Politics

Political news from WNPR

Harry Reid, the wily Democratic Senate leader, was likely — once again — to be one of the most vulnerable incumbents up for re-election in 2016.

Few, though, would have bet the house against Reid — a sharp-elbowed campaigner — especially in a presidential year when demography will favor Democrats in a state where almost 3 in 10 people are Hispanic.

"Do you really want to go up against Harry Reid?" said one national GOP operative, pointing out Reid's bare-knuckles style of campaigning.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

It's been a rough few weeks for both the administration and reelection campaign of Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. But his supporters say there's a lot of time left before any votes are counted. 

Connecticut House Democrats

Former Bridgeport state Rep. Christina Ayala has turned down a plea deal with prosecutors and will go to trial on election fraud charges.

The Connecticut Post reports Ayala and her lawyer appeared Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Earl Richards and confirmed her decision.

City of Hartford

The former top lawyer of Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is asking the city’s ethics commission to weigh in on whether it was wrong for her relatives to have worked at city hall while she had a high-ranking position. 

A nearly $300 million project widening Interstate 84 in Waterbury is about to begin.

The Republican-American reports that rebuilding the 2.7-mile stretch of highway that Governor Dannel Malloy has called one of the most infamous bottlenecks in Connecticut will begin Monday.

The state Department of Transportation's contact requires the project to be complete by June 25, 2020.

Thomas Hopkins / Creative Commons

A bill that would cap charges for electric services paid by residential customers is moving through the Connecticut General Assembly.

The legislature's Energy and Technology Committee on Tuesday approved a bill capping the monthly, fixed charge at $10. The bill now awaits further action in the Senate.

Politicians and consumer groups voiced concerns about a recent state decision to increase the fix charges imposed by Eversource Energy from $16 to $19.50. Eversource originally requested a $25.50 charge, saying the revenue is needed to cover the utility's expenses.

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.

City of Hartford

Internal auditors at the city of Hartford have looked into controversial hirings at the city’s Department of Public Works, following a citizen complaint alleging that relatives of the mayor’s former top lawyer had gotten jobs with the city. 

Facebook

Former Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley will serve five months in prison for her role in a campaign consulting scandal involving former Governor John Rowland.

According to reports from inside the federal courtroom in New Haven, Judge Janet Bond Arterton disputed Wilson-Foley's claim that she was a "minor player" in the crime.

There will be a question from some about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's eligibility to run for president.

That's because even though Cruz grew up in Texas, he was born in Canada. (He renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2013.)

Democrats are sure to remind voters of Cruz's Canadian birth since some on the right have questioned where President Obama was born. The president is a native of Hawaii.

Noroton / Creative Commons

Lawmakers are planning changes to a controversial proposal from Governor Dannel Malloy that would enable the state to take land near transit stations.

Facebook

Former Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley faces sentencing this week in a scheme to hide a role that former Governor John Rowland played in her campaign. 

www.stockmonkeys.com / Creative Commons

In her latest book, Burning Down the House, journalist and author Nell Bernstein explores the dark side of America’s juvenile justice system. Through the eye-opening stories of incarcerated youths, she argues that it’s time to shut down the nation’s juvenile prisons once and for all.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tells NPR that most people in his country want a continued U.S. troop presence and that his government is determined to make sure that the self-declared Islamic State does not gain a foothold.

Ghani, on an official visit to the United States, spoke in a wide-ranging interview with Morning Edition host Renee Montagne to be broadcast on Monday.

He says the perception that Afghans are eager for U.S. troops to leave the country is simply untrue. "They see the United States as critical to their future," he says.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has apparently had enough of the fig leaf most presidential candidates wear as their unofficial spring costume the year before the election actually happens.

That is a bold stroke, but entirely in keeping with the go-for-broke style the junior senator from Texas has exhibited since first challenging the Republican establishment's candidate for the Senate in 2012.

At the end of the grueling 2008 primary fight, Hillary Clinton gathered supporters in Washington, D.C., and delivered perhaps the most memorable line of her whole campaign.

"Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it," Clinton said to roaring applause.

It's a line, one could say, that began paving the way for her seemingly inevitable 2016 campaign.

Governor Dannel Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy has selected Katherine Wade to be Connecticut's next insurance commissioner. Wade has over 20 years experience in the insurance industry, most recently as Cigna's Vice President of Public Policy, Government Affairs and U.S. Compliance. 

House Speaker John Boehner plans to travel to Israel at the end of the month, close on the heels of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election and the Israeli leader's controversial address to Congress.

Although there are no details on who he might meet in Israel, Boehner "looks forward to visiting the country, discussing our shared priorities for peace and security in the region, and further strengthening the bond between the United States and Israel," his spokesman, Kevin Smith, said in a statement.

The White House

Sunshine Week is supposed to be dedicated to transparency and openness in government, but President Barack Obama's administration seems to have thumbed its nose at the idea by announcing that the executive office would not comply with Freedom of Information Act requests.  

Brad Bedard / Creative Commons

Connecticut is one step closer to adding more casinos. The legislature's public safety and security committee voted this week 15-to-eight in favor of the legislation

Billy Hathorn / Creative Commons

New London has fired a city employee, suspended two others and otherwise disciplined another two workers after an investigation of alleged safety violations at the city's transfer station. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Following a resounding victory in Tuesday’s election, Benjamin Netanyahu will now serve a fourth term as Israel’s Prime Minister. The win came just a day after Netanyahu announced he would not support the establishment of a Palestinian state, a statement he later clarified in an interview with NPR's Morning Edition.

Obama To Prince Charles: We'll Never Be Royals

Mar 19, 2015

President Obama may be having some postcode envy.

As members of the press corps poured into the Oval Office in the White House to get pictures of Obama and Prince Charles, Obama whispered to Charles, "I think it's fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the royal family."

He went on: "They like them much better than they like their own politicians."

Prince Charles, laughing, gave the only polite answer he could in return: "I don't believe that."

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fresh from victory in parliamentary elections this week, says he wants to clarify remarks he made on the campaign trail that appeared to write off any possibility of a Palestinian state on his watch.

"What I said was that under the present circumstances, today, it is unachievable," Netanyahu says in an interview with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep to be aired Friday. "I said that the conditions have to change."

Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

Here in America we're taught to celebrate ideas, to think outside the box and to fan the flames of innovation whenever possible. But what do we do when an idea becomes destructive? And even worse; when that idea becomes an ideology?

This is the prospect we're facing with extremism around the world. Now America, a nation well adapted to win wars by conventional means, is being forced onto a battlefield it's less accustomed to-- one where social media, propaganda and targeted messaging are the weapons of choice.

Barack Obama let down his graying presidential hair a little bit on Wednesday. He also joked about coloring it.

Speaking to the City Club of Cleveland, Obama seemed to be in a reflective mood. During the question-and-answer period, he was asked by a seventh-grader what advice he would give to himself now, if he could go back to his first day in office.

Jeff Kubina / Creative Commons

Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun have been dominant forces in the gambling world since entering the market in the 1990s. With that success came revenue for the state of Connecticut. But neighboring states are getting in on the game, opening their own casinos seeking many of the same patrons. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A public hearing on Monday heard residents' input on a proposed bill that would clarify state laws on police officers' authority to make arrests outside of their jurisdiction. 

Speaking on WNPR's Where We Livepanelists broke down the origins of the bill and the issues surrounding it. 

Paul Bass / New Haven Independent

Former Connecticut Governor John Rowland was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 months in prison in a campaign fraud case. He was also fined $35,000.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut election officials are widening an investigation into whether the state Democratic Party illegally spent money to distribute campaign mailers supporting Governor Dannel Malloy’s re-election.

The State Elections Enforcement Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a request from its investigators to issue subpoenas.

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