Archive for March, 2017

Hartford Gun Violence / Health Care Reform Means Everybody Has Health Care

March 30, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the March 30 – April 6 edition of the Hartford News.

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

Action Alert: Support the Meagen Hockaday and Trayvon Martin Acts!

 

The Meagen Hockaday Act has been officially filed: S.B. No. 440
Visit our No Sellout blog for details on how you can support this police reform legislation.
Trayvon Martin Act
The Judiciary Committee has raised H.B. 7258 introduced by House Majority Leader Matt Ritter.
 
 
Safe Work Environment Act
The Safe Work Environment Act would eliminatlegal barriers that people currently face when they file a lawsuit against their employer.
Community Update
 
 
 
Poverty is State Sponsored Violence
 
 
I saw Mayor Luke Bronin and the usual suspects talking about the tragic murder of Hartford teen Keon Huff, Jr. Poverty = violence. Hartford annually has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation. The Democrats on the city and state level are depriving Hartford and other urban areas of jobs and resources.
Gov. Dan Malloy has introduced another racist, neoliberal budget that slashes funding for human services (including the closure of Blue Hills Substance Abuse Services), while providing tax cuts to the rich. Bronin is pushing to close public schools and cut city employees’ wages and benefits, while Malloy does the same to state workers (I’m a state employee) – the public sector is the largest employer of Black people and women.
The violence in Hartford streets is a DIRECT RESULT of the fiscal policies of the Democrats, who have controlled this city for decades. The proliferation of guns is connected to the underground economy that thrives in low income communities of color. There are no shootings on the streets of West Hartford, Avon and Greenwich. Economic prosperity is the largest component of public safety. Poverty is state sponsored violence. Bronin, Malloy and the Democrats must be held accountable.
 
There’s an excellent piece in the Huffington Post on missing Black and Latinx teens in DC. The point of the column is that missing Black and Latinx youths don’t get mainstream media coverage because many live in poor areas, and are consequently viewed as being less valuable. This story is directly related to the Democratic Party depriving communities of color of jobs and resources. Many of these Black and Brown teens are running away from chaotic environments resulting from poverty. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/theres-a-bigger-story-behind-the-viral-tweets-about-missing-black-and-latinx-teens-in-dc-trafficking_us_58cc0a65e4b00705db4f182b?
Poverty is man made, a result of fiscal policy decisions by elected officials. Malloy’s budget caters to the rich and big donors to the CT Democrats. This is the conversation that many Blacks who support the Democrats don’t want to have – they prefer to scapegoat the parents, and the youths themselves (‘Pull your pants up!’). If you’re upset about what’s happening in Hartford and DC, get mad about how the Democrats, who control most urban areas, are setting up Black and Latinx youths to fail. As this column went to press, the city’s ninth homicide occurred on Washington Street; Hartford Police said they believe the murder is drug related. Check out the Resources section for the Community Party’s Sandra Bland Police Reform & Economic Justice Plan.
 
 
The Bipartisan War on State Employees
 
 
Last Friday state employees testified against a slew of anti-labor bills and protested at the Legislative Office Building. The people (including the Yankee Institute) who are bashing state employees have no problem with the CT businesses who are stashing $40 billion in offshore accounts (ConnPIRG report) or the $7 billion in revenue the state loses yearly, due to corporate tax breaks (CT Voices for Children report). Those who bash the ‘greedy’ state workers (average salary $50,000) who have agreed to concessions twice since 2009, for having the gall to demand that the rich and corporations also contribute to this ‘shared sacrifice’ are either tools of the wealthy and big business (Yankee Institute), or dupes who regurgitate what they’re fed by the corporate media. Just know that the bipartisan attack on the working class in this state won’t end with state workers. After the decades of wage / benefits gains by public sector workers are rolled back and the bar is lowered, they will come for you next… Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton turned a $6 billion state budget deficit into a $1 billion surplus by raising taxes on individuals earning $150,000 and couples earning $250,000 when filing jointly. He also raised the minimum wage, and passed a law requiring equal pay for women. Facts trump ignorant rhetoric. The state employee unions aren’t helping matters, as they continue to endorse the Democrats who are savagely attacking their members. This is why Malloy and many Dems feel like they can smack around state employees all they want, even as their power in the General Assembly rapidly erodes. The Republicans will most likely take control of the Governor’s Mansion and the legislature in 2018. It’s up to the workers to identify third party candidates on the city and state level who will truly support labor.
 
Black is Back Coalition Seeks Electoral Candidates
“The Democratic Party acts like it owns Black America. It certainly owns most of the Black political (Misleadership) class, who have used their local, state and national offices to facilitate the mass Black incarceration regime at every stage of its deployment. These servants of the police state and war need to be challenged by candidates that reflect the left-leaning politics of Black America. The Black Is Back Coalition is seeking candidates.
The Black Is Back Coalition, having last year produced a 19-point National Black Agenda for Self-Determination, is now exploring ways to field or support Black radical candidates willing to run for office on a self-determinationist platform. To kick the project off, the Coalition will hold a two-day Electoral Candidate School on April 8 and 9, in St. Petersburg, Florida.”  https://blackagendareport.com/don%27t_vote_for_black_misleaders
 
 
Policy Watch: Obamacare + Trumpcare = No Care, Single Payer is Real Reform
 
 
Last Friday President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan agreed to pull the American Health Care Act aka Trumpcare, because it didn’t have enough votes. Liberals are celebrating Obamacare, a health care law conceived by the right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation, written by insurance industry lobbyists and first implemented by Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, that leaves 24 million people uninsured. The reason why Trumpcare didn’t pass was because it was even worse. That’s not something to rejoice about. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that doesn’t have single payer health care. Do a victory lap when EVERYBODY has health care.
Now if only liberals would get outraged about 24 million people being uninsured under Obamacare like they did about the even worse Trumpcare, or about Obama bombing seven predominantly Muslim countries as they are about Trump’s Muslim ban, we could start to really change this country. Looking at liberals gloating on social media, it’s clear that for many liberals and conservatives the health care issue was NEVER about health care – it was about ‘my party can whoop your party’.
Ralph Nader made an excellent point regarding Bernie Sanders: if Sanders truly wants single payer health care, he should have introduced a single payer bill by now. Instead he wouldn’t do it, because Democratic Party leaders were telling him that the focus should be on protecting Obamacare. Last Sunday Sanders said on CNN’s State of the Union program that he will introduce single payer legislation. Nader pointed out that the conservative Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial, saying that if the Republicans can’t pass Trumpcare, they might as well pursue a single payer health care system. The United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t use single payer, because insurance companies spend millions of dollars lobbying Congress and whoever is in the White House to prop up the current system. The United States is ranked #38 in quality of health care by the World Health Organization. France, which uses single payer, is #1. Trumpcare would have resulted in another 24 million people losing their insurance by 2026. The more appropriate names for the current law and its failed replacement are ‘Obama don’t care’ and ‘Trump couldn’t care less’. THIS IS NOT HEALTH CARE REFORM.
Here is a partial 2016 list of the amount of money spent by health insurance companies on lobbying, courtesy of opensecrets.org.
Total for Insurance: $146,662,996
Total Number of Clients Reported: 168
Total Number of Lobbyists Reported: 857 
Total Number of Revolvers: 490 (57.2%)
Campaign Contributions from this industry
View totals by: Client/Parent | Subsidiary/Affiliate
/Parent Total
Blue Cross/Blue Shield $13,846,109
Prudential Financial $9,400,000
America’s Health Insurance Plans $6,960,000
Metlife Inc $5,110,000
Northwestern Mutual $4,700,000
American Council of Life Insurers $4,522,000
Cigna Corp $4,520,000
USAA $4,490,000
New York Life Insurance $4,260,000
Property Casualty Insurers Assn/America $4,180,000
AFLAC Inc $3,740,000
Nationwide $3,650,000
State Farm Insurance $3,252,000
Allstate Insurance $3,130,000
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance $2,840,000
Travelers Companies $2,730,000
Chubb INA $2,600,000
Zurich Financial Services $2,600,000
Liberty Mutual $2,460,000
Allianz $2,420,000
National Assn of Insurance & Financial Advisors $2,315,195
Guardian Life Insurance $2,260,000
AEGON NV $2,220,000
Association for Advanced Life Underwriting $2,195,282
Loews Corp $2,103,670
Genworth Financial $1,942,509
Primerica Inc $1,780,000
Manulife Financial $1,670,000
Alliance for Community Health Plans $1,600,000
National Assn/Mutual Insurance Companies $1,580,000
American Insurance Assn $1,530,000
Hartford Financial Services $1,510,000
Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers $1,440,000
Reinsurance Assn of America $1,430,000
Lloyd’s of London $1,330,000
Indep Insurance Agents & Brokers/America $1,330,000
National Assn of Health Underwriters $1,320,000
Swiss Reinsurance $1,230,000
Lincoln National Corp $1,170,000
American International Group $1,150,000
eHealth Inc $1,100,000
Pacific Mutual Holding $905,034
Marsh & McLennan $900,000
AON PLC $810,000
Mutual Of Omaha $788,000
Ambac Financial Group $750,000
Delta Dental Plans Assn $730,000
Unum Group $710,000
Assurant Inc $670,000
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans $630,000
American Fidelity Assurance $600,000
Prudential PLC $560,000
National Assn of Dental Plans $530,000
Assn of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers $510,000
When you hear a member of Congress or a president talking about health care, you’re hearing money talking. Medicare for all. Everybody in, nobody out. The rest of the world does it.
 
Resources
 
Community Party urban policy paper:
New York State Senate Single Payer Bill:
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948  Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com

 

The Trump War Budget & Liberal Hypocrisy

March 24, 2017
by David Samuels
This column appears in the March 23 – 30 edition of the Hartford News.
Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! http://www.sometroradio.com/ Next show: April 4. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/…
Community Party Radio Podcasts
Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/…
Action Alert: Support the Meagen Hockaday and Trayvon Martin Acts!
The Meagen Hockaday Act has been officially filed: S.B. No. 440
Visit our No Sellout blog for details on how you can support this police reform legislation.
Trayvon Martin Act
The Judiciary Committee has raised H.B. 7258 introduced by House Majority Leader Matt Ritter.
Safe Work Environment Act
The Safe Work Environment Act would eliminate legal barriers that people currently face when they file a lawsuit against their employer.
Community Update: Mike Brown
The new Mike Brown video isn’t shocking to anyone who is familiar with the underground economy, which flourishes in low income communities of color. People with no money go into neighborhood stores and work out deals for goods or cash. In 2010 ColorLines reporter Seth Freed Wessler did an investigative piece on welfare recipients in Hartford, who are forced to sell food stamps on the black market to pay for basic necessities. Bodega owners and employees are involved in these transactions.
Black Agenda Report commentator Glen Ford talked to The Real News Network about the video, which contradicts the Ferguson police narrative that Mike Brown robbed a convenience store before he was lynched by officer Darren Wilson.
“We see that the police have no problem – they specialize in spinning selected pieces of evidence, or even non-evidence, to back up the righteousness of their subsequent actions. And we see how what could have been, just a rather innocent episode in an informal economy in the poor neighborhood, gets turned into something quite insidious, and deadly. That’s one aspect. But the other points, and I think it’s even more important, is that even if the police spin on the events in …that store were true, even if they were true, they provide no justification whatsoever for the actual crime that took place. And that crime was the murder of Michael Brown by the police — the murder of an unarmed Michael Brown by that cop.
“That is separate from, and cannot be used; the events in the store cannot be used as a predicate to justify that killing. But we see that, in fact, is in sync with police procedures. With the whole mentality, the whole story line that’s created by not just the police, but their allies in the media and in political office who paint a picture of these deadly young black folks who are plundering communities, and are always in a state of lawlessness, and need to be encountered with deadly force by police all of the time.
It’s a character assassination, not of Michael Brown, specifically, because his actual identity is not important to these cops, but a character assassination of black young men, period. To show that they are at any moment, deserving of death.”
Policy Watch – Trump Budget Triggers Liberals’ Selective Outrage
Liberals are screaming about President Trump’s despicable human services budget cuts; many of you didn’t have anything to say when Barack Obama did the same damn thing. Many Connecticut liberals have been silent about Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy’s human services cuts.
Black folks, liberals’ reaction to President Donald Trump’s unconscionable human services budget cuts is a prime example of why the Democrats should not get any votes from people of color in 2018. These hypocrites didn’t have a problem with how the Clintons dismantled cash assistance and fueled poverty in urban neighborhoods, with Bill’s 1996 racist welfare bill. They were fine with Obama slashing human services funding during his presidency. This selective outrage is all about returning the Democrats to power.
Ralph Nader broke down the Trump budget during an interview with Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. “Well, so much for Donald Trump’s campaign promises to the forgotten men and women of America. They’re the ones who are the big losers, as you pointed out with your many examples of these budget cuts. Overall, this is a budget that reflects corporatism, militarism and racism. The mask is off Donald Trump, his braggadocio, his lurid promises, his assurances that everything will be safe, and people will have—all people will have health insurance, and there will be plenty of jobs. The mask is off. The fangs are now out. And he is collaborating with what is, on the record, the most vicious, ignorant Republican Party in its history, since 1854. Senator Robert Taft, a conservative in the Senate in the 1950s, would have been astonished at the viciousness, the corporatism, the militarism, the racism of these Republicans, with few exceptions.
Now, when you go into this 50-page-or-so budget—the details will all come out, Amy, in May, in a bigger budget. When you go into it, you see that Sean Spicer’s daily assurances, that they want to go after what he calls inefficiency, waste and government duplicity, leaves out hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate fraud on the taxpayer. For example, they talk about the need to cut healthcare in this way and that way and push 14 million people off the health insurance rolls in a year, and 24 million by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office, or thereabouts. Just look at this. He says he doesn’t—he doesn’t want to fund programs that don’t work. OK. Almost $10 billion a year, since Reagan—a year—is spent on a total boondoggle project in the Pentagon called ballistic missile defense. It doesn’t work. It won’t work. We’re talking about the intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Society of Physicists, which includes physicists who consult with the Pentagon, have said that it won’t work, it’s too easily decoyed by balloons. There are a lot of other easier ways to get nuclear weapons in a country than this way. And yet, as a corporate welfare program for Raytheon, Boeing and others, it goes on every day. Now, this is a budget inside the Pentagon that’s bigger than the entire budget of the Environmental Protection Agency. So, you see they’re not going after the corporate crime, the corporate waste, the corporate fraud, that lathers itself throughout the federal budget.”
The following 2010 World Socialist Website analysis of Obama’s budget is similar to Nader’s observations on Trump’s budget plan. Where was the liberal outrage?
Obama budget: War, debt and cuts in social services
By Patrick Martin
February 2, 2010
The Obama administration’s budget for the 2011 fiscal year, unveiled Monday, projects massive US government deficits for the next decade, fueled by gargantuan military spending and the impact of the financial and economic crisis of American and world capitalism. The US national debt is projected to more than double over the coming decade, increasing by $8.5 trillion.
Administration officials also revealed that for the current fiscal year, which ends September 30, 2010, the federal deficit will approach $1.6 trillion, by far the largest ever, and nearly 11 percent of total US gross domestic product. This is up sharply from the $1.35 trillion estimate last week by the Congressional Budget Office.
The mushrooming deficit for the current year is largely a byproduct of the worsening economic crisis, which has simultaneously depressed tax revenues and forced the expenditure of much greater sums for unemployment compensation and other mandatory programs.
The amount Obama proposes to spend on “job creation” in the 2011 budget, only $100 billion, is a drop in the bucket. If it was translated entirely into jobs, with no overhead costs or business profits, it would mean two million jobs paying $50,000 apiece—in a country with an estimated 20 million unemployed or underemployed.
As it is, however, not a penny of the $100 billion is for hiring workers. It consists largely of tax cuts for businesses that hire workers or raise their pay, extended unemployment benefits, and aid to state and local governments.
While the White House seeks to focus attention on the so-called job creation initiative, this spending is dwarfed by the real priorities of the administration—the gargantuan military establishment, and interest payments on the national debt, which go disproportionately to the wealthy and to foreign creditors.
The budget calls for an additional $33 billion in war funding for the current fiscal year, to pay for Obama’s increase of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, and for a total of $159 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan combined next year. Together with the $549 billion in the regular Pentagon budget, this brings total direct US military spending in FY 2011 to more than $708 billion. There is considerable indirect spending, including nearly all the budget of the Department of Energy, which operates the nuclear weapons manufacturing process.
Counting the additional funds requested this year for Afghanistan, total US spending in 2010 and 2011 for the two wars will come to $322 billion, compared to $354 billion in the final two years of the Bush administration. “
Militarism, corporatism and racism is not cool when the Democrats do it. Liberals’ hypocrisy regarding the Trump budget is so obvious, it’s sickening.
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samu… Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/ Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio

March 20, 2017

St. Louis activist Toni Taylor will join us Tuesday, March 21 on Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio to discuss the new Mike Brown video, the community response in Ferguson, and the importance of focusing on the reason why former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was acquitted: a rigged grand jury process. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. http://www.sometroradio.com/

New Footage Sheds Light On Michael Brown Case & Suggests He Did Not Rob The Store Before Being Fatally Shot By Ferguson Police! (courtesy of Hip Hop Entertainment)

Hartford CPRB Vote / Trump & Malloy Agree on Austerity

March 17, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the March 16 – 23 edition of the Hartford News.

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio

Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in!

http://www.sometroradio.com/

Next show: March 21. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/…/12/20/community-party-medi…/
Community Party Radio Podcasts

Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/…/podcast-community-party-ra…/
Action Alert: Support the Meagen Hockaday and Trayvon Martin Acts!

The Meagen Hockaday Act has been officially filed: S.B. No. 440

https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp…

Visit our No Sellout blog for details on how you can support this police reform legislation.
https://hendu39.wordpress.com/…/action-alert-support-the-m…/

Trayvon Martin Act

The Judiciary Committee has raised H.B. 7258 introduced by House Majority Leader Matt Ritter.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/…/action-alert-support-the-t…/

Safe Work Environment Act

The Safe Work Environment Act would eliminate legal barriers that people currently face when they file a lawsuit against their employer.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/…/real-protection-against-wo…/
UPDATE: Hartford Civilian Police Review Board
Hartford Civilian Police Review Board appointments were discussed Monday by the city council. Council President Thomas Clarke announced that the council members can amend the current city ordinance, allowing the council to appoint Board members along with Mayor Bronin, and increase the number of Board members from the current number of 11. Council member Wildaliz Bermudez pointed out that Ricardo Torres has had perfect attendance during his tenure as a Board volunteer, and is the only Board member with law enforcement training. The Board voted for Torres to be replaced by a Bronin appointee; he could be added back to the Board by the city council.

Policy Watch: The Cost of Neoliberalism

Last month 2-year-old Lavontay White became a casualty of gun violence in Chicago. Long before people on the outside looking in were parroting President Donald Trump’s call to send “the feds” into the city (a pretext to increase police repression), Jill Stein visited Chicago while she was running for president as the Green Party candidate. She walked the streets and talked to the people who actually live there. Residents told Dr. Stein that their communities are being deprived of jobs and resources, and that money should also be put into education. They added that law enforcement efforts should be focused on the gun traffickers who are providing weapons to gang members. Poverty = violence.

Zaida Berrios got a response from Chicago activist Ja’Mal Green, who commented on his Facebook post about the gang related shooting death of Lavontay. Activists are raising money to open a youth center, because urban areas like Chicago are deprived of jobs and resources. Black people in Chicago don’t need your hand wringing and judgmental social media posts. They need money for their communities. Put your money where your mouth is.
https://www.gofundme.com/MajosteeAllstars/donat

The Shadow Proof website reported on Dr. Stein’s Chicago visit. https://shadowproof.com/…/jill-stein-green-party-campaign-…/ “Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein wrapped up a day of campaigning in Chicago on September 8 with a rally that brought several hundred supporters to their feet multiple times. Earlier in the day, she was in the South Austin neighborhood to talk to residents.
Community activists and a few residents joined Stein for a ‘reality walk’ through the neighborhood. The community has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the city, but it also suffers from residential segregation, loss of industrial jobs, disinvestment, and exceptionally high unemployment.
Stein shared after her walk that South Austin residents had told her ‘they need jobs. They need an answer to the violence and the guns that they believe are being supplied to the community, that these guns are being made available through illegal means and that should be a highest priority for investigating.’
Residents in communities like South Austin also ‘need good schools. They need after school programs. They need youth programs. They need job training. They need housing and an end to the foreclosures. They need to reuse the housing that is just lying waste, empty now, to rehab that housing and create jobs.’
Elijah Sims, a young black teen who was about a day away from his 17th birthday, was shot and killed in South Austin on August 29. Stein was asked about the shooting and what she would recommend to white residents, who may be afraid to organize in the west side because they fear violence in the community.

‘We are a divided nation,’ Stein answered. ‘We are a nation that’s locked into fear, and we’re an armed nation because we’re afraid of each other.’ ‘There is a living legacy of the institution of slavery because it kind of went from slavery to lynchings to Jim Crow to the red lining of communities to mass incarceration to the war on drugs, which is a war on black and brown communities, and then to police violence. We have this history of really entrenched racism and the flip side of that being white privilege and white supremacy.’

(Vice presidential nominee Ajamu) Baraka had assertive words for those who ignore the poverty and only rail against the violence in communities, like west and south neighborhoods of Chicago. ‘People talk about [how] we need to deal with the issue of violence in the city. We understand that. But I say if you’re not talking about how we deal with these social and economic grinding conditions, I don’t want to talk about the violence,’ Baraka said.”

Conditions in Chicago, Hartford and other urban areas nationwide will worsen, due to the bipartisan attack on the working class, the poor and human services providers. Gov. Dan Malloy’s state budget proposal and Trump’s federal budget plan both include reductions to the estate and gift tax, while slashing funding for human services. Connecticut Voices for Children issued a statement on other proposed legislation at the State Capitol.

*****

Several proposals will reduce or eliminate estate and gift taxes and decrease taxes on retiree income… Connecticut needs a balanced budget approach that includes adequate revenue raised through a transparent and equitable tax structure. There is no evidence that tax policy causes residents to flee the state… Exempting retirement income from state income taxes not only reduces revenue in the short term, but given the state’s aging population, will have a bigger impact in the coming years.
Our Position: Should the legislature choose to adopt retiree income tax exemptions, we recommend that lawmakers target relief to residents earning less than $150,000 to reduce the fiscal impact of the measure and make it more equitable. Should the legislature choose to reduce gift or estate taxes, which help to reduce existing income and wealth disparity across the state, we encourage lawmakers to cover the cost of any cuts with income tax or capital gains tax increases for high earners.

Estate tax changes:

S.B. 5 An act increasing the estate tax exemption
S.B. 58 An act repealing the estate tax
S.B. 62 An act repealing the gift tax
H.B. 6358 An act exempting family-owned farm land from the estate and gift taxes

Retirement and social security exemptions:

S.B. 6 An act exempting social security income from the personal income tax
S.B. 272 An act phasing in an exemption from the personal income tax for certain pension income
H.B. 6558 An act exempting social security benefits from the personal income tax
H.B. 5587 An act concerning a tax exemption for senior´s social security benefits

Property tax and local finance:

S.B.7 An act concerning property tax relief for business
S.B.8 An act authorizing municipalities to levy a local sales tax
S.B.415 An act increasing the property tax credit under the personal income tax for a primary residence or motor vehicle

From AFSCME and AFT CT:

The state legislature’s Appropriations Committee will hear testimony on a dangerous new batch of proposed bills that attack our pay, our benefits, our rights and our futures.

We need to raise our voice in opposition to these continued assaults.
WHEN: Friday, March 24, beginning at 10:00 AM. (The hearing will run into the evening and there will be actions to take part in, so come when you can).
WHERE: The Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Ave., Hartford (located next to the State Capitol). Free and paid parking available.
The legislature’s budget-writing committee has raised dozens of anti-worker bills for public hearing, including proposals to:

Kill binding arbitration awards and agreements (SB 158, SB 268, HB 5013);
Destroy retirement security for state employees (HB 5695, HB 5696, HB 5780);
Force state employees to pay higher benefit co-pays and fees (SB 348, SB 578); &
Forbid retirement and healthcare benefit negotiations for all public employees (SB 368).
We must come together to resist all legislation attacking working people, whether they are union members or not.
*****

Activists in Hartford’s North End, an area plagued by opioid addiction, have organized against the plan by Malloy and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to close Blue Hills Substance Abuse Services. Many Connecticut liberals are railing against Trump, while remaining silent on the bipartisan attack on the working class, the poor and human services providers by the Democrats and Republicans in their own backyard.

Resources

Taxing the Rich Fuels Budget Success in Minnesota:

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/…/taxing-the-rich-raising-th…/

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/ Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com

HARTFORD RESIDENTS: Speak Out Against Police Brutality!

March 11, 2017

Speak out against Mayor Luke Bronin’s cover up of police brutality in the city. Show your support for Civilian Police Review Board member Ricardo M Torres and the three other Board members who were fired by Bronin, in retaliation for requesting the names of the 19 Hartford Police officers who refused to cooperate with the Emilio Diaz brutality investigation.
Former HPD Sgt. Sean Spell was charged with assault, after being caught on video kicking Diaz in the head following a June 4 car chase. Enhanced video shows four other HPD cops viciously stomping Diaz. Those officers have not been identified or charged. There will be public comment Monday, March 13 6:00 PM at the city council meeting (City Hall 550 Main Street).

Taxing the Rich & Raising the Minimum Wage Fuels Budget Success in Minnesota

March 10, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the March 9 – 16 edition of the Hartford News.

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! http://www.sometroradio.com/  Next show: March 21. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/
Community Party Radio Podcasts

Action Alert: Support the Meagen Hockaday and Trayvon Martin Acts!

 

The Meagen Hockaday Act has been officially filed: S.B. No. 440
Visit our No Sellout blog for details on how you can support this police reform legislation.
Trayvon Martin Act
The bill has been officially filed. See this link for info on contacting Gov. Malloy, and the Judiciary Committee. Tell them to pass the Trayvon Martin Act racial profiling legislation!
Community Update : Killed by Police
 
 
215 people were killed by police during the first two months of this year, an increase for the third year in a row. source: killedbypolice.net.

Police in the U.S. kill people at a rate of 70 times more than police in all other ‘first world’ nations – police in Britain and Germany have both gone at least one year without killing anybody during the past decade. Meanwhile Hyacinth Yennie, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin’s choice to replace Ricardo M Torres on the Civilian Police Review Board, is complaining to the Courant about protesters hurting police officers’ morale. Torres is the only Board member with law enforcement training, and is also a certified use of force expert. Yennie lists her experience as a cosmetologist. During their February meeting the Board requested the names of the four Hartford Police officers caught on enhanced video stomping Emilio Diaz, following a June 4 car chase that ended in West Hartford. Former HPD Sgt. Sean Spell is the only officer who has been charged in connection with the assault on Diaz.  HPD Chief James Rovella has not responded to the Board’s request. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpfoOMhyTmE Deputy Chief Brian Foley has emphasized that the video of the four officers is not new, so the department has had plenty of time to view it. 

 
Tuesday the City Council Public Safety Committee passed Bronin’s resolution to replace Torres and the three other Board members, who Bronin fired in retaliation for requesting the names of the 19 HPD officers who refused to cooperate with the brutality investigation of Spell. There will be public comment Monday, March 13 at 6:00 PM prior to the regular city council meeting at City Hall, 550 Main Street. Supporters of Torres and the other Board members are urged to come out and make your voices heard.
Don’t be fooled by Bronin’s push to find city residents to join the HPD. Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper talks about the culture of racism in police departments. Stamper points out that this culture is imposed on rookie cops in the front seat of police cruisers, where veteran officers tell the rookies to forget everything they were taught in the police academy. Having Hartford residents on the force won’t matter, unless those residents are willing to reject the racist culture Stamper says is a root cause of police repression of communities of color. https://www.democracynow.org/2016/7/14/ex_seattle_police_chief_condemns_systemic
 
Community Party Hartford Housing Forum
 
Coming in 2017. Stay tuned for details in the coming weeks. 
 
 
Policy Watch: Minnesota Budget Analysis
 
 
While Gov. Dan Malloy pushes his neoliberal agenda, coddling the rich and corporations as he crashes the state economy, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton debunked Malloy’s tax migration myth, and proved that egalitarian fiscal policies can lead to a new economic reality.
 
 
 
                                                                                                              *****
This Billionaire Governor Taxed the Rich and Increased the Minimum Wage — Now, His State’s Economy Is One of the Best in the Country
By C. Robert Gibson
The next time your right-wing family member or former high school classmate posts a status update or tweet about how taxing the rich or increasing workers’ wages kills jobs and makes businesses leave the state, I want you to send them this article.
When he took office in January of 2011, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton inherited a $6.2 billion budget deficit and a 7 percent unemployment rate from his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty, the soon-forgotten Republican candidate for the presidency who called himself Minnesota’s first true fiscally-conservative governor in modern history. Pawlenty prided himself on never raising state taxes — the most he ever did to generate new revenue was increase the tax on cigarettes by 75 cents a pack. Between 2003 and late 2010, when Pawlenty was at the head of Minnesota’s state government, he managed to add only 6,200 more jobs.
During his first four years in office, Gov. Dayton raised the state income tax from 7.85 to 9.85 percent on individuals earning over $150,000, and on couples earning over $250,000 when filing jointly — a tax increase of $2.1 billion. He’s also agreed to raise Minnesota’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2018, and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women. Republicans like state representative Mark Uglem warned against Gov. Dayton’s tax increases, saying, “The job creators, the big corporations, the small corporations, they will leave. It’s all dollars and sense to them.” The conservative friend or family member you shared this article with would probably say the same if their governor tried something like this. But like Uglem, they would be proven wrong.
Between 2011 and 2015, Gov. Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to Minnesota’s economy — that’s 165,800 more jobs in Dayton’s first term than Pawlenty added in both of his terms combined. Even though Minnesota’s top income tax rate is the fourth highest in the country, it has the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent. According to 2012-2013 U.S. census figures, Minnesotans had a median income that was $10,000 larger than the U.S. average, and their median income is still $8,000 more than the U.S. average today.
By late 2013, Minnesota’s private sector job growth exceeded pre-recession levels, and the state’s economy was the fifth fastest-growing in the United States. Forbes even ranked Minnesota the ninth best state for business (Scott Walker’s “Open For Business” Wisconsin came in at a distant #32 on the same list). Despite the fearmongering over businesses fleeing from Dayton’s tax cuts, 6,230 more Minnesotans filed in the top income tax bracket in 2013, just one year after Dayton’s tax increases went through. As of January 2015, Minnesota has a $1 billion budget surplus, and Gov. Dayton has pledged to reinvest more than one third of that money into public schools. And according to Gallup, Minnesota’s economic confidence is higher than any other state.
Gov. Dayton didn’t accomplish all of these reforms by shrewdly manipulating people — Dayton lacks charisma and articulateness. He isn’t a class warrior driven by a desire to get back at the 1 percent — Dayton is a billionaire heir to the Target fortune. It wasn’t just a majority in the legislature that forced him to do it — Dayton had to work with a Republican-controlled legislature for his first two years in office. And unlike his Republican neighbor to the east (Walker, who supported a voter ID law), Gov. Dayton didn’t assert his will over an unwilling populace by creating obstacles between the people and the vote — Dayton actually created an online voter registration system, making it easier than ever for people to register to vote.
The reason Gov. Dayton was able to radically transform Minnesota’s economy into one of the best in the nation is simple arithmetic. Raising taxes on those who can afford to pay more will turn a deficit into a surplus. Raising the minimum wage will increase the median income. And in a state where education is a budget priority and economic growth is one of the highest in the nation, it only makes sense that more businesses would stay.
It’s official — trickle-down economics is bunk. Minnesota has proven it once and for all. If you believe otherwise, you are wrong.
source: Huffington Post  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Follow C. Robert Gibson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/crgibs
                                                                                                        
                                                                                                            *****
 
 
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948  Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com

 

 

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio

March 6, 2017

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio returns Tuesday, March 7. Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. Guest contributor John Hollis joins us for a discussion about Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy’s state budget proposal, which attacks the working class, the poor and human services providers. Malloy’s budget includes closing Blue Hills Substance Abuse Services in Hartford’s North End, an area plagued by opioid addiction. We will also replay our 2016 interview with Hartford Civilian Police Review Board member Rick Torres.  Mayor Luke Bronin introduced a resolution to replace Torres and three other Board members, in retaliation for asking inconvenient questions regarding the Emilio Diaz brutality case. Torres and the Board asked for the names of the 19 Hartford Police officers who refused to cooperate with the investigation of former HPD Sgt. Sean Spell, who was caught on video kicking Diaz in the head following a June 4 car chase. Enhanced video shows that four other HPD officers stomped Diaz, but Spell is the only officer who has been criminally charged. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific.  http://www.sometroradio.com/

 

Resources

Bronin Covers Up Police Brutality, Malloy Budget Caters to the Rich & Donors

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2017/02/24/bronin-covers-up-police-brutality-malloy-budget-caters-to-the-rich-donors/

Team Analysis: Dan Malloy’s State Budget Proposal (Updated)

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2017/03/04/team-analysis-dan-malloys-state-budget-proposal-updated/

Enhanced Video: Hartford Police Excessive Force Incident (courtesy of American News Network):

Team Analysis: Dan Malloy’s State Budget Proposal (Updated)

March 4, 2017
This column appears in the March 2 – 9 edition of the Hartford News.
 
Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! http://www.sometroradio.com/  Next show: March 7. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/
Community Party Radio Podcasts

Action Alert: Support the Meagen Hockaday and Trayvon Martin Acts!

 

The Meagen Hockaday Act has been officially filed: S.B. No. 440
Visit our No Sellout blog for details on how you can support this police reform legislation.
Trayvon Martin Act
The bill has been officially filed. See this link for info on contacting Gov. Malloy, and the Judiciary Committee. Tell them to pass the Trayvon Martin Act racial profiling legislation!
 
 
Horace Salmon
 
 
Rest in Peace Horace Salmon. Horace, a close friend of Mary Sanders, passed away this week.
 
 
 
 
Policy Watch:  Overview of Gov. Dan Malloy’s Budget 

Labor 

   

The budget “seeks $1.5 billion in labor concessions,” according to the CT Mirror. Unionized state employees would have to offer concessions of $700 million next fiscal year and another $800 million in 2018-19.  

 

State budget director Ben Barnes claims that the only alternative would be to lay off at least 4,200 employees.  The CT Mirror declared that based on the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis’ savings estimates from last spring, the state may need to layoff twice that number in order to reach $800 million in yearly savings.  

 

 

Transportation

Other than the start-up money that expires in 2020, Barnes claims that there are no funds to cover Malloy’s major transportation initiative which was announced two years ago. This continues to postpone projects like the I-84 and Route 8 junction in Waterbury and the replacement of I-84’s elevated section in Hartford. 

 

However, Malloy is willing to request an issuance of bonds to renovate the XL Center in Hartford to the tune of $125 million. The CT Mirror notes that the expected total cost for this renovation is $250 million. Why is finding $250 million for the XL Center possible, but education, labor and healthcare services have to be cut? Here’s one little breadcrumb link: one of the biggest donors to the CT Democrats in 2013 was Ed Snider, who passed away in 2016. Snider was the chairman of Comcast Spectacor, the company that manages the XL Center. The state provided $35 million for XL Center renovations in 2014.   http://ctmirror.org/2013/10/28/roster-10000-donors-helps-malloy-drive-democrats-3-1-advantage/

 

 

Education 

 

The CT Mirror calculates that public colleges and universities, which have suffered large cuts since the 2008 recession, will have their block grants reduced by 4.5% on average. 

 

The plan also directs $230 million in education grants to 52 municipalities with struggling schools. However, it will be up to the municipalities to decide if they use those funds for education or not. The 30 worst performing school districts will be legally allowed to reallocate only funds that are in excess of their budget.  

 

How will Harford use those funds? Of the $38.1 million of increased state aid that Hartford is proposed to get, $12.2 million of it comes from education grants. The CT Mirror reports that when asked about how he’d use that state aid, Mayor Luke Bronin said he would use it to help bail out the city’s finances.  

 

Other municipalities may use that state aid to pay their portion of the teachers’ pension fund. That’s because Malloy’s plan would make municipalities pay one-third of the employer contribution for the fund. The administration estimates it would save them $400 million.  

 

  

Healthcare 

  

Limit access to HUSKY A (cuts $11.8 million)

In order for parents of minor children to get Medicaid, they have to earn up to 138% of the poverty level, instead of the current 155%. As an example, the income limit for a family of four would drop to $33,534 from the current limit of $37,665. If this cut passes, it would be the second cut to the income levels in three years. 

 

Admission Freeze in the CT Home Care for Elders Program. (cuts $10.5 million)

Under the proposed plan, Malloy would continue the 2015 admission freeze imposed on Category 1. Category 1 is for people who are at risk of being hospitalized or temporarily placed in a nursing home if they don’t receive help. In addition, there would be an admission freeze to the program’s Category 2 starting on July 1. A new person would be able enroll only if someone left the program. Category 2 helps people who require a nursing home but their finances put them above the Medicaid qualification limit.

 

Municipal Tax on Nonprofit Hospitals (cuts $55.8 million)

Currently, municipalities with nonprofit hospitals receive state funds to cover losses in property tax revenue. To eliminate this funding, Malloy proposes to allow municipalities to charge the nonprofit hospitals a property tax. To offset this new cost to hospitals, the administration would give them supplemental Medicaid payments totaling $250 million.  

 

However, these hospitals say they will fight against a proposal that makes them subject to property taxes. Moreover, the situation with Medicaid in Washington, D.C. is very uncertain, and hospitals could be left to cover the costs, which would mean higher healthcare costs for citizens. 

 

Additional cuts to Hospitals

The plan also cuts an $11.8 million fund that supports small, independent hospitals. 

Even more frightening is that the plan also gives the administration the power to cut more than $120 million in hospital funding if there’s a budget shortfall.    

  

Defunding & Privatizing Mental Health Services (cuts $15.5 million)

Malloy’s plan cuts grants for mental health, substance abuse services and employment opportunities by $4.7 million. Malloy argues that these grants shouldn’t be needed anymore because more people get coverage through the federal health law. Providers, however, say many clients still don’t have insurance and that the Medicaid rates are less than actual costs. These providers would not be able to bill more in order to cover the lost grants. This would cause them to close programs or stop taking new clients. Moreover, let’s not forget that coverage will surely be affected by the impending repeal and replace efforts against the Affordable Care Act.    

 

By privatizing certain mental health services, the administration plans to save $7.5 million. Malloy claims this won’t result in layoffs or service cuts because workers in outsourced programs could fill the DMHAS vacancies. Additionally, the plan reduces funds to the Connecticut Mental Health Center in New Haven by $1.2 million.

 

Lastly, Malloy wants to “relocate”a 21-bed detox program from Blue Hills Substance Abuse Services in Hartford to Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown, which, according to the administration, would lead to $2.1 million in savings and no loss in services. Where will Hartford patients go? A DMHAS spokesperson told WNPR that the agency will “look at” providing Hartford residents with transportation to CVH – so there’s no promise of access, yet both Malloy and DMHAS claim that there is no loss of services, only “relocation”. Hartford clients also would have to cope with the loss of their support system, as many family members, loved ones and friends would be unable to visit clients in Middletown due to a lack of transportation. Visitors bring clients clothing, other items and provide emotional support. Isolation leads to relapse. CVH management has indicated that Blue Hills workers would be absorbed into existing state positions. How real is this promise? Malloy has threatened to lay off as many as 4200 employees, if they do not agree to  wage and benefit concessions for the third time since 2009.    

 

 

  

Helping the Wealthy 

 

$20.1 million in revenues would be lost under Malloy’s plan because he wants to lower the estate and gift tax. It also proposes reducing the lifetime cap on taxes an estate pays from $20 million to $15 million. In three years, the CT estate tax would match the federal exemption level. 

However, Connecticut has one of the largest economic gaps in the nation between the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent. According to a January 26, 2015 report by Economic Analysis and Research Network, Connecticut’s top 1 percent had an average real income growth of 35% between 2009 and 2012. In alarming contrast, the bottom 99 percent had an average real income growth of -5.4%. In 2012, the average income of the top 1 percent was $2.7 million while the bottom 99 percent earned an average of $52,600. 

These $20 million dollars, which the wealthy currently pay, could go a long way in limiting cuts in healthcare, education or labor. Yet, Malloy is more interested in having the wealthy keep even more of their money in their coffers. 

 

What is Malloy’s stance on taxing the rich? The Hartford Courant reported the following on February 8, 2017: 

   

“One of the criticisms …. we will hear … is that we are punishing X, Y and Z — you can name whichever constituencies you like that don’t do well under this budget but we’re not taxing the rich and taxing big corporations,” Barnes told reporters.

 

While acknowledging that liberals seeking such an approach have “a legitimate argument,” Barnes said excessive taxes could hurt the state’s long-term fiscal health.

 

“One of the things that’s really driving the difficulties we’re facing right now is an extraordinary slow-growing economy,” Barnes said. “The lesson of 2015 is that the easy answer of going to taxes on corporations and on business has significant negative repercussions for the state as well.”

 
 
Next week we will take a look at Minnesota, where Gov. Mark Dayton taxed the rich as part of a budget plan that erased a $6.2 billion deficit and 7% unemployment rate, turning the state’s economy into one of the best in the nation.

 

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948  Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com