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Episode 127: Stories From 2018 That Defined New England, And A Look Ahead to 2020

Episode 127: Stories From 2018 That Defined New England, And A Look Ahead to 2020
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Bridge Tender Mike Dorsey runs through the controls of the Grand Avenue Swing Bridge in New Haven. "People don't usually look up here," Dorsey said. "They just ride right through not even knowing that we're up here." Photo by Ryan Caron King for Connecticut Public Radio

This week we discuss the role that New England politicians will play in the 2020 presidential election.

Plus, we look back at an important year in Maine politics.

Finally, we discuss some of the stories that made us smile in 2018.

It’s NEXT.

New England Politicians Look Towards 2020

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren talks with reporters outside her home in Cambridge Mass. after announcing that she is setting up an exploratory committee for a run for the presidency in 2020. Photo by Robin Lubbock for WBUR

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren talks with reporters outside her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts after announcing that she is setting up an exploratory committee for a run for the presidency in 2020. Photo by Robin Lubbock for WBUR

On the last day of 2018, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren made an announcement that she is taking the first steps towards a presidential run in 2020. 

Meanwhile, another high-profile progressive from New England, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has said that he is considering running in 2020, is facing complaints surrounding his 2016 campaign, from women who alleged the candidate mishandled staff complaints about sexual harassment and pay disparity.

Khalilah Brown-Dean is an Associate Professor Of Political Science at Quinnipiac University who’s been closely following our region’s role in this race that’s already underway. She joins us to discuss the role of New England politicians in 2020.

The Year In Maine Politics

Gov. Paul LePage announces his legislation to revamp welfare, including limits on what could be purchased with food stamps. Photo by Mal Leary for Maine Public

Gov. Paul LePage announces his legislation to revamp welfare, including limits on what could be purchased with food stamps. Photo by Mal Leary for Maine Public

Collins speaks to the media about Brett Kavanaugh during a stop at The Cedars retirement community in Portland for a groundbreaking ceremony in September. Photo by Willis Ryder Arnold for Maine Public

Collins speaks to the media about Brett Kavanaugh during a stop at The Cedars retirement community in Portland for a groundbreaking ceremony in September. Photo by Willis Ryder Arnold for Maine Public

Note: We recorded this interview with Steve before January 3, when Jared Golden was sworn in as Congressman for Maine’s Second District. To read more about the new members of Congress from New England, we recommend checking-out this article from The Boston Globe

2018 was a big year for politics, both nationally and in each of the New England states. But when looking back at the big stories of 2018, we kept coming back to one state: Maine.

From ranked-choice voting to Susan Collins’ vote in support of the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, there were some big stories in the state.

Steve Mistler joins us to review the year in Maine politics with us. Steve is the Chief Political Correspondent and State House Bureau Chief for Maine Public Radio.

 To learn more about Paul LePage’s legacy in Maine, we recommend listening to this profile by Steve Mistler. 

How Police Policy in Vermont Effects Migrant Workers

Will Lambek of Migrant Justice says a state police call to immigration agents after the arrest of a farmworker runs counter to the state's fair and impartial policing policy. Photo by John Dillon for VPR

Will Lambek of Migrant Justice says a state police call to immigration agents after the arrest of a farmworker runs counter to the state’s fair and impartial policing policy. Photo by John Dillon for VPR

A few weeks ago, we heard about a mobile Mexican consulate in Vermont, set up to help migrant workers who provide a lot of the labor for the state’s agriculture industry. Despite a state policy that discourages local enforcement from turning undocumented immigrants over to federal immigration officials, there’s still a big risk for these workers.

As VPR’s John Dillon reports, a recent case shows that state police and migrant justice advocates interpret the “fair and impartial policing” policy very differently.

NEPOOL’s Role in New England’s Energy Market

New England Power Pool members meet to debate energy market reforms, in photos from the organization's 2018 annual report. Photo courtesy of NEPOOL

New England Power Pool members meet to debate energy market reforms, in photos from the organization’s 2018 annual report. Photo courtesy of NEPOOL

Energy can be tough to understand. When we flip a light switch, we know the lights should come on. But we might not know where that power came from, or why it costs what it costs.

A few weeks ago, we explained how ISO New England, the region’s power grid, works to keep the lights on, and the threats to the energy market they operate. Today, New Hampshire Public Radio’s Annie Ropeik profiles another group you may not have heard of: the New England Power Pool, or NEPOOL.

In New England, much of those energy costs are controlled by this select group of stakeholders. But NEPOOL is now facing criticism for a lack of transparency, and for decisions that could be raising the already high cost of energy in the region.

Stories that Made Us Smile: Interesting Vermonters

Warren Patrick of Townshend still has the energy to build a snowman in the middle of winter. Photo by Dawn Slade for Valley Cares

Warren Patrick of Townshend still has the energy to build a snowman in the middle of winter. Photo by Dawn Slade for Valley Cares

Henry and wife Joanna Weinstock shared their story with VPR's Ric Cengeri. Photo by Ric Cengeri for VPR

Henry and wife Joanna Weinstock shared their story with VPR’s Ric Cengeri. Photo by Ric Cengeri for VPR

It’s our first episode of 2019, and we’re taking the opportunity to look back at the past year, and some of the stories from around New England that made us smile in 2018.

Something that stood out to us was a series that VPR’s Vermont Edition did about the most interesting Vermonters. The people profiled ranged from a farmer who hands out thousands of roses every year, to an octogenarian who drinks maple syrup to stay energized.

Ric Cengeri, a Vermont Edition producer,  produced this series and he joined us to tell us more about these interesting Vermonters. 

You can hear Ric’s interview with Warren Patrick here, and his interview with Henry Weinstock here.

Stories that Made Us Smile: Bridge Tenders

Bridge controls are sequentially numbered. "We'll wait a second before we lower the traffic gates," Dorsey said. "We get plenty of people that, sometimes, break these gates," he said. "They're not paying attention." Photo by Ryan Caron King for Connecticut Public Radio

Bridge controls are sequentially numbered. “We’ll wait a second before we lower the traffic gates,” Dorsey said. “We get plenty of people that, sometimes, break these gates,” he said. “They’re not paying attention.” Photo by Ryan Caron King for Connecticut Public Radio

We also met some New Englanders with very interesting jobs, including bridge tenders, those people who operate the drawbridges and swing bridges that help both car and boat traffic pass through.

Connecticut Public Radio’s Patrick Skahill brought us this story.  

Stories That Made Us Smile: The Year of the Squirrel

Scott Borthwick holds up a flying squirrel he retrieved from the bathroom of a small house in White River Junction, VT. Photo by Britta Greene for NHPR

Scott Borthwick holds up a flying squirrel he retrieved from the bathroom of a small house in White River Junction, VT. Photo by Britta Greene for NHPR

This year NHPR’s Britta Greene reported on the year of the squirrel. She joins us to discuss why there were so many squirrels in New England in 2018, and to describe a day she spent removing squirrels from people’s homes. 

Photo at the top of the page: Bridge Tender Mike Dorsey runs through the controls of the Grand Avenue Swing Bridge in New Haven. “People don’t usually look up here,” Dorsey said. “They just ride right through not even knowing that we’re up here.” Photo by Ryan Caron King for Connecticut Public Radio

About NEXT

NEXT is produced at Connecticut Public Radio
Host: John Dankosky
Producer: Lily Tyson
Digital Producer: Carlos Mejia
Senior Director: Catie Talarski
Contributors to this episode: Steve Mistler, John Dillon, Annie Ropeik, Ric Cengeri, Patrick Skahill, Britta Greene
Music: Todd Merrell, “New England” by Goodnight Blue Moon, “Broadcast” Chris Eldridge and Julian Lage, “Levon’s Dream” by Hurray for the Riff Raff, “40 Day Dream,” Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

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