The Wheelhouse | Connecticut Public Radio

The Wheelhouse


There was no Wheelhouse this week because of live coverage of Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation hearing.  In place of the Wheelhouse, here is a new program on Connecticut Public Radio called Disrupted.  

The debate was sponsored by WCSU, The League of Women Voters chapters of Northern Fairfield County and Litchfield County and The Danbury News-Times.

Donald Trump is back at the White House following his hospitalization with coronavirus. But did some aspects of the president's return send the wrong message about coronavirus?

Given the ages of both candidates for president, maybe we should pay a little more attention to tonight’s vice presidential debate.

We will also check in on the initial Fifth Congressional District debate.  After recovering from COVID-19, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes faced off with former prosecutor David Sullivan.


President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden met in the first presidential debate last night.  The two men traded personal insults, and the president repeatedly interrupted the former vice president.  Here in Connecticut state lawmakers are gearing up for a special session today.  We will have the latest on which proposals are in, and which are out.

JKehoe_Photos Creative Commons via Flickr

Amid signs of public distrust in a quick vaccine release, Governor Ned Lamont says the state will review any COVID-19 innoculation for safety and effectiveness.  A member of Connecticut’s congressional delegation tests positive for coronavirus.  And how will Halloween be different during the pandemic?

Image from the Connecticut US Attorney's office

There are developments in two unrelated federal investigations that involve Connecticut and the world of politics.

One inquiry resulted in the arrest of Bridgeport’s police chief and the city’s personnel director. 

There was a high-ranking resignation from the other probe, amid concerns about political pressure from the Trump administration.  That investigation is run by the US attorney from Connecticut, and targets the federal officials who investigated possible connections between the president and Russia. 

Also, COVID-19 may be sticking its nose back under the tent in Connecticut.

...And Khalilah Brown-Dean gets Disruptive!

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

High school football players, parents, and coaches make a goal line stand to try to prevent the cancellation or postponement of their season due to COVID-19. Is the virus  controlled enough to let students compete on the gridiron?  Also, a partisan divide deepens over the governor's coronavirus emergency powers.

Gov. Ned Lamont
Cloe Poisson /

Governor Ned Lamont wants to keep his coronavirus emergency powers five months longer. Not everyone is happy about that. Will the pandemic alter the next race for governor? Plus we look at some other impacts of COVID-19 in Connecticut, and we check in on the presidential race now that the conventions are in the rear view mirror, demonstrators are clashing in the streets of some cities, and the president visits Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Republicans use their national convention to stoke concerns about radical Black Lives Matter demonstrators, socialists, and low-income housing. Eversource gets zapped by angry Connecticut customers at a public hearing on rate hikes. And how will parents and educators choose between in-person classes and distance learning as the school year begins?

Democratic National Convention Pool Video

The Democratic National Convention goes virtual. President Donald Trump takes on the  Post Office as Connecticut and many other states are poised to expand voting through the mail in November.  Domestic violence allegations that were known in the GOP resulted in the arrest of a Republican congressional primary candidate who won the party's endorsement anyway.  How bad is the fallout for party leadership?

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

This week, we analyze Joe Biden's pick of Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate. Also, we clean up after the storm and the state's primary. 

Adam Hushin / Connecticut Public Radio

The state Senate is considering a police accountability bill that cleared the house last week. Meanwhile, parents, teachers, and students are making difficult decisions about going back to school during the pandemic. 

Lucy Nalpathanchil is working on Connecticut Conversations this week.  That show will air August 6 at 8 pm on Connecticut Public Radio and Connecticut Public Television.

New Haven, protest, black lives matter
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

State lawmakers have put some details on the table, as they craft a law enforcement bill in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  But does the proposal meet the needs of the moment? After opposition including a lawsuit involving the state of Connecticut, the Trump administration backs off a new rule that targeted international students.  And an announcement is expected in the coming weeks, as former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd helps presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden find a vice presidential running mate.

Can Pac Swire / Flikr Creative Commons License

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass has been in the news recently, even though he died more than a century ago.  What can one of his speeches from before the Civil War teach us today? What could be proposed in a Connecticut General Assembly special session in response to the death of George Floyd?  Donald Trump offers a possible preview of his campaign themes.  And Connecticut postpones the next step of re-opening because of mounting COVID-19 cases in other states.

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, announces Juneteenth agenda for a special session on Friday at the State Capitol.

This week on the Wheelhouse, we compare some of the proposals on the state level in Connecticut, in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Should the focus of a special session be on making law enforcement more just for people of color?  Or should larger issues also be considered?  Will a special session actually happen?

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Changes are starting to be made in Connecticut law enforcement, as protests continue over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.  The US Supreme Court issues a decision some see as a landmark in the fight for gay rights.  And today marks the start of a new phase of the reopening of businesses in Connecticut as coronavirus recedes in the state. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

The country is jolted by the death of George Floyd, and by nation-wide demonstrations against police brutality that sometimes turned violent.  How did we get to this point? What should be done to make law enforcement and society more just? 

coronavirus testing
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

This week, we take a look at the political divide on coronavirus in Connecticut and around the country.  But could there also be a seed of pandemic bipartisanship in the state?  We playback some of the judicial greatest hits of a high-profile member of the state Supreme Court.  How might Justice Richard Palmer’s retirement change the court? And a look at some award-winning reporting.

Photo by Alice Harold, Flickr Creative Commons /

Is today the right time to start re-opening Connecticut’s economy after much of the state was closed to slow the spread of coronavirus?  We discuss the start of a phased-in reopening of businesses in the state.  We take a closer look at the problems plaguing the state Department of Public Health. Have they limited the agency’s capabilities during the pandemic?  Amid controversy over the attempted firing of the Partnership for Connecticut's new CEO, the Dalios pull out of the partnership. They blame two state lawmakers. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Governor Ned Lamont has removed the Commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Public Health in the middle of a pandemic. How big are the problems faced by nursing homes trying to keep their elderly residents safe? We continue talking about the changes coming as the state gradually re-opens on May 20. And we share feats of strength and air grievances with a bit of a heavy heart, following the death of Seinfeld actor Jerry Stiller.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Some Connecticut residents including Trump supporters protested this week in their cars against the coronavirus shutdowns. The Connecticut General Assembly’s regular session is kaput, but lawmakers may return in a special session. Another GOP leader will say goodbye... But not forever. The state’s presidential primary has gotten delayed again, and now is the same day as the primaries for state offices. Connecticut US Senator Chris Murphy's foreign policy chops lands him a national profile.

Tucker Ives / WNPR

Yet again, President Donald Trump draws attention to himself with his comments.  This time the president claims to have "total authority" over decisions to re-open businesses and schools.  But governors actually make those decisions on a state level during a major public health crisis like coronavirus.  The president also says he will cut US funding for the World Health Organization, in the middle of a pandemic.

Has a partisan divide emerged over steps Governor Ned Lamont has taken to slow the spread of coronavirus? GOP state lawmakers have spoken out against some of the Democratic leader’s emergency orders.

We will also talk about the damage done to state finances by COVID-19 and efforts to slow the virus' spread.

Bernie Sanders has suspended his campaign and endorsed Joe Biden, but could Connecticut still have a presidential primary anyway?

Gov. Ned Lamont declared civil preparedness and public health emergencies as Connecticut braces for the spread of the coronavirus.
Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

Has COVID-19 ended Connecticut's General Assembly session? Lucy Nalpathanchil checks in with a lawmaker diagnosed with the disease.  How can voting go forward in Wisconsin while coronavirus is spreading? And why does the illness seem to be hitting black people harder than white people? 

coronavirus, union station, transportation
Joe Amon/Connecticut Public/NENC

Coronavirus is spreading across the nation, and New York City has become a hot spot for the disease. With its ties to New York, nearby Fairfield County has  also been hard hit. But as some governors try to protect their residents by ordering quarantine for out-of-staters, does it tear at the fabric of our country? Was the president too quick to speculate about quarantining parts of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey? We’ll also hear what our panelists are reading and watching now that we must all stay in.

Office of the Governor

Some people are seeing a recession in economic numbers for Connecticut and the nation.  Parts of the US economy have virtually shut down to prevent people from mingling and spreading COVID-19.  Agreement is reached to move forward a major coronavirus economic bailout package in Congress -- but not without partisan battles. What will it actually do? And could the spread of coronavirus be a moment when everything changes?  Oh, by the way Connecticut’s presidential primary was postponed. Along with everything else.

Lori Mack / Connecticut Public Radio

This week a look at coronavirus in one Connecticut city, on the state-wide level, and across the country.  How could COVID-19 change society? We also dissect the Democratic presidential primary results from the states that did not postpone their vote.  


This week, we sort through the results from the latest round of Democratic presidential primaries in Michigan and five other states. Coronavirus has already postponed rallies and threatens to limit campaign activity at a key stage in the contest. We will look at the response to the virus across the country, and in Connecticut, where it is officially a public health emergency.


We pick up the pieces after the Super Tuesday primary. How big a factor were the endorsements of departing candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar for Joe Biden's big night? Bernie Sanders tried to cement a lead, but that did not happen. Michael Bloomberg placed a big bet on this round of primaries, and won.. American Samoa. What does the future hold for Elizabeth Warren? Plus, state lawmakers deal with possible conflicts of interest.  And is Greater Hartford's water agency in over its head?


Because I could not stop for tolls --

They kindly stopped for me --

The Chrysler held but just ourselves --

And not the D-O-T.


Watch for crowds of people opposed to vaccines at the state capitol today for a public hearing on a bill that would require students claiming religious objections to get the shots. Some parents fearful of vaccines are threatening to pull their kids out of school or leave the state. Also, how do quasi public agencies work? Some say one quasi public ran aground while preparing for a major upgrade to state pier in New London. Plus, lawmakers again delay a vote on truck tolls.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

On The Wheelhouse this week, we run the odds on a gambling expansion bill and take a closer look at the state budget. We examine Connecticut's efforts to influence the New Hampshire Primaries.  And should the state go forward with $100-million in XL Center renovations in Hartford?