Politics

Political news from WNPR

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."

Mixed Bag for Gov. Malloy's Budget Proposal

Feb 17, 2015
Sage Ross / Creative Commons

In preparation for his two year state budget proposal, Governor Dannel Malloy has warned Connecticut residents the budget is "tough."

During an interview with WFSB-TV's "Face the State" broadcast on Sunday, Malloy said he will be proposing to reduce the state sales tax from 6.35 percent to 6.2 percent on November 1, then dropping it to 5.95 percent by 2017.

This Post Was Last Updated At 5:15 p.m. ET.

Two days before the first of President Obama's executive actions on immigration were to take effect, the new rules have been put on hold by a federal judge's ruling in South Texas. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen said the president overstepped his authority.

Governor Dannel Malloy / Twitter

An executive at a Connecticut vaccine manufacturer said it is difficult to consider expanding in the state because the governor's administration won't commit to buying the vaccine for state workers.

Dan Adams, executive chairman of Meriden-based Protein Sciences, which makes the Flublok vaccine, said he was frustrated that Governor Dannel Malloy received a flu shot made by an overseas company. A Malloy spokesman said the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District administered the vaccine to the governor last Friday, using what was available.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine have resulted in a cease-fire which is set to begin Sunday. But there's still a long ways to go before a lasting peace can exist between the two countries.

Former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman doesn't think the cease-fire will hold. He told CNN that the U.S. should send weapons to Ukrainian fighters to help counter Russian-backed troops and President Vladamir Putin.

"I think if we give them the weapons to defend themselves, it actually raises the prospects that the cease-fire will hold because it creates a little more balance on the ground and creates a bit of a disincentive for Putin and the separatists to keep moving through eastern Ukraine," said Lieberman.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A panel created by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy in the wake of the Newtown school shooting has issued a set of draft recommendations aimed at avoiding another tragedy like Sandy Hook.

The 256-page report from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission was posted online Thursday.

The report offers recommendations in the areas of school design and operations, mental health, and law enforcement.

White House

President Barack Obama is asking Congress to formally authorize war against Islamic State militants.

The request is limited to three years, with no restriction as to where U.S. forces could pursue the threat.

Obama's proposal bans "enduring offensive combat operations," an ambiguous term intended as compromise between lawmakers who want authority for ground troops and those who don't. In a statement delivered Wednesday, Obama said his request "does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground forces to Iraq or Syria." He said local forces are in the best position to fight a ground war.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy is one of those opponents to ground forces.

"We’ve got to be smart about this fight," he said. "A smart strategy recognizes that combat troops, in the end, are just going to become bulletin board material for terrorists to bring even more forces to the fight in the Middle East, and across the globe."

Westfield State University

No trial date has been set yet in the federal lawsuit involving ex-Westfield State University president Evan Dobelle. Dobelle is the former president of Trinity College in Hartford.

In the 2013 federal complaint, filed three weeks before he resigned, Dobelle alleges that his constitutional and contractual rights were violated when he was placed on administrative leave and forced to resign from his post as president of WSU.

Creative Commons

Owners and managers of Connecticut car dealerships are urging state lawmakers to abandon legislation that would allow an electric car maker to sell vehicles directly to consumers.

About 70 auto dealers were at the state Capitol on Wednesday meeting with legislators to protest a bill benefiting Tesla Motors. Current state law prevents car manufacturers from selling their cars to consumers.

A bill before the legislature's Transportation Committee would make an exception for Tesla. 

Connecticut Senate Republicans

Connecticut's Republican legislators proposed a 30-year, $37.4 billion plan to fund a proposed overhaul of the state's transportation system on Tuesday. They'd like to do it without resurrecting tolls.

The announcement comes a week before Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy will present his two-year budget and transportation initiative.

Both Senate and House Republicans proposed dedicating a set amount of bonds to be used solely for transportation projects, starting with $441.5 million in fiscal year 2016. That would complement the approximate $600 million in bonding already spent annually for transportation.

In a move that is sure to set off a new round of debate over how the U.S. should fight ISIS, the Obama administration has sent Congress a request for formal authorization to use military force against the extremist group.

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.

U.S. Attorney CT / Twitter

Law enforcement officials are turning to billboards to root out corruption in Connecticut.

Billboards promoting the work of the Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force have popped up outside Bridgeport, Hartford, and Waterbury.

Mayors in those three cities have been convicted over the past decade or more on corruption and other charges, though convictions against Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez were overturned, and the case is now before the state Supreme Court. 

Federal Dollars Head To Metro-North For Sandy Repairs

Feb 11, 2015

Congressional officials from New York have announced an investment in Metro-North Railroad for capital improvement projects from Hurricane Sandy.

London Mayor Bullish On Boston Olympics

Feb 11, 2015

The snowy weather and public transportation gridlock have taken some of the steam out of a visit to Boston by London Mayor Boris Johnson. But while in the area, the mayor managed to make a pitch for Boston moving forward with its bid to host the Olympics.

PT Vote / Flickr Creative Commons

Why do we vote the way we do? The easy answer, of course, is that we pick the politician whose values, beliefs and opinions most closely resemble our own. But while that does play a part, there are other, less obvious influences as well.

It turns out that much of why we make the voting decisions we do comes from our subconscious: biases we hold towards things like a candidate's height, weight, looks, tone of voice, and even choice of clothes. Campaigns have known this for years and, with every vote being fiercely sought, have employed a variety of tactics to make their candidate appeal to parts of our psyche we're not even aware of.

David Davies / Creative Commons

State lawmakers will hear testimony on legislation aimed at speeding up the development of ultra, high-speed, broadband Internet across Connecticut.

The General Assembly's Energy and Technology Committee scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday on the bill, which is co-sponsored by Senate President Martin Looney and other Democratic senators. The legislation calls for facilitating the rapid development of gigabit Internet infrastructure in cities and towns across the state. 

There may not be any officially declared candidates for president yet, but prominent Republicans from Jeb Bush to Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are making big speeches and jostling for consultants and donors. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton may not formally announce whether she is running for months. But any number of polls would indicate, without even declaring, she has a lock on the Democratic nomination.

Which got me thinking — who are the other potential Democratic candidates?

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.)

A major battle is coming to a head over the fate of a century-old Boston Public School building that most recently housed the Dearborn Middle School in Roxbury.

The building is scheduled for demolition to make way for the first new school to be built in the city in more than a decade.

Some key Connecticut lawmakers say they are willing to pursue a compromise that would allow Tesla Motors sell its electric cars directly to consumers, but with some provisions that address the concerns of the state's independent franchise dealerships.

U.S. Senator Describes Train Wreckage

Feb 7, 2015

Two U.S. Senators and two congressional representatives Friday saw the wreckage and toured the crash site of Tuesday’s fiery Metro-North crash in Westchester County that left six people dead. 

The officials, including U.S. Senator from Connecticut Richard Blumenthal, spoke after viewing the charred train in a warehouse and then touring the crash site in Valhalla.

“Look inside the car and you can see those third rails like daggers going into the heart of that chamber.”

Ryan King / WNPR

When it comes to road design, more productive cities prioritize people over cars, according to Charles Marohn of the Minneapolis non-profit Strong Towns. 

Here in the United States, Marohn said, our roadways put cars before people. 

The same is true for Connecticut.

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.

Ben Sheldon / Creative Commons

Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed major improvements to Connecticut's transportation infrastructure.

In the past, Malloy argued that the state gas tax could cover such costs, but the rise in fuel-efficient cars has meant a decline in revenue. How to fund transportation projects remains a question.

Speaking on WNPR's Where We Live, Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey said the gas tax is unfair to Connecticut residents.

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.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A new legislative session means new dynamics at the state capital, especially with so many new leaders. Can parties from both sides of the aisle sit down together to hash out our budget problems?

Governor Dannel Malloy has shared some of his priorities, including a big push on the transportation front.

This hour, we sit down with Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey and new minority leader Themis Klarides to hear their priorities for the upcoming session and about how the legislature will handle the budget deficit.

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. 

Diego Cambiaso / Creative Commons

Roughly 534 Republicans are running for president in 2016, but is anyone other than Hillary Clinton running for the Democrats? Do some Democrats actually want another choice? Our political analyst and Salon columnist Bill Curry joins us in The Wheelhouse, our weekly news roundtable. We’ll also consider Governor Malloy’s new "second chance society" and a Quinnipiac panel on race and justice in America.

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