Archive | March, 2013

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CT to Receive More Aid for Hurricane Sandy Recovery


WASHINGTON, D.C. –– Connecticut was among several states awarded money on Friday to help in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

The Department of Health and Human Services Acting Assistant Secretary of the Administration for Children and Families George Sheldon annoucned the released $474.5 million to help Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island in the  Hurricane Sandy recovery. All funds will be awarded no later than Sept. 30, 2013, and states will be able to use funds through Sept. 30, 2015.

“Although communities are showing great resilience in recovering from Hurricane Sandy, there is still much to do,” Sheldon said. “We are proud to stand with the states impacted by this storm in making this investment in their recovery efforts, and we remain committed to ensuring that children affected by Hurricane Sandy continue to thrive during this next phase of the response.”

ACF deployed resources and personnel in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, with a particular focus on the needs of children and their families. ACF provided Head Start and child care experts on the ground almost immediately after the storm to assess and respond to the needs of programs serving young children.

Hurricane Sandy Social Services Block Grant Supplemental Funds are available for services directly related to the disaster and may include child care, child welfare services, special services for persons with disabilities, case management services, mental health services, and other services for disaster-affected populations.

The funds can support the costs of renovating, repairing, or rebuilding health care, child care, and other social services facilities that were affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy SSBG Supplemental Funds are allocated based on a formula that identifies each state’s share of Individual Assistance registrants as reported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

State

Percentage Share Based on State FEMA Individual Assistance Registrants

Allocation

Connecticut                                      2.23

$10,569,192

Maryland

0.25

$1,185,675

New Jersey

47.80

$226,794,105

New York

49.62

$235,434,600

Rhode Island

0.11

$516,428

Total

$474,500,000

For more information on the SSBG, go to http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/programs/ssbg.

Learn more about ACF’s efforts to help Americans recover from Hurricane Sandy.

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Stop-and-Frisk Trial Puts Bloomberg in Ugly Glare


By Greg Morris, New America Media

NEW YORK — Mayor Bloomberg boasts that when New York does something, like banning super-size soft drinks, the world pays attention. Now a class action lawsuit against the New York Police Department (NYPD)’s stop-and-frisk tactics is putting him and a policy he championed in an ugly glare.

Filed in 2008 by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Floyd et. al v. City of New York charges that the NYPD interdicted millions of ordinary people on the city’s streets merely for being people of color — or “walking while black,” in the words of the New York Times. As many as 5 million people were subjected to searches over a period of several years as they walked home or walked to the store or simply hung out in front of their homes, according to statistics compiled by the ACLU.

Last year, the CCR won another federal class action case against the city for racial bias in its failure to promote black firefighters. On March 8, 2012, a federal judge ruled the New York Fire Department had to pay $128 million in back pay to the plaintiffs.

What would happen if CCR’s federal lawsuit prevails against the NYPD?

As precedent, the CCR points to the 2002 Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement which resulted from a settlement after the ACLU joined with the Cincinnati Black United Front to file suit alleging racial profiling and discriminatory law enforcement. Enacted in April 2002 with a five-year time frame, the agreement aimed to improve police-community relations as well as education, hiring practices and accountability within the police department.

Other cities are dealing with similar legal challenges to abusive police behavior. The Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department is opening an investigation of the use of force by police officers in the Cleveland police department.

And the Justice Department is currently negotiating a consent decree to settle a federal lawsuit against the City of New Orleans.

A federal consent decree means that a court can order timely injunctive relief against a city and maintains jurisdiction over the case to ensure that the settlement is followed. Failure to obey the order can cause a court to find the party in contempt and impose other penalties.

Plaintiffs in lawsuits generally prefer consent decrees because they have the power of the court behind the agreements; defendants who wish to avoid publicity also tend to prefer such agreements because they limit the exposure of damaging details. Critics of consent decrees argue that federal district courts assert too much power over the defendant.

Floyd et. al v. City of New York is the culmination of years of protests, lawsuits, and demonstrations by New Yorkers to abolish stop and frisk. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in silent protest on Father’s Day last June 17, passing Mayor Bloomberg’s residence. On March 18, activists from organizations like Communities United for Police Reform, who have worked to educate people about how to deal with repressive police stops, rallied at Foley Square to mark the trial’s start.

Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly defend the policy as key to the city’s crackdown on crime. CCR’s Executive Director Vincent Warren, speaking at the Foley Square rally, rebutted their claim, pointing out that less than 1 percent of stop-and-frisk interdictions resulted in gun confiscations.

Djbril Toure, a member of the Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement, which organized cop watch patrols and workshops to teach people their rights when stopped by police, said the trial “vindicates decades of our work.”
Toure underscored the life and death consequences of “repressive police policies” by reading off the names of New Yorkers gunned down by police — like Sean Bell, Adamadou Diallo, Abner Louima, and Kimai Gray (shot on March 10 by police officers who claimed he pointed a gun at them.) Sixteen-year-old Gray’s death sparked a major civil disturbance described by news reports as a riot in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

NY City Council member Jummane Williams, who represents Brooklyn, warned that anger is bubbling up and that “every proper leader in New York” should address the problem before it goes too far.

A week into the trial, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced at a press conference in front of the police department headquarters that the Council had agreed to create an inspector general to oversee the police department. And the Legal Services of NY filed its own federal class action lawsuit against the NYPD, alleging “routine discrimination against immigrant New Yorkers who seek police assistance in times of crisis.”

Perhaps most damaging to the Mayor’s credibility on stop and frisk was testimony by two whistleblower police officers about the pressure officers face to make a certain number of stops. If you didn’t make your quota, said one, “you’ll become a pizza delivery man.”

Greg Morris is a veteran reporter who teaches journalism at Hunter College.

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CT GOP Announces Prescott Bush Keynote Speaker


HARTFORD — Guess who is coming to Connecticut?

Governor of Wisconsin,  Scott Walker.

Walker authored the truth-in-sentencing, photo identification requirements to vote, and the elimination of the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases. On June 5, 2012,  Walker became the first governor in American history to win a recall election. He won the election with more votes and by a higher percentage than he had won in 2010.

On Monday Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. announced that Walker — the first Governor in American history to win a recall election — will keynote this year’s Prescott Bush Awards Dinner, the CT GOP’s largest annual event.

The 35th Annual Prescott Bush Awards Dinner will take place Monday, May 20th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Stamford Marriott Hotel.

“Governor Walker is a bold reformer who has righted the fiscal ship of state in Wisconsin without raising taxes,” Labriola said. “As Governor, his efforts have saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $1 billion, leading to property taxes in Wisconsin declining for the first time in 12 years.

“There is a lesson in Governor Walker’s leadership for Governor Malloy and the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly,” Labriola said. “Can you wipe out a massive state deficit without layoffs and without increasing taxes? Yes, you can – Governor Walker did it, and I believe his accomplishments in Wisconsin reflect the kind of changes we need in Connecticut.”

 

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Hartford Groups to Host Rally for Immigrant Rights


HARTFORD — Many recent immigrants in the United States will rise up on National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice in an effort to show “solidarity with the movement to demand that Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

NationOfImmigrants_5

The Hartford march will begin at 3:30 p.m. at  the Old State House, south on Main Street, and turn right on Capitol Ave., meet at the Capitol steps.

Organizers are hoping to make this event the largest mobilization of immigrants and allies in U.S. history.
There will be simultaneous marches in New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury.
For information on local marches please contact Latino Progress at http://preview.tinyurl.com/latinoprogress.

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CT SkillsUSA Competition Set for Thursday


HARTFORD — Prince Technical High School in Hartford will be hosting the CT SkillsUSA Competition on Thursday and is expected to attract more than 50 competitors with trade and leadership skills that will be judged by industry leaders throughout the state.

The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Several students will compete in trades such as plumbing, electric and cabinetry. And other students will compete in leadership skills such as job interview and public speaking.

The cabinet making competition will be judged by Paul Corey, local rep for Planit Solutions, an International CAD CAM company and by Michael Martin of MJ Martin Woodworking in East Hartford.

“It is important to give back to the community. The youth in CT’s Tech schools are the future and the technical schools provide that foundation that students need to succeed in today’s job market,” says Paul Corey.

For more information, visit http://www.skillsusa-connecticut.com/ to check out the website.

 

 

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Peter Lumaj Announces Bid for Secretary of State


HARTFORD — Peter Lumja wants to be Connecticu’s  Secretary of State.

Flanked by conservative talk show hosts and politicos on the steps of the state Capitol, Lumaj announced his candidacy for the office on Monday.

Born in Albania, Lumaj now lives in Fairfield county. He ran for a state senate seat in 2012.

Read More here:

Watch:

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Court Orders Closed Day Care Center to Provide Refunds


HARTFORD — When Precious Cargo Daycare abruptly closed its doors in June 2012, parents were left to scramble for alternative childcare and with questions about their deposits.

Under a settlement filed in Superior Court last week, state officials said Precious Cargo will provide full consumer refunds to parents who lost deposits and prepaid tuition payments and has resolved outstanding tax liability to the state, Attorney General George Jepsen, Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein and Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin B. Sullivan announced on Monday.

Under the settlement, Precious Cargo and its owners will pay a total of $55,000 for consumer restitution, of which $30,000 has already been remitted to the state. The remaining $25,000 will be paid over two years.

Additionally, the defendants have paid $159,818 to the Department of Revenue Services to resolve outstanding claimed wage withholding tax liability to the state.

“My office received dozens of complaints when this daycare center shut down last summer with little warning,” Jepsen said. “While some consumers were able to get money back through their credit card companies, other parents – many of whom paid by cash or check – were left in the lurch for their prepaid services. This settlement provides for full refunds for those parents, and I’m very pleased we were able to reach this resolution.”

“Searching for quality child care at the last minute is troublesome enough for hard-working parents, but losing money on top of that was salt in the wound,” Commissioner Rubenstein said. “We are happy that our cooperative efforts served to ease the financial loss to the parents affected by this sudden closure.”

Restitution will be distributed to consumers in two installments. Eligible consumers have been identified by the state and will be receiving a claim form with a cover letter explaining payment structure and requesting verification of the amount owed. Consumers who already received chargebacks through their credit card company are not eligible for additional restitution through this settlement.

Per the settlement, Precious Cargo’s owners – Jacqueline DiFusco, Jake Giuliano, Kristine DeCarlo and John Giuliano – are enjoined from owning, operating or participating in the management or marketing of a daycare facility for five years. Additionally, they are prohibited from owning or operating a business where their names do not appear in the business’s trade name for five years.

The settlement is not considered final until approved by the court. Consumers will questions about this settlement can contact the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5400 or the Department of Consumer Protection at 800-842-2649.

Please click here to view the settlement document.

 

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Free Downtown Hartford Parking For Sandy Hook Run, Spirit Fest


HARTFORD — Parking vendors in downtown Hartford will be offering free parking on Saturday for the Sandy Hook Run that’s expected to draw thousands of participants and spectators.

In addition, several thousand expected to attend the 2013 Spirit Fest National Cheerleading and Dance Championships at the Connecticut Convention Center also on Saturday.

That is why the Hartford Police Traffic Division has issued the following traffic advisory to assist event participants, spectators, and area residents and businesses with their travel plans.

Area and Streets Used for Race: TIMES CLOSED TO TRAFFIC

Trinity Street and Elm Street: 5:00AM-3:00PM
Trumbull Street (Church St to Jewell St) and Pratt Street: 6:00AM-3:00PM
Main Street (Pearl to Asylum); Pearl Street; and Asylum Street (Main to Trumbull St): 8:00AM-12:00PM Church Street (Trumbull to Main St) and Main Street (Asylum to Church St): 8:30AM-10:30AM
Jewell Street (Ford St to Trumbull St): 9:30AM-11:00AM
Main Street (Pearl St to Buckingham St); Buckingham Street; Washington St (Russ St to Capitol Ave); Capitol Avenue (Trinity St to Laurel St); Laurel St (Capitol Ave to Farmington Ave); Farmington Ave (Laurel St to Asylum Ave); Asylum Ave (Cogswell Ave to Ford St); and Ford St: 10:00 AM-12:00PM

Motorist should also anticipate traffic delays as participants and attendees of the National Cheerleading and Dance Championships converge at the Connecticut Convention Center on Columbus Boulevard. Competitors from all over New England, New York, New Jersey and Maryland are expected to attend this event at the Connecticut Convention Center, one of the Northeast’s largest all-star and scholastics cheerleading championships.

For more information about the Sandy Hook Run for the Families, please visit http://www.hartfordmarathon.com/Events/Sandy_Hook_Run_for_the_Families.htm or call 860-652-8866.

View map of locations and further information about the event which is anticipated to draw tens of thousands to Downtown Hartford.

Visit www.hartford.marathon.com for event information.

HPD Traffic Advisory.

 

 

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Trinity’s Widener Gallery Announces Exhibition


HARTFORD — The Widener Gallery has announced the Studio Arts Annual, exhibition, l feature artwork by students enrolled in Trinity College’s Studio Arts Program.

An opening reception will take place, Thursday, April 4, from 4:30  to  6:30 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public.

The Studio Arts Annual highlights a selection of student artwork from foundation through advanced levels.  Included is a selection of media and styles ranging from representational drawing, abstract painting and color prints to documentary photography and mixed media sculpture, among many others.

The exhibition will rung from April 4 – 28, 2013.

For more information, please contact Felice Caivano, Fine Arts Curator, Widener Gallery, at 860-297-5232 or Felice.Caivano@trincoll.edu.

The Widener Gallery is located in Trinity College’s Austin Arts Center, Hartford, Conn.  Gallery hours 1-6 p.m., closed Saturdays. 

Founded in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1823, Trinity College (www.trincoll.eduis an independent, nonsectarian liberal arts college with over 2,200 students from 45 states and 47 countries. It is home to the eighth-oldest chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in the United States.

 

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Women are the Face of Immigration Today


Asian Week, Op-ed, Miriam Yeung
Ed. Note: Hundreds of women immigrants and community leaders from across the country gathered in Washington this week to push for common sense immigration reform that addresses the priorities of women. The action was organized by We Belong Together, a campaign of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.

When you think of immigrants, who do you see?

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionMost people visualize men, predominately Latino men. Not many individuals see the images I see: women, mothers, sisters, and daughters, many of whom are Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI).

Women are the face of immigration today, and make up 52 percent of the overall immigration population in the United States. Yet, our immigration laws and policies turn a blind eye to the needs of women and families. It is time we recognize the value and contribution that immigrant women make to this country—especially AAPI women—and the enormous stakes they have as we debate how to fix our immigration system.

Immigrant women are the backbone of their families—yet our outdated immigration laws separate families, forcing many women to wait years to be reunited with their children. Family-based visa backlogs disproportionately affect the AAPI community, with our communities suffering some of the longest separations from their families, sometimes as long as 23 years. AAPI women bear the brunt of this burden, given that about 53 percent of Asian immigrants are women, predominantly from Japan, Philippines and Thailand.

Families do not have to be torn apart by our broken immigration system. We need to reduce the backlogs by increasing the number of visas and shortening the wait time. Judicial discretion to review individual cases of families or children threatened by pending separation would assist families hoping for reconsideration of their cases.

Now is the time for action. Polling the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) conducted with the National Asian American Survey found that AAPI women overwhelmingly (59 percent) support a roadmap to citizenship for all. Perhaps these numbers are not surprising because AAPI women take care of their own: More than 5 million women in this country are undocumented, and 1.5 million undocumented immigrants are AAPIs. The barriers these women face—whether in employment, education and access to health care and being able to provide for their families—are something felt every day. A road-map to citizenship should be accessible to poor and low-income immigrants, including AAPIs with limited English proficiency.

Our immigration system should be inclusive to all immigrants, not just those who qualify for high-skilled visas. Our system should recognize all family units, such as same sex partners, siblings and workers of all skill levels.

Women know the importance of coming together, yet sometimes forget they are significant. It is a struggle, and an accomplishment, to raise a family and to take care of the health needs of loved ones.

None of us would be where we are today without the help and support of the women in our lives—our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. My parents brought me to this country because they knew a first-born Chinese girl would have more opportunities in the United States than in our homeland.

It is time we extend the opportunity afforded to us to other immigrants. We all must honor and celebrate our unique commitment to protecting families, and give equal opportunities and respect to women and girls.

Many AAPI immigrants come to this country to share in this commitment. That’s why we need an immigration process that reflects this commitment and provides freedom and opportunity to everyone, especially mothers, daughters and families.

As Americans, we believe that families should stick together, that we should look out for each other, and that hard work should be rewarded. It’s not about what you look like or where you were born that makes you American—it’s how you live your life and what you do that defines you here in this country. That’s why all Americans, including the women in our lives, deserve an immigration system that works for everyone.

Miriam Yeung is the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)—the only national Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women’s multi-issue advocacy organization in the United States. For more information about NAPAWF’s immigration principles, please visit www.napawf.org.

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