Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!
This week our reporting staff is taking a well-earned break from our weekly investigation cycle to spend time with family and recharge before what is shaping up to be a busy 2023. In the first few months of the new year, you can expect a deluge of investigations on a wide range of topics: from election money and infrastructure to zoning and corruption, among many more.
If you have evidence of corruption or other bad behavior in Connecticut, you can let us know by emailing [email protected]. Our newsroom exists to serve the people of Connecticut by shining a light on stories other outlets cannot or will not cover and digging deeper into stories that matter.
In 2022, our stories have reached millions of people, our email subscribers and social media following have overtaken many other news outlets in the state and, most importantly, we have been able to play a role in changing people’s lives for the better.
It has been a joy to serve you, our readers, throughout 2022.
We’re just getting started.
Here are five of our top investigations from 2022:
#5 – Don’t speak: Allegations of racism and retaliation at Connecticut DOT
In their first collaborative investigation, Investigative Reporters Marc Fitch and Tom Hopkins shared the story of Luis Ortiz, a DOT employee who had been facing retaliation and abuse in state employment for years. The reporting duo shined a light on the stark difference between the rosy picture by state leaders, and the reality of working under retaliatory conditions.
#4 – UConn Professor Guilty of Sexual Misconduct Collects State benefits
In an investigation released on May 8, Investigative Reporter Tom Hopkins uncovered how, despite findings that he violated the University’s Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Interpersonal violence in 2018, UConn continued to employ Fine Arts professor Frank Noelker, allowing him to be eligible for state retirement benefits upon retirement.
This investigation turned into a two-part series. In a follow-up investigation, released weeks later, Hopkins uncovered sources who reported that UConn was aware of abuse of students by Noelker as early as 2003, 15 years prior to the sexual misconduct in 2018, and allowed the Fine Arts professor to stay employed. From the article: “And here we are 17 years later, and I find out that there are numerous, numerous victims that came after me.”
#3 – Toxic: Oil and Illness in a Connecticut Family’s Home
According to documents obtained by CII, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) failed to properly clean up over 200 gallons of home heating oil that leaked from a resident’s tank and into neighboring land and into streams that flow into Candlewood Lake, the largest lake in the state. Investigative Reporter Tom Hopkins tells the story of Shannon Coolbeth, whose health complications and legal battle following the oil leaking into her basement, changed the trajectory of her life and left her wanting for answers.
The backlog of lawsuits against the state, covered in another CII investigation, has meant that Coolbeth has been left in limbo for more than six years. From Coolbeth: “I strongly believe that the delay will prevent me from a fair trial if I am granted the right to sue. Nobody should have to wait six years for justice.”
#2 – Inside Oddities: Bringing the Comet Diner back to Asylum Hill
In her inaugural “Inside Oddities” investigation, now a regular series on the strange and interesting throughout Connecticut, Investigative Reporter Tricia Ennis shared the history of the Comet Diner, a cultural landmark on Farmington Avenue in Hartford.
This investigation showed the potential of a reinvigorated community and helped thousands of readers learn about the effort to reopen the Comet Diner on Asylum Hill. This article elicited dozens of comments, emails, and calls to our newsroom sharing stories from the Comet Diner’s heyday and excitement about the reopening yet to come.
#1 – Crisis: One Family’s Journey Through Connecticut’s Mental Health System
Among the articles covering mental health and possible solutions in Connecticut, Marc Fitch’s article detailing a first-hand account and landscape review of youth mental health services in Connecticut hit home for many readers who shared words of support, encouragement, and a desire for a better future.
This investigation follows 13-year-old Stacy, not her real name, on the journey from attempted suicide to rehabilitation, and the roadblocks to effective care she and her family experienced along the way. Ultimately a story of hope, this sometimes difficult-to-read investigation is an eye-opening close look at one of the biggest hurdles for young people in a post-COVID world.
From each of us at Connecticut Inside Investigator, thank you for your support. We’re excited for the year ahead and the continued work of bringing you news and investigations you can trust. Our commitment to you is the same as it has been since day one: trustworthy, credible journalism to help you live a better life.