Archive | October, 2016

Catcalling Is Not a Compliment


Ed. Note: Video tape of GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump boasting of sexual assault on women has sparked a national conversation around the issue. For 15-year-old Juliana Taboada, catcalling by male classmates in and around school is an extension of the often demeaning treatment of women in our society. 

MECCA, Calif. — I’d always wondered if my school was as safe as I thought it was. At 15, I’m still growing up and pretty innocent. I know there are many things wrong with our schools, but there’s one issue that needs to be addressed now. That issue is catcalling and the over-sexualization of young women.

Earlier this month, I was verbally harassed by 3-4 boys at school. I was walking to my fifth period class, and as I was walking I saw these boys in a group pointing and staring at me. I knew what was going to happen. I’ve been catcalled once before, but this time it was different. No one was there to help me, to tell them they’re disgusting. I was alone.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionIt felt like these boys took complete ownership of my body and I couldn’t do anything about it.

Now, since it happened so recently, I’m still terrified of just walking to class. It’s a sad thing knowing that I’m not even safe in my own school, in a place that’s supposed to work for me, to benefit me.

I never thought such horrible behavior would be within the borders of schools, but I guess I’m wrong. Even freshman boys know how to objectify young women. They don’t realize the amount of damage they do by just whistling at me or commenting on my body. It’s a harsh reality women have to deal with and can’t escape. In all honesty, even though it pains me to say this, catcalling is inevitable for women.

It’s even worse to to know that I’m only 15 years old and I’ve experienced the over-sexualization of women.

catcalling_500x279But it’s sadly not new, I was taught at a young age that I need to cover up my body and always be attentive of my surroundings, even at school. My schools have told me to dress a certain way, with lists of clothing I could not wear but only a couple things boys couldn’t wear. I knew the playing field was uneven but it was never a big deal before. I always thought if I wore something too “risky” I would call unwanted attention upon myself and it was my fault, not theirs.

But I was wrong.

I now know that regardless of what I’m wearing, you should have the decency and respect to leave me alone. I’m not your property. Catcallers have absolutely no right to yell at me from the sidelines and expect me to acknowledge them.

I’m a young woman, I’m a person. And it’s about time I start getting treated like one.

About the author:

Juliana Taboada is a local Xicana poet and community activist from Mecca, Calif. She currently attends Desert Mirage High School and recently joined Coachella Unincorporated as a youth reporter.

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English Language Learners And Special Education Students Will Pay The Price For Hartford Mayor’s Bankruptcy Strategy


By David Medina

Welcome to the Hartford where everything is designed to shield Mayor Luke Bronin from the consequences of his own decisions.

Hartford Public Schools, for example, made two interrelated announcements back-to-back during the week of October 10th, to persuade city residents that their children will receive a better education if certain neighborhood schools are shut down.

In the first instance, the Board of Education unveiled the first draft of Equity 2020, the plan to close four low-performing underutilized neighborhood schools and shove their 3,500 students into the rest of the low-performing neighborhood schools.

The better funded Sheff magnet schools that are focused on luring white students from the suburbs will remain untouched.

The school board, under the direction of chairman Richard Wareing, is expected to approve Equity 2020  in December, so that the targeted schools are eliminated from the budget for the school year that begins in August of 2017.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionIn the second instance, the board appointed a search committee to find a qualified educator to replace outgoing Superintendent Beth Schiavino Narvaez, and be the henchman who implements Equity 2020.

Despite its name, there is no equity in Equity 2020. It is simply a brutal, slash-and-burn blueprint for rapidly shutting down the Martin Luther King, Burns Latino Studies, Thirman Milner and the Simpson-Waverly neighborhood schools.

The plan offers three scenarios under which the four doomed schools would close. The only real difference between them is the pattern for redistributing the displaced students throughout the school system.

Equity 2020 also calls for terminating the leases on schools that operate in rented spaces and doubling them up with schools that are located in city-owned buildings. As such, High School, Inc. and the Kinsella high school students would join the Journalism and Media Academy in the renovated Weaver High School building.

The plan makes no provisions for meeting the educational needs of the displaced students or for such things as after-school programs, transportation services, dental and health clinics, security, custodial services and school meals. That ugly task would have to be completed by whoever replaces Schiavino-Narvaez and the central office staff well before the first day of school in August.

The basic objective of the plan is to use the money saved from closing the schools to help Mayor Bronin eliminate the city’s enormous budget deficit and allegedly avoid bankruptcy without alienating Bronin’s political base. Neighborhood schools, including the ones targeted for closure, have increasingly become a dumping ground for Special Education students and the largely Latino population of English-language learners. Equity 2020 would make them even more of a dumping ground. Latino voters did not support Bronin in 2015. So he owes them nothing.

The city’s deficit for this year stands at $22 million and next year’s deficit is projected to be about $40 million. Meanwhile, Standard & Poor’s has downgraded Hartford’s bond rating near junk levels, based on what it said were Bronin’s unrealistic budget projections. Earlier this year, Bronin tried and failed to have the state legislature grant him the authority to unilaterally cut pensions and nullify labor contracts — a power that even the President of the United States doesn’t have. Lately, he has advocated for lowering expenditures in Hartford and other cities by regionalizing services and tax rates with neighboring towns, grand ideas that have fallen flat before.

That leaves Hartford Public Schools, and, more specifically, the neighborhood schools, as the only service that Bronin can freely disembowel to make it look as though he’s doing everything possible to keep the city from going bankrupt. All he needs is a compliant superintendent who will implement Equity 2020 and take the heat when raging parents demand to know how the city can justify opening an expensive new baseball stadium and closing schools at the same time.

Over the coming weeks, the search committee will interview candidates, check their backgrounds and perhaps hear testimony from parents and community leaders on the type of educator they want to see as superintendent. The committee will recommend a nominee and the Hartford Board of Education will then vote to offer the nominee a three-year contract with a salary of roughly $250,000 a year.

Everything will appear honest and above board, although many suspect that the selection process has already been rigged to favor Dr. Jose Colon-Rivas. Dr. Colon-Rivas became the district’s chief operating officer in July, after more than 30 years of service in both City Hall and Hartford Public Schools. He has been a teacher, principal of Hartford Public High School and a central office administrator. As chief operating officer, Dr. Colon-Rivas is already second in command at Hartford Public Schools and has done much of the day-to-day decision making there while Schiavino-Narvaez transitions to her new job as chief of instructional leadership in the Pacific Ocean for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Dr. Colon-Rivas is also invested in Equity 2020. He sits on the Equity 2020 Committee that will present the final draft of the plan for Board of Education approval in December. He even facilitated the unveiling of the first draft on Oct. 13. The more he fronts for Equity 2020, the better he looks. He has the added advantage of having served as a mayoral appointee to Hartford Board of Education, right up until the day he accepted his current job of chief operating officer. So, he clearly has Bronin’s confidence and is well-known to the board members who would appoint him superintendent.

The only potential candidate who poses a serious threat to Colon-Rivas is Dr. James Thompson. Dr. Thompson, who was educated in Hartford Public Schools, is already superintendent of  Bloomfield Public Schools, widely acclaimed as the most improved district in Connecticut every year since he took it over in 2011. Like Colon-Rivas, he spent most of his career as an educator in Hartford, where he became famous for his data-driven work in transforming low-performing schools, including an amazing turnaround of the Simpson-Waverly Elementary School that led to a coveted national Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Department of Education in 2003. Thompson, moreover, would be an attractive choice for Luke Bronin to present to the city’s African-American community that strongly supported him for mayor in 2015.

Dr. Thompson, however, would probably have little incentive to come to Hartford without a free hand to run the district as he saw fit. Being a hand puppet to Board Chairman Richard Wareing is not his style. Dr. Thompson also signed a three-year contract extension with Bloomfield recently, where he supervises 2,500 students instead of 21,000 for a salary comparable to what he would earn in Hartford. Furthermore, Thompson made his reputation as an educational leader who improves schools, not one who closes them.

The search process for Hartford superintendent may attract additional candidates. Some will take it seriously and others will throw their hats in the ring with no expectation of getting the job, thereby legitimizing the process. The urgency to pass Equity 2020 and the short timeline to fill the superintendent’s position makes it hard to imagine any of those candidates matching the experience, credentials, and the value of Jose Colon-Rivas or James Thompson.

That being the case, Mayor Bronin should simply skip the dog-and-pony show and choose the candidate that he has already decided can best satisfy his political and economic needs. Even the shoe-shine boys in Hartford know that Equity 2020’s role in Bronin’s bankruptcy gambit will determine who gets the job. So, be transparent. Don’t insult the public’s intelligence with a charade.

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Supporter from Simsbury Vie for Lydia Tedone


Dear Editor,

I support  Lydia Tedone for state representative.

As a parent, a preschool teacher and as our voice in Hartford on key issues before the legislature, Lydia’s passion and experience is always evident. She has served as a leader of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and as a representative on the National Association of School Boards. Lydia is our voice in Washington, meeting with members of Congress to help craft education reform and funding that works. Imagine that drive and tenacity working for us in Hartford — we could not ask for better!

Given the state pressure on education funding, having someone with Lydia’s understanding is critical. As chairman, Lydia worked with school administrators and her fellow board members to craft responsible budgets that maintained the lowest budget increases over a sustained period of years on record, all while Simsbury continues to rank in the top 10 of national lists. Wouldn’t be nice to see what other lists we could top with Lydia in Hartford?

support for Lydia Tedone for state representative from Simsbury.

I have served on the board of education with Lydia for the last nine years. As a parent, a preschool teacher and as our voice in Hartford on key issues before the legislature, Lydia’s passion and experience is always evident. She has served as a leader of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and as a representative on the National Association of School Boards. Lydia is our voice in Washington, meeting with members of Congress to help craft education reform and funding that works. Imagine that drive and tenacity working for us in Hartford — we could not ask for better!

Given the state pressure on education funding, having someone with Lydia’s understanding is critical. As chairman, Lydia worked with school administrators and her fellow board members to craft responsible budgets that maintained the lowest budget increases over a sustained period of years on record, all while Simsbury continues to rank in the top 10 of national lists. Wouldn’t be nice to see what other lists we could top with Lydia in Hartford?

Please bring true change and balance back to our state government by voting for Lydia Tedone.

Susan Salina, Simsbury

 

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Wells Fargo Wrestles with Fraudulent Charges


As Wells Fargo fights to come out from under a fake-account scandal that has forced its former CEO and chairman to retire, there is talk that branch closures may be in the near future.

Over the last few years, the Wells Fargo network has held strong, with only 2 percent of its branches closing, compared with 9 percent for JPMorgan Chase and 15 percent for Bank of America, WSOC reports.

The bank currently maintains 6,000 branches across 39 states, which is 1,000 branches more than any other bank in America, according to CNN Money.

As previously reported on The Root, last month the banking giant agreed to pay $185 million in fines and penalties after it was revealed that branch employees had created nearly 2 million fraudulent accounts in the names of unsuspecting current customers. The scandal launched several congressional hearings and forced the retirement of CEO and Chairman John Stumpf.

While Wells Fargo has not announced any branch closures, its need to find ways to pay for the mounting legal and compliance costs related to the fraud issue, topped with the loss of credibility in the consumer market, may cripple its ability to make money.

“Whether Wells Fargo realizes it or not, they’re going to be closing 1,000 branches,” analyst Mike Mayo of investment banking company CLSA told CNN Money. “It’s a matter of when, not if.”

Mayo also said that the pressure to make money to keep branches open may have been a contributing factor in the creation of the fraudulent accounts.

During a presentation for analysts last week, Wells Fargo hinted at branch closures. The bank said that a renewed focus on mobile and online banking would allow it to review its “branch footprint for consolidation opportunities.”

Wells Fargo is still contending with ongoing investigations, including an internal review of the fraudulent-account scandal and a California investigation into whether or not the bank committed identity theft when making the fake accounts.

Analyst Paul Miller of investment bank FBR & Co. said that Wells Fargo senior management is in crisis mode right now.

“They’ve still got to figure out how to get back on everyone’s Christmas list,” Miller said, according to CNN Money.

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Vermont Resort Offers Affordable Skiing Packages


Bolton Valley, Vermont — It’s not too early to think ski lifts,  snow and Santa.

This winter, a simple crimson hat won’t suffice. So just go all out and wear the full Santa Claus outfit for this fall and winter travel destination.

Skiers and riders who arrive at Bolton Valley dressed head-to-toe as Santa Claus can enjoy the annual Santa Sunday event.

bolton-valley-at-vermont-thBolton Valley enjoys some of its best early season conditions in recent memory, ski resort officials said.

Bolton Valley is Vermont’s most convenient and affordable big mountain skiing. Less than 10 minutes from I-89 and less than 30 minutes from Burlington, the family-friendly mountain offers skiers and riders of all abilities three mountain peaks with 71 trails and 6 lifts, plus 3 terrain parks.

Bolton Valley was the first in Vermont and the second in the U.S. to implement wind power as an energy source and is the recipient of the National Ski Areas Association’s 2010 Silver Eagle Award for environmental initiatives. A

All-inclusive, true ski-to-your-door lodging packages are from $59 person night.

For more information visit www.boltonvalley.com or call 877-9BOLTON.

December Ski & Stay Special
  • Price: From $85 per person per night
  • Availability: December 1 – 15, 2016 Any Day
  • Night Skiing: Not Available
  • Includes:
    • Lodging
    • Lift Ticket
    • Breakfast*

Photos Courtesy of  Bolton Valley Ski Resort—Fran Wilson

 

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Hartford Parents Offered Money Workshops


HARTFORD —  Hartford parents can now learn steps they can take early on to save for college, use online financial tools, and how to find and apply for scholarships.

The city of Hartford in partership with other stakeholders will offer the following courses:
· Citizenship Status and Attaining Access to Education- Families will learn how citizen status is not a barrier to educational attainment on any level, elementary school to college. Presented by Stefan Keller, College Access Program Coordinator, Connecticut Students for a Dream.
· Careers in Computer Science – Families will learn how the field of computer science is growing and ways that students can fill the shortage in our labor market. Presented by James Veseskis, Project Coordinator Exploring Computer Science CT.
· College Fair – High school students will have the opportunity to talk with admissions representatives from colleges in the Hartford community, such as Central Connecticut State University and Tunxis Community College
· High School Planning- Middle school students will learn how to apply for the public, magnet, technical, and regional schools.
· Food and refreshments will be provided to those who register
· Childcare available for children 2-years-old and older
· Exciting games and prizes for students!
· Registration is currently open on Eventbrite (deadline for registration is October 21):
English: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hartford-public-schools-college-and-career-readiness-family-event-tickets-28199343997
Spanish: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/evento-para-la-familia-acerca-de-la-preparacion-universitaria-y-profesional-de-las-escuelas-tickets-28394797604

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Larson to Host Korean Ambassador Ahn Ho-Young


HARTFORD — Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) and Ambassador Ahn Ho-Young of the Republic of Korea will hold a special medal ceremony for veterans of the Korean War on Oct. 21.

Larson and Ambassador Ahn worked together to secure the Medal of Gratitude for nearly 100 local Korean War veterans.

Rep. Larson and Ambassador Ahn last met prior to the Congressman’s visit to Korea in August. While in Korea, Larson discussed the impact of the Korean War, his own efforts to ensure Korean War veterans receive the care and recognition they earned, and his visit with our troops who are stationed at the DMZ.

 

 

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Northeast NRZ and others to Meet Tonight


HARTFORD — The Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Zone will hold its monthy meeting tonight at the Parker Memorial Kelvin Anderson Center in Hartford.

The meeting will include a special presentation by the   city of Hartford’s Housing Code Enforcement Team.

Representatives will learn more about thier rights and what they can do for occupants living in rental dwellings.

There will also be updates on Promise Zone and Community solutions.

CT Pardon Team Meeting

Is a criminal record following you? If so, you may be eligible for a pardon. To find out more at upcoming meetings of Connecticut Pardon Team in Hartford. The first meeting will be held on Oct. 17 a Hartford Public Library 500 Main St. in Hartford. Call to register at 860-823-1571.

The second meeting will be held on Nov. 7 at hartford Public Library, Ground Floor. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

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Poll: Blacks and Whites Dislike Police Officers


Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD –Black and white people disapprove of police officers when they violate civil liberties during investigations, according to a recent poll.

All American adults disapprove of athletes who protest during the National Anthem because of perceived police violence against the black community, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released on Tuesday.

 
White adults disapprove of the protests 63 – 30 percent, as black adults approve 74 – 17 percent, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds.

 

The polls come in the midst of federal investigations into the allegations of the Avon Police Department’s long history of racial discrimination, racial bullying and corruption. The Avon Police Department was accused of sexual harassment, bullying, neo-nazi necromancy and failure to protect Avon residents, including two local reporters.

 

Jesse Sawyer currently at NBC-CT currently filed a lawsuit against the Avon Police Department, claiming the above as well as religious persecution.

 

Another reporter filed a human rights abuse complaint at the United Nations because local police officers used neo-nazi necromancy to distort her facial features and her body. Rogue police officers also blocked her from going to church and reading her bible, according to FBI investigators who have been watching the crime for almost three years. They were also accused of invasion of privacy, theft of services, disturbing the peace and larceny. No arrest has been made in this or other allegations about the police department, sources said. The investigators were was implicated because of personal bias and friendships with the police, sources said.

Jonathan Reich Files Court Corruption Charges against State Attorney Thomas J. O’Brien

The mounting claim against the racism in the Avon police department reflects the discontent with law enforcement officers who wilfully disrespect the law. Reich filed a corruption charge against O’Brian and others because Reich was arrested on May 20, 2013.  His arraignment was set for June 5, 2013.   He was arraigned 16 days later in violation of Norko’s own “2-Day Rule”. Another victim of a corrupt court system, who is a black, said she was arraigned more than 30 days and then rescheduled another 15 days to prevent her from doing her job as a reporter.

The racial disparity is noted in the report.

 

According to the poll, there is also a similar racial split on police in general as whites approve 70 – 20 percent of the way “police in the U.S. are doing their job,” while black Americans disapprove 67 – 24 percent.
There is very little racial divide as all Americans say 73 – 21 percent that police should not violate civil liberties to prevent crime. Black adults defend civil liberties 83 – 13 percent and whites defend civil liberties 71 – 23 percent.
“There is a profound racial divide over athletes who refuse to stand for the National Anthem and deep differences over whether the police can be trusted,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “But no matter what race is surveyed, Americans believe police should not violate civilians’ civil liberties to prevent crime.
Malloy said that on the controversial tactic of stop and frisk, in which some believe civil rights are abused, voters are split. The message from Americans, he said, is  “the cop you know is the cop you trust.”

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East Hartford Library to Host “Thinking Money” This October


EAST HARTFORD — The East Hartford Public Library will host Thinking Money, a new traveling exhibition designed to teach tweens, teens and the adults in their lives financial skills and fiscal responsibility.

The Library will host the exhibit from Oct. 19, 2016 to Nov. 28, 2016. The public is also invited to attend a series of informative talks and discussions about financial topics like saving, retirement planning, and avoiding fraud.

Through an adventure-themed storyline, interactive iPad content and other fun activities, Thinking Money explores themes like wants vs. needs, preparing for a rainy/sunny day, imagining your future self and avoiding financial fraud.

Programs will include a screening of the Investor Protection Institute’s When I’m 65; TEDx East Hartford: Changing Your Saving Mindset, and more.

For a list of all Thinking Money events and a full library schedule, visit http://www.easthartfordct.gov/library or call 860-290-4331 for more information.

Admission to the exhibition, which will be located in the Creative Commons area of the East Hartford Public Library, and all programs are free of charge.

Thinking Money was created by the American Library Association in partnership with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

In April 2016, ALA and the FINRA Foundation announced 50 libraries nationwide to host the 1,000-square-foot exhibition. In addition to the exhibition loan, the East Hartford Public Library also received a $1,000 programming allowance.

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