© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sound Bites: Higher fines for Connecticut municipalities that fail public records requests

Cities and some states across the country have closed up their public record offices and relaxed sunshine laws during the coronavirus epidemic.
Jovana Sanchez/EyeEm
Getty Images
Any Connecticut city or town that repeatedly denies, delays, or prevents access to public records may now face $10,000 fines from the Freedom of Information Commission.

Good morning. Connecticut cities and towns may face fines as high as $10,000 for failing to fulfill Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC) requests. Currently set as low as $1,000, lawmakers are considering a bill to increase the fines to prevent municipalities, such as Bridgeport, from repeatedly denying or delaying public record requests. 

Bridgeport city officials are appealing a decision made by the FOIC that required the city release unredacted police reports to a man who was convicted of a gang killing. Officials fear the files could reveal the identities of case witnesses and put them at risk. 

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

Small businesses can apply to gain access to Suffolk County’s sewer systems. The pilot program will provide up to $15,000 to small businesses and will work with Dime Bank to provide loans to help cover remaining sewer connection costs. County Executive Steve Bellone said he hopes this program will help business owners save thousands of dollars.

A Connecticut hormonal healthcare firm settled a lawsuit about false Medicare claims. State Attorney General William Tong announced the near $400,000 settlement with Waterbury naturopath Marcos DeEscobar and his company Corebella Health. The firm allegedly submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for services it claimed were performed by a physician. In reality, these services were carried out by nurse practitioners resulting in Corebella receiving overpayments from 2016-2018.

Amtrak announced the addition of two new Northeast Regional trains. The trains will start in Springfield, with stops at Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Stamford, and provide direct access to New York Penn Station. Riders from Hartford will reach New York in less than three hours. The two trains will begin service on June 5.

Connecticut held its first-ever Investor Conference on Tuesday. Hosted by Governor Ned Lamont and State Treasurer Erick Russell, the conference had state officials effectively pitch Connecticut as a good investment to various bank organizations and analysts. Russell, who will issue $710 million in state bonds this week, told attendees that the state filled its rainy-day fund to capacity, paid down pension debt and generated record surpluses.

Several state attorneys general in the U.S. have been banned from Russia, including Connecticut’s William Tong. Russia banned the officials and issued financial restrictions on them for their role in condemning the January 6 insurrection and defending the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. Tong called these bans “beyond absurd.” He said it is evidence of President Vladimir Putin striving to spread disinformation in the United States.

South Norfolk streets must be raised by at least three feet by 2050. That was the warning John Truscinski, director of Resilience Planning at the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaption, posed to city officials. Truscinski detailed how climate change and increasingly severe storms will make flood rates increase. Places that used to flood every 20 years will begin flooding every five years. Long Island Sound is expected to rise by 20 inches by 2050.

General Dynamics Electric Boat was awarded a $1 billion Navy contract to build two new Virginia-class fast-attack submarines. This contract is the result of a year-long negotiation between the Groton-based defense manufacturer and the Navy regarding who assumes liability in the rare instance of a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile exploding aboard a sub. Electric Boat has been designing and building subs since 1899.

New London could save $28 million in the next three decades if an agreement to reform the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement System is approved. According to The Day, State Comptroller Sean Scanlon reached out for community support on Tuesday in the city. Mayor Michael Passero said the town could use an estimated $951,000 in the next budget savings to fund extra items, including the hiring of more police officers. The agreement would provide relief to municipalities by stabilizing funds and leveling out employer contributions after increasing by 75% on average in the past five years.

If you appreciated this story, please consider making a contribution. Listener support is what makes WSHU’s regional reporting, news from NPR, and classical music possible. Thank you!

Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.