Archive | September, 2010

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Hartford Begins Quest To Be Energy Efficient City

HARTFORD –The city’s is on a quest to “turn Hartford into the energy efficient capital city.”

The Department of Health and Human Services has launched an event to encourage residents to save money and energy, one light — one energy-saving step — at a time.

On Oct.  6,  Energy Star lighting products will be available for sale at the North End Farmer’s Market from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m at at 80 Coventry St. TechniArt Inc. will sell energy efficient light bulbs, fixtures, LED holiday lights and other lighting items at discounted prices made possible by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund and Connecticut Light & Power.

City officials say this is everyone’s chance to “save money, save energy and help protect the environment.”

For more information please contact Rita Kornblum at (860) 757-4727 or

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Will Obama Voters Abandon Him?

News Report, Michael H. Cottman

If opinion polls are accurate, an increasing number of voters are jumping ship and abandoning President Barack Obama.

The reason: Skyrocketing unemployment – 9.6 nationally, 16.3 for black Americans. It’s a national crisis – and Americans are anxious and angry.

According to a new survey by Politico and George Washington University, “a significant majority of voters are considering voting against President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.”

The poll says there is “deep skepticism” about Obama’s ability to create jobs and fix an unstable economy. Obama didn’t cause the economic collapse, but he did vow to generate job growth so Americans can get back to work. It’s a tall order in a pressure cooker – and a near-impossible task.

“Only 38 percent said Obama deserves to be reelected, even though a majority of voters hold a favorable view of him on a personal level,” the poll said. “Forty-four percent said they will vote to oust him, and 13 percent said they will consider voting for someone else.”

What’s perhaps more troubling for the White House, according to the Politico poll, is that a growing number of voters say they trust congressional Republicans to create jobs more than Obama.

This means Obama must convince a nervous electorate that his administration can fix the economy and return millions of unemployed Americans to the workforce.

It’s probably too late for Obama to persuade some voters to his way of thinking by the critical November mid-term elections, but the president still has time to make his case before he runs for re-election in 2012.

In November, if Republicans take over the House, Obama says Republicans’ plan to slash taxes and cut spending and called GOP policies “an echo of a disastrous decade we can’t afford to relive.”

“The Republicans who want to take over Congress offered their own ideas the other day. Many were the very same policies that led to the economic crisis in the first place, which isn’t surprising, since many of their leaders were among the architects of that failed policy,” Obama said.

On Monday, Obama signed a $42 billion bill to aid small businesses Monday – a measure that’s expected to create 500,000 by offering about $12 billion in tax breaks.

Whether this latest initiative by Obama to stimulate jobs is enough to change the minds of those who are not supporting the president in 2012 is anyone’s guess.

“This is important because small businesses produce most of the new jobs in this country. They are the anchors of our Main Streets. They are part of the promise of America – the idea that if you’ve got a dream and you’re willing to work hard, you can succeed,” Obama said during the bill signing Monday.

The president has said repeatedly that he understands the public is frustrated with the slow pace of the recovery and continuing high unemployment, which was 9.6 percent last month.

“Government can’t guarantee success, but it can knock down barriers to success, like the lack of affordable credit,” Obama said. “Government can’t replace – can’t create jobs to replace the millions that we lost in the recession, but it can create the conditions for small businesses to hire more people through steps like tax breaks.”

Monday’s new economic initiative comes as Obama must also re-assemble his economic team. Christina Romer, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, quit in August, and this month, Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council, said he would leave at the end of the year to return to Harvard University.

So, while Obama works on crafting a new economic team, he must also talk up his economic policy initiatives at every opportunity to sway public opinion and prevent frustrated voters from deserting his presidency – and his ideals.

If, of course, the opinion polls are correct.

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Hartford School Teacher Honored

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Association of Schools named Hartford Principal Desi Nesmith of SAND Elementary School the 2010 recipient of the “William Cieslukowski Outstanding First Year Principal Award.”

Recipients of the award, named after the former president of the Elementary & Middle School Principals of Connecticut, must demonstrate exemplary instructional and organizational leadership, a willingness to take risks and the ability to overcome adversity.

Nesmith was recognized for his work in facilitating the school’s transition to the nationally acclaimed America’s Choice education design and for producing the highest gains on the 2010 Connecticut Mastery Test of any elementary school in the district.

“It’s truly an honor to be recognized,” Nesmith said. “But the real credit goes to our students, their parents and to our dedicated teaching staff. I also want to thank America’s Choice for its support throughout this process.”

Established in 1998, the America’s Choice School Design is a proven model that provides an unmatched combination of professional development, technical assistance, and high-quality materials to help turn around schools that have a substantial group of students with difficulty meeting standards. Since then, more than 1,000 schools nationwide have adopted the design, which is customized for elementary, K–8, middle, and high schools.

Nesmith’s implementation of the America’s Choice design in his first year as a principal resulted in a 14.8 percentage point increase in his school’s Overall School Index, the highest increase among elementary schools and the second highest in the entire district.

“Mr. Nesmith also wasted no time introducing himself to the community and setting higher expectations for educational success even before the official start of schools,” said Assistant Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, who oversees school redesign.

“It was not long before the community was buzzing with talk about the new guy going door to door talking about the new school going into their familiar neighborhood building.”

The new principal also aligned the 7th and 8th grades with the new Journalism and Media Academy giving students a strong writing component to their curriculum. Students also participated in a four-week summer program at the Simsbury Community Farm, where they participated in science and literary classes.

“Desi’s contributions have given life, breadth and depth to the message and vision of America’s Choice at SAND,” said Jennifer Weiss, Senior Associate of America’s Choice in New York City. “As a first year principal, faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges and adversity, Desi remained focused and driven, curtailing air supply to all potential fires by devoting time and effort where it matters most: with students and teachers.”

A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Mr. Nesmith was a 5th grade teacher in the East Hartford school system. He later became a “Teacher in Residence” at the Connecticut State Department of Education’s School Improvement Unit and then an Intervention Resource Specialist in the Office of the Hartford Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education.

“If my own children were just starting elementary school, I would want Desi to be their principal,” said M. Leon McKinley, director of Elementary Education for Hartford Public Schools and Nesmith’s mentor. “He’s that good for children.”

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Police Arrest Nude Man Near Supreme Court

HARTFORD —  A city man was arrested today for allegedly masturbating in full view of a female who was parked in the lot adjacent to a Russ Street apartment building, police said.

Hector Luis Vasquez

The suspect, Hector Luis Vasquez, aka Hector Juan Vasquez, 48, of 26 Russ St., Apt. A-4, was charged with public indecency, interfering with police, and breach of peace.

On Sept. 29,  at about 6:00 am, Hartford Police responded to the area near the State Supreme Court on a report of a naked man standing next to a fully opened window masturbating in full view of a female who was parked in the lot adjacent to 26 Russ St., police said.

This morning Vasquez allegedly masturbated for about 10 minutes until police arrived on the scene.

Vasquez then moved from the open window and fled.

Hartford Police Captain Joseph Buyak found Vasquez hiding in an alcove in the hall way of the apartment building.

A witness positively identified Vasquez, police said.

Similar lewd acts have been reported by women working at the Supreme Court during previous weeks, police said.

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Rell Opposes MTA’s End To Discounted Web Tickets

HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell today announced that she has directed state Department of Transportation Commissioner Jeffrey A. Parker to tell the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) – the operator of the Metro-North commuter railroad – that Connecticut is ardently opposed to its plans to eliminate discounts for mail- and Internet-based ticket purchases and other changes related to validity periods and redemption fees.

The MTA plans public hearings in Connecticut on Wednesday and Thursday on proposals that would eliminate the current 4 percent discount on tickets purchased by mail and 5 percent discount on “WebTickets” while making 10-trip tickets valid for just three months rather than the current 12 months.

Other changes would make single-trip tickets valid for one week rather than 30 days and introduce a $15 fee to redeem any valid, unused ticket.

“Since taking office six years ago, and in cooperation with federal, state and local partners, I have made unprecedented investments in Connecticut’s public transportation system,”  Rell said. “One of our primary goals throughout this process has been to encourage ever greater use of mass transit by improving the service and customer experience while maintaining affordable and attractive fares. These proposals will have the effect of turning away passengers at the very time we are doing our best to make public transportation options more attractive.

“I ask that you and your Department make this position clear to the MTA: Connecticut cannot and will not support the elimination of discounts on mail- and web-based ticket sales and changes related to the validity periods and redemption fees for Connecticut riders,” Rell said in a letter to Commissioner Parker. “Eliminating a discount has the same effect as a fare increase. The price paid by the commuter will go up – it is as plain and simple as that.”

Connecticut officials must agree to fare increases – and Governor Rell refused to do so earlier this year when MTA proposed to increase fares on the New Haven Line. However, Connecticut cannot unilaterally reject administrative changes such as the current MTA proposals. MTA will make a final decision after hearing from Connecticut officials and the public.

“While I recognize that the Department cannot ‘veto’ policy changes on such things as validity periods and redemption fees, we can make it clear we do not support these proposed changes,”  Rell said. “The changes proposed by the MTA are, simply stated, inconsistent with everything we have tried to accomplish in the public transportation arena and should not be permitted to move forward.”

The public hearings in Connecticut are scheduled for:

Wednesday, September 29, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Gen Re Auditorium on the Stamford campus of the University of Connecticut, 1 University Place, Stamford

  • Thursday, September 30, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the DOT Office of Rail Operations, Union Station, 4th Floor West, 50 Union Avenue, New Haven

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Hartford Resident Tests Positive for West Nile Virus

HARTFORD –  A city resident is has been tested positive for the West Nile Virus and is now hospitalized, state officials said today.

The State Mosquito Management Program  announced that  the 50-something  Hartford resident is the seventh human case of WNV reported in Connecticut and the nineth overall cases.

Two additional residents contracted the disease while traveling out of state.

In the latest case, the Hartford resident  became ill during the second week of September and is hospitalized for meningitis. Illness was characterized by fever and severe headache, officials said in a statement.

Laboratory tests performed at the Department of Public Health Laboratory identified the presence of antibodies to WNV in the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid.

Mosquitoes infected with WNV had been previously detected in Hartford on Sept. 2.

“West Nile virus can cause serious illness, especially in people over 50. Although the risk of getting sick from West Nile virus is declining, circulation of West Nile virus in mosquitoes will continue until the first hard frost,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. J. Robert Galvin.

So far this season, WNV-positive mosquitoes have been identified in 23 towns – Bethel, Bridgeport,Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, Milford, Newtown, Norwalk, New Britain, New Haven, Orange, Stamford, Stratford, Stonington, Trumbull, Wallingford, West Hartford, West Haven, Westport and Wethersfield. Seven people, living in Bridgeport, Clinton, Greenwich, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Trumbull, have been reported with infections this year.

To monitor WNV, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station maintains a network of 91 mosquito-trapping stations in 72 municipalities throughout the state from June through October. Mosquito traps are set every ten days at each site on a rotating basis. Mosquitoes are grouped (pooled) according to species, collection site, and date. Each pool is cultured for the presence of viruses of public health importance including West Nile and eastern equine encephalitis viruses.

For information on West Nile virus and what you can do to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program Web site at or call toll free at 1-866-WNV-LINE (1-866-968-5463).

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Hartford Library To Honor First Black Librarian

HARTFORD —   The Hartford Public Library will celebrate the life and work of Spencer G. Shaw, the first African American librarian in the city and who was designated  an “authentic and forthright spokesperson for children and youth librarians, contributing enormously in motivating and guiding the nation’s youth,” by the American Library Association.

The celebration will be from 2 to 4 p.m. on  Tuesday at The Hartford Public Library, 500 Main St. Tuesday’s program will be free to the public.

A native of Hartford, Shaw, was hired at the library 1941. After an illustruious career nationallly, he returned to Bloomfield, Connecticut in 2004. He died in June at the age of 93.

Shaw was a renowned Children’s and Academic Librarian with a professional career that spanned six decades. He  served as a Branch Manager in the Hartford Public Library. He was also program and storytelling specialist in the Brooklyn New York Public Library, a Consultant in Library Service to Children in the Nassau County Public Library System and Professor in the Information School at the University of Washington.

Throughout his career,  Shaw received numerous national and international recognition as an authority in his specialized field dedidcated to children.

For more information, call 860-695-6297.

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Hartford Census Return Rate Increases

HARTFORD — The city’s mail back return rate with the 2010 Census has improved over the last count, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Hartford improved its mail back participation rate to 59 percent, 4 percent higher from the 2000 Census.  Mayor Pedro E. Segarra yesterday thanked the Complete Count Committee for its intense grass roots community outreach in what are called “hard-to-count” areas.

“It is an important achievement that Hartford reversed the trend of declining participation.  Having the most accurate count possible reflects on Hartford’s representation on the federal level including federal funding for important projects that affect the quality of our everyday lives for our families, especially those who are most vulnerable,” Segarra said.

The City of Hartford was presented with a plaque in honor of being one of the most active partners in the Census process.  This distinction was based on the number of community census events hosted (examples:  conversations at barber and beauty shops and the March to the Mailbox campaign), providing training space for Census employees and volunteers, and linking the 2010 Census to websites.

In a thank you letter to the City, Kathleen Ludgate, Regional Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Boston Region states, “Your commitment to motivate the public to complete and return the census form will have a lasting impact.”

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Man Who Triggered M.D. FOX Closing Arrested

HARTFORD — A 30-year old man was arraigned today after allegedly causing mayhem that led to the closing of the M.D. Fox Middle school yesterday.

Daniel Quinonez, 30, was charged with criminal possession of a pistol, carrying a pistol without a permit, attempted first-degree assault and machine guns.

In Superior Court this morning Judge John Cronan set  Quinonez’s bond at $1 million.

Yesterday M.D. Fox Elementary School at 470 Maple Ave.  was closed for the day because  of police activity in the vicinity of the school. Parents were  advised and students were removed from the school.

The Quinonez  melee began when police received a call at 4:17 a.m. reporting an armed robbery at a Mobil gas station and convenience store on Washington Street. Not long after that call,  officers  spotted a man fitting the description of the robber at the Mobil station on Whitmore Street, police said.

When the officers tried to stop the man, the man opened fire and fled the scene, police said.  No officer was injured.

In court today,  Quinones was described as a “prime suspect” in the gun robberies.

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Healthy Hartford Sponsors Book On “Food Rebels”

HARTFORD — The city’s  will sponsor an evening of conversation with Mark Winne, author of “Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners and Smart-Cookin’Mamas; Fighting back in an Age of Industrial Agriculture” on  Sept.  30,  from 5:00 to 7:45 p.m. at the Hartford Public Library .

In this book, Winne shows how people are reclaiming their connection to their food and their health. He covers everything from urban farming in Cleveland to buffalo restoration on Native American reservations to food-education classes in diabetes-prone neighborhoods.

Winne is the founding father of the Hartford Food System. He speaks and consults extensively on community food system topics including hunger and food insecurity, local and regional agriculture, and food policy.

For more information please contact Rita Kornblum at (860) 757-4727.

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