Friday, November 3, 2017

November 2017

Thursday November 30, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Mike Merli)

In the news tonight: Connecticut utilities companies to hold meetings in other towns besides Hartford; Connecticut state bond commission approves XL Center and Silver Stands State Park; Suffolk County Sheriff race nears completion; and,  Long Island Teens detained on alleged gang activity released
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
The second part of a public hearing on the utility companies’ response to the late October storm will be held in individual towns impacted, rather than in Hartford as originally scheduled.

The Energy and Technology Committee said that this week’s public hearing regarding the utility companies’ response to the storm that took place Oct. 29 and 30, has been reorganized into a series of in-district working meetings involving key utility representatives, municipal officials, first responders, and legislators.

The in-district meetings will effectively identify and address the unique problems and concerns impacting specific communities with a hands-on strategic approach, the co-chairs of the committee said.
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
Borrowing $40 million for improvements to the XL Center and $9.1 million for bath houses and lifeguard stands at Silver Sands State Park were two controversial items approved Wednesday by the state Bond Commission.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who isn’t seeking another term and didn’t negotiate the two-year state budget authorizing the bonding, defended the projects.

Rep. Chris Davis, R-Ellington, said he doesn’t like the message being sent to taxpayers by borrowing $40 million to spend it on the XL Center when the elderly and disabled are losing their health insurance. 
Newsday reports:
Democratic Suffolk sheriff candidate Errol Toulon Jr. is up by 1,657 votes with 76 percent of absentee ballots counted, and is on the verge of formally winning the election against Republican foe Larry Zacarese.

Zacarese on Wednesday withdrew his volunteers and ceased any further challenges at the county Board of Elections.

Democrats on Monday withdrew from the process that had resulted in fewer than 200 objections on both sides. Toulon had an unofficial election night lead of 1,352 votes.

If the numbers hold, Toulon, a former deputy New York City corrections commissioner, will become Suffolk’s first African-American countywide elected official.

Newsday reports: 
At least nine immigrant minors from Long Island were released Wednesday by order of a California federal judge, after hearings in Manhattan. They had been targeted for deportation by federal officials based on alleged involvement with MS-13. Their release came after a class-action lawsuit was filed in August by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California in which three teens from Brentwood were listed as primary plaintiffs. 

Martha Arce, a Hempstead attorney represented a 16-year-old boy from Central Islip who was picked up by immigration officials in June and ordered released Wednesday. Arce said the case against her client was weak. Investigators said he had a notebook with the number 503, the calling code for El Salvador and adopted as a gang symbol, written inside. He was spotted talking to known gang members.

The suit named as defendants federal agencies involved in the arrest and detention of the teens in California. The judge’s order addressed the question of due process in connection to the so-called Operation Matador, launched last spring on Long Island by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to assist local law enforcement in their anti-gang initiative.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials did not return a request for comment. 
Wednesday November 29, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Danniella Tompos and Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight: Lawmakers Ponder Regulations For Healthcare Negotiations; Yale professor gives “Enduring Peace” lecture; New York Democrats Agree to State Senate Unity; and Islandia Village approves code change allowing gambling
CT News Junkie reports:
Legislators were unable to pinpoint why healthcare providers and insurers couldn’t agree on how much to pay for medical care. They debated Tuesday whether the state needs to get involved in future negotiations between providers and insurers.

At Tuesday’s public hearing before the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, Hartford Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross - Blue Shield both apologized for the length of their contract dispute, but were unable to say exactly why it lasted as long as it did. The two companies could not agree on what Anthem would reimburse Hartford Healthcare for the services provided to their shared consumers. The seven-week stalemate, which ended November 18, left tens of thousands of patients to face out-of-network rates for care. 

Senate President Martin Looney said since 2015 he’s been proposing legislation that would require binding arbitration between hospitals and insurance carriers if they’re unable to resolve their differences. The proposals have been opposed by both the hospitals and the insurance carriers. 
Yale history professor Timothy Snyder spoke to a packed room Tuesday night at United Church parish house in New Haven for a lecture on his book, On Tyranny, that has become a touchstone in the age of Trump. 

WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports:
Snyder delivered the Mark Shafer lecture, sponsored by Promoting Enduring Peace. He named the 20 rules for opposing tyranny he had originally posted on Facebook that went viral right after the 2016 election and elaborated on several of them. He said the “master lesson” was Rule Number One – don’t obey in advance. He said the trend in the U.S. is toward a one-party state, which his 20 rules can impede.

In answer to a question from the audience, he said what he called “inverted nationalism” is a problem on the left – the belief that everything that goes wrong in the world is the fault of the U.S., and that belief could have cost the Democrats the election because they were not seeing Russia as the threat it turned out to be in influencing the outcome.

After the talk Snyder signed copies of his book.

Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
The Albany Times–Union reports:
The potential repair of the longstanding rift between the New York Senate’s mainline Democratic Conference and the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference (the IDC) seemed closer to realization Tuesday after almost seven years apart. 

Both IDC leader Jeff Klein and Andrea Stewart-Cousins, leader of the mainline Democrats, appeared to agree to the reunification terms. In a statement Klein said the agreement assured “that our progressive legislative agenda will be advanced”. 

There are 23 Democrat members of the mainline conference, eight members of the IDC, plus the wild card of Democrat Simcha Felder who has caucused with the Republicans. But control of the Senate will require Democrats win special elections to fill two Senate vacancies that will be created in January, netting 32 Democrats - enough to control the majority.  The special elections won’t take place until after the state budget negotiations conclude at the end of March.

Mainline Democrats say the IDC-GOP partnership has blocked consideration of  progressive agenda items such as single-payer health care, campaign finance reforms, and abortion protections.
Newsday reports: 
Tuesday night the Islandia Village Board approved a code change that allows gambling facilities in hotels.The board voted after Ira Bezack, a Melville attorney for casino opponents, said the change was unconstitutional. He argued that the village can’t retroactively change the village code to legalize the casino.

Bezack said: “The fact that the government is allowing this casino to continue doesn’t make it legal. This is the classic definition of spot zoning, which the courts have consistently declared to be illegal.” The approved code change allows “hotel/gaming” facilities in office and industry zoning districts. Previously, the code did not explicitly permit or ban gaming facilities in hotels.

Last month the casino collected $227 million in wagers. Off-Track Betting Corporation officials say the casino would help the struggling agency escape bankruptcy, pay off $15 million in debt and save 250 jobs.
Tuesday November 28, 2017 (Thanks to volunteers Trace Alford, Phil Hall, and Alyssa Katz)

In the news tonight: Bridgeport Police consider body cams; Attorney General Jepsen will not run for third term; Non-profits deal with Connecticut Funding Cuts; and, Long Island solar energy installers criticize utility ruling
After announcing his department would purchase dashboard cameras for its cruisers, Acting Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez is now “leaning” toward uniform cameras. As reported by the Connecticut Post, the chief also announced there would be more de-escalation training for police officers to avoid violent confrontations.

The chief’s announcements came last week at the city’s police commission meeting. The meeting was held in the wake of alleged incidents of excessive force this year by city police officers. Attending the meeting was Jazmarie Melendez, the half-sister of Jayson Negron, who was shot and killed by a rookie officer in May. Mr. Negron’s death led to renewed calls for the police department to purchase uniform cameras. 

State legislators met with Chief Perez following a November 10 incident where a Bridgeport police officer is accused of using excessive force. After that meeting Chief Perez announced he would move ahead with buying dashboard cameras. Some lawmakers and activists had expected more progress in the six months since the Negron incident.

Commission Chairman Danny Roach says he needs to follow up with Chief Perez to get more information about the cameras and the training. He hopes the commission can provide some responses to reform by its December meeting. 
As reported by Fairfield County Business Journal:
Jepsen, a Democrat, began his political career in the Connecticut House of Representatives, serving from 1987 to 1991 from the 148th House District that included part of Stamford. From 1991 to 2003 he was state senator from the 27th Senate District, representing Stamford and part of Darien. He served as chairman of the Connecticut State Democratic Party from 2003 to 2005 and was first elected attorney general in 2010.

In a statement Jepsen said it was time to “pursue different challenges.”  He has no definite plans but looks forward to “advancing the interests of Connecticut”.
CT News Junkie reports:
Funding for private nonprofit human service organizations was cut in the state’s recent budget process and again last week when Governor Malloy’s administration announced it would be holding back about $181 million in what’s termed a “lapse.” 

Gian-Carl Casa, of CT Community Nonprofit Alliance, said that the latest human service spending cuts “come after more than a decade of underfunding of Connecticut’s community. nonprofits and repeated budget reductions in recent years.” The non-profits are worried the lapses to the agencies that fund their programs will mean another reduction in services. State Comptroller Kevin Lembo will decide on December 4 whether the governor’s budget office is accurate in reporting a $202.8 million deficit.

The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy says a survey shows that grant makers are stepping up to help nonprofits get through the fiscal crisis. Some grant makers are encouraging nonprofit mergers. About 50 percent are planning to increase their grant support to nonprofits. 
Newsday reports:
A contingent of solar energy installers and environmentalists have criticized a LIPA proposal that would alter the current system for valuing power produced by solar and other green-energy systems. The Long Island Solar Energy Industry Association has launched a petition to oppose the program, saying it will “negatively impact solar adoption” when the current system works just fine.

If a new system were put in use, the value of excess energy produced would be determined by location of the solar array, its environmental benefits, and the overall value of the system in reducing demand. Consumers with systems already installed would keep the current system, while new consumer systems installed after January 2018 would use the existing net metering plan for 20 years. 

LIPA trustees will vote on the plan in late December. If approved, it will take effect in January.
Monday November 27, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Phil Hall, Lee Yuen Lee, and Neil Tolhurst)

In the news tonight: Supporters of youth killed by Bridgeport policeman rally and are arrested; Mayor Says New Construction Will Reinvent Bridgeport; Riverhead center aims to advance rural workers’ rights; and Long Island’s Islip airport finances improving 
The Hartford Courant reports:
Seven protesters were taken into custody today as they rallied in Hartford calling for justice for Jayson Negron, the 15-year-old Bridgeport boy fatally shot by an officer in May.
It is not immediately clear what charges the protesters will face. 

Negron, 15, was shot by Bridgeport Police Officer James Boulay on May 9.  According to the Connecticut Post, Bridgeport police said Negron drove a car the wrong way down a one-way street outside a Walgreens store on Park Avenue, and hit at least one officer with the vehicle. Police say the car was stolen. A State Police investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Rally organizers were demanding that State’s Attorney Maureen Platt release video evidence of the incident and that Platt charge Officer James Boulay with murder. There were surveillance cameras on the Walgreens storefront that may have captured the incident and amateur footage taken shortly after the shooting.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim says new construction projects are helping to change the city’s reputation. According to a Fairfield County Business Journal report, the mayor told a Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce meeting that an upcoming thermal loop system installation serving the downtown area would, in his words, “put Bridgeport on the map, not just nationally but internationally.” 

He also praised the restoration of the Majestic and Poli Palace theaters and the former Savoy Hotel plus the renovation of Harbor Yard stadium into a music amphitheater. 

The Chamber of Commerce briefing also highlighted progress at Steelpointe Harbor, the McLevy Square development and the Cherry Street Lofts. 

Mayor Ganim added: “People have got to begin to realize that something is happening in Bridgeport. It is a city that is fast growing and looked at by others, either in whispers or loud voice, as a place that’s on the move.”
As reported by Riverhead Local, CASA, the Center of Alliance, Solidarity and Accompaniment, a new center for rural workers has opened at Grace Episcopal Church in Riverhead. Its goal is to provide a place in the community for workers, by workers, to empower themselves. 

A “consejo” or council of about 12 members from different backgrounds, decide what are the most urgently needed programs. The center will offer various programs including leadership development, justice for farm workers workshops, OSHA training, immigration clinics and English language classes. 

CASA is a collaboration of rural workers, the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, the Presbytery of Long Island, and the Rural and Migrant Ministry, a covenant of five different church denominations. 

The Ministry came to Long Island about three years ago for the “Justice for Farmworkers” campaign, a statewide educational and legislative movement aimed at giving farmworkers the same rights that every other worker in New York receives. 
Farm workers labor long hours at minimum wage and with no overtime pay, disability or collective bargaining rights. 
Newsday reports:
MacArthur airport has a $2 million surplus after four years of losses.  Islip Town and airport officials attribute the improvement to more professional operations, cost savings, new airlines and increased fees. 

Major changes include more stringent accounting practices, renegotiated leases for airport tenants and employee attrition. Airport Commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken said: “We’re operating the airport like a business.”

MacArthur’s narrow $284,000 surplus in 2015 was largely because of a decision to lease airport property to a compost facility for $600,000 in annual rent. MacArthur is self-sustaining and has never used tax dollars to support its budget.

The Islip airport has struggled to hold onto airlines. However, the improved financial standing helped attract Frontier Airlines to the airport in August, a move that is projected to bring in $2.8 million in revenue in 2018. Frontier became the airport’s third major carrier, joining Southwest and American.
Friday November 24, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford and John Iannuzzi)

In the news tonight:  Tax break for Connecticut homeowners with crumbling foundations; activists push for uniform cams for Bridgeport police; Bannon to attend Zeldin fundraiser; caregivers center to open in Riverhead
The CT Mirror reports: 
The Internal Revenue Service will allow Connecticut homeowners with crumbling foundations to take a casualty loss for money spent to fix them. 

At a Wednesday press conference in Hartford, U.S. Representative John Larson called the IRS decision to allow the deductibility of costs for repairing crumbling foundations “huge.” However, the tax relief may be short-lived as the GOP House and Senate tax bills that would overhaul the federal tax code would eliminate such deductions. 

U.S. Representative Joe Courtney has urged the state to apply for Housing and Urban Development grants to help homeowners. In addition, the state legislature has approved $40 million in bonding over the next two years to help homeowners pay to replace or repair failing foundations.

State lawmakers have created a captive insurance company to administer the money through a Crumbling Foundations Assistance Fund.
The Connecticut Post reports: 
The Bridgeport Police department has been under pressure to purchase uniform cameras since 2015, but at a recent police commission meeting Acting Police Chief AJ Perez would only commit to dashboard cameras. He added that he is “leaning” toward the uniform cameras demanded by activists.

State Legislators met with Perez last week following the release of a video showing Officer Christina Arroyo hitting 18-year-old Aaron Kearney in the head while Kearney was held down.

Critics complain that Police Commission members, appointed by Mayor Joe Ganim, a close friend of Perez’s, do not demand enough accountability from the department.
Perez said this is about “technology and money. We are moving fast, but we want to get this right.”

A December 5 meeting is planned to further discuss police cameras.
Newsday reports: 
Former White House senior strategist Stephen Bannon is scheduled to headline a campaign fundraiser for Congressman Lee Zeldin next month in Manhattan. The conservative firebrand’s role in helping to re-elect the Shirley Republican was first reported by news website Axios.

Zeldin’s fundraiser would be the first that Bannon, who played an integral role in President Trump’s campaign, has attended for a sitting House Republican. A campaign spokeswoman for Zeldin did not respond to a request for comment.

The December 14 fundraiser in midtown Manhattan will be hosted by Arthur Schwartz, a GOP operative, and Republican lobbyist Wayne Berman. Schwartz told Newsday that Bannon is expected to deliver a speech.

Zeldin and Bannon have bonded over their fierce support of Israel.
Riverhead Local reports: 
Next year, Peconic Bay Medical Center will open Long Island’s first caregiving center inside the hospital. The Family Caregiving Center will provide counseling, monthly educational seminars, and information about all the caregiving resources available in the local area.

Hospital palliative care program associate director Tara Anglim spearheaded the program. While the hospital has offered a monthly family caregiver support group for the past three years, Anglim saw caregivers needed more. She said: “They need more support, they need more access to resources, and they need more information and education. And those are not hard things to give them.”

The hospital plans to launch the program early next year, with training for caregiver coaches beginning in February. 
WPKN reported Wednesday about the case of Marco Reyes, an immigrant avoiding deportation at the United Methodist Church in New Haven. 

We mistakenly reported that Reyes would not be deported. In fact Reyes won a reprieve from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. His lawyer said that immigration officials have promised not to detain or deport him while his petition with the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals is pending.
Thursday, November 23, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers)
In the news tonight: Governor Malloy asks approval of another billion in borrowing; Federal judge orders hearings for Long Island teens targeted for deportation;  and, Toulon maintains lead in Suffolk Sheriff race as absentee ballots counted
CT News Junkie reports: 
Now that the state has a budget, Governor Malloy is proposing over $1 billion in bonding to be approved at a special meeting next Wednesday. Administration officials said the delay in passing a budget has held up critical infrastructure projects and slowed certain parts of the economy, such as the construction trades. 

Earlier this year, Malloy had planned to borrow about $2.7 billion, however, the newly passed state budget included a $2 billion cap. 

Bonding $1.07 billion next Wednesday will bring the total amount of general obligation bonding for the calendar year up to $1.94 billion, which is a few million shy of the new cap.
The Bond Commission agenda includes a number of projects, large and small. They include $1.7 million in funding for body cameras for law enforcement and $30 million for improvements to school buildings  and $500 million for school construction projects. 

The Bond Commission will also be asked to approve this.
Newsday reports:
A federal judge in California has ordered government agencies to present evidence bolstering the arrest and detainment of immigrant minors from Long Island targeted for deportation based on alleged involvement with MS-13 — or to otherwise release them back to their families.

Three teenagers from Brentwood are the primary plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed in August by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California against federal agencies involved in their arrest and detention, since at the time they were held in secure facilities in that state.

The judge’s order issued Monday considered questions of due process in connection to the so-called Operation Matador, launched this spring on Long Island by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to assist local law enforcement. The ICE operation was directed against street gang members and associates with ties to El Salvador who had not faced state or federal criminal charges.

Advocacy groups contended agents used unfounded gang affiliation accusations to sweep up the teens. ICE is currently reviewing the case. U.S. District Court Justice Vince Chhabria ruled that the accused should be permitted to review the evidence and contest whether their arrest was warranted.
As reported by Newsday:
A count of nearly 17,000 absentee and affidavit ballots in the Suffolk County sheriff’s race is about 40 percent complete, with Democrat Errol Toulon Jr. maintaining a lead over Republican Larry Zacarese, according to county election officials.

After nearly a week of counting, Toulon, 55, of Lake Grove, holds a 1,312 vote advantage over Zacarese, 42, of Kings Park, according to the Democratic and Republican Elections Commissioners. Toulon’s unofficial lead on election night was 1,354 votes.

The count was suspended Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving and will resume Monday in the remaining 28 election districts. The final results may not be known for two weeks.  
Wednesday November 22, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Danniella Tompos and Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight: immigrant in sanctuary church gets a reprieve; Connecticut campaign finance law changes debated; Suffolk D A elect Sini announces transition team; promises integrity; and, Southampton gender discrimination suite settled 
What began as a rather somber Thanksgiving luncheon gave way to cries of joy and hugs as a man who’s been in sanctuary in a New Haven church for three-and-a-half months got some very good news. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports.

Marco Reyes and his wife and daughter were joined by a few dozen members of First & Summerfield Church and other supporters including Sen. Richard Blumenthal, when his immigration lawyer called.

Blumenthal, who has been a stalwart supporter of immigrants’ rights and has visited Reyes several times, explained the latest development: “The Department of Homeland Security has agreed that they will give him a reprieve to go home, but his case is not over, it’s not finalized.  So he remains under the threat of deportation. He can return home, but we need to continue to fight so he has a fair day in court so his rights can be vindicated. We have no idea how long this reprieve will last, but the DHS has committed that there will be no arrests, no deportation, he can go home. But, we need to continue to fight.”

Most people abandoned their lunches and headed straight to Hartford to be present when Reyes walks free.

Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News
The Connecticut Post reports:
Two little-known changes in the new state budget may make it easier for those in wealthier districts to run for the General Assembly while putting time constraints on state election regulators. 

Common Cause Connecticut, the election watchdogs, and the League of Women Voters have joined in an effort to overturn the new laws, which raise the individual contribution limit for legislative candidates from $100 to $250.

Senate President Martin Looney said that in poorer districts the change helps candidates who can raise the higher amount from some people while accepting less than $100 from hundreds of others.

Another new change puts a one-year limit on State Election Enforcement Commission investigations. Michael Brandi of the Commission is opposed to the provision. He warns that the remaining 30 percent of investigations that go longer than a year may be crucial. 
Newsday reports:
Suffolk District Attorney-elect Timothy Sini announced a 13-member transition team Tuesday that he said will help him restore integrity to the office and put his priorities into action.The team is co-chaired by David Kelley, Sini’s campaign chairman and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Suffolk Assistant Police Commissioner Justin Meyers.

Sini, now the police commissioner, takes over an office recently vacated by Thomas Spota, who resigned as DA after he was indicted on federal obstruction of justice charges.  Spota has pleaded not guilty.

Others on the transition team are the mother of an alleged victim of MS-13 gang members, the present Suffolk First Deputy Police Commissioner, a former Suffolk prosecutor and members of the state attorney general’s office. Sini said there is no promise that anyone on the team will serve in the district attorney’s office when he takes office January 1. 
Southampton Town officials have settled a gender discrimination lawsuit with a longtime police officer who alleged she was passed over for promotions and faced lewd comments from male colleagues.

Detective Sgt. Lisa Costa and town officials agreed to a settlement that did not include any admission of wrongdoing or fault by any party, according to Town Attorney James Burke. Costa, who has been with the Southampton Town Police Department since 1999, is the commanding officer of the detective division and the juvenile aid bureau.

Costa filed the federal lawsuit in Central Islip in April 2014, alleging she was denied time off and overtime pay and felt uncomfortable in late-night encounters with a former chief of police. U.S. Eastern District of New York Judge Joseph Bianco dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it is permanently closed, on Sept. 15.
Tuesday November 21, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford and Alyssa Katz)

In the news tonight: red Ink could trigger Connecticut deficit mitigation;
Connecticut allocates more funds for cleaning up brownfields; Ronkonkoma Hub development ground breaking; and, more Suffolk DA employee bonuses revealed 
CT News Junkie reports:
According to the governor’s budget office, Connecticut’s recently signed bipartisan budget is over $200 million in deficit. If state Comptroller Kevin Lembo certifies the deficit number on December 4, the General Assembly may be required to hold a special session to fix it.

House speaker, Joe Aresimowicz (Democrat-Berlin), says the small projected deficit, about one percent of the general fund, is not totally unexpected. The budget was passed in October, four months into the new fiscal year.

Senate Republican President Len Fasano, of North Haven, accused Governor Malloy of releasing what he called “artificially high numbers to trigger the need for a formal deficit mitigation plan.”  Kelly Donnelly, Malloy’s spokeswoman, called the accusation preposterous and said Mr. Malloy’s budget staffers agree with the figures.

The Office of Policy and Management said revenues have declined $227 million below budget projections, largely due to lower federal grants for medical services provided during the second half of 2017.
As reported by CT Mirror: 
Connecticut will spend $13.6 million to assess or redevelop brownfield sites in 14 municipalities as announced on Monday by Governor Malloy. Officials say the newest round of funding will pay to remediate and revitalize 89 acres of blighted properties. 

Malloy said the investment will clean up neighborhoods, strengthen communities, and draw more economic activity to those locations.The state has invested more than $220 million in brownfield redevelopment since 2012.

The governor made the announcement on Homestead Avenue in Hartford, beside two of the 16 properties in the project.  Eight are slated for remediation now and eight more are being assessed for future work.

Other properties to be remediated are in Bridgeport, Danbury, East Hartford, Meriden, New Britain and Waterbury. Projects being assessed for future revitalization are located in Ansonia, Derby, New Britain, Norwich, Manchester, Middletown, Plainville, and Waterbury.
Newsday reports:
A developer broke ground on the Ronkonkoma Hub Monday, officially launching work on a $600 million project that will create apartments, stores, restaurants and office space in an effort to revitalize the struggling downtown.

The Hub is expected to include as many as 1,450 apartments and 545,000 square feet of retail and office space on 50 acres when it is completed in 10 years. Monday’s groundbreaking celebrated the start of Phase 1, which calls for 489 residential units across six buildings.

The project is close to the Ronkonkoma LIRR station, Long Island MacAruthur Airport and the Long Island Expressway. 

Supporters say the Hub will revitalize a neglected section of Ronkonkoma. The Ronkonkoma railroad station is now surrounded by aging storefronts and parking lots.  These will be replaced with four- and five-floor buildings with street level stores and upper level offices and affordable apartments.
As reported by Newsday:
County lawmakers were to hold a hearing today on a bill to tighten legislative control over how proceeds from seized criminal assets are spent. This comes after newly disclosed records show Suffolk district attorney employees have received $3.25 million in bonuses since 2012, $550,000 more than reported previously.

Bonus recipients included deputy chief homicide prosecutor Robert Biancavilla, Division Chief Edward Heilig and top public corruption prosecutor Christopher McPartland.  Newsday received the information from county Comptroller John Kennedy’s office through the Freedom of Information Law.

The bonuses, which were funded from assets seized in criminal cases by the district attorney’s office, did not receive legislative approval. Biancavilla says he was paid for overtime work and that the numbers were inflated.  He says he did not know the source of the bonus funds.
Monday November 20, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Lee Yuen Lew, and Neil Tolhurst)

In the news tonight: Connecticut budget cuts hit labor social services and education; Hartford Healthcare and Anthem have a deal; Homeowners fined for building on Long Island Sound shoreline; and, can Cuomo be beat? Polls and GOP veteran say NO
On Friday, Connecticut Governor Malloy imposed more than $880 million in spending cuts mandated by the Legislature.  Labor cost-cutting moves, required under last summer’s concessions deal with unionized state employees, account for the biggest chunk of those savings.

Malloy assigned most of the remaining cuts to social service programs, municipal aid and higher education. Most human services program grants were reduced, on average, by 2 percent, to comply with the legislature’s directives.

More than half of the $91 million in savings assigned to municipal aid involves reductions to Education Cost Sharing payments to local school districts. Those ECS grants represent the state’s major vehicle for aid to local education. The state also pays for the public contribution to the teacher pension plan.

The plan reduces a number of smaller property tax relief and other non-education grants.  The average cut to all municipal grants was 2.5 percent.
CTNewsJunkie reports:
After a seven-week impasse and calls for mediation, Hartford Healthcare and Anthem reached a three-year deal Saturday.
The inability of the two sides to agree on how much the hospital company would be reimbursed for medical care had left tens of thousands of patients in limbo, forcing them to find a new provider or pay out-of-network costs. The impasse between the two organizations had state officials writing letters trying to encourage negotiators to reach a deal.
State Comptroller Kevin Lembo and Frances Padilla president of the Universal Health Care said the legislature needs to step in and protect the consumers from these disputes.

The legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee has scheduled a hearing on the issue Nov. 28. Senate President Martin Looney, a New Haven Democrat, has promised to reintroduce legislation that seeks to create a mediation process for similar contract disputes.
Newsday reports:
The owners of two homes on Nissequogue Village’s Long Island Sound coast must pay $80,000 in combined penalties for improper building on the shoreline. State environmental officials ordered one homeowner to remove portions of a wall that encroached on a public beach, and another will have to clean up fill material that tumbled down to the beach after heavy rains in late October.

They had permits to build massive stone walls along the toe of the bluffs to slow coastal erosion that can eat away a foot or more per year of waterfront property. But they built too close to the shore, and built a staircase on the bluff.

They signed agreements to make corrections. 
Commenting on line, Kevin McAllister of the advocacy group Defend H2O, wrote: “Permitting hardening of the shoreline should not be happening at all. Given the realty of sea level rise, every seawall will cause the disappearance of the fronting beach.” 
The Niagra Gazette reports:
Governor Andrew Cuomo is heading into the next election season with a bounty of campaign cash, healthy approval ratings and doubts voiced by some Republicans over whether their party can mount a competitive challenge in 2018.
Tom Doherty, a GOP consultant said: "The Republican Party is nowhere in New York state and the numbers just continue to get worse for us.”
Doherty served in the cabinet of former Gov. George Pataki, who, in 2006 was the last New York Republican to win a statewide contest.
According to a Siena College poll released this month, 68 percent of voters in the New York City area view him favorably. The same survey showed 43 percent of upstate residents have a favorable view of his performance.
Friday November 17, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford, Keith Galgot, and John Iannuzzi)

In the news tonight: Bridgeport Housing Authority subject of DOJ lawsuit; Connecticut lawmakers question storm response; Long Island man pleads guilty to manslaughter in OD death; and, humpback whale spotted in Reynolds Channel 
Connecticut Post reports: 
The U.S. Department of Justice this week filed a lawsuit against the Bridgeport Housing Authority. The lawsuit is based on a Housing and Urban Development investigation that found the authority “failed to properly process, decide and fulfill requests for reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities over at least two years.” The authority manages 5,400 low-income housing units.

In 2014, HUD labeled the Bridgeport authority as “troubled”—the federal government’s lowest designation—with major management and financial problems. It has been just over a year since Mayor Joe Ganim, at HUD’s urging, overhauled the mayoral-appointed board that helps manage the authority. 

Last summer, HUD portrayed board members Ganim inherited after his election as inept and sometimes unethical for allegedly steering jobs, contracts and housing to friends and family members.
CT NewsJunkie reports: 
Eversource Energy officials defended the company’s response to the late October storm that left more than 311,000 customers without power, stating that it “turned into a more intensive storm than was forecast.”

Officials from the state’s largest utility spent more than an hour Wednesday answering questions from the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee about how the company responded to the October 29 overnight storm. By comparison, a couple of United Illuminating officials spent about 15 minutes giving a presentation and answering questions about the 25,000 UI customers who lost power.

Eversource Senior Vice President Peter Clarke defended the company’s overall response, stating that “85 percent of the customers had their power restored in 24 hours.”

Both Eversource and UI officials maintain that their companies have aggressive tree trimming programs. However, many of the trees or tree limbs that took down power lines were from outside of the “trim zone.”
Newsday reports: 
For the first time in New York State, a defendant has pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing someone by selling him drugs. James Fava of Ronkonkoma admitted Thursday that last year he sold the deadly opioid fentanyl to Bryan Gallagher of Bohemia, even though he knew it was stronger than anything Gallagher had ever used and could kill him.

Suffolk County prosecutors said the day after Gallagher bought the fentanyl from Fava and exchanged text messages about how much is safe to use, he died of an overdose on July 18, 2016. Fava pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. State Supreme Court Justice William Condon said he would sentence Fava to 4 to 6 years in prison in January.

Assistant District Attorney Tanya Ricoff said she hoped legislators would make it easier to bring such charges to combat the opioid epidemic.
Newsday reports: 
If the approximately 28-foot humpback whale swimming in Nassau County’s Reynolds Channel has not left by Saturday, officials said they will try to herd it back to the Atlantic.

Atlantic Marine Conservation Society’s chief scientist Rob DiGiovanni said the whale was first spotted about a week ago. The nonprofit has been monitoring the “subadult.”
DiGiovanni said the whale’s pattern of behavior is not untypical, and humpbacks sometimes stay with pods or swim solo.

If conditions are favorable on Saturday, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Coast Guard, and Town of Hempstead Bay Constables will try to herd the whale back to open water. The conservation group advises boaters to look out for the whale and stay at least 100 feet away.

After an extended absence, humpbacks returned to Long Island’s waters in 2015. 
Thursday November 16, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Ramzi Babouder-Matta and Mike Merli)

In the news tonight: Danbury, Connecticut lawmaker speaks out about the status of the state legislature’s television network; Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman announces she will not run for Governor in 2018; reports show New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to add State Police costing taxpayers $42 million; and Southern Pine Beetle infestation infecting nearly 4,000 pine trees in East Hampton
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
After the Connecticut State House of Representatives adjourned the longest special session in history, Representative Bob Godfrey (D – Danbury) stood up and called the recent issues with the legislature’s television network “fraudulent.” Godfrey said he plans on introducing legislation to restore the independence of the television network, which is currently being run by the Office of Legislative Management (or OLM).
Legislative leaders said they had no choice but to let OLM take over operation of the network. They said they didn’t choose for the Connecticut Public Affairs Network (or CPAN) to walk away from the contract.
CPAN ceased operations on November 3 and the website and television station went into re-runs for a week.
OLM hired 13 former CPAN employees to operate the network and they covered a public hearing Monday, the Senate session and Supreme Court arguments on Tuesday, and the House session on Wednesday.
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
Ending months of speculation about whether she would seek higher office, Connecticut’s Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman decided to take a pass on running for Governor in 2018. The 71-year-old former X-Ray technician was catapulted into public service when she ran for her local school board. Governor Dannel P. Malloy said Wyman was the best Lieutenant Governor he could have chosen.
Wyman’s decision leaves four Democratic candidates exploring a run for Governor and one declared candidate. Malloy declined to offer his endorsement at this stage of the competition.
The Governor, who announced in March he was not seeking a third term, said the number of candidates in the field makes 2018 an election unlike any the state has ever seen.
Nancy Wyman will likely be remembered most for her work at a critical moment on healthcare. Wyman co-chairs the board of Access Health CT and was instrumental in setting up Connecticut’s insurance exchange.
The New York Daily News reports:
Governor Cuomo’s expanded use of the New York State Police to combat terrorism in New York City will cost taxpayers at least an extra $42 million, budget documents revealed.

A mid-year budget report released in recent days by the Cuomo administration showed a $16 million increase in projected state police operating costs for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The increase was on top of a $26 million funding boost that was added to the State Police’s initial $671 million budget after the first quarter.

Beginning in January, the Cuomo administration has assigned additional state troopers to patrol city airports, bridges and tunnels. Officials said the assignments were an effort to safeguard against terrorism as well as boost enforcement of cashless tolling at the bridges and tunnels.
Sag Harbor Online reports: 
Scott Wilson, East Hampton’s Director of Land Management, reported to the town board on Tuesday that the number of pines affected by a southern pine beetle infestation in the town has grown to 3,800. 

Supervisor Larry Cantwell declared a state of emergency in an effort to combat the infestation in late October. The declaration allows the Department of Land Management to hire private contractors and work with other municipal agencies to cut down infested trees on town property. Workers also score the trees to allow the winter’s cold air through the bark to kill the beetles.

The declaration also allows staff from Department of Land Management to inspect trees on private properties and fell them with the permission of property owners. Property owners would be responsible for removing the pines from their own properties. Cutting down affected trees is the recommended management technique for combating the southern pine beetle, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Wednesday November 15, 2017  (Thanks to volunteers Liz Becker and Daniella Tompos)

On tonight’s news: Sandy Hook families in court with gun manufacturers; Connecticut Seniors, Disabled and Low-Income Residents Losing Health Care Coverage; Bridgeport City Police to get dash cameras; and, Southampton Conducts Seminar on opioid issue
CT News Junkie reports:
The marketing campaign behind the AR-15 style Bushmaster firearm started targeting the Sandy Hook Elementary School gunman through advertising when he was 14 years old, according to an attorney for some of his victims.

“Remington may never have known Adam Lanza, but they have been courting him for years,” Josh Koskoff, the attorney for the plaintiffs told the Connecticut Supreme Court on Tuesday during his opening remarks. He represents nine victims who were killed and a teacher who survived the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre.

Koskoff argued that his clients — victims of one of the deadliest school shootings in history — should be able to continue their discovery in the case to prove the manufacturers and sellers of the firearm were negligent. He said Lanza, the shooter, was dressed in tactical gear when he showed up at the school that day and fired 154 rounds in less than five minutes.

James Vogts, an attorney for the gun manufacturer Remington, said no advertisement is responsible for a wrongful death. Vogts said the tobacco industry wasn’t held responsible for its advertising. The Supreme Court will, according to legal experts, have to decide whether Remington can be held liable for “negligent entrustment” or whether they violated Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. 
Roughly 68,000 seniors and disabled Connecticut residents will lose access to a Medicare financial assistance program January 1, when income eligibility requirements change under the newly enacted state budget.

As reported by CT News Junkie: Currently, through the Medicare Savings Program, the state Department of Social Services (DSS) pays Medicare Part B premiums for low-income elderly and disabled adults earning less than 246 percent of the federal poverty level. Those earning less than 234 percent of the poverty level can receive additional help covering co-pays, deductibles and prescriptions.

In the new year, only those earning less than 100 percent of the poverty level—or $12,060—will qualify to receive all benefits under the program, and those receiving subsidies for premiums alone must earn less than 135 percent of the poverty level to be considered for eligibility. 

Once the change occurs, the new income eligibility will be at the federal minimum, the same level used by 45 other states, according to DSS. Southampton Conducts Seminar on opioid issue
The Connecticut Post reports:
Just days after a video showed a female cop repeatedly bashing the head of a teen held down by other officers, the city’s police cars are finally getting dash cameras.
Allegations that police sometimes used excessive force — and that the cameras might be called for — have swirled around the department for years, with little effect. The city couldn’t afford the cost, was the official stance. But the dark and violent video has apparently changed all that.

Police Chief Armando Perez said Tuesday that during a meeting with the state’s legislative delegation about last Friday’s confrontation between Officer Christina Arroyo and 18-year-old Aaron Kearney, he was told the state has the money to purchase the dash cameras for the city. He said that body cameras for officers could be next, but there is still a lot of money needed to fund that.

Police Union President Charles Paris said he had initially been against body cameras but is now leaning in favor of them as a result of the incident involving Kearney. 
The East End Beacon Reports:
In an effort to stop the spread of the deadly opioid drug crisis, the Town of Southampton Opioid Addiction Task Force scheduled a public forum for 7 p.m. tonight at the Hampton Bays High School Auditorium. 

The Task force is developing an action plan for the Southampton Town Board and it is inviting members of the community to participate. 

Medical, mental health, education and law enforcement professionals participated in this Town Hall event to help search for solutions to the opioid crisis that impacts everyone. 

The Opioid Addiction Task Force hopes to come up with an action plan to present to the Southampton Town Board by June 1, 2018.

Tuesday November 14, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford, Phil Hall and Alyssa Katz) 

In the news tonight: New Connecticut budget already showing red ink; Thermal Loop Project Planned for Bridgeport; Suffolk Legislature looks at domestic waste-water systems; 
and New York utility workers head for Puerto Rico
The Connecticut Mirror reports:
Less than three weeks after Connecticut legislators approved a new state budget, eroding revenues and sales tax receipts have opened deficits topping $175 million this fiscal year and nearing $150 million in 2018 and 19.

The new budget faces major challenges on the spending side as well as the revenue component. It requires Governor Malloy to achieve unprecedented savings after the budget is in force—a level that the governor already has warned would be difficult to achieve.
The consensus report from Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration and the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis raises the risk the state might exhaust its emergency reserves.

Even before Monday’s report, one of the chief criticisms of the new budget was that it sets up the winners of the next state election to face a deficit much worse than the one lawmakers just tackled.
A plan to make Bridgeport the first American city to establish a municipal low-temperature thermal heating district is moving forward.

According to the Fairfield County Business Journal, the thermal loop will use a network of underground pipes to distribute energy produced by a fuel cell or a combined heat and power facility to supply space heating and domestic hot water to Bridgeport’s downtown buildings.

The project will be installed in two phases, starting with the $15 million installation of pipeline to supply thermal heat to 2 million square feet of building space, followed by piping to heat an additional 3 million square feet of space, which will cost approximately $14 million. The thermal loop was included in the state budget signed by Governor Malloy on October 31. 

Construction is expected to begin during the spring, with a completion by the end of next year.
Newsday reports:
A proposed Suffolk County law would require homeowners to replace failing cesspools with septic tanks starting in 2019. The requirement would affect an estimated 5,000 to 9,000 homes a year.

Replacing a cesspool costs between $4,000 and $8,000 depending on the house, and installing a septic tank would cost about $2,000 more, according to a supplier. Since 1973, the county has required both a septic tank and a leaching structure in new construction. But Suffolk has allowed homeowners to replace failing cesspools with new cesspools.There are an estimated 252,000 homes with only cesspools.

Kevin McAllister of the activist group Defend H2O has recommended the County require alternative systems for which the County has a nitrogen discharge standard of 19 milligram per liter.  But McAllister told WPKN News that the County has declined to do so.
County legislators tabled the bill Monday, saying they wanted to discuss concerns about costs. It will be heard again in the committee later this month.
The Albany Times-Union reports:
More than 160 New York State electric public and private utility experts and nearly 100 utility vehicles have arrived in Puerto Rico. And 220 people more will head to Puerto Rico later in the week, according to the Governor’s office. They will assist with the recovery of its power grid caused by severe damage from Hurricane Maria in September. 

The New York State utility workers will coordinate directly with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, in cooperation with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, to help restore the damaged electric system.

The workers include personnel from the New York Power Authority, Con Edison, PSEG, and National Grid. NYPA technical experts previously went to Puerto Rico in September.
Monday, November 13, 2017  (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Lee Yuen Lew, and Neil Tolhurst)

In the news tonight:  cops under investigation after Friday beating of Bridgeport teenager; man with loaded AR-15 arrested in Bridgeport; Cuomo signs bill to allow medical marijuana for PTSD; and New York Comptroller warns of fiscal troubles ahead 
The Connecticut Post reports that Bridgeport police officers are under investigation for allegedly beating a city teen after a car accident Friday night.
Police Chief Armando Perez said he has placed several officers on administrative status and ordered the city’s Office of Internal Affairs to investigate the incident. 

Police said it began when 18-year old Aaron Kearney of Bridgeport reported a minor car accident he was involved in. In a video posted on the Internet, five police officers can be seen forcing Kearney face-first onto the hood of a car as Kearney’s mother is screaming: “Don’t hurt my son.”  Also a female officer appears to be hitting the side of Kearney’s face with her hand.  “Get back,” the female officer yells to the person taking the video. “Or you are next.”

Kearney was charged with breach of peace and assault on a police officer following the incident. His family says that he has never had any trouble with police before. and had attended summits on improving relations between the community and police.

The incident took place a day after police broke up a gathering marking the six-month anniversary of the police shooting of 15-year old Jayson Negron, and arrested one person. A state police investigation is ongoing in that incident with the officer involved on leave.
Bridgeport police arrested a man found with a loaded AR-15 rifle last Wednesday. As reported by the Connecticut Post, officers responded after receiving calls about a man behaving suspiciously. 

He was questioned about what was in a duffel bag he was carrying. The man said the bag contained clothes, gave the officers permission to look, and they found a loaded AR-15, with three magazines fully loaded. The man also carried a notebook with what police described as strange writings, including a reference to the president.

He was questioned by Connecticut State Police, the Anti-Terrorism Task Force, Bridgeport police detectives, and personnel from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was determined that there was no threat to the President.

Police held the man, who they declined to identify, on unspecified charges and a $1 million bond. He was scheduled to appear in court on Monday. 
New Yorkers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder will now be able to use medical marijuana as prescribed by a doctor under a new law approved by Governor Cuomo on Saturday.

As reported by the Albany Times-Union, the law adds PTSD to a list of ailments that can be treated with medical marijuana under the state’s tightly regulated program. That list already includes cancer, HIV or AIDS, epilepsy and chronic pain, among other conditions. 

The bill signing coincides with Veterans Day. According to the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, 7 percent to 8 percent of the U.S. population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. 

And VA statistics show that among veterans, between 11 percent and 20 percent of those who served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year. Also about 30 percent of Vietnam War veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
The Albany Times- Union reports:
New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has warned of a “triple threat of budgetary risks” as state tax data show that collections are nearly $387 million below the latest projections. 

DiNapoli’s mid-fiscal year update report shows lower than expected personal income tax collections. If receipts continue to fall below projections, next year’s projected $4 billion budget shortfall may grow.

For the state to see a projected $711 million increase in sales and use tax collections by the end of the fiscal year, growth will have to increase 7.6 percent over the next six months, according to the report. 
Friday November 10, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford, Keith Galgot, John Iannuzzi, and Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight: Connecticut police chiefs push back on racial profiling report;
New Haven rally for Clean DREAM Act; Southampton gets climate smart designation; Bridgehampton National Bank to close Cutchogue branch
CT NewsJunkie reports:
The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association is pushing back against the third annual report to the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Advisory Board. The association says it has reservations about its validity. The report found significant disparities in the rate of Hispanic and Black motorists stopped during daylight relative to darkness. The data covers traffic stops during 2015 and 2016.

American Civil Liberties Union executive director David McGuire says the report “shows that some police in Connecticut are disproportionately stopping Black and Latino drivers and unjustly targeting neighborhoods where people of color live and drive.”

Project manager Ken Barone says 20 police departments identified over the past two years have worked with the group to reduce the disparities.
Hundreds of people gathered in New Haven Thursday afternoon for a rally supporting immigrants rights. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there and filed this report:
The event was part of a national day of action calling for Congress to pass what supporters are calling a Clean DREAM Act to allow immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to stay in the country.

Carolina Bortoleto of Connecticut Students for a Dream explains: “A clean DREAM Act is a DREAM Act that provides permanent protection for undocumented youth, but does not criminalize or terrorize our communities. So we don’t want more enforcement, we don’t want more ICE agents, we don’t want a wall. I don’t want to trade my safety for the safety of my parents.”

Bortoleto added that in Connecticut November 9 also marked three months since Marco Reyes Alvarez has been in sanctuary in the First & Summerfield Church, where the rally began, and one month since Sujitno Sajuti has been in sanctuary in the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden.

Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News
Newsday reports:
Southampton Town is the second on Long Island to be certified by the state as a climate smart community. East Hampton Town is the only other Long Island municipality with the designation.

Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Basil Seggos said state and local officials must step in to stem climate change and sea level rise, especially after President Trump announced that he will withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. Seggos said: “…it’s imperative we do everything we can on Long Island to protect our population, to protect our natural resources.”

The climate smart certification makes the town eligible for state grants funding sustainability efforts.
Suffolk Times reports:
Bridgehampton National Bank’s Cutchogue branch will be one of seven branches to close across Long Island in February. In a letter to its customers, BNB encouraged customers to use the Mattituck branch about four miles away.

Chief retail banking officer James Manseau said: “…overall, all branch transactions are down because people are using mobile banking, online banking, bill pay and ATMs.” He added that most Cutchogue branch employees should be able to find positions at other BNB locations.

BNB has over 40 branches on Long Island and New York City.
Thursday November 9, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Ramzi Babouder-Matta and Mike Merli)

In the news tonight: Care 4 Kids re-opens in Connecticut; The Connecticut Television Network will air re-runs until a labor solution is reached; New York State Education Commissioner calls for greater efforts around Pre-K; and, Federal prosecutors want to use campaign contributions to Governor Cuomo as evidence in a corruption trial.
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
A program that subsidizes the cost of daycare for working families is re-opening and accepting new applications for the first time since August 2016. Care4Kids, a joint state and federal program, was closed to new applicants in 2016 because the federal government instituted new costly mandates.

State officials felt it was best to restrict the number of children in the program, rather than changing eligibility criteria, which meant closing the program to new applicants.
However, thanks to $31 million in funding over the next two years as part of the recently approved state budget, the program will begin accepting new applicants.

There are currently 5,769 families on the wait list in Connecticut.
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
It’s been almost a week of previously taped shows and there is still no definitive plan for the Connecticut Television Network, or CT-N.

Last Friday at 5pm, the Connecticut Public Affairs Network (or CPAN) ended its relationship with the Office of Legislative Management (or OLM) based on what the non-profit believed to be untenable budget cuts. Since then, OLM has asked the staff of CPAN – the non-profit operator of CT-N for the last 18 years – to consider applying for what could be temporary jobs with no benefits.

Yesterday, James Tracy, executive director of OLM, said they have not hired any of the 22 employees who were laid off to work for the network. Until a solution is reached, the network will continue running on a loop of previously recorded programs.
Newsday reports:
New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said Tuesday that Long Island lags far behind in providing quality state-funded pre-kindergarten education, and greater efforts must be made to expand those services to the youngest learners.

Elia, speaking to early childhood educators, administrators and advocates, noted that only 7 percent of Long Island 4 year-olds have access to state-funded, full-day pre-K, compared with 100 percent of such students in New York City. She urged the audience to become advocates and publicize the importance of pre-kindergarten, saying that early literacy leads to greater academic success.

Tuesday’s event was hosted by the Long Island Pre-K Initiative, a grant-funded project that seeks to share information about research, policy, and best practices for early learning.
The Albany Times Union reports:
Federal prosecutors are seeking to use campaign contributions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as evidence in the upcoming corruption trial of a former top Cuomo aide and three others.

Joe Percoco, the former Cuomo Aide, is charged with taking bribes from two companies in exchange for government favors. The other defendants include former and current representatives of the two companies, which are Syracuse firm COR Development and Competitive Power Ventures based in Maryland.

Acting Manhattan U.S. District Attorney Joon Kim wrote in a recent filing in U.S. District Court that campaign contributions were a critical part of the relationship between the alleged co-conspirators. The prosecution said it intends to show that the COR executives made contributions to Cuomo to "strengthen connections with the office of the governor and its senior officials, which they believed would, in turn, lead to benefits and opportunities."

Cuomo's office has repeatedly said that campaign contributions never influence administration policies.
Wednesday November 8, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Liz Becker, Keith Golgot, Alyssa Katz, and Danniella Tompos)

In the news tonight: Democrats claim victory in Connecticut municipal elections; talks continue re Connecticut health insurance; Enfield prison to close as inmate population falls; Constitutional Convention rejected by New York voters; and, Suffolk voters select DA, Sheriff and Town officials
As reported by CT Mirror:
With no competitive mayoral races in Connecticut’s largest cities, the focus in municipal elections Tuesday turned to the suburbs, where jubilant Democrats made gains on Republican turf across the state in races for local councils and chief elected officers.

In Bridgeport, the city that elected ex-convict, Joe Ganim, as mayor two years ago, elected former state Senator Ernest Newton, also an ex-convict, and a Democrat, to the city council. But voters in Waterbury shut down a comeback attempt by their former mayor, Joe Santopietro, who was driven from office by a federal corruption conviction 25 years ago.Republican Representative Laura Hoydick, was elected mayor of Stratford.

Democrats said discontent with Trump drew first-time volunteers to phone banks and canvassing campaigns, a base they hope to build upon in 2018 in the open race for governor and control of a closely divided General Assembly.
The Hartford Courant Reports:
Some of the state's largest employers have weighed in on the Hartford HealthCare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield contract impasse.

The employers, including the Mohegan Sun and the town of West Hartford, are calling for resolution of a disagreement over reimbursements for medical treatments that threaten coverage for tens of thousands of patients. A letter was sent to the presidents of HHC and Anthem expressing their concerns.

In the absence of an agreement, Hartford HealthCare has been removed from Anthem’s network of health providers, leaving tens of thousands of Connecticut patients with the prospect of higher out-of-pocket and out-of-network costs for treatment. Patients with “true emergency conditions” can receive treatment at any of Hartford HealthCare facilities and pay the in-network rate.

Without this provider and no word of reimbursement, people are starting to consider other healthcare options.
The Connecticut Mirror reports:
Connecticut is closing the Enfield Correctional Institution, a prison that opened in 1962 as the Osborn Prison Farm.Closure of the 700-bed, medium security prison comes as the state prison population is continuing to contract.

Governor Malloy has said that the falling crime rate for the young is an indicator that the prison system will continue to shrink, allowing both budget savings and an expansion in programs geared to preparing inmates for release and reducing recidivism.

The closing is expected to save $6.5 million annually.
The Albany TimesUnion reports:
On Tuesday, New York voters overwhelmingly rejected a Constitutional Convention.

They also approved a constitutional amendment that creates a forest preserve land bank that towns in the Adirondacks and Catskills can tap into for certain development projects.
The amendment passed by a slim margin. It creates a 250-acre forest preserve land bank that towns could use if they have “no viable alternative to using preserve land.” This allows installing new lines for broadband, water, or sewers when it is necessary to cross forest preserve lands along a roadway.

Voters also approved an amendment that allows judges to reduce or revoke the pensions of public officials convicted of a felony related to their duties.
Voters in Suffolk County chose a new District Attorney and a Sheriff Tuesday,
according to Newsday.

Democrat Timothy Sini defeated Republican Ray Perini to replace long time D.A. Tom Spota who is under indictment for corruption. In the race for Sheriff, Errol Toulon, a Democrat, may have defeated Republican Lawrence Zacarese.  The race will be determined when absentee votes are counted.

Democrat  Laura Jens-Smith won the Supervisor post in Riverhead, defeating Republican Sean Walter.

In Southampton Democrats gained control of the Town Board and Supervisor
Jay Schneiderman was re-elected.

The two Republican incumbent Southold Town Board members won re-election as the GOP swept the three open trustees positions and other town posts.
Tuesday November 7, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford, Phil Hall
 and Lee Yuen Lew)

In the news tonight: Bridgeport Amphitheater Approved; Connecticut TV Network Shut Down; School District opposes Brentwood development; What’s in a name for the Stony Brook Medical School; and, get out and vote!
As reported by the Connecticut Post:
Bridgeport’s city council has authorized local developer Howard Saffan to transform the just-vacated ballpark into a warm weather concert amphitheater. Mr. Saffan and concert promoter Live Nation have pledged to bring a minimum of 20 major musical acts to town annually beginning in spring of 2019.

The city and Saffan will split the estimated $15 million renovation cost, including preliminary design and engineering work. A last-minute change to the deal with Saffan includes clarification that Bridgeport would not be on the hook financially should the developer be unable to move forward.

The Sound Tigers hockey team, under contract with the city to run the arena next door, have threatened legal action over the amphitheater.The team argues the amphitheater will pose competition. City Hall chose Saffan and Live Nation, rather than enter into a new contract with the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team.
The Connecticut Television Network, also known as CT-N, ceased all original broadcasting last Friday after 18 years of broadcasting. The Fairfield County Business Journal reports the network was financed by the State of Connecticut, but was unable to continue operations after its funding was cut from $3.2 million to $1.6 million in the budget signed by Governor Malloy last week.

CT-N carried live coverage of the state legislature, along with municipal meetings and original public affairs programming. The network is now showing reruns of broadcasts from earlier in the year.

Paul Giguere, president of the nonprofit organization that ran CT-N, called the loss of funding “simply unworkable”. He also accused state legislators of trying to take editorial control of the network’s contents and focus.

CT-N employed 33 people.
Newsday reports:
The Brentwood school district filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Riverhead against the Islip Town Board and developers of Heartland Town Square.

Brentwood school officials and a civic group say the Heartland Town Square development would overcrowd schools, increase traffic, and alter the area’s suburban setting,
The suit also contends that proper legal procedure was not followed in approving the project.

The Islip Town Board approved the massive mixed-used Heartland development’s first phase in July.

Heartland developer Jerry Wolkoff said the development will provide a community for millennials and empty-nesters and is “not for schoolchildren”.  Michael Capuano, president of Citizens for a Better Islip, said the billion-dollar Heartland development would be a major economic boost.
According to Newsday’s newsletter, The Point:
At its October meeting, Stony Brook University’s oversight board approved a resolution to rename the Stony Brook School of Medicine.The new name would be the Renaissance School of Medicine, after the East Setauket hedge fund. The reason? More than $500 million in donations to Stony Brook from Renaissance employees since 1982.

Renaissance founder James Simons is a major Stony Brook backer. But Renaissance’s top executive, Robert Mercer, is a major backer of President Donald Trump. Mercer announced last week he would step down from his positions at Renaissance.

The U.S. Senate concluded in 2014 that Renaissance had failed to pay more than $6 billion in taxes,
Members of the North Country Peace Group have been protesting Mercer, a Long Island neighbor.They don’t think the company should get its name on a state institution. They plan to lobby the trustees, a new front in their Mercer fight.
Today is election day in Connecticut where pols close at 8PM and in New York where they close at 9PM.

Voters in New Haven and other Connecticut towns can choose their Mayor. In Suffolk County there are contests for District Attorney, Sheriff and numerous town officials.

There are three questions on the ballot, including whether to hold a state constitutional convention.  Look on the reverse side of the ballot for these.
Monday November 6, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Phil Hall, Lee Yuen Lew, and Neil Tolhurst)

In the news tonight:  500 kids fleeing Hurricane Maria now in Connecticut schools; New Haven Police don body cameras; GE refused three inducements to stay in Connecticut; and, New Yorkers vote Tuesday on Constitutional Convention 
The Connecticut Mirror reports:
At least 500 children who fled hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico are now attending public schools throughout Connecticut. Most of them – 85 percent – showed up in the state’s lowest-achieving districts, which already have high concentrations of needy students. These include Hartford, Waterbury, New Haven and Bridgeport.

Hartford provides 88 new students with immediate enrollment, school supplies, winter coats, food and other necessary services.

There is no dedicated pool of money for the increased students, but districts can include students who enrolled by the end of October in their enrollment counts that are typically used to determine future state-funding levels.

The state education department will guide schools on their obligations to provide special services these students may need.  This will include how to ensure students get services even if their legal guardian did not move with them. 
Thirty New Haven police officers have begun training for use of new body-worn cameras.  Police officials call this a step toward transparency, accountability and trust. Mayor Toni Harp, who advocated for body cameras while in the legislature, said she believes that transparency alone will benefit the department and the public.

The police department received a $780,000 grant to purchase 800 body cameras, enough for each officer to be issued a camera for use during a regular shift, and a backup camera at the station. Officials promised that the body cameras will change the way the department functions. 

The department will proactively release footage from some major incidents and will also occasionally highlight the everyday good that cops do on the beat to give the public a better idea of what the day-to-day life of a police officer is really like.
Connecticut officials secretly offered General Electric three proposals to keep the company from moving its headquarters to Boston

The Fairfield County Business Journal reports that the state proposed buying the company’s 66-acre campus in Fairfield, with the caveat that GE relocate to a city in Connecticut. 

Another proposal involved GE relocating part of its staff to another Connecticut city while the state paid for headquarters upgrade. A third had the state paying for renovations at the GE headquarters campus. 

GE moved its headquarters to Boston last year and Sacred Heart University purchased the property for $31.5 million.
On Tuesday November 7, in addition to voting for county-wide and town offices, Suffolk voters will have the chance to decide if a New York constitutional convention should happen.

According to the Suffolk Times: 
New York State’s constitution requires that every 20 years the people decide if a constitutional convention should be held to consider amendments.

Some groups, many of them labor unions, oppose the convention, concerned that a convention would put workers’ benefits, wages and rights at risk while also raising taxes.
Groups favoring a convention, hope a convention will eradicate corruption and government dysfunction. 

Should a majority of citizens vote YES, three delegates from each of the state’s 63 state senatorial districts would be chosen in the 2018 election. Fifteen more at-large delegates would be selected statewide. Those delegates would meet in Albany in April 2019 to adopt amendments that would be submitted to voters on the ballot the following November.

The constitutional convention proposal and two proposed amendments to the state constitution are on the reverse side of the ballot.
Friday November 3, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Trace Alford, Keith Galgot, and Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight: Connecticut budget cuts Medicaid help; homeless in New Haven march for better housing; Connecticut Chief Justice to retire; DEA opioid enforcement team to form on Long Island; Shelter Islanders favor hunting for deer, tick control
The CT Mirror reports: 
Connecticut’s two-year, bipartisan budget signed by Governor Malloy this week will cut Medicaid help for at least 68,000 seniors and disabled individuals. The cuts, decried by doctors and health care advocates, will take effect January 1.

To save about $70 million, the budget will roll back eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program, which helps low-income and disabled Medicare recipients and provides some benefits of the Medicaid program.

Advocates for the cuts say Connecticut’s income levels to qualify for the program should be higher because of Connecticut’s high cost of living.
Dozens of homeless people and their supporters marched through downtown New Haven on Wednesday afternoon, demanding Housing Not Jail. 

WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there:
Organized by the homeless themselves with support from the Connecticut Bail Fund, marchers started outside a church that serves breakfast to the homeless, then stopped at City Hall and the Elm Street courthouse to press their demands for portable toilets on the Green, an end to ticketing for being homeless, and to risky shelter that leads to injury and death.

Quentin Staggers said one of the city’s shelters crams 75 men into one bedbug-infested room.”So I say knock that building down and build a new shelter (yay!). Chant: Housing Not Jails!”

He said his efforts to create alternatives – such as getting agreement from more than 40 landlords with blighted properties to allow homeless people stay in them as long as they took care of them – were stymied by Mayor Toni Harp. Harp's spokesman said the city spends more on homeless services than any other city in the state.

Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.   
The Connecticut Post reports: 
Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase Rogers announced her retirement Thursday after 10 years of leading the high court. She will retire February 5, 2018 “before I overstay my welcome.”

Rogers wrote, “When I began my tenure in 2007, I told my family and close friends that I thought ten years in a position of leadership was just about right.”

She began her term as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court April 25, 2007.
Riverhead Local reports: 
The federal Drug Enforcement Agency last week announced the establishment of six new enforcement teams focused on combatting heroin and illicit fentanyl, with one based on Long Island. The announcement came a day after President Trump declared opioid use a national public health emergency. 

Suffolk County has led the state in the number of opioid deaths among all counties outside New York City. 

DEA acting administrator Robert Patterson said the enforcement teams’ top priority will be “pursuing the criminal organizations that distribute their poison to our neighborhoods.”
East End Beacon reports: 
Shelter Islanders who responded to a town survey overwhelmingly supported hunting, including using professional hunters, as a means to control deer and tick populations.

Survey results released October 31 show that 72 percent of respondents support hunting. But only 57 percent said they would allow it on their property, with many saying their lots were too small or too close together to allow it. 

Seventy-seven percent support increased funding for deer and tick management.

Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty said the town wants to double funding to incentivize hunting, from $10,000 to $20,000, in the 2018 budget.
Thursday November 2, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Ramzi Babouder-Matta, Phil Hall, and Mike Merli)

In the news tonight: Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is open for business; workforce development program to prepare Bridgeport residents for construction careers; Women’s Suffrage exhibit goes on display Saturday at New York State museum; and, Suffolk County judge drops drug charge for Mastic Beach man
Connecticut News Junkie reports:
It is the fifth and possibly the most challenging year for open enrollment on Connecticut’s insurance exchange – Access Health Connecticut.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced in September that it was cutting its advertising budget by 90 percent and then in October the President canceled a crucial subsidy that helped insurance carriers recover some of their costs for helping low-income individuals and families better afford coverage.

Anthem Health and ConnectiCare Benefits are the two insurance carriers offering plans on the exchange. Unlike last year, there are more than 200 insurance brokers who will be able to help consumers choose the right plan. For those who don’t want the help of a broker, there’s also a new consumer decision tool offered online by Access Health Connecticut.

As of yesterday, customers may now enroll online, by telephone, or by visiting one of 10 enrollment centers around the state.
Fairfield County Business Journal reports:
PSEG Power Connecticut has launched a workforce development program designed to prepare Bridgeport residents for construction industry careers.

According to the Fairfield County Business Journal, the new PSEG Ready2Work Apprenticeship Readiness Training will focus on preparing its students for registered labor apprenticeship programs, with the goal of leveraging this training into construction industry employment.

Karl Wintermeyer, the plant manager at the PSEG Bridgeport Harbor Station, said that the program did not guarantee employment in the construction industry, but added the company was working with the building trades and the Connecticut Department of Labor to give graduates a competitive advantage in qualifying for union apprenticeships.

Classes will begin in January and will be Bridgeport’s workforce development agency with comprehensive training supplied by Building Pathways–Connecticut.
The Albany Times Union reports:
An exhibit celebrating the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York opens Saturday to the public at the State Museum in Albany. Named “Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial,” the exhibit will remain on display at the museum through May 13th, 2018.

The exhibit tells the story of women’s hard-fought battle for the ballot with more than 250 artifacts and images in the state that is credited as the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement.

Visitors to the exhibit over the next six months will learn how Johnstown's Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Rochester's Susan B. Anthony and Cicero's Matilda Joslyn Gage helped lead the fight for suffrage at both the state and national level.
Newsday reports: 
A Suffolk judge dismissed a fentanyl distribution charge against a Mastic Beach man Wednesday afternoon, after a prosecutor told him that Suffolk police knew days before the man’s arrest that the substance he had was quote: not any kind of illegal drug.

Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, who is running for district attorney, held a news conference Saturday to announce the arrest of 24 year old Corey Robinson, for first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Sini said Robinson received “over 1.1 million doses of fentanyl” in the mail from Hong Kong. But by the time Robinson and two others were arrested Saturday, the police had lab results for almost three days showing the drugs were not fentanyl. However, the drugs have been sent to a Pennsylvania lab to determine if they are ‘analogs’ of fentanyl.  

Analogs of a drug have a slightly different chemical structure, but have similar effects.
If the substance contains a fentanyl analog, Robinson will be charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a felony, a far lower charge.
Wednesday November 1, 2017 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Keith Golgot and Alyssa Katz)

In the news tonight: Malloy signs budget but makes changes to hospital funding; Governor signs Millstone bill; tribes lawyers tell interior it must accept casino deal; and, New York health care enrollment begins
Governor Malloy signed the two-year bipartisan budget Tuesday. However, Malloy didn’t agree to accept the entire budget package. The governor line-item vetoed spending in support of a new hospital tax proposal. He cited its unsound legal basis in federal law, and urged lawmakers to pass workable language that his administration provided.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said he understands the concerns Malloy raised about the hospital tax structure and is uncertain how the legislature will proceed.

Governor Malloy also pointed out that the budget could be built on some faulty assumptions. He said it also fails to fund an agreement between the state and District 1199 SEIU to cover raises for home health workers. 

The agreement will be submitted to the legislature for approval in January 2018 and if approved the budget will fall short of the money necessary to pay the contract.
The Connecticut Post reports:
A bill that, according to environmentalist, would allow the Millstone nuclear power plant the ability to compete with higher cost renewable power sources, was signed into law Tuesday by Governor  Malloy.

The legislation requires the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) to survey the nuclear plant and determine whether to allow it to join in the solicitation process for power-producing contracts.  

Opponents of the bill charged that allowing Millstone to compete with renewables, could cost consumers an extra $300 million a year in a state with some of the nation’s highest charges for electricity. An analysis that predicts the nuclear station will remain “highly profitable” through 2035 was released Tuesday by DEEP and PURA.

Millstone presently supplies about half of Connecticut’s electric power.
Lawyers for the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations pressed the federal government Tuesday with a letter insisting the Interior secretary has no choice but to approve their gaming agreements with Connecticut. This would clear the way for them to jointly develop a commercial casino in East Windsor. 

The letter comes days after a meeting at the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the Department of the Interior, where the tribes and the state’s congressional delegation failed to move the department to act on approving amendments to the tribes’ gaming compacts. The refusal to give a clear answer was a victory for MGM Resorts International, which has fought for two years to block the East Windsor casino and protect the market for an MGM casino scheduled to open next year in nearby Springfield.

If MGM cannot stop the casino, it would like to delay its construction until after MGM Springfield opens. MGM also has begun a lobbying campaign for legislative approval to open its own casino resort in Bridgeport.
Newsday reports:
New York residents can now start signing up for another year of insurance coverage through the state’s official health plan marketplace. The enrollment period for the NY State of Health marketplace will run until Jan. 31.Premium rate increases were approved in August, with a weighted average increase for individual premiums of 14.5 percent.  

The plan includes low-cost options for those who qualify. Those with incomes between $30,000 and $40,000 will pay about $50 less a month for coverage on the silver plan. The bronze plan will be free for people whose income is $25,000, but will have higher deductibles and copays. 

For the next three months, 5,500 people certified by the state will begin signing people up at hospitals, social service agencies, libraries, churches and community centers. Or they can enroll at
Constitution Convention-explanation
Every 20 years, New York voters are faced with the constitutionally mandated question: Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?  To answer the question, November 7, 2017 voters in New York State will vote on whether or not to constitute a state constitutional convention (ConCon).  

On October 10, 2017 a constitutional convention debate took place at the Riverhead library in Riverhead, NY.  The event was sponsored by Indivisible North Fork, moderated by the League of Women Voters, recorded by WPKN radio and produced by WPKN News.  The 90-minute recording has been divided into five segments to facilitate listening.