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Sound Bites: Offshore wind is not killing whales, fact checkers say

A police officer in Seaside Park N.J. photographs a dead whale on the beach on March 2, 2023.
Wayne Parry
A police officer in Seaside Park N.J. photographs a dead whale on the beach on March 2, 2023.

Good morning. At least 30 whales — some endangered — have been washing up at an alarming rate along the Eastern coast since last winter. 

However, they have nothing to do with offshore wind projects underway in the New York Bight, between the New Jersey shore and the south shore of Long Island, according to fact checkers at Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. 

With help from Duke University’s marine conservation technology, FactCheck.org found seafloor surveys used for the installation of wind turbines cause zero whale mortalities. Critics blamed the survey's use of high-frequency, acoustic services to map the seafloor and to detect corridors for electricity cables. 

The location of bunker fish close to the shore leading to vessel strikes is a more likely reason for stranded or washed up dead whales, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.  

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

A New Haven mayoral candidate is suing to be included in the Democratic primary ballot. Shafiq Abdussabur said the city’s Registrar of Voters miscounted the number of valid petition signatures to get on the ballot for this September. He seeks to challenge Liam Brennan and incumbent Justin Elicker.

Two South American Callimico monkeys died from a sudden, unknown illness at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. Staff are investigating the cause of Monty and Jovi’s deaths, and await postmortem test results. The pair showed no signs of illness, and the zoo found no evidence that any of its other 300 animals are at risk from the sickness.

Connecticut’s attorney general’s office refuses to represent a corrections officer in a lawsuit claiming the officer was responsible for the death of an inmate. In 2019, Carl Talbot died in the New Haven Correctional Center. His estate is suing 12 corrections employees. State Attorney General William Tong will represent 11 employees but won’t represent the remaining officer for undisclosed reasons. The attorney general is required to represent all state employees in civil lawsuits, unless the employee’s behavior was reckless, or malicious.

New York lawmakers plan to restrict the use of drones as more police departments take flight in day-to-day operations. Several pending bills would ban agencies from using drones unless they have approved search warrants to use them. Suffolk and Nassau County police departments utilize a total of 66 drones to monitor traffic patterns, manage wildlife and react to natural disasters, among other tasks.

Some Christmas Tree Shops employees haven’t received their final paychecks amid the final stores closing this month. The big-box specialty retail store chain closed all of its stores after the company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. The Connecticut Department of Labor received dozens of complaints of employees being owed their final paychecks. Investigators are working with employees to ensure they receive their compensation with final payroll expected to be processed this week.

Tolland, Connecticut is creating a new transgender student policy. The town’s Board of Education wants to better provide students with a safe space amid recent anti-LGBTQ+ incidents in July. The policy will build upon state regulations requiring schools to address students by their chosen pronouns and gender identity, among other protected actions.

Construction of Nassau County’s new family and matrimonial courthouse won’t be complete until 2025. According to Newsday, the project is years behind schedule due to cost overruns and legal disputes with contractors. The courthouse was supposed to be complete by 2021 on a budget of $168 million. That cost has increased to $215 million.

Residents are suing Stamford over new zoning regulations for cannabis business applications. The Stamford Neighborhood Coalitions aims to remove these new regulations and ultimately eliminate all cannabis business operations in Connecticut. They are concerned recreational marijuana will increase crime rates in Stamford and put children at risk.

Connecticut spends almost $1 million annually on Viagra for state employees. Between 2019 and 2022, the state spent $4.1 million on erectile dysfunction medication for nearly 13,000 state employees. According to the Office of the Comptroller, these prescriptions were covered by the state’s health plan and Partnership Plan 2.0.

Plainville, Connecticut will adopt a four-day work week for town staff. During a six-month pilot program, starting Monday, the town’s Municipal Center, Recreation Department and Youth Services will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 6 pm on Thursdays, and will be closed on Fridays. Meanwhile, Plainville’s Senior Center will be open on Mondays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. , 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday, and will be closed on Fridays.

Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.