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Unemployment Rate Extremely High in Connecticut

By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the State of Connecticut has submitted its application for federal funding to establish a temporary program that will provide a $300 weekly wage supplement to existing unemployment benefits in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration has been authorized to use up to $44 billion in Stafford Act disaster relief funds to assist workers who have lost their income due to the pandemic.

The program requires states to establish an entirely new process for claimants to access the FEMA funding.

New unemployment claimants and existing state and extended benefits claimants will be required to self-certify that they are eligible under the federal guidelines. Existing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants have already self-certified.

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     Photo Credit: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Lamont said that these funds are important, especially for people who are financially unstable.

“This will bring some much-needed assistance to Connecticut workers who have lost jobs due to the coronavirus,” Lamont said.

According to Lamont, the program will add $300 to a claimant’s existing weekly benefit for as long as federal funds are available and help fill the hole left when the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program expired on July 26.

Lamont urged the Trump Administration to come to terms in regards to people who were unemployed during the pandemic.

“It’s imperative that the Trump administration reach an agreement with Congress on comprehensive legislation that provides stable and long-term funding to supplement weekly unemployment benefits,” Lamont said.

It has been available for claim since August 2 and August 9, with additional weeks under review.

If the state’s application is approved by the federal government, FEMA will transfer the funding to the Connecticut Department of Labor, which will then be disbursed to eligible claimants.

Connecticut Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said that this new program will provide much-needed support to those affected.

“This program will certainly provide some level of assistance to Connecticut’s weekly filers who, without the federal supplement, receive an average of $269 per week,” Westby said. “The Connecticut Department of Labor continues to work closely with the U.S. Department of Labor to get this additional funding out to claimants as soon as possible.

The agency anticipates disbursement in mid-September and expects about 250,000 claimants to be eligible for the federal benefit.


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Gov. Ned Lamont Doubles Funding for Rental Assistance

By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont recently announced that he is doubling funding for the rental assistance program for Connecticut residents impacted by COVID-19 from $10 million to $20 million.

The program, which is funded by the Coronavirus Relief Fund that is managed by the Office of Policy and Management, provides payments to landlords on behalf of approved tenant applicants.

The program is administered by the Connecticut Department of Housing in partnership with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) and 11 housing counseling agencies across the state.

The additional $10 million brings the total amount of state funding for renters, homeowners, and residential landlords impacted by COVID-19 to $43.3 million.

Lamont said that homeowners are a major priority as the state is battling the novel Coronavirus.

“Supporting renters and landlords during this public health crisis is critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19,” Lamont said. “I’m trying to get people back to work and children back to school, and having a home you can call your own is a critical foundation for making that happen.”

In addition to the $20 million rental assistance program, the funding provides mortgage relief to homeowners. It also supports renters who were facing eviction before the pandemic.

The funding also helps to rehouse people exiting homelessness or incarceration and supports renters excluded from federal assistance because of their immigration status.

Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said that homeowners should get the support they so deserve during these pressing times.

“This increase reflects Governor Lamont’s commitment to help those families that have been affected by the pandemic and are in need of financial assistance to pay their rents,” Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said. “I am thrilled with the partnership we have forged with the Wells Fargo Foundation to provide financial assistance to the housing counseling agencies.”

Eileen Fitzgerald, head of housing affordability philanthropy for Wells Fargo, said that residents are dealing with stress and anxiety during COVID-19.

“During this unprecedented time, far too many people are struggling financially and facing housing instability in Connecticut,” Fitzgerald said. “This grant for the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority will expand access to relief programs by engaging local housing counseling agencies to work toward keeping more Connecticut residents housed who are facing financial challenges as a result of COVID-19.”

Connecticut’s largest cities also received $10 million under the CARES Act Emergency Solution Grants program to prevent homelessness.

Lamont, with connection to the extra funding, announced that he will soon sign an executive order for the residential eviction moratorium protecting tenants who were currently on their rent at the beginning of the pandemic that will extend to Oct. 1.

The extension will bring this important measure to protect public health in line with neighboring states.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently extended protections for tenants in homes with mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Authority through the end of the year.

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Hartford Common Council to Discuss Residency Requirement

HARTFORD — The Hartford Court of Common Council will hold a virtual meeting on Sept. 2 to discuss–among other things–residency requirement.

The meeting will be streamed and broadcasted through Hartford Public Access Television at or channel 96 for Comcast/Xfinity customers.

Items to be discussed during this meeting include an ordinance change submitted by Mayor Luke Bronin, which would update/amend the residency requirements for employees, an ordinance change submitted by Councilman Joshua Michtom.

Another significant agenda item is Bronin’s proposal to strengthen the Civilian Police Review Board.

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Hartford’s Census Rate Dismally Low, Officials Say

HARTFORD — The numbers are in.

Hartford has a dismal record for filling out the census. Consequently, it is the lowest response rate in the nation.

That’s according to U.S. Census officials on Wednesday. That’s why Hartford Public Library will be hosting events to help get city residents to fill out the U.S. Census.

The Library is offering two great incentives — free books and ice cream. The special census events will be at all of its locations from now until Sept. 30 census deadline.

Volunteers will assist with forms and voter registration.

“Voting and completing the census are two of the most fundamental – and easy – things a citizen can do to help their communities. It is our goal at HPL to encourage as many people as we can to participate in the civic process,” HPL’s President/CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said in a statement Monday morning.

Connecticut has a 66. 7 percent response rate, compared to the national average of average of 62.9 percent. As of August, Hartford has a 44.6 percent response rate, the lowest rate of any city in the country.

There are seven Hartford Public Library census events between now and the end of September:

  • August 25 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Barbour Library, Unity Plaza, 261 Barbour St.
  • Sept. 8 and 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Camp Field Library, 30 Camp Field Ave.
  • Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Artbox Lot, 769 Park St. across the street from the Park branch library.
  • Sept. 17 at Dwight Library, 7 New Park Ave., time to be determined.
  • Sept. 18 from noon to 2 p.m. at the main downtown library, 500 Main St.
  • Sept. 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Park Library, 744 Park St.

For more details about the events, visit

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CABC, Inc to Offer Online Workshop on Diversity

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Alliance for Better Communities, Inc. will be offering fall Diversity and Inclusion workshop for government employees, business executives, educators and students interested in building coalition across race, ethnicity and religious creed.

The workshop will be offered online. Registration is $350 for the one-week course with requirements to elucidate comprehension about implicit bias and posttraumatic slave syndrome and how it convolute thought and behavior in adults on the job, in school and in romantic relationships. Course materials and a reading list will be available online.

Workshop will include definitions and articulations of race and racism with its component of xenophobia and ethno-phobia to achieve high levels of cultural competence. More important, the course will engage participants in the discussion of how these phobias hamper cross cultural communications, using anecdotes of lived experiences and how theory buffers praxis in the 21st century. Consequently, participants will enjoy the joy of peace and agape love so they can coexist on the job, in school and in romantic relationships.

The workshop will be taught by award-winning journalist and historian, Dr. Ann-Marie Adams. Adams has been a journalist in the tri-state area of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. She has traveled extensively to Africa, the Americas and the European. Read bio here.

For more information about registration, email

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Gov. Lamont Awards Grant to Improve CT Transit Link

By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD – Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the Connecticut Department of Transportation has been awarded a $6.7 million federal grant to modernize the CTtransit bus facility in Stamford, similar to that of Hartford.

This grant will help to provide accommodations for battery electric buses, which will soon be used on the system.

Lamont said that there will be major improvements to the bus system with this grant, which came from the Federal Transit Administration’s Buses and Bus Facilities Program.

“Connecticut’s public transit system is long overdue for a modernization, and this grant will help in our transition to an electric bus fleet on the CTtransit system, which will provide both environmental and economic benefits to the region,” Lamont said.

The grant will also be used to upgrade the infrastructure at the CTtransit Stamford bus facility to handle battery electric buses. 

Electric buses are currently on order and were funded through Connecticut’s share of the 2018 Volkswagen emissions settlement, along with FTA funds (80 percent federal, 20 percent state). Twelve buses are being purchased for operation in the New Haven and Stamford service areas.

According to a press release, the Stamford facility improvements include upgrades to the building’s HVAC system, electrical upgrades to handle increased loads as well as upgrades to fire suppression systems and LED lighting upgrades. 

These improvements will retrofit the existing bus garage to accommodate the unique needs of the new electric buses.

Federal money for the Stamford facility modernization comes a few months after CTDOT received a $2 million FTA grant for a two-year program that will run autonomous buses on the Hartford-to-New Britain rapid transit bus line. 

Senator Richard Blumenthal said that there are various advantages to having good, efficient bus transportation systems.

“Clean green energy bus transportation reduces pollution and global warming,” Blumenthal said. “These federal funds will help spur much-needed upgrades and repairs for the existing fleet, and pay for new electric buses,” Blumenthal said

Blumenthal said that the state is approaching their original goal for general bus transportation.

“Benefiting our environment and the economy, Connecticut is one step closer to making eco-friendly the go-to public transportation option for all residents,” Blumenthal said.

Connecticut Transportation Commissioner, Joseph Giulietti  said that the department assured people that these new efficient buses will be an improvement.

“CTDOT is committed to incorporating electric buses into our fleet to significantly reduce emissions,” Giulietti said. “This grant represents great progress toward our electric bus future and helps to recognize the ongoing value of these continued investments in our public transportation system.”

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Insurance Industry Grapples With Diversity and Inclusion

HARTFORD — As the nation grapples with issues of race and inclusion, Connecticut Insurance Department Commissioner Andrew N. Mais has led discussions in several National Association of Insurance Commissioners forums on race, diversity, and inclusion within the insurance industry and in insurance practices.

“Inclusion means having everyone having a voice, and for as vital an industry as insurance, it means helping all members of our Connecticut family get access to the products that are relevant to them,” Mais said.

Commissioner Mais has also participated in efforts led by Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz to address social inequities in Connecticut, including the Council on Women and Girls and cultural competency initiatives.

Mais is also a member of the NAIC’s recently created Special Executive Committee on Race and Insurance. This special committee, created in July, is charged with conducting research and analyzing issues of diversity and inclusion within the insurance sector; engaging with a broad group of stakeholders on issues related to race, diversity, and inclusion in, and access to, the insurance sector and insurance products; examining and determining which current practices or barriers exist in the insurance sector that potentially disadvantage persons of color and other underrepresented groups; and making recommendations for action to the NAIC membership.

Further building upon his participation in panels and forums, Mais was the guest host of a special edition of the NAIC podcast “The Regulators” focused on race and insurance. Mais brought together regulators, industry, and consumer advocates to discuss diversity and equity in the insurance industry, an issue that the NAIC is addressing as part of its new race and insurance initiative.

In this special episodeMais discusses racial equity in the delivery and sale of insurance products, as well as racial diversity within the insurance industry. His guests included: California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara; New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride; Aflac Chief Executive Officer, Dan Amos; and Consumer Advocate and Chair of the Connecticut Insurance Department Subcommittee on Big Data, Sonja Larkin-Thorne.

“This podcast is just one of the many conversations that commissioners are having about how we can work together to identify and address biases,” said Mais. “Advancing issues related to racial equity requires talking openly about race and insurance practices, even if the conversations are difficult.”

During the NAIC National Summer Meeting, Mais moderated a panel discussion “Current Racially Based Challenges within the Insurance Sector,”which was part of a larger special session on Race and Insurance.

The panel of consumer advocates reviewed current industry practices that potentially disadvantage minorities, including use of big-data and algorithmic-based underwriting models (i.e., proxy discrimination), access to quality and affordable healthcare, and low levels of financial literacy and access to insurance/financial products. 

A recording of the Race and Insurance panel discussions is available online at:

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Sen. Chris Murphy Moves to Hartford, Answers Question About Permanent Residence

By Marie Stewart, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Sen. Christopher Murphy is moving to Hartford.

Sen. Murphy and his wife, Cathy Holahan, purchased a house at Charter Oak Place in Hartford for a comfy price of $355,000. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom Victorian-era house is 3,392 square-feet and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The contract was finalized in June.

Murphy grew up in Wethersfield and lived in Chesire for more than a decade. He attended Williams College in Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law. Afterward, he practiced real estate and banking law with the Hartford firm of Ruben, Johnson & Morgan.

Murphy put his Chesire home on the market in June 2019.

During the 2018 senatorial run, there was a question about where Murphy lived. His primary home was in Washington, D.C. and his children were attending school in DC.

However, Murphy claimed his parents summer house in Old Lyme as his home address while he ran for office in 2018. As the record stands, Murphy ran unopposed in the Democratic primary because someone fraudulently claimed a local journalist was a challenger. That was not the case. The journalist was a victim of media suppression; and her time was used to do so-called “social issues projects.”

Murphy’s team was allegedly the instigators who wanted to glean strategic information about the 2016 presidential election. The Washington Post reported that Murphy was contemplating a run for president in 2016.

Before Murphy was elected for the U.S. Senate in 2012, he served three terms in Connecticut’s Fifth Congreesional District for the U.S. House of Representatives.

He also served for eight years in the Connecticut General Assembly.

Currently, he is serving a second term as senator.

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Gov. Lamont Fines Residents for COVID Travel Violations

By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD – Two residents were recently fined Monday for a violation of the state’s requirements from COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to Gov. Ned Lamont.

Both travelers, who came back from Louisiana and Florida, were fined $1,000 for failing to fill out a public-health form required of passengers landing at Bradley International Airport and the Louisiana traveler was fined an additional $1,000 for refusing to self-quarantine for 14 days, officials said.

Lamont said that safety is the number one priority and anyone who opposes these rules will be disciplined no matter what.

“I hate to do it, but we’re going to be serious and show people we are serious about this, and to date it’s made a difference,” Lamont said, in a press conference.

Anyone arriving from a state with a daily positive COVID test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or has a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average must fill out a disclosure form and, under most circumstances, self-quarantine for 14 days.

Louisiana and Florida are among the 34 states, as well as Puerto Rico, that are currently on the travel advisory list used by Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, three of the states hit the hardest by the pandemic, which now have low infection rates, according to state officials.

Recently, the state has had less than a one percent positive rate in recent weeks. Results released Monday for the past three days showed less than one percent of the 38,309 latest tests showed new infections, a sign of real progress.

The Department of Public Health issued the fines after investigations resulting from tips, at least in one case, from a co-worker, according to Josh Geballe, the governor’s chief operating officer.

According to Gebelle, 20,000 people have completed the COVID disclosure form, with another 1,000 filed each day.

Lamont applauded public health officials in Bridgeport for shutting down a half-dozen bars that were “masquerading as restaurants,” attracting large crowds.

Lamont said he appreciated everyone’s effort to slow the spread of the virus and encourages vigilance.

“Overwhelmingly, people are doing the right thing,” Lamont said. “For those who aren’t, please be on notice.”

Officials could not identify their names but were known to be from Windham and Harford counties.

Completing the COVID health form is required of anyone who has spent “24 hours or longer in one of these affected states within 14 days prior to arriving in Connecticut, and if you plan to stay in Connecticut for more than 24 hours,” Gebelle said.

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CT Officials Cautious About Back To School Plans

By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — As the new school year is approaching, there are new guidelines being put in place to help ensure the safety of students and staff during the novel coronavirus when schools reopen on Sept. 8.

According to Hartford Superintendent of Public Schools Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, there is a new “Return to Learn and Accelerate Plan” which will help with a smooth transition back to school. 

“This plan will allow us to adjust quickly as public health conditions change, and as we receive feedback from our community,” Torres-Rodriguez said. “We remain committed to resuming teaching and learning with safety, equity, science, and the needs of our stakeholders informing our thinking and decisions.”

According to Torres-Rodriguez, The Connecticut Department of Education required districts to submit three plans in preparation for the fall: one for in-person learning, one for hybrid in-person/distance learning, and one for fully remote learning, options A,B, and C on the recent Learning Preference family survey. 

Gov. Ned Lamont said that while he is confident about reopening of schools, he is also optimistic with regards to the safety of the students and staff.

“I do not want a lost year. And everybody says ‘let’s not go back to school until its perfectly safe, until we have a vaccine, until 100 percent of the people are vaccinated. I worry that could be a lost year of education,” the governor said.

During a webinar on Wednesday, which featured public health experts giving their thoughts on the reopening of schools, safety was the number one emphasis. 

One of the featured experts Tina Tan, professor of pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases attending physician at Northwestern University and Feinberg School of Medicine, said that schools must take into consideration the risks associated with reopening 

“If there is a high rate of infection, it will not be wise to open schools in those particular areas,” Tan said. “It would increase the risk of COVID-19 and won’t be safe for students and staff.”

According to Tan, schools must have a positive test rate above five percent in order to be able to reopen. 

All students participating in distance learning from home will be taught by certified teachers from their school. The format will be mostly synchronous and include live video instruction with the teacher.

Lamont said teachers are able to get a test for free, but didn’t give any plans for the state to provide testing.

“We have 160 testing centers, any teacher that wants to, go get a free test,” Lamont said. “We are recommending maybe some of them do that before the start of the school year.”

According to Torres-Rodriguez, schools will be cleaned daily and “high touch” areas will be disinfected.Signs will be posted in school buildings to remind students and staff to wash hands or sanitize, and wear face coverings

Torres-Rodriguez said that re-opening will be a challenge but she is confident that students will be educated efficiently. 

“The year ahead will undoubtedly be challenging for us all,” Torres-Rodriguez said. “We are committed to continuing to collaborate with you to provide the best teaching and learning possible to all of our beautiful and capable students in a safe and healthy environment.”

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