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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) 275-7266.

When 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 executive producer is Catie Talarski. The technical producer is Chion Wolf.

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?

Rosie O'Beirne / Creative Commons

The troubling gap between the rich and the poor in Connecticut is formidable and only getting more profound.

Studies have shown that failing to address income inequality hampers overall economic growth. So it's in everyone's interest that something is done about it. But with the state carrying the weight of massive debt payments, can we afford more programs designed to lift up those at the bottom? Can we afford not to spend more?

Chion Wolf

To absolutely no one's surprise, outgoing Governor Dannel Malloy is not letting anyone define his legacy without adding his two cents.

While speaking to the media Tuesday after the final Bond Commission meeting of his administration, Malloy struck back at those criticizing job growth in Connecticut and the level of state borrowing during his eight years in office.

CTMirror.org

Governor-elect Ned Lamont on Tuesday announced two team captains who will be tasked with helping him confront huge state budget deficits and Connecticut's tarnished business climate.

For his chief of staff, Lamont picked Ryan Drajewicz, an executive from Westport-based hedge fund behemoth Bridgewater Associates. His budget chief will be Melissa McCaw, currently the head of the city of Hartford's Office of Management, Budget and Grants.

Connecticut State Capitol / Wikimedia Commons

A narrative often repeated by Connecticut Republicans and others is that state residents are sick of the high taxes and government ineptitude, and ready to bolt to greener pastures.

But new census data isn't all doom and gloom. Out-migration trends that soiled Connecticut's reputation in recent years are dissipating, according to a Hartford Courant editorial. In certain key categories, it found recent population losses have turned into population gains.

The Future Of Connecticut's Changing Climate

Nov 21, 2018
Steve Laschever

Happy Thanksgiving! This week, The Wheelhouse is out enjoying a well-deserved break and being thankful for Colin McEnroe. We’ll be back next week giving you the latest news on all things politics in Connecticut.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public

We’re still finding out results from last Tuesday’s elections in Connecticut and that’s not surprising, really. Some of the races were just really close. That’s probably a good thing.

Another good thing: Lots of people showing up to vote. Gigantic numbers showing up to vote in a midterm election in Connecticut and just about everywhere.

The bad thing: We still can’t seem to get this election thing right at least in our cities.

This hour, we look at possible fixes.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Upstart candidates like Connecticut's Jahana Hayes played a big role in Democrats regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday's election. Hayes' victory over Republican opponent Manny Santos also kept the GOP locked out of the state's congressional delegation yet again.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The final debate in this year's race for governor is in the rearview mirror. What did we learn Tuesday night, and what should Ned Lamont and Bob Stefanowski be most worried about before polls open just six days from now? Should it be:

  • Reaching out to those favoring Oz Griebel? A Quinnipiac Poll released Oct. 30 found 7 percent of likely voters support their unaffiliated rival. Of that group, more than half said they might jump ship at the last moment. In a close race, Griebel breakaways could put Stefanowski or Lamont on top.

Photo Phiend / Creative Commons

Which party can get to 19?

That's the number of Connecticut Senate seats that Republicans or Democrats need to win on Nov. 6 to control the legislature's upper chamber.

Right now, it's an 18-18 split. But a national Republican-funded super PAC is spending large sums of money in an attempt to change that.

In the state House of Representatives, the GOP needs just five more seats to gain the majority for the first time since 1984.

Amar Batra / Connecticut Public Radio

We can learn a lot from campaign finance reports.

In Connecticut's race for governor, they reveal that the three top contenders, Bob Stefanowski, Ned Lamont, and Oz Griebel, are all dipping deep into their own pockets to fund their campaigns. 

Two issues continue to dominate this year's race for governor: taxes and the economy.

That notion has been reinforced by the latest Quinnipiac University poll. Of the likely voters surveyed, 31% said the economy was their chief concern, while 26% said it was taxes.

Climate change wasn't even an issue listed in the poll question. It's also been left largely unaddressed by those running for governor this year.

From left, Oz Griebel, Bob Stefanowski, and Ned Lamont at a recent debate at UConn.
CTMirror.org

With the nation transfixed on the revelations pouring out of Washington, D.C., how much remaining brain capacity do voters have for Connecticut's governor's race?

It's undoubtedly hard to compete for attention against news cycles dominated by edge-of-your-seat histrionics that could shape the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court for a generation. So this week we set out to bring state politics back into focus.

Max Moran / Connecticut Public Radio

The firestorm in Washington, D.C., over the sexual misconduct charges leveled against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is tearing its way through New Haven too.

Both Kavanaugh and his latest accuser, Deborah Ramirez, attended Yale together in the 1980s. As Ramirez tells it, the lecherous behavior came during a dorm party at the university and was fueled by heavy drinking. 

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