2015 Legislative Session: Shook CT Democrats Continue to Move Toward Right

                                                                          

 Community Update                                                          
 This column appears in the January 15 – 22 edition of the Hartford News…. Mary Sanders was a guest on For the Greater Good with Evelyn Richardson Wednesday to talk about the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act. Mary wrote our bill language. The video of the interview is available on the Access TV website.  http://accesstv.org/archives/3958  Rep. Matt Ritter’s racial profiling bill, An Act Concerning The Requirements Of The Alvin W. Penn Racial Profiling Prohibition Act, includes CP’s Trayvon Martin Act traffic stop receipt amendment.  https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/rep-matt-ritters-essay-on-his-2015-legislative-objectives/   Trayvon Martin Act bill language: https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/community-party-trayvon-martin-act-bill-language/
Mayor Pedro Segarra, who announced last week that he will run for reelection in 2015, ducked a question from WFSB Face the State host Dennis House on economic conditions in North Hartford. Segarra directed people to check on the hiring totals for people of color in City Hall, which was a ridiculous response. The inconvenient fact is that the poverty rate in Hartford continues to rise, and the unemployment numbers for Blacks and Latinos are a disgrace, hovering at Depression-era levels. See the main story below and our Resources section for details.
Martin Luther King Day is Monday, January 19. Check out Resources for a feature on how the ruling class has distorted the image of Dr. King, by burying his radical critique of structural racism, classism and militarism. William F. Pepper, Dr. King’s attorney, talks about Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign and his plan to run for President as a third party candidate in 1968. The United for a Fair Economy State of the Dream report uses the Poor People’s Campaign as a blueprint for economic justice; we have provided a link to the report along with an article from The Nation on the Ferguson movement and the Freedom Budget for All Americans, a public policy plan released in 1966 that Dr. King collaborated on with other activists and scholars.
   A Conservative Tidal Wave Hits the State Capitol
Outgoing House Republican leader Larry Cafero did everything but perform a cartwheel following the 2014 state elections. Even though GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley was soundly defeated by incumbent Gov. Dannel Malloy, Cafero was ecstatic because the Republicans won a Senate seat and 10 House seats: the GOP now holds the most House seats since 1994. That was the year U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich orchestrated a sea change in national politics with his archconservative policies. Gingrich’s reign of terror included a bipartisan ‘welfare reform’ bill, supported by President Bill Clinton, that included draconian provisions which have fueled the cycle of poverty in this country. Cafero gushed to Courant reporter Chris Keating about the election results, which give the Republicans 64 House seats (the Democrats hold 87 seats) and narrowed the Democrats’ majority in the Senate to 21-15. “This was historic. We went into the 2010 election with 37 members, and we’ve picked up 27 seats in four years. Don’t tell me it’s a blue state.”
Cafero went on to tell Keating about the impact of having 12 conservative Democrats in the House. “The tally in the House will be 87 Democrats and 64 Republicans, but Cafero says that the extra seats will increase the leverage of moderate Democrats. If only 12 moderate Democrats join with 64 Republicans, they would gain the majority on a particular vote in the 151-seat chamber. In recent years, that type of close vote could have had an effect on issues such as the death penalty, raising the minimum wage, mandating paid sick days for certain service workers, the state budget and gun control, Cafero said.” All but one of the House Democrats who voted yes on the 2013 gun control bill that was passed in response to the Newtown school shootings lost their seats. The Republicans also successfully distorted a racial justice bill in order to scare suburban voters.
The drug free school zone bill, which has been debated at the State Capitol for several years, would reduce the drug free school zone in Connecticut from 1500 to 200 feet. The law in its present form results in the disproportionate incarceration of Blacks and Latinos. Sen. Gary Winfield explained the importance of the bill in a commentary that appeared in this column last year.  https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/political-roundup-bedford-street-fire-update-sen-gary-holder-winfield-talks-about-the-ct-drug-free-school-zone-law-r-i-p-chokwe-lumumba/ The GOP portrays the legislation as a dope dealer assistance program, ignoring the data that reveals the racist impact of the current law. The law also defies logic as it remains in effect when schools are closed, resulting in a mandatory minimum sentence for anyone caught selling narcotics within 1500 feet of an empty building.
The Republican mantra in defense of the law is ‘we must protect the children’. They obviously don’t care about the Black and Latino children living in poverty stricken communities of color, where the unemployment rate for Blacks is double the number for whites. Lacking opportunity, Black and Brown youths turn to the underground economy to make money. The Dope Man is the biggest employer in low income urban neighborhoods. While a white teen in a suburban town has a chance to get a drug related offense expunged thanks to the dearth of areas covered by the school zone law, a Black/Latino youth faces certain jail time due to simple geography.
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey’s comment to Keating underscores the endangered species status of legislation such as the drug free school zone bill, and the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin and Safe Work Environment Acts in 2015. “A smaller margin on the Democratic caucus means we’re going to need to be that much more careful about what we’re putting on the floor and whether we have the votes. So, clearly, that’s going to be a factor.” In other words, progressive lawmakers in the Democratic Party face marginalization for at least the next two years. The Democrats’ cowardly shift toward the right is reflected in moves such as the appointment of conservative party member William Tong as co-chair of the Judiciary Committee. http://ctmirror.org/sharkey-names-committee-chairs/  A strong push from progressive activists and community residents will be critical to passing racial justice legislation and bills which will benefit the working class and the poor.
Malloy’s State of the State address was more of the same. Not one word about poverty, which continues to increase statewide according to a U.S. Census report. http://www.ctvoices.org/publications/poverty-median-income-and-health-insurance-connecticutsummary-2013-american-community-s  No mention of the need to reform the state’s regressive tax code, despite a Connecticut Department of Revenue Services report which found that low income families in Connecticut are paying more in taxes than the wealthy.  http://wnpr.org/post/connecticuts-wealthiest-pay-smallest-share-their-income-taxes No talk about the aforementioned unemployment rates in low income communities of color. Not a peep about the need to address police containment of Black and Latino communities, despite the protests which are sweeping the country. http://blackagendareport.com/node/14591 Last but not least, Malloy avoided the topic of how he would close the $1.3 billion state budget deficit. Senate President Martin Looney did not rule out the possibility of tax increases during his appearance on the Fox CT The Real Story Sunday talk show.
Malloy touted the inadequate $10.10 minimum wage increase, which won’t go in effect until 2017 and doesn’t include inflation indexing. http://www.epi.org/publication/webfeatures_snapshots_20051221/   He boasted about the gun control bill which doesn’t address gun violence in urban communities. Malloy beat his chest about the Affordable Care Act, which still leaves as many as 36 million people uninsured, and took credit for education legislation that the General Assembly passed after rejecting most of the provisions in Malloy’s anti-teacher education bill. The remainder of Malloy’s address focused on transportation, his signature issue for 2015. Malloy pledged to ban lawmakers’ practice of raiding the state transportation fund in order to balance the budget, a tactic he supported during his first term. He went on and on about until the break of dawn about creating a transportation infrastructure which will connect communities. All eyes of course will be on CTfastrak, also known as the New Britain-Hartford Busway, Malloy’s pet project that has been maligned by conservatives.
People of color should be vigilant in pushing Malloy and Democrats in the General Assembly to address the plight of low income communities of color, where residents are deeply impacted by transportation issues. Maya Wiley, director of the Center for Social Inclusion, talked to Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman about the connection between transportation and economic justice.
“How are (states) going to ensure that some of the discretionary resources (states) have go to transit projects that are going to recognize where people are transit-starved? And how are (states) going to connect those people to job centers? Because our jobs are increasingly across regions. They’re not just in our local communities. So people have to have a way to travel.
“You know, in the New York metropolitan area between 1935 and 2000, I think we added 1,600 miles of highway. Well, not only is that bad for the environment, low-income people, particularly people of color, don’t have cars. So that doesn’t provide a transportation system that ensures that people can connect to the jobs where they are. I think that the two most obvious (issues) — there are many, but the two most obvious are: we must have community benefits agreements for construction jobs — we must ensure that when the government has construction contracts, it ensures that low-income people, people of color, women, are going to have their fair share of those jobs; and we must ensure that the way transit dollars — well, I should say ‘transportation’ dollars — get spent go to transit and really go to the smart projects that are going to connect people who need jobs to places where there are jobs.”
The CT Democrats’ actions since the 2014 elections highlights the one major difference between them and the Republicans. When the GOP loses an election, their reaction is to double down and become even more extreme and racist. The Democrats are running scared, pandering to conservatives while dissing their voter base, as usual. We need a third party movement.
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin and Safe Work Environment Acts, including action alerts. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1    Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com
Resources
Democracy Now! report on Center of Social Inclusion study of the impact of the 2008 economic meltdown on low income communities of color. Connecticut was included in the study:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Struggling Not to Lose Him:
Interview with William F. Pepper, Martin Luther King’s attorney:
United for a Fair Economy State of the Dream report:
Commentary on the Ferguson Movement and the Freedom Budget for All Americans:
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party

 
                                        

 

                                       
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