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Blumenthal, Bronin Meet with Hartford Officials to Discuss Ways to Quiet Tensions, Police Brutality


SUBMITTED: Author wants Mayor Luke Bronin to Resign for 
Ignoring Media Suppression and Hate Crime in Hartford.

By L. Giles, Contributor

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Mayor Luke A. Bronin, Chief James C. Rovella and Hartford’s State Attorney Gail P. Hardy met at City Hall on Tuesday to discuss ways to serve the Hartford community while ensuring that police officers have adequate resources to protect and serve  residents and business owners.

Blumenthal called on President Barack Obama’s office for additional resources to fight crime after Bronin said there’s a need to have good communication with city residents and business owners to avoid similar shootings and mass protest that gripped the nation when a gunman named Micah Johnson killed five police officers during a protest in Dallas, Texas.

Johnson’s and other retaliatory acts to police brutality since then is to be avoided, state officials said, hence another round of meetings that involved a trip to Barbershop on Main and Park streets.

All four public officials realized that the city is “still wrestling with the legacy of deeply flawed criminal justice policies.” That and the lack of public trust could trigger an eruption in Hartford, never seen since 1967.

The trust needed in the community was broken for one reporter after 15 police officers were dispatched to 167 Sisson Ave. on Friday, April 4, 2014. A Hartford Guardian reporter was awoken from her sleep and taken to John Dempsey Hospital, where they kept her, so that she could not cover the President of the United States. And she could not attend a Friday church service in East Hartford and a history conference on Saturday.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionSince then, law enforcement officials in the state have been monitoring The Hartford Guardian’s website and disrupting her writing. The systematic dismantling of a competitive publication that has won several awards and is the blue print for other publications in the Greater Hartford area is akin to the kind of racism found in the 1920s. And to date, law enforcement officials have used covert techniques to silence all the witnesses by using electronic nodes and other fancy crime fighting tools to control law abiding citizens of color.

For example, these new devices were used to control a reporter’s thinking, reading and writing, according to a black law enforcement officers who want to remain anonymous. This, he said, is “slavery by another name.” And that is why everyone in the city should be concerned about Chief Rovella asking for more money for his department. Rovella must address the lawsuit against the city for detainment, invasion of privacy, attempted murder and failure to protect a citizen under the 14th amendment before others are forced to go the the United Nations to discuss why Connecticut want to enslaved black and Latino people “in secret.”

City cameras, electronic nodes other policing tools used 24 hours a day on one reporter is why the Hartford police–and other law enforcement agencies in this state, should instead shed those police officers who have violated a public trust.

If they had that much time to have a chit-chat session with a single black woman on April 4, 2014 and almost every day since then, they do not need any extra resources.

Tuesday’s meeting came after another police office was killed in Orlando without discussion about the April 4 incident. Martin Luther King, Jr died on April 4. So many city activists say it was a symbolic move to silence them because city officials were sending a message–not just to the reporter–to anyone who wanted to start a civil rights movement in the city. There will be no civil rights movement in Hartford, they said. The mystery should be unveiled by all the officials at the meeting.

In the meanwhile, some residents are asking for Luke Bronin’s resignation because he has yet to address the police brutality directed at the only black reporter who writes for a daily publication. This clearly impacts the minority community in the telling of our stories.

L. Giles lives in New Britain.

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

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CT Officials to Hold Meeting on Increasing the Minimum Wage


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

WETHERSFIELD —  Connecticut residents on July 20 will have their say on whether there will be an increase of the minimum wage, state officials said.

The July public hearing to be held in Bridgeport at  Bridgeport City Hall’s Council Chambers, 45 Lyon Terrace from 6 to 8 p.m.

Those interested in speaking are asked to arrive at the Council Chambers by 5:30 p.m. to sign-up as a participant.

The public hearing is sponsored by Connecticut Low Wage Employer Advisory Board, established to study a variety of issues connected to low wage workers and advising the State Labor Commissioner, the Connecticut Departments of Development Services and Social Services, as well as the Office of Early Childhood on the following issues:

Those with questions about the hearing or the Connecticut Low Wage Employer Advisory Board are welcome to email inquiries to DOL.CTMinimumWagePublicHearing@ct.gov or call 203-455-2855.

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Downtown to Have New Grocery Store


HARTFORD — Downtown Hartford will have a new upscale grocery store this Wednesday: Greeway Market.

This is the second attempt in the last five years to have a grocery store in downtown Hartford. The previous grocery store, Market at Hartford 21, opened  a block from the Greenway location, opened to much fanfare but closed after just six months.

After conducting a Facebook survey as part of his market research for the store and found that those who responded on the Dwelling in Downtown, residents said they wanted a store that was more affordable.

Five years ago,  the previous store owners  receive a luke-warm reception for its upscale offerings.

The store will sell organic and natural foods alongside traditional, everyday brands.
Ankit Harpaldas, owners of the new market, said the store will feature locally-made products, such as bread from the Hartford Baking Co. and coffee for its “coffee station” from Giv Coffee, a coffee roastery and cafe, in Canton.

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United Nations to Hold a Live Town Hall Meeting


Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

NEW YORK — For the first time, the United Nations will hold a town hall meeting to select candidates for the position of next Secretary-General.

In the past, the meeting has been held behind closed doors. This time, the event will be televised and to be viewed around the world. As a result, many nations will have thier say about who will be the next Secretary General. The webcast event in the General Assembly Hall will include taking questions from diplomats and the public at large.

The event is scheduled for July 14  from 6.00 p.m – 9.00 p.m  and be webcast and broadcast live by UN TV and Al Jazeera Media Network across multiple broadcast and social media channels.

“In the past, UN Secretaries-General have been chosen behind closed doors. This time, we want  to ensure all UN member states and the entire world
have a chance to know who the candidates are, what their vision is and see how they perform,”  said the President of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft .”This Townhall is another way to enhance public interest in the mission and work of the United Nations and the need for the best possible candidate for our next Secretary-General.”

Ten of the 12 official candidates, nominated by their governments to take over at the helm of the UN Secretariat when current Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon leaves at the end of the year, will be engaged in a wide-ranging 60-minute discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing the
organization. They will each be given the opportunity at the start to make their case for the job and explain their vision.

The General Assembly Hall’s 1,900 seats are expected to be filled to capacity with ambassadors, diplomats, UN staff, journalists and leaders
from business and civil society.

The 10-confirmed candidates will be split into two groups of five (determined by draw of lots) for a one-hour discussion and Q and A led by
moderators James Bays and Folly Bah Thibault from Al Jazeera English.

Questions to the candidates from Member States and the global public will come from the floor and via video from around the world.

This Townhall event is distinct from the UN General Assembly mandated two-hour informal dialogues with candidates that have taken place over the
past few months and that will continue to be held as further candidates are presented. The next one of those will be on Thursday 14 July at 11am EST
with Christiana Figueres.

The two candidates unable to attend the event in New York are Srgjan Kerim (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and Miroslav Lajčák (Slovak
Republic). However, both have been invited to send video messages that can be used in the event.

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Southern Connecticut University Has New President


Community Focus

Submitted by:  La Lu Maribel

HARTFORD –The Board of Regents for Higher Education unanimously voted to select Dr. Joe Bertolino as the 12th President of Southern Connecticut State University. A Board of Regents search committee recommended Dr. Bertolino among three finalist after a 5-month long nationwide search.

“I want to thank everyone who participated in this process, especially the University Advisory Committee for their time and collective input,” said Larry DeNardis, Chair of the Regents Search Committee. “Dr. Bertolino greatly impressed the Committee and I am confident he will be a perfect complement to the great talent we have at Southern.”

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark E. Ojakian agreed:  “Dr. Bertolino’s commitment to students and their access to high quality higher education is very clear. He is going to be a great advocate for Southern and our system. ”

“I am both honored and humbled to serve as Southern’s next president,” shared Dr. Bertolino. “While there are certainly many challenges ahead, the institution’s potential far outweighs those challenges.  I look forward to working closely with the Southern team to ensure that we continue to build strong relationships and that our institutional core rests in our mission and in service to our students.”

Dr. Bertolino is currently the President of Lyndon State College in Vermont and Special Assistant to the Chancellor for System Integration and Related Efforts at the Vermont State Colleges. He replaces Dr. Mary Papazian who resigned as of July 1. He will beginAugust 22, 2016 at an annual salary of $294,700.

Mr. Bertolino’s Curriculum Vitae can be found here: http://www.ct.edu/files/pdfs/SCSU-Joe-Bertolino.pdf

 

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Urban League to Revisit ‘The State of Black Hartford’


HARTFORD —  The Urban League will once again examine the state of black Hartford.

Thanks to a $36,000 grant  it recently received from the Hartford Foundation.

In 1994 the Urban League of Greater Hartford produced the book “The State of Black Hartford” which, for the first time, provided comprehensive information on the history of African and Caribbean-Americans in Hartford.

The Urban League will provide an update to this work.

The 1994 publication was a 228-page book that included chapters on education, economic conditions, politics, criminal justice, culture, family and housing, with a focus on the black community’s economic resources.

The “State of Black Hartford 2016” will provide insight into areas such as assessing social health, the black church, black and brown men of Hartford, the Hartford Promise Zone, the criminal justice system, and education. The new book will include issue briefs, opinion contributions and traditional manuscripts.

“The first “State of Black Hartford” was published 22 years ago and provided vision and a voice in greater Hartford, said Adrienne Cochrane, Urban League of Great Hartford’s president and CEO. “The State of Black Hartford 2016 takes a more scholarly approach to addressing the challenges that African Americans face at both the national and local levels through a series of briefs and chapters.”

This publication is intended to be a Greater Hartford-centric version of the National the National Urban League’s “State of Black America 2016,” the 40th Anniversary Edition of an annual publication which has been widely recognized for its commentary and analysis around racial equality in America across economics, employment, education, health, housing, criminal justice and civic participation.

The Foundation’s grant will support the copyediting, printing and marketing of the new volume. This grant will fully fund the binding of 300 black and white copies and 100 color copies for limited distribution.  A digital version will also be available.

Sharon O’Meara, the Hartford Foundation’s director of community investments said the publication is expected to highlight several of “the most salient issues affecting the Black community in Hartford.”

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Judge Re-Appoints Attorney Kevin Kane


NEW HAVEN — Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane has been re-appointed to a third term.

First appointed as Connecticut’s chief law enforcement officer in 2006, Kane has served as a state prosecutor for more than 44 years and is the longest-serving Chief State’s Attorney since the position was created in 1973.

Chief State’s Attorney Kane’s appointment is for a five-year term beginning July 1, 2016.

The appointments were approved by the Commission at its meeting Friday at the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney in Rocky Hill.

As Chief State’s Attorney, Kane is the administrative head of the Division of Criminal Justice, the independent agency of the executive branch of state government that is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of all criminal matters in the State of Connecticut.

He began his career as a prosecutor as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the former 9th Circuit in Middletown in August 1972 and was promoted to Prosecuting Attorney in the fall of 1973. He transferred to the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney in November 1978 where he served as the Unit Chief of the former Special Investigations Unit.

Chief State’s Attorney Kane earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

As New Haven State’s Attorney, he is the chief law enforcement officer in the Judicial District of New Haven, which includes the cities of New Haven and Meriden and the towns of Bethany, Branford, Cheshire, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, North Branford, North Haven, Wallingford and Woodbridge.

The State’s Attorney oversees Division staff assigned to the State’s Attorney’s offices at the Superior Court for the Judicial District of New Haven, the Geographical Area (G.A.) courts in Meriden and New Haven and shares responsibility for oversight of the staff assigned to the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters in New Haven and the Superior Court for Housing Matters in New Haven.

The Criminal Justice Commission is responsible for the appointment of all state prosecutors in Connecticut.

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Anthem-Cigna Controversy Exposes Gaps in Ethics Rules


By

“That depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
— Bill Clinton

“Presently, there are no Cigna matters before me.”
— Katharine L. Wade

One of those lines is an infamous example of a president trying to parse a statement to justify a false denial of a sexual relationship with a White House intern. The other is an insurance commissioner’s statement that may be contrary to the common usage of English, yet accurate under the meaning of the Connecticut ethics code.

Barbara Housen, chief counsel, and Carol Carson, executive director, of the Office of State Ethics.

mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org

Barbara Housen, chief counsel, and Carol Carson, executive director, of the Office of State Ethics.

Commissioner Katharine L. Wade’s controversial refusal to recuse herself from ruling on the Anthem-Cigna insurance merger has provoked a reappraisal of ethics regulators, who heavily rely on the self-reporting of public officials, and an ethics code that may be clearer to lawyers than lovers of English.

No one from the Office of State Ethics challenged Wade when she sought approval on Feb. 26 for her husband, Michael T. Wade, the associate chief counsel for litigation at Cigna, to sell company stock as his options vested from Feb. 25 to March 5 – something he would be barred from doing if the commissioner was considering a matter involving Cigna.

Wade, a former Cigna vice president of government affairs, did not try to hide the fact that her staff, at that very moment, was reviewing Anthem’s 5-month-old “Form A application” to acquire Cigna for $54 billion, a massive transaction involving the second- and fourth-largest health insurers in the United States.

“The application is currently under review by Department staff,” Wade wrote in an email to the Office of State Ethics. “On behalf of the Department, I signed a contract with an independent economist to assist Department staff in their review of the Anthem Form A application. Presently, there are no Cigna matters before me.”

Wade declined to say Friday on what basis she concluded there were no Cigna matters before her under the meaning the state ethics code, given that she already has asserted her intention to rule on the merger.

“In light of the ongoing process currently before the Office of State Ethics, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,” said Donna Tommelleo, a spokeswoman for Wade. In response to a complaint, an ethics panel is now reviewing whether Wade should recuse herself.

In her latest financial disclosure statement, Wade did not list Cigna as a company with which she or her spouse are “associated,” an accurate assessment. State law defines “associated” as being a senior official or holding a five-percent ownership interest, which in Cigna’s case would mean owning stock worth about $1.4 billion.

This is a picture of Katharine Wade, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's pick for insurance chief

Keith M. Phaneuf / The CT Mirror

Katharine L. Wade with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at the announcement of her selection as insurance commissioner.

Carol Carson, the executive director of the Office of State Ethics, said Wade’s assertion of “no Cigna matters before me” could be accurate under state ethics laws if there was no Cigna-related action awaiting her consideration at the moment. Carson’s staff accepted Wade’s assertion and posed no question about the precise status of the merger review.

Cheri Quickmire, the executive director of Common Cause, which has intervened in the case, said Wade’s ability to say without being challenged there was no Cigna business before her beggars belief.

“I don’t know how she can say business is not before her just because it wasn’t in a pile on her desk,” Quickmire said. “It’s in the office next to her?”

Actually, it is upstairs.

The Insurance Department staff is reviewing Anthem’s voluminous application. Once the application is deemed complete, it will be up to Wade to call a public hearing and then reject or approve the application, with or without conditions. She will be guided by a prescriptive state law that tilts toward approval.

State law creates a rebuttable presumption that Wade will approve the merger. It says the commissioner “shall approve any merger or other acquisition of control” unless one of a half-dozen factors are present – a key one being that the transaction would “substantially lessen competition of insurance in this state or tend to create a monopoly herein.”

Anthem asserts in its application that its “proposed acquisition of control of Cigna will not substantially lessen competition in insurance or tend to create a monopoly in the State of Connecticut with respect to any line of business. In fact, much of Cigna’s and Anthem’s product portfolios in the state are complementary.”

Tommello said that assertion will be tested at the public hearing and in a review by staff.

Tom Swan, executive director of CCAG

ctmirror.org

Tom Swan, executive director of CCAG

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board voted unanimously two weeks ago to grant a petition by Common Cause, one of the advocacy groups that have questioned the impact of the merger on consumers and the propriety of Wade’s role, to review her status and issue a declaratory ruling on whether she must recuse herself.

Neither Wade nor the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy saw the need to seek a formal ruling. Instead, Wade sent the Office of State Ethics a six-page letter in September advising it of her decision to review and take action on the Anthem application.

“The arrogance of the commissioner and the governor’s office is appalling,” said Tom Swan, the executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group. ‘The fact that this even is in question points to the need to tighten ethics legislation or revisit the interpretation. How is it not considered a conflict when someone is compensated in stock options? It is ridiculous.”

Connecticut ethics laws appear to give little or no guidance on whether the appearance of a conflict should be sufficient to consider recusal, unlike in neighboring Rhode Island:

“The people of the State of Rhode Island believe that public officials and employees must adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct, respect the public trust and the rights of all persons, be open, accountable and responsive, avoid the appearance of impropriety, and not use their position for private gain or advantage.”

Neither Connecticut law nor a guidebook published by the Office of State Ethics deals with appearances.

Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo, who last Thursday called on Wade to recuse herself, said the questions around Wade are sufficient to undermine public confidence, regardless of whether she has an actual conflict under state law.

“I’m not in a position to parse the ethics law on this,” Lembo said. “It’s not helpful to dig in, even if you are right on the letter of the law.”

Most of the residents who have availed themselves of the opportunity to file statements during a public comment period on the Common Cause request for a declaratory ruling by the ethics advisory board seem to agree, even if they give Wade benefit of the doubt.

“I have no reason to believe that Commissioner Wade is not a person of the highest integrity,” wrote John D. Lobrano. “However, appearances matter.”

Courtesy of ctmirror.org.

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HIV Testing Day Slated for June in CT Cities


NEW HAVEN — Planned Parenthood of Southern New England will offer free rapid HIV testing services at select health centers in Connecticut this June.

National HIV Testing Day is June 27.

In the United States, more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV. In Connecticut, there are more than 10,200 people living with HIV. Almost one in seven do not know they are infected.

“You cannot tell by looking at someone if they have HIV – the only way to know is to get tested. We invite all people who do not know their status to come for a free test,” said Judy Tabar President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “National HIV Testing Day is a reminder that getting tested for HIV is an important step in stopping the spread of HIV and taking care of ourselves.”

In an effort to promote early detection and a healthy community, PPSNE will be offering free rapid HIV tests at select health centers during normal business hours on Monday, June 27.

Appointments are not necessary, but encouraged. Everyone who gets tested on June 27 will receive a free information bag that includes fun giveaways, educational brochures and safe sex supplies. The following health centers in Connecticut will be providing free rapid tests:

Bridgeport Health Center

211 State Street

Bridgeport, CT 06604

8 AM – 3:30 PM

Hartford Health Center

1229 Albany Avenue

Hartford, CT 06112

11 AM – 6:45 PM

New Haven Health Center

345 Whitney Avenue

New Haven, CT 06511

9 AM – 6:30 PM

“Our health centers are open to everyone and we are here to answer any questions or concerns anyone may have. Once you know your status, there is a lot you can do to protect your health, including practicing safer sex,” said Tabar. “The sooner you know your status, the sooner you can get any treatment and information you might need. Early treatment can help prevent serious health problems in the future.”

To make an appointment or for more information, call 1 (800) 230-PLAN (7526) or visit ppsne.org.

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Insurance Commissioner to Face Ethics Board


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Connecticut residents will have their say on whether the state’s commissioner’s participation in an insurance merger was a lapse in judgment.

The Connecticut Office of State Ethics on Tuesday will begin  a 30-day comment period in connection with a declaratory ruling petition from Common Cause CT.

The group is bringing this before the ethics board because they questioned Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade’s participation in the Cigna/Anthem merger.  The deadline for submitting comments is 5 p.m. on July 20, 2016.

At its regular meeting held on June 16,  the Board voted unanimously to grant the petition to issue a declaratory ruling submitted by Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director of Common Cause of Connecticut.  By law, a declaratory ruling constitutes a binding statement of agency law.

The 30-day comment period is an opportunity for comments from those interested in this issue.

Comments may be sent by email to ose@ct.gov or mailed or otherwise delivered to the Office of State Ethics at 18-20 Trinity Street, 2nd Floor, Hartford, CT 06106.

Submissions must be marked Proposed Declaratory Ruling 2016-A.  All comments are “public records” and will be posted at www.ct.gov/ethics.

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