The Daily

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.

Alberto Cairo / ProPublica

Imagine walking into your young child's classroom and seeing him on the floor, his hands behind his back, as if he was being arrested. This is what happened to Lisbeth Ehrlich in Darien. 

"It's profoundly disturbing,” Ehrlich said. “It is surreal; it's something you cannot believe you're seeing."

In Ehrlich's case, she said it was done because her son "didn't want to sit through circle time." A new report from the Office of the Child Advocate shows that cases like Ehrlich's are not unusual, and that some kids have been restrained or secluded for minor behavior problems such as throwing puzzle pieces on the floor or swinging a coat around.

The State Department of Education released data last year showing that the number of restraints and seclusions increased by over 2,000 incidents compared to the year before.

Flickr Creative Commons, Pink Sherbet Photography

Let's take a frozen cheese pizza. We'll add a little pepperoni to it -- and ship it off to a supermarket. Now, the question: who makes sure that pizza is safe to eat?

"As soon as you add the pepperoni, you introduce the Department of Agriculture," said reporter Wil Hylton. "Otherwise it will be under Health and Human Services and the FDA."

Paul Goyette / Creative Commons

There were 124 child fatalities in Connecticut between 2005 and 2014.  The state Department of Children and Families studied the cases and is now implementing a new strategy to identify and support at-risk families. 

DCF's study found that the most common cause of death was from Sudden Infant Death syndrome, or SIDS.

Susan Smith, DCF's Chief of Quality and Planning, said 34 percent of the child fatalities were attributed to SIDS when combined with unsafe sleep.

NTSB

Federal investigators visited a Metro-North train crash site Wednesday where six people were killed and 15 were injured.

A train on the Harlem Line crashed into an SUV Tuesday evening in the Westchester County town of Valhalla, New York. It's considered the worst accident in the history of the rail line.

New York Senator Charles Schumer told reporters Wednesday that the train was traveling at about 58 mph, within the speed limit for the area, which ranges between 60 and 70 mph. Federal investigators gathered other information about whether the train's brakes were applied, and whether its horn sounded as it approached a crossing.

Mark Twain House

Hal Holbrook has played Mark Twain in his solo show "Mark Twain Tonight" for more than 60 years, and at almost 90 years old he's still channeling the author.

It's a show that Holbrook never expected to catch on when he first started performing off-Broadway in his mid 30s. It took more than three hours to do his makeup, he told WNPR's Colin McEnroe Showto get in character as an aging Twain. 

Holbrook was an unknown actor in 1959 when the New York Times critic gave him rave reviews, calling it "an extraordinary show," and saying "there should have been posters up all over town to herald its arrival."

georgenight777/iStock / Thinkstock

Tenet Healthcare won’t be buying any hospitals in Connecticut. The Texas-based group announced Wednesday that it has ended its talks with Governor Dannel Malloy’s office. 

Tenet has been attempting for the past two years to complete several deals in Connecticut, including partnering with Waterbury Hospital and St. Mary’s in Waterbury. But late last year, the state’s Office of Healthcare Access imposed conditions that the company said were unacceptable, and it dropped plans for any purchases in Connecticut.

Legislative leaders and Malloy’s office began talks with Tenet to try to revive the deals, but now it appears those have failed.

Flickr Creative Commons / DNA Art Online

Precision medicine includes all the stuff that makes you, you -- your DNA, the stuff inside your gut, your family history -- into medical care.

Now, President Barack Obama wants to funnel $215 million into a "Precision Medicine Initiative," with the hope of one day incorporating things like a person’s genome into everyday medical treatment. 

janp013/iStock / Thinkstock

Non-violent drug offenders in Connecticut soon may get a second chance.

Governor Dannel Malloy announced a series of legislative proposals aimed at drug law reform on Tuesday, which he deemed the "Second Chance Society" initiative, which he said would further reduce crime and reintegrate non-violent offenders into society. The proposals directly contrast zero-tolerance policy stemming from President Ronald Reagan's 1982 launch of the “War on Drugs."

Malloy’s reforms include reclassifying drug possession as a misdemeanor (unless there is intent to sell), eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders, revamping the parole and pardons systems to help ex-offenders get jobs, and investing in housing for ex-offenders as they re-enter society. Malloy announced Wednesday he also wants to expand education and employment opportunities for ex-convicts. 

katiethiroux.com

Katie Thiroux, 26, a gifted string bassist and singer/songwriter from Los Angeles, celebrates the release of her fine debut disc at 8:30 pm on Friday, February 6, as she leads her tight-knit quartet at The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme.

If you’ve never even heard of this melodic, rich-toned bassist and fluent singer -- a two-in-one instrumentalist/singer package in the swinging, non-commercial mode of the early recordings by singer/pianist Diana Krall -- then you’re in for a pleasant surprise at the popular shoreline jazz spa.

You might even be doubly pleased by both Thiroux and her swinging, simpatico sidemen, tenor saxophonist Roger Neumann, guitarist Graham Dechter, and drummer Matt Witek. A genuine working band, this is the same lineup heard on Thiroux’s plainly titled new disc, Introducing Katie Thiroux.

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." 

Senate Democrats

The U.S. Senate approved the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act by a vote of 99-0 Tuesday afternoon. The bill seeks to improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for veterans. 

The federal VA estimates 22 veterans die by suicide each day.

Marine Clay Hunt has become the face of the suicide epidemic. Hunt killed himself in 2011 after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. His family and veteran advocates say he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and received inadequate care from the VA before taking his own life.

Oregon DOT / Creative Commons

Governor Dannel Malloy's Office of Policy and Management has released new crime statistics for Connecticut, and the news is good, especially for Connecticut's urban areas.

According to the report, the index crime rate in Connecticut hasn't been this low since the 1960s.

Index crimes dropped by 18.2 percent from 2008 to 2013 -- listed by the FBI as willful homicide, forcible rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny over $50, motor vehicle theft, and arson. 

NTSB

A federal report stemming from the investigation into the May 2013 derailment of a Metro-North Railroad train that injured scores of passengers in Bridgeport said that bolts on brand-new M-8 cars are too weak.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that Metro-North replace thousands of bolts on the fleet of more than 400 new Kawasaki rail cars on the New Haven line and New Canaan branch.

The NTSB said the bolts were not to blame for the derailment, but that their failure made the two-train collision worse, because a piece of one car sliced into the passenger compartment of another.

Gordon Swanson/Hemera / Thinkstock

The Department of Consumer Protection has drafted regulations that would add three medical conditions to the eleven already in place, that qualify patients in Connecticut to use medical marijuana. They include sickle cell disease, severe psoriasis, and chronic radiculopathy, a type of recurring back pain after surgery.

Commissioner Jonathan Harris said the approval process for medical conditions is rigorous, and "when you boil it down to its essence, the question is whether the palliative use of marijuana would alleviate the pain, alleviate the symptoms, complications or actually slow down the disease process."

ConnSCU

Ten Connecticut State University system professors have withdrawn their support for Board of Regents President Gregory Gray, citing course content developed by for-profit companies.

The Hartford Courant reports that the professors wrote Monday to the legislature's Higher Education Committee. They cited "disturbing reports" that a plan touted by Gray promotes a "model of `blended learning" in which course content would be developed by outside for-profit companies, rather than by faculty.

ramseybuckeye / Flickr Creative Commons

The state is proposing changes to how towns and cities deal with storm water that runs into rivers and streams. The rules would change requirements for some towns around things like street sweeping and catch basin cleanups.

Chion Wolf WNPR

Alcoholism and sexual assaults on college campuses continue to make headlines across the country, but for one college president, part of the solution could involve simply increasing diversity among the student body.

Joanne Berger-Sweeney, president of Trinity College in Hartford, told WNPR’s Where We Live that by actively creating an environment that reflects the diversity of the state’s capital, students would be exposed to different values that might alleviate some of the social and cultural pressures that lead to alcohol and drug abuse, as well as sexual misconduct.

Kate Ter Haar / Creative Commons

Customers of Connecticut Light and Power, Yankee Gas, and other Northeast Utility brands are getting used to a new name as of Monday. All of NU’s subsidiaries are now Eversource Energy. 

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.

CT-N

Governor Dannel Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission met on Friday. The panel is getting closer to finishing a final report, but more details remain.

Much of the meeting turned into a debate on whether the report should be dedicated solely to the 26 victims at Sandy Hook elementary, or whether it should also include shooter Adam Lanza and his mother Nancy.

Panel member Dr. Harold Schwartz suggested adding Nancy Lanza as an asterisk to the 26. "Why would we not consider Nancy Lanza to have been a victim?" he asked.

Michael Marsland / Yale University

The head referee at Sunday night’s Super Bowl was on the field with the help of a Yale University surgeon. NFL referee Bill Vinovich suffered a life-threatening heart injury in 2006 which prevented him from doing his job. 

Four years later, he turned to Dr. John Elefteriades, who is the director of the Aortic Institute at Yale New Haven Hospital. In his book Extraordinary Hearts, Elefteriades wrote a chapter about the football referee. 

Vinovich explained that his family was his "first love," and beyond that was football and his job as a head referee. He also explained that his life had no meaning without that work, and he "would do anything to be able to return to that 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.

What’s the Hardest Part About Being a Teen?

Jan 30, 2015
Chion Wolf / WNPR

Some things teenagers have to deal with just don’t change. Heartbreak, hormones, heightened social anxiety -- it's all just part of the package. 

But things that are unique to the 2015 teen experience -- social media, texting, and ephemeral messaging -- take regular teen issues to a whole new level. This isn’t breaking news, but teens are saying that adults still don’t fully get it. 

vichie81/iStock / Thinkstock

When the Affordable Care Act came into being many people wondered about the future of employer sponsored health coverage, but it turns out that company coverage has been declining for more than a decade. 

U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons

Over the last four years, local emergency departments saw a 50 percent increase in opioid overdoses. Often, it's hospital emergency rooms that treat people who are suffering from chronic pain. Now, Connecticut hospital ERs are looking at ways to manage pain but also prevent the abuse of prescription painkillers.

Several medical associations in Connecticut have endorsed voluntary guidelines for local emergency departments to reduce the inappropriate use of opioids.

Carl Schiessl, Director of Regulatory Advocacy with the Connecticut Hospital Association, said directors of emergency rooms gather monthly at CHA. He said it was at one of those meetings where the idea for the guidelines came up. 

Kuzma/iStock / Thinkstock

A Venezuelan hedge fund manager has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for running a massive Connecticut-based investment fraud scheme that involved hundreds of millions of dollars.

Francisco Illarramendi  expressed remorse during his sentencing Thursday in federal court in Bridgeport. He pleaded guilty to several fraud and conspiracy charges four years ago in what federal prosecutors have called their biggest white-collar criminal case ever in Connecticut.

Connecticut Innocence Project

The state of Connecticut has awarded $6 million to a man who was wrongfully imprisoned. Kenneth Ireland served more than two decades in prison --- for a rape and murder that he did not commit.

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.

Voice of America

A federal prosecutor in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has accused a defense lawyer of trying to "encourage" a hung jury. 

It's the latest turn in the jury selection phase, which has already taken much longer than expected.

Judge George O'Toole Jr. had set last Monday as the date for opening statements, but he has yet to seat a jury of 12 to hear the case. The trial resumed Thursday after two days of delay because of a massive snowfall in the Boston area.

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