Archive | September, 2016

White House Officials: Poverty Rate in Connecticut Fell Slightly


WASHINGTON –  The Obama administration is touting a slight drop in America’s poverty rate.

The number of people in poverty fell by 3.5 million, with the largest one-year drop in the overall poverty rate since 1968, according Jason Furman, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers in a phone call with the press on Thursday.

Furman discussed a new Census report that shows income growth among American families, particularly African Americans, Hispanic Americans and children.

The real median household income grew $2,800 or 5.2 percent in 2015. This is the fastest growth on record, White House officials said.

Furman said the President will continue to push Congress to pass legislation to strengthen job creation and wage growth, including raising the minimum wage from $8.50 to $15, expand the Earned Income Tax credit for workers without dependent children. Currently, the earn income tax credit only applies to working families with dependents.

The picture for metro areas varies, though. And other reports say the media income for black families have decreased since 2013.

“With any local area, you have to worry about a certain amount of noise in the data,” Furman said.

For Connecticut, the real median household income grew by 1.7 percent or $1,211, the Census data shows. And about 96,600 jobs were added and the unemployment rate that peaked in the Great Recession has fallen from 9.2 percent to 5.6 percent.

And the Hartford and Ne Haven metro areas show the fastest gains within the state, according to the White House.

Also, 7,900 people were lifted out of poverty in Connecticut and the poverty rate fell slightly in 2015.

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Banking Commission Slaps Credit Agency


HARTFORD —  Connecticut Banking Commissioner Jorge L. Pérez announced a settlement on Wednesday with National Credit Adjusters for violating Connecticut banking law pertaining to unlicensed collection activity in the state and collecting on illegal payday loans.

In addition to providing relief to affected borrowers, National Credit Adjusters has paid a $40,000 fine and has agreed to immediately cease from acting as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut without a license.

Following an investigation, the Department of Banking determined that NCA engaged in unlicensed debt collection activity in the state from at least Nov. 2011 through April 2015. In addition, NCA collected on unsecured short-term small loans of $15,000 or less), with annual interest rates far exceeding the 12 percent maximum annual rate allowed by Connecticut law.  These kinds of loans are known as payday loans.

From at least November 2012 to August 2015, NCA purchased and attempted to collect payments on 1,254 such loans and received $66,151 from 136 consumers. A balance of $1,307,457 remained on these loans, state officials said.

“As a result of the department’s action, National Credit Adjusters will no longer engage in unlicensed activity in the State. This change in behavior, alongside assisting consumers, is a chief priority for the agency,” Commissioner Pérez said.  “Borrowers can be sure the Department of Banking will do everything we can to assist consumers in obtaining monies collected on these loans and ensure NCA follows through on their obligation to zero out these loans and no harm is done to people’s credit.”

Under the terms of the settlement, National Credit Adjusters must make every effort to locate each consumer, make restitution for the $66,151 it collected on these loans from the 136 borrowers, zero out all balances totaling $1,307,457 and contact credit agencies to remove any negative ratings that occurred as a result of these loans. Refund checks will be mailed to borrowers no later than October 31, 2016

Borrowers who have questions or need additional information should visit the Department of Banking website at www.ct.gov/dob/casettlement, or call (800) 831-7225 to find out more.

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Italian-Americans to Celebrate Columbus Day


HARTFORD — The Italian American Celebration and Parade Committee is honoring Christopher Columbus with multiple days of celebration in October, including the annual parade.

The three-day celebration begins with a dinner and dance at Casa Mia at The Hawthorne, 2421 Berlin Turnpike, Berlin, on Saturday, Oct. 8. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., dinner at 8 p.m. followed by dancing until 12:30 a.m. Tickets cost $65 per person and $25 for 12 year olds and younger.

On Sunday, Oct. 9, there will be an Italian Mass celebrated at 9 a.m. at Columbus Park on Franklin Avenue. The parade will begin at 10:30 a.m., heading down Franklin Avenue. The parade will end at Columbus Park where an award presentation ceremony at Columbus Park will follow. On Monday, Oct. 10, there will be a wreath dedication ceremony at the Columbus monument, located at the intersection of Washington and Lafayette streets.

For more information or tickets for the banquet, contact Al Marotta at 860-712-1300.

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Hillary Clinton and the Millennial Vote


New America Media Hasan Zillur Rahim

SAN JOSE, Calif. — “I poured my heart and soul into Bernie Sanders’s campaign,” a 24-year-old student told me. “Now I really don’t care. Clinton and Trump both repulse me.”

Millennials, between the ages of 18-35 and numbering about 76 million, are a powerful voting bloc. But many are still trying to come to grips with the trauma of a Sanders-less presidential election and are thinking of wasting their vote as a protest of some sort. That would be a colossal mistake, for they can play a critical role in propelling Hillary Clinton to victory over Donald Trump in this most consequential of elections.

Why should millennials vote for Clinton? It comes down to the intersection of their passion with Clinton’s policies in three E’s: Education, Economy and Ecology. They should carefully consider where the two candidates stand on these issues, reject false equivalences, and vote accordingly.

Education: The most contentious issue here is the staggering 1.4 trillion dollar student-loan Americans currently carry, a number growing by about $3K every second. Neither candidate has promised to forgive the trillion-dollar debt but during the primaries, Clinton countered Sanders’s assertion to make college free for everyone by saying that his numbers just didn’t add up. However, Clinton has made college affordability – directly tied to student debt – central to her policy. She would give families making up to $125,000 free tuition at in-state public colleges and universities to help middle and working-class families.

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IRS Aims to Bring Facebook to Court Again


By Adam Stuhlman I @stuhlman_adam

In January 2013, one Hartford resident was in the United States Tax Court because she couldn’t pay a $184 settlement bill. However, Internal Revenue Service lawyers had two trials on the same day to debate penalties for refusing to pay $184.

The amount, the woman argued with IRS counsel Debra Lynn Reale,  should have been deducted for educational tax credit. The judge agreed. And then IRS counsel William Bogardus took the file from Reale and argued the case again until the judge ruled in favor of the IRS.

Then in February 2013 news broke that Facebook amassed a billion in profit in the previous year and did not pay taxes. In fact, Facebook was expecting a refund.

Like many, she wanted an answer to this blatant disparity in how the judicial system meted out justice to individual tax payers.

Now, the IRS is fighting to get Facebook back to court over allegations that the social media giant has avoided paying taxes through shifting money overseas.

Matt Gardner, executive director for the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said Facebook has been shifting money out of the United States to Facebook Ireland and the Cayman Islands. He said they have also used a legal stock option tax break to reduce the amount of taxes they have to pay.

“The interesting thing about Facebook on this front is that the IRS has been trying to get Facebook to cooperate with their investigation into this precise issue for some time,” said Gardner. “The IRS has issued something like a half dozen different summons to Facebook, which Facebook has basically ignored.”

According to documents from their website, Facebook’s

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg

$5 billion revenue in 2012 represented a 37 percent increase from $3.7 billion in 2011.

Citizens for Tax Justice, a partner organization with ITEP, said that Facebook paid nothing in income taxes in 2012. Gardner said the IRS has issued at least six summons for Facebook to appear in court.

IRS Spokesperson Yadira Nadal declined to comment on this, saying that federal law prohibits the IRS from commenting on any taxpayer, organization’s situation, or case.

Anteneh Daniel, executive for The Brunswick Group, said in an email that Facebook’s statement from their media relations department is as follows:

“Facebook applies with the rules and regulations of all countries where we operate and we have no further comment at this time.”

The Brunswick Group is an advisory firm that “specializes in critical issues and corporate relations,” according to brunswickgroup.com.

“It is very difficult to tell what these assets are worth. When companies aggressively seek to lowball the value of these assets it can be very difficult for the IRS to catch up with that and make them value it (assets) correctly,” Gardner said. “That is what makes it a hard thing to police and monitor.”

Gardner said transfer pricing rules are put in place to make sure that when companies transfer assets overseas, “they do so at a fair price.” But the difficulty in enforcing these laws makes it harder on the IRS. He said the only solution is to make sure the IRS has the proper funding and the authority to go after companies that break the law.

While the IRS may be having difficulty with Facebook, it keeps on going when it comes to collecting taxes from other citizens. An April 2014 Gallop poll revealed that 66 percent of Americans feel that corporations pay too little in taxes, with the middle class paying too much. It also said that 40 percent of Republicans felt that lower income individuals pay to less in taxes, as compared to 22 percent of Independents and 11 percent of Democrats.

Connecticut residents want to know whether lawyers in the Office of Chief Counsel, namely Borgardus and Reale, are still targeting nonprofit organizations and individuals after news of Facebook’s victory over the IRS.

Multiple calls and emails to the IRS about lack of corporate income tax and any potential impact this may have on other citizen’s taxes were not returned.

To read the gallop poll click here: http://www.gallup.com/poll/168521/taxes-rise-half-say-middle-income-pay.aspx

To read Facebook’s document click here: https://s21.q4cdn.com/399680738/files/doc_financials/annual_reports/FB_2012_10K.pdf

Reporter Adam Stuhlman can be reach on Twitter: @stuhlman_adam

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Hartford Voters Looking to Oust Democratic Incumbents


HARTFORD —  Less than two months before the Nov. 8 election, the Hartford Votes/Hartford Vota Coalition will hold a forum for candidates for Hartford’s State Representative on Oct. 5.

The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Hartford Public Library, 500 Main St. downtown Hartford.

The candidates will ask questions, hear representative ideas about the issues.

Invited candidates include District 1: Matthew Ritter, (D) and Ken Lerman (R); District 3: Minnie Gonzalez (D); District 4: Angel Arce (D)and A. Lloyd Carter (R); District 5: Brandon McGee (D) and Paul Panos (R); District 6: Edwin Vargas (D) and Russell Williams (R); District 7: Douglas McCory (D).

All the candidates, except Gonzalez, and McCory. Hartford Republicans are looking to oust incumbents who are unresponsive to the concerns of city residents and business owners.

Petitioning and Minor Party Candidates will also be invited.

For more information, email HartfordVotes@aol.com.

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Clinton’s ‘Basket of Deplorables’ Comment Was Right


Last Friday, Donald Trump used his side gig—Republican nominee for president—to go back to what he’s actually qualified for, real estate, and hawk his new hotel. A few Medal of Honor recipients allowed themselves to be extras in his two-for-one informational, and one of them used the opportunity to address Hillary Clinton’s critique about a certain faction of Trump supporters. “Deplorables are also deployables,” the Vietnam veteran quipped. He did so with the widest smile on his face—just to let you know that he was pleased with himself.

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Ever since Clinton uttered the phrase “basket of deplorables,” Trump’s most ardent supporters have tried to offer addenda to the claim: That they are “hard-working Americans.” They have families. And in this case, they have served their country. Fair enough, but you can be all those things and still either be racist, or at the very least, willing to support someone who is—which ultimately proves that when you get down to it, you’re not that committed to a belief in equality for all.

It is to be expected of them, but there’s also a noticeable contingent of others who have tried to take greater issue over charges of racism than racism itself.


Read more
here.

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Police Arrest Three Hartford Men for Burglary


WEST HARTFORD –Three Hartford men were arrested on Wednesday for suspicious activities that led to burglary in the Walbridge Road area, police said.

hc-west-hartford-car-burglary-20160921-001Damian Brito, 28, of Rowe Ave.; Angel Cabrera, 22, of Rowe Ave.; and Marcus Gonzalez, 18, of Capitol Ave. were charged with third-degree burglary, possession of burglary tools, trespassing and sixth-degree larceny.

Police said that after 2 a.m.,  a person called to report that three men  walking through his yard.

When police arrived on the scene, they found the men with stolen property from several cars. They also had rubber gloves and burglary tools, police said.

The three men had fled from officers earlier in the evening when they were seen in the area of Boulevard and South Highland Street, police said.

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Poll: Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Approval Rating Still Low


HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is one of the least popular governor in America.

According to a Quinnipiac Poll, Malloy’s approval rating was at 24 percent. Seven out of 10 voters in Connecticut, or 70 percent,  say they disapprove of Malloy.

Also, a new survey shows similar results about Malloy’s approval rating.

Malloy’s approval rating was 26 percent in the new survey by Morning Consult.

The most popular governor in the survey was South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who had a 74 percent approval rating. The other least popular governor was Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

From May through September, Morning Consult surveyed 71,900 registered voters in all 50 states.

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Bloomfield Dems Open Headquarters for Election


BLOOMFIELD –David Baram chairman of the Bloomfield Democratic Town Committee announced that the Democratic Headquarters opened on Monday.

It is located in the Ocean Job Lot Mall next to Concetta’s Restaurant.

The Headquarters will be open Monday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., through election day on Nov. 8.

Anybody who would like to work for the Democratic ticket can join us.

We will be calling all registered Democrats and Unaffiliated voters, and speaking at different facilities and organizations.

According the David Baram, ” In just seven weeks we will be working to have a big Bloomfield vote for our ticket which includes State Senators Eric Coleman and Beth Bye, State Rep. David Baram, Registrar Anne Wall, Congressman John Larson,  U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Bloomfield can help create a Democratic victory for Connecticut and I urge all interested voters to come to Headquarters. This will be an historic presidential election that we cannot take for granted. We need your participation, Baram said.”

For more information call Headquarters at 860-243-3041.

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