Archive | March, 2019

CRT Seeks Volunteers for After-School Program


HARTFORD — The Community Renewal Team’s after-school program is seeking volunteers.

The program, Generations, is administered on Tuesdays and Thursday at CRT in Hartford.

CRT Generations is a program in which grandparents with legal custody of their grandchildren raise them in a safe and nurturing environment with other families in the same situation, organizers said.

For more information, or to become a volunteer, email info@crtct.org.

Posted in Hartford, YouthComments (0)

Hartford Residents Urged to Share Views on HPD Drones


HARTFORD — Hartford residents are being urged to share their views about drone surveillance that will be used by the Hartford Police Department.

The community conversation will be held 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday March 25 at the Hartford Public Library for Contemporary Culture.

At the event, Drones, Surveillance, Technology and Considerations for Public Safety and Privacy, city officials will discuss the plans on using this new technology to aid public safety.

City Council members Wildaliz Bermudez and James Sanchez, Sen. John Fonfara and representatives from the Hartford Police Department and the Connecticut Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union will be on the panel to address questions.

In December 2017, the Hartford City Council voted 7-2 to approve a state grant that allowed the purchase of two drones. Opponents said the police department’s use of drones threaten civil liberties.

Police officials said that the drones will help with chasing suspects and with “crowd control.”

Posted in Hartford, NeighborhoodComments (0)

Tags: , ,

CHS to Run Exhibit on Blacks and the Struggle for Citizenship


The Connecticut Historical Society will run an exhibit that highlights 50 years of struggle for citizenship by black Americans.

The exhibit, Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, is a new traveling show from the New York Historical Society that explores African Americans’ struggle for full citizenship and equal rights. Connecticut will be the first stop on a national tour.

The exhibit, which will run from March 27 to Sept. 14,  focuses on the transformative 50 years after the Civil War, using art, artifacts, photographs, silent films and other types of media to tell the story of reconstruction, black advancement and the backlash that was manifested in segregationist “Jim Crow” laws.

The traveling exhibit will also include details and documentation on lynchings and other heinous crimes and acts of terrorism against black Americans during this time.

The showcase will end after World War I, when more than 350, 000 African American men fought.

In addition to the original exhibit, the CHS also included Connecticut-themed items to the exhibit, providing local context to the national story.

Objects that will be on display include a letter from Frederick Douglass written in 1863 to Edwin M. Stanton, which recommends George T. Downin for Bridgade Quarter Master of Colored Troops. Also on display will be a Poplin dress belonging to Rebecca Primus, circa 1868. Rebecca Primus was born in 1836 in Hartford to a socially prominent black family. She completed high school and became and educator. During the early years of Reconstruction, Primus moved south to Royal Oak, Maryland to establish and teach at a school for previously enslaved African Americans under the sponsorship of the Hartford Freedman’s Aid Society.

The lives of Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells and W. E. B. DuBois are also explored along with many lesser-known but impactful historical figures who each contributed positively to America’s story.

For more information about the exhibit, visit, chs.org.

Posted in HartfordComments (0)

Hartford Police Chief David Rosado to Retire, Jumps to Private Sector


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — After about one year on the job, Hartford Police Chief David Rosado will retire in April to take a leadership position in the private sector.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin on Thursday announced that Rosado will take a job with Pratt & Whitney. Rosado’s last day will be April 12.

Rosado was one of two picks by Bronin after a national search for a replacement of former Chief James Rovella, who retired in February 2018. Rosado, a former lieutenant colonel with the state troopers, was born and raised in Hartford. He actively lobbied for the job by meeting with community leaders and the city council before he was selected and confirmed in January 2018.

Rosado touted his accomplishments during his 14 months on the job, namely increasing accountability, rolling out body cameras, and recruiting diverse classes of new officers. However, he said, he will leave because of his family.

“This opportunity to take a leadership role at Pratt & Whitney is one that I could not turn down for my family,” Rosado said. “I made this decision with mixed emotions, but as anyone who knows me understands, my family is central to everything I do, and they have supported my career in public service for more than two decades. It’s difficult to leave the men and women of the Hartford Police Department, who do incredible work each and every day.”

Bronin thanked Rosado for his service and said there will be “significant community involvement in that process” in the city’s national search to replace Rosado.

“I’m grateful to Chief Rosado for his service to Hartford,” Bronin said. “Chief Rosado has had a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, and over the last year he and his team have done important work to strengthen the department. I respect his decision based on what’s best for him and his family, and I wish him and his family the very best as he gins the next chapter.”

During the national search, Assistant Chief Jason Thody will serve as interim chief.

Thody, who has been working with the Hartford Police Department for 23 years, said he’s looking forward to serving the city.

“It’s an honor to be asked to serve as Interim Chief of the Hartford Police Department,” Thody said. “I am looking forward to continuing to work with Mayor Bronin, the City Council, the men and women of the department and the community in this new role.”

Posted in Business, Hartford, NeighborhoodComments (0)

Blue Earth Compost to Unveil CT’s First Food Scrap Truck


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Elected officials will help unveil Connecticut’s first food scrap dump truck on Wednesday in Hartford.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Rep. Matthew Ritter, Rep. Brandon McGee and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin will join the owner of Blue Earth Compost to highlight the company’s first commercial food scrap collection truck.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin 1:00 p.m. at the State Capitol.

The truck is the first of its kind in the state, according to representatives from Blue Earth Compost. The purchase of the truck was made possible with a loan from the Department of Economic and Community Development and matching donations received through crowd sourcing.

Blue Earth Compost, which picks up compostable materials from homes, businesses, and events, and delivers compost in return, is now positioned to be the largest diverter of food scraps in Connecticut, representatives said.

“This truck is the result of a supportive community that cares about our planet and values the principles of environmental justice,” said Alexander Williams, owner of Blue Earth Compost. “At Blue Earth, we are working to change the present waste hauling paradigm, towards one that values the health and safety of our Earth and all communities in our state.”

Of the state’s 2.5 million tons of trash produced each year, about 500,000 tons is food scraps. This represents the single largest component of solid waste sent to incinerators and landfills.

Hartford is host to the Mid Connecticut trash plant, which burns more than 40 percent of the state’s waste. The environment gets polluted from the burning and affects low-income, minority communities, producing one of the highest rates of asthma in the nation.

Blue Earth is offering an environment friendly way of scrapping trash as well as meeting the state’s ambitious recycling goal of diverting 60 percent of municipal solid waste through reductions, reuse, recycling and composting by 2024.

Posted in Business, HartfordComments (0)

Tags: , ,

Judge Rules in Favor of Robinson v. Wentzell, Says Magnet School Discrimination Case Can Move Forward


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — U.S. District Court Judge Stefan R. Underhill on Thursday ruled that a lawsuit against the state and city of Hartford can move forward in challenging the racial quota for magnet schools aimed at integrating metropolitan area schools deemed racially imbalanced.

Judge Underhill gave the green light for plaintiffs to proceed in federal court with the Robinson v. Wentzell case, which claims that race-based enrollment quotas in public magnet schools “unjustly and unconstitutionally deny black and Hispanic children on wait list access to empty available seats in high quality magnet schools.”

At issue is the state law that mandates interdistrict magnet schools to reserve 25 percent of the classroom seats for white or Asian students. Those seats sometimes remain empty while black and Hispanic students are on a wait list because of losing out of a lottery system, advocates for the plaintiffs said. The lawsuit claims the lottery system is discriminatory.

The plaintiffs see the court’s recent ruling as a major victory.

“Yesterday was a huge victory for educational freedom and justice for Hartford black and Hispanic children and their parents,” said Gwen Samuel, Founder and President of the Connecticut Parents Union, an advocacy group based in Meriden.

LaShawn Robinson is the lead plaintiff in the case filed Feb. 15, 2018 by seven families. The California-based Pacific Legal Foundation filed the lawsuit on Robinson’s behalf because she believed the enrollment process for magnet schools was stacked against her son, who is black.

Robinson said she applied for her son to attend a magnet school but was denied for three consecutive years until her son, Jared, dropped out of his neighborhood school.

The lawsuit is a continuation for the long struggle for quality education for all students in a state with one of the highest achievement gap in the nation.

The state was confronted with this issue in the Sheff v. O’Neill case in 1989 when a coalition of parents and students filed a lawsuit that claimed the state denied Hartford students their civil rights in allowing them to remain in segregated schools based on race and socio-economic factors.

Robinson’s case attacks the state’s approach to a remedy for the 1996 Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling in the Sheff case, which mandates integrated schools.

“Incredibly, the state incentivizes public schools to deny Black and Hispanic children opportunities for an exceptional education for no reason other than skin color,” said Oliver Dunford, a Pacific Legal attorney for Robinson and the other plaintiffs. “This lawsuit aims to protect equal access to education for all children in Connecticut.”

The state and other intervenors, including advocates for the Sheff plaintiffs, asked the court to dismiss the case. Dennis Parker, one of the attorneys on the Sheff legal team, said at a forum in January that the Robinson case was an attempt to nullify the Sheff victory of having more than 40 magnet schools aimed at an integrated and quality educational experience for Connecticut students.

“Things we thought we won, the victories we thought prevailed in civil rights and in other areas are extremely fragile,” said Parker, who serves as executive director of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. “They are not permanent. We don’t have the luxury of saying, we won this, we can move on to the next problem because those basic wins are being attacked on a daily basis by this administration and by others outside of the administration.”

Samuel sees it differently.

“Both the State of Connecticut, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, ACLU Racial Justice Program, and the Center for Children’s Advocacy, as Sheff v. O’Neill intervenors, tried very hard to have this case thrown out of court on a variety of grounds—forgetting that every child in Connecticut regardless of their race has a right to access safe and quality educational opportunities.”

Posted in Featured, HartfordComments (1)

Mayor Luke Bronin Touts Robust Fiscal Future for Hartford, More Work to Do


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — In his third state of the city address on Monday, Mayor Luke Bronin touted Hartford as a city on the path to fiscal health after having averted a financial crisis.

Bronin said the city was fiscally sound and was attracting new businesses such as Insurtech, Stanley Black & Decker, MakerspaceCT and ThinkSynergy. Thanks in part to the state’s five-year plan that averted the city from filing bankruptcy last year. The state agreed to pay off the city’s $550 million debt.

The city was indeed at a crossroads and the mayor said he and his team made a plan and stuck with it.

“It’s easy to forget just how dangerous that crisis was,” Bronin said to the city council and others in City Hall. “It was not clear then that there was any path other than bankruptcy that would allow our city to avoid a catastrophic collapse of services.”

Bronin, who is seeking a second term in office, said the city now has enough money set aside for capital investments and to build on the city’s reserves.

But there is much more work to do.

The mayor outlined the need to increase the number of black and Hispanic police officers and fire fighters in the city, tackle youth homelessness, chronic absenteeism in the school district and invest more in Hartford neighborhoods.

The city recently hired more than 100 police officers and about half of those hired are black and Hispanic. Additionally, about 125 firefighters were hired and two-thirds are black and Hispanic, officials said.

The city has also received a grant to help reduce youth homelessness.  The city has partnered with several area organizations and has reduced chronic homelessness by 70 percent since 2015, Bronin said.

Almost 50 percent of Hartford students are considered chronically absent or on the brink of being labeled chronically absent. The city has partnered with a national organization to reengage students to lower the absenteeism rate.

“Issues like that can’t be solved inside the walls of our schools alone,” Bronin said.

There are also signs of development and other investments that dot the city’s landscape. Projects that were stalled are now on track again, such as the Albany Avenue Streetscapes, Westbrook Village and Weaver High School in the North End.

The Southend has a new library branch and Mutual Housing is turning blighted properties into an island of affordable housing.

Progress is evident, he said.

“Anyone who says that neighborhood economic development hasn’t been a priority just isn’t paying attention, or isn’t telling the truth,” Bronin said.

The first-term mayor ended his 30-minute speech by urging all residents and business owners to take ownership of the city and fight for its progress.

“We’re a city that fights when we’re down, and we fight for those who are down,” Bronin said. “We’re a city that stands together. We are the strong heart of our region, and the Capital of this great State.”

Posted in Featured, HartfordComments (0)

Tags:

Lunafest Film Festival Comes to Goodwin College


EAST HARTFORD — Lunafest, a short film festival that supports women, will be at Goodwin College on March 16.

The traveling festival features films by women with women leads and range from animation to fictional drama that cover issues such as women’s health, body image, relationships, cultural diversity and breaking barriers.

The event will begin at 2 p.m. at Goodwin at One Riverside Dr. in East Hartford.

Hailed as one of the most beautifully supported short film festival, the event is a way to empower women, organizers said.

The festival is hosted by Soroptimist International Central Connecticut Clubs and will benefit the organization’s Live Your Dream Awards.

Tickets are $15 and are available at lunafest.org.

Featured films are as follows:

  • “Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday,” an animated story of a woman finding her old diaries, by Jackie Files.
  • “Drummer Girl,” the story of a woman with a passion for music, by Sophie Hexter.
  • “Flip the Record,” a coming-of-age story about a Filipino-American girl, by Marie Jamora.
  • “War Paint,” the story of a woman facing racism and sexism, by Katrelle N. Kindred.
  • “Ur Dead to Me,” a story about a delivery woman learning about life, by Yonoko Li.
  • “The Final Show,” a story of a woman contemplating death, by Dana Nachman.
  • “Are We Good Parents?” a story about a girl who comes out to her family, by Bola Ogun.
  • “My Immigrant Story,” a documentary about director Yuriko Gamo Romer’s family.

Posted in A & E, Business, East Hartford, Hartford, TravelComments (0)

Tags:

Connecticut Must Support Community Nonprofits


By Gian-Carl Casa

Connecticut’s community nonprofits are important contributors to our quality of life and the state needs to support them with adequate funding.

Gian-Carl Casa

Community nonprofits do many things for people who live and work in our state, things like providing substance-abuse treatment, caring for troubled kids, helping people with disabilities, heating homes and bringing arts and cultural programs to communities across the state.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposed budget largely recognizes the role played by community nonprofits in delivering vital services to the people of Connecticut. Despite a difficult budget year, the governor would maintain funding levels for most of the programs operated by nonprofits that serve our residents.

It’s a good starting point and we thank him for that. But there is more work to be done to make sure that payments to nonprofits cover the cost of the services they provide — because in many cases they simply don’t.

Years of tough budgets included many cuts to nonprofits even as demand increased. A 2015 study of rates for behavioral health services showed an annual loss for the top ten procedures (by volume) was more than $27 million for approximately 250,000 service hours. State grants for mental health and substance abuse have been reduced by 17 percent Before the legislature approved targeted wage increases last year, nonprofits that provide services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities hadn’t had a rate increase since 2007.

Compare that with the devastating increase in deaths from opioid abuse and the 2,000-person waiting list for services from the Department of Developmental Services.

It’s been said that for many years community nonprofits have been on the receiving end of cuts because they are run by dedicated people who will provide their services regardless. While it’s true that nonprofits do their best to raise funds from donations and diversify their offerings the days of “providing their services anyway” are ending. We hear frequently about programs that have been curtailed or closed – for example, the closing of group homes for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities or reduced hours for programs that help youth with trauma in their backgrounds. It is system approaching its breaking point.

The state should treat the essential services provided by community nonprofits as if they are fixed costs in the state budget – and off the table for further cuts.

One way to maximize limited state funding is by shifting more expensive state-operated programs into the community and re-investing the savings into the service delivery system. Community nonprofits can reduce state costs and meet the demand for services our residents need in a wide variety of areas.

Community nonprofits do the hard work so government doesn’t have to. The governor’s budget proposal is a good start and should be seen by legislators as the basis for making up some of the lost ground caused by a state funding system that hasn’t kept pace with the need.

The people of Connecticut who need or use services provided by nonprofits will thank them.

Gian-Carl Casa is President & CEO of the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance.

Posted in Featured, Opinion, PoliticsComments (0)

Tags: ,

Obama Foundation to Recruit 100 Hartford Youth for Leadership Program


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Obama Foundation is seeking 100 youth in Hartford for its community engagement training designed to “inspire, empower, and connect” young leaders who want to tackle problems in their communities.

Applications are available online and the deadline to apply is March 24. The six-month program will kick off in June. Mandatory in-person training will be held from June 7 to 9, Aug. 16 to 18 and Nov. 8 to 10.

Applicants should be between 18 and 25 years old and live in the city. Selected individuals will become a part of the Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps and gain valuable skills in community organizing, design thinking, and project management.

Hartford is one of two cities this summer to participate in the Foundations program—selected primarily because about 40 percent of Hartford residents are under 25.

Mayor Luke Bronin said Hartford is fortunate to have so many engaged youth.

““We are thrilled that the Obama Foundation chose Hartford as one of only two cities in the country for the second year of its Community Leadership Corps, which will work hand in hand with young people to help them make an even bigger impact in our community,” Bronin said.  “The Obama Foundation’s focus on investing in and supporting diverse young leaders is a perfect fit for a city like Hartford, and we are looking forward to working with them in the months ahead.”

The other city participating this summer is Chicago, home of the foundation’s headquarters. In its first year, the program was in Chicago, Phoenix, Ariz and Columbia, S.C.

The program will include three in-person trainings in each city, online trainings in between and ongoing coaching support.

“We know our young people are eager to make a difference in their communities, so the Community Leadership Corps aims to give them skills to take their passion and put it into action,” said David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation. “Building on the successes of last year’s program, we’re excited to introduce the Community Leadership Corps to Hartford—as well as bring together a new crop of leaders in Chicago. In doing so, we’ll help young leaders acquire the skills they need to tackle the issues in their communities.”

For more information about the 2019 program, visit www.obama.org/clc.

Photo courtesy of Obama Foundation.

Posted in Featured, Hartford, Nation, Neighborhood, YouthComments (0)

  • Latest News
  • Tags
  • Subscribe
Advertise Here