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October 2017

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.