Monthly Archives: August 2011

Connecticut utilities’ response to Irene called ‘at par’ or better

A top federal energy official said Wednesday that Connecticut’s two major electric companies are on pace to restore power after Tropical Storm Irene more quickly than is typical after disasters of similar scope. “It may not be any consolation to those currently without power,” said William Bryan, the official who oversees infrastructure security and energy restoration for the U.S. Department of Energy. Based on the feedback Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and utility officials are getting, that undoubtedly is an understatement. “Obviously the issue in Connecticut right now is power, power, power. It is on everybody’s mind who is without it, and everyone who has it is grateful to have it,” Malloy said. Continue Reading →

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With a Senate bid imminent, Shays is back in the limelight

WASHINGTON–Former Connecticut Rep. Chris Shays stepped back into the political limelight on Wednesday, discussing deficit politics, government waste and U.S. defense policy on Capitol Hill. What a perfect platform for a U.S. Senate bid in 2012. But this was no campaign event. It was a staid news conference in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, where Shays took center stage in his role as the co-chairman of the federal Commission on Wartime Contracting. The commission issued its final 240-page report to Congress today, with Shays and other commissioners outlining their conclusions–that waste and mismanagement in Iraq and Afghanistan war contracts has cost U.S. taxpayers as much as $60 billion–to a bevy of Washington reporters. Continue Reading →

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Coaching patients to keep them from returning to the hospital

NEW BRITAIN–If you end up in The Hospital of Central Connecticut, you might meet Joyce Kolpa and Tamara Johnson. They’ll visit you after you go home, make a couple follow up calls, even role play if it will help you be a better patient–all with the goal of keeping you from coming back. Patients leaving hospitals routinely get instructions on how to take care of themselves. But increasingly, health care providers are realizing that a few minutes of guidance aren’t enough. Care Transition Coaches Tamara Johnson (left) and Joyce Kolpa
That’s where Kolpa and Johnson come in. Continue Reading →

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Malloy on Ron Paul’s attack on FEMA: ‘I think he’s an idiot’

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas an idiot on CNN today for suggesting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency be denied funding and that Americans rely on private insurance to cope with natural disasters. Three minutes into a live, five-minute interview about the impact of Tropical Storm Irene on Connecticut, anchor Christine Romans posed a long question about the criticism of FEMA by Paul, a Tea Party hero and Republican presidential candidate. Malloy answered in just five words. “I think he’s an idiot,” Malloy said. Romans seemed taken aback. Continue Reading →

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State tells 11 towns they must increase education spending

Officials at the State Department of Education are notifying officials in 11 cities and towns that they are in violation of state law setting minimum spending requirements for education and that they must increase their school appropriations for the current fiscal year.”If they don’t comply soon then we will have to figure out what the next step is,” said Brian Mahoney, the longtime chief financial officer for the SDE. In order to receive state education funding grants, the law requires school districts to spend at least as much each year than they did the previous year. For the first time a significant number of districts have submitted budget figures to the state that do not comply with the minimum spending requirement. “This is unprecedented. This has never happened before,” said Mahoney. Continue Reading →

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Where do GOP presidential hopefuls stand on education?

So far education hasn’t been a big issue in the Republican race for the 2012 presidential nomination, Sarah Butrymowicz says at the Hechinger Report–but the eight leading candidates do have track records on the subject. Butrymowicz sifts through their past statements to provide a digest of  the candidates’ stands. Hint: Not a lot of No Child Left Behind fans in the group. Continue Reading →

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Lieberman uses different “i” word to describe Ron Paul

Asked about Ron Paul’s call to sap funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Sen. Joseph Lieberman opted for a couple different “I” epithets. “Ron Paul’s statement is taking an ideology to an illogical and really unproductive extreme,” Lieberman said. Lieberman’s comments came in response to a question about Paul’s criticism of FEMA–and Gov. Dannel Malloy’s remarks on CNN this morning calling Paul an “idiot.” Lieberman didn’t say whether he agreed with Malloy’s assessment or not. But he strongly defended FEMA, an agency that he oversees as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Continue Reading →

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Utility executives: Another week before all power is restored

Leaders of the state’s two major electric utilities say they have more than quadrupled their work forces to confront Connecticut’s worst power outage, flying in crews from the west coast Tuesday on chartered flights. But full restoration of power is still a week away. At the insistence of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the top executives of Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating joined him at a late afternoon briefing at the State Armory, delivering on the governor’s promise to improve communication about their power restoration efforts. “I’m not sure we’ve had the chief executive officers of the two largest utilities at this kind of press conference before, but we did it today, and they all understand that communication is paramount,” Malloy said. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Jeffrey D. Butler, James P. Torgerson, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman
From the Carolinas to Quebec, governors and others are demanding that their utilities compete harder for emergency crews to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, which arrived in the state Sunday as a strong tropical storm, leaving more than half the state without electricity. Continue Reading →

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Some Connecticut farmers are feeling fortunate after Irene

Tropical Storm Irene left many Connecticut farmers cleaning up and waiting anxiously for the Connecticut River to crest Tuesday, but many also said they feel optimistic about the upcoming fall season despite losses to their harvests. Gresczyk Farm in New Hartford was spared serious damage from Tropical Storm Irene
“We were very, very lucky,” said Nancy Barrett, owner of Scantic Valley Farms in Somers. “We were lucky that we didn’t have the really high winds that were predicted. With the ground so saturated, wind can easily knock crops over, but I feel like we made it through okay.” Barrett said her pumpkin patch sustained wind damage, but for the most part, she expects to see a pretty normal season for customers looking to pick pumpkins this fall. Continue Reading →

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He lost his home, but he thanks the governor for visiting

FAIRFIELD–His shattered rental home was condemned and teetering precariously over Pine Creek, but Andreas Fuchs only smiled when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy stopped to greet him Tuesday with the risky question, “How are you doing?” Fuchs told the governor he was grateful. Andreas Fuchs talks to a television news crew outside his home in Fairfield
Authorities had allowed him and his wife to take shelter during Irene with their five dogs, knowing that pet owners in New Orleans had been forced to abandon their animals during Katrina. The same authorities let him carefully creep back into the house Tuesday, with its floor sloping on a funhouse angle toward the creek, now swollen with a rising tide. He grabbed what he could, filling boxes, trash bags and a dented suitcase. Continue Reading →

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New ‘cyberbullying’ law poses challenges as school year starts

As students head back to school after summer vacation, educators, free-speech advocates and anti-bullying activists are gearing up for implementation of the state’s new “cyberbullying” law that will make on-line statements subject to academic disciplinary proceedings. The new law puts school officials in the position of having to pass judgement on off-campus speech with little legal precedent to guide them, some expert say. If they clamp down on online comments, they risk First Amendment challenges. If they’re too lenient, they could be deemed responsible if cyberbullying leads to tragedy. “This is requiring schools to limit and prohibit speech on the grounds that it hurts someone’s feelings,” said Sandy Staub, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Connecticut chapter. Continue Reading →

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Marijuana decriminalized, but pot on campus is still a risk

After the decriminalization of marijuana this summer, students at the state’s four-year colleges face more lenient sanctions under the law if caught with a small amount pot, but they can expect unchanging disciplinary standards on campus. The University of Connecticut and the Connecticut State University System will not change their judicial proceedings or possible sanctions for students caught with marijuana, even though state law made less than half an ounce a low-level offense starting July 1. “It’s still illegal,” said Bernard Kavaler, the assistant vice chancellor for public affairs at the state university system. UConn will continue to evaluate marijuana use based on its Student Code and Office of Community Standards, which was not changed to reflect the lessened criminal penalties, UConn spokesman Michael Kirk said. According to the Student Code, possible sanctions for the possession or use of illegal drugs can result in university suspension. Continue Reading →

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Poison control center warns of carbon monoxide from portable generators

With people using portable generators in the wake of tropical storm Irene, the Connecticut Poison Control Center has been receiving calls about carbon monoxide poisoning. Portable generators produce carbon monoxide, and the poison control center, part of the UConn Health Center, has issued safety advice about the generators and food safety. “CO cannot be seen, smelled, or heard,” said Amy Hanoian Fontana, community education specialist at the poison control center. “Working CO detectors are the only way to tell if carbon monoxide is in the home. They save lives. Continue Reading →

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Hispanic media faring better than English counterparts

Although beset by some of the same problems that afflict the media generally, Spanish-language media tended to fare better overall than their mainstream English-language counterparts last year, a new report by the Pew Research Center says. Hispanic newspapers saw a small decline in circulation in 2010, reported Emily Guskin and Amy Mitchell of Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, far less than the circulation loss of the English language press. And the number of newspapers–mostly weeklies–remained relatively stable. The audience for Spanish-language television grew during the year, with the Univision network reaching numbers approaching those of the three English-language broadcast networks, ABC, NBC and CBS. Spanish language websites also saw an increase in the number of users, although Hispanics–particularly those whose dominant language is Spanish–tend to lag the population as a whole when it comes to Internet use. Continue Reading →

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Economists caution: ACOs may not end wasteful health spending

Two of the nations’ top health care economists have condensed many of the causes and challenges of America’s rising health care costs into one 29-page paper with a snappy title: “Aspirin, Angioplasty, and Proton Beam Therapy: The Economics of Smarter Health Care Spending.” Harvard’s Katherine Baicker and Amitabh Chandra presented the paper last week at a Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The paper has been getting attention for arguing that controlling the federal deficit requires clamping down on expensive, unproven technologies and encouraging cost-effective, cheaper ones. Similar arguments are being made with some frequency these days as the political accusations of “death panels” have receded for the moment. But the paper has some provocative–and not altogether encouraging–things to say about “accountable care organizations” (ACOs). Continue Reading →

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