Jeff Cohen


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, published by HarperCollins Children's Books, comes out in early 2014.  He likes to make bread and wine.


Public Health
3:09 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

City Concerned About, and Testing for, Hepatitis C

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

Hartford public health officials say they are concerned with new data on Hepatitis C in the city. The numbers show ten to 20 cases a month of people newly-diagnosed with a chronic form of the disease. The city is using computer mapping to help it better target, test, and treat its residents. 

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Local Taxes
3:34 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

CCM Highlights the Property Tax

An advocacy organization that represents towns and cities across the state is calling on the state to give more money to municipalities.   The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities issued a campaign bulletin intended for candidates this fall.  It makes one clear, if not new, point: Connecticut relies too heavily on the property tax. Jim Finley is CCM's executive director. "It's the most regressive tax in our state/local tax system.  It's income blind.  It doesn't matter whether you have a job or not, your property tax is due.

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Where We Live
1:06 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Raise The Age -- Transcript

Jeff Cohen: This is Where We Live. I’m Jeff Cohen, in for John Dankosky. What’s an adult? And when it comes to crime, should a teenager be treated like one? Those are a couple of the questions we’ll be considering as we talk about young people in prison.

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4:24 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Hartford Mural Art, Just Add Water

Walter Wick

Downtown Hartford has a new piece of public art -- a large mural of the famous Charter Oak.  WNPR's Jeff Cohen met with the artist to talk about the project.

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4:01 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Calhoun Retires

UConn men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun has retired after 26 years and three NCAA championships.  As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, Calhoun says this is the right time to move on. 

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3:58 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Malloy Warms Up For Convention, Takes On Christie And Ryan

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

A week before Governor Dannel Malloy is set to speak at the Democratic national convention, he got a bit of a warm up before the state's press corps today. WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports.

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Small, Somber crowd
10:33 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Two Political Veterans Lose Their Primary Races

Chion Wolf

Former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz conceded her loss and threw her support behind her now former Democratic opponent Christopher Murphy last night. This is at least a temporary end to a popular political career.

The crowd was small and the scene was mostly somber at the Mattabesett Canoe Club in Middletown. When Bysiewicz arrived to concede, she spoke about her desire to fight for middle class residents, and against Wall Street and corporate special interests. Her voice was at times hoarse, at times emotional.

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Health Care
4:03 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Proposed State Medicaid Changes Prompt Concern

State officials say a recent Medicaid expansion is over enrolled and costs too much money, so it's asking the federal government for permission to ramp the program down a bit. That move is being met with objections.

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Juvenile Law
5:03 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Supreme Court Ruling on Juveniles May Have Limited Effect in Connecticut

Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

The U.S. Supreme Court says it's unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life in prison without parole for murder. The ruling will have limited effect in Connecticut. Connecticut has something called capital offenses -- things like murdering a police officer or a young person.  And the penalty for capital offenses is mandatory -- either death or life in prison without parole.  But because the Supreme Court already outlawed the death penalty for juveniles, those young people who are convicted of capital felonies can only be sentenced to life without parole. Until, it seems, now.

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2:02 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Malloy on Newton, Rowland

In Bridgeport, Democrats have endorsed Ernest Newton for the state Senate seat he was forced to give up after being convicted of corruption charges. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, Governor Dannel Malloy refused to endorse anyone in the race -- including the man who recently left prison. Newton spent 17 years in the legislature before serving a five-year term after pleading guilty in 2005 to accepting a $5,000 bribe, using campaign contributions for personal expenses and failing to report the improper income on his federal tax return.

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Health Care
2:01 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Should Non-Nurses Give You Your Meds?

Gov. Dannel Malloy has promised to move more than 5,000 poor and disabled patients out of nursing homes in five years.  But he says there's an obstacle -- a state law that says only nurses can give medications to people in the Medicaid system living at home. The governor's plan has faced some opposition in the legislature.

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3:54 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

New Residential Plans for Old Office Building

A vacant 26-story office tower in downtown Hartford may get a new life. A Fairfield developer has plans before the city to turn the old Bank of America building into nearly 300 apartments. The project is in the early stages, and the city says there's no public or private financing committed to it yet. But it's worth noting the ambition -- the building at 777 Main Street has nothing happening inside of it, and developer Bruce Becker has an idea: He wants to build 286 apartments and a bunch of retail space near Hartford's State House Square.

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Adult Crimes?
4:16 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Juvenile Justice Advocates at the State Capitol

The Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

There's a big change coming this summer. Most 17-year-olds charged with crimes will go from being treated like adults to being treated in the juvenile justice system. It was called the "raise the age" effort, and the major effects were this: in 2010, 16-year-olds were taken out of the justice system designed for adults. As of this summer, the same thing will happen for 17-year-olds.

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2:58 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

City Facing Ten Percent Budget Deficit Next Year

In April, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra will present next year's budget to city council.  As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, he's got a pretty big hole to fill between now and then. The city's current budget is about $547 million, and it's running just a slight deficit.   But next year could be much, much worse. 

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3:06 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Lawsuit Alleges State Doesn't Process Medicaid Applications Fast Enough

A federal lawsuit filed this week alleges that the state doesn't have enough people to process Medicaid applications in a timely way.  As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, advocates say that means thousands of low-income residents are left without access to healthcare. 

Medicaid is a federal health insurance program for the nation's poor, and its costs are shared with the states.  Arielle Levin Becker of the Connecticut Mirror reports this week that nearly 5,000 applications for the program have been pending longer than federal guidelines demand.

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Eddie Perez Trial
12:26 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

In Perez Appeal, Is One Trial Fair For Two Crimes?

Preparation for Storms
3:28 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

Two Storm Panel Finishes Its Work

City Council
9:36 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Hartford's Segarra Sworn In, Wooden Chosen As Council President

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

Pedro Segarra was sworn in as the Hartford's mayor yesterday, beginning his first elected term in office.  But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, a fight over control of the city council dragged on until the bitter end. Segarra was already Hartford's mayor.  He took over in the summer of 2010, after the criminal conviction and resignation of former Mayor Eddie Perez. On Tuesday, Segarra took the oath of office in a packed city hall atrium.  This time, it's for an office he won.  State Attorney General George Jepsen gave the oath. 

Segarra: I do.

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Health Insurance
11:41 am
Mon January 2, 2012

As State Designs New Health Care Guidelines, Advocates Push For Consumer Voice

Earlier this month, the Obama administration said it wanted to let states play a bigger role in deciding what kinds of benefits should be covered by health insurance. Now, as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, some advocates in Connecticut want to be sure that consumers have a voice in the state's decision, too. The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. By 2014, those without insurance will have the option of getting it through a state-administered exchange. 

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Affordable Health Care Act
12:59 pm
Mon December 26, 2011

In Pursuit Of Electronic Health Records

Public Safety
4:53 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

City: Recent Copper Thefts Cost $45,000

Hartford's public safety complex is under construction, and thieves have stripped it of copper at least five times since May.  As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the city now says the latest thefts costs at least $45,000. The city of Hartford is building a new, $77 million public safety complex to help protect its residents.  When it opens in 2012, the complex will be the new home of Hartford's police, fire, and emergency communications divisions.

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3:40 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Hartford Police Chief Search Could Take Longer Than Planned

Hartford officials say they will likely miss their February deadline for picking a new person to run the police department.  As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the current police chief's tenure ends December 31st. Daryl Roberts is leaving after 30 years on the force and more than five years as the city's chief. He announced his retirement in September -- just before Mayor Pedro Segarra released the results of an outside investigation that said the police department had serious management issues.

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3:47 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

Judge: Hartford Wrongly Told Jewish Organization To Cease And Desist

A few years ago, an Orthodox Jewish group opened  a religious center for students at the nearby University of Hartford.   But the city told them to stop.  Now, as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, a state court judge says the city was wrong. There are lots of big houses along Bloomfield Avenue.  One of them used to be owned and operated by a Baptist church organization before it was bought for use as a Chabad house -- a place for Jewish university students to pray, celebrate and learn.

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Party Politics
11:24 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Working Families Party Celebrates 2011, Looks To 2012

It's been a good year for Connecticut's Working Families Party.  In Hartford, the party won all three of the city council's minority seats and sidelined Republicans.  And at the state capitol, it won a major victory with the passage of paid sick leave. But  the party is now looking to the future. The Working Families Party tries to match its name -- and advocate for issues that matter to the state's working families.  One of those issues was paid sick leave for service workers.  Last session, with Democratic support and over the objection of state Republicans, it won that battle.  Now... "There have been people in the state legislature who've are coming to us now and are saying, well, that was cool, what do we do next? "

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State Capitol
3:21 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Malloy Names New Chief of Staff

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy has announced a new chief of staff.  Mark Ojakian will start the job in January. Ojakian will take the place of Tim Bannon, who Malloy says is leaving as planned after a year on the job.  Ojakian was the governor's point person in labor negotiations. "His work negotiating with the state employees union was critical to our plans to reinvent Connecticut state government and even more critical to our budget plans. And while it was a bruising and often frustrating endeavor, in the end, we got what we needed. And in large part we got what we needed because of his superior skills." Malloy says one of those skills proved especially useful.  "Well, he's got a lot more patience than I do -- probably is the best way to put it."

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Health Care Reform
4:16 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

State Health Care Advocate on Where We Live

As the U-S Supreme Court prepares to test the constitutionality of President Obama's signature health care reform law, state officials across the country are trying to figure out the best ways to implement it -- even if they don't think it's the best option out there.  Victoria Veltri is Connecticut's health care advocate.  As the state gears up for the introduction of its private health insurance exchange, where those without insurance can buy it, Veltri told WNPR's Where We Live that she'd like to see something totally different.  A public health insurance plan.

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