Thursday, March 1, 2018

March 2018

Thursday March 15, 2018  (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Ramzi Babouder-Matta, Thomas Byrne, and Mike Merli)

In the news tonight: Connecticut lawmaker on quest for extra hour of sunlight; Information Technology company to open Hartford hub; Connecticut Bill Would Restore Voting Rights to Parolees; students protest gun violence at schools across Long Island
Christine Stuart writing for Connecticut News Junkie reports:
Lack of sleep and the associated health issues are just two of the reasons Representative Kurt Vail is still pushing for legislation that would have Connecticut stay on daylight savings time.

The Republican from Stafford Springs can’t personally introduce legislation this session, but he said the General Administrations and Elections Committee has agreed to draft a bill and hold a public hearing on the issue. The bill, as of Monday, had yet to be drafted and published, but, according to Vail, it will be similar to his legislation last year.

Vail proposed staying on daylight savings time throughout the year and moving to the Atlantic Time Zone.

Last year’s bill got a public hearing, but it was never voted out of committee. 
Christine Stuart writing for Connecticut News Junkie reports:
Infosys, a global consulting and information technology services company, will be opening one of its four innovation hubs in Hartford and promises to create 1,000 jobs before 2022. The hub, which hasn’t settled yet on a property in the city, will have a special focus on insurance, healthcare and manufacturing, according to the company.

Infosys inaugurated its first Technology and Innovation Hub in Indianapolis, Indiana and has already announced a Technology Innovation Hub in Raleigh, North Carolina and a Design and Innovation Hub in Providence, Rhode Island.

Connecticut’s hub will include insurance and healthcare labs that focus on smart underwriting, claims fraud, loT and Cloud, and will employ cutting-edge data security and data-sharing features to help Infosys clients comply with all applicable privacy laws while promoting innovation.

As of now, there is no specific date when the hub would open. 
Andrea Sears of the Connecticut News Service reports:
The Connecticut General Assembly held a committee hearing today in Hartford to consider a bill that would restore voting rights to about 7000 residents in pre-trial detention or parole.

Kenneth Ray, Chair of the Full Citizen Coalition to Unlock the Vote, said that “disenfranchising voters doesn’t increase public safety or help reintegrate the formerly incarcerated into their community.”

According to Ray, the legislation would bring Connecticut’s voting rights into line with every other state in New England.  Ten other states and the District of Columbia allow people on parole to vote.  Vermont and Maine have no restrictions on voting rights.  “It’s a constitutional right, it’s a civil right…and it’s time Connecticut moves forward,” said Ray.
Joie Tyrell writing for Newsday reports:
Students in districts across Long Island walked out of school buildings or participated in other demonstrations Wednesday, joining a nationwide protest to remember the victims of last month’s shooting massacre in Florida, and to call for greater gun safety.

Demonstrations spanned the Island, from the Lawrence school district in western Nassau County to the Bridgehampton district on the East End. Mostly organized by students, they were part of a national mass movement to memorialize the 17 people shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Many Long Island districts organized school-sanctioned tributes or walkouts Wednesday. Some districts had warned students that they could face disciplinary action for walking out of class. Still, the protests were lauded by state education officials.

In a joint statement, state education department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa said: “These young people, united in peaceful protest to demand action by our Congress on gun violence, are turning tragedy into a teachable moment for our federal lawmakers.” 
Wednesday March 14th, 2018  (Thanks to volunteer editors Michael Zweig and Tony Ernst)

In the news tonight: Bridgeport officials take part in today’s student walkout to protest violence in schools; big changes on the Democratic Town Committee in Bridgeport’s South End;  New York State Senate Probes NYC Plan to Export Homeless Upstate; advocates say immigrants whose protections are expiring should renew
From Hartford Courant reporters Nicholas Rondinone and Jordan Otero Sisson:
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim joined City Schools Superintendent Aresta Johnson and students of Harding High who showed solidarity with the national “Walkout” today in recognition of the tragedy at Parkland Florida, and in protest against gun violence at schools everywhere.

In the Hartford Courant Nick Rondinone and Jordan Sisson reported “thousands” of students across Connecticut left their classrooms with a message: “Enough.” A large contingent of students in Farmington disobeyed administrators and left the high school. Police said they could not leave campus, but they did. Outside nearby town hall, they shouted, “The system is broken.”

Valencia Harris, an 18-year-old Wilbur Cross High School student, said: “In New Haven, some of us are more prepared with clothes for funerals than job interviews”. 

Connecticut students have said they have felt compelled to speak up as members of Generation Z, the age group following the millennials that has only known a world after large-scale tragedies such as the massacre at Sandy Hook School in Newtown. 
Reported by WPKN News:
The 90-member Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee will select party officers tomorrow evening at a restaurant owned by party leader Mario Testa, who is seeking another two-year term. 

Recounts took place following last week’s primaries, and a change occurred in the 131st District where a slate led by former city councilor Mary Bruce, former City Librarian Scott Hughes and activist Jorge Cruz won six of nine seats against the slate of long-time District Leader Mitch Robles.  According to Lennie Grimaldi at, Hughes is expected to become district leader.

Robles and City Council members Jack Banta and Denese Taylor-Moye ran on the same slate. Those three would now make up the minority bloc to the Bruce-Hughes-Cruz slate, unfamiliar territory for any candidate backed by party leader Mario Testa. 

The district covers the South End of Bridgeport, Downtown and a portion of the West End. --------------------------------------------
Carl Campanili reports in the New York Post that the New York state Senate is opening an investigation into the de Blasio administration’s policy of exporting New York City homeless families elsewhere in the state. 

It was discovered last week the City is paying a year’s rent to encourage the homeless to leave the Big Apple’s shelters for apartments upstate. 

Senate Investigations Committee Chairman Terrence Murphy told The Post on Sunday that he’s opening a probe and will hold a public hearing on the matter after being briefed by an infuriated state Sen. Fred Akshar, who represents the city of Binghamton and Broome County, where the homeless are being shipped by the city. 

Broome County officials found out when families came into the Social Services office to apply for other benefits but not rental subsidies. They were told New York City had already taken care of their rent. 
The New York Immigration Coalition on Tuesday urged immigrants with expiring protections from deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and Temporary Protected Status or TPS, to renew participation in those programs before a Monday deadline. 

March 19 is the cutoff for immigrants from El Salvador and Haiti to re-register with the federal government for TPS, a provisional exemption from deportation given to people from countries in turmoil due to war, and natural disasters. 

Haitians and Salvadorans were told they could renew TPS for a final 18 months as the Trump administration will terminate their participation in 2019, citing changing conditions in their countries. 

About 31 thousand Salvadorans and 10 thousand Haitians in New York are TPS holders. 
For young immigrants who came or stayed illegally as minors, DACA is an executive action shielding them from immigration enforcement. They can re-enroll while federal court orders are in place in a legal fight to save that protection. 
Tuesday March 13, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Trace Alford, Michael Zweig and Thomas Byrne)

In the news tonight:  Report: Budget raid on energy funds will hurt Connecticut economy; Catholic Church to close three schools on Long Island; New York Dems target congressional Republicans with anti-guns ad campaign; Percoco guilty on three counts
The Times Union reports:
In a split verdict, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's former top aide Joe Percoco was found guilty of committing honest services fraud, conspiracy to commit honest services, and solicitation of bribes and gratuities on Tuesday, two months after the start of a federal trial that cast a cold light on pay-to-play culture in state government.

Percoco was found not guilty of three other counts against him, conspiracy commit extortion, extortion and a bribery count.

The two Syracuse executives were acquitted of most of the charges they faced connected to allegations they paid bribes to Percoco, both men face more charges in another trial dealing with alleged fraud in upstate development projects that is slated to begin in June.

Sentencing will be held June 11. 
Gregory Hladky reports in the Hartford Courant that the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board has warned that Connecticut lawmakers’ deficit-driven decision to “sweep up” $127 million in energy efficiency program funds will trigger far larger economic losses.

The Board found that siphoning the money would result in $275 million in lost energy efficiency savings and cause the burning of an additional 1.6 million gallons of fuel oil to heat homes.

“This diversion of electric ratepayer funding for state budgetary needs will have harmful consequences for Connecticut,” the Board stated in its latest annual report, including solar industry lost jobs. 

In order to help solve a massive budget deficit last year, the General Assembly took the $127 million out of energy efficiency funds that are financed through surcharges on ratepayers’ bills. The action effectively chops 33 percent of the funding available for programs to help homeowners and business cut their energy costs. 
Denise Civiletti at Riverhead Local reports:
The Catholic Church announced on Monday that three of its Long Island schools will close on this year.

According to the Diocese of Rockville Center’s website,  Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School in Riverhead will close at the end of the current school year and forward its remaining students to St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip.  Also, St. Isidore School in Riverhead and Our Lady of Mercy Regional School in Cutchogue will be combined into the new St. John Paul II school, to be located on the property  currently housing St. Isidore.

Declining enrollment and cost savings were given as reasons for the closures.  Enrollment among the three schools declined 37% and first grade at Our Lady of Mercy has only three students. The schools have received  subsidies of more than 19 million dollars in the past decade. 

Deeply regretting the pain and disruption parents, students, and staff will experience, Dr. Kathleen Walsh, diocese superintendent of schools, said: “Strengthening enrollment at our remaining schools will create a more vibrant and effective Catholic educational environment.”
Rachel Silberstein reports for Times Union:
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Democratic Party are calling out congressional Republicans who have accepted money from the NRA and have advanced pro-gun legislation. 

The Democrats’ multimedia campaign touts the governor’s 2018 gun-safety agenda. The ads highlight seven New York congressman alleged to be obstructing federal-level protections and who have “A” ratings from the NRA. 

The campaign targets a Congressional Republican “concealed carry” proposal that would allow people with criminal records from other states to carry concealed firearms into New York. The campaign coincides with the upcoming nationwide student-led protests March 24. 

Locally, students from schools around the Capital Region will walk out to protest gun violence on March 14—a month after the Parkland shooting. Following last month’s Parkland mass shooting, in a coordinated approach to gun-violence prevention the governor formed a coalition with neighboring states to intercept illegal firearms. Meanwhile, state lawmakers are mulling a bump-stock ban and other gun control measures. 
Monday March 12, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers editors Gretchen Swanson and Neil Tolhurst and WPKN reporter Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight:  workers at Hamden manufacturer picket for better benefits; co-housing proposed on the North Fork; Long Island school taxes up 2.6 percent
Sixty workers at a Hamden company that makes aluminum gates walked out March 5 after their union, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, rejected the company’s latest offer. On March 9 dozens of other union members and community supporters joined them on the picket line. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has more.
The company, Porcelen Specrail, offers no pension plan and effectively no health insurance, since the high out of pocket payments are beyond the reach of workers who make an average of just over 14 dollars an hour. They are striking for better pay, better health care and a 401K plan.

Union attorney John Fussell said the federal mediator working on the case issued a statement Thursday night for the parties to come back to the table.

“He had issued a statement to both the company and the union to come back to the table. I called the company’s attorney last night, left a message to say that the union is prepared to go to the table to negotiate, and so far have not heard back from the company’s attorney.” (chant: We got the power!)

The company says it can’t afford to pay more because of competition and mechanization. The union says its members can’t live on what the company is offering.

Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
John Hildebrand and Michael R. Ebert report for Newsday:
School property taxes across Long Island are projected to grow at their fastest pace in five years to an average 2.6 percent increase. They will rise next year by an average 2.78 percent in Suffolk County and an average 2.42 percent in Nassau County. Those numbers may be revised downward after state lawmakers adopt a financial aid package for districts.

Long Island school taxes already rank among the nation’s highest.  Nassau is one of nine large U.S. counties where homeowners pay over $10,000 a year in property taxes and Suffolk is close behind at $9,333.

The increase in projected levies — both the county averages and the district-by-district figures — was calculated by Newsday, based on numbers provided by 123 of the Island’s 124 school districts.

More than 60 percent of homeowners’ tax bills in the region stem from educational costs.
Beth Young reports in East End Beacon:
Most advocates for sustainable housing here ask government to help find a place for working people and seniors to live. One new group, Sustainable Housing Network of the North Fork, founded by real estate agent Virginia Gerardi of Shelter Island, takes a radically different approach.

Gerardi spent the past five years visiting and researching the “co-housing” movement across America—in which a group of people buy a piece of property together, sharing tools and expenses for common areas, while retaining their own private space.

She believes the co-housing concept could work in Southold Town, which recently changed accessory apartment rules to encourage people to build apartments in their homes. Gerardi said,:“People buy land, have shared values, develop the community they want to live in…recreating a village atmosphere.”

Sustainable Housing Network of the North Fork’s next meeting is at Greenport’s Floyd Memorial Library tomorrow, Tuesday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Friday March 9, 2018  (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Trace Alford, Thomas Byrne and Danniella Tompos)

In the news tonight: Connecticut considers individual mandate, two penalties; police seek exemption on mental health treatment gun law; Long Island Cares sees food aid increase; New York lawmakers propose school hunting classes
Mackenzie Rigg for The CT Mirror reports:
A legislative committee aired two bills Thursday that would establish a state individual health care mandate and push back on Congress’s recent repeal of the Obamacare penalty.

Governor Malloy proposed preserving the most vital elements of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate. Under his bill, residents would be fined $500 or 2 percent of their income annually if they fail to have coverage.

The Insurance and Real Estate Committee proposed a second bill with a 9.66 percent penalty capped at $10,000, and option to pay the penalty or put it into a state-managed health savings account. Health care is considered affordable when all payments equate to 9.66 percent of income, according to Yale University research

The National Federation of Independent Business opposed he insurance committee’s bill. 
Christine Stuart for CT NewsJunkie reports: 
Connecticut law enforcement officers testified at the state Capitol Tuesday about police suicide and mental health treatment. 

Officers want the General Assembly to resolve 2013 legislation banning assault weapons and large capacity magazines, a barrier to treatment, they say. Instead, the officers support an exemption for law enforcement that returns their service weapon even if they sought mental health treatment. 

Currently, firearms are removed for six months from anyone voluntarily checking into an in-patient mental health facility and for 60 months for an involuntary admission to a psychiatric hospital. Yale University psychiatry clinical instructor James Rascati said rather than lose their livelihood, officers avoid treatment.

Connecticut Citizens Defense League president Scott Wilson submitted testimony questioning exemptions only for police officers. The Public Safety and Security Committee has until March 20 to forward the legislation to the state Senate.
David Schwartz of Newsday reports:
More adults, children, seniors, and military veterans are seeking food and other supplies from Long Island charities.

Long Island Cares CEO Paul Pachter reported a 20 percent increase in demand from 2016 to 2017 at the Huntington Station, Lindenhurst and Freeport centers. He said: “People on Long Island are dealing with higher expenses in terms of rent and taxes.”

The largest increase was among children. More than 9,700 children sought food aid, a 43 percent increase. Long Island Cares helped roughly 900 military veterans, a 31 percent increase, and more than 7,000 seniors, a 26 percent increase. In total, 30,116 people sought emergency food last year.

Fortunately, the increase in demand is met by an increase in donations. Pachter said food drives collected 710,000 pounds of food, personal care and household items – a 42 percent increase. 
Rich Karlin for Albany Times-Union reports: 
Some New York State lawmakers and conservation groups have proposed legislation that would include hunting and fishing as part of high school physical education.

Sponsored by two upstate Republicans, the measure would instruct the state Board of Regents to work with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to develop a curriculum guide for hunting and fishing. The curriculum would cover the history of hunting and fishing, rules for taking game and how to get a license. The prosed legislature does not specifically state that firearms would be used.

Anti-gun and animal rights groups oppose the idea, pointing to recent school shootings as reasons to keep hunting activities out of the curriculum.

The lack of an official curriculum guide doesn’t mean that schools can’t offer hunting programs. An Alleghany County school district has a fisheries and wildlife class where they operate their own fishpond and practice marksmanship with a laser shooting range.
Thursday March 8th, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Ramzi Babouder-Matta, Thomas Byrne, and Mike Merli)

In the news tonight: Connecticut coalition calls for limiting on-call shift scheduling; Connecticut homecare workers seek a living wage; clear-cutting in the Pine Barrens leads to a clash among environmentalists; East Hampton selects Captain Julie Evans to represent fisheries on Wind Farm Project 
Sandra Gomez-Aceves writing for the Hartford Courant reports:
On Tuesday, Senator Marilyn Moore and a coalition of supporters advocated for bill SB 321, an act that would “stabilize working families by limiting on-call shift scheduling.”

The bill calls for employers to notify employees of a work shift at least 24 hours in advance.

Moore, the children’s committee’s co-chair, introduced the legislation. 
Christine Stuart writing for Connecticut News Junkie reports:
Going from $13.53 an hour to $16.25 an hour and being able to work 40 hours per week means homecare workers like Elaine Brown and Rich Casolla will finally be able to earn a living wage.

Brown and Casolla’s stories are similar to those of the 8,500 homecare workers in Connecticut who organized in 2012 and were able to secure their first contract in 2014.

An initial contract for around $20 million for their services was never approved as part of the two-year state budget Governor Malloy signed in October.

The Appropriations Committee presented a new three-year contract last week.
Mark Harrington of Newsday reports: 
Cutting down trees to make room for a solar farm lot has lead to an angry clash among environmentalists. Last Monday, clear-cutting of up to 60 acres of trees resumed for the construction of a solar farm in the Mastic region of the Pine Barrens in New York.  

Mr. Dick Amper, executive director of the Pine Barrens Society, called the clear-cutting “a deliberate frontal attack on the environment” and accused other environmentalists of allowing this to happen. He called for the resignation of John Pavacic, executive director of the Pine Barrens Commission, for reneging on a promise to deliver alternative sites for the solar farm to New York State Governor Mario Cuomo.  

He also blamed Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and other environmentalists for urging the Governor to veto a bill that would have preserved the region that is now being cleared-cut.  

Ms. Esposito countered that “we need to do both, save land and trees, and site solar farms.”  She acknowledged receiving a donation from NextEra, a clean energy company, but denied it influenced her.   There was no comment from John Pavacic. 
Beth Young writing for East End Beacon reports:
East Hampton Town’s Fisheries Committee has selected Captain Julie Evans, who has worked on commercial and charter boats out of Montauk for decades, to be the Fisheries Representative working for local fishermens’ interests with regard to Deepwater Wind’s proposed South Fork Wind Farm project off the coast of Montauk.

At the East Hampton Town Board meeting on March 6th, Evans said, “My job here is to facilitate good communication between Deepwater Wind and the fishing community, and to protect fishing grounds for fishermen.” 

The town’s Fisheries Committee is also looking for a $30,000 stipend to hire a researcher to compile data on “who’s fishing in what areas, what they’re catching and what’s out there,” said the committee’s vice chairman, Robert Valenti, at the March 6 work session.

Gary Cobb of Springs, who represents local inshore fishermen, urged the board to push for more studies of the effects electromagnetic fields can have on nearshore fisheries, especially in the area near Deepwater Wind’s proposed cable landing site in Wainscott. 
Wednesday March 7th, 2018 (Thanks to volunteer editor Michael Zweig, and WPKN Reporter Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight: Bridgeport flips the switch on first-of-its-kind Microgrid Generator; Connecticut residents testify on slew of bills before the General Assembly's Energy and Technology Committee; abamboo ban could be coming to Riverhead; Stony Brook scientists discover vast penguin colony 
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and City officials flipped the switch Tuesday on a first-of-its-kind ‘microgrid’ generator that will supply cleaner energy to power City Hall, Police Headquarters, and the Eisenhower Senior Center.

Ganim tells WPKN News, this project combines a new traditional natural gas reciprocating generator that can run around the clock with a microgrid distribution system, which is both environmentally friendly and reliable.

The Mayor says the goal is for the microgrid to provide foolproof power in the case of a blackout or inclement weather. On the subject of today’s inclement weather Mayor Ganim reiterated during the current snow emergency, residents must move their cars off posted snow emergency streets.
Dozens of residents signed up to testify on a slew of bills before the General Assembly's Energy and Technology Committee on Wednesday, regarding gas, oil and renewables. 

WPKN's Melinda Tuhus was there:
One of the bills would give a substantial boost to solar power in Connecticut, through a community solar program that would provide access to solar power for the 75% of households who now can’t utilize rooftop solar because they are renters, their roof is shaded or not in good condition, or for a number of other reasons.

New Havener Frank Panzarella was there. 

People were commenting on the community solar and why it would be an improvement for the state’s renewable energy portfolio, because it would increase the amount – 300 megawatts – of projects for solar power, to bring more of it to the state, to make our energy cleaner and to provide cheaper energy for low-income communities. Representatives of the state’s electric utilities spoke against the bill.

Melinda Tuhus WPKN News
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Denise Civiletti in Riverhead Local reports: 
Rules regulating bamboo could be on the way in Riverhead. The Town is considering banning the invasive plant, with an eye toward preventing it from spreading onto adjoining properties or into a public or private right of way.

A new code would make it unlawful for any person or business entity to plant or replant bamboo and also to cause or allow its spread. 

According to the proposed new code, a property owner or occupant would be liable for “the direct and indirect costs of abating the nuisance and all expenses incidental”. 
The Riverhead town board is expected to schedule an April 3 public hearing on the proposed code. 

Currently, two types of bamboo, golden bamboo and yellow grove bamboo, are listed by the State DEC as prohibited invasive terrestrial plants.
Delthia Ricks reports in Newsday that a vast new “supercolony” of 1.5 million Adélie penguins has been found by a Stony Brook University scientist and her team, in a discovery that surprisingly adds to the known Adélie population, which had been thought to be steeply declining. 

Heather Lynch, an associate professor of ecology and evolution, said the first tip-off to the massive colony of tuxedoed birds was when satellite data relayed evidence of their telltale pink poop stains. The massive amount of guano was a sign to scientists that the Adélie were alive and well. Modern explorers scan permafrost regions from space before making risky explorations on foot. 

The colony of Adélie penguins was discovered inhabiting the Danger Islands, on Antarctica’s northern tip, a region of the Antarctic Peninsula that juts toward South America. The archipelago is an unworldly scene of ice floes and a landscape devoid of vegetation. 

Tuesday March 6, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Trace Alford and Michael Zweig and WPKN reporter Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight: Tesla tries again to open Connecticut store; Ecuadorean woman ends sanctuary in New Haven church; record number apply for East Hampton’s Section 8 waiting list; former Greenport church owner draws short-term rental controversy——————————————————————————
Christine Stuart for CT NewsJunkie reports: 
For the fourth year, American electric carmaker Tesla has asked the General Assembly for permission to sell its vehicles in Connecticut. However pending litigation could further stall the matter. 

Tesla, which direct sells to consumers, has a non-sale Greenwich Gallery. Customers can get information, but not purchase or test-drive vehicles. Last year, the Department of Motor vehicles deemed this as “not substantially different than business activities conducted by licensed new car dealers.”

After filing for reconsideration, Tesla was granted a stay. However, further litigation is pending. Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association president Jim Fleming said the association filed briefs Monday. Fleming said Tesla would be welcomed if the carmaker agreed to use franchise dealerships.

Currently, Connecticut residents who want to purchase a Tesla have to go through stores in New York or Massachusetts.
An Ecuadorean woman who’s been on a roller-coaster ride with immigration authorities went through another loop on Monday, this time with some good news. 

WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports:

Nelly Cumbicos, who is married to a U.S. citizen and has a U.S. citizen child, fled Ecuador 18 years ago after receiving death threats. She secretly took sanctuary almost a week ago at a church in New Haven that’s been hosting another Ecuadorean who’s been facing deportation for the past three months.

In January, she was given a deportation date of February 16th. On February 5th, Cumbicos was granted a stay.  Four days later, the stay was "reinterpreted" and she was given a new deportation day of February 28th. That’s the day she went into sanctuary.

On Monday, Cumbicos’s lawyer learned that her client’s deportation order would not be enforced while her motion to re-open her case was under consideration. She is now home with her family.

Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News
Vera Chinese for Newsday reports:
East Hampton Town received more than 4,000 pre-applications for its Section 8 housing voucher waiting list this year. This is a record number and a tenfold increase since 2012, when the waiting list last opened.

Of the applicants, 460 live or work in town. Some applications came from as far away as Missouri and Georgia. Part of the increase is because the application is available online.

East Hampton Housing and Community Development Director Tom Ruhle says this increase “illustrates a need for affordable housing on the East End and the demand for housing vouchers across the country.”

Those approved for a voucher must then find a landlord who accepts them. With East Hampton’s lucrative summer rental market, participation in the voucher program is a challenge. It’s estimated that fewer than 40 private landlords participate.——————————————————————————
Tim Gannon reports in the Suffolk Times that James Olinkiewicz, owner of the former Greenport United Methodist Church, said that his plans include listing the property as a short-term rental only temporarily. 

Olinkiewicz was met with scrutiny as word spread on social media that he’d listed the property for $1,200 per night on AirBnB.

Olinkiewicz said he’s only hoping to get some short-term rental payments as he waits for a long-term tenant to sign a lease. He said he has an existing offer from someone who wants to rent the church building for the summer season and it may be off the short-term market by the end of the week.

Short-term rentals have been the subject of controversy in recent years with many municipalities, including Southold Town, adopting regulations regarding minimum stays. The Village of Greenport has discussed limits, but so far opted not to impose them on short-term rentals.
Monday March 5, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Gretchen Swanson, Lee Yuen Lew, Neil Tolhurst and WPKN reporter Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight:  town activists want movement on New Haven civilian review board; Bridgeport neighbors focused on grocery store not casino; will Percoco verdict hinge on Howe? Schumer urges troubled Northport VA to upgrade with new budget deal
A group of people promoting an effective civilian review board for New Haven met Thursday night in a downtown church to move the process forward. 

WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has more:
“The proposal is called the Malik All Civilian Review Board, in honor of a young African American man shot and killed by an East Haven cop in New Haven in 1997. His mother, Emma Jones, has been calling for a meaningful process for reviewing police conduct for two decades.

An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union explained that, based on successful review boards in other cities, New Haven’s would need to have subpoena power to obtain documents or require the appearance of witnesses, have paid staff, be transparent through regular reporting to the public, be independent of the police department and the city’s legal department. And finally, the board and the police department would agree upon discipline guidelines.

There are still many hurdles to overcome from the Board of Alders and the police department.”

Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
Jordan Grice reports in The Connecticut Post:
The former site of Car-Tech steel plant on Seaview Avenue in Bridgeport is prime waterfront real estate—and the focus of an effort to attract a world-class resort casino to the long-struggling city. 

However the casino focus has some community leaders on alert. People who live nearby have been waiting for years for a grocery store serving the east end, a promise they were given years ago. The site developer named an intended grocer over a year ago, but has not finalized build-out plans or placed construction bids, and remediation cleanup could take up to 15 more months. 

MGM Resorts’ proposal to build a casino on the site is under ongoing debate in Hartford and requires a change to state law. 

Bridgeport Council member Earnest Newton said: “The grocery store is very important to the community; more important than a casino. We need the grocery store.”
Leif Skodnick reports in the Times Union:
Television slang and nicknames highlighted the federal trial of former New York State gubernatorial aide Joseph Percoco, accused of swapping bribes for official favors.

"Herb, where the hell is the ziti?" That quote is from Percoco's emails entered into evidence during the five-week trial. "Herb" was Percoco's nickname for his benefactor, Todd Howe, and "ziti" was Percoco's term for payments from companies with business before the state. The "ziti" term, according to testimony, came from the crime drama "The Sopranos" and referred to over $300,000 in cash bribes Percoco had allegedly demanded from executives at two NY state companies.

Howe admitted to serving as conduit for the bribes to Percoco and his wife Lisa. The prosecution’s success depends on Howe’s credibility. 

Prosecutors have established that the Percocos were facing fiscal distress after moving from Staten Island to a lavish home in Westchester County in 2012 and accumulating $1 million in debt by 2014. 
Christine Chung of Newsday reports:
The nearly century-old Northport VA medical center recently suspended surgeries for days because of a failing air conditioner. Chuck Schumer, Senate minority leader (D-N.Y.) said that the two-year bipartisan federal budget deal will provide a new influx of cash that could help address problems at veteran facilities. 

Deadline for the budget deal’s passage is March 23. Schumer says he would be “urging the VA to do the upgrade” at the Northport VA center before summer.  He also said: “No VA facility should have to halt surgeries for days on end because of known HVAC issues.”

The deal would increase military and nondefense spending by about $300 million over the next two years. It provides a substantial increase in funding of about $4 billion over two years for VA maintenance, nearly double what is currently allocated annually, Schumer’s office said. 
Friday March 2, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer editors Trace Alford and Thomas Byrne)

In the news tonight: panel recommends tax overhaul to revitalize Connecticut; Connecticut Democrats unveil free college plan; Zeldin bill targets gang members’ citizenship; Southold Town considers solar power at landfill again
Keith M. Phaneuf for The CT Mirror reports:
A panel created by the Connecticut legislature recommends a dramatic shift in the state’s tax burdens to stabilize government finances and jumpstart the economy. The Commission on Fiscal Sustainability and Economic Growth approved a report that would lower all income tax rates and repeal the gift and estate taxes while raising sales and corporate levies.

Other recommendations include: a major hike in the minimum wage to $15 per hour; an end to collective bargaining for state employee benefits after the current contract expires in 2027; and electronic tolling and a gasoline tax hike to fund a major transportation rebuild.

The committee urges slashing $1 billion from the annual budget and building a new major college campus focused on science and engineering.

The commission concludes that Connecticut’s problems “are even deeper and more urgent” than first thought. It attributes these problems to massive debt—resulting from public-sector retirement benefits—"flat economic growth” and a declining population. 
Linda Conner Lambeck of the Connecticut Post reports:
A free college tuition plan for students in Connecticut was announced last Thursday by Democratic legislators. The plan, called Free 2 Start / Free 2 Finish, would allow students to attend the first two years at a community college and the last two years at a state college both free. An eligible student would have to be a state resident, in good academic standing, and meet family income guidelines. For example, a student from a household of four making $72,900 would qualify.

State Senator Beth Bye said: “It is about expanding opportunities in higher education” and “attracting young people to Connecticut.”

Republicans complain that the state cannot afford the estimated 30 million dollars a year program while it has a deficit of more than 200 million dollars. Others worry that the program could cause a drop in enrollment at several of Connecticut’s smaller private colleges.
Kelly Zegers at The Suffolk Times reports:
Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin introduced a bill that aims to revoke the citizenship of immigrants involved in gang activity before being they were naturalized or within 10 years after they became citizens.  The bill, known as the Protecting Our Communities from Gang Violence Act, was referred to the House judiciary committee in February.

Zeldin stated: “Every level of government has a role to play in combating the rise of MS-13 and other gangs.” He added, “United States naturalization is a privilege, not a right, and those who have had this privilege bestowed upon them must respect and uphold the laws of our land.” 

Following the announcement, New York Immigration Coalition executive director Steve Choi issued a statement critical of the bill. He called the bill “shameless political posturing.” He said: “It will actually cripple public safety, while demonizing Long Island’s thousands of hard-working immigrants.” 
Kelly Zegers for The Suffolk Times reports: 
Southold Town Board will explore a new attempt at harnessing solar power at the town landfill. Councilman Bob Ghosio raised the idea again at a recent work session and the board agreed to issue request-for-proposals for new idea pitches. 

A previous plan with SunEdison to add 0.7 acres of solar panel arrays at the landfill failed to materialize almost three years ago as the company headed toward bankruptcy.

Ghosio also suggested the town consider re-establishing a renewable and alternative energy committee. In the past, the group’s responsibilities included recommending policies to the Town Board and educating the public about energy incentive programs. The committee, formed in 2006 and disbanded in 2014, is believed to have fulfilled its goals. 
Thursday March 1, 2018 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Mike Merli and reporter Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight: Connecticut’s environment committee advances fracking waste ban; New Haven immigrant rights rally calls for ICE to get out of Connecticut’s court-houses; Suffolk environment committee approves buying 26.8 acres of land for agricultural use; Uber drivers protest Suffolk’s proposed ride-sharing ban while Stony Brook University makes a deal with Uber.
Parker Fiske writing for Connecticut News Junkie reports:
Connecticut’s Environment Committee voted 29-1 yesterday to forward a bill banning fracking waste to the Senate.

There is currently a moratorium on fracking waste that was approved in 2014, but environmentalists say they can’t predict what the future holds. The moratorium will stay in place until the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection submits legislation to address hazardous waste from fracking. Fracking waste included wastewater, sludge and other substances generated in the process of hydraulic fracturing of shale to get to natural gas buried underground.

In 2014, the Connecticut legislature passed a three year moratorium that temporarily prohibited fracking waste. The measure was prompted after the New York legislature considered lifting its ban on fracking.

At the time, many environmentalists in Connecticut called the moratorium a “watered down” version of an actual ban on fracking waste.
A hundred people gathered on Wed. afternoon in front of the courthouse on the New Haven Green to decry court personnel’s complicity in letting federal immigration enforcement officials arrest immigrants and send them into deportation proceedings.

WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has more:
Ana Maria Rivera Forestieri with the Immigrant Bail Fund said immigrants are being snatched by agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, as they try to leave state court on other matters.

"We’re putting ICE on notice that right now we are exploring all potential avenues, including litigation, to disrupt their operations. And we want to let the community know that you should not be attending any of your hearings by yourself. You should be seeking the support of Unidad Latina en Accion, the CT Bail Fund and other organizations that are ready and able to provide court accompaniment."

Speakers said that employees at the CT women's prison, York Correctional, also facilitated ICE taking a woman into custody who was being held pre-trial after she made bail. Mike Lawlor, Governor Malloy's criminal justice policy point person tells WPKN that that incident is being investigated and prison employees are being retrained to comply with state law.

Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
Rick Brand reports for Newsday:
The Suffolk Legislature’s environment committee has approved $2.295 million to buy development rights for 26.5 of the 208 acres owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood to keep the land in agricultural use.

The resolutions, if approved by the full legislature next Tuesday, would make the tract one of a handful in western Suffolk for which the county has bought farmland rights.

The committee also voted to authorize $3.9 million to buy development rights for 63.6 acres in Mattituck that is used for sod farming, and $1.7 million for 8.3 acres near the Hauppauge County Center to protect the headwaters of the Nissequogue River.

All three resolutions are expected to have bipartisan support.
Rick Brand and Tory Parish at Newsday report:
Monday, more than 80 Uber drivers protested a proposed six-month Suffolk ban on ride-sharing operators as legislators debated the issue. Democratic County Legislator Bridget Fleming proposed the ban as a way for the county to leverage a local share of $24 million in revenue from the 4 percent state surcharge on ride-sharing.

Drivers spoke against Fleming’s bill, saying the service is highly popular with the public and the jobs help them feed their families, avoid foreclosure and provide safe transit to those who have been drinking and the elderly.

Fleming said she plans to go to Albany to lobby next week as the state budget is debated. Democrat State Senator John Brooks of Massapeaqua proposed a bill to share the revenues. Uber officials said that under Brooks’ bill, Suffolk’s share might be as little as $1.5 million.Uber currently has more than 7,000 Suffolk drivers and carries 60,000 passengers regularly.

Meanwhile: Uber and Stony Brook University’s athletic department are partners in a new, three-year campus-wide sponsorship deal that will give all students and staff discounts on rides at select times.