City of Hartford Employees, Bankruptcy is Extortion!

June 23, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the June 22 – 29 edition of the Hartford News.

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio

Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! http://www.sometroradio.com/   Next show: July 4. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party
Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/

 

Community Party Radio Podcasts

Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/

 

Policy Watch

 

The Hartford Bankruptcy Hustle

 

House Majority Leader Matt Ritter talked about City of Hartford employees rejecting a concessions deal, during a May Hartford Courant podcast.
Ritter made it clear that bankruptcy is a possibility if municipal workers don’t agree to wage / benefits cuts. The public sector is the largest employer of Black people and women. I worked with Ritter since he was on the city council. The gulf between our policy positions has grown to the point where collaboration is no longer possible. We need a grassroots, independent political movement to fight back against the neoliberal attack on public sector workers. Ritter fully supports the Democrats’ neoliberal agenda. He must be held accountable.

Saqib Bhatti, director of the ReFund America Project, talked to The Real News Network producer Jaisal Noor about how the threat of bankruptcy is used to scare public sector workers into accepting austerity measures, when reforming a regressive tax system, especially corporate tax subsidies, could fund vital city services.
*****

Why Chicago Won’t Go Bankrupt and Detroit Didn’t Have To

 

JAISAL NOOR, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.

Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy, the largest of its kind in history, was not inevitable, and neither is Chicago’s, but the austerity haws don’t want you to know that. That’s according to a new piece by Saqib Bhatti in In These Times. He’s now joining us. He’s a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and director of the ReFund America project.  Thanks so much for joining us.

SAQIB BHATTI, DIRECTOR, REFUND AMERICA PROJECT: Thank you.
NOOR: So conventional wisdom dictates that Detroit had to go bankrupt because of its bloated public pensions. You have a different take on this, and the road that Detroit took to address its bankruptcy. And what the lessons are for the rest of the country, including cities like Chicago.
BHATTI: Right. No, there is this narrative out there that Detroit went bankrupt, the bankruptcy was inevitable because of the city’s pensions. And in fact, to emerge from bankruptcy the city did end up cutting pensions for its retirees.
But the thing that people don’t realize is that Detroit didn’t cut pensions to get out of bankruptcy. Detroit filed bankruptcy so they could cut pensions. The reality is that there was a broader political agenda, and cutting pensions was really high on that list. And bankruptcy was the means that they used to accomplish that goal. There was nothing about the Detroit bankruptcy that was inevitable. It was a political decision made by state officials in conjunction with the emergency manager of the city to really push the city into bankruptcy so they could get around constitutional, state constitutional prohibitions against slashing pensions.
NOOR: And in your story you mentioned how many other cities have been compared to the, what could be the next Detroit, including cities like Baltimore, but commentators say that state law would prevent that from happening. But that was also the case in Detroit. Is that correct?
BHATTI: Right. Detroit–I mean, Michigan state law now permits municipalities to file bankruptcy. Currently there is 26 states that do not allow it. So cities file bankruptcy under Chapter 9 of the U.S. bankruptcy code. But under Chapter 9 the filing actually has to be authorized by the state. And so currently there’s 26 states that do not authorize it. A thing that’s interesting, given people talk about the next Detroit, they seem to completely disregard that fact.
So one city that’s often mentioned as the next Detroit is Chicago. Well, in Chicago–in Illinois, Illinois does not allow municipalities to file bankruptcy. There is a bill before the legislature right now to try to change that, but that bill is not passing. It’s not, it’s basically dead on arrival.
The other thing that’s interesting is we’ve also seen people talk about states going bankrupt. And that’s another thing that’s just not possible. The bankruptcy code, federal law does not allow states to go bankrupt, period.
And so what we’re seeing in a lot of places is this talk of bankruptcy is basically part of a political agenda to really scare people into accepting draconian cuts and austerity agenda. And the idea is that if you sort of scare people enough and say, look what happened to Detroit. You don’t want that to happen to your city, you can force them to accept painful cuts. You can really move a radically regressive agenda just by scaring people, even though bankruptcy is typically not even on the table.
NOOR: And so talk about what the alternatives to this could be, because you know, one of the things you propose is raising taxes, but critics would say taxes are high enough, and if you raise taxes you’re just going to drive away businesses and you’re only going to further hurt the economy.
BHATTI: Right. And the issue is not raising any taxes. It’s raising progressive taxes, right. So one of the key things that we have right now in a lot of places is that cities rely on, for most of their funding, from property taxes. And property taxes can be done in a progressive way, but typically they’re not. And so it really is how do we actually figure out how to change that?
So in Illinois for instance, Illinois has the fifth most regressive tax system in the country. Two-thirds of corporations pay no income taxes at all. So we should be figuring out how we’re actually, flipping that on its head, and creating a fair tax system that allows us to properly fund services while also sort of meeting our obligations to work with retirees and everyone else. Because of course at the end of the day, funding workers who provide the services is part of funding the services.
And we saw this in Los Angeles, that after the financial crash the city’s budget took a steep hit and they laid off 5,000 workers. Well, those 5,000 workers provide a lot of services. And the thing that sort of happened since 2008 is that all sorts of service provision have gone down. And so we’re often, what the right and sort of Republicans, conservative Democrats often try to do is say that well, you had–if you raise taxes to, you’re doing that on the backs of people who are trying to get service–they’re trying to pit service recipients against service providers. And the correct solution is that we need proper funding for services, period. And proper funding for services means you got to fund the workers as well as the actual delivery of the service, and that’s how you actually [underplay] the good, healthy economy.
The other thing that’s important to note is when we talk about, you know, helping the economy, if you eliminate–if you sort of slash pensions down drastically, that actually has a huge negative impact on the economy. Some of the best jobs in cities, particularly in cities with, that are predominantly or majority minority, are often public sector jobs. And if you’re actually slashing pensions or going after the public sector, that’s going to have a huge impact on the broader economy of the city.
NOOR: And so how do we change this conversation? Because as you alluded to, this threat of bankruptcy is being used to go after public sector pensions in Baltimore. This financial shortfall has led to a similar move to what’s happening in Detroit. Thousands of people have had their water cut off, because they say the city–because you know, the city says they are owed millions of dollars in overdue water bills.
So how do we rephrase that conversation? How do we put the wealthy on the defensive, instead of always being on the offensive?
BHATTI: I mean, it’s important to really shine a light on who is paying their fair share and who is not. And looking at any crisis, it’s also important to look at who’s profiting off of it.
And you know, you mentioned the example of the Baltimore water and the Detroit water. Well, in both of those cases one of the big profiteers was actually Wall Street banks that had roped both the city of Detroit and the city of Baltimore into interest rate swap deals that completely backfired as a result of the economic crash. And they ended up costing both cities, Detroit and Baltimore, tens of millions each year.
And so in the case of Detroit, the Detroit water department had to pay more than half a billion dollars in penalties on these swaps in 2012. And as a result of that the water bills skyrocketed, because they had to take out a new bond to pay that off. And currently about 40 percent of the water bill goes towards paying off those swaps. And the thing that’s the kicker there is that there’s actually a very strong legal argument that those swaps were illegally done, and that if the city were to actually file a lawsuit to get that money back they could potentially recover that money, but that’s never been on the table. Instead there’s a big push to really just turn off people’s water, even if they’re only behind a couple of payments. They’ll turn off people’s water for $150, but they’re not trying to recover the half a billion that they paid to the banks. And we have a similar thing happening in Baltimore, where the interest rate swaps in Baltimore were actually directly linked–a lot of them were directly linked to the water and wastewater system. And they’ve actually really sucked a lot of money out of the budget.
And so I mean, that’s just one way that we can start shining a light on who’s not paying their fair share. But really the key thing is looking at these types of financial deals, looking at corporate tax subsidies, looking at who are the people who are lobbying to keep taxes down, particularly progressive taxes. Because the solution is not cutting. The fact is that we’ve had an anti-government–and an anti-government, anti-taxing environment for the last 35 years, since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. And we’ve actually cut services to the bone already. We can’t cut out any more without permanently crippling ourselves. We need to actually start finding ways to put more money on the table so we can properly fund the services that we all know that we need and deserve.
NOOR: Thank you so much for joining us.
BHATTI: Thank you.

 

Saqib Bhatti is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the Director of the ReFund America Project. He works on campaigns to rebalance the relationship between Wall Street and local communities by advancing solutions to fix inefficiencies in our municipal finance system that cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Bhatti was previously a fellow at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Prior to that, he spent several years working on Wall Street accountability at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where he developed strategic campaigns to hold banks accountable for their role in creating and profiteering off the economic crisis, with a particular focus on municipal finance and housing and foreclosure issues.
*****

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948 Listen to So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/ ; Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.
 

 

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Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio

June 18, 2017

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio returns Tuesday, June 20. Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. Black Fox Newz Editor in Chief BShip Grady will talk about corporate media bias. Our Political Roundup segment will feature an analysis of right-wing hypocrisy following the mass shooting in Virginia, that wounded Republican congressman Steve Scalise and three others.  The Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez on Me is in theaters; we’ll share a recorded phone conversation that provides a glimpse at Pac’s revolutionary community organizing plans.

8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific.   http://sometroradio.com/

 

Resources:

BFN WORLD Broadcast #7 // 2016 WRap Up (Video)

 

 

Black Fox Newz: Voice 4 the People

https://www.gofundme.com/blackfoxnewz

 

From Hartford to Kansas, Neoliberalism = Disaster

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/from-hartford-to-kansas-neoliberalism-disaster/

 

When Protesters Bear Arms Against Health-Care Reform

http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1917356,00.html

 

Tupac at Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

 

 

From Hartford to Kansas, Neoliberalism = Disaster

June 15, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the June 15 – 22 edition of the Hartford News.

 

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio

 

 

Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! http://www.sometroradio.com/  Next show: June 20. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party
Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/

Community Party Radio Podcasts

Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/

 

CITY OF HARTFORD & STATE OF CONNECTICUT EMPLOYEES,

Call and email Gov. Dan Malloy and your legislators. Request data on how many jobs were created by each company that receives tax subsidies from the State of CT. Also ask what their position is on 14 CT businesses stashing a combined $180 billion in offshore profits, as reported by the Hartford Business Journal in 2016 (see below). Request a WRITTEN RESPONSE. The full list of CT corporations receiving tax subsidies from the state is available through the New York Times interactive database. We are sharing page 1 of the list. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/01/us/government-incentives.html

 

Gov. Malloy’s office: Phone Number: (860) 566-4840 Toll-Free: (800) 406-1527 TDD: (860) 524-7397
Email:  http://portal.ct.gov/en/Office-of-the-Governor/Contact-Governor-Malloy/Share-your-Opinion-with-the-Governor

Visit the CT General Assembly website to identify and contact your state representative and senator. Call and email them. BE POLITE.

https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

 

 

Policy Watch

 

Austerity: Recipe for Failure

 

Last week I watched the Senate debate on the Connecticut Republicans’ state budget proposal, which includes provisions that would strip state employees of our collective bargaining rights. It’s not fun being a state worker right now. Gov. Dan Malloy and the Democrats are coming after us with an ax, while Senator Len Fasano and the Republicans want to toss us into a thresher. Neither party (both swimming in corporate donations) wants to address corporate welfare and other business tax breaks, which cost this state $7 billion in revenue every year. CT companies stash $180 billion in offshore accounts, according to an article from the Hartford Business Journal. http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/article/20160304/NEWS01/160309951/cts-largest-corporations-hold-billions-in-offshore-profits.

 

Luke Bronin, a carpetbagger from Greenwich whose 2015 mayoral campaign was bankrolled mostly by donors outside of Hartford, has taken preliminary steps toward the city filing for bankruptcy. Bronin has had conversations with law firms that specialize in bankruptcy proceedings. While Bronin wears a long face and pretends that he doesn’t want to go this route, the reality is that bankruptcy would be the express lane to Bronin’s ultimate goal: busting the municipal unions. In 2016 Bronin introduced legislation to strip city workers of their collective bargaining rights. http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-financial-legislation-0317-20160316-story.html The public sector is the largest employer of Black people and women. The bipartisan neoliberal attack on state workers and City of Hartford employees will only fuel racial wage and wealth disparities. Black people earn 60 cents for every dollar whites make, and possess 12 cents of net wealth for every dollar whites have. Houses are the primary wealth asset for Black people; you’ll see the significance of that statistic shortly.

 

Black Agenda Report commentator Abayomi Azikiwe reported in 2013 on Detroit residents fighting to stop the catastrophic effects of bankruptcy on their city. Unfortunately these brave citizens were unable to stop the city from filing for bankruptcy.

 

*****

‘“I suspect there is a small group of racist rich men and banks who have been pulling the puppet strings of Detroit for a very long time.'” Contradicting what the corporate media editorial boards have promoted in chorus with the multi-millionaire Governor Rick Snyder and his appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr, 110 people filed objections to the forced bankruptcy of the City of Detroit. The hearing took place on September 19 and was widely covered in the local, national and international press.
This extraordinary hearing had provided only a small window of time for legal action. Many of the people that testified were retirees, city workers, community organizers and professionals who met the deadline set by Judge Steven Rhodes to submit their objections.
Outside the federal courthouse on Lafayette Blvd. downtown, members of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition carried a banner which read “Cancel the Debt: Jobs, Pensions, City Services, the Banks Owe Us!” Later a group of active firefighters gathered to demonstrate their displeasure with the state of affairs facing the people of this majority African American municipality.
Testimony Illustrates Broad Opposition to Bankers’ Rule
Michael Shane, a resident of the northwest side of Detroit, told the bankruptcy court how the impact of predatory lending carried out by the banks had contributed to the economic crisis of the city. He described the practices of the banks as illegal and racist in its overall character.
“The financial crisis in Detroit was triggered by the housing crisis where an estimated 100,000 home foreclosures occurred and almost a quarter million people left the city. The banks issued predatory loans, targeting Detroit and other communities of color in a racist and illegal manner,” Shane noted.
Shane then emphasized that “The banks have already been fined tens of billions of dollars.  And former bank employees are testifying under oath, confirming the illegal and racist practices of the banks. Some of this testimony includes racially offensive language that cannot be repeated in polite company.  These banks include many of the same banks who hold Detroit’s debt.”
“Property and income taxes dropped precipitously during this crisis, causing huge losses to the City of Detroit.  And to make matters even worse, the banks refuse to pay property taxes on homes seized after foreclosure,” Shane told Judge Rhodes.
Another objector to the bankruptcy filing was Cynthia Blair, the widow of a Detroit police officer. Blair has been active in attempts to mobilize retirees and their families against the program of cuts and austerity being imposed by Orr and Snyder.
Blair said “The bankruptcy could take me and my daughter’s pension away. And we would be thrown directly to the welfare rolls.”
“The banks issued predatory loans, targeting Detroit and other communities of color in a racist and illegal manner.”
According to the figures released by the emergency manager, Detroit has over $22 billion in long term debt. These purported debts are to the banks, bondholders and insurers who have played the most significant role in the decline of the city.
Orr is attempting to cut a deal with the banks and bond insurers where they will be paid 80 percent of what they say is owed to them by Detroit while pensioners and workers are being chained with massive obligations that derive directly from financial practices dictated by Wall Street and the corporations, many of whom are based in the metropolitan area.
The automobile firms of General Motors and Chrysler were bailed out in 2009 by the federal government. Nonetheless, the pre-packaged bankruptcy and restructuring resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and small businesses such as car dealerships which employed skilled and often unionized workers.
People in Detroit are saying that the municipality is not a private corporation and that people have a vested interest in maintaining their jobs, salaries, healthcare benefits, pensions and city assets. Many more people are agreeing with the slogans and program advanced by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition calling for the cancellation of the bank debt and the holding of the financial institutions and corporations accountable for the damage they have done to the city.

*****

Connecticut Republicans have launched an offensive to take the Governor’s Mansion and control of the General Assembly in 2018. The sad truth is that the right-wing of the duopoly is pushing fiscal policies based on tax cuts, that are a blueprint for even greater disaster. In Kansas, GOP Gov. Sam Brownback implemented a plan developed by economists Stephen Moore (Heritage Foundation) and Arthur Laffer, who are also involved with President Donald Trump’s war budget. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities columnist Michael Mazerov reported on the Moore / Laffer plan.

“Moore and Laffer were principal architects of the tax cut plan that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback recommended and the legislature enacted in revised form in May 2012.  Moore described his and Laffer’s role in developing the plan, its key features as enacted, and its objective this way:
A few years ago, Arthur Laffer and I advised Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) on an aggressive tax rate reduction plan to help revive an underperforming Kansas economy.  The end result was a reduction in income tax rates (the top rate fell to 4.5 percent from 6 percent, with further reductions planned for future years) and a feature that reduces taxes on passthrough income earned by small businesses to zero.  Our goal, and one shared by Brownback, is to make Kansas the 10th state without an income tax.[7]
The Kansas tax cut package has had a deleterious impact on the state’s financial stability and the provision of critical services.  For example:
Personal income tax revenues in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 (fiscal year 2016) were almost $700 million lower than those received in fiscal year 2013,[12]when the tax cut first took effect, even though the economy nationally is stronger in 2016 than it was in 2013.  Receipts dropped immediately by slightly more than $700 million (24 percent), and the meager economic growth that occurred in Kansas from 2014 to 2016 boosted collections by only $30 million, or less than 2 percent.[13]
Total General Fund revenues in 2016 were $570 million below 2013 levels, despite significant sales and cigarette tax increases enacted to partially offset the income tax losses.[14]  The General Fund’s ending balance fell from $709 million in 2013 to $40 million in 2016 (just 0.7 percent of General Fund spending).[15]  That’s important because Kansas’ General Fund balance is its “rainy day fund.”[16]  Should a recession hit and tax revenues shrink as household incomes and retail sales fall, the state will need to cut programs or enact tax increases almost immediately because it will have very little savings to tap.
The General Fund’s depletion occurred even though the state transferred to the Fund substantial tax revenues that were collected to finance road maintenance and construction.[17]  The resulting reduction in infrastructure funding has forced the state to postpone numerous highway projects indefinitely.[18]

Because the tax cuts leave less state revenue with which to repay people who lend the state money by buying its bonds, Kansas’ bond rating has been downgraded twice — in 2014, and most recently on July 26, 2016.[19]  Lower bond ratings mean that the state will likely have to pay a higher interest rate on future borrowings, raising the cost of infrastructure projects such as school construction and road building.”

CBPP columnist Nicholas Johnson reported on the bipartisan effort by Kansas lawmakers to undo the damage of the Brownback economic plan. The Connecticut General Assembly would be wise to follow the course being taken in Kansas. “The Kansas legislature wisely voted to start rebuilding the state’s lagging economy by eliminating unwarranted tax breaks and raising much-needed new revenue to invest in schools and other vital services that will help the state and its people now and in the future. A bipartisan supermajority of both houses recognized the damage that Governor Brownback’s tax cuts have caused and came together to choose a different path. This vote represents a striking repudiation of far-right wing economic orthodoxy and, as such, will influence fiscal debates far beyond the state’s borders. Kansas is now choosing a constructive and forward-looking approach to its finances, and other states will be taking notice.”

 

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948 Listen to So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

Connecticut Budget Crisis: State Employees Get Blamed, Corporations Get Paid

June 9, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the June 8 – 15 edition of the Hartford News.

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio

Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! http://www.sometroradio.com/  Next show: June 20. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party

Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/

 

 

 

 

Community Party Radio Podcasts 

 

 

Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/

Policy Watch

The Corporate State

“The bad news is that as (Connecticut’s) budget deficit grows, the response from Hartford has been to put more obligations on struggling cities rather than on the financial sector. Connecticut’s metropolises are already impoverished and dangerous, starved by decades of suburban separatism and victims of the state’s highly segregated school system. Hartford is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. But the state’s public spending has lagged behind the national average.

Decades of corporate poaching made Connecticut rich but never resuscitated the places it needs to compete. Now, in a time of budget stress and ongoing population loss, Republicans are pushing for the state to recover its status as a New England tax haven. The truth is that it still is one. Its top marginal income tax rates are lower than those in New Jersey and New York. According to accounting firm Ernst & Young, Connecticut’s total effective business tax rate is the lowest in the country.” ~ Slate Magazine columnist Henry Grabar “Trouble in America’s Country Club”  http://www.slate.com/articles/business/metropolis/2017/06/something_is_wrong_with_connecticut.html

The state budget deficit is $5 billion over the next two fiscal years. While the public sector (largest employer of Black people and women) is used as a scapegoat by the two corporate controlled political parties and corporate owned media outlets, billions of dollars in corporate welfare, tax breaks and tax dodging go unreported. 

From Connecticut Voices for Children…

April 2017

The Cost of Business Tax Breaks in Connecticut

Derek Thomas, M.P.A.

In a new report, Connecticut Voices for Children estimates the costs of business tax breaks in fiscal year (FY) 2017 to be $707 million. The report highlights that, unlike strategic investments, such as education and health care, the full cost of business tax breaks is unknown, and their effectiveness is not analyzed according to nationally-recognized best practices.   http://www.ctvoices.org/TaxBreaks

CITY OF HARTFORD & STATE OF CONNECTICUT EMPLOYEES,

Call and email Gov. Dan Malloy and your legislators. Request data on how many jobs were created by each company that receives tax subsidies from the State of CT. Also ask what their position is on 14 CT businesses stashing a combined $180 billion in offshore profits, as reported by the Hartford Business Journal in 2016 (see below). Request a WRITTEN RESPONSE. The full list of CT corporations receiving tax subsidies from the state is available through the New York Times interactive database. We are sharing page 1 of the list. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/01/us/government-incentives.html

Gov. Malloy’s office: Phone Number: (860) 566-4840 Toll-Free: (800) 406-1527 TDD: (860) 524-7397

Email:  http://portal.ct.gov/en/Office-of-the-Governor/Contact-Governor-Malloy/Share-your-Opinion-with-the-Governor

Visit the CT General Assembly website to identify and contact your state representative and senator. Call and email them. BE POLITE.

https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

.

Connecticut

Connecticut spends at least $860 million per year on incentive programs, according to the most recent data available. That is roughly:

  • $241per capita
  • per dollar of state budget

 

  • GRANTS TO COMPANIES (293)
  • STATE PROGRAMS (37)

 

Amount Company No. of grants Types Town, city or county Years
$100 million Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)Urban and Industrial Site Reinvestment Tax Credit 1 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction Greenwich 2007
$71 million CIGNA Corporation 1 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction Bloomfield 2011
$66 million UBS Financial ServicesManufacturing Assistance Act 2 Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee 2001-2011
$51 million Alexion Pharmaceuticals 1 Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee 2012
$43.9 million DisneyDigital Media and Film Tax Credit 4 Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee,
Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction
Bristol 2011
$40 million DiageoUrban and Industrial Site Reinvestment Tax Credit 1 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction Norwalk 2004
$29.3 million Comcast CorporationUrban and Industrial Site Reinvestment Tax Credit,
Manufacturing Assistance Act,
Digital Media and Film Tax Credit
9 Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee,
Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction
Stamford 2009-2011
$29 million Blue Sky StudiosUrban and Industrial Site Reinvestment Tax Credit,
Manufacturing Assistance Act
3 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction,
Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee
Greenwich 2008-2011
$28.5 million Berkshire Hathaway (General Re Corp.)Urban and Industrial Site Reinvestment Tax Credit,
Manufacturing Assistance Act
2 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction,
Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee
Stamford 2010
$27.5 million DOLLAR TIME INC. 1 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction 2012
$24 million High-Tech Lumber, Inc. 1 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction New Haven 2010
$24 million CareCentrix 1 Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee 2012
$20 million Lowe ConstructionUrban and Industrial Site Reinvestment Tax Credit 1 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction Plainfield 2005
$16.5 million World Wrestling EntertainmentDigital Media and Film Tax Credit 15 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction 2010-2011
$15 million General Dynamics 1 New London 2010
$13.5 million Engineered Electric Company d/b/a DRS FermontUrban and Industrial Site Reinvestment Tax Credit,
Manufacturing Assistance Act
2 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction,
Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee
Bridgeport 2010
$12.6 million Prudential FinancialUrban and Industrial Site Reinvestment Tax Credit,
Manufacturing Assistance Act
2 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction,
Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee
Hartford 2009
$12.5 million Righteous Kill Productions, Inc.Digital Media and Film Tax Credit 1 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction 2009
$11 million Old Dogs Productions, Inc.Digital Media and Film Tax Credit 1 Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction 2009
$9.9 million Electric Boat CorporationManufacturing Assistance Act 1 Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee Groton 2008

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Sources: State agencies, government reports, Investment Consulting Associates’ ICAincentives.comGood Jobs First’s Subsidy Tracker Database, company financial filings, Equilar.
State budget figures from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the National Association of State Budget Officers. Learn about the database methodology.

 

By LOUISE STORY, TIFF FEHR and DEREK WATKINS

CT’s largest corporations hold billions in offshore profits

GREG BORDONARO

Fourteen of Connecticut’s largest corporations had a combined $180 billion in offshore profits on their books in 2015, down nearly 5 percent from a year earlier, according to a new report from public policy research group Citizens for Tax Justice.

Fairfield-based General Electric, which is moving its corporate headquarters to Boston, had the most offshore profits in 2015, totaling $104 billion, followed by Farmington-based United Technologies, with $29 billion in offshore profits.

Nationwide, the United States’ 303 largest corporations held $2.4 trillion in offshore profits—$200 billion more than in 2014—that could be costing the U.S. as much as $695 billion in federal taxes, the report said.

The report said many of the biggest corporations appear to be increasing their offshore cash significantly. Seventy-nine of the companies surveyed in this report increased their declared offshore cash by at least $500 million each in the last year alone. And just 12 corporations each moved at least $5 billion offshore in 2015. These include companies in the tech sector, such as Alphabet (formerly known as Google), Apple, and Microsoft, as well as pharmaceutical companies (Gilead Sciences and Pfizer).

The report’s authors examined Fortune 500 companies’ 2015 financial filings and found that 303 corporations claim to hold at least some profits offshore. If corporations repatriated these profits to the United States, Citizens for Tax Justice estimates the companies could collectively owe as much as $695 billion in federal taxes.

Other Connecticut companies holding offshore profits are shown in the table below.

Unrepatriated Foreign Profits of Major CT Corporations
Unrepatriated Income ($millions)
Company 2015 2014 2013
General Electric $ 104,000 $ 119,000 $ 110,000
United Technologies $ 29,000 $ 28,000 $ 25,000
Praxair $ 11,000 $ 10,400 $ 9,300
Priceline.com $ 9,900 $ 7,300 $ 4,900
Xerox $ 9,000 $ 8,500 $ 8,000
Stanley Black & Decker $ 4,391 $ 4,773 $ 4,439
Amphenol $ 3,699 $ 3,300 $ 2,600
Starwood Hotels & Resorts $ 3,600 $ 3,500 $ 3,300
Cigna $ 2,200 $ 1,800 $ 1,100
Harman International Industries $ 895 $ 717 $ 629
Pitney Bowes $ 860 $ 830 $ 700
Terex $ 855 $ 800 $ 825
United Rentals Inc. $ 651 $ 595 $ 465
W.R. Berkley $ 79 $ 58 $ 103
Totals $ 180,130 $ 189,573 $ 171,361
Source: Citizens for Tax Justice

Resources   

It’s the Corporate State, Stupid

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article7260.htm

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948 Listen to So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio Tuesday, June 6

June 5, 2017

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio returns Tuesday, June 6. Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. Our Policy Watch report on the Connecticut budget crisis will feature an analysis of the impact of corporate welfare.  We’ll also talk about the ACLU sabotaging police reform, and the Seattle Seahawks’ decision not to sign Colin Kapernick. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific  http://www.sometroradio.com/

Resources

The Cost of Business Tax Breaks in Connecticut

http://www.ctvoices.org/TaxBreaks

Explore Government Subsidies – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com

 

Joe Visconti: Face of the Duopoly / Chokwe Antar Lumumba Leads an Uprising in the South

June 2, 2017
by David Samuels
 
This column appears in the June 1 – 8 edition of the Hartford News.
 
 
 
 
Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
 
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! http://www.sometroradio.com/  Next show: June 6. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party
Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/
 Community Party Radio Podcasts 
Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/
PROGRAM ALERT: The podcast of our May 30 show includes an analysis of the tentative concessions agreement between Gov. Dan Malloy and state employee unions.
 
Community Update
 
Joe Visconti & the Marketing of Candidates
 
Last week Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Visconti was on Facebook, running his big mouth about state employees (I’m a state worker) . My brief exchange with Visconti confirmed what I always thought: Visconti is a corporatist blowhard, who can’t hang in a fact based conversation about policy. Visconti ducked my point about Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton turning a $6 billion budget deficit into a $1 billion surplus, by increasing the tax rate on individuals earning $150,000 and couples earning $250,000 when filing jointly. He also wouldn’t address my point about CT companies stashing $40 billion in offshore accounts. Like liberals, Visconti suffers from selective outrage. If you visit Visconti’s campaign website, you will see Donald Trump worship, vague assurances about how Visconti and the Republicans will save the state, plenty of Democrat bashing and a fully functioning donation button. What you won’t find is a policy plan, with specific details. Visconti bailed out of our conversation after I corrected his assumption that I was a Democrat, and told him that the Dems and Republicans are the common denominator in this country’s problems. 
Visconti is the face of the political duopoly, asking voters to continue the insane practice of bouncing back and forth between the two major parties, punishing the incumbent party by running to the other when they’re inevitably dissatisfied with the results. Would you use that strategy if you were having a health crisis, and two doctors couldn’t fix the problem? No, you would find another doctor. Quickly… Visconti, who is ripping off Trump’s maverick populist act, is no different from the average poitician: he markets himself like a product. Movies such as A Face in the Crowd starring Andy Griffith have commented on politicians selling themselves with slogans, while avoiding specifics regarding policy.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7igHBf7yHs
Visconti, like Gov. Dan Malloy and the other neoliberal Democrats that he ridicules, have zero interest in serving the people. Their constituency is the rich and corporations.There are Democrats like Dayton, Rep. Josh Elliott and Jackson, Mississippi’s next mayor, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, whose policies do actually benefit poor and working class people, but they are a tiny minority. Perhaps that will start to change with the 2018 elections, but the Democrats at their core cannot be reformed. We need an independent, grassroots political movement. The Democrats and Republicans are swimming in corporate money. Their polices reflect this. https://www.opensecrets.org/   
 
 
Visconti is currently a fringe candidate because he lacks Trump’s charisma, but is still dangerous because he’s an extremist who emulates Trump’s exploitation of white fear, racism and Islamophobia. Trump’s tweet storm last Sunday did not include one word about Army veteran Sgt. Ricky Best, 53 and Reed College graduate Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, who lost their lives last Friday defending a Muslim girl and her friend from a racist attack by domestic terrorist Jeremy Christian, 35. A third man, 21-year-old Micah Fletcher, suffered minor injuries as he also tried to stop the attack. Trump’s hate speech against Muslims resulted in a spike in hate crimes and the number of hate groups in the U.S. since the 2016 presidential election.  https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2017/trump-effect
 
 
Face the State: Cadillac vs. Bentley
 
Last Sunday WFSB Face the State co-hosts Susan Raff and Dennis House, two unapologetic corporatists, interviewed insurance broker Jonathan Schulman about state employee concessions. Raff described benefits for the public sector (largest employer of Black people and women) as the “Cadillac plan”. If I have a Cadillac, corporate executives’ benefits are a Bentley dealership. Mother Jones reported on Wall Street executives at AIG Financial Products, Citigroup, Bank of America and other companies who reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, AFTER they crashed the economy in 2008 and received a taxpayer funded bailout.  http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/01/wall-street-bailout-executive-compensation The real issue is private sector workers getting jerked on their benefits, while their bosses sit on gold toilets. State employees have agreed to concessions twice since 2009.
 
Schulman supports Hartford filing for bankruptcy; in Detroit this move proved to be catastrophic for city employees, who were threatened with a 26% cut to their pensions, and a windfall for predatory banks. More details in coming weeks. https://www.blackagendareport.com/content/siege-detroit-war-black-urban-removal
 
 
 
Colin Kaepernick
 
The Seattle Seahawks are interested in signing free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been blackballed by the NFL for his national anthem protest. The fact that teams have welcomed players with criminal histories, while shunning Kaepernick speaks for itself. Kaepernick bashers have made the argument that Kaepernick’s 2016 statistics, which compare favorably with Carolina Panthers star QB Cam Newton, were racked up in garbage time playing for a bad team, but the fact that Kaepernick hasn’t at least been offered a job as a backup is ridiculous, and a clear indicator that Kapernick’s protest is the reason.  
 
Policy Watch
 
 
 
Black Nationalist Chokwe Antar Lumumba Leads a Political Revolution
“On November 9, people across the left woke up and wondered, ‘What do I do now? Under total Republican control, how does one fight for progressive change?’ Kali Akuno, the co-founder of Cooperation Jackson, a workers’ cooperative in Jackson, Mississippi, has been grappling with that question for years, and believes his organization provides a good model for progressives who still want to effect change under President Trump. When Donald Trump was elected, Akuno felt like he could tell the rest of the country: ‘Welcome to Mississippi.’ ”    Peter Moskowitz, The Nation
Gov. Dan Malloy and his fellow neoliberal Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly will only keep urban areas like Hartford’s North End poor, while they serve the ruling class. Malloy and the Democratic controlled legislature are right now carrying out their yearly attack on the public sector: 4200 state workers face layoffs, if they don’t ratify the tentative concessions agreement between Malloy and state employee unions. State workers have agreed to concessions twice since 2009. While Malloy and his party partner with the GOP to deprive communities of color of jobs and resources, ensuring that poverty and racial wage / wealth disparities continue to grow in Hartford (along with the murder rate), Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton is proving to be a tipping point. 46 million voters stayed home, because they rightfully saw no difference between the Democrats and Republicans, two wings of the same corporate controlled war party.
Chokwe Antar Lumumba is a Democrat in name only; his policy agenda is everything the Democrats hate. Lumumba is carrying on the work of his father Chokwe Lumumba (a self-described Fannie Lou Hamer Democrat), a Black nationalist who was elected mayor of Jackson in 2013, but died suddenly eight months into his first term. Like his father, Lumumba is partnering with Cooperation Jackson, and ran on a platform of participatory democracy and cooperative economics. Lumumba won the Jackson mayoral primary May 2, easily defeating neoliberal Democrat incumbent Tony Yarber. The June 6 general election is expected to be a formality, as Jackson is a heavily Democratic city. Read on for the Cooperation Jackson policy agenda, which appears on their website. http://www.cooperationjackson.org/ The Community Party will provide updates on the Lumumba administration, which will serve as a model for communities of color nationwide.
Below is a portion of the Cooperation Jackson economic policy plan. The full plan is available at their website. http://www.cooperationjackson.org/principles
                                                                                             *****
Cooperation Jackson has crafted its own definition, values and principles of cooperatives and democratic organizations by drawing on the definitions, values and principles of Mondragón and the International Cooperative Alliance that address our vision and context.
Definition
A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
Values
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
Principles
The cooperative principles are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.
Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all who agree with the cooperative principles who are able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
Democratic Member Control: The cooperative system is based upon the equality of member-workers or cooperators. Aside from limited and special circumstances all workers must be members. The cooperative is democratically controlled on the basis of one member, one vote; its governing structures are democratically controlled and are also responsible to the general assembly or other elected body.
Sovereignty of Labor: Labor is the essential transformative facto of society. The cooperatives renounce wage labor, give full power to the owner-workers to control the co-ops, give primacy to workers in distribution of surpluses, and work to extend the cooperative choice to all members of society.
Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.
Instrumental and Subordinated Character of Capital: Capital is basically accumulated labor and a necessary factor in business development and savings. The co-ops pay a just but limited return on capital saved or invested, a return that is not directly tied to the losses or surpluses of the co-ops. Their need for capital shall not impede the principle of open admission, but co-op members must make a substantial, affordable, and equal financial investment in the cooperative. At present, this membership contribution is equal to a year’s salary of the lowest-paid member.
Members’ Economic Participation: Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members based on the proportion of contributed labor or hours worked or the level of business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.
Self-Management: Cooperation involves both collective effort and individual responsibility. Cooperation “is the development of the individual not against others but with others.” Democratic control means participation in management and the ongoing development of the skills needed for self-management. There must be clear information available on the co-op’s operations, systematic training of owner-workers, internal promotion for management positions, and consultations and negotiations with all cooperators in organizational decisions that affect them.
Pay Solidarity: The co-ops will practice both internal and external pay solidarity. Internally, the total pay differential between the lowest and the highest paid member shall not exceed a factor of one to six.
                                                                                                   *****
 
 
Resources
 
Community Party urban policy paper:  https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/sandra-bland-police-reform-economic-justice-plan-4/
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948  Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.   

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio Tuesday, May 30

May 29, 2017

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio returns Tuesday. Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. Last week Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy and state employee unions reached a tentative agreement on wage / benefit concessions, as the state faces a $2.3 billion budget deficit. Guest contributor John Hollis, a retired state employee and former union steward, will join us for a Policy Watch analysis of the deal. We will also talk with John about Malloy’s neoliberal attack on the public sector, the largest employer of Black people and women.

Our Political Roundup segment will include an update on the fatal police shooting of Jayson Negron in Bridgeport. We will also discuss right-wing extremist Joe Visconti launching a campaign for governor in CT, President Donald Trump’s war budget and free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick being blackballed by National Football League teams, because of his national anthem protest. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific.  http://www.sometroradio.com/

Resources

Ring of Fire – Public Pensions Under Attack:

 

ACLU Sabotages Police Reform / State Budget Update / White Left Racism

May 25, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the May 25 – June 1 edition of the Hartford News.

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
 
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! http://www.sometroradio.com/  Next show: May 30. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party
Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/
 Community Party Radio Podcasts 
Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/
 
Community Update
 
 
Malloy Concessions Demands, Human Services Cuts
 
STATE EMPLOYEES
Below are Gov. Dan Malloy’s concession demands.
Union Concession Options
20% Premium Increase
Implement Tiered Deductible $1000 $1500 $2000
Increase Rx Copays
Increase SERS Contribution to 6%
Elimination of Overtime from Pension
10% Increase in Dental Premiums
Emergency Visit Copay Increase for Non-Emergencies ($30 to $300)
Increase Union Employee Contributions for Retiree Health from 3% to 5%
Wage Rate Differential
Elimination of Longevity
Elimination State Funding for Union Work
Salary Reduction
Seven Furlough Days
Accumulated Leave
Elimination of Meal Allowance
Retiree Pension COLA Change (Maximum of 2%)
Medicare Advantage Conversion
Total Potential SEBAC Savings
Fiscal Year 2018: $725.6 million Fiscal Year 2019 $721.6 million
From Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services website: “Additional adjustments to the Governor’s proposed DMHAS budget total $6.7 million and include reductions to Housing Supports and Services, Managed Services System, Legal Services, Connecticut Mental Health Center, General Assistance Managed Care, Young Adult Services, TBI Community Services, Jail Diversion, Discharge and Diversion Services, Home and Community Based Services and Employment Opportunities. These changes reflect annualizing the Deficit Mitigation Plan announced last week with the exception of the reduction to Legal Services.” See the full legislative update  here. http://www.ct.gov/dmhas/cwp/view.asp?a=2900&q=334844
State employees, contact Malloy and your legislators. Tell them we need the Minnesota tax the rich solution here. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/taxing-the-rich-raising-the-minimum-wage-fuels-budget-success-in-minnesota/ ;
Gov. Malloy’s office: Phone Number: (860) 566-4840      Toll-Free: (800) 406-1527 TDD: (860) 524-7397
Visit the CT General Assembly website to identify and contact your state representative and senator. Call and email them.

https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

 
Neoliberalism = Racism 
 
 
Gian-Carl Casa of the CT Non-Profit Alliance promoted private providers as an alternative to human services currently provided by the State of Connecticut, during his appearance last Sunday on WFSB’s Face the State. The public sector is the largest employer of Black people and women. Neoliberalism is about privatization and profit.
Pot Calling the Kettle White

Last week I listened to Connecticut Green Party member Mike DeRosa and Hartford Food Not Bombs member Dave Rozza discuss Donald Trump supporters, on DeRosa’s New Focus radio show.
DeRosa and Rozza talked about how Trump used white fear to divide and conquer, demonizing people of color and creating a lily white base of supporters. This was amusing to listen to, considering the fact that the CT Green Party and Food Not Bombs are both overwhelmingly white. Food Not Bombs members also ran the Hartford Independent Media Collective, which included a radio show and website.
I worked with HIMC; the straw for me was a column they wrote where they said that the Tea Party wasn’t racist. The hypocrisy of a group of white people deciding if another group of whites were racist was of course totally lost on them. After I dissed HIMC publicly and made it clear that I had severed my relationship with the group, Rozza called to inform me that they had decided not to work with me anymore. Pure comedy.
I repeatedly confronted Rozza and other group members about their whiteness; Rozza said they were “always discussing” how to attract Black members. Of course there was no discussion about how they could support Black led movements. A few years ago I accepted an offer to organize a Green Party chapter in Hartford’s North End, but quickly changed my mind when I saw the level of racism in the party. Perhaps new party leaders will address this problem.
At least Trump and his supporters are honest about about their racism.
ACLU Contains Communities of Color
ACLU-Connecticut is exploiting the police shooting death of Jayson Negron. David McGuire, the ACLU executive director, is a member of the so-called CT Racial Profiling Prohibition Project; Gov. Dan Malloy stacked the board with political puppets and cops. The board opposes real police reform legislation. The ACLU sold out Black youths in Chicago, who had submitted a strong police reform ordinance, and cut a deal with the city to pass their ordinance, which is much weaker.
I see that folks in the movement who are quick to huff and puff about the police aren’t willing to step to the ACLU, because they think this big national organization is helping them. My message is alright then, DON’T GET ANY DAMN JUSTICE! The ACLU is only interested in helping the ACLU. You’ll be posting R.I.P. buttons and videos of the police killing and brutalizing Black and Latinx victims on Facebook for the rest of your life. The ACLU is containing you, not helping you.
 
Black Agenda Report commentator Brendan McQuade analyzed ACLU-Illinois selling out Black youths in Chicago.
 
                                                                                       *****
“The ACLU of Illinois sold out grassroots movements, who had been working to curtail stop and frisk by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). In the summer of 2014, the CPD conducted a quarter million stops that did not lead to an arrest, four times the rate of New York City. Nearly three quarters of those stopped were black. In response to this systemic racial profiling, We Charge Genocide, a grassroots abolitionist organization, wrote the Stop, Transparency, Oversight and Protection (STOP) Act. This municipal ordinance would have required the CPD to collect and share comprehensive data on police stops.
The We Charge Genocide (WCG) name is an allusion to a 1951 report that Civil Rights Congress presented to the UN. The study cited lynching, police brutality, legal disenfranchisement, and systemic inequality as evidence that the US government was engaged in genocide against its black citizens. In September 2014, WCG presented its own report to the UN Committee Against Torture that detailed the Chicago police’s systemic harassment and abuse of minority communities, the failure of existing redressive mechanisms, and the resultant impunity of the Chicago police. For the past ten months, WCG has worked to educate and mobilize youth of color about the CPD’s racially discriminatory stop and frisk practices.
The ACLU used WCG and STOP Act as bargaining chip to advance a narrow policy goal.
While grassroots activists were mobilizing support for the ordinance among Chicago’s communities and alderman, the ACLU entered secret negotiations with the CPD and mayor’s office to broker an alternative agreement. On the very day that the STOP Act was to be filed by three aldermen, the ACLU announced the details of their agreement with city government. Instead of public disclosure, the ACLU-CPD “settlement” names an independent consultant, former US magistrate Arlander Keys, who will issue biannual reports on the CPD’s street stops and recommend policy changes. This is sharp contrast from the STOP ACT, which would have required quarterly public reporting of more comprehensive stop and frisk data: demographic information of those stopped, the badge numbers of officers involved, as well as the location, reason, and result of the stop
In effect, the ACLU used WCG and STOP Act as bargaining chip to advance a narrow policy goal. As the WCG’s public letter put it:
“What you have ‘won’ is fundamentally different from the STOP Act, both in its means and in its ends. Our goals are rooted in the experiences of those most directly impacted; yours are not. Our movement is rooted in a political analysis that recognizes the need to shift power away from police and into our communities; your policy ‘victory’ is not. Our motivation is rooted in a theory of change that prioritizes movement building and centering the leadership of those most affected; yours is not. Now, because of your self-serving interest in pushing simplistic policy changes, we and our allies face a much harder task pushing the critical package of reforms included in the STOP Act but ignored in your settlement. There is no such thing as an easy victory, and yours has come at a high cost.”
The ACLU agreement shifted the terrain of struggle. Their agreement is a half measure that allows the CPD and city government to show that they are doing something, while, at the same time, undercutting a more radical plan that would have subjected the CPD to more meaningful public accountability.
Their agreement is a half measure that allows the CPD and city government to show that they are doing something.
More importantly, the ACLU-CPD agreement denies WCG and the larger Black Lives Movement an important victory. In their letter, WCG acknowledged that the ACLU settlement represents just one of many efforts… to co-opt our movement by engaging with less threatening groups. Passage of the STOP Act would be public recognition of the real, grassroots power of young Black and Brown Chicagoans; instead the City wisely sought to settle into an ongoing relationship with a legal organization that poses no real threat to the status quo. In other words, the ACLU is not an ally. It works to pacify the Black Lives Matter movement by blunting its grievances and overtaking its solutions with half measures.
The ACLU did not become complicit in the pacification of the radical movements because they are part of some crude conspiracy. It’s more subtle. The ACLU is a foundation funded non-profit. It’s part of the web of elite institutions that exercise political power in the United States. By class background, socialization, and worldview, the ACLU’s lawyers and administers have more in common with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy than they have with WCG activists.
The overlapping interests of elites in the ACLU and city government highlight the importance of the idea of pacification. In the recent years, critical scholars have recuperated the term pacification from military jargon to highlight continuities between warfare and policing. Both are class projects to eliminate enemies and fabricate social order. The iron hand and the velvet glove work together. To pacify communists in Vietnam or terrorists in Iraq, you need to build a government that enough people can abide. The same dynamic is at work in Chicago, where the ACLU just helped the city government efforts to pacify an ongoing black insurgency.”
                                                                                     *****
From  Democracy Now: “In Texas, a leaked police body cam video from 2016 shows a white police officer in a Dallas suburb using his Taser to electrocute a handcuffed black man who was not resisting arrest. In the video, an unidentified sergeant with the Balch Springs Police Department draws his Taser and shocks 39-year-old Marco Stephenson, who collapses. The sergeant then jabs his Taser into Stephenson’s back and repeatedly electrocutes him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjvkzbiBUPI The punishment? The officer was ordered to take a conflict resolution class. This is the same department that initially supported officer Roy Oliver, who lied about Black teens backing up a car towards him when he fatally shot 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Body camera video showed that Oliver fired at the car as it was driving away. Oliver is now charged with murder.
*Because of developments with the Jayson Negron case and the state budget, we had to postpone our analysis of the Hartford bankruptcy issue. That report is coming as soon as time and space permits.
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948  Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.   

 

Police Shooting in Bridgeport / Minnesota Budget Solution /’Democrats Would Rather Lose Than Go Left’

May 17, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the May 18 – 25 edition of the Hartford News.

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
 
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! http://www.sometroradio.com/  Next show: May 30. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party
Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/
 Community Party Radio Podcasts 
Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/
 
Policy Watch
 
Jayson Negron
 
Monday night I spoke via email with attorney Michael Stratton. Stratton is representing Julian Fyffe, who was the passenger in the car Jayson Negron was driving when both were shot by Bridgeport police officer James Boulay. Stratton sent me a detailed summary of his interview with Julian. Here are points from the summary.
Neither Julian nor Jayson had a criminal record. Julian, who is 21, had been acting as a mentor for 15-year-old Jayson. They were driving to a recording studio to work on their rap CD when they were stopped by Bridgeport officers. Julian says neither he nor Jayson knew the car was stolen; Stratton says there is no evidence that it was stolen.
Julian said there was no chase, that Jayson was pulling into a Walgreens parking lot when Bridgeport officers converged on the car. Julian said that Jayson stopped the car, but Boulay reached into the car before Jayson could put the car in park. Jayson, who was confused, accidentlally put the car into reverse.
As the car slowly rolled backwards, making minimal contact with a parked car, Boulay shot Jayson in the chest, then shot Julian twice. The Bridgeport police have seized the Walgreens surveillance video. Stratton is calling for Bridgeport PD Chief AJ Perez to release the video, which Stratton believes supports Julian’s story.
My thoughts on the NAACP press conference last week in Bridgeport… I don’t claim to know what happened when Jayson was shot. I do know that the current state law, which merely moves the investigation of police involved shootings from the jurisdiction where the shooting occurred to another, is a shell game. The state’s attorney in any city works daily with the police. It’s a conflict of interest for them to investigate police use of force cases. These probes should be handled by elected, independent investigators in the community.
The toothless body cameras law doesn’t help. Police departments in Connecticut must voluntarily agree to their officers wearing cameras. Few have done so, saying they can’t afford it; Gov. Dan Malloy and the General Assembly haven’t put up any money. However Malloy is willing to throw $250 million at XL Center renovation. The late Ed Snider, founder of Comcast Spectacor, the company that manages the XL Center, was one of the top donors to the CT Democrats in 2013. Body camera video could have definitively told us what happened in Bridgeport.
During the press conference there was no mention of the poverty rate in Bridgeport, and how the neoliberal policies of Malloy and the CT Democrats deprive Bridgeport of jobs and resources. Poverty = violence. Black and Latinx teens need jobs and economic opportunity. Gun violence is a side effect of the underground economy, which thrives in low income communities of color. http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Report-Percent-of-Bridgeport-children-in-poverty-4071289.php
Malloy’s current budget slashes funding for human services, and reduces the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor.  The racist so-called War on Drugs is also an issue. Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper points to the drug war, and systemic racism in police departments as the key factors in police violence. None of this was mentioned during the press conference. It should have been. Cellphone video posted by a family member shows Jayson’s head change position after he was shot (camera turned away and returned after 4 seconds), indicating that he was still alive. No first aid was rendered.
I’m going to call a spade a spade… The press conference on Tuesday by the CT Democrats on the Jayson Negron police shooting was a publicity stunt, aimed at pacifying furious community residents in Bridgeport. The Democrats have resisted real police reform during the 2017 legislative session, and for years before that.
Don’t take my word for it – go through the 2017 archives of your favorite CT news source. See how many articles you find about comprehensive police reform legislation being pushed by the Democrats this year. Happy hunting.
Hearse chasing activists, who don’t give a damn about police reform or urban policy in general, are all over the Jayson Negron case. They know that they’re going to get plenty of TV camera time. You won’t see these frauds once the media storm passes.
Rep. Robyn Porter’s bill will change NOTHING. Tuesday’s press conference was about political expediency. It will take a holistic approach to address police violence in this country, something the CT Democrats have zero intention of doing. Don’t fall for this bs.
Minnesota is the Answer, Even If You Don’t Like It 
 
Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier appeared on Fox 61’s The Real Story to discuss the state budget, specifically Malloy’s plan to lay off 4200 state employees, if state employee unions don’t agree to concessions for the third time since 2009. The unions’ position is that the state should reform the state’s regressive tax structure, in order to raise much needed revenue (I’m a state worker).
The highlight of the interview: after Pelletier talked about how Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton turned a $6 billion budget deficit into a $1 billion surplus, by raising taxes on individuals earning $150,000 a year and couples earning $250,000 when filing jointly, co-host Jenn Bernstein’s follow up question was, “But can states tax their way to prosperity?” Um… Yeah, Jenn. They can. Pelletier just gave you an example. MINNESOTA. This is the level of corporate media dishonesty regarding tax inequity in Connecticut, where the working class and the poor pay more in taxes than wealthiest residents. The number of high income earners filing taxes in Minnesota increased following Dayton’s tax hike. The number of millionaires in CT has increased since 2006, when the total was 84,000. That number increased to 101,000 in 2015, despite small increases of the tax rates on millionaires since 2010.

State employees, contact Malloy and your legislators. Tell them we need the Minnesota tax the rich solution here.

 
Gov. Malloy’s office: Phone Number: (860) 566-4840      Toll-Free: (800) 406-1527 TDD: (860) 524-7397
 
Visit the CT General Assembly website to identify and contact your state representative and senator. Call and email them.

https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

Corporatism Caused Democrats’ Collapse
“The Democrats are locked in a fatal contradiction: they cannot serve the people and their rich paymasters, too. The people want higher wages, affordable education and the right to healthcare. Instead, the Democrats engage in wishful thinking that the same tired nostrums would work one more time. The Democrats only run for office so they can make deals on behalf of the corporate interests which feed them. Democrats would rather lose than go to the left…
They don’t fight to win back state legislatures because they don’t want to. They know very well how to energize the base and win back what they have lost but they cannot do that and keep their big money contributors happy. If they promised free college or student debt abolition or a $15 per hour minimum wage they would surely resurrect themselves. But all of those policy positions are diametrically opposed to what their fat cat benefactors will allow. Simply put, they will not bite the hands that feed them. That is why Hillary Clinton lost enough states to give Donald Trump an Electoral College victory.” ~ Black Agenda Report commentator Margaret Kimberley
*Next week’s column will feature analysis on how Hartford filing for bankruptcy would decimate the public sector, the largest employer of Black people and women, while being a windfall for predatory bankers.
 
 
                                                                                                   *****
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948  Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.   

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio

May 14, 2017

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio returns Tuesday, May 16. Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective.  Social worker Janet Frazao-Conaci and retired state employee John Hollis join us for a Policy Watch analysis of the Connecticut state budget crisis. While Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton turned a $6 billion budget deficit into a $1 billion surplus by taxing the rich, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy and the Democratic Party controlled General Assembly are protecting the wealthy and corporations with a regressive tax structure and tax loopholes, while soaking the working class with taxes, slashing funding for vital human services and attacking the public sector, the largest employer of Black people and women. The state budget deficit for the next two years is $5 billion. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific.  http://www.sometroradio.com/

Resources

Connecticut Voices for Children state budget proposal:

http://www.ctvoices.org/BetterApproach

Thom Hartmann commentary on Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget plan: