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Steady Habits: A CT Mirror Podcast
29 minutes | 6 days ago
Single Moms Hit Hardest By Pandemic
Everyone has had their lives upended by the pandemic. But the problem has been felt most acutely by women, with more than 2 million leaving the workforce nationwide. And parents’ lives have been disrupted, as they juggle jobs with at-home or blended learning for their school-age children, and limited child care options. Put those together, and you can see the problem for single working mothers. Job insecurity, housing insecurity, and food insecurity are all realities, on top of the stress of living through a pandemic while raising children. Corie Tracy tells me, “self-care has not been a priority” as she goes through life as the working mother of two. Kara Dwyer sees the impact of stress in her life as she juggles three jobs and an eighth-grader at home. They’re two of the women profiled in a series of stories published today in the CT Mirror. A look at how the pandemic has affected the lives of single mothers in the state. This episode, we meet them, find out how they’re coping, and brainstorm some strategies to make their lives just a bit better. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
34 minutes | 20 days ago
Transforming Hartford Part 2: Trains, Bikes, Parks, And "Place"
This week, we continue our conversation with Doug Suisman, the architect and urban planner, who is leading an ambitious planning project for the Greater Hartford region, called Hartford 400. Last time, we talked about the plan’s vision to re-route highways that cut off, and in many cases, destroyed neighborhoods. Today, we talk about the three major “places” that the project would create: a linear park called The Hartline, that’s based on successful walk/bike paths like Atlanta’s BeltLine; a brand-new urban district in East Hartford, called Midtown, created from the removal of the “mixmaster” of highway overpasses that clog the city; and River Road, the main thoroughfare that reconnects Hartford to the Connecticut River, built over an underground section of I-91. We also discuss the possibility of Hartford becoming a hub of high-speed rail. Suisman says these plans work as a unit, but don’t rely on each other to achieve success, making a more manageable transformation than the $17 billion price tag might suggest. And, he tells me, it imagines a Connecticut economy built on creating a place people want to live.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
32 minutes | a month ago
The Plan To Transform Hartford's Highways, Riverfront and Fortunes
This week, we take a look into the future of Connecticut’s capital city. And not a science fiction look, 100 years out, but something a bit more manageable. It’s a plan to re-route highways that have cut off parts of the city from each other, and from the river that gives Connecticut its name. It’s a plan to knit together smaller projects with big, national efforts, like an expansion of high-speed rail in the Northeast, with a hope of attracting more people to the region, and making life better for those who live here. The project is called Hartford 400 - named for the city’s upcoming 400th birthday in 2035, a date that marks the European settlement of the region, which has a much longer history of Native American settlement. The plan builds on community work that’s been trying to solve the problem of what to do with the failing, I-84 raised highway; ideas of how to fix the failing river walls that keep the Connecticut from flooding the city, while reclaiming access to its banks; tunnel concepts floated by U.S. Rep. John B. Larson; and questions about how to capitalize on the $2 trillion infrastructure plan put out by the Biden administration. The cost? It’s big: $17 billion over 15 years. But my guest, Doug Suisman, says this confluence of events gives the city, and the state, a chance to do something that might never happen again: remake Hartford with a new vision. Suisman is an architect and urban designer, based in Los Angeles. But he’s a native of Hartford, and he led the city’s iQuilt project, a precursor to Hartford 400. In the first of two conversations, we talk about the big ideas - and what it will mean for the roadways which have caused such dislocation and congestion for decades.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22 minutes | a month ago
Exoneree Says Compassion Is Key For Those Leaving Prison
If you talk with Scott Lewis, you hear a lot of things that sound like this: “When you go through a lot of challenges in life, you learn how to make the best out of the days that you’re given to live life.” And Lewis has been through some challenges. At the age of 29, he was sentenced to 120 years in prison for a high-profile murder in New Haven that he didn’t commit. An FBI investigation found that Lewis and a co-defendant had been set up by a police officer who was involved in selling cocaine. Despite this, it took Lewis years of legal research while behind bars, and help from teams of law students to help him gain his release in 2014. His story is the subject of a documentary, 120 Years. But he lost 19 years of his life, years with his family he says he can’t get back, and can’t get “too emotional” about. In 2017, he settled a lawsuit with the city of New Haven for $9.5 million. He’s now 55, and running his own real estate firm - the profession he’d been pursuing before his arrest. He wrote recently for the CT Mirror’s Viewpoints section about his support for a bill that would, in his words, provide “second chances by reducing barriers to professional licensing for people with convictions.” Lewis knows about the barriers people leaving prison face, and he says that while some of those barriers are necessary, they need to be coupled with compassion for those starting to seek a new life.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25 minutes | 2 months ago
Sadness, Loss and Joy: Journals Tell Story Of A Pandemic Year
As we mark the one year anniversary of the pandemic impacting Connecticut, we’ve been asking what we’ve learned and what we’ve lost. Restaurant workers, health care workers, educators and students all have different stories to tell about how lockdowns, shutdowns, and the reality of the disease has changed their lives. As part of this look back, we’re talking with the co-founder of a project that’s been asking people for their stories - their feelings, thoughts and fears - since the start. The Pandemic Journaling Project was founded by anthropologists Sara Willen of The University of Connecticut and Katherine Mason at Brown University. The online, anonymous portal collects journal entries in written words, spoken words and photos, in English and Spanish. And so far, it’s reached more than 1,300 people in more than 40 countries. It’s being used in college and high school classrooms, and by people who just want to tell their stories. I talked with Sarah Willen about what she and her team of researchers are learning about the pandemic from the more than 10,000 journal entries they’ve received so far.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24 minutes | 2 months ago
Porter: Lamont’s "Austerity Budget" Will Worsen Inequality
In a state that’s been almost entirely run by Democrats for years, Connecticut’s moderate Gov. Ned Lamont is getting a hard push from the left. Rep. Robyn Porter of New Haven is co-chair of the legislature’s labor committee, and she’s been a vocal opponent of what she calls Lamont’s “austerity budget.” She wants more investment in state programs to help vulnerable residents through the economic damage of the pandemic, and to do that, she wants to raise taxes on wealthy residents, an idea Lamont has rejected. Porter has also been critical of a vaccine rollout strategy that has given advantages to white, suburban residents. She says it’s simple, just do it by zip code, and target the neediest residents - a strategy the state is starting to adopt. In our conversation, we also talk about something she and Lamont do agree on, the legalization of marijuana, and the overwhelming passage of the Crown Act - a multi-state effort to prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles, a bill Porter strongly supported. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
32 minutes | 2 months ago
Geballe Answers Critics of CT Vaccine Rollout
Essential workers, racial equity advocates, and those with pre-existing medical conditions were all angered by the state’s decision to change the vaccine rollout to a strictly age-based system. But state officials are sticking by their decision, and they say this new plan will be the best way to protect the most people the fastest and, in the process, save lives. Josh Geballe, the chief operating officer for Connecticut, has been spearheading this vaccine effort. He joins me to talk about the reasons for the state’s shift in plans, how Connecticut is addressing the questions of vaccine equity, the rollout for educators in an effort to open all schools, and how the state plans to administer new “one-shot” vaccines now being made available.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
32 minutes | 2 months ago
Is CT's New Vaccine Strategy Prioritizing Speed Over Equity?
State residents were surprised by Gov. Ned Lamont’s announcement this week that Connecticut was changing course on its vaccine distribution plans. Instead of essential workers and those with underlying health conditions going next in line, the state will move to a strictly age-based vaccine rollout. Some essential workers, such as grocery store employees, have told The Mirror that they’re “disgusted” by their removal from the front of the line. And Ron Petronella, of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 371 in Westport told WSHU, “It’s upsetting to us that the stores are busier now than ever, and the infection can spread more easily there, I think, than in the classroom.” That’s in reference to the only exception being made to the age-based rollout, for school teachers and childcare workers, who’ll be able to get vaccines at clinics set up specially for them. Lamont said this plan keeps it simple. “Look, we are not blazing a new trail. We looked over at Europe and we've seen a great deal of success there. The healthcare professionals gave me a great deal of confidence that we are still prioritizing those most at risk so I think it’s the right way to go,” Lamont said. The change, as we have documented, means fewer people of color and those at higher risk of dying from COVID-19 will be eligible for shots in the next round. Equity advocates, like Tekisha Everette, executive director of Health Equity Solutions, and a member of the state vaccine allocation subcommittee, tells us she’s “wary” of the age-based approach, and disappointed that her recommendations weren’t heeded. She also said she didn’t even learn of the change until moments before it became public. Another group that was upset by the change is the disability rights community. Many states have prioritized people with underlying health conditions This episode, we also talk with Kathy Flaherty, executive director of Connecticut Legal Rights Project. She told The Mirror that the new plan was “heartbreaking” for people who “have been left behind.”See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28 minutes | 3 months ago
CT House GOP Leader Calls For Bigger State Government Role
House minority leader Vincent Candelora says this legislative session has been a real “change of pace” for him and his Republican caucus. Usually quick to defend Connecticut towns’ “home rule,” he’s calling for the state to take a “more active role” in education policy. And, where he’d usually ask state government to “leave commerce alone and let capitalism work,” he’s now calling on more state involvement to “prop up capitalism” with additional programs to help businesses. This turnabout comes during Candelora’s first session in this role, having taken the place of his high-profile Republican predecessor, Themis Klarides. And, it comes at a time when he finds himself basically aligned with Connecticut’s Democratic Governor, Ned Lamont, on tax policy. Both are pushing back against progressive calls for more progressive taxation. We talked about his legislative priorities and how he feels the state is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25 minutes | 3 months ago
CT Senate Leader's Plan: New Taxes On The Rich, Legal Pot, Sports Betting
It’s budget day at the state capitol - and all signs point to a lean budget proposal from Gov. Ned Lamont. That’s even though he’s talked about having “the wind at our back” in an economic sense, with the state having benefited from higher than expected tax revenues, coming from high income earners doing well on Wall St. State Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney sees it a bit differently. The state’s second most powerful Democrat sees a disconnect between the stock market and the reality of most peoples’ lives in Connecticut, and he wants to raise taxes on the wealthy to help struggling cities, towns, and residents. How much in taxes, and who pays? Those are the questions I asked Looney in our budget preview conversation earlier this week. We also discuss Lamont’s hard line against tax increases, as well as a few ways lawmakers might look to raise revenue this year - legal marijuana and sports betting. And, we address something that came up in Mark Pazniokas’ Mirror story about the relationship between Lamont and legislators - how a Governor who hasn’t had to deal with dealmaking for the better part of year will work with the General Assembly.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30 minutes | 3 months ago
CT's Budget Forecast: Sunny, With Increasing Clouds
Gov. Ned Lamont unveils his two year budget proposal a week from today, and despite the economic damage of the pandemic, and the state’s crippling long-term obligations, he’s doing it from a relative position of strength. Connecticut has been the beneficiary of higher-than-expected tax revenues, which have wiped out the short term budget deficit, and the state still has $3.1 billion socked away in the “rainy day fund.” But many advocates and progressive Democrats want to spend down reserves to help state residents struggling through the pandemic, and provide tax relief for poor and middle class residents. And long-term debt and other obligations mean the state’s short-term rosy picture is just a little bit cloudier. CT Mirror budget reporter Keith Phaneuf breaks down the status of the state budget in a conversation taped as part of our series of legislative preview events. We talk about some Democrats’ plans to tax wealthy residents, and Lamont’s rejection of that idea. And Keith explains just how deep a hole the state is facing - down the road. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13 minutes | 3 months ago
Is Connecticut’s Vaccine Rollout Inequitable?
Connecticut continues to be among the leading states in getting its residents Covid vaccine shots. The most recent CDC data show that only two states have administered first doses to a higher percentage of its population. Gov. Ned Lamont says the state is in a race. "We are racing to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can, ahead of what could be this super contagious strain," he said in his COVID briefing last week. Most of the state’s healthcare personnel, first responders, and many in long-term facilities have gotten the shot, and those 75 and older - not already in that group - are getting theirs now (although, as the Mirror reported this week, that’s proven to be more difficult than many seniors would like). But as Connecticut moves toward its next phase of vaccinations, those 65 and older, there’s a big issue looming: residents in that age group are overwhelmingly white, which means younger Black and Latino residents - including those working in jobs considered essential - will have to wait. And data show the threat to those younger workers of color is roughly equal to that of older white residents who are slated to get the next doses. The Mirror’s analysis shows that the COVID mortality rate for a 65-year-old white person is comparable to that of a 55-year-old Black person and a 60-year-old Hispanic person. That equity issue is what CT Mirror reporters Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, Kasturi Pananjady and Jenna Carlesso uncover in their story today. While the state’s age-based plan makes efficiency a priority, it raises the question: Is Connecticut’s vaccine rollout leaving behind Black and Latino residents?See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
39 minutes | 4 months ago
Connecticut Democrats, Republicans See Better Times Ahead
As Joe Biden takes office, the question is, who’s happier about it, Republicans or Democrats? I sat down with two of Connecticut’s leading partisan political minds, each of whom has been sharply critical of their parties. Liz Kurantowicz is a Republican strategist and fundraiser, Bill Curry is a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate and advisor to President Bill Clinton. Both of them feel their parties are in better shape with Donald Trump out of office - but what happens next? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26 minutes | 4 months ago
What's Slowing Down CT's Vaccine Rollout?
Yale Epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves doesn’t mince words about the US response to Covid, either on Twitter, or in person. He’s been calling for a wholesale overhaul of the nation’s public health infrastructure - which has been failed during the pandemic. In a new piece in The Nation, he calls on President-elect Joe Biden to create a “New Deal” for public health. But for now, we’re stuck with the system we have, and Gonsalves says it’s falling woefully short in terms of vaccinating the public. Despite Connecticut’s strong national ranking in vaccine distribution, the state has still only vaccinated under 5% of its population. Gonsalves also takes on local health systems, like the one he works for at Yale, for primary care that’s “shunted off to the periphery of our city” and away from the people who need it the most. And, he continued his criticism of the Lamont administration for what he calls “abominable” policies regarding COVID in prisons. Gonsalves and other activists have called for more widespread decarceration of inmates to slow the spread of disease. A spokesman for the governor says the state has issued more “discretionary releases” than at any time in a decade, and that the spread of COVID has been nothing like in many other states’ prisons.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
50 minutes | 4 months ago
How Will Connecticut Lawmakers Govern During A Pandemic?
The last legislative session in Connecticut was cut short by COVID-19. And this one is starting outside the state capitol, and will continue on Zoom. So what will this mean for lawmakers and their legislative priorities? What about advocates, lobbyists and citizens who want to be heard? In the first of a series of conversations previewing the session, John Dankosky talks with Mark Pazniokas, the CT Mirror's capitol bureau chief, health care Jenna Carlesso, and data journalist Kasturi Pananjady. We talk about how COVID will impact the session, and about issues that could be tackled, including legalized marijuana, vaccine mandates, sports betting, nursing homes, and a public option. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24 minutes | 5 months ago
Could Cardona Take Connecticut Ed. Experience To Washington?
Miguel Cardona, Connecticut's education commissioner is on a short list of candidates to become education secretary in the Biden administration. Politico reported Saturday that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has given its “enthusiastic endorsement” to Cardona in a letter to the President-elect. As The Mirror’s Jacqueline Rabe Thomas reported today, if he got the job, Cardona would be in charge of getting the majority of the nation's students back into schools - something Biden has promised in his first 100 days. It’s an effort Cardona was focused on in Connecticut this year, with mixed results. The state saw a shutdown of schools in the spring, followed by a reopening that left many students, parents and teachers confused. Each district devising its own plan to reopen in-person classes or provide virtual or “blended” learning. I talked to Cardona twice this year on the podcast, and as he’s considered for this important national job, we wanted to look back at what he said to us about Connecticut schools, and what it might signal if he’s tapped to go to Washington. In early August, right in the middle of the pandemic, he made the case that COVID showed how important getting back to school is, especially for children in struggling districts. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
45 minutes | 5 months ago
Health Experts Weigh In On Vaccine, Mandates, Equity
With the FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Connecticut is set for what Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday called a “new spring” - but before we get there, we have a lot of work to do. Neighboring New York has said they’ll shut down indoor dining on Monday in an attempt to slow the rapid spread of the disease, which has spiked positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths across the country. Lamont has resisted calls by many doctors to do the same. In Connecticut, one in 700 residents has died already from COVID, and hundreds of businesses have been forced to close, probably for good. Physicians are concerned about the hospital system becoming overwhelmed. So, what does our road ahead look like? We gathered three experts last Wednesday on Zoom to take questions from our Mirror audience. They have wide expertise in the medical, logistical and economic challenges we face. Howard Forman, director of the health care management program at Yale School of Public Health and mentor to some of the nation’s leading health care experts and leaders Tekisha Everette, executive director of Health Equity Solutions, public health professor at Yale University, member of the governor’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group Matthew Spiegel, finance professor at Yale University and co-author of a recent Yale study on which COVID restrictions have proven most effective See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26 minutes | 5 months ago
Time To Raise Taxes On The Rich? Lamont Says Yes...And No
Last Wednesday night, I interviewed Gov. Ned Lamont as part of a special Connecticut Mirror Conversation. You can hear part one of this conversation on our last episode. We talked about where the state stands with pandemic response, vaccine distribution plans, and aid to businesses and individuals who are struggling through the economic downturn. In this episode, I ask the governor about how the state might provide the aid that residents are looking for, and whether he would consider raising taxes on wealthy Connecticut residents. “Now is the time to think about raising taxes on the richest individuals in the country. I think it’s really dumb to do it just by the state,” he said. “The wealthy and corporations are going to have to do more.” But, Lamont said he doesn’t want to put the state at a competitive tax disadvantage with neighboring states. We also looked ahead at the rest of a school year that will depend on that pandemic response. We talked on the day Lamont’s administration announced it would provide access to laptops and high-speed internet for all students. And, we addressed some of the governor’s legislative priorities, including transportation funding. I asked him about expanding health care in the state, including the possibility of a public option, his response to racial inequities raised by the killing of George Floyd, and about his promise to provide middle-income tax relief.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30 minutes | 5 months ago
Lamont Plans For Vaccines, Wants To Keep Businesses, Schools Open
Governor Ned Lamont is in a tough spot. This week, he had a group of medical professionals send him a letter saying the way to stop the spike in hospital admissions due to Covid-19 is to close businesses like indoor restaurants and gyms. Meanwhile, the business owners who run those restaurants and gyms are asking for looser restrictions so they can stay afloat during an economic collapse. He has parents calling him because their kids can’t go to school to learn or play sports, and teachers calling because they’re teaching in classroom conditions they feel are unsafe. Everyone wants to be at the front of the line when vaccines start to roll into the state by the end of the year, and aside from CDC guidance, he’s getting little help from Washington, where lawmakers continue to dicker over an aid package. That was the backdrop for our conversation with Gov. Lamont this week. In part one, we talked about the alarming rise in Connecticut's infection and hospitalization rates, plans to help businesses through the pandemic, and who should be first in line to get vaccines.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16 minutes | 6 months ago
Homeownership Matters. So Why Are So Many In CT Left Behind?
We’ve talked about it on the show before — a potential positive of the pandemic for CT is the newfound attractiveness of living outside of major cities like New York and Boston. Last month, Gov. Ned Lamont stood in the rain next to a U-Haul truck to tout the buying boom in the state. "More people are coming to Connecticut than ever before," Lamont said. "Tens of thousands of people have moved or changed their address to the state of Connecticut in the last few months. They’re buying. They’re renting, and they’re building." But in a state where housing prices are already high, and stock of affordable housing is already too low, bidding wars with fleeing New Yorkers have been driving up the price of single-family homes, making it even harder for many Connecticut residents to buy. Among the many wide gaps between rich and poor, and between racial groups that Connecticut is known for, the gap in homeownership is one of the biggest. Jacqueline Rabe Thomas of the CT Mirror dug into this issue for our series “A Better Deal: Exploring Inclusive Economic Recovery” and joins us this week to discuss.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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