Archive | November, 2010

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State To Open First of Several ‘Sheff Center’

HARTFORD — For many city residents, the idea of the school desegregation case, Sheff v. O’Neill, is simply that–an idea.

The idea is that thier children can learn only “if they sit next to a white child,” according to one parent.

That’s the perception.

In an effort to clarify the goals of Sheff, the state department, as mandated by the court, will open an information center on Friday at the Wilson Gray YMCA Center on Albany Avenue.

State officials said this effort is to help meet the demand of the court mandated Sheff. At 2:3 0 p.m., State Education Commissioner Mark K. McQuillan and Hyacinth Douglas-Bailey, Vice President of the Greater Hartford YMCA, will sign an agreement designating the Wilson-Gray YMCA as the first of several community centers that will help families with information and registration materials for students from throughout the region to enroll in a variety of public school choices.

In1996, the Court ruled that Hartford students must have access to quality educational programs in settings that are not racially or economically isolated.

The Greater Hartford Regional School Choice Office (RSCO) was established to provide opportunities for both urban and suburban students to attend schools outside their school districts in order to increase educational choices and reduce isolation.

McQuillan and representatives of the participating agencies will discuss how parents can use the new centers to access additional educational choices in the greater Hartford region. Community volunteers will be on hand to demonstrate the online resources that the RSCO is developing for use in more than a dozen planned satellite sites in Hartford and in the greater Hartford area. The Commissioner and RSCO officials will also detail other efforts to reach out to parents in Hartford and the region and to make available information and assistance in applying for the Greater Hartford Regional Choice Program, interdistrict magnet schools and programs, the technical high schools and an agriscience center.

School Choice Information Expo on Friday, Nov. 12 from 2:30 – 3:30 pm at the Wilson-Gray YMCA, 444 Albany Avenue, Hartford, CT 06120

Seven school “choice fairs” are planned to provide families in Hartford and from all over the Greater Hartford region the ability to obtain information from the Regional School Choice Office and its partners from each magnet school and become more informed.

Those dates and locations are:

November 20, 9:00-12:00 p.m., A.I. Prince Technical High School, Hartford

November 30, 5:30-8:00 p.m., Avon High School

December 11, 9:00-12:00 p.m., Mary Hooker Environmental Sciences Magnet School in Hartford

December 14, 5:30-8:00 p.m., Hebron Middle School

January 5, 2011, 5:30-8:00 p.m., University of Hartford Magnet School in Hartford

January 12, 2011 from 5:30-8:00 p.m., Granby High School

January 19, 2011 from 5:30-8:00 p.m., Cromwell High School

More information is available on the RSCO Web site at:

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Cory Booker Injects Hartford Audience With Hope, Bonds With ‘Little Brother’

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — It was the most electrifying moment ever, at least for one young man.

“Tavon Greene, stand up!” Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker boomed to his “little brother” Wednesday in the cavernous Belding Theater in downtown Hartford. Booker had just ended a two-hour conversation about reclaiming the American Dream, sponsored by the Connecticut Association for Human Services.

Greene did rise from his seat. And he stood tall, about 6 ft tall. The 24-year old part time producer and part-time ShopRite worker in Shelton connected with his former mentor backstage at the Bushnell after about eight years of no contact. Back then, Booker mentored Greene while attending Yale Law School in New Haven.

This meeting, Greene said, was a long time coming.

Lucille Brown and her nephew, Tavon Greene, dial the number given by Cory Booker

Greene and his aunt, Lucille Brown, tried for years to reconnect with Booker, especially after Booker won his election bid for mayor in 2006, which led to the beginning of his national prominence. He was reelected again in 2010 but with 12 percent less than his 72 percent victory sweep in his first election. Greene would call Newark City Hall and tell the person at the other end that he was Booker’s little brother.

“They would laugh at me,” Greene said.

That’s because Booker does not have a little brother. Much to his dismay, Greene never got though to his former mentor. So he gave up about three years ago.

But yesterday during the 10-minute intermission of CAHS celebration of its 100 years, the two bonded brothers reconnected. They hugged. They chatted. Booker asked a lot of questions and gave Greene a number and email address. Prompted by a reporter to call and check to see if the number was a direct line to Booker, Greene called. And he said received a voicemail with Booker’s voice.

He was happy.

“I was trying to reach him because I missed him. I need to talk to him,” Greene said in the lobby at the Bushnell after the Greater Hartford Nonprofit elites filed in a back room for a ticketed reception. “I never did no time in jail, and you know it’s terrible there. Just for him being there, helped. He’s taken me out of that environment.”

Greene was one of about a hundred people gathered at CAHS forum titled “Reclaiming The American Dream.” The other panelist at the event included Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Community Bank ‘s President and CEO Peter Hurst, Elsa Nunez, President of Eastern Connecticut State University and Jacob Hacker, Yale author and Professor.

The discussion centered on the need for a paradigm shift on how to serve poor people.

“The old model doesn’t work. There has to be a new way of doing this,” Nunez said. “ Access to education has to be maintain…[young people] need to see successful minorities.”

Booker closed the panel by saying he’s “a prisoner of hope” and sees hope all around him. He saw hope in young men such as Greene, whom he recognized by asking him to stand and wave.

The audience applauded. So did Greene. But he felt something else that perhaps no one else felt that evening after the sobering discussion.

“I am happy. I’ve been waiting for a long time to see him,” Greene said. “I feel rejuvenated.”

The forum can be seen at

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State Kicks Off ‘Operation Elf’ For Veterans

HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the Connecticut National Guard today kicked-off this year’s Operation E.L.F.(Embracing Lonely Families) to help Connecticut’s military members and their families during the holidays.

“Our service members and their families deserve our gratitude every day, but especially around the holidays when they may be a half-world away from each other,” Rell said. “We are in tough economic times, but during the holidays, let us not short-change the joy that children deserve, especially when their mom or dad is far away protecting our freedoms. They are looking out for us. The least we can do is look out for their families.”

Rell said 620 Connecticut National Guard soldiers and airmen are currently deployed in Iraq andAfghanistan.  Those soldiers and airmen collectively have 390 school-aged, dependent children, and a total of 960 family members are affected by their deployment.

The public can support a service member and their families by donating grocery gift cards, department store gift cards, phone cards and new, unwrapped toys.

Donations of fuel oil, Christmas trees, snow removal services and financial contributions may also be made to the Connecticut National Guard Foundation, Inc.

Many of the toys that are collected will be distributed to deployed families during a special holiday dinner in December.  Other toys will be held by families to be placed under trees on Christmas morning.

The Operation ELF donation hotline is (860) 524-4924.

Many military families face financial pressures because activated soldiers have seen the elimination or reduction of their civilian job paychecks and Operation E.L.F offers an “Adopt-a-Family” for them. The governor said individuals and businesses are encouraged to “adopt” one of these families to help them have wonderful holiday season.

Donations may be dropped off at the following armories from now through December 13, 2010 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Army Aviation Support Facility                   William A. O’Neill Armory

Bradley International Airport                                   360 Broad Street

Route 75                                                                           Hartford, CT  06105

Windsor Locks, CT  06096

Waterbury Armory New London Armory

64 Field Street                                                            249 Bayonet Street

Waterbury, CT  06702                                             New London, CT  06320

Stratford Armory

63 Armory Road

Stratford, CT  06614

Norwich Armory

38 Stott Avenue

Norwich, CT  06360

You can support a Soldier by supporting their family with the donation of a gift card to a local grocery or department store, gas station or pharmacy.  These cards can be given to families so that they can choose what they need most.  Cards of any denomination are most welcomed and appreciated.

Gift cards may be delivered to any one of our drop-off locations or, if you prefer, they can be mailed to:

Connecticut National Guard

Office of Family Programs

360 Broad Street

Hartford, CT  06105-3795

If mailing a donation, please be sure to include your name, address and phone number so that we can send an appropriate acknowledgement of your contribution.

Another is the Adopt-A-Family program to assist those families who are suffering an extreme financial hardship as a result of their service member’s call to Active Duty.  Individuals or businesses may “adopt” a family from this category and help them have a great holiday season.  The name of the family is never revealed to the adopting person or organization.  Rather, a summary of the family’s demographics and wish list are provided.  Gifts are delivered by that family’s case worker along with any the name of the donor, if so desired.

The Connecticut National Guard Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that was established in April of 2003 for the purpose of providing emergency financial assistance for Connecticut National Guard members and their families.  All donations are fully tax-deductible.

Donations to the foundation can be sent to:

Connecticut National Guard Foundation, Inc.

360 Broad Street, Box 53

Hartford, CT  06105-3795


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City Spruces Up ‘Festival of Lights’

HARTFORD — The Hartford Festival of Light has a new look this year.

The 47-year-old tradition will be held in a new, more centrally located venue— Bushnell Park— but certain traditions will continue and new memories will begin, organizers say.

A procession will kick-off at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26 (the day after Thanksgiving) and will include the XL Center where Santa will be riding an ice maintenance machine down Trumbull Street.   Santa will then park this vehicle in his reserved parking space at Bushnell Park, where the formal entertainment and lighting ceremony will begin at approximately 5:45 p.m.

Details of the Nov. 26 show and the exact procession route will be announced as the festivities get closer.  One thing to look forward to on that date at the park is a demonstration by professional skaters on synthetic ice to help create the image and paint the picture of what we can expect to see at Bushnell Park starting Dec. 10 when a real— and much larger— ice skating rink will be open to the public until Jan. 6, 2011, which is Three Kings Day.

Mayor Pedro Segarra says,  “By moving the lighting ceremony to Bushnell Park, we better connect all the festivities to all the wonderful things that are happening in our Downtown this holiday season at our shops, theatres and restaurants.”

The U.S. Marines will continue the Toys for Tots toy drive, hot chocolate will be served at the park courtesy of Mohegan Sun , and the Pump House Gallery will be open that evening.

In addition, the Hartford Parking Authority kicks off its first Freebie Night on Nov. 26 after 5 p.m. as part of its Park n’ Dine special in conjunction with the Morgan Street, MAT, and Church Street garages.  Please log on to for more details.

Also, the Star Shuttle will be running that evening and there is parking at the state lot near the Bushnell.  Additional handicapped street parking spaces will be reserved around Bushnell Park.

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City Partners With Bike Walk Summit

HARTFORD — In an effort to realize a bike and walk friendly city, the city has joined with the Connecticut Bike Walk organization to hold a summiton Saturday at Central Connecticut State Univeristy in New Britain.

The Nov. 13  Bike Walk Summit from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. will create a  forum for city and community leaders to continue the work toward a Healthy Hartford by planning the changes needed to improve resident’s ability to bike and walk across the city, Hartford officials said.

“With the goal of changing the culture of transportation to make bicycling and walking safe, feasible and attractive for a healthier, cleaner Connecticut, the organization Bike Walk Connecticut will bring us together to have these important conversations,” said Carlos Rivera, Director of the Hartford Department of Health and Human Services.

To register for this event,  visit

For additional information, call Bike Walk Connecticut at 860-904-2420

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How the Midterm Elections Could Affect Health Care Reform

By Viji Sundaram, NAM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Even before the GOP regained control of the House in the midterm elections, they had been vowing to eviscerate or repeal the landmark health care reform act signed into law by President Obama this past March. Indeed, many Republicans had campaigned on a repeal platform.

The GOP’s message-machine is trying to convince the public that the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (ACPPA) is health care spending legislation. Supporters of the law in Washington, D.C., say that on the contrary, the law is the biggest deficit-reduction measure ever passed, with the potential to save the country an estimated $1 trillion in the second decade of its enactment.

Much of the implementation of the reform bill will occur at the state level, and California has already forged ahead by approving the setting up of the so-called “health exchange,” through which individuals and small businesses can shop around online for the best health-care values for their needs.

NAM asked Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, to weigh in on some of the concerns that Americans, especially California residents, may have about how the midterm elections will impact implementation of the law.

NAM: Newspaper reports say that one of the reasons for the electorate turning from blue to red is the health care reform law —  that the results are a referendum on an entitlement that the public not only never wanted, but actually hated. Three separate polls — by NYT-CBS. Pew and Kaiser Family Foundation — all indicate a decline in support of the health care law in recent months.

Wright: The polls have been pretty steady. Folks are roughly evenly divided about health care reform, despite the impacts of $100 million in ads against health reform [after the bill was passed]. In California, there is plurality support.

A CNN poll showed that the first issue for the electorate, by 61 percent, was the economy and jobs. Health care was a distant second, at 19 percent, and even that was split in terms of people in favor or against. This election was about a bad economy, and perhaps broader frustration with government. California rejected the well-funded candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, who were for “repeal and replace.” In fact, most people are not for repeal, and [the numbers go down even more] they know the details of what they would repeal.

Even if Congress succeeds in passing a repeal measure, President Obama holds the veto pen. But Congress can decide not to fund certain provisions of the health reform act. If that happened, what California health care programs are in the greatest danger of being adversely impacted?

Wright: The new Congressional leadership in the House could put funding at risk, like for community transformation grants and other specific projects. What’s more worrisome is the fight over the overall budget to implement health reform at the national level, leading to a potential government shutdown, similar to what happened the last time the Repuiblicans took over Congress in 1994-95.

Earlier this week, the Obama administration approved a $10 billion so-called Medicaid waiver, which is expected to benefit thousands more Californians over the next five years. Will this waiver be jeopardized by the anti-ACPPA folks in Washington? And what exactly does the waiver do?

Wright: The waiver is not in jeopardy. This is what administrations have the authority to negotiate with individual states.

The waiver allows for a greater federal investment in California’s Medi-Cal program and health system on which we all rely, particularly key safety-net providers like public hospitals.

What about the provisions in the law that have already been implemented—like “aged out” kids getting back on their parents’ health care plan until they turn 26, and access to preventive care services? Could these provisions be frozen while Congress debates repeal?

Wright: No. The law is the law, and we need to make sure that Californians take advantage of the new benefits available under the law.

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Police Chief Terminates Second Minority Officer In One Week

HARTFORD — The city’s police chief has terminated the second of two police officers since the beginning of November.

Chief of Police Daryl K. Roberts announced on Friday that he terminated Officer Rhashim Campbell, who was arrested for domestic violence on Nov. 1, 2009. Campbell was one of two HPD officers accused of assaulting a man in custody. The other was Officer Kent Lee, who retired last year after prosecutors refused to sign his arrest warrant.

Campbell’s firing came after an internal affairs investigation, according to a press release on Friday.

A Hearing Panel consisting of three Hartford police captains found that Campbell, who was on the force for five years, violated two sections of the department’s code of conduct, namely knowingly or willfully making a false entry in a department record and intentional excessive use of force in an arrest, or in the performance and execution of other official duties, officials said.

Campbell was arrested Dec. 10 and charged with third-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence. He is expected to appear at Superior Court in Hartford Tuesday.

Roberts stated: “The Hartford Police Department will not tolerate the mistreatment of our citizens, especially those in our custody.”

The two firings in the first week of the month are of two people of color allegedly behaving badly. The other firing was of State Rep. Hector Robles, who was also found to have allegedly falsified records.

City observers say that the firing comes at a time when the city’s police department has failed to hire minority police officers.

Nicholas Carbone in a recent interview said that under Robert, there has been no minority police officer hired.

City officials were unavailable for comment at press time.

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‘For Colored Girls’ Is A Mixed Bag

HARTFORD — One thing can be said about Tyler Perry. He knows his audience. He can produce a film, television series, or stage play, and confidently know that he has a fan base to support him.

Some people come running with cash in hand for the latest offering from Tyler Perry, but this review is for the rest of us, who take him with a grain of salt.

Objectively viewed For Colored Girls is the most recent in a string of high school level screen plays with Hollywood level budgets.

Watch any of his films, and you will soon realize that three, simple words can immediately render a movie unwatchable: “by Tyler Perry”. Those three words are a sure sign of several of his signatures like saintly, black women, who have done absolutely no thing wrong, abusive, black men, who have no redeeming qualities, and a happy ending where the women win, men lose, and the credits roll. Unfortunately those three words are all over For Colored Girls, which under different management could have been a truly excellent film.

Directed by Tyler Perry, produced by Tyler Perry, screen play by Tyler Perry, there is no one to blame for the weakness of this film except for Tyler Perry.

The film is adapted from the stage performance, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. The film suffers the immediate handicap of adapting material from one performance medium to another much like a movie based on a book is never as good as the book.

 Consequently parts of the the film, which are truest to the poetry of the stage play are powerful, but their power is dulled as Perry tries to string them together through exposition. For instance Perry chooses to overlap all of the disparate stories into one circle of friends, triumphing over a punishing world, and it just seems heavy handed.

That is not to say that it is all bad. Like the fusion of good writing with bad, the rest of the film is also a mixed bag. Janet Jackson does a weak impression of Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada, but Thandie Newton is delightful as a morally empty, sex addict. Phylicia Rashad returns to the screen to reprise her role as the maternal Claire Huxtable in a much darker, grittier environment, and she is as entertaining as ever.

The most powerful performance goes to Kimberly Elise however; her character has the richest, source material, and Elise ably brings it all to life on the screen to the point where she possibly could have had her own movie.

For Colored Girls is an OK movie just like mixing hot water with cold will yield a lukewarm bath. Tyler Perry gets an ‘A’ for effort, and his heart is in the right place, but he should probably leave the writing to some one else from now on.

Let us just hope that in the distant future some one else rediscovers the play by Ntozake Shange, and provides the film treatment, which it deserves.

Other Reviews On The Web:

Moive Review: For Colored Girls

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“Narnia” To Kick Off Holiday Season

FARMINGTON/CT — The young stars of the holiday motion picture event The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader are set to kick off the holiday season in grand fashion by hosting a nationwide 16 city lighting ceremony via live satellite, for the groundbreaking, multi-sensory, new Ice Palaces created by Taubman Centers, featuring scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ( 

The ceremony will illuminate Westfarms, Connecticut’s premiere shopping center, and other Taubman (NYSE: TCO) malls across the country simultaneously as families and fans everywhere gather together in celebration. 

On  Nov.  12 at Westfarms the young stars from the movie, Georgie Henley (Lucy Pevensie) and Will Poulter (Eustace Clarence Scrubb) will give holiday revelers the first look at the Ice Palaces and their highly anticipated film streamed live from Beverly Center in Los Angeles.

The event will be simulcast to 16 Taubman centers across the country, including  Westfarms where children from select children’s charities will wave LED wands to collectively illuminate the Ice Palaces. The celebration opens the free exhibit for all to experience, ushering in the holiday season and the arrival of Santa Claus.

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From “Hope” to Spam: How Obama Lost the Digital Generation

EDITOR’S NOTE: After Barack Obama’s victory in 2008, many predicted that his online campaign—especially his digital outreach to young people—was the beginning of a new way of raising money and winning elections. What happened? To find out, New America Media interviewed Bay Area young people who were extremely involved in the Obama campaign two years ago but are less engaged in 2010, as well as analysts and activists who are trying to understand what went wrong.

Zev Karlin-Neumann is vice president of political affairs for Campaigns at Stanford Democrats, the largest political group on campus.

When Obama was running for president, everyone was interested in donating and getting engaged. Using social networks and online tools to mobilize people was effective only because this sense of euphoria already existed. Plus, people had to make a simpler choice during the presidential elections and there was a definitive D-Day when things came to an end. But now, it seems endless.

Only a few people get excited about policy issues, even those issues that directly affect their lives. Without enthusiasm, it’s very hard to get people to open their wallets and donate. And even the most jazzed up social marketing strategies fall flat without this.

Askia Tariq West is an African-American and Muslim who recently graduated from Stanford and now works for a major consulting firm in McLean, Virginia.

We thought we were changing the world; now we know better. Few races this year, if any, have the historical significance of the 2008 presidential election. In addition, we’ve been disheartened by the vitriolic opposition to everything Obama’s tried to do and disillusioned by Obama’s shortcomings.

In 2008, social media and new media mobilization had a certain cool factor. Generation Y felt a special ownership of social and new media campaigns . Now, even old-guard, old-fogie insider candidates have online campaigns, and it’s just not as hip to engage people [using social media] anymore.

It feels like there is a wave of hate and uncertainty and fear sweeping the country, and social media –online mobilization –lends itself to hopeful tenor buzz rather than preparing for the worst, as many of us are.

Sarahi Constantine was a student leader for the 2008 Obama campaign. She will graduate from Stanford University next spring.

I have stopped reading all the emails from the President’s office. Some of my friends directly put those messages in their spam folders. I haven’t reached that point yet. I simply push the emails off to a separate folder to read when I have time, but I haven’t gotten around to them yet.

There needs to be more transparency for where money goes in campaign donations. When Obama was running for president, we knew all the funds would be utilized for his campaign. Now that clarity is missing in other campaigns.

In 2008, Angela Petrella organized a dance party fundraiser for presidential candidate Barak Obama at McSweeney’s publishing house. Over 100 people attended, each donating $100. A total of $15,000 was raised for the campaign.

“I’m middle class, so $100 was a lot of money, but giving money away almost felt empowering. Every single person donated $100 dollars because we wanted [Obama to win so badly]. I was willing to eat ramen noodles for a month, but how long can a person do that?

If it’s just one presidential election, I can focus energy on just that…but then there was the Haiti [relief] outpour. When I receive email after email for so many causes, I don’t get inspired to do anything. I just feel annoyed and indifferent.

Tristan O’Tierney, along with nine friends, created the Obama ’08 iPhone application, with a “Call Friend” feature that automatically pulled the phone numbers of iPhone users’ friends in key swing states. The app was used to make 39,802 volunteer calls.

I’m not sure why young people aren’t trying to go after the Tea Party movement more. In my case, I haven’t had the time.

The Tea Party movement is centered on misinformation and negative speech, neither of which I’d really like to acknowledge because doing so gives them the very attention they want.

Jamilah King is the News Editor of She frequently writes on race and youth issues.

What appealed to folks in 2008 was that the outreach was carefully targeted and effective. And that was largely because the Obama campaign provided us with an alternative message to what we often heard in the mainstream press, or from other campaigns.

I think the genius of social networking, and why it became so popular, was because it allowed for people to control their interactions and the amount of information they received. Now, it’s different. Social networks— especially Facebook— have become places that are more about selling products and ideas than interacting with the select few you want to be in touch with.

[The emails from the campaigns this year have been] a bit too wonky to make an impact on people who aren’t plugged in. Typically, the emails got to people who already know enough to be engaged.

Now that Obama’s in office, he should be more concerned with creatively controlling the overall narrative rather than encouraging users to post buttons on people’s Facebook walls. It’s true that he’s battling against the Tea Party and Fox News for the minds of voters, but the [administration’s] message seems to have become more mechanic than passionate. And that goes totally against the framework that got him elected in the first place.

Maxwell Szabo is a San Francisco native who graduated from UC Santa Cruz. He is president of San Francisco Young Democrats.

The main difference between the 2008 election and the midterm election is the top of the ticket. It was awe-inspiring Obama versus John McCain. Though McCain was a really nice man, he didn’t appeal to young people.

Now look at Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman. I’m strongly convinced that Jerry Brown’s positions are health care, the environment, and the economy are much more favorable for young people. But people in my generation didn’t know who Jerry Brown was or what issues he stands for. I wasn’t even alive during his first term as governor. Young people are most interested in what will happen with Prop. 23 and Prop 19.

[Still, our organization has] grown tremendously since 2008. A lot of people got interested in politics after the election. We’ve done better in fundraising, and 200 new people have joined our organization over the last two years. We are banging on doors and going out to the community. We dropped 30,000 hangers in Districts 2, 8, and 10.

Cheryl Contee blogs under the pseudonym “Jill Tubman” for Jack & Jill Politics, a site started in 2006 to provide diverse viewpoints of tax-paying, hard-working, engaged and patriotic African-American citizens.

I don’t think the youth voice has gone quiet since 2008, but rather they have moved on to other ideas and causes.

Young people have been hit hard by the recession, and it’s difficult to focus on politics when you’re working three jobs to make ends meet. I think we’ll see young people flex their muscles again in the 2010 general election.

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