Archive | December, 2014

Borges Resignation Necessary


Saundra Kee Borges is gone from public office—hopefully for good.

Kee Borges announced her resignation this week. She will resign on Jan. 30. The Hartford Guardian is happy about this move.  People who care about Hartford and its ability to attract professionals and other smart consumers should welcome this news as well. editorialbannerthumb

Kee Borges and her nativist cronies sold the idea that people of color cannot govern this 384-year-old city. We hope to see more resignations soon because under Pedro Segarra’s administration there have been several alleged abuses of the rule of law and federal regulations.

On the local level, common sense is missing from some of the decisions from the Office of Corporation Council and his office. For example, slapping court papers on residents and business owners for owing less than $200 in parking tickets is beyond the pale, especially in a city with limited parking.

Kee Borges has been the city’s top lawyer for the last four years. Before that, she was Mayor Pedro Segara’s chief of staff when he took office in June 2010 because former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez was forced to resign after a six-person court found him guilty of alleged corruption. Kee Borges became friends with Segarra’s while they were law students at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Segarra said the office “will continue to operate efficiently” as its leadership changes.

We do believe that Segarra needs to ask more people to resign from office if he really wants City Hall to “operate efficiently.”

Because based on evidence obtained by The Guardian’s staff, we don’t see it operating as such.

In the meanwhile, Deputy Corporation Counsel Henri Alexandre is expected to serve as an interim until the position is filled. We hope he chooses to operate for the good of the entire city rather than operate to serve his personal agendas as Kee Borges did during her tenure.

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Blumenthal: Get Refund for ‘Cramming’


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Customers who have used and are using T-Mobile or At &T phones might be owed money for unauthorized charges.

Recently, both carriers settled with the Federal Communications Commission and 50 states after they were charged for allegedly “mobile cramming,” a term used to add small charges to bills and is akin to “modern-day pickpocketing.”

To settle the allegations, T-Mobile  paid $90 million and AT&T paid $105 million.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, (D-Conn.) and Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel announced the news at the Legislative Office Building on Monday.

Both urge customers to get their refunds.

“Those carriers have been profiting from those false, fraudulent fees to the tune of 30 to 40 cents of every dollar, and that is not only wrong, it’s illegal, and it should produce refunds for consumers,” Blumenthal said. “Ask the carrier, through the website or the phone number … and make the claim for refunds.”

Rosenworcel agreed and said: “It’s fraud, pure and simple.”

According to Blumenthal about one thousands of customers in Connecticut are owed a refund.

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in July  produced a report, saying cramming is widespread. It states that third-party wireless billing “has been a billion dollar industry that has yielded tremendous profits for the four largest wireless carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.”

If you were a T-Mobile customers after July 2010, you can request a free account summary from July 2010 to present. The account summary is available by visiting http://t-mobilerefund.com/billing, or by calling 1-855-382-6403.

AT&T customers can file a claim by visiting http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds/att-refunds.

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Gov. Malloy Taps Woman to be General Counsel


Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday tapped a woman to be his legal counsel.
Karen Buffkin of Lebanon was official appointed today at a press conference in the state Capitol. Malloy made the announcement, saying Buffkin has a long history of helping his administration to become “leaner and more efficient, while ultimately ensuring that it does its best to serve its citizens well.”
Buffkin currently serves as Deputy Secretary in the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, where she worked for about two years. She also served as undersecretary for Legal Affairs beginning in 2011. Her former boss, Ben Barnes called Buffkin a “team player” who has broad experience working in government and as a litigator.
Officials said she has been responsible for playing a key role in preparing the governor’s budget proposals, implementing and monitoring the execution of the adopted budget, drafting budget-related legislation, as well as reviewing regulations and state contracts.
“Throughout my first term in office, I have had the opportunity to work alongside Karen developing policy,” Malloy said.  “Her knowledge and experience will serve her very well in the position as our General Counsel, and I look forward to having her with us in this new capacity.”
Prior to her service with OPM, Buffkin was General Counsel for the state Board of Labor Relations.  She also served for eight years as General Counsel in the Office of the State Comptroller under the leadership of Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, and eight years as Assistant Corporation Counsel and Special Counsel in the City of Hartford.
“I have enjoyed working with Governor Malloy and OPM Secretary Ben Barnes as this administration has reshaped, modernized and addressed the issues facing Connecticut head-on,” Buffkin said.  “I am honored to continue to serve Governor Malloy and the State of Connecticut.”
Buffkin will begin her new position on Jan. 7.

 

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What’s Really Behind Obama’s Cuba Move


By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

There were two big takeaways from President Obama’s Cuban opening. The first is obvious. After 55 years of U.S.-backed invasions, covert efforts to sabotage and overthrow Fidel Castro, an embargo, and a Cold War freeze in diplomatic relations, the U.S. policy toward Cuba has been an abject failure. Raul Castro remains the official government head, and Fidel, is still a presence in Cuban life and a bigger than ever figure internationally. Obama took the logical step that almost certainly would have been taken years ago, except for a politically retrograde GOP and older, politically connected Cuban Americans, and that is to normalize relations with the island.

earl-hutchinsonObama pointed to the obvious when he said the old policies, meaning containment and subversion, didn’t “make sense.” More Cubans are travelling to wherever they can get a visa, political dissent and expression is more open than ever, and there are more private owned businesses and farms in Cuba. While Cuba is still officially a one party-state, Cuban leaders have repeatedly made clear they are committed to real reforms. In an extended visit to Cuba a decade ago, I saw firsthand the changes in tourism, trade, and people-friendly relations in Havana and other cities that I visited.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionGiven that, and the polls that show that a majority of Americans want an end to the embargo, Obama’s move was more a pragmatic than a bold step. Still, the devil is in the details about how quickly there will be full official diplomatic relations, free trade and free exchange of goods, services and technology, a formal lifting of the embargo, foreign investment, travel, and family relations restored between Cubans in the island and those living here.

But the commonsense move to normalize relations is less important than the timing of the move and the domestic political consequences of it.

The prolonged and outdated battering of Cuba was never because it posed any real military or economic threat to the U.S. It was about U.S. domestic politics. Ten presidents before Obama were held hostage to the GOP-Cuban lobby and the fear of being branded soft on Cuba. This was tossed at any president and seen as the political death knell for Democratic presidential contenders. This unremitting hostility has not abated. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, have repeatedly spoken out against any normalization of relations. Rubio was even more strident on the pending thaw, calling it “disgraceful.” All have their eye on a 2016 White House bid. All, as in the past, were playing the anti-Castro card, to the conservative GOP base.

Obama’s Cuba initiative can’t be separated from his escalating defiance of the GOP. In the aftermath of its November mid-term election shellacking, the Democratic Party has been in a desperate search to find its legs. It has been denounced for not fighting back harder on issues from opposition to the Keystone pipeline, the relentless GOP assaults on the Affordable Care Act and the recent budget deal that was stuffed with financial giveaway goodies to Wall Street.

With the White House and even more Senate and Congressional seats on the line in 2016, Obama is still the key to Democratic hopes for a strong comeback. Obama’s willingness to weld the executive pen on immigration reform and a defiant promise to use it whenever and wherever he can to push initiatives that a GOP -controlled House has stymied at every turn is crucial to the party.

Possible 2016 Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders were quick to pick up on the significance of Obama’s Cuba normalization proposals and applaud them. It puts the Democratic Party firmly on record as reversing a failed, flawed policy that’s been an albatross around its neck for decades. Clinton, the presumptive favorite for the Democratic nomination, would be the first official presidential candidate to call for full normalization.

Obama’s Cuba move can’t be considered on the groundbreaking magnitude of Nixon’s China opening or Reagan’s working both sides of the street with the Soviet Union, promoting exchanges between students, scientists, artists, and local officials while proclaiming the avowed intent to bring down the “evil empire.” But it sent a welcome signal that on a thorny foreign policy issue such as Cuba, Obama will not succumb to GOP mania and intimidation. This makes his Cuba opening more than just about Cuba.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: twitter.com/earlhutchinson

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Op-Ed: Eliminate the Connecticut Primary for Lieutenant Governor


Over the past few elections, it has become obvious that Connecticut’s political system is in disrepair.

The Citizens Election Program (CEP), which was set up to make Connecticut’s elections less dependent on so called “corrupt” money, has proven, at least at the gubernatorial level, to be a bust. In 2010, only one candidate met the fund-raising threshold to qualify for public funds, Dannel Malloy, and it took him well over a year to reach the required $250,000.

In 2014, only one Republican, Tom Foley, was able to qualify; and did so after the May Convention. Two Republican candidates for lieutenant governor were able to amass $75,000 in contributions and qualify for public funds. Those Republican lieutenant governor candidates each received $406,275 in taxpayer money.

The McKinney/Walker “Team” (LG candidate, David Walker, did not qualify on his own) and Tom Foley also each received $1,354,250 in taxpayer money for their primary campaigns. This funding tilt towards LG candidates has created a system that betrays the public interest principles that public funding was intended to serve, because it seriously distorts gubernatorial election politics.

If ever a concept has been turned upside down, it is the effect of the public campaign finance laws, in conjunction with party nomination laws, which allow for the individual nomination and taxpayer funding for a lieutenant governor primary — an office with no power other than to preside over the State Senate — to overshadow the primary for nomination of candidates for our most important office, governor.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionPrior to the institution of the Citizens Election Program in 2007, Connecticut saw a lieutenant governor primary on the Democratic side in 2006 and the Republican side in 1986. Since the adoption of the CEP, Connecticut has had more lieutenant primaries in four years  — three — than it had in almost 30 years — two.

Between the 2010 and 2014 elections, the taxpayers of Connecticut spent in excess of $1.5 million feeding the campaign coffers of candidates who were seeking nomination to be lieutenant governor – an office which does not even require full time attendance to complete its one responsibility. Under the current system it is conceivable that Connecticut could have a primary for lieutenant governor and no other office.

The state Constitution requires that the governor and lieutenant governor be elected as a team. As such, political parties should be required to nominate their candidates for governor and lieutenant governor as a team. Should there be a primary, the team should stand together on the primary ballot and those people allowed to vote in the party’s primary should select the team they want to serve as their party’s team.  Individual primaries for lieutenant governor become a distraction to the gubernatorial primary.

The General Assembly must look at this process and change the law on nominations for governor and lieutenant governor. Since these two offices are elected as a team, they should be nominated as a team and, should there be a primary, they should run in the primary as a team. The law must be changed to eliminate the separate nomination of candidates for lieutenant, and require that each person seeking his or her party’s nomination for governor name a lieutenant governor candidate.

In 2018, there will undoubtedly be multiple candidates for governor on the Republican side and, should Gov. Malloy choose not to seek reelection, multiple candidates on the Democratic side.

Without a change, in addition to numerous candidates for governor seeking taxpayer money to run in a primary (today that amount is in excess of $1.3 million per candidate and will be more in 2018) there will assuredly be numerous candidates seeking funds to run in the lieutenant governor primary. (Today that amount is in excess of $400,000 per candidate.)

Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for multiple candidates to run a primary campaign to be the nominee to the office of lieutenant governor.

Connecticut needs a better system and the answer is as simple as it is clear. Change the nomination rules to require that each candidate for governor choose a candidate for his or her lieutenant and then that “ticket” would receive a single grant from the Citizens Election Program to run its primary campaign.

Only the General Assembly can make that change, and it is time that the General Assembly undertake that change, and, in fact, review the entire nomination process, and make changes which will ensure that Connecticut voters have clear and uncluttered choices for the most important offices in our state.

Ben Proto served as counsel and chief counsel to the Connecticut House Republicans from 1987 – 1996;was Republican Town Chairman in Stratford from 1996 – 2000 and was the Connecticut coordinator for John McCain in 2000 and 2008.

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National School Choice Week Set for January 2015


HARTFORD — National School Choice Week 2015 will officially begin on Jan. 23 with an official kickoff in Jacksonville, Florida.

Supporters of school choice have planned more than 10,000 events to “raise awareness about the importance of greater opporuntiies in K-12 education,” organizers said. There will be more than 100 events in Greater Hartford and New Haven area.

The events are timed to coincide with National School Choice Week 2015, which runs from Jan.  25 – 31.

Events, which are independently planned and independently funded, will include information sessions, roundtable discussion, movie screenings, rallies and other special events.

The goal of National School Choice Week is to shine a positive spotlight on all types of effective education options for children, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, homeschooling, private schools, and online academies, organizers said.

According to President of National School Choice Week Andrew Campanella, “the growth in enthusiasm for school choice can be attributed to simple supply and demand.”

“More American families than ever before are actively choosing the best educational environments for their children, which has galvanized millions of additional parents – those without options ­– to demand greater choices for their own children,” Campanella said. “National School Choice Week will feature both of those themes, providing a platform for people to celebrate school choice where it exists and demand it where it does not.”

National School Choice Week started as an annual celebration in 2011, with 150 events.

For more information, visit www.schoolchoiceweek.com/press

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Jeb’s Real Challenge Comes from His Own Party


By  La Opinión

Editors of La Opinión write that the real challenge Jeb Bush will face will come from his own party.Jeb Bush’s announcement that he would form an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run puts him at the top of what will be a long list of contendors for the White House. The former governor of Florida holds moderate positions on issues that many conservatives oppose. He supports the Common Core program in schools, and has recognized the contributions of undocumented immigrants.the-hartford-guardian-OpinionA  Jeb Bush presidential run would be attractive for the Latino voter, wroite editors of La Opinión. Be it his familiarity with the culture —his wife is Mexican— or some of his political views. However, the litmus test for a majority of Latinos will be whether he will extend Obama’s executive actions on immigration, or will he support eliminating the protection against deportation — and the separation of millions of families.But the real challenge for Jeb Bush, editors write, is how to win a Republican primary that is dominated by the most conservative voters. His dilemma is how a moderate on education and immigration issues can gain the support of his own party.

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State Police: Cruiser Hit by Another Vehicle on I-91


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — While parked in the breakdown lane on I-91 on Friday, a state police cruiser was struck by another vehicle, police said.

According to reports,  a Nissan Altima was traveling in the left lane until it reached slowing traffic at about 5 p.m.. It then swerved right near at Exit 33.

The driver, Elmarie Aviles, hit the driver’s side door of a car on her right, police said.

Aviles struck another vehicle in the right center lane and then slid across three lanes into the breakdown lane, where it struck the police cruiser, police said.

The state trooper, who was sitting in his cruiser at the time, was not seriously injured. However,  other people suffered minor injuries, police said.

Aviles was issued an infraction for traveling too fast for conditions and failure to move over when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle.

She then over-corrected, causing her car to veer and strike another vehicle in the right center lane. Aviles’ car then slid across three lanes into the

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Barnes Announces Salary Cuts


HARTFORD —  Several of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s appointees will be getting cuts to thier salaries.

Secretary Ben Barnes announced on Friday that salary changes have been approved for appointed officials who serve in Malloy’s administration, namely heads of agencies, their deputies and the governor’s staff.

“For the last four years, most appointed officials have not seen their salary change as they have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Connecticut families,” Barnes said. “ To do that our salaries must remain competitive with those of other states and the private sector.”

Funding for the increases was included in the state budget that took effect July 1. They are expected to cost the state approximately $1.4 million annually and affect about 200 officials.

Unionized state employees received a 3 percent increase in July and also receive annual increments as provided in their contracts.

Managerial employees received salary increases of 3 percent in August, and they will receive merit increases earned under the state’s Performance Assessment and Recognition System in January.

 

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Connecticut Offers Reward for Hartford Homicide


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The state has authorized money to help solve the mystery of who killed Timothy Coleman, a father and husband gunned down in the streets of Hartford in 2009.

At the request of State’s Attorney Gail P. Hardy, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy allocated the money this week. As a result, the state will offer $50,000 to anyone with information leading to an arrest and conviction in Coleman’s death.

On Sept. 2, 2009, Police, who were called to the area of 102 Edgewood St. in Hartford to investigate a report of shots being fired. Coleman, 38, was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He died later that evening from his wounds.

Officials said that an investigation by the Hartford Police Department has not developed sufficient information to make an arrest and investigators feel the reward may lead to a successful conclusion of the investigation.

Tim’s wife, Carlene, pleads that anyone with information in any way about the case, come forward and contact the police.

She told FOX news that  “it is not about being a so-called “snitch”, but instead doing the right thing for the family of a good man and allowing Tim to finally rest in peace.”

Anyone with information about this homicide  is asked to contact Hartford Police Detective Christopher May at (860) 757-4145. Tips also may be left anonymously at (860) 722-8477.

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