‘Let’s get together and turn Connecticut red’ — Klarides Wins Endorsement to Face Blumenthal

Republicans endorsed Themis Klarides, of Madison, as the party candidate for senate to run against Democrat Richard Blumenthal who has held the office since 2011.  “Simply put, Dick Blumenthal’s priorities are not our priorities,” Klarides said from the convention stage. Klarides, who earned 57 percent of the vote, may face competition in the primary against Leora Levy of Greenwich, a member of the Republican National Committee, who earned 23 percent and Peter Lumaj of Fairfield, a conservative who ran for secretary of the state in 2014 and for governor in 2018, with 20 percent.  Candidates who earn more than 15

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‘Losing This Race is Not an Option,’ Stefanowski Promises “Every Ounce” of Effort in Race for Governor

Most delegates threw their support to Bob Stefanowski, a business executive, as the Republican candidate for governor at the party’s convention at Foxwoods Resort Casino on Friday night. Stefanowski said he was tired of the government failing Connecticut – a state that no longer resembled the one he grew up in. “We’ve got a problem with crumbling infrastructure that most states would be embarrassed by,” he said. “Families are forced to leave Connecticut because they simply can’t afford to live here anymore.” The upcoming election will be ‘historic’ for the state, he said, because increasing numbers of young voters have

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Attendees at Connecticut’s Republican Convention Voice ‘Bread and Butter’ Complaints

On Friday night, two CT Examiner reporters walked the floor of the Republican Convention at Foxwoods Resort Casino, talking with attendees. A Bloomfield resident, Robert Ike, told us that Republicans have improved Connecticut, but the Democrats are “killing” the state. “The government wants to take money out of my pocket and give it to somebody else who wants to throw money at everything,” he said. “All [the Democrats] want to do is tax and spend.” Ike described himself as a “lifelong” Republican and said Connecticut must continue to fight for Republican beliefs and values. “Hopefully, more people will see that

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Stamford Schools Face Wave of No-Confidence Votes

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For two months, votes of no-confidence in Stamford’s school superintendent have trickled in. They began in early March with Westhill, the city’s largest high school, where two-thirds of the tenured teachers cited a lack of confidence in the superintendent, Tamu Lucero, saying she leaves them out of important decisions – particularly one to switch to a block schedule in the fall. That was followed a week later by a no-confidence vote from the city’s smallest high school, the Academy of Information Technology & Engineering, where 42 of 51 tenured teachers cited the same reasons. In late March it was Turn

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Facing a Lawsuit, Developer in Darien Opts for 8-30g Housing

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8-30g is a Connecticut affordable housing law that was enacted more than 30 years ago, then largely ignored. Until now. It was written to help people afford housing in Connecticut, one of the most expensive states in the nation.  Within Connecticut, no places are less affordable than the small, wealthy towns of Fairfield County. But that’s where affordable housing projects are going up. It’s happening because demand for housing is high, stock is low, and developers are earning profits even with the 8-30g requirement that 30 percent of the units in a project are rented at rates deemed affordable. To

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Blaze damages Lighthouse Inn in New London, Opening was Scheduled for Sunday

NEW LONDON — A two-alarm fire at the Lighthouse Inn this afternoon left one firefighter hospitalized and caused smoke, fire and water damage to building interior. The 1902 historical mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. “It was a real historic preservation project that has taken this owner several years to get to the point where we are today, on the cusp of opening up the first floor restaurant,” said Felix Reyes, director of economic development and planning for the city.  Fire Chief Thomas Curcio said the cause of the fire is unknown and will be

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City Reps. Vote Cuts for Mill River Park, Cite Unequal Funding of Stamford Parks

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In the final meeting to decide on Stamford’s $626 million budget for the coming fiscal year, members of the Board of Representatives spent an hour and a half talking about one park. The discussion can be summarized by paraphrasing a famous line from George Orwell’s 1945 novel, Animal Farm: All parks are equal, but some parks are more equal than others. It describes the thinking among city representatives who voted to cut $175,200 from Mill River Park, the jewel of downtown Stamford. Mill River is an expanding greenway with a sparkling stream visited by elegant egrets and surrounded by blossoming

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Schools Near a Decision $43+ Million Renovations, Mile Creek Expansion Undecided

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LYME/OLD LYME – Citing concerns about space at Mile Creek, the Board of Education voted to authorize Rusty Malik of QA + M Architecture to speak with the state of Connecticut about a facilities plan that would expand Mile Creek Elementary School.  The discussion represents the next step in the district’s plan to renovate four of the district’s five schools: Mile Creek, Lyme Consolidated School, Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School and Center School.   The renovations include upgrades to the HVAC system, installing central air throughout the buildings, replacing the boiler and putting in a back-up heating system. It also includes updating

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Citing Impracticality, Old Lyme Sets Aside 10% Goal of Affordable Housing

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OLD LYME — In the town’s draft of its Affordable Housing Plan, the guiding principles include meeting the needs of present and future residents of Old Lyme and preserving the community’s essence and priorities as a small town. The plan, which is required to be submitted to the state by June 1, “will consider relevant policies and practices, and will comply with statutory requirements, but will not be driven by the 10% exemption threshold for CGS Sec. 8-30g or arbitrary goals,” according to a presentation given by the chair of the Affordable Housing Commission to the Board of Selectmen on

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Senate Approval Sends Juvenile Crime Bill to Lamont’s Desk 

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HARTFORD – After airing what one lawmaker called “a crazy mix of opinions,” a near-unanimous State Senate vote Wednesday gave final legislative approval to a menu of stricter laws and expanded diversionary programs designed to address juvenile crime. But the contentious debate that preceded the 35-1 vote showed how deep divisions run when it comes to public safety and crime depending on one’s experience, political leanings, and street address.  “The perspective you have of crime generally as an individual is about what you see in your area,” said State Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, who recalled growing up with a

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As Session Nears Close, Bill Safeguarding State’s Contracting Watchdog Still Unfinished

HARTFORD – With the state legislature’s session coming to a close at midnight, the fate of an effort to safeguard funding for the state’s contracting watchdog is still up in the air as lawmakers work to address state agency concerns that the bill will restrict their procurement processes. The bill – which passed out of the Senate unanimously on Friday – would protect the State Contracting Standards Board from what has become common practice by the Office of the Governor to cut the board’s funding – something that has frustrated the board and lawmakers.  Speaker of the House Matt Ritter,

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Guilford Schools May Launch Open Choice Program with New Haven as Soon as 2023

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GUILFORD — A change in state law could allow Guilford schools to begin an Open Choice program with New Haven Public Schools as soon as September 2023.  The Open Choice program allows students from urban school districts such as New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford to send a number of students to nearby suburban districts that agree to receive them. Districts that participate in the program receive state funding to support the education of the students they accept into their schools.   Recently, the program has been a point of contention in Fairfield County, where an attempt to launch  an Open Choice

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Legislators Pass Far-reaching School and Mental Health Bill

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Expansion for school-based health centers. A grant for minority teachers. Tax breaks for early childcare centers and wage supplements for their workers. A remote learning option for elementary schoolers (but no more hybrid teaching).  These are a few of the items passed into law on Tuesday in two bills focused on recruiting more mental health workers in schools, expanding teacher diversity and supporting early childcare centers and their workers.   The bills, which received broad bipartisan support, did raise concerns among some lawmakers regarding the parental role and consent in the care of children.  Senate Bill 1 includes grants to help

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Flush with Cash, Legislators Approve a $24.2 Billion Package of Tax Cuts and New Spending

HARTFORD – Connecticut lawmakers approved a $24.2 billion budget adjustment that includes significant taxes cuts and and significant new spending based on booming state revenues and a one-time influx of federal aid dollars. The House of Representatives voted 95-52 on party lines to approve the budget on Monday, and the Senate voted 24-12 to approve on Tuesday.  State Sen. Dennis Bradley, D-Bridgeport, was the lone Democrat to vote against the bill. State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, and State Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, broke from their Republican colleagues to vote in favor of the budget. “The budget that is before us

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Police Avoid Traffic Stops for Unregistered Vehicles, Focus on More Serious Crimes

License-plate readers posted in busy parts of Stamford are detecting lots of unregistered vehicles on the streets. But officers are focusing on other things the automated plate readers detect, including vehicles that are stolen, those that may have been used in a crime, and those wanted in investigations by other law enforcement agencies. That’s fine with Ken Barone, a researcher tasked with helping to establish fair and effective public policies in Connecticut. Barone has been working on reforming the state’s motor vehicle code, which has hundreds of violations. “It’s been a belief for a long time within some police circles

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Citing Job Vacancies, Hartford Schools to Offer Bonuses to Staff and Teachers

There are 372 job vacancies in the Hartford Public School District – that’s 11 percent of the number of teachers and staff needed to best operate the 46 schools that comprise the district, according to Jesse Sugarman, Senior Advisor for Strategy and Institutional Advancement at the Hartford Public Schools. In a pre-COVID year, the district nearly always filled about 95 percent of teaching and staff positions, Sugarman said. It’s a problem that isn’t unique to Hartford. According to the National Education Association, in February 2022, “55 percent of teachers said that the pandemic is pushing them to plan on leaving

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Connecticut General Assembly Approves Pay Raises for Itself, Other Top State Officials

HARTFORD – All 187 state legislators need a $12,000 pay raise to attract a more diverse membership than what one member called the “lawyers, independently rich people, retired people and adults living in their parent’s basement” that now dominate its ranks. “That’s what we’ve got here,” State Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, said at the State Capitol before the full General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to approve a hike in legislators’ base pay from $28,000 to $40,000. “And that’s not truly representative of the people in our state.” Other legislators said they just flat out deserve their first raise in 21 years

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Safety, Crowding, and Policing a Concern in Stamford Parks, as Child Recovers in Hospital

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For most of the five years Jeff Stella has been a city representative, he has raised the prospect of danger at Lione Park. On Sunday, something perilous happened. An 11-year-old on a swing was struck by a car that careened through the playground fence. The child, at last check, was in stable condition. “When I heard, I prayed his injuries weren’t serious,” said Stella, whose district on Stamford’s West Side includes the busy park. “Then I thought, ‘This has been one of my fears, and now it happened.’” The woman behind the wheel, 54-year-old Mikel Lyneel of Stamford, was charged

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Open Space Claims Jurisdiction Over Waterfront Property in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — A recently discovered, much-debated town-owned property along the Black Hall River that has garnered attention as a potential public boat launch is, and has been since 2002, under the jurisdiction of the Open Space Commission, according to claims by the commission co-chairs. “The parcel was pursued from the start to become town open space,” said Open Space co-chairs Amanda Blair and Evan Griswold in a statement read to the Board of Selectmen Monday night.  Blair and Griswold said that a “careful review” of the 2001 minutes of the Open Space Committee, which was then part of the

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The Death of their Child Sparks Creation of a Mental Health Nonprofit

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FAIRFIELD — After Jim and Kristen Kuczo’s son, Kevin, took his own life in February 2021, Jim started to see his son’s experience reflected across the country — a 16-year-old in Brunswick, Maine. An 18-year-old in Chicago.  All were stories of teenagers who had been good students, athletes – young men who were making plans for the future. In all three cases, the parents said that isolation from COVID had exacerbated the depression that the teenagers were suffering.  Jim Kuczo said that beyond what he was hearing in the news, he was also receiving phone calls from parents nearby, telling

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Legislators Move to Approve Limited, but Durable Oversight by the State Contracting Standards Board

HARTFORD – Connecticut lawmakers are moving toward fully funding and staffing the State Contracting Standards Board, but won’t give the board the authority to review the contracts of every quasi-public state agency this year. The State Senate voted unanimously Friday on a bill to take steps to protect State Contracting Standards Board funding and staffing from the state’s governors, who have routinely pushed against giving resources to the board’s oversight of state contracting processes. The bill still needs approval from the House. The bill requires the board to hire five, full-time staff by September, and lawmakers will vote on a

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Vasiloff Family Hopes to Preserve Horse Legacy in Sale of McCulloch Farm

OLD LYME – For decades, Morgan horses were the centerpiece of the McCulloch family farm, before significant portions of the property were deeded to open space for the town. Now, a couple from Essex are hoping to return horses to the farm, and are asking the town to allow some horseback riding to return to the trails on open space land. Mike and Amanda Tevis intend to buy a piece of the farm owned by the Vasiloff family to keep horses on the property to ride.  The Vasiloffs told CT Examiner that they fully support the plan as a way

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CT Examiner Takes Home 18 Awards at the New England Newspaper and Press Association Awards in Boston

BOSTON — The Connecticut Examiner’s Emilia Otte was named “Rookie of the Year” at the annual meeting of the New England Newspaper and Press Association on Saturday, one of 18 awards taken home by CT Examiner, an online newspaper startup that began publishing just three years ago from its home in Old Lyme, CT. Two years ago the award was given to Alex Putterman of the Hartford Courant, the oldest continuously operated newspaper in the United States. The New England Newspaper and Press Association is the professional trade organization for more than 450 newspapers in the six-state region: Massachusetts, Connecticut,

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Connecticut Storytelling Festival Performs in Downtown New London on Saturday

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NEW LONDON — What happens when a proofreader fails at the one job she has to do? “I would wake in the night in a sweat, wondering, is ‘kick off’ one word or two words? With a hyphen or no hyphen? And which one did I use? Oh my god, I don’t know!” ChaChanna Simpson told a rapt audience at the “Cabaret,” the first event of the 40th annual Connecticut Storytelling Festival at Hygienic Art Park Friday night. When her boss asked her to check an important logo for a major event, Simpson was mortified when she found out she

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Durham-Middlefield Schools Invite Speaker on Racial Justice, Drawing Mixed Response from Parents

DURHAM/MIDDLEFIELD — After a number of incidents of racial discrimination and bullying in the district, parents and community members have expressed mixed opinions about the district’s plan to have a speaker on equity and racial justice lead a day-long event at Coginchaug High School.  The speaker, Calvin Terrell, is scheduled to lead the event on May 3, which will include a two-hour assembly in the morning with the sixth through 12th graders. In the afternoon, Terrell will meet with teachers and staff for a training session, and in the evening, he will hold an event that parents and community members

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Parties Split As Lawmakers Approve Transportation Emissions Bill

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HARTFORD – Lawmakers approved a wide-ranging bill aimed at limiting emissions from cars, trucks and buses in an effort accelerate the shift to electric vehicles. The bill, dubbed the “Connecticut Clean Air Act” by proponents, would require transit and school buses to transition to zero emission buses, expands electric vehicle rebates, tightens emissions standards for trucks, and requires some condo and apartment buildings to allow residents to install electric vehicle chargers. The bill passed the House by a vote of 95-52 on Friday, with all Republicans voting against. It passed the Senate earlier in the week on a nearly party-line

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Colchester Superintendent Resigns

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COLCHESTER — The Board of Education voted Friday to accept the resignation of superintendent Jeffrey Burt and to form a search committee to find a new superintendent.  While the board did not give a reason for Burt’s resignation at the meeting, it comes after the board has held multiple meetings to discuss a formal complaint made against an administrator.  Through a Freedom of Information Act, CT Examiner obtained a complaint filed against Burt on January 31, 2022. The complaint, made by Principal Matthew Peel of Bacon Academy, described multiple instances of “workplace bullying,” including meetings in which Burt allegedly spoke

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Litigation Continues after Court Decision on Fairfield Affordable Housing Proposal

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FAIRFIELD — After a Superior Court judge ruled in favor of a developer’s 8-30g appeal to build a 40-unit, 5-story building at 131 Beach Road, neighbors filed litigation to reargue the case and the developer has filed an objection to that motion.  The proposed 40-unit apartment building would contain 16 1-bedroom units, 24 2-bedroom units and 55 parking spaces. Twelve, or 30 percent, of the units would be designated as affordable under 8-30g, with 6 units rented to those earning 80 percent of area median income — which was $140,308 in Fairfield in 2020 — and 6 to those earning

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Lawmakers Approve 2040 Target for Zero-Carbon Emissions

HARTFORD –  Connecticut lawmakers approved legislation codifying as law Gov. Ned Lamont’s goals for a zero-carbon emissions from Connecticut’s electric supply by 2040, in addition to expanding two programs aimed at incentivizing large solar projects. The measure breezed through the Senate unanimously earlier this week, and passed the House overwhelmingly on Thursday by a 113-35 vote, with some lawmakers questioning whether it was a practical goal, and others questioning what the goal really accomplishes if Connecticut will need to buy credits from renewable energy projects in other states in order to reach it. In a statement, Lamont said codifying his

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House Easily Passes Juvenile Crime Bill But Divisions Apparent After Debate

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HARTFORD – After hours of emotional debate over whether a get-tough policy or social intervention is the way to combat juvenile crime, an overwhelming 129-17 House of Representatives bipartisan majority on Thursday approved a bill that attempts to take both approaches to address crime by young people – especially car thefts. The bill now moves on to the Senate for a final vote before the legislative session ends next week.  It provides an array of measures such as stiffer penalties for repeat car thieves, creation of a car-theft task force and greater discretion for judges to order suspects to wear

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