Archive | December, 2015

Panel Struggles to Solve State’s Property Tax Woes


The panel studying Connecticut’s taxes off-and-on for two years has wrapped up its work struggling to find consensus on arguably Connecticut’s most onerous levy: the municipal property tax.

Members of the State Tax Panel, composed policy experts from a host of backgrounds, agreed that the property tax hurts the poor, lacks fairness, weakens the business climate and ignores fiscal reality.

But with the exception of a new sales tax surcharge to help communities, most other major proposals to ease burdens on municipal taxpayers bogged down.

Members of the State Tax Panel, composed policy experts from a host of backgrounds, agreed that the property tax hurts the poor, lacks fairness, weakens the business climate and ignores fiscal reality.

But with the exception of a new sales tax surcharge to help communities, most other major proposals to ease burdens on municipal taxpayers bogged down.

“The property tax has gotten short shrift,” Yale Law School Professor Anika Singh Lemar said during the panel’s final meeting on Dec. 15.

Former state Rep. William Dyson, D-New Haven, who co-chaired the panel, said the group was limited — perhaps more than some members realized — by two guidelines established from the beginning:

  • Revenue neutrality. Any proposal to increase one tax should be offset by a matching reduction in another levy.
  • Revenue-only recommendations. Any proposals to change state or local spending were considered outside of the committee’s charge. That meant proposals to increase state grants to municipalities — a revenue boost to cities and towns but an expenditure as far as the state budget is concerned — were off the table.

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Immigrant Rights Groups Denounce Deportation Plans


A coalition of immigrant, civil and human rights organizations and faith leaders is calling on the U.S. government to halt plans to deport hundreds of Central American women and children fleeing violence and upheaval in their home countries. Immigrant rights advocates will announce a national campaign to condemn the plan at a press conference on Tuesday.

“It is obscene, shocking, and outrageous for this Administration to be planning the deportation of innocent families who are fleeing violence and persecution in the countries of origin. This plan is heinous and once deported, women and children could face violence and even death,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

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Mass Shootings and the Media: What Is Terrorism?


Burguan did not answer those questions during a press conference Wednesday evening after the alleged assailants were killed in a shoot out with officers. Hours later, law enforcement officials released the supposed shooters’ names — Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik.

A variation of Farouk’s name had been circling in the conservative blogasphere after it was heard on a police scanner. The “Arabic-sounding” name fueled anti-Arab and Muslim sentiments hours before the actual name was officially released. As of Thursday morning, police said the motive of the attack remains unknown.

Anticipation surrounding the identity of the suspects on Wednesday was directly linked to one question: Is it terrorism?

Five days earlier, Robert L. Dear Jr. killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Police said he rambled about “baby parts” during the rampage. Dear, described as “deeply religious,” seemed to have a political agenda against abortions. But few in the mainstream media described him as a terrorist.

In progressive circles, Dear was called a terrorist. But mainstream media dismissed the “terrorism” charge early on.

Dear’s “white privilege” spared him the label, comedian and activist Amer Zahr said.

What is terrorism?

In San Bernardino, the terrorism question surfaced almost immediately after the shooting.

According to a New York Times report, there have been 209 mass shootings that killed or injured four or more people so far this year.

The federal government defines terrorism as violence intended to intimidate a civilian population; or acts aimed at influencing government policies by coercion.

The U.S. Code cites mass destruction, assassination and kidnapping for political motives on American soil as examples of domestic terrorism.

However, in the media and even sometimes in the legal realm, terrorism is perceived exclusively as Islamist jihadism and linked to the assailants’ race and religion.

After the Paris terrorist attacks last month, Fox News’ Shannon Bream wondered about the attackers’ skin color.

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Mayor Cancels Inauguration Ball to Hold Meeting


Updated Jan. 3, 2015

HARTFORD —  Hartford Mayor-elect Luke Bronin, expected to begin work on January, will not hold an inaugural ball.

On Jan.1 after after midnight at the Soldiers’ Memorial Archway, Bronin took the oath of officer and announced the cancellation of the inauguration ball because, he said, of the city’s debt.

In his announcement to the press, Bronin said he “will forgo the traditional inaugural ball.”   Instead, Bronin joined constituents at the annual First Night Celebration in Downtown Hartford.

On Jan. 4, following the swearing-in of all first-term City Council members, residents are invited to join Hartford’s elected officials for a reception at City Hall.

“I hope to have good reason to look back at the work we’ve done together as a community and celebrate.  But right now I think it’s time to focus on getting to work on behalf of the people of Hartford, not on planning a big gala,” said Bronin. “I hope that those who would have bought tickets or helped to sponsor an inaugural ball will instead be willing to focus their generosity on our future efforts to strengthen the Hartford community.”

Bronoin is also urging residents to attend his first town hall meeting this Saturday, Dec. 5 from  9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.at the Wilson-Gray YMCA at 444 Albany Ave.

“With the hard work ahead, let’s continue the conversations that helped bring us together during the last 11 months,” said Bronin.  “Many of you have expressed your concerns about the challenges we face to engage, educate, and employ our city’s youth. I invite you to join me for an open discussion. This will be a great opportunity for us to connect and hear each other’s ideas, as we get ready for the hard work ahead.”

 

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