Friday, August 1, 2014

WPKN LOCAL NEWS

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WPKN Local News is prepared from several sources including CTNewsJunkie.com, CTMirror.org, EastEndBeacon.com, SoutholdLocal.com and  RiverheadLocal.com

Thanks to WPKN volunteers Paul Atkin, Nadine Dumser, David Majlak, Kristiana Pastir, Francesca Rheannon, Scott Schere, Erin Schultz and Melinda Tuhus. 

If you are interested in joining our volunteer news team - while working at home - send an email to:

eastendnewsteam@yahoo.com

August 2014

Thursday, August 21:

In the news tonight:  Another candidate for Governor, Connecticut looking for federal Medicaid payments to balance the budget, FEMA inspects flood damage on Long Island and, funds allocated for fighting tick borne diseases.

It’s now a three-way race for the next Connecticut governor. 

Joe Visconti, a Republican campaigning as a Tea Party activist and Second Amendment defender, qualified Wednesday as a petitioning candidate.

Visconti, 57, a former one-term councilman in West Hartford, will compete with Republican Tom Foley for votes from gun owners dissatisfied with Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s support of a sweeping gun control law passed last year in reaction to the mass shooting in Newtown.

Visconti supports either repealing or significantly revising the law. He and his running mate, Chester Frank Harris, are not seeking public financing. As petitioning candidates, they would have to gather 111,000 signatures to qualify for a partial grant. Foley and Malloy each qualified for a general-election grant of $6.5 million.

Unable to afford television, Visconti said he will rely on grassroots organizing, lawn signs, palm cards and bumper stickers. He said his campaign will be broader than the gun issue and he intends to make a detailed budget proposal that “will show where we’re going, what we’re going to cut”.

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Connecticut could end the 2015 fiscal year with a small, $300,000 surplus if the federal government agrees to reimburse hundreds of millions of dollars for Medicaid care, according to Ben Barnes, Governor Dannel Malloy’s budget director.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services stopped payments in January when it found discrepancies in the state’s reported numbers. Connecticut had expanded Medicaid eligibility up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and would get 100 percent reimbursement for some of those individuals. Others in Medicaid would still receive a lower reimbursement rate.

Between January and March, according to the Department of Social Services, the federal government refused to pay the state $249 million for those Medicaid recipients. That number grew through July, but state officials on Wednesday couldn’t give the exact amount.

The state has needed to find the money to pay health care providers while trying to reach an agreement with the federal government over how many individuals qualified for the higher reimbursement rate.

As far as maintaining the Medicaid program, Budget Director Barnes said he wasn’t concerned about the state’s ability to continue making Medicaid payments.
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Federal and state emergency management officials on Wednesday toured homes damaged by last week's record-breaking rainstorm on Long Island.

They saw flood-damaged yards and basements and inspected sinkholes.
Federal Emergency Management Agency and state Office of Emergency Services workers visited Centereach, Farmingville and other towns where residents -- many of whom did not have flood insurance -- said flash floods from the Aug. 13 storm caused thousands of dollars' worth of damage.

Brookhaven, Islip and Babylon town officials hope the FEMA tour helps persuade federal officials to declare the region a disaster area, making the towns eligible for taxpayer financial aid.

The storm dumped a state-record  of 13.57 inches of rain in less than 24 hours at Long 
Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. 

In Brookhaven Town, Supervisor Ed Romaine said the storm damaged 200 to 250 homes and caused at least $10 million in damage to town roads and facilities.
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State Senator Kenneth LaValle has secured $150,000 in funding to fight tick-born illnesses on the East End, a growing concern. 

Data from the Federal Centers for Disease Control indicates that the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is around 300,000. However, Lyme is not the only disease carried by ticks.

Erlichiosis, babesiosis, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted fever are all spread through tick bites according to Southampton Hospital.

Also, a-gal allergy, short for galactose-α-1,3-galactose intolerance, is a new and potentially deadly consequence of tick bites.

There are three different kinds of ticks in Suffolk County: the Deer tick, the American Dog tick and the brown Lone Star tick which is identifiable by the white spot found on its back. This species rarely spreads Lyme disease, but it is responsible for the increase in Ehrilichia, tularemia and the a-gal allergy.

Tonight's news was edited by Tony Ernst with the 
help of Kristiana Pastir.
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Wednesday, August 20 (Erin Schultz, Producer)
  
In the news tonight: A coalition calls for a more focused debate on improving Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure; Connecticut’s Independent Party endorses Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley; Connecticut’s State board of education chairman says Common Core is here to stay; and the Town of Islip approves more funding to prepare for a multimillion dollar clean-up at Clemente Park on Long Island.
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Raising taxes and collecting tolls are two issues that a coalition of advocates suggested on Tuesday that gubernatorial candidates debate in adopting at set of guidelines for approaching transportation policy in Connecticut.

With more than $10 billion in projects on the state’s Transportation Department’s Unfundable list, the coalition, which gathered on Tuesday at Union Station in Hartford, is also asking candidates to protect the current level of funding in the Special Transportation Fund, expedite projects that have already received funding, and invest wisely in highway and transit system improvements.


Connecticut currently does not have tolls, but Roger Reynolds of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment cited a Quinnipiac University poll that found support for tolls went from 39 percent to 57 percent if people were told the money would be spent to improve transportation.


But both major party candidates, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and Republican Tom Foley, have said they won’t increase taxes, but members of the coalition like Lyle Wray, executive director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments, said he thought that the public would support a tax increase if they can see direct improvements to transportation infrastructure.

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Four years after nominating its own ticket for governor, members of Connecticut’s Independent Party voted to endorse Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley and the rest of the GOP statewide ticket on Tuesday night in Watertown.

The endorsement now gives Foley equal footing on the ballot with Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy who is endorsed by the Working Families Party. That line produced the margin of victory over Foley in 2010.


Foley beat out Trinity College professor John Mertens for the endorsement with 24 votes in his favor. Mertens collected 16 votes.


Two other candidates, Republican Joe Visconti and Democrat Jonathan Pelto, are also trying for a line on the ballot as petitioning candidates for the Independent Party.


After the vote, Foley thanked party members and said he hoped that his latest endorsement will bring more people to the polls on November 4th.


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Connecticut’s State Board of Education Chairman Allan Taylor announced at a meeting of 125 school superintendents on Tuesday that with Education Commissioner Stephan Pryor stepping down before January, the state is still moving forward with the national standards of Common Core.

Though the program has been controversial since arriving in the state in 2010 as an option for school districts to adopt when developing curriculum, Taylor defended his position, saying that Common Core is “not a curriculum and it’s certainly not a lock step procedure” and that his board “will continue to focus on the Common Core because it insists on raising the level…for all of our kids.”

Connecticut’s General Assembly never took a vote or had a discussion about the Common Core until last year, and Republican Senator Toni Boucher of Wilton said on Wednesday that she would like to see “more disclosure and more discussion” on Common Core to find out where it’s working and where it’s not working.
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Newsday reports that the Islip Town Board voted on Tuesday to pay Enviroscience Consultants Inc. an additional $21,000 to conduct further testing to help the town prepare for the estimated multimillion-dollar remediation of Brentwood's Roberto Clemente Park.

In May, the town awarded Enviroscience a $50,150 contract to conduct the parks' assessments. The company was awarded a $192,500 contract to help construct a remediation plan for Clemente Park, where Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said an estimated 50,000 tons of debris laced with heavy metals and pesticides was dumped.

A resolution to sell up to $6 million in bonds to fund the cleanup of Clemente park passed in May, but those bonds have not yet been issued.

With the latest estimate of Islip’s deficit at $11.3 million, town board members also unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday to refinance $19 million in public improvement bonds, which would save the town $867,000 over the next seven years.

Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci said that the true costs of full remediation at the park will not be known until the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation looks at the town’s plan.

Board members expect that plan to be approved by the end of September. 
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Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014 (Erin Schultz, Producer)

  
In the news tonight: Connecticut officials unveil a controversial new bus line; Stephan Pryor steps down as Connecticut state’s education commissioner after only one term; Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell says his town-sponsored deer hunting program is more effective than recent federal efforts; and a lawsuit between a police union and Suffolk County is settled.
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Connecticut State Transportation Commissioner James Redeker and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman unveiled the first in a new fleet of busses at a press conference Monday outside the State Capitol. The fleet of about 70 new busses is known as CTfastrak and will carry passengers along a 9.4-mile bus corridor between Hartford and New Britain.


The new electric hybrid busses will be added to the state’s existing fleet and are funded by $455 million in federal funds and $112 million from the state. The vehicles will seat 35 passengers and will have space for about 15 people to stand.


Proponents of the new system hope that the new busses will boost economic development along its route and ease highway gridlock, but opponents, like Senator Joseph Markley of Southington, say the project is a waste of money because the busses won’t be used enough along that particular route.

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Connecticut State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor announced on Monday that he will not seek another term after serving only one term under Governor Dannel Malloy – a move that could prove to be a liability to the governor’s bid for re-election.


Pryor that he is leaving his post to “pursue new professional opportunities.” Governor Malloy recruited Pryor, a Yale-educated lawyer, as what he called a “change agent” to his administration three years ago. Pryor was a founder of a charter school in New Haven and had worked on education issues in New Haven for Mayor John DeStefano. Pryor had also worked on economic development in Newark, New Jersey and had served as president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


Though it is uncertain what effect the timing of Pryor’s announcement will have on Malloy’s re-election campaign, the governor praised his education commissioner, saying that in three years, Connecticut has been “making real progress in closing the achievement gap."


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Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said last week that town’s own established deer hunting program has been far more effective at thinning the area’s deer herd than the controversial federal cull that took place earlier this year, according to a report from the Suffolk Times.


Speaking at a meeting in East Marion on the North Fork last Thursday, Russell said that while federal efforts involving U.S. Department of Agriculture-trained sharpshooters were hampered by lawsuits and opposition from animal-rights groups, 265 deer were killed by local hunters through Southold Town’s program last year.


Mike Tessitore, president of the hunters-rights and conservation group Hunters for Deer, also said that he expected numbers for the federal cull to be low, saying that “hunters are not only a cheaper option but more effective.”


Russell added that the federal effort was hampered in large part by a state Supreme Court decision in March that prevented the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation from issuing any more deer hunting permits, essentially stopping the cull from expanding.


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Newsday reports that Suffolk's largest police union has settled with the county a lawsuit the union filed last year that sought to force officials to uphold a state law forbidding public disclosure of personnel and internal affairs investigations of its police officers.


The lawsuit, filed Oct. 25, asked the county to enforce a state statute that protects officers' personnel files. It was filed on behalf of the 1,600-member Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association and its president, Noel DiGerolamo.  He said, "What the agreement basically does is it formalizes an obligation of the county to follow the law and gives us the right to go to a grievance procedure rather than another lawsuit if they fail to do it again in the future."


Paul Sabatino, a Huntington attorney who has served as legislative counsel for six Suffolk County administrations, said the lawsuit "seems to be a lot to do about nothing." He added,  "To me it just appears to formalize practice," Sabatino said. "Because it's hard for me to imagine any employee in Suffolk County government who would take it upon himself or herself to release a personnel record, confidential records, without checking with the county attorney first."

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Monday, Aug. 18, 2014


In the news tonight:  Connecticut employment ticks up, a slight bonus for Anthem Blue Cross members, a new green energy payment plan for Long Island customers, and more.

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Yesterday was the start of Connecticut’s sales tax-free week where clothing, footwear, and some accessories under $300 will be exempt from the state’s 6.35 percent sales tax. The annual sales tax free week, which will cost the state between $7 and $9 million, runs through Aug. 23.


The Berlin clothing store where Governor Malloy made that announcement said it has been adding employees and credited the Malloy administration.


The Connecticut Labor Department reported Friday that the state added 2,400 nonfarm jobs in July.  It also revised its June numbers up by 500 jobs to 2,200 for the month.

Unemployment was 6.6 percent in July, which is down one-tenth of a percent from last month. The unemployment rate has not been this low in the state since December 2008. Malloy said about 60,000 private sector jobs have been created since he came into office in January 2011.

Following the press conference, Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. released a statement critical of the progress Connecticut has made under a Malloy administration. According to the Labor Department, it has recovered 76,400 positions — or 64 percent — of the nonfarm jobs lost in the state during the recession.

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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s individual-market customers will, on average, see a slight decrease in their premiums next year under new rates approved by the Connecticut Insurance Department.

Anthem, the state’s largest insurer, initially requested approval to raise rates by an average of 12.5 percent. But the insurance department rejected the proposal and asked the company to resubmit its plan using different calculations.

The result: An average premium decrease of 0.1 percent for Anthem customers.

The percentage of Connecticut residents without health coverage has dropped by half since 2012, prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act, according to a survey by the state's health exchange and a Gallup poll that found the state with one of the nation's 10 largest reductions.
The new rates cover plans sold through the state’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, as well as those sold outside the exchange.
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Last Thursday the City of Bridgeport was awarded a $200,000 brownfields grant from the EPA to clean up hazardous material at the Progressive Plating site and the Greater Bridgeport Regional Council was awarded a total of $900,000 in revolving loan fund grants for hazardous materials and petroleum cleanup activities.


EPA New England Regional Administrator Curt Spalding said, “In total, the state of Connecticut has been awarded over $4,000,000 in Brownfields Grants to assess and cleanup Connecticut communities. That is a huge investment in revitalization across the state.”

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Homeowners on Long Island now have a new alternative to pay for energy improvements to their property, including rooftop solar panels, after PSEG-Long Island agreed earlier this summer to participate in “on-bill financing” for energy improvements.


The New York State Energy and Research Development Agency (NYSERDA) is sponsoring the on-bill recovery loan program, which has already been rolled out in neighboring states.

In order to participate in the program, homeowners need to first receive a comprehensive home energy assessment from a BPI-accredited contractor to determine the most effective methods of reducing their energy costs.

For residential customers, loans are available for up to $13,000, or up to $25,000 with higher cost-effectiveness standards, with repayment periods of 5, 10, or 15 years. The interest rate is currently 3.49 percent and the monthly payment may not exceed the estimated energy cost savings.


For small businesses and nonprofit organizations, loans of up to $100,000 at half the market interest rate and on-bill recovery loans of up to $50,000 at 3 percent interest are available, with repayment periods of up to 10 years.


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Thanks to WPKN volunteers, Scott Schere and Melinda Tuhus.




Friday, August 15:


In the news tonight: Republicans claim Governor Malloy’s campaign funding violates the law, a massive water leak and an earth quake in southeast Connecticut, and on Long Island helicopters still disturb the peace.

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The Connecticut Republican Party has filed an elections complaint claiming illegal coordination between Governor Dannel Malloy’s re-election campaign and an independent expenditure group created by the Democratic Governors Association


The complaint offers no evidence of shared staff, consultants or communication illegally tying the Malloy campaign to the group. The GOP simply asserts that such coordination exists.


Devon Puglia, a spokesman for the Connecticut Democratic Party, said the “claim is utterly baseless, totally unsubstantiated, and unbelievably reckless." 


Malloy has been an aggressive fundraiser for the Democratic Governors Association, which spent $1.78 million on independent expenditures supporting his candidacy in 2010. By itself, that has not been held to be illegal coordination by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.


As candidates participating in the state's voluntary public financing program, Malloy and his Republican opponent Tom Foley are limited to contributions of no more than $100. 


U.S. Supreme Court decisions allows unlimited contributions to and expenditures by independent groups, but the court still placed restrictions on direct contributions to candidates. 


Malloy and Foley also are raising money for their state parties, which can accept maximum contributions of $10,000.


Foley also has ties to two independent expenditure groups that made payments last year to his communication and advertising consultants.

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NBC Connecticut reports:


New London Mayor Finizio has lifted a state of emergency after a massive water leak in New London and Waterford on Thursday.

The leak sprung Thursday morning in a large 20-inch cast-iron transmission main. When the leak was detected, New London was losing water at a rate of 10 million gallons per day. Finizio said the city requires a water supply of 7 million gallons each day.
The leak was 90 percent contained by Thursday evening.  
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A 2.7 magnitude earthquake was detected 3 miles south west of Deep River in Connecticut early Thursday morning. State police received calls from residents reporting that their houses shook.


There were no reports of damage or injuries, according to police.

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On Long Island’s east end more than 500 people attended three public meetings this week to stop low-flying helicopters from buzzing over their homes, flying to and from East Hampton’s airport.


In Southold Monday night, 200 angry people chastised Federal Aviation Administration officials about the barrage of noise this summer — up more than 40 percent over last year, according to several reports.  


Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, says they are being used “as a doormat” by the wealthy.


Meetings on Shelter Island and in Noyac and Bridgehampton on the South Fork  Tuesday focused on the same complaints. Federal officials were present but offered no solutions.

East Hampton lost some control over its airport policy several years ago when the town accepted FAA grants to upgrade infrastructure. The town agreed to keep the airport open to traffic around the clock throughout the year and to allow any type of aircraft to use the facility.
Two years ago federal lawmakers persuaded the FAA to instate a mandatory helicopter flight path over the Long Island Sound one mile offshore at an altitude of 2,500 feet.
But that flight path has no bearing on where the helicopters fly on their final approach to the airport. Currently, most begin to turn inland and descend over the North Fork before they cross Peconic Bay and fly over Noyac and Sag Harbor on the South Fork.
New York congressmen are currently pushing the FAA to change that flight path to require that helicopters round Orient Point before beginning their final descent.

Thursday, August 14


In the news tonight: Connecticut will tighten charter school regulations; a Connecticut congressman calls for greater oversight of work visa programs; and record rainfall causes problems for Suffolk County on Long Island.

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.
In the wake of recent controversies, Connecticut’s education officials have announced plans to require that charter schools operate more like other public schools—“transparently,” with clear standards to meet.
The New Haven Independent reports that was the upshot of new policies announced Monday afternoon by the state Department of Education. That agency oversees charter schools, which receive public money but can operate under different rules from those followed by traditional public schools.

The new regulations include requirements for charter boards to set “clear expectations for student performance and equity,” follow open-meetings laws, do background checks on its members and employees and adopt anti-conflict-of-interest policies.


The department announced the new regulations on the heels of a scandal involving a Hartford charter organization and the last-minute approval of a controversial charter for New Haven’s new Booker T. Washington Academy. 

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Saying foreign workers are often abused, and even trafficked for sex, Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes on Thursday introduced a bill that would require greater disclosures by those who hire temporary immigrant labor and a more centralized system of federal oversight of dozens of worker visa programs.


Millions of foreign workers are authorized to work in the U.S. on temporary, non-immigrant work visas, which Himes said are vital to the U.S. economy. But he said a lack of data on these visas allows unscrupulous employers to hide abusive work conditions. Since 2008, there have been almost 200 reported cases of child sex trafficking in Connecticut.

Himes also claimed the lack of transparency impedes efforts by labor analysts, reporters, and policymakers to understand how temporary worker visas impact American jobs.
The proposed legislation would create a standardized reporting system across all non-immigrant visas that authorize work and require that information be made public. It would also require that the age and gender of workers is included in the public report. 

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Newsday reports that Wednesday's rainfall was a 'once in a 200-year' weather event on Long Island.


Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci issued a state of emergency Wednesday after historic flooding collapsed roads and caused havoc in the town.  


Several weather records were broken after 13.27 inches of rain fell at Islip's Long Island MacArthur Airport.


At play was a complex weather system that the National Weather Service had been monitoring for days, warning of the threat of flash flooding. An upper level disturbance, a low pressure area at the surface and very moist environment all combined over the area according to the US Weather Service meteorologist in Upton.


As for hourly rainfall, 5.34 inches fell from 5 to 6 a.m. Wednesday at the airport, followed by another 4.37 inches from 6 to 7 a.m. 


While Long Island has been considered "abnormally dry" this year by the U.S. Drought Monitor, Wednesday’s downpour exceeded normal rainfall for June, July and August combined.

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The Suffolk County Department of Health Services advised against swimming at 66 beaches because of the potential elevated bacteria levels due to the record rainfall Wednesday.

The advisory in Suffolk was expected to be lifted at 7 p.m. Thursday, "unless sampling conducted by the department finds elevated bacterial numbers persisting beyond the 24-hour period."  In Suffolk, information on beach closings is available by calling the health department's Bathing Beach hotline, 631-852-5822
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Wednesday, August 13 (WPKN  producer Erin Schultz)

In the news tonight: Republican Tom Foley will run against incumbent Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy in November; Several incumbents keep their seats and two lose in Connecticut’s legislative primaries; a new study reveals that women are under-represented in the top one percent of wage earners in Connecticut; and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo declines an invitation to meet with Palestinian leaders.
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Tom Foley easily won the Republican primary for governor of Connecticut on Tuesday, beating out his challenger, state Senator John McKinney. The 62-year-old businessman will run against Democratic incumbent Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy in November.

Though a 25 percent voter turnout was predicted for the primary, only about 20 percent of the state's 401,000 Republicans voted on Tuesday, compared to nearly 30 percent in 2010. The unofficial vote was 44,464 to 35,563.

Throughout his campaign, Foley emphasized his private sector-experience and criticized Malloy and McKinney for being career politicians.

McKinney, who attacked Foley for not taking strong positions on issues ranging from spending cuts to new gun control laws, conceded to Foley shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday night and promised to back the nominee.

Foley has yet to name a running mate.
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Tuesday’s voting also included primaries for Connecticut state’s Senate and General Assembly.

Senator Eric Coleman of Bloomfield was able to hang on to his seat. Bridgeport candidate, Marilyn Moore, beat out Senator Anthony Musto of Trumbull, and U.S Representative Linda Orange of Colchester defeated a challenger who criticized her for her vote against new gun restrictions passed following the Newtown shootings in 2012.

Two incumbents -- Christina Ayala, a first-term House member from Bridgeport, and Senator Anthony Musto, who was first elected in 2008, lost to Moore – lost their re-election bids Tuesday night. Last fall, the State Elections Enforcement Commission found that Ayala used a false address to vote in nine elections, including her 2012 House race.

Ayala’s challenger, Christopher Rosario won the primary. He faces Republican Ethan Book in the general election.

In another high-profile race, former legislator Ernest Newton II, who served prison time for a corruption conviction, lost to challenger Andre Baker, who faces no opposition in the general election.
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Connecticut ranks fourth in the nation for underrepresentation of women among the top earners in the state after South Dakota, New Hampshire and Wyoming, according to a recent study using U.S. Census data published by website Connecticut By the Numbers.

The state has a ratio of six men for every woman in the state’s top 1 percent of wage earners. Females represent 51.3 percent of the state’s population, yet only 14.4 percent of the top 1 percent of wage earners in the state are women -- a gap of 36.9 percent.

South Dakota has the widest gap in the nation, with women representing only 10.9 percent of the wage earners in the top 1 percent.

On the other end of the spectrum, the gap in Hawaii is 16.8 percent, Rhode Island is 17.8 percent and Vermont is 21.7 percent.

The study also found that Connecticut has the nation’s second-highest threshold income to gain entry into the one percent club at $429,793. Only Alaska, at $500,052, was higher.

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The New York Times reports:

Just before speaking at a press conference regarding a trip to Israel to show support for the country on Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo received an unexpected invitation to visit territories that Palestinians regard as part of their future state.

But with little time planned for the trip, the governor declined with support from other top New York lawmakers.

At the press conference held at Kennedy International Airport, Cuomo said that the trip was simple in its goal – to show support for Israel’s right to defend itself during the current conflict with Hamas, the militant Islamist movement that dominates Gaza.

In the letter, Palestine’s ambassador Riyad Mansour encouraged the New York officials to “meet with our leadership, hear our people’s stories and formulate your opinions on the basis of experience of all sides of the conflict, not just one side.”

Though Republican Senator Dean G. Skelos of Long Island questioned why New York representatives would want to give any credibility to Hamas by accepting the invitation, Governor Cuomo simply said that the trip to Israel did not allow for flexibility and that he was not planning any other trip to the area at this point.

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Tuesday, August 12 (Producer Eriin Schultz) 

In the news tonight: A Republican gubernatorial victory tonight might hinge upon Second

Amendment supporters; U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal calls for an end to predatory debt

collection against members of the military; a new Connecticut law requires first-time DUI

offenders to have interlocking devices installed in their vehicles; and a Long Island man faces

several charges following a deadly boating accident in Freeport.
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A low voter turn-out is expected at today’s Connecticut Republican gubernatorial primary, and

the outcome of the race between Senator John McKinney and Tom Foley might come down to

how many Second Amendment supporters show up at the polls. Connecticut’s Secretary of

State Denise Merrill expects less than 25 percent of the states republicans will vote today.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 69 percent of Republicans surveyed opposed

strict gun control legislation passed last April following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary

School. McKinney voted in favor of the bipartisan bill and drew criticism from Second

Amendment supporters. Foley has not taken a strong stance for or against the legislation and

is poised to benefit from McKinney’s support of the bill, though he said he believes he has a

much broader base of support.

Ron Schurin, a professor at the University of Connecticut, said last week that McKinney has a

chance to beat Foley if he can capitalize on low statewide voter turnout and strong support in

Fairfield County. During their last televised debate on Sunday, McKinney said that he would

focus on growing Connecticut’s economy rather that make changes to the gun control law.
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U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal called on Monday for the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit

“predatory” debt collection practices by retailer USA Discounters that exploit members of the

U.S. military.

Blumenthal pointed to an investigation by ProPublica that found that USA Discounters’ credit

contracts issued to servicemembers require those court cases to take place in Virginia, near

where USA Discounters is based, making litigation out of reach for those deployed overseas.

Blumenthal and five other senators signed a letter asking the FTC to issue regulation and

“explicitly prohibit” creditors from suing servicemembers in courts far from where they are

located. The senator said he was “troubled” by the federal government’s inaction on the issue

so far.

Timothy Dorsey, vice president of USA Discounters, said on Monday that the ProPublica

report was inaccurate, and that the company would address any concerns regarding its

dealings with U.S. military members.
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Connecticut state officials signed a new law on Monday requiring first-time drunk driving

offenders to have ignition interlocking devices installed on their vehicles beginning in mid-2015.

State lawmakers and advocates joined Governor Dannel Malloy at the ceremony in Fairfield to

commemorate the ratification of the bill, which makes a number of changes intended to deter

driving under the influence. Beginning next July, the Department of Motor Vehicles will have the

authority to administratively require interlocking devices to be installed on cars of all first-time

DUI offenders.

An ignition interlock device is the size of a cell phone that is wired into a vehicle’s ignition

system and prevents someone who’s had a measurable amount of alcohol from starting the

car. Connecticut’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization members back the bill, noting

that 24 other states already have all-offender ignition interlock device statues.
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A Long Island man faces charges of vehicular manslaughter, boating while intoxicated and

operating an unregistered vehicle following the death of a Bay Shore man on Sunday during a

boating accident in Freeport.

Raymond Balboa of Baldwin pleaded not guilty to the charges during his arraignment on

Monday. Police said the 53-year-old was operating a 50-foot Sea Ray boat with about 14

people aboard on Sunday evening, when his passengers left the boat to swim for a short time

in Baldwin Bay. Balboa was apparently unaware that one of the passengers, 34-year-old

Cesar Hernandez-Rodas of Bay Shore, was still in the water when he started the engines.

Police said the boat’s propeller struck Hernandez-Rodas, who was rushed to the hospital

where he died.

Balboa told officers at the scene that he had not been drinking. His defense attorney, Michael

DerGaraedian, said that Balboa properly followed safety rules prior to the accident.


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Monday, August 11 

In the news tonight:  the final Republican gubernatorial debate, gender pay equity, West Nile virus spreads in Suffolk County, and workers hack trees in Orient to clear utility lines and poles.   
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In the second and last Republican gubernatorial debate on Sunday, state Sen. John McKinney asked his rival and front-runner Tom Foley if he would have supported a ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown. That was one of the questions Foley wouldn’t definitively answer during the live, televised debate before the Republican primary on Tuesday. McKinney, as minority leader in the Senate, representing Newtown, helped pass tighter gun safety legislation. His vote cost him the support of gun rights promoters.

On taxes and spending, McKinney said he has a plan to cut $1.4 billion in spending and end of the income tax for about 1 million residents making less than $75,000 a year. It would cost $750 million to implement.

Foley said he would tackle the sales tax first. He would hold spending flat in the first year and cut the sales tax by a half percent in the second year, to 5.85 percent. That proposal would cost about $300 million in revenues.

They also debated transportation, tax credits and other issues.
Polls are open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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Continuing to use his executive authority to bypass a recalcitrant Congress, President Obama on Thursday proposed a new rule that would require federal contractors and subcontractors to disclose more information about pay to male and female employees.

The executive order is a move to diminish gender pay inequality. It will require contractors and subcontractors with more than 50 employees and more than $50,000 in federal contracts to include in employment reports to the Labor Department additional information regarding sex, race, ethnicity, specific job categories, hours worked and number of employees.

The Obama administration believes about 116,000 federal contractors and subcontractors would be required to file the new “Equal Pay Report.” Many of these would be in Connecticut, where state companies have won more than 25,000 contracts this year worth nearly $40 billion.

Third District Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, representing greater New Haven, has for years promoted the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would expand the Equal Pay Act to close certain loopholes and allow employees to share salary information with their coworkers. It would also require employers to prove pay differences between their male and female employees are related to job performance, not gender. GOP opposition has stalled the bill.
---------------- 

Suffolk County health officials announced Friday that 21 more mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus. Half came from West Babylon and Copiague.

Suffolk County Health Commissioner James L. Tomarken said, “While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”
To reduce the mosquito population around homes, residents should try to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed:
Dead birds found on area properties may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, call the West Nile virus hotline in Suffolk County at 631-787-2200. That’s 631.787.2200.
To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works at 631-852-4270. That’s 631.852.4270.
For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call 631-854-0333.
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The Suffolk Times reports that PSEG has begun a more drastic version of tree-trimming in Orient with the goal of keeping branches away from power lines. But some residents say the trees look massacred rather than trimmed. Jeffrey Weir, a PSEG spokesman, said the company will be trimming trees along 2,600 miles of distribution and 250 miles of transmission power lines in 2014.

Joan Turturro, the owner of Orient Inn, said she received a call from a neighbor early Tuesday morning alerting her to the tree trimming on her property. She said, “I didn’t receive any notification that they were going to be in my yard. They already butchered the trees all along the main road.”
The workers chopped the branches with jagged edges left jutting out on the tops of the trees. Lewis Tree Service of West Henrietta, N.Y., was also hired to do what Connecticut utilities call “enhanced tree trimming,” and their work generated similar complaints from homeowners there.

Mr. Weir said, “We understand that the way the trees are cut may not be aesthetically pleasing to everyone, but we have a duty to provide reliable service as well.”
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Thanks to WPKN volunteers Scott Schere and Melinda Tuhus.


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FRIDAY, August 8:
 
In the news tonight:  
Speeding up Connecticut transit projects; jury selection for former Guv’s trial on campaign finance charges; rust tide is back in east end bays and why; Riverhead weighs how to overcome budget deficit.

-------------------------------
The Connecticut Post reports:
Senator Chris Murphy announced Thursday he will introduce legislation to speed up big-ticket projects like replacing the 118-year-old Norwalk bridge and modernizing the Metro-North New Haven Line by spurring private investment.
Murphy said Improving and modernizing the New Haven Line and other aging rail systems between Boston and Washington, D.C., will rely more on private capital and public-private partnerships in the future.
The Senator says states or regions would establish new revenues from highway tolls, rail fares or tax revenue to repay the loans
This summer, Democrat Murphy and Representative Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, proposed two consecutive 6 cent increases to the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal gas tax in 2015 and 2016 and then pegging the levy to inflation.
Last year the Regional Plan Association identified $3.6 billion in investments through 2020 to maintain the current level of service on the New Haven Line and avoid a pattern of delays, equipment breakdowns and service outages caused by incidents like the May 2013 derailment of a train in Bridgeport.
Replacing the rail bridge over the Norwalk River  and four other movable bridges in the state is estimated to cost $2.8 billion alone.
Those costs did not include major projects like straightening curves along the railway in Bridgeport and other locations to eliminate speed restrictions and other bottlenecks that raise questions about the ability to address future ridership increases.
------------------------------
Former Connecticut Governor John Rowland’s defense team and prosecutors began vetting potential jurors Tuesday for a September trial on charges that he violated campaign finance laws.

Rowland, who previously served 10 months in federal prison on a conspiracy charge after resigning the governor’s office in 2004, is facing charges relating to consulting work he performed in 2012. That work and Rowland’s $35,000 compensation weren’t reported to election regulators.

Rowland’s legal team has sought special considerations in the jury selection process. They argue that the level of publicity surrounding the case threatens Rowland’s right to a fair trial.

Judge Janet Bond Arterton  has permitted the use of juror questionnaires and the limited use of individualized questioning of jurors in private near the judge’s bench.

Rowland’s trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 3.
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Rust tide has appeared this week in several eastern Long Island harbors, where it is threatening marine life. Dr. Christopher Gobler’s laboratory at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences has recorded the rust tide algae at densities exceeding 30,000 cells per milliliter in the Sag Harbor Cove and densities exceeding 1,000 cells per milliliter have been recorded in Three Mile Harbor and Accabonac Harbor. Densities above 500 cells per milliliter can be lethal to marine life.

Over the past 11 years, rust tide has usually been found in the far western portion of the Peconic Bays. This is the first time scientists have found their initial samples of rust tide for the season in eastern harbors.

Experts say, though it also kills shellfish, rust tide is not toxic to humans, though swimmers should shun it.  Gobler and others are urging elected officials to enact laws cracking down on nitrogen pollution.
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Riverhead Town is facing an estimated $4 million budget shortfall in 
2015, as it runs out of the reserves it has relied on for several years.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said the town board is contemplating 
raising taxes or borrowing against future land sales at the 2,300-acre 
Enterprise Park at Calverton, the town-owned site called EPCAL.


The debt is related to a $52 million project, beginning around 2000, to 
partially clean up and then close the town's landfill. The project was 
completed around 2009, and the payments are about $4 million a year.
Walter, a Republican who took office in 2009, said the town could add a 
"landfill debt" line to residents' tax bills that directly funds the 
debt service. That would require an estimated 12.5 percent tax hike next 
year, piercing the state's 2 percent cap.


The supervisor said he will introduce two resolutions at the next town 
board meeting on Aug. 19 -- one to schedule a public hearing on piercing 
the tax cap and another to authorize a short-term loan -- and discuss 
both options with the board.

--------------------------------------




Thursday, August 7:(Francesca Rheannon, producer)

In the news tonight: A big drop in Connecticut residents without health insurance; Ralph Nader endorses a third party challenger for the Connecticut gubernatorial race; a controversial gas-fired power plant is postponed on Long Island; and an auto parts firm is closing its Long Island factories. Finally, we talk with poet Kathy Engel about an upcoming reading from the work of Palestinian and Israeli poets.

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A big drop in Connecticut’s uninsured was reported by Access Health CT Wednesday. A poll conducted by the company showed the number of uninsured state residents has decreased by 53 percent.


In 2012, the Kaiser Family Foundation found there were about 286,000 uninsured residents in Connecticut. That’s about 7.9 percent of the state’s population. State officials said that if the Access Health CT survey data is applied to that 7.9 percent uninsured number, then the amount of uninsured today would be down to about 4 percent of the total population.

That means there are still about 147,166 residents in the state without insurance, according to Access Health CT.
----------

Remember 2000? Ralph Nader, the country's most famous consumer advocate, has been blamed by some Democrats for peeling away votes from then-Vice President Al Gore and throwing the 2000 presidential election to Republican George W. Bush. Some Democrats in Connecticut believe that former state legislator Jonathan Pelto could do the same thing by pulling liberal Democrats away from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and potentially throwing the race to a Republican. But Nader rejected that notion in 2000, and Pelto rejects the similar contention in 2014. The two advocates agree on another point: Pelto should be on the ballot for Connecticut governor this fall. Nader signed Pelto's petition two weeks ago in the candidate's drive to gather 7,500 signatures, which ended with Wednesday's 4 p.m. deadline.  

-------------

Newsday reports:

The recommendation of PSEG Long Island to postpone construction of a second gas-fired power plant in Yaphank left some local officials elated, according to Newsday. Others expressed concern about potential lost tax revenue. 

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said Wednesday that PSEG's proposal would give village officials more time to convince LIPA to repower the rarely used National Grid facility. 

She said closing the plant, which provides about half the village's tax revenue, would force officials to consider tax and fee increases.

PSEG determined the Caithness plant is not needed. The Brookhaven Town Board had voted 5-2 last month to approve a special permit for the plant, despite objections raised by civic and environmental activists who favor renewable power sources such as wind and solar.

-------------------

Also from Newsday:  


A Bay Shore automotive-parts manufacturer that an Indiana company recently acquired, is closing in November and laying off all of its 271 workers. 


USA Industries was renamed Remy USA Industries after it was acquired by Remy International  in January. The company said the closing "was just primarily a business and logistics decision." The workers will not be able to transfer to other Remy jobs.  

The Long Island business remanufactures automotive parts for the aftermarket and has four locations in Bay Shore. The loss of the jobs will be a blow to the local manufacturing sector, one of the Island's highest paying. Though the number of manufacturing jobs has been inching up in recent months, the sector, with 74,600 jobs in June, is about half its 1990 size, state Labor Department data show.
---------------

A reading from the works of Palestinian and Israeli poets will be held on Friday in Water Mill on Long Island’s East End. WPKN’s Francesca Rheannon spoke with organizer and poet Kathy Engel about the event. Engel wants Americans to hear the voices of the Palestinian poets: 


[listen here]



The reading is at 5:30PM Friday at Incarnation Lutheran Church, Montauk Highway and Hayground Rd. Water Mill


----------------------
Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014 (Erin Schultz, Producer )

In the news tonight: Funds to protect New Haven’s shoreline raise questions; the University of Connecticut gets a boost in science and engineering; a Water Mill farm is preserved for future agricultural use; and a new law will save Southampton tax payers money if a merger with Tuckahoe School District is approved.

---------------

Morris Cove, a badly eroded section of Connecticut shoreline in New Haven, is one area that that is a recipient of a new round of federal funds being parceled out nearly two years after Hurricane Sandy.


The last recipients of the first round of Community Development Block Grant funds to aid recovery efforts were announced on July 1, but some question whether some of those funds  -- totaling $32 million -- will ever be used on longstanding projects like a seawall proposed for Morris Cove, something residents first requested over a decade ago, well before Sandy or Tropical Storm Irene.


The project will receive $2 million from this round of funding, but in the years since it was first proposed, coastal geologists have blamed seawalls for increased erosion due to the amplification of wave energy by the hardened shoreline.


Joe Krupa, the municipal civil engineer in New Haven overseeing the project, said that a review and revision of the Morris Cove plan by state and federal agencies could take years against a completion date of March of 2019. In the meantime, residents have built illegal walls and bulkheads for at least some protection against future storms.

-----------------

In just over a year, a program called Next Gen CT has boosted enrollment and enriched science and technology initiatives at the University of Connecticut, according to university officials.


Next Gen CT is a 10-year, $1.5 billion expansion plan designed to bolster engineering and science programs and increase collaboration with the private sector. The General Assembly and Governor Dannel Malloy launched the initiative last spring to develop the school into a pre-eminent research university and innovation hub.


University Provost Mun Choi told state legislatures on Tuesday that over the last fiscal year, UConn has hired 112 new faculty members and has about 1,000 more students enrolled in science and engineering programs than it did two years ago.


Next Gen CT is expected to help boost enrollment by 5,000 students over the next decade. Progress by the university also includes new construction projects and over a dozen approved and pending business partnerships.

------------------ 

In a joint deal, the Peconic Land Trust and the Town of Southampton purchased the Danilevsky farmland in Water Mill with the purpose of protecting the 33-acre property from future development and ensuring that the land is actively used to grow local foods.


On Tuesday, New York State officials joined members of both organizations at a press conference at the property to announce the acquisition and to open the application process for farmers who are interested in purchasing the land for roughly $26,000 per acre.


The Peconic Land Trust bought the land last month for just over $12 million, and the Town of Southampton purchased the land’s development rights and additional restrictions for roughly $11 million with funds raised by the Community Preservation Fund.


The Town’s purchase of those additional restrictions, which prohibit equestrian use and the production of horticultural specialties that result in the removal of soil from the property, is a first for any municipality in New York State. Terms of the purchase also stipulate that 80 percent of the farmland must be used for production of food.

------------------------
  
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo approved a new bill on Tuesday that would allow the Southampton School District to use $9 million to offset tax increases if a proposed merger with neighboring Tuckahoe School District is approved.

In the wake of a bleak financial future for the Tuckahoe School District, a plan for Southampton to annex Tuckahoe was set forth last August, but has yet to be approved by voters in the Southampton School District due to the threat of a tax hike. 


The new bill gives Southampton the option to use money from its capital reserve that was earmarked to build a new office building – something the district has been considering for several years – to offset taxes instead, then use office space available in the Tuckahoe district.


Though the Southampton School District is not obliged to use the bill, Southampton Superintendent Dr. Scott Farina said that “the more options the School District has through legislation to support a merger is certainly a good thing.”

 -------------------

Tuesday, August 5 (Erin Schultz. producer)

In the news tonight: Connecticut’s comptroller confirms budget surplus estimate; a Malloy re-election campaign ad featuring a Newtown mom draws mixed reaction; summertime cuts to utility bills are projected for Long Islanders; a comprehensive cancer care center opens in Riverhead; and New Yorkers still have time to weigh-in on the Internet fast lane debate.
---------------

Connecticut state comptroller Kevin Lembo reported on Friday that the state budget surplus for 2014 is $121.3 million. This number mirrors estimates reported in late July by the office of Governor Dannel Malloy.

The Malloy administration had revised the estimated surplus upward by $63 million to reflect increased federal Medicaid reimbursements as well as personal income tax revenue. The money will be added to the state’s emergency budget reserve, bringing that fund’s total to $392 million.

Lembo said that adjustments to the estimate will continue throughout August and that the state’s overall economy has shown “gradual improvement.”

The state’s final audit for 2014 will be completed on Dec. 30.
----------------

The appearance of a Newtown mother showing her support for Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy in a campaign advertisement has drawn praise and criticism.

Nicole Hockley -- who lost her son 6-year-old son, Dylan, during the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings -- is shown briefly in the 30-second ad saying, “Governor Malloy has courage and conviction to stand up and do the right thing.”

Hockley was one of the Sandy Hook parents who supported gun-control legislation sought and signed by Malloy last April. The law tightened access to guns and ammunition and added mental health screenings.

The ad also points to Malloy’s handling of Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene and does not refer directly to the shooting nor Malloy’s subsequent gun control measures. But critics like Republican State Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. described the ad as improper, saying that the governor, whose overall job rating has never topped 50 percent, has managed to “exploit both the Newtown tragedy and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy for political gain.”

Roy Occhiogrosso, an adviser who was with Malloy in Newtown on the day of the shooting, defended the ad, saying that the leadership Malloy showed after the tragedy is part of his record and, therefore, part of his campaign.
 -------------------

After an expensive winter, customers of power company PSEG Long Island could see an average $13 reduction in their bills this month.

The power supply charge fell 20 percent for August to 6.78 cents a kilowatt hour from 8.5 cents last month for the company – a near record low during what is usually one of the heaviest periods for electricity use.

The power supply charge, which makes up about half of customers' bills, has increased during eight of the last 13 months. And as cold winter weather led to soaring demand for natural gas, the charge reached a record 12.3 cents in March.

PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said that cooler weather this summer led to lower demand for natural gas and, thus, lower natural gas prices.
 ----------------------
 .
Long Island’s only comprehensive community cancer center now has a location in Riverhead.

After over a year of construction, North Shore Oncology and Hematology Associates opened a new branch on August 4th at Northville Commerce Park at the intersection of Route 58 and Northville Turnpike. The private practice has between 10 and 12 chemotherapy treatment areas and features a new technology called tumor profiling that helps determine what made patients’ tumors grow.

With locations in Port Jefferson, Smithtown, Setauket, Islip and Patchogue, the company has enabled Long Island patients to receive cancer care and participate in research trials close to home instead of having to travel to New York City.

Dr. Jeff Vacirca, CEO of North Shore Oncology and Hematology Associates, said that the Riverhead location will help patients who commute to the practice from as far east as Montauk and Greenport.
------------------
.
The Internet fast-lane debate has been growing all summer, and on August 4th, local advocates said there is still time for New Yorkers to get their two cents in on the national debate over net neutrality.

Chaunda Ball, associate state director for communications for AARP-NY, said that research shows 67 percent of New Yorkers engage on social-media sites which could be slowed down under the FCC fast lane plan.

The proposal pending before the FCC would create fast lines on the Internet – and that plan could leave plenty of New Yorkers in the dust when it comes to doing the things they most often end up doing online, like sharing photos and downloading music.

Ball said that the current system of net neutrality is a big factor that allows New Yorkers to age in place, rather than in expensive nursing homes. AARP says consumers would be better protected if the agency would reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service.

The FCC is allowing comments on the proposal through September 10th.

----------------------------

 

Monday, August 4 (Melinda Tuhus, Producer):

Connecticut’s largest municipal police union threw its support Friday behind Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, even as their state police colleagues remain wary of endorsing the governor for another term.

The Connecticut Council of Police, AFSCME Council 15, which represents 3,000 municipal cops, issued a press release Friday endorsing Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. The union’s executive director, Jeff Matchett, cited low crime rates and stronger gun regulations, signed by Malloy. The union’s president, Patrick Gaynor, praised the administration for maintaining municipal aid funding.
 

But Connecticut State Police Union President Andrew Matthews said Friday that even though relations with the Malloy administration have improved this year, the union is going to stay neutral in this year’s governor’s race.  Malloy’s administration was at odds with the union throughout much of his first term,  clashing over public safety policy with state police leadership appointed by Malloy. The union also rejected labor concessions negotiated by the administration in 2011, which resulted in Malloy ordering the temporary layoffs of some troopers.
--------------------

Connecticut residents protesting the Israeli invasion of Gaza held a teach-in last Thursday night at a Presbyterian Church in downtown Hartford. WPKN's Melinda Tuhus reports:

After the teach-in, they marched past the office of the state treasurer to protest the state's ownership of Israel bonds, then to the office of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. There, organizer Stanley Heller read from a letter Blumenthal sent to constituents reaffirming his unwavering support for Israel and his opposition to Hamas, barely mentioning civilian casualties.

 

Then the group gathered outside the office of U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who has also supported Israel's actions in Gaza, where they read the names of  more than 600 Gazans out of the 1,800, mostly civilians, who have died, along with 63 Israeli soldiers and 3 Israeli civilians.

On Long Island, small groups of demonstrators  concerned about the ongoing war in Gaza gathered at shopping malls in Garden City, Smithtown and Bridgehampton over the weekend.
Veteran peace advocate Brian O'Haire of West Babylon has a prescription:

O'Haire says: "Gaza needs to be put under UN protection. We have to stop arming the Israeli military. We are aiding in the carnage"

Demonstrators in Bridgehampton say they were met with both approval and hostility.

----------------

Although the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reached an agreement with most LIRR unions to avert a work stoppage last month, some 400 railroad engineers are still without a new contract -- and could walk off their jobs as soon as next year if a settlement is not reached.
The National Mediation Board is reviewing the contract dispute and will meet with the union and MTA negotiators later this month.  Without progress in negotiations, the mediation board could release the union from mediation - clearing a path for engineers to legally walk off the job nine months later.
But railroad union sources said they don't expect it to come to that.

After a prolonged contract fight that twice required intervention from President Barack Obama, on July 17 the eight unions representing more than 5,000 LIRR workers reached a tentative deal with the MTA that assured workers raises of 17 percent over 6 1/2 years.

Under the agreement, all employees will pay first-time health care contributions of 2 percent of weekly wages, and new employees would pay into their pensions for 15 years instead of 10.

MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast said he expects other railroad unions will be offered a similar deal.
--------------------


Friday, August 1

  
In the news tonight: Fighting sexual assaults on campus, Republican plan for tax cuts,  Feds are asked to take over a case of murder and assault on Latinos from Suffolk police, and Hamptons garbage not welcome in Brentwood.
--------------------------------

On Wednesday, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and others introduced their long-awaited bill aimed at fighting an epidemic of sexual assaults on campus.

The bill would require all colleges to designate “confidential advisors” for victims of sexual assault. They would report crimes to campus authorities or local law enforcement.
The bill would also require training for campus personnel on the nature of sexual assault crimes and their impact on victims and it would increase federal penalties for schools that don’t comply with a federal law that requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to record and disclose information about crime on and near their campuses.

Right now, the only penalty is the loss of all financial aid, which would hurt students and has never been imposed on a school.


The Campus Accountability and Safety Act  is supported by a bipartisan group of senators, including Democrats, Blumenthal, Claire McCaskill, of Missouri and  Republicans Dan Heller of Nevada, Chuck Grassley, of Iowa and Marco Rubio, of Florida.

They say an American woman who attends college is more likely to be a victim of sexual assault than a woman who does not attend college; and institutions of higher education across the country have been unable, or unwilling, to adequately address the problem.
UConn recently announced it will pay nearly $1.3 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by five women who claimed the school was indifferent to their sexual assault complaints  
------------------

Republican gubernatorial contender John McKinney unveiled a plan Thursday to exempt all households earning less than $75,000 per year from the state income tax starting in 2017.

The proposal includes repeal of a tax credit that saves poor working families almost $120 million per year.
McKinney, the state Senate’s minority leader, said “We believe middle-class people across Connecticut have paid too much in taxes”.  He noted that Governor Dannel Malloy signed more than $1.8 billion in new taxes into law in 2011 -- a move done to help close a record-setting $3.7 billion shortfall left behind by the previous administration and legislature. 
Most Connecticut households earning less than $35,000 already pay no state income taxes. That’s because of a series of personal exemptions along with a partial credit for property tax payments.
To help pay for the plan, McKinney wants to eliminate the state Earned Income Tax Credit, enacted in 2011.
McKinney said “we’re trying to provide income tax relief for people who are paying income taxes.”
Connecticut Democratic Party spokesman Devon Puglia said:   
"Providing tax relief to hard working, Connecticut families is important, but not at the expense of our schools, our roads and infrastructure, and elimination of other vital services,"
------------------------

LongIslandWINS.com reports:


The organization LatinoJustice P-R-L-D-E-F is asking the US Department of Justice to investigate the unsolved murder and attack against two Latino men four yeas ago.

The group believes that the Suffolk County Police Department failed to investigate these and other hate crimes involving Latinos.

The murder of Jose Sanchez and assault of Antonio Tum came during the time when the Department of Justice was investigating the Suffolk County Police Department for its systemic abuse of Latinos.


Sanchez and Tum were attacked in 2010 in Shirley. The police have not released any autopsies and have not determined who committed the attack.


LatinoJustice is asking the Department of Justice to investigate the Suffolk County Police Department’s inability to focus their resources on solving the murder of Sanchez and the attack on Tum.  The organization wants the DOJ to take over the case.


The group also alleges that the Suffolk County Police Department discouraged Latino victims from filing complaints against the police. 

----------------------

CBS News reports Brentwood residents are upset about garbage from the Hamptons in their town.  The refuse is being held at a Brentwood truck depot until state officials can figure out how to send it to a landfill out of state.

The garbage has piled up for more than a month at transfer stations — first, because of a shortage of trucks and, recently, because rail cars were diverted to New Jersey instead of Long Island.

Residents say the truck depot should never have been allowed to accept another community’s trash.

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