Archive | May, 2013


Hartford to Hold Council Workshop

HARTFORD — The Board of Education will hold a workshop to address the structure, purpose and other matters related to the operation of Hartford’s School Governance Councils.

The workshop is scheduled for June 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at the Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan, 101 Catherine Street in Hartford.

Per Public Act 10-111, parents are elected to each School Governance Council,  which over-sees budget and programmatic decisions. Each school council meets every month.

According to the state’s guidelines, the purpose of these Councils is to enable parents, school staff, students (where appropriate) and community leaders to work together to improve student achievement in the state’s lowest performing schools. Councils serve in an advisory capacity to assist the school administration.

School Governance Councils will consist of seven parents or guardians (elected by parents or guardians at the school), five teachers (elected y the teachers at the school), two community representatives (elected by the Council), and the shcool principal or designee.  Two student representatives may be elected by the student body for councils in high schools.

Councils may advise the school administration in these areas:

  • Analyze school data achievement and school needs as they relate to the school’s improvement plan;
  • Review the fiscal objectives of the school’s draft budget and advise the principal before the budget is submitted to the superintendent;
  • Participate in the hiring process of the school principal or other administrators by conducting interviews of candidates and reporting their findings to the superintendent;
  • Assist the principal in making programmatic and operational changes to improve the school’s achievement;
  • Develop and approve a written school parent involvement policy that outlines the roles of parents and guardians;
  • Work with school administrators in developing and approving a school compact for parents, legal guardians, and students that outlines the school’s goals and academic focus and identifies ways that parents and school staff can build a partnership to improve learning.
Councils must follow the Open Meetings Act.  For more information or for an information session for Schools Starting New School Governance Councils, you can watch the  [Webinar ] on June 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
video presentation for School Governance Councils by Tom Hennick of the Freedom of Information Commission is available online.

To learn more about the council’s mission, go to the State Department of Education web site here.




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Report: More Than 380,000 Nonemployer Businesses Added to the U.S. Economy,

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The number of businesses without paid employees in the U.S. rose 1.7 percent to 22.5 million in 2011, according to a new report released on Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau.

This marked the second straight increase in nonemployer businesses, with all but two states (Louisiana and New Hampshire) posting gains from 2010 to 2011.

Today’s findings come from Nonemployer Statistics: 2011, an annual report on U.S. businesses without paid employees, classified in nearly 450 industries for the nation, states, counties and metropolitan areas. Nonemployer Statistics covers businesses with no paid employees, annual business receipts of $1,000 or more ($1 or more in the construction industries) and subject to federal income taxes. Businesses with paid employees were covered in County Business Patterns, which was released in April.

William Bostic Jr., associate director for economic programs at the U.S. Census Bureau, said that about 75 percent of all U.S. business locations are nonemployer businesses.

This release covers 19.4 million sole proprietorships, 1.4 million corporations and 1.6 million partnerships, which together make up the total number of nonemployer businesses.

At the state level, California had the largest increase in the number of nonemployer businesses, with 72,605 added in 2011. The states with the next highest increases in the number of businesses were Texas (41,148), Florida (31,485) and New York (21,119).

Among the 50 counties with the largest number of nonemployer businesses, Los Angeles County, Calif., added the most nonemployer businesses (28,651). Other large increases were in Cook County, Ill. (11,705), Maricopa County, Ariz. (10,038) and Kings County, N.Y. (Brooklyn) with 8,455.

Among industry sectors, services that compromise the “other services” (except public administration) sector gained the largest number of establishments, adding 159,163 in 2011, an increase of 4.7 percent. Types of services that fall within this sector include automotive repair and maintenance, barbershops, beauty salons, laundries and dry cleaners.

The number of nonemployer businesses declined in only two sectors. The construction sector lost 36,262 establishments (1.5 percent), while the finance and insurance sector lost 3,088 establishments (0.4 percent).

Other highlights:

–Total annual receipts for nonemployer businesses were $989.6 billion in 2011, an increase of $38.8 billion (4.1 percent) from the previous year.

–The District of Columbia had the highest percent increase in the number of nonemployer businesses, up 7.2 percent, followed by North Dakota (4.3 percent), Arizona (3.2 percent) and Delaware (2.9 percent).

–North Dakota reported the highest percentage increase in receipts in 2011, up 13.2 percent to $2.3 billion.

–California had the largest dollar increase in nonemployer receipts, adding $5.5 billion for a state total of $143.8 billion in 2011.

–Among the 50 counties with the largest number of nonemployer businesses, Brooklyn had the highest percentage increase in receipts, rising 7.8 percent in 2011. Orange County, Fla., increased 6.8 percent and Harris County, Texas, followed with an increase of 6.6 percent.


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Hartford Police Arrest Six Near Woodland Ave and Edgewood Street After Reports of Gun Threat

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Six people were arrested Wednesday after Hartford police responded to a complaint about gun threats by several men near Woodland Avenue and Edgewood Street, police said.

The six included a 15-year old of Hartford, who was charged with threatening, carrying a pistol without a permit and breach of peace.

The second arrest was Anthonie Arnold, 20, of 80 Edgewood St., who was charged with carrying a pistol without a permit and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

Also arrested were Eugene Findley, 20, of 63 Huntington St., who was charged with third degree criminal trespass, possession of narcotics and possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school; Lorenza Christian, 21, of 59 Lenox St., who was charged with third degree criminal trespass;  Kendrid Hampton, 21, of 117 Park Ave., of Bloomfield, who was charged with third degree criminal trespass; and D’vonte Channer, 18, of 50 Oakland Terrace, who was charged with third degree criminal trespass.

According to police, three loaded handguns were seized after Hartford Police located a complainant near 114 Woodland St. on May 28 at about  2:20 p.m.  The officer said he saw a black male brandishing a firearm at a man who had just threatened to kill his son parked in the area of 50 Vine St.

During a subsequent canvass of the Albany Avenue and Edgewood Street area police located the suspect walking to 80 Edgewood St. and called in members of the Hartford Shooting Task Force as he kept a visual on the suspect, police said. Task Force members then converged on the location and during the course of their investigation,identified a juvenile as the suspect who had brandished a firearm and threatened the complainant’s son. The suspect with the gun was arrested and transported to Juvenile Detention at 920 Broad St.

Police said they also seized three loaded handguns, including the one used by the suspect.

Hartford Arrests--May 2013

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Hartford to Unveil Fitness Center

HARTFORD —  Congressman John B. Larson will join First Lady of Connecticut Cathy Malloy and Mayor of Hartford Pedro E. Segarra on Friday to unveil plans for a new Children’s Fitness/Wellness Center in Hartford.

The Center will give low-income families access to comprehensive fitness and wellness programs including child development screening, cooking demonstrations, community gardening and movement workshops, officials said. The center is part of an initiative to prevent childhood obesity in Connecticut.

This new facility comes after Hartford officials unveiled a 2012 study conducted by the University of Connecticut’s Center for Public Health and Policy that found that children living in Hartford are at high risk for becoming obese, finding that more than one-third of Hartford’s three year olds and 23 percent of kindergarteners are overweight.

Hartford is not alone. During the last 30 years, childhood obesity rates in the U.S. have tripled,  experts say.  Today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. This is also a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s national “Let’s Move” campaign to get children to be active.

The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40 percent of the children are overweight or obese.

So far, about a third of all children born in 2000 or later is expected to suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives. Many currently face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer,and asthma.



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Connecticut Set to Increase Minimum Wage

HARTFORD — After six hours of debate, it’s done. Connecticut’s minimum wage will now be $9 per hour.

That’s because the House of Representatives late Wednesday passed a bill 89-53 to increases the minimum wage. The Senate approved the bill last week.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is expected to sign the bill.

“This change will make it just a little easier for working people in our state without adversely impacting the business community,” Malloy said in a press release as he congratulated the House..  “This is the right thing to do for hard working men and women, and the right thing to do for families.  I look forward to signing this bill into law.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 387 – An Act Increasing the Minimum Fair Wage, increases the minimum wage by 75 cents per hour over a two-year period to a total of nine dollars per hour.

The nationwide minimum wage level is $7.25 per hour, mandated by the federal governmment. However, several states set their minimum wage levels higher. The with the highest is in Washington at $9.19 per hour. The lowest is Wyoming at $5.25 per hour.

The last time Connecticut increased the minimum wage was on Jan. 1, 2010. It was increased by 25 cents to $8.25.

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Congressional Youth Cabinet to Celebrate ‘Trails Day’

EAST HARTFORD — Congressman John B. Larson and members of his First Congressional Youth Cabinet will help celebrate National Trails Day in East Hartford on June 1.

The day will include a two mile Hockanum River Linear Park hike and trail clean up followed by a Connecticut Trail Mix Competition. Those who attend will be invited to participate in each event.

The events are sponsored by the Hockanum River Commission and East Hartford Parks and Recreation. Those who attend the cleanup are encouraged to bring a rake and gloves. Those who enter the 11:30 a.m. Trail Mix Competition will bring one pound of homemade trail mix for judging. Food and drink will be provided for those who attend.

Who:     Congressman John B. Larson

East Hartford Parks & Recreation

Members of the First Congressional Youth Cabinet

What:   2-mile cleanup of Hockanum River Linear Park Trail & Connecticut Trail Mix Competition

Where: Hockanum River Linear Park, East Hartford, CT

Meet behind East Hartford Town Hall at 9:00 a.m. – 740 Main Street, East Hartford, CT 06108

When:  9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Hockanum River Linear Trail Cleanup

Larson to speak at 11:00 a.m. (behind East Hartford Town Hall)

11:30 a.m. Connecticut Trail Mix Competition (behind East Hartford Town Hall)

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Library Hosts Talk on Fire Department

HARTFORD — Hartford Fire Department staff will lead a discussion about the ins and outs of the city’s fire department. Hartford residents interested in learning more about the organization and the work they do can hear Casares on Wednesday at the Hartford Public Library at 500 Main Street.

Participants will also learn about the vehicles the Fire Department uses and a pumper truck, boat, hazmat vehicle, smoke house, and cherry picker will be parked on Main Street in front of the library.

Fire Department staff will then explain how the vehicles are used and answer your questions.

Refreshments will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m. The program begins at 6 p.m. Tours of the vehicles will begin at 7 p.m.

Residents are asked to bring thier children.

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Time for Change: First Woman Takes Helm at the FCC

By Joseph Torres, Op-Ed Contributor 

It’s important to celebrate whenever social barriers are knocked down — including the one that fell on Monday when Mignon Clyburn became the acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Never before has a president appointed a woman to chair the commission — not even on an interim basis.

It’s not the first time Clyburn has made history. She’s also the first African-American woman to serve as an FCC commissioner.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionBut there are still many barriers that need to be knocked down. For one, we need to remove the “acting” title for the next woman to chair the FCC.

Clyburn’s accomplishment is also an opportunity to reflect on the FCC’s history of permitting and even exacerbating inequality. For evidence, just consider the impact of the agency’s policy decisions on women and people of color.

It’s no accident that our nation’s media system looks the way it does; it reflects our nation’s legacy of discrimination. Most of our first broadcast licenses were allocated to white men or white-run companies. And not much has changed.

People of color own just 3 percent of all full-power TV stations and less than 8 percent of all full-power radio stations. Women own less than 7 percent of all full-power broadcast stations. These statistics explain both the lack of diversity among staff at broadcast outlets and the paltry amount of programming featuring people of color.

But instead of adopting policies that would boost ownership diversity, the FCC and Congress have consistently pushed for greater consolidation. Thanks to socioeconomic conditions, the FCC’s approach has made it even more difficult for women and people of color to buy broadcast stations.

That’s why it was troubling when former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski pushed for more consolidation during his tenure. One of his last moves involved a policy proposal that would allow companies to own broadcast stations and newspapers in the same market — a matter that’s still pending before the commission.

The FCC has long placated broadband and wireless companies — and Genachowski didn’t buck this trend. He failed to protect the open Internet with strong Net Neutrality rules. And he failed to provide more options for affordable broadband access, leaving many households disconnected.

While politicians and media figures often talk about the importance of our nation’s changing demographics, few are willing to do anything to make our media system more representative of the population it serves.

There’s hope that Clyburn can begin the important work of ensuring the FCC places the interests of the public over those of a small corporate elite.

Clyburn has defended the Lifeline program — which provides access to basic phone service for poor households — against political attacks. She’s spoken out against the unlawful practice of charging predatory rates for phone calls that prisoners make to families and friends. Clyburn should pass an order to end this unlawful practice — and should also direct the Commission to conduct studies to address the shameful state of broadcast ownership diversity.

President Obama has nominated Tom Wheeler, a major donor to his presidential campaign who formerly headed the trade associations for both the cable and wireless industries, as Clyburn’s successor. The president’s choice of an industry lobbyist to lead an agency established to serve the public interest has troubled many.

Until the next chair is confirmed, Clyburn should do everything she can to gain back the public’s trust in the commission.

Joseph Torres is senior external affairs director of Free Press, a nonpartisan organization building a nationwide movement for media that serve the public interest.

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‘Fast and Furious 6’ Delivers High Octane Experience in Theaters

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer 

The title is apt. Unabashedly, the sixth installment of the movie franchise, Fast and Furious 6, is a guaranteed to be an exquisitely sophisticated, high-octane experience in theaters this Memorial Day Weekend.

An ethnically diverse cast with energy and swag delivers a film that is bound to draw a global audience and push Furious 6 to the top of box office hits this year.

The latest installment offers laughs, car chases, spectacular stunts and a well-crafted storyline designed to delight fans.

Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson lead the returning, all-star cast on a franchise build on speed races. The last time they were in Rio. This year they are in the United Kingdom. Reuniting for their most high-stakes adventure yet, fan favorites Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Elsa Pataky are joined by badass series newcomers Luke Evans and Gina Carano.

Since Dom (Diesel) and Brian’s (Walker) Rio heist toppled a kingpin’s empire and left their crew with $100 million, our heroes have scattered across the globe. But their inability to return home and living forever on the lam have left their lives incomplete.

Meanwhile, Hobbs (Johnson) has been tracking an organization of lethally skilled mercenary drivers across 12 countries, whose mastermind (Evans) is aided by a ruthless second-in-command revealed to be the love Dom thought was dead, Letty (Rodriguez). The only way to stop the criminal outfit is to outmatch them at street level, so Hobbs asks Dom to assemble his elite team in London. Payment? Full pardons for all of them so they can return home and make their families whole again.

The narratives punctuated by spectacular action scenes with dared-devil stunts takes into consideration that the audience, which started out with the franchise, is more mature and seeks out intelligent action films for their money and time at the theater. It also pulls young viewers with its cast, although noticeably absent in the multi-ethnic cast was a black character. But thrilling to see was the brutal fight scene between Michelle Rodriguez and Gina Carano, who bravely entered the domain largely reserved for men.

Back in 2009, when the franchise started, no one would have predicted Fast & Furious would turn into a franchise. But after five movies the franchise has earned $1.6 billion at the global box office, according to Forbes.

This year, Furious Six is bound to deliver a scintillating joy ride at the theaters this weekend.


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Hartford Honors Its Teacher of the Year: Mario Marrero


It is one thing for a teacher to believe that every child can learn. It is quite another for a teacher to persuade every one of his students that they can learn. Mario Marrero, a fourth-grade teacher at the Betances STEM Magnet School, is precisely that kind of teacher, according to colleagues.

“He always sets high expectations for his students, not only in their academics, but in their behavior,” said fellow teacher Melissa Rodriguez. “They are like small soldiers as they walk through the hallways and into their room.”

Born in Hartford to a family of teachers, Marrero received his primary middle and high school education in South Windsor. During his college years, Marrero studied in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and graduated from Southwestern Adventist University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

He joined the teaching staff at Hartford Public Schools right from college and has so made a difference in the lives of the city’s children that he has been named Hartford’s 2013 Teacher of the Year.

The surprise announcement was made at the annual Hartford Public Schools Teacher of the Year dinner banquet held at The Marriott Hartford Downtown Hotel in Hartford.

“Teaching is my passion and I take pride and joy in what I do,” Marrero says. “We are in the exciting position of being able to shape and mold our future.”

Mr. Marrero began his career in education as a sixth grade teacher at what was then known as the Annie Fisher Magnet School of Multiple Intelligences. After two years at Fisher, he accepted a position as a third-grade teacher at Milner Core Knowledge Academy. Throughout his four years at Milner, he taught third and fifth grade. Mr. Marrero also spent his after school hours tutoring and coaching the middle grades basketball team. He credits his time at Milner for making him the teacher that he is today.

At Betances STEM Magnet School, where he plays an important role in the integration of technology in the classroom, Marrero is also the Lead Teacher of the Science Department, where he and his colleagues create inquiry-based lessons to help provide rigorous, hands-on learning experiences for their students.

“Treat education like a free buffet,” Mr. Marrero tells his students. “Get as much out of it as you can.”

A resident of Avon, Mr. Marrero belongs to the Connecticut Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church, where he has taught Sabbath school, played various roles in the annual Christmas musical and sings in the church choir.

Featured Photo: Mario Marrero, 2013 HPS Teacher of the Year, (seated center) Photo Courtesy of Hartford Public School.
Inset Photo: Photo: Mario Marrerro, 2013 HPS Teacher of the Year, (left) Robert Cotto, Jr. Hartford Board of Education Secretary (middle), Keith Sevigny, 2012 HPS Teacher of the Year. (right). Photo Courtesy of Robert Cotto, Jr.

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