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Letter: Gov. Malloy and Hartford’s Stadium


letterstohartfordguardianDear Governor Malloy:
We are writing to urge you not to use state taxpayer dollars to bail out Hartford’s Dunkin Donuts Stadium.
As a result of construction of the stadium exceeding the agreed upon deadline, we understand that costs are now likely to increase for the project. We are also aware of comments from the Hartford Stadium Authority indicating that they will not go back to the city to seek the needed added capital. That needed capital should not come from the state and our already overburdened taxpayers.
We want to remind you of multiple statements from you and your administration that promised the state would not get involved in this project which taxpayers and the lawmakers who represent them at the Capitol never had a say in authorizing. That commitment will be broken if you sign the state budget passed by Democrats that allows taxpayer dollars through the admissions tax to go towards stadium construction debt service. That commitment will also be broken a second time if any additional aid is given to Hartford for this project’s new costs due to missing its deadline.
We fully understand the predicament Hartford is in and truly empathize with the people of Hartford who have serious concerns about the Yard Goats’ stadium project and the burden it places on the city. But the state is in no position to hand out any additional funds. Democrats just passed a budget that slashes from core social services, cuts state education funds, and hurts some of the most vulnerable populations in this state. Yet at the same time their budget gives up $400,000 annually in taxpayer dollars to go towards the Hartford stadium. It is not right that at a time when support for the poor, sick and elderly is being cut, a project that had zero taxpayer support is profiting.
No state taxpayer dollars should go towards the delayed stadium.
                                                                             Senate Republican Caucus Chair Len Fasano, et al

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Why The Confederate Flag Will Continue to Fly — For Now

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson,Contributor

Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney says take it down. Present GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush says take it down. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will say a qualified take it down. The “it” is the Confederate Flag. They now want the flag removed from the South Carolina State House.

A year ago Romney, Bush, and Haley would not have dared say the flag must go. In fact, Haley vigorously defended the flag waving proudly at the state house during her reelection bid in 2014 and flatly stated before that the flag should stay. The hideous Charleston church massacre and the loud clamor again by civil rights activists and a wide swath of the public to dump the flag explains their sharp reversal.

earl-hutchinsonThe flag, of course, should go and should have gone a long time ago when the NAACP did everything from calling for a boycott of the state to mass protests to get the flag scrapped. But it still stands and there’s little reason this time around to think much will change.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionThe reason is not hard to find. The defenders, and there are countless numbers of them South and North, will not budge from their stock argument that the Confederate flag is merely a symbol of Southern history, pride and heritage, and has absolutely no political or social connotations, let alone intended as a symbol of slavery and a prop for racism? This is a bold faced distortion of you want to be charitable. Or, if you don’t, it’s a flat out lie.It is a blatant display of bigotry and racist defiance that symbolizes slavery and black oppression and is a direct slap in the face of blacks a century and a half after the South was vanquished on the battlefield?

Yet, the brutal reality is that for decades, the Confederate flag, or some variation of it, has either flown or been displayed or embedded in state flags in Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama and in decades past in other Southern states. Thousands of motor vehicle owners have requested personalized license plates with the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo which embeds the Confederate flag in it for their cars and trucks in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

And thousands of white motorists tool down the state and city highways in parts of the South with the Confederate flag decal on their windows and bumpers. Does that tag them as a racist? Some are, and they embrace the flag to puff up their unabashed racism. But for many other Southern whites, the flag and its association with Southern history, is a genuine source of pride and identification. For many young whites that emblazon the flag on their attire, wave it at rock concerts, or football games, and other sporting events, it’s just a hip, in-crowd, stitch of cloth that’s little more than a chic fun and games display.

They know little and could care less about what the flag meant, and the racial oppression that the flag has symbolized. They know nothing about the defiance of Southern legislatures and governors that dredged the flag up in the 1950s and adopted variations of it in their state flags as a blatant, open rebellion against court ordered integration in schools and public facilities.

But no matter what the motive of the flag defenders, whether it be pride, ignorance, racism, or just youthful style, the NAACP and civil rights leaders that have fought ferocious battles against the display of the flag on public property, at taxpayer expense, and that includes thousands of African-American state taxpayers, stress that the flag undeniably was the symbol of a region that drenched the nation in blood for four years to defend values, a way of life, an economy and a political system that had slavery as its bedrock. And for decades after was a symbol of the South’s rigid domination and brute force control of African-Americans.

The two wildly clashing views of the flag’s meaning are again on full display in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre. Unlike in times past when the debate over the flag has flared, no South Carolina state legislator has so far publicly come out with a full throated defense of the flag. However, it’s not necessary. The majority of them belief that the flag stands for what the South was and still is all about. That belief runs far too deep for even a shocking massacre to unhinge. The flag will be ridiculed, assailed, and burned. But it will likely stay and not just at a state house but in the minds and hearts of far too many.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network.  Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter.

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Borges Resignation Necessary

Saundra Kee Borges is gone from public office—hopefully for good.

Kee Borges announced her resignation this week. She will resign on Jan. 30. The Hartford Guardian is happy about this move.  People who care about Hartford and its ability to attract professionals and other smart consumers should welcome this news as well. editorialbannerthumb

Kee Borges and her nativist cronies sold the idea that people of color cannot govern this 384-year-old city. We hope to see more resignations soon because under Pedro Segarra’s administration there have been several alleged abuses of the rule of law and federal regulations.

On the local level, common sense is missing from some of the decisions from the Office of Corporation Council and his office. For example, slapping court papers on residents and business owners for owing less than $200 in parking tickets is beyond the pale, especially in a city with limited parking.

Kee Borges has been the city’s top lawyer for the last four years. Before that, she was Mayor Pedro Segara’s chief of staff when he took office in June 2010 because former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez was forced to resign after a six-person court found him guilty of alleged corruption. Kee Borges became friends with Segarra’s while they were law students at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Segarra said the office “will continue to operate efficiently” as its leadership changes.

We do believe that Segarra needs to ask more people to resign from office if he really wants City Hall to “operate efficiently.”

Because based on evidence obtained by The Guardian’s staff, we don’t see it operating as such.

In the meanwhile, Deputy Corporation Counsel Henri Alexandre is expected to serve as an interim until the position is filled. We hope he chooses to operate for the good of the entire city rather than operate to serve his personal agendas as Kee Borges did during her tenure.

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Jeb’s Real Challenge Comes from His Own Party

By  La Opinión

Editors of La Opinión write that the real challenge Jeb Bush will face will come from his own party.Jeb Bush’s announcement that he would form an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run puts him at the top of what will be a long list of contendors for the White House. The former governor of Florida holds moderate positions on issues that many conservatives oppose. He supports the Common Core program in schools, and has recognized the contributions of undocumented immigrants.the-hartford-guardian-OpinionA  Jeb Bush presidential run would be attractive for the Latino voter, wroite editors of La Opinión. Be it his familiarity with the culture —his wife is Mexican— or some of his political views. However, the litmus test for a majority of Latinos will be whether he will extend Obama’s executive actions on immigration, or will he support eliminating the protection against deportation — and the separation of millions of families.But the real challenge for Jeb Bush, editors write, is how to win a Republican primary that is dominated by the most conservative voters. His dilemma is how a moderate on education and immigration issues can gain the support of his own party.

Lea en español

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Whitey’s Towing Should Be Topic of Concern at Hearings on Hartford’s Parking Problems

Updated April 23, 2014, 4;00 p.m.

As part of its efforts to improve parking accommodations in downtown, Mayor Pedro Segarra and his administration recently held a kick-off meeting at the Hartford Public Library to get feedback about downtown parking. Stakeholders, including residents, business owners and visitors, were invited to give input.

Here’s our input.

For years, Whitey’s Inc. has been known for its predatory towing tactics. And year after year, the city of Hartford gives this company unconditional support by turning a blind eye to the mountain of complaints to out-of-touch politicians, who have special parking spaces at the downtown library and other compounds.

editorialbannerthumbFor years, Whitey’s would hook up people’s cars, some of which were parked legally, and towed them across town. And car owners would be charged a fee of more than $100 to retrieve each car.

For years, Whitey’s would target the most vulnerable populations in the city. And the workers seemingly relish doing so because of the company’s contract with the city of Hartford and their support from the Hartford Police Department. The company seemingly has carte blanche access to people’s cars.

 Reports of cars that were legally parked and then got towed have been mounting over the years. And Whitey’s still have a contract with the city.

tow_trucks_003On March 20, 2014, Whitey’s towed a 2013 Silver Subaru Impreza from a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot on Washington Street, across the street from Hartford Hospital after a Hartford Guardian editor went inside to get coffee and sat in there for about two hours before walking across the street to do business. When she returned, the car was gone.

We have done a brief survey, including checking in Avon, where the owner of that Dunkin’ Donut shop lives. And we have yet to find a these parking policies in Avon and other surrounding towns. We understand this kind of behavior if these parking lots were full to capacity by non customers, and other customers had nowhere to park. But no. In this case, the parking lot was half-empty.

But our run in, though costly, is minor in comparison to the horror stories we’ve heard over the years–since the 1990s. And if you live, work or play in Hartford, you’ve been a victim. Or you have friends who were victims of Whitey’s and the company’s tactics. Most of these victims, unfortunately, are black people.

There are also cries of racism when these victims interact with the all-white, working class drivers at—gosh darn it–Whitey’s. They are known to prey on Hartford residents and visitors with its “trespass tow” spiel.

A casual survey of the Better Business Bureau’s site on the number and nature of complaints about Whitey’s and the company’s attitude toward customers who shop in downtown and other parts of the city cannot go unnoticed.

One woman wrote a detailed report of her painful ordeal with Whitey’s. And like many other victims of this particular company, she felt targeted. She writes: “I am writing this complaint because I was treated horribly and possibly discriminated against.”

How many more complaints does the city need to take decisive action? Why is this contract in place for so long to further oppressed already oppressed people? And why are these towing policies by Dunkin’ Donuts only in Hartford?

These and more questions should be addressed soon, Mayor Segarra. The city can find the issues laid out in the mountain of complaints that already exists.

Otherwise, the city’s gesture will only serve as a pretense to assuage the latest victims.

So before the city spends thousands of dollars on marketing campaigns that invite people to shop downtown, it should focus on making sure they can park without worrying about their cars being towed if they cross the street to visit another shop or business.

Who wants to get into a car to drive across the street–just to do business? Think about it.

If city officials really care about people’s concerns about parking downtown or other parts of Hartford, it would seek first to end its relationship with companies such as Whitey’s.



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Good News for Hartford Board of Education

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra recently announced his support to have a new leader at the helm of Hartford’s Board of Education on Feb. 18: Richard Wareing.

This is good news.

Wareing, an attorney and a mayoral appointee to the board since 2012, is seemingly passionate about putting the welfare of students first. Most importantly, he is able to rise above the malaise that sometimes grips Hartford when it comes to making substantive changes for the greater good.

Yeah. We know. Wareing is a lawyer and a Republican who champions “school choice.” And he’s been active in city politics for decades, having served on the Metropolitan District Commission since he was 19. But he has also demonstrated this much: he cares. He constantly champions parental input. And he stresses that parents should be well-informed about proposals in the district.

editorialbannerthumb When parents were upset about a proposed closing of Clark Elementary School and then a move to convert it into a magnet school, Wareing passionately and eloquently detailed the rational for turning Clark into a magnet school, unveiling previously withheld facts that later helped parents arrive at an informed decision about the proposed changes.

It was clear to some onlookers that he buried his ego and used common sense to assess what would truly be best for students. In this particular case, what was best for Clark was the money the state would funnel into the school. What Clark school needed was more resources to continue its progress. And under the Sheff  v. O’Neill school desegregation lawsuit agreement, converting it into a magnet/charter school would help direct resources to it. Clark is now among the Commissioner’s Network of Schools, which will allow it to get the necessary resources needed to make drastic improvements.

Another good news is that Rev. Dr. Shelley Best will join the Hartford Board of Education to ensure that students continue to rise above mediocrity and offend those who have low expectations of them. Best, a gifted orator and community leader, is the president and CEO of the Conference of Churches and is seemingly committed to servant leadership. Best would replace Cherita McIntye, another mayoral appointee who resigned in December.

The recent appointment, in addition to the recently elected board members with a history of civic engagement, has Hartford schools poised for great progress well into 2014. However, it’s odd that no West Indians have been appointed in the long history of the board of education,  given the large number of them in the city and its schools. We hope city administrators will rectify this egregious error soon.

In any case, there are good reasons to celebrate Hartford’s progress, which is to come for our long-neglected public schools.


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What Do Republicans and Democrats Look Like?

By Glenn Mollette

I’ve heard a lot of discussion about political profiles in recent days.

The Republicans supposedly are the corporate greedy CEOs and the Democrats supposedly are all those standing in the government entitlement lines. Not true.

My father was a Republican. For thirty years of his life he drove an older model truck

glen mollettAlmost two hours one-way to Holden, W.Va. where he worked in an underground coal mine. He worked eight to ten hours a day and then came home to farm two to three hours before crashing into bed. We worked a small garden, cared for ten to twenty cows, had some hogs, raised a large corn patch and you get the idea. My father was always exhausted during the workweek.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionMy mother was a Democrat. For several years she worked in the school system. She raised five children, washed clothes with a ringer washer in the early years and when there was not enough rainwater we carried water from the creek. She made breakfast and had supper on the table every evening and kept the house immaculately clean. She worked with my dad in the garden, milked cows, tended her flowers and like my dad was usually exhausted.

On Sundays they got dressed up and went to church. They sang in the church choir and often sang in a quartet in other churches.  Life was not always easy and as with many families there were those times when we wondered if we would make it.

Looking back I can say my father was a hard working Christian Republican. My mother was a hard working Christian Democrat. Together, they built a house, raised five kids, entertained family and friends and both lived to be 85. They were not wealthy in retirement but with a thirty-year miner’s pension, Social Security and a balanced lifestyle they did fine.

If only all Republicans and Democrats today could be as blessed. Imagine what our states and nation might accomplish if we worked together? These are tough times. We have to make some unpopular decisions in this country. People are hurting, stressed to the max and even in the streets hungry.

We cannot go on with the “Us against them” syndrome. If we do we are only going to lose more jobs, incur more national debt, lose more corporations to other countries, increase taxes and watch our communities drown in drugs, violence and poverty.

Abraham Lincoln was quoting the Bible when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Glenn Mollette is an American columnist read in all fifty states. Contact him at  Like his facebook page at He is the author of American Issues,  Hear him each Sunday night at 8 EST on XM Radio 131.

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Is the Room at the Top of Civil Rights Organizations for Men Only?

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson New America Media

In a petition circulated online, minces no words–“NAACP: Hire the First Woman President in the NAACP’s 104 year History.”

Seventy percent of the respondents agreed it is time that NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) elect the first permanent woman president in its history.

The petition and the clamor for a woman to lead the organization came almost within moments after current NAACP President Ben Jealous announced he was stepping down at the end of the year. This is hardly the first time there’s been a clamor and an even louder criticism of the dearth of female leaders at the top of the nation’s major civil rights organizations.

earl-hutchinsonTwo things have marked the litany of civil rights organizations past and present. One is that throughout the history of the best-known major civil rights groups–the Urban League, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and of course the NAACP–no woman has occupied the top spot any of them.

The sole exception was in 2009, when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which in its declining years finally elected the first woman head, Bernice King, Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter. But that breakthrough was short-lived when King the-hartford-guardian-Opinioncould not reach agreement with the SCLC’s male-dominated board regarding the terms of her presidency.

The second major earmark of civil rights organizations has been the number of prominent women who played pivotal roles in the fight for justice and equality. They are well-known: Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Gloria Richardson, Dorothy Cotton, Septima Clark, Dorothy Height, to name a few.
These women had to wage two fights. One was for civil rights and one was against the blatant sexism and male dominance among the rank and file and leadership in the civil rights organizations.

The men frequently denigrated and minimized women’s role and importance, or they pigeon holed them into so called women’s roles—typists, phone answerers, general gofers, and just plain flunkies for the men. In some cases, they sexually exploited and abused women.

The most blatant example of this was Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver’s frequent admonition that the only place for women in the movement was “prone.” This ignited a firestorm of criticism and condemnation from female Panther members and among women activists in various other civil rights organizations. Although Cleaver took much deserved heat for his insulting and outlandish digs at women, he reflected the quiet sentiment of far too many men that, aside from their views of women, their positions were some of the most advanced, forward thinking and progressive in their social concepts and activism.

The Achilles’ Heel of the civil rights organizations remained the quiet and destructive sexism within their ranks. This history burst into public in the run-up to the 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington this past August. A number of women took dead aim at the march’s 1963 organizers for what they considered the deliberate exclusion of women from a major role in the planning, organizing and deliverance of any of the keynote speeches at the historic event.

Those women didn’t stop with a nostalgic glancing, over-the-shoulder critique of the events 50 years ago. Instead, they openly wondered how much had really changed within the major civil rights organizations today.

Apart from the towering roles that women played in past civil rights battles as activists and organizers, radical women, such as Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis and Hamer showed by their courage and example that they could more than hold their own and even surpass most men, including men who were considered the movement leaders, in terms of vision, passion, energy and steel-like dedication to the fight for economic and social justice.

Yet despite the power of their leadership and example, they still had to struggle against marginalization by male leaders. In spite of their prominence and name recognition, they constantly bumped up against the intrinsic and galling reality that when it came to leadership and decision-making in organizations, the hard edge of traditional and ingrained male domination and female marginalization continued to be the order of the day.

While many applauded an Angela Davis and rallied to her defense, she was still seen by many men as a woman first, second and often last, and not as a black leader. Yet, just as in the past, there were powerful examples of women as activists and leaders in the civil rights movement, there are even more women today who are fully capable of being not only the visible face of a major civil rights organization, but one of its leading decision and policy makers as well.

NAACP has legions of women in local decision- and policy-making roles in their various chapters. Any one of them could step into the top presidential spot. There are also prominent women outside the organization that named, who could assume the president’s mantle.

Among them are Stefanie James Brown, former NAACP youth and college director; Aisha Moodie-Mills, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and counsel-director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Appointing any one of them to head the organization would signal that the NAACP has shattered the glass ceiling. It would send a powerful message that the organization regards the fight for gender equality and against sexism as being equally potent and compelling as the historic and continuing fight for racial justice and equality.

NAACP has a golden opportunity to open the door of its male-only room at the top to women. It’s an opportunity that it and no other civil rights organization purporting to call itself a champion of civil rights should blow.

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Hartford Board of Education and City Need Immigrant Representation

Four party-endorsed candidates are vying for four seats in the Hartford’s Board of Education election on Nov. 5. Voters could have had other choices had the political parties feverishly engage city residents, many of whom are immigrants and children of immigrants.

See voting ballots online here.

Hartford is set to hire a school superintendent, continue its controversial reform efforts and manage millions of grants and donations it attracted from the federal government, Bill Gates and “corporate reformers,” who are set to close schools in the North End of Hartford. Moreover, the Hartford Public School district, like other districts across the nation, is implementing common core state standards, new teacher evaluation methods and curriculum for 21st century students.

Therefore, all eyes should be on the 2013 reshuffling, even if there are only four party-endorsed candidates. The Democratic Party candidates include Michael Brescia, 79,  a former Buckley High School teacher; Beth Parker, 35, a research scientist at Hartford Hospital and a faculty member in health sciences at the University of Hartford; Craig Stallings, 40,  a self-employed tax specialist. Working Families Party incumbent Robert Cotto Jr., 32, is a senior fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children.  There are no Republican candidates.

Joe Gonzalez, a 39-year-old warehouse manager and a Democrat, is a write-in candidate. Originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, Gonzalez said he wants to represent the Hispanic immigrant. Though not an immigrant, Gonzalez’s desire to represent immigrants highlights a larger issue. In a city of immigrants, very few immigrants find their way into the Hartford’s political arena, much less the inner circles.

The Hartford Guardian is not seeing enough evidence that Hartford is integrating its immigrant population.

editorialbannerthumbWith nativism on the rise, new arrivals to the city are experiencing a higher rate of discrimination and exclusion. This is unfortunate because in other cities, such as Philadelphia and Baltimore, the immigrant population has spurred economic growth and vitality. The same can be done for Hartford’s 124,893 residents if more effort is put into integrating these immigrants into all aspects of the city, including commissions, boards and the city council—fostering a sense of belonging. And it can start with the school board, seen by ambitious politicos as a sure and steady pathway to higher office.

Of the total population in 2011, more than 22 percent are foreign born. And 26 percent, or 31,474, of the entire population are school-age children below 18. More than half the school’s students are migrants, immigrants or children of immigrants, according to recent estimates by school officials. Moreover, Hartford school boasts a diverse student population from more than 24 countries and who speak more than 70 languages. In fact, about two thirds of the city’s population is from the Caribbean region. Understanding these sub-cultures in the city will be crucial to “turning around” schools. We don’t see meaningful reform happening any other way. And the record of slow and misguided growth in the school district confirms this.

The current board in no way represents the city’s population, especially the immigrant population—the most vulnerable residents in the city. Consequently, the board has failed to attend to the need of most immigrant families and their children who find it difficult to navigate the school system and who are wrongly treated as “foreigners who don’t vote.”   Board members seemingly don’t understand the nuances of navigating a new country with a different accent. Or think about it during meetings.

Additionally, the Hartford Democratic Town Committee, which is primarily responsible for recruiting possible candidates for elected office, does a poor job of engaging new Americans. Members do not advertise their meetings, or do outreach, in these communities. For example, the HDTC does not update their website,  another way of keeping information from the public’s purview.

In fact, when the HDTC held a recent meeting to select its slate, it failed to inform the immigrant papers, online news sources, or community organizations. Some critics say it was done deliberately to exclude these groups and to engineer a carefully handpicked board. As for the Hartford Republican Party, it seemingly wants nothing to do with immigrants at this time. The Working Families Party already has its candidate.

This circumscribed life for new Americans in Hartford is unacceptable. Most of these citizens are Democrats. They should not be excluded from any part of the democratic process, or only told to show up and vote.

City officials, including the town committees, can correct this decade-old problem by appointing first-generation immigrants and their children to the board so that they too have a voice in what kind of education their children receive. Instead of erecting barriers to an already messy and complicated democratic process, officials should ensure these residents feel a sense of belonging so the city can reap the benefits of an engaged and caring community.

Public relations strategies that “support immigrants” are not enough. Real support is having new Americans seated at the table.

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Letter: Tea Party Wasted America’s Time

Dear Editor:

Finally the nation and the world can take a breath of relief; the Senate and the House came up with a compromise for the President to sign off on.

As result of a Speaker caving in to the extreme members of his party, America and the world suffered physical and psychological damage. The nation and the world were put on hold because of inexperienced lawmakers’ attempts to demonize and defund the Affordable Care Act.

letterstohartfordguardianJohn Boehner, the Speaker of the House, should be fired for putting this nation through this type of stretch of uncertainty. It is my notion, many among the Tea Party members would probably fair better if they were on meds to help in their thought processes; they held the nation and the world financial reliance system hostage because of their bitterness against the Affordable Care Act.

They did not listen to the seniors in their party; and they went out on a limb that had to be pulled in. Consequently, the effort to defund Obamacare was in vain. It was a waste of time, and lot of people suffered. This will not be forgotten in the 2014 elections.

 –Alfred Waddell

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