The Roundup: #MeToo, Wethersfield’s celebrity turkey, New Haven’s Jerre Shuffle, and bipartisan budget (sort of)

Welcome to The Roundup by UConn Journalism. This is your guide to the best news stories produced by Connecticut journalists from October 13–19, 2017, as spotted 👀 by our team of UConn Journalism students. Today’s newsletter was written by UConn Junior Ryley McGinnis, who is glad that along with the end of midterm season, the summer season seemed to have finally ended too. Fall is finally (sort of) here. 🍁


Bipartisan budget❓ For real❓

The struggle for a state budget seems to be never ending. On Wednesday, legislators announced they had reached a tentative agreement, but it isn’t actually being set into motion yet. This new bipartisan budget, if implemented, could affect cigarette smokers, teachers, the working poor, middle class tax rates and the property tax credit, according to a story by CT Mirror’s Mark Pazniokas and Keith M. Phaneuf. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said conversations with Republican and Democratic caucuses still need to happen for the plan to move forward.

[House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz holds a press conference in the Connecticut State Capitol with bipartisan leadership on Wednesday, Oct. 18 to announce progress on the budget negotiations. Photo by Caio Goncalves]

Earlier this week, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced his own new ‘bare-bones’ budget, which is the fourth proposal in the Connecticut budget struggle. Malloy’s plan would “eliminate unpopular tax increases, incorporate ideas from both parties, and shrink the budget and its accompanying legislation down to their essential parts,” reported Eric Bedner at the Journal Inquirer.

Malloy’s latest budget blueprint includes a new education cost sharing formula that would focus more on schools in need, and removes language for a transportation authority that previously caused an uproar over the creation of electronic tolls in the state. Since Malloy has been shut out of the budget meetings, he’s been seen taking walks to “stretch his legs” all the way to the press room, noted the CT Mirror.

The lack of a state budget could soon affect Connecticut’s ability to borrow money. Christine Stuart at CT News Junkie reported on a warning from Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings, which downgraded the outlook for Connecticut’s general obligation bonds to “negative.” This doesn’t change the overall rating, but changes it from the previously constantly stable outlook, which reflects the state’s struggle to agree on a budget. Moody’s, a bond credit rating agency, has also placed 26 cities, towns and three regional school districts on review for downgrading, according to a story by Bobby Martinez of Fox 61.

Meanwhile, town budgets are being forced to adapt to the budget crisis. New London cut $4.2 million from its school budget. Jennifer Lee and Kaitlyn Naples at WFSB reported this week that parents and school staff had urged the town to take cuts from somewhere else, but the vote still passed. Taxes may also go up from 8 to 10 percent.


Why is #MeToo taking off now?

After taking to Facebook to ask friends and followers “why now?” regarding the #MeToo movement that has been sweeping across social media for the past few days, Hartford Courant Opinion Editor Carolyn Lumsden shared responses in an opinion piece.

— Tracey Weiss of West Hartford told the Hartford Courant what she thinks about the #MeToo movement that has taken off on Facebook and Twitter.

The growing number of accusations against Harvey Weinstein have moved women to share their own stories about sexual assault and sexual harassment using the hashtag “#MeToo,” to show just how widespread and prevalent this issue is.

Those who responded to Lumsden’s social media post think the hashtag challenges victim blaming and shows that women will not keep quiet. “Is there a woman out there who has NOT been harassed/assaulted?” asked Laura McMahon of Tolland, who added that the hashtag should read “#AllOfUs.”

Also: Connecticut Reacts to Workplace Harassment after Weinstein Scandal — Rebecca Lurye of Hartford Courant


This isn’t “fake news”

A recent Quinnipiac Poll showed that an all-time high percent of voters say the nation’s economy is “excellent” or “good.” However 55 to 43 percent of voters also say Donald Trump is not fit to serve as president. Jim Shay of CT Post reported that those who approved of the job Trump is doing included Republicans, white voters with no college degree, and white men, while every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group disapproves.


Our favorite story of the week 🦃: It’s Kevin the Turkey!

Every town has its local celebrity, and for Wethersfield, it’s Kevin, the wild turkey often spotted walking around Main Street or chasing the occasional mail truck. Bill Leukhardt of the Hartford Courant delightfully explains that the Facebook page “Fans of the Wethersfield Turkey” now has over 4,000 likes.
Everyone in town knows who Kevin is, stores sell Kevin shirts, mugs, and other memorabilia, and some people are even sporting lawn signs urging the town to vote Kevin for mayor. And with Thanksgiving looming, there are some members of the Kevin Facebook page who have vowed not to eat any turkey at all this year.

National Anthem controversy reaches Newington 🇺🇸

Kate Rayner of NBC Connecticut reported Newington school officials are standing by Newington High School student athletes right to kneel during the national anthem at school sporting events. Fox 61’s Carmen Chau told viewers that the controversy over students taking part in the trending NFL protest against police brutality began after one Board of Education member wrote a Facebook post saying the players’ kneeling was not acceptable. Other members of the board of education expressed support at a recent meeting, telling students, “You have every right to do what you did. You don’t leave your schoolhouse rights at the door. You can’t be forced to do things like stand for the national anthem.”


Act of public service journalism in the Valley deserves 👍

A second mayoral debate in Ansonia fell apart after an Oct. 26 date at Ansonia High School was cancelled by the candidates. Since current Mayor David Cassetti and challenger Tarek Raslan couldn’t agree on another time to jointly address the public, Eugene Driscoll and Ethan Fry of the Valley Indy took matters into their own hands and hosted a debate with the candidates at their office. The recording of the debate has been heard almost 5,000 times online.


Meriden mother charged with murder, 2nd-degree arson

Mary Ellen Godin of the Record-Journal covered a difficult story about a Meriden mother accused of drugging her 8-year-old son, suffocating him and then using Tiki torch oil to set fire to their home. Karin Ziolkowski was charged with murder and second-degree arson this week. Ziolkowski was hospitalized due to injuries suffered in the fire last November and was later released to a treatment facility in Connecticut, according to family members. She has been staying in North Carolina where she was taken into custody by police.


Connecticut residents welcome refugees from Puerto Rico with direct flights and open arms

Guillermo Class of Hartford told Jeff Cohen of WNPR

Gov. Malloy wants the state to make contact with refugees coming from Puerto Rico as they arrive to the state. Malloy said, “my administration has actively been making preparations to ensure that anyone who may need services on the flight will receive those services,” according to a WNPR article by Harriet Jones. Direct flights to and from Bradley International Airport reopened last Friday, reported Matt Ormseth of Hartford Courant.

An estimated 300,000 people in Connecticut have ties to the ravaged island, and many are expected to help out family members by welcoming them into their homes, including Hartford father Guillermo Class, who shared his story with WNPR’s Jeff Cohen and Ryan Caron King.

When Class discovered his two sons in Puerto Rico were struggling to obtain food and water, he sold his 2003 Jeep Liberty for $1,300, enough money to fly himself to San Juan and fly back with his sons.


QU cops 👮 add body cameras 📷

Just a few years after allowing officers to carry guns, Quinnipiac Public Safety has adopted a policy requiring all officers to wear body cameras. Officers began using the cameras in August 2017, which the Quinnipiac Chronicle’s Jessica Ruderman reports cost up to $1,000 per camera. There are currently 50 officers that are trained and equipped with body cameras. Some students feel the pricey devices are a waste of money for the university, but Quinnipiac Public Safety Officer Bradley Bopp is confident it’s worth the money. “You’re seeing them in a lot of police departments and there are several other universities that are using them as well, so it’s something we’ve been looking into. It’s obviously a cost factor,” Bopp said.

UConn implemented their own body camera policy in July of 2016. Annabelle Orlando of The Daily Campus reported the cost of all 82 UConn police officers using cameras was about $200,000. System maintenance is the most expensive part of the operation, as police departments around the country must figure out the cheapest way to store thousands of hours of video footage. “The cameras are inexpensive compared to the cloud,” Bopp said.


Controversial Yale student group faces backlash

Last month, a controversial Yale student group invited students to come debate the topic, “Resolved: Reform the Savages.” It incited an uproar among the student body and was labeled as racist towards Native Americans. Since then, the chairman of the group, called the Party of the Right, has come out and apologized.

Former members of Yale’s Party of the Right recently condemned the apology, as reported by Britton O’Daly of the Yale Daily News, with one alumnus even calling it “dreadful.” That same alumnus, Christopher Thacker, went after the Association of Native Americans at Yale after they released a statement condemning the Party of the Right for the “dehumanization of Indigenous peoples.” Thacker posted the statement to his own Facebook feed along with the caption, “please tell me this is a satire.” Others have spoken out in a similar fashion.


Watch this 📺 from WFSB

Police in Suffield honored the life of “Z”, a police K9 that had served the department for nearly 10 years.


🎓One Big Happy Community College?

The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system proposed a plan Tuesday to combine the state’s 12 community colleges into one. Known as “The Community College of Connecticut,” the new institution would be run by one vice chancellor and save the state $28 million. All campuses and satellites in the state would remain open, but many administrative positions would be cut. The final vote on this plan will be made in December. Kathleen Megan of The Hartford Courant has the full story.


Connecticut skies on fire! 🔥💫

CT Post’s Jim Shay reported on a fireball spotted in the skies of Connecticut on Wednesday. Quoted is a Mansfield resident who described the meteor sighting as “big green jet, looked like Avada Kedavra spell from Harry Potter.” See a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it video of the meteor embedded in the story.

McDonald’s looks to hire 1,200 in Connecticut through Snapchat 👻

Alexander Soule of Stamford Advocate has the story on fast food giant McDonald’s announcement of 1,200 opening positions in the state for the 2017 holiday season. The restaurant chain will be using Snapchat job applications, a new system the company launched this past summer. According to McDonald’s, applications soared an astounding 35 percent with Snapchat.

Mmm. Fruit bouquets. 🍇🍍🍓 Meet the founder of Edible Arrangements

Tariq Farid moved from Pakistan to West Haven when he was 11 years old with a mind for business. He started by mowing the lawn and clearing snow for a neighbor. She told him if he kept working as hard as he was, he’d be a millionaire by the time he was 35. And Farid did it. His first real business was a flower shop in East Haven, but the idea grew into the national success known as Edible Arrangements. Erik Ofgang of Connecticut Magazine details Farid’s story.


Can you do the Jerre Shuffle?💃🏻

Stand with your legs apart, hold your arms out, shimmy left and right and you’ve got the dance down! Anyone who frequents the New Haven nightlife scene has probably run into Jerre Adams, the creator of the Jerre Shuffle; he and his signature dance are staples at bars like Vanity, Brother Jimmy’s, and BAR.

Jake Dressler of the New Haven Independent reports that in addition to his love of nightlife, Adams is a good guy who just wants to have a good time. Dressler reports that Adams not only knows his own limits, but always watches out for others as well. He’s been known to call Ubers for bar-goers who need it, and he’s always willing to talk.


Norwalk Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering team up

Norwalk Hospital is set to be the first hospital outside of New York state to have oncologists and staff from Memorial Sloan Kettering lead cancer treatments at their facility. The partnership will provide Fairfield County residents with the best and newest cancer treatment options available, and more complex cases will have access to clinical trials at Sloan Kettering. Kevin Zimmerman has the story for the Fairfield County Business Journal.


Making A Difference in Middletown

A Middletown-based company called ClearWeave Careers is helping connect adults who are on the autism spectrum with employers. Cassandra Day of The Middletown Press reported that the company is helping people like 21-year-old Durham resident Luke Whalen, who has autism and now works at O’Rourke’s Diner.


Hunter Hayes charity concert in Stamford

Country music star Hunter Hayes will be doing a benefit concert next month in Stamford with the Dana’s Angels Research Trust, a charity founded by a Greenwich family who lost their daughter Dana to a rare disease called Niemann-Pick type C, sometimes referred to as “children’s Alzheimer’s disease.” The family’s son also has this extremely rare condition, reported Ken Borsuk of Greenwich Time.


Debate this: Generation Z connected, but unprepared?

Thanks to technology, we are all more connected than ever before. But what does that mean for the generation that has never had to be without laptops, cell phones, or other electronics? In an op-ed for the Hartford Courant, Roger Desmond writes that Generation Z, also called the “iGen,” is so interconnected it has actually become detached from life experiences that are essential to preparing them to enter the “real world.” Desmond’s essay examines why it can be nice to be so connected all the time, but he also asks an important question — at what cost?


We’re going to have a new governor in 2018, but not a lot of excitement about the choices 😕

In an op-ed for CT News Junkie with the headline “Felons, Millionaires, and Nobodies: The Race for Governor,” Susan Bigelow noted, “It’s a huge field, and yet I’m not at all thrilled with the choices. Quite a few of the candidates are outsiders with little to no experience in state government. Voters may like that, but I just keep thinking of the huge mistake America made last November and I can’t really get behind it.”

Bigelow isn’t alone in her concern. A scathing editorial from The Hartford Courant called for Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew to pull out of the race after a “shakedown of city employees.” “We need leaders who can do far better than this,” the editorial said.

Colin McEnroe in his Hartford Courant column took a broader view. “Governor of Connecticut has become such a horrible job that nobody wants it, except maybe for the health insurance,” he quipped. “It may even become a form of alternative sentencing.”


UConn Women’s basketball picked as favorites, men slated for 5th 🏀

It was more of the same for the UConn women’s basketball team. At the American Conference media day on Monday the Huskies were once again the overwhelming favorite to win the conference, as reported by Jim Fuller of the New Haven Register. They have an 80–0 record in four years of American Conference play with 79 of those 80 wins coming by double-digits. Junior forward Napheesa Collier was picked as preseason Player of the Year, while junior Katie Lou Samuelson and senior Gabby Williams rounded out the Huskies that made first-team all-conference. Senior Kia Nurse was selected for second-team.

The UConn men’s basketball team was projected to finish fifth in the conference, according to David Borges of the New Haven Register. It’s the worst projection the Huskies have had in their time in the American Conference. In the past four years, UConn has been projected to finish second, first, second and second. But in those four years, they’ve actually finished fourth, sixth, sixth and sixth.

“It’s kinda low,” junior forward Terry Larrier said of UConn’s fifth-place projection. “We definitely believe that we’re better than that. But it’s just fuel to the fire. That’s more motivation to us to come out and prove it this year, that’s all.”

It wasn’t all bad for the men on Monday. Junior guard Jalen Adams was named to the preseason first-team all-conference while redshirt Alterique Gilbert was oddly enough named the preseason Rookie of the Year for the second consecutive year.

The Best of the Rest

New study shows a surge in STD’s due to unsafe sex, hookups — Laurie Tarkan, C-HIT
Sacred Heart University opens a typical ’50s style on-campus diner, the only one in New England — Meredith Guinness for The Daily Voice
A 12-Hour school day? Find out why this New Haven school offers extended hours — Christopher Peak for the New Haven Independent
Outrage ensues when attempts to reform the Blue Hills Fire Commission in Bloomfield are stifled — Len Besthoff of NBC Connecticut
Bamboo grove = blight fight in New London — Greg Smith of The Day
A Connecticut native lands opportunity to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated — Cassandra Day of The Middletown Press
West Hartford man finally gets to thank woman who saved his life when he had a heart attack while mowing his lawn — Ronni Newton for We-ha.com
📷 Lots of ink: Photos from the 6th Annual Tommy’s Tattoo Convention — Alex Syphers for the Hartford Courant
Traffic is for Women, Weather is for Men (Mostly) on Connecticut TV — Bernard Kavaler of CT By The Numbers

The weekend is calling 📞


We hope you 👍 The Roundup. We’d be honored if you would share this newsletter with your friends.

We could also use your help. If you see an excellent Connecticut news story that we should include in next week’s The Roundup, send us a recommendation.

Connecticut journalists: Let us know what you are working on.

Have a great weekend! — Ryley and The Roundup Team


Originally published by UConn Journalism on Friday, October 20, 2017 at mailchi.mp.