Archive | March, 2014

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Play Features Trinidadian Activist Gene Miles


HARTFORD — Direct from Port-of-Spain in Trinidad, Lordstreet Theatre Company’s production of Miss Miles: The Woman of the World will be performed at the Austin Arts Center at Trinity College.

Performances of Miss Miles are free and open to the public. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. from April 24 through 26.

Written and directed by Tony Hall, Miss Miles is a dramatization of the brief life of Gene Miles, a flamboyant fashionista and conscientious civil servant in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, who caused a court inquiry into that government’s “gas station racket” in the 1960s. The whistleblower lost her job. For some, she has become a symbol of integrity in the civic life of Trinidad.

The one-person play stars Cecilia Salazar as Gene, summoned “from the world beyond” by the audience. Salazar has won nine Cacique Awards from the National Drama Association of Trinidad and Tobago, a record for an actor. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

Miss Miles, which opened to critical and popular acclaim in October 2011 in Port-of-Spain, marks the third Lordstreet Theatre production to be presented at Trinity College. In spring 1998, Lordstreet brought Jean and Dinah… Speak Their Minds Publicly by Tony Hall, and that fall, The Dragon Can’t Dance by Trinidadian author Earl Lovelace.

Running time is approximately two hours. For information, call 860-297-2199 or visit www.trincoll.edu.

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Choose One America: Obamacare or Reparations


By Ann-Marie Adams

With only one day left to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, opponents are still removing logic and common sense from arguments that tout the ACA as unsound. Basically, they don’t want to subsidize insurance premiums for Americans on the government exchange.

This debate, seen as another attempt to gut the law, comes weeks after the Congressional Budget Office released a report that says the ACA, or Obamacare, would nix 2.3 million jobs. According to some, this would shake the foundation of the American economy.  Most recently, a divided federal appeals judge said it was “an unmitigated disaster.”

Really?

Dr_AnnMarie_AdamsBefore we move into hyperbole, we should examine the drawn-out brouhaha (more than 50 attempts to repeal it) over the ACA in an uncomfortable context.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionThe health care law, otherwise known as Obamacare, allows uninsured people—mostly poor whites, the elderly and people of color—access to health insurance. The main arguments against it are that universal healthcare—found in other developed countries, is too costly for America—the richest nation on the planet. And Americans will become lazy and work less because they have access to healthcare.

Sounds ludicrous? It is.

But I would urge some opponents of universal healthcare to consider the life of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman whose cells were taken without her consent and then used to develop cures for polio, vitro fertilization and other vital scientific breakthroughs in science.

This fascinating topic was recently discussed at the Avon Free Public Library. Two of the Lacks family members participated in the discussion. The series offered an opportunity to explore not just health, ethics and race but the healthcare industry itself.

For more than 60 years, the healthcare industry made billions from Lacks’ cells. And today the Lacks family still wonders why their mother’s immortal cells did so much for science, and they can’t afford health insurance. After all, some in the Lacks family argue, their mother’s He-La cells benefited “the whole world and all they got was her Bible and medical records.”

The story of Henrietta Lacks’ immortal cells is both amazing and unsettling. And the question of how race played into her healthcare is not difficult for some of us to answer. That’s because we know that race is a central theme in America. And it is well established that race affects healthcare delivery and outcomes.

This is not an attempt at what some people would call “race hustling.” It’s about highlighting certain facts in American history. I’m aware that many Americans have not studied U.S. history. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us who did should acquiesce to them.

Consider this: In 1951, a scientist at Johns Hopkins took slices of the woman’s tumor and decided to grow them, so he could “figure out the causes of cancer.” This is long after doctors found a dime-size tumor on her cervix. They kept sending her home until she protested and begged for admittance, so she could be treated. By then, her body was riddled with cancer.

UnknownThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a book based on the Lacks family, details the encounter.  And people are rightfully asking whether this family is owed something for thier contribution to humankind. This is a good conversation to have amid the tired healthcare debate over whether to repeal Obamacare.

I think giving access to healthcare for the Lacks family and others in similar situations should be favorable over reparations. At least, this is one way of looking at it. Or perhaps it’s time Americans opposed to Obamacare choose: universal healthcare or reparations?

Some would argue for both.

Interestingly and ironically, the same argument used for not paying reparations has been used in the Lacks family’s case. Many are quick to offer statements and questions like: It’s impossible to calculate how much money is owed. Those who did the crime did their time on earth and died. And who would pay?

In both cases, the consequences of those past actions by individuals and institutions still linger. The Lacks story, among many, illustrates the need for universal healthcare in America.

Americans should consider universal healthcare as a human rights issue, or think of universal healthcare as payback for all the historical wrongs done not just to the Lacks family for “the good of humankind” but to all those other wrongs done in the name of science.

The most famous one in public memory is the Tuskegee Syphilis study, which began in 1932 and ran until 1972. In this study, the United States Public Health Service conducted an experiment in watching black men died from syphilis. The doctors didn’t tell these men they had syphilis. And they didn’t get healthcare. This story, like many, illustrates black oppression and medical neglect.

The Tuskegee case is more prominent, however, because it happened to black men. But there are other lesser-known atrocities, which happened to black women. Besides the Lacks case, we have the notorious J. Marion Sims, the so-called father of gynecology who used enslaved African women as experimental subjects.

These stories are known because the records exist. And unless we want to have more reasons to dig up America’s past medical atrocities, we should perhaps silence the chatter about repealing Obamacare.

If talk about a repeal of Obamacare persists, we should juxtapose that discussion with a public debate about reparations.

I’m so ready for that.

Dr. Ann-Marie Adams is the founder of The Hartford Guardian. Follow her on twitter @annmarieadams.

Photo: Ann-Marie Adams/The Hartford Guardian: ( l to r): Shirley Lacks, Victoria Baptiste, Dr. Robbin Smith.

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Hartford Moves Closer to Open Government


HARTFORD –– Hartford is moving closer to being an open government.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra on Thursday released an executive order mandating all city departments to publish raw government data on the city’s website.

Under this order the Chief Information Officer is charged with managing and updating the information regularly. To kick off the effort, twenty data sets will be released in the next several months including financial, budget, assessors, tax, grand list, and health and human services information, Segarra said.

In the past, uninformed city workers would stall access to data by asking for a FOIA request and charging excessive fees.

“This is about far more than transparency,” Segarra said. “Opening the door to public information makes our services easier to access, our city departments more efficient, and our collaborations with strategic partners more effective. Sharing data allows residents to understand how government works and gives them a chance to play a more active role in it.”

Read the Executive Order No. 2014-1 .

“Mayor Segarra has made this such a priority, and I’m excited to play a role in modernizing the way our information is shared,” said Sabina Sitaru, Director of MetroHartford Information Services. “Open data exponentially increases the resources available to study how the City works, it encourages public engagement but it also drastically decreases the time it takes to gather information internally.”

To implement the online portal the City of Hartford has signed a contract with Socrata, Inc. The open data will include maps, charts, graphs and it will integrate with the City’s enterprise Geographic Information System (GIS). The data will not include any personal or private records or any other personally identifiable information.

The Open Data Management Team will present its first report to the Mayor within 6 months and then yearly progress reports thereafter. Aligning with the State of Connecticut, Hartford is the first municipality to establish an Open Data Portal.

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First Black Elected State Treasurer Dies


HARTFORD — Gerald Lamb, the nation’s first black state treasurer, has died. He was 89.

A native of Waterbury, CT, Lamb served two terms as Connecticut’s treasurer from 1963 to 1970. And he later served as Banking Commissioner.

He was also in the US Navy for more than three years, became General Manager of Waterbury Dental Laboratories, Vice President and Secretary of Meadow Homes, INC., and Senior Vice President of Connecticut Bank & Trust Company, Bank of New England Corp.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released this statement:

WV0095107-image-2_20140325“He broke barriers not only in our state, but also in our nation at a time when civil rights were being heavily debated in communities across the country,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement. “Our condolences go out to his family and friends.”

Other state officials echoed this sentiment.

“We are grateful for his service to the people of Connecticut, and for his leadership that helped make us a stronger and more diverse state and nation,” said Lt. Governor Wyman.  “My thoughts are with his family and friends during this sad time.”

A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, March 28, at Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home, Kempsville Chapel in Virginia. He will be buried atOak Bluffs Cemetery in Oak Bluffs, MA at a later date.

Photo Courtesy of the Lamb family.

 

 

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Scholarships Available for Migrant Students


WASHINGTON, DC —  Five migrant/seasonal farmworker college students will be selected to live and work in D.C. for an intensive eight week internship and professional mentoring program. The goal is to provide life altering experiences and networks to help students make the intellectual, cognitive, and emotional transition from agricultural life to that of a professional.

Instead of youth working in the fields harvesting fruits or vegetables in the sweltering summer heat, they will live with host families, be placed in positions from the Department of Agriculture or the National Education Association, to the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, or Farmworker Justice. They will all be overseen by the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association.

The goal of Migrant Seasonal Head Start is to prepare children to enter school ready to learn. Born 49 years ago from a desire to remove as many obstacles to academic success as possible, President Johnson created Head Start in 1965, as part of his War on Poverty. In 2014, President Obama reaffirmed the value of Head Start by providing 8.8 billon dollars to extend Head Start opportunities for America’s vulnerable children. This internship is a capstone to those investments.

 

“Every child needs a helping hand and a mentor. Professionally, we all had someone help us get where we are today,” states Cleo Rodriguez, Jr., Executive Director of NMSHSA. “NMSHSA is proud to continue extending our hand to students from across our great nation. We hope our investment will impact the lives, goals, and dreams of our interns and in turn we hope these new professionals will impact the lives of countless other migrant and seasonal youth in years to come!”

 

The selected farmworker students must be former Migrant/Seasonal Head Start children (The Office of Head Start serves three divergent populations: Regional Head Start, Native American Head Start, and Migrant/Seasonal Head Start.), be enrolled in college, and come from a family that is, or has, worked the agricultural fields of America.

 

We recognize the many obstacles of being both a migrant/seasonal farmworker and a college student. Therefore, the youth we are targeting are those who will benefit the greatest from the structure and potential of this opportunity. Our paid internship offers: stipends, on-the-job training, networking opportunities, professional skills development, leadership development and personal/professional mentoring from consummate D.C. professionals, many of whom are also former farm workers.

 

Despite entering our third program year, we already count great success as donations and sponsorships have increased to double the possible number of interns, and previous participants have earned year long fellowships, and continued toward both master and PhD’s.

 

2014 applications are available at nmshsaonline.org and are due no later than 5 pm EST on March 31, 2014.

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Obama Nominates CT Lawyer to Serve as U.S. Attorney


WASHINGTON, DC — President Obama recently nominated Deirdre M. Daly  to serve as U.S. Attorney.

Daly has served as the First Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Connecticut since 2010 and as the Acting United States Attorney since May 2013.

Previously, Daly was a partner with the Connecticut law firm Daly & Pavlis LLC from 2001 to 2010 and with the New York law firm Gage & Pavlis from 1997 to 2001.

She also served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1985 to 1997.

Obama’s nominations are subject to confirmation by the Senate.

 

 

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FUNdraising Good Times: Six Things To Do as a Board Member


By Mel and Pearl Shaw

Calling all nonprofit board members: Do you sometimes wonder what value you bring to the nonprofits you serve? Do you wish you were more engaged, or that “they” took more advantage of the talents you bring to the board? We have the solution for you: take initiative! Don’t wait for someone to ask you to get involved.

Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw

Here are six things you can do between now and the next board meeting to energize yourself and your fellow board members. Choose one or more that sounds like fun to you. Each can help engage new supporters, increase awareness and raise money. These tips work if you are involved with university, a grassroots organization, or any size nonprofit in-between.

First, write a thank you note or personally call a donor to thank them for their gift. Allocate five minutes for the conversation. Ask what encouraged them to give and what attracts them to your organization. Listen. Respond to any questions they may have. Thank them again.

Second, invite a potential supporter to visit the organization’s facilities and observe its programs. Agree on a date and time to meet at the nonprofit and tour together. Request that a staff member join you – one who can share information and answer questions.

Third, visit staff members to get to know them and ask “what can I do to help?” Follow through on what you learn.

Fourth, have lunch with a fellow board member to discuss how the two of you can work together to increase awareness or raise funds. Hatch a plan that can be implemented without staff involvement. Follow through on your ideas.

Fifth, make arrangements to speak before a local organization to share information about your nonprofit. It could be your church, the rotary, or your book club. Keep your comments brief and engaging.

 

Sixth, host a small fundraising event. Invite a few close friends and associates to your home or office for coffee or an evening glass of wine. Spend five minutes sharing information about the nonprofit you serve and ask each guest to make a gift equal to or greater than your gift.

 Before implementing these suggestions, take a moment to identify the three things you want to communicate about why you give your time and talent to serve on the board. Share these in conversation or through your presentation. Let people know you are accessible if they have questions in the future, or if they want to get involved. Share your contact information. Bring a simple brochure to share.

Anyone of these activities will extend the reach of your nonprofit. They will energize you. You will have something new to report at the next board meeting. Don’t wait for someone to “assign” you to a task. Jump in!

Mel and Pearl Shaw position nonprofits, colleges and universities for fundraising success. For help with your campaign visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.

 

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Hartford PPSNE to Help With ACA Enrollment


HARTFORD —  With about a week left in the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England will be offering opportunities for city residents to get new health insurance before the March 31 deadline.

Planned Parenthood certified application specialists will be hosting Affordable Care Act Education & Enrollment Fairs to help residents get covered. Additionally, two dedicated Outreach and Enrollment Specialists are scheduling private appointments with Connecticut residents, so they may sign up for new health insurance.

“With the enrollment deadline less than two weeks away, Planned Parenthood is resolute in our efforts to help as many uninsured women and men obtain health insurance as possible,” said Judy Tabar President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “Preventive services are expanded under Obamacare and women can no longer be discriminated against for having a preexisting condition. The new health care law ensures women can take charge of their health and well-being and PPSNE experts are here to make that process easier.”

Expanded preventive services include birth control, which is now treated like all other preventive care, meaning it is available without a co-pay. Ninety-nine percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some point, and nearly 60 percent of women who take the birth control pill use it for medical reasons other than contraception, such as treatment for ovarian cysts, hormone replacement after chemotherapy, endometriosis and more. Birth control is just one example of the many benefits provided under the ACA.

Certified application counselors will help people sign up for new health insurance on the following dates and Planned Parenthood locations:

Monday, March 31, 10:30 AM – 6:30 PM

Hartford North Health Center

1229 Albany Avenue

Hartford, CT 06112

Saturday, March 29, 11 AM – 4 PM

New Haven Administrative Office

345 Whitney Avenue

New Haven, CT 0651

Wednesday, March 26, 4 – 7 PM

Bridgeport Health Center

211 State Street

Bridgeport, CT 06604

Tuesday, March 25, 4 – 7:30 PM

Torrington Health Center

249 Winstead Road

Torrington, CT 06790

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Believe the Hype Against Obamacare; Sign Up for Insurance


If you are uninsured and live in the Greater Hartford area, all roads should lead to Community Health Services on Albany Avenue to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.

Don’t believe the hype against so-called Obamacare. That’s because your insurance premium could be less than $100. And if you are eligible for Medicaid, your insurance premium could definitely be $0.

editorialbannerthumbAt this point, responsible individuals would have done research and found out the facts for themselves before they let people give them all kinds of cock and bull stories. And check this out: The people who are discouraging, or sabotaging other people’s effort to sign up, have insurance themselves. Yes, people. They have insurance.

If you want to be covered by health insurance this year, the deadline to sign up is March 31. Appointments are available for next week. If you miss this deadline, you have to wait until November to sign up for the following year. But for now, any individual could try the service for one year and judge for herself whether there are drawbacks to being on this particular insurance. Duh!

For many, it takes less than 30 minutes, with the help of a staff person, to sign up. And it’s best to go before crunch time because even now the state’s website, accesshealthct.com, occasionally malfunctions. And CHS workers and others have to call in to AccessHealthCT to sort out kinks in the system.

To date, more than 5 million people across the nation have enrolled.  And in Connecticut, more than 160,000 have enrolled, surpassing the state’s targeted goal of 100,000.  We can only think more people are not enrolled because anemic strategies have been employed to reach the people who need the insurance the most.

That’s unfortunate.

But with 10 days left to go, uninsured people should embrace the unknown and sign up today. With uncertainty, it is indeed better to be safe than sorry. And as we have seen on numerous occasions, ignorance coupled with an unexpected medical condition, can be extremely expensive.

Get to it.

 

 

 

 

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Officials Urge Sign Ups for Insurance


HARTFORD — Gov.  Dannel P. Malloy and L.t Gov. Nancy Wyman on Thursday made a final push to get more Connecticut residents signed up for health insurance.

Both Malloy and Wyman asked leaders of Connecticut’s faith community to talk with their congregants this weekend, in advance of the final week of open enrollment for Access Health CT.

“Connecticut is leading the nation when it comes to providing residents with affordable health care.  In fact, other states are now beginning conversations on how to adopt our model because of the tremendous work being done by Access Health CT,” Malloy said in a release to the press.  “With the final weekend approaching, I am asking leaders of our faith community to talk with their members about not letting this opportunity pass them by.  Obtaining health care is too important, and the more people that sign up, the better off all of us will be.”

Wyman, who heads the AccessCT Health Commission said signing up for health insurance is easy on the state’s website.

To date, Access Health has enrolled 165,091 residents since its launch on October 1, 2013.

In a letter to the faith community send in February, Chief Executive Officer of Access Health CT Kevin Counihan said, “With the end of the open enrollment session fast approaching, we want to make sure that every Connecticut resident in need of health care coverage is aware that the deadline to enroll is March 31, 2014. I hope that you will take advantage of one of the many options available to you, such as enrollment fairs and retail stores.”

All consumer support is free, and provided by people who have been trained and certified by Access Health CT.

For a listing of these fairs click here: http://learn.accesshealthct.com/events/

Residents can continue to compare plans and shop for coverage online at:www.accesshealthct.com or call 1‐855‐805-HEALTH (4325) to speak with an AHCT representative.

A list of upcoming enrollment fairs and a link to locate an in-person assister are available at http://learn.accesshealthct.com.

 

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