Archive | June, 2009

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City Salutes Hometown Heroes

HARTFORD == Hartford has joined a National Yellow Ribbon Letter Campaign to salute the city´s service people on Independence Day. 

Mayors of several capital cities across the country have placed a yellow ribbon in honor and remembrance of the proud and dedicated men and women in uniform both at home and abroad.

While many mayors placed their ribbons outside City Hall, Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez chose the scion of the Charter Oak Tree in Bushnell Park that was planted in 1871 by the First Company Governor’s Foot Guard. 

History books state that the Charter Oak was used to hide Connecticut’s Charter from English authorities.  Sadly, the original Charter Oak tree was destroyed in a storm in the 1800’s, but the scion stands tall and proud in Bushnell Park in Downtown Hartford.

Some of the other cities also taking part include:  Denver, CO, Santa Fe, NM, Montpelier, VT, Annapolis, MD, Columbus, OH, Lansing, MI, Dover, DE, Augusta, ME, Olympia, WA, Oklahoma City, OK, Madison, WI, Boston, MA, Little Rock, AR, Tallahassee, FL, Albany, NY, Austin, TX.

Last year, Mayor Perez and City Council members took part in another letter writing campaign for our troops called “Paragraphs of Hope.”  For Flag Day 2009, Staff Sgt. Dane Beckford presented an American Flag to his home city of Hartford. 

The flag is certified to have flown in Iraq.


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CBC, NAACP Disagree Over U.S. Slavery Apology

The Congressional Black Caucus may have some reservations about the U.S. Senate’s support of a resolution offering a formal apology for slavery, but the NAACP is rather pleased with the effort.

The Senate passed a resolution Thursday calling on the U.S. to apologize officially for the enslavement and segregation of millions of blacks and to acknowledge “the fundamental injustice, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws.’       
The resolution, sponsored with little fanfare by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) passed on a voice vote. It now moves to the House of Representatives, where several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have expressed concerns about a disclaimer that states that “nothing in this resolution authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.’       

The CBC members think that the disclaimer is an attempt to stave off reparations claims from the descendants of slaves. Congressional Black Caucus Chair Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said her organization is studying the language of Harkin’s resolution.      

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) said, “Putting in a disclaimer takes away from the meaning of an apology. A number of us are prepared to vote against it in its present form. There are several members of the Progressive Caucus who feel the same way.”       

The NAACP, meanwhile, is in favor of the apology – as is. The head of the NAACP released a statement that applauds the action by senators and calls on the House to follow suit.      

“The apology for slavery and the era of Jim Crow segregation is long overdue and is the first step toward healing the wounds of African-American men and women throughout this country,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.      

NAACP’s Hilary O. Shelton, vice president for advocacy, said the resolution “creates a watershed opportunity for Americans of all races, ethnicity and national origins to better understand the historic racial challenges of our nation and work together to craft a solution to the remnants of racism still lingering in our society.”

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Movie Review: ´Public Enemies´

By Jonathan D.  Smalls, Film Critic

Some movie goers argue that modern films pale in comparison to the performances of years past. There is some merit to that argument.

The quality of the story telling seems to have deteriorated with the advent of explosions andother techical stuff. The story of John Dillinger, however, warrants another retelling in film. The 1973 film, Dillinger, lacked an intimacy and pacing, which the new film in theaters July 1, Public Enemies, brings to the silver screen.

Famed personalities from all corners of the performing world appear as supporting actors and cameos as a testament to the quality of this film. Big or small, every one wants to put their name on it and with good reason. Their talents are cumulative and their contributions come together for a richer performance, featuring familiar faces like Channing Tatum and Steven Dorff to thespians who frequent the States less often like Stephen Graham and Marion Cotillard. There is no weak link in this chain of actors. This casting is more like a team than a loose association of self serving talents: each member contributes appropriately to the greater good of the final product.

public-enemies-rodajeThe film ultimately climaxes on the well documented end to the days of John Dillinger as an outlaw with an emotional, final scene. Here is a spoiler alert: your heart will go out to “my Johnny” after witnessing his scene with Manhattan Melodrama.

The facts are undisputed, so the story arc of the two films is substantially the same. The difference lies with Bryan Burroughs and his new book of the same name. Adapted for the screen and directed by Michael Mann his interpretation smooths the narration and humanizes the characters in a manner not seen before. The story is split between the pressures on the nascent FBI as it struggled to prove its worth as a law enforcement agency and the sensational life of mobsters, fast cars and violence. The dialogue and interaction is rich and believable, giving a star studded cast plenty of material to work with and grow into.

Dillinger has been produced and filmed twice before, once in 1945 and once in 1973. With Public Enemies however the legend of John Dillinger finally has the flow, timelessness and believability which may make this the last time for all of time.

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Michael Jackson Dies

 Michael Jackson, the world´s music phenom, is dead.

He was 50.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that Jackson died today after he was rushed rushed to UCLA Medical Center earlier today.

Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Steve Ruda told the L.A. Times that Jackson was not breathing when paramedics arrived at his home and CPR was performed. was the first to repor that Jackson suffered cardiac arrest.

Michael Jackson´s ¨Don´t Stop¨

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Wadsworth to Unveil Hidden Treasures in New Exhibition

HARTFORD   – Ever wonder what treasures are tucked away in the depths of a museum’s cellar? 

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art dispels the mystery this summer in a new exhibition entitled, Hidden Treasures, which highlights rare, fragile and obscure pieces from the Wadsworth’s extensive permanent collection.

On view from June 27 to September 20, Hidden Treasures spans more that 2,000 years of art and will include works from numerous countries and cultures including Asia, South America and Africa. 

“The curatorial team relished the opportunity to delve into the museum’s storage spaces to find objects that we hope will surprise and intrigue our visitors,” said Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, the Wadsworth’s Chief Curator and the Krieble Curator of American Painting and Sculpture.  “Many of the pieces chosen are extremely fragile or light sensitive, which is why they are seldom on view, and we are excited to finally be able to share them as part of this special exhibition.” 

Some of the international treasures on display include a large scale painting by Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro entitled Cherry Blossoms at Yoshiwara, which is regarded as one of the most important Japanese paintings outside of Japan. 

Other highlights include a work on paper by Paul Cézanne and a selection of prints by modern American masters such as George Bellows, Edward Hopper, and John Sloan. 

A limited edition silkscreen print series entitled Portfolio of Ten Works by Ten Painters will also be on view and includes works by Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol.  Finally, works of contemporary artists include examples from Robert Mapplethorpe, Robert Longo, and video art by Andrea Fraser. 

The Wadsworth is located at 600 Main St.  For more information, please visit

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Weekend Movie Review … Year One

By Jonathan Smalls, Film Critic

The most appropriate comparison to between modern, comedic films and Year One is the relationship between Dawn dish soap and Dawn Ultra. It is concentrated and it is better. Once the film starts, the jokes just keep coming. Some are laugh out loud classics, some are stale annoyances, but the content is continuous throughout. One thing remains consistent right from the start though: the creative team Arrested Development behind this film uses every resource at their disposal to please and titillate the audience.


Harold Ramis, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg come together to form a smart, witty, comedic team. Like the Captain Planet and the Planeteers when their powers combine, the product is greater than the sum of its parts. Any viewer who is a fan of subtle comedies like the Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm will see similarities in this film and enjoy it thoroughly, but there is still overt humor to keep the broader audience engaged. The story is a fast paced amalgamation of Biblical references, poking humor at stories from Adam and Eve to Sodom and Gomorrah. However as an (Old) testament to the wisdom of the writers, they tastefully exclude any representations or references to Jesus.


All of this praise is despite the casting of Jack Black. His presence brings a taste of low brow, over the top comedy to an otherwise smart and unexpectedly funny presentation. While this may serve to include another audience who are entertained by shouting, falling down and other, slap stick conventions, his performance is just a stale remix of his performances in School of Rock and Tenacious D. Michael Cera is the real star of the show. The writing and delivery here matches his experience with Arrested Development and Superbad, which opens him up to truly entertain. True, Black and Cera were type cast for their roles, but their disparate styles actually work well together. Black serves to set up situations for Cera and Cera never disappoints.


The film is rife with high profile names and familiar faces. For those who like McLovin from Superbad, we get the same Christopher Mintz-Plasse. For those of us who enjoy uncle Tobias from, we a taste of David Cross. For those who only like the Simpsons, we even get a look at Hank Azaria, the talented, voice actor behind many of the regular characters. All of the supporting cast lends their talents to make the most of their scenes and Year One is better off for it.


The summer season is in full swing for film releases. All of the major studios roll out their, most attention grabbing titles in hopes of reminding the public why movies are worth paying for. With a run time of only an hour and forty minutes, Year One fits their mold of short tales to populate the theatres and rack up ticket sales. This film in particular though gives the audience a little more value with its density of content and pacing and is well worth the viewing for all types and ages.

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Hartford Groups Sponsor Food Drive

HARTFORD  – The Hartford Police Department will join The Men and Women of Color Initiative, the North Hartford Strategic Network and the Northend Church of Christ in co-sponsoring a food drive to benefit needy residents of Hartford’s Northend this Saturday.

The event will be from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 687 Albany Avenue.

Event sponsors encourage the public and law enforcement agencies to support this joint community and police effort to help those in need by bringing  canned, dry good, or non-perishable food items to 687 Albany Avenue, Hartford, on Saturday, June 20, 2009, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.


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LGBTAnnouces Open House

HARTFORD  “Unity and Respect for the LGBT Community” is the theme of an upcoming Open House this Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for Hartford’s Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Hartford City Hall Atrium at 550 Main Street in Downtown Hartford.

Hartford Court of Common Council Majority Leader rJo Winch will be the event’s keynote speaker.  In addition, numerous community groups will be on hand, staffing tables filled with informational brochures and other literature showcasing programs and services provided.

The goals of the Commission include the assisting in the elimination of bigotry, discrimination and prejudice against LGBT persons; studying the needs of LGBT people in Hartford and to make recommendations to the Hartford Court of Common Council regarding city policy, services, goals and administration, and their impact on the LGBT community; providing information to the community concerning the Commission’s activities; and serving as an educational resource within the community to fight bigotry, discrimination and prejudice based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity and/or expression.

For further information, contact Eloy Toppin, Office of Human Relations, who is the appointed staff liaison to the Commission. He can be reached at (860) 757-9788.

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Rell Proposes Help for Towns Hit By Foreclosures

HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell is proposing to use $3.6 million of the federal stimulus money to help small cities and towns ”rebuild neighborhoods” affected most by the foreclosure crisis. Bloomfield and Windsor are among towns listed to receive grants if Rell`s plan is approved.

 The plan, Rell said in a press release, will will be the subject of a public hearing on Wednesday, June 10 at the Legislative Office Building at  2 p.m.  in Room 2C of the LOB.

Rell said funds will allow a dozen communities to buy and rehabilitate foreclosed and vacant homes so that they can be re-sold at affordable prices to low- and moderate-income families. The cities would also be able to upgrade critical infrastructure in those neighborhoods, such as water and sewer lines, streets and sidewalks.

“These are sound investments that will help fill those homes will families and bring neighborhoods back to life. Just as critical is the work needed to stabilize and rehabilitate them, which will create jobs and put money back into local economies,” Rell said.  “The block grants will allow municipal leaders to help their local families realize the American dream of home ownership in livable, vibrant neighborhoods.”

Connecticut will receive $3,616,527 in Small Cities Community Development Block Grant funding, authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The  Small Cities CDBG – R Allocation Plan, developed by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), proposes to award the funds to Ansonia, Bloomfield, East Haven, Enfield, Killingly, Naugatuck, New Milford, Plainfield, Shelton, Torrington, Wallingford, and Windsor. 

“Combined with the $25 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding awarded earlier this year to our largest cities, these stimulus block grants will support and make investments in neighborhoods that are most at risk as the housing crisis continues to threaten the economic stability of our cities and towns,” Rell said.

The governor also said home restoration must be done in the most energy efficient manner possible. Infrastructure upgrades also must promote energy efficiency and conservation and smart growth. Consideration should be given to adding more bus stops to encourage mass transportation, bicycle lanes and energy-saving street lighting.

In preparing the allocation plan, DECD proposed funding the 12 municipalities with the highest foreclosure activity as determined through Neighborhood Stabilization Program guidelines and data collected in 2008.

 “We believe that our plan created to allocate NSP funding, which was done in coordination with the largest cities that received funding and HUD, was a good model for dealing with the foreclosure issues,” DECD Commissioner Joan McDonald said. “Rather than reinvent the wheel with these ‘one-time’ CDBG stimulus funds, we are proposing to use the same criteria to help guide our decisions.”

 Comparing the first quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2008, the number of foreclosed homes in these 12 communities rose by 32 percent during this time period. The lis pendens filings, which represent filings on potential foreclosures, rose in these towns by 57 percent over this same time period. The maximum grant any one recipient can receive is $750,000, and all grants funds must be spent by September 30, 2012.

A final plan will be submitted to U.S. Housing and Urban Development officials after the hearing for approval.

To view the state’s block grant plan visit the state stimulus Web site at, click on CT Recovery and go to the Accountability section.

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Report: Job Loss May Level Off

MILWAUKEE — U.S. employers plan to keep their staffing levels relatively stable during the third quarter of 2009, according to a national report.

Of the more than 28,000 employerssurveyed about their hiring plans for the third quarter of 2009, 15 percent anticipate an increase in their staff levels, while 13 percent expect a decrease in their payrolls. Sixty-seven percent of employers surveyed expect no change in their July – September hiring plans, and 5 percent of employers indicated they were undecided about their hiring intentions, the according to the quarterly report conducted  by Manpower Inc.

“While the numbers may not be as optimistic as we would like, it is positive to see no further deterioration, “said Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman and CEO of Manpower Inc.

According to Jonas Prising, president of the Americas for Manpower Inc., the data shows continued hesitancy among employers who are watching with “guarded optimism, hoping a few quarters of stability will be the precursor to the recovery.”

The national survey data shows employers in seven of the 13 sectors surveyed expect hiring to remain relatively stable in the next quarter as compared to the previous quarter.

Employers in Construction and Wholesale & Retail Trade anticipate moderate increases, while Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing and Leisure & Hospitality employers expect a slight increase in hiring activity compared to the second quarter.

Employers in two sectors surveyed, Education & Health Services and Government, anticipate a slight decrease in hiring compared to three months ago. Employers in Durable Goods Manufacturing; Transportation & Utilities; Information; Financial Activities; Professional & Business Services; and Other Services sector employers will keep hiring levels relatively stable for the third quarter.

The West has a weaker Outlook compared to the previous quarter, while all regions have a weaker Outlook compared to one year ago at this time. Employer optimism about hiring is relatively stable in the South, Northeast and Midwest.

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