Archive for October, 2014

No CP Hartford News Column this Week

October 29, 2014

There will be no Community Party Hartford News column this week, due to a Hartford Arts and Heritage special edition of the newspaper. This week we’ll share the podcast of a 2012 radio interview on CP’s racial profiling bill and our campaign to bring a publicly owned bank to Connecticut. http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/59111

David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1

Rep. Matt Ritter’s Essay on his 2015 Legislative Objectives

October 23, 2014

This column appears in the October 23 – 30 edition of the Hartford News… Visit the Community Party’s No Sellout blog https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/race-for-governor-urban-agenda-analysis-part-iii/ or Twitter/Facebook pages for Part III of CP’s urban agenda analysis, featuring Mary Sanders’ reform recommendations for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Mary’s piece will appear in this space on November 6, due to the Hartford Arts and Heritage special edition of the Hartford News next week. Mary wrote the language for our Trayvon Martin Act, which addresses racial profiling and police containment of low-income communities of color. The links to our social media pages are available at the end of this column.

AFSCME members, check out No Sellout for info on the Local 318 Safe Workplace Committee Meet & Greet Thursday, November 13 in Rocky Hill. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/afscme-safe-workplace-committee-meet-greet-november-13/ Stay tuned for updates on CP’s Safe Work Environment Act, coming in 2015. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/coming-in-2015-safe-work-environment-act/

State Representative Matt Ritter is running for re-election in the 1st Assembly District. You can get updates from Rep. Ritter on the Connecticut General Assembly website, Twitter and Facebook. See below for links. Rep. Ritter has supported the Trayvon Martin Act, our Safe Work Environment Act legislation aimed at stopping workplace bullying and our effort to bring a publicly owned bank to Connecticut. Election Day is Tuesday, November 4th. This week we’ll share Rep. Ritter’s essay on his 2015 legislative objectives, including a major announcement regarding the racial profiling issue.

*****

Why I am Running for Re-election

Some campaign advisors tell their candidates not to use the words ‘re-elect’ or ‘re-election’ in their campaign literature because poll numbers for political incumbents are so low. As an attorney and incumbent politician, I sometimes joke that my two professions are as popular as Christian Laettner was in Connecticut after his game winning shot ended UConn’s “Dream Season” in 1990.

However, I love serving as a legislator and I am proud to be running for re-election as the State Representative for the 1st Assembly District in Hartford. I am also excited about the upcoming session and the opportunity for the General Assembly to tackle some major issues that could have a positive and long-lasting impact on Hartford and our State. Below is a summary of some critical issues and initiatives that I hope to work on if I am re-elected. I have tried to highlight some issues that may not receive the same attention as others but which I feel are critically important pieces of legislation.

If you ever care to discuss these or any other issues please do not hesitate to call me at home at 860-519-5685. I can assure you of this: if you call me and leave your number, I will call you back.

Juvenile Sentencing Reform Bill

What if I told you that the State of Connecticut is in violation of two recent United States Supreme Court decisions dealing with the manner in which juvenile offenders are sentenced?

In Graham v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment prohibits states from sentencing defendants under age 18 to life without parole for non-homicide crimes. The Court stated that there must be “some meaningful opportunity” for release based on a defendant’s demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation. The Court stated that the Eighth Amendment does not prohibit a juvenile who commits a non-homicide crime from being kept in prison for life but it prohibits making the judgment “at the outset that those offenders never will be fit to re-enter society.” Subsequently, in 2012, in Miller v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits courts from automatically imposing life without parole sentences on offenders who committed homicides while they were juveniles (under age 18). The Court did not categorically bar life without parole sentences for juveniles but stated that a court must “take into account how children are different, and how those differences counsel against irrevocably sentencing them to a lifetime in prison.”[1]

In 2014, HB 5221 would have brought our State laws into compliance with these Supreme Court rulings. However, that bill which passed out of the House of Representatives by a vote of 129-15, was never taken up by the State Senate. I hope 2015 is our chance to bring our state statutes into compliance with these U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Municipal Property Tax Reform

Municipal property taxes are the most regressive taxation system in our State. All too often urban residents pay a higher percentage of their annual income in property taxes than wealthier residents in the suburbs do. The 2015 session could provide an opportunity to make some important and innovative changes to the municipal property tax system. The current Speaker of the House, Brendan Sharkey, has been a leader on this issue for years and I expect him to lead the charge in 2015. One idea I have considered is to propose implementing a statewide motor vehicle tax and raise the State’s income tax for top earners by a small percentage to help offset any lost revenue for towns. The State should also consider tweaking its school construction reimbursement formula to provide more grants to distressed municipalities and pledging state support for municipal debt issued to build or renovate schools. If the State pledged its full faith and credit as a final backstop for payment to bond holders on certain municipal bonds issues, it would permit these municipalities to borrow money at a much lower rate, which in turn saves money for the residents of that Town in the form of lower taxes and lower budget costs.

Financial Literacy

I have been working with my colleagues, Representatives McGee and Lemar, on drafting legislation to improve how we educate our students about financial literacy issues. The State currently has some decent laws on the books but we need to do more. Too often, young adults between the ages of 18-30 find themselves swimming in debt because of the misuse of a credit card or poor financial planning. If we want people to have safe and comfortable retirements in their 70s and 80s, then we should do more to educate people about the choices they make in their 20s.

Racial Profiling

I have worked on this issue with your usual columnist, David Samuels, for a few years now. I plan to introduce legislation in 2015 that will, amongst other things, (i) appropriate $2.5 million for the purpose of equipping all police cars with an “e-filing” system which will increase transparency and the accuracy of certain police reports; and (ii) require that DMV include a summary of the State’s new racial profiling laws with all driver’s license renewal and application packets. If the public is not informed of the new laws, then they are not as effective. Hopefully, this will help create awareness of an individual’s rights when they are stopped by a police officer.

No Excuse Voting

Lastly, I hope everyone will vote “Yes” on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, to enable our State to change our antiquated election laws. No excuse absentee balloting is long overdue. Our State should make it easier for people to vote not harder.

Conclusion

I was born in Hartford, raised in Hartford and am fully committed to Hartford. Serving as a representative of this great City at the State Capitol is an honor of a lifetime. I hope this Election Day that you will give me a chance to continue that service.

——————————————————————————–

[1] State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Research.

*****

Follow CP on Twitter @CommunityParty1 for state, national and global headlines and updates on the Trayvon Martin, Safe Work Environment and Jane Doe Acts. Visit our No Sellout blog for the archive of CP Hartford News columns ( https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) and Northend Agent’s for selected columns. http://www.northendagents.com/ Check out the CP Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/CommunityPartyAction Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcement on our social justice platform. Contact us at 860-206-8879 or samuelssloflo@aol.com.

David Samuels

Founder

Community Party

Race for Governor: Urban Agenda Analysis Part III

October 21, 2014
This week we’ll share Part III of the Community Party’s urban agenda analysis, our response to the inadequate urban policy plans of Gov. Dannel Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley. Mary Sanders will present her reform recommendations for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF). Mary wrote the language for CP’s 2015 Trayvon Martin Act. Check out our Resources section for the link to the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Jackson Plan, which we will continue to discuss in the coming months. A key component of the Jackson Plan is the creation of worker owned cooperatives. MXGM described the objectives of the Jackson Plan in their policy paper.
“The Jackson Plan is an initiative to apply many of the best practices in the promotion of participatory democracy, solidarity economy, and sustainable development and combine them with progressive community organizing and electoral politics. The objectives of the Jackson Plan are to deepen democracy in Mississippi and to build a vibrant, people centered solidarity economy in Jackson and throughout the state of Mississippi that empowers Black and other oppressed peoples in the state.
The Jackson Plan has many local, national and international antecedents, but it is fundamentally the brain child of the Jackson People’s Assembly. The Jackson People’s Assembly is the product of the Mississippi Disaster Relief Coalition (MSDRC) that was spearheaded by MXGM in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of Gulf Coast communities in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas. Between 2006 and 2008, this coalition expanded and transformed itself into the Jackson People’s Assembly. In 2009, MXGM and the People’s Assembly were able to elect human rights lawyer and MXGM co-founder Chokwe Lumumba to the Jackson City Council representing Ward 2.”
                                                                                    *****
                                                 Poverty and the Need for TANF Reform in Connecticut
Back to TANF; in spite of all the spending that goes to meet the DSS goals, pending cases sit on piled- high desks waiting for review, clients have no way to pay rent, buy food, get medical care, get childcare assistance, etc.  Applications are frequently lost, and it’s almost impossible to reach workers by phone. Caseworkers are overloaded and cannot provide the services they would like to for their clients.  Restrictions on what type of supports, training opportunities, and other services can be provided tie the hands of workers. On top of all the restrictions and the time limits, due to former Gov. Rowland’s privatization of the Jobs First program, state workers are no longer doing the case management they used to.  Now it’s up to private nonprofits, who are charged with getting X number of participants off the rolls each year. Get out there and prove you went to see 25 potential employers, filled out applications and got the names of the people you saw. Recipients must attend the workshops on how to fill out applications, how to interview, how to dress, etc., whether you’ve never worked or have an extensive work history and just need a decent job.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaM6iI-eCdk
The benefit of 1 or 2 years of schooling would raise recipients’ potential earnings.  If people could get the proper supports and enter training paid by the Department of Labor or DSS, they might have a decent chance to become self-sufficient but those opportunities are few and far between.  It’s no wonder so many low-income people are lured into student debt trying to attend ‘private educational institutions’ that offer high cost trainings to anyone that will sign the loan notes.  Unfortunately, many people are falsely led to believe their training will be subsidized then all of a sudden they are signing off on loan applications. Many of them are unprepared and not able to complete successfully; they still owe thousands of dollars. Someone needs to do something about these for-profit schools and those that have changed their status to non-profit are no better. Lives are ruined and children are even more deprived when these predators take advantage of low-income folks seeking training opportunities that they’ll be repaying for the next decade or so.
For those TANF clients who have found employment; how about not terminating people’s benefits as soon as they become employed and letting them put a little something away for a rainy day? Clients are afraid to accept any job that will cause them to lose their benefits because these days jobs are temporary, do not provide benefits, and most do not pay livable wages.  Don’t say, “Well they can get back on assistance if they need to”. It’s not that easy!  If an individuals send their application in by mail, it’s frequently misplaced and needs to be done again. Forget about getting through to DSS workers by phone; clients can be on hold 30 minutes to 2 hours and may get to speak to the right person.  Most low-income people have free government phones with very limited monthly minutes.  Those could be used up in a couple calls to DSS.  I know the department is overwhelmed by all the new cases being opened, but there has to be a way to process people’s redetermination forms so that they do not constantly have their benefits cut off.  Many of them end up at our food pantry asking for groceries and the toilet paper we purchase for distribution. It’s a damn shame that in our wealthy state, we cannot properly administer mandated entitlement programs that provide for the basic needs of our residents. Apparently, the computer system in place is programmed to automatically terminate people’s benefits on certain dates, if a worker does not physically enter data to stop that from happening. That means that if the worker is behind, and has 100 redetermination forms piled up on a desk, whose due dates have past, all those cases will automatically be closed. People who were expecting to receive their cash or food benefits are then in a crisis situation, and when told they did not send in their redetermination forms, will just send them over again, creating an even bigger pile. More people comply than do not; therefore, it would make sense to de-program that automatic cutoff feature and have workers physically enter data to close any cases that warrant termination, either for noncompliance or eligibility reasons.
CT was already cited by the feds for their inability to get SNAP applications processed quickly enough and for disqualifying too many who actually qualified.  People should not be going hungry, especially the kids. Their parents should have decent employment but if they do need assistance, their food stamps also shouldn’t run out mid-month. In another case, the young mother with a 4-year-old shouldn’t have been cut off of her cash benefits after 21 months when she hadn’t finished preparing for her HS exam. Now she sleeps on the couch at her mom’s house with her son on a cot near her.  Someone should give her a housing voucher, daycare, a good educational/vocational program and help her, not punish her for missing an appointment and denying her extension. I opted our agency out of participating in the Jobs First model; I didn’t want to be part of that because I knew that most people needed more time. We run a food pantry and have a social worker but we also have English and GED classes and help people go to college. I don’t want to send people out to look for work if they have education and training needs.  Some of the regulations have eased up a little, allowing people minimal training & education opportunities, but the majority of recipients of public assistance are still denied real vocational training or college, which would truly help towards self-sufficiency.
Tell our public officials that money needs to be allocated for the hiring of additional caseworkers to handle the backlog; we need timely processing of applications for assistance. We also need to be able to speak with caseworkers directly and not be relegated to a phone system that routes calls to full voice mailboxes. Tell them that more time needs to be allowed on public assistance while folks are going through adult education and vocational training or higher education so they can reach self- sufficiency (New York City recently implemented reforms, see our Resources section below). SNAP benefits also need to be increased, as food prices continue to climb and more housing vouchers need to be issued for all municipalities, not just urban areas. Those becoming homeless or jobless are flocking to the cities in search of services that are already stretched thin.  Additionally, a committee of diverse stakeholders should meet regularly to assess the progress the department is making towards the goal of true client self-sufficiency. The department should not take credit for reducing welfare rolls when half of those exited simply were deemed non-compliant and were therefore removed. There are hungry children out there whom the department has forgotten about.
At the federal level, we already know that poor people are not a priority, and military and corrections systems are more fully funded than education, health and social services. Government officials believe it is more important to avoid taxing the rich and corporations, than to make sure kids have their needs met.  It is time we rethink our priorities and come up with ways to protect our most vulnerable. There have been a few active grassroots community groups and non-profits trying to improve the lives of families living in poverty, a couple of them in Hartford have been around for years, organizing and meeting with legislators. The Community Party is also part of the discussion and we have some ideas on how to come up with the money needed.  Plans to address hunger, affordable housing, healthcare, and education for low-income CT residents are the topics I want to see on the candidates’ platforms. Why aren’t they discussing these critical issues?  Why are they afraid of the “P” word?
Mary L. Sanders, member of Community Party & Executive Director, Spanish Speaking Center of New Britain
                                                                                                               *****
Follow CP on Twitter @CommunityParty1 for state, national and global headlines and updates on the Trayvon Martin, Safe Work Environment and Jane Doe Acts. Visit our No Sellout blog for the archive of CP Hartford News columns ( https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) and Northend Agent’s for selected columns. http://www.northendagents.com/  Check out the CP Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/CommunityPartyAction Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcement on our social justice platform. Contact us at 860-206-8879 or samuelssloflo@aol.com.
Resources
Super Fly 1972  –  Eddie (Carl Lee) articulates the hopelessness of many Black males in low income communities of color, as he tries to convince Youngblood Priest (Ron O’Neal) to abandon his plan to stop selling drugs:
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Jackson Plan:
United for a Fair Economy urban policy plan:
 .
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party

Rep. Matt Ritter 2014 Campaign News, AFSCME Meet & Greet November 13, Race for Governor: Urban Agenda Analysis Part II

October 16, 2014

This column appears in the October 16 – 23 edition of the Hartford News…

Community Update: Rest in Power, Hartford firefighter Kevin Bell, who was laid to rest on Monday. This North End resident gave his life serving his community! Condolences to his family, loved ones, friends and colleagues at Engine Company 16… Mayor Pedro Segarra’s absence from city council meetings on the Downtown North stadium plan (approved Tuesday night with six votes and three abstentions) is proof that this has always been a “done deal”, as Segarra described it. The question remains as to how North Hartford residents will gain access to the Downtown North supermarket on days that the stadium is in use.
State Representative Matt Ritter is running for re-election in the 1st Assembly District. You can get updates from Rep. Ritter on the Connecticut General Assembly website, Twitter and Facebook. See below for links. Rep. Ritter has supported the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act racial profiling bill, our Safe Work Environment Act legislation aimed at stopping workplace bullying and our effort to bring a publicly owned bank to Connecticut. Election Day is November 4th. Rep. Ritter’s next campaign event will be Monday, October 20 at 73 Vine Street, where he will be providing free pizzas to seniors. Next week we’ll present Rep. Ritter’s essay on his objectives for the 2015 legislative session, including a major announcement about the racial profiling issue.  http://www.housedems.ct.gov/RitterM/   https://twitter.com/MattRitter308  https://www.facebook.com/RepresentativeMattRitter
AFSCME members, check out CP’s No Sellout blog for info on the Local 318 Safe Workplace Committee Meet & Greet Thursday, November 13 in Rocky Hill. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/afscme-safe-workplace-committee-meet-greet-november-13/ Stay tuned for updates on CP’s Safe Work Environment Act, coming in 2015. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/coming-in-2015-safe-work-environment-act/
Last week we analyzed the inadequate urban policy plans of Gov. Dannel Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley. Our report included job creation strategies by Justice Party 2012 presidential candidate Rocky Anderson and United for a Fair Economy. This week we’ll present the UFE plan for addressing racial wage/wealth disparity, followed by the first installment of Mary Sanders’ commentary on poverty and her reform recommendations for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF). Mary wrote the language for CP’s 2015 Trayvon Martin Act. Part III of our urban agenda analysis will be available next week at No Sellout and the CP Twitter/Facebook pages. Links to our social media pages are available at the end of this column. Due to the Hartford Arts and Heritage special edition of the Hartford News on October 30, Part III will run in the Hartford News on November 6.
Racial Wage/Wealth Disparity
Blacks/Latinos currently earn about 60 cents for every dollar whites make, and possess about 10 cents of net wealth for every dollar whites have. Houses are the primary wealth asset for people of color. The toxic mortgage scam that contributed to the 2008 economic collapse disproportionately targeted Blacks/Latinos, who subsequently have lost their homes at a higher rate than whites. The UFE State of the Dream report recommends a plan to build wealth in low income communities of color.
Foreclosures – Draining the Wealth Reservoir:
Foreclosures continue to rise alarmingly. There were an estimated 3.4 million foreclosures in 2009 “Due to the rise in homeowner walk-a-ways, lack of forced bank modifications, growing unemployment figures… Housing Predictor forecasts foreclosures will now top 17 million homes through 2014.”
In addition to rampant unemployment,communities of color experience higher foreclosure rates due to racially targeted predatory lending, in which virtually every sector of the mortgage industry participated. A 2006 study that controlled for income and credit worthiness found that non-whites were significantly more likely than whites to receive high cost loans.

Revisiting the State of the Dream 2008: Foreclosed
The wealth-stripping effects of the recession and foreclosure crisis were documented in UFE’s 2008 State of the Dream: Foreclosed, which showed that predatory lending practices were stripping wealth from communities of color. People of color were more than three times more likely to have subprime loans than whites. Commonly, lenders gave people of color loans with less advantageous payment rates, even when they qualified for better ones. Lenders failed to provide those applying for a home loan with information on the strenuous repayment schedule. Lenders inserted stiff fines for people to pay to get out of a subprime loan if they discovered it was too expensive. Since homes are the main form of wealth for working-class families and especially for communities of color, these practices drained their wealth reservoirs to dangerously low levels.

Source: RealtyTrac reports, with NCRC projecting foreclosures for December 2009 (see Endnotes in report for full citation).
2007 2008 2009
In three years, there have been more than 7.1 million foreclosures in the U.S.
1,285,873
2,330,483
3,400,000 (estimate)
Over half of the mortgages to African Americans in recent years were high-cost subprime loans. This predatory lending formed the epicenter of the first stage of the foreclosure crisis. Significantly, more than 60 percent of those subprime loans went to borrowers whose credit ratings qualified them for lower-cost prime loans, according to a 2008 Wall Street Journal study.
The disproportionate damage from foreclosures compounds the economic challenges that communities of color face and makes their economic recovery more difficult. A recent study shows that workers laid off in an economic downturn can take up to 20 years to replace their lost earnings. Replacing the wealth stripped from communities by predatory lending and foreclosure could take even longer. And while some economic indicators are improving, unemployment and the foreclosure crisis continue to do long-lasting damage to the nation’s economy.
Are we narrowing or widening the racial wealth divide? Arresting the foreclosure crisis is a critical first step toward restoring health to the national economy. The housing industry employs millions of workers and provides the property tax base of cities across the country. Housing is also a main pillar of the nation’s credit markets; while that pillar remains shaky, credit cannot fully recover.
The irresponsible and predatory lending practices of our nation’s financial institutions directly led to the current foreclosure crisis that is stripping wealth from communities of color at alarming rates. The Obama Administration and Congress missed opportunities in 2009 to stop foreclosures, stabilize the economy, and start rebuilding wealth in the communities that the predatory mortgage industry targeted. Our government has an important role in protecting communities from the destructive actions of any party, be it the breaking and entering of a common burglar or the deceptive actions of the
mortgage industry. On this front, the government has failed.
While the Administration and Congress set up several programs to stem the tide of foreclosures, these efforts have been largely ineffective in getting the mortgage industry to renegotiate most mortgages.
Actions that could have been taken include:
• Declare an immediate moratorium on foreclosures. This would have stabilized housing markets, stopped the vicious spiral of wealth stripping in communities of color, and given the financial industry an incentive to renegotiate predatory loans.
• Give bankruptcy judges the power to lower mortgages for insolvent homeowners. This would have kept millions of families in their homes.
• Make mortgages more affordable by requiring cooperation from financial institutions with the affordability programs, including loan modifications, set up by the Administration.
• Strongly regulate financial markets and protect consumers. This would prevent future financial market failures that strip wealth and jobs from all communities and take down the nation’s economy.
Poverty and the Need for TANF Reform in Connecticut 
The candidates running for office this year are all avoiding the “P” word!  Poverty is a hot potato that causes candidates to cringe when questioned about their agenda to improve the lives of those most in need. For many single parents who are unemployed or underemployed, public assistance, also known as ‘welfare’, makes the difference in meeting their basic survival needs.  It used to be that people could get help as long as they needed it, there were also programs available to prepare people to become self- sufficient. What we have now does not meet the needs of families and individuals living in poverty.  The candidates for public office, all the way up to the governor’s seat, do not seem to understand or care enough to change things.
When President Bill Clinton’s administration announced the overhaul of the welfare system, what resulted was a federal maximum of 5 years of assistance throughout a person’s life. The message was, grab any job and don’t use up all your time in case you need it down the road!  Even in those states with the maximum of 5 years, this is problematic.  Imagine CT where you are only allowed 21 months and if you qualify a couple six-month extensions. The goal is to get as many people off assistance as possible during the year and look good to the feds. I know that someone analyzing the data may say, “CT has lowered the number of AFDC cases – Aid to Families with Dependent Children (now TANF, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) households by 10%.” But because important information is not attached to those closed cases, they neglect to say – or may not even know – that 3% of the clients are gainfully employed and 7% got kicked off the program for a variety of reasons.  After years of President Reagan’s demonization of “welfare queens”, CT’s welfare reform created an illogical timeline of activity that Department of Social Services caseworkers and the subcontractors are expected to enforce. The program used to be Job Connection and is now Jobs First. In the old program, recipients were assessed for potential return to school and/or vocational training. They were asked what they were good at and what career they would like to pursue and, if reasonable, their DSS social worker, the employment counselor and the school would work as a team to make sure nothing interfered with their training and job placement. This was changed to recipients spending a year looking for work before education or training is considered. It used to be that individuals needed a high school diploma to get a decent job; now that is not enough.
The last 2 decades have seen the largest growth of income for the elite few and the worst decline and climbing poverty rates for too many. And it’s not just that there are more poor people, it’s that more people are experiencing a deeper kind of poverty.  As “cash assistance” has ended for many, and people only have their food stamps, studies have shown that families exchange food benefits to buy their kids’ shoes and other household necessities. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/19/welfare_recipients_forced_to_sell_food   Unscrupulous storeowners are complicit in this deprivation of food for the kids. They pay pennies on the dollar for whatever is left on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) card.  Parents do whatever they need to do when cash benefits end. This system is cruel and punitive; there is no way to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty. For adults with no dependent children it’s even worse, as city welfare departments were all closed in favor of the new State Administered General Assistance program. SAGA is a misnomer as little assistance is actually given. Recipients used to receive about $300 cash monthly in addition to their food stamps & Medicaid.  At least recipients could rent a room from someone. Now there is no cash assistance, resulting in extremely harsh circumstances for anyone who loses their job who has no unemployment benefits coming in. Lack of housing assistance is a huge problem and many new homeless are seeking some type of relief. The new 211 shelter line has at least 3 or 4 weeks of wait time for even an assessment and possible placement in shelters. This is not a good system for those seeking employment & stability. This is especially true for the able-bodied but long-term unemployed. That’s another story for another day but housing vouchers are what’s needed, so people can pay a portion of their income and have the stability they need to work towards self-sufficiency.  
Mary L. Sanders, member of Community Party & Executive Director, Spanish Speaking Center of New Britain
Next Week: Part III
Follow CP on Twitter @CommunityParty1 for state, national and global headlines and updates on the Trayvon Martin, Safe Work Environment and Jane Doe Acts. Visit our No Sellout blog for the archive of CP Hartford News columns ( https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) and Northend Agent’s for selected columns. http://www.northendagents.com/  Check out the CP Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/CommunityPartyAction Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcement on our social justice platform. Contact us at 860-206-8879 or samuelssloflo@aol.com.
Resources
Connecticut Voices for Children summary of U.S. Census data on poverty, median income and health insurance in the state:
TANF reform implemented by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio:
United for a Fair Economy urban policy plan:
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Jackson Plan:
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
                                          
                        

AFSCME Safe Workplace Committee Meet & Greet November 13

October 9, 2014

Fellow AFSCME clerical members, you’re invited to attend our third AFSCME Clerical Local 318 Safe Workplace Committee Meet & Greet event. Our committee is working to educate AFSCME members about workplace bullying and its effects. One study found that 15% of adult suicides are related to workplace bullying. This is a social event, not a meeting. Come as you are, bring a co-worker and tell us what’s on your mind. The event will take place Thursday, November 13 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at the AFSCME Local 318 office, 1800 Silas Deane Highway Suite 182, Rocky Hill, CT.  Visit MapQuest to get directions from your location. http://www.mapquest.com/ FREE FOOD and refreshments will be served.
Coming in 2015: Safe Work Environment Act: https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/coming-in-2015-safe-work-environment-act/

In Solidarity,
AFSCME Clerical Local 318 Safe Workplace Committee

Rep. Matt Ritter 2014 Campaign News, Race for Governor: Urban Agenda Analysis Part I

October 8, 2014
This column appears in the October 9 – 16 edition of the Hartford News…
Community Update: The corporate media continues to ignore the poverty issue during the 2014 gubernatorial campaign. Neither Fox CT anchor/reporter Jenn Bernstein nor Hartford Courant Capitol Bureau Chief Chris Keating asked Gov. Dannel Malloy or Republican challenger Tom Foley about recently released U.S. Census data, which shows that child poverty, the poverty rate among families, the amount of people whose income is below the federal poverty level and the number of residents without health insurance in Connecticut have all increased since 2003.  http://www.ctvoices.org/publications/poverty-median-income-and-health-insurance-connecticutsummary-2013-american-community-s   Bernstein and Keating also both avoided questions about other core urban issues. (e.g. Black/Latino unemployment, racial wage/wealth gap, mass incarceration). This is an example of how racism also hurts white people. Poverty rates in rural areas are annually higher than in low income communities of color.  http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2009/ruralchildpoverty.aspx  Suburban poverty is on the rise.  http://confrontingsuburbanpoverty.org/2014/01/ Because the poverty issue has been racialized, it is ignored… ICYMI Check out Northend Agent’s for my July column on WFSB Face the State host Dennis House excluding North Hartford residents from his shows on the proposed Downtown North stadium complex. http://www.northendagents.com/commentary-david-samuels-dcf-plantation-report/   Last Thursday Moody’s Investor’s Service downgraded the city’s bond rating from A1 to A2. http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-hartford-bond-rating-1003-20141002-story.html See the Resources section at the end of this column for an explanation of bond ratings. City council member David MacDonald urged his colleagues to reject the proposed stadium complex because of the rating, while Mayor Pedro Segarra argued that the rating justified moving ahead with the plan. City council president Shawn Wooden was noncommittal, as he spoke in vague terms about the city needing economic development. A source told me that the bond rating would not impact the progress of the stadium deal. “You can argue it both ways. Some say this shows we need to grow the grand list, some say that the city is broke. It’s a chicken or the egg thing.” Stay tuned.
State Representative Matt Ritter is running for reelection in the 1st Assembly District. You can get updates from Rep. Ritter on the Connecticut General Assembly website, Twitter and Facebook. See below for links. Rep. Ritter has supported the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act racial profiling bill, our Safe Work Environment Act legislation aimed at stopping workplace bullying and our effort to bring a publicly owned bank to Connecticut. Election Day is November 4th.  Rep. Ritter will participate in a candidate forum on Tuesday, October 14, 7:00 pm at United Methodist Church, 573 Farmington Avenue in Hartford.
http://www.housedems.ct.gov/RitterM/
https://twitter.com/MattRitter308
https://www.facebook.com/RepresentativeMattRitter
Last week Malloy, who is tied with Foley at 43% according to a Quinnipiac University poll (independent candidate Joe Visconti trails with 9%), joined with his Democratic Party colleagues in slamming Foley’s urban policy paper.   http://www.tomfoleyct.com/2014/09/24/plan-restoring-pride-prosperity-connecticut-urban-policy-agenda/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=sp&utm_campaign=20140924_21496828_Foley-Somers%20for%20Connecticut&utm_content=body_text_urbanpolicyagenda1&Auto_Number=&action=email_click
Malloy was throwing stones from a glass house, as his urban agenda consists of just a few paragraphs. Contrast that with the United for a Fair Economy plan for low income communities of color that I refer to in this column: the report is 32 pages long. (see Resources).  The complex plight of Black/Brown communities is obviously a mere afterthought for the incumbent. http://www.danmalloy2014.com/economy/  Malloy’s plan does not come close to adequately addressing poverty or Black/Latino unemployment, doesn’t mention racial wage/wealth disparity, racial inequities in the state criminal justice system or police containment of low income communities of color. Malloy’s ConnectiCorps proposal is modeled after a federal program (AmeriCorps) that has done NOTHING to reduce Black/Latino unemployment in this country, currently at Depression-era levels.
The plagiarism issue regarding Foley’s plan is well documented. The reality is that the Malloy and Foley urban policy plans both fail at effectively addressing the socioeconomic problems which plague low income communities of color. Malloy ignored core urban issues during his first term: he did not mention the word poverty once during any of his State of the State addresses. This neglect is evident in the U.S. Census data.
The bickering between Malloy and Foley over urban policy is all about their battle for the Black/Latino vote, which was a huge factor in Malloy’s razor thin margin of victory over Foley in the 2010 election. The plight of urban neighborhoods has been a nonissue at the State Capitol for years.                                                                        
While Foley’s urban policy plan is much more detailed than Malloy’s, it’s basically a business deregulation and school privatization scheme disguised as an urban agenda. Privatization of education is an attack on public school teachers, and perpetuates segregation. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/11/charter_study Foley’s CNN op-ed on his urban agenda avoids specifics, while hinting at criminal justice policies that would contribute to continued disproportionate incarceration of Blacks/Latinos. http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/10/opinion/foley-zimmer-fix-cities/index.html
Foley’s urban job initiative includes a provision where his administration would ask large employers in Connecticut to hire people of color. “I will ask every large employer in Connecticut to fairly distribute their jobs among our varied communities. I will ask them if they are employing hundreds or thousands of people in a suburb to place a fair share of those jobs in a neighboring city.” This is not a realistic plan at all. I could go to work tomorrow and request that my employer reduce my work schedule to Tuesdays and Thursdays and triple my salary. That doesn’t mean they’re going to do it.
Rocky Anderson, the Justice Party’s 2012 candidate for president, included in his platform a job creation initiative modeled after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Work Progress Administration program. Anderson described his plan during the Democracy Now! Expanding the Debate special, which aired in conjunction with the October 3, 2012 presidential debate between President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney.  http://www.democracynow.org/2012/10/4/expanding_the_debate_exclusive_third_party
 “During the last 43 months we have had more than 8% unemployment. It is the only time in this nation’s history that we have had a president that has presided even over three years of over 8% unemployment. There are things that have been proven in our history to work. We could have put in place, and it needs to be put in immediately, a WPA Works Progress Administration kind of program where we are investing in the future by building up our nation’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, putting people to work. In the WPA project they put 8.5 million people to work. We could be putting 20 million to 25 million people to work and making that kind of investment in our nation’s future.”
The UFE State of the Dream report found that funding from Obama’s 2009 job stimulus initiative did not reach urban areas and focused on industries that mostly employs
white people.
“Most of the job-creation projects in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and other federal initiatives are investments in infrastructure and transportation, ‘green’ building retrofits, and pass-through funds that help states maintain schools and other important programs. All are worthy, but there is no evidence that the jobs these initiatives create are going to the communities most in need. In some cases, the opposite is true.
• The Associated Press found that, across the U.S., stimulus money for transportation was directed away from where the economic conditions are most dire. More money went to areas with higher rates of employment.
• The New York University report Race, Gender and The Recession reported that federal recovery money is creating more jobs in construction and retail than any other industries. These are industries that traditionally have not been major job sources for African American communities.
If the rain falls on relatively well-watered areas of economic opportunity, it does little to revive the driest economic landscapes in our country. Targeted approaches are much more likely to be effective. Prioritizing our nation’s highest-unemployment communities is precisely the way to end the downward economic spiral in those places and start a real, broad-based recovery for the entire nation.
Congress must identify communities with the highest unemployment rates and target job-creation initiatives toward those communities, whether by census tract, zip code, or other method. This policy direction will lift up working-class white communities while narrowing the racial income gap. Congress should also ensure that as many of those jobs as possible pay a living wage. This report shows that broad-spectrum, universal solutions to the economic crisis will neither solve the pervasive racial wealth divide nor end gaping racial differences in income. We need job-creation and foreclosure-prevention programs that are targeted to communities most in need, including those with the highest unemployment and foreclosure rates. Such focused strategies will not only help close the racial wealth divide, but will lift up working-class families of all races.”
A federally funded, state WPA kind of program monitored through equity assessments would ensure that program dollars would reach low income communities of color in Connecticut. UFE explains how equity assessments would function.
“To ensure that stimulus funds reach working class and disenfranchised communities, equity assessments should be required for all federal spending. A proper equity assessment will track where funds go, what jobs are created and in what communities. Demographic data on race, ethnicity, gender, class, and geography will be required for an equity assessment. This information will help future government programs reach the disenfranchised and the working class, the communities who must be at the center of an economic recovery.”
                                                                                       Racial Wage/Wealth Disparity
Blacks/Latinos currently earn about 60 cents for every dollar whites make, and possess about 10 cents of net wealth for every dollar whites have. Houses are the primary wealth asset for Blacks/Latinos. The toxic mortgage scam that contributed to the 2008 economic collapse disproportionately targeted people of color, who subsequently have lost their homes at a higher rate than whites. UFE recommends a plan to build wealth in low income communities of color.
Foreclosures – Draining the Wealth Reservoir:
Foreclosures continue to rise alarmingly. There were an estimated 3.4 million foreclosures in 2009 “Due to the rise in homeowner walk-a-ways, lack of forced bank modifications, growing unemployment figures… Housing Predictor forecasts foreclosures will now top 17 million homes through 2014.”

In addition to rampant unemployment, communities of color experience higher foreclosure rates due to racially targeted predatory lending, in which virtually every sector of the mortgage industry participated. A 2006 study that controlled for income and credit worthiness found that non-whites were significantly more likely than whites to receive high cost loans.

Revisiting the State of the Dream 2008: Foreclosed

The wealth-stripping effects of the recession and foreclosure crisis were documented in UFE’s 2008 State of the Dream: Foreclosed, which showed that predatory lending practices were stripping wealth from communities of color. People of color were more than three times more likely to have subprime loans than whites. Commonly, lenders gave people of color loans with less advantageous payment rates, even when they qualified for better ones. Lenders failed to provide those applying for a home loan with information on the strenuous repayment schedule. Lenders inserted stiff fines for people to pay to get out of a subprime loan if they discovered it was too expensive. Since homes are the main form of wealth for working-class families and especially for communities of color, these practices drained their wealth reservoirs to dangerously low levels.

Source: RealtyTrac reports, with NCRC projecting foreclosures for December 2009 (see Endnotes in report for full citation).
2007 2008 2009
In three years, there have been more than 7.1 million foreclosures in the U.S.

1,285,873
2,330,483
3,400,000 (estimate)

Over half of the mortgages to African Americans in recent years were high-cost subprime loans. This predatory lending formed the epicenter of the first stage of the foreclosure crisis. Significantly, more than 60 percent of those subprime loans went to borrowers whose credit ratings qualified them for lower-cost prime loans, according to a 2008 Wall Street Journal study.
The disproportionate damage from foreclosures compounds the economic challenges that communities of color face and makes their economic recovery more difficult. A recent study shows that workers laid off in an economic downturn can take up to 20 years to replace their lost earnings. Replacing the wealth stripped from communities by predatory lending and foreclosure could take even longer. And while some economic indicators are improving, unemployment and the foreclosure crisis continue to do long-lasting damage to the nation’s economy.
Are we narrowing or widening the racial wealth divide? Arresting the foreclosure crisis is a critical first step toward restoring health to the national economy. The housing industry employs millions of workers and provides the property tax base of cities across the country. Housing is also a main pillar of the nation’s credit markets; while that pillar remains shaky, credit cannot fully recover.
The irresponsible and predatory lending practices of our nation’s financial institutions directly led to the current foreclosure crisis that is stripping wealth from communities of color at alarming rates. The Obama Administration and Congress missed opportunities in 2009 to stop foreclosures, stabilize the economy, and start rebuilding wealth in the communities that the predatory mortgage industry targeted. Our government has an important role in protecting communities from the destructive actions of any party, be it the breaking and entering of a common burglar or the deceptive actions of the
mortgage industry. On this front, the government has failed.
While the Administration and Congress set up several programs to stem the tide of foreclosures, these efforts have been largely ineffective in getting the mortgage industry to renegotiate most mortgages.
Actions that could have been taken include:
• Declare an immediate moratorium on foreclosures. This would have stabilized housing markets, stopped the vicious spiral of wealth stripping in communities of color, and given the financial industry an incentive to renegotiate predatory loans.
• Give bankruptcy judges the power to lower mortgages for insolvent homeowners. This would have kept millions of families in their homes.
• Make mortgages more affordable by requiring cooperation from financial institutions with the affordability programs, including loan modifications, set up by the Administration.
• Strongly regulate financial markets and protect consumers. This would prevent future financial market failures that strip wealth and jobs from all communities and take down the nation’s economy.
Next week: Part II.
Follow CP on Twitter @CommunityParty1 for state, national and global headlines and updates on the Trayvon Martin, Safe Work Environment and Jane Doe Acts. Visit our No Sellout blog for the archive of CP Hartford News columns ( https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) and Northend Agent’s for selected columns. http://www.northendagents.com/  Check out the CP Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/CommunityPartyAction Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcement on our social justice platform. Contact us at 860-206-8879 or samuelssloflo@aol.com.
Resources
Explanation of bond credit rating:
United for a Fair Economy urban policy plan:
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Jackson Plan:
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
                                                                                           
                          

Leslie Bourne Fundraiser, Rep. Matt Ritter 2014, Justice for Luis Anglero, Jr., Stadium Update, Race for Governor, WFSB Racism

October 1, 2014

Headstone Fund for my Mom

This column appears in the October 2 – 9 edition of the Hartford News… “Hi my name is Jessica Bourne. I am here to ask for some funding for my mother’s headstone. My mother Leslie lived a life of struggle and addiction. And because of that she chose to give me a better life and gave me to my family. Sadly in 1992 she was murdered. Strangled to death by a man. Now because of the life she chose to live, my grandparents and family didn’t have a funeral or service for her. At the current time she is buried in the Medowvale cemetery with NOTHING to represent her life. I understand she made bad choices in life, but we all make mistakes and she did make the BEST choice by not allowing me to live through it all. Every time I go and visit her, there is NOTHING there, and it is heartbreaking. No matter what, EVERY person deserves a funeral or some sort of service to represent the life they lived!! All I am looking for is a small, flat granite stone with her name and birthday on it. Something small and simple. Please anything to help is very much appreciated.” Jessica’s goal is $2500. Visit her fundraising page to make a donation. http://www.gofundme.com/lesliebournefund You can follow Jessica on Twitter: @Ovo_JessLynn_xo

State Representative Matt Ritter 2014

State Representative Matt Ritter is running for reelection in the 1st Assembly District. You can get updates from Rep. Ritter on the Connecticut General Assembly website, Twitter and Facebook. See below for links. Rep. Ritter has supported the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act racial profiling bill, our Safe Work Environment Act legislation aimed at stopping workplace bullying and our effort to bring a publicly owned bank to Connecticut. Election Day is November 4th.

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

https://twitter.com/MattRitter308

https://www.facebook.com/RepresentativeMattRitter

Justice for Luis Anglero, Jr.

The Hartford Police “investigation” which cleared detective Shawn Ware of wrongdoing in his barbaric tasering of Luis Anglero, Jr. should not be a surprise to anyone in urban neighborhoods. The lynching of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman was not an isolated incident. The extrajudicial killing of Black people every 28 hours by police, security guards and vigilantes like Zimmerman is a public safety crisis. The Community Party’s 2015 Trayvon Martin Act addresses police containment of low income communities of color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/community-party-trayvon-martin-act-bill-language/ ICYMI Check out Northend Agent’s for my column on Michael Brown and propaganda by the so-called Racial Profiling Prohibition Project. http://www.northendagents.com/commentary-david-samuels-michael-brown-crp3-propaganda/

Stadium Update

As the Hartford stadium plan championed by Mayor Pedro Segarra and city council president Shawn Wooden clears legal hurdles at City Hall, the question that looms is whether or not the supermarket and health / nutrition complex that was originally planned for the site of the stadium will be a part of the equation. Wooden spoke enthusiastically about the “vision” for a full service supermarket during a city council meeting on the stadium plan last week, a big change from the past couple of months when the supermarket was not mentioned at all by Segarra or his communications director Maribel La Luz and glossed over by Wooden. Shop Rite has emerged as a possible tenant: the supermarket chain requested an increase of the original 25,000 square feet allotted for a grocery store. Up to 50,000 square feet is now the plan. A source told me that Shop Rite is open to the idea of housing a “healthy hub” in the Downtown North location. However the issue of access remains. How will North Hartford residents get to the supermarket on days that the stadium is in use? Traffic congestion and lack of parking would be a major issue. This problem must be resolved if the supermarket plan is to be considered viable in terms of serving the North End, the current site of a food desert. http://www.foodispower.org/food-deserts/ Stay tuned for updates.

Race for Governor / WFSB Racism

WFSB Face the State host Dennis House continued his repugnant display of racism and classism when Gov. Dannel Malloy appeared on the program last month to talk about his election battle against Republican challenger Tom Foley. House, Connecticut Mirror reporter Mark Pazniokas and Connecticut Magazine group editor Matt DeRienzo did not ask Malloy any questions about core urban issues (e.g. poverty, Black / Latino unemployment, racial wage / wealth gap, mass incarceration) during the program, despite the fact that Malloy held a press conference a few days earlier to promote an initiative which he promised would address the jobless rate in communities of color. House also ignored Black / Latino communities while serving as the moderator of the second debate between Malloy and Foley Tuesday night, opting instead to talk about compelling topics such as three digit license plates and whether or not the incumbent and the challenger have ever smoked a joint. House’s refusal to acknowledge the plight of urban neighborhoods was underscored by the recent release of U.S. Census data which reveals that child poverty, the poverty rate among families, the amount of people whose income is below the federal poverty level and the number of residents without health insurance in Connecticut have all increased since 2003. http://www.ctvoices.org/publications/poverty-median-income-and-health-insurance-connecticutsummary-2013-american-community-s House, the personification of white privilege, obviously doesn’t give a shit about poor people in this state.

House uses Face the State to promote an elitist, corporatist agenda, a prime example being his role as a shill for the Hartford stadium plan. I have seen one Face the State program which included opponents of the stadium; the rest have been infomercials for the proposal. House recently made an assertion about unnamed, unseen North End residents who think that the stadium is a great idea, by golly. House obviously hasn’t talked to Jamil Ragland, a resident of North Hartford who eloquently explained his opposition to the stadium when he was interviewed by New York Times reporter Benjamin Mueller in July. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/12/nyregion/hartfords-stadium-plan-for-the-new-britain-rock-cats-is-a-hard-sell.html?_r=0 The fact is that House doesn’t want Jamil or any other uppity Black or Latino North End residents who oppose the stadium on his show. Of course House is just being a company man (see Resources below). WFSB promotes three images of North Hartford residents: 1) chalk outlines in the street 2) mugshots 3) shiftless spooks who don’t vote. House’s role as Hartford Stadium Plan Minister of Information is sickening to watch.

My next column will feature an analysis of Malloy and Foley’s urban policy plans. Yeah, Foley’s plan is plagiarized, but let’s actually examine what’s in it. My concern is the hidden agenda and contradictions that I noted while reading the plan. http://www.tomfoleyct.com/2014/09/24/plan-restoring-pride-prosperity-connecticut-urban-policy-agenda/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=sp&utm_campaign=20140924_21496828_Foley-Somers%20for%20Connecticut&utm_content=body_text_urbanpolicyagenda1&Auto_Number=&action=email_click Malloy’s urban agenda (if that’s what you want to call it) can be read here. http://www.danmalloy2014.com/economy/ It won’t take long. That’s the problem.

Community Update: Last but not least, the AFSCME Safe Workplace Committee thanks those who attended the September 17 Meet and Greet in New Britain. Stay tuned for updates on the committee’s efforts to educate AFSCME members about workplace bullying and its effects. 15% of total adult suicides are related to abusive workplace conduct, which the Department of Health and Human Services says is the equivalent of domestic violence. http://www.foh.hhs.gov/eapnews/consortium/dealing.html

Follow CP on Twitter @CommunityParty1 for state, national and global headlines and updates on the Trayvon Martin, Safe Work Environment and Jane Doe Acts. Visit our No Sellout blog for the archive of CP Hartford News columns. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/ Check out the CP Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/CommunityPartyAction Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcement on our social justice platform. Contact us at 860-206-8879 or samuelssloflo@aol.com.

Resources

Network 1976 – Turn off your TV! (combined with today’s news):

Network 1976 – Ned Beatty – The World is a Business

Information Clearing House article on the corporate state:

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

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report on the extrajudicial killing of Black people:

http://www.operationghettostorm.org/

United for a Fair Economy report on racial economic disparity:

http://www.faireconomy.org/state_of_the_dream_2010_fact_sheet

David Samuels

Founder

Community Party