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U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis Should Seek Answers from DECD, Others


U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis’ meeting today with elected officials, political candidates, community activists and residents in the Greater Hartford region should tackle this burning question: Why is there $12 million for minority businesses sitting at the Department of Economic and Community Development in a time when these businesses are bruising from a deep economic recession and a long recovery?

In a region where Latino and black jobless rates dwarf the state’s recently reported jobless rate of 9 percent, DECD has yet to distribute the allocated money to small and minority business owners, who are likely job creators for many Hartford residents.  We hope that besides her roundtable discussion, press conference and other meetings around the state today, she makes a beeline to DECD.

Hartford has the highest jobless rate in the state. The overall unemployment rate for the city is reportedly 17 percent. The Latino jobless rate is 25 percent. The black jobless rate is 27 percent. These figures do not factor in the number of people who have stopped looking for work after one or two years of unemployment or underemployment.

Moreover, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra added 14 people to the unemployment line this week, in an effort to balance the city budget.

Besides pontification from pundits and politicians, we need to see leaders taking actions to create conditions that promote economic growth, so that businesses can hire more city residents. Distributing the money to Hartford’s small businesses would allow at least two hires by each company and at the same time help build capacity to provide better services to city residents. It all seems elementary. Yet there is so much malaise in all sections of the city. And the biggest obstacle seems to be the very people who are purportedly community leaders.

Solis must question these community leaders and local officials about their seemingly inability to coordinate efforts to create conditions that help businesses grow so that they can provide jobs.

The $12 million can provide many jobs. News that that much money allocated specifically for minority businesses was just sitting at DECD met puzzled participants at a small business summit for urban business sponsored by the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other entities. The irony was that the summit provided possible answers to this predicament. It was clear that summit organizers failed to inform local business owners of the summit within a one-mile radius of the Artist Collective on Albany Avenue, where the event was held. The  auditorium was packed with mostly business owners, who traveled from New Haven and Bridgeport. And the few Hartford business owners present heard the news from friends in other parts of the state—not in Hartford.

The one-day summit had so many key people present to help these businesses. It was also unbelievable that more effort was clearly not made to inform business owners about this economic-boosting opportunity right in thier backyard.

How unfortunate.

 

Posted in Bloomfield, Business, East Hartford, Editoral, Featured, Glastonbury, Hartford, Manchester, Nation/World, New Britain, Simsbury, West HartfordComments Off

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CRT Offers Free Tax Preparation


HARTFORD— The Community Renewal Team is offering free income tax preparation services to help low- and middle-income Connecticut families capture maximum tax credits while saving them costs on tax preparation services – to the tune of millions of dollars, CRT officials said.

CRT administrators said that tax volunteers put more than $6.7 million into the pockets of Hartford and Middlesex County families through federal Earned Income Tax Credits, child care credits, tax refunds and savings on tax preparation fees. And CRT tax customers held on to more than $30 million in the past five years.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), offered by organizations across the nation, offers free tax preparation by IRS-certified volunteers to income-eligible families. State and federal returns are e-filed, and refund checks are direct-deposited for those who have checking accounts or issued as a pre-loaded bank card for those who cannot open a traditional bank account.

VITA aims to help working families obtain tax refunds and credits and to educate the community about refunds and opportunities to grow their assets. CRT will offer VITA services at most sites from now until April 15, 2011.

Appointments are available at three CRT Community Resource Centers in Hartford:

  • 1229 Albany Ave.
    • Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9 a.m. – noon; 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
    • Tuesday, Thursday 9 a.m. – noon; 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
    • Saturday 9 a.m. – noon
  • 330 Market Street, and 395 Wethersfield Ave.
    • Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – noon; 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
      • Closed on April 6th for Good Friday
  • Contacts:
    • 1229 Albany Ave, Ana Echevarria, (860) 560-5776
    • 330 Market Street, Luis Escalera, (860) 560-5782
    • 395 Wethersfield Ave., Katiria Rivera, (860) 560-5894

 Limited Hartford appointments also are available at:

  • 555 Windsor Street (CRT): Tuesday and Thursday, 2-5 p.m. Contact (860) 560-5600
  • 443 Franklin Ave. (Hartford Municipal Employee Federal Credit Union): Thursday, 3-6 p.m. Contact Carmen Ramos, 722-8110 x3

Appointments in Middletown, East Hartford and Manchester are available at the following locations:

  • Middletown: 44 Hamlin (CRT): Monday 1-3 p.m.; Wednesday 9 a.m.-noon; Friday 1-4 p.m.; Saturdays Jan. 28, Feb. 25, March 10 and March 31 only, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Evening hours Feb. 7, March 10, April 6, 4-6 p.m. April 13, 16 walk-ins from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.; April 17 walk-ins from 9 a.m. – noon. Contact Michele Ryon, (860) 347-4465
  • East Hartford: 81 Woodlawn Circle (Larson Community Center): Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Contact Giovanna Bajonero, (860) 282-0284
  • Manchester: 479 Main St. (Manchester Human Services): Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Contact Melissa Simmons (860) 647-3095

 

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Hartford Police Identify July 1 Shooting Victim


HARTFORD — Hartford Police Department have identified the July 1 shooting victim.

The victim is Christopher Fiorentino, 21, of 35 Vernon Rd., East Hartford, police said.

Police said that on  Sunday, July 31, at about 5:00 a.m., officers responded to a report of a person shot in the vicinity of 173-175 Benton St.

On arrival, police found Fiorentino on the rear porch of the residence suffering from a gunshot would to his torso.  He was pronounced deceased by EMS personnel at 5:06 a.m., police said.

Anyone with information that could assist in the investigation of the murder of  Fiorentino is asked to contact Hartford Police Department Major Crimes Division Sergeant Brandon O’Brien, at 860-757-4089 orOBRIB001@hartford.gov.

Anonymous tips may be made by calling Hartford Crime Stoppers at 860-722-TIPS (8477), or by utilizing the Hartford Crime Stoppers on-line tip form at the following link:  On-line Crime Stoppers Tip Form.   I encourage the public to utilize the anonymous tip programs for we are committed to protecting their identity while protect our community.”

 

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Greater Hartford Mayors React to Malloy’s ‘Plan B’ Budget


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD – While many have blasted Gov. Dannel Malloy’s switch to a so-called “Plan B” budget, at least two mayors have applauded this move.

That’s because so far, Plan B hasn’t shifted more tax burdens onto municipalities, as they have been accustomed to in the past, according to two mayors from Greater Hartford.

Hartford, East Hartford and West Hartford mayors on Wednesday briefly discussed the statewide debate over Malloy’s decision to begin 4,742 layoffs after talks with the state employees’ union stalled Monday night. Malloy is asking the union to concede $2 billion over two years. And he chose the to lay off employees instead “shifting the burden on municipalities. For these mayors, it’s a “wait and see situation.” But, they said, they know one thing.

Scott Slifka

“Gov. Malloy finally brought a perspective of a mayor to that office,” said West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka at a gathering in Hartford Wednesday. “And he [proposed a budget] exactly as a mayor would.”

Republicans are calling for no more tax increases and have pointed to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cumo. Both men went against raising taxes. Slifka said they solved their budget problems by shifting the burden of tax increases onto towns.

“Those two solve their budget problems on the backs of municipalities,” he said. He added that their choices were either to decrease services or increase taxes.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said he was pleased with Malloy’s proposed budget and his Plan B choice, so much so that he plans to give Malloy the fourth key to the city.

“There’s just no way we could switch that kind of burden on tax payers in the city,” Segarra said.”

Marcia Leclerc

Although, Malloy had pledged not to hurt cities, East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc expressed concerns about state aid to towns, especially the payment in lieu of taxes or, PILOT, which is a big chunk of most town budgets.

Mayoral candidate Edwin Vargas via phone said laying off state workers would also be hurting municipalities. Those state workers, he said, live in towns and cities. If they get laid off, they would have to tap safety net services in cities.

Up to 5,000 state workers could be laid off if the union and the governor’s administration fail to reach an agreement. Other cuts proposed in the Plan B budget include the closing the Commission on Human and Opportunities, 17 vocation technical high schools, state library and prisons.

In a New York Times report, a union spokesman, Larry Dorman, said Malloy’s $40.1 billion budget demands are too much.  He added: “like all middle class families, are already paying 10 percent of our income in state and local taxes, while millionaires are only paying 5 percent of their income and some of our largest corporations are paying little or no taxes at all.”

 

 

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Malloy, Others Celebrate Snagging Tanker Contract


HARTFORD — Cause for celebration is in the air amidst threats of statewide layoffs.

On Monday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will join Connecticut lawmakers and employees from Pratt & Whitney at a rally in celebration of obtaining the contract of the next generation tanker project, the continued successes of the F-35 Project, and to stress the general importance that defense contracting plays in the state’s manufacturing economy.

They will be joined by U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (WA-06), the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

WHO: Gov. Malloy, Sen. Lieberman, Congressman Larson, Congressman Courtney, Congresswoman DeLauro, Congressman Dicks, East Hartford Mayor Leclerc, Everett Corey (International Association of Machinists District 26), UTC Executives.
WHAT: Pratt & Whitney rally in support of state manufacturing
WHEN: Monday, May 9, 2011; 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: Pratt & Whitney Museum Hanger; Aircraft Avenue, East Hartford

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Hartford School To Hold Model UN Session


HARTFORD – About 800 students from 28 high schools throughout Connecticut are expected to convene at Hartford Public High School on Feb. 11 through 12 to participate in the annual Model United Nations Plenary Session.

The Model U.N., sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Connecticut, is  simulated meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in which student teams, each representing a member nation, meet to discuss pressing issues and how to  resolve those issues.

Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski said the model conference “is one of the best ways of widening our students’ perspective on the world.”

Not all countries are represented, however. Students will represent selected countries from each hemisphere.

In addition, they will research a country, take on roles as diplomats of that country, investigate international issues, debate within parliamentary rules and procedures, consult and then develop solutions to world problems.

Among Hartford public schools, for example, a team from the Law and Government Academy will represent the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a Bulkeley High School team will represent Vietnam and teams from the University High School of Science and Engineering will represent Nigeria and Djibouti.

Preparations for the Model U.N. begin in late September, when representatives from the participating schools meet to choose the topics that could be discussed, school officials said.

A variety of topics were designated to one of four committees: the political committee, the economic committee, the environmental committee and the humanitarian committee. Student delegates in each committee then choose a topic that will engender debate and foster increased understanding of each committee focus.

Once the committees selected their topics, the school teams picked the countries they wanted to represent by lot and began researching their country’s geography, history, economy and political structure as well as its position on issues.

This year, the political committee will debate nuclear proliferation; the economic committee will discuss worldwide economic stability; the environmental committee will discuss ocean pollution, urban growth and environmental sustainability; and the humanitarian committee will talk about refugee camps in Darfur, Somalia, and Congo.

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Malloy Taps East Hartford Mayor To Head DMV


EAST HARTFORD – Governor-Elect Dan Malloy selected East Hartford Mayor Melody Currey to lead the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“I got to know Melody when she was in the House of Representatives, and I’ve admired her work as Mayor. She is exactly the type of person we need at the Department of Motor Vehicles,” Malloy said. “She’s smart, innovative, and she’s always made a point to seek out new ways to serve the people she represents more efficiently and effectively.”

Mayor Currey pledged to come up with ways in which the DMV can be more efficient.

“Governor-Elect Malloy has put a premium on reducing waste, duplication, and trimming our spending wherever possible. The DMV is a prime place to find those savings and I look forward to working with the staff there to get our ideas together,” Currey said.

Currey was elected as East Hartford’s mayor in 2005. In that role, she managed a budget in excess of $155 million, while downsizing town government without a loss of services.

She serves as the Vice President of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, the President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, and as the Chairperson of the Capitol Region Council of Governments.

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Rell Appoints Gaines To Mental Health Board


EAST HARTFORD – Gov. M. Jodi Rell has appointed Andrea Gaines of East Hartford as a member of the Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

The Board meets monthly with the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services to review with and advise the commissioner on programs, policies and plans of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (www.ct.gov/DMHAS).

Gaines is a volunteer coordinator for the Hartford-based Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (www.ccar.us).  She has also helped support the Surrogate Parent Program for Underprivileged Children at the State of Connecticut’s Department of Education.

Gaines is a graduate of Hartford Public High School and the Hartford Secretarial School.

“Andrea is a very focused and outgoing person who has a desire to improve the quality of life in our state,” Rell said. “Her participation on this panel will help individuals in communities across Connecticut.”

Gaines will serve for a term ending Sept.  23, 2014 or until a successor has been appointed and has qualified, whichever is longer.

Those interested in serving on a state board or commission can visit www.ct.gov/governorrell and click “Online Forms.”

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Friend: Omar Thornton “Made Eight or Nine Complaints” About Racism


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

AREAWIDE – Before Omar Thornton allegedly shot eight people in a Manchester warehouse and turned the gun on himself Tuesday, he called his friend Latroy Dale last week. They spoke for two hours.

Dale is the friend who helped Thornton, 34, get that truck driver’s job at the Manchester-based Hartford Distributors, Inc. about two years ago. In 2000, both men entered driving school for their D & L license. When Dale dropped out of the program, Thornton continued on and received his license. When Thornton applied for the job, he already knew how to drive a truck, friends say.

“They had him in that warehouse for about a year and a half, talking about he was slow. They said he wasn’t ready,” James Dale Sr. said in front of his Bloomfield home. Dale Sr. said he spoke to his son Latroy, 30, yesterday. “Omar made about eight or nine complaints to those people…. Omar let it got to him, and he snapped.”

Dale Sr. also said his son is “all choked up” about Tuesday’s tragedy that left families mourning an “unspeakable loss” on both sides.

The Aug. 3 rampage at Hartford Distributors is the state’s deadliest workplace shooting since the Newington-based Connecticut Lottery Corporation shooting on March 6, 1998, when accountant Matthew Beck, 35, killed four lottery officials before committing suicide.

Thornton’s brother Edward Kinder, 38, theorized that something  pushed Thornton to kill those people and then kill himself.

“He’s been dealing with it for two to three years,” Kinder said before he entered his mother’s apartment building in East Hartford today, “They called him porch monkey…nigger…all kinds of names.”

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Family members, friends and causal acquaintances of Thornton are still in stupor after learning Thornton shot eight of his co-workers and reportedly committed suicide. They still don’t believe he shot himself. They still don’t believe he stole a case of beer. And they still have questions, they said.

“Why would he put up with that for so long and then stole a case of beer?  He doesn’t even drink,” said Hartford resident, Lou Daniels, 51.

Daniels is a store clerk at a gas station on Cottage Grove Road in Bloomfield. He said he saw Thornton about two months ago when he came in to grab a hot dog and a soda. Thornton, Daniels said, would make references to the prejudice on his job.

“I told him it was every where; some places are more overt than others,” Daniels said. “He was  such a low-key kind of a person. He was quiet. I think something drove him to that point.”

Teamsters Local 1035 officials said Thornton, a union member, was a disgruntled employee who was “cold as ice.” In an official statement released on Tuesday, they said Thornton filed no complaints about racism on the job. On Wednesday, however, a Teamsters’ spokesman said there was one complaint about a year ago and it was “taken care of right away.”

Also in a press conference on Wednesday, Hartford Distributor’s Marketing Director Brett Hollander said company supervisors caught on tape Thornton stealing beer and asked him to resign. According to Hollander and other company officials, Thornton agreed to resign. Soon after the 7: 00 a.m. disciplinary meeting, Thornton asked for a drink of water and then scuttled off to the kitchen area, where “he must have had a gun.” Minutes later, Thornton appeared and opened fire on President of Teamsters Local 1035 Bryan Cirigliano, 51. Cirigliano was at this meeting as Thornton’s union representative, Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 1035 Christopher Woos said in a statement. Other shootings followed. Company officials said there were about 70 employees at the beer warehouse that morning.

Other victims now dead are Doug Scruton, 56; Bill Ackerman, 51; Francis Fazio Jr., 57; Edwin Kennison, 49; Craig Pepin, 60; and Victor James, 60. Jerome Rosenstein, 77, was in serious condition Wednesday at Hartford Hospital after being wounded.

“It appeared that the first few were targeted,” said Lt. Chris Davis of the Manchester Police Department. “None of them are African Americans.”

Profiles of Victims

Police also said Thornton called his mother shortly after the shooting and said: “I shot the racist bastards.”

Thornton’s mother’s sister Gail Pierson flew up from South Carolina yesterday to “just be with her sister,” Nelle Holliday.

“She’s hurting, too,” Pierson said in a telephone interview. “She lost a son.”

Police Tapes About Shooting at Hartford Distributors

Hartford’s first black mayor and former president of the Greater Hartford branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said he also had questions about events that led up to the tragedy.

“Both allegations could be true. We don’t know. He’s dead. But I don’t think the young man would’ve made up those kinds of allegations. …He probably didn’t know he could turn to organizations to file his complaint.”

Milner expressed concern for the victims but said there were also other concerns.

“I’m more concerned when looking at the TV and seeing the employees coming out. I didn’t see one minority,” Milner said. “I know Steve Hollander is a good and fair person, but that doesn’t have anything to do with it…. I think it’s worthwhile looking into how many minority co-workers are at the company. “

Milner said Thornton probably didn’t know he could reach out to organizations such as a state agency or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where employees can file a charge of discrimination.

Carrie Saxon-Perry is a former mayor of Hartford and now the president of the local NAACP chapter. She said she’s been fielding calls from many asking her what the NAACP will do.

“We will be looking into it and asking questions,” Perry said. “Right now we don’t have anything to say. We need to know what happened.”

Dale Sr. said people keep calling his son, too, and they keep asking him what happened.

“Why do they keep asking that? Everybody who is black knows what happened,” he said, especially when we found out Omar was the only black one there.”

But Teamsters Local officials disputed that claim.

“During the time that Thornton was represented by Local 1035, he reported no concerns about racial discrimination to the union,” Roos said in an official statement Aug. 3.

Lt. Davis said today there is no written incident report yet because police are still investigating.

Related Stories:

MASS MURDER: At least 9 dead in shooting at Hartford Distributors in Manchester

Workplace Violence: Remembering the CT Lottery Headquarters Shooting

Gunman Kills 12, Wounds 31 at Fort Hood

Posted in Bloomfield, Business, East Hartford, Featured, Hartford, Health, Manchester, Nation/World, NeighborhoodComments (3)

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Malloy Skips Hartford’s North End on Area Stops


HARTFORD — Democratic candidate for governor, Dannel Malloy was scheduled to stop by Hartford’s North End Senior Center on Coventry Road today to “meet with seniors and share his plans for supporting our elderly population as Governor.”

He didn’t.

When told of the news by a reporter, the director of the center, Karen Bailey Addison, said:

“Really? I’m suprised. No one told me about that visit,” she said. “And I don’t like being blindsided like that.”

Malloy was scheduled to be at the center at 12: 15 p.m. after a stop at a senior center in East Hartford, according to an advisory. One other reporter from The Hartford Courant showed up the North End Senior center as well, only to be given the news: there was no Dan Malloy.

” I’m really disappointed,’ said Doc Hurley, who was sitting in the lobby socializing. “Tell him he missed a very important crowd.”

Malloy’s campaign scheduler said the North End was never on the list slated for the area. It was an error in communication, said Michael Mandell, Malloy’s scheduler.

“We wouldn’t want to show up without contacting the center first,” he said.

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