Last December, the Capitol Region Gun BuyBack coalition traded more than $10,000 in gift cards for over 180 working guns -- an effort to get those firearms off the streets.

In a couple of weeks, they're hosting another gun buyback -- and officials say it's not just about public safety...but about public health. Joining us now is Dr. David Shapiro from St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, one of the partners in the program. 

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra says city employees will no longer be able to use their credit cards for business entertainment. WNPR's Jeff Cohen has more. When someone issues a controversial audit at 5:02 p.m. on a Friday, it's kind of sign that they don't want you to read it.

That's what happened last week, when the city of Hartford released its internal audit of its credit cards. City officials have been fending off claims of abuse. A New Year's Eve dinner for Mayor Pedro Segarra, his spouse, and six others at Max Downtown was what first drew headlines.

Chion Wolf

The music, culture and movement of Brazil is evocative of a certain kind of lifestyle to many Americans - like me - who’ve never been there. The beach at Ipanema, dense rainforests, a lyrical language and laid-back people.

But the real Brazil is booming and complex, one of the world’s emerging economies.

Connecticut is also home to many thousands of Brazilian immigrants - who occupy an uneasy space as part of a Latin American diaspora with a different language and cultural heritage.

Catie Talarski

Libraries might be changing faster than just about any other part of public life. These civic institutions were known for more than a century for their voluminous stacks of books and quiet spaces - now, they’re all about public events, high-tech connectivity, even 3-D printing!

The Giving Tree

Apr 30, 2013

Courtesy of CT DMV

Many undocumented immigrants in Connecticut want to apply for a state driver's license.

As WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports,  legislation to allow them to do so stalled in a legislative committee.  Now proponents are pushing lawmakers to find another way to get the legislation before the full General Assembly. 

It may be time to say goodbye to the Whale...again. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, Hartford's minor league hockey team could soon have a new name. The team used to be known as the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Then, in 2010, it was renamed the Hartford Whale -- a throwback to the city's onetime NHL Whalers. "It was sort of about embracing the Whaler past." That's Paul Doyle, a reporter with the Hartford Courant. He says Howard Baldwin, who operated the franchise, did his best to bring the Whalers back from the dead. They left the state in 1997.

Two bills that would change the way Connecticut sentences juveniles convicted of serious crimes are making their way through the legislature.  As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, they come in response to U-S Supreme Court rulings that say treating young people like adults could violate the constitution. The proposed bills come with the recommendation of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission -- a mix of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, corrections officials and others.  And both of them deal with the lengthy adult sentences imposed on juveniles and hinge on the idea that kids are different than adults, and should be treated that way.  One is called house bill 6581.  For those people in prison serving lengthy sentences for crimes they committed when they were younger than 18, this bill would give them a second-look.  That means it would mandate a parole hearing after a good portion of their sentences had been served. Sarah Russell is a law professor at the Quinnipiac School of Law.

Chion Wolf

A few weeks ago, the Greater New Haven Branch of the NAACP released a report showing significant health, economic, and educational disparities between White and minority significant that they’re calling it a modern day “urban apartheid.”

sarahstierch, creative commons

One in 10 adults in the United States is a lapsed Catholic, according to a 2009 report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

This might change, say some religious scholars. They think that the newly appointed Pope Francis is going to bring people back to the church. He’s focusing on the poor, wearing simple vestments, washing women’s feet.  A far stretch from his predecessor.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut Hospital Day at the Capitol drew more than 600 hospital workers to Hartford today. They were protesting Governor Malloy's proposed budget, which they say would cut state spending on hospitals by $550 million over the next two years. The cuts would include the payments hospitals get for treating the uninsured.

But on WNPR's Where We Live, the administration's budget chief Ben Barnes said he's not sure the plan should actually be called a cut. "In recent years," Barnes said, "hospitals have received very very large increases each year, so we've discontinued providing large increases but I think overall, we're looking at a flat-funding scenario over the next few years."

Governor Dannel Malloy signed new laws that say people who own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines will have to register them with the state by January 1. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the state says creating the registration process is going to take some time.

The December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has led to calls for increased police presence in Connecticut schools.  Lawmakers heard testimony Friday on a measure concerning school-based arrests.

The bill aims to reduce the number of students arrested at school for low-level, non-violent offenses.  Schools would be required to report the number of arrests, and boards of ed would have to have written agreements with local police departments detailing the role of law enforcement in their schools. 

taberandrew, creative commons

If you take a look at movies or TV, you’d think that having a disability is the worst fate possible-- maybe even worse than death.  Better to not be born at all than struggle through life unable to walk, hear, see or talk.


It's an unusual time to be the president of a state university in Connecticut.

The Malloy administration has been trying to overhaul the system of state colleges and universities, the legislature is trying to reign in spending by the Board of Regents which oversees that system. A tuition increase is going into effect, which has drawn protests from students and even some faculty, who feel that the University of Connecticut is getting preferential treatment to the State Universities and Community colleges.

Tambako the Jaguar, Creative Commons

We all know the story. Monkeys in a science lab, top secret research, something goes terribly wrong. It’s no surprise that most cinematic attempts to depict research like this ends up focusing on what happens to the humans.

But what about the ethics of this research, and what it means for the test subjects? In many cases, chimpanzees have been seen as viable in research because of their close relationship to humans.

Hartford Public Schools have signed an agreement with federal education authorities to improve supports and services for students who are English Language Learners.  

A complaint was filed with U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in 2007 on behalf of Somali-Bantu, Liberian and Spanish-speaking students in the Hartford Public Schools.   

"Students did not have appropriate amounts of supports, accommodations and services so they could understand what was being asked of them."

As a federal push for an assault weapons ban seemingly fades, gun control advocates at the state level are keeping the pressure on. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a press conference today with the vice president and Newtown families calling for tougher gun laws.

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy's plan to get rid of the car tax for most of vehicles in the state will not likely pass the legislature. That's according to the office of Democratic House Speaker Brendan Sharkey. WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports. A spokesman for Sharkey says that the car tax is one of the most regressive taxes the state has. On that, he's in agreement with Malloy. But Sharkey doesn't think that the governor's plan is the right one. So he's asking a legislative committee to study the issue further.

Working For Equality

Mar 20, 2013
susieqc3, Flickr Creative Commons

Women's rights pioneer Marcia Ann Gillespie was in state for Women’s Day at the capitol.  We talked to her about her rise to prominence as the editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, and the fight for gender and racial equality.  

But first, Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity started out as a small grassroots organization... And next year will turn 25. It is building in eight different cities and towns in the region and completing its 200th home. Habitat’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.  


Governor Dannel Malloy says he wants bipartisan agreement on a plan to ban the sale of the kinds of weapons used in the Newtown shooting last December. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the governor says that if he doesn't have Republican support, there's more than enough Democrat leverage to push a plan through.

Photo by Lucy Nalpathanchil

Forty men and women from Connecticut died in the Iraq War. Trumbull resident Mike Mastroni created the Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation to remember veterans killed after 9-11 and to honor their families.

WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil spoke with him in Hartford about his decision to get involved in this way.

More about the Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation can be found here. The state of Connecticut has also created a website to remember local veterans who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.


A Look at Libraries

Mar 18, 2013
Calsidyrose/flickr creative commons

Think about your local library. Do you still picture a dusty old building full of dusty old books? Do you imagine little old ladies with their glasses down at the ends of their noses, shushing you every time you speak?

Today we’ll check in with the libraries of the 21st century. Ebooks, the Internet, audiobooks. Music, movies, videogames. Coffee bars, couches, comic books… And no shushing? It’s a whole new world in the world of libraries. on Flickr Creative Commons

When we need to go to the hospital, we usually don’t care what it costs to make us better. We just want to get better.

And when you think about it, you shouldn't have to worry about how much it costs when you’re sick or hurt.

But in America, where we’re likely to spend $2.8 trillion dollars on health care this year, the care we receive doesn’t cost the same for everyone.

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

Busloads of employees from Colt Manufacturing and other gunmakers came to the state capitol today. And as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, they say an assault weapons ban would cost the state jobs. They came in buses, and they came with their bosses, who say they've all got a lot to be afraid of.

Legislative leaders are meeting this week to try and cobble together new laws in response to the Newtown shootings. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, gun makers and owners showed up to the state capitol in force today to weigh in. Manufacturers of guns and gun parts say it's simple: some of the proposed gun laws will cost the state jobs.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers reviewing possible new gun laws after the Newtown shootings has decided to issue two lists of recommendations -- one from Democrats, another from Republicans. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, that wasn't exactly the plan.

Eren {Se+Prairie} on Flickr Creative Commons

Good teaching is the single biggest indicator for student success, and while we spend more money to teach our students than in any other country, we achieve at lower levels than our foreign counterparts.

So, what makes for a good teacher, and how do we know it when we see it?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation asked that question of 3,000 students and their teachers in a recently released study that took 3 years and cost $45 million dollars to complete. 

What they learned is what most kids already know, students are the best judge of what works. 

Small town leaders from across the state were at the state capitol today. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, they were there to push back against one of Governor Dannel Malloy's budget proposals -- the elimination of some car taxes.

Malloy wants to eliminate the property tax for cars worth less than $28,000. He says it will provide middle class tax relief and that it will curtail the "most hated and regressive tax in the state." John Elsesser doesn't like the tax, either. He's the town manager for Coventry.

The superintendent of schools for Aurora, Colorado spoke to Governor Dannel Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission today/Friday. Aurora was the scene of a mass shooting last July. WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports. Malloy's task force is meeting to come up with policy recommendations after the Newtown shootings.