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DOJ Charges Hartford Man with Larceny


HARTFORD — A Hartford man was arrested and charged with fraudulently collecting more than $14,000 in Unemployment Compensation benefits.

Deochand Hemchand, 39, of 30 Bristol Street, Hartford, was arrested Thursday and charged with one count each of larceny in the first degree by defrauding a public community and unemployment compensation fraud.

According to the arrest warrant, Hemchand fraudulently collected about $14,000 in unemployment benefits from October 2012 through May 2013 when he was employed and grossly under-reported his wages in order to collect the benefits.

Hemchand was released on a $10,000 non-surety bond and is scheduled to appear in New Britain Superior Court, on May 28.

 

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Connecticut Historical Society Opens Exhibit


HARTFORD — A 1798 map of Connecticut’s Western Reserve, which extended to Ohio, a brass button display and a lithograph of P.T. Barnum’s life are among the 50 items that are now on display in the Connecticut Historical Society’s new ‘Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories’ exhibit.

The exhibit opened on Tuesday, culminating a five-month crowdsourcing history effort with individuals, historic and cultural organizations and companies. The 50 objects in ‘Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories’ –– as well as an online gallery of more than 150 uniquely Connecticut objects that have been suggested to date.

‘Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories’ asks “If an object could define Connecticut, what would it be? What objects – from the past and from today – help tell the stories that define our state as a changing place, a community, and an idea?”

Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories will be on display from May 18 to Oct. 24 at CHS.

“We know that no one object, nor 50 objects, can completely represent Connecticut’s history. We planned this exhibit as part of an effort to gather diverse suggestions about what defines our state from not only historians but also from the general public, and various communities, organizations and companies who have made our state what it is today,” said CHS Executive Director Jody Blankenship.

The 50 items selected for the physical portion of the exhibit – and those in the online gallery – help tell the history of our state’s entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership, up to and including the present.

Blankenship said that the objects revealed the everyday lives of Connecticut’s original residents and of the diverse communities, who have immigrated here from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the West Indies.

The 50 items selected come from the CHS collection, other historical societies and museums, people who own the object or item and people who recommended an object they did not own, but which CHS tracked down and borrowed from its source.

The exhibit’s online gallery on the CHS website (http://chs.org/50objects/) will also be available until October 24. CHS will continue accepting submissions on the virtual site until October.

 

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UConn Breaks Ground for New Campus


HARTFORD – UConn students and administrators, state and local officials celebrated the start of construction on the university’s new downtown Hartford campus by breaking ground and raising the UConn flag at the site Monday.

The campus will be anchored by the former Hartford Times building, where UConn President Susan Herbst was joined Monday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, UConn Board of Trustees Chairman Larry McHugh, Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, several legislators, and a crowd of other guests to celebrate the event.

The campus will open for classes in fall 2017 with about 2,300 students and 250 faculty members. Construction includes the addition of a new attached five-story building while retaining the iconic Beaux-Arts façade of the 95-year-old Hartford Times structure.

The $115 million project is funded primarily through Next Generation Connecticut, the initiative supported by Malloy and the General Assembly to expand STEM education and other offerings at UConn to drive economic growth throughout the state.

Officials said the move returns UConn to its roots in Hartford, where it had been located from its opening in 1939 until it moved in 1970 to West Hartford.

In keeping with the neighborhood campus concept, the building will have an exterior courtyard open daily to the public, and retail stores at ground level to encourage public visits.

In all, the campus will comprise about 217,000 square feet between the Times anchor building, a building that UConn is purchasing at 38 Prospect St., and space in other nearby buildings in partnership with those neighboring entities.

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Police Arrest Hartford Man for Operating Drug Factory


Ann-Marie Mesquita, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — A Hartford man was arrested for allegedly operating a drug factory in  his Southend apartment.

Police said that on Jan. 21, narcotic agents found about 1,500 feet of stash stashed in  Josiah Pinault’s apartment.

Pinault, 35, of 191 and 193 Jefferson St. in Hartford was arrested for narcotics as well as criminal possession of firearm,  possession of controlled substance and among other charges, operating a drug factory.

Through ongoing covert investigations, detectives were able to obtain information that there was firearm and narcotics “stashed” inside the apartment., police said.

After they searched the apartment interior, they found an illegal firearm, heroin, marijuana, and packaging material.

Police said Pinault had 19 previous arrests in Hartford and is a convicted felon.

 

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School Choice Begins in Connecticut


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  School Choice Week starts on Monday in Connecticut and across America.

From now until Jan.  31, there will be 153 school choice events across the state.

The events are part of National School Choice Week, which will feature 11,082 events across America – the largest celebration of educational opportunity in US history. In Hartford, several educators plan to discuss the future of North End schools on Jan. 31 at Liberty Christian Center at 9: 30 a.m.

The event is sponsored by Achieve Hartford!, African Caribbean American Parents of Children with Disabilities, Hartford Parent University, Daughters of Eve, and the Blue Hills Civic Association.

School Choice Week events in Connecticut include open houses, information sessions, policy roundtable discussions and more – planned by schools, organizations, homeschool groups and individuals.

“Connecticut families have choices when it comes to where to send their children to school, and National School Choice Week provides an opportunity for families to look into the options available to them, and, if they feel they want greater opportunities — to have their voices heard,” said  Andrew R. Campanella, president, National School Choice Week

Officials said the goal of the events is to inform parents about the K-12 education options available for their children, while raising awareness of the benefits providing families with a variety of different options for their children’s education.

Connecticut cities with the most events will also be in  New Haven,  Bridgeport,  and Waterbury.

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Two Men Charged for Windsor Bank Robbery


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

WINDSOR — Two Greater Hartford area men were arrested for stealing more than &80,000 at First Niagara Bank in Windsor.

David Johnson, 27, of Enfield and Odain Johnson, 21, of Hartford were charged with armed robbery

According to police reports, the two men wearing masks went into First Niagara at 2133 Poquonock Ave on Jan. 10 at about 9: 15 a.m.

The two men vaulted the teller counter, directed two bank employees to the bank vault and ordered one of the employees to open the vault.  Once inside the vault, the men ordered the bank employees to the ground and took $81,530 from the vault.  The men also ordered bank employees to open teller drawers and proceeded to take an additional amount of money from the drawers.

The complaint also alleges that a customer walked into the bank during the robbery.  One of the masked men pointed a gun at the customer, ordered him to the ground and told him not to look up.  After exiting the bank, the men confronted a second customer who was about to enter the bank.  One of the men pointed a gun at the customer and stated “If you say anything, we’ll shoot you….”

Police said they also  found and seized other items allegedly used during the robbery earlier that day, as well as a .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun with a fully-loaded magazine.

Both men are currently in state custody.

 

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Malloy Picks Commish for Department of Correction


Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Department of Correction will soon have a new leader: Scott Semple.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy recently nominated Scott Semple to serve as commissioner of the Department. Currently, Semple is the acting Commissioner.

“Scott has extensive experience and knowledge of the inner workings of the Connecticut Department of Correction, including a number of years serving as a frontline correction officer, gaining a broad familiarity on best practices in handling offenders and finding ways to reduce recidivism,” Malloy said in a written statement.

Semple, who works as a department correction officer since 1988, has been acting commissioner since James E. Dzurenda retired in August. Before that, he served as deputy commissioner, warden of Garner Correctional Institution and a correctional officer at Cheshire Correctional Institution.

Malloy said that Semple’s work supervising and treating inmates with mental health needs is one of the key reason for his appointment to the top post.

Enfield Republican Sen. John A. Kissel praised the selection.

“Scott thoroughly understands the agency,” said Kissel, the ranking member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee. “Scott knows the needs of the men and women who serve on the agency’s front lines, and he has a good working relationship with the state legislature.”

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Hartford Mayor Announces ‘Open Budget’


HARTFORD — In anticipation of the upcoming budget season, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra on Wednesday announced the launch of “Open Budget,” an interactive website that allows users to examine the City’s operating budget, spending data, capital improvement projects and Board of Education funds.

The new web-based app presents the city’s operating and capital improvements budget using simple bar graphs, charts and maps.

Detailed breakdowns of expenses become available as users click on different City departments or capital improvement projects. The tool is designed to further increase transparency and engage more residents in the budget process, city officials said.

“Developing the City’s budget is a complex intense process for city staff and the volume of information can be overwhelming to the general public,”  Mayor Segarra said. “It’s been an on-going process to try and make city information as accessible and easy to understand as possible. The benefits of Open Budget are twofold.

The site provides updated information in a simple format so residents and anyone interested in the budget are better informed about what investments the city is making in its future. It also helps the city internally by expediting the sharing of budget information between departments.” As of now, Open Budget offers data going back from FY 2012 to the current fiscal year.

The site will be updated with the FY 2016 budget once it is adopted. The homepage also features a map of most capital improvement projects from FY 2014 through FY2015.

Per city charter, Segarra is expected to deliver his recommended budget for FY 2016 to the City Council in April. The City Council then issues its own recommendations and a new budget will be adopted by May 31. The mayor will host several community dialogues around the development of his FY 2016 recommended budget.

See budget here.

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Report: Dysfunction in Registrars Office


By Ann-Marie Mesquita, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Registrar of Voters Officer is a study in incompetence and dysfunction, according to a report released on Friday by the City Council Committee of Inquiry.

In November, Mayor Pedro Segarra formed the committee after Hartford voters showed up at polls at 6 a.m. and found that those polls were closed. As a result, the final vote for the Nov. 4 Election Day remains unclear.

The report also concludes that the Registrar of Voters failed to provide the Secretary of State with information about the polling place moderators, failed to timely prepare and deliver the final registry books by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, failed to develop or implement a plan for delivering the books to the polling places before 6 a.m., failed to adequately prepare and open several poling places and to identify and correct discrepancies in the vote tallies reported by the head moderator. 

The committee’s finding also shows that many of the problems on election day were because of errors or ommissions by certain Hartford election officials and a dysfunctional working relationhsip among all election officials.

Segarra said the report is clear on one thing: the registrars were unprepared to perform their duties.

“It is ridiculous and inexcusable. This is not the first time this office has demonstrated incompetence and dysfunction,” he said. “It is unacceptable that our citizens’ rights to vote was compromised.”

City Council President Shawn Wooden agreed.

“Clearly this is unacceptable,” he said. The total inadequacy of theprparation going into the election, theleavel of dysfunction, the inability of those involved in administering the election to work in a professional and competent manner, the seeming indifference to getting it right, is outrageous.”

As a part of the investigation, the committee reviews more than 10,000 documents and conducted numerous interviews. The committee then took formal testimoney during two days of publica hears on Dec. 22 and 23, 2014.

A detailed report of the committee’s findings is at hartford.gov.

 

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Luke Bronin Bids for Top Job at City Hall


By Ann-Marie Mesquita, Staff Writer

HARTFORD  — In an open letter to city residents, Luke Bronin on Wednesday formally announced his bid  to unseat Mayor Pedro Segarra.

Bronin, 35,  recently resigned from his position as the General Counsel to Gov. Dan Malloy. He also  served in senior positions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan. He is a partner at Hinckley Allen & Snyder LLP.

“Our city stands at a moment of opportunity and promise,” writes Luke in his letter posted on the site.  “But we also face tremendous challenges, and we’ve let too many opportunities slip away. What we need is a mayor who gets down into the messy details of governing day after day… and who holds people accountable.”

In addition to the letter, Luke rolled out three areas of immediate focus for the campaign: growing jobs, strengthening neighborhoods and closing the achievement gap.

“Today, Hartford is at a crossroads when it comes to education.  For thousands of Hartford’s kids, magnet schools have created opportunities that weren’t there ten or fifteen years ago.  But we’ve also created a two-tiered system, where too many children are in schools that haven’t gotten the attention or investment they deserve. Hartford’s children deserve better.”

Luke also pledged to run a campaign based on an open and sustained dialogue with Hartford residents by knocking on doors, meeting with groups at people’s homes or in community centers, and making phone calls.”

Celestino Jimenez, a member of the 3rd District Town Committee and the Democratic State Central Committee, said that this election “can’t be about one community versus another — it’s got to be about what’s best for Hartford and about who is the best person to make city hall run effectively.  The reason I’m supporting Luke is simple: I think he’s the right person for the job.”

Segarra said he welcomes other candidates into the democratic process.

“I welcome other candidates into the race, as that is part of the democratic process,” said Mayor Segarra. “I am very proud of my record and the tremendous optimism and momentum in our city today.  I have a consistent record of service and a deep commitment to our city, and the significant progress we have made together in transforming Hartford in the past five years is very evident.”

Segarra announced his candidacy on Jan. 5 outside City Hall.

He touted the city’s graduation rates which, he said, is now over 70 percent from under 30 percent when he took office. he also listed the lowest crime rates in decades,  blight reduction programs that have begun to transform neighborhoods; and of attracting more businesses to the city as a few of his accomplishments for the city.

Others have also announced their intentions to run: Hartford attorney John Gale formed an exploratory committee; council members David MacDonald and Joel Cruz both said they plan to run; Town and City Clerk John Bazzano is also considering a run for the top job at city hall.

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