WPKN Local News is moving …..
look for us at http://wpkn-local-news.blogspot.com
The WPKN LOCAL NEWS is prepared from various sources including CTNewsJunkie.com, CT Mirror.org, and Long Island Patch sites.
Thanks to Brendan O’Reilly of Southampton Patch, WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus and Dita Varleta..
Interested listeners can join WPKN’s team of volunteer news editors – who work at home – by sending an email to EastEndNewsTeam@yahoo.com.
Wednesday, April 17
Retired teachers brought apples to the Legislative Office Building on Tuesday to ask their former students, now state legislators, to continue funding their health benefits account.
Governor Dannel. Malloy’s budget depletes the state’s contribution to the Health Insurance Premium Account.
That fund helps pay for a portion of retired teachers’ health insurance. Teachers don’t qualify for Medicare benefits unless it’s through a spouse, which is why the state created the fund back in 1996.
The Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut said that without the state’s contribution it almost guarantees that the fund will become insolvent.
Malloy’s budget would eliminate the state’s contribution to the fund totaling $70 milllion in 2014 and 2015.
The Teachers Retirement Board concluded that if there is no state contribution to the fund through 2017, it will become insolvent.
But the governor’s budget office says the fund will be reduced from $92 million to $52 million without the state’s contributions.
About 53,000 active teachers and 33,000 retired teachers contribute to the fund.
In Hartford the Finance Committee restructured the state’s debt Tuesday in a way that also allows it to sunset the electric generation tax as promised.
Payment of the debt will be pushed off until after the November 2014 elections.
The idea was promoted by Democratic Senator Andrea Stillman, of Waterford, whose district includes the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant. She defended the decision to borrow in order to sunset the tax because of the adverse impact that extending the tax would have had on electricity rates in the region.
Attorney Generals in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have asked Connecticut’s legislators to remove the tax which would raise the rates on residents in their states
Tuesday was National Library Workers Day, and some of the New Haven
library’s 40 workers represented by AFSCME celebrated on the steps of
the main library on Elm Street.
WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there.
With just 1 percent of New Haven’s budget, the library provides a wealth of services, from computer literacy to English classes for immigrants to children’s activities to hosting sometimes controversial programs, all in addition to its physical resources
Librarian Bill Armstrong mentioned some of the things the library can do for patrons.
Some speakers talked of the need to fight for funding to keep and expand services for all residents in the community. Nationally, AFSCME represents 25,000 library workers.
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
Is this the year both houses of the Legislature pass a bill legalizing medical marijuana in New York?.
And if it does, will Governor Andrew Cuomo apply his signature?
The Albany Times-Union reports that grass-roots support is growing since the activity would be taxed at $250 per pound or more, with half of the proceeds going to local governments.
A packed conference room of elected officials, advocates and patients with debilitating illnesses gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to renew the push for a newly revised bill to set up a medical marijuana production and distribution system.
This year’s version of such legislation was crafted to pass in the Senate, and would create “the most tightly regulated, controlled, seed-to-sale model in the nation, ”
In a Tuesday news conference, Cuomo said that while he hadn’t studied the latest version of the bill, “at this point I don’t support medical marijuana,”
The Albany Times Union reports that on Tuesday, members of the New York State Senate Finance Committee endorsed a bill that,would create a commission to study and, if needed mandate, regular pay raises for over 8,000 management/confidential employees.
These “M/C” employees, because of the confidential nature of their work, are not unionized. They include supervisors and lower-level secretaries who serve in sensitive positions, meaning they often handle information such as personnel or medical files.
With the exception of a longevity increase in 2011, M/Cs have had no raises in five years. It remains to be seen how the governor would greet an M/C pay raise if the bill passes in the Legislature.
Tuesday, April 16
Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration wants to include energy from big
hydro projects in Quebec in the state’s renewable energy portfolio,
but opponents who say that would harm renewable energy producers in
Connecticut are ramping up their opposition. Meanwhile comments on the state’s energy policy will be accepted until this Friday April 19.
WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has more:
Activists held a rally late last week in Hartford, then many of them testified at a public hearing against Senate Bill 1138, which would allow the inclusion of energy from big hydro projects in Quebec to
count toward the state’s mandated 20 percent of its electricity generated by renewables by 2020. The Malloy administration has said the state can’t meet the deadline without this energy source.
Opponents like Roger Smith, co-director for Clean Water Action Connecticut, disagree with both the conclusion of the state energy study and the way officials are trying to push the bill through the
General Assembly before the comment period even ends.
Smith says the state should be prioritizing renewables like wind,solar and fuel cells.
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
New Haven’s 98 year-old Schubert Theater may be getting new owners after 20 years of City ownership.
The Board of Aldermen received a proposed deal that would transfer ownership to the Connecticut Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA).
CAPA has managed the property over the past 10 years for the city.
Along with the theater, the transfer of ownership would include $3 million, part of the $7 million needed for renovations. The balance will be raised from grants and various private, state and federal sources.
The city’s annual subsidy for the theater, currently at $249,000 would taper down to zero over the next ten years
The plan is now headed to an aldermanic committee for consideration ahead of a vote by the full board.
Yale researchers have discovered a bacterial infection that is spread by the same deer tick that causes Lyme disease.
The illness is so new to people that it doesn’t have a common name.
It causes a recurring fever, muscle aches, fatigue and, sometimes, a rash and neurological problems.
There are currently no tests available for the illness, but patients have responded well to a short course of doxycycline, the antibiotic used to treat Lyme disease.
The Yale scientists do not know if the disease causes long-term damage if left untreated and plan to apply for more funding from the NIH to further study symptoms.
John Mayer, a Commack, Long Island father. is pursuing legal action after his pistol license was suspended and his guns taken away by Suffolk County police.
The confiscation came after his 10-year-old son allegedly talked about using a water gun on classmates who had picked on his friends in school.
The father, who posted his story on LongIslandFireArms.com, said the issue stemmed from a March 1 incident at Pines Elementary in Hauppauge.
A spokesperson for the police department’s pistol licensing office said a final agency determination has not been made in regards to Mayer’s New York State pistol license. In the meantime, all the firearms in Mayer’s home were removed
“One Million Seed Bombs for Hurricane Sandy Relief” plans to throw balls of seed and soil on dunes to regrow vegetation that keeps the Long Island dunes strong.
A “seed bomb factory” is planned in Sag Harbor at the weekly Fair Foods Farmers Market, located at Christ Episcopal Church on Union Street. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 20.
Only specific local native dune plants will be used.
Cyclists will pick up the seed bombs on May 4 and 5, when the “bombing” will begin at beaches from Montauk to points west.
Monday, April 15
Should citizens be allowed to sue police officers who interfere with their ability to videotape or photograph officers on the job?
A bill to establish this right was sent to the state Senate Friday.
Senate Democrat Martin Looney of New Haven, introduced a similar bill in 2011 after the arrests of citizens who video-taped police.
The bill passed the Senate in both 2011 and 2012 but failed to receive a vote in the House.
The new legislation includes exemptions for police officers. Individuals can’t bring a lawsuit if the officer is protecting public safety, enforcing a municipal ordinance, preserving the integrity of a crime scene, and safeguarding privacy interests.
Senate Republican.John Kissel of Enfield says “the exceptions almost swallow the rule” Kissel thinks as long as you’re not interfering with police you should be able to photograph or videotape them.
But Republican Representative.Tom O’Dea of New Canaan, said the bill will “dramatically increase the amount of litigation police officers are going to face….It’s going to have unforeseen consequences to our law enforcement”
A very unusual event unfolded in Superior Court in New Haven over the past couple of weeks. A man took his case to trial, rather than plea bargain the charges. On Friday a judge declared a mistrial after the jury said they couldn’t convict the defendant.
WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has the story.
Suffolk County Legislators are urging the union representing the Foley Skilled Nursing Facility workers to reschedule a vote on whether to drop their lawsuit against the county, in order to make way for a deal to privatize the facility,
The vote by members of the Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees was scheduled for April 9. However, it was cancelled pending the outcome of negotiations resolving a lawsuit to block sale of the county-run facility to private operators. Without a vote from the union, the $23 million sale remains in limbo.
Several Foley nursing home residents have expressed concern about their future. The cancellation of the union’s vote gives the county the go-ahead to continue closing down the facility.
Almost six-months after Superstorm Sandy, many families are still housed in hotels across Long Island. However the deadline to move out of the FEMA-paid accommodations has been extended another 17 days until May first.
At the request of the State, FEMA has approved an additional extension to the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program.
The extension allows eligible survivors from Hurricane Sandy who can’t return to their homes to stay in participating hotels or motels.
FEMA will call applicants eligible for the extension to notify them of the new checkout date.
Friday, April 12
On Thursday hospital volunteers and members of the Connecticut Hospital Association called upon legislators to restore $5.5 million in funds and reimbursements for the uninsured Governor Malloy proposed to be cut from the state budget.
Jennifer Jackson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Hospital Association, said that the sweeping cuts would impact patient care and force hospitals to lay off staff and reduce services.
But Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes said, “ hospitals have benefited from extraordinary increases in state funding over the decade- from $712 million in 2003 to $1.75 billion this year.”
Griffin Hospital CEO Patrick Charmel said the past strategy to make up for state payment shortfalls, was to simply charge Managed Care Companies — and indirectly Connecticut employers who pay their premiums — more.
Charmel said if hospitals have to shift more of their costs to insurance companies then more employers are going to be forced to drop coverage.
He said it’s unfair that the state wants to balance the budget on hospitals, which account for about 5 to 10 percent of the state budget.
New Haven joined many other cities around the country on Thursday in a day of solidarity with the prisoners held at Guantanamo who are on hunger strike, demanding their release. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there:
Two dozen protesters stood on the steps of the federal building to demand the closure of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, Cuba, the release of those deemed by the U.S. government as innocent of any crime, and the chance for the others to plead their case in court. They were in solidarity with the more than 100 prisoners who are in the sixth week of a hunger strike to press for resolution of their 11-year indefinite detention.
The Rev. Allie Perry with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture said 86 of the 166 prisoners still at Guantanamo have been cleared for release, but still they languish there. She explained why she had come to the protest.
“To honor the prisoners who have stood up against ….
One speaker noted wryly that if the national championship women Huskies basketball team had come to town, thousands of people would have come out, and that apathy in the face of government-sponsored torture and abuse imperils American democracy.
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
Do the needs of Long Island farmers who have to protect their crops from insects, and the public’s desire for uncontaminated drinking water conflict so seriously that no compromise is possible?
The Department of Environmental Conservation introduced a 122-page report at a public meeting in Riverhead on Wednesday.
But the meeting, attended by almost 100 people showed that compromise on changes to the proposed and existing DEC policy will be difficult.
The proposed strategy calls for a technical review and advisory committee to review water quality data, so it can weigh factors such as human health risks and the availability of effective pesticide alternatives. The committee would provide the DEC with background information needed to support future regulatory action.
One proposal is tying DEC regulatory action to measured chemical contamination of ground water once the measurements exceed certain thresholds.
The DEC is accepting public comments regarding the draft strategy until April 30.
More than 700 acres of North Fork farmland are in danger of flooding
after Superstorm Sandy damaged 4.5 miles of protective levees. Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has deemed the levees eligible for emergency repair funding.
Five Cutchogue and Orient farms will benefit.
The estimated cost to repair the North Fork levees is $1.7 million, and federal funding will cover 75 percent of the repair costs.
In addition to protecting the farms from flooding, the levees also protect Peconic Bay from agricultural runoff, which contributes to high algae levels that threaten marine life.
The levees’ repairs and funding are subject to further review, but it is almost a certainty that the money will be granted
A candlelight vigil for federal action against gun violence will take place Saturday evening at Riverfront Park in Riverhead from 8 to 9.
Several incidents of gun violence have hit close to home, including the death of Riverhead High School graduate Demitri Hampton, who was gunned down in January in Flanders.
More information is available at nyagv.org.
Thursday, April 11
Over 200 marchers strode through New Haven on Tuesday evening, chanting their way to a rally on the Green. They called for reform of the country’s immigration laws—now.
The rally was one of three held statewide under the coordination of the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance. The effort is aimed at keeping the pressure on lawmakers in Washington, who are about to take up a plan for immigration reform.
Current elected officials, including Mayor John DeStefano, as well as candidates for mayor and aldermen, joined the rally.
The march came amid a statewide roundup of immigrants resulting in 27 arrests, including two in New Haven. A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the targeted enforcement focused on undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of major crimes. The operation is continuing.
The largest municipal lobby in the state is pushing back against Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget proposal that it says would hurt towns and cities.
Jim Finley, is executive director and CEO of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, At a Wednesday news conference in Hartford, Finley said
“Please pass a budget that doesn’t raise property taxes even further, that doesn’t result in cuts to municipal services, and doesn’t force my colleagues behind me to lay off more municipal employees.”
A leader of Malloy’s budget office is defending its budget proposal, which it says increases municipal funding even if it forces cities and towns to spend more of it on education. Gian-Carl Casa said the changes are necessary because the state is facing a budget shortfall next year of over a billion dollars. Cuts are needed to comply with the state spending cap.
As housing construction in an area of Southampton known to contain ancient burial sites continues, Native American activists and Town Board members were at odds over graves protection laws.
The ancestors of the Shinnecock Indians buried their dead thoughout the Shinnecock Hills.
New York State has no law to protect these ancient graves. A law introduced in the legislature by Assemblymen Fred Thiele and Steven Engelbright requires that human remains unearthed during construction not be moved.
A resolution in support of that proposed state law was voted down Tuesday by the Southampton Town Board although Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Bridget.Fleming voted in favor.
Since 2003 the Shinnecock have lobbied the Town for a law that would outline a process to protect graves when they are un-earthed.
Tuesday the Shinnecock Archeological Advisory Committee (SAAC) charged that adoption of a local law has been thwarted by the Town Board.
The say “when the Committee met with Town Board members and the Town attorney, Councilwoman Bridget Fleming suggested the only way to move graves protection legislation along was to agree to removal of any human remains and funerary objects found on a property. That is not graves protection but graves destruction”.
Shinnecock elder Elizabeth Bess Haile and others picketed in front of a new construction site earlier this week.
Ms. Haile read from the Committee statement:
“The Town Board’s hesitancy to adopt any graves protection legislation in the Township of Southampton is responsible for the desecration of many more sacred places.”
The Huntington Town Board voted Tuesday to require homeowners to control running bamboo so that it won’t spread and damage the property of others.
Under the new law, owners with bamboo planted on their property will be responsible for either removing the bamboo or taking reasonable measures to confine it to their own property.
There is a six-month moratorium to clear and/or contain the bamboo before any penalty provisions begin.
After the moratorium expires, penalties kick in, including a $1,000 fine for planting and/or replanting running bamboo and fines of $250 to $500 for failure to remove or contain bamboo.
Wednesday, April 10
The UConn Health Center has teamed up with the state’s Insurance Department to create a tool to help consumers better navigate mental health claims. The tool that cuts through red tape should help 1.8 million privately insured Connecticut residents gain access to mental health treatment.
The collaboration and the creation of the tool kit won’t cost the state any additional money since the UConn Health Center already has a relationship with the Insurance Department.
Deputy Insurance Commissioner Anne Melissa Dowling said, “It’s been the Department’s observations that incomplete or incorrect information, coding errors, and other documentation issues are often the cause of claims denials requiring multiple appeals. We don’t want families having to fight to get the care they need.”
State Attorney General George Jepsen charged Connecticut’s largest electric utility Tuesday with withholding information about its slow response to the October 2011 Nor’Easter . The storm left more than 800,000 homes and businesses without power for as many as 11 days.
Jepsen petitioned the state’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority to impose new penalties against Connecticut Light & Power Co.,
He said that while the company promised publicly to restore power to 99 percent of its customers within seven days, internal documents revealed company officials thought it would take 11 days.
CL&P issued a statement Tuesday disputing Jepsen’s charges, saying, “All of the information in the AG’s filing refers to the 2011 storms, which CL&P voluntarily provided to his office,
Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, but it also was a reminder that little progress has been made.
Teresa Younger, is executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.
Younger says “During those 50 years, wages have only improved by 18 cents. Today, in the state of Connecticut women are making 78 cents to every $1 that a man makes. That difference amounts to over $12,000 a year, and over a lifetime, women may be losing between $250,000 to $1 million, because of the gender pay gap.
Labor Commissioner Sharon Palmer and Economic Development Commissioner Catherine Smith will co-chair a task force created by Governor. Malloy to look at the issue of pay equity.
Smith said the task force has been charged with looking at the root causes for the disparity in pay, which impacts women mostly in the private sector. It will also identify best practices and guidelines for businesses to follow. She said the end result may not require legislation, but she hopes the task force will also help raise awareness of the issue.
A group of Patchogue Village residents have been recording their Village Board of Trustee meetings.
Their organization, Citizens Campaign for Open Village Government, was founded in 2012 with the mission of educating fellow Village residents and to increase transparency regarding the policies, practices and procedures of village government.
Their videos are available on the web at patchoguevillagecitizens.com
Village and Town Board Meetings are available in some Long Island towns on local cable TV channels, notably in East Hampton – on LTV and Southampton on SeaTV.
Mother nature is throwing various threats in our direction this year, including the heavy snowstorm with high winds that toppled trees.
And yesterday a high temperature of 84 degrees F was reported on eastern Southampton.Town.
But wait. there’s more!.
Extremely dry weather caused the National Weather Service to place all of Long Island on a Fire Weather Watch last week and brush fires broke out in East Hampton.
But adding insult to injury, this is the year of the re-emergence of the 17-year locust (aka – cicada). They will begin emerging from the earth as soon as soil below the frostline reaches 64 degrees. Another species, the 13-year locusts, last emerged in 2009. At their peak, there can as many as one-BILLION locusts active per square mile, serenading us with their unique call. They are a threat to vegetation, and also to pets; dogs have been known to suffocate while trying to eat them.
Tuesday, April 9
President Barack Obama spoke to students, faculty and staff, as well as Governor Malloy and invited White House guests, at the University of Hartford Monday.
Hoping to re-energize pro-gun safety efforts on Capitol Hill, the President urged his audience to “get involved, to push back fear…and misinformation,”
Proposed federal legislation includes expanded FBI background checks and stiffer penalties for “straw purchases.”
Citing polls showing 90% of the public support background checks, Obama said :
“You would think with those numbers Congress would rush to make this happen….they’re not just saying they’ll vote against the bill, they’re saying they won’t even allow a vote….That’s like saying your opinion doesn’t matter”
The crowd started chanting: “We want a vote. We want a vote.”
But not everyone was a gun control advocate. Craig Bentley, a senior at the University of Hartford, said he felt Connecticut had taken the wrong steps in response to the Newtown tragedy. Bentley told reporters Connecticut lawmakers should have focused more on school safety than gun control.
Colt Competition,a firearms company that makes AR-15 style rifles, will open a plant in Breckinridge,Texas according to CBS in Dallas.
The CEO of Colt Manufacturing in Connecticut has said there will soon be few good answers to keep his company in the state after Connecticut passed some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws last week.
Other Connecticut weapons manufacturers announced plans to relocate to New York State and Kentucky locations recently.
State Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri said her office was able to save Connecticut consumers more than $2.5 million on the cost of healthcare services, procedures, and claims in just the first quarter of 2013.
In addition, the office has teamed up with the Department of Children and Families to make sure children with parents who have private health coverage are covered under that private plan before the state pays for services.
The Office of Healthcare Advocate also released a comprehensive report on barriers to mental health and substance abuse treatments. Also they launched an outreach program in anticipation of enrollment in the insurance exchange under Obamacare.
After Southold Town planners suggested land use ideas for Plum Island last fall a public hearing on the suggestions will take place on May 7
The status of the federal Animal Disease facility remains up in the air as federal funding for Plum Island’s replacement in Kansas remains hard to come by.
In the meantime, the immediate future of Plum Island is business as usual – at least through 2019. Long term, the town is zoning the land for an eventual sale, the proceeds of which would be required to help pay for the Kansas facility.
The list of suggested zoning plans includes the creation of a Marine II zone, which would accommodate ferry access to the island. Currently the 840-acre island, purchased by the federal government in the 1800s, is unzoned.
In addition to the Marine II zone, town planners pitched a 175-acr Plum Island Research District and the Plum Island Conservation District, at least 600 acres. Town leaders hope to use the existing infrastructure to continue the island’s use long-term as a research facility.
The Suffolk County District Attorney has served a grand jury subpoena to Brookhaven officials as part of an investigation into how the town spent taxpayer dollars cleaning up after Sandy.
Suffolk prosecutors are investigating how the cleanup funding was spent, how contractors were chosen and whether state laws governing how governments picks contractors were followed in the aftermath of the storm.
Federal records show that Long Island towns, villages and counties have undertaken Sandy-related projects totaling close to $250 million as of this week, with FEMA reimbursing $178 million so far.
Brookhaven officials have spent approximately $8.3 million on debris removal after Sandy, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency committing to repay the town $6.2 million.
Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said. “The town is cooperating and we welcome the oversight of the DA’s office,”
Monday, April 8
Eleven Sandy Hook families were to fly back to Washington with President Barack Obama today after the President’s speech at the University of Hartford.
The President will use his political capital to encourage Congress to pass legislation that would expand background checks for gun purchases.
The families sent a letter to U.S. Senators last week calling for universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.
The Sandy Hook families will speak with lawmakers and encourage their votes. The Senate needs 60 votes to move forward with debate on legislation.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said last week that he was optimistic they will get the votes necessary to proceed, but admitted it’s an uphill battle.
The Connecticut Legislative Public Health Committee crawled through its deadline to act on bills with hours of partisan “back and forth” last Friday.
But one of the pieces of legislation that did pass the committee was important to Newtown lawmakers.
The law would limit public access to some death certificate information such as the birth date of the deceased and specifics about the death.
Republican Representative Debra Lee Hovey, of Monroe, who also represents Newtown said that town clerks there have requested some limitations on the information they are required to release because they were “badgered” after the shooting massacre that occurred in December.
Hovey said “…there are those who would just like to exploit the sensitivities of a community. I would suggest that we need to protect that community a little bit.”
Democratic Representative. Peter Tercyak, of New Britain, opposed the bill, pointing to a news story which highlighted abuse and deaths of developmentally disabled people in the state’s care. He said those types of investigations might not be possible if the state limits access to public information.
The East End Health Alliance on Long Island struck a contract extension deal with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, ending a brief period in which the three hospitals in the alliance stopped accepting the insurance.
The alliance, which includes Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and Southampton Hospital announced on their web site that a tentative settlement was reached bringing the three Alliance hospitals back in network with Empire Blue Cross as of Saturday, April 6
The insurers contract with the alliance had expired on March 31, after early negotiations failed.
Suffolk County’s new jail in Yaphank, once dubbed the “Taj Mahal” by County Executive Steve Bellone, is open and now housing inmates.
The new jail was constructed at a cost of $185 million. Newsday reported that 105 inmates were transferred to the new Yaphank correctional facility from the Riverhead jail this past week, approximately one year behind schedule. Additional inmates are expected be transfered from Riverhead to Yaphank weekly until the new facility is operating at full capacity.
The new correctional facility is one of the county’s largest construction projects in more than 30 years. It was built under a 2004 state mandate to ease overcrowded conditions at the Riverhead jail.
Yaphank prisoners will live in one of six residential pods, each of which has its own indoor recreational area. The new facility’s opening increases the county’s inmate capacity to 1,831 beds, a net increase of 156. A planned second phase will increase the facility’s capacity by an additional 440 beds.
Friday, April 5
With the ink barely dry on Connecticut’s new gun law, several gun rights groups have announced plans to explore legal challenges to the new restrictions on Constitutional grounds. Governor Dannel Malloy signed the bill into law on Thursday.
Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, announced his group’s plans to hold a rally at the state Capitol on April 20 to “regroup and renew efforts to challenge this new law.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade association based in Newtown, is also considering a challenge. Some critics say the banning of almost 100 more models of assault weapons, based on characteristics like a pistol grip, is arbitrary and won’t stand up to a challenge on Second Amendment grounds. Others, including Attorney General George Jepsen and Malloy’s point man for criminal justice policy, Mike Lawlor, said they believe the law will withstand any challenge.
Meanwhile, the state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates that the new law could cost the state up to $25 million a year in additional prison costs, based on increased penalties for certain crimes. The bill adds mandatory minimum sentences to some crimes, increases penalties for several firearm-related offenses — including gun trafficking and illegal possession of a weapon — and reclassifies some offenses as felonies. 63
The state African-American Affairs Commission held its first-ever meeting in New Haven Thursday night. They are hoping to bolster support in the face of possible consolidation with other commissions by the Malloy administration in a money-saving effort.
Malloy wants to consolidate the legislature’s commissions on women, African-Americans, Latinos, children, Asians, and the elderly into a new Commission on Citizen Advocacy. The new commission would also represent the interests of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
Each commission has insisted it needs and deserves a separate existence to promote issues of special concern to its constituents. For example, the African-American Affairs Commission has focused on the racial gap in educational achievement in Connecticut, the biggest gap in the nation.
Newtown Patch reports that Newtown’s Legislative Council voted to send the town and education budget proposals forward to an April 23 referendum. The budgets include more than $72 million for schools and $39 million for the town, for a total of about $111 million — overall, a 4.7% spending increase from 2012-13. The proposal calls for $420,000 in a contingency fund on the town side, enough to hire police officers to staff Newtown’s public schools, with an additional $150,000 to provide grants for security at private schools.
Suffolk County has been slapped with a new lawsuit involving the County Correctional Facility.
According to a Newsday report, five women have filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that they and others were “sexually assaulted, harassed and degraded by a male correction officer” at the facility.
The women- were all awaiting trial at the in Riverhead between April 2009 and August 2010 when the incidents occurred.
The five women claim that the correction officer’s supervisors ignored their complaints or threatened them with retribution if they kept raising their voices about the matter.
The report says 40 others were similarly treated but are fearful of coming forward with their stories.
A nationally renowned program to help communities plan for and mitigate coastal hazards is coming to Montauk next week.
The Concerned Citizens of Montauk and the Montauk Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the Coastal Community Resilience Training Course at Gurney’s Inn.
More than 20 local, state, and federal agencies and organizations are slated to attend.
The course is designed to help communities in Suffolk County understand and reduce the risks from coastal hazards, speed up recovery after a major event and adapt to the ever changing environment.
It will be conducted by the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.
Thursday, April 4
At noon today, Governor Dannel Malloy signed gun control and mental health-related legislation prepared by a bi-partisan group of Connecticut legislators.
The bill passed the state House of Representatives 105 votes to 44 and the State Senate by a vote of 26 to 10..
The legislation would require universal background checks for purchasers of all firearms, and expand the state’s existing ban on assault weapons such as the AR-15 used by the Newtown shooter. Magazines holding more than 10 rounds could not be sold or purchased.
But owners of large-capacity magazines would not be required to turn them in. Their use would be restricted and they would have to be registered with the state by Jan. 1, 2014. Those who already own semiautomatic rifles defined as assault weapons could keep them if they submit to new registration procedures.
Beginning Oct. 1, all purchases of ammunition and long guns would require an eligibility certificate. A federal criminal background check would be required to purchase ammunition. A dangerous weapon offender registry will be created and penalties for illegal gun trafficking will be expanded.
The Hartford Courant reported that yesterday, hours before the legislative proceedings began, hundreds of gun owners jammed the halls of the Capitol – some carrying signs such as “Connecticut is the unconstitutional state,” and many breaking into occasional chants of “just say no!” They booed at gun control supporters who went by.
The governor, a strong gun supporter, canceled a scheduled appearance yesterday at an autism group’s event in a Capitol room near the Senate, after state police decided it would be unwise for him to pass through the crowd.
The legislation signed into law today also includes provisions relating to mental health.
These include offering a “mental health first aid” program to help educators recognize signs of mental illness. Also doubling the number of teams providing intensive support to people with serious persistent mental illness living in the community
Provisions of the legislation relating to health insurance include:
requiring insurers to make faster decisions about whether certain urgent mental health and substance-abuse services will be covered, and making it easier for consumers to see what criteria carriers use in determining if care is covered.
The legislation does not include requirements that commercial insurers cover specific services. Private plans typically cover fewer mental health services than Medicaid does.
Governor Dannel Malloy will pick the new head of the governing board of the state’s largest public college system.
Board of Regents Chairman Lewis Robinson said of the three finalists, “Which ever one he chooses, we have a fine leader.”
State law requires the board to forward just one name for the governor’s approval but the governeor has requested three names. The three finalists visited Connecticut last month to meet faculty, staff and the public. They are Jack R. Warner, the leader of six of South Dakota’s public universities since 2009; Gregory W. Gray, head of Riverside Community College in California since 2009; and Jay V. Kahn, interim president of Keene State College in New Hampshire.
East Hampton Town’s motion to dismiss a suit launched by beachfront homeowners over beach erosion was denied, allowing the case to proceed in Federal court.
More than 40 homes, as well as motels and cooperative apartments in Culloden Shores a neighborhood of about 400 homes are directly on the beach. Many of them have suffered storm damage as a result of about 300 feet of eroded beach and dunes.
The lawsuit alleges that the Montauk Harbor Jetties caused catastrophic erosion and damage to the public and private beaches, sand dunes and homes west of the jetties.
The area faces Long Island and Block Island Sounds and is across from southeastern Connecticut.
The homeowners’ attorney, says the town should begin to include the area in its sand replenishment projects that followed Superstorm Sandy.
Wednesday, April 3
This is national Public Health Week. While deaths and injuries by gun is considered by many to be a public health issue, there are many other issues that have seen progress over the years.
Writing in the CT News Junkie, columnist Paul Gionfriddo says spending on public health (as a percentage of all health spending) has doubled in the last fifty years.
But It is still less than 3 percent of our national health budget.
Among the biggest public health successes he and others point to is removing lead from paint and gasoline, since ingesting lead leads to brain damage and other problems.
Other biggies are control of air pollution, banning smoking in public places, fluoridating water, sewer separation, the oral polio vaccine, and promotion of nutrition and exercise – even if Americans have a long way to go in those departments.
The Hartford Courant reports that Marlin Firearms Company closed its plant in North Haven last Friday after 141 years of manufacturing.
Marlin was acquired in 2008 by Remington Arms Company, a subsidiary of Freedom Group Compny. of Madison, North.Carolina. Three years ago, Marlin employed 345 people at its headquarters in North Haven and 225 in Gardner, Massachusetts.
Remington said in March 2010 that it would close the North Haven Marlin plant, which had 265 employees at that point. The company has been at the North Haven location since 1968 when it moved from New Haven.
Marlin was founded when John M. Marlin left Colt in 1870 and started manufacturing his own line of revolvers and derringers.
Remington said last year that it was consolidating manufacturing because of “intense” competition in the market.
Remington also closed a Bushmaster’s plant in Windham, Maine, and is moving operations from both the North Haven and Maine facilities to plants in Ilion, New York and Mayfield, Kentucky.
At the upstate New York plant the company said it plans to add nearly 100 jobs and spend $5 million in three years. Remington is expected to add 100 jobs and invest $5 million at the Kentucky facility.
Remington will receive grants totaling about $2.5 from New York State and incentives and grants totaling close to $5 million from Kentucky.
Members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation voted Tuesday in their annual Tribal Trustees election on Long Island. There were eight candidates in total to serve on the three-member board.
The top vote-getter, was Daniel Collins Sr., who will serve as chairman. Also earning trustee seats were D.Taobi Silva, and Brad Smith.
Among the other candidates were Lance Gumbs, and Gordell Wright, who were elected in 2012 but were ousted last summer — in a move they contend had no basis in law.
Firefighters spent more than an hour dealing with a brush fire that broke out in East Hampton on Wednesday afternoon, preventing it from spreading further, during a period of time in which the entire island is under an increase threat of brush fires.
The National Weather Service has placed all of Long Island in a Fire Weather Watch (a red flag alert) through 8 pm this evening, as very dry air and dried vegetation could lead to more brush fires. The alert may be extended.
The cold front that pushed through the northeast on Monday afternoon brought with it extremely dry air with low relative humidity, leading to the area having conditions that could lead to a brush fire outbreak.
Long Island faced a period of wildfire outbreaks last year, when a dry air mass lasted over the area for a few weeks. Large fires swept across wooded and residential areas in the Town of Brookhaven.
Tuesday, April 2
The General Assembly’s leadership finalized a bipartisan response Monday to the Sandy Hook school massacre. They scheduled a vote for tomorrow on a sweeping bill that imposes new restrictions on the purchase and ownership of firearms and ammunition in Connecticut.
The deal will create the nation’s first gun-offender registry, require universal background checks for all gun purchases and ban the future sale of large-capacity ammo magazines. Magazines now legally owned will have to be registered with the state.
In a upbeat press conference, leaders of both parties said no further gun legislation is anticipated this session, though lawmakers are open to further action addressing school security and mental health issues. The bill establishes a School Safety Infrastructure Council that will develop safety standards for school building projects.
The legislation will expand the state’s existing assault weapons law, applying the ban to an estimated 100 new weapons. It creates a new crime of the illegal possession of ammunition.
Robert Crook, who represents sportsmen at the Capitol, said most of the legislation would be a burden to sports shooters, while doing little for public safety. He said the universal background checks, even for private sales, were a good idea, even though they are opposed by the National Rifle Association.
The bill also addresses the related issues of school security and mental health. It requires the state insurance department to evaluate and report on its method for determining compliance with state and federal laws regarding coverage of mental health treatment.
Meantime, in Washington, the Senate has received an N.R.A. proposal to place armed guards in every school in the country. With the Senate set to debate gun control legislation next week, the National Rifle Association on Tuesday made good on its promise to develop a plan to train and arm security guards at every school in the nation.
As Congress moves closer to an overhaul of federal immigration policy, a dozen local pro-immigrant activists sat in at Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s office in downtown New Haven today to press her to speak out more forcefully on the issue, and especially on one case. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports.
The tumult at the Bridgeport Board of Education, which runs over 30 schools and is the State’s largest second-largest district, continues with a new court challenge.
The State deposed the elected Board three years ago, and replaced it with a five-member board chosen by the State Department of Education, but that action was overturned by the Courts last year.
The appointed Board then selected Paul Valla to be Superintendent . However, State law requires superintendents to meet certain standards, including completion of a training program to be developed by the 11-member State Board of Education. Valla was given one year to pass the course, which he was unable to do since such a course was never developed, and was hired on a probationary basis.
Fifteen months having passed, the appointed Bridgeport Board of Education gave Mr. Valla a three-year contract at an annual salary at over $230,000 . That action is now the subject of a new lawsuit which declares Mr. Valla of not being qualified, despite the fact he formerly led the New Orleans, Chicago, and Philadelphia schools. The suit asks that Superintendent be removed forthwith.
The deadline to apply for the affordable rental apartments in downtown Riverhead has been extended to May 1.
Summerwind, 52 the four-story residential/commercial building under construction on Peconic Avenue, will house a Bridgehampton National Bank financial services center, restaurants and 52 units of housing.
The apartments offered are efficiency, one-bedroom and two-bedroom rental units. The apartments will remain affordable in perpetuity.
The units will be affordable to households earning up to 120 percent of the area median income, with half of the units being affordable to households earning up to 80 percent of the area median income. Rents for efficiency and one-bedroom units are expected to range from about 900 to 1300 dollars depending on tenants income. Two Bedroom units will rent for about 1600 dollars.
County Executive Steve Bellone said. “Providing additional housing options for our local workforce is critical to continue the revitalization of this up and coming downtown.”
Bellone said the Long Island Housing Partnership will screen applicants and conduct a lottery. Details are available by calling the Long Island Housing Partnership at 631-435-4710. An application can also be downloaded from the Suffolk County website.
Monday, April 1
The families of victims’ of the Newtown shooting spoke to reporters at the capitol in Hartford this morning.
They were forceful about their desire to see 30 round magazines banned.
Nicole Hockley, the mother of Dylan, one of the victims said, “We specifically want an up or down vote on the banning of these large capacity magazines. No grandfathering clause”
Search warrants from state prosecutors confirmed that 154 bullets were fired in less than five minutes killing 20 children and six educators.
William Sherlach, the husband of the school psychologist, said he wonders what would have happened if the gunman was forced to reload 15 times with smaller magazines than the six times he reloaded the 30 round magazines.
He said lawmakers must ban even existing high capacity magazines because if they don’t they’re “leaving a gaping loophole… By not closing that loophole, people will be able to purchase high capacity magazines in other states and bring them back to Connecticut and claim they owned them prior to the ban.
Gun groups have argued that forcing them to give up their high-capacity magazine constitutes confiscation of property they purchased while it was legal.
Lawmakers were to meet behind closed-doors this afternoon to discuss the various proposals. At the end. Sen. John McKinney, the Fairfield Republican, said he believes it will be the most “comprehensive package” of gun legislation in the country.
Connecticut State Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo reported a $91 million deficit Monday in the state’s chief operating fund. That’s a $40 million improvement from the shortfall projected one month ago. That change is due largely to an unanticipated surge in estate tax receipts.
But the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) also is tracking improvement in the state’s fiscal outlook, both in terms of rising revenues and shrinking expenditures.
OFA analysts are projecting a $50 million deficit in the general fund, a reduction from the $128 million shortfall the office projected one month ago.
Both Lembo and legislative analysts noted that more fiscal improvement could be seen in the coming months if income tax filings around the April 15 deadline show more economic growth statewide.
Lembo said.”Connecticut’s economy is showing signs of a moderate, but steady, recovery,”
The Albany Times-Union reports that an advocacy organization created to support Governor Andrew Cuomo’s agenda was the state’s top lobbying group in 2012. The information comes from the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE)
The Committee to Save New York is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation created with the governor’s blessing just after his election in 2010.
Next on JCOPE’s top-spenders list is the Exxon Mobil Corporation, which spent most of its $2.1 million on print advertising to boost the natural gas technique known as hydrofracking. Major League Soccer spent 2.1 million in support of an attempt to build a stadium on New York City parkland in Queens.
Others on the list include the United Federation of Teachers, Wall Mart Stores, Inc, The New York Hospital Association and the civil service union AFSCME as well as other unions.
Here’s more on lobbying and the controversy about fracking in New York State.
The pro-fracking Independent Oil and Gas Association filed a complaint with the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, asking it to look into the apparent failure of Artists Against Fracking, an organization that includes Yoko Ono and her son Sean Lennon, to file as a lobbying organization.
AAFs activity includes ad buys and the release of a video for the environ-Freudian freak-folk song “Don’t Frack My Mother”.
A statement from AAF says “Yoko and Sean, as true with many New Yorkers, have expressed concerns about fracking, participated in the submission of comments to the Department of Environmental Conservation, and visited Albany with their own resources. As such, neither Yoko, Sean, nor their “Artists Against Fracking” endeavor have been required to be registered lobbyists. If there is a need to register, of course that will occur.”
Friday, March 29
After reviewing details from the Newtown shooting investigation, legislative leaders from both parties plan to meet in private with rank-and-file lawmakers Monday to discuss negotiated gun control legislation. A vote on a bill is expected as early as Wednesday.
Legislative leaders have been working for weeks to negotiate a bipartisan bill in response to the shooting and have requested as much information as possible to inform their legislation.
The Senate President, Democrat Donald Williams, said the sheer number of weapons found in the gunman’s household confirms lawmakers have been “on the right track” as they’ve negotiated what is expected to be a historic package of gun control measures.
Senate Minority Leader, Republican John McKinney said that the warrants confirmed what lawmakers already knew: the shooter was a troubled person who had access to firepower and ammunition.
A coalition of Connecticut labor, faith, environmental and business groups held a press conference at the Capitol Thursday to call for upholding the state’s renewable energy portfolio while creating jobs. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has more.
Speakers said Senate Bill 1138 would roll back part of Connecticut’s renewable energy requirement of 20 percent renewables by 2020 by carving out up to 4.5 percent of that for big hydropower from Canada. That form of energy has not been considered a Class I renewable. Chris Phelps with Environment Connecticut said that move would create jobs in Canada.
These groups also object to what they say is the speed with which the legislation is being pushed through, since the legislature is moving toward a vote even though the public comment period on the bill ends May 13.
Opponents of the hydro component say they support another piece of the bill, which would create long-term contracts for wind energy.
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
Thursday, Governor Dannel Malloy named former state Senator Edith Prague as the commissioner of the new State Department on Aging. Ms. Prague is 87.
She returns to state government after stints as a state representative and state senator, and a tumultuous and ultimately unhappy tenure as the commissioner of aging under Governor Lowell Weicker Jr.
Weicker eventually eliminated the department, folding its functions into the Department of Social Services, earning him the everlasting
The Governor said the rationale for a stand-alone department was simple: Connecticut is aging. By 2030, more than 21 percent of the state’s population is expected to be of retirement age.
Newsday reports the Feds are investigating the Southampton Town Police Department,
A source close to the case says the U.S. attorney’s office got involved this month after it received documents about a number of alleged problems in the department.
Newsday obtained documents earlier this month that alleged the Street Crime unit had unsecured baggies of crack, methamphetamine and prescription painkillers in its office
Police Chief Robert Pearce says that evidence from the department’s disbanded Street Crime Unit that had gone missing has now resurfaced.
Newsday also reported that documents provided to the U.S. attorney’s office included felony and misdemeanor charges that former Police Chief William Wilson had prepared against the former commander of the Street Crimes Unit, Lieutenant. James Kiernan.
The charges allege that Kiernan changed time sheets indicating days he worked.
But Kiernan’s attorney, Raymond Perini, told Patch, “There was no substance to the allegation. It was totally investigated and there was no wrongdoing found”
Brookhaven Town supervisor Ed Romaine says the town is stepping up enforcement against unscrupulous landlords who rent single rooms in a single-family house. This comes in response to a housing problem in the Stony Brook area, where investors purchase houses and illegally rent to University students. Seven or more tenants are living in a single family home.
The Town is proposing to increase fines levied against residents who purposefully violate town housing codes.to as much at $10,000, and reducing the length of rental permits from two years to one.
The town board is expected to vote on these amendments at its April 2 meeting.
Wednesday, March 28
Authorities today released details of Adam Lanza’s troubled life and his assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School, on December 14.
Lanza killed 26 children and educators in less than five minutes, firing 154 rounds from a Bushmaster XM15 military-style rifle. He was prepared to kill far more: Police found three more 30-round magazines on him, with another 15 rounds in his rifle.
The first new on-the-record details from law enforcement came in search-warrant documents unsealed by the Superior Court and in a written statement from Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sendensky III, who is overseeing the investigation.
Lanza killed himself in one of two classrooms he attacked, clad in military gear.
His mother, Nancy Lanza, was discovered at their home, dead in bed, shot once in the forehead. A rifle was on the floor. There were no signs of a struggle, and a gun safe was unlocked.
The state police affidavits and inventories of the items seized at two crime scenes, the Lanza home and Sandy Hook Elementary, described a home chock full of guns and ammo, including four weapons in a safe kept in Adam’s bedroom, near a gaming console and clippings of other mass killings.
Three books were seized. Two were about autism: “Look me in the eye, my life with Aspergers,” and “Born on a blue day – Inside the mind of an autistic savant.”
Neighbors and classmates of Mr. Lanza have said he had an autism variant known as Asperger syndrome, though investigators have never confirmed this.
The third book was the “NRA guide to the basics of pistol shooting.”
Governor Dannel Malloy, referring to the Bushmaster rifle and magazines containing 30 rounds, said “This is exactly why we need to ban high capacity magazines and why we need to tighten our assault weapons ban. The time to act is now.”
Anticipating today’s release, legislators gave up on an effort to bring a gun-control bill to a vote this week. Debate is expected next Wednesday in the Connecticut General Assembly on a bill that would ban the sale of military-style rifles such as the AR-15, as well as magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. The XM15 is Bushmaster’s version of the AR-15.
Senator Dick Blumenthal joined three Yale experts on climate science and communication for a panel discussion at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Wednesday night. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there:
Blumenthal said the country lacks but needs an energy policy
He pointed out that Connecticut leads the nation in fuel cell production, and more jobs could be created to produce renewable energy of all kinds if they are not undercut by the boom in fracking for natural gas.
One expert on the panel said the jury’s still out on fracking’s impact, while another panelist, Nadine Unger, said its impact is overall negative.
The forum was co-sponsored by the Sierra Club, which is calling for shutting down Connecticut’s last coal-fired power plant, in Bridgeport.
A provision of New York’s new gun control law , that would prohibit the sale of 10-bullet magazines was suspended.
The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law on January 15 of this year banned the sale of magazines holding more than seven bullets.
The law was set to go into effect on April 15.
However, according to the new amendment, eight-, nine- or 10-bullet capacity magazines will still be available for purchase after that date. Gun manufacturers do not yet make seven-round magazines. Still, gun owners will be able to load no more than seven bullets into the 10-round magazines.
Gun-rights supporters point to the many minor changes as proof the law is riddled with problems because it was passed in haste, and some are still calling for a full repeal.
Governor Cuomo has indicated he remains open to tweaking the existing law, but has no plans for a full repeal.
He said “You need a system and government regulation to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.”
Wednesday, March 27
A plan proposed by Governor Malloy would require the state’s two wholesale electricity providers, CL&P and UI to stop dealing with end users. The State would auction off the customer lists and accounts to the highest bidders. It is hoped the auction would net the state some $80 Million.
Opponents of the Governor’s plan believe that the 400,000 customers currently billed directly by CL&P and UI, will be acquired by alternate vendors who will seek to recoup their auction bids by charging higher rates. The alternate vendors will be free of State regulation, and that prospect has resulted in spirited opposition from AARP and other consumer groups. Allegations of misleading advertising and bait-and-switch practices abound, and the prospect of customers having to pay penalties to switch companies, rankles many voters.
Cellular telephone subscribers who have been “locked in” to a particular cellphone company, and find a lower rate from another vendor for the same service, may recognize these issues.
DEEP Spokesman Dennis Schain said the unique proposal is intended to create real competition and thereby force prices lower. But each vendor could adjust its rates, on a monthly basis anytime after the first year. Further, the accounts to be auctioned would be without the consent of the customers and any change could invoke a cancellation fee.
But the DEEP believes it can tailor Malloy’s proposal to meet those objections.
The Connecticut Regulations Review Committee postponed action Tuesday on changing marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug as it prepares to legalize the drug for medical purposes.
Approving the regulation is one step toward legalization, but some members of the committee felt they didn’t have enough information to take a vote so it was postponed until next month.
Representative Vincent Candelora, of North Branford, said he’s concerned about approving a regulation that would put Connecticut at odds with federal laws and regulations regarding marijuana.
Legislators have gotten conflicting rulings on that issue. In addition to changing the classification of marijuana, the Department of Consumer Protection is getting ready to open up public comment on regulations for the licensing, growing, and distribution of the drug.
The Southampton Town Board and the Southampton Town Trustees have authorized a $434,000 project for the remediation of Water Mill’s Mill Pond.
The pond was the site of a massive fish kill in 2008.
The pond will be given an application of Phoslock, a clay based proprietary substance to prevent harmful algal blooms. The algae can be potentially dangerous for humans and were responsible for the fish kill,
Phoslock is designed to capture phosphorus from septic systems and fertilizer. Phosphorus gets to water bodies through groundwater and storm water runoff, and can produce algal blooms.
The trustees previously cordoned off a channel of Mill Pond last year to test the procedure. After the successful trial run, they are ready to try it on the whole pond starting the first week of April.
Over the course of the next year, tests will be taken to monitor the water quality and efforts will also be taken to reduce any future runoff into the pond.
The Southold Town Board held a public hearing Tuesday night to discuss a proposed dog leash law.
Town Supervisor Scott Russell began the hearing by saying the resolution to vote on amendments to the town code — which would have required that dogs on town beaches be leashed — would be tabled.
The town code as it currently stands does not allow for dogs on public beaches at all.
Russell said he believed the town needed to act soon — but that compromise should be key.
Last year a Mattituck resident was attacked by a dog on the beach.
Russell said that the discussion did not arise out of that incident but by a growing number of concerns expressed by residents in the Town
After comments from the public on various sides of the issue the board closed the hearing and agreed to set a date for a public forum.
Tuesday, March 26
Dozens of activists from around the state held a rally outside the downtown New Haven branch of TD Bank on Saturday morning, targeting its financial support for the Keystone XL pipeline, which they oppose. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there.
Organizer Anthony Sourge, with the group Capitalism Versus the Climate, explained the issue to a curious passerby.
Organizers included 350 CT.Protesters said TD Bank has made almost a billion dollars in corporate loans to TransCanada to fund the pipeline project.
Asked for comment, a bank spokesman wrote in an email that TD Bank “supports responsible energy development and employs due diligence in our financing and investing activities relating to energy production.” It also claims on its website to be carbon-neutral in its corporate operations.
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy said Connecticut’s ability to act swiftly on comprehensive gun control could affect national policy, and its failure to act would also send a message.
Gun control will be the first non-budget issue the U.S. Senate tackles after the spring recess. Blumenthal and Murphy said their Capitol Hill colleagues have been asking what steps Connecticut has taken in the wake of the Newtown shooting nearly 100 days ago.
At a press conference Monday in Blumenthal’s Hartford office Murphy said “It would be a tragedy if Connecticut didn’t pass a law that was the strongest in the nation,”.
Blumenthal said there has been enough time for Connecticut to act and it should act.
He added that if a national ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines were in effect on Dec. 14, some of the 20 children and six adults killed by the gunman might be alive today.
Murphy said the most important piece of the assault weapons ban is the ban on high-capacity magazine clips.
Connecticut’s legislative leaders continue to work behind closed-doors to craft a legislative response to the tragedy, but no final bill has been completed.
The Suffolk Times reports more than 100 different pesticide-related chemicals have been detected in Long Island’s groundwater since 1996. That’s according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
To prevent future pesticide contamination, the DEC has released a draft version of a strategy aimed at protecting Long Island’s waters. Its goal is to establish effective pest management, while protecting the Island’s waters.
A public hearing on the Long Island Pesticide Use Management Plan (LIPUMP).will be held by the DEC on Wednesday, April 3 from 7 to 9 PM at the Suffolk County Community College Eastern Campus in Riverhead.
A summary of the plan and the Draft Strategy are available at EastHampton.Patch.com. Search for “LIPUMP”
If you cannot attend the hearings, please send your written comments on the Draft Strategy, by 5pm April 30, 2013
via fax to : 518-402-9024
Comments on the Draft Strategy, may be sent by 5pm April 30 by email to
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine is considering selling the former Town Tax Receiver’s building on Port Jefferson’s Main Street.
Romaine said that selling it could reduce the amount the town would have to dip into its reserve funds at the end of 2013. He estimated it could yield the town anywhere from $1 million to $1.5 million.
The Long Island Music Hall of Fame (LIMHOF) has planned the building as their future home.
The Hall of Fame and Brookhaven Town entered into a 15-year lease agreement on the building two years ago. Romaine said he believes LIMHOF may be in default for failing to pay rent and possibly failing to insure itself.
LIMHOF Chair Jeffrey James said they have “absolutely not” breached any terms of its lease with the town.
It remains unclear whether Port Jefferson Village would buy the property should it become available. Mayor Margot Garant has directed the village attorney to reach out to Brookhaven’s law department to see how to get the village involved.
Monday, March 25
Families of some of the Newtown victims traveled Friday to Hartford to speak with legislators. Some who spoke with reporters appeared to be unfazed by the pace of the ongoing negotiations.
A ban on high-capacity magazines has become a sticking point in negotiations between legislative leaders, who are struggling with whether to endorse an outright ban or to allow gun owners to keep the magazines they’ve already purchased.
Po Murray, of the Newtown Action Alliance, said they don’t believe anyone except for military personnel or police should be allowed to have magazines with more than 10 bullets.
She said they learned 152 shots were fired in five minutes on that “dreadful day.”
Murry added “The need to exchange an empty magazine for a loaded one is the only reason many children from Ms. Soto’s class were able to escape with their lives,”
Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said a ban on magazines is necessary because, unlike a gun, they can’t be traced and there would be no way to differentiate between those purchased before the ban and those bought after the ban.
Legislative leaders received a briefing Friday from state prosecutors conducting the investigation into the shooting.
The Connecticut Correction Department’s early inmate release program was both praised and panned Friday as the Malloy administration touted its benefits and critics forced a hearing on legislation to eliminate it entirely.
The “Risk Reduction Credit” program was passed by the legislature in 2011 and allows the department to award inmates credits that can reduce their prison sentence by a maximum of five days a month.
The Malloy administration says inmates earn credits by participating in programs designed to ease their transitions back into society and reduce the likelihood they will commit another crime.
However, Republicans argue that the credits should not be available to inmates convicted of violent offenses.
The Governor has supported legislation that would statutorily require that violent offenders serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before being released from prison. He said that’s been the case already.
On Long island, plans for a proposed green energy park will be pitched to the public at tonight’s Greenport Village board meeting at the Third Street Firehouse. The meeting was scheduled for 6pm
The plan, as described by Mayor David Nyce in January would harness wind, solar, and, possibly, tidal energy.
The green energy park would be built on the approximately nine acres of Village owned land at Clark’s Beach on Long Island Sound. The Mayor says that it would make the village energy independent.
Greenport operates its own electric company. Currently 75 percent of its energy usage comes from a Niagra Mohawk Power Corp. hydroelectric plant in Niagra Falls. The remaining 25 percent is purchased on the open market at a higher rate. That 25 percent, according to the mayor, constitutes 80 percent of a user’s energy bill.
The proposed facility would produce from 2 to 4 megawatts of power when demand exceeds that produced by the hydroelectric plant.
If approved, grants would be pursued. to fund the project.
An internal investigation by the Southamton Town Police into the operation of the now defunct Street Crimes unit may be held up due to missing money and drugs tagged as evidence according to 27east.com and Patch.
The evidence had been stored in a secure room at police headquarters and was originally discovered by former Police Chief William Wilson.
Present Chief Robert Pearce asked to see the evidence for a new investigation
Wilson, who stepped down in November after 18 months on the job, recently told Patch that a police officer, Eric Sickles, whose job it was to conduct drug investigations, became addicted to prescription painkillers himself, under the noses of his supervisors.
The Suffolk County district attorney’s office initiated a review of more than 100 cases conducted by the Street Crimes Unit while Sickles was purportedly addicted. This led to the reversal of some convicted drug offenders sentences and to law suits brought against Southampton Town and its police officials by three of those convicted.
Friday, March 22
It has been over three months since the tragic event at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, which resulted in the deaths of 26 persons, most of them children. Yet there is no official report, which according to State Police may take several more months to complete, and which would be shared first with families of the victims.
However, the New york Daily News published an extensive article with critical details of the shooting based on a talk given by a State Trooper at a law-enforcement meeting in New Orleans.
Those details have been sought by state legislators to aid them in crafting new laws to prevent recurrences of such mass murders, but they’ve been withheld pending the release of the final report.
The State Police is now under fire from both parents’ groups and state officials for permitting the leak of information to occur, and Governor Malloy has asked prosecutors to look into the matter, with a deadline of March 29th. Malloy’s request to prosecutors comes amid criticisms from House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, who called the information State Police Colonel Danny Stebbins shared with other law enforcement officers at the conference in New Orleans, a “slap in the face,” to the families of the Newtown victims.
In New Haven Friday morning city, state, and federal officials gathered to break ground on the Downtown Crossing project.
The project is designed to undo the mistakes of half a century ago, when the city demolished hundreds of buildings and displaced hundreds of families to make way for a “mini-highway to nowhere.” Route. 34 will be filled in with “boulevard streets” and mixed-use buildings, designed to “knit together” the Hill with downtown New Haven .
The project is expected to create 2,000 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs,
Work on the roads will continue until June 2014.
Gov. Dannel Malloy saluted the project and its potential to create new jobs. “That’s what we need to do in this state.
But Elm City Cycling’s Mark Abraham said that while he’s excited about the jobs that Downtown Crossing will create,the plans are still not as bike and pedestrian-friendly as they could be.
For the second time the group “Save Main Road” has filed a suit against Riverhead Town for “improperly” awarding special use permits regarding the Village of Jamesport project. The group says the project will forever alter the character of their North Fork community.
The first suit was filed last August and was dismissed because the group lacked standing, by the New York State Supreme Court in January.
The refiled suit, is focused on voiding the permits issued by the town after the board issued special use permits that would allow for bistros and professional offices at the proposed development, known as The Village at Jamesport.
Special permits are necessary because current rural corridor zoning only allows for certain uses.
Larry Simms, of the “Save Main Road” group said “Our environment is our economy. If we despoil Main Road, our piece of the North Fork will stop being special. The more it looks like the rest of Long Island, the quicker agritourism will dry up.”
Riverhead continues to explore green, sustainable ways of getting around town as construction of a new, federally funded alternative transportation path began this week.
The project kicked off Monday on Pier Avenue in Jamesport; funded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the plan provides $3.158 million in Federal Highway Administration grant funds to design and construct a town-wide alternative transportation path that will enhance pedestrian and bicycle access throughout the Town of Riverhead.
The path will extend from Enterprise Park at Calverton to Jamesport and connect businesses, schools, libraries, shopping areas, and recreation attractions, as well as existing bike and pedestrian routes.
The project is slated for completion by fall.
Thursday, March 21
Connecticut’s budget forecast has improved over the past month, according to Governor Malloy’s budget director, Ben Barnes. He predicted that the state will end the year with just under a $34 million deficit, down from $56 million last month. The forecast includes the results of the December deficit mitigation and the hiring freeze instituted on Jan. 22, but it does not include the impact of federal budget cuts. The biggest boost came from a $30 million rise in collections from the inheritance and estate tax. The biggest deficiency is still the $255 million Medicaid account. However, Barnes’s projections have been far rosier than those of state Comptroller Kevin Lembo and the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis.
Big city mayors and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities continued to campaign against Governor Malloy’s proposed two year budget Wednesday. They called the governor’s proposal to scrap car taxes for most residents by 2015 “dead on arrival” in the legislature. Malloy’s budget called for eliminating the tax on motor vehicles valued at $28,500 or less. The proposal would reduce cities’ and towns’ revenue by as much as $700 million. Malloy called the car tax one of the most regressive state taxes. He said “You own a car in Greenwich you’re charged less than 11 mills. You own a car in Hartford you’re charged 75 mills. It makes no sense”
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said, “The car tax is a lousy tax. But you can’t just take $17 or $18 million out of our budget without a plan to replace that.” Finch said he would support a proposal to have a statewide tax rate for cars, but that any proposal should be phased in over time.
Advocates and opponents of a “right to die” bill testified at a hearing before the Public Health Committee in Hartford on Wednesday. The bill would allow doctors to prescribe, but not administer, lethal medication to a patient who is competent and terminally ill, with less than six months to live.
Supporters say it’s not an assisted suicide bill because the person would have to administer the medication to himself or herself. Supporters see it as a matter of compassion, individual choice, and a way to avoid suffering. Opponents see the potential for abuse, for people to be pressured into dying rather than being a burden, and for certain lives to be devalued, such as those with disabilities. ______________________________________________________
Southampton Town Police Officer Eric Sickles who was suspended by the Town Board last year was reinstated by the Board today by a unanimous vote.
Sickles was a member of the Town Police Department’s now-defunct Street Crime Unit, which conducted undercover drug investigations.
The officer is at the center of a controversy that also led to his commanding officer’s suspension plus a district attorney’s office review of more than 100 criminal cases — a review that has already resulted in at least three men’s convictions being thrown out.
Officer Sickles spent several months on medical leave related to a prescription painkiller dependency. Sickles was accused of working under the influence of a controlled substance between January 2010 and December 2011, sleeping on duty and failing to be fit for duty.
New legislation approved by the Suffolk County Legislature would prohibit the sale of energy drinks at county-run parks and beaches to those under the age of 18, while also limiting direct marketing efforts of these products to minors.
The bill awaits the signature of County Executive Steve Bellone.
Concession stands at county-owned parks will be permitted to stock popular energy beverages, but not sell them to minors. Similar limitations will affect four county-owned golf courses.
Special event vendors that sell food or drinks at various summer events at county parks would also be prevented from selling stimulant drinks to those who are underage.
Business owners and others impacted by Hurricane Sandy have one week left to secure a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.(SBA).
The deadline to apply for the 30-year loans of up to $2 million is March 29
To meet with an SBA representative, business recovery centers have been set up at Islip Town Hall and Copiague Public Library. More information is at (800) 659-2955.
Wednesday, March 20
Members of the Connecticut Public Safety and Security Committee became the first lawmakers to cast votes on gun control legislation this session when they approved three non-controversial measures yesterday.
The committee passed proposals requiring criminal background checks for the private purchase of guns and new requirements to host gun shows. A third measure would reduce the acceptable blood-alcohol limit for hunters to mirror the state’s driving-while-intoxicated statutes.
As they’re written now, the three committee bills do not include any of the more controversial proposals, which have been under consideration in the months since the December 14 school shootings in Newtown.
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environment Commissioner Daniel Esty appears to have convinced the Energy and Technology Committee’s chairmen this week that the state should focus more of its renewable energy portfolio on wind, solar, and Canadian hydropower. But he didn’t win over everyone.
The suggested changes would come at the expense of the state’s current focus on biomass and landfill gas. Dozens of environmentalists and industry groups turned out Tuesday to testify against specific portions of the proposal, which calls for expanding the state’s renewable energy portfolio to 20 percent overall by 2020 and 25 percent by 2025, It allows for Connecticut to join states like Vermont and Massachusetts in investing in large-scale projects.
About a hundred people representing labor, environmentalists and the faith community met at the Capitol Tuesday night for a Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there:
One speaker said that the labor movement was concerned that “green jobs” like home weatherization were not living wage jobs.
But Bryan Garcia, head of the Connecticut Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, said the green workforce includes a range…
His agency provides financing for green enterprises of all kinds.
Baptist minister Tom Carr said his religious worldview recognizes that everyone is connected and dependent upon one another.
Attendees broke into small groups to discuss the obstacles they see to implementing a good green jobs policy, like the power of the fossil fuel industry over Congress or the lack of information available to Americans upon which to make good consumer decisions.
For WPKN, I’m Melinda Tuhus
Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes urged the House Committee on Appropriations to remove bureaucratic barriers that are preventing already-approved flood mitigation projects from moving forward.
He said Congress should allow the Army Corps of Engineers to use some of the $5.4 billion included in the Sandy relief package to conduct flood mitigation projects in Southwestern Connecticut.
In 2010, Himes secured authorizations for the Corps to conduct flood mitigation studies for Fairfield and New Haven Counties. These studies have not taken place because Congress put a block on funding any new projects due to the backlog of unfinished projects.
Last week Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone called for closing a breach in Fire Island which he said was contributing to flooding in towns along Great South Bay.
Pro-breach residents believe the new cut at Fire Island’s Old Inlet isn’t causing more flooding and that closing it is a waste of taxpayer money.
In a posting on Patch, the residents say the inlet is not causing higher than normal bay tides and south shore flooding. They have initiated an online petition effort.
In a closely contested election in Greenport on Tuesday, Mary Bess Phillips and Julia Robins were elected as trustees on the village board.
They will serve on the board begining April 1 of this year through April 2 of 2017.
Robins and Phillips received the most votes. Former board member Bill Swiskey came in third.
Robins, who will be new on the board, said she would receive help from Greenport Village Mayor David Nyce and outgoing Trustee Chris Kempner. “I’ll be reading and studying,” she said. “I’m a fast learner. I’m really excited.”
Tuesday, March 19
The battle over labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs) is currently being fought in Connecticut and thirty other states. At issue is whether those foods sold to consumers must be identified on the packaging. Sixty countries now require such labeling, but there is no national mandate in the US.
In Connecticut, the Public Health Committee heard arguments from both sides in the dispute last Thursday.
Testifying in favor of labeling, Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream told the group that ““This is not about whether you can use GMOs or not. It’s about telling people honestly, openly, and transparently what’s in food so they can decide.”
Vermont is closer to passing such a bill, but Monsanto, which developed the technology and holds patents on the process, has threatened to sue that state if it is adopted.
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture is against the bill. They testified that Connecticut’s farmers would be placed at a competitive disadvantage if it passes. They said, “A national policy is necessary to keep the playing field level for Connecticut farm families”.
However, many believe it may be too late, as 70% of all foods in grocery stores contain GMOs which aid in reducing losses from insects by making the plants immune to herbicides. But heath risks are still unclear.
Two speakers brought the fight to end mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia to students at the Quinnipiac University Law School on Monday. WPKN’s
Melinda Tuhus reports.
The struggle is part of the bigger fight to end coal extraction altogether, since it is the most polluting fossil fuel both in terms of greenhouse gases and in its devastating health and environmental impacts. In the past decade coal has dropped from providing 50 percent of the electricity used in the U.S. to a little over 35 percent, but blowing the tops off mountain ridges to get at the coal seams beneath continues unabated, mainly in West Virginia.
Elise Keaton is with the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation, based in Charleston, W.V. She described the forces that are arrayed against residents’ efforts to shut down this form of mining.
The two are also speaking at Fairfield University and Southern CT State University this week.
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News
Suffolk County has launched a new pilot program with the goal of helping veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The county is one of four municipalities in the state to launch a peer-to-peer program that allows veterans, active duty reservists and National Guard troops with PTSD to speak with trained veteran facilitators. The facilitators provide comfort and familiarity to those seeking assistance.
The program is named in honor of PFC Joseph Dwyer, a Suffolk County Iraq war veteran. Dwyer suffered from PTSD and later died.
The pilot program holds seven weekly meeting groups across Suffolk County with more than 78 veterans. All meetings operate under anonymity.
The Suffolk County Veteran’s Service Agency has oversight of the program. State Senator Lee Zeldin, of Shirley, has secured $200,000 to fund the pilot phase of the program.
The Southold Town board took steps last week to support a state bill aimed at creating long-term transportation solutions for the East End.
The bill would create the Peconic Bay Regional Transporation Authority, to provide transportation alternatives to the Long Island Railroad.
The vision for long-term transportation alternatives began in the 1990s by the East End Transportation Council. Lack of reliable public transportation has long frustrated residents of the twin forks.
Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said the original plan favored the South Fork because it has the infrastructure to support trains throughout the entire town. Russell said “Here, the train stops at Greenport, before the end of the town… It’s not conducive to hamlet growth.”
Instead, Russell said, a request was made for an alternate plan for a “hybrid” system including trains and shuttle buses that would more adequately suit the needs of the entire East End, including the North Fork.
Monday, March 18
After more than 40 hours of expert testimony the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, created by Governor Dannel. Malloy, issued an interim report that includes a controversial recommendation to ban the sale, possession or use of any gun which accepts magazines with 10 or more bullets. The ban does not apply to military or police use.
The 16-member commission was convened by the governor as a response to the Dec. 14 Newtown school shooting.
Some of the draft recommendations the group approved go further than the proposals being discussed by either the governor or the legislature.
While Malloy supports a ban on high-capacity magazines, legislative leaders seem to be leaning away from the measure.
Last week, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, called out legislative leaders for allegedly waffling on the issue behind closed doors.
The group sent a letter to lawmakers calling anything short of a complete ban “intolerable.” The press release included a letter citing legal precedent for taking property.
Robert Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, said the measure to ban guns that accept 10 round magazines turns all “semi-automatic hand guns into paperweights.” He said they didn’t distinguish between tubular magazines and detachable magazines either which means they’re “essentially banning all guns.”
“It bothers me governor’s task force didn’t include any firearm experts,” Crook said.
Meanwhile, the Sandy Hook Commission also recommended mandatory background checks for the sale or transfer of any firearm at private sales and gun shows. It recommended regular renewal of firearm permits, including a test of firearm handling capacity as well as an understanding of applicable laws and regulations.
The Commission found that firearms of significant lethality can be legally obtained without permit and without registration. “According to the Connecticut State Police, there are approximately 1.4 million registered firearms in the State of Connecticut, and possibly up to 2 million unregistered firearms
On the school safety front, the commission recommending that all classrooms in K-12 schools be equipped with locking doors that can be locked from the inside by the classroom teacher or substitute. It also recommended requiring that all exterior doors in K-12 schools be equipped with hardware capable of implementing a full perimeter lockdown.
Legislative leaders will meet again today to see if they can reach consensus on an emergency certified bill the General Assembly can vote on in the near future.
The commission, which has not discharged its duties just yet, will continue meeting Friday, March 22 to being tackling the state’s mental health delivery system.
An ongoing issue between the Southampton Village Board and the Southampton Town Trustees is coming to a head — a bulkhead. The steel structure is in front of a private ocean front home in the village.
The Town Trustees, who have oversight of the town’s waterways and the ocean beachfront in all of Southampton Town, say that the bulkhead is in violation of state environmental conservation regulations. The Village board disagrees.
The trustees have a longstanding policy against any new bulkheads on Southampton’s shores. They argue that the science shows that hardening the shoreline leads to the narrowing of beaches. They say the sand that is seaside of a bulkhead gets washed away. Plus, unhardened properties beyond a bulkhead become more vulnerable. They point to the extreme erosion created by a steel bulkhead in front of seven homes in Water Mill.
At a Village Board meeting last week coastal geologist Aram Terchunian of Westhampton criticized the trustees’ opposition to bulkheading. He said, “You have to use all the tools that are in the toolbox. You can’t just discard them because you have a philosophy.”
Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, of Montauk, announced Monday that he will seek reelection in November instead of running for East Hampton Town supervisor. This is despite an endorsement as Supervisor from The East Hampton Republican Committee. In endorsing Schneiderman the committee passed over Republican two-term incumbent, Bill Wilkinson. Wilkinson hadn’t told the committee if he wanted to keep his seat for a third term.
Friday, March 15
Political cartoons have a long history of influencing public opinion. Current examples can be seen at a exhibit of contemporary anti-war cartoons from around the world in a New Haven show at the Gateway Community College. Seven finalists had their work shown last night at the opening reception. They were chosen from over 500 artists who entered the competition.
The exhibit is on view until March 22nd, when it moves to UN Headquarters in New York City.
The Connecticut Legislature’s Public Safety Committee heard testimony Thursday from a predominantly pro-gun crowd during an all-day hearing on about a dozen proposed gun control bills. Despite continuing bipartisan talks between leaders on emergency certified gun legislations, the Public Safety Committee has moved forward with its own legislation. The committee has until March 21 to move legislation out of the committee. Much of the opposition was directed at S.B. 1076, a broad piece of legislation, which includes many of the proposals under consideration by legislative leaders. It includes language that would expand the number of guns prohibited under the state’s assault weapons ban.
Bridgeport’s gun buyback program continues this Saturday, March 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Community Services Division, 1395 Sylvan Avenue.
The program has taken more than 730 firearms off the streets since December 2012.
The Port Jefferson School Board is moving ahead to blocking high-school seniors from leaving the school campus during lunch hours. If enacted, the new policy would become ineffective on July 1st, restricting incoming seniors to the campus during normal school hours. Students have protested the policy, even offering alternative scenarios, while administrators seek to move proactively before a student tragedy.
When Hurricane Sandy swept ashore in Long Island in October, the historic storm significantly altered the shoreline along Suffolk County’s south shore and left a breach at Old Inlet on Fire Island.
Now, county officials are blaming the breach for the increase in flooding experienced by residents in many communities that touch the Great South Bay. During a press conference held at Shorefront Park in Patchogue Village Wednesday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and other county, town and village officials called for the breach to be repaired.
Bellone also acknowledged that there is a debate over whether or not sealing the breach is the right answer, and representatives from nature organizations came to the conference with concerns that this is a mis-diagnosis.
Southold Town could be one step closer toward mitigating long-term disaster after future storms. The Town board agreed to move forward with a new federal program that would prove proactive in mitigating damage after natural disasters by embracing a proactive approach. In February, representatives of the National Disaster Recovery Framework, a new program under the auspices of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, met with the Southold Town board at a work session to discuss the initiative.
The program would pull together federal agencies to work together in a collaborative effort, focusing not only on disaster recovery – but on projects that can shore up infrastructure to prevent future storm damage.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he has been working with FEMA officials on a regular basis since the recovery efforts after Hurricane Irene. Currently, FEMA funding exists in the form of direct reimbursement for costs associated with the damage caused by disasters such as Superstorm Sandy.
In Water Mill in Southampton Town severe erosion has caused beach to disappear and a steel bulkhead constructed in front of seven ocean front homes to lean in to the sea.this week.
Sand was washed away beyond the bulkhead exposing junk autos placed there in the 1960s to control erosion. Southampton Town Trustee Fred Havemeyer told the Southampton Press that water washes away the sand in front of the wall and then swings in to wash out the beach beyond. Havemeyer said “that’s why we don’t want hard structures on the beach”.
Nevertheless additional bulkheads are being constructed on the ocean in nearby Southampton Village.
Thursday, March 14
On Wednesday Governor.Dannel Malloy and the state Bond Commission approved more than $290 million in borrowing for a number of projects and investments. They include almost $10 million for an on-the-job training program and $10 million to dredge New Haven Harbor.
The on-the-job training program, known as the Subsidized Employment Training Program, helps subsidize salaries of employees for the first six months they’re on the job. About half the money is allocated specifically for manufacturers. Overall, the money is expected to benefit about 1,300 individuals.
Yesterday was a lobby day at the capitol in Hartford. Some supporters of tighter gun safety laws expressed frustration with the lack of any legislation three months after the Sandy Hook massacre.
Legislative leaders were expected to meet for a fifth round of negotiations Wednesday in hopes of reaching a bipartisan agreement on gun violence prevention legislation.in response to the Sandy Hook murders. But some asked why Democrats, who control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, hadn’t simply passed their agenda over the opposition of the minority party.
Connecticut Against Gun Violence president Marty Isaac told supporters they had two things now that they lacked in previous years—numbers and money. In future elections, Isaac suggested the group may try to unseat lawmakers who don’t vote their way on gun control. He said in the past, policy makers have only had to deal with the outrage of gun advocates.
Connecticut could lose more than $900 million in federal defense spending this year, according to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis
The state projected that most of the pain from the so-called sequestration cuts would fall on Connecticut’s defense industries. State and municipal governments and private entities in Connecticut also could lose a combined $53 million in non-defense programs, particularly in education, social services and housing.
Both the defense and non-defense cuts would be phased in over the remainder of the year, and many might not come to pass if Congress reaches a bipartisan compromise that cleared the Republican-controlled House of Representatives last week.
A Southampton Town drug investigations officer became addicted to prescription painkillers himself, under the noses of his supervisors, according to internal police documents released to Patch and the former chief of the department.
William Wilson retired late last year after 18 months as chief of the department. He said last week he believes the department failed officer Eric Sickles, who was a member of the now-defunct Street Crime Unit, and no one was held accountable.
Sickles’ commanding officer, Lt. James Kiernan was suspended for six months — though Wilson thought he should be fired — and Sickles was suspended indefinitely.
Wilson said he also thought that then-Lt. Robert Pearce, who Kiernan looped in about the situation, also should have been disciplined, but the Southampton Town Board Instead, promoted Pearce to captain against Wilson’s wishes, and Pearce was named the new chief to replace Wilson in November 2012 by a unanimous Town Board vote.
Suffolk County internal affairs officers investigated the matter, and the Suffolk County district attorney’s office initiated a review of more than 100 cases conducted by the Street Crime Unit while Sickles was purportedly addicted.
This led to the sentences of two convicts being vacated and their release from prison – and to suits against the town, Wilson and others by the released prisoners.
Maureen’s Haven, a program that provides shelter to the East End’s homeless population in the winter is holding a Polar Bear Plunge to raise funds on Friday, March 16.
The event will kick off at 11:00 a.m. at The Wharf House at Founders Landing, located on Terry Lane & Hobart Avenue, Southold.
Registration starts at 9 a.m.
Wednesday, March 13
The Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation is donating 2,500 gun safety locks to the police departments of Bridgeport, Stratford, Fairfield and Waterbury, which will be distributed to residents free of charge.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch thanked the foundation and said, “Every lock we give out potentially prevents a tragedy and saves a life.”
During the past decade, Project ChildSafe, administered by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, dispensed 36 million firearm safety kits nationwide. The kits include a cable lock that makes a gun impossible to fire, and safety brochures.
The Foundation opposes strengthening gun safety laws in Connecticut, or anywhere else in the U.S.
Finch said, “Reasonable people can disagree on public policy, but today’s event illustrates that people with divergent views even on a subject as important as gun control can find common ground and come together for the safety of families and children.”
A bill introduced in the Connecticut legislature would require pediatricians to screen their patients in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 for behavioral health problems during annual physical exams. The objective is to identify mental health problems in a timely way.
It was proposed by Senator Toni Harp, who co-chaired the legislative working group on mental health issues set up after the Newtown massacre. The bill has generated criticism from parents and homeschool advocates who say it would stigmatize children, intrude on parents’ rights, and cost millions of dollars.
Under the bill, the assessments would be done by the child’s pediatrician, who would submit a form to the state verifying that the child had received the assessment. The results would be confidential and disclosed only to a child’s parent or guardian.
The bill as written, applies to all public and home-schooled children, but Harp said Tuesday she would drop the requirement for home-schooled children. She would also consider adding private school children to the legislation.
Opponents said the bill is unnecessary because it duplicates federal laws that require boards of education to identify, assess and serve children with serious emotional disturbances. Deborah Stevenson, founder of National Home Education Legal Defense, said the issue is one of parents’ rights, and has been upheld by a long line of cases in the U.S. and Connecticut Supreme Courts.
A group of 26 professional and amateur cyclists rode 400-miles from Newtown to Washington, D.C. to campaign for stronger gun safety laws. They were welcomed by Connecticut’s congressional delegation on Tuesday.
While they may have stirred public support with their ride, Congress is gridlocked on the major gun-control measures under consideration, a proposed assault weapons ban and an expansion of FBI background checks to all gun buyers.
Brookhaven Town officials are considering a proposal to build large-scale renewable green energy facilities on as many as 15 sites over the next two years. . If approved, the proposal could net the town an estimated $40 million to $50 million over the next 20 years.
The plan’s primary component is a private-public partnership with solar developer American Capital Energy to construct solar panel arrays and small-scale wind turbine sites at town-operated facilities.
If fully implemented, the systems would generate up to 50 megawatts of alternating current electricity, enough to power 8,400 homes.
The developer would sell the energy produced to LIPA through a Power Purchase Agreement .
Each of the proposed sites will include at least one, or a combination of ground, roof or car port solar panel arrays with some having wind turbines.
In addition, 10 solar fueling stations are proposed for Town Hall to allow residents to charge the batteries of electric powered vehicles.
A panel discussion on the economic benefits of immigration took place Monday at the Congregational Church of Patchogue.
Panelists included Long Island labor leaders and representatives of the Long Island Farm Bureau and the Long Island Association. The discussion was introduced by First District Congressman Tim Bishop
A video of the meeting is available at Patchogue.Patch.com
Tuesday, March 12
Central Connecticut State University students and professors staged a rally Monday against a proposed tuition increase for all four Connecticut state universities and 12 community colleges.
The proposed increases would be between 4 and 5 per cent.
In-state commuters would pay about 9 thousand dollars a year and In-state residents about 20 thousand a year. Out of state students would pay about 30 thousand.
Student fees would also increase to 1000 dollars for in-state and close to 2500 dollars for out of state students.
This year, Governor Malloy proposed bonding another $1.5 billion for the University of Connecticut while he cut funding for Connecticut State University and community colleges by 14 million dollars.
The Board of Regent’s Finance Committee will review the proposed tuition increases on Thursday.
But UConn students will also be paying tuition increases. A four-year, 6 percent tuition hike was approved for UConn in December 2011. And UConn’s budget was cut by10 million dollars in December.
———————————————————————————————-Governor Malloy gets high marks from voters in Tuesday’s Quinnipiac University poll, which found the governor’s approval rating at an all-time high of 48 percent.
The Quinnipiac University poll of 1,144 voters shows they approve of how Malloy is handling his job and gun control issues 48 to 39 percent, but 45 percent of those polled don’t believe he should be re-elected while 42 percent believe he should be re-elected.
Meanwhile, 76 percent of voters approve of how he handled the Newtown shootings and 80 percent approve of his response to the February blizzard
But fifty-seven percent of voters disapprove of how Malloy is handling the budget, while just 33 percent approve.
Malloy has yet to announce he’s running for re-election even though he’s hinted at a second term.
Veterans who are students at Gateway Community College in New Haven had a chance to learn about higher education and employment at a jobs fair on Monday. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has more:
Connecticut Dept of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwarz put the fair in context. She herself is a Vietnam veteran who served as a nurse and couldn’t get a nursing job stateside without starting over. She and others are trying to make things easier for today’s veterans, who need all the help they can get.
Young veterans chatted with people staffing tables from Yale, Southern and Quinnipiac universities, and employers like the New Haven Police Department.
Charles Kim is a Marine veteran who served in Bosnia and Haiti, and then was called back for duty in Iraq in 2003. He already has an anthropology degree from Southern Connecticut State University, but says that hasn’t helped him in the job market.
Veterans benefits cover tuition and books, but the addition of “fees” that are equal to tuition means many vets still must apply for grants or loans.
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
The Town of Huntington is partnering with the City University of New York in an initiative to streamline the solar permit process for home and business owners throughout New York State.
Huntington is one of 30 municipal partners in the “New York Solar Smart” application for a federal grant being submitted by CUNY.
Nassau and Suffolk County Planning Commissions and LIPA launched a unified solar permitting process in 2011. Previously, each municipality in Long Island had a different set of regulations, creating confusion, delays and extra costs.
The Town of Huntington was ahead of the curve, adopting the Solar Fast Track program four years earlier. The Town currently expedites solar permits and does not charge a fee.
Under CUNY’s New York Solar Smart initiative, municipalities will communicate regularly to formulate codes governing solar energy products so everyone is on the same page.
Monday, March 11
Governor Dannel Malloy has made the creation and retention of manufacturing jobs an administration priority, and he left no doubt Friday that he is willing to risk the loss of firearms jobs to win a stronger assault-weapon ban that he sees as inevitable.
Malloy spoke a day after three Connecticut manufacturers of AR-15s, the military-style rifle used to kill 26 people in Newtown, began airing commercials warning that a ban could cost hundreds of jobs.
Malloy reached out two days ago in letters to the manufacturers, saying he hoped they stay, despite their differences. He wrote, “It is my hope that as you plan for the future, you consider Connecticut’s high quality of life, the availability of a skilled and educated workforce, and an administration that has been consistently dedicated to supporting the kind of precision manufacturing that takes place at your company.”
Legislative leaders are scheduled to resume negotiations Monday on a gun-control bill that Malloy thinks should include a broader ban on military-style weapons and a restriction on large-capacity ammo magazines.
Many public housing developments on the Connecticut shoreline have a history of flooding in big storms.
One example is Washington Village in Norwalk. The oldest public housing complex in the state is one of the most vulnerable structures on Connecticut’s coastline.
Short-term, officials say, there’s little anyone can do to protect the complex, short of shutting power off and evacuating residents in case of a threat like Hurricane Sandy. Blueprints for a replacement show colorful, townhouse-style buildings built above the floodplain, with bigger apartments and more services. They’re a far cry from the current drab, brownish-red brick buildings in the complex.
The housing authority is banking on a $30 million federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help finance the $100 million project. HUD only gives out five such grants each year nationwide. It’s not even clear the agency will have the money to offer any this year of fiscal uncertainty.
Ashley Murray, the Peconic teen who went missing February 25 appeared with a friend at Southold police headquarters Friday afternoon.
Her disappearance touched off a massive search that lit up the social media world and involved the FBI.
Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said Ashley was interviewed by police for over an hour before being taken to a “regional hospital”
He said “She said little about where she was during her absence. She didn’t give a lot of information, she was reluctant to say where she was.”
The Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a new gun safety control measure last week aimed at keeping weapons out of the hands of involuntary psychiatric patients.
The measure requires Suffolk Police to crosscheck the names and addresses of individuals transported to Stony Brook University’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program against the county’s pistol license registries.
A New York State law adopted In January allows for cross checking potentially unstable individuals against a not yet created statewide pistol license database.
The county’s legislation takes this one step further by requiring police officers to make immediate referrals to the licensing bureau. This is common practice in handling domestic violence-related calls.
The bill will go to Suffolk County Executive Bellone for his signature. If signed, the new law will impact the towns of Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip and Smithtown that have Suffolk Police precincts. The law would not affect the five east-end towns which have independent police departments.
Riverhead Town officials have banned booing at Town meetings.
The board voted to approve new legislation that prohibits any demonstration that lawmakers would consider disruptive to meetings, specifically booing, but agreed clapping would still be permitted.
The first draft of the legislation banned both booing and clapping. But, after protests that the law was restrictive of free speech,” the board agreed to ban only booing.
FRIDAY, March 8
As Connecticut lawmakers negotiate gun-control legislation, the firearms industry is running commercials featuring three Connecticut makers of the AR-15 rifle.
The ads underscore their importance to the economy with an implicit threat they could leave for friendlier political climes. The manufacturers are Colt, Stag and O.F. Mossberg & Sons Each of these is the focus of a 30-second commercial running on cable television in areas outside Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven ,where the industry evidently believes it can find persuadable legislators.
The initial buy is a relatively modest $50,000, according to the trade group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, based in Newtown. All three manufacturers say they have been courted by other states, an invitation they are more likely to accept if legislators ban the sale of their products in Connecticut. The legislative leaders met Thursday and are to resume talks Friday on the parameters of a gun bill in response to the tragedy in Newtown.
Republican and Democratic legislative leaders emerged from a four-and-a half hour meeting Thursday optimistic they’ll be able to come to an agreement on post-Newtown legislation, including some of the more controversial gun proposals. Thursday was the second time leaders met behind closed-doors to work on language for an emergency certified bill expected to be voted on by the full General Assembly some time in the next few weeks. However, they cautioned that no final agreement has been reached. Republican House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said it was such a productive meeting that they’ve planned to meet again on Friday and have saved time to meet again on Monday, March 11 — the same day the National Rifle Association and a handful of Connecticut gun groups are encouraging gun owners to come to the Capitol to lobby their lawmakers.
The Suffolk Times reports that Ashley Murray, the Peconic teen who went missing February 25 has been found. Her disappearance touched off a massive search that lit up the social media world and involved agencies including the FBI.
Murray is on her way to a hospital for an evaluation after appearing with a friend at Southold police headquarters at 3:15 p.m. Friday, police.
The teen was interviewed by police for about an hour and 15 minutes before being taken to a “regional hospital,” said Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley.
She said little about where she was during her absence, he added.
“She didn’t give a lot of information,” said the chief. “She was reluctant to say where she was.”
On Friday, Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley said a posting on Facebook has not altered their current investigation into 16 year old Ashley Murray’s disappearance.
The message on a new facebook page titled “Ashley Come Home” says “I’m okay.”
But the question was – was the comment actually written by Ashley Murray, or was the post an internet hoax?
Ashley’s brother, Jaime Cradehl, said, “I can’t imagine Ashley really making that post. I mean, it’s possible, but not likely. I’d love for it to be her.”
The post came Thursday evening, the same night Ashley’s mother Charlotte Murray sent out a letter to her daughter on Patch and on the “Ashley Come Home” Facebook page, asking her daughter to let her know that she was safe.
The identify of the poster was being investigated by the F B I, which joined the search for Ashley this week.
As of Friday, 12 days after Ashley disappeared without her medication or warm clothes, and leaving a suicide note, there has been no word on the missing teen.
Anyone with information about Ashley Murray’s whereabouts is asked to call Southold Town police at 631-765-2600.
New York Agri-Women is the state chapter of a national organization devoted to the interests of women farmers.
The group will hold a forum titled “Women in the Business of Farming on Long Island” on Thursday, March 21 from 8:30 a.m.to 3 p.m.at Stonewalls Restaurant in Riverhead.
Attendees will hear the personal experiences of women involved in orchards, organic vegetables, wine grapes, greenhouse products, agritainment and aquaculture on eastern Long Island.
More information is available by contacting Debbie Schmitt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A conference organized by Ground for Hope,Long Island will be held in Commack on Sunday.
Ground for Hope is a multi-faith Environmental Action in the wake of Superstorm Sandy to empower faith communities for environmental action.
The conference is open to the public.at
Temple Beth David – 100 Hauppauge Road, Commack
from 2:00-6:30 pm Sunday March 10.
More info is at greenfaith.org/programs/ground-for-hope/
Or you may email Fletcher Harper at email@example.com
THURSDAY, MARCH 7
The Connecticut House and Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to pass emergency legislation to assist Newtown school staff and first responders.
The bill establishes a privately-funded foundation to help teachers and police suffering from psychological trauma as a result of the Newtown shooting.
It will help cover missed work and out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by workers compensation such as mental health impairment.
Between 150 and 200 people will be potentially eligible to access the fund including police officers, firefighters, teachers, and school administrators affected by the December 14 school shooting.
There currently are five police officers who aren’t able to work as a result of the shooting.
The Federal Aviation Administration has notified six Connecticut airports that it will close their control towers effective April 7 due to federal budget cuts.
These include towers at Hartford, Stratford, New Haven, Danbury, Waterbury-Oxford and Groton-New London airports.
The facilities will not close, but pilots flying into those airports will have to navigate by sight, something at least one airport manager said could impair safety. The closures leave only one Connecticut airport, Hartford’s Bradley International, with an operating air traffic control tower after April 7.
And in New Haven, Tweed airport chief Tim Larson vowed to contest the closing. Yale-New Haven Hospital, uses the airport for medical flights. Larson said many of these would have to be diverted if the tower closes.
Over three months after the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ordered Sandy-damaged cars off a portion of Enterprise Park at Calverton (EPCAL), the vehicles remain.
And environmentalists said the cars have “utterly destroyed” state-protected grasslands in the area.
According to Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, more than 30 acres in a state-designated special groundwater protection area and endangered species habitat have been “turned into a giant mud hole” at EPCAL.
Amper said environmentalists warned local, county and state officials more than two months ago, that the storage of more than 30,000 cars wrecked during Superstorm Sandy would result in environmental issues.
Amper said:“The Town of Riverhead, County of Suffolk and State of New York did nothing to prevent this destruction and continue to sit on the sidelines as more environmental assault continues.
Amper said aerial photographs and video show forest-bordered grasslands that have been destroyed. The grasslands are home to endangered species and sit above Long Island’s underground aquifer system, which residents depend upon for drinking water.
Southampton Town, its police department, and former chiefs are facing lawsuits from two arrestees whose convictions were vacated due to the Suffolk County district attorney’s review of more than 100 arrests .These involved a police officer who was reportedly addicted to drugs while on the job.
The police officer, Eric Sickles, is on suspension. His former supervisor, Lt. James Kiernan, also a defendant in the lawsuit, is working. Disciplinary charges against Kiernan, related to his oversight of the Street Crimes Unit were settled.
The Street Crimes Unit, which conducted narcotics investigations, has been disbanded.
The first plaintiff, Kwame Opoku, of North Sea, was arrested at his home in January 2011. He was charged with felony and misdemeanor drug possession and related counts.
Police said Opoku was among four men arrested in a raid of a distribution house, where crack cocaine, marijuana and scales were found. He was imprisoned and subsequently convicted, but the district attorney’s office had the charges vacated in July 2012.
The lawsuit alleges that Sickles entered Opoku’s house and searched his home and person without a warrant, “planted narcotics” on him, and placed him under arrest.
The police department also faces a lawsuit from Mohammed Proctor, a Riverside man whose drug conviction was vacated in May 2012
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6
Democrats and Republicans on the legislature’s bipartisan gun violence subcommittee issued separate sets of recommendations Tuesday on gun violence prevention. The two lists overlap in a number of areas, but Democrats led their recommendations with proposals to expand the state’s list of banned assault rifles, limiting the military-style features to one, and prohibiting high-capacity ammunition magazines. But neither of those proposals appeared on the list compiled by Republicans. Democrats and Republicans agreed on proposals like universal background checks, banning the sale of armor piercing bullets, increasing penalties for certain firearms violations, and increasing the requirements to purchase ammunition. They are expected to fast track a bill to the floor later this month. What ends up in that legislation will be negotiated by leaders of both parties. But the final decision will be made by Senate President Donald Williams and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, both Democrats. ——————————————————————————
A poll, which shows Connecticut voters support stricter gun laws 66 to 30 percent was issued by Quinnipiac University’s Polling Institute. The poll of just over a thousand voters conducted March 4-5 found 93 percent support universal background checks, including 89 percent of gun owners, and 68 percent support an expansion of the assault weapon ban. Gun owners oppose expansion of the assault weapon ban 49 to 44 percent. The public supports banning high capacity magazines 68 to 28 percent, but gun owners are divided evenly on the measure. About 85 percent of voters approve requiring a permit to carry all guns. Currently only handguns require a permit. Voters, by more than two to one, are more likely to back a state legislator who votes for stricter gun control. But 35 percent say this won’t affect their vote.
A concerted effort to bring expertise from Yale’s School of Public Health to address community concerns is bearing fruit, according to the findings of a recent survey conducted in New Haven’s poorest neighborhoods. The survey was released at a City Hall press conference.
WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus explains:
Staff and community partners from CARE, the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, said that among 1,300 residents interviewed, 39 percent said their health is improved over a year ago. Still, residents of these neighborhoods suffer from asthma, diabetes and other chronic illnesses at greater rates than residents of the city as a whole or surrounding towns. CARE Director Jeannette Ickovics said more must be done.
She added that budget cuts at all levels of government are going to make further improvements harder to achieve, but some things, like walking regularly, don’t cost anything. Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
A lawsuit over the death of a Southampton resident who was tasered by Southampton Village police in 2004 has been partially settled. The officers who allegedly tasered, maced, and physically restrained David Glowczenski [glov CHEN-ski] were found to bear no responsibility for his death. The taser manufacturer , Taser International was also absolved of responsibility for the death. However, other parts of the lawsuit , including allegations of negligence by some of the defendants can proceed with a further hearing before Magistrate Judge William D. Wall to determine a trial date. ———————————————————————————————————————
In a race that gained significant attenetion following Brookhaven Town’s disastrous response to the February 8 blizzard, State Assemblyman. Dan Losquadro, a Shoreham Republican, beat town councilwoman Kathy Walsh, a Democrat , scoring 51 percent of the vote. Turnout was low. About 23 thousand of the Town’s 300 thousand eligible voters cast ballots. Losquadro may have staved off a push from gun rights supporters to back Walsh as retaliation for the assemblyman’s vote for the New York’s strict new gun control law The win for Losquadro sets up a special election to fill his Assembly seat; he was re-elected to his state post this past November. ————————————————————
Yesterday’s election comes just before another major storm is predicted to hit Long Island and Connecticut.
A nor’easter, complete with high winds, coastal flooding and from 4 to 8 inches or more of snow through Friday morning is expected in parts of our listening area.
Tuesday, March 5
Connecticut lawmakers and advocates called today for support of bills they say would protect children from toxic chemical exposure. Rep. Diana Urban, Democrat of North Stonington, chair of the General Assembly’s Children’s Committee said “We are fans of the precautionary principle which means, if you don’t know whether this is going to do any harm, then don’t introduce it, and particularly don’t introduce it for our children.” Anne Hulick, who coordinates the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut, spoke in support of House Bill 6526, It would authorize the Department of Public Health to “identify and prioritize chemicals of high concern to children”. It would also require manufacturers of children’s products to disclose whether their products contain any of them. Hulick said, “We may not know the exact cause and effect, but we do know from very sophisticated science that exposure — even in utero — to these chemicals, and over a lifetime, is the likely contributor to disease.” Speakers said that since the Toxic Substances Control Act was passed in 1976, the Environmental Protection Agency has banned or limited the use of just five types of chemicals out of 20,000 that have come into use since then. Advocates also support a bill that would ban the use of chlorinated flame retardants known as TRIS, used in crib mattresses and other products, and a bill mandating labeling of products containing bisphenol-A, or BPA.
A score of service providers backed up speakers at a press conference Monday at New Haven’s Metropolitan Business Academy to promote a new effort to reduce violence and mental anguish. The New Haven Trauma Coalition aims to provide services to both children and families, and conduct a public awareness campaign on the negative life-long impact of toxic stress — that is, untreated stress caused by exposure to violence or poverty. Speaking of children exposed to domestic abuse, random shootings, or even the death of a parent in war, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro said, “They don’t understand why these events have happened, or if they could happen again.” The coalition will seek $6.5 million in state and federal funding to implement its goals, but coalition member organizations are already doing some of the work.
Brookhaven Town voters are choosing the town’s next Highway Superintendent today. Polls are open for two more hours, until 9PM. Democratic Councilwoman Kathy Walsh is running against Republican Dan Losquadro, the second district state assemblyman. Several others have mounted write-in campaigns. The race for Highway Superintendent has gained prominence following the February. 8 blizzard. Some streets in Brookhaven went unplowed for days following the storm, and the poor snow removal effort raised the ire of many residents. The then newly- appointed Highway Superintendent Michael Murphy resigned under pressure after he failed to show up for work during the storm. —————————————
Smithtown planners say drivers would see less traffic on the roads if the town was willing to install more sidewalks, but they’ll need to be cost efficient. A draft Transportation Study completed to update the Town of Smithtown’s Master Plan suggests that sidewalks are much more important than town officials previously realized. The study claims that 10 percent of trips a person makes are on foot. “Safe and convenient pedestrian circulation is necessary for economic health of downtowns. Further, local traffic could be reduced if sidewalk systems were complete around schools and other centers,” according to the report. Planners estimate that only 30 percent of streets in Smithtown have sidewalks, Following two pedestrian deaths, several safety improvements were installed including reducing the number of traffic lanes, improved pedestrian signals and installation of fences. ——————————————————–
The Long Island Railroad is adding trains to stations including Montauk, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma and Patchogue. This follows the 9 percent increase in fares that took effect this month However, no additional trains to Riverhead and the North Fork have been added. Starting this week additions include a 4:30 PM train from Hunterspoint Avenue to Montauk which will be restored to daily year-round service.and a 5:12 PM train from Hunterspoint Avenue to Port Jefferson . The Hunterspoint Avenue trains are popular since they originate at the subway stop in Queens enabling commuters to avoid Penn Station and increasing the likelihood of getting a seat.
Monday, March 4
Immigrant families at risk of deportation arrived in New Haven Sunday as part of a national bus tour called Keeping Families Together. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports:
After being greeted at City Hall, dozens of local residents packed into the Junta for Progressive Action offices in Fair Haven to hear some of those on the bus describe how current immigration law threatens to split up immigrant families who have lived in the U.S. for decades. Samantha Canto Jo Mayda came to the U.S. from Brazil with her mother and younger brother. He’s eligible to stay here legally under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, but she just missed the cut-off.
Mayda: “If by any chance one of us would have been deported, the other two would have followed us back because we don’t want to be separated.” Two New Haven families hopped on the bus for the rest of the tour around New England. New Havener Kica Matos is one of the organizers. Matos: “The campaign is called keeping families together and the idea is to make sure the voices of those iimmigrant famileis who are most affected are front and center in advocating for immigration reform”. The tour consists of seven regional tours to a total of 90 cities, and later this month representatives of the project will go to Washington to ask members of Congress for comprehensive immigration reform that lets families stay together in the U.S. For WPKN News, I’m Melinda Tuhus.
The federal government has rejected Connecticut’s controversial request to tighten Medicaid eligibility, a change that would have left more than 13,000 poor adults without health care coverage. Advocates for Medicaid recipients applauded the decision Friday. But many are now focused on trying to stop another proposal by Governor Malloy that could cut three times more people from the program, about 40,000. Parents who now get coverage through the Medicaid program known as HUSKY would need to buy coverage through the new health insurance exchange. But advocates say the low income parents would have to pay premiums and co-payments, which they might not be able to afford. —————————————————-
The Suffolk County Legislature will consider a new gun safety measure tomorrow aimed at keeping weapons out of the hands of involuntary psychiatric patients. If adopted, the legislation mandates law enforcement officials to crosscheck the names and addresses of individuals transported to Stony Brook University’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program against the county’s pistol license registries. If there is a match, law enforcement is allowed to investigate and suspend or revoke the individual’s license, possibly seizing their gun. The bill would codify the county’s current informal practices and could expand its use in areas outside Suffolk County’s Police District. ————————————————————————–
In a combined effort, three East End environmental groups, have released their vision of a land use map for Enterprise Park at Calverton. The Group for the East End, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and The Nature Conservancy, created the map. It designates areas they believe are suitable for economic development and others necessary to protect water and preserve critical habitat. Another 600 acres is set aside for the recharge of groundwater aquifers in a state-designated special area in the Pine Barrens as well as habitat for the protection of endangered, threatened or special concern species. The purpose of the map is to direct the development of more than 600 acres to the least environmentally-sensitive portions of the property. ————————————————————–
After hearing from 100 residents, officials and environmentalists at an open meeting last Thursday, the Department of Environmental Conservation has agreed to re-classify the toxic plume that runs under Speonk, allowing for monitoring activities to begin. Among these will be the development and installation of a monitoring well network and sampling plan to monitor the plume, which the D-E-C says will help to upgrade a private well survey to identify all groundwater users, as well as provide for vapor sampling that will help develop a plan for necessary actions in the future should conditions change or new receptors become threatened. Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said last week the town “ would consider a lawsuit if the DEC did not take action. —————————————————-
Friday, March 1 The Connecticut General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee passed an increase in the minimum wage bill Thursday along party lines, but the proposal faces skepticism from both the House speaker and the governor. The bill calls for a 75 cent increase on January 2014,to bring the minimum wage to $9.00. Another 75 cent increase would come a year later. After July 2015, the minimum wage would be tied to the Consumer Price Index. House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said he wanted to get a little more information on what impact the bill might have, particularly, on small businesses in the state.” Earlier this month, Governor. Dannel Malloy said he favored a national increase in the minimum wage over a statewide increase. ———————————
Connecticut hospital patient caseloads have grown dramatically since 2009. These are Medicaid patients, and government payments don’t cover the full cost of treatment. Governor Malloy wants to cut their state funding by one-fifth over the next two years. Put it all together, hospitals say, and at best, they will cut jobs and services. At worst, some will shut their doors. Facilities in the state’s poor northeastern corner say they are particularly at risk. Stephen Frayne with the Connecticut Hospital Association told lawmakers that a plan 18 months ago to help balance the state budget “has been converted to an unadulterated tax on hospitals. But the Malloy administration insists hospitals are swimming in so much new patient care revenue they can afford the state tax. —————————————————-
A 16 year old Peconic Long Island teenager, Ashley Murray, went missing Monday after leaving a suicide note according to her mother, Charlotte Murray. Supporters organized to hand out flyers in Southold on Thursday. One friend, Brianne Catapano said Ashley had been a victim of bullying since at least seventh grade. Catapano said Ashley had been bullied for a number of reasons, including her physical appearance, dress, and hearing aids she wears Ashley’s mother said Monday that someone might have helped her daughter in leaving home. Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley said Thursday that police had been in touch with her father who lives on Shelter Island. But as questions about Ashley’s disappearance continue to arise among Ashley’s anguished friends, a crowd gathered outside Southold High School Thursday afternoon to form a search party for the missing teen Ashley was last seen at about 8 a.m on Monday at her Spring Lane home in Peconic. She is described as a white female, about 5′4″ tall, weighing about 140 lbs. She has brown to redish brown hair, blue eyes and has a scar on her right wrist. She wears hearing aids in both ears. She was last seen wearing a black and gray hooded sweatshirt, red sweatpants and black boots. Her photo can be viewed at NorthFork.patch.com
Victor Weiss, a 26-year-old Sag Harbor man who was reported missing Thursday, has been found in New York City., He is well, according to his mother Meikle Blossom. She said news reports helped to locate him.
The revitalization of downtown Riverhead reaches yet another milestone as the refurbished Suffolk Theatre opens this weekend. The original construction of the theatre took less than 90 days in 1933, and was financed through the NRA – The National Recovery Act.. The restoration of the art-deco movie emporium to its original splendor took almost five years, and again was largely financed by Federal money. Last year the downtown Riverhead area was named to the National Register of Historic Places. Tenancy has been improving, after many businesses had relocated to the Route 58 corridor. An aquarium and a five-story hotel have been added to East Main Street’s attractions. Nearby, the Vail-Levitt Music Hall continues to host various musical and theatrical performances. But the Music Hall’s smaller size is restrictive for certain acts. The new Suffolk Theatre will accommodate audiences up to about 600. A full day of programs is scheduled for Saturday followed by an evening party and dance. Party-goers will be asked to attire in 1930’s style garb. Next week the theatre will present classic movies in both matinee and evening performance. Live music and a weekly night club theme party will be scheduled in subsequent weeks Program information for the non-profit theater is on-line at suffolktheater.com
Thursday, February 28
Some victims of urban gun violence spoke out yesterday in Hartford to make sure their concerns are heard as lawmakers craft their responses to gun violence. Kim Mozell, a mother from New Haven who lost her 19-year-old son Thomas last year to gun violence, said what happened in Newtown was sad, but it happens every day in places like New Haven. Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said 75 percent of the gun violence in the state takes place in Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport. The weapon of choice in those communities is a handgun – not an AR-15. Pinciaro says his organization wants lawmakers to pass a law mandating that the Connecticut State Police register all handguns on an annual basis in order to better track when a legally purchased gun becomes an illegally owned gun. They also want background checks conducted on an annual basis. Usually, background checks are conducted at the point of sale if the gun is purchased from a federally licensed firearm dealer. Currently, background checks don’t have to be conducted for private sales or transfers of handguns. Robert Crook, of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, opposes those proposals and said the state needs to enforce its existing laws and pursue prosecution of violators. ———————– If the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration goes through on Friday, six small airports in Connecticut — every airport in the state except Bradley – may be shut down because they could lose their air traffic control towers. The Federal Aviation Administration says it plans to close towers at 100 of the 238 small airports around the country, but didn’t specify which ones. The cuts would take effect in April. For Tweed New Haven airport, it’s possible that even if it loses its tower, US Airways might decide to operate out of the airport anyway. It’s the only airline that currently operates at Tweed. 20,000 airports across the country operate without towers. while only 500 have them ——————————- The New York State Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow commercial fishermen to aggregate their daily catch limits over a seven day period and conserve fuel State Senator Kenneth LaValle, of Port Jefferson, sponsored the bill. The bill allows fishermen, for example, to catch three times the daily catch limit on Monday and two times the limit on Wednesday and then stay off the water until the following Monday. Also the bill allows individuals with different fishing licenses to catch each of their daily limits from the same boat, which is currently prohibited. LaValle said “Fuel for running a fishing boat is extremely costly, and cuts into the slim profits of fishermen,” The bill would sunset on Jan. 1, 2015, when the success of the bill would be re-evaluated, and If necessary, and extended. The bill goes next to the New York State Assembly. —————————————————- As Brookhaven town officials continue working to fix the damage caused by hurricane Sandy, Supervisor Ed Romaine is concerned that the current sequester battle in Washington could delay federal funds for repairs. Brookhaven officials had been anticipating reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency of 75 percent of the town’s total Sandy repair costs, with the state kicking in an additional 12.5 percent. Any delay in payments from FEMA, which come through New York State, could lead to additional costs or possible delays in the completion of projects. ——————————– The Patchogue Village Board passed a motion for the option to override the state imposed two-percent tax cap. Mayor Paul Pontieri said the Village has not yet received compensation for Hurricane Irene in 2011. Between that, Sandy, and the recent blizzard, the Village has to be cautious on how money is handled. Despite that, Pontieri said he does not anticipate a need to pierce the cap. Due to the recent weather disasters, storm damaged properties are off the tax rolls. A decrease of as much as 10 percent is possible Mayor Pontieri discussed options involving a proposal by the governor that would adjust pension costs paid by Patchogue Village that could possibly save some of the money. ———————————– Wednesday, February 27
Many low-income parents who now get health insurance through Connecticut’s HUSKY program would be cut off – under changes Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed, Starting in January 2014 the parents would have to seek it under the state’s Health Insurance Exchange The children of those parents will still receive coverage under HUSKY. Health advocates say that after factoring in high deductibles and co-pays, many of the parents will go uninsured.- even with subsidies for the exchange under the Federal Affordable Care Act. The General Assembly’s Human Services Committee held a public hearing on the issue on Tuesday. But information on rates and benefits available through the exchange won’t be available until July, which is a month after the end of the legislative session. ———————– State Senator Toni Harp, a New Haven Democrat, proposed a bill before the Children’s Committee of the General Assembly that would bar minors from using violent, point-and-shoot video games at public arcades and other businesses. The bill also calls for studying the impact of violent video games on youth behavior. Harp said these games inadvertently teach children that shooting people is easy, virtually harmless and has no serious consequence. Others, however, say the bill would stifle First Amendment rights and would not be effective in reducing violent behavior among youth. David McGuire, staff attorney for the Connecticut, A C L U said research has shown little evidence of a link between violent video games and violence in children. But Diana Urban, a Stonington Democrat and chair of the Children’s Committee, said some studies have shown a link to violence. Published reports say Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza spent hours playing violent video games. —————————- The author of a book on how the drug war has devastated African American communities – spoke at the Yale Divinity School Monday night. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there. ———————————— Listen here
Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, documents how the war on drugs marks the third stage of black oppression in America, following slavery and the legalized discrimination of the Jim Crow era. She says as a war on drugs, it’s been a failure. But as a war on the civil and human rights of black Americans, especially black males, it’s been very effective. Alexander noted that a similar proportion of both blacks and whites sell and use drugs, but the drug war has focused on poor black communities and sent millions of black men to prison, who then suffer a lifetime of deprivation of their civil liberties and lack of access to jobs, housing, even food stamps. She said the election of President Obama actually made the situation worse, as if racism were a thing of the past and therefore black people caught up in the criminal justice system have only themselves to blame. For WPKN News, I’m Melinda Tuhus. ————————— Long Island Rail Road riders will be paying more to ride the train beginning Friday.Most commuter rail tickets will increase about 8 to 9 percent. Fares on New York City subways and buses will increase on March 3. A single subway ride will increase from $2 to $2.50. Also, beginning on March 3, a $1 fee will be charged for each new MetroCard purchased. To avoid this fee, riders can retain used MetroCards and continue to refill them. ————————– Southampton’s Sea Scout Ship 908 — a maritime unit of the Boy Scouts of America — is setting up a shellfish hatchery at Conscience Point Marina in North Sea with the goal of establishing an oyster reef in North Sea Harbor and contributing to clam beds in western Shinnecock Bay The Sea Scouts will work the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook Southampton. The hatchery will tie-in to education programs at Southampton High School’s marine science lab, as well as the Bridgehampton School A benefit for the project with music by The Realm, Mick Hargreaves and Terry Winchell will be held at 230 Elm Street, Southampton Friday night March 1 from 7 to 11 PM. ——————————- Tuesday, February 26
Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed Confiscating Guns From Owners With DUI Convictions Currently Connecticut does not allow convicted felons to possess guns. It also prohibits people convicted of a handful of other misdemeanor crimes from owning firearms. Negligent homicide, low-level assault convictions, inciting riots, and possessing drugs can also prevent one from getting a gun permit. Malloy would like to see that expanded to include people convicted of drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs during the past five years. It would also include any offense involving a gun as well as any conviction involving the use or threat of force. These changes would be applied retroactively. Michael Lawlor, the governor’s criminal justice adviser, said the proposal would not impact “law-abiding gun owners,” Rep. Craig Miner, a Litchfield Republican who chairs the legislative task force on gun control, said he was shocked that the governor is backing the legislation. However, Sen. Martin Looney, a New Haven Democrat who co-chairs the gun control task force with Miner, was supportive of the proposal. State police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said he couldn’t currently estimate how many gun owners would have their permits revoked if the law were to pass in its current form. ———————–
On Long Island – Greenport will hold an election for 2 seats on its village board on March 19.
Mary Bess Phillips, Julia Robins and former board member Bill Swiskey have filed petitions to run for 4 year terms for village trustee. The terms for the two seats begin April 1 of this year and run through April 2 of 2017. ———————– Upgrades to the Northport sewage treatment plant are moving ahead despite uncertainty over county funding, according to village trustees. The village recently awarded a contract to W H M Plumbing of East Setauket to complete general contracting for the wastewater sewage treatment plant upgrade for about 3.4 million dollars. The upgrade includes housing de-nitrification and pH equipment. Construction is expected to begin in March and to be completed next year. The contract was delayed because engineering changes needed to be made following Hurricane Sandy. Under the new plans, the facility’s floor will be raised an additional two feet above the 100 year flood mark to withstand future storms. A salt water surge from flooding in the sewer plant would have killed bacterial culture and would have meant about two weeks of untreated sewage would go into the harbor. ================================================ Monday, February 25 The trade association for the firearms industry worries that if some of Governor Dannel Malloy’s gun proposals gain traction with the legislature they will have a detrimental effect on an industry that supports 2,900 direct jobs in the state. Gun manufacturers contributed more than $1.7 billion to economic activity in Connecticut in 2012, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, based in Newtown. A foundation spokesman said last week that the organization is concerned about some of Malloy’s proposals, especially the ban on any semi-automatic weapon with one or more military-style features. Under Malloy’s assault weapons ban, the AR-15 would be prohibited from further sale, though it could still be manufactured in the state. A growing number of states, most of them in the South, are trying to lure gun manufacturers to relocate from places with tough gun laws. The pitch is simple: Gun manufacturers would be happier in states with lax gun laws and stronger support for the Second Amendment. Mississippi’s Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, wrote a letter to 14 gun manufacturers, including Hartford-based Colt and Sturm, Ruger and Co., based in Fairfield, urging them to relocate to the Magnolia State. He cited Mississippi’s support for the gun industry. Colt, which has been in business in Connecticut for more than 150 years, has said it might leave the state to avoid new gun laws. ——————————– Newtown Patch reports Newtown parents and residents urged board members to budget for multiple armed police officers in all public schools, regardless of cost. They spoke at a public hearing last Thursday, in front of the Board of Finance. Head O’ Meadow PTA President Laura Terry said the events of Dec. 14, 2012 changed her sense of security for sending her children to school and asked the board to have school resource officers (SROs) at every Newtown school to avert future tragedies. Terry said she was willing to pay more taxes. She said “we can’t afford not to”. Many speakers said higher taxes are just something residents will have to accept in order to keep children safe. Others suggested volunteer work by parents to free up money in the budget so that SROs could be at every school. One man, who felt that Newtown residents “pay enough taxes already”, suggested select parents undergo training by uniformed police officers and have armed parents in all town schools. The current town budget, a 1.9 percent increase, has yet to include a recommendation by the police commission — a change that must happen at the finance level. At a Legislative Council meeting Wednesday, First Selectman Pat Llodra said the inclusion of the 11 officers recommended by the police commission could lead to an increase of about 4% to the town budget. The Board of Education is scheduled to present their budget to the board tomorrow. ——————————– Two female Southampton Town police sergeants filed complaints to the state last week against the town and the police department. They allege they were subject to sexual discrimination in promotions and assignments. Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa and Sergeant Susan Ralph claimed to the New York State Division of Human Rights that department officials engage in a discriminatory course of conduct. The Division of Human Rights will determine whether the complaints have merit and should proceed to hearings, which could result in fines against the town. According to town resolutions, Costa was promoted to sergeant in 2006 and Ralph was made sergeant in 2010. —————————— Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has threatened to close the John J. Foley nursing home in Yaphank if a proposed deal to sell the facility is not approved soon. Suffolk is currently spending $1 million a month to subsidize the 264-bed facility. A proposed deal to sell the nursing home to private operators for $23 million was narrowly approved by the county legislature, but has subsequently met several roadblocks. County employees filed a lawsuit to block the sale and Brookhaven Town denied a permit needed to sell it. Suffolk Legislator Thomas Barraga proposed to have the private purchasers split ownership with the County to keep the facility open. Bellone called on sale opponents to find “common ground” with him but did not offer a specific proposal. He previously suggested leasing the nursing home to keep it open while a permanent solution is found. ——————————- Suffolk County received New York State approval to create a land bank that would potentially clean up 133 contaminated properties. The land bank, a non-profit agency is aimed at improving the chances of selling Brownfield properties, such as former landfills or gas stations. It will have the power to foreclose on tax-delinquent properties, seek grants for cleanup, and partner with interested business owners to rehabilitate the property and return it to the tax rolls. ======================= FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22 State Senator Toni Harp (Democrat of New Haven) is co-chair of the ad hoc mental health working group of the General Assembly. The group is looking into ways to improve mental health services, especially for young people, in the wake of the Newtown shooting massacre. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports on what the group is proposing. Listen here ———————————— After an outcry from campus groups and New Haven’s immigration activists, Yale University announced Thursday it is putting on temporary hold a Department of Defense-backed research center. The “Center of Excellence for Operational Neurological Science” would rely on local immigrants as military test subjects. Yale Psychiatry Professor Charles Morgan, is working with the defense department on a proposed grant for the center. Morgan and Yale officials have depicted it as a do-gooder project: Designed to help our troops figure out how to communicate better with foreigners during operations abroad, through respectful conversation. But critics said they fear the goal is to use “vulnerable” people of color to figure out how to better carry out interrogations and special-ops against people in the Third World. —————————— Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine is calling on Town Board members to approve four steps of a six-point plan he said would strengthen and reinforce the Town’s Highway Department after its less than stellar response to the blizzard earlier this month. During that storm the Supervisor was out of town and Michael Murphy, the interim Highway Department head was out sick. He subsequently resigned. An election will be held for that position. Last week, Romaine pointed out “People elect their highway department superintendent, who reports directly to the people, not to the Town Board and not to the supervisor,” Romaine is calling for pay-rate increases to outside contractors, a re-evaluation of Brookhaven’s insurance policy mandate for contractors, use of an outside firm to review the condition of all vehicles involved in snow removal, and enhanced employee training with regard to the town’s snow emergency line calls. ———————————————————- The East Hampton Town Police force will soon be carrying Tasers. Tasers are conducted energy devices which induce involuntary muscle contractions causing temporary incapacitation. While the shift supervisor has carried one for at least six years and all East Hampton Village Police Officers have carried them, town patrolmen currently don’t pack them. With $10,000 from the capital budget, the department has purchased 10 more Tasers, enough for at least five officers per shift to have them as an alternate to deadly force. All of the 42 patrol officers are expected to be certified in just a few more weeks, after the completion of in-house training. Though the use of Tasers by supervisors has been rare, a sergeant has deployed a Taser twice in the past three weeks on calls where “out-of-control subjects” posed a threat to officers’ safety, according to Police Chief Ed Ecker. Ecker says he has changed his mind about deploying tasers. He says “Studies show it’s a less lethal and injurious force. Also our insurance company basically asked us to get them,” A recent incident in Southampton led to a law suit after a drug using suspect died after being tasered twice. However use of five grams of cocaine might have been the cause of death. The suit cited improper hospital treatment. ___________________________________
Thursday, February 21
Governor Dannel Malloy called today for specific changes to the state’s firearm regulations. The move pre-empted any consensus recommendations from the legislature’s bipartisan Super Committee and the task force he created. The Task Force was not working fast enough, according to the governor. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said despite the governor offering his own legislation “We’re going to continue to work as a legislature in a bipartisan fashion. We’ll have a package. We’ll have a vote. And we’ll put it on his desk,” Malloy spoke today at a forum on gun violence in Danbury along with Vice President Joe Biden. The governor recommended banning ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 rounds, strengthening the state’s assault weapons prohibition, and making background checks universal for anyone purchasing a firearm. He proposes to change the definition of assault weapon to any semiautomatic that has at least one military characteristic, rather than the present two, and ban the sale of these weapons in Connecticut. The AR-15 semi-automatic rifle used by the Newtown shooter would be prohibited from further sale. People who purchase the weapon before the law is enacted would be permitted to keep it, but would be required to register it with State Police. If sold it would need to be to a licensed firearms dealer or sold out of state. Malloy’s proposal expands the number of crimes that would make someone ineligible to purchase a gun. Among these are non-violent crimes like operating a car under the influence or possession of a controlled substance within the last five years. Gun owners convicted of those crimes would have their firearm permit revoked. 271
—————— Activists rallied in Hartford today in support of Josemaria Islas of New Haven. They called for Immigration authorities to drop the deportation order of against him. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has this report:
Listen here —————— Over a year ago, the New York Assembly Majority introduced legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.50 per hour and index it to the rate of inflation. In his State of the Union address on February 12, President Obama announced a proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour and index it to inflation. The Assembly has amended its legislation to match the president’s proposal. The amended bill calls for the minimum wage to increase to $9.00 per hour in January 2014. Beginning in 2015, the minimum wage would increase each year to adjust for inflation. The measure also sets wages for food service workers who receive tips at $6.21 per hour.
————————— Monthly revenues for the East End’s Community Preservation Fund reached their highest point in more than five years in January. The fund is derived from a 2 per cent tax on real estate transfers in the five east end towns. It is used to finance the purchase of land for preservation. CPF revenues are an indicator of the health of the East End real estate market. January 2013 revenues were over $11 million. The total is a 226 percent increase over last January. In January 2013, there were 1,054 real estate transfers, compared to 499 transfers 12 months prior. The largest increase, nearly 250 per cent was in Southampton Town.
Wednesday February 20
On Tuesday Governor Dannel Malloy announced his administration’s final “Comprehensive Energy Strategy.” It calls for a major expansion of natural gas lines in Connecticut, to be financed by ratepayers, not taxpayers.
The plan would offer financing options to homeowners and businesses to eliminate the upfront cost of converting furnaces, boilers, and other appliances from oil to natural gas.
The average cost of about $7,500 would be paid back over a decade through the utilities, but funded by banks and capital markets.
Some environmentalists say the strategy doesn’t encourage use of renewable energy sources. Others were pleased that it promotes energy efficiency. The plan now goes to the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee.
Religious leaders and a coalition of organizations opposed to gun violence called Tuesday for the legislature to pass an ambitious package of gun control proposals in response to the Newtown murders.
During a press conference at the capitol, Connecticut Against Gun Violence Executive Director Ron Pinciaro said the proposals would be among the most comprehensive gun laws in the country. Their proposal would broaden the legal definition of an assault weapon so more guns would be prohibited under Connecticut’s current assault weapons ban. It would also ban magazines that carry more than seven rounds and require universal background checks for sale and possession of all guns.
The women organizers of the February 14 rally for “sensible gun laws” said the General Assembly is not moving fast enough.
But Robert Crook, of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, says the proposals outlined Tuesday won’t gain much traction this year. He said civilians should be able to carry the same weapons and ammunition as police.
Newtown Patch reports the central theme of a town hall meeting Tuesday night was how quickly legislators should move in passing laws in response to the Sandy Hook school massacre.
About 100 people attended the meeting, organized by the Newtown Action Alliance,at Newtown High School. It included Newtowners and members of the legislature’s Task Force on Gun Violence, School Safety and Mental Health.
State Senator John McKinney explained the task force had anticipated that each subcommittee — divided by the three issues in its name — would come up with proposals by Feb. 15, and then all members would present a final package by Feb. 27. The School Security Subcommittee issued recommendations on Feb. 19, and the other two are forthcoming. A hearing on the recommended legislation will be held before action by the legislature.
Liam Heller of Newtown said legislators should wait for an official police report documenting the circumstances of the shooting. Heller said, “What we’re hearing in the media isn’t true.”
McKinney countered that information provided by Connecticut State Police to date is factual. McKinney said state police Lt. J. Paul Vance, is not lying about the AR-15. It was the gun used.
For every person asking legislators not to rush, there were those who encouraged them to keep up the pace.
The legislators said all options are on the table. They will take immediate action on issues where there is “common ground” such as putting in place a permit process for purchasing “long guns,” like rifles and shotguns. Currently, in Connecticut, a permit, background check, and safety check is only required when purchasing a handgun.
After waiting six months, two East End commercial fishermen finally received compensation for their confiscated fish catches, seized by New York State in 2011.
The seizures of fish and shellfish were accomplished without warrants and probable cause, and the catches were sold to a local fish market for almost $9,000, but the State kept the proceeds.
The fishermen involved were Sidney Smith of Greenport who operates the fishing vessel “Merit”, and the Lester Family of Amagansett, who sold shellfish from a stand outside their home. The Lesters allege the Department of Environmental Conservation took not only the goods for sale, but also food from their kitchen destined for their dinner table. Later they were acquitted of all charges and sought restitution of about $200 the DEC received for their catch.
In the Greenport case, the fish were seized after being consigned for shipment to New York City. Sidney Smith sought restitution of over $8000, an amount he says is less than half of his total losses.
The D E C is conducting an internal investigation into the practices of its agents and policies.
A bill introduced by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., of Sag Harbor, announced last spring, would eliminate the practice of seizures without warrants and force the DEC to show probable cause. The legislation has been tabled until the investigation is complete.
Tuesday, February 19
Immigrants’ rights advocates today announced a victory for undocumented immigrants with low-level offenses who were facing deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, under its controversial federal Secure Communities program.
WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports on a press conference at the offices of Junta for Progressive Action in New Haven.
Matthew Vogel, a law student intern at Yale’s Immigrants Rights Clinic, explained a settlement agreement with the state Department of Corrections. D-O-C has already put the changes in place. That’s resulted in 10 immigrants per month being turned over to ICE, down from 33 per month. The case was in the name of Sergio Brizuela, who had pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and a traffic infraction but was still held for deportation. He said he was happy to be reunited with his family Junta’s Ana Maria Rivera said federal immigration law is supposed to prioritizs those convicted of serious criminal offenses but that under its Secure Communities program, only 21 percent of those arrested meet that criteria. She said the program has also damaged police-community relations. Under the settlement, the D.O.C. will review cases individually for the next four years. Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
The Hartford Courant reports that Investigators have a theory that Adam Lanza’s interest in Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik might have led to the Dec. 14 massacre that left 20 children and six women dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The theory is based in part on several news articles about Breivik that investigators found in one of Lanza’s two bedrooms at the Newtown home where he lived with his mother, Nancy Lanza, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.
The sources emphasized that an interest in Breivik is just one theory. Sources said Connecticut law enforcement officials traveled to Washington, DC last week to brief unidentified federal authorities on the status of the investigation and discussed the possible Breivik connection.
Communities across the country continue to wrestle with the logistics and cost of disposing of garbage. Southold Town is no exception. Federal laws forcing Active recycling practices have resulted in citizen unrest because of the requirements placed on them.
The Town of Southold last year introduced the use of yellow-colored garbage bags to provide an interim solution to the rising costs involved in taking Town garbage from a transfer station in Cutchogue to be incinerated far away inother states, a practice being abandoned by oter communities. At a meeting of the Southold Town Board, citizens complained of the cost of the plastic bags they must use, and how to address future needs. The Town currently has a $4 million sanitation budget, 10% of which is covered by proceeds from yellow bag sales. Homeowners are required to pre-sort their garbage for recycling, but businesses are exempt from the bag law, and this practice creates additional expense. Still, the Town has the highest rate of recycling on Long Island, with 31% ofits waste presorted. The cost of delivering its waste to Ohio and West Virginia is increasing, and Southold is seeking to join together 10 towns to develop a consolidated solution perhaps calling for a central incinerator.
Monday, February 18
Friday afternoon Governor Malloy held a press conference in response to mayors from both parties who had criticized his budget earlier in the day.
New Haven’s John DeStefano said the budget would force towns to spend additional money on either education or infrastructure projects – forcing them to increase property taxes and layoff employees.
The governor said he’s sending $45 million more to municipalities under the proposal. But he acknowledged that they may need to adjust their budget priorities.
Malloy said the capital improvement fund gives mayors more discretion on spending than they were acknowledging, although his budget dictates how towns spend some state aid.
He said towns still can spend the money collected through their own revenue streams. He said other states have shifted their tax burdens to towns.
Malloy’s budget increases spending 9.7 percent over the next two years.
Newtown Patch reports that gun violence will be the focus of a meeting at Newtown High School on Tuesday night.
The public meeting, organized by Newtown Action Alliance, will be attended by members of the Task Force on Gun Violence, School Security and Mental Health.
The Legislature’s bi-partisan task force was created in response to the Sandy Hook School shooting. It is tasked with proposing legislation relating to gun violence, mental health and school security. It held hearings and is expected to have recommendations in place by mid – March.
Tuesday’s meeting should give residents some insight into what laws might be proposed.
State Senator John McKinney, and state Representatives. Mitch Bolinsky, Dan Carter and Lonnie Reed will attend the meeting.
The Newtown Action Alliance has origins in the town but says its membership now spans the nation.
The Town Hall Meeting will take place in the Newtown High School Lecture Hall, 12 Berkshire Road, Tuesday, February 19, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Two environmental groups held a “climate justice circus” outside the Capitol building in Hartford on Friday. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there.
The Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ) and Capitalism vs. the Climate used pantomime and props to criticize Gov. Dannel Malloy’s comprehensive energy strategy, which depends on drastically increasing the use of natural gas. Much of it comes from the process of fracking, which creates air pollution and has been implicated in contaminating water supplies in some states. The groups are also very critical of the governor’s plan to count energy generated by burning trash as a Class I recyclable.
Carmen Cordero, who lives in Hartford just down the street from an incinerator, said her neighborhood suffers from high asthma rates she believes are linked to the plant’s air pollution.
Those at the circus yelled out their favorite elements of such a strategy, including all forms of renewable energy, ending tax subsidies for fossil fuel companies, and eliminating the infinite growth model for the economy.
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
Suffolk County’s sales tax collection increased by 3.1 percent in 2012, but that figure was less than expected according to County Executive Steve Bellone’s budget office.
The increase was less than the 4.6 percent growth that was expected for 2012, leaving the county short by almost 18 million dollars.
County officials said they believe the effects of Hurricane Sandy had a negative impact on sales tax growth.
A protest has been filed on the second contract award for cleaning up Sandy debris on Fire Island. Work will progress while an investigation gets underway.
Claims that both bid winners did not meet RFP requirements were made by unsuccessful bidders.
The Small Business Administration will evaluate whether the bid was given to the proper contractor.
Cleanup at Point O’ Woods and Davis Park was to begin this past weekend.
The Army Corps is aiming to have the cleanup work completed by end of March as the season for Piping Plovers will prevent beach access.
Earlier this month the Fire Island National Seashore reported there will be several beach opening delays due to storm damage.
Southampton native Andrew “Gumbo” Hurley said that after the Newtown school shooting in December, the fact he owned an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle sickened him.
In January, the 55-year-old – a gun owner since he was 14 – decided to do something about it. In an interview with Patch Friday, Hurley said he called his friend from Barefoot Productions to come to his Water Mill workshop and film him smashing the AR-15 into pieces. The 3-minute video was then posted to YouTube and has gleaned more than 2,000 views.
Friday, February 15
Thousands of women, men and children rallied outside the state capitol building in Hartford on Thursday to demand what they called common sense gun laws. It was exactly two months after the Newtown shooting, which killed 27 people, including 20 first graders. Following the shooting, lawmakers have introduced more than 70 gun-related bills in the state legislature. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports for Free Speech Radio News:
Connecticut legislators are asking why state government would run up nearly $200 million in future interest charges — to cover a debt that it owes to itself?
Also why, with three payments left on a loan from the last recession, would Connecticut extend the payments to 2018 and pay an extra $30 million later?
The answers lie in the state’s checkbook, and in its political calendar. And the governor, who repeatedly accused his predecessor of pushing her fiscal problems — with interest — into the future, now faces similar charges.
The administration says it inherited the fiscal problems that trigger the cash shortage outbreaks that have plagued state finances in recent years.
Had past governors followed Generally Accepted Accounting Principles — assigning expenses and revenues to the books as they occur — Connecticut would have an extra $1.2 billion in the bank now.
But Malloy’s critics counter that’s only half the story.
Malloy along with Democrats in the legislature raised taxes by $1.5 billion two years ago.
Republican legislators say, had they cut spending at the same time, the checkbook balance would be in much better shape.
Unless the economy accelerates, Malloy’s only solutions are to raise more taxes, cut more spending — or most likely both.
But the governor is limited, legally and politically, from pursuing those solutions. A deal with state employees requires raises to begin in July and blocks layoffs for two more years. With the 2014 re-election coming, the Democrats are trying to avoid tax increases.
Connecticut’s mayors are also unhappy with the Governor’s proposed budget. They say it hides cuts to municipalities with elaborate shifts in state aid formulas.
The Connecticut Conference of Muncipalities, called a news conference today. It featured the mayors of Bridgeport, Danbury, New Haven, Norwalk and Waterbury and the first selectman of Somers.
The bipartisan group accused Malloy of fiscal fraud, saying his budget’s prose sets priorities of economic development and education, while his numbers undermine them.
Malloy was to respond with a press conference later this afternoon.
Southold Town is studying a new federal program to mitigate disaster during future storms.
On Tuesday, representatives of the National Disaster Recovery Framework –or NDRF – , a new FEMA program met with the Southold Town board to discuss the initiative.
The NDRF pulls together federal agencies to work together in a collaborative effort, focusing not only on disaster recovery, but on projects that can shore up infrastructure to prevent future storm damage.
NDRF reps plan to go before other elected officials on Long Island, as well.
Currently, FEMA funding exists in the form of direct reimbursement for costs associated with the damage caused by disasters such as Superstorm Sandy.
Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said “The standard used is to restore the public assets to ‘pre-storm’ standards. But the new NDRF funding, would provide funding as an investment in the future — to reduce the likelihood that roads, beaches and other town assets would not be destroyed again during the next storm.
For example,Town Beach in Southold was washed out and eroded during a winter storm two years ago.
Rock revetments and other measures are the types of “investments” you can make now to ensure future repetitive costs down the road are avoided.
How much does it cost to remove a dead whale from a Long Island beach ?
The answer is a whopping $7,500.
While it may surprise you, it seems to have really surprised the East Hampton Town Trustees.
According to an article in The East Hampton Star on Thursday, the trustees received the bill from the Town of East Hampton, even though the trustees weren’t in on the discussion about how to remove it.
The dead finback whale washed up on January 13 at Napeague, west of Montauk.
It was there until it could be hauled a little further up on the dunes and the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation could perform a necropsy the following day.
Diane McNally, the clerk of the Trustees, said, although they are the governing body of the beaches – they were never consulted,
Thursday, February 14
Dramatic cuts to the Pentagon’s budget that would hurt Connecticut’s defense industry are now looking more and more real. The so-called sequestration could cost the state as many as 42,000 jobs.
Congress has a deadline of March 1 to find billions of dollars in cuts to the federal budget to avoid automatic, across-the-board reductions, half of them to the Pentagon’s budget.
The looming cutbacks, on top of reductions to the Pentagon’s 2013 budget, have caused defense contractors to retrench, stop hiring or even laying off workers and postponing expansion plans.
Fairfield County area Congressmember Jim Himes said the Pentagon’s budget must shrink if the nation ever hopes to trim the federal deficit. But Himes said those cuts should be “thoughtful,” weeding out “obsolete and unsuccessful” programs and weapons systems and saving what he calls “weapons of the future,” such as Sikorsky’s Blackhawk helicopters.
Peace activists and some economists have long argued that non-military spending creates many more jobs per dollar spent than military spending, and that education, environmental protection and health care provide real benefits.
Damage to agricultural buildings, like chicken coops and plastic-covered hoop houses for growing plants in winter, was extensive in the wake of winter storm Nemo.
Bob Heffernan, executive director of the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association. said his members, at $1.1 billion, account for half the agriculture industry in Connecticut, representing 3,000 businesses and 48,000 employees.
With the local food movement entrenched in Connecticut and a number of farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture programs running year round, indoor growing has become increasingly popular through the winter.
Hoop houses are also used for what’s known as season extension — the ability to add a month or two on each end of the season by growing indoors. One problem is that hoop houses and high tunnels, unlike more traditional glass greenhouses, are generally considered temporary structures and therefore not insurable.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has revoked its original contract award for post-Sandy debris cleanup on Fire Island to a Central Islip firm.
A revised contract is being awarded to Custom Earth Recycling of Bay Shore.
The original contract was for $8.8 million.
The new contract is for $10.5 million.
The move comes after a formal protest from a bidder on the initial award last month.
The Corps stated that a review of the bidding process revealed that selection criteria “weren’t consistently applied to all proposals during the evaluation process.”
The Corps states that cleanup activities will begin by mid-February if no additional challenges are filed before the10-day limit for additional protests.
Homeless youth being released from the Suffolk County Correctional Facility will soon have a place to go.
On Feb. 25 at 11 a.m., Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco’s office and the sheriff’s youth re-entry task force will gather for a ribbon-cutting for a new house sited on the Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch. It will house homeless youth who have been released from the Suffolk County Correctional Facility.
According to DeMarco, the home was reconstructed with the help of inmates from the Riverside jail’s vocational training program, and will be “a safe and rehabilitative place for some of our homeless youth leaving the special youth program at the facility.”
The home will have beds for four young men and a counselor.
In 2011, the Sheriff’s Youth Tier Initiative was launched with a mission of promoting a successful transition of incarcerated youth from ages 16 to 19, from jail to life in the community.
So far, 51 young men have participated in the program and plans are in the works to expand the program.
Along with the Department of Social Services, a supplemental state grant was identified to support the initiative. Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson earmarked beds at their shelter, as well.
The goal of the two facilities will be to educate formerly incarcerated youth and foster their continued self-improvement efforts.
The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill and the African American Museum of the East End will present a free screening of a rarely seen one-hour interview with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The interview was filmed in King’s Atlanta home in December 1965.
In the interview, Doctor King speaks on the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. The film also includes an interview with King’s wife, Coretta.
Cinematographer George Silano, a Southampton Town resident, and the only surviving member of the film crew, will introduce the film.
The film, at the museum on Montauk Highway in Water Mill, will be screened Friday at 6PM.
Wednesday, February 13
It took more than 50 minutes for President Barack Obama to mention gun violence in his State of the Union address Tuesday, but when he did the crowd of supporters and dozens of victims rose to their feet to fill the U.S. House chamber with applause.
Obama said, “It has been two months since Newtown. Overwhelming majorities of Americans—Americans who believe in the Second Amendment—have come together around common-sense reform, like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun.” He also mentioned support for deterring straw buyers — someone buying a gun legally for someone who can’t legally buy one — as well as for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Despite saying that post-Newtown, “this time is different,” Obama also conceded he may not have the votes to get something passed when he called on Congress to vote on the issue regardless of the outcome.
The state’s Office of Legislative Research has identified 90 gun-related bills proposed in the General Assembly as of January 30. They include 29 bills covering gun sales, 24 regarding permits and eligibility, 22 covering ammunition, and 15 each regarding assault weapons and crimes or sentencing, among others.
Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, of New Haven, has submitted 17 of those bills. He said after the three legislative working groups researching gun control, mental health and school safety report back , his goal is to present an omnibus bill for a vote by the end of this month
Governor Malloy has been touring the blizzard-ravaged state and declared yesterday that he’s looking at climate change. He said. “I think climate change is giving more severe weather more frequently as the environment continues to warm.” It used to be in Connecticut that a two-term governor might have one massive storm to oversee cleaning up.
Since Malloy took office in January of 2011, the state has been pummeled by Snowmaggedon, when more than 40 inches of snow fell that month in New Haven. Then In August 2011 it was Tropical Storm Irene battering the coast, followed two months later by the freak October snowstorm that knocked out power and decimated trees state-wide .
Superstorm Sandy hit in late October of 2012, followed by Winter Storm Nemo, a blizzard that paralyzed New Haven with 34 inches of snow, the city’s biggest blizzard in more than a century. Malloy has already successfully asked the president to declare this state an official disaster area three times. And the governor’s first term still has almost two years left
There’s more snow and freezing rain forecast for the overnight, with forecasters predicting a mixture of rain and snow, possibly upwards of two inches in depth for Eastern Long Island and Southern Connecticut
Southold’s Zoning Board of Appeals member James Dinizio of Greenport was appointed by a unanimous vote Tuesday night by members of the Southold Town Board
to fill the seat vacated by Al Kru
pski, who won the seat for Suffolk County Legislator last month.
Current Councilman William Ruland was also appointed as Southold Town Deputy Supervisor, taking Krupski’s place.
Land in Westhampton, known as the Bailey Motel property, will be preserved in perpetuity after the Suffolk County legislature voted to approve the purchase of the land through a 50/50 split of the cost with the Town of Southampton.
The move comes after the Town of Southampton, in May 2012, voted to approve the spending of $3.045 million in community preservation funds for its share.
In addition to the 29-acre purchase, three acres adjoining the Baily property is being bought by the Westhampton Cemetery Association and the Peconic Land Trust for a future cemetery.
Tuesday, February 12
Municipalities are struggling to keep up with the amount of snow Mother Nature dumped on Connecticut over the weekend, but Governor Dannel Malloy said the state is doing everything it can to secure additional help. On Tuesday morning many secondary roads and side streets were still impassable, and even major arteries of New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford were far from totally clear of snow.
At the south end of Bridgeport only two streets allow access to the University of Bridgeport Student Center where WPKN Radio is located. Only one lane on one of these was cleared by Tuesday morning. Snow removal proceeded during the day.
On New Haven’s Dixwell Avenue, which serves many low-income residents who rely on bus service to get to work, CT Transit buses got stuck in the poorly plowed street and slowed traffic for hours.
Governor Malloy said about 50 more National Guard troops — some from out of state — would join the 250 Connecticut soldiers already on the ground, along with more heavy-duty snow-moving equipment.
State offices were closed on Tuesday due to the Lincoln’s birthday holiday, but state colleges and universities were to re-open. Yale said it would remain closed on Tuesday to keep traffic down for snow removal.
With huge quantities of snow lining Connecticut roads, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, or DEEP, is giving the green light to allow dumping it in water bodies, once other snow storage sites have been filled.
Environmentalists aren’t up in arms. Roger Reynolds of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment said, “This is an emergency. We understand that the snow has to go somewhere.” But he added there are concerns. “It’s similar to dumping municipal solid waste in the waterway,” he said. “When plows pick snow up, there’s inevitably some debris. DEEP is aware of this and has established a fairly strict protocol for dumping snow. All upland dumping locations must be fully exhausted. The snow cannot contain anything other than the road treatments used for melting snow. DEEP must be notified first and the snow must be kept away from drinking water and sensitive areas such as wetlands.
On Long Island, Brookhaven Town Supervisor, Republican Ed Romaine, has been out of town on vacation since last Wednesday and his new Highway Superintendent Michael Murphy was said to be out on a medical leave of absence.
Romaine’s location is unknown, as is who Romaine has been communicating with during and after the storm.
Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld and Councilwoman Kathy Walsh both said they have not seen or heard from Romaine during the blizzard or afterwards – and say it is having an impact on cleanup across Brookhaven.
The councilman wrote a scathing letter to Romaine and acting Highway Superintendent Michael Murphy on Sunday. He called it a “a complete and systematic breakdown in the ability of the Town Highway Department to respond to this crisis.”
Walsh, who was answering calls from residents, said many roads in her council district had not gotten a first pass from snowplows as of 4:30 p.m. Sunday. She could not say why that was.
Councilman Daniel Panico, who was named deputy supervisor in January, has been running the town in Romaine’s absence.
“Dan Panico has been very helpful,” Fiore-Rosenfeld said. ”He’s new on the job and is doing the best he can, but he’s not the supervisor or superintendent of highways,”
Panico has not responded to multiple calls from Patch since Saturday afternoon.
In Long Beach, focus group meetings on reconstruction of the Hurricane Sandy-battered boardwalk are being held.
At the first meeting, last week, some 100 residents answered prepared questions, including: “What are three things you appreciated about the boardwalk?”
Residents said they appreciated everything from reading to riding bikes to watching the oceanfront. Others hoped new shops and restaurants would line the new structure.
Some residents are more concerned about safety issues, rather than the rebuilding of the walkway, including Roy Ellmer, a lifeguard and former Long Beach zoning board trustee. Ellmer told News 12: “We’re talking about a new boardwalk. That’s not important. What’s important is a seawall and a dune to protect life and property from natural disasters such as hurricanes.”
Amy Engel, executive director of Sustainable Long Island, a non-profit environmental organization helping facilitate the focus groups, said this is a priority for the city because the boardwalk is “an economic driver … It’s so critical to everybody.”
The city’s goal is to reconstruct a new boardwalk by the start of the summer season. The cost is estimated at $25 million. Funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other sources are sought.
Monday, February 11
Connecticut has been declared a federal disaster area due to Blizzard Nemo, making it eligible for federal funds for clean up. Due to the record snowfall, Governor Malloy ordered state offices closed Monday. Many municipal offices are also closed, as are local libraries, schools and universities such as UConn and Yale.
Malloy urged patience as the state and towns don’t have enough heavy snow-moving equipment to do the job quickly. More equipment is coming from out of state.
Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating have both moved quickly to restore power to customers who lost it, mostly in the southeastern part of the state, but several hundred were still in the dark as of Monday morning.
The violence at Newtown will have a presence at President Obama’s State of the Union Address Tuesday. President Obama and other Democrats will make their strongest plea yet for support from Americans for gun safety laws.
About 20 Democratic members of Congress invited relatives of the victims, survivors of the massacre, or other “regular folks” who are advocating for more effective gun laws.
Rosa DeLauro, who Represents Connecticut’s 3rd District, will bring Carlos Soto, the brother of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Victoria Soto.
Elizabeth Esty, the 5th Congressional District Democrat who represents Newtown has invited Sandy Hook teacher Natalie Hammond, who was wounded during the mass shooting at her school.
First Lady Michelle Obama is also expected to have family members of Newtown shooting victims with her.
WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus lives in Hamden, which set the record for snowfall in Storm Nemo at a reported 40 inches in some parts of town. It was less than three feet in southern Hamden where Melinda lives. On Sunday she ventured out on snow shoes to check out her neighborhood.
Eastern Long Island was hit hard by storm Nemo with snow up to 33 inches at one location.
Cars stuck in the snow on the Long Island had to be dug out by hand. The Expressway was closed from Nichols Road east to Riverhead on Sunday so snow could be removed.
After over 40 cars were stuck on a stretch of Route 347 near the Smith Haven Mall between Friday night and Saturday morning, several local fire department crews pulled stranded motorists to safety.
Flights at MacArthur Airport in Islip were cancelled on Sunday.
Three men, aged 51 to 86, died as a result of heart attacks while shoveling snow in Northport.
The storm delayed the start of Sag Harbor’s annual Harbor Frost until Sunday while adding some frost to the event that featured fireworks and a culinary tour.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and North Fork legislator Al Krupski partnered on legislation passed last Tuesday appropriating $90,000 from the Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program. The money will fund a pilot study of clustered wastewater treatment alternatives for the Peconic Estuary Watershed.
Individual septic systems are common throughout the area that includes the five east end towns.
Clustering enables several residential units to connect to a common wastewater treatment system. It allows for the utilization of more innovative systems and offers potential cost advantages, as well as environmental benefits. The study will include preliminary design of projects with a goal of reducing nitrogen loading in the estuary that leaches into groundwater and migrates to surface water bodies. It is responsible for killing of marine life.
The study will be conducted by Peconic Green Growth, a not-for-profit organization, under the direction of the Suffolk Department of Economic Development and Planning.
Friday, February 8
Here is the WPKN local news for Connecticut and Long Island
Governor Malloy declared a state of emergency for Connecticut Friday and said
he is coordinating with state officials in New York and Massachusetts
about whether to close highways as a potentially crippling snow storm moved into the region.
He urged people to stay off the roads and said limited access highways may be subject to closure.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would activate the state’s Emergency Operations Center at noon Friday to watch the storm and coordinate response efforts.
With the potential for winds to reach 60 mph, the National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for all of Connecticut until 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Tides could be three to five feet above normal, resulting in a coastal flood warning from 6 p.m. Friday until about midnight.
As a major blizzard threatens to pummel Long Island with snow, floods and heavy winds, an already weakened Long Island Power Authority put National Grid in charge of the storm response.
The move represents the first time LIPA has handed over authority, according to Newsday.
National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd, says extra line crews and tree trimmers are already being secured to respond to the blizzard, which could knock out power to 100,000 customers on Long Island. She added that materials such as wires, transformers and restoration equipment have been pre-stocked at strategic locations across the region.
The announcement may come as good news to locals, as public support of LIPA has eroded after its handling of Hurricane Sandy, and the nearly 1 million power outages that storm caused.
Links to Connecticut and Long Island NOAA weather forecasts are at wpkn.org.
Click on Local News or go to weather.gov and enter your location or zipcode.
Here are some Long Island emergency numbers you hopefully will not need to use:
Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management: 631-852-4900
American Red Cross of Suffolk County: 631-924-6700
Long Island Power Authority: to report downed power lines or electrical emergency
the number is 1-800-490-0075
National Grid (for emergency gas safety service) 1-800-490-0045
These numbers are posted on the WPKN Local News page at wpkn.org.
The WPKN LOCAL NEWS is prepared from several sources including CT News Junkie.com, CT Mirror.org , and Long Island Patch sites, with the aid of Brendan O’Reilly of Southampton Patch, and WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus.
The WPKN local news is on the web at WPKN.ORG
Next up: national and international news from FREE SPEECH RADIO NEWS on WPKN.
This is Chris Ferrio.
Thursday, February 7
About 50 community members turned out for a meeting Wednesday night at New Haven’s Dixwell Avenue library to discuss actions in response to gun violence.
WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there.
Panel members included representatives of the Citywide Youth Coalition, My Brother’s Keeper, the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, and CT Against Gun Violence. Marty Isaac is president of the latter, which has been working for years to track weapons used in shootings in the inner cities. He says his group welcomes broader participation since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. They are proposing several things they want the General Assembly to act on.
His group is also calling for background checks for all sales and permits to buy ammunition, among other things.
State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield said legislators don’t normally get much mail from their constituents, but….
Many of those at the forum plan to attend a rally for “common sense gun laws” at the Capitol in Hartford on Feb. 14.
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
Governor Malloy’s budget proposes consolidating the legislature’s commissions on women, African-Americans, Latinos, children, Asians, and the elderly to save about $800,000 annually.
Malloy wants to expand the mission of the commission to represent the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The new agency would be called the Commission on Citizen Advocacy.
Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, said the proposal is really an “insult to women and the commissions as they currently stand.
Werner Oyanadel, acting executive director of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, said he doesn’t believe Malloy even has the power to consolidate or eliminate the commissions, which fall under legislative control.
Oyanadel said the his non-partisan commission helps make policy recommendations that will foster progress in achieving health, safety, educational success, economic self-sufficiency, and end discrimination in Connecticut.
Elaine Zimmerman, executive director of the Commission on Children, said her organization “brought in nearly $1.5 million in federal, philanthropic, private, and in-kind assistance to community programs.” With a budget of about a half-million a year, “that’s a return of $1.45 for every dollar invested.”
Republican lawmakers have praised the move, which they proposed through their own alternative budget proposals in years past.
The Appropriations Committee will hold a public hearing on the governor’s budget proposal on Feb. 19.
Southampton Patch and the Sag Harbor Express report that Bridgehampton School officials are considering a number of ways to make the Bridgehampton School campus more secure in the wake of the shooting in Newtown.
Among the changes the school is looking to implement are hands-free two-way intercoms in classrooms on the PA system, a single point of entry for visitors to the school which has several buildings, additional cameras, and pull stations that can activate a lock-down of the campus.
School officials have already given Southampton Town police officers who patrol Bridgehampton tours of the buildings and they plan to give the police detailed plans for each building.
The National Weather Service says A major winter storm is expected to impact the Northeast and New England Friday into Saturday. As much as one to two feet of snow is forecast from the New York City metro area to Maine, with localized heavier amounts possible. This, in addition to wind gusts as high as 60-75 mph will create significant impacts to transportation and power. Coastal flooding is possible.
The NWS forecasts as much as 18 inches of snow for Bridgeport and 12 inches for eastern Long Island.
The National Weather Service has issued blizzard and coastal flood watches for all of Suffolk County from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon. Significant beach erosion is possible on south shore beaches
Wednesday, February 6
Governor Dannel Malloy’s new budget, announced at noon today, will increase spending by $1.8 billion or 9 percent over the next two years. It also raises about $700 million in new revenues and converts $222 million in municipal grants to capital programs.
The 44 billion dollar, two-year budget proposal would change how the state funds municipalities by eliminating certain grant programs and increasing others.
The PILOT program and the Mohegan-Pequot grant funds paid to the towns were eliminated. The PILOT program revenue will be used for education funding. The Mohegan-Pequot grants will transition into a program for local capital projects.
The grant funds are derived from gaming revenue. The PILOT or Payments In Lieu of Taxes program distributed money to the towns to compensate for non –profits that pay no taxes.
Malloy’s budget also eliminates the tax on motor vehicles assessed at more than $20,000. The car tax netted the towns about $560 million a year. The budget does not propose making them whole for the lost revenue.
Governor Dannel Malloy’s budget proposal also would eliminate Medicaid coverage for thousands of poor parents, reduce a tax credit for low-income workers, eliminate the state-run Charter Oak Health Plan and slash payments to hospitals.
It would also take advantage of federal funds to increase Medicaid enrollment and raise rates paid to primary care providers who treat Medicaid patients.
One proposal would eliminate Medicaid coverage for certain poor parents. Those parents would lose their HUSKY Medicaid coverage but would be eligible for federal subsidies to buy health insurance through the new health insurance exchange market.
These health care proposals are required by federal health care reform provisions starting January next year, six months into the new budget.
Connecticut lawmakers are introducing several pieces of assisted-suicide legislation, including one that will start in the Public Health Committee.
A bill submitted by Senator Edward Meyer, Democrat of Guilford, would allow terminally ill, mentally competent patients to end their lives.
That legislation is likely to face opposition from right-to-life organizations and the Catholic Church.
On the other side of the issue, Republican Senator Michael McLachlan, of Danbury, is proposing to establish a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for manslaughter in the second degree for doctors who assist in suicide. None of the bills have been scheduled yet for a public hearing.
Connecticut Veterans wait an average of more than seven months to have claims processed. Almost half of state veterans’ cases were backlogged out of 2,750 who have filed claims last year.
The Veterans Administration has vowed to improve. Its goal is that no veteran will wait more than 125 days for a disability claim to be processed by July 2015.
State Veterans Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz is questioning whether the goal can be reached.
The backlog isn’t all due to agency shortcomings. Additional illnesses are being covered for veterans of the Vietnam and Gulf Wars in connection with Agent Orange and Gulf War Illness. Many of the 2.4 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have multiple and debilitating illnesses and injuries.
In an age where foreign news bureaus are steadily shrinking, Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism opened the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting on Tuesday.
It is named in honor of the Long Island native killed while on assignment last spring in Syria.
The Colvin Center will offer courses such as history of foreign reporting and multimedia backpack journalism. It will create a travel fellowship to expand the school’s Journalism Without Walls program, which has already sent students to China, Russia and Cuba.
Foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour said the aim of the Center is to put international reporting front and center for aspiring young journalists. Amanpour spoke at the inaugural lecture at the Center. She donated nearly $10,000 last November to send a group of Stony Brook student-journalists to Kenya to gain experience abroad.
On Tuesday the Suffolk County legislature approved County Executive Ballone’s plan to shut two controversial homeless sex offender trailers.
The trailers are located next to the County jail in Riverside and in Westhampton. They will close and homeless sex offenders will be relocated to other county shelters. Only one registered sex offender will be housed per shelter.
Law enforcement will be made aware of the location of each of the 38 individuals.
Tuesday, February 5
Governor Dannel Malloy announced Monday that online retailer Amazon will build a $50 million distribution facility somewhere in Connecticut and begin collecting sales tax in November under an agreement reached this week with the state. It will employ 300 people.
The agreement comes after more than a year of squabbling between the Internet giant and the state, after the legislature passed a bill requiring Amazon to charge customers sales tax. The state has so far been unable to collect revenue from the tax.
At a state Capitol press conference Monday, Malloy said the agreement with Amazon will bring in an estimated $15 million annually. He has already factored this into the budget he will release Wednesday. Malloy said the agreement will produce “good paying jobs with benefits.”
The legislature’ gun task force invited gun manufacturers back to the Legislative Office Building on Monday for a longer conversation about gun safety and the economic impact their proposals may have on the industry. The gun lobby, led by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is based in Newtown, says there are about a dozen gun and ammunition manufacturers in the state who employ 2,900 Connecticut residents. Foundation official Lawrence Keane told lawmakers his organization is in favor of beefing up the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System that retailers use before a gun is purchased. He said federal money already has been appropriated for states to enter the information into the FBI’s system, but only about half of the states are complying.
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano gave his last State of the City address last night at a meeting of the Board of Aldermen, before retiring at the end of the year. He focused on four points, as WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus explains:
DeStefano fleshed out those items, talking about the progress on his school reform effort, bringing back community policing and taking other steps to increase safety, growing jobs, and the problems of balancing the city budget in an age of austerity.
He said the city has enjoyed some successes as well as challenges in the past year. He said factory jobs have shrunk, while jobs requiring more education have risen in the city.
He noted the number of months, days and hours until his term ends and promised to work hard all year to earn his taxpayer-funded salary.
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
On Long Island, oceanfront property owners from Water Mill to Sagaponack voted Saturday to approve over $26 million to shore up beaches by strategically depositing sand.
The hope is that the beach renourishment will protect homes from storm damage and protect Southampton Town’s greatest recreational assets — the beaches themselves. Included in the plan is $1.5 million paid by homeowners for beach renourishment at public lands, plus another $1.5 million paid for by the town, through park fees.
Islip Town officials are estimating Hurricane Sandy’s cleanup and recovery costs could total close to $50 million, a significant figure for the town, in fiscal crisis for over a year.
More than half of the storm’s damages was done at the Town’s beaches and marinas.
The Town Board recently approved a $2.5 million contract for clean up and repair of the East Islip Marina in hopes of having it open for residents by this summer.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone released a plan Thursday that could shut two controversial homeless sex offender trailers on the East End permanently. The trailers would close and homeless sex offenders relocated to other county shelters — with only one registered sex offender per shelter. Law enforcement will be made aware of the location of each individual.
Bellone’s sex offender plan also calls for address verification of the over 1000 sex offenders currently registered in the County by law enforcement. The plan is expected to be voted on by the county legislature as soon as next week.
Monday, February 4
State Senator John McKinney announced Sunday that he plans to run for governor in 2014. He told Dennis House on WFSB’s Face the State program that he wants to run for governor to reverse Governor Dannel Malloy’s policies. He said Malloy “has brought us nothing more than higher taxes and more spending. The state is going in the wrong direction.”
Also, Tom Foley, the Republican who lost the gubernatorial race to Malloy in 2010 by just 6,400 votes, has announced he plans a rematch with Malloy in 2014.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nominated a Chicago prosecutor as the state victim’s advocate Friday. Malloy’s choice is Garvin Ambrose the executive assistant state’s attorney for Cook County, Illinois.
Ambrose faces confirmation by the General Assembly for the $100,000-a-year post. He was the unanimous top choice of an advisory committee that interviewed 10 candidates in December.
That ended speculation over whether Michelle Cruz, who was appointed by his predecessor, Jodi Rell, would win a new term after months of tension between her and the Malloy administration. Cruz was a critic of a risk reduction credit program that can lead to reduced sentences for prison inmates. The program was endorsed by the Democratic administration and criticized by Republicans.
Malloy said an advocate is free to criticize any policy at his or her discretion, but that had nothing to do with his not nominating her for a second term.
The sixth annual Run for Refugees on Sunday morning saw 650 runners and walkers complete a five-kilometer course to raise funds for New Haven’s refugee settlement organization and awareness of the role of refugees in American life. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports:
Participants ran up and down the city’s iconic East Rock and returned to the Wilbur Cross High School gym for a sampling of international dishes, whose fragrance filled the air. The event was sponsored by IRIS, Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services
Refugees from Africa seemed especially well-represented in the race, including runners from Eritrea, Congo, Kenya and Nigeria.
Ani Chukwu came to America as a child, escaping from the civil war in Nigeria decades ago. He lives in Orange, and recently started a non-profit, the Africa Plan Foundation, which was a major sponsor of Sunday’s run.
Mary Margaret Gethings is the principal of Fair Haven K-8 School, which receives all the refugee children who come into New Haven public schools; they currently have 102. She said besides herself, 15 teachers and 5 refugee students ran in the race, which she says is a good example of the school’s culture.
Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
Friday, February 1
Governor Malloy wants the state to invest $1.8 billion in the University of Connecticut and expand enrollment by 30 percent over the next 10 years. Malloy made the announcement Thursday in East Hartford. The investment would require state spending to increase $286 million a year to pay for 259 new faculty members—most of whom would be focused on science and technology. He said doing so will make “Connecticut competitive again.”
The plan includes $1.5 billion in bonding to construct new facilities, build out teaching and research labs, upgrade information technology, and renovate and build additional housing and parking. But with the state facing a $2.2 billion deficit over the next two years, it’s going to be a tough sell to the legislature.
Organized labor began its push to increase Connecticut’s minimum wage on Thursday. Presently it is $8.25. It last went up three years ago.
Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney of New Haven, testified at a public hearing in support of a wage increase but made no claim of broader Senate support in the face of an anemic economy. Both the new House speaker, J. Brendan Sharkey of Hamden, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy are noncommittal.
A labor committee bill would increase it by $1.50 over two years, with a bump to $9 in July, and to $9.75 in July 2014. It also would index future increases to inflation. While Connecticut has one of the highest minimum wages in the United States, the state also has one of the highest costs of living. Business interests claim a higher wage hurts the business climate.
The New Haven Board of Education is the only one in the state whose members are not elected, but appointed by the mayor. The city’s Charter Revision Commission meets to propose changes to the city’s charter every ten years including this year.
One of the most hotly debated issues is whether to make the Board of Ed elected, or a hybrid board of some elected and some appointed members.
A new wrinkle was added at the most recent public hearing Thursday night at Hillhouse High School regarding charter revision — putting some students on the Board of Ed.
Rachel Heerema, executive director of the Citywide Youth Coalition spoke. She said the Board of Ed needs to involve young people in its discussion and decision making process.
Heerema called for more vetting of Board of Ed decisions by both students, parents, and teachers. She noted that 25 states have student representation on their local boards. Some have students on their state board including Connecticut, which has two high school kids currently serving on the board.
Edward I. Koch, who served three terms as mayor of New York, died early Friday. He was 88.
Koch served as mayor from 1978 to 1989, solidifying a reputation as a colorful, candid and tough New Yorker who led the city through an era of almost continuous discord. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was leading the city government up and out of bankruptcy after the financial disaster of the 1970s.
The Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees approved a revitalization plan for the Upper Port on Monday night.
The plan calls for mixed-use zoning on Main Street – with housing above stores – and more housing units.
It looks at making Upper Port a more walkable area with a higher residential population, calling for changes in zoning to promote growth while adding green spaces and utilizing the train station as a transportation hub.
Architect Michael Schwarting said in an interview on Wednesday:
“I think our goal was to make walkable neighborhoods with commercial uses serving the local needs, and to utilize public transportation to maybe replace some of the automobile needs,” In addition, Schwarting noted that the coordination of schedules between the Port Jefferson/Bridgeport Ferry, buses, and trains should be considered to increase utilize more use of all three.
With the board’s approval, the Upper Port plan will be used as a key part of Port Jefferson Village’s comprehensive plan.
Thursday January 31
Last night was the final of four public hearings on how to respond to the tragedy that took the lives of 20 children and six educators in Newtown last month. This one took place in Newtown itself, and most of those who attended — including parents of the dead and of surviving children from Sandy Hook Elementary — spoke in favor of passing more stringent gun control laws.
Susie Ehrens, the mother of a child who survived, made no effort to hide her anger. She said America gave up its claim to greatness when it preferred the slaughter of innocents to the risk of offending gun owners. Speakers also asked for better mental health care.
Ardent opponents of gun control spoke later, most offering condolences before politely protesting that no new law would have stopped their children’s killer, Adam Lanza.
Members of the bipartisan legislative task force created in response to the massacre said their job was to listen to all the speakers. Each of the task force’s three working groups—mental health, gun violence and school security—are working against a Feb. 15 deadline to recommend legislation to the overall task force they are part of.
Several Connecticut towns are dramatically reducing arrests in their schools without compromising safety. That’s according to a report by the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance finds. The report, Adult Decisions: Connecticut Rethinks Student Arrests, looks at the national problem of students being arrested for minor misbehavior and profiles three Connecticut towns working to end the overuse of arrest in their schools. Manchester, Windham and Stamford all worked with the Alliance to increase order in their schools while decreasing the number of students arrested.
Results were striking.
For example, Manchester High School’s student arrest rate fell 78 percent in a single year. The report examines a surge in student arrests that accompanied an increased police presence in schools since the 1990s. Originally placed in schools to protect students, police found themselves often called upon to enforce school discipline. The primary police enforcement tool is arrest. Arrest doubles a student’s risk of dropping out. A court appearance quadruples the chances of dropping out. Connecticut’s Judicial Branch found that in the 2011–2012 academic year 19 percent of juvenile arrests that made it to court originated in schools.
A forum on how to prevent gun violence was held Wednesday at Co-op High School in New Haven. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there and filed this report:
The forum included a state legislator, a mother whose 13-year-old son was shot, as well as representatives of law enforcement, social work and education. Everyone agreed that creating a universal background check for gun purchases was a good idea, but there was disagreement on other issues. For example, Republican state Senator Joe Markley said he thinks had some new proposals been in effect before the massacre in Newtown, they wouldn’t have prevented the tragedy.
Markley said: “I don’t think the magazine capacity affects it. I don’t think trying to extend the assault weapons ban will affect it. We have to enforce the laws we have in effect now. “
He sits on one of three committees that’s part of a bi-partisan legislative task force studying the issue before releasing some proposals by February 15.
The forum was sponsored by the New Haven Independent and News Channel 8. Also on the panel was Tracy Suggs, whose 13-year-old son was shot and killed in a crossfire on a New Haven street several years ago. She said the issue of urban teens being murdered with guns was not enough to rouse the state and the country, but maybe little children murdered in Newtown will be.
On Long Island:
A new plan to permanently shutter two contentious homeless sex offender trailers in Riverside and Westhampton could come before the Suffolk County Legislature by next week — and the trailers could be closed forever in a matter of months.
So said Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, in an interview after a public meeting held last night organized to garner input on the trailers, which have sparked a public outcry for years.
Schneiderman said while County Executive Steve Bellone did not attend the meeting, he sent a representative. He added that Bellone planned to unveil a new plan to permanently close the two trailers on this morning, when Laura Ahearn, Executive Director of Parents for Megan’s Law, presents the proposal to the public safety committee of the legislature.
Schneiderman said he had hoped Bellone would have revealed the logistics of his plan before last night’s public meeting.
Bellone spoke with Schneiderman Wednesday and explained the focus of the plan would be to ensure that sex offenders would not be clustered in any one neighborhood; instead, they would be spread across Suffolk County.
Funds will keep the documentary team capturing stories of rainforest conservation in Costa Rica and Madagascar, and 20 percent of proceeds will be donated to the Jocotoco Conservation Foundation to preserve critical wildlife habitat Ecuador’s Chocó Rainforest.
Thursday, January 17 As negotiations for Connecticut’s next two-year budget get under way, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey warned on Wednesday that state cuts to municipal aid are likely. That would trigger an increase in local property taxes.
Sharkey told the Connecticut Conference of Small Towns at a meeting in Cromwell that cuts have been avoided for the past two years, but state spending on municipal aid accounts for almost 15 percent of the state budget. He said further cuts may not be avoided. Governor Malloy, a former mayor who also addressed the group, said he would try to prevent the towns from being cut, but he wasn’t making any promises. Meanwhile, House Republican leader Lawrence Cafero told the group that the agreement the state reached with its employee unions prevents Malloy from laying off workers to reduce the size of government. Senate Republican leader John McKinney also spoke, calling for no cuts to municipal aid. State politicians said municipal leaders must be at the table as potential cuts are discussed. ———————- Thirty years after the deadly Mianus River Bridge collapse, hundreds of bridges on Connecticut’s local roads are deemed to be in “poor” condition by the state. Many have not been inspected in more than two decades.
Governor Dannel Malloy proposed Wednesday to borrow $15 million for bridge repair and maintenance this year. But he acknowledged the problem is much bigger than that. More than 250 local bridges are eligible for rehab or replacement under the state’s Local Bridge Program. Officials point out that “poor” condition doesn’t necessarily mean “unsafe.” The program was started shortly after the Mianus bridge collapse killed three people and injured three more in 1983. But the program is almost completely out of cash. Nearly 400 local bridges and many state and federal highway bridges are labeled “structurally deficient _________________ The House of Representatives approved a 50.7 billion dollar emergency relief bill on Tuesday to provide relief for families and businesses trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy. A 9.7 biliion dollar appropriation passed earlier this month.
Conservative Republican Representative Peter King of Seaford Long Island criticized his own party’s leaders after they chose not to vote on the bill earlier this month. King said “It is unfortunate that we had to fight so hard to be treated the same as every other state “ The emergency bill passed 241 to 180 with only 49 Republicans in favor and 179. Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said: “There are times when a disaster simply goes beyond our ability to budget. Hurricane Sandy is one of those times.” Governor Andrew Cuomo has said restoration costs could top 8 billion dollars. In areas such as Long Beach, local realtors say about half of homes remain vacant. FEMA says close to 100 thousand buildings on Long Island were damaged or destroyed. The House measure included $16 billion to repair New York and New Jersey transit systems and a similar amount for housing and other needs in the areas affected by Sandy. The Senate has yet to act on the bill. ————————- The Riverhead News Review reports – Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota says more drivers in the county are exploiting a legal loophole to get away with serious crimes by fleeing the scenes of accidents.
Spota urged lawmakers to increase penalties for drivers who flee the scenes of serious accidents. He cited last month’s deadly hit-and-run accident in downtown Riverhead as a “perfect example” of how criminals are escaping harsher punishment. In the Riverhead fatality, a motorist struck a man who was crossing East Main Street. The motorist allegedly fled the scene and then plotted to avoid capture. While a more serious charge like aggravated vehicular homicide carries a 25-year maximum sentence, he was indicted Wednesday for leaving the scene of an incident without reporting it, a class D felony that carries a maximum sentence of seven years. ————————— State Assemblyman Al Graf of Holbrook calls the New York state gun control legislation passed this week hasty and incomplete.
Graf says the new law will take bullets out of his police officer – daughter’s gun “while the bad guys have no such limitations.” Graf said “This is what happens when you circumvent the legal, responsible legislative process: you end up with a well-intentioned bill that completely misses its mark and ends up putting the safety of our children and families at risk.” Graf said the new measure was rushed to the floor without public input or proper review and resulted in a fatally-flawed bill. ——————————————————— Tuesday, January 15 Newtown Patch reports: members of the Newtown community, including Sandy Hook School parents, met on Sunday to discuss what to do with the school building, which is currently closed while students attend school in neighboring Monroe.
First Selectman Pat Llodra assured Sandy Hook residents and parents their voices would be heard, and that Gov. Dannel Malloy and other elected officials would support whatever decision the town makes. Proposals included converting the school into a park, a senior center, or a “school for peace education.” Then on Monday, friends and family of some of the Sandy Hook school victims held a press conference to call for a national conversation on mental health, school security, and guns.
The group, which formed a nonprofit organization called Sandy Hook Promise
, is hoping the killings will spark change to prevent further gun violence. However, Tim Makris, a group co-founder, said they were not yet ready to advocate specific positions on the issues at hand. Another co-founder, Tom Bittman, said some of the group’s members are gun enthusiasts who do not intend to shy away from a discussion on gun control. The group also wants to see a broad discussion on social behaviors and mental health. ——————– Several years Ago, the Connecticut legislature launched Transparency.CT.gov to track state expenditures
, but state Comptroller Kevin Lembo took the concept one step further Monday by launching Open Connecticut
. The new website tracks how taxpayer money is spent in several additional areas. Lembo said in a press release Monday that creation of the new site cost taxpayers nothing. He added, “Through Open Connecticut we want to accomplish at least two things — we want to end the scavenger hunt for taxpayers by creating a centralized warehouse for financial information, and we want to help explain and break down the state’s financial processes as simply as possible. ——————– Of special interest to Long Islanders, Polling places will be open until 9 p.m. tonight for the Suffolk County First Legislative District special election.
Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter and Democratic Southold Councilman Al Krupski are vying for the seat vacated by Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine. —————————— Visitors entering Southampton School District buildings now face an extra layer of security which had been planned before the Newtown school shootings.
Superintendent Richard Boyes said that there are now cameras at the entrances of the schools, and the outer doors will remain locked until visitors speak to the security staff over an intercom. He said: visitors “must be seen and spoken to first.” —————————- As rebuilding efforts in Long Beach continue, East Setauket’s Ward Melville High School Student Government responded.
Students are collecting school supplies to replenish classrooms in the Long Beach school district where schools were hit hard by superstorm Sandy in October. ———————————————————– Monday, January 14 Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told Vice President Joe Biden that Connecticut may have some of the strongest gun control laws in the country, but to be effective, gun control must be addressed nationally.
He wrote Biden: As long as weapons continue to travel up and down I-95, what is legally available for sale in Florida or Virginia can have devastating Consequences here in Connecticut.” Malloy suggested that the federal government begin to address the problem by reinstating and strengthening the federal assault weapons ban and the ban on high capacity magazine clips. Also that Congress should require a background check for all firearm purchases, federal firearm licenses, gun show or other private transactions or transfers. Biden will deliver his report to the President on Tuesday. ——————– Connecticut’s two U.S. senators see the national attention generated by the Newtown shootings as an opportunity to address gun violence.
Friday they heard from a community that’s no stranger to the subject: Hartford’s North End. U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy held a roundtable discussion Friday afternoon at the Parker Memorial Community Center in Hartford. The panel included elected leaders as well as law enforcement officials, mental health professionals, and faith leaders. The senators also heard from members of the community, many of whom had lost family members to gun violence in Hartford. Several people expressed frustration that it took a mass shooting to get officials talking about gun violence, when their community has been dealing with it for years. Rev. Henry Brown has organized marches on the state Capitol to protest violence. He chastised lawmakers for waiting until the Newtown shootings before getting serious about gun violence. Reverend Brown said he didn’t see any of the people on the panel when he was marching on the Capitol to protest violence. He expects the concern created by Newtown to dissipate over time, leaving Hartford facing the same gun problems it has been facing for years. “Do something. Stop talking,” Brown shouted. “. . . God knows, if Newtown didn’t happen, ain’t none of you would be here today.” ——————- Moviegoers got shows both inside and outside a New Haven movie theater this weekend at the screening of “Zero Dark Thirty”. According to critics, the film implies that torture by U-S Forces was effective in hunting down Osama Bin Laden.
WPKN’s MelindaTuhus reports: The seven protestors passed out flyers titled “Fact Not Fiction”. They were led by Reverend Allie Perry. Reverend Perry said she didn’t want the movie depiction to become the the truth Americans come to believe about the death of Bin Laden. She said most people took the flyers, and some indicated agreement with protesters’ positions. One man said he’d served in the military and while he was not “in favor” of torture, he said most people have no idea what it’s like, presumably what it’s like to fight against terrorism. He declined to engage in conversation about it, which Perry felt was a lost opportunity for both to learn more about the others’ views. Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News. —————– Newly elected Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine says he will devote more town resources to fighting illegal housing.
His pledge, given at the monthly meeting of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook last week, was met with applause. Romaine said. “I’m not a fan of illegal housing because it allows some people who don’t want to live by the rules to enrich themselves at their neighbors’ expense. We will be starting a far more vigorous enforcement effort…. something that I don’t think the town has done enough of.” Romaine said this applies to all of Brookhaven town. He advised residents to call their town councilman to report complaints. Romaine added: “I’m going to work very closely with the council people. It affects the quality of life and the value of the home next door.” In 2010, the town condemned an illegally subdivided home in which people were living without hot water or electricity. Later that year they busted a landlord for separating a single-family home into four apartments. In May of 2012, the town found that a home in which 11 people got carbon monoxide poisoning had been illegally subdivided. Friday, January 11 A bipartisan group of Connecticut lawmakers will draft a legislative response to the shooting in Newtown.
The group will include the co-chairs and ranking Republicans of the Judiciary, Public Safety, Human Services, Public Health, Children, and Education Committees. They will look at school security, mental health, and gun control issues. House Speaker Brendan Sharkey says that additional funding for mental health services and increasing safety in schools may be things the legislature can act upon quickly. Sharkey expects a report by the end of February. Governor Malloy’s Sandy Hook advisory committee report on the same issues is due by March 15. ————————– New Haven State Rep. Pat Dillon is introducing a bill that would bring back highway tolls in the state.
Toll booths were eliminated shortly after a fatal truck crash at a toll barrier in Stratford 30 years ago. Dillon expects that tolls can be collected electronically as cars with EZPass cruise through automated booths. She says funds from the gas tax is shrinking as fuel efficiency continues to rise dramatically. That tax pays for infrastructure repairs. Dillon says another source of revenue is needed. Opposition is expected from the public, and from legislators, especially in Fairfield County, who fear that bringing tolls back would send more motorists onto local roads. Some transportation experts say that’s unlikely to be a big problem, since it would add time and inconvenience to any trip. (CTMirror) ____________ Start Community Bank in New Haven just won a nearly 300,000 dollar award from the federal government in recognition of its efforts to foster financial literacy and work with first-time account holders. The bank has branches at Whalley Avenue and in Fair Haven. Start was one of 59 banks that won a Bank Enterprise Award from a branch of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The awards go to support investment in low-income and distressed communities. Their aim is to help support new jobs, small businesses, financial education and banking services. At Start Bank funds will go in part to support “Loot Camp” which teaches teens how to save money, and to work with Columbus House to help homeless people establish bank accounts. ————————- Greenport Village received funding from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council for several developmental projects in the Village.
The funds include about 290 thousand dollars to transform ends of roadways to prevent polluted runoff and 186 thousand dollars to fund studies for several projects in the planning phase. These include replacing a deteriorating bulkhead at
Mitchell Park Marina and sewage expansion. Greenport also received 45 thousand dollars for an economic development study analyzing the benefits of the Greenport Tall Ships Festival and similar events. Though some have questioned the expense of the studies, Greenport Mayor David Nyce said that the money is needed since planning phases, which include feasibility studies, are expensive. The mayor said. “Getting everything properly prepared before the work happens is the second-most expensive part of any project — permit, engineering costs,” Nyce said that the village is always looking for help to upgrade and expand Greenport’s sewage system, as sections of town east and west of the system are not yet connected. ———————— A Riverhead High School, student in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp will be awarded for a lifesaving act of compassion.
Anthony Mammina helped saved a competitor during a cross country race at Sunken Meadow Park in September. The student was having an asthma attack and had collapsed and was unconcious. Mammina administered first aid, rather than continue to run past him in the race. Mammina is a also a Boy Scout who trained in first aid and CPR. He will receive the Meritorious Achievement award of the ROTC at the Riverhead High School gymnasium on Jan. 18 at 9 a.m. ———————– North Forkers can rock out to some great local bands while helping the homeless — and those displaced by Hurricane Sandy at the same time.
Rockin’ for the Homeless will light up Polish Hall in Riverhead on Saturday, January 26 starting at 5:30 p.m. Performers are Gene Casey and The Lone Sharks,
Who Are Those Guys, Rattlesnake Dawn, and Boot Scoot Boogie. The event will raise funds for John’s Place in Mattituck, to feed and house homeless this winter and for helping Long Islanders rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. Admission to the event includes food, door prizes, and four hours of non-stop dance music. ———————– Thursday, January 10 Governor Dannel Malloy gave his third state of the state address Wednesday at the start of this year’s General Assembly session.
His voice caught as he praised the courage of the Sandy Hook school personnel and first responders to the December 14 massacre. Malloy offered no specific policy proposals. But the Governor announced his opposition to a proposal made by a Connecticut pro-gun organization to arm teachers. He said: “When it comes to preventing future acts of violence in our schools, let me say this: more guns are not the answer. Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher, and security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom.” ————————– On the first day of the new legislative session Representative Stephen Dargan of West Haven introduced a bill that that would require workers’ compensation benefits to cover post-traumatic stress disorder for first responders.
Similar legislation had been requested by the Newtown Police Commission for their first responders and Sandy Hook School employees.
Connecticut’s workers’ compensation laws cover emotional injuries from the use of deadly force by police officers, but don’t account for an emotional distress suffered as a result of walking into rooms filled with bodies. Dargan said he understands covering post-traumatic stress will increase the cost of insurance for municipalities, but he thinks it’s a conversation the state should have. , —————————————– New Haven Mayor John DeStefano said on Wednesday that the epidemic of gun violence in America takes three different forms needing different solutions.
One is lethal inner city gang violence; another is street crime and domestic violence; and the third is mass shootings. He urged the public and policymakers to consider the total picture when proposing solutions. Destefano said ““It’s not about assault rifles only or about mental health only, or about walking beats only.” He made the comments at an event to mark a 50 percent drop in homicides and a 30 percent drop in non-lethal shooting in 2012 over the year before. The previous year of 2011 was tied for the all time high of 34 murders. ___________________________ The Retreat, a domestic violence services agency based in East Hampton and Riverhead, has received a 500,000 dollar grant, to use over three years, from the U.S. Office on Violence Against Women.
The grant will support an integrated, new approach to handling multiple problems. The Retreat won funding to kickstart collaboration between service providers in the county. It will pay for training of Retreat personnel to identify mental health disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder. ————————– The Peconic Bay Water Jitney — a pedestrian ferry linking Greenport and Sag Harbor operated last summer. It was a joint venture of Hampton Jitney and Response Marine. It is not expected to return in 2013, according to The Sag Harbor Express.
Hampton Jitney President Geoffrey Lynch told the Sag Harbor Village Board Tuesday that while the service was a hit with riders, financially, it was a “bust.” Lynch said he is still pursuing funding from public or private sources, including federal money, to bring back the service. _____________________________________ Wednesday, January 9 On Tuesday Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the names of 15 members of his Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.
The commission is tasked with developing policy recommendations regarding gun violence prevention, mental health, and school safety. Malloy last week appointed Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson to chair it. The members include a mix of education and mental health professionals, as well as security and public safety officials. They are expected to issue a report by March 15. ———————- U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal announced on Tuesday that he plans to introduce legislation toughening requirements for purchasing ammunition.
The bill, which comes in the wake of the Newtown school shooting, would require retailers to use an FBI database to conduct background checks on anyone who buys bullets. It would also require retailers to report to law enforcement when someone purchases more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. It would extend an existing ban on bullets capable of piercing body armor. Currently, it is illegal to sell both firearms and ammunition to certain groups, including felons, fugitives, drug addicts, the mentally ill, and domestic violence perpetrators. Background checks are required for the sale of firearms, but not required for the sale of ammunition. Blumenthal’s legislation would require all buyers of ammunition to undergo an instant background check and close what he called a “loophole” in the current law. He estimated the cost at about five million dollars, which he said “is negligible, especially compared to the potential benefits.” He said he would seek co-sponsors before introducing the bill later this month. ———————- Sen. Chris Murphy made a swing through New Haven as part of his tour around the state to get an on-the-ground look at federal spending priorities. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports:
In a quick stop at Farnam Courts, the housing authority’s development with the lowest income residents, Murphy said he plans to push for federal funding to rebuild Farnam and other deteriorating developments. Despite the dire budget outlook in Congress, he said it’s not fair to balance the budget on the backs of poor families. He also weighed in on the need for federal disaster relief for survivors of Hurricane Sandy. Murphy said: “We have to recognize that we are going to continue to need to help communities rebuild when they get hit by ever increasing storms … It is also a reminder of the obligation we have to pass legislation that changes the dynamics of global warming” The House last week passed a $9 billion Sandy aid package — a fraction of the $60 billion package passed by the Senate. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has promised to take up a proposal for the additional $51 billion next week. Murphy accused Republicans of politicizing the issue, which he said is “absolutely disgusting.” Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News.
Tuesday, January 8 Gov. Dannel Malloy on Monday nominated a woman to be the state’s first Hispanic on the state Supreme Court. Espinosa had served as a Superior Court judge for almost 20 years. She was the first hispanic to serve on the Appellate bench. She must be confirmed by the legislature. Malloy has made a point of trying to encourage diversity among the state’s judges. He nominated Andrew McDonald, his friend and legal adviser, to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, McDonald will be the first openly gay Supreme Court justice. Espinosa, who is Puerto Rican, is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University. She received a masters degree in Hispanic Studies from Brown University and a law degree from George Washington University. ———————————————————————————- Senator Richard Blumenthal said that as a member of the Armed Services Committee he has a responsibility to question Hagel on his positions on, “the submarine and Joint Strike Fighter programs, the Afghanistan War, and others.” A spokesman for freshman Sen. Chris Murphy said Murphy believes Hagel is “a strong nominee for Defense Secretary.” Murphy’s press secretary Ben Marter added, “Hagel has decades of foreign policy experience, is a decorated Vietnam veteran, and would be the first enlisted soldier to serve in that role.” The Armed Forces Committee would have to approve the nomination before a full vote is held in the Senate. Hagel has been criticized by some on the right for not being supportive enough of Israel and not critical enough of Iran and on the left for anti-gay comments he made several years ago. ___________________________________ A proposal to convert an existing barn to a mosque in Mount Sinai brought a crowd to Monday’s Planning Board meeting at Brookhaven Town Hall on Long Island. Property owner Mohammed Sameen and his lawyer, Timothy Shea, presented their proposal to convert a barn to a house of worship. Shea said that zoning boards must give deference to religious organizations. He said normally the planning board “must vet its codes to allow for uses that normally it wouldn’t….. we are not requesting a single variance and have designed this site to meet every single one of the town codes. “ A house of worship is a permitted use in the A-1 residential zone where the barn is located. Traffic and parking issues were the chief concerns voiced by those in attendance. But some raised questions such as what would be practiced and taught in the mosque and its classrooms. An attorney representing the Hamlet of Willow Creek Homeowners Association asked for a comprehensive traffic review and for questions about the site plan to be answered. David Schoenfeld, who lives directly behind the property, was concerned about possible lights in the parking area, excess trees and foliage and outside noise. Others, including Hamza Kahn, a Mount Sinai High School senior voiced support of the mosque. Kahn who lives near the site said: “this mosque would be great for a house of worship and for young kids like me to learn more about religion and to understand the ways of being a Muslim.” Attorney Shea later said that the site plan was approved by emergency services and the highway department and assured those in attendance and the board that there are no plans for any outdoor speakers, bells or music. He also said that Sameen is not looking for a tax exemption. The planning board put the plan on hold until the next planning board meeting on February 11. ——————————— Phillip and Carolyn McGrath of Port Jefferson bequeathed close to 790 thousand dollars to Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital and to The Cody Center at Stony Brook, which is devoted to autism spectrum disorders and related developmental disabilities. The donation will be matched by an anonymous donation and another from The Simons Foundation for a total gift of $1.57 million. The hospital said a gift to the Cody Center of about 390 thousand dollars will facilitate the hiring of a clinical investigator to conduct research to benefit children with autism spectrum disorders. The remaining gift of close to 390 thousand dollars will benefit programs at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. ____________________________________________________
Monday, January 7
Governor Dannel Malloy announced Thursday he has formed the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission to make specific policy recommendations regarding gun violence prevention, mental health, and school safety. He said “the commission will look for ways to make sure our gun laws are as tight as they are reasonable, that our mental health system can reach those that need its help, and that our law enforcement has the tools it needs to protect public safety, particularly in our schools,” The 15-member commission will be chaired by Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson. Malloy said the goal of the task force won’t be to compete with the legislation being proposed by lawmakers. There’s actually proposals already being made by lawmakers that he agrees with but he wants a more holistic view of all the issues. Malloy said he would like to ban high-capacity magazines, like the one the shooter in Newtown used which carried 30 bullets. He said “If the federal assault weapon ban had not expired or if Connecticut had passed legislation banning these high-capacity magazines then the “availability of that clip to this perpetrator may not have existed,” ———————————————– Connecticut prosecutors said Thursday that they are still working on a criminal prosecution in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III said his office will continue to work with state police, Newtown police, the Chief Medical Examiner, and other local, state and federal agencies on “this open criminal investigation.” Sendensky’s office says “Once the investigation has been completed he will make any appropriate decisions regarding prosecutions pursuant to state law and will issue a report of the incident with input from all agencies involved,”. _________________________________ Jay DeFrank a Pratt & Whitney government relations executive told a business forum Friday that with Congressional battles over government spending continuing, Connecticut’s defense contractors will need to evolve their businesses to remain successful, DeFrank was one of three speakers at a panel discussion of the defense industry at the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and Metro Hartford Alliance’s annual Economic Summit. Last Tuesday Congress passed legislation that pushed out the deadline for spending cuts by a few months. Pratt and Whitney’s DeFrank said “… those of us who are suppliers to the Department of Defense, we can expect relentless pressure on keeping our costs low …. In Connecticut, a state with notoriously high costs, that’s pretty ominous news, “ But Bob Ross, executive director of the state’s Office of Military Affairs, said it’s not all bad news for the state. Ross said he was confident Congress would resolve its current issues within the next few months. But in the meantime, it’s causing uncertainty and delaying planning or employment decisions. He expects other states will see larger cuts. The Pentagon’s national defense strategy calls for many of its products to be manufactured in Connecticut. Ross said. “Great jet engines, helicopters, attack submarines, ballistic missile submarines. We’re building the right things at the right time in history,” ______________________________________ A North Patchogue man has been arrested in connection with an incident Thursday evening in which a man was spotted on the roof of Tremont Elementary School in Medford. A security guard at the school attempted to question the man but he disappeared. Edward Weiss, 51, was arrested Friday after a school security guard saw Weiss at another school – Canaan Elementary. On Thursday, about 30 children in an after-school program at Tremont were moved to a secure area and a police officer stayed with them. Following the Newtown shooting, the Patchogue-Medford Board of Education approved placing security guards in the district’s elementary schools. —————————— A new state-of-the-art marine sciences center at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences is taking shape at the Stony Brook Southampton campus. It is scheduled to be completed in the fall. The 15,000-square-foot facility will replace the current research building on Old Fort Pond. It will support the growth of the school’s undergraduate marine and environmental science programs, Most of the funding, 6.9 million of the total 8.3 million dollar cost, came from the a special appropriation in the State budget. ————————————————————————————————————————— Friday, January 4
Connecticut has a new U.S. senator – Chris Murphy and a new representative – Elizabeth Esty. They were sworn in on Thursday.
Murphy predicted close cooperation with his senior partner, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. He said he has a mission born of the tragic shootings in Newtown “That’s to make sure I lobby my colleagues on gun control. I want to make sure there’s action while there’s still attention on [Newtown].” Esty said gun control will be high on her political agenda. Murphy, age 39, became the youngest member of the U.S. Senate. Murphy’s been given a job on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He will also sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. _______________________ Suffolk County Police swarmed to Tremont Elementary School in Medford Thursday evening after receiving a 911 call reporting a “suspicious male” on the roof. UPDATED from Patchogue.Patch.com A North Patchogue man has been arrested in connection with an incident Thursday evening in which a man was spotted on the roof of Tremont Elementary School, police said.
Edward Weiss, 51, was arrested Friday after a school security guard saw Weiss and notified police. Weiss was not on school grounds at the time and police did not say which school the security guard was from. original report:
The police report that a security guard at the school saw the man and attempted to speak with him. He disappeared when the guard went to a door to confront him. Approximately 30 children in an after-school program at the school were moved to a secure area and a police officer stayed with the children. Police reviewed video and determined the man fled outside of the school and did not go inside. A K-9 unit searched for the man unsuccessfully. He was described as white and wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. Following the Newtown shooting, the Patchogue-Medford Board of Education approved a measure to place security guards in all of the district’s elementary schools. ________________________ In December, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) Board of Trustees approved a 2013 budget that preserves funding for clean energy and efficiency.
It had been reported that the LIPA planned to take money from its clean energy and efficiency programs to cover the costs of Hurricane Sandy. But according to a statement from the Sierra Club, that organization sent a letter to LIPA’s Board of Trustees on December 5 urging that other funds be found to pay for reconstruction. In the end, LIPA slightly increased its clean energy and efficiency budgets above the 2012 level. The Sierra Club says that, while this is good news, LIPA continues to lag the rest of the state badly in reaching its renewable energy goals. Even greater funding is needed. The next step is to make sure that LIPA’s clean energy and efficiency budgets are at least preserved once the recovery costs of Sandy are fully known, and when the governor announces his reorganization plans for LIPA, expected early in 2013. _____________________________________ Patrick “Skip” Heaney, a former Southampton Town supervisor and more recently the commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Workforce Housing, now has a new job: legislative director for the Southampton Business Alliance.
The SBA is a not-for-profit that advocates for the business community in Southampton. Heaney was one of the seven co-founders of the alliance 20 years ago. He said Thursday that his new job will be to make sure business owners have a voice on legislation that is up for consideration. He expects to appear mostly before the Southampton Town Board in his new part-time position. He may also go before the Suffolk County Legislature about bills that may affect Southampton businesses. ——————– The Group for the East End moved out of its Bridgehampton office on Dec. 31, 2012, and will now operate exclusively from its Southold location
The group’s President Bob DeLuca explained Thursday that the closure is only due to economic reasons. He said: they will continue to cover both the North and south forks. There were no layoffs as a result of the office closure. DeLuca said: Donations received by the Group for the East End have been inconsistent since the country’s financial troubles hit in 2008. Keeping the Bridgehampton office open was costing $15,000 to $18,000 per year, according to DeLuca. But now, he said, that money will be invested into the Group’s programs. In 2013 they will focus on a clean water initiative. He said the group is “trying to put together a regional water quality campaign for all of Long Island to get groundwater and surface water cleaned up.” The Peconic Baykeeper, Pine Barrens Society and Nature Conservancy
are involved in the regional coalition. _____________________________________________________________________ Thursday January 3 A report released Wednesday by the state’s healthcare advocate Victoria Veltri details why Connecticut residents still face significant barriers to services for mental health and substance use disorders.
it’s an area of the health care system where having insurance doesn’t necessarily mean access to services. Velti said “ we have a three tiered system: one for the uninsured, one for the publicly insured and one for the privately insured.” She said lack of comprehensive health insurance is just one problem with the system. The report makes eight recommendations aimed at integrating the state’s mental health and substance use services. The program would enhance prevention, awareness and screening programs and increase community-based services. ————————————– On the Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s, a far-flung group of volunteers with Occupy Sandy Relief had come together at St. John’s Episcopal Church in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn to cook meals for hurricane victims, even while Congress dithered on a relief package.
Half a dozen of the volunteers were young people in a green jobs training and college prep program who came in on their week off to help. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has more: Green City Force is part of AmeriCorps. To be eligible, young people must be between 18 and 24 years old, live in public housing, and have a high school diploma or a G.E.D. Cyndra Davis lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. She’s college-bound, but is getting her green education on a city farm. The farm has a sophisticated food composting operation, which Davis described in detail. Coincidentally, the garbage bags full of food scraps generated by the Occupy Sandy Bay Ridge kitchen go to the farm for processing into what organic farmers call “black gold” — rich humousy earth that vegetables thrive in. Davis says there’s another connection between Green City Force participants and Occupy Sandy Relief that explains why these young adults are spending their Saturday chopping squash, potatoes and celery that will be turned into delicious hot meals to be delivered to families who are still unable to cook their own food. “because mainly a lot of people in the program have been affected by the hurricane, and I also live in an area that was really affected by the hurricane, so we’re just offering services to people and helping out when we could.” As they await a House vote on storm relief, residents of New York City are grateful for the efforts of volunteers. Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News. __________________________ One day after the January 1 deadline set to close two trailers housing homeless sex offenders, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone proposed a new sex offenders plan.
Bellone said the plan would close the trailers located in Riverside and Westhampton permanently. He promised that Suffolk “will develop the most stringent monitoring and enforcement program in the nation” for registered sex offenders. Bellone said a new approach is necessary because current laws intended to protect communities from sex offenders are being successfully challenged in jurisdictions across New York. He said although there are more than one-thousand registered sex offenders throughout the county – policy has been focused on about 40 homeless sex offenders, just four percent of the total. Bellone said the new policy will address all of the County’s sex offenders. He has directed the Suffolk County Police Department to develop a comprehensive approach to better protect communities from sex offenders. The police will work with other county agencies, advocacy organizations, and mental health experts under Bellone’s direction. A plan for submittal to the Legislature will be ready by the end of January. __________________________________________________ Wednesday, January 2 New Haven area Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro was the only one of the seven-member Connecticut delegation — all Democrats — who voted against the deal on the so-called “fiscal cliff” on Tuesday.
She said it contained some good elements but didn’t do enough to help the middle class and low-income Americans. It passed in the House, 257 to 167. The Senate had overwhelmingly passed the bill early Tuesday morning. The deal ends the payroll tax break. Middle class workers will see an increase in Medicare and Social Security deductions from about 4 percent to 6 percent. It also ends the tax cuts for Americans with incomes over 400,000 dollars for individuals and over 450,000 dollars for families. Those with lower incomes keep the same Bush era rates. The Child Tax credit and Earned Income Tax Credit were extended. Federal unemployment insurance affecting forty-three thousand in Connecticut was extended. __________________________________________________________ The House of Representatives failed to vote on funds for Hurricane Sandy relief after trying to cut down appropriations to 20 million from 60 million.
New York Representatives, including Republican Michael Grimm, voiced their displeasure. Grimm said “It is the wrong decision” He asked House speaker Boehner (Bay-ner) to reconsider his decision. He said “it’s not about politics, it’s about human lives.” Much of the billions Republican leaders wanted to cut was funding for preventative measures that could make future storms less deadly and less costly. This afternoon Governor Dannel Malloy wrote to Speaker Boehner urging him to reconsider his decision to adjourn Congress without holding a vote on the bipartisan, Senate-passed Hurricane Sandy relief package. Malloy said “It sends a terrible message to the citizens of the affected states that the leadership of the House of Representatives feels no sense of urgency, with winter upon us, to aid fellow citizens in their great time of need as the Congress has done time and again when other natural disasters have devastated communities elsewhere in the country.” ____________________________________________________________ The Suffolk Times reports that a Greenport school board member wants the district to hire armed security to avoid tragedies like the December 14 Newtown shooting.
At the December school board monthly meeting, member Michael Mazzaferro said since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado, he has believed armed security is needed in schools. Mazzaferro said “Most shootings happen in gun-free zones because the shooter knows they will be successful and no one is going to stop them.” Currently, the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District is the only district in Southold Town that has security, with one unarmed guard. Other Board members didn’t say whether or not they were in favor of hiring armed security. But they agreed to continue discussions about improving student safety. Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley has said his department is meeting with school officials and Suffolk County law enforcement to review lockdown, safety and emergency procedures. Greenport Schools Superintendent Michael Comanda said the district’s SAVE committee, following guidelines of the federal Safe Schools Against Violence in Education program, were to hold a meeting today to discuss improving safety measures. The meeting is closed to the public. —————————— We reported earlier this week that the federal tax on estates valued from 1 to 5 million
dollars was scheduled to rise on January 1. The change was expected to affect farm families and the Hamptons real estate industry where many single properties are valued in the millions. According to Long Island Patch blogger T.J. Clemente, after Congress acted last night the estate tax will rise to 40% from 35%, but only on estates valued over 5.12 million dollars. Inheritances valued up to that figure will not be taxed. ____________________________________ Monday December 31 / Tuesday January 1 A Connecticut scientist who worked closely with EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said one thing stands out for him about her tenure. Jackson announced last Thursday that she’s stepping down in January.
WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus has more: Yale professor Paul Anastas served for more than two year’s as Jackson’s science adviser at the Environmental Protection Agency. Many media outlets have said she’ll be remembered for specific rulings, such as the one that carbon dioxide and other global warming gases may be regulated as pollutants under the Clean Air Act, or for the mandated rise in motor vehicle fuel efficiency standards. But Anastas highlighted what he considers her legacy: “Her response in the face of environmental disaster. Her stepping up in times of great tragedy..the BP oil spill and the Fukushima melt down .. ensuring that the worst possible outcomes were avoided.”
Even some of those who criticized the government’s reliance on dispersants in the BP disaster praised Jackson for her overall response. Anastas said he hopes the agency, going forward, will focus on science, innovation and sustainability. Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News. __________________________________ A 60 billion dollar emergency spending bill to pay for the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy was approved in a 61 to 33 Senate vote on Friday.
But the final fate of the bill is in doubt. Unless the House acts before the new Congress is gaveled in next week, the bill will die, forcing lawmakers to restart the process. Most of the money in the bill would go to New York and New Jersey. But Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy hopes it will also provide for most of his 3.2 billion dollar request for money to protect Connecticut from other storms through new flood control projects and by burying power lines. Key provisions of the bill include a 9.7 billion dollar bailout for the federal flood insurance program and 11.5 billion dollars to replenish the Disaster Relief Fund. That fund covers aid to individuals and reimburses state and local governments for cleanup and rebuilding. The bill also includes 17 billion dollars in community block grants that could cover uninsured losses by individuals and businesses and 5.2 billion dollars for flood control and beach protection. Critics say the Sandy bill is loaded with pork and programs not directly related to the disaster – including 100 million dollars for a new roof for a Smithsonian museum and 20,000 dollars to buy a new car for the Department of Justice Inspector General. But lawmakers from Sandy-torn states fiercely defended the legislation. Connecticut’s Senators Lieberman and Blumenthal issued a statement calling for no unnecessary delays for those in need. ______________________________ Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley has ordered the police firing range closed while a nearby elementary school is in session.
Four days after the Dec. 14 Newtown shootings the mayor received a complaint that students and teachers at the Tuckahoe School could hear gunfire from their classrooms. Epley said that a group of officers with the Southampton Village Police Department used the range — which is about a half mile from the school — on Dec. 18 for firearms training. Epley told Southampton Patch on Friday: “In the wake of the incident in Connecticut, it’s very disturbing for children and teachers and parents …” “From a pure community relations standpoint and making kids feel safe in their learning environment, there is no reason that they should use the range while the school is open.” The range is owned by Southampton Village. Epley said he has received complaints about the range in the past, including from neighbors disturbed by the noise on Saturdays. But he has no intention of closing the range which he says is “extremely safe”. The firing range is sometimes used by other east end and out of state police. Nancy Miller, who lives across the street from the Tuckahoe School, called on the village to stop using the range altogether. Miller said that when police from New Jersey, Connecticut and New York were there, “loud sounds of guns blasting in the day and through the night could be heard inside the school building” ______________________ December 31: In an effort to prevent tragedy on New Year’s Eve, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has announced a crackdown on drivers operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
The Suffolk County Police Department will have additional officers on patrol. They will come from the Selected Alcohol Fatality Enforcement Team, and from all seven precincts. The county executive said that, nationwide, New Year’s Day is the single most dangerous day of the year for motorists, with 78 drunk-driving related deaths annually. This is close to 3 times any other day of the year. Funding for supplemental patrols will be provided by the Suffolk County STOP DWI program. ___________________________________________ Friday, December 28
Gov. Dannel Malloy has nominated Andrew McDonald, his friend and chief legal counsel to the state Supreme Court. McDonald, a former state senator, will be the first openly gay Supreme Court justice to serve on the court if his nomination is approved by the legislature. Malloy, who performed the marriage ceremony for McDonald and his husband in 2009, said McDonald has “an exceptional ability to understand, analyze, research and evaluate legal issues.” He said those skills will allow him to be a great jurist. Malloy nominated McDonald to fill the vacancy left by Justice Lubbie Harper Jr., who turned 70 in November. McDonald’s nomination was applauded by members of both major parties. That included Mike Lawlor, Malloy’s criminal justice adviser. Lawlor co-chaired the Judiciary Committee with McDonald when both served as Democrats in the General Assembly. Republican Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said McDonald “will uphold the state constitution and carry out his responsibilities as a Supreme Court Justice with the highest degree of impartiality and integrity.” ___________________________ In a major policy change, 20 alleged gang members will be able to jump ahead in New Haven’s 1,000-person waiting list for public housing assistance.
The city’s housing authority board voted unanimously to allow the exception to the ban on criminal offenders as part of Project Longevity. The program, which has been successful in other cities, aims to reduce gang violence. It offers carrots such as housing and help with education and employment training to gang members who leave that life behind – while also threatening to come down hard on all members of a gang – if any continue their violent lifestyle. Housing authority rules currently pose barriers to people with criminal records: Applicants who have committed a misdemeanor offense in the past three years, or a felony in the past 10 years, are not eligible for public housing assistance. The 20 new spots approved Tuesday are not for apartments in public housing complexes. The housing authority has leased out 3,300 Section 8 vouchers, which subsidize low-income tenants’ rent in qualifying privately owned housing. ___________________________ Removal of debris left behind by Hurricane Sandy on Fire Island will begin in late January. The federal government has earmarked 30 million dollars for the effort.
New York State along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local municipalities will join forces to begin the cleanup. The Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) will oversee this project, and will support cleanup efforts with New York State and the Fire Island communities affected. Cleanup crews will face a number of challenges as they remove debris. The narrow passageways and boardwalks on Fire Island leave little room for placing debris waiting for pickup. Also, weight restrictions on bridges and walkways are expected to make reaching and hauling debris a challenge. _______________________ New York State’s sea bass season for recreational fisherman and charter boat companies on the East End will be extended through February 28. The season was originally scheduled to last from June 15 to Dec. 31, Fishermen called on the state to keep the season open longer to make up for losses and missed opportunities due to Hurricane Sandy. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) responded by extending the season 59 days. The minimum size limit has been reduced to 12.5 inches from 13 inches, but the daily bag limit remains at 15 bass. Also the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to open recreational harvest of black sea bass in federal waters in January and February. ___________________________________________________________ Thursday, December 27
___________________________ About 43,000 individuals in Connecticut now receiving unemployment benefits could lose them on December 29, unless Congress reauthorizes the program. An additional 50,000 individuals currently collecting under the state benefits program, would not be able to collect beyond 26 weeks. The state provides 26 weeks of unemployment insurance. The federal government also funds an emergency extension of benefits during times of slow job growth. If Congress fails to act, any newly unemployed person would only be eligible to collect 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. Connecticut residents had been eligible for 63 weeks of benefits.This increased when the unemployment rate increased to 73 weeks. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it will cost $30 billion to extend federal unemployment benefits by another year. That’s just a small portion of the $7 trillion in tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect if Congress does not act. In May, the Department of Labor and Department of Social Services, teamed up with private agencies to develop a strategy to deal with the possibility that the long-term unemployed would lose their benefits. The program will help those who may lose their benefits gain access to social services and job training programs. Those seeking to access services should call 2-1-1. ____________________________ Real estate sales in the five east end towns on Long Island are up this year based on the proceeds of a tax earmarked for purchase of open land.
The Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund is funded by a tax on real estate sales. It is used by the towns to purchase land to preserve open space in a rapidly developing region. Since its inception in 1999, the Fund has generated about 780 million dollars. Proceeds of the funds have increased by 5%, so far this year. The funds produced 6 million dollars in revenue for November 2012. This compares with 5.3 million dollars a year ago. Revenues for November were up about 40% in East Hampton and Shelter Island, up 25% in Riverhead and 20% in Southold. In Southampton revenue dropped by 10%. _____________________ Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter is running for a seat on the Suffolk County Legislature next month.
Newsday reports, although Walter might depart the town, he said his biggest challenge in 2013 will be to get the town’s Enterprise Park at Calverton , known as EPCAL, subdivided. This will bring jobs and tax revenue to the town as the properties are sold. Riverhead recently hired former Democratic Congressman George Hochbrueckner as a lobbyist to help get approval for its EPCAL plans from New York. Dealing with state environmental regulations has proved difficult for the town, which wants to have a master plan in place so that a business buying land there will not have to go through as extensive an environmental review. Part of the EPCAL property is in a sensitive pine barrens water recharge area. The town’s overall plans for sewage service and other infrastructure improvements currently have to be factored into each individual development application. The town wants the state to recognize that planned sewage facilities will serve all new development, and not require individual reviews. __________________________
Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst told Newsday,the town’s
recovery from superstorm Sandy continues to be a major priority and
challenge as Southampton works to clean up and re-nourish its beaches. But the town faces other obstacles, including improving water quality. Throne-Holst said: “We have a growing number of impaired water bodies and we see our bays threatened, we see our shellfish and fishing industry threatened, and home values threatened as a result of that,” She said the town is also working toward a better solution for the area’s semi-permanent homeless shelters that “spreads the burden out a little bit”. Southampton has lived within the state property tax levy cap and hasn’t raised taxes in three years. The supervisor said that is getting more difficult with the rising costs of health care. The solution has to be more sustainable and comprehensive than laying off town workers. ________________________________________ Wednesday, December 26
|Riverview Sales, the East Windsor gun shop where Nancy Lanza legally purchased the rifle used in the Newtown shootings, has had a history of problems. These include thefts and difficulty keeping track of inventory. It is under investigation by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. According to a report in the Hartford Courant, on the day after the Newtown shooting, Jordan Marsh, a 26 year old South Windsor man was arrested after he attempted to steal a long rifle from Riverview Sales. The report also said police investigation revealed that Marsh had an AR-15 assault rifle, stolen from the same store, stashed at a Hartford hotel where he had been staying. The store employees were unaware that the weapon was missing. Marsh, was charged with third-degree larceny, first-degree robbery, theft of a firearm and carrying of dangerous weapons. He was arraigned in Enfield last Monday, and held on million dollars bail. _________________________________ Connecticut remains one of the richest states in the country.
But hunger among school-age children is on the rise in the state. Experts do not expect the trend to change soon given the state’s 9 percent unemployment rate and sluggish economy. Therese Dandeneau, an education consultant with the Connecticut Department of Education’s school nutrition programs, says “Childhood hunger is impacting school districts in urban, rural, and even wealthy communities.” Between 2004 and 2010, the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, increased from about one quarter to one third. There was an increase in the number of schools participating in the free breakfast program. But Connecticut still ranks last among states and the District of Columbia in participation in that program. Some students are depending on school for more of their meals, often going without food or enough nutritious food at home. The Education department suspects the number of children receiving free or reduced-price school meals represents only a fraction of those in need because pride keeps some families from seeking help. ______________________________ A new Connecticut Adverse Event Report for hospitals shows that surgeries done on the wrong part of the body increased 62 percent in 2011. It also indicates the number of patient deaths or disabilities resulting from surgery, or falls, also rose. On the bright side, reports of patients suffering from serious pressure ulcers or bed sores declined. ______________________________ On Long Island, 86 projects have received almost 60 million dollars in funding through the New York State Regional Economic Development Council. One million dollars will fund a mixed-use project in Coram including housing and retail business. $500,000 will go toward an 18 million dollar project testing Maglev technology for high speed trains. Other funding includes about $150,000 to improve storm water infrastructure at Havens Beach in Sag Harbor. $335,000 will go toward marketing the East End tourism industry. Regional economic development councils were put in place by the Cuomo administration in 2011 to provide an incentive-based approach toward state funding of projects. _______________________________ Monday December 24
|As reported in Newtown Patch, on Thursday, East Windsor police confirmed that Riverview Sales in East Windsor, sold a gun to Nancy Lanza, the mother of Adam Lanza, the gunman responsible for the Sandy Hook school shooting. The gun store has been at the center of several recent, highly controversial incidents over the past several years. It is under investigation by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The gun shop has had a history of problems, particularly with being unable to track its inventory. One year it was unaware that 33 guns were missing. The Hartford Courant reported that On Dec. 15, Jordan Marsh, a 26 year old South Windsor man was arrested after he attempted to steal a long rifle from Riverview Sales. Marsh, was charged with third-degree larceny, first-degree robbery, theft of a firearm and carrying of dangerous weapons. He was arraigned in Enfield on Monday and held on $2 million bail. Police said further investigation revealed that Marsh had an AR-15 assault rifle stolen from Riverview Sales, stashed at a Hartford hotel where he had been staying. Riverview Sales employees were unaware that the weapon was missing.
Store owner David LaGuerica said he was “appalled” that a gun he sold had been used in the “senseless tragedy” in Newtown according to the AP. ____________________ 1st District Congressmember John Larson held a forum on Sunday about violence prevention and said he wanted to to reinstate a nationwide ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
Most of those present agreed with him. But at the forum, held at St. John’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford, there were also dissenters. Ed Peruta, president of a gun-rights organization called Connecticut Carry, called for more prosecution of firearm violations, not restricting gun ownership. Another gun owner said he supports a ban on high capacity magazines, and requiring background checks on all purchasers. Currently 40 percent of buyers evade such checks. Larson said looking at mental health and youth violence prevention also are necessary steps. ___________________________ On Saturday, New Haven and Bridgeport held gun buy-back events. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus stopped by the New Haven Police firing range to see the results, which were prompted by the Newtown massacre of December 14.
A total of 64 functioning weapons of all shapes and sizes were turned in, including, for the first time, five assault weapons. One of them was a Bushmaster — the same model used in the Newtown shooting. It was turned in along with six high-capacity clips that could hold a total of 150 bullets. All turn-ins were anonymous, no questions asked. The $50 gift certificates — $100 for the assault rifles — were mostly covered by the Yale New Haven Hospital Injury Prevention Program, highlighting the fact that some consider gun violence a public health emergency. One couple turned in a 30-year-old handgun they said they had kept for protection when they ran a grocery store. “It was never used and we had no use for it anymore, and it was an appropriate time to turn it in, I think, because of all the tragedy, you know, the recent tragedy.” A police spokesman said the total turned in ties the most ever in a buy-back. New Haven will hold another gun buy-back day next Saturday. Meanwhile, Bridgeport held a similar event today, with higher payments, and will do so every Saturday until the $100,000 donated from various companies and individuals runs out. In both cities, the guns will be examined by weapons experts to see if any have been used in a crime. The rest will be melted down or otherwise destroyed. Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News. _______________________ The national organization Move – On is sponsoring a ‘drop by’ at 1st District Congressman Tim Bishop’s office on Hampton Road in Southampton on Thursday.
Move On says: “last week, in fiscal talks with Republican Speaker Boehner, President Obama offered to cut Social Security benefits. Although negotiations are on-going there’s a real risk that a deal could be struck this week that includes those cuts. Democrats in Congress—whose support is needed to pass a deal—have been split on whether they’d allow Social Security cuts.”
Those who drop by the Congressman’s office will tell him that cuts in Social Security should be off the bargaining table. ____________________ Newsday reports that a Smithtown Town official has asked state lawmakers to draft legislation calling for thousands of storm-damaged cars to be scrapped for salvage — lest they be resold to unsuspecting buyers.
Councilman Thomas McCarthy, a former auto dealer, said he fears the cars — many of them compromised by wiring corroded by saltwater — may wind up on out-of-state used-car lots. An estimated 230,000 vehicles in the region were damaged or destroyed by Sandy, according to insurance industry estimates. Thousands have been stored in vacant lots in Calverton and Speonk while officials process insurance claims. State law says the titles of damaged vehicles must be stamped “flood” to warn prospective owners of potential problems. Saltwater can ruin computer-controlled fuel and braking systems, heating and air-conditioning, and other components. State Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick
) has asked state researchers to examine existing laws. He would consider drafting legislation if it appears current statutes are inadequate. ————————————————————- Friday, December 21 In response to the National Rifle Association call for a surge of gun-carrying “good guys” in every American school, Rob Cox, a spokesperson for Newtown United, told Newtown Patch that
stands with the children, the teachers, the community, and the families touched by the massacre of innocent lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14,”. “We are united with the country to drive national efforts to turn the tide on gun violence.” Cox continued: “We are dedicated to ensuring the senseless act of violence that occurred in Newtown is never repeated.” ================================================ There is a stark gap between what low-income families in Connecticut can afford to pay in energy bills and what they owe. That’s according to Operation Fuel’s annual report released Thursday. The organization is a nonprofit that tries to aid people having trouble heating their homes. The report says the gap for households at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level was about 2300 dollars this year. That’s one hundred dollars more than last year. Patricia Wrice, executive director of Operation Fuel said people often have to make tough and sometimes dangerous choices, such as turning on their oven when they can’t afford to pay the bills. Federal aid to cover the gap has been shrinking. Wrice said Operation Fuel has been pushing for years to see Connecticut enact a low-income energy affordability rate. She said every other state in New England has subsidized energy rates for low-income households. But Wrice praised the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps people catch up on their bills during the winter. ————————— After two break-ins this week at a mothballed, crumbling and toxic power plant in New Haven, the state secured a court order forcing the plant’s owners to post round-the-clock security at the site.
Attorney General George Jepsen and Commissioner Daniel Esty of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection ,(DEEP) announced the action on Thursday. English Station, on an island in the Mill River, is a popular site for scavengers, who break in to the facility to haul out metal. The station is contaminated with dangerous PCBs and looted metal may be contaminated as well. In February, DEEP ordered the owners of English Station to secure the buildings and grounds. They failed to do so. The plant is owned by Asnat Realty, LLC of Bayside, New York and Evergreen Power, LLC, of Wilmington, Maryland. DEEP has blocked any demolition at the site until a proper remediation plan is made and the site is decontaminated. And the officials are asking the court to charge the owners for the cost of investigating and controlling the spread of toxic chemicals from the site. A hearing is scheduled for Jan 7. __________________________ The Suffok Times reports the Village of Greenport will receive close to a half-million dollars in state grants for various projects under a job creation program.
The largest of Greenport’s grants, for about 290 thousand dollars will go toward rebuilding waterfront streets to trap containment laden storm runoff before it reaches the water. The village also received funding for studies related to sewer district expansion feasibility, waterfront bulk-heading, and tourism. The grants are part of the 738 million dollars awarded through Regional Economic Development Councils in New York for 725 projects.
Local workers say they have been shut out of a downtown Patchogue construction project. Michael Anderson, a business agent for Metallic Lathers Local 46 says the workers on the 100 million dollar New Village project are from North Carolina. Anderson said “You have local guys who live in Patchogue, who live on the island who should be working there.” Members of Local 46 have been protesting outside the Main Street construction site, alongside a large inflatable rat. Local officials say Tritec Real Estate, which is building apartments, and retail and office space, has done its part to hire as many local union workers as it can. Patchogue Village Mayor Paul Pontieri said Thursday. “The answer is in the numbers. You bid on something and if you get out-bid, you match the numbers. There’s no God-given right for anyone to have a job.” Pontieri said that 65 to70 percent of the project workers, including plumbers and electricians, are union and almost 80 percent of the dollars paid out are to union workers. The difference in bids between union and non-union labor parts of the project, including iron work, has been several million dollars. County Legislator Rob Calarco said there was little the county could do to get more local labor on the job. The County gave Tritec $4 million in aid for project’s workforce housing component, ________________________________________ Thursday, December 20 The Connecticut General Assembly voted in a special session Wednesday night to substantially close the state’s budget gap. Lawmakers reduced the deficit by 252 million dollars by making cuts in spending on hospitals, social services, and education. The vote was bipartisan and almost unanimous. Governor Dannel Malloy’s rescission package eliminated the remaining 113 million dollars in the projected state deficit. The budget now eliminates longevity bonuses for non-union state employees and raises about 26 million dollars in revenue by changing how some programs operate. The package does not include cuts to nonprofit community service providers. About 7.5 million dollars in sales tax revenue apportioned for municipalities was cut. But formula-based grants for towns were not cut. The legislation also allows Newtown to shorten its school year and further allows towns to expand their use of local capital improvement funds to include improving school security measures. Going forward, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo has projected an additional 50 million dollar deficit. ————————— Measures to be proposed in January to the Connecticut General Assembly include a proposal to treat ammunition like cigarettes as a health hazard that should be heavily taxed to offset the public costs of gun violence. Senator Beth Bye, a West Hartford Democrat, who knows the parents of one of the children shot to death in Newtown, will seek a 50 percent tax on ammunition. The tax would not apply to ammunition purchased and used at a firing range. Other measures would restrict the sale of ammunition to licensed gun owners, limit the capacity of magazines to 10 rounds or fewer and tighten the state’s ban on assault weapons. Robert Crook of the Connecticut Sportsmen’s Alliance is opposed to the tax measure. He said “We should be looking for solutions to the problems, not these asinine ideas. I don’t think ammunition is a health hazard. We use it in hunting. We use it in target shooting. I don’t know how you can call it a health hazard, unless it’s used in something like this Newtown shooting.” _____________________________ The Long Island Sound Study, has announced a project to investigate climate change impacts on key wildlife and ecosystem resources in the Sound. It’s a project of the National Estuary Program sponsored by US Environmental Protection Agency. the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Chris Elphick, the project’s co-lead investigator said: “Long Island Sound is likely to see substantial changes over the coming decades. This project will provide a detailed baseline against which to judge changes. This ….. will facilitate better, more cost-effective planning for the protection of natural resources.” The Connecticut Energy and Environmental Protection department will administer the 200,000 dollar project agreement. ————————– New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted to raise its fares across the board, including a 9 percent Long Island Rail Road hike starting in March. Rate increases will depend on the time of day and distance travelled. A one-way subway fare in New York City will increase from 2 and a quarter to 2 –50. The MTA is fighting to reinstate its payroll tax. The tax charges local businesses 34 cents for every 100 dollars it pays in salaries. The tax was struck down in state court in August. ——————— In Southampton, over three dozen officials from local schools, government, and emergency service departments met in Hampton Bays Middle School Tuesday evening. After the Newtown school shooting this is the first step of a collaboration between Southampon’s many organizations that might respond in the case of such an emergency. A conversation in the school lasted close to two hours, led by Hampton Bays School Superintendent Lars Clemensen, Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Southampton Police Chief Robert Pearce. The leaders plan to meet again early next year and later, as a dialogue around school safety evolves. Superintendent Clemensen told Patch ”we may be duplicating services, or not coordinating as efficiently as we might be, if we were all rowing in the same direction,…….. This crisis in Sandy Hook gave us the opportunity to prioritize this and all come together.” ___________________________________________________ Wednesday December 19 (includes input from Newtown.Patch.com)
Connecticut lawmakers reached a “tentative” agreement late Friday night to close the current fiscal year’s budget deficit. It’s estimated at between $365 million and $415 million.
One Democratic leader said it relied more heavily on spending cuts than his caucus would have liked. The Departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Social Services have been spared from the budget ax. A $122 million cut in Medicaid payments, mostly to hospitals, is a big part of the package. ——————— The mayors of Connecticut’s largest cities, New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport, have been in support New York Mayor Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns. WPKN’s Ebong Udoma spoke with Mayor Bill Finch of Bridgeport
. Finch thinks now is the time to talk about controls on guns, gun users and manufacturers:
He said “we’ve been pushing very hard for a ban on the assault weapons, restrictions to the large capacity magazine clips, for background checks, nationally, there are many states that require no background check, and so people with mental illness and people who have violent tendencies or criminal backgrounds are able to go and buy guns. There are even loopholes in CT.’s laws. So we’re adamant. and we’re not shying away from talking about it. …………….. If people are making these very dangerous weapons …and they’re making millions of dollars of profit, why aren’t they more closely regulated and scrutinized? They are making millions of dollars from what are essentially weapons of war. _________________________ The Judicial Compensation Commission voted Tuesday to recommend raising the salaries of judges by more than 20 percent over the next four years.
The commission was established by the legislature to ensure that the pay of judges reflects the rising cost of living, and the increased income of other state employees and lawyers in the private sector. It’s been about six years since the judges last got a raise. If approved by lawmakers, the raises would cost the state an additional $2million a year. ————————– What looked like a victory for 600 nursing home workers last week has been put on hold. Federal judge Robert Chatigny in Hartford had ordered HealthBridge, the owner of five nursing homes around the state, to reinstate the striking workers by December 17.
He ruled that management had unilaterally imposed a contract with severe benefit cuts. But the company appealed the ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled HealthBridge could request a stay to a three-judge panel. Pending a ruling on that, workers have returned to the picket line. ________________________________ CNN reported Tuesday that the Farmington based Office of the Chief Medical Examiner says Adam Lanza shot his mother four times while she slept, and that she died of a single gunshot wound to the head.
The medical examiner confirmed Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Asperger’s is a developmental disorder “characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior” according to the National Institutes of Health. ________________ Suffolk County Police are stepping up patrols around schools, using both marked and unmarked vehicles, as a proactive measure in light of the Newtown events.
Police say there is no specific threat to any area. They say constant attention to potential school district violence has been paid long before Friday’s events. Many, if not all, Suffolk County school district officials are reviewing and assessing current security measures and policies in light of the tragic event. ——————— Riverhead police reported a 12-year-old student at Bishop McGann -Mercy Junior High School has been suspended.
The student, who lives in Southold Town, made threats on social networking sites last weekend saying he might have a gun he would use to hurt his fellow students, teachers, and himself. The boy’s mother told investigators that her son has no access to any weapons, The school declined to press charges. A marked Riverhead police vehicle was dispatched to the school before the start of classes Monday, the day the student said he would bring the gun to school. _______________________ On Long Island’s east end, two community vigils are planned for Friday on the one week anniversary of the school shootings in Newtown. East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach Jr. announced that a community gathering will be held on Friday afternoon at the Hook Mill, where 26 Christmas trees were set up on Monday to remember the victims.
The East Hampton Clericus will attend and provide support. The public is invited to bring a candle and one tree ornament. The Rev. Alison Cornish, of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork, will also hold a Multi-Faith Vigil Against Assault Weapons on Friday at Marine Park in Sag Harbor at 9:30 a.m.
____________________________________________________ Tuesday, December 18
(includes input from Newtown.Patch.com) At a news conference Monday at the Capitol, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said it’s now time to focus on implementing policies that could prevent the next mass shooting like the one in Newtown last Friday
. While saying federal legislation is necessary, he said he’ll call for improving the state’s gun laws by banning large ammunition clips and making sure the state is reaching out to families and kids who are “obviously in trouble.” [The state banned several dozen assault rifle models in 1993 and further strengthened the law to include all assault rifles in 2001. But when the national assault weapons ban expired, so did the ban on the amount of ammunition that can be held in a clip. The clips used in the Sandy Hook shooting held 30 rounds each. Malloy maintained that he supports sportsmen, but that assault weapons aren’t being used to hunt.] A 2011 Connecticut bill that would have banned large ammunition magazines never made it out of the Judiciary Committee. Opponents said it would deprive gun owners of some rights and would increase the cost of ammunition. ____________________________ Last Friday Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte hosted a concert called “Bring Leonard Peltier Home in 2012″ after 37 years in prison.
It was at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan, and prayers were said for the victims of the school shooting in Connecticut as well as for Peltier. Your reporter was there. Peltier is a native American activist who was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in 1975. His supporters — and even the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals — have said his trial was riddled with lies and intimidation of witnesses. At the concert, native drummers and singers, Jackson Browne, Bruce Cockburn and the rapper Common were among the performers, and speakers included Danny Glover, Peter Coyote and Michael Moore. Here’s a sample – listen here Supporters are asking Americans to call President Obama to request that he immediately grant clemency to Peltier, who is now 67 and in poor health. The White House number is 202.456.1111.
______________________________ Suffolk County legislators approved the transfer of eight surplus Blackberry cell phones to The Retreat, a domestic violence advocacy group based in East Hampton.
They will be provided to clients for use in case of an emergency. Jeffrey Friedman, the executive director of The Retreat, said on Monday, ”More often than not abusive individuals tightly control the use of a victim’s cell phone and track their every movement through these devices. This initiative will ensure a victim who has just escaped a volatile situation the ability to call 911, and ensure that the phone that they are using will not disclose their location.” The Retreat, which provides safety, shelter and support for victims of domestic abuse, provides help for thousands of families each year.
The organization also runs a hotline with highly trained staff to answer calls for help 24 hours a day seven days a week at 631-329-2200.
_______________________ Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday called on federal lawmakers to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, though the governor said he also plans to tighten the state’s regulations on such deadly weapons. _______________________ Security Guards will remain at Patchogue – Medford’s 7 elementary Schools. On Monday night the Board of Education unanimously approved funding for guards through the end of the school year . ——————————————- The Riverhead Central School District Superintendent Nancy Carney met Monday with the district’s emergency response team to make plans for strengthening current safety procedures and practices. She said security guards are posted at each building, and each guard undergoes extensive training mandated by New York State. The district’s buildings have self-locking exterior doors and security cameras to allow staff to monitor, remotely, all entrances and hallways. Administrators and security officials carry emergency radios with them at all times. ____________________________________________________________ The owner of Plumb Products machine tools in Woodbury, CT, is the highest bidder on Little Gull Island, a federally owned island with a historic lighthouse from 1869. Fred Plumb bid $381,000 for the island, located about eight miles east of Orient Point on Long Island. ————————————————————————————- Monday December 17 “Newtown, you are not alone,” That was President Barack Obama speaking at a Sunday night vigil at Newtown High School. The President spoke alongside representatives from a wide range of Newtown’s religious institutions, who offered their prayers. The President said “We can’t tolerate this anymore, … These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.” “We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage?” That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year, after year, after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” “In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents, and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? ———————————– Connecticut and New York officials weighed in on gun control and mental health issues in the wake of Friday’s killings: US Representative John Larson, a first district Democrat said “to do nothing in the face of continuous assaults on our children is to be complicit in those assaults.” Larson said Congress must immediately vote to close loopholes to background checks for gun purchasers and to ban assault weapons and high capacity clips. Bridgeport’s Representative Jim Himes, of the 4th District, also called for action. “I hope and pray that the flood of sympathy and condolences offered to the victims and survivors of this unspeakable crime will ignite the dedication and ingenuity of our nation to end this scourge of violence,” Representative Carolyn McCarthy’s husband, Dennis, was killed, and her son Kevin, was severely injured on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train in 1993. On Friday, McCarthy, a Democrat who represents NewYork’s 4th district on Long Island, said in a statement: “There are a lot of unanswered questions right now, but one thing is clear – there’s too much gun violence in our country. These shootings are becoming all too common, and it’s too easy for dangerous people to get the weapons that help them perform mass executions ….The Second Amendment is the law of the land but it was never intended to allow murderers to take the lives of innocent kids. ______________________________ Experts at the Yale Child Study Center spoke at a press conference this morning about ways to help kids cope with the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy. They touched on mental health issues as well. WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus was there. Yale professor Steve Marans said parents must first have someone they can talk to about their own feelings before trying to help their children. He said listening to their kids’ concerns and offering reassurance is important, but said it’s also important “ in talking to kids to not rush in with reassurance until you know what they need re-assurance with.” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who convened the press conference, has been instrumental in getting federal funding for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. She said more and more children are experiencing violence, either directly or through witnessing it. Despite a dismal budget outlook at all levels of government, DeLauro said the key is marshalling existing resources for mental health professionals and fighting for more. “Our job is to make sure that they have the resources to be where they need to and to interact with those families who are suffering. And this is a commitment that I will continue on.“ She said efforts are needed in three areas: gun control; improving mental health treatment, and addressing the American glorification of violence. Melinda Tuhus,WPKN News. _____________________________ All elementary schools in the Patchogue-Medford School District on Long Island, will have a security guard in place this week, The district’s middle schools and high school already have security guards. Commack school officials announced recent upgrades were made to the district’s security systems after news broke of the Newtown shootings. Improvements included digital security cameras accessible to police. School officials in Port Jefferson are re-examining safety measurements. Superintendent Ken Bossert wrote parents about recent changes to bolster security. Bossert said “All faculty and staff have been asked to continue to question individuals who lack District I.D.s, remind students not to open doors for anyone, point out any lapses in security they see to administration and closely monitor all students as they travel between high school hallways. Other Long Island school districts are reviewing security measures. _________________________ Suffolk County officials on Friday reminded locals of the Dec. 19 deadline to apply for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program (STEP), which gives aid to residents of homes damaged in Superstorm Sandy so that they can make repairs to their properties. Locals are asked to call 2-1-1 before the deadline to set up an assessment of damages. The STEP program was enacted after the devastating storm knocked out electricity and heat to thousands in the county, and damaged hundreds of homes. _________________________________
This is a WPKN local news special report from Newtown.patch.com and other sources. (revised 6:00am Sunday, December 15)
President Obama will attend a vigil Sunday night in Newtown in memory of the 20 students and six adults killed Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, officials said. Obama was expected to meet privately with families of the victims, then attend the vigil. The shooting is the second-worst mass killing at a U.S. school after the Virginia Tech assault that claimed 32 victims. ______________________________________________
27 are reported dead including 20 Children and a lone gunman after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The gunman was found dead inside the school.
Additionally, Nancy Lanza, the gunman’s mother, was found dead at her home. Reports that she had worked at the school were not correct. Weapons used in the shootings were apparently registered in her name.
The New York Times reported: “…… 18 youngsters were pronounced dead at the school and two others were taken to hospitals, where they were declared dead. All the adults who were killed at the school were pronounced dead there.
…. F.B.I. agents interviewed his (the gunman’s) brother, Ryan Lanza, in Hoboken, N.J. His father, Peter Lanza, who was divorced from Nancy Lanza, was also questioned, one official said.”
State police sources told The Courant that the shooter is 20-year-old Adam Lanza. When he was found, he had his brother Ryan Lanza’s identification, which initially led to confusion about his identity, police said. Connecticut State Police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance said the gunman was found dead inside the school. Meanwhile, Friday afternoon distraught parents continued to wait to be reunited with their children. After meeting with parents of the students, Gov. Dannel Malloy is now at the school. Authorities said much information will not be released until the relatives of the victims are notified. President Obama has telephoned Malloy to express condolences and to offer any federal assistance needed in the investigation of the shooting that was first reported to Newtown Police just before 9:30 a.m. Friday. A fourth-grade student at Sandy Hook Elementary School said he and his classmates were “locked in a closet in the gym” to escape the gunman. In an interview with Channel 7, the student said, “the police came and …. We ran to the firehouse.” ———————– At a rally outside the Legislative Office Building Wednesday, about 60 people called for Connecticut legislation on GMO labeling. Earlier this year, a bipartisan bill that would have required a label on foods that contain genetically modified organisms was tabled. It was feared it would provoke a lawsuit. At the rally, the bill’s proponent, retiring Representative Richard Roy, said “Let them sue us.” GMO crops, such as corn and soybeans, are genetically engineered not to die when sprayed with herbicide. More than 60 countries require consumer notification that they’re purchasing food containing GMOs, The United States has not. Connecticut’s legislation would have been the first of its kind in the US. The FDA argues that genetically modified food is generally recognized as safe and therefore does not warrant a label. Advocates say it’s irrelevant whether GMOs are safe because consumers deserve to know what they are eating. The original legislation was opposed by the Connecticut Farm Bureau and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. The Farm Bureau said food labeling would be costly for farmers, requiring separate inventories, labeling, and segregation, and would require higher packaging costs. The Agriculture Department said it would put Connecticut farmers at a competitive disadvantage. ————————— New York residents working to repair their homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy will be able to have faster access to insurance payments. Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that several leading banks and mortgage providers have agreed to remove “stringent” requirements that delayed money from being released to area homeowners in need. According to the Governor, the need to have insurance claim checks endorsed by mortgage providers prior to homeowners cashing the checks led to delays. Cuomo said “Homeowners need help now and that’s why insurers are sending advance checks to meet their immediate needs,” Banks and mortgage providers taking part in the agreement include Bank of America, Citi Mortgage, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Apple Savings Bank, Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg and Emigrant Savings Bank State officials also said that the grace period on mortgage payments has been expanded for another three months ___________________ Last month, the state Department of Environmental Conservation ordered cars to be removed from property at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. But DEC officials say those cars are still there. An auto auction company called Copart has been storing cars damaged in Hurricane Sandy just south of the eastern runway at EPCAL. The state DEC targeted the arrangement because those cars are being kept on grass, raising environmental concerns. Meanwhile in Smithtown Town officials say they have turned down a proposal to store thousands of storm damaged cars on property owned by Anthony Santilli on Old Northport Road. Auto Auctions, would pay the town $100,000 to store the damaged cars on the Santilli property. It was not clear how much Santilli would have received in the agreement. ____________________________ Thursday, December 13 Connecticut was able to slow its loss of jobs in the third quarter of 2012, and might have to wait until the second half of 2013 to see significant growth, That’s according to Stephen Lanza, writing in the University of Connecticut’s quarterly economic journal, The Connecticut Economy. But it could be worse, as many as 20,000 job losses, if the nation, tumbles over the so-called fiscal cliff Jan. 1. Further reductions would result if federal deficit-reducing measures include dramatic cuts in the military budget. That would slam hard into Connecticut’s defense industry. Connecticut’s unemployment rate rose marginally in October to 9 percent. Besides high unemployment, the wage growth is flat. The November numbers are expected next week.
Senate appropriators released a 60 billion dollar bill to provide relief to Connecticut and other states hit by Superstorm Sandy. But the legislation’s path to approval appears uncertain The White House last week asked Congress for the same amount to respond to Superstorm Sandy. But this was less than the total of 83 billion dollars the governors of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey said they needed. But Republican Senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Jon Kyl of Arizona have threatened to block the bill, saying it costs too much money ___________________
Officials who are scrutinizing the future of the Long Island Power Authority are considering selling off much of LIPA’s assets to a private company.
According to a Newsday report, officials in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration are working with investment bank Lazard Ltd on several plans, which include privatization. Planning related to LIPA restructuring is wrapped in with the governor’s Moreland Commission, which in addition to probing how state utility’s performed in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, is charged with making recommendations for reforming the area’s electric distribution companies. The commission heard testimony from Republican Edward Mangano and Democrat Steve Bellone, the Nassau and Suffolk county executives. Both offered scathing accounts of LIPA’s lack of preparedness and communication to the state commission empowered to investigate the utility’s performance. Bellone said he stopped speaking with LIPA on Day 9 of the crisis and dispatched police officers to LIPA substations to demand answers. Mangano said LIPA provided conflicting information and did not appear to utilize Hurricane Irene as a learning opportunity to prepare for Sandy. They called for dramatic improvement in LIPA’s performance. The commission is accepting oral testimony from the public. To voice your comments email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
_________________________________ A One Hundred Year Old Bridgehampton Weather Observer Says Global Warming is Real
Retired Bridgehampton farmer Richard Hendrickson was honored at a Southampton Town Board meeting on Tuesday to recognize his life of service and his 100th birthday. Hendrickson is known around the East End for his decades as a cooperative weather observer. From his home weather station, Hendrickson has recorded the weather twice a day for the National Weather Service since 1930. Hendrickson said the way of life he knew on the East End as a young man is drying up, and — based on more than 80 years of observations — he can say with certainty that global warming is real. Besides development, he said that global warming is a threat to East End farming because climate change will affect what can be grown. ____________________
Wednesday, December 12
Overhaul is near for Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
For all the expectations around Tuesday’s meeting of the nine member states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
— the nation’s first power plant emissions trading and reduction program — the result was a bit anti-climactic. It will still be another month or so before any anticipated changes to the initiative are known. Several adjustments, discussed during a nearly eight-hour meeting in New York City, are under consideration. The plan is to address the problem that has bedeviled the program since it began in 2009 with the goal of lowering emissions in the Northeast 10 percent by the end of 2018. The RGGI progam (pronounced reggie)
empowers the states to sell emission allowances through auctions, then to invest at least a portion of the proceeds in consumer benefits: energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other clean energy technologies. But no one predicted that natural gas prices would fall so low that power plants would, on their own, switch to using it. This helped push emissions to record low levels: 91 million tons at the moment, which is 45 percent below the current RGGI cap of 165 million tons. more at www.ctmirror.org
Governor Cuomo Names Lawrence Waldman as LIPA Board Chairman
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has named Long Island Power Authority trustee Lawrence Waldman chairman of the board, following the resignation of former chairman Howard Steinberg, according to multiple reports. While the governor’s office has not made a formal announcement, Waldman told Long Island Business News that he was named chairman and reappointed to a new four-year term on the board. “We’re going to have a power company on Long Island,” Waldman told LIBN, one day after the governor’s Moreland Commission met to discuss the future of the utility
after its major failings during the Superstorm Sandy recovery. “We still need to deliver power to 1.1 million customers. We’re going to have the wires, the power generation. We still need to provide electricity in some way shape, manner or form.” Waldman, a partner in the accounting firm of EisnerAmper, had been in charge of LIPA’s finance and audit committee. The governor has also named RXR Realty president Michael Maturo to the utility’s board, according to the reports, bringing LIPA trustee number up to nine members, one more than it needs to hold a quorum and conduct business. LIPA was scheduled to hold a board meeting Thursday to approve its 2013 budget, but was having difficulty getting a quorum of eight members, according to one trustee. The meeting has been postponed to next week accoring to Newsday. Nine board members are named by the governor, and three each by the State Senate and Assembly leaders.Southampton Patch and Newsday
Tuesday December 11
Facing potentially dramatic budget cuts on two fronts, Connecticut’s commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
says the agency will need to remake its business model to continue to do its job. In a particularly sobering presentation
to an annual gathering of environmental advocates, Daniel Esty made it clear that the pain from a series of expected state budget cuts would be exacerbated by anticipated federal ones — money that the department has relied heavily on for many years. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget rescissions
last month have already stripped nearly $1.5 million from DEEP’s budget and more
are all-but guaranteed in the coming weeks and next year. “As tough as our budget situation is in the state circumstances,” Esty said. “I believe it’s facing an even more severe crunch in Washington.” Nearly a third of DEEP’s operating budget comes from the federal government and between the potential for falling off the “fiscal cliff” and inevitable budget cuts — a bleak budget outlook could start to look even bleaker in the coming months. “I think we are going to have to re-prioritize and explore what is the core of the mission of environmental protection in the state,” Esty said. “It’s going to require a broader transformation of how we do business broadly not just in state government but in particular how we do business in our department and it’s going to mean we have to think creatively and try to be quite transformative in how we do regulation, in how we finance our efforts including our land conservation efforts and how we engage with partners.” In fiscal year 2012, 27 percent, or $51 million, of DEEP’s $187 million budget came from the federal government. That money included funding for 194 positions (down from about 265 a decade ago), which is about 17 percent of the department’s staffing. “In preparation for this we’ve delayed some refills,” Dennis Thibodeau, DEEP’s chief of fiscal administrative services, said of vacant staff positions. “We have a lot of uncertainty in front of us and there are not a lot of other resources available.” The $51 million presently comes through more than 140 federal grants (the total value of them is about $312 million with many running over several years) in nine different agencies. The biggest single chunk — about 47 percent of the federal funding — comes from the Environmental Protection Agency
. Second is from the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service
, providing 28 percent. The biggest single grant, $10 million a year, is the EPA’s Performance Partnership Grant
. It’s generally used for programs that support requirements under the federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. The Department of Interior money largely goes to conservation programs. If sequestration occurs in the absence of an agreement to avert a fiscal cliff scenario, much of that money will be withheld for a year. Other than that, the department is bracing for the 8.2 percent across-the-board cuts for eligible grant programs as part of sequestration. Think of it, said Dan Moylan, DEEP’s grant and contract manager, “for every $1 million we receive, $82,000 would be cut.” But he said there were no specifics to work with yet and stopped short of predicting there would be layoffs. “The bottom line to us is an 8.2 percent cut,” he said. “Looking at programs that fund our staff — it’s a dramatic cut.” Esty last week indicated that conservation could be one of the hardest hit areas. “We are not going to be able to continue to do what we’ve been doing. The resources will not be there,” he said. “So we are going to need to think hard about how we remake the business model of our state parks and forests and wildlife areas.” more at CTMirror.org
_____________________ Nearly six weeks after Hurricane Sandy touched down on the shores of Long Island and New Jersey, Sens. Charles Schumer and Robert Menendez have proposed legislation which would provide tax relief to individuals and businesses affected by the storm.
Breaks would include tax deductions related to cleanup costs and Sandy-related donations, tax credits for employers in damaged areas who retained workers, and relief of a 10 percent tax on early retirement plan withdrawals, as well as several other provisions. Schumer said in a statement. “When recovering from a hammer-blow like Sandy, every bit of support helps, and this legislation will make it easier for families and small businesses affected by the storm to marshal more of their resources for recovery. These changes to existing tax law are a common sense and simple way to help disaster victims, and a quick way to get them aid to repair their homes, to recover losses, and to support their businesses.” The senators’ legislation is modeled after tax relief granted following Hurricane Katrina. The dollar amount of aid required was not stated. The federal bill provides tax exemptions for individuals who provided free housing for at least 60 days to people displaced by Sandy, offering $500 per person with a maximum of four exemptions. The bill is expected to be introduced this week.
The Suffolk Times reports: The North Fork Alliance, a local anti-substance abuse group, will hold a presentation about drug trends at the Mattituck High School on Tuesday, at 7 p.m.
The lecture will focus on electronic cigarettes and their use as vaporizers for marijuana oil, but will also include information on other substances from heroin to bath salts. John Corbett of Maryhaven Center of Hope in Riverhead, will give the presentation. Mr. Corbett, a state-credentialed alcohol and substance abuse counselor, said substance abuse has lead to deaths on the North Fork. Mr. Corbett said: “In regards to this, I’m going to allow a question and answer session. We want to know how bad things are in the community.” According to Corbett, the Mattituck School District is working on banning electronic cigarettes as drug paraphernalia because students are revamping the device to smoke marijuana undetected in hallways, That, he added, is a problem throughout Long Island, New York and New Jersey. __________________________________________________
Monday, December 10
Arts and culture non-profits are big business in Connecticut. They create jobs that can’t be exported and, as state legislators are finding, generate tax revenues. A report released Friday by the Department of Economic and Community Development found that arts and culture nonprofits generated $59 million in local and state government revenue in 2010. The arts are a $653 million industry in Connecticut that supports 18,314 full-time jobs, according to the report. Collectively, the organizations spend $455.5 million annually. This leverages $197.5 million in additional spending by audiences attending events, pumping revenue into local restaurants, hotels, and parking garages. The report was compiled by Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit arts organization. The state commissioned the group to conduct the study at a cost of $17,500. Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said last week that arts organizations have been touting the report as a reason to spare them any state budget cuts. He said the legislature understands that, “but we’ve got some very tough numbers we’re looking at.” Neither party seems to want to rule out any possible budget scenario, as various constituencies fashion their arguments in hopes of avoiding the budget axe. Rep. Toni Walker, co-chair of one of the budget writing committee’s, said bluntly last week: “There is no money.” Walker said: “There’s going to have to be a lot of belt-tightening, but we’re going to have to be careful about where we reduce . . . to make sure we’re not cutting off our nose to spite our face.” The General Assembly will be forced to cut $365 million soon to balance this year’s budget. Even more difficult cuts will need to be made next year.
When Governor Malloy’s Obamacare road show came to New Haven, skeptics like Steve Jennings sounded an alarm: The state is selling out to the insurance industry. Kevin Counihan,
the governor’s point man on bringing Obamacare to Connecticut, confronted the skeptics in a visit to Career High School on Legion Avenue last Thursday evening. The meeting was the fourth of seven hosted statewide by the CT Health Insurance Exchange to get out the word about key changes looming when the federal Affordable Care Act known as “Obamacare”) takes effect in 2014. Counihan is the CEO of the state’s health insurance exchange, a new Obamacare-created virtual marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health care plans. The ACA requires all states to set up these marketplaces by Jan. 1, 2014, when everyone will be required to buy health insurance—or face a penalty of up to 2.5 percent of their income. The idea is to enable the uninsured and underinsured to get health coverage. People can start signing up for the exchange next Oct. 1. The cost will vary. A family of four making $46,000 a year would pay up to $346 a month for premiums plus co-pays when people see the doctor, according to information distributed Thursday night. An individual making up to $44,680 a year would pay $335 a month; an individual making $20,665, up to $155. Steve Jennings, an organizer for the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut asked Counihan why the health insurance exchange board has decided not to negotiate with insurance companies. The board considered the matter and opted to let insurers name their prices. Counihan said the answer is not to negotiate rates with insurers. “Negotiating rates is a bit of an urban myth,” Counihan said. He said in Massachusetts, where he worked on the state’s pioneering universal health care system, insurers engaged in aggressive bidding because there was a “locked-in population” of people who were covered. However, in Connecticut, there is no such “locked-in population.” The world of people who would buy the insurance is undefined. Jennings said he worries about affordability. People making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line will get their insurance plans subsidized. But an estimated 170,000 people won’t be able to afford the insurance, he claimed. more at: The New Haven Independent
Hurricane Sandy-damaged cars dumped on the east end by a car auction firm continue to spark contention. Cars have been illegally parked in Speonk near the Southampton / Brookhaven Town border in the environmentally sensitive Pine Barrens. The cars were place unbeknownst to town officials. They discovered the cars after a fire broke out in a vehicle being moved. “Vehicles damaged by Sandy were being trucked to the Speonk area beginning last week for storage on a number of vacant lots and in a large sand pit,” Other cars were parked at Calverton in Riverhead Town after negotiations with the Riverhead Town Board. The cars have been ordered removed by the New York State Depatment of Environmental Conservation. The DEC says they will endanger environmentally sensitive land at the former Grumman airport site, now known as Enterprise Park On Friday, Southampton Town attorneys went to Supreme Court after commencing litigation against the car auction company, Copart Auctions owned by Jan Burman. A joint statement was issued on Thursday by both Southampton and Brookhaven Town Supervisors Anna Throne-Holst and Ed Romaine. They supervisors stated “The storage of vehicles damaged by the storm must be approached with caution due to the high risk of contamination, health and safety issues they present.”
Nearly six weeks after Hurricane Sandy touched down on the shores of Long Island and New Jersey, Sens. Charles Schumer and Robert Menendez have proposed legislation which would provide tax relief to individuals and businesses affected by the storm.
Breaks would include tax deductions related to cleanup costs and Sandy-related donations, tax credits for employers in damaged areas who retained workers, and relief of a 10 percent tax on early retirement plan withdrawals, as well as several other provisions. “When recovering from a hammer-blow like Sandy, every bit of support helps, and this legislation will make it easier for families and small businesses affected by the storm to marshal more of their resources for recovery,” said Schumer on Sunday in a statement
. “These changes to existing tax law are a common sense and simple way to help disaster victims, and a quick way to get them aid to repair their homes, to recover losses, and to support their businesses.” The senators’ legislation is modeled after tax relief granted following Hurricane Katrina
, and the effort and dollars required to aid the area were reported in November to likely be the Red Cross’ largest relief effort
since the 2005 storm that hit the Golf Coast. Tax relief efforts on the local level have included exemptions on building permits and efforts to fast-track applications, while Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency lifted taxes
on building materials for 200 local businesses in the weeks following the storm. The federal bill provides tax exemptionfor individuals who provided free housing for at least 60 days to people displaced by Sandy, offering $500 per person with a maximum of four exemptions. The bill is expected to be introduced this week. East Hampton Patch: http://easthampton.patch.com/articles/federal-tax-relief-proposed-for-sandy-victims
Friday, December 7 The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters held its 13th annual legislative summit Thursday afternoon at Capitol Community College in Hartford. The state’s environmental protection priorities and converting trash to energy were discussed.
WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports: Dan Esty, Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, began by describing further cuts coming to his department, which already gets only one-half of one percent of state budget funds. He mentioned four priorities: shoreline protection from increasingly frequent storms; remediation of contaminated properties; protection of parks and wildlife; and improvements in waste handling and recycling. He said recycling rates need to double from 25 percent to 50 percent to divert more waste from incinerators. He said there must be ” a recognition that that which is going into incinerators is gonna require a new strategy, because our waste to energy plants don’t work in terms of their business model under the existing framework of electricity prices” During a break, Martha Kelly with the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice said incinerators release toxins into the air and remain in ash stored in huge landfills, like the one in Hartford. Legislators and leaders of environmental nonprofits also spoke about their goals for the 2013 General Assembly, which convenes in January. ____________________ With the state’s budget deficit growing – and now up to $415 million — some are saying that Governor Dannel Malloy should start taking responsibility for it.
Two years into his term, the Governor still blames current financial woes on his predecessors. Economist Fred Carstensen, director of UConn’s Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, told CTNewsJunkie.com
that the blame lies with previous Republican governors and with Democrats in the General Assembly. Carstensen said they all ignored indications that the economy was on an unsustainable track. He said Malloy has done a good job so far. But he added that the governor and legislators should do more. He suggested they consider imposing a statewide property tax targeting people who don’t live in Connecticut. _____________________A summer resident of Ocean Beach on Fire Island is petitioning elected officials to restore the dunes on the island as soon as possible.
Lauren Forman, who spends summers in Ocean Beach, started an on-line petition addressed to New York State and local officials as well as Long Island members of Congress. Forman says rebuilding the dunes is imperative, not only to protect homes on the barrier island during future storms, but also the entire South Shore of Long Island. The petition at causes.com
is titled “Fire Island Dune Restoration Project”. It has more than 28,000 signatures as of December 6. ________________ East Hampton residents are now able to check out a map that shows where crimes are happening in their area.
The East Hampton Town Police Department and BAIR Analytics Inc. have partnered to provide the service. There is no cost to the town. An online crime map called RAIDS Online, which maps and analyzes crime data, alerts citizens about crimes in their area, and allows Police Department to quickly alert the public about crimes as they occur. Residents can view a grid with all of the crimes in their area, sign-up for neighborhood watch reports via email, and submit an anonymous tip about a crime directly to their law enforcement agency. __________________ The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced the closure of the horseshoe crab fishery on Saturday. The annual quota was exceeded by about 20,000 crabs according to a Suffolk Times report. Horseshoe crabs are most commonly harvested for bait or for their bright blue blood, to ensure drugs, vaccines and medical devices are free of bacterial contamination. Southold fisherman Pete Wenczel serves on the advisory committee for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission which sets the quotas. Wenczel says the fishery is very well regulated. “There’s a daily trip limit of 200 crabs a day until half the quota is filled and then they go down to 100 crabs a day and then 30 crabs a day…… you have to fill out reports every time you leave the dock to fish, and send out a report for every week that you don’t fish. A spokesperson for the D-E-C said because the annual quota for the year was exceeded in the spring at over 170 thousand crabs, the fishery will remain closed until next year. According to citizen reports, the true extent of over fishing of horseshoe crabs should reflect widespread poaching done under cover of darkness. __________________________________________________________ Thursday, December 6 Connecticut’s largest public college system has suspended its plans to hire 47 new faculty members
. Instead, 5.5 million dollars in savings from a reorganization were used to help close the growing state budget deficit. The hiring freeze for the new positions still has to be reviewed by the Board of Regents for Higher Education. The system’s budget was cut by over14 million dollars last week by Governor Malloy to help close the state’s projected deficit for the current fiscal year. Those who have already been offered a position would not be affected. But a spokeswoman for the system said only a few of the positions have been filled so far. The share of full-time faculty at the Connecticut State University System has dropped nearly 10 percent between 2002 and 2010. The University of Connecticut, a separate governing system, raised tuition last year with the promise of hiring new faculty. New positions at UConn will not be affected by a 10 million dollar cut to their system.proposed merging
the administrative functions of the state university and community college networks last year. This was to direct more money to the classroom and hire more faculty. _____________________ On Wednesday a judge granted a preliminary injunction against the Connecticut Department of Social Services for delays in processing food stamp applications.
The ruling, by U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Bryant, came after the department found 125 boxes of unprocessed social service applications
in its regional office. The Food Stamp Act requires the state to process applications within 30 days. According to information provided to the court, between January 2010 and February 2012, the percent of applications pending over 30 days ranged between 18 percent and 40 percent. The Social Services Agency said its attorneys are reviewing the ruling. They are currently serving a record number of Connecticut households with benefits — over 212,000. And they have an antiquated system involving all paper with no electronic data base. ________________________ The New York Daily News reports that many high-end Hamptons homeowners are rushing to sell their homes before the end of the year.
Tax rates on capital gains and both long and short – term investments are expected rise in 2013. So some sellers believe that cutting prices on their home now, to lure eager buyers, is the right way to go. Actress Kelly Bensimon recently cut the price of her East Hampton home from12 million dollars to less than half. It sold for 5 million 750 thousand. __________________________ Thanks to a collaborative effort by several Long Island breweries, raising a cold beer will soon count as charity.
Brewers from eight different Long Island companies have contributed ingredients and expertise to brew a special batch of Surge Protector India Pale Ale. One-half of the proceeds from the beer’s sale will help out Oceanside-based Barrier Brewing, a business decimated by Hurricane Sandy The other half will go to the Long Island Cares food bank. At least 30 barrels are expected to be out in bars by the end of the year. Barrier Brewing hopes to re-open by January. __________________________ Congressman Tim Bishop is hosting a meeting with FEMA for all Suffok County residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The meeting will be at the Mastic Beach Fire House at 265 Neighborhood Lane in Mastic Beach on Friday, December 7 from 3PM to 4PM. This FEMA Individual Assistance Information Session will inform residents of the federal support available to households affected by the storm Wednesday, December 5 A Pace University professor says reversing the effects of climate change requires abandoning the for-profit system.
He spoke Tuesday night at Southern Connecticut State University. The title of his talk: “Hurricane Sandy’s Brutal Wake-Up Call: Act Now or Face Catastrophe.” WPKN’s Melinda Tuhus reports: Professor Chris Williams, author of Ecology and Socialism and a member of the International Socialist Organization, outlined some of the grim realities of already occurring climate change, like a rise in sea level from melting glaciers and a warming ocean that contributes to stronger storms, like Sandy. Speaking in front of a sign that said, “System change, not climate change,” he said fossil fuel companies will not willingly forgo billions of dollars in profits by leaving coal, oil and natural gas in the ground — even though scientists say burning all those reserves will cook our planet beyond anything humans have experienced. Williams: “We have approached a boundary beyond which it would be very dangerous to go. And so now we have two systems in fundamental, profound conflict with one another — the capitalist system and the climate system.” He said only a people-driven — not profit-driven — movement can reverse course, and he gave a shout-out to the just-concluded Do the Math tour, in which writer and activist Bill McKibben encouraged students to demand their colleges divest of fossil fuel holdings. Melinda Tuhus, WPKN News. ____________________ A survey released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union found that Connecticut police departments sometimes make filing a complaint against an officer a difficult, intimidating process.
The poll was based on a phone survey of 104 Connecticut municipal police departments and State Police barracks. Almost a quarter of the departments said they had no complaint form residents could fill out. Many police departments set conditions known to discourage and intimidate legitimate complaints, including requirements for sworn statements, warnings of prosecution for false statements, and threats of referrals to immigration authorities. Only about a third of the departments surveyed made it clear that a person filing a complaint would not be reported to immigration officials. Meanwhile, Fifteen percent stated they definitely would report a complainant to immigration. The ACLU says the study reveals a need to establish statewide standards for police complaints. The report recommends imposing no time limits for filing a complaint. A spokesman for the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association said for some departments, their officers’ contracts prevent them from being sanctioned for incidents that occurred after a certain amount of time has passed. ______________ The Connecticut Department of Public Health is reminding residents that it is not too late to get vaccinated.
December marks the beginning of the flu season peak. Last year, less than half of residents received vaccinations. This year that number should improve, at least with children. The influenza vaccine was added to the state’s Childhood Vaccination Program. The program provides vaccines at no charge to healthcare providers for all of Connecticut’s children. _________________ A “Complete Streets Program” was approved unanimously by the Suffolk County Legislature on Tuesday.
The bill, sponsored by Legislator Rob Calarco of Patchogue directs the county’s Department of Public Works to consider all modes of travel when designing a road project. It requires the DPW to evaluate how to accommodate not only motorists, but also pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Calarco said the region’s growth in population and its dependence on cars has led to an ever-worsening grid lock on our roadways. They are some of the most dangerous roads in New York State. The Complete Streets program is supported by AARP/Livable Communities, Vision Long Island, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. Governor Cuomo signed a statewide Complete Streets law last year. The program was developed by Smart Growth America. More information on Complete Streets is on the website smartgrowthamerica dot org ________________ The Suffolk Times reports that one of downtown Riverhead’s largest vacant buildings is slated to be renovated into new shops and apartments
. The old Woolworth store building has been empty since 1997. Developer Michael Butler of Sag Harbor is buying the building. He is seeking tax exemptions and other incentives from the town’s Industrial Development Agency. A hearing on the request will be held in January. _______________________________________________________ Tuesday, December 4 Governor Dannel Malloy, on Monday asked the Obama administration for $3.2 billion to protect Connecticut from another super storm like Sandy
by burying electric transmission lines and building new seawalls. The money would also be used to improve and relocate sewage treatment plants along the coast, improve and fortify vulnerable state and municipal airports and upgrade communication systems so they are storm-proof. Malloy put the total estimated cost of Sandy’s damage to Connecticut at $660 million. That figure includes both insured and uninsured losses and the destruction of both private and public property. The governor also cautioned that the estimate is likely to rise as damage assessments continue. The Office of Management and Budget must first review the requests, then send a final determination to Congress. But Congress is in a lame duck session that’s expected to end before Christmas. —————————– As state budgets shrink and the demand for social services grows, a group of Connecticut nonprofit organizations, and the state, are searching for new ways to serve an increasing demand as funding dwindles.
These organizations are starting to think outside-the-box when it comes to funding mechanisms. One new idea is called “social impact bonds”, In this scheme a private investor puts money toward preventive services and gets money back when and if desired outcomes are produced. ——————————
On Long Island, Suffolk County home and business owners whose property was damaged or destroyed during Superstorm Sandy will not pay application or permit fees to the County Department of Health Services. The fee waiver will save business owners across Suffolk thousands in out-of-pocket expenses as they wait for payment from insurance companies to cover storm related damages. The health services department is also streamlining its review process in order to approve applications within three to five days. Pollution Control plan review fees, which can run up to $770 and the Board of Review fee, which is typically $900, will also be waived. ___________________
Five out of six Long Islanders think the Long Island Power Authority did a poor or fair job handling Superstorm Sandy according to a Siena College Research Institute poll. Two-thirds of those polled said Governor Cuomo did an excellent or good job, including 70 percent of New York City voters and more than half of Republicans. President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg also receive high – though not as high – grades from voters. Sixty – one percent said President Obama did an excellent or good job in the response effort. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority also earned a 59 percent approval rating in the poll, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency earned 53 percent approval. 69 percent of respondents thought climate change contributed to the formation of the superstorm compared to 24 percent who called it an isolated weather event. One in seven New Yorkers polled said they suffered damage to their property due to Sandy. ___________________________________________________
Monday December 3
Retiring Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman gave the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz a farewell interview as he prepared to retire next month. Lieberman told Ha’aretz that the Palestinian Authority’s demand that Israel freeze settlements is “an excuse” not to return to the negotiating table. He added “I don’t mean it doesn’t sincerely agitate them”. Senator Lieberman also said upgrading Palestine’s status at the UN was a “mistake”. Lieberman said “there is overwhelming support among the Israeli people for negotiations.” But “part of the problem for Israel is negotiating with only part of the Palestinians”. He called for “real elections in all Palestinian areas”. Lieberman, who is an orthodox Jew, has been Israel’s staunchest ally in the US Congress, according to the liberal Israeli paper. He said “I swore to protect and defend the United States – and the support I’ve given to Israel and strengthening the US –Israel relationship, I’ve always felt strongly – I had to conclude what I was doing was good for America, not just good for Israel. “
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy used his rescission authority last week to cut $170 million from the state budget. The budget was estimated to end the year with a $365 million deficit. But his rescissions only lowered the deficit to $240 million because some of the cuts already were assumed. The social safety net will be impacted by the cuts. More than $82 million come from agencies that administer social services. The Department of Social Services is taking a $32 million cut and the Developmental Services Department will be cut by $21 million. Other departments affected are The Department of Children and Families, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and the Public Health Department. Also, the Veterans Affairs Department budget will be reduced by $177,000, of which $17,500 had been budgeted for veterans’ headstones.
Starting next week, Connecticut parents will be able to see how their child’s school ranks based on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and science. The Department of Education will publish a statewide ranking of every public school in Connecticut. The rankings replace the Bush-era accountability system Connecticut used under the No Child Left Behind Act. They will appear on the website of the department of education – www.ct.gov/sde ___________________
On Long Island, a joint public hearing on the “Post Sandy Response Assessment” will be held by the Public Safety, Economic Development and Energy committees of the Suffolk legislature on Thursday, December 6. The hearing will be at 6 p.m. at the auditorium, in the County’s Rogers Office Building at 725 Veterans Memorial Highway, Smithtown. It will allow an opportunity for the public to express grievances related to Sandy, and offer recommendations for future storm preparation. A follow-up meeting is planned to allow County departments, and companies involved in the post Sandy relief effort, to respond to public concerns. More information is available by contacting the Suffolk County Legislature at (631) 852-1300. _____________________
The Suffolk County Board of Health will suggest legislation to ban the sale of energy drinks to anyone younger than 19 years old. They say, the caffeine levels can be hazardous, or even deadly, to children. The Board of Health is expected to draft a letter calling for the ban that will be sent to the Suffolk Legislature as well as the Federal Food and Drug Administration. A spokesman for the American Beverage Association told Newsday, the drinks are safe and that they are not marketed to children. But the county said they can cause rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure, which can pose major threats to a child’s health.
Suffolk recently banned the sale of bath salts and synthetic marijuana often sold as “Spice.”
For prior WPKN local news reports contact
01/04/13 . A. Ernst