The Wheelhouse | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

The Wheelhouse

Wednesdays 9:00 am and 7:00 pm

Connecticut's best journalists come out of the political trenches every Wednesday to join us on Connecticut Public Radio's weekly news roundtable, The Wheelhouse.

The Wheelhouse is a live, call-in show, so join us when we're on air at 860-275-7266When we're live in our New Haven studios call us at 203-776-9677. When we aren't on air, call us in the newsroom at 860-275-7272.

The senior director is Catie Talarski. The technical producer is Chion Wolf. The digital producer is Carlos Mejia. 

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut's five U.S. Representatives stood with their Democratic colleagues and four Republicans Tuesday in rebuking President Donald Trump for his Twitter attacks against a group of minority congresswomen who have become known as "The Squad."

Now what?

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Gov. Ned Lamont is in search of a new look for his State Capitol office, and we're not just talking about the grasscloth wallpaper and new carpeting he wants to install.

Staff changes also are in the works, including a new spokesman, NBC Connecticut political reporter Max Reiss.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced Tuesday his support for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

The news arrived amid reports that the former vice president’s polling lead is shrinking, as California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris' numbers rise. 

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Despite the many GOP losses in Connecticut races last election, state Republican insiders Tuesday night granted J.R. Romano a two-year extension as party chairman. In the end, only one challenger stepped up to oppose him. The vote wasn't even close.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

If large corporations, like United Technologies, are increasingly eyeing urban hubs for future growth, what are we doing to put our cities at the cusp of that trend? Or more likely, what aren't we doing as a state?

This week, we take stock of what cities such as Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport have to offer CEOs looking to relocate their companies, and where they fall short. 

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Last fall, after United Technologies Corp. announced it would spin off its Otis Elevator and Carrier divisions, then Governor-elect Ned Lamont vowed he would watch the Farmington-based conglomerate "like a hawk" to retain its workforce in Connecticut.

But this weekend's news that UTC would merge with Raytheon Co., and move its headquarters to Waltham, MA., came with little advanced notice to the Lamont administration.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

With more than 24 hours to spare, the legislature's Democratic majorities on Tuesday evening delivered a two-year state budget to Gov. Ned Lamont. It doesn't raise income taxes on the rich, or deplete Connecticut's rainy day fund.

So then, just how does the $43.4 billion plan add up? And how were enough lawmakers brought on board to get it across the finish line?

AP Photo

It's been a half-century since the torture and eventual murder of wrongly suspected FBI informant Alex Rackney by members of the Black Panther Party. The racial tensions in New Haven that followed when party leaders were put on trial for Rackney's death led to the National Guard patrolling its streets.

In some ways, the city has changed a lot since then. But many of the social problems that provoked New Haven's angst during that period--injustices by police, substandard housing, gentrificaton, and racial disparity--remain unsolved.

Gov. Ned Lamont delivered his first budget address to the legislature on February 20, 2019.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Governor Ned Lamont on Tuesday grudgingly accepted the increasingly irrefutable reality that highway toll legislation won't pass before the regular session wraps up on June 5.

Instead, he said he's devoting his next two weeks to what may be an even bigger challenge: working out a compromise with progressive Democrats over the state budget.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

State Attorney General William Tong says his office has diagnosed an aggressive cancer eating away at America's healthcare system.

According to Tong, it's triggered by scheming executives at many of the largest pharmaceutical companies illegally working together to artificially inflate the cost of generic drugs. Forty-three other states are joining the effort spearheaded by Connecticut's AG to litigate drugmakers into a court-ordered treatment plan.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The regular session of the Connecticut General Assembly adjourns at the stroke of midnight four weeks from tonight.

So far, none of the biggest policy goals identified early on by majority Democrats have made their way to the governor's desk for his consideration.

Not electronic highway tolls. Not legalizing recreational marijuana. Not sports betting. Not paid family and medical leave.

Chion Wolf (File photo) / Connecticut Public Radio

For all the recent attention bestowed on Democratic Party progressives, there's new evidence so-called centrists aren't going to just fade away.

Not with former Vice President Joe Biden taking a commanding early lead over the many 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls running to his left. National polls released Tuesday cast Biden well ahead of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others vying for the party's nomination.

Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

This hour, we look at how successful Governor Ned Lamont's first hundred days were, and what his plans are to create a "cost-efficient, user friendly" government. Meanwhile, he's at odds with fellow Democrats over a proposed controversal tax increase on the state's wealthy residents.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Stop & Shop employees continue to strike in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, prompting some customers to fill their grocery carts elsewhere. 

Matt Benoit / iStock/Thinkstock

The state's desperation for new revenue is certainly fueling this year's push to legalize marijuana.

But for many Democrats in the legislature, a larger goal is addressing racial injustices created by a crackdown on illegal drugs that has inordinately targeted non-whites.

Marc Nozell / Creative Commons

There are those who hope Joe Biden, as he weighs a 2020 presidential run, hasn't lost his touch for personal connections. There are others who wish he would.

A Connecticut resident is among the two women who came forward this week with complaints that the former Democratic vice president violated their personal space when greeting them at campaign events. Amy Lappos, a former staffer for U.S. Rep Jim Himes, says Biden pulled her toward him to rub noses. As it was happening, Lappos thought Biden intended to kiss her, she says.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

"Treasonous" is a word President Donald Trump is now using to describe claims that he or those in his orbit conspired with Russian officials during the 2016 election. His re-election campaign is urging television news outlets to have second thoughts about booking some of the president's harshest critics, including Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Brian nairB / Creative Commons

As New Zealand reacts to the deadliest mass shooting in its history, the debate over guns is resurfacing here in Connecticut on many fronts.

The Connecticut Supreme Court has dealt a blow to the company that manufactures the semi-automatic rifle used in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Victims' families allowed to proceed with their lawsuit finally may be able to force Remington Arms into turning over information about how it markets such weapons.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut's unemployment rate is at a 17-year low. The state has stockpiled $1.2 billion in its budget reserve fund. But it's still not in a position to go on anything resembling a spending spree.

Not with state Comptroller Kevin Lembo warning lawmakers against counting on a repeat of last year's spike in tax collections. Job gains in 2018 also were not nearly as robust as initially reported. And no one can rule out the possibility of an economic downturn lurking around the corner.

WBZ-TV

Hundreds are expected to turn out to the state Capitol Wednesday for a public hearing on Gov. Ned Lamont's bill to install electronic tolls on Connecticut highways.

But even those who favor tolls may not support another bill to create a transportation authority. Some think it would make state legislators less accountable when it comes to setting toll rates and deciding where toll gantries will be located.

Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

Governor Ned Lamont has said he is open to negotiating almost everything in his budget proposal. Well, it seems like lots of people are going to take him up on his offer.

State legislators on opposite sides of the political spectrum are panning Lamont's plan to raise roughly $500 million a year by expanding the goods and services subject to the state's sales tax.

Gov. Ned Lamont gives his first State of the State address.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The honeymoon period is over for Gov. Ned Lamont. When he delivers his state budget address to lawmakers later on Wednesday, there will already be plenty of animosity among those watching.

PAUL BASS / NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT

New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell's recently announced plans to leave the department has brought the city's budget woes into focus, as well as its contentious brand of politics.

The police department is down to 395 officers, Campbell told city alders earlier this week. That's 100 less than called for in the department's 2019 fiscal year budget, he maintained.

Getty Images / Pool

President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night was full of contrasting tones. Like when he endorsed national paid family leave for new parents, and then just seconds later, called for legislation banning late-term abortions.

Today, we break down his speech, and how well it went over or didn't go over with Congressional Democrats.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Elections aren't for another nine or so months, but mayoral races are heating up across Connecticut. That includes those in the state's three largest cities where the top municipal leaders are Democrats, and challengers from within the party keep emerging.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

As the shutdown of nine federal departments drags into its second month, it's not only about federal government workers going without paychecks.

There has been an increase in warnings that various programs may also take a hit due to the stalemate between President Donald Trump and Democrats over border wall funding.

Connecticut State Capitol / Wikimedia Commons

The new wave of progressive Democrats, both in the Connecticut General Assembly and in Washington, D.C., isn't waiting for the 2020 election to bring about big changes.

In Connecticut, there is emboldened optimism for increasing the state's minimum wage, like Massachusetts just did and allowing early voting, like New York, which is on the verge of enacting.

Gov. Ned Lamont gives his first State of the State address.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

On his first day of the job, Gov. Ned Lamont made a lot of requests.

He requested state lawmakers to not play the "blame game" and instead confront the challenge of fixing state finances head on.

Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

Ned Lamont has been waiting for this day for a particularly long time.

Our next governor may slip in a few new details about his specific policy goals after he takes the oath of office on Wednesday. But Inauguration Day will mostly be a time for Lamont to set the tone of his forthcoming administration.

Amar Batra / Connecticut Public Radio

It's the New Year and, for Ned Lamont, that means there is only one week left to prepare for the day he takes over the reins of state government.

Lamont has signaled a willingness to be a consensus-builder, someone who brings together opposing viewpoints to reach effective solutions. But does he have the backbone to stand firm during the budget process when groups that propelled him into office present him with wish-lists the state can't readily afford?

Pages