, Massachusetts fall 2018.
The Fairfield County Business Journal reports: The transformation of Harbor Yard baseball stadium into a music amphitheater took a major step forward Wednesday night when the Contracts Committee of Bridgeport’s City Council approved a facility development and operating agreement.

The stadium will be turned into Harbor Yard Amphitheater and is scheduled to open spring 2019. The stadium will be renovated to seat more than 6,000 people in a weather-proof setting, and will host 50 to 75 different events between April and October.

The project’s renovation budget is planned for $15 million, with the city contributing up to half of the budget and development company Harbor Yard Amphitheater LLC covering the remainder, including potential overruns.

A public hearing on the project is scheduled for October 30, and the full City Council is expected to vote on the project November 6.
Newsday reports: 
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota announced Thursday he will leave office as a result of his indictment on federal obstruction of justice charges.

The Spota announcement came less than a day after the district attorney and one of his chief aides, Christopher McPartland, were indicted on federal charges accusing them of taking part in a cover-up of former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke’s assault of Christopher Loeb in 2012. Loeb had been arrested after Burke’s police vehicle had been broken into. Loeb was accused of stealing a duffel bag that contained a gun belt, pornography, sex toys and other items. If convicted, they each would face up to 20 years in prison. They pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Wednesday, and they were each released on a $500,000 bond.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said that Spota and McPartland should step down immediately. The governor probably will not appoint a replacement for Spota. 

The election to replace him is just two weeks away.
27east reports: 
East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell declared a local state of emergency Thursday due to a southern pine beetle infestation in a section of Northwest Woods.

Cantwell said the beetles have infested more than 2,000 pine trees on public and private land—more than twice the estimate made two weeks ago. 

The emergency declaration authorizes the town’s Department of Land Management and Acquisition to hire private contractors, in addition to other town staff, to cut down infested trees on town properties. It also allows Land Management staff to enter private property to inspect trees and cut down infested ones if need be, with the property owner’s permission.

Earlier this month, the Town Board granted East Hampton’s environmental analyst permission to apply for a Southern Pine Beetle Community Recovery Grant to help cover tree removal costs.
Thursday October 26, 2017   (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Nadine Dumser, Ramzi Babouder-Matta, and Mike Merli)

In the news tonight: Connecticut parents facing deportation receive good news;
Connecticut House of Representatives joins Senate in passing a state budget this morning; Long Island Power Authority to receive long-overdue technology and infrastructure upgrades; and. Suffolk County District Attorney charged with obstruction of justice.
A family from Meriden whose parents were facing deportation got some very good news on Tuesday morning. 

WPKN's Melinda Tuhus reports:
Jason Ramos says his parents got the word that an immigration judge in New York reopened their case seeking green cards. They have been living in the U.S. for more than 20 years, with two US-born sons. Their elder son had sponsored his mom and dad for green cards, to enable them to work legally. His father's employer had also filed a petition for a green card for Franklin Ramos
“My attorney said that we have very strong points in our case. He said the current administration threw everyone under the bus, whether you are a top priority or low priority with regard to deportation – whether you had a criminal record or paid taxes. The current administration just didn’t want to hear anybody out, regardless of their status in the community and whether they had citizen sons or not, or dire circumstances or hardships.”

Their next court date is December 29. 

Ramos said the family will celebrate with supporters and continue their work on behalf of others in similar circumstances.

Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
The Connecticut state House of Representatives joined the state Senate this morning in overwhelmingly passing the two-year $41.34 billion budget by a vote of 126-23. Ten Democratic legislators and 13 Republican legislators voted against the package negotiated over several weeks by their leaders.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) announced immediately after the vote that the vote margin was high enough to put into place the definition of a constitutional spending cap.

Connecticut voters told the General Assembly more than 26 years ago that they wanted a constitutional spending cap following the implementation of the first income tax in 1991. The General Assembly never followed through and adopted a definition, until today. Connecticut now holds the distinction of being the last state in the nation to approve a budget for fiscal year 2018.

Following today’s House vote, Governor Malloy’s office issued a statement saying the Governor and his staff are still reviewing the document.
The Senate passed the budget 33-3 at 2 o’clock this morning.This means both chambers passed the budget by a veto-proof majority.
Newsday Reports:
Badly needed technology and infrastructure upgrades are underway for the Long Island Power Authority after Hurricane Sandy caused the worst power outages that the LIPA electric grid had seen. 

LIPA has received $1.4 billion in federal funding to repair the grid and prepare for future storm damage. PSEG Long Island, a subsidiary of the Public Service Enterprise Group, has managed the LIPA grid under contract since 2014 and leads repair efforts. “Work is in progress across the Island and the Rockaways, with projects being completed in literally every town,” John O’Connell, a PSEG executive, told LIPA trustees recently.

The work includes installing thicker poles able to withstand higher wind speeds, replacing wires, and installing equipment that enables the utility to automatically shut off sections of the grid affected by an outage.

One former LIPA trustee who sat on the board during the difficult Sandy years called the improvements “substantial.”
Southold Local reports:
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota with obstruction of justice and witness tampering. Christopher McPartland,Spota’s chief of investigations,was also charged in the indictment.

Both officials are accused of obstructing the federal investigation of former county police chief James Burke. In 2012, Burke was accused of brutally assaulting a man who burglarized the police chief’s car, beating the victim while he was shackled to a piece of furniture in the interrogation room until he confessed. 

According to the indictment, Spota and McPartland attempted to cover up for Burke, meeting with him numerous times to discuss how they could conceal Burke’s role in the assault during the federal investigation. They pressured witnesses and co-conspirators to withhold relevant information and provide false information, including false testimony, under oath.

Their attempts to thwart the investigation were unsuccessful, however. Burke is currently serving out a 46-month prison sentence for deprivation of civil rights and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Wednesday October 25, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Liz Becker, Keith Golgot, and Alyssa Katz)

In the news tonight: agencies get involved in Connecticut Cyber Task Force; Open Enrollment begins in Connecticut’s health insurance exchange; FBI releases Sandy Hook killings files; and, Sessions to target MS-13 on Long Island with organized crime and drug enforcement agencies.
Connecticut now has a task force with the sole mission of investigating crimes in cyberspace. Federal, state and local law enforcement personnel announced the creation of the Connecticut Cyber Task Force on Tuesday. The task force is based at the FBI office in New Haven.

The United States Attorney for Connecticut, Deirdre M. Daly said the task force will work to identify and disrupt criminal organizations that utilize cybercrime behaviors to defraud companies out of money and information. It will also target criminal activity on the dark web used for drug distribution.

The FBI Special Agent in Charge, Patricia M. Ferrick, said this task force was created to address an increase in the frequency and number of cyber attacks in the state. Ferrick said: “The primary goal of the task force is to combine available federal, state and local law enforcement resources in Connecticut to address challenging and emerging cyber threats.”
The CT MIRROR reports:
Access Health CT, Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, is preparing for a shortened enrollment period that begins on Nov.1 and ends on Dec. 22 of this year.

Those who aren’t covered through their employment or government-run plans like Medicare and Medicaid are urged by Access Health CT officials to shop for a policy on the exchange from the two insurers that participate, Anthem and ConnectiCare. Many, but not all, will be eligible for subsidies that will offset the sharp increase in this year’s premiums. If you don’t have health care coverage in 2018, you’ll have to pay a fee when you file your taxes in 2019.

Under the Affordable Care Act, certain preventive services, including annual exams and mammograms, must be covered at no charge to a patient, regardless of the plan they choose.

A tool is available to explain the costs associated with each plan based on medical needs at
The Connecticut Post reports:
The FBI released a 1,500-plus page report on the Sandy Hook shootings case Tuesday in response to a Freedom of Information request. It is highly redacted, but its grim details are still haunting.

The release of the FBI documents, which a top prosecutor said Tuesday contain little new information for law enforcement, comes two months before the fifth remembrance of the Sandy Hook massacre and Newtown’s irreplaceable loss.

Nicole Hockley, who lost a son in the massacre, said she was reading the FBI documents with a sense of hope. Hockley, a founding director of Sandy Hook Promise, a Newtown-based gun violence prevention group said: “We are looking through all of this information to see if there is anything that could have pointed to an opportunity for intervention.  I hope this gives us some additional knowledge to point to signs and signals that were missed.”
Newsday Reports:
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has designated the MS-13 street gang — responsible for at least 22 killings on Long Island since last year — a new target for federal task forces that have historically focused on drug cartels and organized crime. Sessions, addressing a law enforcement conference Monday, said the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces will use the federal racketeering statute, or RICO, as well as tax and gun laws to take aim at MS-13.

Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini told Newsday that while collaboration with federal law enforcement partners has been key in suppressing the gang, his direct request to Sessions for funding for more prosecutors has not yet been granted. Additionally, Sini said immigration reform that creates greater monitoring and accountability in the controversial unaccompanied minor program, which has seen 5,000 young people come to Suffolk since 2014, is desperately needed. 

Police have said some of the victims of MS-13 violence in Suffolk came to the United States through the program. 
Tuesday October 24, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford and Danniella Tompos)

In the news tonight: legislators say they have a budget …but some details missing; Stratford joins Connecticut Education Association lawsuit; report shows New York schools need more minority teachers;  and, Long Islanders fighting FEMA for Sandy Underpayments
CT News Junkie reports:
Legislative leaders might be voting as early as Wednesday on the first bipartisan budget package in a decade.The details of what they will be voting on were still being drafted, but the announcement comes after legislative leaders worked until 1:30 a.m. to balance the package.

Legislative leaders announced this morning they had tied up all the loose ends to reach an agreement that might need a veto-proof majority to pass both chambers. Democratic and Republican legislative leaders decided to negotiate a budget among themselves without the help of Governor Malloy, who is expected to receive documents later today.

Last week Malloy refused to meet with legislative leaders until he was able to review a document. That document is expected to include a 45 cent increase in the cigarette tax and an increase in the hospital tax. 

Still to be decided are what happens with the municipal property tax on motor vehicles, how much money is swept from clean energy funds and the Green Bank, and what happens with the Education Cost Sharing grant formula.
CT News Junkie Reports:
The town of Stratford will join Brooklyn, Plainfield, and Torrington as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Governor Malloy and his executive order that eliminates or reduces education funding for 2018. Stratford is one of the 85 communities that received no Education Cost Sharing grant from the state on October 2. The town received $21.5 million in ECS funding in 2017.
The Connecticut Education Association filed the lawsuit earlier this month arguing that the governor should keep funding at 2017 levels, even though the state has no budget.The first pre-trial hearing where the parties will set a briefing schedule will take place November 6.
Governor Malloy has been operating the state under an executive order since July 1. The state has been without a budget for 115 days.
The Albany Times Union reports: 
According to a new report from the Education Trust of New York out this month,
for students of color, having a teacher of color has been shown to boost academic performance, increase the chances that a black student will be identified as gifted,cut down on suspensions and dropout rates, and improve a student’s hopes of attending college.

Ian Rosenblum, executive director of the Education Trust-New York, says 
“New York’s educator workforce does not come close to representing the rich diversity of the state’s students, leaving many Latino and black students without access to teachers or school leaders of the same race or ethnicity,”  

The group analyzed unpublished state data from the 2015-16 school year and found that just 16 percent of New York’s teachers are black or Latino compared to 43 percent of its students. 
Newsday reports:
Five years after superstorm Sandy devastated Long Island, hundreds of local residents are still fighting with the federal government over what they call underpayments on their flood insurance claims.

FEMA officials have said the agency has improved the way it handles flood claims, creating an independent office that advocates for policyholders and a toll-free phone number for help. Two years later, FEMA said that 87 percent of cases were resolved. 

Long Island homeowners and attorneys criticized the reviews as slow, bureaucratic, wasteful, and the added payments fall far short of what they have spent to rebuild. “Even the most fortunate homeowners do not get what they deserve,” said August Matteis, a partner in Weisbrod Matteis & Copley, which is representing about 1,200 homeowners. By the end of the grueling process, he said; “all you get is what you should have gotten in 2012.”
Monday, October 23, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Lee Yuen Lew and Neil Tolhurst)

In the news tonight: Connecticut Governor and State Treasurer offer caution on budget; New Haven Eyes Regulation of Airbnbs; Suffolk Contenders for D A Debate; and, Cuomo signs bill to provide help for firefighters fighting cancer
CT NewsJunkie reports: 
As they wait for legislative leaders to finish drafting a bipartisan budget proposal, Governor Malloy and State Treasurer Denise Nappier are issuing some words of caution. On Saturday, Nappier warned that the state may not have the cash to pay its bills if it spends more on capital projects than it can raise through bond sales. She said if that happens then the state would need to cover those capital project costs with operating cash, and that would require 
external borrowing. 

Legislative leaders said last week they’ve reached a tentative budget agreement that includes both a spending and bonding cap. However, by the weekend they had yet to release the language defining how they would accomplish both caps. Nappier also expressed concern about whether a cap would limit funding to state pension plans. 

In the past the state hasn’t always made the required payment, which has led to Connecticut’s state employee pension ranking among the worst funded in the nation.
The New Haven Independent reports:
Amid growing complaints from neighbors, New Haven is looking to start regulating the mushrooming Airbnb business in town — in such a way that they won’t land the city in court.

Upper Westville Alder Daryl Brackeen Jr. has submitted an ordinance amendment “concerning short-term rentals of residential locations,” 
to open up an avenue for alders to work with the Harp administration to deal with people who are renting out their homes as makeshift hotels.

City officials have been looking for the last six months at how to address houses that are used for Airbnbs according to city Building Official Jim Turcio says they have been getting complaints from every section of the city. The complaints are usually about cars with out-of-state license plates, parking in front of peoples’ homes and driveways, noise from parties, and trash.

Turcio said that last year there were 11,000 Airbnb rentals in New Haven. Currently there are no ordinances on the books that regulate such rentals.
Newsday Reports:
Suffolk County district attorney contenders - Democrat Timothy Sini and Republican Ray Perini - clashed Wednesday in a News 12 Long Island debate. They differed over how to fight gangs and drugs. 

Perini, a criminal-defense attorney, attacked Sini for campaign mailings, that said “He’s the man who took MS 13 down,” after the March 2017 arrests in the murders of two high school girls. But Perini, noting that the mutilated bodies of four young men were discovered in a Central Islip park in April, said: “You don’t declare victory in your campaign when you haven’t accomplished it. …..   MS-13 is still there.”

On the issue of opioid abuse, Perini, who once ran the Suffolk DA’s narcotics bureau, said he would use the “Kingpin” statute to get penalties of 25 years to life for drug sellers. Sini said: “We need to treat drug dealers like murderers ” and “not plead out cases on the cheap.”
The debate is available at the website
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Sunday that extends health care benefits to volunteer firefighters who develop certain types of cancer during their time with their department.

The new law does not go into effect until 2019.

It will provide benefits to volunteers who develop several types of cancer, including lung, prostate, breast, lymphatic, urinary, or melanoma cancer. 

Firefighters would have to prove that their entry physical exam did not show evidence of cancers covered under the law.  Also that they have at least five years of interior firefighting service and they are currently active or were active within the last five years
Friday October 20, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford and Keith Galgot)

In the news tonight: 
Connecticut compromise budget ups teacher pension contributions, cuts car tax; concerns surround Connecticut community college merger plan; minimum wage hike hits Long Island manufacturers; Pine Barrens increases surveillance to stop illegal dumping
CT NewsJunkie reports: 
Connecticut House Democratic and Republican leaders briefed rank-and-file lawmakers Thursday on the tentative compromise budget deal, and seem confident they can still pass a budget.

The compromise budget would have teachers contribute seven percent of their salaries to their pensions, a one-percent increase.

The Connecticut Education Association said teachers oppose the increase, which they call a tax. 

The compromise budget would also cap motor vehicle taxes at 39 mills in the first year and eliminate motor vehicle taxes completely in the second year. This would force municipalities to find efficiencies or shift the amount they receive from the tax to real property taxes. 
The Connecticut Post reports: 
A plan to merge the state’s 12 community colleges into one prompted more questions than answers Thursday when it went before the Board of Regents. The community college system would keep all campuses and satellites, but students would only need to fill out one application and one financial aid form.

The plan promises to save $28 million by the time it begins July 2019. The system would have only one vice chancellor and shrink 36 college administrative positions into 16. Some concerns voiced by present college staff include how curriculum is chosen and how student aid will be administered.

New England Association of Schools and College’s Commission on Institutions of Higher Education will review the proposal next spring.
Newsday reports: 
New York State’s new, higher minimum wage is leading to drastic actions by some Long Island factories. According to executives and government records, it has had a huge impact on factories that produce food or drugs, have small staffs or use low-skilled workers. In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, the minimum hourly wage rose from $9 to $10 on December 31, 2016, and will rise by another $1 each year until it reaches $15.

As a result, Yaphank’s picture-frame manufacturer Framerica canceled $3 million in building plans and equipment purchases. Shirley-based muffin maker Uncle Wally’s won $1 million in tax breaks after threatening to lay off a quarter of its workforce. Medical device company Chembio Diagnostics, with operations in Medford and Holbrook, will shift some production to Malaysia. According to Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Agency records, Framerica asked for additional tax breaks after the increase became law April 2016.

Supporters of the $15 minimum wage, including Governor Cuomo, dismissed the concerns of manufacturers such as Framerica and Uncle Wally’s. Cuomo recently told Newsday: “They are trying to exploit the situation to get government aid.”

Brookhaven IDA officials don’t believe the companies are bluffing: other companies receiving agency help have postponed or canceled expansion projects. 
East End Beacon reports: 
Central Pine Barrens Commission aims to stop illegal dumping by increasing surveillance. 

The commission’s new Compliance and Enforcement Division is watching popular sites in an effort to catch culprits in action. This week, the division charged a Middle Island man who officers caught in September dumping hundreds of bottles of expired energy drinks in a patch of state-owned protected woods. 

Commission Compliance and Enforcement Officer Mike Lewis said this marks his unit’s the first dumping arrest. The state Department of Transportation will clean up the site with the man charged paying for it. Lewis said, “We’re watching.” 
Thursday October 19, 2017   (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Nadine Dumser and Mike Merli)

In the news tonight: Connecticut lands spot in Top 10 least tax-friendly states; Legislative leaders in Connecticut reach tentative budget deal; New York Labor groups continue to pushback against proposed Workers’ Compensation Board changes;
and, a new study ranks New York 49th in the nation for business tax climate.
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
Every fall, Kiplinger’s, a publisher of business forecasts and personal financial advice, releases its Top 10 list of most tax-friendly states and least tax-friendly states.
Connecticut has made the Top 10 least tax-friendly states the last three years in a row, however, its ranking has dropped considerably between 2015 and 2017.

In 2015, Connecticut was the second least tax-friendly state. It dropped to third in 2016, and it dropped six more spots to ninth this year – a marked improvement.

However, David Muhlbaum, online editor at Kiplinger’s, said that’s related more to a change in methodology than to Connecticut’s tax policy

He said this year they used two sample taxpayers to calculate and compare the taxes in a given state and the impact it would have on those fictional taxpayers.
He said that caused places with certain tax policies to drop and others to rise in the rankings.
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
Legislative leaders in Connecticut emerged yesterday from a Democratic caucus room at the State Capitol to announce they reached a tentative framework for a budget deal they may need to pass with a veto-proof majority.

That’s because they’re uncertain whether Democratic Governor Dannel P. Malloy will support their bipartisan compromise. It’s unclear exactly what the budget deal includes.

Legislative leaders said they will make more information available after they present it to rank-and-file lawmakers over the next few days.
The Albany Times Union reports:
Yesterday, labor-backed groups and lawyers for the injured continued to pressure New York state’s Workers’ Compensation Board to back off on changes they say would shortchange countless people who are hurt on the job.

Activists in Buffalo, Brooklyn, and Hauppage, Long Island were set to go to local Workers’ Compensation Board offices with thousands of petitions against the new rules, which are undergoing a public comment period.

The petitions have also been sent to the Compensation Board’s headquarters in Menands.

At issue are changes to the way payments for some injuries would be made going forward.
Revision of the rules was mandated as part of the 2018 state budget agreement. With the Assembly Democrats squarely against the changes, the wild card could be the extent to which the Senate, controlled by a coalition of Republicans and the eight Independent Democratic Conference members, would during the 2018 legislative session join a push to force a delay or a revisiting of the rule changes.
The Albany Times Union reports:
A study released Tuesday maintains that New York State taxes are not only high, but they are also overly complex, inefficient, and bad for business. Only New Jersey, which is ranked 50th in the nation, has a more business-hostile tax system, according to the non-partisan but conservative-leaning Tax Foundation study.

Morris Peters, State Budget Division spokesman, says that New York has improved its tax picture since Andrew Cuomo took office. “[His administration] has been rigorous and effective in constraining state spending growth to the lowest level in modern history – resulting in lower taxes for all New Yorkers." According to the Tax Foundation, however, New York State is hampered by its multiplicity of high business taxes and remains uncompetitive compared to other states.

Competition for jobs and industry is often more fierce between states than between nations. “State lawmakers … need to be more concerned with companies moving from Detroit, Michigan to Dayton, Ohio, than from Detroit to New Delhi,” the study notes.
Wednesday October 18, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers)

On tonight’s news: Legislative Leaders set Wednesday deadline for Connecticut budget deal; Environmental Scores of Connecticut Lawmakers Drop; New York state adds reforms for those in solitary confinement in local jails; and, North Fork activists resist Trump agenda

After 13 days of closed-door negotiations, legislative leaders will have poured over more than 1,000 pages of budget line items and talked through their differences. House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, Republican of Derby, said Tuesday: “I think the last week has been the most productive,”

The arbitrary deadline they’ve given themselves was 2:30 p.m. today.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, Democarat of  North Haven, said they have 10 more items they need to negotiate before they will know if they have a deal.

Legislative leaders said they need 19 votes in the Senate and 76 in the House, and until they speak with their rank-and-file legislators they won’t know where they stand.

Democratic Senate President Martin Looney, from New Haven, said they could possibly vote by the middle of next week if they’re able to reach a deal, and he added that Senate Democrats and Republicans have scheduled separate caucuses for Monday, Oct. 23.
CT News Junkie Reports:
The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters releases a scorecard every year that ranks Senators and House members on how they voted on environmental issues.   And while no environmental issue dominated the headlines, the scores dropped considerably this year

House Democrats did better than Republicans on the environmental issue area, which some consider to be bipartisan in Connecticut.

Lori Brown, the league’s executive director said, “Too many members of the state legislature were complicit in attacks on environmental laws that protect our air, water, wildlife and public lands: “The increasingly divided political climate made it impossible for good bills to move forward.” The biggest defeat may have been the failure of the Senate to take up the constitutional amendment legislation to protect public lands.

Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. said, historically the Environment Committee was probably the most bipartisan committee, but all that changed
Political neophyte Laura Venugopalan founded the North Fork chapter of the progressive network "Indivisible" after the inauguration of Donald Trump.
She told WPKN News why she started the group and how they plan to un-seat Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin.
Venugopalan for Local News –d.wav  1:25 (Transcription to follow shortly.)
The New York Daily News reports:
New York State is adding more reforms for those in solitary confinement in local jails.

Among the new rule changes, anyone locked up in solitary must be given at least four hours a day outside the cell unless this would jeopardize security. Jails will also have to report to the state if a prisoner is given solitary confinement for more than a month and also when someone under the age of 18 is placed in solitary. The locally run jails must also report to the state within 24 hours any time “essential services” for an inmate are restricted or denied.

The new regulations must go through a public review comment process before being enacted.
Tuesday October 17, 2017  (Thanks to volunteers Trace Alford and Danniella Tompos)

On tonight’s news: Blumenthal Defends Press Freedom; Wall Street Issues Connecticut Another Warning; State to permit Puerto Rican teachers to work in New York schools; and, Bay Shore affordable housing aimed at LGBT seniors  
CT News Junkie reports:
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal asked the Federal Communications Commission on Monday, to publicly affirm its support for the First Amendment following President Trump's recent tweets calling into question media outlets for their news reporting. Mr. Blumenthal said the President's calls to revoke broadcaster licenses based on speech content are “an affront to the First Amendment and American values." 

Last Wednesday President Trump tweeted: "With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!"

Mr. Blumenthal said the tweets are an alarming disregard of the FCC's independence and show a "flagrant disrespect for freedom of the press." Mr. Blumenthal wrote to FCC commissioners asking that they reassure journalists that the FCC will stand up for them and protect and defend their fundamental freedoms.
CT News Junkie Reports: 
Wall Street issued a harsh warning to Connecticut policymakers Monday when it placed the ratings of 26 municipalities and three regional school districts under review for a credit downgrade.

The 26 cities and towns and three regional school districts include a mix of urban, suburban, and rural communities including New Haven, Bridgeport, Ashford and Hamden. 
All those communities face state funding cuts under the executive order that are equal to the amount of money they have available in their fund balance or cash.

Joe DeLong, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said Monday that: “This announcement highlights the past nine months of failures by the governor and General Assembly to enact a state budget. Sadly, this could have been avoided.”
According to the Albany Times-Union, New York schools are bracing for an influx of students from Puerto Rico who have been displaced by Hurricane Maria. Now, the state Board of Regents wants to certify teachers coming from the island to help instruct the youngest storm refugees.

The board on Monday was set to approve a temporary certification process for Puerto Rican teachers coming to New York. Under the proposal, those certified could begin teaching during this school year. Teachers also could begin the process for permanent certification.

170 of the island’s 1,100 schools have reopened. Another 227 were poised to open once debris is removed. But scores of school buildings remain without water or power, and others are still serving as makeshift shelters for those whose homes were destroyed in the storm.

There are 345,000 students on the island. Many families have sent their children to stay with relatives on the mainland. 
Newsday reports:
Islip Town Board officials have approved plans for an affordable housing complex in Bay Shore aimed at senior citizens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and their allies. Board members voted in favor of the project at their September 25 meeting, making way for the $30 million, 75-unit facility.

The project is planned for downtown Bay Shore, next to the LGBT Network’s current community center. The project, which will be anchored by a new, 8,000-square-foot community center for the network.

The four-story building will have 71 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments. Criteria for tenants are age — applicants must be at least 55 years old — and income. The units will be targeting tenants who make about $35,000 to $85,000 a year.
Monday October 16, 2017  (Thanks to volunteers Lee Yuen Lew and Neil Tolhurst.)

On tonight’s news:
Unions threaten Connecticut lawmakers over pension changes; the debate over New York Constitutional Convention;  and, group pushes town to landmark Plum Island lighthouse and fort
State employee unions warned the General Assembly to avoid pension changes that would lead to a court battle.

The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition's letter comes as legislative leaders push toward a bipartisan budget deal that could change worker pensions starting in mid-2027. Their chief negotiator urged legislators to consider raising taxes on Connecticut’s wealthiest households and on major corporations to help close projected deficits.

At issue is a Republican proposal to scale back pension benefits after July 1, 2027 — which would reduce required state contributions over the long haul — but take a portion of that savings now, in the new state budget. Senate and House GOP leaders, who built approximately $321 million in savings tied to this plan into their last biennial budget, assert it would survive a court challenge.

The labor coalition’s arguments echo those made by Governor Malloy, who said the GOP’s proposal also would constitute bargaining in bad faith on the part of state government.
Every 20 years, New Yorkers have the chance to vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention. The next vote will be held Tuesday November 7. 

Last Tuesday, October 10, an informational meeting and debate on the issue was held at the Riverhead Public Library. The event was sponsored by the activist group Indivisible North Fork, and moderated by a member of the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons.
Proponents say a Constitutional Convention would provide New Yorkers the opportunity to consider critical reforms that Albany has refused to undertake, independent from sitting legislators. These include voting reforms; reducing the influence of money on politics; ethics enforcement, and fair legislative redistricting. Opponents of the Convention say rights guaranteed by the present constitution would be lost if moneyed interests gain control of the process. 

At the Riverhead event, Art Chang of Citizens Union spoke for the Convention:
“It will be a progressive convention because the best advocates are sitting right next to me – the unions, and the conservationists, and the women’s rights folks and all the Indivisible groups who are newly activated to make sure that this is a progressive convention with the right checks and balances.

Paul Pecorale of New York State United Teachers spoke against the Convention:
"if legislators do their job we have the political will and political pressure to put on the legislature to make all the changes that we think need to happen  we will get to vote on them every November if we make that happen."

If voters approve the Convention on November 7, a total of 189 delegates from State Senate districts and 15 at-large delegates will be elected in November 2018.  
A complete recording of last Tuesday’s event is at  
Newsday reports:
Preservationists have asked the Southold Town Board to designate a pair of structures on Plum Island as official town landmarks. The Plum Island lighthouse and Fort Terry, which date to the late 1800s and 1900, respectively, are in need of repair.

James Garretson, chairman of Southold’s Historic Preservation Commission said that the landmark status would give the town better footing with the federal government to discuss repairs and preservation efforts for the structures. 

The government owns Plum Island and has put it up for sale. Town officials have said it would cost about $1.5 million to restore and repair the lighthouse. The lighthouse has both historic and architectural significance. Fort Terry served as a heavily armed coastal defense fortification before it was decommissioned in 1948.

Board members said they would reach out to other groups and officials who might support preservation efforts for the lighthouse and fort.
Friday October 13, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers (Thanks to news volunteers Trace Alford, Keith Galgot, and John Iannuzzi)

In the news this evening: Justice rules Connecticut not violating federal immigration laws; Millstone opponents say plant owner won’t pay fines to close early; another challenger to Lee Zeldin for Congress; judge hears arguments in Islip dumping case

CT NewsJunkie reports: 
The U.S. Department of Justice told Connecticut Thursday that it is not violating federal immigration law and should be eligible for a federal law enforcement grant. The new administration had mistakenly labeled Connecticut as a “sanctuary state.” 

Connecticut has taken the position that Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests are “requests” and not warrants or orders, and should only be honored if they are accompanied by a judicial warrant.

Senator Richard Blumenthal said the Trump administration’s “vendetta against so-called sanctuary cities in other parts of the country diverts resources for local law enforcement and it’s unconstitutional because it commandeers local police forces to enforce federal law.”

Connecticut Post reports:
If Millstone nuclear power plant closes before 2021, the owners of the Waterford-based facility could face fines up to $1 billion, according to a new report produced on behalf of the Stop the Millstone Payout Coalition.

The group, comprised of rival energy companies, says the fines associated with an early shutdown is an indication that Dominion Energy, Millstone’s owner, is bluffing about threats to close the facility if it does not get what it wants. Dominion wants to compete in Connecticut’s renewable energy procurement market. 

The Coalition contends Dominion does not need access to Connecticut’s renewable energy market because the power plant is already highly profitable.

A Dominion Energy spokesperson says they will continue “working with the Connecticut Legislature to ensure that Millstone continues to operate.”

Newsday reports: 
Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning announced Thursday she will seek the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Congressional representative Lee Zeldin next year.

Browning is a longtime Working Families Party member from Shirley who registered as a Democrat in May. She said her working-class background gives her an advantage over Zeldin and others seeking the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District, which covers eastern Long Island.

Browning has criticized the Republican attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and Republican budget proposals. She joins an already crowded field of Democrats vying to defeat Zeldin, including former county Legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher, and Perry Gershon, a Manhattan businessman who recently moved his voting address to East Hampton.

Progressive groups have protested against Zeldin and his support of President Donald Trump since the 2016 election.
Newsday reports: 
Defendants named in a $4-million federal racketeering suit brought by Islip Town over illegal dumping at Roberto Clemente Park argued Thursday that a federal judge should dismiss the complaints against them.

The suit originally named more than three dozen people and companies. But U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco dismissed a handful of defendants in March while allowing the town to file a new complaint.

Attorneys for some of the defendants, which include Thomas Datre Jr., who pleaded guilty in 2016 to four felonies relating to dumping in and around Islip, asked the judge to dismiss them from the case. Judge Bianco has not yet issued a decison.

Town attorneys argued that various parties engaged in an “enterprise” to unlawfully dump nearly 40,000 tons of contaminated construction debris, leaving the town with $4 million in cleanup costs. 
Thursday October 12, 2017   (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Nadine Dumser, Ramzi Babouder-Matta, and Mike Merli)

In the news tonight: Sandy Hook families granted appeal to entire Supreme Court; teacher’s union and communities challenge Malloy’s executive order; certain Connecticut charter schools permitted own-teacher certification by SUNY; New York residents to receive school tax relief checks in November
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
The entire Supreme Court agreed yesterday to hear an appeal by the Sandy Hook families against the makers of the AR-15 rifle. Oral arguments in the case have yet to be scheduled, but are expected to happen within the next few months.

The lawsuit filed by 10 families of victims wounded or murdered in 2012 by the gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School argues that Remington, the manufacturer of the AR-15 used by the gunman, was liable for the massacre of 26 first-graders and educators in less than five minutes.

The case was dismissed in October 2016 when a judge ruled that Remington is protected by federal law against claims when people misuse firearms. In court documents, the National Rifle Association defended the gun manufacturer.

The Sandy Hook families argue that Remington was liable and marketed the semi-automatic rifle to civilians like Adam Lanza, the 20 year-old gunman. Remington argues in its court brief that the gun was legally purchased in 2010 by Adam’s mother, Nancy Lanza. They additionally argue the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) passed by Congress in 2005 exempts them from the “negligent entrustment” the plaintiffs claim.
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
The state’s largest teacher’s union and three communities filed an injunction in superior court yesterday hoping to prevent reductions in education funding they say will put “children’s futures at risk.”

The Connecticut Education Association, along with the towns of Brooklyn, Plainfield, and the city of Torrington, argue in court documents that in the absence of a state budget, Governor Dannel Malloy does not have the authority to cut education spending.

Governor Malloy has been running the state by Executive Order since July 1. The parties are scheduled to meet with the judge on November 6t to set a briefing schedule.
The Albany Times Union reports:
A SUNY oversight committee voted Wednesday to let certain K-12 charter schools certify their own teachers. The new regulations will allow successful charter school networks to develop an in-house certification process for teachers, bypassing the far more stringent process required of all other public school teachers under state law.

Critics say they will lead to inexperienced and unqualified teachers working in the state’s poorest neighborhoods.
The altered regulations require prospective teachers to have 40 hours of experience instead of 100 initially proposed for certification. Special education and English as a second language teachers require 40 hours of not the 75 initially proposed.

The United Federation of Teachers and the Alliance for Quality Education have threatened legal action, with the AQE stating that “substantial revisions” made to the original proposal required an additional public comment period under state law, which was not provided.
The Albany Times Union reports:
Following the end of a school and property “tax freeze” this year, New York homeowners should still get checks in November under a new “tax relief” plan.

The initial program provided homeowner relief for school districts and municipalities whose tax levies remained below the 2 percent cap, or the inflation rate, whichever was lower.
This year, homeowners' checks are based on the amount saved under the School Tax Relief or STAR program. and only applies to those earning under $275,000. State officials expect to send out two million checks averaging $179.

The Cuomo Administration initiated these programs to blunt the impact of New York’s high property taxes.

Wednesday October 11, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN news volunteers Liz Becker, Keith Golgot and John Iannuzzi)

On tonight’s news: Connecticut budget talks continue; Saving Healthcare for Low Income Residents; and New York Governor threatens to sue feds over fluke quota
CT News Junkie reports:
The budget continued to dominate legislators’ discussions Tuesday. Legislative leaders said they’re making progress and don’t plan to have a conversation with Governor Malloy until they work out a few more issues.

Without Malloy’s support they might have to find 101 votes in the House and 24 in the Senate to override a gubernatorial veto. 

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, a Berlin Democrat, said they’ve all moved in their positions over the past few days. They discussed an Education Cost Sharing formula, but still have yet to tackle other municipal aid categories.

House Minority Leader, Republican Themis Klarides, of Derby, said they aren’t going to draw a line in the sand when it comes to taxes until the talks come to a natural conclusion. She said she still holds firmly on her position that they shouldn’t agree to any further tax hikes.
CT News Junkie reports:
Most of the 68,000 beneficiaries of the Connecticut’s Medicare Savings program are probably unaware they are about to lose coverage. That’s If the Democratic or Republican budget proposals aren’t changed. The program helps 68,000 low-income residents.

For Jessica Offir, one of the beneficiaries, that would mean the loss of one of her breathing medications, more frequent emergency room visits, and an increased risk of premature death.

Many lawmakers are unaware that the cut to the program was in both budget proposals.

Legislative leaders said they’re aware of the program and making sure it’s funding will be part of the ongoing bipartisan budget negotiations.
Newsday reports:   
If two interstate fishery-management agencies fail to reach an “equitable” redistribution of the coast-wide quota for fluke in December, Governor Cuomo says he will sue the federal government.  Cuomo penned a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross stating it was “imperative” that the federal and interstate agencies take “immediate action” to protect the interests of fishermen in this state.”

Fishermen are calling on Cuomo to make good on his 2013 promise to sue, to change the coastal quota, which leaves New York with 7.6 percent of the catch while states such as Virginia and North Carolina get more than 20 percent each.

In his letter Cuomo said: “These outdated allocations have devastated fishermen, and will continue to impact subsequent generations of New York’s commercial fishers.” 

Representatives at the Department of Commerce, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council were not immediately reachable for comment.
Tuesday October 10, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN news volunteers Trace Alford, Danniella Tompos, and Melinda Tuhus)

In the news this evening: Dozens protest new Columbus statue in Southington; Connecticut offers end-of-life training; Rocky start for plan of troopers in Long Island schools;
Cornell Cooperative Extension looks to increase shellfish population
Dozens of people protested during Southington’s unveiling ceremony of a brand-new Christopher Columbus statute in front of a major municipal building.

WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there:
The statue was promoted by some in the Italian-American community and by the Knights of Columbus, and opposed by many others who said Columbus committed genocide and should not be honored.

Italian-American Southington resident Susan Dantino was holding a small sign asking people to pray for the millions of indigenous people who were annihilated by Columbus and the Europeans who followed him.

She said, though Columbus was Italian, her position was not an attack on Italian culture:
“And while we want to protect culture, we also want to protect the truth. I’m a grandmother; I don’t want my grandchildren learning lies; I want them to know the truth. This is a national conversation that needs to happen, that we don’t celebrate people who, by their own admission, commit atrocities.”

Some opponents who got inside held up placards in a silent vigil. They want signage put up next to the statue that expresses their point of view, but the town council voted unanimously in favor of the statue so other views have not been considered.

Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
Connecticut Post reports:
Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or MOLST, is a program offered by the Department of Health to physicians, physician assistants and nurses throughout Connecticut. The program consists of conversations with patients about end-of-life care.

Voluntary training was implemented statewide October 1.

Connecticut ranked third highest in the nation for amount of time people spent in the hospital during their final days in 2014, according to a Dartmouth Institute study.

The Western Connecticut Health Network, which includes Norwalk, Danbury and New Milford hospitals, hopes to receive training and begin implementing MOLST by the end of the month.
Newsday reports:
Long Island educators are pushing back at Governor Cuomo’s plan to install state troopers at certain Long Island schools.

The “Gang Prevention Unit” would educate teachers on how to identify early signs of gang activity, and serve as a resource for students and parents.

The governor says: “Schools are where a lot of these gangs operate…and this is a problem that the school system does not deal with.”

One school said it doesn’t want to participate until it knows more. One has made clear it’s not interested. Another, contending it was targeted incorrectly, persuaded the governor’s office to write a letter acknowledging its schools had no gangs.
The Suffolk Times reports:
Over the next two years, Cornell Cooperative Extension will receive $5.25 million from the state for restoring shellfish populations and improving its Southold location.

CCE marine program director Chris Pickerell said the state is establishing five new sanctuary sites on Long Island where water quality is poor, but can still support shellfish. He said: “As we all know, oysters and clams are great filters.”

Over two years, approximately 115 million seed clams and 25 million oysters will be produced. The first batch of oysters will be planted next summer and the first clams in November 2018.

The state funds will also go toward capital improvements for CCE’s operations at Cedar Beach.
Monday October 9, 2017  (Thanks to news volunteers Neil Tolhurst and Lee Yuen Lew)

On tonight’s news: gun control advocates rally in New Haven; officials prepare for rise in number of Puerto Ricans relocating to New York; Lindenhurst village delays vote on banning medical marijuana dispensary; and, the battle over a New York Constitutional Convention

The New Haven Independent reports:
New Haven’s Congressional delegation joined more than 100 anti-gun violence advocates on the steps of the New Haven Police Department Friday morning to call on federal lawmakers to support what they say are common-sense gun policy reforms.

The rally comes in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting where the death toll was 58.  It also comes in the wake of the National Rifle Association, which in previous shootings has doubled down on its pro-gun message, seeming to loosen its stance in support of bump stock regulation. 

Senator Richard Blumenthal said that those who support responsible gun use should not be fooled into believing that the NRA has changed its position,  Connecticut Senators Blumenthal and Murphy have submitted legislation that would ban bump stocks, which modify semi-automatic weapons to make them essentially automatic.  

Newsday reports:
New York officials are preparing for a rise in the number of Puerto Ricans relocating to the state. Back-to-back hurricanes have wiped out much of the U.S. territory’s infrastructure.

Officials cannot pinpoint how many of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents will relocate to New York. However, a significant number is expected to come here, given the state’s population of more than one million residents of Puerto Rican descent.

Edwin Melendez, director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at the City University of New York’s Hunter College said about 60,000 Puerto Ricans a year were leaving the island for economic reasons before the hurricanes and around 120,000 to 200,000 people could leave the island this year.”

Governor Cuomo acknowledged the possibility of an influx of Puerto Ricans to New York, if island residents “see despair setting in, or they think the relief efforts are either wanting or inadequate.”

Newsday reports:
The Lindenhurst Village board of trustees delayed voting on banning medical marijuana dispensaries after hearing from residents opposed to the proposed new law. 

Last week, the village held a public hearing on the proposed ban, which also targets new businesses that use or sell e-cigarettes, vape products, or hookahs.  The village currently has a moratorium on new businesses of this type. Officials said the two existing vape stores in the village would be exempt from the proposed ban.

The village has no hookah or medical marijuana businesses, but Mayor Mike Lavorata said that as the village looks to build up its downtown, he wants more family-friendly businesses and doesn’t want to encourage quote/unquote “bad habits”.

While no one at the hearing spoke out regarding the vape or hookah aspects of the ban, two residents asked the village to reconsider the medical marijuana part.

The Buffalo News reports:
Former top judges and state senators and onetime aides to the late Governor Mario Cuomo are among the donors to a committee pushing for a yes vote on a referendum to hold the first constitutional convention in 50 years.

The Committee for a Constitutional Convention has raised $100,000, so far. 

The question – Proposition One, will be on the ballot on Tuesday November 7.  Groups that could seldom stand to be in the same room with one another are working together to defeat the question. These include: environmental groups, gay rights organizations, New York City cops, the state chapter of the National Rifle Association, public and private-sector unions, political leaders on the left and right and even a group called “Humanists of Long Island.”

A debate on the Constitutional Convention issue is scheduled for 6:30 PM on Tuesday, at the Riverhead Public Library.

The debate will be moderated by the League of Women Voters.  

A representative of the New York State Union of Teachers will take the the CON position. A member of the Citizens Union and the Committee for a Constitutional Convention will take the PRO side.

Friday October 6, 2017  (Thanks to news volunteers Trace Alford and John Iannuzzi)

In the news this evening: Connecticut to pitch Stamford, Hartford regions for Amazon headquarters; Federal officials visit Connecticut to inspect crumbling home foundations;

Suffolk County Police awarded federal grant to fight street gang violence; and, New York sees victories in Capitol Hill health insurance battle
Hartford Courant reports:
Local officials announced Thursday that Connecticut will pitch the Hartford and Stamford regions for the second North American headquarters of Amazon Inc. State Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner Catherine Smith said a team of representatives from several state agencies “decided to move forward with two sites” in those regions.

Seventeen municipalities competed for the $5-billion headquarters that will eventually staff 50,000 employees. Some municipalities may submit bids to Amazon directly. Bridgeport’s communications director Rowena White said Bridgeport and New Haven are moving ahead with a proposal. Amazon set an October 19 deadline for cities, states and provinces to make their proposals for what it calls HQ2.

The pitch to Amazon will include Bethel, Ridgefield and Weston. Stamford mayor’s chief of staff Michael Pollard said Fairfield and Greenwich officials also have been involved in a regional approach.

CT NewsJunkie reports:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been touring parts of eastern Connecticut to inspect crumbling foundations. The state has been trying to make a case that the problem deserves federal disaster relief funding.

Connecticut struggled to get a handle on the scope of foundation problems. Homeowners have been hesitant to come forward. The problem could mean their home is worthless, and many don’t have the $150,000 to $200,000 for foundation replacement. Repairing is not an option. Insurance carriers have refused to cover the damages.

Some believe the crumbling foundations are tied to high levels of the mineral pyrrhotite within the concrete. Army Corps and FEMA officials will help Connecticut create a standard for testing concrete aggregate. Governor Malloy said he will take immediate action to implement the standards as soon as he receives them.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates that 20,000 homes could be impacted, while other groups say it’s closer to 30,000 homes.

Newsday reports:
Suffolk County will get help fighting the MS-13 street gang thanks to a $500,000 federal grant awarded through Project Safe Neighborhoods, a national initiative aimed at stemming gang and gun violence.

In the last year, 17 people have been killed at the hands of MS-13. Suffolk police say they have made more than 265 arrests of more than 190 MS-13 gang members since September 2016.

The federal grant money will pay for targeted police patrols, and school and community intervention, including mentoring and truancy programs to provide an alternative to gangs.

Assistant Police Commissioner Justin Meyers told Newsday the grant appears to be the largest ever awarded to the department for gang-fighting efforts.

Albany Times-Union reports:
New York’s Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday approved reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. This means health insurance will continue for 330,000 children in families just above the poverty line.

The 20-year-old federal-state match program provides funds for children in families that make too much money for Medicaid but lack private health insurance through parents’ employers.

The authorization of CHIP expired this past Sunday. But on Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved reauthorization for five years. New York hospital and health-care advocates also want Congress to speed-up reinstatement of CHIP.

Thursday October 5, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Nadine Dumser, Ramzi Babouder-Matta, and Mike Merli)

In the news tonight:
Shoreline Republicans renew push for override of Malloy’s budget veto; Connecticut’s former Commissioner of Veterans Affairs explores a run for the Democratic nomination for Governor Cuomo endorses firefighter cancer coverage bill; and, critics of Trump's refugee cut say it will have negative impact on New York communities
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
Republicans from the Connecticut shoreline are trying to resurrect an effort to override Governor Dannel Malloy’s veto of the two-year, $40.7 billion budget that was passed in September. The effort comes despite an assertion from the Democratic Speaker of the House that he wouldn’t be raising the override for a vote again.

The Republican budget that passed in September was the first budget the party has gotten through the legislature’s Democratic majority in more than a decade. It narrowly passed the Senate and the House with the help of eight Democratic legislators, and the Governor later vetoed the measure, continuing the budget statement that is now in its fourth month.

The Republicans’ first shot at an override came Tuesday during a special session in the House. After House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz called for any legislators who were on the prevailing side of the budget to move for a reconsideration of Malloy’s veto, the chamber fell silent. To get to the 101 votes needed to override, 29 Democrats would have had to flip and join the 72 Republicans in the House.

As House Speaker, Aresimowicz is the only one with the authority to raise the issue again. On Tuesday, he said he would not.
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
After stepping down from his post as Connecticut’s Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, Sean Connolly stood in the parking lot of Augie and Rays with about 200 of his closest friends, former grade school teachers and supporters to announce he’s exploring a run for governor.

Connolly, who now lives in Hebron, Connecticut with his wife and two sons, wove into his speech pieces of his background and middle-class upbringing to demonstrate the opportunities that brought his father and grandfather to East Hartford.

Governor Dannel Malloy announced in March that he would not be seeking a third term. Since then, five Democratic and ten Republican candidates have announced their intention to explore or run for governor.
The Albany Times Union reports:
Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that he is “favorably disposed to” legislation that would provide presumptive cancer coverage for volunteer firefighters. 

The bill has not yet been sent up to the governor’s desk. Under the bill, firefighters would have to show that they did not show any signs of cancer in their initial physical and prove that they have at least five years of interior firefighting service. Under the amendments, the bill would provide for a lump sum payment of $25,000 for any qualified volunteer who develops melanoma, or digestive, hematological, lymphatic, urinary, prostate, neurological, breast, and reproductive cancers.

The bill would take effect in 2019 and would provide for three years of disability benefits worth $1,500 a month if the firefighter is unable to work due to illness and a $50,000 death benefit for a firefighter’s family if he or she dies of cancer.
The Public News Service Reports:
The Trump administration's decision to lower the number of refugees allowed into the US will have a big impact on New York communities.

President Trump announced last week that the United States will admit only 45,000 refugees this year, the lowest since the resettlement program began. That could be devastating for refugees waiting for family members to arrive, and, many argue it will have a negative economic effect on many parts of central and western New York, where the vast majority resettle. 

Resettlement does require initial investment of public dollars, but David Kallick, deputy director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, said refugees are playing a critical role in revitalizing upstate cities that have been in economic decline.

"Once they're settled, they contribute like everyone else to the economy and to the tax base," he said, "and refugee resettlement brings federal dollars to the region to offset those initial costs.

Wednesday October 4, 2017  (Thanks to news volunteers, Liz Becker, Keith Golgot and Melinda Tuhus)

In the news this evening: No Budget Progress amid day of political theater; union threatens court action over’ Malloy’s education cutsConnecticut’s Gina McCarthy sounds off on Trump’s EPA ; Cuomo details new fiscal woes amid federal health cuts
The CT Mirror reports:
Tuesday, the House failed to override the veto of a Republican-authored budget and the Democrats challenged the GOP to accept a legally suspect measure to temporarily stabilize public services while continuing negotiations.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, Democrat from Berlin said: “Given the opportunity to discuss, defend and vote for a veto override on their budget, the Republican Party decided to take a pass.”

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, Republican from Derby, replied that Aresimowicz had quickly scheduled a veto session to ensure that support would not build for an override.

Attorney General George Jepsen questioned the legality of Gov. Malloy’s plan to administer municipal aid in the absence of a state budget.  He offered Malloy and the legislature just one alternative — write a new state budget.
As reported by the New Haven Register:
The Connecticut Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, wants to prevent Governor Malloy from cutting $557 million in education funding to cities and towns.

The union has threatened to seek an injunction, claiming the governor’s executive budget order violates the law and puts students’ futures at risk.

The order, which went into effect October 1, would stop state education aid to 85 cities and towns and cut 54 others.

Attorney General George Jepsen said it’s not clear how a court would view the Governor’s spending decisions because the decision the judiciary would have to apply is 125 years old. The union, as of yet has not filed the injunction.
President Obama’s administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency spoke in Branford on Sunday about her fears for the agency under the Trump administration and the need to stay united to fight back. 

WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has more.

(audio) Gina McCarthy, who was recruited from being commissioner of the CT Department of Environmental Protection to head the EPA during Obama’s second term, spoke at the annual meeting of Connecticut Fund for the Environment.
"Right now I do feel, looking at what’s happening in Washington, that the future of my beloved little Environmental Protection Agency is at risk – all the work that we’ve done for 47 years to deliver clean air and clean water, to help with land protections, is really up for grabs at this point."
Her “little” agency has more than 15,000 full-time employees, but that number would be cut back drastically under Trump’s budget proposal, that would cut funding by more than 30 percent – the most of any cabinet-level department.

Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
Governor Andrew Cuomo warned on Tuesday that state lawmakers may need to return to Albany before the end of the year to address deep cuts to federal health care funding.

With cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospital payments — federal grants to help fund hospital care for the uninsured and under-insured — and the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program taking effect last Sunday, the governor declared Tuesday that a contingency planning measure included in this year’s state budget will be triggered.

The Division of Budget has the power to come up with a contingency plan to address the cuts because they add up to more than $850 million. The Legislature then has the ability to accept the plan or reject it and return to the Capitol to come up with its own within 90 days.
But Cuomo said he also is considering calling a special session himself if the cuts are not poised to be reversed by Dec. 31.
The WPKN Local News is on-line at www., where you will find a list of agencies accepting funds for Hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

Thanks to news volunteers, Liz Becker, Keith Golgot and Melinda Tuhus.

Next up: National and international news on the WPKN Evening Report.

Tuesday October 3, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Neil Tolhurst, Lee Yuen Lew and Betsy Sloan.

In the news tonight: legislature meets – expected to sustain veto on budget; Glimmer Of Hope Seen On Opioids; Westport Pilot delivers supplies to San Juan and families to Miami; Democratic candidate for first New York Congressional District seat drops out; and, nearly 22,000 New York students receive free college tuition

According to CT Jews Junkie:
The House was to convene at noon today to seek to override Governor Malloy’s veto of the Republican budget that was passed with the help of eight Democratic legislators.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, a Berlin Democrat, said he has the votes to sustain Malloy’s veto and to end the “political silliness.”

Democrats hold a 79-72 majority over Republicans in the House, but Republicans were able to get five Democrats to help them pass a budget 77-73 on Sept. 15.

Greater Bridgeport Latino Network reports:
Westport pilot Paul Weismann flew to Puerto Rico last week on his personal plane, with 1,500 pounds of food, water, power generators, and medical supplies. He works with Patient Airlift Services, a network of volunteer pilots from across the U.S. to help this hurricane season. On his small plane, he squeezed in more than a dozen women, children and seniors taking them to safety in Florida.

Weismann told The Daily Beast: “You fly over Puerto Rico on the way to the airport, and you see the place is wrecked, a few streets and highways are lit up, because of people and businesses with generators. But the rest of the island was just pitch black.”

He also posted an ominous message: Don't forget about Puerto Rico! Government has taken over control of fuel supplies due to looting and gangs. Night is ruled by gangs. Puerto Rico needs more help!

The New Haven Independent reports:
Opioids overdoses killed so many people in the past year that Connecticut’s forensic examiners ran out of cooler space for the bodies.

But a conference held at Yale Law School Friday, offered some bright spots on the devastation wrought by pain medications and opioids: physicians are prescribing fewer painkillers. Local law enforcement possesses more tools to reverse overdoses and prosecute drug dealers.

But Fentanyl has become more prevalent. The potent drug was responsible for 57 percent of Connecticut deaths last year, including two of the 16 overdoses that swept New Haven in six hours last summer.

Overdoses are expected to claim close to 1,100 lives in Connecticut this year, more than triple the number in 2012.

------------------------------------------ reports:
The pool of potential candidates vying for U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin’s first congressional district seat in 2018 just shrank: State Assemblyman Fred Thiele of Sag Harbor said this week that he will not run.

Since October 1 means the launching of another fundraising period, Mr. Thiele said he felt compelled to clear the way for those who are definitely running to beef up their war chests. Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning of Mastic, a friend of Mr. Thiele’s, said on Monday that she was still making up her mind, but plans to announce her intentions next week.

So far, confirmed candidates include Democrats Vivian Viloria-Fisher, a former Suffolk County Legislator from East Setauket, Perry Gorshon of East Hampton, a financial advisor, Elaine DiMasi, a physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory who lives in Ronkonkoma, and Brendon Henry, a bartender from Center Moriches.

According to the Albany Times-Union:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office says the number of state university and college students benefiting from the first year of the state’s free-tuition program comes close to his initial projection of 23,000 students. Cuomo’s office on Sunday touted the Excelsior Scholarship program, saying 21,925 students will receive free tuition in the program’s inaugural year.

The governor’s office said there are 6,000 scholarship applications still awaiting final approval. The nearly 22,000 approved means about 5 percent of the 400,000-student SUNY and CUNY population got free tuition under Excelsior.

Cuomo’s office also said there are 6,000 scholarship applications still awaiting final approval. The nearly 22,000 approved means about 5 percent of the 400,000-student SUNY and CUNY population got free tuition under Excelsior.

Monday October 2, 2017  (Thanks to today’s volunteers, Neil Tolhurst, Lee Yuen Lew and Betsy Sloan)

In the news tonight: Connecticut’s public campaign financing spared — for now; New York Constitutional Convention on November ballot; and, New York sends another round of help to Puerto Rico

CT Mirror reports:
Last Thursday, the Connecticut Supreme Court grappled with the question of the state’s responsibility for overcoming the ill effects of poverty as a coalition of parents, educators and local officials argued the state should be required to spend more in its lowest-performing school districts. The state Constitution requires that students be offered a free public education.

The attorney representing those suing the state said they are not asking the court to hold schools responsible for overcoming the effects of poverty. They are asking the court to determine whether the state is providing its neediest students with an opportunity to succeed in school.

Some justices seemed wary about treading into education funding decisions that typically are left to the legislature. The constitution gives this authority to the legislature as long as its approach is reasonable. The courts, one Justice argued, are no better suited to resolve these problems.

The Connecticut Post reports:
Scores of Connecticut politicians reliant on public campaign financing got a stay of execution when Governor Malloy vetoed the Republican budget last week. The GOP’s budget called for raiding $35 million from the Citizens’ Election Fund for 2018, creating potential upheaval for state office hopefuls who have spent as much as a year raising qualifying contributions for public aid. 

A record number of candidates are hoping to qualify for funds, including more than half a dozen gubernatorial hopefuls, who must each raise a total of $250,000 from at least 2,500 individual donors. That would unlock $1.4 million for the primary and $6.5 million for each party’s nominee in the general election.

GOP leaders are warning of a $10 million shortfall in the program for 2018. Until now, the program has relied on proceeds from the sale of abandoned property and unclaimed bottle deposits to cover its cost. 

The Albany Times-Union reports: 
The battle lines are drawn over whether New York should hold its first  constitutional convention in 50 years. Last month, the New York State Bar Association came out in support of a convention, as did the League of Women Voters and the good-government group Citizens Union. Organized labor is opposed, as are top legislators and organizations including Planned Parenthood, the state's Conservative ...[missing]

Voters will decide in November whether they want to call a convention,  where delegates would propose changes — or wholesale rewrites — to the  state's 121-year-old political blueprint.

Supporters say it's a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address  corruption, government inefficiency, environmental protections and other  important topics. Opponents, however, worry about activists using a convention to advance political causes like gun control or chip away at protections for abortion and state employee pensions.

The question will appear on the reverse side of the ballot which opponents have criticized. 

According to the Albany Times-Union:
With reports of a growing crisis and continued difficulty in getting help to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is sending another round of help to the island. 

On Friday, Governor Cuomo announced the deployment of additional personnel and medical supplies to Puerto Rico through the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort. 

The State deployed 72 Port Authority personnel from the agency’s Aviation, Port and Police departments, as well as the Office of Emergency Management, Governor Cuomo also deployed 53 members of the State Police to assist with security operations and 10 additional experts from the New York Power Authority to aid the Puerto Rican government with its ongoing power restoration efforts. 

In addition, a shipment of critical medication and supplies organized by New York State departed from Republic Airport bound for San Juan, Vieques, and Culebra.