Lumumba Interview Part 2 / Keep Hartford Libraries Open!/ Rep. Josh Elliott’s CT Budget Plan

by David Samuels

This column appears in the July 13 – 20 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!  Next show: July 18. 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.

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Safe Work Environment Act Update

I continue to receive reports from Connecticut Valley Hospital employees about racism at CVH. Coming soon, an update on structural racism at the facility, and analysis of the Department of Administrative Services (DAS runs CVH) using their political influence to kill workers’ rights legislation in Connecticut.


Free the Land: An Interview with Jackson, Miss. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba Part 2

Lumumba was sworn in July 3. Interview by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to your father, Chokwe Lumumba. In June 2013, I interviewed him just after he was elected mayor.
MAYOR-ELECT CHOKWE LUMUMBA: There are some people historically who have always tried to separate the populations and to have a certain portion of the population oppress the rest of the population. We’re not going to tolerate that. We’re going to move ahead. We’re going to let everyone participate in this movement forward. We’re going to invite everyone to participate in this movement forward. And we have formed like a people’s assembly, that’s key to what we’ve done here, where we have—every three months, the population can come out and participate in an open forum to say what’s on their mind.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Chokwe Lumumba in 2013, when he was mayor-elect, in the very same studio that you, Mayor-elect Lumumba, are sitting in right now. In that speech we just played that you gave at the People’s Summit, where I first met you just a few weeks ago, in Chicago, you said, “We’re going to be the most radical city on the planet.” What does that look like?
MAYOR-ELECT CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA: It looks like a plan where we, you know, change the way we view electoral politics. You know, in that speech, I spoke about not accepting someone’s agenda for our lives, but creating one ourselves. So, giving people more control of their governance is what that looks like. It’s an inclusive process. Sometimes when we use the word “radical,” people find themselves in fear and question whether they’re a part of that radical agenda. And that’s exactly our plan, is to incorporate more people, giving people voice who have not had it. That is a shift from what we’ve seen in traditional politics. It’s usually the lay of the land is given to those who are most privileged. And so, we’re trying to incorporate more people in the process, give voice to the voiceless.
And it starts with identifying, you know, the areas of greatest need. We need to show our workers, our city workers, and, you know, even the unionized work that we need—we need to show people dignity and respect in their jobs and also see the economic benefit of it. You know, Jackson is like many cities: It does not have a problem producing wealth; it has a problem maintaining wealth. And so, if you put more money in the people’s hands that live and work here, you stand a greater chance of receiving it back. And so we’re also going to look at practical solutions to our problems. It is about forming relationships. It is about operational unity and making certain that you can work with people who may historically find themselves on the opposite end of a struggle that you may be engaged in, such as the state, such as, you know, a Trump administration. And so you want to identify your common ends and see how you exploit those common goals in order to arrive at the solutions that benefit us all. But it’s also about how you take—make better use of the resources you have.

What we look at as—
AMY GOODMAN: Mayor-elect, I’m going to interrupt just because we only have a minute—
AMY GOODMAN: —and I want to ask, Jackson drew a lot of attention earlier this year, when Daniela Vargas, who is a 22-year-old undocumented immigrant, was arrested by ICE after she had just held a news conference. Her pending application for renewal of DACA status, it was pending. Is Jackson going to be a sanctuary city?
MAYOR-ELECT CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA: Jackson is going to be a city which protects human rights for human beings. I don’t care whether your ancestors arrived on the Mayflower or whether you joined us more recently, you deserve the same protections and respect in this city. And so, I find—we find ourselves in interesting times, where the word “sanctuary” becomes a negative phrase. I’m proud of the work my father did in order to secure an anti-racial-profiling ordinance in the city, and we will continue to protect everyone who lives within our city, and make sure that they’re not harassed.
AMY GOODMAN: And the issue of police accountability? In the last weeks, we have seen two police officers acquitted or cases with mistrials around the killing of African-American motorists. Your thoughts?
MAYOR-ELECT CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA: I think we have a criminal justice system in our country which is entirely out of hand. You know, it’s the largest business going. And the fact that we’ve made the criminal justice system into more of an industry, it provides or creates a culture that allows for people to be harassed, killed and shuffled in like cattle.
AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.
MAYOR-ELECT CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA: And so, that encourages an environment of police brutality. And so, what we want to do is be ahead of the curve in the city of Jackson.
Keep Hartford Public Library Mark Twain and Blue Hills Ave Branch from Closing

Petition by Jasmine Wilson

“Bridget Quinn-Carey ex Chief Operating Officer of the New York Queens Burough Public Library now CEO of Hartford Public Library, has made a budget cut totaling around $1.25 million resulting in the closing of the Mark Twain Branch, The Blue Hills Branch, and the Camp Field Branch. However, the 2017 budget for Hartford Public Library is $10.6 million. In 2015 they had a budget of $8 million and had much more staff and branches running perfectly fine. Why close access to a vital community asset if its affordable? These branches are essential for the citizens of Hartford who don’t have access to these resources at home. They are dangerously vital as it allows many citizens to apply to jobs and for youth to participate in after school programs. “Thousands of Hartford children and their families will lose reading programs, homework help and free computer time,” the library posted in a plea for help on its Facebook page. Read more here.

This petition will be delivered to:
Mayor of Hartford
Luke Bronin


Rep. Josh Ellliott’s State Budget Plan

“Earlier in the year a little group of progressive legislators met to discuss what we wanted in a budget. We were never able to come to any sort of agreement, but at one point we were able to get over 45 house democrats to sign onto a document asking for revenue for the sake of investing in our future, whether that’s education, infrastructure, or help for small business.
But there are still some in the caucus who want us to close the $2.3BB all in cuts. That’s just dangerous. So, what would I do? The following:
A Statewide Property Tax:
Each statewide mil would bring in $300MM in revenue. We set a statewide mil rate to cover the baseline cost of education in every district. Then, the municipality can add additional mils to cover all other expenses.
Income tax on top earners
Top income earners pay a 6.99% tax rate, compared to NY and NJ where that rate is close to 9%. After the 2008 market crash the wealthy have completely rebounded and then some – the middle class has stagnated, and the poor are making less than they did before the crash.
We are the richest state per capita in the US. We can ask our wealthy to pay more. Each half percent on our millionaires will net us $200MM. I would propose a 2% increase, akin to what New York did nearly a decade ago – which brought in an additional $3.5BB a year for them. This would be about $800MM for CT.
Eliminating sales tax exemptions
Nearly $7BB in services is untaxed, even though they ought to be. Attorneys, engineers, architects, the list of exemptions goes on. We should be applying the sales tax to all services. We could then lower the sales tax to 5.35% and bring in an additional $700MM.
Large Employer Fee
Large companies come to the state, underpay their workers, suck up the profit, and leave the state to take care of their employees. Then people get to call them lazy for relying on the state. Sound fair? It’s not.
Asking companies with 500 employees or more to cover the cost to the state for underpaying their workers would bring in $300MM.
States nearby are beginning the process of legalization and will get a huge boost to their economy as the first entrants to the market. The market exists, and we are just missing out on anywhere between $50MM to $150MM a year. Plus there are the side benefits of increased youth, tourism, and new business.
We were one vote away from getting tolls passed this year. This won’t have a budgetary effect this year, but will bring in billions of dollars over the next decade – and not all of it from residents.
And here is where we should be investing:
Universal Broadband
Build it and they will come – except big telecom companies are saying that there is no demand. They also pay heavily in to the Democratic Governor’s Association, which Malloy is the chairman of. This means that as long as Malloy is our Governor, we will not get universal broadband.
Want youth? Want information technology research? Want entrepreneurs? Want equalized access to education and information? Then we need universal broadband that is affordable, at least a gig of upload and download, and accessible to everyone.
Let’s sink $250MM into this and get the ball rolling. What if we could become the Silicon Valley of the East Coast?
State owned bank for small business liquidity and start up loans
The only reason I was able to open my business was because I’m a second-generation business owner. Without the access to easy capital and assets, I never would have been able to open my business. Ever. Not everyone is in the position. Banks do not lend to start ups – they are too risky.
That’s exactly why government is precisely the right entity to be a lender for new and small business. One place CT is really suffering is new business and high growth business. We need to provide entrepreneurs with an avenue for capital. If they succeed, we all succeed.
Let’s set aside $250MM for a state owned bank that collects deposits, but more importantly, provides loans and liquidity to CT businesses. We could get shares of start-ups, and charge low interest rates while businesses get up and running.”

Rep. Elliott’s complete budget proposal and info on how you can get involved is available on his Facebook page.



The Connecticut Economy, the State Budget, and the State of Our Children


Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. Listen to So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues  Check out our No Sellout blog ( Contact us at





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