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Hartford Police Chief David Rosado to Retire, Jumps to Private Sector


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — After about one year on the job, Hartford Police Chief David Rosado will retire in April to take a leadership position in the private sector.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin on Thursday announced that Rosado will take a job with Pratt & Whitney. Rosado’s last day will be April 12.

Rosado was one of two picks by Bronin after a national search for a replacement of former Chief James Rovella, who retired in February 2018. Rosado, a former lieutenant colonel with the state troopers, was born and raised in Hartford. He actively lobbied for the job by meeting with community leaders and the city council before he was selected and confirmed in January 2018.

Rosado touted his accomplishments during his 14 months on the job, namely increasing accountability, rolling out body cameras, and recruiting diverse classes of new officers. However, he said, he will leave because of his family.

“This opportunity to take a leadership role at Pratt & Whitney is one that I could not turn down for my family,” Rosado said. “I made this decision with mixed emotions, but as anyone who knows me understands, my family is central to everything I do, and they have supported my career in public service for more than two decades. It’s difficult to leave the men and women of the Hartford Police Department, who do incredible work each and every day.”

Bronin thanked Rosado for his service and said there will be “significant community involvement in that process” in the city’s national search to replace Rosado.

“I’m grateful to Chief Rosado for his service to Hartford,” Bronin said. “Chief Rosado has had a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, and over the last year he and his team have done important work to strengthen the department. I respect his decision based on what’s best for him and his family, and I wish him and his family the very best as he gins the next chapter.”

During the national search, Assistant Chief Jason Thody will serve as interim chief.

Thody, who has been working with the Hartford Police Department for 23 years, said he’s looking forward to serving the city.

“It’s an honor to be asked to serve as Interim Chief of the Hartford Police Department,” Thody said. “I am looking forward to continuing to work with Mayor Bronin, the City Council, the men and women of the department and the community in this new role.” ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������

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Blue Earth Compost to Unveil CT’s First Food Scrap Truck


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Elected officials will help unveil Connecticut’s first food scrap dump truck on Wednesday in Hartford.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Rep. Matthew Ritter, Rep. Brandon McGee and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin will join the owner of Blue Earth Compost to highlight the company’s first commercial food scrap collection truck.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin 1:00 p.m. at the State Capitol.

The truck is the first of its kind in the state, according to representatives from Blue Earth Compost. The purchase of the truck was made possible with a loan from the Department of Economic and Community Development and matching donations received through crowd sourcing.

Blue Earth Compost, which picks up compostable materials from homes, businesses, and events, and delivers compost in return, is now positioned to be the largest diverter of food scraps in Connecticut, representatives said.

“This truck is the result of a supportive community that cares about our planet and values the principles of environmental justice,” said Alexander Williams, owner of Blue Earth Compost. “At Blue Earth, we are working to change the present waste hauling paradigm, towards one that values the health and safety of our Earth and all communities in our state.”

Of the state’s 2.5 million tons of trash produced each year, about 500,000 tons is food scraps. This represents the single largest component of solid waste sent to incinerators and landfills.

Hartford is host to the Mid Connecticut trash plant, which burns more than 40 percent of the state’s waste. The environment gets polluted from the burning and affects low-income, minority communities, producing one of the highest rates of asthma in the nation.

Blue Earth is offering an environment friendly way of scrapping trash as well as meeting the state’s ambitious recycling goal of diverting 60 percent of municipal solid waste through reductions, reuse, recycling and composting by 2024.

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Judge Rules in Favor of Robinson v. Wentzell, Says Magnet School Discrimination Case Can Move Forward


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — U.S. District Court Judge Stefan R. Underhill on Thursday ruled that a lawsuit against the state and city of Hartford can move forward in challenging the racial quota for magnet schools aimed at integrating metropolitan area schools deemed racially imbalanced.

Judge Underhill gave the green light for plaintiffs to proceed in federal court with the Robinson v. Wentzell case, which claims that race-based enrollment quotas in public magnet schools “unjustly and unconstitutionally deny black and Hispanic children on wait list access to empty available seats in high quality magnet schools.”

At issue is the state law that mandates interdistrict magnet schools to reserve 25 percent of the classroom seats for white or Asian students. Those seats sometimes remain empty while black and Hispanic students are on a wait list because of losing out of a lottery system, advocates for the plaintiffs said. The lawsuit claims the lottery system is discriminatory.

The plaintiffs see the court’s recent ruling as a major victory.

“Yesterday was a huge victory for educational freedom and justice for Hartford black and Hispanic children and their parents,” said Gwen Samuel, Founder and President of the Connecticut Parents Union, an advocacy group based in Meriden.

LaShawn Robinson is the lead plaintiff in the case filed Feb. 15, 2018 by seven families. The California-based Pacific Legal Foundation filed the lawsuit on Robinson’s behalf because she believed the enrollment process for magnet schools was stacked against her son, who is black.

Robinson said she applied for her son to attend a magnet school but was denied for three consecutive years until her son, Jared, dropped out of his neighborhood school.

The lawsuit is a continuation for the long struggle for quality education for all students in a state with one of the highest achievement gap in the nation.

The state was confronted with this issue in the Sheff v. O’Neill case in 1989 when a coalition of parents and students filed a lawsuit that claimed the state denied Hartford students their civil rights in allowing them to remain in segregated schools based on race and socio-economic factors.

Robinson’s case attacks the state’s approach to a remedy for the 1996 Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling in the Sheff case, which mandates integrated schools.

“Incredibly, the state incentivizes public schools to deny Black and Hispanic children opportunities for an exceptional education for no reason other than skin color,” said Oliver Dunford, a Pacific Legal attorney for Robinson and the other plaintiffs. “This lawsuit aims to protect equal access to education for all children in Connecticut.”

The state and other intervenors, including advocates for the Sheff plaintiffs, asked the court to dismiss the case. Dennis Parker, one of the attorneys on the Sheff legal team, said at a forum in January that the Robinson case was an attempt to nullify the Sheff victory of having more than 40 magnet schools aimed at an integrated and quality educational experience for Connecticut students.

“Things we thought we won, the victories we thought prevailed in civil rights and in other areas are extremely fragile,” said Parker, who serves as executive director of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. “They are not permanent. We don’t have the luxury of saying, we won this, we can move on to the next problem because those basic wins are being attacked on a daily basis by this administration and by others outside of the administration.”

Samuel sees it differently.

“Both the State of Connecticut, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, ACLU Racial Justice Program, and the Center for Children’s Advocacy, as Sheff v. O’Neill intervenors, tried very hard to have this case thrown out of court on a variety of grounds—forgetting that every child in Connecticut regardless of their race has a right to access safe and quality educational opportunities.”

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Mayor Luke Bronin Touts Robust Fiscal Future for Hartford, More Work to Do


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — In his third state of the city address on Monday, Mayor Luke Bronin touted Hartford as a city on the path to fiscal health after having averted a financial crisis.

Bronin said the city was fiscally sound and was attracting new businesses such as Insurtech, Stanley Black & Decker, MakerspaceCT and ThinkSynergy. Thanks in part to the state’s five-year plan that averted the city from filing bankruptcy last year. The state agreed to pay off the city’s $550 million debt.

The city was indeed at a crossroads and the mayor said he and his team made a plan and stuck with it.

“It’s easy to forget just how dangerous that crisis was,” Bronin said to the city council and others in City Hall. “It was not clear then that there was any path other than bankruptcy that would allow our city to avoid a catastrophic collapse of services.”

Bronin, who is seeking a second term in office, said the city now has enough money set aside for capital investments and to build on the city’s reserves.

But there is much more work to do.

The mayor outlined the need to increase the number of black and Hispanic police officers and fire fighters in the city, tackle youth homelessness, chronic absenteeism in the school district and invest more in Hartford neighborhoods.

The city recently hired more than 100 police officers and about half of those hired are black and Hispanic. Additionally, about 125 firefighters were hired and two-thirds are black and Hispanic, officials said.

The city has also received a grant to help reduce youth homelessness.  The city has partnered with several area organizations and has reduced chronic homelessness by 70 percent since 2015, Bronin said.

Almost 50 percent of Hartford students are considered chronically absent or on the brink of being labeled chronically absent. The city has partnered with a national organization to reengage students to lower the absenteeism rate.

“Issues like that can’t be solved inside the walls of our schools alone,” Bronin said.

There are also signs of development and other investments that dot the city’s landscape. Projects that were stalled are now on track again, such as the Albany Avenue Streetscapes, Westbrook Village and Weaver High School in the North End.

The Southend has a new library branch and Mutual Housing is turning blighted properties into an island of affordable housing.

Progress is evident, he said.

“Anyone who says that neighborhood economic development hasn’t been a priority just isn’t paying attention, or isn’t telling the truth,” Bronin said.

The first-term mayor ended his 30-minute speech by urging all residents and business owners to take ownership of the city and fight for its progress.

“We’re a city that fights when we’re down, and we fight for those who are down,” Bronin said. “We’re a city that stands together. We are the strong heart of our region, and the Capital of this great State.”

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Lunafest Film Festival Comes to Goodwin College


EAST HARTFORD — Lunafest, a short film festival that supports women, will be at Goodwin College on March 16.

The traveling festival features films by women with women leads and range from animation to fictional drama that cover issues such as women’s health, body image, relationships, cultural diversity and breaking barriers.

The event will begin at 2 p.m. at Goodwin at One Riverside Dr. in East Hartford.

Hailed as one of the most beautifully supported short film festival, the event is a way to empower women, organizers said.

The festival is hosted by Soroptimist International Central Connecticut Clubs and will benefit the organization’s Live Your Dream Awards.

Tickets are $15 and are available at lunafest.org.

Featured films are as follows:

  • “Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday,” an animated story of a woman finding her old diaries, by Jackie Files.
  • “Drummer Girl,” the story of a woman with a passion for music, by Sophie Hexter.
  • “Flip the Record,” a coming-of-age story about a Filipino-American girl, by Marie Jamora.
  • “War Paint,” the story of a woman facing racism and sexism, by Katrelle N. Kindred.
  • “Ur Dead to Me,” a story about a delivery woman learning about life, by Yonoko Li.
  • “The Final Show,” a story of a woman contemplating death, by Dana Nachman.
  • “Are We Good Parents?” a story about a girl who comes out to her family, by Bola Ogun.
  • “My Immigrant Story,” a documentary about director Yuriko Gamo Romer’s family.

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Obama Foundation to Recruit 100 Hartford Youth for Leadership Program


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Obama Foundation is seeking 100 youth in Hartford for its community engagement training designed to “inspire, empower, and connect” young leaders who want to tackle problems in their communities.

Applications are available online and the deadline to apply is March 24. The six-month program will kick off in June. Mandatory in-person training will be held from June 7 to 9, Aug. 16 to 18 and Nov. 8 to 10.

Applicants should be between 18 and 25 years old and live in the city. Selected individuals will become a part of the Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps and gain valuable skills in community organizing, design thinking, and project management.

Hartford is one of two cities this summer to participate in the Foundations program—selected primarily because about 40 percent of Hartford residents are under 25.

Mayor Luke Bronin said Hartford is fortunate to have so many engaged youth.

““We are thrilled that the Obama Foundation chose Hartford as one of only two cities in the country for the second year of its Community Leadership Corps, which will work hand in hand with young people to help them make an even bigger impact in our community,” Bronin said.  “The Obama Foundation’s focus on investing in and supporting diverse young leaders is a perfect fit for a city like Hartford, and we are looking forward to working with them in the months ahead.”

The other city participating this summer is Chicago, home of the foundation’s headquarters. In its first year, the program was in Chicago, Phoenix, Ariz and Columbia, S.C.

The program will include three in-person trainings in each city, online trainings in between and ongoing coaching support.

“We know our young people are eager to make a difference in their communities, so the Community Leadership Corps aims to give them skills to take their passion and put it into action,” said David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation. “Building on the successes of last year’s program, we’re excited to introduce the Community Leadership Corps to Hartford—as well as bring together a new crop of leaders in Chicago. In doing so, we’ll help young leaders acquire the skills they need to tackle the issues in their communities.”

For more information about the 2019 program, visit www.obama.org/clc.

Photo courtesy of Obama Foundation.

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Hartford School Goes into ‘Soft Lockdown’ After Threat


HARTFORD — After the threat of gun violence, a Hartford school went into a “soft lockdown” on Tuesday, according to a police report.

Classical Magnet School at 85 Woodland St. went into a Code Yellow at about 12:30 p.m., after reports of a phone call in which someone threatened gun violence.

Police arrived at the school after they were contacted by authorities.

School offficials said that there won’t be an early dismissal.

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Gov. Lamont Appoints Hartford Resident to Lead DMV


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  A West-End resident in Hartford was appointed to lead Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday appointed Sibongi Magubane as the Commission of DMV. She will begin on April 1, pending consent from the General Assembly.

Magubane is a business executive who has served within Fortune 100 companies, volunteered in civic organizations and earned a reputation for bringing a “fresh approach” to business and agencies, state officials said.

“She’s a sharp, solutions-oriented thinker with a strong business acumen who will bring to state government an innovative approach that works to cut red tape and brings to the DMV the solutions that so many residents of our state are demanding,” said Lamont in a press release.

Currently, Magubane serves as the human resource director with Specialty Transportation, a contractor of the Hartford Board of Education that provides transportation to students.

She previously worked for Aetna as head of information technology strategic planning, head of finance information systems and enterprise management systems. She also worked for Keane and Cigna.

A native of South Africa, she was named by The Network Journal in 2009 as one of the 25 most influential black women in business. She moved to the United States at the age of 9.

Additionally, she is the president of the West End Civic Association/Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, co-chairs Hartford 2000, Inc, a coalition of Hartford’s neighborhood revitalization zones, and serves as board member for Hartford Stage.

“It’s an honor to serve the people of Connecticut as commissioner,” Magubane said. “As a lifelong resident of Connecticut, I look forward to restoring confidence in the DMV. We will improve customer service and efficiency by listening to citizens, seeking new solutions and working closely with all state agencies.”

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Hartford Public High School Celebrates Black History Month


HARTFORD — Hartford Public High School on Wednesday will continue its celebration of Black History Month with musical guest, Kymberli Joye.

Joye was a semi-finalist on the NBC show, The Voice.

The Windsor native will be joined by Andre Gray, an inventor and internet pioneer who created the Ringtone and the Ringback.

The event will be from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the school library and auditorium located at 55 Forrest St in Hartford.

At 8:00 a.m. in the school library, students will meet and discuss their future goals with Hartford professionals and community leaders.

At 9:00 a.m., students will be invited to the auditorium to hear Joye sing and to hear a keynote speech from Gray.

The presentation follows Monday’s events which featured Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and Connecticut State Troubadour Nekita Waller,

 

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Raising Costs of Transit and Rail Fares is Not Fiscally Sound


By Yanil Terón

Connecticut has four cities, Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury, and Bridgeport, in the top thirty in the nation for zero-car households.  Seven neighborhoods in Hartford have household zero-car ownership rates above 40 percent.  Almost two-thirds of Hartford’s workforce, many of them using bus transit, work outside of Hartford.

During the 2018 transportation budget crisis, the CT DOT threatened to cut funds from the regional transit districts while raising bus and rail fares across the state.  Raising transit and rail costs while cutting service is a terrible strategy for getting Connecticut residents to work.

Cars are not an option for our state’s low-income residents and cutting their connection to jobs is not fiscally sound. Employers need workers, and transit gets them where they need to go.  A robust multimodal transportation system is egalitarian and provides key jobs access for both our urban professionals and the rest of the state’s workers.

The Center for Latino Progress works on equity and inclusion matters in a very inequitable state. We are involved in transportation topics because too often we find our neighbors and community limited by the inability to get to work. A transportation system that requires car ownership prevents many workers and families from building family savings and following the American dream.

We, as a grassroots organization, are in support of investment in our transportation system generated by tolls.  Toll revenue must be dedicated to building the sustainable transportation infrastructure of Connecticut’s future.  Tolls, as fees for highway use, are sorely needed for maintenance, bridge replacements, and continued investment in our transit and rail systems.  A modern, multimodal transportation system will allow businesses and communities to thrive while supporting the workers that power the economy.

The state’s commerce and community health should be driving the decision making.  Connecticut has the eighth oldest population in the nation and needs transportation options that support our aging seniors while simultaneously attracting a generation of young adults and professionals that are moving back into cities and town centers.  Both of those groups are looking to drive less and have an appetite for environmentally sustainable transportation that improves health, supports their neighborhoods, and connects them to opportunities.

A state that values all workers invests in accessible and high-quality transit systems and focuses on new development around transit corridors and stations.  Not everyone is going to take CTtransit, CTfastrak, or the Hartford Line commuter rail to work, but as more do, it will lift our local economies, reduce highway congestion, and improve our environment.  Considering the equity impact of tolls, we must provide a reduced fare structure for the working poor that are driving to work.

While federal and state gas tax rates have been flat for decades, transit fares have continued to rise. We need to consider how the transportation system of the future will serve our children and grandchildren with a livable world and green jobs.  Forty percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the transportation sector, the largest contributing sector by far.  Without a shift to a higher percentage of transit, rail, walking, and biking for commutes, we will be contributing to the global climate catastrophe. As a coastal state, Connecticut cannot pretend to ignore the ravages we will face from rising waters and extreme weather events.

The state legislature and the governor are currently considering the structure and funding for Connecticut’s infrastructure investments and transportation system that will serve future generations. We are one of a few Northeast states that have yet to reimplement highway tolls, and that hinders our ability to invest in a transportation system that builds a vibrant and sustainable state.

Gas tax revenues are flat and will be falling as cars become more efficient and the percentage of electric vehicles climb.  We are not reducing the number of highways, while the costs for maintenance and replacement of those aging interstate structures are climbing rapidly as they reach the end of their useful lives.  A highway toll is a reasonable user fee that needs to be implemented to invest in our state’s future.

Yanil Terón, Executive Director, Center for Latino Progress – CPRF, founded in 1978. The Center’s Transport Hartford Academy focuses on the multimodal transportation sector.

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