Archive | Hartford

Foundation Opens Application to Fund Artists

HARTFORD — With the onset of COVID-19, the arts is perhaps the hardest hit sector of the region’s economy, according to advocates.

That’s why the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has announced the Catalyst for the Arts grant after a recent survey found that Hartford area arts organizations have seen more than a 60 percent reduction in employment as the public health crisis has stretched budgets to their limits, forced venues to be closed and led to the cancellation of countless fundraising events.

The program is expected to provide the tools and techniques to help the sector manage this new landscape.

The program is a strategic partnership between the Hartford Foundation, Fathom and Free Center/CO:LAB and is designed to shift the way arts organizations conduct individual operations, support each other for mutual success, and equitably cultivate truly diverse leaders that can bring the value of the arts to the center of broader community and policy dialogues.

The application to become part of the program is open to the arts community in the Hartford Foundation’s 29 town region.

“This collective capacity building opportunity is one of the approaches we are taking to support the arts sector during these challenging times,” said Jackie Coleman, senior education investments officer with the Hartford Foundation. “We look forward to the possibility of seeing not only the participating organizations transformation but their collective impact on the sector as a whole.”

“Fathom works with leaders to create conditions for unprecedented performance, and design futures that go beyond benchmarks of the past,” said Matt Reiniger, Associate Partner, Fathom. “We’re honored and excited to be a part of Catalyst for the Arts, where we’ll work directly with arts leaders to reimagine what’s possible and to create what’s needed to realize it.”

The program is seeking applicants representing small, medium, and large arts organizations of various types to participate in the program.

Only 15 organizations will be selected to participate, based on a competitive application process.

“Against all conceivable obstacles, the nature of art is to find a way,” said Richard Hollant, founder of CO:LAB and Free Center. “That’s how I see hope. I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to work with our creative community, to uncover all the benefits at the intersection of hope and ingenuity, and to evolve the role of art in the reimagining of our region.”

Posted in A & E, Hartford, West Hartford, WindsorComments (0)

Rep. Brandon McGee Hesitant to Declare Victory

By Susan Thomas, Contributor

HARTFORD — Hartford and Windsor residents in the fifth district now face a nail-biting vote-counting process in the tally of the votes in Tuesday Democratic primary.

Late Tuesday, Rep. Brandon McGee had a decisive lead over his challenger, Craig Stallings in the Democratic primary.

The tally for the vote was expected by Friday. But it might be next Monday because of a confluence of events that led to low voter turn out; the COVID-19 pandemic, and its aftermath of social distancing in an urban enclave.

Additional obstruction to Hartford seeing a high voter turn out is media suppression of ethnic journalists or ethnic publications in the capital city of Hartford, according to sources close of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Also, Gov. Lamont signeed an executive order late Monday limited the deadline–despite the carefully crafted obstructions, to accept absentee ballots postmarked by Aug. 11 and arrival of these ballots by Thursday Aug. 13.

In the 5th House District in Hartford and Windsor — incumbent state Rep. McGee held a commanding lead over challenger Craig Stallings with all but one polling location reporting, according to The Hartford Courant.

McGee was unwilling to declare victory because of the low in-person turnout and theuncertainty of the absentee ballot count, but said he appreciated all the hard work of his supporters.

“At the end of the day, I’m really excited and appreciative of the efforts,” McGee said. “I’m honored with the unofficial numbers to say thank you.”

By 9:30 p.m., Stallings conceded.

“This was always a uphill battle. … My purpose for running was to create a new conversation focused on accountability in our community,” he said.

Posted in Business, Hartford, Neighborhood, Politics, WindsorComments (0)

Gov. Lamont Orders Investigation into Storm Isaias Outages

By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD – Gov. Ned Lamont has requested that the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority conduct a thorough investigation of the state’s public utility companies, including Eversource and United Illuminating, amid widespread outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaias that have left hundreds of thousands of customers without power.

The storm, which ripped through many parts of Connecticut Tuesday, some hit harder than others, have kept people without power for days now, calling into question the response by various light and power companies, including Eversource.

Lamont said that the companies’ response to the storm was inadequate and wants to know why there has been a slow response. As of Thursday, there are more than 450,000 Connecticut customers without power.  

“Several years ago, Connecticut experienced large scale outages that took days to recover from, and we were told that the utilities were improving their resources so that they can be prepared for the next time Mother Nature inevitably hits again,” Lamont said. “I don’t see much progress made for all the investments we made in terms of hardening, strengthening and modernizing our grid.”

According to Lamont, he wants to know what specific steps the companies took in the lead up to Tropical Storm Isaias, which had been forecasted to impact Connecticut several days prior to making impact and remained on track as meteorologists predicted.

PURA is the office responsible for regulating the rates and services of Connecticut’s electricity, natural gas, water and telecommunication companies and is the franchising authority for the state’s cable television companies.

Eversource Vice President Electric Operations, Mike Hayhurst, said that as people are staying home during COVID-19, being without power can be cumbersome. 

“We recognize how hard it is to be without electricity, especially during the pandemic, when many people are working remotely,” Hayhurst said.

Eversource estimates power to be restored to most customers by late Tuesday night.

Posted in HartfordComments (0)

Gov. Lamont Anounces Relief Funds for School Opening

By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday announced that the State of Connecticut is allocating an additional $160 million in funding for school districts to safely reopen.

These relief funds add to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) of $15 million and $111 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds which has brought total funding to 266 million for more than 160 school districts.

Gov. Lamont said that the funding is essential for ensuring schools safely re-open for students.

“These grants are an essential component to providing the best possible educational opportunities during this uncertain time,” Lamont said, in a press conference.

Lamont also said that these new funds will help needy families who are in struggling neighborhoods.

“Through this program, we are going to be able to offer devices, platforms, and internet connectivity to help with distance learning in lower income areas for students just beginning their education through college and graduate school,” Lamont said. “It also helps to increase access to higher education by expanding scholarship opportunities, and help those seeking vocational training to launch a new career.”

An issuance of Coronavirus relief funds that Connecticut received under the CARES Act will be reserved to assist districts with necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency, between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.

The Connecticut State Department of Education will provide ongoing technical assistance to districts as it pertains to eligible activities and spending under the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which include personal protective equipment such as masks as well as laptops and more staff for distant learning opportunities. 

Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said that it is paramount that students have access to this technology. 

“By strategically aligning our federal and state resources, the state will maximize its efforts to prioritize equitable access to technology and high-quality curriculum, accelerate learning opportunities, and provide for the social and emotional well-being of students, teachers and staff,” Cardona said. “We will continue to aggressively pursue funding sources to help districts fill funding gaps and meet the anticipated and unknown costs of educating students over the next year.”

As of Aug. 8, 2020, there have been 50,320 positive cases of the virus with 4,441 deaths in Connecticut, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Posted in Hartford, YouthComments (0)

Marriott Hartford Workers Scheduled for Mass Layoffs

By Barry Jenkins, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Very few people are traveling during the coronavirus pandemic. So it came as no surprise that the Marriott Hartford Downtown  will lay off 182 employees and reduce the hours of 21 employees by more than 50 percent, according to a letter filed with the Connecticut Department of Labor.

In the July 9 2020 letter, Febio Pari Di Monriva of the Waterford Group Hotel at the downtown Hartford location on Columbus Boulevard, cited ongoing struggles because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted reduced staff and possibly permanent closure.

Di Monriva stated that the downtown Marriott Hotel did not have sufficient resources or ample business to the hotel to continue its operation.

The layoffs began July 9 and are permanent, officials said. The reductions in hours are expected to last more than six months.

Before the full-throttle layoff, the hotel announced and implemented temporary, short-term furloughs and reductions in hours beginning March 17 when the state ceased at normal operations of businesses, announced school closures and prohibited nonessential workers from working in office buildings. People were required to stay home to be safe from the rapid spread of the virus. The unusual business closures were supposed to last less than six months, Di Monriva said.

However, hotel officials said, “…as things have developed, we are only now beginning to see the true impact of COVID-19 on the hotel’s business operations presently and into the future, which is much more detrimental than originally anticipated.”

They cited governmental restrictions on large gatherings, business, and travel in general as reasons for the loss of business. Only groups of 5 or fewer are allowed to gather in phase one of the state shutdown.

Hotel officials expected more business would have trickled in during the state’s Phase 2 re-opening. However, ” we are not seeing any meaningfully sustained increase in business levels in either the sort or long term at the present time.”

Hotel officials are also seeking financial relief from the state.

Posted in HartfordComments (0)

Some Businesses Ease Back Into Normalcy

By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD – At least one local business has reopened to a tepid response from the public after the restaurant has being closed for a few months to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Lynne Russell, one of the manager of Sorella’s Italian Restaurant on Main Street in Hartford, said that business has been random since they reopened.

“They have been people passing through and stopping for a bite to eat,”
Russell said.

According to Russell, there are guidelines implanted to lesson the spread

“We are following all guidelines  put forth by the state which include
constant washing of tables, and masks,” Russell said.

The restaurant took “online classes In order to help with the new protocols
put in place,” Russell said.

These businesses, which have been opened to the public since June 22 with limitations, include restaurants, barber shops, libraries and sports facilities as part of the state’s phase two reopening plan.

Samantha Savran, association director of marketing at the YMCA of Greater Hartford, said that the facility has implemented guidelines as required by the governor.

“We now have temperature checks as well as continuous cleaning. social distancing measures and mask requirements,” Savran said.

Savran said that even during the coronavirus, kids have been enjoying their time at the “Y.”

“At our day camp we run at the facility, children have been having a blast,” Savran said. “They like playing with their peers in a different and more controlled environment.”

Savran said that the YMCA has been the go-to place to go for people dealing with stress during these pressing times.

“The YMCA’s purpose is to build stronger relationships with members,” Savran said. “Our wellness center has always had strong bonds with its members.”

As of July 14, 2020, there have been 47, 287 positive cases of the virus with 4,348 deaths in Connecticut, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Posted in Business, Hartford, Health, NeighborhoodComments (0)

Saint Francis Hospital Cuts Staff

HARTFORD — Many hospital workers in Connecticut will lose thier jobs.

St. Francis Hospital in Hartford and three other hospitals in the state will slash its workforce, furlough some workers and reduce hours for others.

That’s because hospital revenues have tanked during the pandemic.

In a statement, Trinity Health said most of the layoffs are administrative, “non-clinical” positions and some are workers that had been previously furloughed.

“Though there are positive signs that patients are returning for services, the organization expects the recovery to be gradual, and there are many unknowns, with the possible resurgence of the virus and the country’s economic recovery,” the statement said.

Trinity Health, which administrates St Francis and other hospitals including Mout Saini, said the cuts will be in the first quarter of its fiscal year on July 1.

Trinity Health also has said it planned to reduce the compensation of its executives; freeze all capital expenditures except those necessary to fight the pandemic and significantly reduce “discretionary” spending.

Posted in Bloomfield, East Hartford, Hartford, Neighborhood, West HartfordComments (0)

Black and Puerto Rican Caucus Fights for ‘agenda for equity’


Members of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus added their voices Tuesday to the growing calls for systemic reforms that would make life safer and more equitable for Connecticut’s residents of color.

Recognizing that “no single bill can right centuries of wrongs, let alone a few summer days in the Capitol,” Rep. Brandon McGee, D-Hartford and caucus chair, said the proposals were “a table-setting moment for what we hope will be viewed as a years-spanning commitment to racial equity in Connecticut.”

The proposals are similar to Senate Democrats’ Juneteenth agenda released last month. McGee said the measures are not in conflict with the ideas raised by his legislative colleagues, several of whom joined him Tuesday on the Capitol steps.

“Together they emphasize a growing commitment to systemic change among members of this legislature,” McGee said. “What we’ve done as a caucus, however, is honed in just a little bit more on some of those very, I would say, low-hanging fruit opportunities that would provide again, a larger conversation for policies that we’ve been working on so long, to be able to be passed, supported by our governor.”

Caucus members identified six pillars for reform: voting rights, economic justice, police accountability, education and housing equity and environmental justice. They called for more personal protective equipment for those on the pandemic’s frontlines, closing opportunity and resource gaps for children living in under-resourced school districts and expanding “no-strings-attached homeownership” opportunities. And they proposed updating environmental laws to account for the disproportionate impacts of poor air quality and industrial pollution on communities of color, especially important in the COVID-19 era.

“An individual with underlying health conditions attributed to poor air quality [and] industrial pollution are more susceptible to the detrimental effects of the virus,” said Rep. Geraldo Reyes Jr. , D-Waterbury, vice chair of the caucus.

McGee said caucus members are working with Sen. Gary Winfield, a New Haven Democrat and co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, on a police accountability bill for the upcoming special session. It isn’t clear whether those bills will be separate proposals or a part of the same measure, but they have similar themes: ending discriminatory policing that leads to a disproportionate number of minorities behind bars, expanding community oversight of police officers and creating an independent entity to investigate and hold cops accountable for breaking the law.

The particulars of the proposals are still being negotiated. McGee suggested parts of the agenda, like police accountability measures and new laws that would make it easier to vote, could be floated in the upcoming special session later this month, but others could be dealt with in a second special session later in the summer or fall.

A notable absence: tax reform

Absent from the caucus’ agenda were any proposals to redistribute wealth through tax reform.

Over the past few years, various progressive groups have advocated for higher income tax rates on Connecticut’s wealthiest residents, new and expanded credits to provide state income tax relief to poor and middle-income households, and increased municipal aid to the state’s urban centers.

The Black and Puerto Rican and House Democratic Progressive caucuses, which share many members, pushed for many of these initiatives as recently as last January, when the regular 2020 General Assembly session began.

“True economic justice cannot be achieved until we end the criminalization of poverty and level the playing field for all,” McGee said.

Democrats advocating for a more progressive state and local tax system know one major obstacle to sweeping reforms lies at the head of their party — Gov. Ned Lamont.

The governor, a wealthy Greenwich businessman, defeated a Democratic proposal during his first year in office to impose an income tax surcharge on the capital gains earnings of the state’s wealthiest people, and consistently has argued that higher taxes on top earners would drive them to move out of state.

Connecticut ranks above nearly all states in terms of both income and wealth inequality. Wealth, which takes into account stocks, other investment holdings, property and debt, is even more concentrated at the top here than income.

Critics say Connecticut’s tax system, with its heavy reliance on municipal property taxes and a state sales tax, exacerbates this inequality. These levies are largely regressive, meaning the rates are the same regardless of the taxpayers’ wealth. And many businesses can transfer their tax burdens onto consumers, also disproportionately harming the low-income households.

The working poor in Connecticut pay nearly one-quarter of their earnings to cover state and local taxes, or to cover business taxes shifted onto their households, according to a 2014 state tax analysis. The middle class pay about 13%, while the top 10% of earners pay 10% and the top 1% pay almost 7.5%.

Advocates for progressive state and local tax reform argue increased public sensitivity toward systemic racism make now the right time for legislative action. They attribute this awareness both to the disproportionate toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on communities of color as well as the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

But McGee said that while his caucus is committed to mobilize “a growing commitment to systemic change” among legislators, leaders also realize the planned July special session offers a limited “window of opportunity” for change.

After the news conference, McGee said the caucus was still discussing potential progressive tax proposals they could float in a special session, perhaps after the July session, which will be focused on policing and voting access.

“As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving pieces to this,” McGee said. “I really believe that we will have ‘Part Two’ of special session, and (tax reform ) is a part of our long list of items that we want to support.”

Posted in Business, Featured, Hartford, NationComments (0)

Hartford Marathon to Go Virtual

The Hartford Marathon will be virtual this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon will be online as a virtual event from Oct. 8 through 11.

The event will include a new 10K race distance, the 5K race and three new multi-distance race challenges. The purpose is to engage widespread participation

All participants will run their race at a location of their choice. Everyone will still get race bibs, finisher medals, and long-sleeve technical shirt to commemorate their race. Participants can also submit verified results to appear in race results online.

Registration is $25. Organizers said all proceeds will go to charity to support urgent local needs.

For more details on the marathon, go to

Posted in HartfordComments (0)

Hartford Police Investigate Parkville Shooting

HARTFORD — Hartford Police are investigating shots fired on Monday in the vicinity of Prospect and Capitol avenues, which left a Hartford man dead.

Police identified the operatorof a car collision as Junny Lara-Velazquez, 19, of Hartford. He succumbed to his injuries caused by the shooting at 4:06 p.m. on Monday.

Police responded to complaints about gun shots on July 6 at 2:13 p.m. West Hartford Police officers were also on the scene.

The emergency medical technicians arrived on the scene to treat a female suffering from gun shot wound to the buttocks and thigh. The male driver, Lara Velazquez, sufffered from a critical gun shot wound to the head.

A third female teen occupant was not struck by gunfire but was suffering from minor injuries as a result of the collision, police said.

It was soon discovered that the shooting incident had begun two blocks east on Capitol Avenue in the City of Hartford.

The Hartford Police Crime Scene Division and Major Crimes Division responded and assumed control of the investigation.
The investigation remains active and ongoing.

Anyone with any information regarding the case is asked to call the Hartford Police Major Crimes Division, or HPD Tip Line at 860-722-TIPS (8477)

Posted in HartfordComments (0)

Advertise Here