Archive | March, 2012


Hartford Police Charge Teens in Rape Case

HARTFORD — Hartford Police have charged three teenagers in a sexual assault  case of a 15 year old female at Hartford Public High School January 17.

Police charged the three males were 16, 17 and 18 with first degree sexual assault, first degree unlawful restraint, and risk of injury to a minor.

The 16 year old has been referred to Juvenile Court, and the 17 and 18 year olds will be arraigned in Hartford Superior Court with judge set bonds of $150,000.  All three turned themselves into Hartford Police at 50 Jennings Road within the last 72 hours, police said.

Due to the nature of the crime, police said no additional details will be released at this time.  Further inquiries should be directed to Hartford Superior Court.

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Hartford to Hold Hearing on Police Search

HARTFORD — The search firm hired by the City of Hartford to help select the next Police Chief will host a forum next week to obtain community feedback.

The public forum will be held at 6 p.m. on April 4 at the Hartford Public Library.

The Strategic Policy Partnership (SPP), a group of public safety and public policy experts who assist police and government agencies with policing strategy development and personnel selection, was selected in January to conduct a nationwide search.

The firm was selected following a review by the Mayor’s Cabinet team, which considered cost, experience, professional qualifications, commitment to community policing, references and expected timeframe.

Anyone who is unable to attend the forum is asked to email their thoughts to

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Republican Presidential Preference Primary Nears

HARTFORD– Republicans get ready.

Voter registration deadline for the Republican Presidential Preference Primary in Connecticut is April 24

Secretary of State Denise Merrill reported on Friday that since the beginning of the year,  3,878 new voters have registered with the Republican party and 1,515 unaffiliated voters in Connecticut have enrolled with the Republican party, enabling them to vote in the upcoming Presidential Preference Primary.

Merrill said the Republicans in Connecticut will be going to the polls in a major regional primary on voters in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island.

Eligible voters have until Monday April 23 at 12:00 p.m. noon to register as Republicans if they wish to vote in the Presidential Preference Primary.  Unaffiliated voters also face that same deadline to enroll with the Republican party if they want to cast a ballot in April 24.


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Parents: The Missing Engine Behind School Reform

New America Media, News Report, Khalil Abdullah
Traducción al español

Modesto E. Abety-Gutierrez, President of The Children’s Trust (with the mic), along with other panel speakers, including (from left) Liz Looney, Service Manager with City Year Miami; Principal Pablo Ortiz with Miami Edison Senior High School; School Board member Raquel A. Regalado with Miami-Dade County Schools; Dr. Lenore Rodicio with Miami Dade College; Mc Nelly Torres with Florida Center for Investigative Reporting; and Lucie Tondreau, a parent and Haitian community advocate and Parent.

A series of first-ever forums brought front line education reformers and community media representatives together in Atlanta, Memphis, Miami and New Orleans. The consensus was clear: improving schools is a civil rights issue but will become a movement only when parents are fully involved — and a movement in which media must play a more compelling role.

“It’s a right for the children to have an education,” said Elise Evans, co-chair of Southern Avenue Middle Charter School in Memphis. “It’s a civil right.” Her demand was seconded by Marleine Bastien, executive director of the Haitian Women of Miami, Inc., who questioned how parents could be adequately informed unless community media are fully engaged in covering education reform issues.

New America Media, a national consortium of ethnic news organizations, convened the forums to foster a better communication exchange between education reformers and news organizations serving communities most impacted by low-performing school systems. The results of the recently released NAM poll, which surveyed 1400 parents of K-12 students in eight southeastern states about the quality of their children’s education, served as the impetus to spark the symposium in each city.

Conducted in seven languages, the poll found parents overwhelmingly satisfied with the quality of their children’s education and with high aspirations that their children would not only attend college but pursue advanced degrees. However, the data show that six of the eight states surveyed are in the bottom half of math scores when compared to other states within the United States; seven are in the bottom half in reading. Yet, parents showed no sense of urgency or outrage. “How is it possible,” asked pollster Sergio Bendixen, “that parents seem to think the quality of their children’s education is okay?”

Though the poll did not include questions about where U.S. students ranked internationally, Bendixen’s presentation underscored the decline of America’s educational competitiveness by showing data that placed the U.S. students 18th in math, just behind Estonia, and, at 17th, trailing Poland in reading. Chinese students now hold the top spot in both categories. The U.S. rankings were markedly lower from only a few decades ago when the country ranked either number one or two respectively.

“The signals are starting to turn in the right direction in terms of how important the quality of education is,’ said Kent McGuire, president of the Southern Education Foundation. “We’re starting to appreciate that the competition is global in nature.”

Atlanta Forum Focuses on Undocumented

McGuire, who served as the lead-off panelist in Atlanta, the venue for the first symposium, urged parents to demand accountability and to “ask for the evidence” of whether the school system or purported reforms are working, particularly because of the demographics in the Southeast. “Kids of color are the ones we do the least well with,” he said, noting that their numbers will continue to grow.

Angelo Hurtado said the media could assist in dispelling stereotypes ethnic students often embrace about their inability to succeed. However, Hurtado, co-founder and vice president of H.O.P.E. (Hispanic Students Promoting Education, Inc.), said the most pressing issue for many of her peers was the looming passage of a state bill in the Georgia House that will mirror the Senate’s SB 458. The legislation would effectively bar undocumented students from receiving an education at Georgia’s public colleges and universities.

“Not only undocumented students are being affected by this, but documented students as well,” Hurtado said, explaining that, collectively, these students form one community. Other speakers in Atlanta also decried the legislation as short-sighted and contrary to the goals of education to yield productive members of society. Many in attendance agreed that the media should devote greater attention to the legislation and expand their coverage of education in Georgia.

William Teasley, Director of Evaluation and Research at Atlanta Education Fund, challenged ethnic media in particular to become advocates of education reform, in part because it “reaches audiences our traditional media and our traditional organizations have trouble reaching.”

New Orleans and Ethnic Media

Though reaching audiences remains an essential priority for all media, the resilience of ethnic media in New Orleans during and since Katrina in 2005 serves as a testament to the art of the possible. Yet, covering education reform there may prove as critical a role for a city experiencing profound changes in the redesign of its school system.

Panelist Neerav Kingsland, Chief Strategy Officer at New Schools for New Orleans, explained that 80 percent of the city’s students are now attending charter schools and student test scores, while not a comprehensive measure of success, are trending upward. In terms of academic achievement and preparation for careers, “10 to 20 percent of the open enrollment schools in the state are where we want them to be,” Kingsland said, but he was confident that within five years New Orleans schools would soon surpass the state’s in terms of performance.

Kingsland said it is useful to remember how far the school system has come, citing the travails of a New Orleans high school senior and valedictorian about ten years ago who had repeatedly failed the then-required 10th grade level math exit exam. “Those stories are increasingly few and far between,” he said.

Dr. Andre Perry, Associate Director for Education Initiatives, Loyola University, expressed concern about using test scores as a true measure of a school’s success. In his opinion, New Orleans schools have achieved only modest gains.

He was particularly adamant about the need for media to take the time to understand what data means in the context of quality of life issues. “If you increase test scores, what does it mean when you can’t get a job,” citing lack of access to transportation or other resources that often weigh heavily on a graduating student’s success.

“Wealth is a causal factor of educational achievement,” Perry argued, not just a correlation, explaining that parents of poor children can less afford books and other resources that could prepare and assist their children at an early age. In addition, he noted that the analysis behind education reform is often miscast as a black-white paradigm and that a media focused on closing the achievement gap will miss the real story, the goal of attaining excellence but one attuned to the cultures of communities. He asked how is it possible to read an article about “success in schools” in a local newspaper and “three kids murdered” in the same edition?

Success Stories in Memphis 

At the Memphis forum, attendee Marcus Matthews, University of Memphis Coordinator of “Teen Appeal,” a newspaper written by and distributed to the city’s high school students, concurred that media’s role in helping parents understand data and context is crucial. As an example, he noted that some parents may not know that the ACT exam, a test that measures college readiness, is not scored on a scale of one to a hundred. He recalled a student who scored a 26 on the ACT but, when Matthews asked him about attending college, said, “I haven’t applied.” Matthews said it was plausible “that the parents may be thinking, ‘26 out of a 100, that’s an F.’” On the ACT scale of 36, a score of 22 in math and 21 in reading indicate college readiness.

Matthews said the media can help assist in finding and documenting the lives of young adults who have the academic capacity to pursue higher education but who never did: “We don’t know where they are; we don’t know what they’re doing,” but media also should tell their audiences about the individual success stories of Memphis city school graduates.

Similarly, Paris Byrd, a high school student in Memphis said it is important that media seek out the opinions of students who are “experts on their own education; that’s not being paid attention to.”

The City of Memphis is slated to merge its public school system with the county’s public schools. More than a few panelists and attendees said the media will play an even more vital role in explaining the issues at stake to parents given the scale and complexities of the impending union, especially for immigrant parents who may be unfamiliar with the American public education system, much less the key elements of education reform.

Mark Sturgis, Memphis Director, Stand for Children, said, “Media has a moral responsibility around this issue to advocate for a system to provide equity and equality for all children, and, if the media is not doing that, it’s a problem.”

College, Job Readiness at Issue in Miami

At Miami Dade College, which also served as the host for the concluding symposium, Lenore Rodicio, Executive Director of MDC3 Student Success and Completion Initiatives, captured part of the disconnect between the expectations of parents in the NAM poll and their children’s capacity to perform academically upon graduating high school.

She said more than 70 percent of students coming to Miami Dade for their first year of study are “testing as deficient in one or more academic areas and the greatest number of them is in mathematics.” However, she said the recognition of the need for reform has brought elected officials together with business and community leaders to find ways to address education in ways that will enable graduates to be better prepared for the jobs available.

Several panelists, however, stressed that collaboration alone, though useful, will be insufficient in addressing the myriad number of issues that impact education. For panelist Lucie Tondreau, a parent who represented the Haitian community, the failure to pass the DREAM Act results in the inability of many teens from her community to have the legal means to pursue higher education. “Those minds are being wasted,” she said.

The Miami dialogue highlighted several issues on display at the other symposia, including the need for more adequate and better directed funding for education as well as the call for media to hold education administrators more accountable to the public. McNelly Torres, Co-Founder & Associate Director of Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, agreed with those objectives but said that media’s unique role in explaining the need for education reform could only be achieved by media accurately reporting on what’s going on in the schools, talking to students and to parents as well. “You need,” she said, addressing media members directly, “to be out there on the battlefield.”

To read more about the poll and the roundtables, please click here.

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Hartford To Hold Rally For Justice in Trayvon Martin Case

HARTFORD — A rally to call for the arrest of the shooter George Zimmerman and to show solidarity with the family of Trayvon Martin will be held in Hartford on March 31.

The rally on Saturday is scheduled to begin at 10am. at the intersection of Albany Avenue and Main Street in the North End of Hartford.

Martin, 17, died after a fatal shot to his chest on Feb. 26. He was visiting his family in Sanford, Florida and was walking back from a convenience with an Arizona ice tea and a bag of skittles.


Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged for killing Martin, and community members will be gathering to call for the arrest of Zimmerman, and to show solidarity with the family of Trayvon, organizers said.

This event was organized as “a way for community members to express their outrage at this grave injustice.”

Speakers include Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Minister Cornell Lewis, City Council members Cynthia Jennings and Kyle Anderson. It will also include other community leaders and concerned city and suburban residents.

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Energy Committee Passes Storm Response Bill

HARTFORD – Senator John Fonfara (D-Hartford), Co-Chair of the General Assembly’s Energy & Technology Committee, announced on Tuesday that the committee has unanimously approved legislation to improve the state’s emergency response to widespread power outages following severe weather events.

Fonfara  said that Senate Bill 23 will invest in critical infrastructure and hold utility companies accountable for their performance during weather emergencies.

Senate Bill 23 has several provisions, the first of which requires the Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) to prepare a comprehensive plan, subject to the governor’s approval, for civil emergency preparedness both before and after a severe weather event.

The plan must be fully integrated with related federal plans and will be carried out and trained for by all state and local government agencies and all public utility companies.

Performance Standards for Utilities

Senate Bill 23 will require the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to study and then establish minimum emergency preparation and response performance standards for each electric, gas and telephone company in Connecticut. These standards must address:

Minimum staffing levels for outage planning and restoration (linemen, technicians, etc)

Mutual aid agreements with out-of-state utilities and contractors to bring in surplus workers as needed

Safety standards for employees of each utility, mutual aid crews and private contractors

Targets for recovery and restoration of service based on emergency classification level

Communication between utilities and customers, including during non-business hours, and to notify the public of service restoration estimates and dangerous conditions

Communication between and amongst utilities and government officials

Tree trimming practices to reduce outages due to fallen limbs

Other standards as PURA deems fit to prevent or restore service outages

Following the establishment of these standards later this year, all utilities will be required submit a plan to PURA on implementation of these standards, to be approved by PURA and updated annually. Supplemental plans may be required following a future storm or emergency.

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Hartford Women’s Commission to Host Seventh Annual Event

HARTFORD — The Permanent Commission on the Status of Hartford Women will host their 7th Annual Women’s History Month event on March 29  from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the City Hall Atrium.

The PCSHW was formed to study and improve Hartford women’s economic security, health and safety; to promote consideration of qualified women to leadership positions; and to work toward the elimination of gender discrimination. The PCSHW is a bi-partisan group that embodies Hartford’s diversity.

The awards ceremony program will have welcoming remarks and introduction by Mary Mercedes Martinez, Chair and Councilperson Cynthia Renee Jennings.  There will be a Women’s History Month presentation of City Citations by Commissioners Khadija Abdul-Salaam and Sweets S. Wilson. In addition Rosemary Lopez, Senior Administrative Service Coordinator of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women State will present Citations to the following honorees: Yesenia Acosta, Rev. Dr. Shelly Best, Shirley Clements, Syrette Greene, Carol Johnson, Martha S. Kelly, Theresa Nicholson, Paulette Elaine Plummer-Vernon, Iris Hope Rich, Evelyn R. Richardson, and Mary L. Sanders. Closing remarks will be given by Commissioner Marva O. Downes with a reception to follow.

The event is open to the public. For more information, please contact PCSHW Chair Mary Martinez at 860-967-1246 or Luz M. Cruz at 860-757-9781.

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Census: Hartford Among Most Urban Areas in New England

HARTFORD — The capital city of Connecticut is among the largest urban population in New England, according to the U.S. Censu’ss new release of urban areas.

This is so despite a decrease in Hartford’s population from about 125,000 in 2000 to 924,859 in 2010.

Across the nation, however, the urban population increased by 12.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, outpacing the nation’s overall growth rate of 9.7 percent for the same period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau released the new list of urban areas today based on 2010 Census results.

Urban areas — defined as densely developed residential, commercial and other nonresidential areas — now account for 80.7 percent of the U.S. population, up from 79.0 percent in 2000. Although the rural population — the population in any areas outside of those classified as “urban” — grew by a modest amount from 2000 to 2010, it continued to decline as a percentage of the national population.

The Census Bureau identifies two types of urban areas: “urbanized areas” of 50,000 or more people and “urban clusters” of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people. There are 486 urbanized areas and 3,087 urban clusters nationwide. 

The nation’s most densely populated urbanized area is Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., with nearly 7,000 people per square mile. The San Francisco-Oakland, Calif., area is the second most densely populated at 6,266 people per square mile, followed by San Jose, Calif. (5,820 people per square mile) and Delano, Calif. (5,483 people per square mile). The New York-Newark, N.J., area is fifth, with an overall density of 5,319 people per square mile.

Of the 10 most densely populated urbanized areas, nine are in the West, with seven of those in California. Urbanized areas in the U.S., taken together, had an overall population density of 2,534 people per square mile.

The New York-Newark area continues to be the nation’s most populous urbanized area, with 18,351,295 residents. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim is the second most populous (12,150,996), followed by the Chicago area (8,608,208). These areas have been the three most populous since the 1950 Census, when urbanized areas were first defined; however, at that time, Chicago was the second largest. Los Angeles became the second most populous urbanized area in 1960, and the order of the top three has not changed since.


Regional and State Patterns


Of the nation’s four census regions, the West continued to be the most urban, with 89.8 percent of its population residing within urban areas, followed by the Northeast, at 85.0 percent. The Midwest and South continue to have lower percentages of urban population than the nation as a whole, with rates of 75.9 and 75.8, respectively. (See tables with percentages.)


Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division remains the most urban, with nearly 92 percent of its population residing within urban areas. The East South Central division (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee) remains the least urban, with only 59.9 percent of its population residing within urban areas.

Of the 50 states, California was the most urban, with nearly 95 percent of its population residing within urban areas. New Jersey followed closely with 94.7 percent of its population residing in urban areas. New Jersey is the most heavily urbanized state, with 92.2 percent of its population residing within urbanized areas of 50,000 or more population. The states with the largest urban populations were California (35,373,606), Texas (21,298,039) and Florida (17,139,844).

Maine and Vermont were the most rural states, with 61.3 and 61.1 percent of their populations, respectively, residing in rural areas. States with the largest rural populations were Texas (3,847,522), North Carolina (3,233,727) and Pennsylvania (2,711,092).

Puerto Rico

The Census Bureau also defined the urban and rural areas in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s urban population declined from 3,590,994 people in 2000 to 3,493,256 in 2010, now accounting for 93.8 percent of the total population of 3,725,789 (down from 94.3 percent). The rural population in Puerto Rico increased between 2000 and 2010, both in number — from 217,616 to 232,533 — and as a percentage of the total population, from 5.6 percent to 6.2 percent. Of the 11 urbanized areas in Puerto Rico, San Juan remains the largest, with a population of 2,148,346. There are eight urban clusters in Puerto Rico for the 2010 Census.


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Hartford Police Arrest South End Robbery Suspect

HARTFORD — Police may have captured a suspect for five or more street robberies in the city’s Southend.

The suspect, Juan Betancourt, 27, of Hartford, was arrested on Friday and charged attempted robbery, breach of peace, trespassing and interfering with is in police custody.

Police said they have been investigating the rash of robbers on Park Street, Allen Place, Morris Street, Franklin Avenue and Maple Avenue since November 2011. A knife was used in two of the robberies.

The investigation, led by Major Crimes Detective Sherwood and Richter, uncovered a detailed suspect description and surveillance photos.

They gave this report:

On Friday, March 23, 2012, Hartford Police Officers Antuna and Marfella, were in the Park Street area when they observed the suspect attempting to commit another robbery.  They immediately intervened and, following a brief foot pursuit, he was apprehended by Officers Antuna and Marfella.

Police anticipate further charges in connection with numerous other street robberies that had been occurring throughout the Southend over the past several months.


Chief Rovella praised the work of all those involved in the investigation, saying “The capture of this menace to our streets is a major accomplishment.  I commend the detectives for their diligence and perseverance, and our community partners for their help in identifying the suspect.”


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Malta House To Celebrate Volunteers, Raise Funds

HARTFORD — Eight Connecticut women will be recognized for their exceptional volunteerism at “Wonder Women… Women Helping Women,” the second annual benefit for Malta House of Care, a patient-centered medical home for the uninsured.

The event will be on May 8, 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Town and County Club, 22 Woodland Street, Hartford.

The honorees include Sandra “Sandy” Bender Fromson, a board member of the Connecticut Humanities Council and a philanthropist of Hartford; Laura Grondin, President and CEO of Virginia Industries, Inc., who serves on the New England Advisory Council to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and lives in West Hartford; Irene O’Connor, WFSB-TV Channel 3 anchor of “Eyewitness News This Morning,” of Hartford; and Trude Mero, owner of Nutmeg Planners, of Hartford.

The fundraiser features cocktails and tapas, networking, silent and live auctions, and the opportunity for attendees to have their likenesses taken by the region’s foremost theater photographer.

Tickets are $75, which includes a $50 tax-deductible donation to support Malta House of Care.

Since opening the doors to its mobile medical clinic on July 9, 2006, Malta House of Care (MHC) has provided more than 20,062 free patient consultations.

From physical exams and screenings, to immunizations, to ongoing treatment plans and medications and much more, the highly-coordinated, free medical services of MHC are improving the quality of life Connecticut residents and their families. These individuals who once lived in dread and fear because they lacked basic primary care are now able to take control of their health and their lives.

MHC’s mission is made possible by more than 70 physicians, nurses, counselors, interpreters, and administrators who voluntarily heal, teach, and assist patients, and by the generous support of corporations, foundations and individuals.

Charter members of MHC’s Wonder Women are: Emilie de Brigard of Higganum; Marilda Gandara of Hartford; Mary Gibbons of Hartford; Helen Gray of Farmington; Susan R. Kelly of Middle Haddam; Cathy Malloy of Hartford; Joyce Mandell of West Hartford; Marie O’Brien of Bristol; Filomena M. Soyster of Farmington; Carla Squatrito of South Windsor; Nadine Francis West of Hartford; Karen Cronin Wheat of Bloomfield; and Linda Cheverton Wick of Hartford.

For more information,

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