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Sound Bites: Murphy’s focus is gun reforms, less fentanyl, mass transit

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy speaking at the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce event.
Brian Scott-Smith
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy speaking at the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce event.

Good morning! We heard from U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) who visited eastern Connecticut this week to provide local leaders and businesses with an update on his work in Washington D.C. to support the state.

He said national issues around transportation infrastructure, gun violence prevention and curbing illegal drugs are just as relevant in Connecticut.

“I’ll be working on immigration reform,” Murphy said during a luncheon held by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun Casino, one of the largest employers in the region — which used to hire foreign workers. “My hope is that a bipartisan group that I work with is going to take a crack at trying to fix our broken immigration system. And of course, we continue to do work to bring costs down to get this inflationary cycle to a full stop really important here in Connecticut.”

A member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, Murphy said he’ll also look at the budget for Homeland Security to address the rise in fentanyl imported in the U.S.

“Because you’re never going to stop all of it, because it’s so cheap today, because it’s so easy to get into the country. At least if you could raise the price, you provide a little more of a barrier to entry,” he said.

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing: 

A Good Samaritan University Hospital nurse has turned herself in after the alleged physical violence against a two-day-old infant. The incident was caught on video by the newborn’s father. Amanda Burke, of Holbrook, has been suspended from her position, and is scheduled for arraignment on May 2.

Nearly 34,500 Connecticut state workers will receive pandemic pay. State employees who worked during the first year of the pandemic will receive an average of $1,470, from $50 million that was set aside as a reward. The decision passed through the state Senate in 15 minutes, and passed 98-53 in the House.

Raytheon Technologies Corporation is going to bring hundreds of new jobs to Suffolk County, according to Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY). The federal government awarded the company a near $114 million contract to develop new and upgraded weapons systems. One of the facilities will be located in Hauppauge.

A former mayoral candidate has accused Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti of ethics violations. Lauretti started to sell his land in Shelton to real estate developers, and his opponent David Eldridge claims the mayoral seat was used to get around wetland regulations. The town ethics board deliberated the complaint on Wednesday.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker will issue expanded permits for seasonal and year-round outdoor dining. The program began during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is being expanded after positive community reception. About 35 outdoor establishments in 2022 participated in the plan, which usually involves repurposing sidewalks and parking spaces.

Two Wyandanch High School students have returned from Ghana after getting stuck there. They were traveling with the school for spring break, but did not have the items needed to board a plane back to the U.S. Over $59,000 have been donated to support them and the school. The school worked with the U.S. Embassy to straighten out the paperwork.

Students and employees rallied against proposed paid parking plans at Stony Brook University, claiming it could charge up to $600. Officials said they are willing to negotiate with the unions, but need to find a solution to fund maintenance and customer service.

Members of the New Haven Civilian Review Board have called for its appointees to better represent the demographic makeup of the city. These outspoken members also wish to provide education on what the board does, and to better understand issues with policing in local neighborhoods. Of the board’s 14 total members, nine are active—six are Black, two are White, and one is Hispanic.

A Southold police sergeant was suspended for 30 days. Sgt. Steven Witzke and other officers held a retirement party for a colleague in 2020 at the height of COVID-19, violating social distancing policies. Disciplinary measures are pending.

An Amityville nurse practitioner was charged in a COVID-19 vaccine card forging scheme. Julie Devuono, and at least two accomplices at Wild Child Pediatric Health, charged hundreds of dollars for adults and children to receive false cards, allegedly collecting $1.5 million. Until her trial, Devuono must wear a GPS monitor and has been ruled a flight risk.

The Fairfield Police Athletic League will cease operations soon. League President Gary Wilkman said the organization has struggled due to the limited availability of active-duty officers with time to participate. The near 80-year-old group has helped coach student sports, tutor homework, and other school related activities — while interacting with law enforcement.

Mystic Aquarium released a 4-month-old seal pup, ready to return to the Atlantic. Named Northlands, the pup—native to the North Atlantic—was discovered out of its natural habitat in Bermuda. Six organizations, international collaboration, including the Bermuda government, brought Northland home.

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Joseph D’Alessandro is a former news intern at WSHU.
An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.