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Saint Francis Hospital Cuts Staff



HARTFORD — Many hospital workers in Connecticut will lose thier jobs.

St. Francis Hospital in Hartford and three other hospitals in the state will slash its workforce, furlough some workers and reduce hours for others.

That’s because hospital revenues have tanked during the pandemic.


In a statement, Trinity Health said most of the layoffs are administrative, “non-clinical” positions and some are workers that had been previously furloughed.


“Though there are positive signs that patients are returning for services, the organization expects the recovery to be gradual, and there are many unknowns, with the possible resurgence of the virus and the country’s economic recovery,” the statement said.


Trinity Health, which administrates St Francis and other hospitals including Mout Saini, said the cuts will be in the first quarter of its fiscal year on July 1.

Trinity Health also has said it planned to reduce the compensation of its executives; freeze all capital expenditures except those necessary to fight the pandemic and significantly reduce “discretionary” spending.

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Black and Puerto Rican Caucus Fights for ‘agenda for equity’


By KELAN LYONS and KEITH M. PHANEUF

Members of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus added their voices Tuesday to the growing calls for systemic reforms that would make life safer and more equitable for Connecticut’s residents of color.

Recognizing that “no single bill can right centuries of wrongs, let alone a few summer days in the Capitol,” Rep. Brandon McGee, D-Hartford and caucus chair, said the proposals were “a table-setting moment for what we hope will be viewed as a years-spanning commitment to racial equity in Connecticut.”

The proposals are similar to Senate Democrats’ Juneteenth agenda released last month. McGee said the measures are not in conflict with the ideas raised by his legislative colleagues, several of whom joined him Tuesday on the Capitol steps.

“Together they emphasize a growing commitment to systemic change among members of this legislature,” McGee said. “What we’ve done as a caucus, however, is honed in just a little bit more on some of those very, I would say, low-hanging fruit opportunities that would provide again, a larger conversation for policies that we’ve been working on so long, to be able to be passed, supported by our governor.”

Caucus members identified six pillars for reform: voting rights, economic justice, police accountability, education and housing equity and environmental justice. They called for more personal protective equipment for those on the pandemic’s frontlines, closing opportunity and resource gaps for children living in under-resourced school districts and expanding “no-strings-attached homeownership” opportunities. And they proposed updating environmental laws to account for the disproportionate impacts of poor air quality and industrial pollution on communities of color, especially important in the COVID-19 era.

“An individual with underlying health conditions attributed to poor air quality [and] industrial pollution are more susceptible to the detrimental effects of the virus,” said Rep. Geraldo Reyes Jr. , D-Waterbury, vice chair of the caucus.

McGee said caucus members are working with Sen. Gary Winfield, a New Haven Democrat and co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, on a police accountability bill for the upcoming special session. It isn’t clear whether those bills will be separate proposals or a part of the same measure, but they have similar themes: ending discriminatory policing that leads to a disproportionate number of minorities behind bars, expanding community oversight of police officers and creating an independent entity to investigate and hold cops accountable for breaking the law.

The particulars of the proposals are still being negotiated. McGee suggested parts of the agenda, like police accountability measures and new laws that would make it easier to vote, could be floated in the upcoming special session later this month, but others could be dealt with in a second special session later in the summer or fall.

A notable absence: tax reform

Absent from the caucus’ agenda were any proposals to redistribute wealth through tax reform.

Over the past few years, various progressive groups have advocated for higher income tax rates on Connecticut’s wealthiest residents, new and expanded credits to provide state income tax relief to poor and middle-income households, and increased municipal aid to the state’s urban centers.

The Black and Puerto Rican and House Democratic Progressive caucuses, which share many members, pushed for many of these initiatives as recently as last January, when the regular 2020 General Assembly session began.

“True economic justice cannot be achieved until we end the criminalization of poverty and level the playing field for all,” McGee said.

Democrats advocating for a more progressive state and local tax system know one major obstacle to sweeping reforms lies at the head of their party — Gov. Ned Lamont.

The governor, a wealthy Greenwich businessman, defeated a Democratic proposal during his first year in office to impose an income tax surcharge on the capital gains earnings of the state’s wealthiest people, and consistently has argued that higher taxes on top earners would drive them to move out of state.

Connecticut ranks above nearly all states in terms of both income and wealth inequality. Wealth, which takes into account stocks, other investment holdings, property and debt, is even more concentrated at the top here than income.

Critics say Connecticut’s tax system, with its heavy reliance on municipal property taxes and a state sales tax, exacerbates this inequality. These levies are largely regressive, meaning the rates are the same regardless of the taxpayers’ wealth. And many businesses can transfer their tax burdens onto consumers, also disproportionately harming the low-income households.

The working poor in Connecticut pay nearly one-quarter of their earnings to cover state and local taxes, or to cover business taxes shifted onto their households, according to a 2014 state tax analysis. The middle class pay about 13%, while the top 10% of earners pay 10% and the top 1% pay almost 7.5%.

Advocates for progressive state and local tax reform argue increased public sensitivity toward systemic racism make now the right time for legislative action. They attribute this awareness both to the disproportionate toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on communities of color as well as the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

But McGee said that while his caucus is committed to mobilize “a growing commitment to systemic change” among legislators, leaders also realize the planned July special session offers a limited “window of opportunity” for change.

After the news conference, McGee said the caucus was still discussing potential progressive tax proposals they could float in a special session, perhaps after the July session, which will be focused on policing and voting access.

“As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving pieces to this,” McGee said. “I really believe that we will have ‘Part Two’ of special session, and (tax reform ) is a part of our long list of items that we want to support.”

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Hartford Marathon to Go Virtual


The Hartford Marathon will be virtual this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon will be online as a virtual event from Oct. 8 through 11.

The event will include a new 10K race distance, the 5K race and three new multi-distance race challenges. The purpose is to engage widespread participation

All participants will run their race at a location of their choice. Everyone will still get race bibs, finisher medals, and long-sleeve technical shirt to commemorate their race. Participants can also submit verified results to appear in race results online.

Registration is $25. Organizers said all proceeds will go to charity to support urgent local needs.

For more details on the marathon, go to www.HartfordMarathon.com

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Hartford Police Investigate Parkville Shooting


HARTFORD — Hartford Police are investigating shots fired on Monday in the vicinity of Prospect and Capitol avenues, which left a Hartford man dead.

Police identified the operatorof a car collision as Junny Lara-Velazquez, 19, of Hartford. He succumbed to his injuries caused by the shooting at 4:06 p.m. on Monday.

Police responded to complaints about gun shots on July 6 at 2:13 p.m. West Hartford Police officers were also on the scene.

The emergency medical technicians arrived on the scene to treat a female suffering from gun shot wound to the buttocks and thigh. The male driver, Lara Velazquez, sufffered from a critical gun shot wound to the head.

A third female teen occupant was not struck by gunfire but was suffering from minor injuries as a result of the collision, police said.

It was soon discovered that the shooting incident had begun two blocks east on Capitol Avenue in the City of Hartford.

The Hartford Police Crime Scene Division and Major Crimes Division responded and assumed control of the investigation.
The investigation remains active and ongoing.

Anyone with any information regarding the case is asked to call the Hartford Police Major Crimes Division, or HPD Tip Line at 860-722-TIPS (8477)

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Journalist to Carsey-Werner: Cease and Desist


HARTFORD – The Hartford Guardian’s Editor and Publisher Ann-Marie Adams recently sent a letter to The Carsey-Werner Company executives, telling them to cease and desist in thier attempts to profit off the likeness of her and her family because they inspired “The Cosby Show.” Adams sent a cogent letter to Carsey-Werner executives Jim Kraus and Paul Schreiber, both of whom allegedly responded with covert violence toward her family. Carsey-Werner is a Hollywood production company founded by Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner. The former television executives produced television shows such as “Roseanne”, “A Different World”, and “That ’70s Show.” “The intense xenophobia that led to the cover-up of this information, including defamation, is why this matter needs world-wide attention,” said Adams, who is a Jamaican-American. Adams is an award-winning journalist and historian. She is former journalism professor, who now teaches U.S. history after receiving her doctoral degree in history from Howard University. “Restorative justice is not enough. Reparations now,” Adams said.It’s been almost 35 years of covert treachery to our family.” Although “The Cosby Show” was aired from April 30, 1984 to Sept. 20, 1992, Carsey-Werner sued BBC television, claiming money owed for copyright infringement after clips were incorporated in a documentary titled “Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon.” Bill Cosby, the creator of “The Cosby Show,” also sued BBC television. However, they have failed to acknowledge the family that inspired “The Cosby Show.” Consequently, both lawsuits failed. These companies seemingly wanted Adams and her family’s lawsuit against the company to fail, too. They allegedly used unorthodox methods to engineer a series of adverse experiences to discredit Adams’ claim, including theft of services, grand larceny, murder, and most recently, a covert operation to kill all of the family members with staged car accidents, forced intake of sugar, butter and other foods to induce diabetes and heart attacks, according to sources in Hollywood. The veteran journalist had to witness the recent “spy-demon” death of her father, who was a healthy 70 something with a keen wit and memory. The Carsey-Werner studios allegedly had law enforcement agents moonlighting on this covert operation in Connecticut to thwart a potential lawsuit since 2015. For the past seven years while in her Avon townhouse, Adams was exposed to a secret investigation that unearthed news that she and her family was partly the inspiration behind “The Cosby Show.” From research, Adams and others close to the White House learned that “The Cosby Show” was pitched by Bill Cosby. But the casting of the show and several scenes in the show was based on incidents in her life as well as other family members and our interaction with her father and siblings. Another coincidence is that Bill Cosby’s initial pitch included an Afro Latino family that was working class. Adams’s father had Afro Latino heritage and was middle class. In addition, the researchers have combed her family history and albums to put together a collage of pictures that match the cast of “The Cosby Show” family. Adams was a spelling-bee champ in elementary school and a speech and chess finalist in competitions. She was also a girl scout who was watched by U.S. Secret Service over the years, but was covertly sabotaged to earn favors. She believes this was based on discrimination and racism meted out to the family. Someone in Reagan’s administration and Cosby, she said used her family’s likeness and she wants answers to a few more questions. When contacted, Cosby’s spokesperson Andrew Wyatt told The Hartford Guardian that Cosby is not ready to address this matter yet. According to Variety magazine, Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner were former ABC programming execs, who left the corporate world in the early ’80s. Their first series, “Oh Madeline,” didn’t last long, but then came “The Cosby Show.” It’s hard to understate the impact of “Cosby” on the business. The show is often credited for saving the sitcom genre in the early ’80s, and ushered in the era of big-bucks off-network syndication deals. Adams was briefed on why the sitcom did well. She is demanding arrests for theft of identity, invasion of privacy, defamation and attempted murder “for people who think they should appropriate our likeness and then try to hide the fact that there is no show in the history of television casting that has at least 10 members of one family with doppelgangers on shows. With no acknowledgement until now, we must ask why it was kept a secret for so long. “That’s un-adulterated greed,” Adams said.” This is still unbelievable.” Related Articles: The Cosby Show And Me ‘Cosby Show’ Producer Sues BBC For Using Clips BBC Gets Judge to Dismiss Lawsuit

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Primary Elections Will Take Place Under New Guidelines


By Thomas Nocera, Staff Writer

WINDSOR — Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill on Thursday outlined how exactly the state planned on holding primary elections during a pandemic to a virtual audience of a few dozen.

In the age of surgical masks and social distancing, officials have long been preparing for an unprecedented election season, she explained to the Windsor Democratic Town Committee over Zoom.

“We do not want people to choose between endangering their health and voting,” she told attendees.

In its current state, the plan focuses on modifying physical polling places while still giving voters the option to mail in their ballots. Morrill believes an injection of $5 million of federal aid into the state’s existing election budget will give cities and towns across Connecticut enough resources to carry out the two-tiered plan.

The physical modifications to polling places will vary by location but, according to her, may include moving venues to larger spaces and hiring extra staff, specifically citing the need for younger volunteers. In addition, every town in the state is required to submit a ‘safe polling plan’ that outlines any unique safety issues and addresses funding requests.

The other leg of the official strategy – voting by mail via absentee ballot – has already been universally authorized in a number of other states. However, Connecticut’s constitution is notoriously restrictive in this area. Historically, voting by mail would only be approved in extreme circumstances –  military deployment or grave illness for example.  

But Gov. Lamont sliced through convention earlier this week when he issued an executive order allowing all citizens to cast their primary votes via mail if no vaccine was widely available by the rescheduled Aug. 11 vote. Submission forms for absentee ballots will be mailed to every single household in the state well before that date, Merrill claims.

The governor’s executive order does not cover the November general election however, leaving officials unsure of what that day might look like.

“That’s another big, open question,” according to Merrill.  

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Federal Funding Will Help Schools Cope with New Reality


By Thomas Nocera, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford will receive about $11 million in funding to help cope with the coronavirus pandemic that forced school closures.

On Thursday, a week after cancelling all kindergarten to 12th grade in-person classes for the remainder of the school year, Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the state would be receiving $111 million in educational aid from the federal government.

The aid comes as part of the congressional coronavirus relief package and will be used to help schools reshape themselves to meet educational needs in a world defined by social distancing measures and facility closures.

“This global pandemic is causing unprecedented consequences that we have never experienced in our lifetimes,” the governor said, “and our school systems have been forced to respond in creative ways.” 

The funds will be distributed to individual school districts in proportion to the amount of Title 1 funding they’ve received in the past. Title 1 is a federal program that gives aid to schools based on how many low-income families with children live in their districts.

Across the country, educational institutions have had to make a sudden pivot to distance learning as the pandemic set in.

In Connecticut, individual districts have been given a great deal of latitude by the state to develop new curriculums that meet their students’ needs. According to a Board of Education spokesperson for Hartford, the transition to distance learning wasn’t always a smooth one.

“[This] is a new way of learning for many of our students, and teachers have reached out to students and families via email, phone, and Google Classroom to help them adjust,” she said. “Not being able to provide direct face-to-face instruction and student engagement in the classroom is a significant challenge.”

One glaring problem the funding will help address is an uneven access to technology. Without face-to-face interactions, computers and the internet are new educational necessities – but many families lack access to either or both. 

The money will help bolster an already existing effort by the Board of Education to mail out laptops and printed curriculums to students.As well as providing for those immediate needs, aid will also go towards cushioning budgets, fine-tuning curriculums for students with disabilities, and developing strategies for the days ahead.

Donald Williams, executive director for the Connecticut Education Association, a non-profit organization that represents teachers, students, and their families across the state believes officials are beginning to look towards the more distant future when making decisions now.

“My sense is that they needed to pivot from thinking about coming back for the last two, three weeks of school,” he said, “to planning for summer school or possible reopening in the fall. Everyone understands there are a lot of moving parts involved in bringing students and staff back into school before there is a vaccine.”

What actually happens going forward will depend on a number of important measurements. Future rates of infection, testing and contact tracing capabilities, and transportation options for students and staff will all be weighed in the coming weeks and months by health and education officials.

Though Lamont initially hoped that students might be able to attend at least some in-person classes at the end of the year, the changing reality on the ground made a return to traditional teaching an impossibility he announced last week.

“I was holding out hope, particularly for high school seniors, that we’d at least be able to complete the final few weeks,” Lamont said in a press conference last week. “But given the current circumstances – and to protect everyone’s safety – it has become clear that it’s just not possible.”

Many issues – like childcare options for parents that will be returning to work as state reopens – remain unsolved however. A spokesperson for the Board of Education says a task force composed of community based organizations and education officials will be key in addressing this issue and others in the evolving educational landscape that lies ahead.

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Gov. Ned Lamont: Some Businesses to Reopen


By Thomas Nocera, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Three months after the global pandemic of the coronavirus, Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday scheduled several type of businesses to reopen.

According to Lamont’s office, barbershops, beauty salons and several kinds of retail stories will be opened in phase one of the plan, but they will follow specific rules as described to stave off the spread of COVID-19.

The first phase – which includes restaurants; offices; hair salons and barbershops; retail stores; and outdoor museums and zoos – is currently planned to take effect beginning May 20.

The governor stressed that the decision to reopen during this phase rests with each individual business owner – they are not required to open if they do not choose.

The protocols were developed by Lamont, members of his office, and the Department of Economic and Community Development, in consultation with legislators and recommendations made by the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, which consists of several of the state’s leading medical experts and representatives of several business and industry groups.

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CABC, Inc Hires Andrea Mesquita As New Program Director


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — West End Resident Andrea Mesquita was recently promoted to the position of Program Director for the Connecticut Alliance for Better Communities, Inc.—effective July 20, 2020.

In her new executive role, Mesquita will coordinate effective community conversations in the Greater Hartford communities and CABC Inc.’s Summer Journalism Workshop programs that began in 2004. Her role in the community-based organization will encompass marketing and other crucial administrative duties to help provide residents with basic needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

West End Resident Andrea Mesquita is the new Program Director at CABC, Inc.

“CABC, Inc. is happy to promote Andrea Mesquita to this crucial role in our organization,” said CABC, Inc. Board Chairman David Williams. “She has deep knowledge of the city and state; and that is an asset to our organization.”

Mesquita was recently a program director at the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford, where her role included organizing a popular community feature in the Asylum Hill neighborhood: “Dinner and a Movie.” She has also worked in various roles at Trinity College and the Hartford Public Library.

Mesquita, a longtime Hartford resident, graduated from Capital Community College with honors and two scholarships to attend Smith College in Northhampton, MA and Trinity College in Hartford.  Her route to become an English professor at Smith College was derailed by political operatives, who worked on the 2004 presidential campaign, however. More importantly, Mesquita was previously a generous volunteer for The Hartford Guardian.

The longtime writer, wife and mother of three was known to insiders in Hollywood as Vanessa on The Cosby Show, the popular NBC sitcom that aired between 1984 and 1992.

The youngest of six children by her middle-class mother and father, Mesquita wanted to be empowered by a college degree after she moved to Hartford in 1989.

“My mother always encouraged me to put the books before the boys,” Mesquita said in a 2000 Hartford Courant article that featured the former president of Capital Community College Alumni Association.

Mesquita brings with her a wealth of experiences to CABC, Inc., which publishes The Hartford Guardian, the first nonprofit, hyperlocal news publication in Connecticut.

“I look forward to employing my wealth of experience as a community organizer, executive and volunteer for almost 20 years in Hartford, so I can diligently work for the greater good,” Mesquita said.

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Most Americans Want to Reopen–Not


By Dr. Juan Andrade, Jr.

Anyone who says that most Americans want to lift restrictions and reopen the economy is simply not following the data; much like the President is ignoring scientific and medical data on COVID-19. If you think the states should reopen and everybody you know agrees, well, think about this. An overwhelming majority of Americans disagree with you and with everybody you know.

This is where we are today. We have approximately 1,250,000 COVID-19 cases today and roughly 75,000 have died. Three months ago, we had 15 cases and one death. Still want to reopen?

A very recent Washington Post/University of Maryland poll found that 67 percent of Americans said they would feel uncomfortable shopping at a retail clothing store, and 78 percent would be uncomfortable at a sit-down restaurant. These were just two of eight places a big majority of Americans said restrictions should not be lifted. The other six were gun stores (70 percent), nail salons (74 percent), barbershops and hair salons (69 percent), gyms (78 percent), golf courses (59 percent), and movie theaters (82 percent). Grocery stores, whether well stocked or not, have remained open throughout the pandemic.

Governors in 30 states have begun to reopen at some level, possibly ignoring the fact that the U.S. has already surpassed 1.2 million cases, more than Spain, Italy, France, England, and Germany combined. The following are three highly reliable models of what Americans could expect, which hopefully will make those states reconsider.

In an article in USA Today, Jorge Ortiz reported that the U.S. has had an increase of at least 20,000 COVID-19 cases each day since mid-March. According to the New York Times, a CDC (Center for Disease Control) model projects the number could rise to 200,000 cases with 3,000 deaths per day.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projected 134, 475 deaths in the U.S. by Aug. 4.

A new model from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania projected that 117,000 Americans would be dead by June 30 and if states fully reopened, the number of Americans dead would hit 466,000 by the same date.

The obvious is that many more people will die. The question is how many and whether you will be one of them. I hope not.

Dr. Juan Andrade, Jr. is president of United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, Inc.

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