Archive | February, 2018

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Hartford Job Center Offers Employment Workshops


HARTFORD — Hartford American Job Center on Main Street will offer a variety of training and employment workshops in March to assist area residents.

Advance registration is encouraged due to space limitations. Please call (860) 256-3700 to register for these no-cost workshops to be held at 3580 Main St,

The first workshop on March 5 from 9:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. is for those over 40 and looking for work: Attendees will discuss the challenges and employer expectations for workers over the age of 40. Strategies will be developed to combat the myths of the “older worker” in the hiring process.

On March 9 from 9:15 – 11:45 a.m. there will be a workshop on Interviewing Skills designed to provide the knowledge and skills needed to effectively compete with other candidates, this interactive session targets preparation, methods and follow-up and includes simulated interview questions, so attendees should be prepared to participate and share interview
stories. Constructive feedback is designed to help you grow and excel in your interviewing techniques.

Other workshops include:

Fundamentals of Résumé Writing: Intended for those who have never had a résumé or do not have a current résumé, this lecture and discussion will cover the basics of résumé creation. The value of different résumé formats will be presented, along with what should and should not be included. This is designed to give participants a thorough understanding of the essential parts of a résumé and its purpose; the basics of cover letter writing will also be addressed. A manual will be included for
participants to take with them.
March 12 and 23 (9:15 – 11:45 a.m.)

Successful Job Search Strategies: Understanding the process, research involved, and technologies that work are essential in conducting an effective job search. This workshop provides the skills needed to make a job search efficient and focused, and offers tips on utilizing online resources for researching companies and occupations.
March 16 (9:15 – 11:45 a.m.)

Advanced Résumé Writing: Participants can enhance the content of their current résumé by fine-tuning the summary/profile, keywords, accomplishments and achievements. Information about cover letters will also be provided.
March 12 (9:15 – 11:45 a.m.)

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Hartford Mayor to Convene Meeting on Spiked Car Accidents


HARTFORD —  Mayor Luke Bronin will convene a meeting on Thursday with regional and state leaders to discuss the recent spike in car accidents and to call for a coordinated strategy to reduce car thefts by juveniles and young adults, which have been a factor in a number of fatal or serious crashes.

 

“There’s been a disturbing spike in vehicle crashes with fatalities or serious injuries, even as we’ve had fewer accidents overall in Hartford.  We’re particularly concerned about the role that both drugs and stolen vehicles are playing in these tragic incidents,” Bronin said.  “Our Police Department is working hard to make our streets safer through increased speed and DUI enforcement, but we need to work together as a region and as a State to crack down on car thefts.”

Bronin also referred to the number of cars stolen from West Hartford and New Britain that were involved in crashes in Hartford. These car thefts, he said, comprised of a regional problem that demands close coordination between towns, as well as with the State Police and with State and federal prosecutors.

According to the Hartford Police Department,  alcohol or other drugs played a role in at least half of the fatal accidents this year, and in two cases the vehicles involved were stolen.

In response to fatalities in January, the city increased its traffic enforcement this month, adding an additional roving DUI patrol and an additional speed enforcement patrol each weekend.  The State Department of Transportation has also agreed to accelerate three $50,000 traffic-related grants the City was expecting this year, which will pay for additional details focused on speed enforcement, distracted driving, and “Click It or Ticket.”

The City will receive the first of those grants, for speed enforcement, in March.

 

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Hartford Selected for Bloomberg Challenge Grant


HARTFORD — Hartford was one of 35 Champion Cities recently selected  as a finalist in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition by Bloomberg Philanthropies that encourages city leaders to pursue bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face.

In October, four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to bring their ideas to life.

Hartford’s proposal, Alleviating Child Trauma in Our Neighborhoods, uses the City’s ShotSpotter technology to ensure that educators, early childhood professionals, and youth support organizations are able to recognize and respond in real time when a child has been exposed to the trauma of gun violence.

“In too many communities around the country, young people who are exposed to the trauma of gun violence in their neighborhoods never get the support, treatment, or even the acknowledgement that they need,” said Mayor Luke Bronin.  “Our proposal was designed to help provide timely support and assistance to kids exposed to gun violence in our own community.

The city will work with stakeholders including Hartford Public Schools, the Hartford Police Department, and the Village for Families and Children to further develop the plan, Bronin said.

Research shows that more than 76 percent of youth who are exposed to gun violence nationally are never referred to care, and traumatic stress from that exposure can result in persistent emotional and cognitive damage.

The city’s proposal was selected from a pool of more than 320 applications.  Hartford now advances to the six-month “Test, Learn, and Adapt” phase of the competition. Cities will refine their ideas during this process with up to $100,000, as well as personalized support from innovation experts, to test and begin building support for their urban innovations and submit a new application in August 2018.

Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

For more information, visit mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

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Census Rushes to Respond to Request to add Citizenship Question


The Census Bureau is scrambling to respond to a last-minute request by the Justice Department to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 census, according to hundreds of pages of emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The emails show that the DOJ’s December request set off a flurry of activity in the bureau as career Census officials hurried to research the history of how citizenship has been handled in past surveys, raced to come up with alternatives to the DOJ request and vented their frustration over public outrage on the issue.

As ProPublica first reported, the DOJ asked for the question to be added in a December letter, saying it needed more data to better enforce voting rights laws.

That created a firestorm, with civil rights groups, congressional Democrats and state attorneys general opposing the new question. They worry it would sow fear among immigrants and depress response rates. The once-a-decade census, which aims to count everyone residing in the U.S. regardless of citizenship status, determines not only how seats in Congress are distributed around the country, but also where the federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars.

Others, including prominent Trump ally and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, have come out in favor of adding the citizenship question. In a Breitbart op-ed in January, Kobach argued, “A great nation must, at the very least, know how many citizens it has.”

In the newly obtained emails, Census officials discuss concerns that the public has lost faith in the census. Ron Jarmin, a veteran career official who is acting director of the bureau, and another official correspondedabout a statement by the bureau’s National Advisory Committee that the census is in “crisis” because of concerns about confidentiality of data.

Ron Jarmin, Census Bureau acting director.

In January, the Census Bureau’s associate director and chief scientist, John Abowd, emailed colleagues a document with “four alternatives” in response to the DOJ’s request to add a citizenship question. The emails are heavily redacted and it’s not clear what those options are.

Jarmin also set up a meeting with the Justice Department about its request last month.

At one point, Jarmin responds to a CNN column raising the alarm on the citizenship question with the comment, “The lack of understanding and hysteria are amazing.”

Asked about the comment, a Census spokesman said, “We’re not insensitive to how stakeholders feel” and that Jarmin felt some news coverage has not conveyed that smaller surveys conducted by the Census already ask about citizenship status.

The spokesman said the bureau, which is part of the Department of Commerce, is still studying the request to add a citizenship question. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has authority to make the final decision, which is expected by the end of March.

This story first appeared Feb. 23, 2018, in ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.  

 

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Local Station Receives Workforce Grant


HARTFORD — The Corporation for Public Broadcasting recently announced a grant to Connecticut Public for the American Graduate: Getting to Work initiative to help advance education and career readiness locally.

With the $199,394 grant, the local station will work with partners in Connecticut to assess workforce challenges and opportunities, and produce content focused on the essential skills needed for students and workers to succeed in the job markets of today and tomorrow, officials said.

“Connecticut Public looks forward to working hand-in-hand with community partners from across the state in order to draw attention to and address the needs of Connecticut’s changing workforce,” said Connecticut Public’s President and CEO Jerry Franklin. “We believe the American Graduate initiative underscores our commitment to both community engagement and education, and we are pleased to be part of this national effort.”

The new grants represent the next phase of public media’s successful American Graduate initiative, which was launched in 2011 to address the nation’s dropout rate. During the past six years, public media stations across the country forged community connections and innovative partnerships to help improve student outcomes – substantially contributing to an increase in the national high school graduation rate to an all-time high of 84 percent.

“The American Graduate initiative attracted local business and community leader support and engagement by focusing on keeping young people on the path to success in school and life,” said Pat Harrison, CPB President and CEO. “All Americans want our young people to be prepared to fill jobs that currently are unfilled because of a skills gap.”

Connecticut Public is one of 19 stations receiving these American Graduate grants as part of the national effort. The organization will work with a variety of community partners in workforce and youth development as well as secondary and higher education to shape programming and foster engagement. Connecticut Public will produce content for Connecticut Public Television and Connecticut Public Radio that draws statewide attention to the needs of Connecticut’s workforce and the skills gap in our state.

A series of community events – including a televised town hall-style forum and youth networking events with area employers in Hartford and New Haven – will extend the impact of on-air and online content through continued dialogue and engagement.

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Yes, Florida Gov. Rick Scott Is Breaking Ranks With the NRA and Trump. No, We Shouldn’t Celebrate Just Yet


By Anne Branigin

The student-led push to finally bring a semblance of gun control appears to be working in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott and other state lawmakers on Friday offered a series of proposals that would mark “the most significant move toward gun control in Florida in decades.”

The proposed gun laws defy the National Rifle Association and President Donald Trump, who have suggested arming educators as a way to fight the epidemic of school shootings, the New York Times reports.

According to NBC News, Scott explicitly said that he disagrees with arming school teachers.

“My focus is on bringing in law enforcement,” Scott said. “I think you need to have individuals who are trained, well trained.”

Scott’s plan includes the following:

  • Raising the minimum age to buy any firearm from 18 to 21 (currently, 18-year-olds can purchase semi-automatic rifles but not handguns);
  • Outlawing bump stocks, a kind of modification that allows gun users to fire their weapons faster;
  • Requiring more safety and mental health training for school personnel;
  • Establishing improved processes for authorities to share information about potential at-risk students and security threats;
  • Increasing law enforcement presence in schools;
  • Making it more difficult for individuals with mental health issues to access weapons.

The Times reports that other Florida lawmakers have proposed creating a “marshal” program that would let teachers who have enough hours of training with law enforcement to carry a weapon on campus.

The proposals do stop short of the sort of gun reform that student-activists have been pleading for, which includes a ban on the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

“Banning specific weapons is not going to fix this,” said Scott, a man who proposed banning a specific modification because he believed that would “fix” things.

Some of the proposals put forward by the governor are concerning for other reasons.

As many mental health advocates have noted, most gun violence is not attributable to mental illness. “Mental health professionals welcome more resources and attention,” as noted in a recent PBS article, “but they say the administration is ignoring the real problem”—that of easy access to guns.

American Medical Association President David Barbe also emphasized this in his interview with PBS, saying that improved access to mental health care was important, but “to blame this all just on mental illness is not sufficient.”

The proposed laws also place a heavy emphasis on putting more law enforcement inside schools. Gov. Scott requested $500 million to implement mental health and school-safety programs and to ensure that each Florida public school had at least one armed officer for every 1,000 students.

But the recent example of the Florida deputy who failed to respond to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School should reveal the limitations of this plan. In addition, the disproportionate policing and punishment of students of color by school police means that Florida schools could actually become more dangerous places for black students.

So what sorts of gun reform should be on the table?

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been barred from researching gun violence since the mid-1990s, there is some data suggesting that certain policies are more effective than others. According to Scientific American, these include:

  • requiring a permit to purchase a firearm that must be applied for, in person, at a local law enforcement agency
  • banning individuals convicted of any violent crime from gun purchase
  • making all domestic violence offenders surrender their guns
  • temporarily banning active alcohol abusers from owning firearms

As for an assault weapons ban, the New York Times writes that Florida Senate Democrats have promised to amend any GOP gun bill with the addition of an assault weapon ban, but since they’re outnumbered in both chambers of the state Legislature, those measures would be unlikely to pass.

Anne Branigin is a News Fellow with The Root.

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Tech Savvy Conference for Girls Slated for March


While women hold nearly half of jobs in our economy, they continue to hold less than a quarter of science and engineer  jobs. The American Association of University Women Connecticut Chapter is working to improve those numbers–beginnning with a tech savvy conference this March.

The Connecticut Chapter will host its fifth annual Tech Savvy Conference at Trinity College, Mather Hall, 300 Summit St.in Hartford on March 24 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The conference is open to sixth to ninth grade girls who want to learn about careers in science, technology, math and engineering, and for parents and educators who want to encourage girls to realize their potential in these fields, organizers said.

Girls, their parents/guardians and advisors may register for the conference online at HTTP://OW.LY/GMTS30I6O4O or contact Alison Draper at alison.draper@trincoll.edu.

The event will include more than a dozen hands-on workshops and presentations led by female leaders in STEM professions. Workshops will include Make Your Own Android App, 3D Design and Printing, Forensic Science, Saving a Life: Heart Valve Replacement and more.

Successful women professionals will offer firsthand information on how science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields can lead to exciting careers. During the one-day program, adults will receive information on how to help girls get on a path to a college education and a career in STEM.

Adult workshops and panel discussions, including panel discussions with women in STEM careers and current STEM women college students, will provide parents, guardians and teachers the tools to encourage girls’ exploration
of STEM careers.

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New-Crime Recidivism Rates Continue to Show Modest Improvement


After years of state-backed efforts to reduce recidivism, a new report made public today by the Office of Policy and Management shows Connecticut has made steady if modest progress on how many released inmates wind up committing new crimes.

The report found that of 11,245 inmates who left state prisons during 2014, 60 percent were arrested for a new offense within three years of their release. That’s ticked down steadily from 66 percent of the cohort of inmates released in 2005.

Another measure of recidivism, returns to prison, has been more stubborn than the new arrest category. Returns to prison dropped to 53 percent, just one percentage point below 2008 and 2011 cohort levels and three points below 2005. Unlike the other categories of recidivism, returns to prison does not exclusively focus on new crimes, and it can include technical parole violations.

New-arrest recidivism and return-to-prison recidivism are two of the four ways the report counts recidivism rates. It also counts two other categories related to new crimes — new convictions and new sentences. These categories overlap since, for example, anyone who is sentenced also has been arrested and convicted.

The OPM Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division (CJPPD) examines recidivism patterns among release cohorts every three years. This is the first report examining the 2014 cohort’s post-release outcomes. It takes a broad look at the entire group of prisoners, and it will be followed up over the next two years with data on specific subgroups, said Ivan Kuzyk, the report’s principal author.

CJPPD interviewed about 120 returning prisoners to learn more about why they ended up back in prison, Kuzyk said.

“[We] got a better understanding of what was happening to people in terms of their lives outside of prison … there’s nothing really that you can say is causal because there’s no average prisoner,” Kuzyk said. “We used to think about all prisoners as one thing. What we’re really learning year by year, there are people with specific problems with specific needs.”

The drug epidemic has moved people into the prison system who wouldn’t otherwise wind up there, and gun violence in cities can have a traumatizing impact, Kuzyk said.

Connecticut’s overall prison population has been declining rapidly for a decade, and the number of young people in prisons has declined much faster.

“Since younger offenders tend to recidivate at higher rates than their older counterparts, fewer young offenders might be expected to translate into lower overall recidivism rates,” the report says.

The state’s decreasing incarceration rate, and 20 percent decline in violent crime from 2012 to 2016, aligns with data that shows descending crime rates across the U.S. and a nationwide shift toward reversing growth in prison populations through reforms.

Since 2007, more than 30 states have created policies prioritizing prison space for violent and career offenders, reducing prison terms for some offenses, and spending savings on programs that reduce recidivism, according to a report from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“Although the specific policies vary from state to state, all are aimed at curbing the growth of prison populations and reducing costs to taxpayers while holding offenders accountable for their crimes,” Pew analysts wrote.

State Correction Commissioner Scott Semple has introduced several programs to try to taper recidivism among different offender subgroups. Semple said the effort complements Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s call for a “Second Chance Society.”

The Cybulski Community Reintegration Center, a prison in Enfield dedicated to preparing inmates for re-entry into the community, is one of those initiatives.

The prison has general and specialized units that engage different prisoner populations in programs involving job skills, resume writing, and educational and vocational opportunities.

Semple said the facility, which has three units that each house slightly more than 100 inmates, also acts as a therapeutic community where prisoners hold each other accountable and work together as a community.

“There’s a benefit there. You’re improving not only one’s ability to succeed in the community — they’re not coming back into the system — but you’re also sending a message to the overall population, that there is this place and you can get there if you do the same things that we’ve been trying to influence these other folks to do,” Semple said.

That program has since been expanded to the York Correctional Institution and, on a smaller scale, to the Manson Youth Institution. Officials also are discussing the possibility of launching the program at the Garner Correctional Institution for inmates with mental health needs, Semple said.

The Department of Correction’s emphasis on showing inmates there’s an alternate path for them has become a common thread within the system.

The Malloy administration’s Risk Reduction Earned Credit (RREC) program is aimed at encouraging good behavior among offenders. It allows inmates to earn a maximum of five days a month off their sentence. Prisoners convicted of some of the most violent crimes are barred from earning credits.

Semple modified the program after he became commissioner in 2015 to become more incentive-based — bringing down the greatest number of credits someone in a maximum-security facility can receive in a month to three, and allowing inmates to earn an increased number as they progress to lower-security prisons. Offenders can reduce their security risk level by engaging in programming and displaying positive behavior.

“And it really puts an emphasis that we’re targeting the right people to put back out in the community,” Semple said. “There’s no benefit of putting someone back in the community who’s not trying to be accountable to themselves.”

State Sen. Len Suzio, an advocate for stiffer sentencing, says he won’t be satisfied with progress on recidivism as long as he can point to violent crimes committed by ex-convicts, especially those released early with Risk Reduction credits.

Suzio calls the crimes “scandalous” evidence that the state’s correction system is failing past and future victims.

At a press conference earlier this month Suzio called for further tightening the RREC program, citing a recent shoot-out with police in Hamden that resulted in the arrest of a convicted felon who was reported to have had time taken off his sentence through RREC.

“My question is, what the hell was an armed convict that hadn’t completed his prison sentence doing on the streets of Hamden two weeks ago?” Suzio said at the press conference. He said he would again push for adding offenses to the list of crimes that would disqualify prisoners from earning Risk Reduction credits.

Suzio said he had counted hundreds of charges of murder, rape and other violent offenses against inmates who had earned some amount of time off their sentences since the RREC program took effect in 2011. He said he had identified 119 murders, 154 rapes and almost 2,000 assaults among charges racked up by the first cohort of inmates released early under the RREC program — however, not necessarily charges that occurred before they would have been released if they served their full sentence.

Michael Lawlor, undersecretary for criminal justice at OPM, said violent inmates serve more of their original sentence under the state’s current system than in the past.

While the OPM report doesn’t get into much detail about subgroups within the release cohort, it does show some striking patterns in who returns to prison. In addition to younger inmates returning far more often, those with more prior convictions are more likely to return, across all age groups.

Semple’s approach to combatting recidivism evolved after he visited German prisons with Malloy in the summer of 2015 and saw a facility designated for inmates age 18 to 25.

“So I started to do the research on neuroscience brain development and learned about the impulsive nature of this age and how easily manipulated they are,” Semple said.

The correction department then partnered with the Vera Institute of Justice, a criminal justice reform group in New York City, to design a similar model in Connecticut.

Alexandra Frank, a senior program associate at the organization, said Connecticut “blazed the trail” when it opened its Young Adult Offender Program at the Cheshire Correctional Institution last year.

The program currently houses 61 inmates ages 18 to 25, and is intended to be a therapeutic community. Those chosen from a pool of applicants are mentored by selected offenders serving life sentences, and engage in activities with their families to help prepare them for reintegration.

They also have the chance to attend school, work in the facility or participate in a vocational education program.

“Being locked in a cell, not being given the opportunity to work toward goals, or connect with family — that sends a message that we don’t believe in you, we’re not invested in your success,” Frank said.

“When you re-imagine living conditions, that’s a game changer, and so a lot of the focus is on the outside, but what happens on the inside matters so much,” Frank said. “It sends a message about your ability to be successful when you return home.”

First published on ctmirror.org.

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CT Dems Pan Trump Infrastructure Plan


WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump rolled out his long-awaited infrastructure plan on Monday, which was quickly panned by Connecticut’s Democratic lawmakers, who are backing a rival proposal. Both plans face major challenges on the road to becoming reality.

The basics of Trump’s plan to shore up the nation’s roads, bridges, airports, rail and broadband include $200 billion in federal funding over the next 10 with the hopes of raising up to $1.5 trillion in total by providing incentives for investments by state and local governments, as well as private firms.

Connecticut’s Democrats have rejected that approach in favor of a Democratic plan that would invest $1 trillion in federal dollars over the next 10 years on the nation’s infrastructure.

“We need an investment plan that is real, not magical thinking,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, at a press conference Monday at a tunnel construction site in Hartford. “Anybody here want to buy the Brooklyn Bridge? That’s Donald Trump’s plan.”

Trump proposes giving $100 billion in direct federal grants to local governments to help trigger investment, $50 billion for projects in rural areas, $20 billion to large projects to “lift the American spirit,” and $30 billion for miscellaneous existing infrastructure programs.

The proposal is a departure from typical spending on infrastructure, when the federal government usually covers the bulk of the cost. Trump’s plan would see local governments taking on 80 percent or more of the funding burden.

Blumenthal said that new funding formula is a “betrayal” of the traditional way much of the nation’s infrastructure is funded, with 80 percent of the cost picked up by the federal government and 20 percent by state or local governments.

The plan calls for allowing federal authorities to sell assets to state, local or private entities and listed some proposed divestitures, including Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International Airports and the Tennessee Valley Authority. It even proposed “commercializing” interstate rest stops.

“We’re going to have a lot of public-private (partnerships), and that way it gets done on time (and) on budget,” said Trump at a Monday meeting at the White House.

Democrats said the plan was aimed at helping Wall Street, not main street, the public or state and local governments.

“The president today turned his back on the promises he made, “ Murphy said. “This proposal provides pennies to infrastructure projects while cash-strapped communities are forced to spend money they don’t have or else sell off highways and railroads to Wall Street.”

Murphy also called Trump’s plan a “giant tax giveaway to the rich.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Trump’s proposal relies on “phantom” funding.

“I find it appalling that this president would borrow $1.5 trillion for a tax cut that primarily benefits the wealthiest 1 percent while putting forward an infrastructure plan that fails to meet even this country’s most basic transportation and other infrastructure needs,” Malloy said in a statement.

Environmentalist blast plan

Trump’s proposal also would streamline the permitting process for bigger projects to two years and create a fund to repair infrastructure on public lands, such as parks and forests, using money generated from “mineral and energy development on federal lands and waters.”

The president also proposed expanding the use of toll roads and loosening restrictions on the use of revenue from them and limiting legal actions due to environmental concerns that could block or slow projects.

Shelley Poticha of the Natural Resources Defense Council called the plan “a disaster,” and an unacceptable corporate giveaway by truncating environmental reviews.”

CT DOT

The I-84 and Rt. 8 interchange in Waterbury, known as the “mixmaster.”

“That would leave local residents all but voiceless when it comes to the massive projects that will reshape their communities,” Poticha said. “We will fight to protect our future and oppose any effort to undercut these bedrock protections.”

Connecticut’s Democrats have proposed spending $1 trillion over 10 years in direct federal investment.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, has also embraced a bipartisan plan that would ramp up federal dollars spent on infrastructure, but also make it easier for states and local government to enter into public-private partnerships wherever feasible.

‘You can’t build half a Hoover Dam,” Esty said. “We’ve been trying to get by on the equivalent of duct tape…I’ve got a major highway in my district, I-84, and people who come up from New York and New Jersey cut right across my district on the ‘mix-master’ in Waterbury, Connecticut. If you look underneath it, you can look up through the decking. You can see crumbling, rusting rebar. And that has got to be fixed.”

Both the president’s approach and the Democrats’ plan face considerable obstacles. The GOP is in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, making it difficult for Democrats to advance their plan.

In addition, the Democrats’ proposal include raising the federal gasoline tax to raise money, a political risky proposition.

And Trump will need Democratic votes in the Senate to pass a bill that the party already has blasted as “fake.”

Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, said tackling the nation’s infrastructure needs will need “long-term, sustainable, dependable federal funding.”

“This is a very timely discussion in Washington and it’s going to take a very heavy lift,” Schubert said.

Congress approved an agreement on the 2018 federal budget last week that contains an additional $20 billion for infrastructure spending that could serve as a down payment on work on a national priority.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he was ready to negotiate a plan.

“Already in this Congress, the House has passed dozens of infrastructure reforms, and we look forward to working with the administration on this critical issue,” Ryan said.

First published by ctmirror.org.

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Real Arts Way Presents Photo Exhibit


HARTFORD — Real Art Ways will present an exhibition of large-scale photographs by Andrew Buck this February through May.

The opening event is scheduled for  Feb. 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. during Creative Cocktail Hour. The exhibition will be on view through May 27. Gallery hours are 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Andrew Buck’s sense of the term “landscape” is inspired by the writings of John Brinkerhoff Jackson. “He went back to the source word, the German landschaften, which referred to that which results when ‘man’ reconfigures and uses the land, in essence creating his own landscape on the natural landscape.”

Real Art Ways Executive Director Will K. Wilkins says, “Andrew Buck’s work is abstract, specific, tactile and spirited. There is a lot going on in what seems like straight-forward landscape.”

Buck is interested in the documentary aspects of his work, but he also cites abstract expressionism as an inspiration.

“The sheer size of the space of most quarries is awe-inspiring in a strange manner,” he says. “That is, that these spaces are man-made, not natural. Many of them are otherworldly in both appearance and in actual experience. The overwhelming silence enhances the experience.”

Buck lives and works in Farmington, Connecticut. His work is included in many public and private collections, include the Yale University Art Gallery and the New Britain Museum of American Art.

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