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In Hartford, Mayor and Unions Step Back From the Brink

HARTFORD — Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and the city’s labor unions, its council and its legislative delegation took steps Thursday toward defusing a fight that threatened to politically isolate the new mayor as he tries to keep Connecticut’s capital city out of bankruptcy.

In a press conference at the State Capitol, union leaders stood with legislators and council leaders to say they could deliver between $8 million and $12 million in concessions, an olive branch to a mayor they decisively stopped from obtaining sweeping new authority to impose taxes and remake labor contracts.

“I want to thank the unions for that firm commitment. Today is a good day, but a tough day,” said Rep. Matt Ritter, D-Hartford. “I want to thank the mayor for bringing forth into light some of the difficult decisions he has to make.”

Bronin responded with his own upbeat news conference at City Hall, ignoring the awkward optics of state legislators and council leaders standing with union leaders, publicly urging the mayor to take a more conciliatory approach.

“I take that as a good-faith first step,” Bronin said. “We’re going to have some very tough decisions and some very tough negotiations still ahead, but I take our labor leaders at their word that they are willing and ready to make real, substantial concessions as a part of an overall effort to get the city of Hartford on the path to recovery.”

With deficits that are projected to hit $48.5 million in 2017, $69 million in 2018 and $88 million in 2019, Bronin says he will need to obtain more than $12 million in concessions and will still have to shrink the workforce through layoffs.

The city has a budget of $533 million, including $284 million for schools. Its authorized non-education workforce for 2016 is 1,429 full-time positions, including 452 police officers and 356 firefighters.

“Even the deepest cuts, and even very substantial concessions, don’t get us over the deficits we face in the years ahead,” Bronin said.

None of the union leaders at the press conference said concessions were reliant on a no-layoff pledge. The presidents of the police and fire unions, Rich Holton and Vince Fusco, said no one was challenging the existence of a fiscal crisis.

“We did not create the problems afflicting our great city, but we fully intend to be part of the solution,” said Shellye Davis, a school paraprofessional and president of the Greater Hartford Labor Council.

Bronin, 36, a Rhodes Scholar and former legal adviser to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, took over as mayor of Hartford, an impoverished city that serves as capital of the richest state in the U.S., on New Year’s Day. He defeated Pedro Segarra, the incumbent, in a Democratic primary.

In his first weeks in office, Bronin said that previous administrations has obscured a structural financial crisis by refinancing the city’s debt and using one-time revenues, such as the sale of a city garage, to balance the budget.

Rep. Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, speaks at a press conference with union leaders, council members and legislators.

Mark Pazniokas /

Rep. Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, speaks at a press conference with union leaders, council members and legislators.

His solution was to ask the General Assembly for unprecedented powers: Under the auspices of a new Hartford Financial Sustainability Commission, he could renegotiate labor deals and impose taxes on tax-exempt institutions.

Hartford Hospital, Trinity College, the University of Hartford and major non-profits objected to the new taxing authority, while labor leaders complained that Bronin was acting precipitously in seeking to free the city of its labor commitments.

“In less than the 90 days in office, Mayor Bronin has decided to use his time pushing this legislation instead of bringing everyone to the table where they could figure this out together,” Lori Pelletier, the head of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, said in testimony submitted to the legislature. “Mr. Bronin’s strategy provides an interesting insight to his views on workers and their representatives, and that is it’s his way or the highway.”

The only applause came from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, which saw the proposal as a wedge that could help other struggling cities narrow the long list of property exempt from the only tax municipalities can impose: the property tax.

But Bronin soon found himself alone, potentially eroding his influence at the outset of what is likely to be a difficult four-year term. The city’s delegation to the General Assembly refused to push the mayor’s bill, and the City Council voted 8-1 on Monday to reject a resolution supporting it.

On Thursday, the measure died from inaction in the legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee when the panel declined to take it up at the last meeting before its deadline for reporting out legislation.

Bronin declined to say the legislation was a mistake.

“Look, I think the legislation helped shine a light on the crisis that we face, and I think it created some conversations that might not otherwise have been had,” Bronin said.

He left little doubt he would be back at the General Assembly next year looking to define the state’s financial relationship with its cities, particularly its capital city, where half the property is tax exempt. With a high tax rate, a stagnant tax base, the nation’s second smallest percentage of home ownership and the state’s highest poverty rate, Hartford cannot afford to raise taxes, he said.

“Our mill rate right now is 74. In New Haven and in Bridgeport, it’s down in the low 40s. I don’t believe we can do an across-the-board mill rate increase without killing the city,” Bronin said. “It might happen quickly. It might happen slowly. But if we continue to raise the burden on our small businesses and our mid-sized employers, we’re going to see more and more of them shut down, shutter their doors and leave town. And we cannot afford to do that to the city of Hartford.”

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Study: Blacks and Latinos Are Most Affected by Gun Violence

Four in 10 African Americans have been personally impacted by gun-related violence and believe “there is a perception that the rest of the country doesn’t care about it.”

That’s what was written in a new study on gun violence being released Thursday.

A comprehensive study, “Engaging Communities in Reducing Gun Violence: A Road Map for Safer Communities,” will be released by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the Urban Institute and the Joyce Foundation.

The comprehensive joint effort is an attempt to bring together communities, policymakers, scholars and other stakeholders to focus on strategies and solutions to confront gun violence. The debate around the issue is at times misdirected toward more sensational gun crimes rather than on efforts to listen to the people in communities disproportionately affected by the problem.

The Benenson Strategy Group conducted a total of 1,200 interviews by phone, dividing them between 600 African Americans and 600 Hispanics across the U.S., from Feb. 22-28, 2016. It’s particularly noteworthy that all respondents were registered voters likely to cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election Nov. 8.

The focus of the effort around the study was to give those who are affected by gun violence an opportunity to connect with policymakers and to give continued attention to day-in-and-day-out gun violence that has a far-reaching impact. Media attention often focuses on mass shootings when statistics show that day-to-day violence has much more impact.

The report focuses on African Americans, who account for over 50 percent of the victims of gun homicide. It also points out that gun violence is the second-leading cause of death for Latino males between ages 15 and 34.

Not surprisingly, given what has been uncovered regarding stop-and-frisk data in large metropolitan cities, the polling data revealed that “more than half of African Americans and 1 in 3 Hispanics have had a negative interaction with law enforcement.”

The poll also revealed concerns related to interactions with police.

From the study: “There is a particularly strong concern around interactions between the police and young men of color; 82 percent of African Americans and 65 percent of Hispanics agree that they ‘frequently worry about interactions between the police and young men of color.’ ”

The report also found “that 8 in 10 African Americans and 2 in 3 Hispanics frequently worry about interactions between police and young men of color, even though most believe police make their communities safer.”

The Joint Center, led by George Washington University Law Professor Spencer Overton, convened more than 100 members in communities on the issue of gun violence that involved clergy, police, the formally incarcerated and elected officials. Those sessions included stops in Richmond, Va., Milwaukee and Stockton, Calif.

Overton, Joel Benenson of the Benenson Strategy Group, pollster Ron Lester of Lester and Associates, Sarah Rosen Wartell of the Urban Institute and Ellen Alberding of the Joyce Foundation will announce the study at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Lauren Victoria Burke is a Washington, D.C.-based political reporter who writes the Crew of 42 blog. She appears regularly on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin on TV One. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Leads Grow as Trump wins Big, Clinton Narrowly in Connecticut

Connecticut propelled Republican Donald J. Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton closer to their parties’ presidential nominations Tuesday, with Trump winning a landslide and Clinton holding off a tenacious Bernie Sanders.

Trump won all five primaries Tuesday along I-95: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Clinton lost only Rhode Island. Connecticut was the last state placed in her column, a win declared around 10:30 p.m. by the Associated Press and most networks.

“I consider myself the presumptive nominee,” Trump said in televised remarks from New York City.

Rep. Tony D’Amelio, R-Waterbury, one of the few elected officials here to endorse Trump, said it was time for other Republican officials to shake off their reservations about the brash billionaire, who has belittled foes, demonized Muslims and undocumented immigrants, and accused GOP leaders of trying to rig what may yet be a contested convention in Cleveland.

“I think it’s time for the Republican Party to come together,” D’Amelio said. “He just swept the entire Northeast, Pennsylvania, Maryland and the rest of it. There is a strong movement in this country for Donald Trump. I think his message is resonating throughout the nation.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a top Clinton supporter who now will begin work as co-chair of the Democratic platform committee, said the state’s voters made the right choice.

“Secretary Clinton is the right candidate to move our country forward and grow our economy from the middle out,” Malloy said. “As she has proved throughout her career, Hillary Clinton gets results, and I am proud to have endorsed her candidacy.”

Clinton tweeted a thank you to the state.

Sanders says he will continue to campaign.

“If you heard the boss on TV tonight, Senator Sanders made it clear – we’re going forward,” Paul Feeney, the director of his Connecticut campaign, told about three dozen supporters at a hotel in Meriden. “We knew in Connecticut that it was going to be a tough crowd for us. Closed primaries have been tough for this campaign.”

A spokesman for the Connecticut Democratic Party had no estimate Tuesday night of how the state’s 71 delegates would be apportioned. Clinton already had commitments from 15 of 16 superdelegates. The remaining 55 would be awarded based on the results statewide and in each of the five congressional districts.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump invites Rep. Tony D'Amelio, R-Waterbury, onto the stage with him at Crosby High School in Waterbury on Saturday.

Kyle Constable /

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump invites Rep. Tony  D’Amelio, R-Waterbury, onto the stage with him at Crosby High School in Waterbury on Saturday.

The only question for Trump seemed to be whether he had shut out Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the second-place finisher, in the 4th Congressional District of Fairfield County. Connecticut is sending 28 delegates to the Republican convention in Cleveland, including three superdelegates.

“We’re going to go over the numbers in the morning, but it looks as though Trump won everything,” said J.R. Romano, the Republican state chairman.

Kasich’s state chairman congratulated Trump, but said the campaign would not concede the nomination.

“If Trump gets to 1,237, he has earned the nomination, but until that happens, I know that everyone is going to work their darndest to create an environment in which there is an open convention,” said state Sen. Tony Hwang of Fairfield, the state chairman of the Kasich campaign.

For a first-ballot victory, Trump needs 1,237 votes in Cleveland.

Clinton appears to need about 250 more delegates to reach the 2,383 necessary to win the nomination in Philadelphia.

Trump closed his campaign with boisterous rallies Saturday in Waterbury and Bridgeport, part of a four-day blitz that drew every candidate to Connecticut except Ted Cruz, the Texas senator.

Trump won 58 percent of the vote. Kasich, the choice of many Republican officials, finished second with about 28 percent, and Cruz of Texas was a distant third.

Clinton won about 52 percent of the Democratic vote.

Clinton had a 9 percentage point lead over Sanders in a Quinnipiac University poll a week ago and was backed by nearly every prominent Democrat, led by Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and the entire congressional delegation. A survey by Public Policy Polling showed Sanders, who drew an audience of 14,000 to the New Haven Green on Sunday, within two percentage points over the weekend.

Sanders looked to Connecticut and Rhode Island for wins that would bolster what began as a Quixotic campaign by a 74-year-old self-described Democratic socialist and became a surprisingly strong challenge to a former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton poses for a picture with a supporter after her rally at the University of Bridgeport on Sunday.

kyle constable /

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton poses for a picture with a supporter after her rally at the University of Bridgeport on Sunday.

He was declared the winner in Rhode Island after 9 p.m., his first and last bit of good news.

The cities, where Sanders generally has lagged in previous primaries, were slow to report, but New Haven’s Democratic chair, Vinnie Mauro, said he believed Clinton would comfortably  win his city, despite a huge college population at Yale, Southern Connecticut State University and the University of New Haven. Clinton won the African American neighborhoods and ran slightly ahead in some Yale precincts, he said.

“Secretary Clinton really had a good turnout,” he said.

Clinton won 57 percent of the vote in New Haven, 70 percent in Hartford, 65 percent in Bridgeport and 64 percent in Stamford. Her margins were close in Waterbury, New Britain and Meriden. Sanders carried eastern Connecticut, including the college towns of Mansfield, Middletown and New London

CNN exit polling showed Clinton winning 69 percent of the black vote and 57 percent of the woman’s vote.

With an unlikely path to the nomination for Sanders, Clinton supporters here have been waiting for his surge to play out, letting the party begin to work to corral the new voters drawn by the Vermont senator’s call for Democrats to attack social, racial and economic injustice.

Bernie Sanders had the biggest rally in Connecticut, but still lost.

Kyle Constable /

Bernie Sanders had the biggest rally in Connecticut, but still lost.

“It’s never easy, but I think it will be a lot easier in the Democratic Party than it will be in the Republican Party this year,” Malloy said after voting earlier Tuesday. “I think that’s very clear. You can almost see the Sanders folks and the Clinton folks take a bit of a turn to get ready.”

EMILY’s List, the influential group that backs Democratic women who support abortion rights, immediately sent an email directed at Connecticut voters, calling Clinton’s victory in the state “a victory for women across the nation.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy reached out to Sanders.

“Bernie is a good friend and he ran a strong race, and I know he’ll do what it takes to ensure Democrats keep the White House,” he said.

Speaking in Philadelphia, Clinton took care to compliment Sanders and his supporters.

“I applaud Sen. Sanders and his millions of supporters for challenging us to get unaccountable money out of our politics and giving greater emphasis to closing the gap of inequality,” she said. “And I know together we will get that done. Whether you support Sen. Sanders or you support me, there is much more that unites us than divides us.”

The Working Families Party, the labor offshoot that endorsed Sanders, was not ready to let go of Sanders’ issues, even if his candidacy dimmed considerably.

“This isn’t over. Every vote and every delegate for Bernie Sanders is a declaration of support for big progressive ideas, and a peaceful political revolution that will change this country in the coming years,” said Dan Kantor, the national director. “We need a fair economy and a real democracy, and the fact that so many people across the country, especially young people, share this view is cause for great optimism.

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich speaks at Glastonbury High School Friday with his traveling national debt clock running behind him.

Kyle Constable /

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich speaks at Glastonbury High School Friday with his traveling national debt clock running behind him.

Clinton was declared the early winner Tuesday in Maryland and Delaware, the first of what Malloy hoped would be a number of wins placing her on the verge of becoming the first woman to win a presidential nomination in the U.S.

“After today, she will be well over 2,000 delegates and really within a hair’s breath of the actual nomination, which will come in the not-too distant future,” Malloy said.

The Republican primary was no contest. Trump led in every public poll in Connecticut, and exit polling indicated he would end the evening with about 60 percent of the vote.

After the polls closed, his campaign was unsure only of results in the 4th Congressional District of Fairfield County, where Kasich won three of the district’s 17 communities, Darien, New Canaan and Westport and .

“We clearly won the other four districts. The likelihood is if he maintains his percentage statewide, it would be hard to lose the 4th District,” said Ben Proto, who is working for Trump in Connecticut.

Proto echoed D’Amelio and suggested it was time for the GOP’s elected officials to join the campaign – or risk being out of sync with their constituents.

“They are going to have to take a real hard look at this and take a look at their towns,” Proto said.

Aside from Trump’s strong showing, Proto said the campaign fielded reports all day of other voters who turned up at the polls to vote for him, only to be told they were ineligible in Connecticut’s closed primary as unaffiliated or Democratic voters.

Over the weekend in Connecticut, Trump mocked the idea of toning down his rhetoric and trying to act more presidential. On Tuesday night, he was respectful to Cruz, but his final message before exiting was to denigrate Clinton as a candidate whose only asset was gender.

“I think the only card she has is the women’s card. She’s got nothing else going. Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get five percent of the vote,” Trump said. “The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card, and the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her, OK?”

Some Connecticut Republican legislators still were cool to their front runner after his victory and clung to the shrinking hope of an open convention.

“Neutral and silent” is how Rep. Livvy Floren of Greenwich, where Trump beat Kasich, 48 percent to 41 percent, described most of her fellow Republicans in the General Assembly. “Neutral and silent is how we’ll remain until the end.”

Kyle Constable contributed to this report.

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Bernie Sanders Pushes for High Voter Turnout to Win

By Ann-Marie Adams | @annmarieadams

HARTFORD – Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday called for “citizens united” in Connecticut to show up at the polls and vote for him.

“If voter turn out is low, we will not win,” Sanders said. “If voter turnout is high, we win.”

The Vermont Senator also noted that a Democratic Presidential Candidate is not going to win on brand loyalty. Each of the two candidates have to “reach out to independent voters.”

“I think I’m qualified to do just that,” Sanders said.

Sanders made his second stop in Connecticut after visiting New Haven on Sunday. On Monday he made a campaign stop at Riverfront Plaza in Hartford. At 11:00 a.m.

In his speech, Sanders pledged to repeal the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United, which is a conservative non-profit organization in the United States. It is best known for the U.S. Supreme Court case on campaign finance known as Citizens United v. FEC.

Citizens United’s stated mission is to restore the United States government to “citizens’ control,” seeking to “reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty.

Sanders for President Rally themed “A Future to Believe In” at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza drew about 1,000 people.

“It looks to me that Hartford is ready for a political revolution,” said Sanders, pledging to transform America: working class people, and others who are disenchanted with America. “When I talk about a political revolution, it’s not a complicated process.”

In other words, he said, a political revolution means everyone has a vote.

Sanders is among the five presidential candidates to visit Hartford and other parts of Connecticut.

Ohio Governor and GOP candidate John Kasich visited  Sacred Heart University two weeks ago and Glastonbury High School on Friday.

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump was in Hartford two weeks ago and returned to Connecticut on Saturday  at Crosby High School in Waterbury then in Bridgeport at the Klein Memorial Auditorium.

Also on Saturday, Hilary Clinton, who was in Hartford on Friday, campaigned in New Haven with Rep. Rosa DeLauro. She spoke about her plans to raise the minimum wage and fight for equal equality.

While in Hartford, Clinton held a discussion on gun violence with local residents and Sandy Hook victims at the Wilson-Gray YMCA. And her daughter Chelsea Clinton campaigned for her at Dunns River, a Jamaican restaurant in Hartford’s North End.

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Hilary Clinton Visits Hartford, Talks About Gun Violence

By Ann-Marie Adams | @annmarieadams

HARTFORD — Coming off her primary victory in New York, Presidential Candidate Hilary Clinton on Thursday met with families of Connecticut victims touched by gun violence.

The gathering of about 250 invited guests and supporters inside the Y conveyed the level of intimacy Clinton wanted to have on her campaign trail in Hartford, supporters said. The issue of gun violence, which affect about 30,000 Americans each year was discussed to aid Clinton’s push for stricter gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.



Clinton spent about 90 minutes at the Wilson-Gray YMCA taking questions after discussing mass shooting in Newtown and gun violence prevention.



“I’m not here to make promises I can’t keep. I wa m here to tell you I will use every single minute of every day looking for ways we can save lives that we can change the gun culture,” she said. “It is too easy for people to reach for a gun to settle their problems. It makes no sense.”

The panelists included Erica Smegielski, the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

“Hilary Rodham Clinton has been a champion for gun violence prevention for her entire career,” Smegielski said. “I know she is the only person in this race that can deliver real results.”

Clinton’s visit to Hartford’s North End followed Chelsea Clinton’s visit to the North End at Dunn’s River. Her visit follows that of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Other presidential candidates to visit include John Kasich, who will be in Glastonbury on Friday. Trump will be in Waterbury on Saturday. And Democratic Challenger Bernie Sanders will be at the Convention Center in Downtown Hartford.

Other panelists at the event on Thursday included Nelba Marquez-Greene, the mother of 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace also killed in the school shootings. The New Haven Chapter President of Mothers Demand Action Kim Washington and MDA member Deborah Davis were also in attendance.

Hartford resident Iran Nazario, founder of Compass Peace Builders, was also a panelist. He said that at the age of 12, he lost his brother to gun violence. He said there are young men who are still struggling because of grief from the loss of friends and family.

“There are kids out there whose souls are trapped,” he said. “And they need us.”
Clinton, in her brief remarks during the 90-minute session, reminded her supporters that the National Rifle Association has blocked many efforts to change gun laws. She praised the mothers in attendance for sharing their stories who have withstood harassment because of their campaign against gun violence.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said Clinton’s visit has helped to shine a spotlight on gun violence in the city. So far, there have been five homicides in 2016. For of those five victims, he said, are because of gun violence.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Ted Cruz and the ‘Galician Curse’

Whenever Ted Cruz appears on television, I cringe as unpleasant memories of distant relatives cross my mind, reminding me of things best forgotten. And what is best forgotten is simply the Hispanic political tradition of severity.

Think Francisco Franco. Think Fidel Castro. Think Ted Cruz?

Yes, Ted Cruz is a would-be autocrat.

My paternal grandmother, a Galician matron who despised sexism in all its forms, called it “la maldición gallega,” or “the Galician curse.” By that she meant the dreadful and familiar anti-democratic tendency in the political lives of the Hispanic world where dictators, strongmen, caudillos, and caciques have ruled as autocrats.

She was in a position to know. Her maiden name was Bahamonde; she was related to Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain during his dictatorship with an iron fist. Fidel Castro, with no tolerance for dissent, brought ruin to his country, banishing millions of his fellow countrymen into exile.


And Ted Cruz, today, represents the same menace as someone who wishes to impose a theocracy in the United States.

Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, fled Cuba in 1957, becoming a zealous born again preacher. “It’s time we stop being politically correct and start being biblically correct,” the elder Cruz told the Associated Press in 2014.

Ted Cruz follows in his father’s footsteps. His idea—that the separation of Church and State has to be done away with—is consistent with the ideological worldview that characterizes dictatorships in the Hispanic world. Francisco Franco embodied the Catholic Church during his reign of intolerance; Fidel Castro replaced faith in God with faith in himself when Cuba became officially atheist.

That’s the cloth from which Ted Cruz’s political philosophy is cut.

This twisted predisposition resonates in his declarations: “I am blessed to receive a word from God every day in receiving the scriptures and reading the scriptures. And God speaks through the Bible.”

Does America want a leader who claims to have a hotline to heaven? Does America want to impose a Christian version of Sharia law? Does America want “divine right” rule to be restored?

Cruz says, “Sí!”

To his way of thinking, the Bible alone offers the framework for the entirety of civil society.

“I think the Hispanic community, the values that resonate in our community, are fundamentally conservative. They are faith, family, patriotism,” Ted Cruz has said, in English, to non-Hispanic Americans.

My grandmother rolled her eyes in both bewilderment and anger at the manifold manifestations of “the Galician curse” in the Hispanic world. She told stories of an uncle who would caution his daughter on the importance of remaining a virgin by saying, “Remember, no man buys a used shoe.” She told stories of one of Franco’s relatives who, determining that garbanzo beans were meant to be peeled, demanded that his wife peel each garbanzo bean one by one—in dishes that required hundreds of garbanzo beans.

Ted Cruz’s singular world view would lead him to appoint judges to the Supreme Court who would undo social progress that is consistent with what his reading of the Bible tells him has gone “wrong,” including a woman’s right to choose and the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Ted Cruz in the White House would bring the worst of intolerance and religious bigotry of the Hispanic world to the United States. His vision is for our country to turn back the clock and be governed with an iron fist imposing law, order—and God.

Dictators in the Hispanic world have longed to fashion societies where political dissent is crushed, young women are left to wonder what their honor has to do with a new shoe, women are badgered into peeling hundreds of garbanzo beans, and what is not biblically sanctioned is outlawed. These are the vestiges of dictatorship all Hispanic democracies struggle to overcome.

My grandmother loathed what her distant nephew, Franco, had done to Spain. She applauded the reforms introduced after his death and she never looked back at his dictatorship with nostalgia.

Though she is not alive today to recoil in horror at the sight of this would-be strongman, I know the one word she would tell the American people concerning Ted Cruz: “Corran!”


Louis Nevaer is the author of the first guides to Cuba compiled since the reestablishment of relations, Cuba As Never Before, and The Best of Havana: 2016.

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Hilary Clinton to Visit Hartford’s YMCA Thursday

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD – One week before the Connecticut primary, Hillary Clinton is expected to meet Thursday with Hartford residents affected by gun violence.

Clinton’s visit comes after her eighth democratic debate in Brooklyn, New York and after  Republican Donald Truhilary+clintonmp visited the state, pulling in about 6 million supporters.

The Clinton event will be a small gathering of victims of violence from several cities, including the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown. The small rally will be held at at the Wilson-Gray YMCA Youth and Family Center, 444 Albany Avenue, is open to the public.

In the most recent polls, Clinton is ahead of her challenger Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by six points.

Sanders has not announced a Connecticut visit, but Trump is expected to return before the April 26 primary vote.

Republican Presidential candidate John Kasich is expected to appear at Glastonbury High School on Friday.

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Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Spar in Eight Democratic Debate in Brooklyn

By Ann-Marie Adams | @annmarieadams

BROOKLYN, N.Y.  — Sen. Bernie Sanders performance in the Brooklyn Democratic  debate with Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Thursday moved him closer to winning more delegates in the New York primary. But some political observers saidthe question of whether he can put a dent into Clinton’s lead in Tuesday’s primary is open for discussion.

Sanders, who began the 90-minute debate in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard on Thursday, was the only Democratic challenger left to contend with the formidable presidential front runner, who rests heavily on her husband’s brand loyalty.

In his fiery attacks against Clinton’s promises on the presidential campaign, he pledged bold and progressive goals for America, while responding to questions about Clinton’s qualification and credibility to be president.

“Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and the intelligence to be a president? Of course she does,” said Sanders, who has known Clinton for 25 years.

Sanders also made note of his trajectory from the beginning of his campaign almost a year ago, saying he was at 3 percent in the polls and about 70 points behind Clinton. Now, one day before the New York primary, Sanders is ahead in at least two polls. Of the last nine caucuses and primaries, Sanders won eight.

“The reason that our campaign has done so well is because we’re doing something very radical: We’re telling the American people the truth,” Sanders said after sustained applause. “And the truth is that this country is not going to move forward in a significant way for working people unless we overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision. And unless we have real campaign reform so that billionaires and super PACs cannot buy elections.”

Sanders also said that if he were elected, he would tackle a rigged economy that prefers the 1 percent before he questioned Clinton’s relationship with Super PACs, which he said are collecting tens of millions of dollars from special interests, including $15 million from Wall Street.

Former President Bill Clinton’s influence on the electorate gave his wife a commanding lead with votes and delegates before what can be billed as the most contentious debate since last spring.

Clinton articulated her platform on big banks, gun control and minimum wages with confidence against the Vermont Senator  Sanders. Clinton also fended off criticism about her ties to Wall Street, her taxes and her speeches at Goldman Sachs. She said when others release transcripts of their speeches, she will release hers.

Responding to questions about her qualification and judgment to be president, Clinton said:

“Senator Sanders did call me unqualified. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life. That was a first…. President Obama trusted my judgment enough to ask me to be secretary of State for the United States.

Clinton also outlined her plan to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $12, while Sanders firmly pledged to raise it to $15 if they were elected president.
Both candidates seemingly have the same vision with nuances on how to reach their goals. However, the former New York senator has a double digit lead in New York.

But Sanders “has the message and the plan that lifts all of us and speak more to people of color and the poor,” said Former Ohio Sen. Nina Turner.

New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz (Bronx–D) countered that sentiment, saying: “Hilary has a track record on all the issues that speak for us. Unfortunately, what Bernie does is talk about the issues, not solutions.”

Just five days before New York’s primary, Thursday’s debate was likely Sanders’ only remaining opportunity to cut into Clinton’s growing lead in the Empire State.

When asked by CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer whether he owed the Sandy Hook families an apology, Sanders didn’t hesitate with a response.

“No, I don’t think I owe them an apology,” he said.

The exchange came just hours after a ruling by a Connecticut judge not to dismiss a lawsuit by families of the Newtown massacre victims.

Former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Ben Jealous said he will vote for Sanders because Clinton is not a political friend to black people.

“Hilary Clinton is not a political friend because she helped to champion lifetime limit on welfare. Since her husband’s 1996 welfare reform bill, we have twice as many people living on welfare,” Jealous said. ” She will be carrying on the agenda of her husband rather than Obama. Also, her relationship with Wall Street is complex at best.”

Gov. Andrew Cumo said Clinton will win.

“Her advantage here is New Yorkers know her. She was a New York Senator for many years. They watched her. She delivered,” Cumo said. “She has produced for this state and New Yorkers know that. She delivered for new York. I think New York will deliver for her.”

The latest RealClearPolitics average of polling in New York shows Clinton leading Sanders 53%-39% in the state.

Currently, Clinton has 1,758 delegates to Sanders’ 1,069, including superdelegates. New York’s 291 delegates will be allocated proportionally, based on the election results.

Posted in Featured, Nation/World, PoliticsComments Off on Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Spar in Eight Democratic Debate in Brooklyn


Sandy Hook Decision Focuses Attention on Gun Liability Law

By: |

 WASHINGTON – A Connecticut state judge’s decision Thursday allowing a lawsuit to go forward against the maker of the Bushmaster rifle used in the Sandy Hook killings focused attention on a law that Connecticut lawmakers – and now Hillary Clinton – hope to repeal.

Remington Arms, maker of the Bushmaster rifle used to kill 20 first-graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook, is relying in its defense of the suit on a law Congress passed in 2005. Known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, it protects gun manufacturers and dealers from liability when crimes are committed with their products.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is hoping Congress repeals the law so it can’t be decisive in the lawsuit, though there is virtually no chance of a repeal in the present Congress.

The families of some of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School won a victory Thursday when Connecticut state Judge Barbara Bellis rejected the gun companies’ motion to dismiss the case citing PLCAA. She said the immunity granted the gun makers and dealers does not strip her court of jurisdiction to hear the case.

“It’s a very positive step, possibly historic,” Blumenthal said. “I think we should be very glad and grateful that the Sandy Hook families have demonstrated this courage and strength.”

In their lawsuit, the Sandy Hook families argue the Bushmaster rifle should not have been sold to the general public because it is a military-style assault weapon unsuited for civilian use. They say the gun’s maker, and seller, should have known about the high risk posed by the weapon and the ability for a shooter to use it to inflict maximum casualties.

Blumenthal and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., introduced a bill in January that would repeal PLCAA. There is a similar bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“If Congress is persuaded that the legal shield is unconscionable, then there is enough time to repeal it,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said he “could not say” if the Sandy Hook parents could win the suit “with PLCAA still on the books.” Though the PLCAA repeal bills are not expected to move in this Congress, gun industry liability has become an issue in the Democratic race for the White House.

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton said that as president she would “lead the charge to repeal this law.”

“Today’s ruling in Connecticut is an important step forward for these families, who are bravely fighting to hold irresponsible gun makers accountable for their actions. They deserve their day in court. Period,” Clinton said in a campaign statement. “Unfortunately, PLCAA – the sweeping immunity law that protects gun manufacturers and dealers – still remains a major obstacle for these families and others seeking to hold these gun companies accountable.”

Clinton has also bashed Democratic rival Bernie Sanders for telling the New York Daily Newseditorial board earlier this month that he does not support the Sandy Hook lawsuit. Sanders said he did not think a dealer should face a lawsuit for selling a gun legally to a customer who then misuses the weapon in a crime.

Sanders voted for PLCAA when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005. But he is also one of about a dozen co-sponsors of the PLCAA repeal introduced by Blumenthal and Murphy.

The Sanders campaign did not have an immediate response to the court decision or Clinton’s comments.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, praised the court’s decision.

“We’ve passed the toughest gun laws in the nation for a reason,” he said. “These families deserve this — the ruling is the right one. The gun industry should not have protections that no other industry in America sees. This is a victory for the families and a victory for those who stand for commonsense gun laws.”

Posted in Business, Featured, Nation/WorldComments Off on Sandy Hook Decision Focuses Attention on Gun Liability Law


Hilary Clinton Tops Bernie Sanders in Quinnipiac Poll for New York Primary

By Ann-Marie Adams | @annmarieadams

HARTFORD – Black votes matter.

And according to a Quinnipiac Poll just released on Monday, Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has an edge in hauling in the majority of the black vote this November.

With just a week before New York holds its primary, Clinton tops Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont 53 – 40 percent or 13 percentage points among New York State likely Democratic primary voters.

Nationwide, she has a 65 – 28 percent lead among black voters nationwide. The poll shows that self-described “very liberal” democrats back Sanders 55 – 41 percent, while Clinton takes “somewhat liberal” and “moderate to conservative”. She is also more popular among older Democratic voters.

This is no surprise—since Clinton was the transplanted New York Senator from Chappaqua. Sanders, who made his political career in Vermont, was born and raised in Brooklyn.

Today’s results show little movement from a March 31 survey showing Clinton over Sanders 54 – 42 percent. It is also similar to a Monmouth University survey and Fox News poll released this week.

Among Democratic likely primary voters, seven percent are undecided and 18 percent of those who name a candidate say they might change their mind by next Tuesday.

“Black voters matter for Secretary Hillary Clinton in the New York Democratic primary,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll. “She leads Sen. Bernie Sanders in many New York demographic groups except the young folks and very liberal voters, but it’s a huge lead among black voters that gives her a comfortable double-digit margin.”

Carroll said that gender is also a factor because New York women like the idea of nominating the first woman president.

She leads 55 – 38 percent among women in New York, while men are divided, with 48 percent for Clinton and 43 percent for Sanders, shrinking the gender gap which appears in Quinnipiac University surveys in other states.

White voters are divided, with 50 percent for Clinton and 45 percent for Sanders.

Among the Republican primary, Trump leads in his homestate.  Trump has 55 percent of New York likely Republican primary voters, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 20 percent and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas with 19 percent.

Among likely Republican primary voters, Trump leads among every group, from Tea Party members to moderate to liberal Republicans, among men and women and voters of every age group and in every region of the state.

The poll shows Trump with 56 percent, followed by Cruz at 20 percent and Kasich at 19 percent.

In today’s survey, six percent of Republican likely primary voters are undecided, but 22 percent of those who name a candidate say they might change their mind.

Born-again Evangelical Christians are more closely divided, with 41 percent for Trump, 37 percent for Cruz and 16 percent for Kasich.

The New York primary system is closed, which means only registered Democrats and Republicans should cast ballots. Independents do not participate in either primary.

The Quinnipiac survey was conducted between April 6 and 11. It polled 550 Republican voters and 860 Democratic voters.

Posted in Featured, Hartford, Nation/World, PoliticsComments Off on Hilary Clinton Tops Bernie Sanders in Quinnipiac Poll for New York Primary

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