This is the last edition of our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse for 2013. We're looking back at the year that was (and is) with our team of reporters and analysts.
We'll discuss the performance of the state legislature, which passed gun legislation after Sandy Hook, quietly approved Keno, and loosened campaign finance laws while former House Speaker Chris Donovan's campaign workers went on trial for corruption charges.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:09 pm
Updated at 10:27 a.m. ET: Moving Ahead:
The Senate voted 67 to 33 on Tuesday to move forward on the two-year, bipartisan budget plan that restores some of the automatic spending cuts of recent years, trims spending in other areas and appears to have put on hold until 2015 the bitter battles that led to this year's partial government shutdown.
Since the Newtown shootings last December 14, America has had a long and very heated conversation about guns and violence.
Lost in the aftermath of this, and other mass shootings, are two realities: the gun debate we just had has little to do with the reality of gun violence in America; and handguns are used in suicide and family violence far more than mass murders. In urban areas, there’s a daily drumbeat of gun-related crime that never grabs the headlines.
Join us for a conversation that uses hard numbers and personal stories to talk about guns in America.
Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 6:12 pm
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has authorized Mohegan Sun to apply for a license to build a casino on land owned by Suffolk Downs in eastern Massachusetts. However, a new voter referendum on the project will have to take place.
A state court threw out the convictions on corruption charges that would have sent former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez to prison; Connecticut withdrew its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving state unions and former Governor John Rowland; state Democrats are raking in campaign contributions from Northeast Utility executives; and former state officials reflect on meeting Nelson Mandela.
A batch of internal documents recently leaked to The Guardian has revealed new insights into the goals and finances of the secretive group called ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a group that brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations. Together, they develop model bills that lawmakers introduce and try to pass in their state legislatures.
Connecticut's Attorney General says he will sit down with union leaders to talk about a settlement in a damages case that dates back to the Rowland administration. To clear the way for talks, George Jepsen has withdrawn his appeal of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case.
The court ruled that there was a enough evidence to convict Perez, but that the trial court judge made a procedural error that merits two new trials. Perez was convicted over three years ago on separate charges relating to bribery and extortion while he was mayor. A judge sentenced him to three years in prison.
Last month, the city of Hartford gave a series of documents to a federal grand jury looking into the business dealings of troubled insurance broker Earl O’Garro. Now, the city has released those documents publicly.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 2:48 pm
After voting for him in large numbers in 2008 and 2012, young Americans are souring on President Obama.
According to a new Harvard University Institute of Politics poll, just 41 percent of millennials — adults ages 18-29 — approve of Obama's job performance, his lowest-ever standing among the group and an 11-point drop from April.
Senator Chris Murphy just got back from Europe, talking to allies about U.S. spying abroad and counter-terrorism efforts. He’s also been outspoken about the role of the media in covering the Obamacare rollout. In fact, he’s got so much to talk about, we’re bringing him into our weekly news roundtable, The Wheelhouse. Join us for a free-wheeling conversation and ask your questions of Senator Murphy.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:26 pm
With a deadline looming at the end of the month for final applications for resort casino licenses in Massachusetts, the state’s gaming industry regulators have delayed a key decision on the fate of one project. The decision will determine how many competitors will vie for the lone casino license available in the greater Boston area.
While conceding that "more problems may pop up as they always do when you're launching something new," President Obama on Tuesday said the troubled HealthCare.gov website "is working well for the vast majority of users" and his Affordable Care Act "is working and will work into the future."
"We may never satisfy the law's opponents," Obama added during an afternoon event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. But, he said, "we know the demand [for health insurance] is there and we know the product on these marketplaces is good."
The line of people who want their money from Earl O'Garro continues to grow.
O'Garro is the man at the center of a federal grand jury investigation looking into $670,000 in missing taxpayer money. The city of Hartford paid him to pay its insurance bills, and he apparently never did.
Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 5:48 pm
While lawyers dismantle many restrictions on political money, the rules affecting Morning Edition and Downton Abbey still stand tall. A federal court in San Francisco says public radio and TV stations cannot carry paid political ads.
The 8-3 decision Monday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling last April by a smaller panel of the court. NPR and PBS both joined the case as friends of the court.
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee speaks with reporters in November of 2012, during the lighting the Statehouse Christmas tree. Chafee announced the ceremony 30 minutes ahead of time to avoid what he called the "chaos" of 2011's lighting, which was protested by people angered by Chafee's decision to call the Statehouse tree a "holiday" tree.
The Commission on Connecticut's Future meets Monday morning to discuss economic renewal in the state. The commission is examining the manufacturing industry and defense-related industries along with environmental sustainability. A report is due to the governor by this time next year.
State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky's summary report on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting said that the investigation is now closed, and there will be no criminal prosecution in the case. None of the evidence points to collaboration in the crime, and the shooter is considered solely responsible.
Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 7:13 pm
"A pair of American B-52 bombers flew over a disputed island chain in the East China Sea" on Monday, according to The Wall Street Journal, "in a direct challenge to China and its establishment of an expanded air-defense zone."
Citing "U.S. officials" as its sources, the Journal adds that Chinese authorities were not told in advance of the planes' flights.
President Obama speaks at the White House on Saturday.
Credit Susan Walsh / AP
<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings></xml><![endif]--> During a rare Saturday night address, Obama told the country that while this is "just a first step, it achieves a great deal."
Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 1:17 pm
Updated at 5:01 a.m. ET Sunday
Iran and six world powers have reached a preliminary agreement in Geneva on curbing Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief.
In a late-night statement from the White House, President Obama called the breakthrough "the most significant and tangible progress" with Iran since he took office. It calls for specific actions over the next six months, while negotiations continue on a longer-term deal.
Former chemist Annie Dookhan began serving a 3-to-5 year sentence in a Massachusetts prison on Friday after pleading guilty to falsifying tests of drug evidence and helping to create one of the nation's largest drug lab scandals.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley says the state is taking steps to improve forensic testing:
"It is certainly lessons learned," she says. "We hope that we've made changes in the system that will mean this unique case will not happen again in Massachusetts."