Archive | February, 2014

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Annual Condo Association Conference Set for March 8


PLANTSVILLE — Having trouble with your condo association?

Then this meeting might just help you navigate the rules and regulations that should govern condo associations.

The Connecticut Chapter of the Community Associations Institute will hold its annual Condo / Home Owner Association Conference and Expo onMarch 8 at The Aqua Turf Club, 556 Mulberry St. in Plantsville, CT. The event is scheduled to begins at 8:30 a.m. with special breakfast meetings for Presidents and Property Managers of local condominiums and Home Owners Associations.

Attendees can expect to learn how to handle issues facing their condominium associations. Education sessions will cover topics as diverse as Liabilities and Responsibilities of the Homeowners Association, Following the Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA) which was recently revised and impacts day to day governance, record keeping, and management of almost every condominium and HOA in the state. Session topics will also include Basic and Advanced CIOA, Managing Conflict within the Election Process, Budget Ratification, and Legislative Updates.

New this year is the opportunity for participants to have Lunch with the Experts, a roundtable where local condominium and HOA experts will answer questions in a casual roundtable manner.

More information and advance registration is available at the CAI-CT websitewww.caict.org or by calling the office at (860) 633-5692. CAI-CT Conference and Expo Committee Member Bob Gourley is available for interview or further comment and can be reached at bgourley@caict.org or by calling the CAI-CT office at (860) 633-5692.

CAI-CT President Rich Bouvier states “Volunteer leaders are the lifeblood of Connecticut’s condominium communities. Their volunteer efforts are offered to maintain, protect, and enhance the condominium communities in which they live. Volunteer leaders who seek to be educated and kept current about the ever-changing laws and best practices for condominiums turn to the Connecticut Chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI-CT). CAI-CT plays a vital role in providing that education every year at our Annual Condo / HOA Conference and Expo”.

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President Obama Unveils New Initiative Aimed at Black and Latino Youth


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Fulfilling another one of his campaign promises, President Barack Obama on Thursday unveiled a new initiative aimed at providing opportunities for black and Latino youth.

The initiative, called My Brother’s Keeper, will address an undeniable fact:  black and Latino boys don’t fare as well as their white counterparts. According to January 2014 figures, the black unemployment rate for men over 20 was 12 percent compared with 5.4 percent for white men. For Hispanics in the same cohort, it’s 8.2 percent. Additionally, the poverty rate for black households in 2012 was 27.2 percent and for Hispanic households, it’s 25.6 percent, compared to 12.7 percent in white households and 11.7 percent in Asian households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In Hartford, the figures are slightly higher than the national averages in each category. The black unemployment rate for black and Latino men are 14.1 and 13 percent respectively. The poverty rate is 32 percent.

Flanked by young men from Chicago’s “Becoming a Man” program in the East Room of the White House, Obama addressed a group of leaders in businesses, nonprofits and foundations. And, as he quipped, he was able to get Al Sharpton and Bill O’Reilly in the same room for what he deemed a necessary step toward economic prosperity in America.

“If we help these wonderful young men become better husbands and fathers and well-educated, hardworking, good citizens, then not only will they contribute to the growth and prosperity of this country, but they will pass those lessons on to their children, on to their grandchildren.”

Under the president’s initiative, the Obama administration will create a government-wide task force to evaluate the effectiveness of existing programs and businesses, foundations and community groups would coordinate investments to support new or existing programs to help steer young men from the criminal justice system and improve access to college and other opportunities. Already, several foundations have pledged about $200 million over five years to promote the initiative.

Mayor Pedro Segarra points to a local program aimed at addressing these issues.

“I applaud the President’s leadership, both as an elected official and personally as man of color who benefitted from the type of programs he is promoting. Nearly 1 in 4 Hartford residents aged 16-24 are high school dropouts, more than 90 percent of them are Latino or Black, and 53% of them are male.  As the President said, we’ve begun to assume statistics like these are an inevitable part of American life, instead of the outrages they are.”

Segarra points to the Summer Youth Employment Program and said that more needs to be done.

“The ability of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force to assess and promote the programs most effective in combating these numbers is the sort of ambitious solution that we as a city could never carry out alone,” he said. “Because young men of color are an important part of our future workforce, these steps aren’t just the right thing to do—they’re an economic necessity.”

Among the guests in the room were former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  The parents of Trayvon Martin, the 17 year old who was killed by a Florida man, were also present. Also present were the parents of Jordan Davis, another Florida teenager killed in a separate shooting.

The phrase “my brother’s keeper” comes from the Book of Genesis in the Bible, where God asks Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, for  his brother Abel, whom Cain had killed because he envied Abel’s gift to God. Cain then replies: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Obama has quoted that section several times since his 2009 campaign at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt., saying Americans should eschew “you’re-on-your-own economics” and instead look out for each other.

“I hear politicians talking about values…,” he had said then. “ Let me tell you about values. Hard work, personal responsibility—those are values. But looking out for one another. That’s a value. The idea that we’re all in this together. I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper. That’s a value.”

Bloomberg agreed.

“The president, I think, is uniquely qualified to talk about this,” Bloomberg said to reporters after the event. “The president is part African-American. The president did not have a father growing up. He knows the problem and yet he turned out to be president of the United States. You can’t have a better role model. I think this is exactly the kind of thing he should focus on.”

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Judge Robinson Confirmed for State’s Supreme Court


HARTFORD — A former president of a local NAACP branch and longtime Appellate Judge was confirmed to sit on Connecticut’s Supreme Court.

Appellate Judge Richard A. Robinson of Stratford was confirmed on Wednesday by the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, which was led  Sen. Eric D. Coleman (D-Bloomfield).

Robinson, who has been on the Appellate court for 13 years,  is a former longtime lawyer for the City of Stamford, who served as president of the Stamford Branch of the NAACP, General Counsel for the Connecticut Conference of the NAACP, and Chair of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

“Judge Robinson is an eminent jurist whose service to the City of Stamford marked him as a distinguished public servant long before his time on the bench,” Coleman said. “The years of judicial and public service on which Judge Robinson can draw to inform his decisions will make him an exceptional Justice on our state’s highest court.”

Robinson was nominated in December 2013 by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

.“Serving on our state’s highest court is an immense duty, as it is the final arbiter on issues that impact virtually every aspect of our lives,” Malloy said. “Judge Robinson has an intellect and a wealth of experience that extends beyond the bench, having served with a number of social organizations, educational institutions, and other groups in our community throughout his career.” 

e Robinson began serving the City of Stamford in 1985, working as Staff Counsel for the City’s Law Department. In 1988, he became Assistant Corporation Counsel, where he remained until his appointment as a Judge of the Superior Court in 2000.

He also served as Presiding Judge  for the New Britain Judicial District and as Presiding Judge and Assistant Administrative Judge for the Ansonia/Milford Judicial District and other districts. He was appointed as a Judge of the Connecticut Appellate Court on December 10, 2007.

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Religious Discrimination In America


 By Glenn Mollette

Arizona legislatures pulled a dandy. They asked their governor to sign a bill allowing any business the freedom to discriminate based on religious beliefs. The governor vetoed the bill.

The First Amendment guaranteeing our nation the freedom of religion is not a legal loophole that allows religious people to hurt other people based on prejudice or interpretation of the Bible or any other religious book.

glen mollettA lot of noise has been made recently about the Middlesboro, Kentucky pastor and church that handled poisonous snakes. National Geographic reality star of “Snake Salvation,” Jamie Coots was bitten by a timber rattler almost two weeks ago and died within 90 minutes. He and his family refused medical treatment based on their interpretation of the-hartford-guardian-Opinionthe Bible. I personally think they are crazy.

Simply because someone interprets the Bible, Koran or any other religious book a certain way does not give that person the right to hurt other people. Nor should anyone discriminate against another person because of race, nationality, money or gender preferences.

I do not understand why anyone would want to be gay. There is not a gay molecule in my frame. Because someone is gay does not give me or anyone else the right to not provide service in a restaurant or a seat on the bus.

Nor should one’s sexual preference prohibit him or her from working the same job anyone else does.

I do understand that the majority of religious people in America believe that a gay lifestyle is a wrong lifestyle and is forbidden by the Bible.  Please keep in mind that most church people believe it is wrong for a man and woman to live together without being legally married. Most church people believe stealing, killing and lying are wrong as well.

A church or religious entity traditionally has not hired ministers that were practicing thieves, murderers or liars or living with someone not in a legal marriage relationship. Is this discrimination? I don’t think so. The average employer in America is only using commonsense if they decide to terminate someone because that person is a thief or liar or maybe causing disruption in the office by sleeping around with all the staff.

Religious entities that interpret the Bible as saying that a gay lifestyle is an unacceptable lifestyle should never be forced to hire someone that is gay. There are a few churches that are hiring gay persons because they believe it is acceptable. This is America where we have freedom of religion. Keep in mind there are also thousands of churches that still would never hire a woman to serve as a minister. There are also many that would never dream of hiring a divorced minister because they believe divorce is biblically unacceptable.

Arizona badly blundered on the concept of trying to create a law that allows discrimination in any business realm based on religious belief.  Could this apply to someone divorced? Could they apply this rule to someone that is a habitual liar? What about church deacons who curse, smoke, chew and date girls who do?  Would this rule apply to fat Christians? Whoops… sorry I forgot that gluttony is the Christian sin of choice.

 Many of the very best people I know I met in church. However, religious people can be some of the meanest people in the world.A religious crowd was involved in nailing Jesus to the cross. Religious people are at the root of the problems in the Middle East.

If someone refuses to do business with another person it should not be based on prejudices and perceptions. Anyone abiding by the law and living in a respectful manner that is not disruptive or harmful to society deserves the same services as anyone else.

Finally, I doubt if an African American church will ever offer me a job as their senior pastor, although I would really like that.

Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of American Issues and nine other books. He is a graduate of Georgetown College, Southern Seminary and Lexington Seminary in Kentucky.  Contact him at GMollette@aol.com.   Like his facebook page atwww.facebook.com/glennmollette.

Photo Credit: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org

 

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Hartford Officials to Hold Info Session on Zoning


HARTFORD — Hartford officials will host a crash course on the basics of zoning at the Hartford Public Library on Feb. 26.

The event, which is expected to take a look at how the city determines what buildings and businesses can be built in different areas of the city and has a significant impact on how Hartford grows and changes, is slated for at 6 p.m. at 550 Main St. in downtown Hartford.

According to officials, more than 500 zoning applications are filed each year.

“Understanding how zoning works is critical in helping to make Hartford the city we all want it to be,” Segarra said. “It can protect neighborhood & community character, encourage growing business sectors, or dedicate underused land to new purposes.”

“This will be a great opportunity for Hartford residents, both renters and homeowners, to learn why zoning is so important,” said Jackie McKinney, Co-Chair of Hartford 2000.

Long-time Hartford activist Bernadine Silvers, Hartford 2000 Co-Chair said that understanding zoning empowers you to make economic and design changes in your community.”

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Travelers PGA Tour Offers Free Tickets for Pro-Am


HARTFORD —  Producers of the popular Connecticut Golf Show announced Tuesday that the PGA TOUR Travelers Championship — the premier PGA TOUR tournament in Connecticut and a longtime sponsor of the Connecticut Golf Show — will once again be giving away 1,000 tickets to the Wednesday Pro-Am event on each day of the three-day show.

The annual event will return to Hartford on March 14 through 16. Show hours, ticket prices, lists of exhibitors and more can be found online at CTGolfShow.com.

Just for walking in the door, the first 1,000 golfers each day will be handed complimentary tickets to watch the world’s best golfers compete in the Wednesday Pro-Am at the 2014 PGA TOUR Travelers Championship, coming to TPC River Highlands, June 16-22.

With over 100 of the top golfers in the world in attendance — last year’s field included major champions Angel Cabrera, Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner, Padraig Harrington, Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson and dozens of other Tour stars — the Travelers Championship has become one of the premier events on the PGA Tour calendar.

For more information, visit CTGolfShow.com, or contact Golf Show communications director Brian Beaky at the number above

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Will New Teaching Standards Lift Achievement Levels for Minorities?


New America Media, Question & Answer By George White

Ed. Note: To date,  45 states this year are beginning to implement the new Common Core States Standards for instruction of English-language arts and math. The new standards are designed to revamp the way schools instruct and assess their students, placing greater emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving. Many wonder if school districts and teachers are prepared to create lesson plans for these more rigorous standards. There is also a debate over whether the new teaching standards will lift or lower achievement levels at schools in low-income communities of color. Teacher preparedness and black student achievement were subjects that Lisa Delpit, a professor at Southern University and A&M College, explored in her best-selling 2006 book Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom. In her 2013 book “Multiplication is for White People,” a title based on a comment by a black child, Delpit discusses the need for instruction that engages students and promotes critical thinking and high expectations – curricula with more studies related to Africa and African Americans among them. Delpit says that objective can be reached under Common Core and that the new standards can benefit black students – but only if teachers are given the training and freedom to address the needs of underperforming students. Delpit, who has helped organize independent assessments of education needs in New Orleans, spoke with NAM’s George White.

You’ve talked about the need for better professional development for public school teachers. Generally speaking, why is there a need for training?

Everyone needs better professional development. In schools, training is often hit and run. Someone gives a presentation and there’s no follow-up.

Please comment on the teacher preparedness requirements necessary to address the needs of students in schools in poorer black communities in New Orleans and nationwide.

Teachers in low-income communities of color need to learn to recognize that these students are inherently brilliant. They need to learn how to build relationships with these students and they need to know the local culture – particularly in New Orleans.

Also, teachers in New Orleans need to understand the lingering effects of trauma from Hurricane Katrina. If a student doesn’t suffer trauma, the parents may be traumatized or some of the student’s classmates may have trauma.

In addition, some teachers need to learn how to improve their reading instruction. Generally, teachers are prepared to teach reading in the lower grades but many teachers need to be more prepared to teach reading in the higher grades because many students are behind and need additional instruction.

The Louisiana Department of Education decided not to create a centralized Common Core curriculum for the state’s school districts. This means that school districts and/or teachers will have to create their own Common Core lesson plans. What are the ramifications, opportunities and/or dangers as it relates to teacher preparedness under these circumstances?

Teachers don’t have enough time prepare curricula for the new standards. To prepare for this, teachers should have been paid to work summer [2013] months to learn how to unpack and present each standard in the classroom. That hasn’t been done in Louisiana.

Initially, there were expectations that, under Common Core, teachers would develop approaches to teaching the new standards and post that information on websites and share best practices. That hasn’t happened because everything has been rushed. There was a potential benefit of teacher collaboration; but that has not happened.

As you see them, what are some of the specific examples of the challenges facing teachers regarding the implementation of Common Core – nationally and locally?

The student assessment tests [based on Common Core] haven’t been created yet and those test scores will determine whether teachers will keep their jobs locally and nationally. Without information on testing, teachers don’t know how they will be evaluated – and that’s a problem.

Under initial proposals for Common Core, the new standards were to be introduced only to Kindergarten and First Grade students and the standards would have continued to apply only to those students. However, the decision was made to apply the standards in classrooms for all grades. Older students will have difficulty because they haven’t learned the new standard’s expectations. This will, for example, create a real challenge for those having difficulty with math. We need plans to help students who are behind academically.

Charter schools are a very large percentage of the New Orleans public school district. They have more freedom in staffing and curriculum development. What are your hopes and fears regarding charter school transition to Common Core?

I’m assuming they are taking a look at the new standards. The problem is that there is no central authority regulating charter schools. We don’t know how they will adapt generally because some charter organizations have one school and others operate a group of schools.

You’ve said new standards won’t matter unless teachers build relationships with students. Should there be training in culturally responsive teaching along with Common Core training?

Yes. However, the culturally sensitive training needs to be imbedded in the Common Core training. Under Common Core, teachers have more flexibility in what texts they use and what writing assignments they give. If teachers provide more culturally relevant instruction in the classroom, that will help them build closer relationships with students. That’s important because students don’t just learn from a teacher, they learn for a teacher.

You’ve been critical of the New Orleans’ school district’s heavy reliance on Teach for America (TFA), saying that the corps of teachers are young, inexperienced and that many don’t stay in the profession. TFA says it’s providing some Common Core training. Generally, do you think there will be any difference in how well TFA-placed teachers adapt to Common Core? 

My experience is that younger teachers will have an easier time adopting the new standards because they are not as wedded to previous standards or they do not have anything to compare to Common Core. They may understand it but I don’t know how well they will teach under the new standards.

The problem is that many don’t appreciate the teacher-student relationship component and many don’t understand the community engagement component. Some are successful and remain in teaching. However, many who are successful leave the profession and those who are not successful early on also leave. I’d like to see it reorganized so that applicants can’t into take part in TFA programs unless they make a commitment to stay in the profession.

Can Common Core help students of color from low-income communities close the achievement gap? If so, how can school districts prepare to make it so?

I think the new standards can be an improvement for low-income students because many have been given boring didactic instruction and have been asked to learn by rote. However, the problem is that many students are behind academically.

Many teachers complain they are having trouble getting some students to read one text. Under Common Core, teachers will be assigning more texts and some teachers fear students will give up. If you don’t use texts that are based on students’ academic levels, you can’t expand their capacity to learn and that means there will an increase in the achievement gap. If teachers, university professors and education researchers develop plans to help those who have fallen behind, they can help prepare more African-Americans for college-level studies. Standards are important but curriculum is the key.

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New Walter “Doc” Hurley Scholarships Announced


HARTFORD — With the generous support from a number of local residents, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is pleased to announce that the new Walter “Doc” Hurley Scholarship Fund for Greater Hartford will be offering a scholarship to an eligible student from the region this year.

Officials said this fund is intended to help continue the proud legacy of the late Walter Hurley who dedicated his life to helping young people achieve their goals.

Several founding donors stepped forward early, providing significant support to ensure that a scholarship could be offered to a student graduating in 2014:  Dr. Stanley Battle, Judy Rozie-Battle, Carl Chadburn, Tom Giardini, Yvette Meléndez and Curtis Robinson.  Due to their collective initial contributions, the fund achieved its minimum threshold and assured that a scholarship would be awarded this year.

“Walter “Doc” Hurley was a vibrant force in Hartford and is deeply missed by the people of this region, said Linda J. Kelly, president of the Hartford Foundation. “As the community foundation of the Hartford region, we are honored to continue Mr. Hurley’s legacy, and are grateful for the outpouring of support from local residents for the new scholarship fund created in his honor.”

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Malloy Meets With White House Staff on Boosting Minimum Wage


WASHINGTON, DC —  Gov.  Dannel P. Malloy on Friday attended a meeting at the White House with Vice President Joseph Biden, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, International President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Mary Kay Henry, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, and others to discuss state-level efforts to raise the minimum wage.

Hartford-MalloyWhiteHousevisitEarlier this month,  Malloy introduced legislation that will increase the state minimum wage to $10.10, mirroring recent national efforts by President Obama and other Congressional leaders to raise the federal minimum wage to that same amount.  The increase would give Connecticut the highest minimum wage in the nation. 

“For too long, the minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living.  As studies have shown, the workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase brought home 46 percent of their household’s total wage and salary income in 2011,” Malloy said.  “When workers earn more money, businesses will have more customers.  This modest boost will help those earning the least to make ends meet.”

In the summer of 2013, Malloy signed a bill into law that increased the state minimum wage in two stages: from $8.25 to $8.70 on January 1, 2014, followed by a second increase to $9.00 that is currently scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015.  The proposal the Governor announced today calls for a slight modification of next year’s increase, bringing the total to $9.15 on January 1, 2015.

Out of Connecticut’s workforce of 1.7 million people, it is estimated that there are currently 70,000 to 90,000 workers who earn the minimum wage.

Malloy is in Washington, DC to participate in the National Governors Association’s 2014 Winter Meeting. The meeting is an opportunity for a bipartisan group of governors to discuss issues affecting states, share innovative solutions, and look for ways to strengthen the state-federal partnership. 

Vice President Joe Biden, shown speaking on right, meets with Democratic governors — including Dannel P. Malloy — on the minimum wage in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Malloy is fourth from the left, with glasses and sitting directly across from Biden. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann).

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Hartford Library to Hold Talk on Black Panthers in Connecticut


HARTFORD –  The Hartford Public Library will present a discussion Sunday afternoon about the role of the Black Panther Party in Connecticut during the 1960s and 1970s.

This Black History Month program will feature Butch Lewis, who was a Hartford resident during this period and active with the Black Panther Party in Connecticut.

“A Conversation with Butch Lewis: The Black Panther Party in Connecticut” is sponsored by the library and Hartford History Center with the cooperation of Connecticut Explored magazine. The discussion will take place in the Center for Contemporary Culture at the downtown library from 1 to 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Veteran journalist Lew Brown will moderate a panel which will include Dr. Stacey Close, associate vice president for equity and diversity at Eastern Connecticut State University, and Dr. Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar, vice provost for diversity at the University of Connecticut.

Connecticut Explored has recently launched a new publication, African American Connecticut Explored, which will be available for purchase.

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