The Wheelhouse | Connecticut Public Radio
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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 senior director is Catie Talarski. The technical producer is Chion Wolf. The digital producer is Carlos Mejia. 

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Primaries in Connecticut’s municipal elections could’ve been a dull affair, but that was certainly not the case last night. 

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Governor Lamont is back from his Maine vacation and seemingly rarin’ to go. In just the last week or so, he overruled his health commissioner and will release school-by-school data on vaccinations, rolled out a big transportation plan, and committed to a no-carbon electric grid by 2040. 

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

U.S. Representative Jahanna Hayes (D-5th District) issued a press release Sunday accusing the news media of “clickbait journalism” in response to two recent stories she claims made “reckless assumptions” about her comments.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut’s three biggest cities have mayoral elections this year that could determine what’s next for New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford.

This week, we have a special program, talking with experts watching these races closely. We give you the latest on city politics, and why they matter to you, even if you don’t live there. 

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong is among the state's public officials vowing to fight the Trump administration's latest anti-immigrantion measure. It's one that would broaden the definition of "public charge" and could be used to block green cards or legal citizenship to those deemed impoverished enough to require government assistance.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Including this weekend's carnage in Texas and Ohio, there were 253 incidents in which four or more victims were shot in the first 217 days of this year, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.

But is Congress ever going to take Connecticut's lead and address any of them?

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

From the moment they took the stage Tuesday night, progressive and moderate Democrats running for president clashed over who could win back the Rust Belt working-class districts that President Trump took in 2016.

But what about urban districts? Can Republican candidates counter Trump's continued disparagement--Baltimore being the latest victim--of American cities?

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.

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