Tag Archive | "Hartford City Council"

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Hartford City Council Casts Symbolic Vote Against ‘Buckley v. Citizens United’


By Molly Callahan, Staff Writer 

HARTFORD—Residents packed City Hall on Monday to show support for a reversal of a recent Supreme Court decision that allows corporations to pump unlimited cash into election campaigns.

In a unanimous decision Monday night, the City Council voted to support a resolution to overturn the Supreme Court decision of Buckley v. Citizens United. The victory animated the standing-room-only crowd of more than 60 people, some of whom spoke during the public hearing.

The Supreme Court decision allows corporations unlimited spending in national and local elections, essentially establishing them as individuals under the umbrella of the First Amendment.

Many who spoke were concerned about the effects a decision could have on the electoral process.

“Corporations are not inherently hateful, but they are focused on making profit. They do what they must to meet that end, so we as citizens should do what we must to do protect this republic,” said Hartford resident, Sarah Hambrick.

Phillip Holt, another Hartford resident who spoke during the public opinion portion of the meeting, called on the Council to support any steps toward reversing the Supreme Court decision, “to return the power to the people.”

The approval was not as clear-cut among Council members, however. Kenneth Kennedy, Jr. (D), argued that supporting such an action was beyond the scope of the Council charter. Council Chairman Shawn Wooden (D), abstained from the vote for the same reason.

“It would be more appropriate for the State Legislature to take it up,” explained David MacDonald (D), in agreement.

But both councilmen Kennedy and MacDonald voted in favor of the Council’s support of the actions because of the threat to the electoral process they felt the decision brought about.

“I can make an exception for this because of the danger it poses to Democracy,” Kennedy said before voting in approval.

Another big issue at Monday night’s meeting was a request to the City to continue to fund the Minority Construction Council (MCC).

Executive Director Rufus Wells said that the MCC was looking for the Council to reinstate funding that had waned in the past two years.

“Previously we received money from the Council, but in the past couple years we’ve been relying on member dues and volunteers, and our level of service has suffered,” Wells said.

Over 25 people stood in support of the MCC, which supports and protects minority contracts in Hartford, and many spoke to the council’s myriad benefits to the city.

Marcus Jarvis, member of the MCC, pointed out the importance of keeping contractors and laborers within Hartford when he addressed the Council.

“You, as City Council members, are required to live within city limits; should we not expect the same of our contractors? We almost shoot ourselves in the foot by offering incentives to business owners who then in turn do not hire city employees.”

Jarvis and Wells urged the Council to fund the MCC, in order for it to be able to monitor contracts within the city.

“Right now it’s like being on I-91, with a speed limit of 55, but there are no state troopers around,” Wells said of the MCC’s ability to function without the Council’s financial support.

 

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Hartford Council Approves Treasurer’s Salary Increase


Updated 11-29-11, 11:31 a.m.

HARTFORD — The Hartford City Council on Monday voted for a resolution to increase the city treasurer’s salary.

Seven council members approved a $10, 000 salary hike for Adam Cloud. Effective January 1, 2012, Cloud’s annual salary will be $150,000. The city ordinance authorizes 75 percent of the treasurer’s salary from the city’s pension fund. The other 25 percent comes from the city’s general operating budget.

Democratic Councilman Robert Painter said he voted for the resolution proposed by outgoing Council Chair rJo Winch because the salary hike was “appropriate.”

Several city residents disagreed with that assessment. They appeared before the council on Monday to vehemently oppose the salary increase after exchanging e-mails earlier in the day with, among others, the Democratic caucus, Working Families Party Councilmember Larry Deutsch and Mayor Pedro Segarra.

The irony was not lost on Democratic Town Committee members from the first district. They appealed to Deutsch for assistance to plead their cause regarding this “fiscally irresponsible” action by the council.

“It’s a slap in the face,” said Elaine Hatcher, a DTC member.

According to Hatcher, former treasurer Kathleen Palm Devine tapped Cloud to be her replacement after she resigned in 2010.

“And once he was appointed to that job,” said another DTC member Lelia Bouyer, “ he felt he automatically should get the job.”

Both Hatcher and Bouyer also raised the issue of nepotism and cronyism, saying that Cloud and his wife were both “controlling” the city’s money. It’s unclear whether Cloud’s wife was moved to the Finance Department, or has yet to be moved.

Deutsch was the only councilmember who voted against the salary increase.

The treasurer’s salary increase comes after voters on Nov. 8  voted to rescind a salary increase for city council members. That’s because in 2008 voters approved a salary increase from $15,000 a year to $26,650. The pay hike was scheduled to take effect January 2012.

 

 

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Right Move: Hartford City Council Resolution Summons Board of Education


 

HARTFORD — Finally, there is some semblance of responsive leadership from the Hartford Court of Common Council on the recent and gross indiscretions by the Hartford Board of Education.

 

Council President rjo Winch has sponsored a resolution to have the city’s Board of Education and the Chief Operating Officer be present at the public hearing on the mayor’s budget. Mayor Pedro Segarra is also expected to be present. The resolution is on the agenda for Monday’s city council meeting.

 

Most informed residents welcomed the Mayor’s robust response to the board of education’s feeble attempt at a superintendent search. But he retreated after criticism and pressure from some. That was unfortunate.

 

That’s because a fundamental wrong had been done with the search process, and it unequivocally sends the message to students, who the board is trying to educate, that it’s OK to break the rules.

 

Consider this: the search committee looked at only two candidates. Yet certain board members kept saying Assistant Superintendent Christina Kishimoto was the best candidate. Just knowing basic English would tell us that the proper dictum is as follows: “good, better, best.” Kishimoto could only be “the best” candidate if there was a third, or more candidates, to compete with.

 

Speaking of candidates, one assistant superintendent, who previously applied for the superintendent job, was pushed out of the district in 2007. He was a brilliant scholar with solid administrative skills and has since garnered national recognition. His name is Romaine Dallemand, and he is now superintendent of Bibb County Board of Education in Georgia. Perhaps that’s why the board and others refused to entertain a national search. If they did, Dallemand would have clearly been one of the best. During the city’s search, he was on the market for a new job.

 

But aside from the number of candidates screened, there was the vat of arrogance that oozed from not only Kishimoto, but a few board members. They behaved as if they were a part of a clique, and they owed the public no sensible explanation because they spent weeks and months following rules that were, get this, put in place to eclipse the long established rules for doing a search for this critical position.

 

The twisted attitude displayed by these board members was enough to make a casual observer realize the depth of their ignorance about the role of board members.

 

In addition to that wanton ignorance, there was arrogance from the School Superintendent’s “cabinet.” In this economy, where Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is asking residents to make “shared sacrifice,” the board’s administration is saying they deserve pay raises. The gall.

 

Another problem came after the board voted on the new superintendent. After being warned about heeding to residents and their concerns, Kishimoto insisted on moving forward with plans to close three schools. And guess where these schools are located? Her target zone is in the poorest section of the city with the most vulnerable children, the North End.

 

On May 16, residents want to see more than talk. They want concrete actions to follow soon afterward and that will address a bevy of concerns about the board of education. They want to see measures of accountability—besides ramped up test scores that fail to give an accurate snap shot of what’s actually going on in Hartford’s schools. City residents are rightfully saying enough is enough.

 

 

 

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Hartford Board and Council To Discuss Critical Agenda Items


HARTFORD – This week the Hartford Board of Education is scheduled to meet Monday, the same day and time as the City Council’s scheduled meeting.

Hartford School Superintendent Steven Adamowski is expected to present the proposed 2011-2012 budget at Capital Preparatory Magnet School’s cafeteria at 6 p.m.

A public hearing for residents to speak on the budget is scheduled for April 19 at Capital Prep Magnet, 1304 Main St.

The Hartford City Council will also meet on Monday to consider a host of resolutions including a resolution for immediate allocation of funding to extend the no freeze shelter at the Salvation Army Marshall House, slated for closing on April 15.

The council is expected to vote on the resolution.

 

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Hartford City Councilman Erupts In Chamber


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD – The Hartford City Council opened its Monday meeting like most: calmly and with a prayer. Moments later in chamber, one council member erupted.

The outburst came from Working Family Party Councilman Larry Deutsch shortly after Majority Leader James Boucher began checking off agenda items like rapid-fire. Boucher also referred to committee the last item on the agenda, a resolution to “immediately” fund the Salvation Army Marshall House Family Center at 225 South Marshall Street. The shelter, which offers temporary housing and “help families earn skills to move to permanent housing,” is scheduled to close April 15.

Then “all hell broke lose,” in the City Hall Chamber as one observer noted:

Known for his many acts of civil disobedience, Deutsch bolted up from his seat and an unusual dialogue occurred, he said, because Agenda Item # 31 regarding the homeless shelter was “not recognized.”

“The items should be considered if it’s urgent,” he announced to his colleagues as he held up a mint green 8 x 11 inch-paper that read: “Hartford City Council: Don’t allow the Women and Family overflow shelter to close.”

A conversation followed.

Councilman Larry Deutsch: This item was not recognized.

Council President rjo Winch: …It was referred to committee.

Deutsch: …at least the council should consider if it is urgent.

Corporation Counsel: There is no such exception to Robert Rules of Order.

Deutsch: Well, I take exception to the Robert Rules…

Winch: …Abide by the rules. …We’re on to the next item.

Deutsch: I’m afraid not.

Winch: Councilman Deutsch you are out of order.

The council recessed for about three minutes. And for the rest of the one-hour meeting, Deutsch stood in silence with his protest sign in hand.

Hartford City Councilman Larry Deutsch stands with a sign in chamber as his colleagues try to continue Monday’s meeting.

Councilman Kenneth Kennedy, who chairs the budget committee, said Deutsch made a power play after he refused half the requested amount, $26, 000. Kennedy said Deutsch has been requesting money for the shelter every six months for the last six years.

Power play or not, the shelter impending closing was set for April 15. One woman, Elizabeth, had the largest sign in the audience, a show of solidarity with Deutsch and the other women who held up signs in the audience (see featured photo). She said she has been in the shelter for two weeks and has no place to go if they do close.

Another woman chimed in as she walked out of city hall chambers.

“They care more about a tree than women and children,” said Carla Williams, 50, president of Women of Voices of Color.

In other matters, the city council voted  7-2 to repeal an ordinance that will allow city council members to receive an 80 percent raise in January 2012. Voters will decide in November 2011 whether council salary should increase from $15,000 to $26,650.

 

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Why This Story, Not Real Civil Rights Issues?


To The Editor:

I cannot believe that the story about East Hampton Police is newsworthy , while the NAACP is on life support. The state of Connecticut NAACP has been losing membership and branches for the past several years and support for the organization continues to dwindle in large part because its focus is not on real civil rights issues.

The East Hampton issue of sending e – mails shows that the focus of the organization is not where it should be. Sure there maybe a need for sensitivity training and maybe there needs to be reprimand; however,there are no civil rights violations or actionable consequences. This stuff has been covered in civil rights 101.

Everyone has a right to free speech. Instead of focusing on the inequities in our political, legal and economic systems the NAACP is making appearances to make it seem relevant.

There was a time when we had over 20 active branches. Now we are down to 16 or is it 14 and does that really reflect active branches. As we speak, the Hartford branch, just like the Waterbury branch, is in a state of flux.

Branches throughout the country have been render dysfunctional because of incompetency. Our neighborhoods, which we serve, are losing hope due to budget crisis, tax increases, gasoline prices and high unemployment in disproportionate and disparging numbers. And we are dealing with memos and accusations of alleged racism without complete evidence, or necessary legal standing.

What are we doing? Let’s tackle real civil rights issue and stop the photo opportunities. We must move pass civil rights 101.

Russell Williams

Russell Williams works at the Washington-based Center for Economic Justice. He is challenging the current president of the state NAACP, Scot Esdaile.



 





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