Archive | April, 2011


Hartford Celebrates, Restores Parks

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The city’s celebration of parks continues today as the mayor, city workers and volunteers will  participate in a community block Party at CRT’s Grandparent Complex.

About 300 volunteers is expected to gather at 35 Clark Street in the Northeast neighborhood to clean, plant trees, and restore the flower beds.

The event is a part of “Celebrating Our Parks,” which is a part of “One City, One Plan” for conservation and development, city officials said. It’s also a “long-term vision and strategy for the future of Hartford.”

Events planned for today also include:

10:30 a.m. — The Mayor will provide opening remarks and then roll up his sleeves at another neighborhood clean-up. The “Frog Squad” Neighborhood Clean-Up starts at Billings Forge, 140 Russ Street in the Frog Hollow Neighborhood.

10:30 a.m. — Vintage Base Ball begins its season at Colt Meadows (Colt Park) 8 Henricxsen Avenue in the Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood. The Nutmeg BBC takes on Barnie’s Blue Boys BBC.

Monday, May 2nd
All day— Department of Public Works will clean-up the following parks:
Day Park (Arbor and Orange Streets)
Forster Heights (Harvard Street)
Bobby Sands Park (South/Freeman Streets/Maple Avenue)
Fairfield Park (New Britain/Fairfield Avenue)

On all of these days, Little League games will be played at Hyland, Columbus, and Rocky Ridge Parks. Tee-times for golf are available at Keney and Goodwin Park Courses. And let’s not forget that the historic Bushnell Park Carousel is now open (starting Saturday, April 30)

Poster-size “Celebrating Our Parks” events calendars will be posted in City Hall, City Recreation Centers, Senior Centers, Hartford Public Library branches, the Health and Human Services Office and the Board of Education Office

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Fast Five Pumps Up Box Office With High Octane Stunts

By Jonathan Smalls, Film Critic

There are several ways to make an entertaining movie. Most people aim for the high standard of an engaging plot, and believable actors. This is a lofty goal, but its problem is that there too many things can go wrong, and fall short of expectations.

Fast Five tries for none ofmthat; Fast Five aims for nothing but high octane, heart pumping action with a loose plot, and frames cut every few seconds to ensure
that audiences never get bored.

Sure, this may not be the deepest, most emotionally cathartic experience for audiences, but there is a definite market for over-the-top, logic defying action as well. Just ask producers Neal Moritz, and Vin Diesel; they have made careers of it. There is no thing wrong with this as long as the audience knows what they are in for, and I think
that Moritz, and Vin Diesel have that covered.

Exotic, high speed cars, check. Beautiful women, check. Fist fight between Vin Diesel, and Dwayne Johnson, check. The only things missing are any forms of wit, and originality. The series takes on an Ocean’s 11 type heist with the expected level of adrenaline, and that just about sums it up.

They also bring together all of the favorite characters of the previous entries in the series, so after a period of introductions,and back slapping the film really starts to show its emptiness. None of the characters ever go any where; they show up in one state, and by the end of the movie they are exactly the same, except rich. Prepare for a very deus ex machina type ending with this production.

Although this type of movie is in fact available in theaters on April 29, I advise you not to pay for it there. Just like every other movie in the Fast and Furious series, it will soon be available on network television for you to enjoy for free. Your wallet, and better
judgement will thank you.

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City Begins Forum On Prenatal Care

HARTFORD — Adequate prenatal care, including initiating care in the first trimester and receiving regular care until delivery, is one of the most important factors in improving the health of women and children.

That’s why the Hartford Department of Health and Human Services is presenting today an highly interactive forum on prenatal care in Hartford today from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Bushnell Center for The Performing Arts. Theater.

The event is moderated by Director of HHS Carlos Rivera, and the panel of presenters includes a wide array of experts, including Gretchen Allen, medical director of Community Health Services,  Carol Stone, Department of Health Services and Grace Damino of the Hispanic Health Council.


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‘USA v. The World’ Set For Saturday

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

Update: 7:56 p.m.

HARTFORD – Each year, a group of Connecticut residents pack cars, board planes and ride trains, all in an effort to be at Penn Relays sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania  in Philadelphia.

Beginning today and until Saturday, hordes of track and field fans will arrive in Franklin Field, as they did last year, giving the 116-year-old annual Penn Relay Carnival and the city an economic boost.  Last year, more than 53,000 people packed the stadium to see the world’s top track and field star, Usain Bolt.

Although the Jamaican athlete will not be there on Saturday, this year is expected to be no exception as USA Track and Field and Nike released the pool of athletes featuring numerous Olympians, including previous top track star Asafa Powell, that will be competing in Saturday’s USA vs. The World events at the 2011 Penn Relays.

Among those expected on the field this weekend are Darvis “Doc” Patton, a member of the 38.41-second 4×100-meter relay team at the Texas Relays earlier this month; Sanya Richards Ross, the 2009 World Champion in the 400 meters; Mike Rodgers, who claimed the men’s Indoor Visa Championship Series title earlier this year; and Allyson Felix, who was named the Jesse Owens Award winner as the top female athlete in the U.S.

From Jamaica, which gives the US its fiercest competition, the contingent includes Sherone Simpson, Davita Prendergast, Kalise Spencer, Christine Day, Kerron Stewart, Melaine Walker, Novlene Williams, Kenia Sinclair, Aleen Bailey, Simone Facey, Shelly-Ann Fraser, Michael Frater, Nester Carter, Asafa Powell, Steve Mullings, Ramone McKenzie, Duwayne Barrett, Sanjay Ayre, Lerone Clarke, Michael Mason

For the U.S., the Men’s 4×100 Athletes are Walter Dix, Ivory Williams, Trell Kimmons, Mike Rodgers, Wallace Spearmon, Justin Gatlin, Darvis Patton, Shawn Crawford, Rae Edwards (alt), Ahmad Rashad (alt), Xavier Carter (alt)

Men’s 4X400 Athletes: Athlete Angelo, Taylor Bershawn, Jackson Johnny, Dutch Kerron, Clement David, Neville Lionel, Larry Xavier Carter, Jamal Torrence, Michael Tinsley, Joshua Scott, Quentin Summers.

Photos Courtesy of

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Group To “Rebuild” Hartford Homes

HARTFORD — Come Saturday, Hartford’s neighborhoods will see the difference a day can make.

So said organizers of the local “National Rebuilding Day” which will draw more than 650 volunteers from across Connecticut and 35 community partners to perform “critical home renovations” for 25 homeowners in Hartford.

“It is absolutely amazing to witness the power of working together on National Rebuilding Day,” said Jodie Liddy, RTH’s executive director. “In one day, so many homeowners in Hartford have their lives changed forever, simply because individuals and corporations commit to making a lasting difference.”

National Rebuilding Day is a day when affiliates of the national organization Rebuilding Together orchestrate home repairs and modifications for those who are most in need in their local communities. RTH is the national organization’s largest Connecticut affiliate.

Home repair projects include completing projects ranging from installing new windows to mounting handrails. All projects are done to make the homes of Hartford residents in needs – particularly the elderly, people living with disabilities and multi-generational families – more safe, healthy, accessible and energy efficient for the homeowners, organizers said.

Thirty-five companies and organizations from the Hartford Region, as well as National sponsors, will participate in this year’s National Rebuilding Day by sponsoring house projects, providing in-kind donations and supplying teams of volunteers.




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DMV To Change Driver’s License Renewal Process

WETHERSFIELD — If you have a drivers license that will expire soon, brace yourself.

Beginning Oct. 3, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles will start a new program to offer verified identity protection to people renewing driver licenses and DMV-issued identification cards.

And staring on May 10  offices will be closed all day to get ready for this new process.

DMV officials will conduct a uniform review of processes associated with this new identity protection program. See the closing schedule at

In the program the department will ask renewing customers whether they want to show original identity documents to establish an historical record of their identity with the agency as well as for federal identification purposes.

Customers can also decline the verification and simply get a regular driver’s license or ID card.

Through the program, called Select CT ID, people verifying will get a gold star on the license or ID card. Those declining will have one stamped “Not for Federal Identification.” Those without verification could face extra federal screening under a proposed program slated to go into effect in 2017 for airports and federal buildings and that also could be used for possible commercial transactions.

The program stems from national identification standards resulting from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.

It is also designed to offer residents additional protection against identity theft by having a historical record of proven original identity documents shown to DMV.

The cost of the driver license or I.D. card renewals cards is the same whether identity is verified or not. (Regular license renewal for 6 years is $66; anyone 65 years-old and older can renew for two years at $22; commercial driver’s license renewal is every 4 years and is $60. DMV-issued ID cards are renewed for $22.50 for six years.)

Spanish Version

DMV Lanza El Programa de Verificación de Licencia y de Identificación
Las personas pueden elegir si quieren o no tener su identidad verificada

Wethersfield, CT – El Departamento de Vehículos de Connecticut (DMV) empezará en el otoño el programa de protección de identidad a las personas que estén renovando su licencia o identificación personal.

El DMV les pedirá a sus clientes que estén renovando su licencia o identificación si quieren mostrar documentos originales que muestren su identidad para así establecer un registro histórico de identidad y para propósitos de identificación federal. Clientes también pueden rechazar la verificación y solo obtener o renovar su licencia o identificación regular.

A través del programa llamado Select CT ID, personas que verifiquen su identidad obtendrán una estrella dorada en su licencia o identificación. Las personas que no deseen integrarse a este programa, tendrán su licencia o su identificación estampada “no para la identificación federal” ya que no ha cumplido con la norma federal para identificación.
Estas personas podrían enfrentar exámenes de identificación más rigurosos en lugares federales bajo un nuevo programa que entrará en vigor en el 2017.

El programa se adhiere a las normas nacionales de identificación como resultado de los atentados terroristas del 11 de septiembre del 2001 en los EE.UU. También es diseñado para ofrecerle a los residentes de Connecticut protección adicional en contra de ladrones de identidad, ya que mantendrán un historial que prueba su identidad con documentos originales presentados al DMV.

Resumen del programa:

* El programa comenzará el 3 de octubre y seguirá gradualmente durante los próximos seis años hasta que todas las licencias y tarjetas de identificación se renueven. La fecha de renovación de su licencia está al frente de la misma.
* Personas que quieran obtener su licencia o tarjeta de identificación indicando que su identidad ha sido verificada por el DMV, necesitarán presentar ciertos documentos originales como certificado de nacimiento, pasaporte y otros documentos primarios que presenten prueba de su nombre, incluyendo si hubo algún cambio de nombre por matrimonio, etc. Y también si hubo algún cambio en su dirección domiciliaria
* Las personas que no quiera hacer esta verificación pueden declinar y renovar su licencia o identificación regular. Si una persona rechaza la nueva identificación, un pasaporte válido de los EE.UU. sirve el mismo propósito que la licencia verificada o tarjeta de identificación en puntos de control federal.
* Personas que no sean ciudadanos y que requieran una prueba de identidad deben presentar varias pruebas o documentos de identificación que demuestre su presencia legal en los Estados Unidos. Sin prueba de legalidad, el DMV no renovará su licencia o identificación. Sin prueba de presencia legal, el DMV no le renovará su licencia o identificación.
* Cualquiera que renueve su licencia puede manejar legalmente, aunque su identidad fuera verificada o no.
* Información completa sobre el programa incluyendo los diferentes tipos de identificación necesarias pueden encontrarse
Este programa de protección de identidad verificará sus documentos de identidad solo una vez. Este nuevo programa estará disponible en todos los DMV y en las oficinas de la AAA. El DMV esta anunciando el programa hoy para ayudar a las personas a prepararse desde ahora para que se aseguren en tener todos los documentos que necesitan para la renovación de sus licencia o tarjeta de identificación.

El DMV empezará a cerrar sus oficinas periódicamente en todo el estado a partir del 10 de mayo, para conducir un proceso de renovación asociado a este nuevo programa de protección de identidad. Vea los horarios de estos cierres en

Connecticut requiere actualmente que todos los nuevos solicitantes de licencia de conducir o identificación a que obtengan esta verificación de identidad para propósitos federales futuros. El DMV está extendiendo la opción ahora para todos los demás que tenían una licencia o tarjeta de identificación antes que la agencia comenzara la verificación para los solicitantes nuevos.

El costo de la licencia de manejo y la identificación seguirá siendo el mismo, así su identidad sea verificada o no. (El precio regular por renovación de licencia por 6 años es $66; personas de 65 años o más pueden renovar su licencia por 2 años por $22; conductores comerciales renuevan su licencia cada 4 años y el precio es $60 y las identificaciones se renuevan cada 6 años por $22.)


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I’m With Spike: “Madea’s Big Happy Family” Is No Laughing Matter For Intelligent Black Women

Op Ed

At first I thought Spike Lee was just hatin’ but after going to see the latest installment of the Madea franchise by Tyler Perry – I’ve got to shout it loud and proud that “I’m with Spike.” Don’t get me wrong – Tyler Perry is EXTREMELY gifted. He also seems to be a very nice person, generous and kind-hearted. Don’t know him – but from what we all see of his every day character there’s no doubt he has many admirable qualities and an impressive work ethic.

With that said, I must also say – that up until Saturday, April 23, 2011, I was a huge Madea fan. I first fell in love with the Tyler Perry Madea phenomenon after seeing the Madea Goes to Jail play at the Kodak Theater. I thought the characters were funny, yet respectable and the message was rich with spiritual undertones on the importance of faith and family. So I was more than excited to see the latest Madea’s Big Happy Family flick. I planned for weeks to see the film, purchasing advance tickets and even arrived an hour prior to show time to beat any crowds. I had eagerly awaited this much-needed cinematic break from reality.

However, reality is what gave me a classic Madea slap in the face as I sat through an excruciating storyline full of back-to-back black female characters that were the epitome of the most popular “angry, annoying, nagging, loud, unattractive, beat-down-your-man,” stereotypes of black women. The movie depicts all of our worst stereotypes on Barry Bonds steroids. I found these stereotypes to be extremely dreadful and frankly I was surprised that they were coming from Tyler Perry – who I had previously thought did a nice job of creating positive roles for black women.

Unfortunately, any earlier positive female roles Perry did create – now seem like they were just a figment of my imagination after seeing the first hour of Madea’s Big Happy Family.

Let me explain. There was the obese, weed-smoking auntie Bam who just couldn’t get enough of a high to satiate her appetite – to the overweight, cold-cream wearing daughter Tammy, who is so down on her man even after he brings her beautiful flowers for their anniversary, to this same couple’s Robin Harris Bébé’s kids that continuously refer to their dad as “punk ass.” Then there’s the pretty Kimberly, who plays the cold-hearted, career-hungry sister that treats her handsome husband (Mr. Old Spice) with spiteful disdain for no reason. And if that wasn’t enough, Kimberly is also depicted as an unfit and unloving mother who is cruel to her sweet-faced 18-month old son.

Really, Tyler Perry? Are black women that bad? Apparently so – because it doesn’t let up here.

Byron’s character, a.k.a. Bow-Wow, has some extreme baby-mama drama with his fast talkin’, burger pimpin’, ghetto ex-girlfriend known as Sabrina. She demands child support but spends it on Baby Phat instead of formula. Not to mention Bow Wow’s current girlfriend in the film played by Lauren London – who encourages him to hit the streets again and to start sellin’ because his $10 an hour job ain’t cutting it for her gold-digging ventures.

Did I also mention the over-used “1.800.choke-that-ho” joke – which was not even funny. Thanks to this Perry script – kids all across America will be chanting, “dial 1.800.Choke-a-ho.”

If it takes all of these negative images and foul dialogue to tell the eventual moral of the story about the importance of faith and family, I am not willing to travel the road anymore to see whatever light might possibly be at the end of the Tyler Perry-Madea tunnel. For now, we are with Spike on this Tyler Perry movie – this was straight buffoonery on par with Eddie Murphy’s Norbit and Martin Lawrence’s Big Mama’s House.

It’s no wonder why so many black women are single and not getting any proposals from the same men that they have birthed and raised when we are characterized in such a negative light. It is these hateful and demeaning images that stain the minds of many men and young boys (black or not) to see black women as undesirable mates and less valuable than other women.

Black women better wake up and smell the proverbial coffee – because they are not profiting from these types of hurtful images broadcasted to the entire world. This is especially true for the 42 percent of black women that have never been married and never will get married. It is an even more pressing issue for our black daughters who are next in line to be single and lonely if we as black women continue to stand in silence and support our own demise.

And why is it that Black women are the only women who have a negative stereotype about themselves that translates into undesirability? The common Asian female stereotype is that they are submissive – but in the eyes of most men – this is seen as a good quality for a wife. White women have the stereotype of the dumb blonde – but this is viewed as comedic first and foremost, and then there is the assumption that if she’s blonde – then she is automatically considered beautiful. Lastly, Latina women have the stereotype that they are “sexually spicy” and cater to their man’s every need – and while I am sure that most Latinas find this extremely degrading – it doesn’t hurt them in the context of desirability among men. After all, being desired by a man who loves you is what most women ultimately want.

Black women are the only women who suffer from stereotypes that say they are unattractive across every dimension. This is why these negative stereotypes perpetuated in Tyler Perry’s latest film have to be identified and confronted. As long as we continue to allow negative images of what it supposedly means to be a black woman to go on the air unchallenged – we will continue to see such painful reminders of our silence. I am reminded of the recent State Farm commercial with the black smart-talking girl on the corner popping her neck to her boyfriend. Better yet, if we stand by and say nothing, we will surely get a sequel to the infamous 2011 Super Bowl Pepsi Max commercial of the black overweight, bug-eyed, unattractive wife whose husband fantasizes about the fit cute white blonde on the park bench.

Every single unpleasant and spiteful media image of black women contributes to what now is an ever-growing trend and intentional separation of black men with black women throughout mainstream advertisements and television programs. Perhaps if the majority of the images of black women were positive then this all would not be as much of an issue – but that is not the case. There are too many images on the big screen that still portray black women as despicable and difficult. Please Tyler, stop tellin-this-vision. Black women have suffered enough from media mockery.

Yasmeen Muqtasid is the founder of Black Women Matter, Inc., which is dedicated to uplifting and encouraging black women and girls with positive media and information that enriches their lives, reinforces their value and empowers them to be their absolute best. For more information or to join the Black Women Matter movement, send an email to

Related Stories:

Spike Lee v. Tyler Perry

Spike Lee, Tyler Perry and Negative Imagery

Spike Lee On Tyler Perry\’s Movies

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Hartford To Hold Public Hearing On Budget

HARTFORD — The city will hold a public hearing on Mayor Pedro Segarra’s proposed budget Tuesday at Buckeley High School.

Segarra last week presented a $547 million budget, which he said does not include tax increases or layoffs.

This was welcome news for many residents, who struggle to pay the highest taxes in Greater Hartford. In some cases, taxes can be up to 18 percent.

Segarra took the helm last June after former Mayor Eddie Perez was found guilty of five felonies and resigned. At that time, Segarra said the city was in the red with a forecasted  $7 million deficit.

Last week, he said the city could end the year in the black.

To do that, the city has implemented a spending freeze and have chosen not to fill vacant positions.

WHAT: Public Hearing on Mayor Pedro Segarra’s Proposed Budget

WHERE: Buckeley High School  Auditorium, 300 Wethersfield Avenue

WHEN: 6 p.m.



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State: Weekend Getaways Starting at $0

Low on cash? Well, the state is promoting its “free activities” for this spring-like weather.

If you live close by and are not worried about gas prices, these activities might be for you.

Here are a list of activities in the state that are free of charge :

You could also check out your local Connecticut library and see if they have special passes to area attractions. Some attractions also offer free admission on special days or during certain times.

Connecticut State Capitol, Hartford – Take a tour to learn about the history of the Capitol, a National Historic Landmark, and view flags carried into war by Connecticut soldiers, artifacts important to Connecticut history, and the Connecticut Hall of Fame.

Elizabeth Park and Rose Garden, Hartford/West Hartford – This 102-acre park boasts gardens, greenhouses, recreational pathways, a picnic grove, pond, tennis and basketball courts, playground, and the oldest municipally-operated rose garden in the country, with over 800 varieties of roses.

Trash Museum, Hartford – This 6,500 square foot trash attraction is filled with interactive educational exhibits, art displays and mezzanine viewing area where visitors can watch the recycling facility in operation, and follow recyclable items through the process. You will be a better recycler by the end of your free tour.

Talcott Mountain State Park/Heublein Tower, Simsbury – Make the 1.5 mile hike to the peak of Talcott Mountain, 1,000 feet above the Farmington River Valley, for spectacular views. Bring a picnic and visit Hublein Tower for information on its fascinating history and to learn about the many species of flora and fauna inhabiting the mountain.

Yale Center British for Art, New Haven – View the largest collection of British art outside of the UK, including paintings, sculpture‚ drawings‚ prints‚ rare books‚ and manuscripts. The center also hosts lectures, exhibits, educational programs, concerts and special events.

Silver Sands State Park, Milford – Enjoy 47-acres of beach, dunes and nature. Relax along the beach, where swimming and fishing are permitted, picnic along one of the many nature trails, or venture to the 14-acre bird sanctuary on Charles Island.

Husky Heritage Sports Museum, Storrs – The museum showcases the sights and sounds of 100+ years of UConn athletic tradition. Memorabilia celebrating a century of Husky pride includes photographs, game balls, jerseys, and the NCAA National Championship trophies that UConn’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, and the men’s soccer team, have won.

Weir Farm National Historic Site, Wilton – Join a National Park Service guided tour to experience one of the nation’s finest remaining landscapes of American art, or walk the nature refuge and enjoy bird watching, picnicking and observe the many artists that visit the site to paint en plain air. The visitor center offers educational exhibits, activities and events.

Connecticut Audubon Society Center, Pomfret – The Pomfret center offers environmental education programs, bird walks and many opportunities to learn about and explore the natural world, and serves as the gateway to the adjoining 700-acre Connecticut Audubon Society Bafflin Sanctuary with vast rolling meadows, forests, streams and fertile grassland habitats.

New Britain Youth Museum, New Britain – Enjoy a number of educational activities at the museum including a puppet theater, construction toys and games, and the Dinosaur Room.

Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust, Woodbury – With more than 2,000 acres spanning Woodbury, Bethlehem, Southbury and Middlebury, the opportunities are endless at Flanders Nature Center. Hike the many nature trails, dotted with historic buildings, stone walls, and beautiful views of the many woodlands, lakes, ponds, streams and fields. Van Vleck Farm and Nature Center offers educational programs and demonstrations on gardening, maple sugaring, and more.

USS Nautilus and US Navy Submarine Force Library, Groton – Go below and tour the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered ship and the first vessel to go to the North Pole. Interactive exhibits and an extensive collection of submarine artifacts, documents and photographs will keep you busy and engaged.


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Shooting On Martin Street, One Dead

HARTFORD — Police have confirmed that one man has died after a shooting on Martin Street.

Late Sunday, Hartford police were still investigating a shooting at 38 Martin Street in which two men were reportedly shot.

According to reports, one man died from a bullet wound to the chest. The other was injured and is reportedly OK.




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