Jeff Cohen

Reporter

Jeff Cohen is a proud New Orleans native who now calls New England home. Or at least his second home.

He started in newspapers in 2001 and joined WNPR in 2010, where he is a reporter and an occasional fill-in host for All Things Considered.

In addition to covering state and Hartford city politics, Jeff covered the December 2012 Newtown shootings and the stories that followed.  Much of that work was featured on NPR.  Also in 2012, Jeff was selected by NPR and Kaiser Health News for their joint Health Care In The States project. That work resulted in several national stories, including ones on the Affordable Care Act and medical education.

Jeff was also selected by the Tow Foundation and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice as a fellow in their 2012 juvenile justice reporting project.

Before working at WNPR, Jeff worked as the city reporter for The Hartford Courant.  While at the Courant, he won a National Headliner Award for a Northeast Magazine story about the ostracized widow of the state's first casualty in Iraq; wrote about his post-Katrina, flooded out home in New Orleans; and was part of a team of reporters that broke the stories of alleged corruption at Hartford City Hall that led to the arrest of former Mayor Eddie A. Perez. 

He also worked at the Meriden Record-Journal and as a freelancer for The New York Times.

Jeff lives in Middletown with his wife, cats, and two trouble-making kids. Thanks to the kids, he's now writing children's books. The first, Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut Ever!, came out in June 2014.  The second, Eva and Sadie and the Best Classroom Ever!, comes out in June 2015.  He likes to make bread and wine.

Find this Person On

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

The Hartford City Council is set to start the process of removing its registrars of voters. This comes just a few months after a disastrous 2014 election in which voters were turned away from the polls. But, now, one of the registrars may ask a state court to stop the proceedings.

Lenny Baker / Creative Commons

Here you go, folks.  It's official.

The next minor league baseball team in Hartford will be named one of the following: Blue Frogs, Screech Owls, Yard Goats, Hound Dogs, Whirlybirds, Praying Mantis, Honey Badgers, Choppers, River Hogs, or Hedgehogs. There were nearly 6,000 entires, and these are the top ten.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

For the second time in a week, a challenger to Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is saying information in the mayor's fundraising emails isn't true. 

This time, it's about the challenger's own voting record.

Mark Fischer (Flickr Creative Commons)

The nation's highest court again has the future of the president's signature health care law in its hands. 

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday from opponents who say it's being wrongly implemented. The case is called King v. Burwell, and the plaintiffs say the federal government is breaking the law when it pays subsidies to people buying health insurance through the three-dozen states in the federal exchange.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is boasting about his record in fundraising emails to potential donors, saying the city's "graduation rates have more than doubled since I took office."

It sounds good. But it's not true. 

Paul Keleher / Creative Commons

The Hartford Police Department has arrested two people in connection with a 2012 assault of a Trinity College student, according to a spokesman.

Police have arrested Veronica Martinez, 27, of Hartford. The second suspect, Pedro Carillo, 20, is currently in state prison on other charges and will be charged at a later date. They are charged with second-degree assault and conspiracy in the case of Christopher Kenney, police said.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill wants to change the way Connecticut runs its elections, having one professional registrar oversee elections in each city and town. 

Current state law provides for two registrars in every town: one Republican, one Democrat. But Hartford's failure last year to get all of the polls open in time for voting enraged officials across the state. 

When people without health insurance get around to filing their taxes this year, they may find that they have to pay a penalty. State officials are working on a fix. 

The Affordable Care Act mandates that everyone have insurance or face a fine. Last year was the first year the penalty applied, but some people may not know they owe it until they prepare their 2014 taxes -- and it's already too late to sign up for health insurance for 2015.

DoNo Hartford LLC

The developers of the new minor league baseball stadium in Hartford are also building apartments around the venue. They're looking for ways to make some of those units accessible to people with lower incomes. 

Officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking earlier this week for the baseball stadium. Soon, across the street, the work to build the retail, residential, and entertainment project will begin. 

Stephan Ridgway / Creative Commons

Governor Dannel Malloy is proposing paying less to bury the poor. 

Malloy told legislators in his budget address that balancing the budget means hard choices. "The vast majority of these cuts are choices that, under ideal circumstances, Connecticut would not have to make," he said.

City of Hartford

The ceremonial groundbreaking for a new $56 million minor league baseball stadium in Hartford happened Tuesday. The park for the New Britain Rock Cats has to be completed in just over a year.

The effort build a minor league baseball stadium began last June, when Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra announced a plan to build the stadium in the city. He called it a done deal, though it was anything but.

The next series of months saw the fundamentals of the proposal change several times over. What began as a stadium project is now a $350 million development to remake an entire neighborhood.

Think you have a knack for names?

The folks behind minor league baseball in the city of Hartford want you to try your hand at naming an entire team. The only catch: the name has to include the word "Hartford."

City of Hartford

The city of Hartford has reached an agreement with the developer of its new $56 million baseball stadium and with the team owners of the Rock Cats.

The revised development plan with DoNo Hartford LLC calls for improvements to the Downtown North neighborhood that would include a supermarket of up to 50,000 square feet, a brewery, housing, stores, and restaurants. The development agreement also includes hiring preferences for Hartford residents and minority or women-owned business in building the stadium.

A groundbreaking is scheduled for February 17.

scantaur/iStock / Thinkstock

For the first time ever, the federal government is penalizing more than 700 hospitals across the country for having high rates of things called hospital acquired infections.

Those are potentially avoidable mistakes in health care, like urinary tract infections.

In Connecticut, 14 hospitals are facing the penalty -- and that means they're losing millions of dollars. 

The Affordable Care Act is well-known as a law intended to get more people on health insurance. But it also has provisions intended to improve health care itself. This is one of them.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

The city of Hartford has executed agreements with the developer of a baseball stadium and the owner of the minor league New Britain Rock Cats, according to bond documents provided to investors.

But you can’t see them -- not yet, anyway.

Last week, we asked the city to see any executed agreements between it and either the developer, DoNo Hartford LLC, or the team owner, Connecticut Double Play LLC.  The city denied that request, saying it was holding the documents "in escrow until all negotiations are resolved."  Typically, executed contract documents are not exempt from disclosure.  (A clarification: We formally asked to inspect the documents with the developer; we only inquired as to the status of the agreements with the team's owners.  We got no response on the latter.)

mrceder / Creative Commons

Just days after it was established and as a blizzard targeted the state, the Hartford Stadium Authority met, chose its officers, and approved tens of millions in borrowing that will allow the city to build a minor league baseball stadium for the New Britain Rock Cats.

The meeting was held last week. The sale of the bonds is apparently next week, and all eyes will be on what investors will charge the authority for its money.

Meanwhile, the city says negotiations are ongoing between it and the developer DoNo Hartford LLC.  A document provided to the stadium authority suggests that an agreement between the city and the baseball team has already been signed.

City of Hartford

A vocal opponent of Hartford's baseball stadium effort is taking issue with last week's city council meeting -- the one that was held as a blizzard approached.

City hall was closed, there was a parking ban, the governor had declared a state of emergency, and police wanted folks off the roads. But the city council nevertheless went ahead and held its meeting to approve the Hartford Stadium Authority.

DoNo Hartford LLC

With the first pitch for the New Britain Rock Cats just 14 months away, Hartford's plan to turn an empty lot into a minor league baseball stadium is moving forward. 

Contract documents between the developer DoNo Hartford LLC and the city could be signed as early as Wednesday.

"There is a pretty fair chance that we'll be signing documents tomorrow, but certainly by the end of this week they will be executed," said Bob Landino, a principal with DoNo. He added that a groundbreaking will likely happen by February 11 or sooner. "We're pretty much on schedule." 

Hilda Muñoz / City of Hartford

Hartford residents paid close attention to last week’s parking ban in the city, making it relatively easy for snow plows to do their work. But that’s not the case this time around. 

The city’s parking ban went into effect on Sunday night at 11:00 pm. Deputy Chief Brian Foley was all over Twitter reminding people to move their cars.

But it didn’t really work.

The Connecticut Mirror

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is running for his second full term this year, and a lot of people are looking to unseat him. One is Luke Bronin, the governor's former legal counsel; another is attorney John Gale; and a third is city Councilman Joel Cruz.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Republican legislative leaders held a press conference Thursday to call for changes in the state’s campaign finance laws, though leading Democrats said talking to them first might have been a better strategy. 

Joined by rank and file legislators, Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano and House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said state Democrats have consistently worked to undermine and erode the clean elections laws they worked to pass in 2005 after the conviction of former Governor John Rowland.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

The governor has declared a state of emergency. Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has declared a snow emergency. City schools let out at noon, and most city employees were dismissed then, too. There's a parking ban in effect. Even Winterfest at Bushnell Park is closing early.

But Monday night's Hartford city council meeting must go on. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Oz Griebel runs the MetroHartford Alliance and ran for governor in 2010. Now, he's considering a run for Hartford's city council. 

"I am considering a run, but considering is the operative word," Griebel said.

Vox Efx / Creative Commons

As Hartford's City Council is seeking to remove all three of its registrars because of a disastrous Election Day 2014, at least one of them -- Democrat Olga Vazquez -- is planning a strong defense.

"She does not disagree with the fact that there were some serious snafus," said Leon Rosenblatt, Vazquez's attorney. "But the registrars weren't the cause of it. And the report that was written is very one-sided and incomplete." 

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Following a disastrous Election Day 2014 in which voters at various city polling places were denied the right to vote, the city council is beginning the process of removing all three registrars of voters.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

An investigation into election day failures in Hartford shows that the city turned people way from the polls, lost track of 70 absentee ballots, and failed to agree on an accurate vote tally.  Now that the problem has been identified, leaders on the city council say they're working on a fix.  

Election day last November began badly in Hartford. Some residents couldn't cast their ballots because the polls weren't open, and the polls weren't open because the voter lists weren't in place. 

A report drafted by lawyers working for the city council say a bunch of factors caused the mess: the city's registrars failed to give the state important voter lists in time, failed to open polling places in time, and failed to resolve discrepancies in vote tallies after the fact.

Luke Bronin

Luke Bronin, former legal counsel to Governor Dannel Malloy, is officially entering the race for mayor of the city of Hartford

Bronin said he's planning to file his paperwork with the city on Wednesday.

In a letter to residents posted on his website, Bronin said the city has its strengths: cultural diversity and creativity, the support of the governor, and new state-supported development projects. 

Tony Webster / Creative Commons

Homicides and shootings are at a four-year low in the city of Hartford, and overall violent crimes are down since last year, too, according to 2014 crime statistics released Monday. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has said he’s running for a second term in office.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

The city of Hartford is planning to change the way it finances its new minor league baseball stadium, a move that officials say will save taxpayers millions. 

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