Archive | September, 2012

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A Rally Celebrates McMahon’s Comeback Among Women

By Mark Pazniokas

HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell and U.S. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, all GOP women who have made it in what Kathy McShane called the boys club of American politics.

But it was McShane, a previously apolitical women’s business coach who now promotes McMahon as one of her “buds,” who best embodied how McMahon’s stock has risen among the voting bloc that soundly rejected her Senate candidacy in 2010 — women.

“So many of you have told me how relatable she is and how she is a lot like — you know that neighbor you like to have a cup of coffee with when you’re not feeling so good?” said McShane, the chairwoman of Women for Linda.

Her audience of women signaled agreement with knowing laughter and a smattering of applause.

“You’ve met her in living rooms and across kitchen tables,” said McShane, who has the confident, convincing manner of someone who coaches women in business for $225 an hour. “And when we spend time with her, I don’t know about you, ladies, but I am so jazzed after.”

This time, the applause was louder.

Two years ago this month, McMahon led Attorney General Richard Blumenthal by a single percentage point among male voters in the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd. But she didn’t connect with enough women like Kathy McShane.

The women of Connecticut preferred Blumenthal over McMahon, a wealthy co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment, by a stunning 15 percentage points, contributing to her eventual 12 percentage point loss on Election Day.

Not only did women refuse to vote for McMahon, a significant majority didn’t much like her, either. After spending $50 million to promote herself, 96 percent of women formed an impression of McMahon: but only 36 percent said it was favorable; 60 percent, unfavorable.

The rally Saturday in a hotel function room was a high-profile event to publicly celebrate and solidify McMahon’s turnaround among women in her 2012 Senate race. Her 15-point gender gap in the Quinnipiac poll of September 2010 has shrunk to four points.

Forty-three percent of women now view her favorably, compared with 36 percent who see her unfavorably. Over two years, that is a net gain of 31 percentage points, from a favorable rating of minus-24 to a plus-7.

“I think people, women are just getting to know me,” McMahon said after the rally. “They didn’t get to know me well enough during the first campaign, and I think they are getting to know me, what I stand for, who I am.”

Connecticut never has seen a candidate with the resources of McMahon, whose dollars give her an advantage in television, radio and Internet advertising over her lesser-known opponent this year, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy. They are competing to succeed Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, who is retiring.

But McMahon and McShane say an important staple of the 2012 campaign is more face-to-face campaigning with women. McMahon has held nearly 200 “conversations with Linda,” informal living-room and kitchen conversations with women over coffee.

“These ‘conversations with Linda’ that we’ve had all over the state and the women’s coalition for Linda, on a grass-roots effort, has a made a huge difference,” McMahon said. “It gets me in front of them. It gives me an opportunity to sit and to chat with them.”

McMahon emphasized the personal in her remarks to the crowde.

“I’ve walked in your shoes,” McMahon told them. “I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother. I’m also a daughter. I know what it takes to have that guilt feeling when you leave your child at home that morning with a fever. Or you can’t make opening night of the school play, because you’ve been called away to do something else.”

As McMahon emphasized a connection with working women “who juggle life,” she quickly pivoted to praise stay-at-home moms, “You are the ones we need to applaud today.”

The presence of Murkowski and Collins underscored that McMahon can be a groundbreaker: No woman has ever been elected to the U.S. Senate from Connecticut.

Women hold only 17 of 100 seats.

“I am only the 33rd female to serve in the U.S. Senate since its founding,” Murkowski said. “Susan, what are you?”

“Fifteen,” Collins replied.

“Fifteen! I believe it takes more female leadership,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski told the crowd they are on the verge of making history.

“Back in Washington, D.C., there is a buzz going on about Connecticut right now,” Murkowski said. “We didn’t think this was going to happen.

“You can feel the energy of this campaign,” Collins said.

The last Republican to win a Senate seat in Connecticut was Lowell P. Weicker Jr., who won his seat in 1970. But, if anything, the terrain has grown worse for a Republican, as the GOP Senate leadership is far to the right of Republicans in Connecticut.

McMahon clearly wants to be seen in the mold of Collins and Murkowski, not Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“I tell you why I like these ladies, because they are not a rubber stamp for anybody’s policies,” McMahon said. “They’re independent thinkers. That’s the kind of senator I will be.”

But the Murphy campaign is emphasizing that even moderates like Collins and Murkowski have felt pressure to support their leadership on social issues, such as the Blunt Amendment allowing employers to deny contraceptive coverage if they personally object to birth control.

And a victory by McMahon could tilt the Senate into Republican hands. Democrats now hold a 53-47 majority.

McMahon, who calls herself pro-choice, has said she would have voted for the Blunt Amendment, and she supports some restrictions on abortion, such as a parental notification law for minors and limits on late-term abortions. If Murkowski had it to do over again, she said Saturday, she would have opposed the Blunt Amendment.

“Back home, it was being viewed as a direct attack on women’s reproductive rights, on their ability to access contraception,” Murkowski said.

McMahon told her audience she is in no way anti-woman, as charged by the Murphy campaign.

“I am a woman,” she said. “Why on earth would I be against women?”

This was first published in the

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Census: Poverty Rate in Greater Hartford Increases

HARTFORD —  Nearly 11 percent of people in Connecticut lived in poverty in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau report released on Thursday.

The poverty threshold for a family of four was $22,811 in 2011.

“This report is proof that many families in our area are really struggling to make ends meet, and to get by from one week to the next,” said Gloria McAdam, Foodshare President & CEO. “At a time when so many families find it very hard to put meals on the table, we are baffled that our nation’s leaders would seek to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) by more than $16 billion.”

The percentage of people living in poverty is higher than last year and shows that hunger and poverty continue to be a problem in Greater Hartford, and also nationally. Earlier this month, the Census Bureau released data that found that more than 46 million Americans are living in poverty.

Congress recently proposed cuts to SNAP as part of the Farm Bill reauthorization that would cause two to three million individuals across the nation to lose their food assistance entirely; an additional 500,000 households to have their SNAP benefits cut by an average of $90 per month; and nearly 300,000 children to lose free school meals.

Today’s report also provided updated data about income, showing that families have yet to see the gains from the decline in unemployment since the beginning of the recession. Median household income increased only slightly in the Nutmeg State.

“We have seen a 30% increase in the number of people seeking help from us here in Greater Hartford since the beginning of the recession,” McAdam said. “There is no way our food bank will be able to make up the increase in need in our community if SNAP benefits are cut. We urge Congress to maintain Washington’s historic bipartisan commitment to programs that serve vulnerable, low-income people and ensure strong funding for SNAP and other anti-hunger programs.”

The full report can be viewed here:

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U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis Should Seek Answers from DECD, Others

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis’ meeting today with elected officials, political candidates, community activists and residents in the Greater Hartford region should tackle this burning question: Why is there $12 million for minority businesses sitting at the Department of Economic and Community Development in a time when these businesses are bruising from a deep economic recession and a long recovery?

In a region where Latino and black jobless rates dwarf the state’s recently reported jobless rate of 9 percent, DECD has yet to distribute the allocated money to small and minority business owners, who are likely job creators for many Hartford residents.  We hope that besides her roundtable discussion, press conference and other meetings around the state today, she makes a beeline to DECD.

Hartford has the highest jobless rate in the state. The overall unemployment rate for the city is reportedly 17 percent. The Latino jobless rate is 25 percent. The black jobless rate is 27 percent. These figures do not factor in the number of people who have stopped looking for work after one or two years of unemployment or underemployment.

Moreover, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra added 14 people to the unemployment line this week, in an effort to balance the city budget.

Besides pontification from pundits and politicians, we need to see leaders taking actions to create conditions that promote economic growth, so that businesses can hire more city residents. Distributing the money to Hartford’s small businesses would allow at least two hires by each company and at the same time help build capacity to provide better services to city residents. It all seems elementary. Yet there is so much malaise in all sections of the city. And the biggest obstacle seems to be the very people who are purportedly community leaders.

Solis must question these community leaders and local officials about their seemingly inability to coordinate efforts to create conditions that help businesses grow so that they can provide jobs.

The $12 million can provide many jobs. News that that much money allocated specifically for minority businesses was just sitting at DECD met puzzled participants at a small business summit for urban business sponsored by the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other entities. The irony was that the summit provided possible answers to this predicament. It was clear that summit organizers failed to inform local business owners of the summit within a one-mile radius of the Artist Collective on Albany Avenue, where the event was held. The  auditorium was packed with mostly business owners, who traveled from New Haven and Bridgeport. And the few Hartford business owners present heard the news from friends in other parts of the state—not in Hartford.

The one-day summit had so many key people present to help these businesses. It was also unbelievable that more effort was clearly not made to inform business owners about this economic-boosting opportunity right in thier backyard.

How unfortunate.


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Voto Latino Taps Social Media to Boost Voter Registrations

By  Khalil Abdullah

Voto Latino, a non-partisan organization, uses a range of social media tools like Facebook and iTunes to augment celebrity and community activism to encourage voting participation among young Latino citizens. The organization is a founding member of a coalition, now boasting over 1,000 partners, promoting Sept. 25 as National Voter Registration Day, according to Dan McSwain, a Voto Latino representative.

“National Voter Registration Day seeks to do for democracy what Earth Day, for example, has done for the environment,” McSwain said, “which is to have a day on the calendar that’s recognized widely, nationally, that creates a day of action where people from all walks of life, from any race, creed or background, and, particularly important in this instance, is, of any political persuasion, to come together and recognize, to make our voices heard in November, we have to register in September.”

McSwain, who spoke at a media teleconference briefing sponsored by New America Media and the Brennan Center for Justice, explained that the date September 25 was chosen because it’s far enough in front of all of the states’ voter registration deadlines which vary from state to state.

The concept of a national day to promote voter registration received a key endorsement from the National Association of Secretaries of State at its annual meeting in July. NASS, which represents the key state election officials responsible for overseeing the implementation of voting in their respective states, passed a resolution recognizing National Voter Registration “in accordance with our observation of September as National Voter Registration Month.”

The NASS resolution notwithstanding, Myrna Perez, senior counsel for the Democracy Project at the Brennan Center, who also joined the briefing, noted that “over the past two years, elected officials have tried to manipulate the voting system in order to make it harder for some eligible Americans to participate in our democracy and in our elections.” She cited a few examples of those efforts, such as the limiting of early and same day voting in some states as well as legislative efforts to curtail registration drives conducted by non-partisan organizations like the League of Women Voters.

Perez estimated that over 50 million eligible Americans are not registered to vote and McSwain pointed out that possibly as many as 6 million eligible Americans have said they would have registered to vote had they been aware of the registration deadline in their state.

Voto Latino estimates that it has reached 55 million Latino households since its founding in 2004, increased Latino participation in the 2010 Census and registered 120,000 young Latino voters. McSwain said the organization’s guiding principle is “to reach young voters where they are and to speak with them not at them.” To that end, for example, he described a leadership training event this summer in Los Angeles that brought together 300 young Latino community activists from 18 states. McSwain said this kind of grassroots organizing is as critical to the organization’s success as the more visible celebrity and media endorsements and participation for which it is becoming well known.

The organization is supported by foundations but also has corporate support. In 2008, “the best partnership Apple and iTunes had with a non-profit that year” was with Voto Latino, McSwain said, which distributed a free iTunes music sampler for those who chose to be affiliated with the organization’s e-mail list and outreach efforts.

That effort is being replicated again this year and McSwain explained that its field staff is well-trained and honors all state laws governing promotional efforts as they relate to voter registration and election laws. Voto Latino works with artists to be in compliance with copyright laws but what is exciting, he said is that “artists have actively sought Voto Latino out as a way to get involved with their fans and with their communities.” He said the artists comprise big name general audience musicians in addition to those well known in the Latino community. “It means the world to us that those artists are willing to work with Voto Latino and it’s something we really cherish.”

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Civic Lessons For Latinos and Migrants Now Available

HARTFORD —  The Center for Latino Progress has open registration for a free innovative and exclusive course for Latinos.

The Center has the latest educational tool to help Latinos of all nationalities integrate and take active roles in leading their communities: the American Civics Track (ACT) course. This groundbreaking curriculum offers Latino immigrants and migrants interactive lectures on American History, including our Constitution; the American Political System; Policymaking; Civic Engagement; and Social Change Movements.

Unlike traditional civic classes, this course highlights the fact that the U.S. is a “nation of immigrants,” depicting the essential contributions immigrants have made to the United States and portraying the various forms of discrimination and hostility that immigrants have endured and prospered against since the founding of our nation.

The course includes English as Second Language and trips to historical sites and is conveniently offered from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. twice a week at the Center, 95 Park Street, 2nd floor, Hartford. Space is limited! Call 860-247-3227 for additional information and registration immediately!

This course is free, thanks to the financial support of the CT Department of Education, foundations, and individual donors. The Center’s English as a Second Language (ESL) programs have a higher success rate than the state average, according to Connecticut Department of Education statistics.

The Center, formerly known as the CT Puerto Rican Forum, was founded 33 years ago. It has become one of Hartford’s leading educational agency focused on serving Latinos by providing programs and services that help Latinos better secure employment and become more civically engaged.

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West Hartford Principal to Join Hartford Schools

HARTFORD — A  West Hartford School official will join the Hartford Public Schools administrative team as chief operating officer to help “ensure student success.”

The Hartford Board of Education on Tuesday approved the appointment of veteran educator Donald J. Slater. Slater, 47, was prinicipal  of William H. Hall High School in West Hartford for 10 years. The veteran educator is expected to resign Sept. 28 and his position in Hartford will be effective Oct. 1.

Slater will replace Victor De La Paz, who was named chief financial officer for the Baltimore school system in June. As chief operating officer, Slater will supervise facilities, transportation, food services, security, school design and development, athletics, technology and student leadership.

“Dr. Slater is going to be a great addition to our team,” Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto said. “I am thrilled to recommend him.”

Slater began his career in 1987 as a science teacher at A. I. Prince Technical High School in Hartford. Four years later, he was named assistant principal at E. C. Goodwin High School in New Britain. He moved to Hall High School 14 years ago in the role of assistant principal and in 2002 was promoted to principal.

In addition to his career in education,  Slater background includes 26 years of military experience, beginning in 1983, in the U.S. Army, the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard. His military service included a tour of duty in Iraq between 2003 and 2005.

“I want to express my gratitude to the superintendent and the board for their confidence in me,”  Slater said after the board vote. “I’m looking forward to the challenges and responsibilities of the position.”

A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Slater earned his Ph.D. in curriculum administration and special education from Boston College and his Master’s degree in school administration and leadership from Central Connecticut State University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Jackson State University.



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Nonpartisan Congressional Study: Tax Breaks for Rich Don’t Grow Jobs

By Keith M. Phaneuf

A congressional research service is challenging the candidates who say that preserving Bush-era tax breaks for the rich are a way to increase jobs.

In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service not only found no evidence that six decades of relief for the wealthy helped the nation’s economy, they also warned that this may have expanded the gap between the rich and the poor.

“The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment and productivity growth,” researchers wrote in their latest report to Congress.

Top federal income tax rates have changed considerably since World War II ended in 1945.

Throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, the top marginal rate typically was above 90 percent, the report states. It now stands at 35 percent.

The top rate on capital gains was 25 percent in the 1950s and 1960s, reached 35 percent in the 1970s, and stands today at 35 percent.

Meanwhile, the growth rate in real gross domestic product — the value of all goods and services produced, adjusted for inflation — averaged 4.2 percent in the 1950s but just 1.7 percent in the 2000s.

“The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie,” the report states, ” … but there may be a relationship to how the economic pie is sliced.”

The nonpartisan service found the share of income accruing to the top 0.1 percent of American families rose from 4.2 percent in 1945 to a peak of 12.3 percent in 2007. And though it fell during the last recession, it remains more than double the post-war level at 9.2 percent.

Income tax rates have been at the center of policy debates in numerous races this fall.

President Obama wants to extend the cuts enacted under President George W. Bush only on the first $250,000 of taxable income, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, has said he would extend the Bush cuts for all earners.

Romney also has proposed cutting high-end marginal tax rates and taxes on capital gains, as well as eliminating the estate tax. Each of these would disproportionately benefit the rich.

In Connecticut, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon frequently touts a plan that would cut middle class income taxes, eliminate the capital gains tax for this group and increase the tax deduction on student loans.

But it also would preserve the top Bush income tax rate of 35 percent, keep the capital gains tax for the wealthy at 15 percent, exempt a portion of capital gains tied to the inflationary growth in a stock’s value and eliminate estate and gift taxes.

“We don’t have any comment on the report,” McMahon campaign spokesman Todd Abrajano said Monday.

“Linda McMahon’s plan to give even more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires like her is simply wrong for middle-class families and the economy here in Connecticut,” Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for the Murphy campaign, said Monday. Murphy’s stand on the Bush tax cuts largely mirrors Obama’s, favoring the cuts for households earning less than $250,000, and opposing them for incomes above that level.

“McMahon can spend millions of dollars trying to kick up mud, but she can’t change the fact that she’s trying to sell Connecticut voters on the same old right-wing Republican trickle-down policies they’ve rejected again and again,” Zupnick added.

“Chris [Murphy] is fighting to create jobs, help people and invest in the middle class here in Connecticut, while Linda McMahon is fighting to give herself and millionaires and billionaires like her another massive tax cut,” he said.

This was first published at

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Romney: The Mexican-American Candidate

Patrick Osio for HispanicVista, Op-Ed

Editor’s Note: As Gov. Mitt Romney trails in the polls in key swing states, a secret video released on Monday, is stirring more controversy in the Romney campaign camp. In the footage, which was filmed during a private fundraiser earlier this year, Romney told wealthy donors that his father grew up poor after being born to American parents living in Mexico. Romney then joked that it would be helpful to him if his father were Latino. Romney also commented that half of Americans “believe they are victims” entitled to government hand-outs, and that it is not his job to care about “those people,” the Associated Press reports.

Romney has mentioned his Mexican roots on the campaign trail, hoping to form a connection with Latino voters (Romney’s great-grandfather fled to Mexico in 1885 to escape America’s anti-polygamy laws. His grandfather grew up there and his father was born there.) Commentator Patrick Osio, editor of HispanicVista, says he supports Romney’s economic policies, but urges the GOP candidate to not forget Mexico’s tolerant stance toward his ancestors who sought refuge there to escape religious persecution.

In the late 1880s, Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles P. Romney, and a number of family members suffering religious persecution in the United States sought refuge in Mexico. Refuge was granted, and thus the Romney clan settled in Mexico. Mitt’s father, George, was born there.

Mitt Romney can’t escape the reality that his father was born in Mexico, making the elder Romney a Mexican citizen by birthright. In turn, this makes Mitt Romney a second-generation U.S. citizen of Mexican descent – commonly referred to as Mexican-American.

Romney accepts his father was born in Mexico, but he does not acknowledge his heritage and ignores the several hundred Romney family members who still live in the country. But, it doesn’t change the facts: He, like it or not, ignore it or acknowledge it, is a member of the U.S. Hispanic community.

Romney knows that his ancestors escaped religious persecution thanks to Mexico’s hospitality. Mexico, like the United States, forbade polygamy, but exercised tolerance and respect.

Why then would Romney, whose own family sought refuge and benefited from tolerance and generosity, support immigration policies that punish several million of Mexico’s poor who have over the years crossed the border illegally in search of a better life (economic refugees)? Would he at a minimum champion immigration reform?

To the dismay of many during Romney’s campaign for the nomination, he embraced states with mean-spirited and draconian laws, and personalities who promote and participate in raids netting any brown-skinned person be he U.S. citizen or not, making a mockery of civil and constitutional rights.

Now, as the Republican presidential candidate, Romney must adhere to the platform endorsed by his party. It calls for the harshest treatment of undocumented immigrants, so they will self-deport back to a life of poverty. It repeals higher educational opportunities for young people who came the United States as children. There will be no immigration reform, and no path to citizenship. The GOP platform allows immigration for the highly educated, but remains hostile to guest worker programs in the agricultural sector where there is a critical need.

Romney belongs to The Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), a noble and compassionate religion. All Americans uphold the separation of church and state in politics, and so must Romney if he is elected, but religious teaching is also about morals and character. How does one separate from that? How does he justify his stance on immigration that is contrary to that of his religion’s? How does he justify his ingratitude to the people whose country once saved his family?

There is a great need for Americans to elect someone who is a tough businessman, who will stop the wild and irresponsible spending and continuing slide into Socialism. Romney is highly qualified and potentially he could put the United States back on track.

But if Mexican-American Romney reaches the White House without his moral compass, it will gain him and the nation little.

Patrick Osio, the editor of HispanicVista, can be contacted at

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Hartford Officials Initiate Weather Watch

HARTFORD — Mayor Pedro E. Segarra and Fire Chief Edward Casares, Jr. announced that the City of Hartford Emergency Operations Center will be partially activated on Tuesday.

The watch is effective at 6:00pm tonight in preparation for the severe weather.

Officials said a Tornado Watch in Litchfield, New Haven and Fairfield Counties will bring downpour to the Greater Hartford area. City officials encourage commuters to take precautions and drive carefully.

The EOC is partially activated and will monitor the progress and impact of the storm. The Office of the Mayor, Fire Department, Police Department, Department of Public Works and the Emergency Services & Telecommunications departments will be available for assistance.

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Chris Murphy v Linda McMahon

On January 2, 2012,  I was driving to my office in Downtown Milford with my husband when we saw Congressman Chris Murphy walking along Broad Street with his small son Owen. Concerned that they were alone and perhaps even lost, we pulled over to offer help.

“Owen likes trains,” Chris explained, “So every once in a while we take a train to a new town, get out and take a walk, and have some lunch together.”

I was struck by this encounter because here was a very busy Congressman, in a campaign for US Senate, commuting weekly between Washington, DC and Cheshire, CT, taking the time to be with his son. He had a new baby at home and felt it was important to be alone with the older child, and he knew that a (then) 3 and a half year old “likes trains”.

And Linda McMahon? Yes I saw her briefly walk the same sidewalk at the Oyster Fest. Last time I saw her she came to have a rally on City Hall steps and had her handlers indiscriminately cut the limbs off our trees in Doughboy Park to enhance the media’s camera angles.

I know who I am voting for on Nov. 6th.

Tessa Marquis, Milford

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