Archive | March, 2018

East Hartford Public Library to Host World War I Digitization Day


EAST HARTFORD — Do you have your grandfather’s World War I photo album tucked away in a closet? A stack of letters your great-grandmother kept in a box in the attic? A story your neighbor told you about the local homecoming parade, in the back of your mind?

Help us learn more about the men and women who served during World War I by bringing your collection to the East Hartford Public Library on April 7 between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to be scanned or photographed by staff from the Connecticut State Library. The East Hartford Public Library is at 840 Main St.

Library staff will be on hand to work with you to create a profile for the World War I era person you want to remember. They will scan or photograph the pictures, letters, or souvenirs you bring in and return them to you the same day. Then they will add all the images and stories created to an online World War I collection and to the Connecticut Digital Archive, to be preserved for future generations.

The Remembering World War I Digitization Day has been made possible in part by the Connecticut State Library with major grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. East Hartford’s local program is co-sponsored by the East Hartford Public Library and the Historical Society of East Hartford. For more information, visit the project’s website at http://ctinworldwar1.org/ or call the East Hartford Public Library at (860) 290-4331.

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Gateway Community College to Host Chef Lidia Bastianich


NEW HAVEN — The Gateway Community College Foundation  will host notable chef, author and restauranteur, Lidia Bastianich on April 11 for a book signing and reception.

Bastianich has been a public figure for decades, but she has never told her full story until now, in her memoir MY AMERICAN DREAM: A Life of Love, Family, and Food by publisher Alfred A. Knopf, April 3.

The book signing will be from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Gateway Community College.  Tickets are $26 and include a copy of My American Dream, along with admission to the meet & greet book signing.

In her memoir, Lidia takes readers from her life under communism, a dramatic escape across the border and life as a refugee, to her journey to America – penniless – and the launch of her food business. She describes the struggle to open her flagship Manhattan restaurant, Felidia, and all the accolades that followed, including the night that Julia Child and James Beard came to dine, which later resulted in the launch of Lidia’s TV career.

The rest, they say, is history.

An ambassador for Italian cuisine and culture and a passionate chef and businesswoman who has grounded her career in her family, Lidia continues to demonstrate the hard work, determination, and optimism that have characterized her entire life.

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Charter Oak to Host “Race and Revolution” Exhibit


HARTFORD —  The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center will present the Race and Revolution exhibition at the Charter Oak Cultural Center from April 2 to April 30.

The exhibit, entitled Race and Revolution: Still Separate,  Still Unequal,  is a series that uses a combination of contemporary artworks and historical documents as a platform to examine patterns of systemic racism in the United States. Race and Revolution investigates the prevalence of segregation in the United States public schools system. The event will be at 21 Chater Oak Avenue.

Since the inception of #BlackLivesMatter in 2012, the American population is reflecting on what happened after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-60s. That word “after” is part of the conundrum that surrounds our present-day conversation around race and racism. What exactly came to an end? The exhibition Still Separate – Still Unequal seeks to examine ongoing racial and economic disparity in the U.S. public school system.

The artists include Dennis Redmoon Darkeem, Damien Davis, Uraline Septembre Hager, L. Kasimu Harris, jc lenochan, Carina Maye, Shervone Neckles, Nicole Soto-Rodríguez, and Marvin Toure.

 

 

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For Older Workers, Eroding Protection Under the Law


At the age of 50, the federal law that seeks to protect older American workers from age bias has been enfeebled by court decisions that have widened loopholes for employers and narrowed the ways employees can seek redress.

When Congress enacted the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in 1967, the law was treated as something of an addendum to the Civil Rights Act, which had been passed three years earlier and banned bias on the basis of race, gender, religion and, later on, sexual orientation, among other categories. The 1967 law effectively added age to the list. Courts and lawyers assumed that key provisions of each act applied to the other.

In years to come, lawmakers would strengthen some elements of the measure, for example largely banning mandatory retirement and requiring employers to provide more disclosures about the size of their layoffs and ages of those being let go.

The original act did provide for some exceptions. Employers could favor younger workers if they could show that “reasonable factors other than age” were involved in their choice for a position. Congress allowed that, if a job required certain abilities, such as quick reflexes, as a “bona fide occupational qualification,” older workers could legally be passed over for jobs such as jet pilots or police officers.

Even with such exceptions, however, the authors of the ADEA and the first generation of judges and policymakers to administer the act warned against letting the measure’s purpose be undercut. Chief among their concerns were that employers might use the exceptions as loopholes to justify firing older workers because, for example, they have higher salaries than younger ones. To this day, federal regulations governing employers’ use of the exceptions say it is unlawful to treat older workers less favorably “based on the average cost of employing older employees.”

But in the past few decades, the warnings and cautions of the first generation have been brushed aside in a number of important court cases.

One came in 1993, when the Supreme Court expanded an employer’s ability to outflank the age law by ruling that a company hadn’t discriminated on the basis of age in firing a 62-year-old man weeks before he’d have been eligible for his pension. The justices reasoned that since the pension was based on length of service, not specifically age, the man couldn’t sue.

In a 5-4 decision in 2009, the high court raised the burden of proof for age bias well beyond what’s required for other kinds of discrimination. It ruled that a 54-year-old financial manager who alleged that he’d been wrongly demoted had to demonstrate the nearly impossible — that effectively there was no factor other than age involved in his demotion.

Employers’ core arguments for treating later-career employees less favorably are that older workers cost more in wages and benefits and produce less because of purported cognitive decline. With growing frequency, federal judges have accepted these claims about cost and cognition without requiring companies to provide any evidence to support them.

Lawyers for corporations have argued that the text of the law requires a much narrower reading of it than was given in its early years. And, in an increasingly competitive economy, the idea of replacing older workers with lower-cost younger or foreign ones has come to seem almost self-evident to Wall Street and, with mounting frequency, public policymakers.

Besides the weakening of the age act, two other recent trends in employment law may also have a dampening effect on older workers’ ability to fight discrimination.

The first involves arbitration. The Supreme Court, responding to business and conservative warnings about an overburdened judiciary, has dramatically expanded the reach of a 1925 law that enabled some business disputes to be taken to a private third party, rather than to the civil justice system. In recent decades, the high court has extended the law’s reach into virtually every legal link between individuals and companies.

Arbitration more often favors employers than employees, studies have shown. But most people don’t have the power to negotiate — or even the time or training to recognize — clauses in their employment contracts that require them to go to a private arbiter instead of a judge with their complaints.

“That’s what really surprises people,” said Alexander Colvin, a Cornell University law and labor relations professor, who estimates that more than half of private-sector non-union employees are no longer able to take their age bias claims to court. “Most people think ‘Sure, my employer can make me sign something to get a job. But that can’t possibly mean I can’t go to court to protect my civil rights.”

The second legal trend involves employers who impose so-called class-action waivers on their workers, banning them from joining together to bring legal claims against firms in court or arbitration.

One of the first big firms to impose such a waiver was D.R. Horton, the nation’s largest homebuilder. (IBM followed suit.) The National Labor Relations Board ruled in 2014 that Horton’s move violated longstanding legal guarantees that employees can “engage in …concerted activities for … mutual aid or protection.” In short order, three federal appeals courts rejected the NLRB’s decision while two others affirmed it, dumping the issue in the Supreme Court’s lap.

The Justice Department originally argued for the NLRB but, under the Trump administration, has switched sides. During oral arguments at the high court last October, Justice Stephen Breyer noted that extinguishing the rights of workers to band together as a legal class could unbalance U.S. employer-employee relations that have stood since the Roosevelt era, and cut out “the entire heart of the New Deal.”

The Supreme Court’s decision could come as early as this month. Even without that ruling, experts said, it’s clear that the other recent changes in labor laws are making it more difficult for people in the later stages of their careers to prove bias.

“Older workers could once expect fairness and equality because of our age law. But courts have stripped the law of its protections,” said Cathy Ventrell-Monsees, senior attorney advisor with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the former director of age litigation for the senior lobbying giant AARP.

“Older Americans,” she said, “deserve basic civil rights, not second-class status.”

This story was first published March 22 by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.

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Easter Seals Crystal Ball Gala Touts Success


HARTFORD — The Easterseals Crystal Ball Gala at the Hartford Marriott Downtown  on March 10. Veteran VIPs, community leaders and corporate sponsors joined forces with Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern CT to support life-changing services with special emphasis on Veterans and Servicemembers and Military Family Programs.

Learn more about Easterseals’ life-changing services at: easterseals.com/Hartford & veteransrallypoint.com

Pictured from Left:
Thomas Saadi (Commissioner of CT Veteran Affairs), Beth Pritchard (EVP, Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern CT), Dr. William Petit, Jr. (CT State Representative),  Four- Star General William J. Begert (Honored Guest Speaker, US Air Force), Dr. Allen Gouse (CEO, Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern CT), Jeanne & Robert Leduc (Honored Event Co-Chairs/Pratt & Whitney).

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LAZ CEO Joins National NAACP


HARTFORD — The founder of a Hartford-based parking garage was recently elected to the NAACP Board of directors.

Alan Lazowski, chairman and chief executive of LAZ parking, joined the longtime civil rights organization in February.

NAACP Chairman Leon W. Russell said Lazowski’s “convictions and experiences advocating for positive social change” made him a good addition to the national NAACP board.

Lazowski was nominated by President Barack Obama as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He is the founding chairman of Voices of Hope, which shares the experiences of Holocaust survivors.

Lawoski said he feels an obligation to fight against “bigotry and racism of all kinds.”

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John Blankley Announces Run for State Treasurer


GREENWICH — A Connecticut business owner announced on Tuesday that he is running for Connecticut State Treasurer.

Democrat John Blankley, 70, released a statement after nearly a year speaking with residents across the state and raising funds for Connecticut’s Citizens’ Election Program,

“When my family came to America 35 years ago, as immigrants, we chose Connecticut for its great schools, natural beauty and great people. No one talked about financial problems. But today we face the daunting task of addressing budget deficits and 50 years of unfunded pension liabilities.

Blankley ran for First Selectman in 2011, the State Assembly in 2012 and the State Senate in 2016.

Blankley, who was born and raised in England, moved his family here in 1983, and became a U.S. citizen in 1997. He was executive vice president and chief financial officer for BP North America and chief financial officer and board member of various shipping companies before starting Flagship Networks Inc., a computer consulting company. He is a former member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.

The Greenwich businessman said he is prepared for the role.

“It seems as if my entire life’s journey has been preparing for this job. As the son of a coal miner who grew up in tough times, I’ve learned that we must always search for light in the bleakest moments of history. I’ve learned that we must not step forward out of ambition but rather out of a genuine desire to help. My lifetime of financial experience can help our State, and that is why I am running. My experience will help restore a climate of fiscal calm in Connecticut that can accelerate new business creation and put our State on a path to recovery,” Blankley said.

State Treasurer Denise Nappier announced in January that she will not be seeking a sixth term in office.

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Manchester Community College to Hold Regional Job Fair


MANCHESTER — Manchester Community College will hold its annual regional job fair on April 6 on its campus.

The Manchester Community College Regional Job Fair will also be celebrating its 30th anniversary of matching job seekers with prospective employees.

The job fair will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is co-sponsored by Manchester Community College, the Connecticut Department of Labor, the MCC Foundation, and the Journal Inquirer.

“The Connecticut Department of Labor and Manchester Community College have a longstanding partnership and a history of bringing together job seekers and prospective employers,” explains State Labor Commissioner Scott Jackson. “While at the Manchester Community College Regional Career Fair, visitors will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with representatives from 50 companies that are offering positions in management, manufacturing, medical, technical and a variety of other fields.”

Admission for jobseekers is free.

Employers wishing to participate in the career fair can register, either by visiting the Labor Department’s website at www.ctjobfairs.com.

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Why Black Immigrant Lives Matter


By Marc Morial
This is how Opal Tometi of Black Alliance for Just Immigration put it in “Why The Black Immigrant Experience is Central to Lasting Social Change,” in State of Black America 2017: “As we move forward in dialogue and action, as we question the legitimacy of documents, policies, and practices that render some bodies legal and others ‘alien’ we must also push ourselves to acknowledge and address the intersections of immigrant identities. Over the past decade, as the immigrant rights movement in our country has expanded, our understanding of immigration has narrowed to the non-Black, Latino experience.”
We are long overdue for a discussion about immigration as it relates to Black immigrants, particularly at this moment as the current presidential administration clamors to end legal protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and congressional leaders lurch from one proposed bipartisan solution to another in search of a permanent legislative fix. To be sure, to live in this country as an undocumented person is to live a life overshadowed by fear, but combine that fear with the harsh realities of race in our nation and you have a volatile mix.
The numbers are troubling—and telling. Black immigrants make up a small percentage of DACA recipients. They are an estimated 12,000 of 700,000 recipients, and comprise less than 10% of all our nation’s entire immigrant population, but at 21%, they are predictably overrepresented in deportation proceedings as a result of criminal convictions, and according to the deputy director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the same yawning disparity holds true for detention rates. BAJI’s State of Black Immigrants report estimates that “one out of every five noncitizens facing deportation on criminal grounds before the Executive Office for Immigration Review is Black.”
While undocumented Black immigrants share a universal story of migration, struggle, and survival, they must also contend with the heightened risk of social vulnerability commonly tied to race in our nation. As we enter the proverbial ring to fight for the civil and human rights of those brought to this country as children, recognize no other home, and as President Obama once noted, are “Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” we must ensure that solutions that benefit one immigrant community do not derail the opportunities of another. Therefore, the stories and voices of Black immigrants must remain top-of-mind and relevant throughout this debate.
The Trump administration recently left the fate of these 700,000 undocumented immigrants in the hands of the Supreme Court. A decision to allow the Trump administration to end the DACA program—which currently shields those young men and women from deportation—would have resulted in the near immediate loss of that protection. The added travesty for Black immigrants is that over-policing in their communities and increased engagement with the criminal justice system would have increased their risk of deportation. But in a widely expected setback, the Supreme Court rejected the administration’s request to hear the case. While the court’s decision offers a timely lifeline to DACA recipients, who faced the imminent expiration of the program’s legal protections, the reprieve is temporary.

The disturbing language said to come from the White House claiming that Nigerians live in huts, that all Haitians have AIDS, or that Africans should return to their slur-worthy countries, would evidence a disdain for immigrants who come from majority Black countries. Various proposed congressional resolutions have highlighted the urgency of amplifying the experiences of Black immigrants. There are bipartisan proposals on the table that offer a permanent fix for DACA recipients and DREAMers (undocumented immigrants who are eligible, but have not applied for DACA), in exchange for ending established channels to legal immigration such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), protections for immigrants who come from countries experiencing environmental or social upheaval, the visa diversity lottery program, and family-based immigration programs—some of the very programs that created and create legal pathways for Black immigration. 

We are stronger together. The immigrants’ rights movement needs to be inclusive and incorporate the realities of its diverse constituencies. Now is the time for rights groups, advocates, and allies to begin to specifically look at and address the complicated needs and reality of Black undocumented immigrants whose stories and voices are rarely heard above prevailing media narratives. It is time to affirm that their lives matter, too.
Marc H. Morial is President and CEO of National Urban League.

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College Student Who Smeared Bodily Fluids on Black Roommate’s Belongings Receives Special Probation to Avoid Criminal Record. How Not Shocking


By Breanna Edwards, The Root

Brianna Brochu will not be facing any real punishment for smearing her bodily fluids all over, and tampering with, her black roommate’s belongings.

In fact, quite the opposite. Brochu, who was expelled from the University of Hartford in Connecticut following the incident, was granted a special type of probation on Monday that would allow her to avoid a criminal record altogether … as if systematically contaminating another person’s living space were no big deal.

According to the Hartford Courant, the victim in this scenario, Brochu’s former roommate Chennell “Jazzy” Rowe—who attended the hearing—did not oppose the request for accelerated rehabilitation. So now Brochu will have to perform a cushy 200 hours of community service, with 50 of those hours at a literacy organization in Greater Hartford and another 50 at a social services group.

If Brochu manages to not be disgusting stay out of trouble and complete those requirements, the charges she faced—breach of peace and criminal mischief—will be tossed out after two years.

Brochu will be forbidden from having contact with Rowe and will have to submit to a mental health evaluation.

Brochu, you might remember, was arrested after boasting about rubbing her used tampons on her roommate’s bag, as well as contaminating her eating utensils, toothbrush and other beauty products.

“Finally did it yo girl got rid of her roommate!! After 1 1/2 month of spitting in her coconut oil, putting moldy clam dip in her lotions, rubbing used tampons [on] her backpack, putting her toothbrush places where the sun doesn’t shine and so much more I can finally say goodbye Jamaican Barbie,” Brochu wrote in the caption for photos posted on Instagram.

What was especially alarming was how Rowe detailed how she had been continually getting sick while rooming with Brochu.

“While I’ve been here, I’ve been getting sick. Not knowing why I’ve been getting sick. It started with throat pain. I thought maybe because it’s colder up here, I’m just probably catching a cold,” Rowe revealed in a Facebook video detailing the ordeal. “The sore throat pain got worse and it was just throat pain. And this was happening for about a month. It got to the point where I had extreme throat pain where I couldn’t sleep, to the point where I couldn’t speak. Like, I’d try to whisper and I could barely whisper.”

The state, it is worth noting, avoided filing hate crime charges, a decision that earned the Hartford State’s Attorney’s Office loads of criticism. However, State’s Attorney Gail Hardy insisted that “the state does not bring criminal charges for personal or political reasons,” citing that there was no evidence that Rowe was being harassed because of her race or ethnicity.

The Courant notes that Rowe acknowledged how Brochu’s “acts of hate” traumatized her and resulted in nightmares, but Rowe also said that by giving Brochu a “second chance, I hope she will change her ways.”

Brochu’s lawyer, Thomas Stevens, apologized on Brochu’s behalf, saying that his client wanted to “express her regret” sooner, but he basically told her not to snitch on herself to avoid possible civil litigation.

I just have one thing to say: Ugh.

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