Archive | July, 2012

Hartford Mayor Hires New Press Secretary


HARTFORD — Mayor Pedro Segarra has a new press secretary: Maribel La Luz.

La Luz is expected to join the mayor’s staff on Aug. 1, 2012 as Director of Communications and New Media. However, Jared Kupiec will be the media contact person until Aug. 10 so that the new press person can get acclimated, officials said.

Raised in Hartford, La Luz recently worked as Deputy Communications Director for Clyde Williams’ congressional campaign in New York City.

“ She is a dynamic leader, bi-lingual, understands Hartford, and is ready to hit the ground running,” Segarra said.  “I am particularly excited at the prospect of working with her to build an ever better and deeper relationship with all local and regional media outlets, especially those that carry Spanish-only programming.”

La Luz, who replaced former Communications Director Andrea Comer, said he’s excited about the opportunity to work in Hartford.

“I’m honored to be a part of [Segarra’s] team of dedicated professionals,” La Luz said. “I look forward to generating more awareness to everything Hartford has to offer for residents, families and the business community.”

Prior to the Williams campaign, Maribel served as Vice President of Communications at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as New Business Development Manager for Alloy Media + Marketing and as a Senior Account Manager for Latin Force Group.

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Hartford City Council Ponders Interim Police Chief’s Negotiation On Entitlements


HARTFORD — Only in Hartford.

The not-yet-permanent Police Chief James C. Rovella said on Monday that he wants a guaranteed life-time health benefits package for himself AND his family paid for by Hartford residents, some of whom are unemployed, underemployed, or barely surviving the current economic woes.

None of this socio-economic reality matters, however. Mayor Pedro Segarra and the city council, elected by Hartford residents to make responsible decisions on matters that significantly impact them, want to hire this man. Segarra and others apparently think this man is entitled to the job. Rovella, who currently serves as the interim police chief, didn’t even apply for the job as the permanent police chief, which should be suspect. Usually, employers want people to demonstrate that they want the job.

But not in this case.

Some people are seemingly  skipping down the yellow, brick road to the installation ceremony. A ceremony that was apparently planned by the mayor and his administration that has deliberately kept his public calendar from, well the public, so that savvy reporters cannot detect his maneuverings while in office. This kind of deception observed by The Hartford Guardian has emerged from Segarra’s administration since his inauguration in January. Now, it has manifested itself in the decision he made to hire Rovella. Get this: Segarra hired a staffing agency located in Massachusetts called Strategic Policy Partnership, spent $50,000 on a six-month national search, bypassed a “stellar” candidate who lives in Bloomfield and brought in three candidates from outside the state to meet city residents. Then Segarra called a select group of reporters to announce Rovella’s appointment as permanent police chief. The announcement came so quickly, the administration didn’t have time to write a press release.

Even to the uninitiated, this search process doesn’t represent clear thinking or responsible action.

Of course, we don’t blame Rovella, a cancer survivor, for trying to get as much as he can from the city’s coffers. He served 20 years before he retired in 2000 to work for the state. And, may we add, might soon retire again, only to start another search process. Rovella is already collecting a $60,000 pension from the city. So we have to wonder if he could negotiate this kind of entitlements in Wethersfield or any other city.

This is for the council to ponder because the procedural ball is now in its court. And with this silly thing called fairness in mind, it would be interesting to see if they select Rovella, as if there was absolutely no one else on earth qualified for the job.

The thinking displayed during this search is indicative of what’s to come from the Segarra administration–unless city council members find their spine and  stand up for city taxpayers, who already shoulder some of the highest taxes in the state. Council members should forget the back room deals made during their campaigns and actually show people in Hartford that one of the city’s most educated council in decades can make a difference in how they govern the city.

We didn’t go through a corruption trial and a fairly recent election only to see the same kind of nonsense continue: changing a law to benefit one person who does not live in the city. What?!

Hartford residents voted for change. And they expect change.

The council can start with a change in how the city hires a new police chief.

The featured photo is courtesy of dennishouse.com (L to R: Interim Police Chief James C. Rovella, Mayor Pedro Segarra and WFSB’s Dennis House).

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Hartford Police Identify Broad Street Victim


HARTFORD —  Hartford Police on Monday confirmed the identity of a victim of a July 28 fatal accident near Broad Street.

The victim, Leoner Negron, 22, of Hartford, died after he and others were involved in a multi-car accident on Saturday.

At 2:26 a.m. on July 28, officers responded to the area of Allen Place and Broad Street after a report about a multi-car accident.  On arrival, officers found Negron outside his car. Negron was apparently  ejected, police said.

 Negron was transported to Hartford Hospital where he died.  The other occupants of the two cars involved in the accident were transported to Hartford Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.

The Hartford Police Department’s Crime Scene Division is investigating the accident.  Anyone with information that may be of assistance to investigators is asked to contact CSD Detective Michael Chauvin at 860-757-4229.   Confidential, anonymous tips may be submitted on-line at Hartford Crime Stoppers or by phone at 860-722-TIPS (8477).

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Clinton: Diaspora Populations Can Turn ‘Brain Drain’ into ‘Brain Gain’


By New America Media’s Anthony Advincula

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recognized on Wednesday the crucial role of diaspora communities in national and global development efforts, emphasizing their potential to solve problems in their home countries and spur U.S. economic growth.

“By tapping into the experiences, the energy, the expertise of diaspora communities, we can reverse the so-called ‘brain drain’ that slows progress in so many countries around the world, and instead offer the benefits of the ‘brain gain,’” she said at the opening ceremony of the second annual Global Diaspora Forum.

Speaking to about 500 diaspora community leaders, advocates and senior U.S. officials, Clinton cited the support of Syrian Americans and organizations as an example of how the Syrian diaspora serves as a link between the international community and opposition activists to address the ongoing civil uprising in Syria.

“I want to recognize the work of Syrian diaspora organizations to shine a light on what is happening in Syria and to carry the concerns of the Syrian people not only onto the pages of American newspapers, but also into the halls of Congress,” she said. “They’re helping to collect funds and humanitarian assistance for Syrians who are suffering because of this terrible violence.”

This year’s forum, titled “Moving Forward by Giving Back,” focused on how to foster partnerships between diaspora communities and the U.S. government to address global challenges. The two-day event also drew members of the ethnic press— including Ethiopian, Filipino, Haitian, Latino and African-American news outlets—from the nation’s capital to Virginia, Maryland and New York.

Migration Policy Institute, New America Media, USAID, United Nations Foundation, and a number of private companies supported the forum.

Speaking about her recent trip to Asia, Clinton told the story of a Vietnamese-American entrepreneur who brings famous American brands into the Vietnamese market, generating thousands of jobs and in the process bringing Vietnam and the United States closer together.

“That’s one way the diaspora has and continues to make a difference, but it’s certainly not the only way,” Clinton said.

She added that the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance (IDEA)— a network of private sector, nonprofit and government agencies that she launched last year— has also expanded its initiatives. One of these is a collaboration between Canadian, U.K. and U.S. governments to finance innovative business proposals from the Caribbean diaspora in order to generate employment and increase economic growth in the Caribbean.

Similar efforts by the communities are taking place in Liberia, Tunisia and in Latin America.

Thomas Debass, director for global partnerships for the State Department’s Global Partnership Initiative, was hopeful about the direction of the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance.

“Through IDEA, we’re evolving and recognizing diversity, utilizing that asset and our American diplomatic relations around the world,” he said. “We’re creating a footprint and certainly taking the diaspora’s commitment into action to benefit both their home countries and the United States.”

Debass admitted that the initiative is a work in progress, but said he was confident that the alliance would continue to carry out its goals around diplomacy, innovation and economic development.

“We’re not at the promised land yet, but we know that we are on the right track to advance causes that we care about,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the home front, Clinton praised the ways immigrant communities have revitalized American cities like Baltimore, Md., which may be losing its economic luster due to dwindling populations. When cities struggle, she noted, the presence of immigrants replenishes their strength and vitality.

“The fact is that the United States has always benefited from the influx of talent and dynamism that diasporas of all kinds bring to our shores. And so they are reaching out and inviting— opening the doors of that venerable American city to immigrants from everywhere,” she said. “We are well aware that our diversity is one of our greatest assets in the 21st century.”

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Dollar Street To Invest in Greater Hartford


WINDSOR — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday announced that Dollar Tree, Inc., which recently acquired a site in Windsor, will build a one-million-square-foot, $104 million distribution center and hire a minimum of 200 people within the next five years.  The state is supporting the project with a loan, training grant and tax credits.

State officials said that this new distribution center — with its 200 new jobs and nearly $100 million in private capital investment — could have been located in New York or Massachusetts but  Dollar Tree” decided to “invest and grow here is a positive sign that we are once again making Connecticut a competitive place to do business.”

Construction on the project in Windsor will start immediately, official said.  This phase of the project is expected to create more than 425 construction jobs over the next 12 months.  Upon completion, the new facility — the company’s tenth distribution center — will service the company’s stores across Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  In addition, the facility is expected to generate significant incremental tax revenues to the community.

Leveraging company funds of $96.3 million, the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) will provide a $7 million loan at 1 percent for 10 years, with potential loan forgiveness based on the number of jobs created and a training grant of up to $500,000, officials said.  In addition, the company is eligible for up to $20 million in Urban & Industrial Sites Reinvestment Tax Credits.

 

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Proposed Cutbacks in Health Care for Poor Hang in Political Limbo


By Keith M. Phaneuf

HARTFORD — A controversial plan that could end state health assistance for more than 13,000 of Connecticut’s poorest residents fell into political limbo late Tuesday afternoon.

After a day-long meeting, two panels of state lawmakers balked — at least for now — at giving Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration the go-ahead to set into motion a plan that could limit who in Connecticut can receive Medicaid, government’s health program for the poor.

The administration wants the federal government to allow Connecticut to impose two temporary restrictions on the Medicaid for Low Income Adults program, known as LIA. But the administration needs the approval of the Appropriations and Human Services committees to make the request. The committees have until Aug. 18 to act.

Under the state law governing such applications, unless the panels vote to block the move within 30 days of receiving the proposed application, the administration can ask Washington to proceed without their permission.

“We’re still trying to see if we can resolve some of the difficult questions that were asked,” said Sen.Toni Harp, D-New Haven, co-chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, after the meeting.

The scenario that the administration presented to lawmakers last spring is a LIA program that faces rapidly surging enrollment and costs.

When the 2010 legislature and Gov. M. Jodi Rell converted the former State Administered General Assistance Program into LIA, the caseload was 47,000. It now approaches 78,000.

Malloy’s budget director, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, told the legislators that LIA’s budget stood at $622 million last fiscal year, and changes are necessary to stem rising costs until federal aid for the program increases in 2014.

Because Medicaid is a federally administered health care program, states seeking to make changes to programs under that umbrella, such as LIA, must ask the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for approval.

If the Malloy administration is allowed to submit the application, and if federal officials grant approval, the Department of Social Services would start to contact LIA clients in October, with the goal of identifying the newly ineligible patients by Jan. 1.

“While the governor is committed to serving the state’s most needy citizens, he does not want to use scarce resources to provide services to individuals who could otherwise pay for them,” Barnes told lawmakers. “…We’ve seen very fast-growing costs in the LIA program, faster than I think anyone anticipated.”

Proposed restrictions

LIA serves single adults who have no minor children and whose incomes are at or below 55 percent of the federal poverty level.

To control costs, the administration has proposed two eligibility restrictions:

1) Setting an asset limit of $10,000;

2) And, if a LIA applicant is between ages 19 and 26 and lives with a parent or can be declared as a dependent for income tax purposes, then the parent’s income and assets can be factored in when determining if the applicant is eligible.

Barnes said, in some cases, the system now allows residents who can afford to pay for their own health care to have access to Medicaid.

The proposed restrictions would end in 2014. Under the national health care reform legislation adopted in 2010 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June, that’s when the federal government would cover 100 percent of Connecticut’s LIA costs. Federal reimbursements now cover 50 percent of LIA expenses.

DSS estimates that with these changes, nearly 13,400 LIA recipients would lose their Medicaid coverage.

Dropping those 13,400 poor residents from Medicaid would save the state a projected $50 million. Legislators agreed last May to build that savings into the 2012-13 state budget.

‘Hurts real people’

But health care advocates have argued since then that the proposed restrictions could, in fact, affect 15,000 people. And more importantly, they say, there is no evidence that most of these recipients have the resources to buy private health insurance.

Sheldon Toubman, a staff attorney with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, said he fears that because of longstanding problems at DSS, some people who comply with the new rules will lose coverage anyway.

His nonprofit group has sued the state on behalf of DSS clients, charging that the agency has failed to process applications for Medicaid and food stamp assistance in a timely fashion.

Requests to renew assistance have been improperly terminated by DSS — even though clients submitted the correct paperwork on time — because the agency lacks staff to record this paperwork in its data processing system.

And despite assurances from DSS Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby that more than 120 new staffers were added in March — and permission to add another 100 was just granted — Toubman said he thinks the proposed asset test represents another wave of paperwork that will swamp the department.

The result, he said, will be more clients improperly removed from the LIA rolls for months before errors are discovered and corrected.

“The reason they are pushing it is they need to save more money,” Toubman said.

Robert Davidson, executive director of the Eastern Regional Mental Health Board, also disputed that significant numbers of LIA clients can buy their own health insurance.

“We see them in soup kitchens and homeless shelters. DSS doesn’t see them at all,” he said, adding that the administration’s proposal “hurts real people to save imaginary money.”

State Sen. Edith G. Prague, D-Columbia, was one of the most vocal critics Tuesday of the proposed changes, predicting they would worsen the health of poor individuals until they had to seek expensive treatment in hospital emergency rooms. By law, hospitals cannot refuse to treat people because they can’t pay, but they receive state aid to help cover the cost of this care.

“Not only is it a disaster for patients, for human beings who need care, but it will cost money for the state,” Prague said.

And Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, D-Hartford, said she also fears poor individuals will be left with no place to turn, adding that her constituents complain they can’t even get DSS social workers to respond to phone messages.

“I am saying, commissioner, with all due respect, you have lousy workers there,” Gonzalez said. “They don’t care about people in need.”

“We know that we have a capacity issue. That’s something we’re focusing on,” Bremby said.

But the commissioner, who took the post in early 2011, said he is trying to reverse decades of inadequate funding for data processing and staffing.

“We’re making an investment in a system that we generally neglected for 10, 20 years. … It’s going to take a little while to turn that corner,” Bremby said.

This article was first published at www.ctmirror.org

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Hartford Police: City Count Twelve Homicides


HARTFORD — Hartford Police on Thursday announced that the victims of two separate recent shooting incidents died.

One victim was Jimmy Narvaez-Gonzalez, 27, of New Britain. He died at Hartford Hospital at about 7:30 p.m. on July 20. the other victim, Benjamin Grate, 27, of Hartford, died at St. Francis Hospital medical personnel at 7:59 a.m. on July 26.  He died from a gunshot wound in a shooting on July 23.

According to police,  at approximately 1:48 a.m., Hartford Police Patrol and Southwest Conditions Officers responded to a report of a person shot in the vicinity of 601 Broad Street. On arrival, officers located Narvaez-Gonzalez suffering from a life-threatening gunshot wound.  Officers immediately began CPR and Narvaez-Gonzalez was then transported by ambulance to Hartford Hospital for treatment, police said.

 At approximately 3:55 a.m., on July 23rd, officers responded to a report of a victim, Grate, suffering from a gunshot wound in the vicinity of 42 Acton Street.  Officers located Grate in the rear of that location.  He was immediately transported to St. Francis Hospital by ambulance where he was listed in critical condition at that time.  Investigators from the HPD’s Major Crimes and Crime Scene Divisions began an immediate investigation.

Police Chief James C. Rovella said that these two deaths bring the number of homicides in the city this year to twelve 12 of which six have been closed by arrest.  At this time last year, there were 20 homicides with 9 closed by arrest, he said .

Anyone with information about these two incidents is asked to contact Major Crimes Division Supervisor SergeantBrandon O’Brien at 860-757-4089.   Confidential, anonymous tips may be submitted on-line at Hartford Crime Stoppers or by phone at 860-722-TIPS (8477).

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Hartford Police To Conduct DUI Checkpoint


HARTFORD — The Hartford Police Department Traffic Division will conduct a DUI Enforcement checkpoint on Thursday,  from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., in the vicinity of 601 Broad St.

This checkpoint is part of the Hartford Police Department’s ongoing expanded DUI enforcement program supervised by the HPD’s Traffic Division and funded through a grant from the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation DUI Enforcement Program.

For the most up to date traffic information visit the Connecticut Interactive Travel Map by clicking here.

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Sports and Digital Media Company To Move to Hartford


HARTFORD — Move over ESPN. There’s another sports network in town, smack in the middle of the capital city: Back9Network.

On Tuesday, Gov.  Dannel P. Malloy announced that Back9Network has established its corporate headquarters and will launch a multi-platform cable golf network in Hartford.

This project, they said, is expected to create hundreds of jobs and “breathe new life into the downtown area.”

“Connecticut is becoming a sports-oriented digital media destination,” Malloy said.  “We’re already home to some of the top companies in the industry and we have an infrastructure of economic development tools that will keep attracting more film production and media companies, content creators, technology providers, investors and entrepreneurs to the state.”

Malloy added that Back9Network is a great addition the city and “is poised to grow in a 21st Century industry.

Back9Network, Inc. will offer a wide range of programming, such as in-depth interviews, celebrity profiles, reality shows and comedy series, all revolving around the game and culture of golf.  The company will also expand its internet presence and offer programming via the web.

Currently located at 30 Lewis Street, the company plans to develop state-of-the-art studio space in Constitution Plaza.  New programming will be aimed at a wide audience, including young fans and casual golfers,officials said.

“We are thrilled to create new job opportunities not only for the existing media workforce in the State of Connecticut, but also to attract new, vibrant and talented employees to the Hartford area,” said Jamie Bosworth, Founder and CEO of Back9Network, Inc.  “ At the end of that process, it was clear that there was no better place in America for a new media entity like Back9Network to establish its operations than in Hartford.”

Initial support for the project will be provided through the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and will be used for leasehold improvements, office and computer equipment, marketing, and production.

Assistance includes a 10-year loan of $750,000 at 1 percent interest that the company has matched with $5 million.

Additionally, DECD is providing support through the state’s Small Business Express program: a $100,000 matching grant and a five-year, $250,000 Job Creation Incentive loan at 2 percent interest for the creation of ten jobs within one year.

The company also may be eligible for tax credits for production, infrastructure and capital expenditures.

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Wadsworth To Celebrate The Caribbean With ‘One Love’


HARTFORD — It will be all ‘love’ at the Aug. 2 Wadsworth Atheneum’s Summer Block party : One Love.

From to 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. with Art After Hours, the Atheneum will celebrate the Caribbean with festivities, including

Wadsworth Atheneum Celebrates the Caribbean at Summer Block Party

During First Thursday Art After Hours: One Love
Thursday, August 2, 2012, 5 – 9 pm

WHAT:
Art After Hours: One Love
Celebrate the cultures and flavors of the Caribbean at the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Art After Hours: One Love – summer block party!

• Reggae and calypso music by Anthem and performances by local talent
• Tour by Alyce Perry Englund, Associate Curator of American Decorative Arts: Bitter and Sweet: Decorative Arts and the West Indies Trade
• Caribbean costume parade – join in!
• Body art and tattoos
• Caricatures by cartoonist Joe Young
• Caribbean flag making activity
• Games, including limbo and dominoes
• Caribbean food ($): Patties, coco bread, jerk chicken and rum punch
• Film at 8 pm: Marley

Admission is $5. And Atheneum members enter for free.

August’s Art After Hours is presented in collaboration with the Taste of Caribbean and Jerk Festival: www.tastect.org.

WHERE:
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
600 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103

Visit the museum the first Thursday of each month starting at 5 pm for cocktails, appetizers, art activities, music and a film!

MORE INFORMATION:
www.wadsworthatheneum.org

 

 

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