Archive | January, 2015

Commish Questions Walmart’s Check Cashing Business


HARTFORD — Connecticut Commissioner of Revenue Services Kevin Sullivan said on Friday that income tax check cashing being offered at some Walmart stores for the first time this year is “just a way to lure taxpayers into spending at Walmart the minute they get their hard-earned refunds.”

As a result, Sullivan’s office contacted Wal-Mart to determine whether this is happening in Connecticut and, if so, under what terms and conditions.

According to its corporate website, Walmart has made a deal with Green Dot Corporation’s Tax Products Group and with Republic Bank & Trust Company so that the big-box retailer can cash in on taxpayer refunds of up to $7,500.  Jackson Hewitt already contracts with Walmart to sell tax preparation centers at store sites, including the tie-in of a $50 Walmart gift card.

The “Direct2Cash” marketing scheme targets low and middle income taxpayers – especially those receiving federal and state Earned Income Tax credits.  For an additional $7 fee at the time of tax preparation and filing, refunds are directed to Wal-Mart’s “banking” partners instead of being mailed directly to taxpayers.

Taxpayers must pick-up their refunds in cash at a store-based Walmart Money Center or customer service desk.  Then, Sullivan said, “It’s welcome to Wal-Mart and good-bye refund.  While pretending to help otherwise bankless taxpayers, Walmart is really just helping itself to turn tax refunds into immediate store sales.”

Additionally, Walmart requires taxpayers to have a “confirmation code” to pick up their refund. Some codes expire in as little as two weeks, which requires taxpayers to return to their preparer and arrange a different refund method.

Sullivan said this is just one more reason why the Department of Revenue Services will also be examining standards and practices for tax preparers.

 

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In Living Color’s Tommy Davidson to Perform in CT


By Candice Dodd, Staff Writer

An actor, singer and stand-up comedian, Tommy Davidson is a force to be reckon with in the entertainment industry.
Known for his role in the hit series comedy show, In Living Color and the voice of “Oscar Proud” for the Disney cartoon series, The Proud Family, Davidson was made into a household name overnight. The international star will make his way to Manchester for his upcoming show at the Funny Bone Comedy Club on Feb. 5.
This is not Davidson’s first time at the club when he visited a year ago.

“I have a unique experience with the club because I was locked in during a snow storm,” says Davidson with a laugh during a telephone interview with The Hartford Guardian.
With plunging temperatures in the upcoming week, fans will get a hot performance from the star as he does his famous impersonations of Sylvester Stallone and myriad of other actors. “I will do some by request,” he says.
When asked about the start of his career before comedy, Davidson admits that singing was truly his passion.
“Singing was something I always wanted to do,” he says firmly over the phone.
Diving into comedy, Davidson explains that he was at a gentleman’s club with a friend during his early years and was told to go on stage and crack some jokes.
“My friend always thought I was funny,” he says. His guest appearance that night did lead his way to further his career.
As a standup comedian in the late 1980s, he performed in various comedy clubs throughout the Washington Metropolitan region and was recognized by local talent promoters who booked him as the opening act for big stars such as Patti Labelle, Kenny G, and Luther Vandross.
Davidson’s career was taking off big time and it didn’t stop there when he landed a role in the hit show In Living Color that aired in the early 90’s and also won a Primetime Emmy award in 1990.
When asked if the show led him to Hollywood, “Absolutely,” says Davidson. “It was the breakthrough of my life.” He spent his days working alongside other stars such as, Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans performing a variety of humorous skits, music, and dancing.
He is currently working on a biopic called, Deconstructing Sammy, based off the book by author Matt Birkbeck about the life and death of Sammy Davis, Jr. He is also working on television shows, comedy specials and his musical career.
While the talented father is working on “raising his kids” and traveling across the globe, he will win the hearts of many on Thursday night for his fascinating talent and down-to-earth character when he hits the stage on Feb. 5.

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New Haven Man Busted for Violating State Ethics


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  A Mental Health and Addiction Services employee was busted for violating the state’s code of ethics when he used state money and time to do his own business, according to state officials.

State officials said Jason Spann of New Haven violated the Code of Ethics used the state’s resources to operate his own clinical services business.

He was fined $$3,500 by the Enforcement Division of the Office of State Ethics. He was fired for another  related personnel action, officials said.

From 2010 through 2014, while a state employee, Spann owned and operated a clinical services business.  During this time period, Spann utilized state resources, including his state-issued computer and state-provided e-mail account, in order to conduct his private business, according to officials.

Additionally, the investigation revealed that Spann also used another state employee to perform tasks related to his private practice, while using state resources on state time and being paid by the state.

Under the  Code of Ethics, a public official or state employee is prohibited from using state resources to obtain personal financial or other gains.

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Former US Sailor Rocks Boat with Federal Lawsuit


By Aatif Ali Bokhari, Muslim Observer
Being a US sailor allowed Jonathan Berts a chance to travel around the world and study Arabic and Islam, but he says his commitment to faith resulted in mistreatment and an unfair dismissal.

The nine-year veteran filed a federal lawsuit last month in Sacramento for being illegally denied his right to reenlist in 2012 due to his keeping a beard for religious reasons.

The trouble started not long after Berts began keeping the beard. “I didn’t think anything of it. It was just me growing in my knowledge and having a better awareness of Islam. I thought it was necessary to grow a beard so I began doing so,” he said.

Berts had kept a beard earlier in his career for medical reasons; his commitment to the navy was not questioned then. It was only after receiving encouragement from Muslim chaplains to embrace “his faith outwardly as a Muslim” that the 2nd petty class officer said the mistreatment started.

The military allows for beards to be kept at the discretion of commanding officers. His request and appeal for permission were denied, reported the Los Angeles Times.

“Before I grew a beard nobody asked any questions. They would ask why I began wearing a beard, and I said that I wanted to live openly as a Muslim. I started praying and fasting regularly as well.”

Berts had a middling rank and was trusted with being a teacher of military history and a boot camp
instructor in the Chicago area. He was also a fourth generation member of the military, a source of pride for him. He was shocked by what he said happened next.

“The line of questioning from my seniors was inappropriate. They started asking me my ideas about the constitution and about Osama bin laden. They started asking me if I knew who Nidal Malik Hasan was, the guy who killed 13 people at Fort Hood. They stared making jokes at my expense – winking and smiling, smirking. They called me a towel head and the n-word. They tried to associate me with bad people.”

“I was put in charge of supervising an abandoned building. There were mice running around and no running water at times. Lots of times I saw cockroaches. The last six months of my time were pretty crappy,” said Berts. A video shared by Berts with News 10 ABC appeared to confirm the dismal condition of the building he was tasked with guarding.

“It’s definitely new ground,” said Brice Hamack, a civil rights coordinator with CAIR’s northern California office. “Our co-counsel, Alan Reinach, the executive director of Church State Counsel, thinks it’s a strong case and is definitely achievable. Jon approached Alan first and Alan thought to involve CAIR.”

“I think people are really afraid to come forward, so I can only guess that such a situation is more widespread. We’ve only had a few soldiers come forward, often due to fears that their situation could quickly spin out of control,” he added, noting that due to the preliminary state of the lawsuit Berts’ alleged opponents could not be named at this time.

Berts explained that he had originally tried to work within the military system that allowed soldiers to put in complaints to their commanding officer. Berts said that he submitted paperwork. Unfortunately for him he said the paperwork had to go through the person calling him names. He also tried to make his complaint through an “equal opportunity advisor”. This civilian role is supposed “to encourage diversity,” explained Berts. “The person is a civilian outside the chain of command. However, I complained to him about five times regarding my treatment, but each time the paperwork mysteriously disappeared.”

Berts said that in my final evaluation he received a poor report. “People said that I was making a lot of noise and trouble. The final evaluation was more or less the final nail in my active duty career. I was denied reenlistment.” Since then the high-school graduate has been trying to find work and is studying property management.

“Whenever someone comes to us with a claim we want to see some evidence,” said Hamack. “The biggest thing Jonathan showed us was cell phone video of the building he was forced to be in.

Based on the evidence he gave us we felt it was substantial that he had a case. I think if the military thought he was a horrible person then why would he be put in a position of training recruits?”

The former naval officer has no intention of shaving off his beard or otherwise capitulating to bigotry.

“I’ve had two friends that gave their lives in Iraq, and they were Muslims. There are many Muslims who have died. You pray with them, you eat with them. At Friday prayers in Kuwait we’d have 20 to 30 guys. Especially in the last 10 years the military has made an effort to hire Muslims as cultural ambassadors, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq.

“Islam doesn’t equal being a terrorist. Islam is about ordinary people trying to live their lives according to what is correct.

“There are six million Muslims living in America and they are just trying to go about their lives.
“The story of Islam in America goes back hundreds of years. We’re not going anywhere.”

 

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Police Arrest Hartford Man for Operating Drug Factory


Ann-Marie Mesquita, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — A Hartford man was arrested for allegedly operating a drug factory in  his Southend apartment.

Police said that on Jan. 21, narcotic agents found about 1,500 feet of stash stashed in  Josiah Pinault’s apartment.

Pinault, 35, of 191 and 193 Jefferson St. in Hartford was arrested for narcotics as well as criminal possession of firearm,  possession of controlled substance and among other charges, operating a drug factory.

Through ongoing covert investigations, detectives were able to obtain information that there was firearm and narcotics “stashed” inside the apartment., police said.

After they searched the apartment interior, they found an illegal firearm, heroin, marijuana, and packaging material.

Police said Pinault had 19 previous arrests in Hartford and is a convicted felon.

 

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School Choice Begins in Connecticut


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  School Choice Week starts on Monday in Connecticut and across America.

From now until Jan.  31, there will be 153 school choice events across the state.

The events are part of National School Choice Week, which will feature 11,082 events across America – the largest celebration of educational opportunity in US history. In Hartford, several educators plan to discuss the future of North End schools on Jan. 31 at Liberty Christian Center at 9: 30 a.m.

The event is sponsored by Achieve Hartford!, African Caribbean American Parents of Children with Disabilities, Hartford Parent University, Daughters of Eve, and the Blue Hills Civic Association.

School Choice Week events in Connecticut include open houses, information sessions, policy roundtable discussions and more – planned by schools, organizations, homeschool groups and individuals.

“Connecticut families have choices when it comes to where to send their children to school, and National School Choice Week provides an opportunity for families to look into the options available to them, and, if they feel they want greater opportunities — to have their voices heard,” said  Andrew R. Campanella, president, National School Choice Week

Officials said the goal of the events is to inform parents about the K-12 education options available for their children, while raising awareness of the benefits providing families with a variety of different options for their children’s education.

Connecticut cities with the most events will also be in  New Haven,  Bridgeport,  and Waterbury.

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CT Drivers Get Extension on Renewing Licenses


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — In wake of the severe snow storm set to blanket the state, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday announced an order that will allow drivers an extension of renewing thier driver’s licenses.

The governor’s action covers expiration dates and periods of validity for motor vehicle registrations, licenses, permits, certificates and other forms of credentials issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles and runs through Jan. 30.  This also covers emissions test late fees, officials said.

Malloy said that it is understandable that residents may not be able to meet certain DMV-related deadlines and expiration dates if they are impacted by the storm.”

The extension period runs from Jan. 24, when a snow storm shuttered DMV offices, to midnight on Jan. 30.

On Jan. 31, all required late fees and penalties will resume.

The Department of Motor Vehicles also announced today that all knowledge and road skills tests for license applicants are canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan. 27 and 28) due to storm conditions.

To reschedule a test, residents are asked to visit http://ct.gov/dmv/qsc and enter their personal identification number and then follow the instructions.

 

  • Knowledge Test – Customers should wait for an e-mail from DMV regarding then cancelation, then visit http://ct.gov/dmv/qsc, enter their personal identification number and then follow the instructions.
  • Road Test – Customers should call 860-263-5700 within the Hartford area and those outside the Hartford area can call toll-free at 800-842-8222. DMV will also be contacting customers with appointments.

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Connecticut Braces for Winter Storm Juno


By Ann-Marie Mesquita, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Winter Storm Juno is on its way and it’s expected to pack a punch for the Northeast.

Weather forecasters are predicting white out conditions and potentially record-breaking snowfall for Connecticut and other states along the coast for Monday and Tuesday. More than a foot of snow is slated for the nutmeg state.

Earlier on Monday, Gov. Dan Malloy declared a travel ban after 9 p.m. in the state. Malloy is asking residents to be prepared and take precautions for the blizzard that will blanket the state beginning Monday at about 7 p.m. and continue until Wednesday afternoon.

“Although storms can be unpredictable, this storm has the potential to have a significant impact on the state and we need to be prepared,” Malloy said. “Just as the state is monitoring and preparing, the public should do the same.”

Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora B. Schriro said that the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is monitoring this storm “very closely and is prepared to coordinate any potential state response.”
DEMHS is also participating in National Weather Service conference calls to get the latest information on the storms track and is sending out regular updates to all municipalities and tribal nations, officials said.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation officials said it will have its entire fleet of snow plows, including 12 loader-mounted snow blowers, prepared to deploy. The residual road treatment from the previous weekend storm will help in the efforts to pre-treat the roads.

At noon on Monday, Hartford City Hall was already closed to prepare for the inclement weather.

Mayor Pedro E. Segarra declared a snow emergency in the City of Hartford and by noon City Hall was already closed to prepare for the impending blizzard. Segarra also imposed a citywide parking ban that is expected to be in effect beginning Monday at 3:00pm through Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 8:00pm.

Hartford Public Schools and all City employees except emergency personnel was dismissed at noon. City officials said they will begin monitoring the storm on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

“This is the first big snow storm of the season and accumulation is expected to be over 10 inches in Hartford,” Segarra said. “We’ve seen been through heavy storms before but it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared.”

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Ameriborn News Presidential Poll


This Poll Is About Who The People Want!

Unlike all the other online polls, we do not collect emails to vote in it. This maybe the most accurate online poll. This gets more accurate as you share it.

Please leave comments below the author box.

Poll open until June 1, 2015

Ameriborn News Presidential Poll 2016
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If you had to choose one, which one would you choose?

Update: Elizabeth Warren announced today she isn’t going to run for president. Ameriborn News believes that was a mistake on her part.

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US Attorney: CT Faces ‘Alarming’ Number of Complaints


By Candice Dodd, Staff Writer

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut is facing “an alarming number” of complaints from parents about the discrimination of children in public and private schools.

Deidre M. Daly, the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said that the office receives a large volume of complaints from parents and caregivers across the state alleging that schools, after-school programs and summer camps because of the child’s disability, gender, gender identity, or limited ability to speak English, discriminated against their children.

Daly recently announced the formation of the Educational Opportunities Civil Rights Working Group to address the violations of children from public and private educational institutions.

“Civil rights violations in educational and camp settings undermine the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens – our children,” Daly said.

The U.S. Attorneys Office has received complaints about bullying, sexual harassment and school segregation in public and private schools.

Most recently, they reached a settlement with Quinnipiac University to resolve allegations that the university violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by placing a student who had been diagnosed with depression on a mandatory medical leave of absence without first considering options for the student’s continued enrollment.

Over the last several months, the office has settled a number of cases against schools, after-school programs and daycare centers for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974. These settlements have resulted in monetary agreements to parents; comprehensive training for providers and sweeping policy changes to entire educational programs and systems, state officials said.

Recognizing a greater need to address these issues and help prevent further civil rights violations in educational and camp settings, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has partnered with federal and state agencies and numerous advocacy groups to form the Educational Opportunities Civil Rights Working Group. Participants include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Development and the U.S. Department of Education.

Officials said that the Working Group is on its way to develop and implement a strategic plan of action to resolve civil rights violations through educational outreach programs as well as law enforcement actions.

“Through aggressive outreach and enforcement initiatives, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our working group partners strive to eliminate these violations to improve the health and welfare of all children and young adults,” Daly said.

To contact the Educational Opportunities Civil Rights Working Group,  call 203-821-3896.

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