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House Democrats Still Looking to Raise Sales Tax to Solve Budget Crisis


Following the most recent meeting of top legislative leaders, House Democrats revealed that they still intend to raise the state sales tax from 6.35 percent to 6.85 percent. 

That proposal is lower than their initial plan to raise the sales tax to 6.99 percent.

Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz still describes the increase in the sales tax as a point for negotiation. 

Republican Leader Themis Klarides said her position remains firm that she and her caucus do not support tax increases to balance the two-year budget, which has a projected $3.5 billion shortfall.

“Tax increases are not something that we’re interested in," Rep. Klarides, (R - Derby), said.

Aresimowicz has kept his tone positive throughout budget negotiations.

He has insisted since the fiscal year ended that the people of Connecticut want to see a bipartisan budget solution.

He said Tuesday that after the governor unveiled statewide cuts to education last Friday, he felt the need to adopt a budget as soon as possible.

“What we all heard from our constituents on Friday as far as the executive order is just absolutely unacceptable to us so we are going to do everything we can to avoid those things from October 1st," Rep. Aresimowicz, (D-Berlin) said.

Senate Democratic Leader Martin Looney described the support in the Senate for a sales tax increase as "broad based," but not "unanimous."

Gov. Dannel Malloy said he does not support an increase in the state sales tax, but would not commit to a veto of a budget that included it

The governor maintains that municipal aid cuts in some form have to be a major part of the budget solution.

He said that without those cuts other programs for the poor and disabled would have to suffer. He also said that since the state government has shrunk in the time he's been governor, he has not seen the same of local government.

“The state’s workforce on the executive side is 12.2 percent smaller than it was on the day I was sworn in. No one stepped forward and said that their government on any local level is 12.2 percent smaller today than it was in January of ‘11. Nobody,” he said.

Finally, Republicans indicated that their next budget proposals from House and Senate caucuses would include the savings gained in the labor deal that was ratified by the General Assembly last month.

Sen. Len Fasano (R - North Haven) said, "the ship has sailed," on the argument for changes to collective bargaining through state law since there is a four-year period where wide-scale layoffs are prohibited.

“To ignore it exists and say we’re not going to get involved in a budget because we don’t like that this was passed, we don’t think is fair to the state of Connecticut.” Fasano said.

House Democrats said the latest version of their budget could be available Wednesday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Charged in North Haven Dunkin' Donuts Robbery, Assault


A New Haven man is accused of robbing the Alltown Plaza at the North Haven rest stop on Route 15 and assaulting one of the employees.

Trayvon Foster, 22, faces assault, robbery and larceny charges.

Police said that on Aug. 15 shortly before 5 a.m. Foster entered the plaza at the rest area on Route 15 northbound, which contains a Dunkin' Donuts and a Subway.

According to the arrest warrant, Foster walked into the back room and grabbed the Dunkin' Donuts employee from behind. The victim told police the man shoved her toward the cash register and demanded she open it. She struggled with Foster and during that struggle he punched her, cutting her lip, the warrant states.

The suspect made off with $530 from the Dunkin' Donuts cash drawer and $396 from the Subway cash box.

The employee working at Subway at the time told the same story, and initially claimed she did not know the suspect. However, a few days later she spoke with police and identified the suspect as her ex-boyfriend.

In a statement, she told police Foster was familiar with the space and knew the safe would be open at that time of day because she told him. She admitted that he had texted her ahead of the robbery, but claimed she tried to talk him out of the crime. She said she had no idea what he did with the money.

Based off her statement and surveillance video, police arrested Foster on Tuesday. He was issued a $250,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Mosquitoes in More Towns Test Positive for West Nile Virus


Mosquitoes trapped in several Connecticut towns have tested positive for West Nile Virus, according to state officials.

In the latest state Mosquito Trapping and Testing Report, officials said that mosquitoes in Darien, Farmington, Guilford, Middlefield, and New Haven have tested positive for the virus.

Mosquitoes from Branford, Glastonbury, Greenwich, North Branford, North Stonington, Orange, Plainfield, South Windsor, Stamford, Stratford, West Haven and Westport previously tested positive.

The mosquitoes were trapped as State of Connecticut Mosquito Management Program. The West Nile virus season typically begins in late June to mid-July and continues through September.

Residents should take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites, such as covering bare skin and wearing insect repellent, especially during dawn and dusk hours.

Most people who are infected with West Nile virus show no symptoms, but less than one percent can develop serious, sometimes fatal neurological illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Agriculture Station, Department of Public Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Pathobiology at the University of Connecticut are all involved in the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program. There are 91 mosquito trapping stations across 72 towns throughout the state.

For more information about West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program website here.

US State Dept. Expands Travel Warning for Mexico


The U.S. Department of State issued an updated travel advisory for citizens traveling to Mexico, expanding a Dec. 8 warning to include the state of Quintana Roo, home to several resorts popular with American tourists. 

The advisory issued Tuesday hits at the heart of Mexico's tourism industry. Quintana Roo, which includes resort towns of Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Tulum, has seen a rise in homicide rates, according to the State Department.

"While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured or killed, have occurred," the advisory warned.

In a state-by-state assessment, the department reiterated the dangers of traveling in the northern state of Baja California, which includes Cabo San Lucas, Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Tecate and Mexicali, and advised citizens to exercise caution.

"Criminal activity and violence, including homicide, remain an issue throughout the state," according to the State Department. Homicides rates this year have increased compared to the same period in 2016, according to the Secretary of Public Security for the State of Baja Calif.

The State Department noted there is no evidence that criminal organizations have targeted U.S. citizens based on their nationality. However, shooting incidents involving criminal organization assassinations and turf battles between criminal groups, have occurred during daylight hours in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. 

Innocent bystanders have been injured in the ongoing public acts of violence between rival criminal organizations, officials said. 

Mexico City, Hidalgo, Guanajuato (includes San Miguel de Allende and Leon), Campeche, Puebla, Queretaro, Tabasco (includes Villahermosa), Tlaxcala and Yucatan (includes Merida and Chichen Itza) do not have advisories in effect.

U.S. citizens can contact the nearest U.S. embassy or Consulate in Mexico at +52-55-5080- 2000 x4440, (5080-2000 for calls in Mexico City, 01-55-5080-2000 for long distance calls in Mexico) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT. In case of an emergency, the after-hours number for U.S. citizens is +52-55-5080-2000.

Photo Credit: AP

Democrats Want to Restore Almost All School Funds Gov. Cut


Democrats in the Connecticut House of Representatives want to restore almost all of the funds to school systems that Gov. Dannel Malloy announced last week would be cut in the absence of a state budget. 

NBC Connecticut obtained the proposed breakdown of Education Cost Sharing grants, also known as ECS. 

Gov. Malloy had proposed eliminating all funds from 85 school systems around Connecticut, leaving them without any form of state aid, and significantly reducing funds to another 54 districts. The rest are known as Alliance Districts that historically have underperformed relative to state standards and they were left untouched by the cuts. 

The House Democrats' ECS funding proposal would restore $404 million in funds to school systems in the first year of the two year budget cycle. 

Connecticut has been operating without a budget since the fiscal year ended on June 30. Since that time, Gov. Malloy has been running the state by executive order. 

The proposed restoration of funds to the 85 school systems comes as a relief to the districts. The governor's proposal caught many of them by surprise because they never anticipated the governor would make such a move. 

Malloy defended the cuts by saying those school systems were in cities and towns in solid fiscal condition and they could absorb any reductions. 

House Democrats also said Tuesday they would release a full budget on Wednesday.

Racial Slur, Swastika Painted on New Milford Restaurant


The New Milford community rallied together in a show of support Wednesday to help local restaurant owners after someone painted a racial slur and a swastika on their building.

Senka Thompson, who owns Thompson’s Fine American Comfort Food on Kent Road with her husband, told NBC Connecticut that they found the vandalism at their restaurant when they arrived to open for business Wednesday morning.

“While we are saddened and very surprised by the hate, we are encouraged by those who support us and understand that racism hurts everyone. It is not representative of the values of our town or our country. We hope that all who disagree with this ideology will stand with us to speak out against it,” the couple wrote in a statement on their Facebook page.

The community reacted to the news with a show of support.

When Senka Thompson started cleaning up the graffiti Wednesday, a group of people showed up to help her scrape it all off.

New Milford Mayor David Gronbach denounced the act in a strongly worded statement.

“I am disgusted that the hatred we have been reading about nationally has appeared in New Milford with the racial epithet and swastika painted at Thompson’s Restaurant. In the wake of Charlottesville, I posted, “Hate Has No Home Here”. This statement in opposition reflected my stand against people and ideologies that would denigrate any person or population. Today we know that there are people in our Community that hate based on skin color or ethnicity or religion. They are proud of their prejudice and want others to fear it; to be intimidated by it; to have it normalized. I am here to say that while hate may live in the hearts of some in our Community, we give it no shelter and no safe harbor. I call on New Milford to come together to not only denounce this expression of hate, but to beat it back into the furthest recesses of the twisted heart that harbors it,” he wrote in part.

New Milford police said they were called out around 7:30 a.m. and ask anyone with information to call Detective Thomen at 860-355-3133.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Counselors at School After Death of 11-Year Boy


An 11-year-old boy has died from a medical issue and grief counselors will be available at Har-Bur Middle School in Burlington Thursday, according to police.

Police said officers, firefighters and Campion Ambulance Services responded to a home on the East Side of Torrington Tuesday for an unresponsive 11-year-old boy and he was pronounced dead at 7:08 a.m.

Police have determined that there is no criminal aspect to the child’s death and said it was due to a medical-related issue.

The child attended the Har-Bur Middle School in Burlington. Grief counselors will be available at the school from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Missing Elderly Mass. Man May be in Connecticut: Police


Massachusetts police are trying to locate a missing elderly man who may be in the Windsor area.

Maynard, Mass. police are trying to locate Willis Bean, who has been missing since Tuesday evening. He was last seen driving a grey 2000 Ford Focus with Massachusetts plate 373CX2.

Family members tell NBC Connecticut Bean was wearing Red Sox hat and blue jeans.

He was carrying a cell phone, and it last pinged off a tower in Windsor, Conn. around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. Maynard police are working with Windsor police on the case.

Anyone with information on Bean’s whereabouts should contact the Maynard Police Department at 978-897-1011 or their local police department.

Photo Credit: Maynard Police Department

ICE Arrests Mom Accused of Leaving Baby Alone in Van


Immigration officials have taken into custody a mother who is accused of leaving her 16-month-old baby girl alone in a van with the windows up in East Windsor Monday.

East Windsor police arrested the child’s mother, Gloria Sanchez-Cerritos, 22, of New Britain, and Gloria Sanchez-Cerritos’ brother, Juan Sanchez-Cerritos, 30, of New Britain, Monday after the toddler was found alone in a vehicle at Walmart on Prospect Hill Road around 6:30 p.m. Monday.

When police questioned Gloria Sanchez-Cerritos about whether she knew her daughter was in the car, she said “yes,” then commented that the child had just fallen asleep, according to police documents.

Gloria Sanchez-Cerritos and her brother were charged with risk of injury to a child, leaving a child unsupervised in a motor vehicle and reckless endangerment.

Sanchez-Cerritos, who also has three other children, is undocumented and has a detainer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Officer.

Officials from ICE said deportation officers arrested Gloria Sanchez-Cerritos Tuesday.

“On Aug. 22 ICE deportation officers with the Hartford ICE office arrested Gloria Sanchez-Cerritos, an illegally present citizen of Mexico, following her arrest on local felony charges. Sanchez entered the U.S. legally in 2011, but overstayed her lawful visit by more than five years. She will remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings,” Shawn Neudauer, public affairs officer for Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement.

Gloria Sanchez-Cerritos and her brother are due in court on Sept. 5.

Photo Credit: East Windsor Police

Rentschler Field to Host MLS Game


Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field will host its first-ever MLS game next month.

New York City FC will take on the Houston Dynamo at the East Hartford stadium at 3 p.m. on September 23 thanks to a scheduling conflict.

The Major League Soccer clubs were supposed to square off in Yankee Stadium that day, however, the Yankees will need their home park to make up a rained out game from earlier in the season.

NYCFC conducted an extensive search for an alternate site to play and chose Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, according to a release.

"Pratt & Whitney Stadium is a great venue for us due to its wonderful playing surface and facilities," the team's sporting director, Claudio Reyna, told NYCFC.com. "Hartford is a great soccer city which has hosted many important international games - I played there in a couple of games for the National Team many years ago - and it was always a wonderful place to play with a fantastic atmosphere and environment."

Pratt & Whitney Stadium hosted the U.S. Men's National Team's match against Ghana on July 1.

For information on tickets to NYCFC's match against Houston, click here.

Photo Credit: United Technologies

Naugatuck Quadruplets Begin College Together at Quinnipiac


Quadruplets from Naugatuck arrived at Quinnipiac University in Hamden with a full U-Haul and bright hopes for the next four years, which they will spend together on the Hamden campus. 

Mike and Anne Ciacciarella helped their quadruplets – Michael, Vincent, Sofia and Anna – move into the college Wednesday. 

The Ciacciarellas, the first quadruplets born at Yale-New Haven Hospital, they applied to several schools from Connecticut to California. 

Ultimately, they all decided to be Bobcats. 

“They were looking elsewhere, really didn’t want to stay together, really didn’t want to be close to home, really didn’t want to be in Connecticut, and sometimes you think you want something that you really don’t,” Anne Ciacciarella said.

While the four siblings will all be at the same school, they are embarking on separate journeys. 

Michael's focus is civil engineering. Vincent wants to be a news anchor. Sofia is on a pre-vet track and Anna wants to write and work for non-profits. 

Their proud parents knew the day their quadruplets would start college would come, but they just didn't know it would be this hard. 

“A bunch of emotions just all rolled up into one. It just kind of hit me as soon as I made that turn into the campus,” Mike Ciacciarella said. 

“I'm glad they are here, there is no better place for them,” Anne Ciacciarella said.  

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hurricane Andrew: A Look Back 25 Years Later


Remembering the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Andrew 25 years later.

Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Ex-FBI Director James Comey to Lecture at Howard University


Former FBI director James Comey’s next job will be at Howard University, where he will deliver the keynote back-to-school address and take on a special lecturing position.

In this role, he will "lead and conduct" five lectures touching on several topics, Howard announced. The topics have not yet been announced.

Comey will donate his $100,000 compensation to a scholarship fund that helps Howard students who come from foster homes, according to school officials.

Howard University’s newest class of students will be welcomed Sept. 22 at an annual opening convocation ceremony with a speech delivered by Comey.

Comey was appointed to the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy for the 2017-2018 term, the historically black university announced Wednesday.

"I am honored to hold the King Chair this school year. Howard has a longstanding history of being a vibrant academic community and the perfect place to have rich dialogue on many of the most pressing issues we face today," Comey said. “I look forward to contributing to this remarkable institution and engaging students and faculty alike."

The chair was established by Gwendolyn and Colbert King with the goal of connecting Howard students with prominent public leaders.

"Colby and I are delighted that a highly distinguished public official such as Jim Comey will become the holder of the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy for the coming academic year," Gwendolyn King said.

Comey was appointed FBI director by President Obama, but his term was cut short when President Trump fired him in May. Comey was an adjunct professor at the University of Richmond Law School and served a fellowship at Columbia University Law School.

Photo Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP

Missing Sailor's High School Asks for Prayers


It was a somber day both in Suffield and Springfield, Mass. where Dustin Doyon attended high school.

Those hearing the news are sorting through emotions and lingering questions.

"We had the picture in today's paper," Michael Loughnane said

As the search for Doyon and nine other missing sailors continues near Singapore, those in Springfield, Doyon's high school town, are searching for answers.

"It's unfortunate nobody likes to see anything like that happen," Loughnane said.

Dustin was aboard the USS McCain when it hit an oil tanker Monday, flooding several compartments inside.

Members of the American Legion in Springfield like Jim Carner say the news leaves them with just as much concern as it does unanswered questions.

"I honestly think that there's more to the situation than we know you have to wait-and-see what the results are," Jim Carner said.

Dr. Paul Harrinton, head of school for Pope Francis High School, said the school community is praying for Doyon.

"The community, including our legacy schools-pray for Dustin and his family during this time of uncertainty. Dustin is a valued member of the Cathedral Class of 2009," Harrinton said.

As more time and less answers surface Michael Loughnane says he feels for Doyon's family.

"I think everybody knows it when you have a son or daughter in the service there are certain risks and most of the time those people are willing to take those risks," Loughnane said.

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy

Exxon Mobil Misled Public on Climate Change: Study


Exxon Mobil misled the public about climate change for years even as its research echoed the growing scientific consensus that global warming is real and caused by human activity, a new study finds.

The conclusion is based on a study by two Harvard University researchers, who used social science methods to compare what Exxon Mobil said in nearly 200 scientific publications and internal communications on climate change with what they presented in three dozen advertisements over 15 years, CNBC reported.

The researchers' takeaway is that the more publicly available advertisements sowed doubt that climate change is real and caused by humans, while the scientific studies and private exchanges more openly acknowledged that scientific fact.

"We conclude that Exxon Mobil contributed to advancing climate science — by way of its scientists' academic publications — but promoted doubt about it in advertorials. Given this discrepancy, we conclude that Exxon Mobil misled the public," the researchers wrote.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File

Part of Boston Post Road Closed After Car Hits Person in West Haven

Despite Trump Talk, No Official Action Yet on Opioid Crisis


Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency and called it "a serious problem the likes of which we have never had."

But so far, Trump hasn’t formally signed such a declaration to sent to Congress, NBC News reported.

The millions of dollars the executive branch could direct towards expanding treatment facilities — or supplying police officers with the anti-overdose remedy naloxone — aren’t moving because Trump yet to take official action.

A White House spokesperson would not comment on when Trump plans to get around to it.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck, File

Death of Hartford Baby Appears to Be Tragic Accident: Police


Police are investigating the death of an 8-month old baby girl in Hartford and detectives believe the child’s death is a tragic accident. 

Police responded to an address on Hamilton Street at 10:04 p.m. Wednesday after receiving a 911 call about an unresponsive 8-month-old child and officers immediately began administering CPR. 

EMS transported the child to Connecticut Children's Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead a short time later. 

Detectives from the Major Crimes Division, Special Investigations Division and Crime Scene Division, responded and assumed the investigation. 

After interviews and searching the home detectives believe the child’s death is a tragic accident. The investigation is ongoing. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Sinkhole Closes Part of Route 174 in New Britain

Men Arrested After Gunshot Off Cross Sound Ferry


Two men have been arrested after a gunshot was fired from the stern of the Cross Sound Ferry, according to police.

Staff from the Cross Sound Ferry called New London police at 9:14 p.m. Wednesday to report that two men were involved in an incident and a gunshot was fired off the stern of the ferry that had returned from Block Island, police said.

Several witnesses, including off-duty police officers from other towns, quickly pointed out the two men and police arrested 52-year-old Michael Richard, of Blythewood, South Carolina, who was charged with carrying a firearm while under the Influence, carrying a firearm without a permit, unlawful discharge of firearm, reckless endangerment in the first degree and breach of peace.

Michael McMahon, 55, of Hamden, was charged with breach of peace and carrying a firearm under the influence.

The United States Coast Guard assisted during the incident.

Police said they seized a Glock 43 nine-millimeter gun. No one was injured and no damage was reported.

Bond for both men was set at $10,000 and they are due in court on Sept. 6.

Photo Credit: New London Police
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