Archive for December, 2013

Workplace Bullying Report: Structural Racism at Connecticut Valley Hospital

December 19, 2013
This column appears in the December 19 – January 2 edition of the Hartford News. Due to the holidays, the Hartford News will not be published next week… Community Update: Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden, who usually avoids the subject of race, actually talked about Black/Latino unemployment during the Fox CT Capitol Report program last Sunday; the topic was the one-year anniversary of the Newtown school shooting. Wooden was asked about possible solutions to gun violence in Hartford. Time will tell if this was merely lip service… I was disgusted by how Face the State host Dennis House treated Kennard Ray during Ray’s appearance on the show. Instead of examining Ban the Box and why it’s important, House grilled Ray about his already well documented legal history. House didn’t ask Ray about then Waterbury mayor Michael Jarjura hiring convicted felon John Rowland to be the city’s economic advisor in 2006, and how Ray feels about this double standard. Shameful… In an incredible display of hypocrisy, the Connecticut chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the Manchester Police Department’s conclusion that they don’t engage in racial profiling. The MPD released a report last week. http://www.courant.com/community/manchester/hc-manchester-racial-report-1213-20131212,0,5333497.story  ACLU legal director Sandra Staub is a member of the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project, a bastardization of the Community Party’s Penn Act advisory board provision that was passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2012. The advisory board colluded with lawmakers to repeal CP’s enforcement language this year. In my opinion, Staub isn’t interested in stopping racial profiling. She’s using the issue as a political football to advance her career.   https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-racial-profiling-obey-the-law/racism-report-penn-act-advisory-boardwest-end-civic-association-members-push-bac/569676799748837 We’ll keep an eye on this story. The advisory board has recently met a couple of times; we’ll comment on the meetings after we review the videos, which are available on the Connecticut Network website. Enter “racial profiling” in the search engine. http://www.ctn.state.ct.us/ondemand.asp  CP will introduce our Trayvon Martin Act in 2014.  https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-racial-profiling-obey-the-law/support-the-trayvon-martin-act/535126163203901

 
 
 
This week we’ll present data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request which we submit as proof that Connecticut Valley Hospital, like the Department of Children and Families, is engaging in structural racism. The data analysis was done by Adam Osmond. Adam found that CVH fires Black employees 42% more often than whites. Overall Blacks are terminated at a rate of 70%, compared to just 22% for whites. Blacks are subjected to disciplinary action at a rate of 10% more than other workers. 70% of the CVH employees who make $120,000 per year or more are white, only 3% are Black. CVH initially withheld the race of workers when they sent us the disciplinary records; we had to make a second request. Now it’s easy to see why. Emails that my co-worker John Hollis and I have obtained from CVH show that CVH managers are constantly monitoring my social media activity in an attempt to manufacture some type of complaint against me, either internally or through legal action. Our co-workers at CVH report that one of the managers who is spying on me was recently suspended for falsifying documents. After reading a couple of emails I was so disturbed by the level of hyperscrutiny, I immediately informed John and the president of our union local that I wanted to file a grievance. A CVH affirmative action “investigative report” described me as having a “preoccupation with race and racism.” The facility ruled that I was discriminating against a white co-worker who in my opinion received preferential treatment from CVH. This employee filed an affirmative action complaint in retaliation for me filing the same complaint against her. My complaint was denied. I’m currently going through more emails with the intention of filing additional grievances, based on whatever else I find. “Highlights” include a discussion about my 2012 column on CVH employees Rosa Badillo and Carlos Vargas, who complained about racism by their bosses. The email revealed that my column was forwarded to Rosa and Carlos’ bosses and that CVH attorneys had been consulted about a possible “response” to me (whatever that means). There was zero discussion about investigating Rosa and Carlos’ allegations. Another CVH manager said that “something must be done soon” about me because I filed a grievance, which is my right as a state employee. This is the same manager who called the CVH police on me in retaliation for one of my columns about workplace bullying at the facility.  
 
  
Yet another CVH manager talked about wanting to put me on the “hot seat” after I filed a grievance about my 2012 service rating. I consider this language, like the aforementioned comment by the other manager, to be threatening. The Office of Labor Relations recently sustained my grievance, changing my Fair rating to Good. Finally there was an exchange where CVH managers talked about targeting me for doing an interview with a radio station on the same day that I called in sick. Apparently they believe that calling in sick is the equivalent of house arrest. The emails show that the managers continued listening to the interview even though it was obvious to anyone that I was on the phone, and was not present at the radio station. The managers knew from monitoring my social media pages that the interview was going to be about the latest developments with the state racial profiling law; the manager who said “something must be done soon” about me quoted my post promoting the interview verbatim. My question to DMHAS commissioner Pat Rehmer is why were so many managers spying on me when they should have been working? John discovered a breach of his confidential health information in an email where he was being disparaged by (you guessed it) the CVH manager who wants “something done soon” about me. The breach was pointed out by another CVH manager who was clearly annoyed at having to respond to a work email at 6:30 in the evening. Cornell Lewis filed an FOI request and obtained emails from the Department of Children and Families which showed that DCF used similar tactics against him. Cornell was fired by DCF in retaliation for speaking out about structural racism at that facility, a claim which has been supported by hiring, promotion and disciplinary records he obtained from DCF through FOI requests. If you would like to file an FOI request to get information from your employer, you can get details here. http://www.ct.gov/foi/site/default.asp   Despite the results of CVH’s own workplace bullying survey (which they tried to suppress) that found 80% of employees view managers as bullies who perpetuate an abusive work climate, and the disciplinary data we have obtained which they also attempted to conceal, CVH management continues to deny, deny, deny. THIS IS MADNESS. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/connecticut-valley-hospital-workplace-bullying-survey-results/  CVH supervisors and managers portray John and I in emails as potentially violent, incompetent troublemakers, while workplace bullies among the rank and file who act as their agents receive preferential treatment, including swift promotions and glowing service ratings.  
 
Workplace bullying is the equivalent of domestic violence. The Department of Health and Human Services is quite clear on this issue. “(Workplace bullying) has many of the same characteristics of domestic violence – the abuser uses intimidation and manipulation to get what he or she wants.”  http://www.foh.hhs.gov/eapnews/consortium/dealing.html  CVH is the poster child for workplace bullying in this state. The Connecticut General Assembly must pass strong anti-bullying legislation in 2014. CP’s Safe Work Environment Act includes a provision which would establish an advisory board that will work every year to address abusive workplace conduct. Workplace bullying is a layered issue; one bill will not eliminate this problem. Currently the laws are totally rigged in favor of the employer. Workers are powerless. Legislators, the ball is in your court. Visit Cornell’s DCF Plantation blog. http://www.dcfplantation.blogspot.com/  MoveOn.org has started an online petition in support of Verizon employees who are being subjected to workplace bullying. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/bullying-at-verizon-enough.fb76?source=s.icn.fb&r_by=5851225  My message to CVH management is do your worst. CVH employees continue to provide John and I with information about discrimination and bullying by you. You’re also being watched closely. The content of your emails, coupled with the ongoing reports by our co-workers, support our belief that your “Achieving Excellence Together” campaign, which includes”Building Collegiality” training, is a smokescreen designed to defeat workplace bullying legislation. The information that we have obtained via FOIA is further proof that the concept of an employer policing itself is preposterous. We’re building a coalition to support the bill. We intend to educate the public and legislators about the cowardly, reprehensible management practice of manipulating policy and procedure for the purpose of targeting employees, especially Black males. Happy hunting. http://www.dcfplantation.blogspot.com/2013/08/black-men-are-still-meeting-same-fate.html
 
 
 
State Representative Matt Ritter will host a workplace bullying town hall on Monday, January 27, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at the Albany Branch library, 1250 Albany Avenue in Hartford. If you’re being bullied at work by co-workers and/or your employer, this is an opportunity to tell your story and be a part of a discussion about solutions. Check out the link to the Albany Branch website in our Resources section for directions. Stay tuned for info on the Safe Work Environment Act and the Trayvon Martin Act, coming in 2014. Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for public service announcements on CP’s racial justice initiatives. Visit CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1  You can contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com .
 
 
Resources
 
My 2012 Hartford News interview with Connecticut Valley Hospital employees Rosa Badillo and Carlos Vargas about racism by CVH managers against Latinos:
 
 
Albany Branch library website:
 
 
Adam Osmond’s CT Lottery Watchdog Twitter page:
 
 
 
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                                                           
  
                            
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

Connecticut Valley Hospital Workplace Bullying Survey Results

December 17, 2013

“Highlights” from the survey… 

“I have encountered bullying situations at work.”  70.6% of CVH workers “strongly agree”. 20.7 % “agree”.

“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH manager / supervisor.” 59.9%  “strongly agree”. 16.5% “agree”.

“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH manager / supervisor in my unit / program.” 54.0 % “strongly agree”. 16.2 % “agree”.

“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH co-worker.”  39.6% “strongly agree”. 20.2 % “agree”.

“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH co-worker in my unit / program.”  37.5 %  “strongly agree”. 20.8 % “agree”.

“I feel that bullying is an accepted part of the culture at CVH.” 54.1 % “strongly agree.” 25.7% “agree”.

“I reported bullying and there was a positive resolution of my concerns.” 61.6%  “strongly disagree”. 24.5% “disagree”.

“I fear retaliation for reporting bullying or other hostile behavior.”  66.6% “strongly agree”. 17.1 % “agree”.

 

 

CVH attempted to suppress the results of this survey. They did not release the numbers until CVH employee John Hollis, an AFSCME union steward, made a written request on behalf of CVH employees who expressed their desire to see the results. After we made the numbers public by sharing them in the Hartford News and on social media, CVH finally posted the results on their intranet. These numbers, coupled with data obtained from CVH and the Dept. of Children and Families through Freedom of Information Act requests which show racist patterns in hiring, employment, firings and wages, are proof of structural racism at state agencies. Despite this overwhelming proof, CVH and DCF management continue to deny that they are engaging in racist, bullying behavior. The Connecticut General Assembly must intervene and pass strong workplace bullying legislation which will begin the process of providing viable legal options to currently powerless workers. Visit Cornell Lewis’ DCF Plantation blog for data and commentary on structural racism at the Department of Children and Families. The data was obtained from DCF through FOIA requests. http://www.dcfplantation.blogspot.com/

David Samuels

Founder

Community Party

 

 

Rep. Matt Ritter’s Workplace Bullying Town Hall

December 14, 2013

State Representative Matt Ritter will host a workplace bullying town hall on Monday, January 27, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at the Albany Branch library, 1250 Albany Avenue in Hartford. If you’re being bullied at work by co-workers and/or your employer, this is an opportunity to tell your story and be a part of a discussion about solutions. Check out the Albany Branch website for directions.

Assemblyman Ritter’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages:

http://www.housedems.ct.gov/RitterM/

https://www.facebook.com/RepresentativeMattRitter

https://twitter.com/MattRitter308

Resources

Cornell Lewis’ DCF plantation blog on structural racism at the Department of Children and Families. Includes data and other records obtained from DCF through Freedom of Information Act requests:

http://www.dcfplantation.blogspot.com/

Stay tuned for information on the Community Party’s Safe Work Environment Act, coming in 2014:

https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1

https://www.facebook.com/CommunityPartyAction

Pick up the Hartford News for CP’s weekly column. This FREE city-wide newspaper is available at the Legislative Office Building coffee shop, City Hall and Arrow Pharmacy, CVS, Central Supermarket and Whitney Pizza in the West End, among other locations. You can also read the column online at CP founder David Samuels’ No Sellout blog. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/

Albany Branch library website:

http://www.hplct.org/locations-hours/albany

 

 

A Better Way Foundation and the Black Misleadership Class

December 13, 2013
This column appears in the December 12 – 19 edition of the Hartford News… Community Update: Supporters of Kennard Ray attended a City Council meeting on Monday and demanded that Ray be given back his job as Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra’s Deputy Chief of Staff. Segarra announced that Ray had been hired a couple of weeks ago but Ray withdrew his application as a result of sensationalized corporate media reports about his legal history. The city’s Ban the Box ordinance is supposed to protect formerly incarcerated individuals from employment discrimination. Rep. Brandon McGee, who ducked the Community Party’s attempts to meet with him to discuss our amendment which would restore the conditional job offer provision to the state BTB law, spoke at the meeting. McGee said that he “stands with Kennard.” Ok, how about strengthening the state law? A source at City Hall told me that a council committee run by Larry Deutsch is going to meet to discuss the Ray hiring issue. Stay tuned for updates…
 
 
Based on what I’ve heard from supportive peers in community organizing, Hartford nonprofit organization A Better Way Foundation, led by executive director Lorenzo Jones and represented in the community by LaResse Harvey, and their sycophants will always try to frame my criticism of them as a “personal grudge” because they don’t want to respond to the points that I raise. I believe that they are Democratic Party operatives. This is significant because ABWF claims that they serve the community. In my opinion that’s bs; I believe that they serve the Democrats on the local, state & national level. ABWF’s office is located on Martin Street, which is statistically the poorest neighborhood in Hartford. This organization should be one of the leaders of a campaign to eradicate poverty in this city, because they literally sit in the middle of it every damn day. A cursory review of the legislation that they have introduced will show that ABWF has zero interest in addressing the root causes of poverty and its socioeconomic ripple effect in Hartford, because that would require holding the Democrats accountable for doing nothing about the issue. ABWF can’t hold the Democrats accountable if they continue to act as stooges for the party. Connecticut Voices for Children reported on the latest poverty statistics from the US Census. “Estimates of poverty rates varied significantly across Connecticut’s cities: Bridgeport (25.3%), Danbury (9.3%), Hartford (38.0%), New Britain (24.1%), New Haven (26.1%), Norwalk (10.3%), Stamford (7.7%), and Waterbury (24.9%).  The percentage of children under 18 in poverty in Connecticut cities was also reported for Bridgeport (37.6%), Danbury (11.0 %), Hartford (53.1%), New Britain (31.0%), New Haven (37.9%), Norwalk (13.0%), Stamford (9.7%), and Waterbury (40.0%).”  My challenge to ABWF is to take on poverty and its accompanying issues, including Black/Latino unemployment, racial economic disparity and police containment of low income communities of color. Blacks and Latinos earn about 60 cents for every dollar whites make, while they possess 10 cents of net wealth for every dollar whites have. There have been over 200 homicides in Hartford during the past decade. Poverty is a root cause of gun violence in this city.
 
 
Unemployment engulfs the Black community. Black Agenda Report commentator Bruce Dixon talked about the refusal of the Black political class to speak up about this issue, especially since the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency. “For as long as the stats have been kept, since well before the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and the election of thousands of black faces to offices high and low across the country, black unemployment has never been less than double white unemployment. As recently as the 1970s and 1980s black politicians used to inveigh about fighting for full employment and something they used to call ‘a Marshall Plan for the cities’ to turn it around. But now, with the numbers and supposed influence of black politicians at an all time high, addressing black unemployment isn’t just off the table, it’s somewhere out of the building. Both catastrophic black unemployment and the silence of the black misleadership class on the issue have been normal for a good while now.
 
 
“Whenever the general unemployment rate drops a tenth or two of a percent nowadays, the talking heads at MSNBC and other outfits whose job is cheerleading for this administration fall over themselves to praise this president and his administration for their wise and far-seeing economic leadership. That’s normal as well. But underneath those small reductions in unemployment is something ugly, something that’s becoming another new normal.
 
 
“Incremental reductions in unemployment, now more than ever before, seem to be driven by people giving up the job search as hopeless, people dropping out of the labor market to do whatever it is poor people do when they can’t find work on the books. This has routinely become a large part of current reductions in unemployment, a new and disturbing normal in this, the supposed age of black political empowerment. If this were true under a white Republican, our black political leaders would be up in arms, at least long enough to mobilize us to vote one of their own into office. But in this, the age of the first black president, at what we are told is the pinnacle of black political power, is a new age, and there is a new normal.”
 
 
Harvey spoke earlier this year at a forum on racial profiling about how Republican obstruction has prevented Obama from addressing the plight of Blacks in this country. During the first two years of Obama’s first term, the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate. Obama refused a 2009 demand from members of the Congressional Black Caucus that he initiate targeted job creation in low income communities of color. The GOP was powerless to stop any initiative by Obama to address racial economic disparity in this country, yet Obama refused to take advantage of his political leverage.
 
 
The situation is no better on the local and state level. Governor Dannel Malloy has never given a speech on poverty during his time in office. There is not one word on Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra’s Twitter page about poverty or racial economic disparity. Earlier this year the Community Party sent a letter to Malloy, Segarra, city council president Shawn “I Don’t Talk About Race” Wooden, the mayors of New Haven and Bridgeport, and legislators representing the three cities. We demanded that Malloy address the state on the poverty issue and convene an action poverty conference which would include urban lawmakers, the aforementioned mayors, grassroots activists and community residents. The purpose of the conference would be to begin the process of drafting legislation and developing other initiatives specifically aimed at eradicating poverty in this state, with an emphasis on Black/Latino unemployment, racial wealth disparity, Black mass incarceration and education. Assemblymen Matt Ritter and Doug McCrory were the only politicians who agreed to participate.
 
 
Year after year the poverty issue in this state is swept under the rug, while superficial political gestures such as a small increase in the woefully insufficient minimum wage are passed off by the Democrats as an example of their commitment to helping the poor. Last week fast food workers nationwide staged strikes, demanding a $15 per hour minimum wage and the right to unionize without retaliation. Wal-Mart workers organized Black Friday strikes to protest their poverty wages. This growing revolt by oppressed workers should be supported by the Democrats through comprehensive public policy initiatives. I believe that organizations such as ABWF aren’t advocating for low income communities of color, they’re containing these neighborhoods by passing watered down legislation which gives Black and Latinos the illusion of progress.
 
 
I submit that the lynching of Trayvon Martin has been manipulated by Hartford Democrats and ABWF. Trayvon’s murder is a manifestation of the criminalization of young Black males, racial economic disparity and the police containment of communities of color, where Blacks are killed every 28 hours by cops and vigilantes such as George Zimmerman. ABWF participated in what were basically Democratic Party pep rallies, attended by Mayor Segarra and other Democrats. The World Socialist Website published a series of columns including one entitled “Democrats Seek to Channel Mass Anger Over Killing of Trayvon Martin.”  The columns examined how the Democrats and their operatives pimped Trayvon for political gain.
 
 
“Various politicians, both Democrat and Republican – including President Obama – have sought to express sympathy for Martin. Their aim is to forestall any discussion of the more basic social questions behind the killing, and to divert popular anger into safe political channels… Politically, the demonstrations have been dominated by supporters of the Democratic Party and officials in the Democratic Party. Typical was Detroit, where several thousand gathered… Reverend Horace Sheffield II spoke before the event at Detroit’s Hart Plaza. He told the crowd, ‘If you look behind any incident like this, there is someone who someone did vote for or someone who someone didn’t vote for.’ Several speakers openly called for what the rest implied—a vote for Obama…   Racial inequalities exist and racism is promoted by sections of the ruling class. However, this is one particular expression of the fundamental division in society: class. Indeed, the most horrific levels of poverty and unemployment for black workers are to be found in cities overseen by black mayors, politicians, police chiefs and businessmen… There is popular anger over the acquittal (of Zimmerman), seen as a travesty of justice that also sets a dangerous precedent. Sections of the Democratic Party, however, have sought to exploit the tragic case for their own ends.”
 
 
I think that it’s time for ABWF and the Black misleadership class in Hartford to act in the interests of communities of color. Grow a spine and a conscience. Speak out and organize to combat Black/Latino unemployment, racial economic disparity & police containment of low income communities of color. Hold the Democrats accountable for ignoring structural racism. Talk about the fact that neither Malloy nor Obama have given a speech about poverty during their time in office. Stop apologizing for a president whose record clearly reflects a total disregard for the Black community which has provided him with overwhelming support. Obama has publicly endorsed New York Police Department commissioner Ray Kelly, a staunch proponent of the racist stop and frisk policy, for the vacant Secretary of Homeland Security position. Stop and frisk opponents have warned that Kelly will attempt to implement stop and frisk on the federal level if he gets the Homeland Security job. A few years ago ABWF passed a bill which reduced the sentencing disparity between individuals convicted of crack and powder cocaine offenses in Connecticut. Last week Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder won a court decision which will result in the continued imprisonment of thousands of Blacks who were sentenced under the federal crack cocaine law.
 
 
BAR’s Dixon weighed in on this story. “First, it was the Obama-Holder Justice Department which first refused to retroactively reduce the unfair crack cocaine sentences under the law the president signed and the attorney general praised. Secondly, it was the Obama-Holder Justice Department which went to court to keep those people in prison. They lost when the trial judge ruled they should be released. And third, the same Justice Department run by the same first black attorney general under the first black president appealed the order to reduce those sentences, instead seeking and obtaining yesterday’s ruling by the 6th circuit court of appeals.
 
 
“On mass incarceration in general and the reduction of these unfair, unjust sentences, our first black president and attorney general are howling hypocrites, saying one thing and doing another. Their hypocrisy is enabled by traditional black civil rights organizations like the NAACP-LDF, who refuse to make a political issue out of Obama’s and Holder’s hypocrisy. The ‘civil rights’ establishment is in a bind. They claim to oppose mass incarceration and the prison state, although they’ve only just learned the phrase ‘mass incarceration’ and cannot fix their lips to say ‘prison state.’
But since their first priority is boosting the political fortunes and careers of their peers in the black political elite, who we affectionately call our black misleadership class, they are unable to call the devil in charge of mass incarceration by his name, if that devil has a black face.”
 
 
ABWF, start doing what you claim to do, which is serve communities of color. I dare you.
 
 
Stay tuned for info on CP’s Safe Work Environment Act and Rep. Matt Ritter’s workplace bullying town hall, coming in 2014. Check out CP’s Stop Racial Profiling – Obey the Law! Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/PennAct  We will also introduce our Trayvon Martin Act in 2014. https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-racial-profiling-obey-the-law/support-the-trayvon-martin-act/535126163203901   Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines.  https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1  Contact us at 860-206-8879 or samuelssloflo@aol.com.
 
 
 
Resources
 
Twitter page for John McPhilbin, a workplace bullying activist in Australia:
 
https://twitter.com/JohnMcPhilbin
 
Workplace Violence News, featuring resources for preventing workplace violence and bullying:
 
http://workplaceviolencenews.com/
 
Connecticut Voices for Children report on poverty, median income and health insurance in Connecticut:
 
http://www.ctvoices.org/publications/poverty-median-income-and-health-insurance-connecticut-summary-2012-american-community
 
United for a Fair Economy Report on racial economic disparity:
 
http://www.faireconomy.org/news/state_of_the_dream_2010_drained
 
Community Party Action Poverty Conference letter to elected officials:
 
https://www.facebook.com/notes/david-samuels/community-party-action-poverty-conference-letter/10152154288215432
 
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report on the extrajudicial killing of Black people:
 
http://www.operationghettostorm.org/
 
1970 Black Panther Party commentary on community control of the police:
 
http://www.itsabouttimebpp.com/Community_Control/Community_Control_Police_index.html
 
The Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act, coming in 2014:
 
https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-racial-profiling-obey-the-law/support-the-trayvon-martin-act/535126163203901
 
 
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Political Roundup: Ban the Box/Decoding Steve Perry’s Wall Street Propaganda/DCF Plantation Report

December 6, 2013
This column appears in the December 5 – 12 edition of the Hartford News… Last week Kennard Ray gave up his new job as Mayor Pedro Segarra’s Deputy Chief of Staff after corporate media reports surfaced about his legal history. The Working Families Party had nothing but praise for Ray’s job performance while he worked for them. Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura hired former governor John Rowland as the city’s economic development advisor two years after he was released from federal prison. Rowland pleaded guilty to the charge of depriving the public of honest service, a felony, in 2004. Tom Foley is the likely Republican candidate for governor despite his past. Corporate media outlets started asking questions about Ban the Box, the Hartford ordinance which is supposed to protect formerly incarcerated individuals and others with legal histories from discrimination by employers. BTB is not the problem. The problem is politics as usual at City Hall. I worked on BTB in Hartford and Norwich. Ray is the person who BTB was designed to help. The Hartford ordinance includes a conditional job offer provision which stipulates that a job applicant who is deemed the most qualified must be offered the position prior to a security background check. An individual’s legal history should not result in disqualification if the conviction is unrelated to the job (e.g. a bank robber can’t be a bank security guard). During the 2013 legislative session the Community Party attempted to introduce an amendment restoring the conditional job offer language to the state BTB law; the provision was removed by lawmakers prior to the bill’s passage in 2010 (the Norwich ordinance was also watered down in this manner). Labor and Public Employees Committee co-chairs Sen. Catherine Osten and Rep. Peter Tercyak and committee member Rep. Brandon McGee refused to meet with us to discuss our amendment.
 
 
 
NBC Connecticut reported that Segarra told them going forward, he would not offer an applicant a job until after his office conducts a background check. Segarra was also quoted as saying he was considering asking City Council to “modify the 2010 ordinance for clarity.”  Tuesday I spoke with Maribel La Luz, Segarra’s Communications Director. La Luz said that Segarra will not pursue amending BTB or his own hiring policy, and that the NBC Connecticut report is inaccurate.  La Luz didn’t disagree with my opinion that Segarra made a mistake by announcing Ray’s hiring prior to conducting a background check. La Luz said that Ray’s legal history is not the reason why he did not get the job as Deputy Chief of Staff and that Segarra did not ask Ray to withdraw his application. Ray has not answered questions about Segarra during interviews.
 
 
A Better Way Foundation, the same organization that let the state Ban the Box law be rendered useless in 2010 by allowing the conditional job offer provision to be removed, held a rally in support of Ray on Monday (I’m a former ABWF volunteer). This farce is indicative of why the status quo remains in effect in communities of color. LaResse Harvey, the same person who allowed the teeth to be pulled from the BTB ordinance in Norwich in addition to the state law, is now railing against the injustice inflicted on Ray. I stopped working with ABWF because of their self-serving strategy of pursuing the strongest version of BTB in Hartford and New Haven, where they knew there would be strong support for the ordinance, while they allowed the toothless version to pass in Norwich and at the State Capitol, where BTB faced strong opposition. Community residents in Norwich who were supporting BTB had no input on the decision to remove the conditional job offer language. ABWF scored another grant check thanks to the Norwich & state “victories” while formerly incarcerated individuals who live outside of Hartford and New Haven were stuck with a useless law. Some of the same people who have jumped on the Ray bandwagon knew about CP’s campaign to restore the conditional job offer provision to the state BTB law, yet they stood by and did nothing. Gatekeepers such as Harvey and ABWF executive director Lorenzo Jones are leading people of color in circles. At least 95% of incarcerated individuals will be released. A strong BTB state law would give these people a fair shot at becoming productive members of society, which would enhance public safety.
 
 
Last but not least, in my opinion I think it’s pathetic that the same “activists” and “journalists” who went after the West End Civic Association for attacking a food pantry and cheered me on when I talked about my history with WECA are now silent while I speak on ABWF’s hypocrisy. WECA is an easy target; they’ve been an elitist organization for years. Don’t talk tough about how you don’t mince words if you don’t have the guts to take on anybody, at any time. I confronted ABWF about BTB on live TV at City Hall a couple of years ago and got no response from anyone in the building, including ABWF. I believe that ABWF’s actions regarding BTB are worse than what WECA did, because ABWF claims to be advocates for racial justice. WECA never pretended to be that… We will keep an eye on this story. Check out our Resources section for the link to an informational guide on BTB.
 
 
 
Last week Capital Preparatory Magnet School Principal Steve Perry fired up his Twitter spin machine as he denied both the effects of poverty on children and the tremendous profits being generated by the charter school industry. Perry totally avoided any discussion of the racist impact of his repugnant attack on public sector jobs, the largest source of employment for Black men and women living in this country. Perry declared that citing the need to eradicate poverty as a component of improving Black and Latino students’ school performance “hurts kids.”  Perry said, “Using the poverty argument to explain failure, implies that poor people are less intelligent or less capable of learning. That’s offensive.”  Perry’s Wall Street masters have obviously coached him in the art of using a wall of words to respond to facts that they don’t like, which provides them with cover to pursue their right-wing corporatist agenda. 
 
 
 
Last week I included a link to an NPR report on the effect of poverty on children in Philadelphia. The following excerpt summarizes the actual message. 
“Studies show that in some cases, kids living in poverty are more than two years behind their privileged counterparts. They’re more likely to have fewer books in the home, have more health problems and miss more school days. Many kids come to school hungry, and then they can’t focus and learn.
‘They can’t concentrate as well, and children who are food insecure don’t perform as well on math and language arts tests. They don’t do as well in school,’ says Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities at Drexel University’s School of Public Health.
 
 
 
“Chilton says that at the height of the Great Recession, nearly half of all families with kids in this city reported ‘food hardship’ — or increased hunger. She says the research is overwhelming: Poverty and hunger undermine children’s cognitive, social and emotional development.
‘They also have a hard time getting along with their peers and with their teachers,’ she says, ‘and so it’s strongly related to how well a child can do in school.’
Some parents in the swaths of concentrated poverty in North and West Philadelphia consistently don’t have enough (money) for food, heat, rent, running water or electricity. That often means their kids can’t do homework, think or read in a comfortable place. Neighborhood violence and crime only add to their sense of vulnerability.” You can read or listen to the entire NPR report here. http://www.npr.org/2013/11/21/246413432/weighing-the-role-of-poverty-in-philadelphia-s-schools
 
 
 
Contrary to Perry’s preposterous claim, no one is saying that these children are stupid. The premise of the NPR report is that students who live in areas of concentrated poverty obviously face external stressors which distract them from learning. Perry’s Wall Street masters desperately want to minimize the poverty and racial economic disparity issue, because an examination of socioeconomic factors which lead to poor school performance contradicts their claim that “failing” schools and unionized teachers are totally at fault. The response from Perry on Twitter was that poverty is a cop-out used by the left. One of his sycophants added that the poverty issue is too big and addressing it won’t help children to perform better in school. In other words, poverty is a problem that Black and Latino kids should get over already; they should ignore minor annoyances like hunger and having no heat or electricity and just hit the books. Perry also tried to distort the facts about the profits that are being generated by the charter school industry. Perry said, “Magnets, charters & online schools make less than 20% of all schools. Stop trying to pin decades of failure on the urban success stories.”  Of course Perry’s claim does not address the facts about how much dough Wall Street charter school investors are raking in. For those who missed my last column, Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez exposed the multiple tax breaks that investors exploit and the subsequent huge profits (e.g. doubling a $10 million investment in seven years). The result is public dollars being funneled to Wall Street coffers. You can read Gonzalez’ DN report here. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/7/juan_gonzalez_big_banks_making_a and his New York Daily News column here. http://nycrubberroomreporter.blogspot.com/2010/01/juan-gonzales-on-nyc-charter-school.html  Perry’s propaganda is a prime example of how Wall Street uses Blacks to exploit low income urban communities. 
 
 
 
This week we’ll share an update from Joanna Iovino on activist Cornell Lewis, who was terminated in retaliation for speaking out about structural racism at the Department of Children and Families. Folks who are interested in supporting Cornell can make a donation to his legal defense fund; details on the fund follow the update. Check out Cornell’s DCF Plantation blog.  http://www.dcfplantation.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                    

 

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                       Letter from CT Truth Force Force
 
 
 
 
 
When I first came to Hartford, I decided that it was time  for me to go from talking about injustice with friends and family (letting those  conversations wither away and die eventually) to taking action. And one of the  first people who came to my attention was Minister Cornell Lewis. I sent him a  message, asking if I could set up a meeting with him, and after a series of  questions designed to prove my mettle, he agreed to my request. We ended up  meeting in a Dunkin Donuts with some other members of an activist group, people  who had worked with Minister Lewis before. We talked about the racism  experienced by employees of color at CJTS (particularly Black male employees)  and composed a letter to DCF as the CT Truth Force.
 
 
 
We sent ample warning to  DCF and CJTS management that if our concerns were not addressed, there would be  a series of actions taken against the agency. We hand delivered our message to  DCF commissioner Joette Katz’ office. We stood out in front of CJTS on a cold  day with bullhorns and signs to show our concern. DCF and CJTS refused to  address our complaints, just as they have repeatedly refused to address the  complaints of racism that emanate frequently from CJTS employees. We had an  eloquent argument…. We asked how CJTS employees of color could act as positive  role models for the children they were charged with caring for if they were  being oppressed by management. We cited statistics that proved that disciplinary  procedures in place were disproportionately harsh on men of color. We had  support from the community, from former and current CJTS employees, and we  even were able to have a hearing held at the Legislative Office Building. But,  alas, it was all to no avail. Rather than addressing the concerns of Minister  Lewis and other CJTS employees, the management decided to fire the man. They  took advantage of an opportunity to exploit an incident at CJTS to put the man  out of work. But, Minister Lewis is not a quitter. He is still committed to  fighting for justice for CJTS employees. The CT Truth Force decided to  compose a petition to William Rosenbeck, CJTS Superintendent, Joette Katz, DCF  Commissioner and Dannel Malloy, CT Governor. We gathered the signatures of  concerned community members, and sent the petition to the offices of all three  of those designees. What has the response been?? Silence. Once again, DCF  has proved that it does not hear nor does it feel obligated to address their  employees concerns. Pretty typical, but we will not be dissuaded.
 
                                                                                          
                                                                                                  
 
                     Help with Legal Defense Fund
 
 
 
 
 
The Department of Children and Families (DCF)  has an unlimited checkbook funded by taxpayers money. DCF monies are used to  support biased policies and silence employees that speak against discrimination.  That is why I am asking people to donate to this defense fund, in order to pay  for legal services to combat what DCF is doing to people like me. All funds will  go directly to legal costs. Please  follow the link below to make a donation.  ~ Cornell Lewis
                                                              
 
                                                                         www.gofundme.com/Cornel-Defense-Fund
 
                                                                                                                
 
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 Stay tuned for info on CP’s Safe Work Environment Act and Rep. Matt Ritter’s workplace bullying town hall, coming in 2014. Check out CP’s Stop Racial Profiling – Obey the Law! Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/PennAct  We will introduce our Trayvon Martin Act in 2014. https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-racial-profiling-obey-the-law/support-the-trayvon-martin-act/535126163203901   Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines.  https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1  Contact us at 860-206-8879 or samuelssloflo@aol.com.
 
 
 
 
Resources
 
NBC Connecticut report on Kennard Ray withdrawing as a candidate to be Mayor Pedro Segarra’s Deputy Chief of Staff: 
 
 
Community Party Ban the Box amendment:
 
 
Ban the Box informational guide:
 
 
 
United for a Fair Economy report on racial economic disparity:
 
 
 
 
 
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party