The Wheelhouse

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The 2016 presidential race is well underway, but the race for a Connecticut Senate seat is still in its infancy. A new challenger announced his potential bid against incumbent Sen. Richard Blumenthal who had "no comment" about Larry Kudlow's political ambitions.

Chuck Miller / Creative Commons

Is General Electric really looking to leave the state? What’s Connecticut doing to try to keep them? That’s one of the stories we’re talking about on The Wheelhouse, our weekly news roundtable. Also, there's another round of musical chairs in state government and Governor Dan Malloy brings his support of Hillary Clinton to the Granite State.

John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the state Supreme Court issued its ruling on capital punishment and completely repealed it - including for those already on death row. This hour on our weekly news roundtable, The Wheelhouse we talk about the decision and answer your questions about how the state’s judicial system works with guests who will hopefully have answers.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s a big year for local politics in Connecticut -- and not just Hartford and Bridgeport.

This hour, we check in on the race for mayor in New London.

As we do on most weeks, we catch you up on other stories from across the state, including how to fund the $100 billion transportation overhaul, MGM's desire to get in on the Connecticut casino expansion battle, and the future of juvenile detention facilities.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Pushing the line of ethics is nothing new in politics. That is part of the reason voters are frustrated when it continues to happen. Former Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim is hoping to return to his former office after a stint in prison on corruption charges. The former house Republicans chief of staff faces up to 15 months in prison for collecting kickbacks. And the Connecticut Democratic Party is trying to avoid complying with a subpoena issued by state election officials.

Donkey Hotey/Creative Commons

When Donald Trump talked about Mexicans as “rapists,” one might have thought, “that’s the craziest statement I’ve heard from a political candidate in a long time.” Which he then followed up by questioning John McCain’s war hero status. The outcome? Trump’s only risen in the polls.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Local races across the state have caught our eye: from the crowded field running for mayor in Hartford, to the Bridgeport race pitting the incumbent versus a former mayor who went to jail for corruption when in office. This hour on our weekly news roundtable, The Wheelhouse,  we check-in on those races and more news from across the state.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It has been a full three weeks since The Wheelhouse was last on the air due to vacations and unexpected absences. That means we have no shortage of news to talk about. This hour, our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse will recap the last three (!?) weeks in news with intrepid reporters who stuck around to cover the special session and all the fallout from the budget implementer. We discuss that at-length on this week's edition of The Wheelhouse.

Stevie Gill / Creative Commons

If the State of Connecticut was a college student, it would be the one who crams for every exam and writes every final paper the night before. We say this, because the fiscal year starts on July 1, and a special session to finish the details of the state budget is reportedly scheduled for the last two days of June.

Chuck Miller / Creative Commons

Two big Connecticut corporations threatened to leave the state after a budget deal was reached before the end of the regular session. But were they empty threats? Governor Dannel Malloy didn't want to take any chances and announced last week a reduction in business tax hikes. This hour, our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse continues the budget drama, and other legislation that may be taken up during a special session. One of those, Malloy's "Second Chance Society" proposals were touted by the governor in Germany this week.

The Connecticut Mirror

Connecticut’s legislative session ended with a soft thud last week. There wasn’t quite the mad rush we're used to seeing as the clock ticked down. That means, lawmakers will have to return to the capitol for a special session. This hour on our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, we recap the long session and talk taxes, as business groups and even other states are jumping in with comments on the state's new tax plans.

Lisa Jacobs / Creative Commons

The clock is ticking down on the end of the regular legislative session. It’s that time of the year when reporters and capitol observers try to make sense of what’s happening: what legislation gets passed, what gets killed, and what gets moved to the "budget implementer."

Photo Phiend / Creative Commons

Even in a non-election year, there are a lot of political questions: Who gave you that money? Where are you spending that money? Who is representing Connecticut's 18th senate district? May we speak with the state treasurer? Finally, where is Charter Communications actually located?

This hour, our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse will ask these questions and attempt to get some answers.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

President Obama comes to New London to address graduating cadets at the Coast Guard. The big theme of his speech? Climate change. It's a little different from Vice President Joe Biden's message to Yale grads this weekend. He encouraged them to find their "sweet spot."

This hour, it’s our weekly news roundtable, The Wheelhouse where we’ll talk about the president’s trip and about the use of the word "racist" in political speech. Governor Dannel Malloy used the word and Republicans are criticizing him for it.

Also, the a bill banning powdered alcohol is going to the governor's desk. Wait, what? Powdered alcohol?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Coming up on the next Where We Live, John Dankosky hosts our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse! Oh, wait -- Dankosky has meetings at the NPR mothership in Washington...

Coming up on the next Where We Live, Colin McEnroe guest-hosts our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse! Darn it -- Colin is sick...

Mikkel Rønne / Creative Commons

Text messages between members of Gov. Dannel Malloy's staff pulled back the curtain on the controversial firing of the longtime labor-relations chief. This comes as New Jersey's "bridgegate" scandal is back in the news, which also featured text messages and emails that were made public. Why do state officials leave paper trails at all?

This hour on our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse we discuss that story, plus a recent amendment to a bill has transparency advocates scratching their heads. Also, grants from the National Science Foundation to the University of Connecticut have been frozen after it was discovered professors used the money to purchase equipment from a company they had a stake in.

Finally, have you met August Wolf? This Stamford Republican is ready to take on Sen. Richard Blumenthal in the 2016 election.

Veggies / Creative Commons

Governor Dannel Malloy issued his first veto of the session. The definition of a "spending cap" remains murky. And the former chief-of-staff to a former legislative leader pleads guilty to mail fraud. This hour on our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, a look at the week's news from across the state, including the lack of a police response report from the Newtown tragedy. Also, a recent audit of the Hartford Police Department shows major problems with the ammunition supply and many questions remain.

We also take a look at the state of campaign finance. It has reached the point where even President Barack Obama is making jokes about it.

Photo Phiend / Creative Commons

Republicans at the state capitol hope to get out in front of their counterparts by releasing their own budget plan. But what influence will that have on the majority party? Will new casinos be part of the long-term plan?

At the national level, presidential candidates are balancing their budgets with trips to Connecticut's gold coast, including Sen. Marco Rubio who will headline a GOP fundraiser in Stamford on June 4. That's just a day after the legislative session wraps up, so there may be some tired lawmakers in attendance.

Schoolhouse Rocks

Many bills, including some high-profile ones face the end of their life in the 2015 legislative session. They died a slow death due to personal drama behind closed doors. That allowed an important deadline to pass before moving bills through committee.

Also, remember Keno? That game was legalized by the legislature, then repealed the following year after public outrage. But now that the state is considering more casino gambling, the state lottery is pushing for Keno again and lawmakers are listening.

While Connecticut grapples with a budget deficit, many constituencies are defending their state funding, including librarians who spoke to Gov. Malloy this week. And the Hartford registrars of voters successfully defended their jobs in court.

If this makes your head spin, at least it's baseball season and the Rock Cats get underway in their final season in New Britain. So what happens to the stadium when they move to Hartford?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Last week, Comptroller Kevin Lembo forecasted a budget deficit of more than $170 million. Governor Dannel Malloy then issued another round of budget cuts, leaving few legislators happy. This hour, our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse discusses Connecticut’s on-going state of "permanent fiscal crisis."

Also, we check-in on some high-profile bills going through the Judiciary Committee. And state lawmakers are considering allowing more casinos in the state, but one town is already saying they don't want one.

Ryan King / WNPR

After years of debate, controversy, and construction, commuters can finally take CTfastrak (aka, the busway). It's less than a week old, but how's it going so far? This hour, our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse discusses the long road to opening day for this bus rapid transit system.

Also, Governor Dannel Malloy is making the rounds on national television shows after he signed the first executive order banning state-funded travel to Indiana after recently passed "religious freedom" legislation. The self-described "porcupine" governor is showing his quills to the country.

Connecticut Senate Republicans / Creative Commons

Connecticut's fiscal future seems to be upon us and it's bleak. Last year, budget chief Ben Barnes said, "We have entered into a period of permanent fiscal crisis in state and local government." As lawmakers debate and discuss the state budget, they're learning that Barnes' quote was not hyperbolic.

On our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, our panel discusses the on-going budget negotiations and what's on the cutting block. Also, another chapter in the John Rowland/Lisa Wilson-Foley scandal comes to a close as both were sentenced to prison time.

David Zeuthen / Creative Commons

Our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse is back and there’s a lot of ground to cover. Lawmakers are hedging their bets and hoping to bring more casinos to an increasingly saturated gambling market. This time, current tribal casino leaders are ready to team up for one facility to compete with a future Springfield casino.

Also, why does Connecticut keep electing politicians who voters don't really love? New polling numbers from Quinnipiac University shows declining support for the recently re-elected Gov. Dannel Malloy. But you know a governor who was really popular? John Rowland! He now faces sentencing in federal court for his illegal activity in a 2012 congressional race.

Chion Wolf

The first few months of Governor Dannel Malloy’s second term as governor have been very, very busy. He’s rolled out major initiatives to take on our transportation problems, and to create a "second chance society" to change our system of incarceration, punishment, and re-entry after prison.

Malloy has also had to deliver a budget to lawmakers that includes deep cuts prompted by a multi-billion-dollar budget deficit. This plan has gotten criticism from social service providers on the left for cutting too much into vital plans, and from Republicans on the right for not cutting government deeply enough. There's even dispute about whether the budget is balanced or comes under the so-called "spending cap."

creative commons

Governor Dannel Malloy announced his two-year budget plan last week, and everything has been a mess ever since. The proposed budget would hurt social services and cause potential layoffs at UCONN, a situation that drew star basketball players to testify at the Capitol.  

On Tuesday, we learned that a SNAFU with accounting sets Malloy's proposed budget more than $50 million over the state's spending cap for the next fiscal year. That might be more cuts. OPM Secretary Ben Barnes issued a formal (somewhat confusing) apology.  

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy delivers his budget speech on Wednesday, an event we've anticipated for weeks.

The address is expected to include details about Malloy's big transportation plans for the state, and how he plans to balance the budget while changing the sales tax system.

In our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, we preview his speech while looking at the big picture: What do budget addresses mean, and what are the messages they send?

Today's edition of The Wheelhouse is in two parts. Part one is a preview of the budget speech. Part two is a broadcast of the budget address in its entirety and a wrap-up with WNPR reporters.

Logan Ingalls, Creative Commons

We take a break from the usual news and politics to talk about something that newsmakers and politicians just don't seem to talk about very much: arts and culture, history and humanities, our museums and gathering places. 

We hear that all of these things are important to "revitalize" cities and to "spur economic growth." If that's true, why isn't there more investment, more coordination, more big thinking about the arts? 

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.

The Wheelhouse Digs Out

Jan 28, 2015
Gov. Dannel Malloy Office / Twitter

The blizzard has moved on from Connecticut and we're moving on with our regularly scheduled programming. Our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse will recap the week's news, from Governor Malloy's response to the storm, to last week's bizarre capitol cafeteria summit regarding the state budget. Also, one Hartford-based company that benefited from a state economic development deal is in trouble.

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There is a simple formula for restoring respect for democracy and other American institutions: just study everything that happens in Bridgeport and do the opposite.

On our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, Colin McEnroe guest-hosts with check-ins on Bridgeport, New London County, and Hartford. 

The capital city is part of a different formula: study how Hartford runs elections and do the opposite. Also, don't park in a handicap spot, especially if you're a lawmaker using your official state plates.

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