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AAA Racks Up Calls in 2014 Winter Storm

HARTFORD –  Although weather and road conditions are expected to improve Thursday, AAA expects its already heavy volume of emergency calls to increase with more drivers venturing out.

For those who take to the road, AAA  advises extra care to avoid adding to the more than 43,000 call it has received this winter.

On Wednesday, AAA’s Roadside Rescue Team received 572 calls for emergency road service by  late afternoon in Greater Hartford and eastern Connecticut. Many calls were for towing and to extricate vehicles who went off the road into the snow.

AAA Travel agents have also been busy assisting clients whose travel plans have been affected by the weather.

AAA offers the following tips to drivers who must venture out:

  • See and be seen. Clear any snow and ice from your vehicle and keep headlights on at all times.
  • Always wear your safety belt.
  • Avoid distractions. Don’t talk on your cell phone while driving.
  • Keep a safe distance. If you are driving in wet or snowy conditions, give yourself at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding, and use low gears to avoid losing traction. Gentle pressure on the accelerator when starting is the best way to retain traction and avoid skids.  If your wheels start to spin, let up on the accelerator until traction returns.
  • Avoid passing plows, unless necessary.
  • Use major routes that have been cleared and salted whenever possible.
  • Do not engage your vehicle’s cruise control. Using cruise control on slick roads can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • If you are involved in a crash, either stay in your vehicle, or get far away from traffic.

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Hartford Declares Snow Emergency Parking Ban, Malloy’s State of the State Address Postponed

Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Brace yourself.

About 12 inches of snow was predicted to arrive in Southern New England late Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service. But in the Greater Hartford area, up to 4 inches is expected—mostly after midnight.

Temperatures will be in the lows to mid 20s. Light and variable winds…becoming northeast around 5 mile per hour after midnight, according to the weather service.

The city of Hartford has announced a snow emergency parking ban for Hartford, beginning at 10 p.m. on Tuesday and ending at 10 p.m. on Feb. 5.

“This heaviest precipitation from the storm is projected to hit during the morning rush hour, and brings considerable potential for icy conditions,” said Mayor Pedro Segarra. “I’m encouraging all Hartford residents to stay home if at all possible tomorrow. Keeping the streets clear will increase safety for everyone and make it easier for DPW and emergency responders to do their jobs.”

Officials said all Hartford Public Schools and the administrative office will be closed. The Emergency Operating Center (EOC) will be open throughout the ban to monitor the storm, and the Hartford Fire Department will have increased staff on hand.

Also Gov. Dannel Malloy’s State of the State address, scheduled for Feb. 5,  has been postponed until Feb. 6 at noon. Malloy’s address was to signal the start of the legislative session for 2014. The state as partially activated the state emergency operation to “to better coordinate a rapid response to any problems that may arise during the height of the storm.”

“Given the forecast over the next couple of days, I’ve asked legislative leaders to postpone the start of session until February 6,” Malloy said.   “While I hope the storm is not as bad as the predictions suggest, I also don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way.  I want to thank the leaders for accommodating this request.”

Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn) agreed.

“Safety is first and foremost,” William said .  “It makes sense to exercise caution and move opening day to Thursday given the blizzard-like conditions being predicted for tomorrow.”





During a snow emergency parking ban, all on-street parking is prohibited throughout the City of Hartford. While the ban does not begin until 10pm today, City residents are encouraged to begin parking in snow emergency lots any time after 6pm. Any vehicles not removed from City streets by the start of the parking ban will be ticketed and towed. Residents without access to off-street parking should move their vehicles to one of the following authorized parking areas before the start of the parking ban:


  • 2 Holcomb Street Lot
  • Keney Park Entrance Lot—Ridgefield Street
  • KDA Center Lot—Naugatuck Street
  • Pope Park Center Lot—Park Terrace
  • Metzner Center Lot—Franklin Avenue
  • Colt Park Lot—Wawarme Avenue
  • Elizabeth Park Lots
  • Morgan Street Garage—155 Morgan Street
  • All Hartford Schools Parking Lots


Residents should remove their vehicles from these lots promptly following the end of the parking ban. All vehicles remaining in Hartford Schools lots past the end of the ban will be subject to ticketing and towing.


“Given the forecast over the next couple of days, I’ve asked legislative leaders to postpone the start of session until February 6,” said Governor Malloy.   “While I hope the storm is not as bad as the predictions suggest, I also don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way.  I want to thank the leaders for accommodating this request.”


“Safety is first and foremost,” said Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn).  “It makes sense to exercise caution and move opening day to Thursday given the blizzard-like conditions being predicted for tomorrow.”


“In consideration of the safety of everyone who will be participating and visiting, we have decided to delay the joint legislative session of the General Assembly by one day to Thursday, February 6,” said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden).  “This decision was based on the latest forecast for a serious winter storm Wednesday, and is the prudent thing to do for the safety of all concerned.”


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A Month After Signing Up for Health Care, Customers Are Still Waiting for Anthem Bill

Updated January 24, 2014 9:33 a.m.

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Thirty days after many people signed up for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield on health exchanges, they are still waiting for a bill.

Without the bill, they cannot get an account identification number, which is needed before payment can be made and be recorded with their account.

Anthem Spokesperson Sarah Yeager said that Anthem has hired more than 1,000 associates for its call centers to handle the crush of applicants who signed up during open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, the most significant health care reform since the advent of Medicaid and Medicare in 1965.

“It is important to keep in mind that his is an unprecedented time of change for everyone in health care,” Yeager said. “While we expect the high call volumes to continue through the open enrollment period, Anthem is committed to getting our members the assistance they need.”

However, the process is taking longer than expected for people who signed up on or by Dec. 23, the deadline for insurance to be effective on Jan.1, 2014.

Anthem Blue Cross Earlier this month, Anthem extended its deadline from Jan. 15 to January 31, 2014 for enrollees to make payment and paperwork to be processed so that insurance can be effective Jan. 1.

But that doesn’t make sense to at least one individual who on Jan. 23 has yet to get a bill. When she called the given customer number, an Anthem customer service representative said her information was “not in the system.”

After she inquired about that at the health exchange she signed up with, which took less than 30 minutes online, they told her the information was processed and sent over to Anthem on Dec. 23.

Yeager said Anthem is processing payments through the government exchange, Access HealthCT.

But there are other exchanges that have moved into the Connecticut insurance market: e-Health, a California-based insurance exchange company and Cross Exchange, which recently acquired the Stamford health insurance exchange: The Insurance Market.

It’s unclear whether Anthem is also processing applicants who signed up with other exchanges.

But customers can go to Anthem.com, Yeager said, to send an email: (help@anthem.com). Once they are on the site, they can look for “Attention Members” and click “contact us” then select send us your questions and comments.”

They can also call 1-888-556-9929, she said.

Anthem is reminding customers that it is “an extraordinary moment of opportunity for the uninsured and a transformational moment for the industry.” And they want customers to be patient.

Earlier on Thursday in a White House Call to the press, Deputy Senior Advisor David Simas was joined by representatives from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association to emphasize the dramatic and historic shift in the health care industry.

People with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease will no longer be discriminated against by health care companies or pay higher premiums, he said.

Nationwide, almost more than 2 million people have signed up for the ACA, also known as Obamacare. As of Jan. 15, 85,001 people signed up in Connecticut.

Most of the uninsured are people who don’t have access to group health insurance, including the unemployed, the under-employed and self-employed.

A single person who earn between $11,500 and $46,000 is eligible for a government subsidy.

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Naughty Santas Pledge To Be Oh So Nice

By Karen Butler, Contributor

HARTFORD — Santa Claus has never been known to loiter around town, wandering from tavern to tavern. After all, he’s everything good and has important work at hand. However, when a few dozen noisy lads don Saint Nick’s signature red coat and cap and then raise a glass or two or more, they’re bound to be deemed a lil’ bit naughty. Still, they say, it’s all in fun and for a very good cause.

On Saturday, Dec. 7, the Hartford Wanderers rugby team will dress up as the jolly, fat man, and belly up to the bar for the 8th annual Santa Charity Pub Tour. The event, which will be held in Hartford, benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter, and the fight against MS.

“Over the years we have had hundreds of Santas team up to help in the fight against multiple sclerosis,” said Kevin O’Connell, who organizes the annual holiday crawl. “We know our event is rather unconventional and, yes, perhaps even a bit rowdy at times, but at heart, we are a bunch of really nice guys for whom charity is a passion.”

O’Connell is a member of the Hartford Wanderers Rugby Club, which in addition to the Santa pub crawl also hosts a rugby tournament each summer to benefit MS. In 2006, the first Santa pub crawl took shape when members of the rugby team, clothed in Santa suits, caroled from tavern to tavern, spreading holiday cheer and goodwill. The event has grown in size every year since, with donations coming from the participating bars and the individual fundraising efforts of the Santa Claus collective.

“I have friends who are battling the effects of multiple sclerosis,” said O’Connell, who resides in West Hartford. “We have found a clever way to celebrate the season and an even more distinctive way to fundraise for a great cause.”

More than 6,000 Connecticut residents live with multiple sclerosis, a chronic and often disabling disease of the central nervous system. There currently is no cure. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted.

The crawl kicks off when the rogue Santas convene at the top of Pratt St. in Hartford. At the ringing of bells and with chants of “Ho! Ho! Ho!,” the Santas dash down Pratt street toward Trumbull street. Taverns and pubs include Vaughan’s Public House, McKinnon’s Irish Pub, Pig’s Eye Pub, City Steam and many more.

“The restaurants and pubs have been amazing to us,” said O’Connell, with a wink of an eye. “Each year they contribute generously to ensure a spot on Santa’s nice list.”

Funds raised through events, such as the Santa Charity Pub Tour, ensure ongoing scientific research to find a cause, new treatments and a cure for multiple sclerosis. The funds also provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter to those in Connecticut residents living with multiple sclerosis.

For more information on the Dec. 7 Santa Pub Crawl and a list of participating pubs and taverns, please contact Kevin O’Connell at 860-995-7206, by e-mail at hartfordsantas@yahoo.com or look for the 8th Annual Santa Pub Crawl on Facebook.

To learn more about multiple sclerosis and the many ways to create your own National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, Do It Yourself event, please visit www.ctfightsMS.org.


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Buthanese Community Hosts Literary Festival

HARTFORD — Bhutanese girls gathered for a photo after their a recent one-day literary symposium held at the Hartford Public Library in downtown. The event was sponsored by the Organization of Buthanese Communities in the America. There are about 66,000 Buthaneses living in the US.

Buthanese refugees are a group of people of Nepali origin. They were a part of refugee comps in eastern Nepal during the 1990s as Bhutanese citizens deported from Bhutan. With no repatriation agreement in discussion, Bhutanese refugees have settled in Europe, Oceania and the United States under the auspices of the United Nation.

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2013 Election Ballots Now Online

HARTFORD — Greater Hartford residents can now view town ballots online before they cast their votes in the upcoming municipal elections on Nov. 5.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today announced to Connecticut voters that ballots in every city and town holding elections Nov. 5, 2013 are available for viewing online.

Merrill is also urging the more than 2 million registered voters in Connecticut to familiarize themselves with the municipal election ballots by going online  and following the “Elections and Voting” link to see the ballot in their town.

Click here for Hartford ballot.

The direct link to the town ballots cab be accessed by clicking here. Voters who use the vote-by-phone system are also encouraged to contact their local Registrar of Voters if they are interested in using the preview and practice function of the system prior to Election Day.

Residents can search online to find out what offices and candidates are on the ballot.

In Hartford, there is the upcoming board of education election and  referendum questions. But residents can take the initiative and now search online to see who is running and to familiarize themselves with the ballot you will be using on Election Day, officials said.

On Election Day Nov. 5.,  polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. in the vast majority of Connecticut cities and towns.  Voters can also check their registration status online and find where their polling place is by visiting www.sots.ct.gov.

Voter registration deadlines are also approaching: eligible citizens who wish to register by mail must do so by Tuesday, Oct.  and the final deadline to register in-person for the municipal election is Oct. 29.

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Kevin Brookman Must Resign HDTC, Now!

Dear Editor:

On June 17, 2013, Kevin Brookman, a Hartford Democratic Town Committee member and spokesperson for the group, published an offensive, incendiary and hurtful blog post that is extremely disturbing to West Indians in the Greater Hartford community.

Read blog post here: Kevin Brookman, Resign Now

His blog, together with his acknowledgement, acceptance and agreement of the bigotry and horribly racist views of his followers, requires that he resign from his position as a Town Committee Member in the 7th district, which has the largest West Indian population in the city.

letterstohartfordguardianThat is why it is our belief that Mr. Brookman is not able to serve the constituents of the 7th district. He has exhibited a point of view so enshrined in racism and bias that he lacks the ability to represent our community.  While Mr. Brookman may not have penned the comment “This is what happens when you have monkeys running crazy in the jungle”, he did in fact approve the post and allow it to remain on his blog for two months.

His subsequent apology two months later “to anyone who may have been offended.” further reflects his inability to acknowledge that such a statement is clearly offensive. In fact, his “apology” suggests that he, in fact, is not deeply offended by the post and this demonstrates his inability to represent a community of color.

We are asking the Town Committee to take action IMMEDIATELY!


Constituents of Hartford 7th District 

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Hartford Commits $4 Million for Playgrounds

HARTFORD — Hartford’s children may soon have more playgrounds for recreational activities.

That’s because Hartford officials plan to partner with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation for the construction of three new youth athletic fields at Quirk West, Annie Fisher School and Columbus Park.

Mayor Pedro Segarra’s office announced on Thursday that the  city has committed almost $4 million in funding from the Capital Improvement Program for a combination of soccer, football and little league baseball turfs.  Construction is expected to begin in the fall and, weather permitting, completed by the end of the year.

“I’m incredibly excited about this project,” Segarra said. “Hartford kids should have access to state-of-the-art playing fields. I’ll be pushing to have them finished as soon as possible. I want to thank the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation for providing their expertise in design and construction. This will be an opportunity for a community that truly deserves it.”

Steve Salem, President of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation was also pleased with the partnership.

“We’re honored that the City of Hartford has allowed us to help them in a small way to bring these unique facilities to their community,” said Steve Salem, President of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. “These fields, in particular, will provide kids with a place where they can feel safe, confident, and grow and learn.  It’s not about giving kids a chance to play in the big leagues; it’s about giving kids a chance.”

The preliminary design for the Columbus field was completed on Aug. 2. The design for Quirk West will be presented at the Hartford School Building Committee on Aug. 19 and Annie Fisher on Sept. 5 at the Blue Hills NRZ meeting.


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Hartford Future Leaders Visit Congress

HARTFORD — Future leaders of Hartford and surrounding areas visited  Congressman John Larson (D-01) office in Washington, D.C. last week.

These 10 student leaders (featured picture) participate in an 8-week internship.  Five of the student leaders are from Hartford.  As part of the internship, they have an opportunity to spend a week in Washington DC with 230 other student leaders from across the country.

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State’s Bond Ratings Remain Relatively Stable

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Despite lingering economic and revenue uncertainty, Connecticut’s bond ratings have remained relatively the same, according to Office of Policy Management Secretary Ben Barnes.

Four bond agencies reaffirmed Connecticut’s outlook: Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Kroll gave the state its existing ratings of Aa3 (Moody’s) and AA (S&P, Kroll), all with stable outlooks. Fitch retained their AA rating but changed the outlook for the state’s general obligation debt to negative, downgrading its economic outlook because of the state’s high debt levels and pension obligations.

What does this mean? The state’s cost of borrowing has not changed. But the one negative outlook–not rating–has some concerned.

In report by the Associated Press, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2014, used the Fitch report to level criticism at Dannel Malloy, a Democrat.

‘‘The facts speak for themselves,’’ he said. ‘‘Connecticut’s bond ratings are worse than they were when Governor Malloy took office, they have not recovered, and they are heading in the wrong direction.’’

Fitch Ratings in New York said the decision to revise its outlook for Connecticut’s profile from ‘‘stable’’ to ‘‘negative’’ stems from ‘‘the state’s failure to return to more structurally sustainable budgeting and rebuild flexibility at a time of unusually slow economic and revenue recovery.’’

Barnes said Tuesday he was not worry about Fitch’s change in outlook.

‘‘Fitch’s concerns about our vulnerability to continued economic weakness are reasonable, but ultimately not so great as to change our high-quality rating,’’ Barnes said in a statement. ‘‘They have affirmed that our revenue forecasts are reasonable, that our budget is balanced, and that our bonds continue to be an extremely safe investment in line with our AA rating.’’

Officials credit the state’s economic strengths, such as high incomes, high levels of education, strong property values and high productivity, as factors in mitigating the long, sluggish recovery from the national recession.

Barnes also noted that the state’s ratings remain in line with neighboring states — the same or slightly below New York , Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and better than New Jersey.There are currently 14 states and the District of Columbia that have been assigned a negative outlook by one or more rating agencies. 

Barnes said that the state takes seriously changes in the outlook designation and views them as an opportunity to incorporate any guidance and criticisms in developing policy recommendations in the coming year.

Summary and Explanation of Rating Agency Actions

In connection with the upcoming sale of general obligation bonds

July 2013




All four rating agencies reaffirmed existing state ratings of general obligation bonds as follows:

  1. Fitch               AA
  2. Moody’s         Aa3
  3. S&P                 AA
  4. Kroll                AA




As part of the ratings process, agencies also assign an outlook.  Three of the four agencies reaffirmed their existing outlook for the state:

  1. Moody’s         Stable
  2. S&P                 Stable
  3. Kroll                Stable







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