Matt Dwyer | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Matt Dwyer

News Anchor / Producer / Reporter

Matt Dwyer produces The Wheelhouse, WNPR's journalist round table and news analysis show and anchors midday news headlines. Counting his time in college, Matt has been doing news on the radio in Connecticut since 1996, at stations including WTIC AM, WILI AM/FM, and WHUS FM.  

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In New London, Democratic mayor Michael Passero returns for a second four-year term, beating out both GOP and Green Party candidates.
Harriet Jones / Connecticut Public Radio

This hour, the expansion of State Pier in New London advanced with Friday's announcement of an agreement between the city and two companies taking part in the project.

But at the same time, the quasi-public state agency overseeing the project faces ongoing scrutiny.

The latest issue under investigation: the Connecticut Port Authority’s half-million-dollar payment to a company with ties to a former authority board member.

A Hartford HealthCare worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Starting Monday, everyone in Connecticut 55 and over can begin scheduling COVID-19 shots. That’s an expansion from the previous rules, which limited vaccinations to people over the age of 65, first responders and medical workers. Vaccination is also being opened up to educators and child care workers. The online scheduling tool opened up at midnight.

Thousands of students in one of the largest school districts in the state are returning to in-person classes 5 days per week, starting today. Hartford students in ninth grade and younger have been hybrid learning, with some of their classes in person, and some online. Older high school students in Hartford will continue to split their time between online and in-person learning for the time being. Hartford has had problems with many student not engaging with online learning.

White people in Connecticut are more than twice as likely as Black and Hispanic people to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. That's according to numbers released Thursday by the state Department of Public Health. Eight percent of white people are fully vaccinated. Less than four percent of Black and Hispanic residents are fully vaccinated. But the state health department says there is some uncertainty in those numbers.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin speaks at a press conference announcing the opening of a neighborhood vaccine clinic at the Parker Memorial Community Center in the North End of Hartford.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin discusses coronavirus’ impact on students in Hartford, and vaccination efforts.  What does the governor's plan to focus more on age in vaccine distribution mean for people of color and low-income people in Hartford?

The mayor also has new responsibilities on his plate: Pushing for high speed rail in the region and leading the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, an organization of cities and towns.


Joseph Lemieux, CT Senate Republicans Office

It was a long night for members of the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee, who conducted a public hearing on vaccine bills that was scheduled to go as long as 24-hours. Republican State Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly joins us to talk about the proposals, which would prevent residents from claiming religious objections to school vaccine requirements.

MATT DWYER / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC RADIO

In the first half of the show, Connecticut Mirror budget reporter (and budget guru) Keith Phaneuf previews Governor Ned Lamont's 2-year state taxing and spending plan. The proposal is being released later today. In the short term, things are better than they appeared back in the spring. But the state still faces a fiscal slog in the long term.

In the second half of the show, UConn Professor Christopher Vials considers lessons learned from four years with Donald Trump in the oval office. American democracy survived, but is it in worse shape than it was four years ago? Is a second impeachment the right path for the country?

Ministers, police, and the mayor of New Haven are speaking out today, after a violent weekend in the Elm City. Police Chief Otoniel Reyes says officers are working around the clock to solve these most recent acts of violence.

The shooting death of Yale grad student Kevin Jiang brought the total number of homicides in New Haven to six, Just five weeks into the year. The Yale School of the Environment is holding a community gathering today.

A Connecticut COVID-19 shot appointment phone service is extending its hours. Starting Monday, the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line will be available from 8 am to 8 pm, seven days per week. It is run by the state Department of Public Health and the United Way of Connecticut. Officials say the extra hours will be needed in the coming weeks as Connecticut begins to receive more vaccine supply, and as eligibility for the shots is opened up to include everyone over the age of 65. The phone number for vaccination scheduling is: 877-918-2224. Appointments can also be scheduled online.

Gov. Ned Lamont holds a press briefing at the Community Health Center in New Britain to highlight CHC’s walk-up COVID-19 testing site and to encourage continued testing, June 18, 2020.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont addresses issues related to COVID-19 and vaccinations. Are the people most at risk getting the shots? What should the state do to ensure that people of color and people without much money have a fair chance of getting vaccinated?

The Governor unveils his budget February 10. Can fellow Democrats make good on calls to shift some of the tax burden off lower-income and middle class working people, if the governor opposes tax increases on the wealthy to make up for lost revenue?

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

As forecast, Connecticut is contending with its first major storm of 2021. The weather system had dumped up to 16 inches of snow on parts of the state by late Monday.

Connecticut congressman Jim Himes has been promoted to be the next chair of the House subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy. He was previously a member of the panel. Among other things, Himes says his committee will focus on protecting the U.S. financial system from attack. Some of that work might overlap with Himes' other assignment on the Intelligence Committee. Himes serves Connecticut's fourth district.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong is urging lawmakers to make it easier for his office to crack down on price gouging during emergencies. Tong says the existing law limited his ability to go after some of the people and businesses that took advantage of shortages in protective equipment and essential goods last year. Tong says his office received more than 750 price gouging complaints related to the pandemic. He wants the law expanded beyond retail sales to apply to suppliers that sell items to retailers. He also wants price gouging rules applied to leases and rental items.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York heard arguments this week from the Connecticut Parents Union, in their lawsuit against the state Education Department. A panel of federal judges will now decide if the group can bring a lawsuit challenging a state policy that sets aside seats for racial integration in magnet schools. The schools were set up as a way to bring Black and Hispanic students together with white students.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The General Assembly session is getting interesting, as lawmakers trot out their proposals. But this year does not resemble a normal session.  COVID-19 rules keep lawmakers at arms length from each other, and from lobbyists and the public. 

Today we talk to House Speaker Matt Ritter about how much lawmakers will be able to get done.  Are they doing the right thing by extending the governor’s emergency powers?  And is now the time to start phasing out a religious exemption to school vaccination requirements?

Connecticut's employment recovery is stalling out. Numbers released Monday show the state shed jobs in December. It's the second straight month of job losses, after Connecticut had begun to gain back some of the staggering number of positions that went away during coronavirus shutdowns in the spring. Connecticut is still more than 100,000 jobs short of its employment level a year ago, before the pandemic. State labor officials said they do see a silver lining; the largest December declines were in businesses directly affected by the pandemic including restaurants and hotels.

Acting Connecticut Health Commissioner Diedre Gifford said Monday the number of people working on the state’s vaccination sign-up phone service has been doubled. There have been complaints about seniors who are now eligible for the vaccine having difficulties with the sign-up process. Gifford spoke at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, where officials gathered to celebrate the first week of operation for the mass vaccination site. The unused Pratt & Whitney Runway can accommodate more than 1,000 cars a day. Gov. Ned Lamont called the lines of vehicles there "lines of hope."

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Hosted by Lucy Nalpathanchil and John Henry Smith

Today Joe Biden became the forty-sixth president of the United States.  Will America heed President  Biden’s calls to end an 'uncivil war' in political debate that spilled over into violence at the capitol two weeks ago?

A vice presidential swearing-in also makes history. 

Now that Donald Trump has left Washington and been kicked off Twitter, what has changed and what remains the same?  

And how will Connecticut’s political parties be impacted by the change at the White House?

AP Photo / Susan Walsh

After President Trump egged on a crowd of supporters who later smashed their way into the US Capitol, Democrats are once again on the verge of impeaching the president. This time, they may have some Republican support.  To be successful, any such effort would have to pass both the House and the Senate. 

On the Wednesday politics episode of Where We Live, we speak with Connecticut US Senator Chris Murphy about whether the president should be removed, the upcoming new administration, and what needs to be done to protect the US Capitol from further violence during the inauguration and beyond?

Two people who listed their homes as being in Connecticut were among those arrested at the U.S. Capitol yesterday. Mauricio Mendez and Victoria Bergeson were both charged with unlawful entry and violating a curfew. They were arrested in the same area at the Capitol.

Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham today issued a statement urging people with information related to the incident at the capitol to use an FBI tips web site.

New Haven-area Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro today announced that part of the House Appropriations Committee will review the law enforcement response to what she called a coup attempt at the capitol yesterday. In a statement, DeLauro says there was a severe failure in securing the building. DeLauro is the chair of the Appropriations Committee. A subcommittee oversees funding for the capitol police.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Two US Senate contests in Georgia will decide who controls the chamber.  Democrats are optimistic after a night of vote counting. How big of an impact will the outcome have on the direction of the country? 

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are divided about whether to accept the electoral college vote today, or whether to continue President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the outcome of the presidential election.  Will there be long-term ramifications for democracy?  The Trump administration and its supporters have failed to deliver evidence to support their claims of widespread voter fraud. 

Here in Connecticut, the General Assembly session begins today.  But because of COVID-19, it will be anything but a normal opening day.

Dafne Cholet Flickr Creative Commons

The Wheelhouse looks back at what was... Quite a year.

Also a glance at the president's pardons and a very early look at some possible candidates for governor.


Kathleen Megan / CT Mirror

Connecticut’s education commissioner is heading to Washington.  What sort of approach to schooling during the pandemic will Miguel Cardona bring to President-elect Joe Biden’s new administration?  He’s not the only person with ties to the state heading to the capitol.  Officials from Connecticut could have influence over environmental policy. 

Back in the state, would you pay a little more for gasoline, if it resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions? 

And is it better for elected officials in Connecticut to get COVID-19 vaccinations now to instill confidence in the shots, or to wait until after all the doctors and nurses are vaccinated?  

Connecticut has signed on to a regional effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate revenue. The Transportation and Climate Initiative Program will require gasoline and diesel suppliers to purchase emission allowances for air pollution created by the fuels they sell. The plan would gradually reduce the number of allowances sold each year. Supporters of the plan say that will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases generated. That could also make each allowance sold at auction more valuable. Its opponents say it will raise gas prices.

Changes went into effect over the weekend for Connecticut's anti-coronavirus policies for travelers. The quarantine-or-test requirements now apply to people traveling to Connecticut from all other states except Rhode Island, New York, or New Jersey. Previously, Connecticut had posted a list of states to which the travel advisory applied. As of last Tuesday, the list included 48 states and U.S. territories. The order allows essential workers to cross state lines for their jobs without quarantining or testing.

Connecticut senator Chris Murphy agreed to be part of a demonstration by officials at NATO, to show how easily misinformation in social media can be promoted. Murphy says social media companies are not doing enough to combat misinformation and paid manipulation. The NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence paid less than $400 to Russian companies that generated more than 300,000 fake likes, shares, and posts of social media content on Murphy's account, and the account of Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

Connecticut’s first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine has arrived.  What does this moment represent in the battle against the virus?  Electoral college votes have been cast in the state, and around the country, again confirming Joe Biden’s presidential win.  Will Republican voters believe that Biden was victorious?

A new survey from Quinnipiac University finds that people in the Northeast are the most likely in the country to be very concerned that they or someone they know would become infected with coronavirus. Northeasterners are also most likely to say they will get vaccinated, and most likely to be very confident in the federal government's ability to oversee the safety of the vaccines. People in this region are also likely to report they see compliance with mask-wearing protocols.

A court-created panel is suggesting improved social distancing in Connecticut prisons. CT News Junkie reports that the committee wants Correction Department officials to move bunks farther apart in dormitories. The panel said social distancing guidelines seemed to be "sparsely implemented" in some facilities, even though more space was available in some dorm areas. Prison dorms have been a source of concern for possible transmission of coronavirus.

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