Wednesday, October 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

October 2014

Monday, October 27: October 27:

In the news tonight, more outside money pours into the governor’s race in Connecticut; a ballot measure seeks to make absentee voting easier; New York’s Green Bank revs up; and officials tout the importance of agriculture on Long Island.
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An Ohio-based group that does not disclose its donors just gave over a million dollars to Grow Connecticut, a Republican affiliated Super PAC, to run television and radio ads against Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
But money in politics is bipartisan. It’s pouring into Connecticut’s governor’s race and is benefiting both candidates.
Also on Saturday, Independence USA PAC, which was founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reported that it would spend $1.7 million on television ads touting the gun safety legislation Malloy championed in 2013.
Even though both Malloy and Foley are using the public campaign finance system, each has benefited from outside spending to the tune of about $15 million.
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Connecticut voters will have a chance to decide on a ballot question on Election Day that would amend the state constitution to enable everyone—not just those who are ill or out of town—to mail in their votes ahead of Election Day.

One organization supporting Question 1 is Common Cause, whose director, Cheri Quickmire, told a group in New Haven last week that a Yes on Question 1 would put the state closer to joining more than 30 other states that allow early voting and nearly 30 that have more liberal absentee ballot processes.

Absentee ballot fraud has been a big issue in New Haven in recent years. One objection to Question 1 would be that it could expand the opportunities for vote-pullers to pressure voters in private to select their candidate, or even forge their ballots, which they can’t do when voters come to the polls. Support and opposition for the ballot measure has come from both Republican and Democratic officials in the state.
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last week announced the first transactions of the New York Green Bank to kick off clean energy projects across the state. According to WAMC, these initial transactions are expected to produce investments totaling more than $800 million.

NY Green Bank is part of New York State's Clean Energy Fund, which aims to provide long-term funding certainty and flexibility in how the state will transform its clean energy economy. Projects which are traditionally difficult for the private sector to finance will now be possible by NY Green Bank’s participation and are expected to result in an annual reduction of 575,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Alfred Griffin, president of the NY Green Bank, said, “It is using public dollars to incentivize greater private sector participation in supporting clean energy markets. This will ultimately help us move toward a more robust industry, less dependent on government subsidies and ratepayer support."
New York, along with Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts, ranks among the top 10 most energy-efficient states, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's "State Energy Efficiency Scorecard."
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Local farmers convened last Thursday at a forum hosted by Congressman Tim Bishop and USDA undersecretary Edward Avalos to discuss challenges faced by the agricultural community.

The event took place at the J. Kings Grapes and Greens facility in Calverton, with the tour also making stops at Shinn Estate Vineyards and Harbes on the North Fork.

Bishop discussed how important agriculture is, “to the economic stability and heritage of Suffolk County.” Bishop added that the best way to preserve open space is through keeping farming viable.

Avalos discussed a number of programs available at the federal and state level to help farmers, including $1.4 million set aside by New York State to study specialty crops, including grapes, wine, hops and corn.

Avalos also credited Bishop with working to pass the most recent Farm Bill, which was a challenge as different interests vied for different versions.
In closing, Avalos said, “Today, farmers make up less than one percent of the population in this county but they produce 85 percent of the food we eat. To the farmers in the room — the USDA hasn’t forgotten you. Agricultural production is the future of this nation.”
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Tuesday, October 28 (Erin Schultz, Producer):

In the news tonight: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie makes one last pitch for Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley; advocates say Connecticut’s next governor should be more present in Latino communities; Riverhead pulls the plug on a proposed historic district; and Long Island Farm Bureau’s executive director is honored for decades of environmental work.
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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made his fourth trip to Connecticut in six weeks Monday to show his support for Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley.

Christie told the crowd gathered at a beer garden in Groton that incumbent Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s “days are numbered,” though the latest poll numbers still show that the two major candidates are in a dead heat.

Though Christie has shown support for Malloy for his conduct after the Sandy Hook School shootings and most recently for his handling of Ebola prevention in Connecticut, he described his long-time rival as “an angry guy,” saying “What Dan Malloy does is just play partisan angry politics.”

Sal Luciano, executive director of AFSCME Council 4, said that campaigning with Chris Christie in Connecticut “yet again shows just how little Tom Foley cares about the issues facing Connecticut’s working families … This is the same governor who says that he’s sick and tired of hearing about raising the minimum wage and consistently sides with the interests of rich guys like Tom Foley over improving the quality of life for thousands of hard working people in New Jersey.”

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Despite efforts made by all three gubernatorial candidates to reach out to Connecticut’s Latino communities, representatives of the Hispanic Federation said last week that the candidates haven’t done enough.

CT News Junkie reports that Latino advocates gathered at the state Capitol last week to remind Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, Republican challenger Tom Foley and third-party candidate Joe Visconti that Latinos represent 14 percent of the state’s population. According to the U.S. Census, there are more than 500,000 Latino residents in Connecticut, and state officials estimate there are 110,000 to 149,000 registered Latino voters in the state.


The Hispanic federation released a list of 125 recommendations for Connecticut’s next governor, including ways to help new immigrants integrate and succeed in the state and to improve job security.

Though the candidates said they feel they have been paying attention to the Latino community -- Malloy signed a $10.10 minimum wage bill which allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges, and Foley has been running Hispanic radio ads, for example -- Alvarez-DiMarzo, head of the Hispanic Federation, said that Connecticut’s next governor needs to do more to be present in Latino communities.
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The Riverhead News-Review reports that members of Riverhead Town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted on Monday to withdraw an application for a proposed National Register Historic District on Main Road stretching from Aquebogue to Laurel.

Commission chairman Richard Wines said that the commission originally proposed to have the historic district along Main Road in Riverhead Town, but the State of New York insisted a portion of Southold Town be included as well. Wines said that the this request left Southold residents feeling like the proposal was being sprung on them at the last moment, and the commission failed to get the support they needed from Southold residents.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said that “We have had 19 owners raise objections and only four show support” about the proposed district. Because of that, Mr. Wines said it had no chance of advancing. 

Commission members said they would still like to try to get the National Register of Historic Districts designation applied to Main Road again at some point in the future.

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Long Island Farm Bureau executive director Joseph Gergela was given the 2014 Paul Stoutenburgh Leadership Award on Friday for his 26 years in the role, working to strike a balance between the needs of farmers and the health of the environment.

The Suffolk Times reports that members of the North Fork Environmental Council and various local and state representatives honored Gergela at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead. The award was the first given since the recent death of the council’s co-founder, Paul Stoutenburgh.

Council president Bill Toedter said that “Looking at what Joe and the LIFB have done over the years under his leadership, you better understand that farmers, like the rest of the community, need and support clean water, open space and our overall rural character.”

Gergela, who will retire from the farm bureau this year, said that over the years he has enjoyed working with leaders who “acknowledge and understand the damage by wildlife to the area, the need to continue to preserve land, the need to have a business environment that people can be successful in.”
  
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Tuesday, Oct. 21 (Erin Schultz, Producer):

In the news tonight: Connecticut’s latest job numbers look good for Governor Dannel Malloy; Connecticut church officials call for a boycott of any company profiting from the occupation of the Palestine Territories by the State of Israel; Suffolk County offers select homeowners a free septic system upgrade; and residents of St. James are up-in-arms about a proposed CVS pharmacy.
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The Connecticut Department of Labor shows that the state added 11,500 nonfarm jobs in September, according to a report from CT News Junkie – good news for incumbent Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy just days before the November 4th election.


According to the labor report, September’s nonfarm employment gain was the largest monthly gain since April of 1994 and is also the largest private sector gain since January of 1993. Connecticut recovered 85,300 positions, or 71.6 percent of the 119,100 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs that were lost in the state during the March 2008 to February 2010 recession, according to the report.

Republican candidate for governor Tom Foley’s campaign issued a statement, calling the jobs numbers good news -- but not good enough. Foley spokesman Chris Cooper said that Connecticut still has “one of the worst job recovery rates in the nation,” and the state’s “weak recovery is the result of Dan Malloy’s failed policies.”

With an average of 1,500 jobs gained every month for the past three years of Malloy’s administration, Don Klepper-Smith, an economist with DataCore Partners, said he is also skeptical of the latest numbers, which he said could be revised next month after the election.
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The Hartford Courant reports that the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ approved a resolution Friday night to divest itself of investments with any companies "profiting from the occupation of the Palestine Territories by the State of Israel."

The resolution, submitted by the board of deacons of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, lists Caterpillar Inc., Motorola Solutions, Hewlett-Packard Development and several other companies as examples of those that would be affected by the action. It also calls for a boycott of Israeli companies listed Ahava skin care products, SodaStream products and Hadiklaim dates.

The vote happened at the conference's 147th annual statewide conference, where almost 400 delegates representing 240 UCC churches throughout the state gathered.

Steven Jungkeit, senior minister of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, said that his congregation proposed the resolution after making numerous trips to the region and being "appalled" by the conditions on the Palestinian side of the West Bank barrier. He said he hoped that the move would lead to greater awareness and exposure of what he termed the plight of the Palestinian people.
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Suffolk County is looking for 19 homeowners who would like a free upgraded septic system by participating in a septic system demonstration project, according to a report from the East End Beacon.

These homeowners will receive a $15,000 advanced wastewater treatment system, which will be installed by the manufacturer and maintained free of charge for five years. The system will then be shown about twice a month for six months to small groups for educational purposes. Educational visits could continue for up to two years after the systems are installed, and homeowners will always be notified before the visits.

The new advanced systems perform like miniature sewage treatment plants and are designed to facilitate natural biological treatment of wastewater. Those interested in participating can email questions and applications to SepticDemo@SuffolkCountyNY.gov 

Applications are due at 4:30 p.m. on November 14.
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Newsday reports that residents of St. James are voicing opposition for plans to build a CVS pharmacy and convenience store on Woodlawn and Lake avenues.

More than 700 people have signed a petition against the project, and about 150 people voiced their concerns to the Smithtown Planning Board this week, saying that the proposed 13,551-square-foot building and 57 parking spaces will reduce property values, create traffic jams and destroy the hamlet’s small-town charm.

Though Lake Avenue is the main street for downtown St. James, lined with many offices and shops including a King Kullen grocery store, the CVS proposal would require a zone change from residential to central business zoning. CVS already has three locations within the borders of Smithtown, all within a few miles of St. James.

Patrick Lenihan, traffic safety consultant for CVS, estimated that the site would generate about 100 new trips each hour and said it had adequate circulation for customers and truck delivery. But planning board member Paul Damato noted that the proposal met only 42 percent of the parking requirement.

Town planning officials recommended that the board deny the CVS application. The hearing was adjourned to November 19.
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Monday, October 20: (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Scott Shere and Melinda Tuhus).


In tonight’s news, a leading candidate for governor of Connecticut drops out of this week’s debate; a national gun safety group pours money into the Governor’s race in the Nutmeg state; a North Shore hospital is picked to handle possible Ebola patients; and an expert issues a warning about water quality on Long Island.  

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley said his decision to pull out of this week’s debate with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and independent Joe Visconti was the result of a “communication problem” with host NBC 30.

Foley told reporters that presidential candidates and debate hosts generally agree on the format, the questioners and other issues before the event. He said that does not happen in Connecticut races.
In a statement Friday, NBC 30 said Foley has been invited to participate in the debate and discussions have been ongoing with all three candidates.
Foley’s decision to sit out the NBC 30 debate on Thursday, Oct. 23, means the Republican is willing to let his two opponents take the stage without him, less than two weeks before what is expected to be a close election. He said he will still participate in one final debate.
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A national gun-control group co-founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and funded by some of the wealthiest names in technology gave $700,000 last Thursday to an affiliated political action committee to air television ads and send direct mail to voters in Connecticut's race for governor.

Americans for Responsible Solutions, whose financial backers include former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and several tech billionaires, made the contribution to Common Sense Connecticut, an affiliate formed to support the re-election of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.  Giffords' group is dictating the content of the hard-hitting Connecticut advertising.

Malloy, a Democrat, backed passage of sweeping gun controls after the Newtown school massacre of 2012, while his two opponents, Republican Tom Foley and petitioning candidate Joe Visconti, favor the law's repeal.


The contribution was made on the same day that Giffords, a Democratic congresswoman who was shot in the head during a mass shooting in her district at Tucson, Arizona, in January 2011, visited Connecticut on a nine-state tour promoting initiatives to protect women and families from violence.

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Out of the eight New York hospitals designated to handle potential Ebola patients, Long Island Press reports that two are on Long Island: Stony Brook University Hospital and the North Shore L-I-J, state officials announced Thursday.

Its spokeswoman said, North Shore L-I-J has yet to identify which one of its 17 locations will receive that designation. Part of the agreement with the state required both hospitals to have created special isolation units to treat the infection.

Dr. Howard A. Zucker, New York State Health Department’s acting commissioner,  said he’s issued a “Commissioner’s Order” to all New York hospitals and medical centers requiring that they follow proper protocols for identification, isolation and evaluation of potential patients. Zucker added, “All health systems are mandated to properly train their workers with regard to safely donning and removing their personal protective equipment”.

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The Peconic Baykeeper is dismayed about the current policies regarding protection of Long Island’s water supply, according to the news site Hamptons.com.


After The New York Times ran a feature titled, "A Rising Tide of Contaminants," 

Baykeeper Executive Director Daniel J. Gulizio used the opportunity to inform Long Islanders of serious environmental and health issues that could result from the Island's water supply. He said, "All of our drinking water comes from below us and what we dump into the ground ultimately and inevitably finds its way into our drinking and surface waters.”

The issues raised by the Times included an overall lack of public knowledge concerning water contamination, an increase in the amount of toxic chemicals and compounds being released to the environment and the lack of safety testing and intervention by Congress. Gulizio says all of these raise serious concerns for East End residents, as the island is located on a sole source aquifer.

Nassau and Suffolk Counties have more Super Fund sites, uncontrolled locations containing hazardous wastes, than any other region in New York State.

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Friday, October 17 (Thanks to volunteers Kristiana Pastir, David Majlak and Paul Atkin):



In the news tonight: Yale student tests negative for Ebola, Stamford joins pioneering energy-saving program, Long Island’s CPF tax may help improve water quality, and Riverhead resident demands school board resignations over contract buy out.
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The Yale doctoral student admitted to Yale-New Haven Hospital with Ebola-like symptoms tested negative for the virus, state and hospital officials said.


The student returned Saturday from a research mission in Liberia, one of three countries affected by the outbreak. The student developed a fever Wednesday evening and is being monitored in isolation at the hospital. Yale-New Haven’s chief medical officer Dr. Thomas Balcezak said the patient’s in good condition with a low-grade fever and has improved since being hospitalized.


The patient and another doctoral student who traveled to Liberia will remain quarantined until 21 days after their return.


During a press conference Thursday, Yale School of Medicine Dean Dr. Robert Alpern said the students were in contact with one person who later developed Ebola but was not symptomatic at the time.


State officials said they are strengthening preparedness efforts. Governor Dannel Malloy established a “unified command team” to coordinate resources, personnel and communications, and to ensure that front-line health care staff and first responders have received necessary training.

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The city of Stamford announced last week that it’s the sixth city in the nation, and first in New England, to join a three-year old program called the 2030 Districts.


The private-sector program is designed to lower energy and water use and reduce urban greenhouse gas emissions. It doesn’t rely on government, is entirely voluntary, and has no penalties for unmet goals. It is believed to be the first such major business/environmental collaboration in the state.


The 2030 Districts blend participants from three categories: property owners or managers; community partners, such as the Business Council; and professional organizations, such as Connecticut Light and Power.


In participating, they agree to the district principles, which are set nationally and generally focus on energy use, water use and emissions from transportation. The Stamford district will also look at ways to respond to climate change and sea-level rise.


The goals for Stamford, with a main focus on older buildings, are 10 percent reductions in energy use, water use and emissions by 2015 and a 50 percent reduction by 2030.

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Some of the authors of the original Community Preservation Fund legislation are pitching a new 20-year extension of the immensely successful preservation program, with an eye toward tapping a portion of the enormous bounty of the 2-percent real estate transfer tax to fund programs targeting water quality issues. 


State and local lawmakers have held discussions about proposing a re-authorization of the CPF tax, which is currently in place through 2030, from 2030 through 2050, with a component allowing up to 10 percent of the revenues raised—potentially upward of $270 million over the 20-year period—to be directed toward water quality improvement efforts. 


“The rationale is that while land preservation was the dominating policy issue since the 1980s, water quality has become the dominant issue of this decade,” State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said. “To preserve community character, our economy and environment, we must not just protect our land but also our water. At the same time, we are not finished with land preservation. We need to do both.”

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Riverhead resident Laurie Downs gave the school board an earful earlier this week about salary and benefits paid to former assistant superintendent Joe Ogeka in his last year as a district employee. Ogeka retired in June 2013 but was paid $376,340 during the 2013-2014 school year under an employment contract provision guaranteeing him an additional year’s pay, plus benefits.


“I am outraged,” Downs said, “absolutely outraged.”


Ogeka’s base pay for 2013-2014 was $183,632, with the remainder representing cash payment for benefits, including accrued sick and vacation days, according to Riverhead Schools Superintendent Nancy Carney.


Downs chastised board members and demanded their resignations for approving Ogeka’s contract in 2012 and complained that they “misled and deceived the public” when they said he was retiring in 2013. Instead, she said, he was being paid more than twice his regular pay to stay home.


“We have the lowest median [income] of any township on Long Island and you people give away $376,000 to a man that every time his name came up it had something horrific attached to it,” Downs said.

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 Thursday, October 16:


In the news tonight:  A possible Ebola case at Yale New Haven hospital, President cancels Bridgeport campaign trip and the race for Governor is close, 

Funds flow for 5th Congressional District race; Neighbors of a proposed affordable housing project sue Southampton Town;
and Huntington is in a fight over horse farm taxes.
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A patient with Ebola-like symptoms was admitted to Yale-New Haven Hospital for evaluation late Wednesday night.


The hospital said in a statement. “We have not confirmed or ruled out any diagnosis at this point,”


Yale-New Haven is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Connecticut Department of Public Health to have the patient tested for the Ebola virus.


The Hartford Courant reported the patient had recently traveled to Liberia and was admitted with a fever but that the fever had subsided after admission.

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President Obama canceled political trips to New Jersey and Connecticut for a fundraiser and a rally Wednesday to instead preside over a White House meeting of cabinet agencies coordinating a response to the Ebola outbreak.


Obama was to go to Bridgeport Central High School for his first political rally of the 2014 campaign season in support of Gov. Dannel Malloy. 


The latest poll results put the governor and challenger Tom Foley neck to neck as they approach the November finish line. 


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Representative Elizabeth Esty, the fifth Connecticut district Democrat, has raised more than $2.5 million to defend her seat from Republican challenger Mark Greenberg, according to latest Federal Elections Commission reports.

Esty, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, raised nearly $580,000 in the last quarter, which ended on Sept. 30.
The Esty campaign ended the reporting period with about $923,000 in cash-on-hand and $303,000 in financial obligations.
 Republican Mark Greenberg loaned his campaign another $592,500 during the summer, making his personal investment in his campaign more than $1.1 million, according to the latest filings with the Federal Elections Commission.
Greenberg has also raised about $300,000 from individuals and political action committees. He also gave his campaign about $70,000 -- apart from his loans. 
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Residents are suing Southampton over the town board's approval of a 28-unit apartment complex that neighbors say doesn't belong in the area known as Tuckahoe according to Newsday.


Five homeowners and a citizen's group, The Friends of Sandy Hollow Association, claim in the suit, which was filed Oct. 10 in state Supreme Court in Riverhead, that the town board approved the apartment complex on 2.6 acres without seriously considering groundwater, wildlife and traffic issues or the town's own guidelines on multifamily housing.  The lawsuit seeks to reverse the town's approval.


The proposed development would be sited along a busy 2 lane highway that presently includes single family home developments and individual home sites.  A trash processing and septic cleaning operation and a seasonal tennis camp are also sited along the road.  


The Southampton Town Board voted 5-0 in June to allow the three-building complex despite the protests and petitions of neighbors. The suit states the site isn't within a safe or convenient walking distance of downtown areas or public transportation.  


Proponents say that the project would provide much-needed affordable housing in the town, where real estate prices are soaring and workers must commute from areas to the west along congested County Road 39. 


The Town had no comment on Wednesday.

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A year long battle between the Town of Huntington and an Asharoken horse farm is in court this week. Millions in property taxes are at stake, according to Newsday.


Owners of Sandpiper Farm allege they are owed taxes back to 2010 for the difference in what they paid and what they should have paid had the total acreage been assessed as agricultural.


In 2012, after Asharoken residents and environmentalists strongly showed their support for preserving the 440-acre horse farm, Suffolk lawmakers agreed to include the farm in one of its agricultural districts. Such districts are often taxed less than residential properties. 


Now, attorneys for the farm argue that all 440 acres, rather than a parcel of the estate, should have been taxed as agricultural, which would have resulted in a significantly lower property tax. 


The farm's property taxes were $871,000 in 2013-14, so the total cost to the Town going back to 2010 could be into the millions.


Currently, about 20 fox-hunting horses are trained on the property.


 Ultimately, the question could come down to how many of the acres were actually used for agriculture. 

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Wednesday October 15: (produced by Erin Schultz)


In the news tonight: Connecticut gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley is questioned about former dealings with union workers; Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission says Democrats should not use federal funds to pay for a mailer supporting Governor Dannel Malloy; three MS-13 gang members are arrested in connection with a shooting in Southold; and Southampton Elementary School is closed for sanitizing after a student is diagnosed with enterovirus.


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Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley was questioned for the second time in a month at a campaign stop in Rocky Hill on Tuesday about his record at a Pennsylvania manufacturing company, where most union workers did not return after a strike in the early 1990s.

The Connecticut businessman owned TB Woods in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania for 17 years before selling the company for $40 million in 2007. Union workers voted to reject a contract which included a 50-cents-per-hour raise and go on strike, but not after an ugly battle with Foley, according to news reports at the time.
Foley told the crowd gathered at Fair Weather Acres farm stand that the workers had gotten “very bad advice from their union … If things don’t work out for them that’s the union’s fault, not the employer’s fault.”
National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was also in Rocky Hill on Tuesday at a press conference across town in support of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy. He labeled Foley “the personification of the corporate agenda” and touted Malloy’s pro-labor policies like paid sick time off for some workers and increases in the state minimum wage.
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The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission has asked the Federal Election Commission to prevent the state Democratic Party from using funds from a federal campaign finance account to pay for a mailing supporting the re-election of Governor Dannel Malloy.


The recommendation comes after a lawyer for the Democratic Party asked the commission for an advisory opinion on the propriety of using the federal funds for the mailer. Devon Puglia, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, said that the request was a “challenge of conflicting guidance … the FEC requires dollars for these mailers to be used out of our federal account, while SEEC has stated a contrary position.”


Connecticut has more restrictive rules on state campaigns than most states, primarily a ban on state contractors contributing to campaigns supporting state candidates. In this case, the SEEC concluded that the Democratic Party’s “efforts to circumvent strong state laws are at odds with both the public good and the clear intent of the citizens of Connecticut.”


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Southold Town Police arrested three Greenport men – all members of the MS-13 street gang -- in connection with the early Tuesday morning shooting in Southold, according a report from the Suffolk Times.


Pedro Emilio Santamaria, 31, of Greenport; Jeremias Nathanael Recinos-Torres, 19, of Aquebogue; and Walter Vasquez, 17, of Greenport and a student at Greenport High School, were arrested and charged with first-degree assault, police said. Santamaria and Recinos-Torres were also charged with criminal possession of a weapon. Recinos-Torres and Vasquez are both in the U.S. illegally and are currently in removal proceedings, according to police.


Two men were shot and one of the two also severely cut with a machete in the early morning attack on Tuesday at a home on South Harbor Road. Police said that the incident stemmed from an earlier dispute between the defendants and victims that occurred at Third Street Park in Greenport.


The victims, whose identities have not been released, are allegedly members of Mara-18, a rival street gang, police said. The were rushed to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead on Tuesday where they remain for treatment.

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Southampton Elementary School was closed to students on Wednesday after a student was diagnosed with a case of enterovirus, according to a report from 27 East.


Southampton Superintendent Dr. Scott Farina said that the student was diagnosed with the illness over the weekend and was not in school on Tuesday. According to the school district’s website, the student is seeking treatment for the illness and does not have the D68 strain, which has recently been causing severe respiratory issues nationwide.


Farlna said that the district decided to close the Pine Street School building so that an outside company could sanitize any area the student would have come in contact with -- not only in the entire elementary school but also in the entire fleet of buses. The district also intends to sanitize the intermediate and high school buildings, though both remained open to students on Wednesday.


Farina said that as of now, no other student in the district has been diagnosed with enterovirus. The elementary school will re-open on Thursday.

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 Tuesday, Oct. 14 (Erin Schultz, Producer):


In the news tonight: Candidates running for office in Connecticut have until Friday to qualify for state grants; Connecticut’s third party gubernatorial candidate Joe Visconti will finally get a chance to debate his rivals on Thursday; Bill Clinton makes his second visit in a month to Connecticut in support of Governor Dannel Malloy; and two men are shot and two people taken into custody after an assault at a Southold home.

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The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission will hand out its last round of grants this Friday, according to a report from CT News Junkie.


Though 254 people have received grants, more than 60 people -- including candidates for attorney general, comptroller, state representative and state senator -- still haven’t qualified for the money under the Citizens Election Program. According to the SEEC, grants are given to candidates who raise a certain amount of money in small donations.


Kie Westby, who is a Republican running for attorney general, is one candidate who will likely qualify, having already raised over $88,000 as of October 5th. If he does qualify for the grant, he will have less than 19 days to spend $812,550.


But with only $7,508 raised as of September 30, Republican candidate for comptroller Sharon McLaughlin needs to raise $75,000 in order to qualify for $812,550 in public funds.


Joshua Foley, a spokesman for the State Elections Enforcement Commission, said that there is no limit on the number of times a candidate can re-apply for a grant.


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For the first time, Connecticut’s third party gubernatorial candidate Joe Visconti will be allowed to participate in a debate with incumbent Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and Republican Challenger Tom Foley on Thursday.


The one-hour debate, hosted by The Day, Connecticut Public Television and WNPR, will take place at New London’s Garde Arts Center.


The Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed Malloy and Foley deadlocked at 43 percent of the vote and Visconti’s 9 percent drawn from both Foley and Malloy supporters.


Though some experts say that Visconti’s support may drop as the November election draws closer, Visconti, a conservative former West Hartford town councilman, said he’s hoping to make a “quantum leap” closer to 20 percent in voter support with his first debate appearance.


Visconti said he will seek to avoid the personal attacks his two rivals have thrown at each other in recent debates and try to force a conversation on issues such as the $1.278 billion budget deficit the state is projected to be facing in the next fiscal year.

  
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Former President Bill Clinton has once again visited Connecticut in support of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy.


Clinton spoke to about 700 supporters made up of mostly union members and state employees at a rally at the Learning Corridor in Hartford on Monday. He praised Malloy for the tough decisions he’s made in the face of a $3.67 billion deficit he inherited when he took office, saying that Malloy “had a strategy that was designed to make everybody mad.” The former president also applauded the progress Malloy has made in lowering crime, increasing graduation rates, and improving the economy.


Malloy said at the rally that while he understood that there has been differences in opinion on some of the decisions he’s made, everything he’s done was what he “truly believed was the right thing to do, to move this state forward.”


Clinton’s visit on behalf of Malloy was the second to the state in the past month.


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The Suffolk Times reports that two men were shot in the early morning hours on Tuesday in an assault at a house on South Harbor Road in Southold.


After receiving a 911 call at 12:23 a.m., police found two men suffering from gunshot wounds and one also suffering from knife lacerations, police said. Southold Fire Department Chief Peggy Killian was the first at the scene to treat the first victim, who she said had been shot in the stomach and was “very seriously hurt,” bleeding severely.


That man and the second victim, who was shot in the shoulder and had also been cut, were both rushed to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead for treatment.


Police said that they have taken two people into custody but have not released their identities. A boy at the house where the shooting allegedly occurred told the Suffolk Times that the shooting victims do not live at the house.


No more details were immediately available.


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Monday, October 13 (thanks to WPKN volunteers Scott Schere and Melinda Tuhus):


In the news tonight:


Several Connecticut groups and individuals file complaints against a state Democratic Party spending plan; wait times for clients of the Department of Social Services drop, but not enough; a new phone app is causing problems on Long Island; and Long Island residents decry a lack of transparency for energy project.

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The Connecticut Democratic Party’s request to use federal funds on statewide races has provoked objections from the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, the Senate and House Republican Caucuses, and nine citizens As of late Sunday evening, the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which warned the Democratic Party twice that it shouldn’t be using its federal account on statewide candidates, has not filed its objection.


The Party made the request to the Federal Elections Commission on Oct. 1. It told regulators it was looking for permission to use money in its federal account on a statewide mailing promoting the re-election of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.


Those who objected said allowing federal funds would undermine the transparency embodied in the state’s campaign finance laws and “make a mockery” of the laws.

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The amount of time Connecticut residents had to spend on hold to reach a Department of Social Services worker by phone has dropped over the past two months from 87 minutes to 66, but officials concede that’s still too long.

Nearly two thirds of callers who wanted to speak to a worker hung up before getting through, but that, too, was an improvement over July, when three-quarters hung up.

While in the past, clients were assigned to a specific worker and directed all their inquiries to that person, all clients now call a single phone number. Callers can either use the automated information system or speak to a worker. Those who want to talk to a worker are routed to one of three benefits centers, where staff can access the person’s file electronically.


Some clients and advocates say the long wait times are especially problematic because many poor people in the state rely on cellphones with limited phone minutes, which can get eaten up while waiting on hold.

DSS is planning to meet with a consultant to determine how the system could be improved.
-----------------------

School officials on Long Island are warning parents of a Twitter-like app called Yik Yak that allows anonymous postings within a small geographic area and has been linked in recent weeks to a bomb threat in one public high school and a report of a gun at Suffolk County Community College.


Newsday reports that the free mobile app allows users to write anonymous posts of up to 200 characters that can be read within a 1.5-mile radius of their location. Suffolk police say threats against schools in several other states have been traced to Yik Yak users.


Yik Yak, launched last fall, was created by two Furman University graduates with the intention of appealing to college students. A company spokesman said that it is also intended to be restricted to users older than 17. Its website gives guidelines on how parents can block children from downloading it.

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The surprise that greeted plans for a 60-acre solar-panel farm in Shoreham last month could be repeated across eastern Long Island as scores of large-scale solar projects await approval, largely outside of public view, critics say.


Newsday reports that LIPA and PSEG Long Island, which is administering a program called the "feed-in tariff" solar initiative, have approved 51 contracts for the first wave of projects comprising around 50 megawatts of solar power. A second wave of 76 projects for 100 megawatts has yet to be released.


The scope and even the location of the projects remains unclear, as no central repository of maps, conceptual drawings and project descriptions is publicly available from the utilities. A PSEG website for the program is largely geared toward developers, but the utility says it plans to expand it. LIPA and PSEG say developers and local governments are primarily responsible for disclosing that information.


Critics say that's not good enough. MaryAnn Johnston, president of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization, said, "We need to compel transparency.” Her group opposes the Shoreham project.


PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said the company plans to address the information gap.

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

Friday October 10: (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Kristiana Pastir,Paul Atkin and David Majlak)


In the news tonight: Connecticut public health commission given power to quarantine anyone suspected of Ebola, Access Health CT worries some may get surprise tax bills, EPA reports Long Island Sound has fewer dead zones and Suffolk County tick committee gets an extension.

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Governor Dannel Malloy just signed an executive order granting the state's public health commission power to quarantine anyone suspected of having been exposed to the Ebola virus.


Malloy said the order was merely cautionary and aimed at ensuring the state has a plan to deal with any suspected Ebola cases.


Commissioner Jewel Mullen reported she doesn’t believe anyone in the state is infected or even at risk of infection.


This order comes on the heels of the death of Thomas Duncan, the U.S.’s first Ebola patient, at a Dallas hospital. There, health officials have quarantined his family and keeping an eye on dozens more.

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Nearly 60,000 Connecticut residents have discounted health insurance as part of Obamacare, and officials worry some may get an unexpected tax bill next year.

The subsidies that help low- and moderate-income people buy health insurance are actually tax credits based on each person’s income, and paid in advance to insurance companies. If a person’s income increases, his tax credit decreases. But the federal government won’t lower its payments to insurers until people report the change in income.


That means people who didn't report income changes could get bigger discounts than they qualify for and then have to pay back some or all of that money when they file their taxes.


To help prevent surprise tax bills, Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, asks that people whose income changed notify the agency so their subsidies can be adjusted.


Renewal packets sent last week to people who bought private insurance through the exchange included a section on the importance of keeping their information current. 


Exchange customers will get letters in January explaining what tax credits were paid on their behalf.

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

For a second straight summer, the Long Island Sound was far healthier than a decade ago, with fewer oxygen-deprived dead zones, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


An EPA report released Thursday found that oxygen-depleted waters that can suffocate marine life were slightly larger than the 87 square miles in size they were last year, when they were the smallest since 1997. In 2012, the problem area spanned 289 square miles -- "one of the most severe on record," the agency said.


Conditions improved because the weather was favorable and most of New York's wastewater treatment plants and all of Connecticut's were upgraded to strip out harmful nitrogen, said Mark Tedesco, EPA's Long Island Sound office director.


"The good news is there is a lot of progress," Tedesco said.


Tedesco said treatment facilities in New York City and Westchester that haven't yet complied with the new standards are required to do so by 2017.

--------------------- 

Suffolk County’s legislature voted Tuesday to extend the new tick advisory committee’s authority until the county legislature adopts its Vector Control office’s 2016 work plan. 


The 12-member committee created earlier this helped develop a plan to reduce tick-borne illnesses, but members learned they only had until December to complete their report.


Their mission is to oversee the implementation of South Fork County Legislator Jay Schneiderman’s 2013 legislation requiring Vector Control to submit annual plans on reduction of tick-borne illnesses, oversee plans implementation, and establish methods to determine the program’s effectiveness.


The Centers for Disease Control reported last year that Lyme disease was 10 times more prevalent than previously believed, with 300,000 cases diagnosed each year. New York doctors have reported more than 5,000 cases of Lyme disease in five of the last ten years, more than any other state. 


Despite this public health crisis, ticks are not widely treated by public health agencies as a “disease vector” insect. This task force and the law directing vector control to address ticks is an attempt to change that.

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Thursday, October 9: (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Nadine Dumser.)
   
In the news tonight: Governor Malloy proposes fix to get hospital treatment for children,  Southampton will not accept federal money to expand the school day and candidates for New York’s 1st Congressional District hold a fiery debate.
.------------------------------------------
  
Governor Dannel Malloy announced a plan Wednesday to address the crisis of children waiting days to get access to needed treatment. He acknowledged that children with mental health challenges are spending more time in emergency rooms. 

The number of children and teens in mental health crisis going to ERs has been rising for years, but it spiked in May. They end up in the ER because they can’t be turned away.

Malloy’s plan piggybacks on a Department of Children and Families’ proposal, which focuses on developing a mental and behavioral health plan for youth, regardless of their insurance coverage or status with the Department.

The plan would increase existing funds by about $4 million, with the option of increasing them further if legislators decide to embrace the creation of a community-based center as an alternative to hospital ERs.

Dr. Lisa Namerow, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, said she welcomed immediate action but that any plan needs to include children getting into outpatient care as well as more services so that children who “need hospitalization can get out of the ER and into programs in hospitals to get treatment.”
DCF Commissioner Joette Katz believes the best way to respond to children in crisis is to enhance community-based services that can intervene before a crisis occurs.
But medical professionals say Katz’s desire to close group homes and congregate care beds has contributed to the current crisis in the ER.
----------------

Newsday reports the Southampton school board has voted to reject a state grant that would have extended the school day by almost two hours

Southampton was one of nine districts statewide to win the grant, which would have provided the district $ 5.2 Million over two years.

The school board, which voted on the measure Tuesday night, was considering using the money to extend hours at its elementary school or intermediate school, or both, to help narrow an "achievement gap" split along socio-economic and racial lines in the district.

But the proposal proved unpopular among parents at a recent public forum, where several said their families already struggled for free time after school, sports and homework.

School board members reached Wednesday said the experimental time-extension program did not have a proven record of success, and said budgeting for extra hours could have posed a challenge after the two-year grant expired.

Another issue was that the program may have posed a challenge for Southampton administrators already working on a complicated merger proposal with the neighboring Tuckahoe district. The merger is scheduled for a vote on November 18.

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

 Representative Tim Bishop and his GOP foe in the race for New York’s 1st Congressional District, State Senator Lee Zeldin, clashed repeatedly Wednesday night during a debate in Riverhead according to a Newsday report.

RiverheadLocal.com reported the standing-room-only audience, comprised of a large majority of Zeldin supporters who came waving signs, was at times unruly, shouting and heckling the incumbent as he spoke despite requests to maintain decorum and remain respectful.

During the debat Zeldin said that he would press to repeal Obamacare.

Bishop the Southampton Democrat, who supports Obamacare, countered that Zeldin and Republicans tried to kill Obamacare many times but have no plan to replace it.

Bishop said that Zeldin’s option of giving younger people the alternative of investing privately rather than paying into Social Security would destroy the existing system.

On immigration: Bishop favors a 15-year pathway to citizenship with fines and payment of back taxes. Zeldin does not favor any form of amnesty.

And Zeldin opposes the Common Core academic standards.

Bishop said blame for Common Core should fall to the state government, of which Zeldin is a part.

On the threat of ISIS, Zeldin supported putting a general in charge on the ground overseas.

Bishop said the solution did not lie with the military but instead, the answer had to come from the governments of the Middle East.
---------------------------------

Wednesday, October 8 (thanks to WPKN Volunteer Erin Schultz)

In the news tonight: Connecticut’s gubernatorial race could come down to a photo finish; Republican lawmakers blast Connecticut’s Democratic party for trying to use money from its federal account to support Governor Dannel Malloy’s campaign; President Barack Obama pays a low-key visit to a Greenwich fundraiser; and a 75-unit affordable housing development has been proposed for Mattituck on the North Fork.

 -----------------------------------

Connecticut’s Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy is now in a dead heat with Republican challenger Tom Foley, according to Quinnipiac University’s latest poll of 1,085 likely voters released on Wednesday.


The poll shows that Malloy has closed last month’s six-point lead held by Foley. The two candidates are now tied with 43 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Third-party candidate Joe Visconti, who the poll found is not playing the role of spoiler because he takes votes from Malloy and Foley at the same rate, takes 9 percent of the vote.


Though this is good news for Malloy, Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said that there is still a gender gap in the race with Malloy ahead by 11 percentage points among women and Foley up 11 points among men.


Schwartz added that there is still time for the two candidates to convince voters. He said that while only 5 percent of the voters polled are undecided, about 25 percent could change their minds.


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


Republican lawmakers criticized on Tuesday a recent request made by members of Connecticut’s Democratic Party to use funds donated to its federal account to pay for a mailer promoting Governor Dannel Malloy’s re-election bid, calling the move a “brazen” attempt to toss out state election laws by allowing donations from state contractors to support statewide candidates.


Under a 2005 law that created the Citizens Election Program in the wake of former Governor John G. Rowland’s corruption scandal, state contractors are banned from donating to state candidates. Money raised for the party’s federal account is meant to support federal candidates and a portion of its staff.


But with the Democratic Party currently using a Washington D.C. attorney to try and change the law, Republicans like Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, who lost the Republican nomination to challenge Malloy, said that the request is to “shamelessly undo that ban on contractors.”


State Elections Enforcement Commission Executive Director Michael Brandi said that the commission would be filing its objection to the Democratic Party’s request by Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

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

President Barack Obama made a quick visit to Greenwich on Tuesday night for a dinner and a big-ticket fundraiser benefitting Democratic U.S. Senate candidates at the home of Richard Richman and Ellen Schapps Richman, who hosted a similar event in 2010.


U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Sen. Chris Murphy, who succeeded Sen. Joseph Lieberman in 2012, were among the guests. Governor Dannel Malloy did not attend.


Though Connecticut has no Senate race this year, President Obama said of the guests that, "These guys have been supporters since way back, before a lot of people could pronounce my name.”


Obama was coming from two fundraisers in Manhattan for the Democratic National Committee when he was flown flew by helicopter to the Greenwich Polo Club, then taken by motorcade to the $26 millon estate of the Richmans.


The President was in Greenwich for a little more than two hours.

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

Developer Paul Pawlowski has proposed building a 75-unit affordable housing complex on a wooded 20-acre property across from the Capital One office building in Mattituck on the North Fork, according to an article from the Suffolk Times.


Pawlowski, who owns Cedars Golf Club in Cutchogue and manages several other properties on the East End, pitched the project to members of the Southold Town Board Tuesday night. He said that, with so many “illegal rentals or not-affordable opportunities” currently out there for renters, the Mattituck complex would feature up to 75 detached one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages, each with at least one bedroom, a kitchen, living area, bathroom, attic, a small outdoor patio and yard. All would rent for less than $1,400 per month.


Councilwoman Jill Doherty expressed concern about the potential impacts the complex would have on the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District and the construction of a large development in the small hamlet, but Supervisor Scott Russell said that it would be nice for Southold Town to “have a development close to town with shops and public transportation.”


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


Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014 (Erin Schultz, Melinda Tuhus, Producers)

  
In the news tonight: Connecticut’s Democratic and Republican parties take on controversial funding for their gubernatorial candidates; Connecticut residents have time to consider health care options; New York State Police are called upon to release numbers of registered assault weapons; and Long Island environmentalists dispute details of a settlement regarding Suffolk County drinking water programs.
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Members of the Connecticut State Democratic Party want to use funds donated to its federal account to pay for a mailer promoting Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s re-election campaign, and a controversial social welfare group has given thousands of dollars in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley.

Neil Reiff, a lawyer for the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee, asked the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 1  to determine whether the mailer promoting Malloy qualifies as a “federal election activity.” Reiff argues that if federal election regulators make a ruling on the request, it should overrule any action taken by the state Elections Enforcement Commission.
But earlier this year, state election regulators told the Democratic Party that it was closely watching its fundraising efforts, saying in an advisory opinion that “federal law does not create a loophole Connecticut campaign finance laws that would allow federal committees to make expenditures that are also contributions regarding Connecticut candidates.”
Meanwhile, non-profit organization Citizens for a Sound Government has sent $600,000 to the Grow Connecticut PAC supporting Foley for governor, according to a report from the New Haven Register. That’s a total of $660,000 from this so-called social welfare group, which functions mainly to promote the common good, but can also participate in political campaigns and elections.
The group is controversial in that they do not have to reveal their donors, and the percentage of money used for “social welfare” versus political campaigns has set off investigations in recent years.
-----------------------

The second enrollment period for consumers under the Affordable Care Act is around the corner. Connecticut’s insurance exchange is reaching out to its more than 76,000 members currently enrolled with a private insurance company to let them know their options. 


Access Health CT Acting CEO Jim Wadleigh said, “Many consumers will be able to automatically re-enroll in the plan they selected last year through the exchange, but everyone still has the option to shop around and compare plans.”


The open enrollment period begins on Nov. 15. Next year consumers will have four options instead of three:  Anthem, ConnectiCare, Healthy CT, and United Healthcare.


While some individuals may choose to keep their current plans, an actuary warned in September that the discounted rate consumers received in 2014 may be different than what they can expect in 2015. The federal government has modified its poverty guidelines, so the benchmark plans that are used to set premiums and subsidies have changed. That means that even if your income didn’t change this year, the monthly subsidy applied to that premium may be reduced and increase the monthly amount you contribute.


The 207,000 individuals enrolled in a Medicaid plan through the exchange will get a separate notice before their renewal period.

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

The Albany Times-Union reports that the New York State Committee on Open Government has recommended that State Police should release data such as the number of the assault weapons registered under the SAFE Act gun control when faced with Freedom of Information Law requests.


For almost a year, State Police have refused to release any of this sort of aggregate data, citing a clause in the gun control law that says any registration information – including data derived from these records -- is confidential.


But while members of the Committee on Open Government acknowledge that the legislative intent of the confidentiality protections afforded under the SAFE Act was to shield the permit holder from potential danger or harassment, they maintain that aggregate data — such as the raw number of weapons registered — wouldn’t compromise that intent.


Robert Freeman, the executive director of the committee, has been offering essentially the same opinion since initial rejections of FOIL requests to State Police.


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


Newsday reports that Long Island environmentalists and Suffolk County officials are at an impasse as of Monday night regarding the fate of a $30 million deal to settle a lawsuit over funding of Suffolk’s drinking water program.


The legislature was scheduled Tuesday to take up a resolution to slash $79 million in funding appropriated for capital projects that was never spent, including cutting Multi-Faceted Land Preservation and Environmental Legacy programs, totaling $30 million, to buy land for groundwater protection.


The settlement deal would provide environmentalists with new bonding of $29.4 million -- $20 million for land purchases and $9.4 million for sewers and other environmental projects.


Bob Deluca, president of environmental nonprofit Group for the East End, described the deal as “stealing $30 million from the capital program at the same time you are promising $30 million in a settlement, before people even have a chance to vote on it.”


Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory of Amityville said that the measure might be tabled for further review.

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

 Monday, October 6:(thanks to WPKN volunteers Scott Schere and Melinda Tuhus)

In the news tonight, opposition builds to CL&P’s proposed rate hike; changes are coming to Connecticut  in the second year of the Obamacare; Malloy gets a boost from environmentalists; a Riverhead development moves forward; and Suffolk County weighs in on human rights.

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Attorney General George Jepsen is urging the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, or PURA, to reject the Connecticut Light & Power Co.’s proposed rate increase as unjustified.  If enacted, Jepsen said the $221 million rate increase would mean a 20 percent boost on the delivery portion of each bill and an overall rate increase of seven percent for the typical customer.

Jepsen also said the utility should be penalized a minimum of $28 million per year for the next three years for its inadequate response to Tropical Storm Irene and the October 2011 surprise nor’easter. Jepsen said the rate approval should be limited to 8.9 percent to cover CL&P’s investments to harden the system so there will be less damage from subsequent storms.
PURA, in an earlier ruling, said the way CL&P prepared for those storms and responded to them justified a penalty at its next rate case. A CL&P spokesman said its rate adjustment reflects the cost of replacing old infrastructure and hardening its electric system.
----------------

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters made its first-ever endorsement for governor since its founding in 1998. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy got the nod. The endorsement read, "In his first term, Governor Malloy's record includes major investments in the Clean Water Fund, helping to ensure water quality by upgrading sewage treatment plants that impact rivers and Long Island Sound. Malloy has also been a leader in supporting the passage of a long overdue statewide water plan, as well as committing to support a Long Island Sound "Blue Plan" to best manage that critical resource." 

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Riverhead Town’s proposed 50-lot subdivision and reuse plan for the Enterprise Park at Calverton took a step forward last Wednesday, as the Suffolk County Planning Commission gave its approval to the project, with some recommendations.


The EPCAL subdivision is required before the town can start selling individual lots on the 2,400 acre property.


Town officials are banking on income from land sales and leases at EPCAL to balance its budget in 2015 and future years.


The approval came despite a call to reject it from Richard Amper, the executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, and Bob LeLuca, president of the Group for the East End. Both expressed disapproval of the project last month in Riverhead Town Hall. However their disapproval on Wednesday wasn’t necessarily against the plan itself, but the fact that the plan may change after it is approved by the commission.


County planners ultimately gave their approval to the subdivision, but said the town plan could be required to come back the planning commission if there are substantial changes in the future.

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Suffolk County Executive Bellone was joined by human rights advocates for a bill signing to codify the recently approved amendments to the County’s Human Rights Law. The approved amendments will provide consistency between Suffolk County local law and New York State Human Rights Law and will include a process for administrative hearings in the County on all founded complaints of discrimination.


Some of the highlights of the proposed amendments include protection for those in the military in housing, employment, public accommodations and credit; they prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities based on their use of a guide dog, hearing dog or service dog. They add protected status for victims of domestic violence in employment; require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnancy related conditions; and add coverage for Domestic Workers

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Friday October 3 (Thanks to WPKN volunteers Kristiana Pastir, David Majlak and Paul Atkin):


In the news tonight: Anthem and Hartford HealthCare finally reach a deal, the federal government will reimburse Connecticut for some Medicaid expenses, Riverhead’s $91.5 million budget cuts spending, and Southampton considers longer school day.

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Anthem and Hartford HealthCare reached a deal late Thursday on a new contract. Their contract had expired October 1, leading five of Hartford’s to leave Anthem’s network. But now they are back with the state’s largest insurer. 


Without a new contract, thousands of state residents could’ve faced paying higher out-of-network rates or switching medical providers.


The joint statement did not include specific details, but said it was a multi-year agreement and that the hospitals’ return to Anthem’s network was effective October 1.


Anthem and Hartford HealthCare said the new agreement would broaden their work on improving coordination of patients’ care. They also plan to implement a chronic care program and work to integrate behavioral health care into Hartford HealthCare’s primary care.


Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Elliot Joseph stated the agreement “allows us to work together to continue improving quality, enhancing access to care and making health care more affordable.”

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

The federal government will only partially defer reimbursements for a portion of Connecticut’s Medicaid population, preserving the state’s cash position.


More than two months ago, the state learned the federal government would defer a $249 million payment for the year’s first quarter. But now it will give the state about $125 million for January through March.


Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes said he expects the remainder of the money to come once the state plan amendment issue is settled. He said the state is “confident that it will be resolved in October without having any deleterious impacts on the state’s cash position.”


State Treasurer Denise Nappier reported there is $1.3 billion in the common cash pool. She wrote, “The State’s available cash remains adequate to meet its obligations.” 


The state, according to state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, should still end the fiscal year with a $300,000 surplus. Since Medicaid spending is now outside the state budget, any fluctuations only impact the state’s cash position, not the budget’s bottom line.

------------- 

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter delivered his 2015 budget plan this week.


The tentative budget, which calls for spending of just under $91.5 million, would not require the town to either pierce the state-imposed tax cap or borrow money against the EPCAL property to make ends meet, two measures previously discussed by the board.


Walter’s budget estimates revenues of just over $39 million and anticipates using just over $5.5 million in fund balance money — including $2.9 million from the Community Preservation Fund appropriated fund balance to cover CPF debt service — to help keep the 2015 tax levy under the state limit.


The fund balance won’t be there to help balance the budget in 2016, warned Walter. He had sought board approval for borrowing money against the EPCAL property to help keep the town afloat until lots in a subdivision there can be sold. In August, he said the town would face a 12.5 percent tax hike or have to make “Draconian” budget cuts in order to plug a $4 million deficit.


--------------- 


Newsday reports: Southampton may extend the school day by almost two hours.


New York State's Extended Learning Time grant would give Southampton $2.6 million a year for two years to add roughly 300 hours of school time a year in the elementary and/or intermediate school.


Southampton is one of nine districts statewide, and the only one on Long Island, to win a portion of a $24 million grant because of its test scores and socioeconomic and ethnic diversity, school officials said.


Some Southampton parents questioned the proposal at a meeting on Wednesday, saying they already juggle sports, other activities and homework.


Southampton Superintendent of Schools Scott Farina said the district has not made a decision to accept the grant and wants to hear from parents over the next year. The school board could go forward with the program in September 2015.


Other districts that won the grant are in New York City, Yonkers, Syracuse and elsewhere upstate.

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Thursday, October 2 (Thanks to WPKN volunteer Nadine Dumser.):

In the news tonight: A false bomb threat closed the Sandy Hook School in Monroe, several new Connecticut laws took effect yesterday, a Long Island a high school football player died after suffering a head injury; and dunes to protect the shore line may threaten piping plovers on Fire Island. 

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CBS News reports: 

A bomb threat led to the evacuation of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut yesterday.  The school in nearby Monroe was renamed in honor of the Newtown school at which the 2012 massacre took place.
The bomb threat was called into the school located on Fan Hill Road in Monroe just after 9:30 a.m.
The students were moved to a nearby school to be picked up by their parents.
The building and surrounding area have been searched and no evidence of a threat was located by authorities.
Connecticut state police sent their bomb squad to assist in the investigation.
--------------------  

Several new laws took effect in Connecticut yesterday, including new regulations on pet stores and the sale of electronic cigarettes, as well as a law cracking down on domestic violence.


The Pet Store legislation is aimed squarely at combating “puppy mills,” and  will require the Department of Agriculture to establish standards of care for dogs and cats bred in Connecticut. 


The bill also requires pet stores to provide customers with greater reimbursements if they sell a pet that needs medical care soon after the sale. 


A new law prohibits stores from selling electronic nicotine devices to minors and subjects violators to the same penalties as vendors who sell cigarettes to minors. 


A new law increases the penalties for domestic and sexual violence. It establishes a mandatory minimum sentence for intimate partner sexual violence and makes it easier for a court to issue a protective order, among other changes.


A new law clarifies and expands regulations on GPS tracking. It  requires a judge’s approval before police can use GPS device to track someone. 


And a new law now permits establishing and operating for-profit businesses that seek to produce social benefits while increasing value for their shareholders.

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Newsday reports: A member of the Shoreham-Wading River High School football team died Wednesday night after colliding with an opponent and collapsing during a game in Elwood earlier in the day.

Junior Tom Cutinella, a guard/linebacker, was pronounced dead at Huntington Hospital after sustaining a head injury during the afternoon varsity game against John Glenn High School, according to police and school officials.
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Suffolk County is seeking to join the federal government in defending against a lawsuit filed by the New York Audubon Society to protect piping plover nesting grounds. The lawsuit has temporarily halted Fire Island's dune-rebuilding project.


Last month, the Audubon Society persuaded a federal judge to halt the project's first phases--building 3 miles of dunes on Fire Island parklands. Audubon claims the 15-foot-high dunes would jeopardize endangered piping plovers. 


County Executive Steve Bellone hailed the project as a crucial storm defense measure for Long Island. 


The state Department of Environmental Conservation, which is partnering with the US Army Corps of Engineers on the project, claims that the dune plan has been improved, with more safeguards for the migratory birds. 


Supporters agree with Bellone that the new dunes would protect Fire Island and shield the mainland from storm surges. But critics say the dunes could erode in as few as 5 years, with no money pledged to replenish them.


The US Geological Survey’s analysis said the Army Corps' plan overstated how much protection the dunes would provide for the South Shore.


Gilbert Anderson, Suffolk Public Works Commissioner, said the new dunes are part of a bigger federal project that includes raising thousands of flood-prone South Shore homes.

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 Wednesday, Oct. 1 (Erin Schultz, Producer)

  
In the news tonight: Dannel Malloy and Tom Foley have their second gubernatorial in West Hartford; Connecticut Senators urge retailers to adopt gun control policies; Anthony Palumbo and Tom Shiliro debate for a seat in New York State Assembly’s second district; and students across Long Island start their first week of school tackling the subject of international peace.
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Connecticut’s Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley debated for the second time Tuesday night at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford.


Throughout the debate, Malloy said he was proud of the progress his administration has made in the years since inheriting a $3.67 billion deficit. Foley criticized Malloy for imposing what he called a needless $1.8 billion tax increase in 2011 but never quite explained how he would close the remaining $1.67 billion gap.


Both men opposed allowing additional casinos in the state or the legalization of pot – though both admitted to having smoked marijuana.


Foley seemed unsure how to react when Malloy talked at length about Foley’s recent release of tax returns, which showed that the wealthy Greenwich businessman paid no taxes in two of the three years. Malloy suggested something was amiss when a multi-millionaire pays no taxes.


Foley criticized Malloy for the aggressive, lecturing style and said that the state needs a leader  -- like him -- who listens to people and can get a candid view of how they feel.


The candidates meet again 7 p.m. on Thursday at the University of Connecticut.


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Connecticut U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal called on Tuesday for national retailers to discourage customers from bringing guns into stores, citing an FBI report that found that 160 active shooter incidents occurred in the U.S. between 2000 and 2013, and 45.6 percent of those happened at commercial establishments.


At a press conference in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, the senators praised gun policies adopted by chains like Starbucks, Panera Bread and Sonic.


Former state Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy attended the press conference and said that to abridge the rights of people who have a legal right to carry a weapon is “sending a signal to the bad people that says ‘Guess what? Come on in.”


But Murphy pointed to statistics in the FBI report indicating that 21 of the active shooter incidents ended after an unarmed member of the public restrained the shooter and only five incidents in which armed members of the public stopped the shooter.

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Incumbent Republican Anthony Palumbo of New Suffolk and Democratic challenger Tom Schiliro of Manorville debated issues such as the Women’s Equality Act and Common Core Tuesday night at Polish Hall in Riverhead in the race for New York State Assembly’s second district.


Schiliro, a Suffolk County Parks Police sergeant and former schoolteacher, said he supports the entire Women’s Equality act bill, including its position on abortion, an issue Schiliro said “has to be decided between a woman and her doctor and it’s absolutely disgusting that we debate this on a political stage.” Palumbo, an attorney and former prosecutor, said that he voted against the bill because he opposed only the point that would have extended abortion rights to the third trimester, expanded the types of doctors who can perform abortions and repealed the criminal aspects to abortion in the current law.


Both men said they oppose the Common Core State Standards for school but in different ways, Palumbo as a minority party dissenter and Schiliro as a former schoolteacher who has experience writing curriculum.


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Newsday reports that, in the light of the United Nations' International Day of Peace on Sept. 21, international peace was one of the first subjects many Long Island students and teachers tackled this year. 


Nancy Winkler-Brogan had her third-graders at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School in Port Jefferson pledge to steer clear of bullying and read original poetry in which they used the five senses to describe the word "peace.” She also taught students to say "peace" in different languages using Karen Katz's children's book, "Can You Say Peace?"


High school students in Amityville participated in a "Pinwheels for Peace" event by planting homemade pinwheels on the lawn and reading original peace-themed poetry.


George A. Jackson Elementary School in Jericho hosted a "Peace Week,” where each day represented a letter of the word "peace," and children explored conflict resolution through "peaceful breathing" techniques to calm the body and mind. Principal Benny D’Quila said that Peace Week was created to “encourage studetns to make a connection between the ideal of peace in the world and respectful, responsible and peaceful behavior in their everyday lives."

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