Archive | January, 2013

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Mayor, Urban Fellows to Tour Northwest Hartford


HARTFORD —  It’s time to make the vicinity around Woodland and Homestead a destination–not just a drive through area, city officials said on Wednesday as they announced plans to tour the area with urban planners from across the nation.

Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra is expected to be  joined by representatives of the Urban Land Institute, planners and urban design specialists from across the country and officials from the cities of Tacoma (WA), Louisville (KY) and Austin (TX) to inspect and tour the Albany Avenue corridor in order to develop suggested development strategies at four node points, including  intersections of Woodland and Homestead.

The tour is set to culminate on Friday with a full presentation of the findings at the Artists Collective at 1200 Albany Ave., from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The tour is tied into the mayor’s participation as a Daniel Rose Fellow of the ULI, which involves a year-long program centered on innovative urban development.

“We used Albany Avenue as the case study because it has a significant volume of traffic every day, serves as a connector to Hartford from surrounding areas and has all the essential components for a vibrant commercial corridor.

It needs to be a destination, not a place one simply drives through.  Strategic planning from professionals of this caliber that costs the Capital City absolutely no money will leverage that traffic, drive retail and business development and create a thriving and vibrant corridor,” said Mayor Segarra.

The Rose Fellows team from the City of Hartford includes:

  • Thomas Deller, Director of Development Services
  • Brandon McGee, State Representative for the 5th District
  • Steven Bonafonte, Partner at Pullman & Comley and Chairman of the Hartford Redevelopment Agency

For more information on the City of Hartford’s study, please visit: http://ow.ly/hhcwm. Biographies of all site review participants attached.

 

The Daniel Rose Fellowship is the flagship program of the ULI Daniel Rose Center, established in 2008 by the ULI Foundation Governor Daniel Rose.  The Center aims to empower leaders in the public sector to envision, build and sustain successful 21st century communities by providing access to information, best practices, peer networks and other resources to foster creative, efficient and sustainable land use practices.

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Gov: Nonprofits to Receive a Boost in Funding


HARTFORD — Nonprofit organizations are poised to get a boost from the next state budget, according to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office.

Malloy on Wednesday announced that the Feb. 6 biennial budget will establish a new state bond pool just for nonprofit community-based providers that provide health and human services through contracts with state agencies.

The $20 million pool will enhance opportunities for nonprofit providers by allowing them to invest in projects that will achieve new efficiencies, so they can lower administrative costs and improve the delivery of services.

“Nonprofit community-based providers are essential partners with the state in providing health and human services,” Malloy said.  “They are the safety net, the people who support individuals with disabilities and other significant challenges.  Remaining committed to them means we that we remain committed to helping our most vulnerable.”

State officials said the new funding will allow providers to better serve consumers by establishing greater flexibility and increasing the timeliness of the bonding process.  It  will also include a rolling application process and simplified administration, comparable to the state’s Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) municipal bonding process.

“Our state’s future depends on having a quality, comprehensive support structure for all of our children and families, and the network of nonprofit providers is a vital part of that system,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said.  “I am confident that this new funding source will reinforce the great work being done by that network and will help keep the foundation of our communities strong.”

This bond pool would allow for small and large infrastructure projects.  Some examples of how organizations could utilize the funding include investing in technology that will improve the delivery of services; upgrading energy systems, such as converting to less expansive natural gas to lower administrative costs; and helping with the consolidation of disparate rental properties into one new building to save on maintenance and rental costs.

Priority will be given to proposals under $1 million.

 

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Ethnic Media’s Collective Message to the White House: Do It Now


New America Media,
Editor’s Note: This editorial was produced in association with New America Media (http://www.newamericamedia.org), a national association of ethnic media, and was published by more than 50 ethnic media across the country to bring attention to the urgency of immigration reform. Ethnic media interested in running the editorial may contacteshore@newamericamedia.org.

The White House and Congress must move quickly to enact just and humane comprehensive immigration reform.

In the wake of the 2012 elections, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have expressed the need to act on the issue. The window for bipartisan legislation is now open.

Ethnic media have a high stake in the future of immigration policy in this country. That’s why we are joining together to take an editorial stand to urge Congress and the White House: Make 2013 the year of immigration reform.

This is not merely a question of politics. We are calling for comprehensive immigration reform because it is the morally right, economically wise and pragmatically sensible thing to do.

Our country is a nation of laws, and it is clear that U.S. immigration laws need to be overhauled. The immigration system is broken, not only for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, but for the thousands of immigrants who are unable to get visas to work in the United States; for American businesses that can’t hire the workers they need; for the families who wait for years to get visas to join their relatives in the United States.

We need comprehensive immigration reform that will reunite families, reinvigorate the economy, and revive our identity as a nation that thrives on the contributions of hard-working immigrants.

It’s clear that our federal immigration laws are not working. Federal inaction on immigration has led states from Arizona to Alabama to write their own legislation. Even the recently announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is a temporary band-aid that does nothing to solve the larger problem of a broken immigration system.

Immigration has been portrayed as a divisive issue. In reality it’s not. All of us would benefit from an effective immigration system that responds to the needs of the market, protects all workers from abuse and exploitation and puts an end to the practice of separating parents from their children.

We need an immigration system that reflects the best traditions of our history — our belief in justice, equality, and economic opportunity.

And as we look to the future, we must make sure that we remain competitive in an increasingly globalized world. We need to continue to attract the best and the brightest, to be the destination of the world’s most innovative workers.

We must act now. Our economy and our future depend on it.

Op-ed in Spanish
El mensaje colectivo de los medios étnicos a la Casa Blanca: Hazlo ahora

Op-ed in Chinese
族裔媒體同聲呼籲白宮和國會在2013年落實移民改革法案

Op-ed in Vietnamese
Thời gian đã đến: Truyền Thông sắc tộc Gọi cho cải cách nhập cư trong năm 2013

Op-ed in Korean
2013년 이민법 개혁을 위한 소수계 언론의 공동 선언

A partial list of media that have agreed to publish the op-ed:

African-American Voice (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Al Día (Philadelphia)
Arizona Informant (Phoenix)
Asian American Press (St. Paul, Minn.)
Asian Journal (Los Angeles and New York)
AsianWeek (San Francisco)
Balita Media Inc. (Glendale, Calif.)
Balitang America – ABS-CBN International – The Filipino Channel (Redwood City, Calif.)
Bangla Patrika (New York)
CaliToday (San Jose, Calif.)
Caribbean Today (Miami)
ChicoSol (Chico, Calif.)
Chinese Daily News (Las Vegas)
El Diario-La Prensa (New York)
El Hispanic News (Portland, Ore.)
El Perico (Omaha, Neb.)
El Tiempo Latino (Washington)
El Tiempo New Orleans (New Orleans)
Express India (Washington)
The FilAm.net (New York)
Filipino American Journal (Phoenix)
Future Newspaper (Tinley Park, Ill.)
FWN Magazine (San Francisco)
Hartford Guardian (Hartford, Conn.)
Hyundai News USA (Oakland, Calif.)
The Immigrant’s Journal (New York)
India Journal (Los Angeles)
India West (San Leandro, Calif.)
Inquirer.net (Daly City, Calif.)
Jamaicans.com (Miami)
Jambalaya News (New Orleans)
Jewish News of Greater Phoenix (Phoenix)
KoreAm (Gardena, Calif.)
Korea Daily (Los Angeles)
Korean News Week (San Jose, Calif.)
La Voz (Phoenix)
La Opinión (Los Angeles)
La Raza News (Memphis)
Manila Mail (Washington)
Miami Diario (Miami)
Mundo Hispánico (Atlanta)
Nguoi Viet (Westminster, Calif.)
NM Compass (Albuquerque)
The Perspective (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Philippine News (Burlingame, Calif.)
Philippines Today (San Bruno, Calif.)
Rio Grande Digital (Las Cruces, N.M./El Paso, Tex.)
Rumbo (Houston)
Sada-e Pakistan (New York)
Sampan (Boston)
Siliconeer (Fremont, Calif.)
Sing Tao (San Francisco)
Sing Tao (New York)
Tri-State Defender (Memphis, Tenn.)
Two Rivers Tribune (Hoopa, Calif.)
Vida en el Valle (Fresno, Calif.)
World Journal (New York)
Zethiopia (Washington)

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What’s Wrong With Immigration Reform, Rubio Style


 By Raúl A. Reyes, Hispanic Link News Service

Lately Marco Rubio has been busy laying out the Republican Party’s framework for immigration reform to anyone who will listen. “We’re for legal immigration and for enforcing our laws,” the U.S. Senator from Florida explained to Telemundo.

The GOP spokesman on the issue favors an approach that “is not unfair to the people that are trying to come here legally.” Under his plan, the undocumented will be able to apply for citizenship “eventually.”
It’s good news that Cuban-American Rubio is accepting his party’s leadership role on immigration. Or is it? The idea that we need increased border security and enforcement ignores reality. His timetable for citizenship for the undocumented is problematic. And there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical of his conversion from immigration hardliner to immigration reformer.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionIt’s true that Rubio’s immigration plan is not too different from ideas proposed by President Obama. Both include employment verification mechanisms, a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for the undocumented that includes paying fines and back taxes, if owed.

But Rubio also believes we need more border security and enforcement measures. Not so, suggests the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. It notes that the U.S. spends roughly $18 billion on federal immigration enforcement, more than it spends on all other law enforcement efforts combined. Nearly all of the border security benchmarks set by Republicans during the 2007 immigration debate have been surpassed.

Meanwhile, 2012 saw record level of deportations, even as the Pew Center reports that illegal immigration has fallen to “net zero.”

Rubio should also stop insisting that we need to enforce our immigration laws because we are enforcing our immigration laws.

He told the New York Times that a “significant but reasonable” amount of time to legalize their status. Then, he said, they must go “to the back of the line” before they can apply for citizenship.

The problem is that Mexican nationals often wait between 15 and 20 years to receive a green card. Under Rubio’s plan, undocumented immigrants would have to get in line behind them, and could wait decades for citizenship.

When the Times questioned Rubio about this inordinately long waiting period, he replied, “I do not have a solution for that question right now.”

If he doesn’t have an answer to that question, it is premature for him to be floating his proposal. Not having critical details worked out renders any immigration plan incomplete.

Rubio’s recent interview with the Wall Street Journal was headlined “Marco Rubio: Riding to the Immigration Rescue.” Yet he may find his ideas a tough sell among Republicans and Latinos alike. Just three months ago, he was campaigning in Florida with Mitt “Self-Deportation” Romney. Rubio was against the original Dream Act and a supporter of SB 1070, Arizona’s harsh immigration law.

Now his Tea Party base and Hispanics are supposed to welcome his new position on immigration? Not too likely. Instead, people may realize that Marco Rubio’s only core conviction is Marco Rubio.

We don’t know the details of Rubio’s immigration proposal because he hasn’t offered any. If he isn’t careful, he risks a repeat of his Dream Act debacle. For two months Rubio publicly promoted his incomplete version of the Dream Act, but never wrote anything down. When President Obama introduced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan, Rubio’s words became moot.

This time around, he needs to put something into action. If he takes a break from his media whirlwind long enough to write legislation, he may have a viable proposal. His challenge is to prove that his views are about opportunity – not opportunism.

Raúl A. Reyes practices law in New York City. Reach him at raul@raulareyes.com.

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Hartford Police Arrest Local Man for Domestic Violence


HARTFORD — Hartford Police captured a local man wanted for holding his pregnant girlfriend for days earlier this month.

Police arrested Veron Lloyd, 23, last week in the area of 100 West St. and charged him with unlawful restraint, first degree assault, third degree assault of a pregnant woman, second degree threatening,  harassment and violation of probation.

Lloyd, who is in custody with a $2.25 million bond, has an extensive criminal history.

Chief James Rovella praised his officers for the investigation and “quick turnaround.”

Detectives of the HPD’s Major Crimes Division, with the assistance of the FBI Northern Connecticut Violent Crime Gang Task Force, the Hartford Fugitive Task Force the Hartford Shooting Task Force and the HPD Patrol Division are

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Occupy Groups to Protest Oil Event in Hartford


HARTFORD — The U.S. Commercial Service is hosting the “Canada Oil Sands Opportunity Event” on  Jan 28 in Hartford at Shipman & Goodwin LLP downtown Hartford.

According to Export.gov, which partners with various governmental agencies, the event will be an “opportunity for Connecticut businesses in the areas of Oil and Natural Resource Service sector to explore concrete opportunities for export in support of the ongoing development in the Alberta Oil Sands region.”

Affinity groups including the Hartford-based Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, Interreligious Eco-Justice Network, Rising Tide Vermont, Green Mountain Earth First, Connecticut’s Capitalism vs the Climate, 350.org, and Occupy New England are joining efforts in a solidarity action to protest what they call a meeting of the “profiteering industries responsible for the Climate Crisis.”

The action will be taken in solidarity with First Nations and front-line communities affected by the climate crisis. The protest is slated to be held during the meeting, with the first wave of activists arriving prior to the 7:30 a.m. start of the meeting. Protest activities are expected to continue throughout the morning, concluding with a coordinated street theater action scheduled from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Members of the interfaith and climate justice communities from throughout the region plan to attend and protest. Pika, a climate justice activist from Vermont said, “The Alberta tar sands operation is one of the most destructive projects on the planet and is the fastest growing source of climate change emissions in Canada.

Communities and ecosystems are widely affected by the entire tar sands extraction process from the mining and pollution to the export of bitumen and the threat of oil spills wherever pipelines are constructed. It is crucial that we oppose the fossil fuel industry in ways that cannot be ignored, including at meetings such as this where those involved in corporate industry collaborate at the expense of our communities and the environment.

We will be there on Monday to let the participants in the Canadian Oil Sands Event know that there are no market-based solutions, and there will be no business as usual.” Rebecca Burton of Occupy Hartford agreed, saying, “For Connecticut businesses to participate in what many scientists believe will be the ‘end game’ for our climate is completely unacceptable.”

“Climate change is a moral, spiritual, and ethical issue and one we must address if we are going to achieve justice for God, his peoples, and the planet that He loves,” said Terri Eickel, Executive Director of the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network. “Continuing to mine Canadian tar sands will undoubtedly speed up climate change and cause tremendous suffering and devastation, both here and around the world.”

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Bill Ritter Urges Sandy Hook Advisory Commission to Focus Mental Health and Gun Violence


By Adam Stuhlman, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — A newly established policy committee set up by Gov. Dannel Malloy after the Newtown School Massacre met for the first time on Thursday to establish guidelines, protocols and to meet with experts from Columbine and Virginia Tech to learn about how to effectively run and promote change.

The Sandy Hook Advisory Committee, chaired by Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, was tasked with researching what led to the crimes at Sandy Hook, mainly to look at how attitudes and laws toward mental health and gun control influenced the shootings on Dec. 14, 2013 in Newtown by Adams Lanza, who shot 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook in Newtown. The shooting was one in a series of mass shootings in the United States since the 1999 school shootings at Columbine in Colorado.

The Newtown school shooting was said to be the worst slaughter in an elementary school.

The commission will receive information on the status of the Sandy Hook Elementary School investigation and then hear presentations from experts who were directly involved in the aftermath of the Columbine and Virginia Tech tragedies.

Experts from Columbine and Virginia Tech discussed what they felt would be the most important factors of the commission.

Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter was a member of the Columbine Commission established in 1999 after the massacre at Columbine High School.

“Your role is broad in scope, looking at mental health, healthcare, and emergency preparedness,” Ritter said. “Your audience will be the people of Connecticut, but the nation watches for answers as to why these events continue to occur.”

At the hearing at the Legislative Office Building, Ritter spoke about the challenges and difficulties he faced as part of the Columbine Commission and what the Sandy Hook Commission can expect.

“As a commission, we did not deal with gun access at Columbine, and we need to look at that now,” said Ritter. “We did look at mental health, but the need has expanded for both gun access and mental health.”

One of the challenges of mental health, according to Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky, is the privacy laws surrounding it.

The State Police, which is conducting a separate investigation, “may have limitations based upon confidentiality but will look to give as much information as possible,” Sedensky said. “We may not be able to provide information on mental health issues.”

Sedensky also said that the State Police aim to have their investigation completed by June with a report of the crimes committed, unless there is criminal prosecution.

Jackson, who said that the first goal of the Commission is to research and establish guidelines pertaining to school safety,  said a lack of the mental health records of Adam Lanza will affect the investigation.

“We do not expect access to mental health records for the near future,” said Jackson, “and this does not have to affect our investigation.

Jackson also credited limited access to information as something that could end up helping the investigation, allowing them to have more “unlimited structure.”

Professor Richard Bonnie, Chair of the Virginia Commission on Mental Health Law Reform and Consultant to the Virginia Tech Review Panel, drew upon his experiences with mental health reform from the murders at Virginia Tech in April 2007 that killed 32 students.

“Tragedy creates the opportunity for change,” said Bonnie, “don’t take premature actions that could erode the privacy and rights of people with mental illness.”

The Virginia Tech Commission was a program with a focus on policy with reducing the risk of gun violence and suicide on campus through “threat assessment teams.” Originally, there wasn’t really a focus on mental health, but this changed after the massacre.

“Tragedy sustains public awareness and nurtures public engagement,” said Bonnie, “There is the emotional sense of tragedy that every parent has with parents in Newtown.”

Bonnie’s suggestions:

• The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission must organize its activities to take advantage of public engagement

• Take a recovery oriented approach to the recovery of mental health systems and releasing the stigma of mental health

• Bonnie stressed that each Task Force created should have specific assignments and be flexible. With VA Tech, each Task Force had 10-15 people, and a focus on the public debate.

School Safety has been a major issue, and Ritter recognized that but admitted that the Columbine Commission requested no tighter security at school.

“We did not want to say that hardening the target was the only response,” said Ritter, “we did say that there may be instances when metal detectors are needed, but they alone will not make our schools safer.”

One strategy Ritter spoke of was the Colorado School Safety Resource Center, whose mission is to “collaboratively assist educators, emergency responders, community organizations, school mental health professionals, parents and students to create safe, positive and successful school environments for Colorado students in all pre K-12 and higher education schools,” according to colorado.gov.

They also created a “safe-to-text” initiative that allows students to privately text a school administrator an alert when they feel someone is behaving strangely.

Ritter, who is a gun owner and hunter, warned about having “false debates and fractional arguments of all guns or no guns, without moderation and agreement.”

Bonnie advised the Commission to think ahead about the challenges that will present themselves, and warned that the Sandy Hook crimes will expose problems in policy.

“The investigations in Sandy Hook will expose gaps in policy that should be addressed,” said Bonnie. “Think about the challenges that will arise when you try to bring about changes in policy.”

According to Bonnie, the priorities should be:

• Intensive and outpatient services/crises response services

• Crises evaluation and urgent care gaps

• People with no insurance and limited access to care

Jackson, whose brother is mentally retarded, said that the Commission is getting started to help the victims get over what happened in Sandy Hook by providing relief.

“You have to do something to help get over the event,” Jackson said, “This is our way of doing something.”

Jackson said that the first goal of the report is to establish strong guidelines for school security, and that while there is an interim report due from the Commission on March 15, as well as a State’s Attorney report due in June, there is no specific timeline.

Photo Credit: Bill Ritter, the former governor of Colorado, speaks Thursday at the first meeting of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission at the Hartford Capitol. Photo by Peter Hvizdak/Register

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Young Professionals Influence Hartford’s Youth


HARTFORD — A smile is worth a thousand words.

And despite the frigid weather, smiles were on the faces of fifty students from Burns Latino Academy last week at Hartford’s Winterfest held at Bushnell Park.

Members of United Way’s Emerging Leaders Society joined the students from COMPASS Youth Collaborative Inc., which partners with community schools and offers positive youth development programs five days a week throughout the year, for an evening of ice skating.

“The word enthusiastic comes to mind when I think of the partnership COMPASS and Burns has with United Way’s Emerging Leaders Society. Their willingness to support our families and assist our students in all capacities is what makes our experiences with them so impactful,” Elizabeth Giannetta-Ramos, community school director at COMPASS.

According to its wesbsite, United Way is dedicated to helping all children succeed academically.

One way the organization is reaching this goal is by partnering with after-school programs to provide exciting, engaging and inspiring activities for our youth. Did you “DO SOMETHING BIG” today?

For more information about becoming an Emerging Leader with United Way, visit www.unitedwayinc.org.

 

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FCC Chairman’s Legacy: Ignoring Diversity


New America Media Commentary by Joseph Torres

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan to allow greater media consolidation in local markets could wipe out many of the remaining TV station owners of color left in the country.

According to the latest data, people of color own just over 3 percent of all full-power TV stations — just 43 of the nation’s 1,348 stations — despite making up close to 40 percent of the U.S. population. African Americans own just five stations. That’s only 0.4 percent of all commercial TV stations. And Latinos own 1.6 percent of all TV stations, despite making up close to 17 percent of the U.S. population.

But the FCC chairman doesn’t plan to deal with this media inequality. Instead, he wants to adopt rules that will make things worse.

This situation didn’t arise by accident. Decades ago, the FCC distributed our nation’s first radio and TV licenses predominantly to white men or big corporations. And the agency has resisted efforts through the years to democratize our nation’s media system or address its inequalities in any meaningful way. This has prevented people of color from being able to tell their own stories; instead, they’ve been marginalized in both news and entertainment programming.

Genachowski, a friend of President Obama from their days in law school, has shown no interest in ownership diversity. Indeed, Genachowski plans to adopt many of the same rules then-Sen. Obama and other Democratic congressional leaders voted to throw out when the Bush-era FCC tried to push them through in 2007.

For example, Genachowski wants to relax the TV-newspaper cross-ownership ban in the top 20 media markets. This would allow one company to own both the leading daily newspaper and a TV station ranked outside the top four in the same market. It’s a change that would allow News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch to buy the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune in cities where he already owns Fox stations.

Nearly half of the 43 stations currently owned by people of color nationwide are located in the top 20 markets, and all of those are rated outside the top four. The rule change would make these stations prime targets for acquisition — meaning that the percentage of TV station owners of color could decline even further.

We’re already moving in the wrong direction. According to Free Press’ latest analysis:

• African Americans own three fewer TV stations than they did in October 2011. Overall there are now six fewer stations owned by people of color than there were in 2011.

• The percentage of African-American-owned TV stations has declined by 74 percent in just six years.

• The number of TV stations owned by people of color has declined by 20 percent since 2006.

• In the last six years, 26 full-power TV stations owned by people of color were sold to “non-minority” owners. All but one was sold under “financial distress.”

This last point is critical. Media consolidation places tremendous financial pressure on broadcast owners of color in local markets because they have a hard time competing with larger corporations for advertising and programming.

The federal court that has twice in the past decade rejected the FCC’s attempts to loosen ownership rules ordered the agency to study the impact of any rule changes on ownership diversity before adopting new rules.

But Genachowski has resisted such an effort, even as the abysmally low levels of broadcast ownership for women and people of color have gotten even worse during his tenure.

The chairman has also ignored calls from more than 60 members of Congress and all of the leading civil rights, public interest and media justice groups to shelve his plan until the FCC conducts such a study.

His refusal to deal with diversity is all the more inexplicable given that just a couple of months ago voters of color played a primary role in President Obama’s re-election — an election that allowed Genachowski to keep his job.

Though perhaps the chairman is more concerned about his next job, as numerous press reports indicate Genachowski plans to leave the FCC soon.

But Genachowski does seem to care about his legacy: In recent interviews, the chairman has tried to convince reporters that his tenure was historic because he guided our nation through a transformative time in our communications industry.

But the FCC’s broken policies and Genachowski’s closed-door approach should really be relics of the past. And if Genachowski is remembered at all, it will be for consistently placing corporate interests ahead of the public interest and for failing to address the growing racial and ethnic disparities that deepen our nation’s media inequality.

No matter how hard Genachowski tries to convince us that he’s a transformative figure, he seems stuck on the wrong side of history.

Free Press is a nonpartisan organization building a nationwide movement for media that serve the public interest. Joseph Torres is the group’s senior external affairs director.

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Q and A: Terrie M. Williams


Editor’s Note: Terrie M. Williams will keynote a special forum today at the Hartford Public Library’s Center for Contemporary Culture. The forum begins at 5: 30 p.m. This interview is by Ann-Marie Adams.

1. Why should people pay attention to “black pain”–their pain?

Because we’re dying. Some people, like Susan Taylor, never publicly disclosed their depression. It’s a part of the healing when we get up and share our story, especially if I share my story and encourage other people sharing. There’s a great comfort and relief in doing so because we find out we’re not alone. In the upcoming March issue of Essence, they are going to be doing a story profiling three women who suffer from depression. One of them is a young lady I mentor–Jourdan Atkinson. She was always angry. Then she spoke about the numerous rape. She stood up and said something out loud. That’s the power of sharing our story. One young man stabbed someone seven times. He didn’t kill him. But it was what he said afterward that pierced my spirit. The person he stabbed wasn’t even the person he was mad at. That’s why we need to smile at people. We need to make people feel like they matter–not that they are less than. That’s why I think everyone should care about this issue. Life happens to us. The question isn’t what’s wrong with her or him. It’s what happened to her or him.

African Americans Negotiate Mental Illness, Black Pain

2. You talked about the notion of anger and how the black community deal with that anger. Some people would say black people have a reason to be angry.

I’m glad you mention that. But there’s a danger in that anger when we start to hurt other people. I mentioned the young man who was angry and stabbed someone seven times even though he wasn’t mad that that person.

3. What have you learned since your book was published four years ago?

If I had more time I would have added two things. I would have written about seniors, gays, lesbians and the transgendered population. So many people suffer from depression because they feel they can’t be who they are. I would address the challenges, the pain and the depression that comes from being different.

4. Is there hope?

We can’t fall off the floor. There’s no way to go but up. The book came out in 2008. But it’s almost as if it just came out. People are still writing me, telling me their stories. I received a letter from a person’s son in prison. Someone sent him the book believing “he’ll read this book now, and he’ll understand why he’s there.” He read the book, identified with so many of the issues and he now understands why he’s there. Another woman got sick and tired of the dysfunction in her family. She bought the books, sent them to her family and got them to go to therapy. She realized the dysfunction and pain. And got fed up and told them they needed to come together. The book is making a difference in people’s lives. It lets people know it’s not healthy to keep these things to yourself. I still go to thearapy twice a month. I still take medication. There’s no shame here.

5. Any other thoughts you’d like to share as you get ready to visit Hartford, CT?

I feel honored and blessed to come there. Because it’s what our people need. Without your mental and emotional health for well being, you will become undone. We see all these personalities unraveling in front of us. The only means that if you have money, you just have more money to self-medicate.

Terrie M. Williams, author of “Black Pian: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting” will keynote a special forum today at the Hartford Public Library’s Center for Contemporary Culture, 500 Main Street, Hartford, CT, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, please call 860-404-2104.

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