Archive | July, 2010

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St. Francis Hospital Schedules Layoffs


HARTFORD —  Many nurses and doctors might soon join the unemployment roll.

That’s because St. Francis Hospital is poised to lay off about 200 of its workers.

St. Francis officials in a statement blames the layoffs on rising cost and lack of federal funding.

In a written statement, the hospital’s CEO said, “These measures will not compromise the quality of care that we deliver each day. They will, in fact, ensure our ability to continue our promise to provide the very best care possible for our community.”

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Malloy Skips Hartford’s North End on Area Stops


HARTFORD — Democratic candidate for governor, Dannel Malloy was scheduled to stop by Hartford’s North End Senior Center on Coventry Road today to “meet with seniors and share his plans for supporting our elderly population as Governor.”

He didn’t.

When told of the news by a reporter, the director of the center, Karen Bailey Addison, said:

“Really? I’m suprised. No one told me about that visit,” she said. “And I don’t like being blindsided like that.”

Malloy was scheduled to be at the center at 12: 15 p.m. after a stop at a senior center in East Hartford, according to an advisory. One other reporter from The Hartford Courant showed up the North End Senior center as well, only to be given the news: there was no Dan Malloy.

” I’m really disappointed,’ said Doc Hurley, who was sitting in the lobby socializing. “Tell him he missed a very important crowd.”

Malloy’s campaign scheduler said the North End was never on the list slated for the area. It was an error in communication, said Michael Mandell, Malloy’s scheduler.

“We wouldn’t want to show up without contacting the center first,” he said.

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Judge Blocks Arizona’s Law on Profiling


Click here to read Judge Susan Bolton’s injunction.

PHOENIX — U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton today blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona’s new immigration law, which goes into effect tomorrow. The judge blocked the provisions that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws; that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times; and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places. These provisions will be put on hold until they are resolved in court.

In her ruling, Judge Bolton ruled, “There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new (law).”

“By enforcing this statute,” she said, “Arizona would impose a ‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”

The law will go into effect tomorrow, but without its most controversial provisions.

SB 1070, was signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in April. It has been challenged in various lawsuits brought be police officers, the ACLU and other civil rights groups, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Critics contend that it the law is unconstitutional because they say it usurps the federal government’s role in enforcing immigration law. They also contend that the law will increase the incidence of racial profiling by police.

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City Kicks Off “Week of the Parks” Event


HARTFORD — Calling Hartford one of the most beautiful cities in the country, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra announced a comprehensive greening effort to clean, revitalize and sustain the Capital City’s historic parks.

In joining the national celebration of Parks by the National Parks Service, Hartford’s  “Week of the Parks” will take place August 23-28th but the efforts that happen leading up to it are just as important, Segarra said.

“A strategy and vision are already in place as part of our ‘One City, One Plan’ conservation and development.  What is essential is that we recognize the value of our parks which are huge assets to our city,” said Mayor Segarra.  “But the most important and essential part of all of this, if it is to be a success, is to get the community involved.”

Click here for details about Hartford\’s parks.

There are several elements of this greening campaign including jobs, the physical clean-up and repair, health and recreational activities, and educational events.  The hiring and re-hiring of 30 seasonal part time workers has already been announced and is underway, according to a press release.  Clean-up efforts regarding tree-trimming, mowing and picking-up litter have begun as well throughout the city’s parks and cemeteries.

Watch PBS documentaries about national parks

The Week of the Parks schedule will include a centralized focus on the following areas:

Monday, August 23rd:  Keney Park  (Woodland Street entrance):

  • Cut and remove fallen trees
  • Clean and remove leaves along hiking roads and trails
  • Remove old fence at tennis courts, clean area
  • Repair broken benches
  • Repair broken basketball rims
  • Clean, patch and paint handball courts
  • Remove old baseball backstop

Tuesday, August 24th:  Colt Park

  • Cut, remove and prune trees
  • Repair park benches
  • clean area under old stage/pavilion
  • Clean and remove boards at old ice rink
  • Repair Massek parking lot
  • Repair basketball courts

Wednesday, August 25th:  Goodwin Park

  • Remove branches and wood along Maple Avenue
  • Repair fit trail and equipment
  • Repair basketball courts
  • Trim and cut trees on Maple Avenue

Thursday, August 26th:  Bushnell Park

  • Remove perimeter shrubs near Pump House
  • Repair park benches
  • Prune Pump House shrubs
  • Refurbish mulch beds where needed
  • Trim and prune trees
  • Remove old fencing around playground area

Friday, August 27th:  Keney Park (Barbour Street entrance)

  • Cut up and remove fallen trees
  • Remove old fence and nets at northern tennis courts
  • Replace or repair rims and nets at basketball courts
  • Paint basketball courts

The Department of Health and Human Services, as part of the City’s “Health Hartford” campaign, will sponsor a number of activities in the parks on these same days.  Health screenings and recreational events will occur and swimming pools will remain open this week (the week before school starts in Hartford) which is one extra week beyond what has already been scheduled.

The educational component will engage the newly created Green Ribbon Task Force.  Mayor Segarra announced that neighborhood activist Bernadine Silvers and noted local architect Tyler Smith— both Founding Directors of Riverfront Recapture— are the Chairpersons.  One of their many roles is to be part of panel discussions about the unique park system’s past, present and future including exciting activities at the Pump House in Bushnell Park.

What will kick off on August 20th as a celebration at the Riverfront with the Dragon Boat and Asian Festival will culminate on Saturday, August 28th with a Community Clean-Up Day.  All of this is in conjunction with the long term vision of the “One City, One Plan” strategy for conservation and development (POCD 2020) that was adopted in June.

More information will be made available as the “Week of the Parks” approaches, city officials said.

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Suspected Pope Park Child Molester Arrested


HARTFORD — A local man was arrested yesterday and charged for allegedly molesting a 10-year-old boy in Pope Park.

The suspect, Brian Wright, of 70 Gillett St., Apartment C-10, was charged with first degree criminal attempt at kidnapping, first degree of unlawful restraint, risk of injury to a minor, third degree sexual assault, first degree criminal attempt at sexual assault. He is scheduled for arraingment in Hartford Superior Court on July 29.

Police said that on July 20 at about noon, Wright allegedly approached a 10-year old boy and lured him into the nearby woods and sexually assaulted him. The boy was able to wrest himself away from Wright and ran to a passerby, who then called the police.

Wright was in custody for another crime when police obtained a warrant for his arrest yesterday, police said.


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Invitation to Breitbart Is Another Sign That the GOP Is Lying About Race


News Report, Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele has repeatedly snapped back at the charge that the GOP is racist, harbors racist elements, and plays the race card. On occasion, he has loudly said that the RNC must embrace diversity and be a big tent that includes minorities. Every time he opens his mouth to say these things, he’s called a liar.

Those who call Steele a liar rattle off the litany of racist gaffes, slurs, and acts by GOP officials, politicians, and assorted GOP-connected Tea Party leaders and activists to prove their point. Now they have one more example they can add to the list.

That’s the GOP’s invite to Andrew Breitbart, the right-wing smear-machine engine man, to appear at the RNC’s three-day confab in Los Angeles next month. It’s billed as an “Election Countdown,” a way to raise some money and rev up the GOP troops.

Unlike Michelle Obama’s appearance at the NAACP convention, Breitbart’s name is not buried among the assorted GOP luminaries scheduled to participate at the event. Not only is he billed as one of the headliners, he and Steele will host the opening-night reception. His name even appears ahead of Steele’s on the announcement.

So why is that? Is it Breitbart’s name and fame, the controversy and curiosity he invariably arouses, the media attention he draws, his staunch GOP troublemaking credentials—and the fact that might be good for a few more bucks in the till—that compel Steele and the RNC to make him the star of their show? The answer, of course, is all of the above. And this makes Breitbart an even more disgusting choice to headline a major event by a major party that claims it is poised to make major gains in the midterm elections and possibly take back the House.

Despite the nonstop chorus of “nos” to the Obama administration’s initiatives and legislation, the GOP has managed to maintain some degree of respectability among a wide body of conservative and moderate Republican voters. It has even grabbed support from centrist independents who oppose Obama’s and the Democrats’ health care, stimulus, and tax proposals.

Pushing Breitbart to the top of a major GOP event blows the party’s façade of respectability to smithereens.

Even before his vile hatchet job on Shirley Sherrod, Breitbart had managed to turn his online mini-empire, biggovernment.com, into the Bible of old-fashioned, dirty-tricks cheerleading and agitation against Democrats, progressive activists and minorities. Despite full exposure of the Sherrod tape as a fraud and fabrication, Breitbart still kept the lying, doctored tape on his website.

This is much more than the garden-variety GOP ranting at Obama and Democrats on legitimate policy issues. Breitbart is a direct throwback to the Nixonian operatives and escapades of the early 1970s that brought disgrace on the White House and the GOP.

The party spent the next decade trying to rid itself of the stigma of those years. Yet it’s a history that Steele and the RNC will embrace if Breitbart headlines their show. Steele can prove that he rejects that history by rescinding the invitation. Will he?

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson

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Missing Woman Found in East Hartford


EAST HARTFORD — A Hartford woman reported missing last week has been found.

Taleshe Smith, 20, who was reported missing by her family, was found in East Hartford. Smith, who was last seen on July 15, is alive, police said.

ast seen on July 15.

Smith reportedly was known to frequent the Northend of Hartford specifically the area of 105 and 161 Kent St., police said.

Police also said  Smith is intellectually disabled.

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Rell Calls CSUS Execs Pay Hike “Intolerable”


Pay raises for a few top executives in the Connecticut State University System has caught the attention — and the wrath– of Gov. Jodi Rell.

Ealier this week, Rell call on the Board of Trustees for CSUS to rescind so-called “pay equity” raises that increased salaries by 10 percent or more for the CSUS chancellor and university presidents, including a former president who is on leave and her recently hired interim replacement.

The CSUS Board of Trustees met earlier this month to affirm raises for non-union managerial employees that took effect June 18 and the increases included the third step of “pay equity” program for high-ranking administrators. That resulted in net salary increases of 8 percent for more than two dozen CSUS officials and 10 percent or more for the chancellor and university presidents – including former Southern Connecticut State University President Cheryl Norton and her interim successor.

Rell expressed her disbelief of such a hike, given the economic climate punctuated with job losses in the state.

“Frankly, I am at a loss to understand why, in these difficult times, the trustees would approve salary increases of as much as 8 percent, 10 percent or 10.27 percent for people who are paid between $285,000 and $360,000 a year,” Rell wrote in a letter on Friday to CSU Board of Trustees Chairman Karl J. Krapek. “How can anyone justify these increases to Connecticut’s taxpayers, to our students or to their parents at a time when tens of thousand of jobs have been lost in our state and countless families are struggling to make ends meet?”

Governor Rell asked the CSUS trustees to rescind all “pay equity” increases and to give no pay increase “of any kind” for former SCSU President Norton or her replacement.

The Governor called the increases “intolerable” and noted that the annual financial impact of the salary increases for the chancellor and the university presidents (including former President Norton) alone is $186,702 – the equivalent of tuition and fees for 23 full-time students.

She also noted that the CSU system experienced the largest increase in tuition and fees – 35 percent – over the last five years of the three public higher education systems. CSUS students now pay more than $8,000 compared to $5,936.

As a result, the Governor is:

  • Forming a panel to develop a plan to eliminate the CSUS central office, consolidating the offices of the four campus presidents and achieving other administrative savings. The plan must be submitted to the Legislature and the Governor by December 1;
  • Directing the Office of Policy and Management to work with the Department of Administrative Services to draft legislation that will bring employment functions of all three public higher education systems under the State Personnel Act for more transparency and accountability. The goal is to include all hiring, dismissals, pay and other matters in the CORE-CT system.

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Tea Party’s Racism Deeper Than One Black Woman’s Confession


Fox News, and the gaggle of rightside bloggers, and assorted tea party activists were delirous when they dug up an old tape of Shirley Sherrod. The Agriculture Department’s director of rural development in Georgia was supposedly getting caught with her racism hanging down.

The tape was of a speech Sherrod made at a local NAACP banquet on March 27. Her alleged racist sin was that she admitted that she did less to help a needy white farmer than she could—it happened 20 years earlier.

The cause of the right wing’s delirium was two-fold. They could now joyously shout “gotcha” at the NAACP, black Democrats and civil rights leaders that have relentlessly pounded the Tea Party and conservatives for saying and doing nothing about the racists in their midst. They got even greater joy and satisfaction from Sherrod’s plight since this gave them a chance to rant that this is proof that there’s a double standard among blacks when it comes to dealing with race. Put simply, blacks are quick on the trigger to rail at whites for any perceived racial transgression, but are stone silent, or secretly or openly condone, even revel in racial bigotry, against whites.

Any way you look at the race issue, this is baloney. Start with Sherrod and what she actually said and did. She didn’t resort to the stock code words, misdirection, feints, or dodges that GOP and Tea Party has honed to a fine art for decades to stoke white fears and bigotry. She spoke at a public forum, and in what sounded more self-confessional, than boast, took herself to task for her own racial favoritism. “I learned about myself and how far we still have to go.”

Sherrod said much more in her talk than what was quoted, and that was to make clear that her’s was a personal teaching moment, an epiphany. For her it was a humbling lesson on how bigotry can corrupt and damn anyone, even someone who herself has been the target of bigotry. Sherrod has certainly dealt with that bigotry first hand in the blatant and shameless treatment of black farmers. The issue was partially resolved this past February when the Obama administration announced it agreed to a $1.25 billion settlement to resolve charges by thousands of black farmers that the Agriculture Department discriminated against them in loan programs for decades. The racist treatment of black farmers was not the act of one local official in one state.

This was the systematic, and deliberate racial targeting of black farmers by the official government agency charged with administering loans and programs for farmers. Thousands of black farmers lost their farms and land as a result of the officially sanctioned discriminatory lending practices.

The settlement didn’t end the outrage. Congress had to approve the settlement by the end of March, 2010. It cavalierly left for Spring break before approving the settlement at the time.

Sherrod’s full speech which might have provided more insight into why she did what she did and how she learned from her act was nowhere to be heard in the self-serving, edited version that Fox News broadcasted. A humiliated and embarrassed Sherrod promptly offered her resignation. It was accepted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

NAACP president Ben Jealous quickly issued a statement applauding Sherrod’s resignation. But just as quickly the NAACP realized it was “snookered” by Fox News  and the right-wing echo chamber on Sherrod’s alleged racial sin and wisely reversed its initial position applauding her resignation. Now Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack should do the same and immediately reinstate Sherrod.

Sherrod had a double misfortune. Not only was she targeted by conservatives for ouster. She was used by them as a pawn to hit back at the NAACP and civil rights organizations that have rightly put much heat to the GOP and Tea Party activists for their very real racism and perpetual race card play.

The Sherrod debacle should be more than a teachable moment for a government official and a wronged employee. It is yet another object lesson of how organized, agenda driven, right-wing ideologues can bully, badger, intimidate and ultimately frighten government officials into violating all precepts of fairness, due process, and just good common sense, and rush to racial judgment about a black official.

Sherrod‘s action against the white farmer, of course, was indefensible, and she was the first to admit it. But it was the regrettable act of one person, one place, one time. This hardly rises to the level of an institutional racial high crime and misdemeanor. The same can’t be said about the GOP and the Tea Party, who have yet to pay the same price for their bigotry.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally-broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.

Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson

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Doctor’s Word: Colonoscopy Can Save Lives


It’s exceedingly uncommon for a healthy middle-aged man to walk into his doctor’s office and demand a colonoscopy. But even though he lacked a family history, Stanley Thornton, an African-American engineer who was then in his mid-40s, wouldn’t take no for an answer.

“I was concerned that African Americans do get colorectal cancer earlier, and I said, ‘hey, let me lead by example,’” he said. “We argued about it for a month or two. He felt I should wait until I was 50.”

Eventually, Thornton got the test, and was found to be clear of cancer. He describes the “prep” – the liquid that he had to drink to clean out his intestines the night before the procedure – as “not the nicest thing in the world” – and said he was apprehensive as his wife drove him to his appointment that morning, since he didn’t know what to expect. But he said the only uncomfortable part of the test, in which a doctor put a thin tube up his rectum in order to inspect his large intestine, was when the nurse inserted an intravenous needle to give him a sedative. “All I remember is talking and then being wheeled back to the room.”

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, after lung cancer. It’s one of the easiest cancers to detect early, since it usually begins as a growth called a polyp that grows silently for many years before spreading into the body. Screening people between the ages of 50 and 75 for colorectal cancer is so effective at preventing deaths that the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) gives it an “A” rating, higher than its ratings for breast and prostate cancer screening.

People who have a family history or medical condition that increase their risk of colorectal cancer usually need to start getting colonoscopies before age 50. One doctors’ group, the American College of Gastroenterology, recommends that black men start getting colonoscopies at age 45, because they are at higher risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer after it’s already spread (and is thus more difficult to treat), and dying of the disease.

A colonoscopy is considered the “gold standard” screening test for colorectal cancer, since it’s the best at detecting pre-cancerous changes and since it’s the only test in which the doctor can remove the polyp right away. But it can be expensive (running anywhere from $500 to $3,000 if you’re paying out of pocket) and has some small risks, such as perforating the colon (which occurs in fewer than 1 out of 100 people) and bleeding, which is more of a risk if you are on a medicine that interferes with clotting.

For most people, the most bothersome thing about a colonoscopy is the “prep,” or strong laxative that they must use to clean out their colon in advance of the test. Colonoscopies need to be done in a closely monitored environment, since they require that the person receive a sedative. If the first screening colonoscopy doesn’t show anything abnormal, most “average risk” people can wait 10 years before repeating the test.

Many, if not most, insurance plans cover screening colonoscopy in people 50 and older. But what if you lack insurance, have a plan that doesn’t cover it, are at high risk for a complication, or simply can’t stand the thought of the test? The USPSTF says it’s also OK to screen “average risk” people with fecal occult blood tests, which look for blood that’s concealed in the stool. This test is a lot less expensive (usually costing under $20 if you are paying out of pocket; many insurance plans will cover it), but it must be repeated every year to be most effective at catching colorectal cancer early. To do the fecal occult blood test correctly, you have to take home three cards on which you will smear your stool after three different bowel movements. The doctor’s office or lab will then put a chemical on the cards to detect any blood that might be hidden in the stool. You should also be aware that simply having your stool smeared on a single card (which doctors sometimes do as part of an office rectal exam) is not an adequate screening test for colorectal cancer.

The USPSTF also says it’s acceptable to do a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years as a screening test. This test is similar to a colonoscopy, except that the tube the doctor uses is shorter, so that he or she can only see the lower part of the large intestine, and might miss a cancer that’s higher up. It’s often done in combination with the fecal occult blood test, in order to pick up more cancers. It doesn’t require sedation and is less expensive, usually running less than $300 if you are paying the full cost

Keep in mind that if your fecal occult blood test or flexible sigmoidoscopy show anything concerning for cancer, you’ll need to undergo a full colonoscopy, so that the doctor can look more thoroughly and remove any suspicious tissue for additional tests. Also, even if you’ve had a clean colonoscopy within the past 10 years, you may need to repeat the test if you notice blood or other changes in your stool – so don’t ignore such symptoms.

In recent years, many doctors have been offering their patients a slightly easier colonoscopy prep, involving either a smaller amount of liquid laxative than in the past, or laxative pills instead. It’s important to drink plenty of water and/or clear fluids on the day before the test, to keep yourself hydrated. (Avoid anything red or pink, though). Some people also suggest putting yellow lemonade Crystal Light powder in the liquid prep and refrigerating it for a day to make it a bit more palatable. If you have a history of kidney problems, tell your doctor, since there are certain types of preps that you may need to avoid.

Thornton, who is now in his 50s, underwent a second screening colonoscopy recently, and said the prep was “much cleaner and nicer.”

Many of my patients want to get a colonoscopy, but simply can’t afford the upfront costs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funds some limited programs (http://wwwtest.cdc.gov/cancer/crccp/about.htm) to screen low-income people for colorectal cancer. New York City has a relatively generous colonoscopy screening program for people who lack insurance.

Thornton, who is active in the American Cancer Society, urges everyone 50 and older with financial access to a colonoscopy to get the test.

“The ‘big C’ is something we don’t like to talk about in the black community, but we need to take charge of our health and get it done,” he said. “Anything short of that, we’re shortchanging ourselves.”

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