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Police Arrest Simsbury Bank Robbery Suspect


Simsbury police said they have arrested a suspect in a bank robbery on Wednesday.

Jason Sheehan, of East Hartford, was arrested for his involvement in the Jan. 30 robbery at People's Bank in the Simsbury Commons Stop & Shop, police said.

Sheehan has been taken into custody and charged with second-degree robbery and third-degree larceny, and has been held on a $100,000 bond.

The suspect will appear in Enfield Court on Feb. 2, 2017.

House and Senate Approve Pension Refinancing


Along strict party-line votes, the Connecticut General Assembly approved a pension refinancing that was negotiated by Governor Dannel Malloy's administration last year.

Since it was a deal regarding the State Employee Bargaining Coalition, it would have either gone into effect immediately after Friday, or it required an up or down. House Democrats narrowly approved it, and then, for the first time in 2017, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman broke a 17-17 tie between Democrats and Republicans in the State Senate.

Earlier in the day, there was serious discussion about Republicans derailing the pension agreement, due to their objections that the refinancing plan wasn't comprehensive enough.

The agreement, announced on Dec. 9, 2016, lowered expected investment returns for state employees, reduced annual state payments to the fund, and aimed to fend off a projected $6 billion balloon payment in 2032, that state analysts have described as a kind of fiscal cliff for Connecticut.

Republicans wanted to see union concessions paired with refinancing and they argue alternatives were never considered.

“What’s the rush? This bill hits in 2032," Sen. Len Fasano said. "This is February. We can take time, look at different ways. And if this turns out to be the best way, it turns out to be the best way.”

Fasano of North Haven, the Republican President Pro Tem, and Rep. Themis Klarides, said they didn't receive information regarding the agreement until last week, as the deal passed a committee with Republican and Democrat votes.

Fasano said if the main goal was to free up money with reduced pension payments in order to the balance the budget, then that was an irresponsible choice.

"I don’t think that’s a good plan for the state. I don’t think it’s a good plan for the union employees because that money should go into the union. That money should go into the coffers and grow.”

Democrats accused Fasano of double-speak, and said it was purely political to wait until the day of the vote to start throwing out possible options.

Sen. Martin Looney of New Haven said, "It just seems to me that this is an unfortunate failure of willingness to govern in an organized, responsible, bipartisan way.”

Sen. Bob Duff of Norwalk, the Majority Leader, went even further, saying, “This is really the first chance Republicans had to govern and they failed.”

Malloy had said earlier in the day that if Republicans were successful in their effort to block the package from passage, then they would be the ones with the task of coming up with a new deal.

"If they break it, they own it," Malloy said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Murphy, Blumenthal Demand 60 Votes for Supreme Court Nominee


Both of Connecticut's US Senators said Wednesday that the only way anyone should be appointed to the Supreme Court is with 60 votes, alluding to concerns that Senate Republicans may attempt to change longstanding rules and tradition.

“Whether you call it a filibuster, a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court ought to be done by a 60 vote threshold, not by a razor thin majority vote," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Neither would rule out a filibuster on Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's selection for the vacancy left last February following the death of Antonin Scalia.

Sen. Chris Murphy said he won't follow the lead of Republicans, who last year refused to even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, whom was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy.

Murphy even left open the possibility that he could be one of the eight Democrats needed to seat Gorsuch on the high court.

"I don’t think we should be obstructionist like the Republicans were but if he’s going to bring his political viewpoints into the court, then I’m not going to support him. If he’s just going to interpret the law, then I’ll vote for him,"Murphy said.

Despite protests that were organized ahead of any pick named by Trump, Murphy says he won't cave to political pressures posed by the more activist wing of the Democratic Party. He says he's going to vote the way he feels Connecticut constituents would want him to vote.

"I don’t represent Democrats. I represent the State of Connecticut and people in Connecticut don’t want me to oppose every single thing Donald Trump does." 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Breitbart Editor's Speech Canceled Amid Protest at UC Berkeley


The controversial Milo Yiannopoulos' speech at UC Berkeley met an early demise Wednesday as protesters grew violent — breaking fences and windows, setting off fireworks and throwing smoke bombs — forcing police to issue an order to shelter in place and put all campus buildings on lockdown.

Invited by the Berkeley Republican Club, Yiannopoulos, a polarizing editor from Breitbart News who has been criticized as racist, misogynist and white supremacist, was expected to appear in the Pauley Ballroom of the MLK Student Union at 8 p.m.

Instead, university officials decided to cancel the event about 6 p.m., and Yiannopoulos, a self-proclaimed internet troll, had been escorted off campus.

A group of protesters dressed in black and some in hooded sweatshirts broke windows, flung flares and set a large bonfire outside the student union building.

Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators carrying signs that read "Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech" had been protesting for hours before the event. Some even yanked away metal barricades as police in riot gear guarded the building.

UC Berkeley police issued dispersal order at or near Telegraph and Bancroft avenues due to the protest that witnesses estimate to have attracted roughly 1,000 people.

Taking to Facebook soon after being escorted from UC Berkeley, Yiannopoulos said, "I have been evacuated from the UC Berkeley campus after violent left-wing protestors tore down barricades, lit fires, threw rocks and Roman candles at the windows and breached the ground floor of the building."

The 32-year-old said he and his team members were safe and promised followers more information as it became available.

"One thing we do know for sure: the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down," he said.

Yiannapoulos continued: "Hearing reports via my security that police are using nonlethal bullets and tear gas outside. Fireworks, rocks and other projectiles have been hurled at police."

Leading up to his visit, Yiannopoulos has raised an issue facing campuses across America at the dawn of the Donald Trump presidency: What is the line between free speech and hate speech? He has also come under fire for fanning the flames of white supremacy by creating the Yiannopoulos Privilege Grant, which is being described as a college grant program for white males.

On Wednesday, UC Berkeley officials stressed that they did not invite Yiannopoulos, a right-wing provocateur who is gay and calls his event "The Dangerous Faggot Tour."

The potential for physical danger in reaction to Yiannopoulos came into the spotlight this month after a man was shot and wounded at a protest outside his Jan. 21 University of Washington talk.

Similarly rowdy protests at UC Davis Jan. 13 prompted campus Republicans to cancel his appearance at the last minute.

On Tuesday night at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, his speech was met with dozens of angry protesters outside a campus theater, but they were outnumbered by police who kept them far from the nearly 500 attendees and the event went on as planned.

His last stop was supposed to be UCLA on Feb. 2, but that invitation was rescinded, making Berkeley the grand finale of his cross-country campus tour.

Student Matt Ronnau acknowledged Wednesday evening that Yiannopoulos was not too popular. 

“He brings up topics that are not politically correct,” the Berkeley College Republican member said. However, the student stands by the group’s decision to invite him to speak on campus.

“I don’t think it is hate speech,” Ronnau said. “I think he is just making fun of people who call him a neo-Nazi. It’s just a little back and forth.”

But protest organizer Ronald Cruz disagreed. Students would oppose the right-wing Yiannopoulos not because they don’t believe in free speech, but because they were trying to prevent his hateful rhetoric.

“He’s a neo-facist who has notoriously fostered a lynch mob mentality in his audiences,” Cruz alleged.

In the run-up to the event, professors had joined hundreds of students calling for the event's cancellation. But university officials said it would be allowed in the name of free speech — as would protests that UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks expected could be "substantial" amid tight security.

As a public university, UC Berkeley's administrators are legally bound by the First Amendment to protect free speech, meaning even offensive and hate speech cannot be banned or censored, Dirks said.

"We are defending the right to free expression at an historic moment for our nation, when this right is once again of paramount importance," Dirks said last week.

His letter did not name President Donald Trump, whom Yiannopoulos supports, but highlighted concerns at Berkeley and elsewhere since his election.

The event's 500 seats sold out about 48 hours after the event was announced last fall, the Berkeley Republican Club said.

The number of attempts to keep speakers off college campuses because of their politics doubled last year, according to a report issued late last year by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. It logged a record 42 incidents of "disinvitations," with 25 percent aimed at Yiannopoulos.

At the University of Delaware, Yiannopoulos referred to transgender people as "mentally ill" and encouraged his audience to mock them. He has called Black Lives Matter a form of "black supremacism." Twitter banned him in July, as it cracked down on racist abuse targeting "Ghostbusters" actress Leslie Jones.

At Western Carolina University he called feminism, "a mean, vindictive, spiteful, nasty, man-hating philosophy."

Yiannopoulos rejects accusations he is racist or white supremacist, saying his boyfriend is black, and his humor is taken too literally in today's politically correct culture.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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Don’t Call Phony 'Facebook Customer Service' Phone Number


A phone number that might appear as a Facebook customer service line is merely a way for scammers to get users to pay, according to the companies involved.

Some users said the fraudulent phone number was the first thing they saw when searching on Google for “Facebook customer service,” as users might be inclined to do when facing technical issues.

NPR originally reported the scheme, demonstrating that a person on the other end of that phone call will reportedly instruct callers to pay them via iTunes gift card, which should be a red flag for a few reasons:

  • Legitimate companies ask for traceable forms of payment rather than gift cards
  • Facebook doesn’t have a customer service phone number
  • Facebook, along with every other social media company, will not charge you for needing technical help.

In a statement, Facebook told NBC Connecticut,

“People can visit facebook.com/help to get help with their Facebook account... These types of scams target a broad range of brands to try to trick people who are looking for help with the service they use. Facebook works collaboratively with other companies affected by this type of problem to increase the effectiveness of our enforcement against the groups that promote these scams. While these groups are persistent and work continuously to spread false information, we have taken down a large number of the sites offering fake support numbers and we will continue to do so.”

A Google spokesperson said their search results are based on algorithms, adding:

“The Featured Snippets feature is an automatic and algorithmic match to the search query, and the content comes for third-party sites. We have investigated this particular issue and found that these pages have violated webmaster guidelines. We have taken the appropriate action to remove."

Both companies have since removed the phone number from their websites. NBC Connecticut called the number and received a voice mail machine.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Central Connecticut State University Expected to Expand


Central Connecticut State University is likely expanding, but what will be in their new downtown New Britain location is open for discussion.

In a letter to the CCSU community this morning, President Zulma Toro confirmed that the state purchased the mostly vacant building at 233 Main Street, known as The Plaza.

She emphasized that the money to buy it wouldn't come out of higher education funds, calling it a "net gain" for the school.

Drew Aitken of Thompson, a student, said: "In our engineering class, there's an engineering downtown campus which I went to but if they did put a new building in, I would definitely go down there and take the classes for sure."

People downtown were optimistic what the move would mean for the downtown economy.

"I think it would be nice for them to put a college down here in this area because this building has been vacant for a long time. I've only been here two years like I said but I think it would be good," said Cynthia Green of New Britain.

"I think it would be better if they did like a college over here because it would probably bring more people into the town and more work," said Michael Larochelle of New Britain.

As for what fills the seven story building, the president has asked her community for input and the university will be holding a series of focus groups soon as the planning gets underway.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Neighbors Concerned About Plan For Hundreds of New Apartments in Hamden


Some residents in Hamden have some big concerns about plans to bring hundreds of new apartments to the town.

The zoning application process for the project is already taking place. The proposed build site is along Rocky Top Road, which is a winding and very narrow street surrounded by woods and sloping terrain.

Debra Finn lives on Rainbow Court, which runs into Rocky Top Road. She said she does not want her neighborhood of thirty four years to change.

“This is just not suitable for our area," said Finn. She said the plans to build a 288 unit apartment complex in the area of 64 Rocky Top Road would destroy her quaint and quiet neighborhood.

“I can’t even imagine what that will do to not only my house but my neighbors," she said.

Dozens of residents were at town hall on Wednesday night as a lawyer for developer, Mountain View Estates LLC, presented plans for the project to the Hamden Inland Wetlands Commission. Attorney Stephen Studer declined to be interviewed by NBC Connecticut.

Neighbors who attended the meeting had concerns about major excavation work, runoff, noise and the hundreds of additional vehicles that would be using Rocky Top Road on a daily basis. The road is very narrow; just fourteen feet across in some locations.

“Right now you have to slow to five miles per hour to get past each other without scraping your cars," said Tim Mack. “We’re hoping to have this plan stopped or at least scaled down to a reasonable alternative," he said.

The approximately eighteen acre site is located between Shepard Avenue and Sherman Avenue, adjacent to Quinnipiac University's York Hill Campus.

Members of the public were welcome to attend Wednesday evening's meeting but they were not allowed to voice their concerns to the Inland Wetlands Commission. They will have their chance to do so at a public meeting scheduled for March 1.

The Inland Wetlands Commission will conduct an inspection of the site of the project on February 25 at 2 p.m. weather permitting. Hamden's Planning and Zoning Commission is also reviewing the developer's zoning application.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Documents Reveal Details on Bulkeley Coach Termination


The head coach of Hartford’s Bulkeley High School was fired on Friday and some former players were surprised.

“I seen him put his hands on my teammate once, but other than that he was vocally, like he'd abuse people," 18-year-old Shekquan Bogle, a former player, told NBC Connecticut.

In addition to his termination at the school, Coach Pablo Ortiz Jr. is under investigation by the state Department of Children and Families (DCF), where he works with children as a social worker.

"When you coming over here and you got a coach who is treating the kids like that of course they are going to say something," Jerry Strums, Jr., another former player, said. 

Sources provided the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters recent emails they said were sent by assistant coaches to school officials, which outlined concerns. During a meeting on the issue, an assistant coach said Ortiz came over and grabbed a player and threw him to the ground.

”He was a good coach, he had his flaws and sometimes he would get upset at us," Strums Jr. added.

State law said mandated reporters must notify DCF’s Careline or police within 12 hours of suspected abuse and must submit a written report to DCF within 48 hours. It’s unclear who contacted the state and when.

Seventeen additional letters and emails from student athletes were written to the principal and members of the board of education last month. Outlining allegations Ortiz was abusive on and off the field and prompting several to walk away from the game they love.

“He disrespected one of my teammates and that's made me feel unsafe,” Shekquan Bogle told the NBC ConnecticutTroubleshooters.

Other players summarizing their sentiments with disgust:

One player stated, “Sometimes he would even grab players shake them and get all up in there (sic) face."

Another player stated, “As a player, i also felt threatened because he put hands on some of the players.”

A third player added, “He destroyed me as a person while being on that football team physically and mentally."

But not all agree-- past player Kvhan Gordon is shocked Ortiz is out.

“He was always there, like if you needed something he would look out for you. He had high expectations for some people," Gordon added.

A spokesman for the DCF tells the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters that Ortiz - who has been a social worker for the state at DCF the last 13 years- is now under investigation by the state department and that his duties have been restricted.

Spokesman Gary Kleeblatt said in a statement:

"The department takes incidents such as this very seriously and has the highest expectations for its staff, especially related to children."

Another letter from a player may be the reason why: “He would call me all types of things like a pot head, drug dealer, p**** due to the fact i had to take care of my grandmother. he would exploit my information to the other coaches about me being a dfc (sic) case, that made me so uncomfortable."

"The first priority of the Hartford public schools is to ensure student safety. as acting superintendent of schools, i will not allow any unacceptable staff behavior during my tenure. in the unfortunate event that, despite our best efforts to the contrary, individuals engage in inappropriate interactions with students, with their families, with staff or with any of the visitors who come to our schools and events, such individuals will be dealt with swiftly in accordance with the policies established by the Hartford board of education.

“Furthermore, we have recently provided enhanced district-wide training for employees regarding board policy on “reports of suspected abuse or neglect of children or sexual assault of students by school employees.” i have made it the highest level of priority for district leadership and for all staff to receive this training and comply with the board’s policy. Hartford public schools is currently investigating allegations of possible failures in the reporting process and will comment further upon the conclusion of the investigation. in the meantime, please know that all appropriate steps are being taken to ensure the safety of our students," said acting Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez.

Yiannopoulos Responds to Protests


A visit from Milo Yiannopoulos brought frenzied protests at the University of California, Berkeley on Wednesday, where outbreaks of violence forced officials to cancel his planned speech and briefly lock down the campus. 

A large group of peaceful protesters first greeted the polarizing Breitbart technology editor, but agitators threw smoke bombs at police and set fires. Yiannopoulos called the reaction an attempt to stifle free speech, and President Donald Trump agreed.

He raised the specter of cutting federal funds for the renowned public university over the cancellation, tweeting Thursday morning: "If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?"

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Yiannopoulos took to Facebook Live a short while after being evacuated with his team, saying it was "ironic and sad" to witness such a reaction at a university that has historically been known as the home of free speech.

"Something very disturbing happened tonight, and it was an expression of political violence in response to a not particularly conservative gay speaker on an American college campus," said Yiannpoulos, who admitted to being "stunned" by the turn of events.

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The 32-year-old has been criticized as a racist, sexist, misogynist and white supremacist, but denied all those allegations on Facebook Live. 

"They do that in order to legitimize their own violence against you," he said.

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Yiannopoulos was referring to feminists, supporters of Black Lives Matter, progressives and the "social justice left," according to Yiannapoulos. People who identify with these groups have "become so utterly antithetical to free speech," he accused.

"They simply will not allow any speaker on campus even someone as silly and harmless and gay as me to have their voice heard," Yiannopoulos continued with a self-deprecating chuckle. "They're absolutely petrified by alternative visions of how the world ought to look." 

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Yiannopoulos was invited by the Berkeley Republican Club to speak about cultural appropriation in the Pauley Ballroom of the MLK Student Union at 8 p.m. Nearly two hours prior, though, protesters grew violent, smashing windows, throwing rocks, lighting fireworks and blazes, and tearing down barricades near the venue. He was promptly taken off campus and police ordered students to shelter in place. 

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Yiannopoulos also didn't spare Berkeley officials and responding police officers.

"Complicit" school administrators "didn’t really want" his event to happen, and officers displayed a "sit back, and let it happen approach," he claimed.

Yiannopoulos said that he had hoped that Berkeley "would be a place where you could be, do and say anything. You could express your views, you could express your opinions, you know, crack some jokes, make people think, make people laugh, free from violent responses to political ideas."

"I thought America was the one place where that would be possible," he lamented.

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Photo Credit: Milo Yiannopoulos via Facebook Live
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Trump, Australian PM Offer Mixed Messages on Refugee Deal


Australia's prime minister insisted Thursday that a deal struck with the Obama administration that would allow mostly Muslim refugees rejected by Australia to be resettled in the United States was still on, despite President Donald Trump dubbing the agreement "dumb" and vowing to review it, NBC News reported.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declined to comment on his first telephone call with Trump as national leaders. 

"It's better that these things — these conversations — are conducted candidly, frankly, privately," Turnbull told reporters. Later, however, he denied during an interview with Sydney radio station 2GB that President Trump had hung up on him, saying the conversation had ended "courteously." Turnball added: "I can assure you the relationship is very strong. 

Yet shortly after Turnbull made those comments to reporters, Trump took to Twitter to slam the deal. "Do you believe it?" the president wrote. "The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!"

Later Thursday, U.S. Sen. John McCain issued a statement saying he had called Australia' ambassador to the U.S. to "express my unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance."

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File

NYC Bodega Owners Plan Mass Shutdown in Protest of Trump


A group of Yemeni business owners plan to shut down their delis, grocery stores and bodegas across New York City in protest of President Donald Trump's travel ban on people hailing from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen.

The mass closing will take place from noon until 8 p.m. Thursday.

Organizers say hundreds of the stores around the city are expected to take part to show how much they're a part of the fabric of New York City.

They say several thousand of the neighborhood stores are owned by Yemenis. 

After the bodega shutdown, organizers plan to hold a rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall Thursday evening. 

Trump's executive order barring people hailing from Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria for 90 days has resulted in travelers being detained or sent back from the United States as well as stranded in other countries.

Business owner Adnan Alshabbi plans to close his bodega in the Morrisania section of the Bronx on Thursday. 

“We have to fight, we have to stand up,” Alshabbi said.

Ongoing protests over President Trump's policies continued in lower Manhattan Wednesday night. Earlier in the evening, thousands of people protested outside of Sen. Chuck Schumer's apartment in Brooklyn, demanding he do more to oppose the president's actions. 

Police Warn of Delays on Main Street in Rocky Hill After Crash


Police are warning about delays on part of Main Street in Rocky Hill after a crash and said the road could be closed through the day. 

Police said traffic will be affected in the area of 2843 Main St., located between School and West streets. 

Expect delays and a possible road closure throughout the day because of the replacement of a utility pole.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Shot 7 Times in Hartford


Police are investigating the shooting of a 23-year-old man in Hartford. 

The victim was shot seven times in the lower torso and legs at Barbour at Judson streets, according to Hartford police. 

Police have not identified the victim, but said he’s in critical, but stable, condition at St. Francis Hospital. 

No additional information was available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Bloomfield Avenue in West Hartford Reopens After Several Crashes


The area around 300 Bloomfield Ave. in West Hartford was shut down after two vehicles and a school bus crashed, but the scene has cleared.

No children were on the bus. Two people involved in the crash were taken to a hospital to be evaluated.

The crash is under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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School Bus Involved in Crash in Southbury

One Lane Moving After Car Fire on I-84 West in Middlebury


One lane is getting by on Interstate 84 West in Middlebury after a car fire.

The highway was shut down between exits 17 and 16, according to state police.

Officials said the car's fuel tank was full, so it took some time to put out the fire.  

No one was hurt in the car fire.

Photo Credit: Middlebury Fire Department
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'Intelligent Fences,' Dogs: Alternatives to Trump's Wall


Donald Trump's promise to build a wall between the border of the United States and Mexico is just one option when it comes to border security, NBC News reported.

Around the world, physical barriers aren't the only things countries are doing to keep people out. Border agencies in conjunction with security companies are developing technology, such as "intelligent fences" that can detect intruders. Other options include ground sensors and high-range security camera that can see up to 15 miles away. Sniffer dogs are also being used.

In Europe especially, maritime surveillance is a large share of the market as well, driven by demand for unarmed drones, helicopters and patrol vessels to keep track of the number migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Rather than aggressive tactics, countries are using equipment that is security based.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Britain Man Killed in Crash Day After Birthday


A New Britain man who turned 37 yesterday was killed in a crash in New Britain early Thursday morning.

Police officers and firefighters responded to the area of Black Rock Avenue, just east of Warren Street, for a report of a motor vehicle that hit a utility pole at 1:16 a.m.

Police said the driver, a 37-year-old Hartford man, was transported from the scene to a local hospital and his injuries are not life-threatening.

Jeffrey K. Oneil was the only passenger in the car and New Britain EMS personnel pronounced him dead at the scene, police said.

No charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information or who witnessed the crash is asked to call Sergeant Steven King at (860) 826-3071.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

State Committee to Meet on Crumbling Foundations Issue


The state Planning and Development Committee of the General Assembly will meet for a four-hour session today about the crumbling home foundation problem plaguing hundreds of Connecticut homeowners. 

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters first began reporting on the problem in July 2015 and the governor’s office has said that more than 34,000 homes might be affected by crumbling foundations and the total cost to fix the problem could be up to $1 billion. 

Gov. Dannel Malloy in January announced plans for $5 million in state funding to go toward conducting foundation testing for homes in northeastern Connecticut and the bond commission has approved it. 

The state funding will go toward testing and visual inspections of foundations to better understand the problem and offset the cost of testing for homeowners. 

Under the governor’s plan, homeowners are eligible for up to $2,000 back for testing of two core samples within their home. Homeowners will also be eligible for up to $400 back for visual testing by a professional engineer. Applicants must have homes built in or after 1983 and be within a 20-mile radius of JJ Mottes Concrete Company in Stafford Springs. 

The governor is working with the Capitol Region Council of Governments to administer the funding to homeowners. 

The state also plans to access $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help lower-income property owners defray the cost of testing. 

Over the past year and a half, hundreds of homeowners across Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties have discovered they have crumbling foundations. Everyone who's either spoken to NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters or has filed a complaint with the state, that knows the source of the concrete, said it's from J.J. Mottes. 

The last statement from the attorney for JJ Mottes is that the company is now out of business. 

The last full statement released to NBC Connecticut in August 2016 read: 

“In the 15 years since we took over the management of the Joseph J. Mottes Company, we have adhered to rigorous standards set forth by the American Concrete Institute and the state of Connecticut. We continue to cooperate with the ongoing state investigation so that homeowners can get the answers and real solutions they deserve. One thing that is clear to us is the extensive media and governmental scrutiny has led to another issue arising – in addition to homes affected by damage, there are now large numbers of homeowners and potential home buyers who do not have problems but are being told they will. 

“Certainly, those homes with damage need to be remedied, but a comprehensive solution is called for - one that helps those who are not financially capable of helping themselves, guards against predators of all kinds and eases the burden placed on the real estate market. We believe that effective lower cost preventive remedial actions exist, that appropriate independent authorities can and should identify these techniques, and this information needs to be widely shared and adopted.” – John Patton, spokesman, The Joseph J. Mottes Company. 

The meeting today begins at noon in the legislative office building in Hartford and covers many issues, including initial estimates from eight towns about the numbers of affected homes, the impact on municipal tax revenues and the building fee waivers. 

There will also be a review of the state Department of Consumer Protection study. 

For more on what to look for in a crumbling foundation, watch this video. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Class at SCSU Studies Early Days of Trump Presidency


A new politics class at Southern Connecticut State University will be focusing on the first 100 days of President Donald Trump’s administration.

A statement from SCSU says the course, “Presidential Elections and Transitions,” was approved before the election, so it would have been catered to studying the administration of whichever candidate won. 

The class started on Jan. 22 and Professor Art Paulson said in a statement that he expects interesting discussions.

“Donald Trump’s election makes an interesting course even more fascinating because of its historical uniqueness,” professor Art Paulson said in a statement. “It marks the first time that someone without any governmental or military experience has become president.”

Students will study the Trump transition and the office of the presidency from a theoretical and practical standpoint as well as take an examination of the presidency and the executive branch of government.

“We are going to be looking at Trump’s Cabinet selections and his Supreme Court nomination, as well as his policy proposals,” Paulson said. “In fact, I plan to ask students to generate policy suggestions for Trump as if they were working in his administration. They’ll be trying to sell ideas that fit within his policy framework.”

Photo Credit: NBC
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