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Abeeeer photo via Flickr Creative Commons

It started with a flub by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.  It wasn't a big deal. As one of his spokespeple suggested, even the substitution of the word "era" for "days" would have helped his cause quite a bit. Most other politicians would not have been called on this, but, for Blumenthal, it fits kind of a narrative some people have about him.

Snow Damages Farm Buildings, Some Animals Killed

Feb 9, 2011
Diane Miller

Front Street in Court

Feb 8, 2011
Jeff Cohen/WNPR

The retail development known as Front Street in Hartford is finally built and looking for tenants.  But the project took years to materialize, and now it's in court.

Front Street is a publicly-subsidized development that was geared to attract area people to downtown Hartford and the adjacent Connecticut Convention Center.  Here’s how George Royster puts it. He's an attorney for the state:

“Because people coming to Hartford with no place to go would not be likely to return to the convention center or the hotel if they had no entertainment or retail or places to eat.”

Foxtongue photo via Flickr Creative Commons

What's the impact on the state pension fund when a low-paid legislator moves to a high-paid administration job? We like this piece on "pension spikes" from a policy blog

But maybe it doesn't matter, because we're not really making any serious attempt to fund that whole system.

New Haven Considers Giving Up the Bottle

Feb 8, 2011
Nancy Eve Cohen

Clean Streets Versus Clean Water

Feb 8, 2011
Monica Brady-Myerov

There has been an historic amount of snowfall around the Northeast.  So far in Hartford, at least 80 inches have fallen.

The extreme snowfall has pitted disposing snow against protecting the water.  Many cities in the Northeast have run out of space to put the snow and are asking for permission to dump it in waterways. As part of a collaboration with northeast stations, Monica Brady-Myerov of WBUR reports.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is taking the city's schools superintendent to task for issuing a series of bonuses to district employees. Segarra says he understands the bonuses total about $2.7 million -- a figure that seemed to frustrated the mayor of this cash-strapped city. In a letter to Superintendent Steven Adamowski, Segarra said he wants to know why these bonuses were issued, what criteria was used in a awarding them, and who approved them.

Nancy Eve Cohen

Harriet Jones

We hear all the time that small businesses are having trouble accessing credit. But sometimes it’s hard to picture what that means both for an individual firm, and for the wider economy. To find out more, WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited a construction company that’s currently rehabbing several old homes in Middletown.

No Good Place to Put the Snow

Feb 4, 2011
Flickr Creative Commons, Charles Jeffrey Danoff

Record-setting snowfall, sub-zero temperatures and treacherous travel conditions have meant plenty of missed school days this year.  Educators are worried that lost classroom time may affect preparation for standardized tests. 

State Department of Education spokesman Tom Murphy says he’s seen school closings, late openings and early dismissals in other years, "but this is really beyond what we’ve seen ever.  And it couldn’t happen at a worse time in our high schools, when we have our end of course exams" 

Despite Snow, Spring Will Be Early, Says Groundhog

Feb 3, 2011
Nancy Eve Cohen

After days of shoveling and scraping Connecticut residents may be happy to hear there’s been a prediction for an early spring. It came from Connecticut’s official state groundhog.

The Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester takes in wild animals that have been injured. Including a female groundhog who bears the weighty title, "Connecticut Chuckles the Seventh". Early this morning she went outside, sniffed the air and looked around, but did not see her shadow, according to Bob Eckerd, the executive director of the museum.

Will New Jobs Save Connecticut's Budget?

Feb 1, 2011
Flickr Creative Commons, smemon87

Diane Orson

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano says changes to city pension plans are urgently needed to keep from bankrupting the funds.  

He says New Haven is facing a growing budget gap.

"Over four years the next year this is a total budget gap of $309 million. The largest single expenditure item contributing to that gap is the increasing city contribution to our two pension plans."

Cash is the lifeblood of any small business, and access to financing can be a critical factor in whether a small enterprise can grow and thrive. Businesses need credit to hire and to make capital investments. It may sometimes seem as if the chips are stacked against them.

For 17 years, Joe Petti ran a small manufacturing firm, Delaney Engineering in Milford. He says one of the biggest issues he faced growing his company was dealing with the banks.

Bringing Farmers and Chefs to the Table

Feb 1, 2011
Nancy Eve Cohen

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture convened a meeting today to introduce farmers to chefs looking for local food. As WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports the agency held a kind of “speed dating” exercise to bring people together.

“30 seconds left! 30 seconds left!”

A clang of a cow-bell moves the participants from table to table. About two thirds are from restaurants, hospitals and food distributors. One third are harvesters and farmers, like Alysson Angelini from Jones Family Farms.

Winter Markets Help Northeast Farmers Survive

Jan 31, 2011
Nancy Eve Cohen

Farmers markets have seen huge growth in the past three decades. They give consumers access to local food, sometimes at a lower price. And farmers can sell without a middleman getting a cut.

Now, some markets now run through the entire winter. As part of a collaboration of Northeast stations WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports the number of winter-long markets have doubled, tripled... even quadrupled in some states.

A census on domestic violence services offered in Connecticut shows the need for them has grown in the last year.  

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

courtesy Larry Berk

“Buy local” has become a rallying cry for small businesses attempting to revive the high street. But it’s also a good message for those small businesses whose customers are big business. Plenty of small suppliers in Connecticut would like to see big corporations and state government look first in their own backyard when they spend money.

For the latest of WNPR’s small business profiles, business reporter Harriet Jones met with one such small supplier. 

East Haven’s Police Chief says he’s done his best to comply with all requests for information in connection with a federal investigation into alleged racial profiling by the town’s police officers.  

Hydro Quebec: 'Green' Enough for the Northeast?

Jan 27, 2011
John Dillon

Northeast states are increasingly looking to Canada to meet a growing demand for low cost hydro electricity from renewable sources. But the energy imports are stirring controversy. In northern New Hampshire, local activists are fighting a power line that would send the electricity south. And questions are being raised about whether big hydro is really green.

As part of a collaboration of Northeast stations John Dillon of Vermont Public Radio reports:

Eastern Washington University, Flickr Creative Commons

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on higher education to reinstate the Reserve Officer Training Corps on college campuses. Many elite colleges and universities haven't had ROTC chapters since the late 1960s. But the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell could open the door. Most undergraduates at Yale University think its a good idea. 

Yale student Katherine Miller says President Obama’s message is clear. The military is becoming more inclusive. And that  means she’ll be able to pursue her dream of a career in uniform. 

(photo: Hartford.gov)

The long-vacant hotel at the center of downtown Hartford's Constitution Plaza may soon have a new use. The city says the hotel commonly known as the Sonesta has sat vacant for at least a decade.  Now, a New York-based development groups says it plans to buy the building this week, invest as much as $20 million dollars, and turn the building into high-end apartments.

Joseph Klaynberg runs Wonder Works Construction and Development.  He says this will be his first investment property in Hartford.

Animal rights activists have named this cat William Curry, after Connecticut's beloved former comptroller and gubernatorial candidate.

Here is what we know about it, via Julie Lewin of the National Institute For Animal Advocacy:

Nathan & Jenny / Creative Commons

Hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid have new rules to follow concerning patient rights. Earlier this month, the federal Department of Health and Human Services implemented the new federal regulations that were first proposed by President Obama in 2010.

The Freedom of Information Commission in Hartford is to hear testimony on Tuesday from the Former Police Chief of East Haven.  He’s been subpoenaed in connection with an investigation into alleged racial profiling by East Haven police officers.

Former Police Chief Leonard Gallo is expected to testify about documents related to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into race-based violence, harassment and intimidation by East Haven police officers against Latinos.   

DEP Asks Public to Report Odd Bat Behavior

Jan 21, 2011
CT Department of Environmental Protection

Five years ago this winter, a caver in New York photographed bats with a white fungus on their faces -- and found a few dead bats. Since then, more than one million bats have died in at least 12 states, including Connecticut, from a condition now known as “white nose” syndrome. Connecticut’s environmental agency is asking the public to keep an eye out for odd behavior in bats.

Harriet Jones

This year, WNPR’s Small Business Project is taking apart what it means to be a small business owner. As part of our coverage we’re showcasing the huge diversity of the state’s small businesses and what they’re accomplishing. Most businesses start very, very small—even at the kitchen table. For the first of our small business profiles, WNPR’s Harriet Jones visits a tiny commercial kitchen in Griswold.

Jennifer Chominski is spending the morning pressing out piecrust for her baking business, Gracie Mae’s Kitchen.

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