Ali Oshinskie | Connecticut Public Radio
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Ali Oshinskie

Reporter, Naugatuck River Valley

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Ali reports on the Naugatuck River Valley with an emphasis on work, economic development, and opportunity in the Valley. Her work has appeared on NPR, Marketplace, NEXT and The Hartford Courant.

Before coming to Connecticut Public, Ali served as a fellow on New Hampshire Public Radio’s The Exchange, producing candidate conversations for the 2020 Presidential Primary. She worked for the New England News Collaborative’s NEXT podcast with host John Dankosky. She interned at Marketplace Morning Report with host David Brancaccio and for Connecticut Public’s talk shows, Where We Live and The Colin McEnroe Show. Ali founded and ran Podstories, a podcasting company.

Ali’s photography won first place for Spot News Photo in the 2019 Distinguished Journalism Awards from the New Hampshire Press Association. Her writing will be a published in Fast Funny Women: 75 Essays of Flash Nonfiction coming in March 2021. Ali enjoys growing vegetables in her backyard, giving things found in the trash a second life, and a good pair of boots with arch support.

You can email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org and follow her on Twitter at @ahleeoh.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy: Town of Prospect

Possession of cannabis for recreational use will be legal in the state on July 1. But under the new law signed by Gov. Ned Lamont Tuesday, towns and cities can prohibit retail sales. Officials in Prospect have decided to do just that.

A Connecticut woman accused of a hate crime plans to file for accelerated rehabilitation, according to her lawyer.

Yuliya Gilshteyn was charged with a felony hate crime and three other offenses for allegedly spitting on Keren Prescott, a Black Lives Matter activist, during a protest at the Connecticut state Capitol on Jan. 6 of this year.

Chailyn Berrios in her prom dress at Quassy Amusement Park
Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

Chailyn Berrios, 17, is wearing an aqua blue prom dress and matching eye shadow. Several teary-eyed family members take her photo outside her home in Bridgeport. In a few minutes she’ll get out of her heels, put on her driving shoes, and drive herself to Quassy Amusement Park for prom.

Naugatuck Mayor Pete Hess (left) show Senator Richard Blumenthal a map of the plans for the proposed inland port along the Naugatuck River, the rail line, and Route 8.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

As Congress negotiates President Joe Biden’s proposed $2 trillion American Jobs Plan in Washington, municipalities in Connecticut are vying for federal dollars to fund all sorts of projects. Naugatuck has plans for an inland port that could make the borough a shipping hub.

Don LaVange / Creative Commons

The craft beer industry is having its #MeToo movement. Women working in Connecticut’s craft beer companies say the industry has a sexual harassment problem, and they’re working on new ways to address it. 

Speaking on Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live, Brewbound reporter Jessica Infante spoke about a recent Instagram post where women in the craft brewery world shared instances of harassment in the workplace.

The sign for the Cheshire Correctional Institution on April 06, 2020 in Cheshire, Connecticut.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public Radio

A Department of Correction officer was terminated Tuesday for violating employee conduct and social media policies. DOC officials said Officer Anthony Marlak’s speech threatens the safety of staff and inmates who are Muslim. In the termination letter, DOC Warden Amonda Hannah wrote, “Your personal use of social media has undermined the public’s confidence in your ability to function in your position.” 

Faye Goldson and Bruce Goldson
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Demonstrators gathered on the Derby Green Tuesday night in memory of George Floyd, holding candles as members of the Valley NAACP read the names of Black people who have died at the hands of police.

Keren Prescott stands outside Hartford Superior Court Wednesday. A group of supporters gathered with her at the first court appearance of Yuliya Gilshteyn, a woman who charged with a hate crime for spitting on Prescott.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

A court hearing was held this week in the case against a white woman charged with a hate crime for spitting on a Black woman during a Jan. 6 protest at the state Capitol. Now Hartford State’s Attorney Sharmese Walcott is taking on the case. 

Courtesy: Office of Mayor Neil O'Leary

A New York man was ordered Tuesday to pay restitution to the city of Waterbury for beheading a Christopher Columbus statue that stands in front of City Hall.

Brandon Ambrose was ordered by a Superior Court judge in Waterbury to pay the city $8,800.

Sean Walters
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Sean Walters wants to be a doctor someday. His great grandfather, Freddie Lee Tyson, was subjected to the infamous United States Public Health Service Syphilis Study in Tuskegee. For Walters, the legacy alone doesn’t create a pressure on him. 

“Pressure?” he said, sitting on a park bench in Stamford’s Harbor Point. “I feel like there would still be pressure to at least address some of the issues that are going on in medicine.”

Officials from Tweed New Haven Airport announced a major expansion Thursday. Avports, LLC., Tweed's current airport operator, plans to invest more than $100 million dollars to create a new terminal and new runway in East Haven. Tweed sits on the border of New Haven and East Haven.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has alerted state officials to an act of anti-Islamic hate speech at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. CAIR-CT sent a letter to Department of Correction Commissioner Angel Quiros Sunday and copied it to the Office of the Attorney General. 

Scene of Police investigation, officer involved shooting
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

This post has been updated.

State police are investigating a shooting involving a Derby police officer that took place early Monday morning. 

The officer was on patrol and stopped at a red light on the Derby-Ansonia border. Two young males -- one a minor -- approached his car looking for help.

According to state police, they began pounding on the car windows. At the same time, another vehicle passed by, which got their attention. 

Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

In Bloomfield, half a nation from Minneapolis, Cornell Lewis sat listening on his car radio to a verdict he’s been awaiting for almost a year. 

As Judge Peter Cahill worked through the counts against former police officer Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd, Lewis’ eyes opened wide.

Streets were blocked off in Branford after police and witnesses say a man fired gunshots from a building.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

A tense hourslong standoff with an armed man in Branford that included heavy gunfire ended Tuesday evening when police found the suspect dead in the building in which he’d been barricaded.

Alvaro Barrientos / AP

The weather’s getting warmer and residents are rolling up their sleeves to get the coronavirus vaccine. But the state Department of Education is telling students and families that it’s no time to let their guard down. 

In guidance, called Finish Strong, the department issued a reminder to keep up the standard practices of masking and social distancing. Communications Director Peter Yazbak said it’s important to remember that the pandemic isn’t over yet.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Kevin Skeggs was smiling under his mask. The 24-year-old sat with his mom in the activity room of the Arc of Litchfield County in Torrington on Friday.

Christine Skeggs briefly pulled back her son’s mask to show his big smile. He had a good reason -- Kevin just received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at a clinic set up by the state for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or IDD.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Pastor Antwaun Richardson says he regularly preaches to his church members that God is not visible, but evidence that He exists is. Richardson sees evidence of God in the coronavirus vaccine.

Sitting in the red velvet pew of Zion Baptist Church in Waterbury, Richardson said, “This vaccination is a step of faith, much like the step of faith we have to take in God.” As he spoke, workers at a vaccine clinic distributed 50 doses of the Johnson & Johnson shot to members of the Waterbury community in the church basement below. 

Reverend Boise Kimber speaks outside his church, First Calvary Baptist Church in New Haven in August 2020. Kimber criticized Vice President Kamala Harris' visit to New Haven for not inviting prominent Black leaders.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Connecticut Friday was welcomed by many New Haveners. But Boise Kimber took issue with the invite list. He’s a pastor at First Calvary Baptist church and president of the Greater New Haven Clergy Association. 

He held a press conference Monday expressing disapproval and asking why more Black leaders weren’t in attendance at events welcoming Vice President Kamala Harris to town. 

Frank Franklin II / AP Photo

Affordable housing is the subject of a number of bills before Connecticut lawmakers. But what do we really mean when we talk about “affordable housing”? 

Carlos DeLeon died of COVID on April 13, 2020. He told family he had symptoms for three weeks without medical attention. He died five days after he was hospitalized.
Maria Ruiz / Contributed photo

Nineteen inmates have died from the coronavirus in Connecticut Department of Correction prisons. One year after the pandemic began to spread across the state, Connecticut Public is revisiting the early days of the crisis. 

Carlos DeLeon died on April 13, 2020, from the coronavirus.

Workforce Alliance / Contributed photo

Nicole Russo needs more employees. She’s the CEO and owner of Microboard Processing Inc. in Seymour. She said she lost close to 20% of her workforce amid the pandemic last summer.

Barbour Garden Apartments in Hartford was affordable housing but tenants say their health and access to opportunity was impacted by the housing. Connecticut lawmakers are, once again, tackling the issue of affordable housing this session
Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public Radio

Most elected officials agree that Connecticut needs more affordable housing. The Housing Committee held a hearing Thursday that offered a preview of how lawmakers intend to address the issue this session. 

The bills introduced take a statewide approach to increase affordable housing.

Manny Cambra (seated) gets first place at the revived Fat Tuesday Paczki-Eating contest in Ansonia. Mayor David Cassetti (center, standing) held a socially-distanced version of the competition.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

Contestants sat at opposite ends of six-foot tables around the Ansonia Armory. In front of each person were two boxes of pączki -- Polish jelly doughnuts. A city staffer sprinkled confetti and made sure each contestant had a few bottles of water.

Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

Bono Sidharta voted in his first presidential election last November, as a registered Republican. But he’d been considering switching to Democrat for some time. 

“It was definitely something that I thought of for a while,” he said. Then on Jan. 6, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, and for Sidharta, that was it. “[The riot] made me really think about it that day.”

Developer AA Denorfia Building & Development wants to bring more affordable housing to Woodbridge. Its application has the backing of Open Communities Alliance, a nonprofit that works on housing equity, and the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School. But the proposal also has drawn opposition, dominating the town’s planning and zoning meetings for the last two months.

Connecticut Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is calling on Republican leadership not to seat Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on the House Committee on Education and Labor.  On Monday, two Democratic U.S. representatives from Florida, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Ted Deutch, joined the call. 

Before she took office in January, Greene questioned on social media whether the Sandy Hook mass shooting had taken place. The 2012 Newtown massacre left 20 children and six educators dead. 

Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill conducted a public opinion poll on what reforms voters would like to see in a post-pandemic election.
Connecticut Secretary of the State

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is calling for a number of voting reforms after a new poll conducted in January finds that a majority of Connecticut voters favor early and no-excuse absentee voting.

At a virtual news conference Thursday, Merrill shared that 79% of Connecticut voters support early voting and 73% support the option to vote by absentee ballot without needing an excuse.

Several activist organizations met in front of New Haven’s City Hall to mark President Joe Biden’s inauguration earlier that day and push for racial, economic, and social justice.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Celebrations of President Joe Biden’s inauguration took place throughout Connecticut Wednesday night, including one by Unidad Latina en Accion, or ULA. The organization celebrated in the form of a demonstration, hosting a two-part event: a march and car caravan in New Haven and a virtual roundtable of speakers from advocacy groups across the state.

A Connecticut prison guard has been placed on administrative leave after a Muslim civil rights group called for his termination.

At issue is an anti-Muslim meme that Officer Anthony Marlak allegedly posted on his Facebook page in 2019. The Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, called for the officer to be fired on Monday. CAIR independently found that the Department of Corrections had looked into Marlak's social media but kept him on the job.The DOC said Wednesday that Marlak will remain on leave pending the outcome of its investigation.

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