Trump’s Gun Violence Hypocrisy / CT Budget / UHart Threatened Jazzy Rowe

November 8, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the November 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: November 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 Podcast

Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/

Policy Watch

Connecticut Valley Hospital Public Hearing

I was extremely disturbed to hear that Connecticut Valley Hospital management was allowing patients at Whiting Forensic Division, which treats individuals who committed violent crimes including murder, to play violent video games. Last week NBC Connecticut reported that one of those patients was Stephen Morgan, who fatally shot Weslyan student Johanna Justin-Jinich in 2009. https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Violent-Video-Games-at-Whiting-Forensic-455090063.html

The week before CVH had their accreditation snatched out from under them by the feds, temporarily regaining it pending a follow-up inspection. Then of course there’s also the patient abuse scandal, and charges of racism by a group of Black employees.

Republican Sen. Heather Somers, co-chair of the Connecticut General Assembly public health committee, and other GOP leaders will be conducting the November 13 public hearing on CVH. 10 CVH employees were arrested and 37 suspended, in connection with abuse of a 59-year-old patient at Whiting. The Democrats have remained silent on the CVH patient abuse scandal; Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon was appointed by party leader Gov. Dan Malloy.

Rep. Josh Elliott, who was the legislator who tried to get me to join the sham DMHAS “CVH task force”, after I specifically told him that CVH and DMHAS could not be allowed to police themselves, did not respond to my request that he join Somers in a call for a public hearing. Rep. Matthew Lesser, who told me that he met with DMHAS to “get their take” on the patient abuse scandal, has not responded to my request that he schedule community conversations with CVH workers, to “get their take” on the toxic work environment, perpetuated by CVH management and DMHAS, that led to the abuse of the Whiting patient. CVH is located in Middletown, Lesser’s district. The hearing will start at 11:00 AM at the Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Avenue in Hartford.

 

Trump Double Standard on White Males

“I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!” ~ Donald Trump Twitter response, following New York City terror attack.

“We’re not going to talk about that today. We won’t talk about that.” ~ Donald Trump responding to a reporter asking if the United States has a “gun violence problem”, following Las Vegas mass shooting.

Trump also has not talked about three people being killed in a Colorado Walmart after 47-year-old Scott Ostrem, a white male, entered the store and started to randomly shoot at customers. Ostrem, who has a long history of arrests, was taken into custody last Thursday. The Colorado shooting has received no corporate media coverage since Ostrem’s arrest. There have been a lot of stories about security concerns at public events following the New York City terror attack. There has been no mention of security concerns at retail stores, following the shooting in Colorado.

Trump, who was screaming about immigration policy within hours of the New York City terror attack, spoke in vague terms about mental health following the Sutherland Springs, Texas mass shooting that killed at least 26 people and injured 24. Trump said the shooting wasn’t a gun control issue, despite the fact that Devin Patrick Kelley was able to legally buy the gun he used in the shooting, after receiving a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force in 2012. Kelley was court-martialed for physically abusing his spouse and child.  The Air Force failed to report Kelley’s conviction to the national database used to screen gun buyers.

Trump signed a bill in February, that reversed an Obama administration executive order banning gun purchases by people suffering from mental illness. Trump’s proposed Obamacare repeal would slash funding for mental health services. Studies show that people with mental health issues don’t commit violent crimes at a higher rate than the general population, and in fact are more likely to be victims of a violent crime. There have been no mass shootings in Australia (a country with a gun culture similar to the U.S.) since 1996, after they reformed gun control. Reforms include interviews with spouses, and other people close to a person who attempts to purchase a gun.

Sen. Chris Murphy mentioned gun violence in Chicago, Baltimore and Bridgeport, during a lengthy social media commentary on the Sutherland mass shooting. Poverty = violence. The Democrats’ neoliberal policies deprive communities of color of jobs & resources. Take a look at the Connecticut state budget, Sen. Murphy. Baltimore, Chicago, Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford need living wage jobs, affordable housing, health care, education and police accountability, not the typical lip service from a hypocritical Democrat trying to score political points with Black voters.

 

Budget Outrage

The Connecticut Mirror reported that Sheldon Toubman, a staff attorney with New Haven Legal Assistance, denounced a provision in the bipartisan neoliberal state budget, which will cut Medicaid benefits for 77,000 seniors and disabled individuals.
The Medicare Savings Program provides assistance to low-income and disabled Medicare recipients. Toubman called the cut “outrageous”, and pointed out that legislators could have avoided this by modestly increasing revenue (taxing the rich). Democrats and Republicans can always find common ground, when it comes to screwing over vulnerable populations.

The Connecticut Network, which covers General Assembly committee meetings, hearings, press briefings and votes on legislation, announced last week that they were going to cease operations, going off the air November 3 at 5:00 PM. CT-N leadership said that the 65% funding cut in the state budget, coupled with Democratic and Republican legislators wanting the power to censor CT-N’s coverage, made it impossible for the network to continue.

The station remained on the air after 5:00 PM, but WNPR’s Frankie Graziano reported that the legislators’ vision of CT-N appears to be becoming a reality. “Bill Bevacqua is CPAN’s Vice President of Administration and Communications. He’s worked there for 16 years and may be out of a job soon.

‘We’ve been informed that there’s some interest in hiring directly some of our technical employees so I think they’re going to get the legislatively-managed network that they’ve wanted all along,’ Bevacqua said. During contract negotiations in recent weeks, CPAN had complained that the legislature was seeking to put partisan staff in control of editorial decision-making at the network.

A letter from the Office of Legislative Management to staff at CT-N Friday confirmed that some variation of the network will exist under the OLM. It said that the ‘goal will be to have the CT-N control room staffed on Monday morning, November 6’ and that ‘some of you could be part of that solution.'”

The transformation of CT-N into a local version of the Russian news agency TASS, is a catastrophic blow to freedom of the press in Connecticut. You can read the full WNPR story here. http://wnpr.org/post/ct-n-functions-public-expected-change-under-new-management Stay tuned for updates.

While CT-N is hijacked, elderly and disabled people are having their health care coverage snatched out from under them, and everyone who isn’t rich (yes, including the poor) face higher taxes, the neoliberal bipartisan budget contains bond money for the XL Center. One of the top donors to the CT Democrats during the last election was the late Ed Snider, CEO of Spectacor, the company that manages the XL Center.

 

Democratic Party Corruption

I didn’t need Donna Brazile to tell me that the Democrats are corrupt. All I have to do is look at the budgets that have been passed by Gov. Dan Malloy and the Democratic controlled Connecticut General Assembly, along with them propping up the system that perpetuates police repression of communities of color.

Submitting racial justice legislation to the CT Democrats is the equivalent of dropping paper into a black hole. I’m honestly not sure what the Community Party’s plan is for the 2018 legislative session, as the problem is clearly the legislators who represent Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport.

The landscape includes the racially segregated white left (neoliberal Democrats, Berniecrats and third party politics). The CT Green Party on paper supports policies that most benefit communities of color, but they’re overwhelmingly white and like it that way. Obviously radical policy change requires electing people who will support those polices. What’s the next move? I don’t know…

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange retweeted a tweet from a liberal, who accused Brazile and Bernie Sanders of being Russian agents. Liberals were posting comments, in full agreement.  Both liberals and conservatives are in their own alternate reality. They bash each other, but they’re exactly alike. It’s all about their team winning. Facts don’t matter.

 

Racism on Campus: “This Situation is Over”

“Who raised this thug? Where are her parents?” ~ Francis Maxwell, The Young Turks producer/host, on Brianna Brochu

University of Hartford student Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe’s video on the racist attacks she suffered at the hands of former student Brianna Brochou is a must see.

The University of Hartford tried to get Chennel to keep quiet about the case, threatening to ban her from campus housing if she talked about it, and telling Chennel that she might not hear anything else from campus police going forward. Chennel made a video, which has since gone viral, to bring attention to the case. Brochou was charged with third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace. West Hartford police asked the court to add a felony bigotry charge.

The prosecution of Brochou should be watched closely. This hoodlum straight up poisoned Chennel, who is currently travelling back and forth to New York to see doctors. Brochou contaminated Chennel’s toothbrush and other personal grooming items, eating utensils and backpack with bacteria laden substances, including blood from her used tampons. The book should be thrown at Brochou, but keep in mind this is a white teenage girl… A defense lawyer will play on this, and come up with external reasons to explain away Brochou’s behavior. Chennel said that if she was the perpetrator and the victim was white, BOTH would be treated differently. I agree.

If Chennel had committed such despicable acts against a white student, UHart certainly would have pursued the case more vigorously, and the white victim would not be told by the school to keep quiet, or else. Chennel said the investigation by campus police is “going nowhere”. Lawyers and the police have told Chennel and her family that until campus police complete their investigation, further action is not possible.  UHart feared what is happening now: the case going national, and questions being raised about racism on their campus.

I watched coverage by NBC Connecticut, WFSB and Fox 61. Neither NBC CT nor WFSB’s November 2 reports used any sound bites from Chennel’s video. NBC CT interviewed a white student, who praised UHart’s response. Fox 61 correspondent Carmen Chau interviewed Chennel, and reported on UHart threatening her. School employees told Chennel, “this situation is over”. Chennel made the video because she fears that the case will be buried.

Folks calling for Brochu to be charged with attempted murder of Chennel need to put their emotions to the side, and study the legal definition of attempted murder. https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/criminal-defense/crime-penalties/charged-attempted-murder.htm Instead of making a demand that will never be taken seriously, I’m focusing on how Chennel was victimized a second time by institutional racism at UHart. The school should be held accountable, for treating the Black victim of a hate crime as if she had done something wrong.

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 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/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.

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Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio November 7

November 4, 2017

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio returns Tuesday, November 7. Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. We’ll talk about President Donald Trump’s hypocrisy regarding mass shootings by white males, and how the University of Hartford threatened hate crime victim Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe, who was abused by her white roommate, Brianna Brochu.  Guest contributor John Hollis will join us for analysis of the crisis at Connecticut Valley Hospital. Our Policy Watch segment will feature a report on the Connecticut state budget, and Donna Brazile’s bombshell on the Democratic National Committee rigging the 2016 presidential primary for Hillary Clinton. We’ll share a #PRontheMap report by Rosa Clemente, on the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. We’ll also have an update on Colin Kaepernick. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. http://sometroradio.com/

 

Resources

Budget Analysis / CVH Boss Taunts, While Downward Spiral Continues

by David Samuels

This column appears in the November 2 – 9 edition of the Hartford News.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/budget-analysis-cvh-boss-taunts-while-downward-spiral-continues/

Rosa Clemente / PRontheMap

http://rosaclemente.net/

Colin Kaepernick website.

http://kaepernick7.com/

Standing for Kaepernick

https://www.standingforkaepernick.org/

Budget Analysis / CVH Boss Taunts, While Downward Spiral Continues

November 1, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the November 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: November 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 Podcast

Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/

 

Policy Watch

Neoliberal State Budget Passes 

“The State of Connecticut has lost their minds, they once again have put human services and home care on the bottom of their agenda, they do not want to give (health care workers) a raise at all; $10.10 is what they want to keep the rate at. Let’s make this point, people are going to start leaving the field, calling out sick and not even showing up for shifts. As health care employees, we provide significant care for adults, teens and children, some with debilitating diseases and their own family will not take care of them, it just shows that the state truly does not care about adults with disabilities. I bet you they did not take pay cuts, but raised taxes and made sure they were taken care of, $10.10 is not a cost of living in CT when rents consistently go up, oh but they must want more homeless people, or more crime, see they create the issues but don’t take blame for anything, they have all the power but their eyes are totally shut when it comes to home health agency and private companies.” ~ Facebook post by home health care employee William King on the bipartisan budget deal, passed last week with a veto-proof majority by the Connecticut General Assembly, that blocks a scheduled hourly wage raise for these workers to $15.00.

The bipartisan budget deal underscores the fact that the Democrats and Republicans have much more in common, than they have differences. Both parties serve their true constituents: the rich and corporate donors. This is reflected throughout the budget that was sent to Gov. Dan Malloy’s desk. While the working poor was hit with a tax increase in the form of a cut to the Earned Income Tax Credit, the rich got a tax break, as the estate tax was reduced. Connecticut Mirror budget analyst Keith Phaneuf provided an overview.

“The new plan does rely on revenue from tax and fee hikes worth $494 million this fiscal year and $535 million in 2018-19, or just over $1 billion for the biennium.
The largest increase, though, is the tax hike on hospitals, which the industry supports. That’s because Connecticut would return the extra $344 million per year it would collect back to hospitals — and more — to qualify for increased federal Medicaid reimbursements. The arrangement would leave the state $137 million ahead in each of the two fiscal years.
If the hospital tax hike is not counted, the overall tax and fee increase is $150 million in the first year and $201 million in the second.
The budget also raises income taxes on middle class and working poor households by reducing tax credits.
Other tax and fee increases in the plan include:
A 45-cents per pack increase in the cigarette tax and a related increase on levies for snuff and other tobacco products.
$10 million to be raised in 2018-19 by reducing tax credits to be identified later by the legislature.
Restoration of an earlier proposal to tax fantasy sports betting, beginning in the 2018-19 fiscal year.
A 25-cent fee hike on Ridesharing services.
And a new $10 increase in motor vehicle registration fees to support state parks and other recreational sites in a program titled ‘Passport to Parks.’
The new budget also orders reductions to the estate tax and expands income tax exemptions for retirement earnings in the second year.
The new budget also cancels previously approved tax cuts for insurance companies, other businesses and retired teachers that are collectively worth $33 million per year.

Present-day teachers also take a hit in the new budget. Their annual contributions to their pension fund grow from 6 to 7 percent of their salaries starting in January – a $775 yearly increase for the average teacher and school administrator.
The teacher’s increased contributions to their pension fund will quickly translate into a savings in the General Fund. The state will use those increased payments, $18 million this fiscal year and $38 million in 2018-19, to reduce the state’s contribution to the pension fund by matching amounts.”

The Malloy administration warned that the hospital tax plan could blow a $1 billion hole in the budget. Spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly told the CT Mirror that the bill language in its present form would make federal reimbursement “impossible”. Legislators refused to use corrective language the administration sent to them. House Majority Leader Matt Ritter said that if there is an error in the budget language, it would be corrected this week.

Apologists for the duopoly will certainly point to the cancellation of tax cuts for insurance companies and other businesses, as an example of ‘shared sacrifice’. The Connecticut Voices for Children report “The Cost of Business Tax Breaks in CT” provides a reality check.

April 2017
The Cost of Business Tax Breaks in Connecticut
Derek Thomas, M.P.A.

Connecticut Voices for Children estimates the costs of business tax breaks in fiscal year (FY) 2017 to be $707 million. The report highlights that, unlike strategic investments, such as education and health care, the full cost of business tax breaks is unknown, and their effectiveness is not analyzed according to nationally-recognized best practices.
Among the report’s findings:
From FY 2002 to FY 2017, according to available data, the cost of all business tax breaks (credits, deductions, and other policy choices) increased from $661 million to $707 million (in 2017 dollars).
From FY 2016 to FY 2017, the cost of business tax breaks (in absolute dollars) increased by $12 million while spending on children (as defined by our Children’s Budget) decreased by $81.2 million.

The report offers several recommendations to shed more light on the costs of business tax breaks, such as:
Require regular review of business tax breaks
Prepare for Governmental Accounting Standards Board 77 data;
Expand the scope of the tax expenditure report; and
Require corporate tax disclosure.”

Beginning this year, all of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities will be required to report the total cost of many business tax breaks, such as property tax abatements and income tax credits — “enabling massive new bodies of analysis and reform policymaking” on the cost of all local tax breaks.28 The new disclosure requirements follow Statement No. 77 from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), a private and independent organization that sets accounting standards for local governments. State data is expected to be available in the Comptroller’s Comprehensive Annual Financial report (CAFR) in late 201729 and for several of the state’s largest cities early in 2018. To prepare for the transition, the state should create a centralized portal on the state’s website to collect local government financial reports and to compile all local subsidy data into one database; it should also offer technical assistance to local governments.    http://www.ctvoices.org/TaxBreaks

*****

Connecticut Consumer Counsel Elin Katz said on WNPR’s Where We Live that because legislators raided various energy efficiency funds, residents (including the poor) now face an energy tax. The monthly surcharge on utility bills that was being invested in clean energy, now goes to the state’s General Fund.  Malloy signed the budget, but used his limited veto power to reject the hospital tax language.

 

Connecticut Valley Hospital Scrambles to Keep Funding  

 

“After receiving a copy of the CVH workplace bullying survey results, I found the overwhelming percentages of respondents experiencing adverse bullying incidents/situations alarming. What’s even more alarming is nothing is being done about it and the bullying status quo continues at CVH. I am disturbed by the fact that had I not formally requested the survey results I would never have known about the findings. The State of Connecticut urgently needs the Safe Work Environment Act to become law. It is appalling that an agency which is entrusted to care for vulnerable patients suffering from mental illness is fostering a culture of bullying and abusive conduct, as the survey results clearly show. This climate creates an adverse potential effect on patient care. People should ask themselves if they want their loved ones to be placed in that kind of abusive environment.”  ~ 2012 statement by now retired Connecticut Valley Hospital employee John Hollis

As CVH implodes, I’m angry that the warnings John and myself have been making publicly for years about this facility fell on deaf ears. 10 employees arrested and 37 suspended in connection with patient abuse, the largest scandal in the modern history of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. CT Republicans pushing for privatization. A culture of workplace bullying, perpetuated by CVH management and DMHAS, led to the patient abuse.

Last week one of my bosses, up late at night and apparently not sober, taunted me by ‘liking’ a September 26 Facebook post, where I referred to CVH management as a criminal element. Hours later, the news broke that the federal government had terminated their Medicare/Medicaid provider agreement with CVH, citing safety concerns.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a statement, saying that termination of this agreement is a last resort, when all other efforts to get a facility to remedy its deficiencies have failed. Last Friday CMS granted CVH a one day extension until Saturday night, to fix the deficiencies. CVH is on fire. I take no pleasure in saying that. Josh Kovner of the Courant quoted a CMS official, who said an inspection last month found that the safety of CVH patients was in “immediate jeopardy”. CVH and DMHAS are in this predicament because of the people in leadership positions.

CMS reinstated their agreement with CVH, following an inspection on Saturday by the Department of Public Health. CVH will be inspected again in 31 days.
While CVH management is already spinning the events of the past weekend, CVH employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity, are telling a far different story.

Women nationwide have been rising up against sexual harassment, a form of workplace bullying. I interviewed a Black DMHAS employee who was sexually harassed by her white boss. Abusive workplace conduct at CVH and other DMHAS facilities must be addressed through radical policy reform.

 

The Kaepernick Effect

Last week Philadelphia Eagles players Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long and Torrey Smith met with state legislators in Pennsylvania, to discuss a bipartisan bill that would seal the records of individuals with nonviolent misdemeanors after 10 years, provided they do not commit further offenses. The Clean Slate Act, legislation that is being pushed by Jenkins, is currently being debated by lawmakers.

Jenkins, Smith and Long are also involved with a federal bill, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017, which the National Football League supports. This bill would restrict mandatory minimum sentences to only the most serious drug and most violent criminal offenses. Long, who attended the University of Virginia, has promised to donate his entire salary this year to educational charities, including some in Charlottesville, the site of clashes between anti-fascist protesters and white supremacists. Protester Heather Heyer was murdered during an act of terrorism by 20 year-old white supremacist James Fields, who drove his car into a crowd that included Heyer.

Slate reported that Colin Kaepernick has been frozen out of meetings between players and owners regarding racial justice issues.  Kaepernick has filed a grievance, charging NFL owners with conspiring to blackball him. Kaepernick is being represented by attorney Mark Geragos. Geragos has sent emails to the NFL Players Association and Jenkins’ player coalition, seeking clarification on what, if any role Kaepernick will have in these talks.  http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/10/29/colin_kaepernick_frozen_out_of_discussions_between_nfl_players_and_owners.html

 

Resources

Community Party Safe Work Environment Act

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/real-protection-against-workplace-bullying-safe-work-environment-act-2/

 

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 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/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.

 

 

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio October 31

October 29, 2017

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio returns Tuesday, October 31.* Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. We’ll share Rosa Clemente’s #PRontheMap update on the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. Our Policy Watch segment features analysis of the neoliberal bipartisan state budget, passed with a veto-proof majority by the Connecticut General Assembly last week. We’ll discuss the latest crisis at Connecticut Valley Hospital, where ten employees were arrested and 37 suspended, in connection with the abuse of a 59 year-old patient. We’ll also provide an update on Colin Kaepernick, and racial justice policy work by National Football League players. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific.  http://sometroradio.com/

*This week’s show was taped Saturday, October 28. We’ll return live on Tuesday, November 7.

 

Resources

Rosa Clemente was live.
October 8 at 10:38pm

 

Rosa Clemente on Puerto Ricans Drinking Toxic Water & San Juan Mayor’s Message to the Diaspora

Story October 18, 2017

https://www.democracynow.org/2017/10/18/rosa_clemente_on_puerto_ricans_drinking

 

Embattled CVH Scrambles to Avert Loss of Millions in Medicare Funding

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-cvh-averts-loss-of-medicare-1028-story.html

 

Neoliberal Budgets / Fear, Privatization & the Demise of CVH
by David Samuels

This column appears in the October 26 – November 2 edition of the Hartford News.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2017/10/24/neoliberal-budgets-fear-privatization-the-demise-of-cvh-2/

 

Emails Show Colin Kaepernick Frozen Out of Discussions Between NFL Players and Owners

By Jeremy Stahl

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/10/29/colin_kaepernick_frozen_out_of_discussions_between_nfl_players_and_owners.html

 

 

 

Neoliberal Budgets / Fear, Privatization & the Demise of CVH

October 24, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the October 26 – November 2 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: October 31. 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 Podcast

Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/

 

Political Roundup

Support the Troops, Bring Them Home

Donald Trump’s comments to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson were reprehensible. That being said, I’m not feeling liberals who are painting Barack Obama as the compassionate comforter of Gold Star families. The fact is that Trump, Obama, George Bush, Bill Clinton and the presidents before them are agents of the military industrial complex. Obama bombed seven Muslim countries. I didn’t see him shedding any tears for the scores of civilians who were killed by the U.S. war machine.

The Democrats recently voted for $700 billion to fund Trump’s war budget. 54% of the federal budget funds the military. Black and Latinx youth, faced with a lack of opportunity because of poverty and racial wage/wealth disparity, end up in the economic draft, enlisting in the military. They’re promised money for college and career opportunities; many end up coming back home in a casket.

The U.S. Army has hit thousands of veterans suffering from PTSD with “dishonorable” and “bad conduct” discharges, because they don’t want to be on the hook for the cost of health care benefits. I don’t really care about which president does a better acting job, when they talk to the families and loved ones of dead soldiers. If anything, Trump’s comments are the most honest representation of how the military industrial complex feels about the human beings they exploit.
http://salem-news.com/articles/september192009/ptsd_discharges_gd_9-19-09.php

Puerto Rico: FEMA Parties, While People Die

“We were able to get to places the military said they couldn’t get to, in a Kia and a Hyundai Accent.”  ~ Activist Rosa Clemente, on the ground in Puerto Rico.

As the death toll in the wake of Hurricane Maria reached approximately 450 Puerto Ricans, FEMA danced on their graves.  Last week Clemente posted a Facebook live report from a location next to the so-called FEMA Command Center, that resembles Studio 54. FEMA employees danced and drank, as a DJ played music. Check out #PRontheMap on Facebook and Twitter for grassroots reporting and commentary on the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, by Clemente and others.

 

Unconscionable Budgets in Connecticut & Washington

Guess who will pay higher taxes if the bipartisan budget deal is passed by the Connecticut General Assembly, with enough votes to drain the ink from Gov. Dan Malloy’s veto pen? You guessed it: the working poor and the middle class. The earned income tax credit and property tax credit would both be cut. The cigarette tax would be increased. CT Mirror budget analyst Keith Phaneuf described the blurry budget plan. “In comments to the press, legislative leaders have shared limited details of the budget framework, leaving reporters, lobbyists and even rank-and-file legislators to scramble for more. Significant measures, such as a provision that would end the ability of municipalities to impose the property tax on motor vehicles, were almost casually mentioned to reporters in press availabilities.”

Of course no neoliberal state budget would be complete without raiding existing funds to make the math work. Phaneuf provided the gruesome details. “The tentative state budget deal would strip as much as $175 million from clean energy funds, tapping surcharges on monthly utility bills and raiding a program lauded for leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars in private investments.
According to legislators briefed privately Wednesday on the deal, leaders also said they would continue to discuss the proposed diversions and consider adjustments before a vote is held.
Meanwhile, clean energy advocates protested the planned diversions from the Green Bank, Energy Efficiency Fund and Connecticut’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative fund, arguing they could lead to higher utility rates, damage a growing energy conservation industry, and destroy Connecticut’s reputation with private investors in this field.”

CT Mirror’s Jacqueline Rabe Thomas reports that public school teachers and other educators would have to cough up close to $800 per year in pension payments, a 1 percent increase in contributions. House Majority Leader Matt Ritter said that Hartford would receive funds that would prevent the city from having to file for bankruptcy – closing some corporate tax loopholes would have easily resolved that manufactured crisis, a shakedown of public sector workers in predominantly Black cities like Detroit. Mayor Luke Bronin is still seeking concessions from city employees. The public sector is the largest employer of Black people and women.

Meanwhile in Washington, The Republican controlled Congress passed the framework of a budget bill that would decimate human services, while feeding the military industrial complex. Commondreams.org provided details on an analysis of the budget plan, by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee. It should be noted that the Democrats recently voted for $700 billion to fund President Donald Trump’s war budget.

“The report highlighted in particular the Republicans’ plan to slash funding for Medicare and Medicaid by $470 billion and $1 trillion respectively over the next decade—a move that would have devastating consequences for tens of millions of Americans.
The analysis also points to deep cuts the GOP budget would impose on other crucial safety net programs, including:
A $37 billion cut to affordable housing programs, which would “eliminate” housing assistance for over a million families.
A $6.5 billion cut Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
A $3 billion cut to Head Start, which the report says would strip educational assistance from 25,000 children per year.
A $37 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health, “which would cut funding for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and other critical medical research.”
In total, the report estimates that the Senate GOP’s budget would slash $5 trillion from non-defense spending over the next decade.
‘Meanwhile, at a time when the U.S. already spends more on defense than the next 12 countries combined,’ the analysis notes, ‘the Republican budget lays the groundwork for an increase of $91 billion to the Pentagon for Fiscal Year 2018 alone—more than enough to provide free tuition at every public college and university in America.’”

Fear Fuels Implosion of Connecticut Valley Hospital

 

 

Last week State Police arrested another Connecticut Valley Hospital employee, in connection with a patient abuse scandal at CVH’s Whiting Forensic Division. 10 employees have now been arrested and 37 have been placed on administrative leave. Josh Kovner of the Courant reports that this is the largest group of employees ever disciplined in the modern history of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. A source told me that the FBI may have already joined the State Police investigation of CVH, and the Department of Justice may also become involved.  http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-10th-arrest-whiting-patient-abuse-1019-story.html

Retired Connecticut Valley Hospital employee John Hollis was interviewed by the State Police Major Crime Unit. John explained our position, which is that a culture of workplace bullying, perpetuated by CVH management and DMHAS,  led to the patient abuse at CVH’s Whiting Forensic Division. John gave the police a copy of the 2012 CVH workplace bullying survey. CVH tried to suppress the results of the survey. Here are the responses from employees.

“I have encountered bullying situations at work.” 70.6% of CVH workers “strongly agree”. 20.7 % “agree”.
“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH manager / supervisor.” 59.9% “strongly agree”. 16.5% “agree”.
“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH manager / supervisor in my unit / program.” 54.0 % “strongly agree”. 16.2 % “agree”.
“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH co-worker.” 39.6% “strongly agree”. 20.2 % “agree”.
“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH co-worker in my unit / program.” 37.5 % “strongly agree”. 20.8 % “agree”.
“I feel that bullying is an accepted part of the culture at CVH.” 54.1 % “strongly agree.” 25.7% “agree”.
“I reported bullying and there was a positive resolution of my concerns.” 61.6% “strongly disagree”. 24.5% “disagree”.
“I fear retaliation for reporting bullying or other hostile behavior.” 66.6% “strongly agree”. 17.1 % “agree”.

Fear is at the root of the CVH scandal, and will likely lead to the dismantling of this facility if CT Republicans, who want to privatize CVH so bad they can taste it, get their way. Some of the 37 suspended workers knew about this abuse and said nothing; certainly fear of retaliation was the reason. If one whistleblower had not spoken up, the alleged abuse would still be happening.

The current case is not an isolated incident. Kovner reported on a 2006 lawsuit settlement between CVH and the family of James Bell. “The state has agreed to a $2.33 million settlement with the parents of James Bell, a patient at the Whiting Forensic Institute who died in 2002 while being restrained by staff members at the psychiatric facility. The payment avoids a trial in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family and is believed by the parents’ lawyers to be the largest payout in a negligence case ever at Whiting.”  http://articles.courant.com/2006-02-14/news/0602140726_1_psychiatric-facility-million-settlement-bell-s-death

Last week I watched a CVH co-worker (a person of color) make an irrational decision, totally based on fear, to align herself with CVH management, who she had been complaining about to me for months. Now this worker, who had made valid claims about her bosses protecting a white employee at her expense, is at the mercy of CVH. If she somehow gets the courage to complain about discriminatory acts against her in the future, CVH will use her own words as a weapon to discredit her.

This employee, who had gained power by advocating for her rights as a worker and a human being, gave that power to her bosses. She is now in an even weaker position than she was before. If you’re a person of color contemplating organizing against systemic racism in your workplace, you can’t be a prisoner of fear. You can’t be scared of your white boss, or their white boss, or their white boss. I guarantee that you will face retaliation. You must be prepared for that, and still be willing to speak truth to power.

Fear has led to the likely prospect of CVH being privatized by the Republicans within the next 18 months. The GOP will push the angle that CVH cannot be reformed, pointing to the fact that CVH was already being monitored by the DOJ for violating patients’ rights, when the abuse at Whiting occurred. Actually I also heard that argument from a Democratic legislator, who told me if the DOJ couldn’t get CVH under control, he’s not sure what the General Assembly can do. Don’t allow fear to destroy your livelihood.

Resources:

Action alert – Protect the Earned Income Tax Credit:

https://ctvoices.salsalabs.org/eitcunderthreat/index.html

Community Party Safe Work Environment Act:

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/real-protection-against-workplace-bullying-safe-work-environment-act-2/

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 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/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.

Uprising at CVH / NFL Player Protests

October 18, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the October 19 – 26 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: October 31. 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 Podcast

Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/

 

Community Update

NFL Player Protests Impact Workers’ Rights & Criminal Justice Reform

The NFL players’ national anthem protests has morphed into a workplace bullying issue. Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed, and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones officially sided with Donald Trump. It’s good to see labor unions stepping up, and pointing out that the players have rights within their workplace.

Report: Kaepernick files grievance against NFL owners for collusion

theScore

Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance under the collective bargaining agreement for collusion against NFL team owners, reports Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report.
Kaepernick has hired high-profile attorney Mark Geragos and is preparing to release a statement about his grievance soon, added Freeman.
The free-agent quarterback has remained unemployed since his release by the San Francisco 49ers in March and has garnered little interest from teams around the league.
This has caused some to suggest he’s being blackballed for his national anthem protests during the 2016 season.
Kaepernick appeared in 12 games for 49ers in 2016, throwing for 2,241 yards with 16 touchdowns to four interceptions.
His 90.7 passer rating ranked 17th in the league, ahead of 10 quarterbacks who were starters going into the 2017 season.

 

NFL Players Supported by Labor Union

Labor union files complaint against Jerry Jones over anthem threat
Tribune News Service
By Clarence E. Hill Jr. and Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

A labor union that represents workers in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana has filed a charge alleging that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has violated the National Labor Relations Act with his threats to discipline players if they protest during the national anthem.
Local 100 of the United Labor Unions filed the complaint Tuesday with the Fort Worth, Texas, office of the National Labor Relations Board. It asks the NLRB to “investigate preemptively in order to prevent illegal firings of players.”
Wade Rathke, chief organizer of Local 100, accuses Jones of violating the act, which prohibits employers from intimidating or threatening workers for their “concerted activity.”
Rathke said the NFL has already established that there is no condition of work that requires players to stand during the anthem. He said players have the right to protest and act concertedly at their workplace – the playing field. Jones is violating the act by attempting to prevent them from doing so, he said.
“Jones through his efforts to bully his playing workforce is attempting to unilaterally establish a previously nonexistent condition of work,” Rathke said in a written statement announcing the charge.
Rathke said the point is the same, whether the discipline is the benching of a player for a game or firing him by an outright release.
“Either way it’s a threat and you can’t threaten someone’s job for concerted activity,” he said in an interview with the Star-Telegram. “The point is he is threatening anybody and everybody. We are trying to send Mr. Jones a message that there is a law here. The law here is that you have the ability to act with your co-worker. You can’t just roll over someone’s rights when they are a worker. You can’t bully workers on the job. President (Donald) Trump might not get that. Jones might be confused. But these are workers with rights with the National Labor Relations Board.”
The board in Fort Worth will assign a field agent to investigate the charge. The first step will be to contact the NFL players association and the team.
Messages left with the Cowboys and the NFL were not immediately returned.
Meanwhile, NFL owners are expected to discuss the league’s policy regarding the national anthem during meetings next week in New York.
The NFL game operations manual says players “should” stand for the national anthem. Changing the “should” to “must” is an option the owners and league could pursue during their meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, said NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart.
“I think there will be a discussion about the entire issue, including the policy … I’m not going to predict what might happen,” Lockhart said.
When told of the NFL’s plans of possibly of changing the language of the policy and making standing a requirement, Rathke said, “they haven’t done it yet and the threat is right now.”
Rathke also said the NFL Players Association might have an issue with the league changing policy in the middle of an agreement.
Lockhart declined to give a definitive answer when asked if owners could force players to stand for the national anthem. He also wouldn’t speculate whether the issue would have to be collectively bargained between the NFL and the players association.
“We’re going to do this together as an ownership group and a league with the players,” he said.
The NFL has not weighed in on Jones’ stance.
“It’s somewhat of a moot point because all of their players have stood,” Lockhart said.
This has been an issue for more than a year since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled to protest racial injustice and police brutality against people of color.
Cowboys defensive linemen David Irving and Damontre Moore raised their fists at the end of the national anthem in Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
Jones made it clear after the game that he and the organization would not tolerate any players “disrespecting the flag” during the anthem. He became the first owner to declare consequences for players who kneel during the anthem.
Coach Jason Garrett said Irving and Moore would not face discipline for their actions because they happened after the anthem had been played.
“I think everyone at this point is frustrated by this situation,” Lockhart said. “The commissioner and the owners do want the players to stand.”

****

UPDATE: Last week the NFL announced that they would not require players to stand, but would instead discuss an alternative platform players could use to make racial justice statements.

NFL endorses criminal-justice reform bill in the midst of anthem debate

By Karoun Demirjian and Beth Reinhard October 16

The National Football League, still in political crosshairs over whether players should take a knee during the national anthem, is throwing its weight behind another cause in Washington’s debate over racial inequality: criminal justice reform.
The NFL’s spokesman said on Monday that the league has decided to endorse a bipartisan bill to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders, eliminate “three-strike” provisions that require life sentences and give judges more latitude to reduce sentences for certain low-level crimes.

You can read the full story here.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/nfl-endorses-criminal-justice-reform-bill-in-the-midst-of-national-anthem-debate/2017/10/16/8e3b43a8-b2a9-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html?utm_term=.95ea89fe4529

 

Policy Watch

 CVH Under Siege

Watching Connecticut Valley Hospital and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services explain away patient abuse arrests, in addition to new charges of racism and workplace bullying by Black employees, is like your neighbor saying, “Yeah, there was a small glitch in the electrical wiring I just put in upstairs,” while firefighters try to put out the three-alarm blaze that has engulfed his house.

October 18 State Police arrested another Connecticut Valley Hospital employee, in connection with a patient abuse scandal at CVH’s Whiting Forensic Division. Last week CVH announced that six more employees had been placed on administrative leave for not reporting the abuse, bringing the total to 37.  10 employees have now been arrested in what the Courant’s Josh Kovner reports is the largest scandal in the modern history of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.  http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-10th-arrest-whiting-patient-abuse-1019-story.html

 

The arrests at CVH, coupled with a racism complaint by a group of Black employees, filed last week with the NAACP and Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, could bring about the end of mental health treatment as we know it in this state.  Republican Sen. Heather Somers and other GOP leaders said that privatization of CVH is “on the table”; this would actually exacerbate the conditions that led to the CVH patient abuse scandal.

Lower paid workers would mean an inferior level of care, and less employee protections would fuel the culture of workplace bullying, currently perpetuated by CVH management and DMHAS, that reportedly has infected the same 59 year-old CVH patient twice. This is what’s complicated about the GOP being in the lead on this issue, while Gov. Dan Malloy (who appointed DMHAS commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon) and the Democrats cower in silence. They will ask the questions that need to be asked, including about Malloy’s culpability, but their objective is to further their privatization agenda.

The recent death of a patient at a group home in Bristol is a chilling example of why privatization is not the solution to the CVH crisis.     http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-hartford-death-in-bristol-group-home-ruled-homicide-1013-story.html CVH should serve as a template for radical reform. Dismantling the “culture of impunity” at CVH would result in a safer environment for patients, and staff. In my opinion, CVH management and DMHAS have signed CVH’s death warrant, if a Republican governor is elected next year. CVH patients, their families and loved ones, along with CVH workers, can thank the megalomaniacs in CVH management and DMHAS if CVH is privatized.

 

WFSB covered the action by Black CVH workers.

Claims of racism made against CT state department

Posted: Oct 11, 2017
By Courtney Zieller
By Kaitlyn Naples

HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Employees of the Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services spoke out on Wednesday saying they have been treated unfairly.
They feel it’s because of the color of their skin.
Employees have filed more than 20 complaints with Connecticut’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, also known as the NAACP.
Channel 3 spoke with workers one-on-one on Wednesday, and one woman, who is Puerto Rican, said she was passed up for a job, even though she said she has her master’s degree. She said the person who was hired had a high school diploma and was white.
Travon Jackson has been working in mental health for 28 years, 11 years with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
He says he was fired.
“For someone like myself, I was never in trouble and have an outstanding work history I was nominated and was an employee of the year and my work speaks for myself,” Jackson said.
He claims minority employees at the department are treated unfairly.
“The diversity and the treatment up there and the racial tension up there is just over the top and it really needs to be looked into,” Jackson said.
The state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities met inside the legislative office building in Hartford on Wednesday.
The NAACP was there and said they’ve been looking into these claims.
They say they’ve fielded over 20 complaints from workers about unfair and racially biased treatment at several facilities around the state.
“Harsh treatment and punishment, retaliation, and harassment that affects employees of color around the state,” said Jason Teal, of the NAACP.
The NAACP is calling on commissioners to start investigating the claims.
Meanwhile, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services said “The Department takes matters related to allegations of discrimination very seriously. DMHAS exercises due diligence in investigating allegations brought to our attention to ensure that all federal and state laws regarding discrimination are followed.”
What happens next is the human rights attorney will need to take a look at every individual complaint.
If she finds it credible, then commissioners will get those formal complaints.
Commissioners will then decide if they want to hear these worker’s complaints during a public hearing.
They’re supposed to meet in one month.
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 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/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.

 

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio October 17

October 15, 2017

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio returns Tuesday, October 17. Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. Guest contributor Janet Frazao-Conaci, a social worker who is employed in Hartford, will join us for our Special Report: Uprising at Connecticut Valley Hospital. We’ll also have an update on Colin Kaepernick, and the NFL national anthem protests. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific.  http://sometroradio.com/

 

Resources

CVH Update / Budget Chaos / Gun Control / NFL Activism

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/cvh-update-budget-chaos-gun-control-nfl-activism/

NFL Owners Are ‘Woke’ To New Marketing Opportunities, Yet Colin Kaepernick Still Can’t Get A Job

https://www.forbes.com/sites/cartoonoftheday/2017/10/01/nfl-owners-are-woke-to-new-marketing-opportunities-yet-colin-kaepernick-still-cant-get-a-job/#4dc95e5b4ce9

 

Rosa Clemente reports on the ground from Puerto Rico. #PRontheMap

 

Hurricane Relief in Caribbean Islands, Florida and Houston

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/hurricane-relief-in-caribbean-islands-florida-and-houston/

CVH Update / Budget Chaos / Gun Control / NFL Activism

October 11, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the October 12 – 19 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: October 17. 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 Podcast

Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/

 

PROGRAM ALERT

Community Party Radio podcast. Topics include Chicago urban gun violence, the Las Vegas mass shooting, Puerto Rico grassroots hurricane relief efforts, and National Football League players organizing for racial justice.      https://www.spreaker.com/user/thebwegroup/community-party-radio-hosted-by-david-sa_59

 

Political Roundup

CVH Patient Abuse Scandal

Retired Connecticut Valley Hospital employee John Hollis has had productive conversations with Republican Sen. Heather Somers, co-chair of the Connecticut General Assembly public health committee, regarding the CT Valley Hospital patient abuse scandal. Somers has been discussing next steps with John, which we cannot talk about publicly yet.

Democratic Rep. Matthew Lesser contacted me last week about CVH. Lesser said he met with CVH Chief Operating Officer Helene Vartelas and Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, and relayed our complaints about the culture of abuse and workplace bullying at CVH.
Lesser said a hearing is being planned and the public health committee is “considering a legislative response.” Lesser requested information, which we have sent to him. I made it clear that CVH and DMHAS are the violators, and must not be allowed to police themselves. OUTSIDE INTERVENTION IS ESSENTIAL. CVH is located in Middletown, Lesser’s district. Stay tuned. Here’s an update from Fox 61 on the patient abuse arrests.

Warrants detail repeated patient abuse at state funded psychiatric hospital

by Doug Stewart and Kaitlin Goslee

MIDDLETOWN – Arrest warrants for nine employees at Whiting Forensic Division of the Connecticut Valley Hospital allege a repeated pattern of abuse against a patient.
The warrants, previously under court order seal, were made public this week.

The patient at the center of the abuse is a 62 year old man who’s treatment orders called for a two-on-one staff to patient ration and 24-hour a day supervision.  There was video camera located in his room for patient monitoring.

Nine staff members were arrested in early September following a state police investigation into the matter.
Their newly release arrest warrants outline what police claim they witnessed on the video footage from the patient’s room. Several of the accused are allegedly seen on video kicking the patient repeatedly, in many cases while he laid in his bed.
Eight of the arrested workers are forensic specialist technicians. The ninth, Mark Cusson, worked as a forensic nurse.
Cusson’s accusations run the gamut of police claiming he poured liquid over the patient’s head, rubbed a used mop on the patients head, and beyond. Police detailed Cussons is seen on the footage approaching the patient’s bed, then “mounts the patient’s bed and straddles himself over the patent placing his groin in the patient’s face.  Cusson then makes a back and forth motion towards the patient’s face with his groin.”  The court record goes on to say there two other workers in the room at the time of this incident.

Cusson’s lawyer, Stephen Woolf, maintains client’s innocence. He told FOX61, “He believes that he’s innocent, we believe we have a lot of information that is not yet available to the public.” He went on to say Cusson has been “a very dedicated long time employee of Whiting Forensic.”  He added there is more to the case than just the video, which he claims is not visually clear.
Another of the accused, Lance Camby, 48, of New Britain, is reportedly seen on the footage putting a diaper on the patient’s head, while Willie Bethea, 45, of Middletown, is allegedly seen poking the patient. He later told police he believes he “patted” the patient on the cheek but claimed he believes the “patient enjoys a degree of playful physical contact.”
In the arrest warrant of Gregory Giantonio, 43, of Deep River, it’s stated that he’s seen kicking the patient and is seen in the patient’s room for some of Cusson’s alleged abuse. Giantonio told police he never abused or witnessed anyone abusing the patient.
The Whiting Forensic Division is a state funded maximum security psychiatric hospital located in Middletown.

The facility is overseen by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Following the newly released arrest warrants, they stated, “The Department remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that justice is served for our client. The affidavits underscore the importance of the Department’s actions to immediately involve the Connecticut State Police in the investigation into alleged client abuse.”

You can read the arrest warrants here. http://fox61.com/2017/10/05/warrants-detail-repeated-abuse-of-patient-at-whiting-forensic-in-middletown/amp/

 

State Budget Crisis

Last week Connecticut Republicans declined to call for a vote on overriding Gov. Dan Malloy’s veto of their budget. House Majority Leader Matt Ritter proposed that the House vote to pass the revenue provisions that are identical in the Democratic and Republican budgets.

Neither the Democratic nor GOP leaders indicated that a state budget agreement was imminent, during separate press briefings following the special session. The state remains without a budget, and is currently being run under executive order by Malloy. The state budget crisis could best be summed up by the separate, chaotic press conferences by the two parties. Ritter handed out his one page bipartisan budget proposal. Senate Republican President Len Fasano’s reaction: “I don’t know what the heck that was!” A pox on both their houses.

 

 

Las Vegas Mass Shooting: Facts vs. Rhetoric

Last week Republican Congressman Steve Scalise railed against renewed calls for gun control, in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting. Yes, this is the same Steve Scalise who got shot up in Virginia, just a few months ago.  National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre and White House press secretary Sara Huckabee Sanders both responded to the gun control question by pivoting to their go-to coded racialized fear mongering, making the false equivalency between mass shootings and urban gun violence in Chicago.

Lapierre talked about Black Chicago gang members and called for mandatory sentencing for gun possession, during an appearance last Sunday on the CBS Face the Nation program. Incredibly, host John Dickerson didn’t ask Lapierre about gun control legislation that was passed in Australia in 1996, following a mass shooting that killed 35 people and wounded 23 others. Australia hasn’t had a mass shooting since the laws were enacted.

What’s needed in Chicago is an end to the neoliberal war against public education, a New Deal program consisting of  job skills training and the targeted creation of living wage jobs, in a city that annually has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation. Economic opportunity is the best form of gun control in low income communities of color. Poverty = violence.

Whites don’t engage in drug or gang related shootings – they stick to wholesome spree killings. Facts from  politicalreaseach.org. “Recent studies reveal that most school shooters are White males, with 97 percent being male and 79 percent White. Over the last three decades, 90 percent of high school or elementary school shootings were the result of White, often upper-middle class, perpetrators. These shootings are a direct reflection of White male privilege and the consequences that occur when groups like the NRA control influential conservative leaders.”  http://www.politicalresearch.org/2014/06/19/mass-shooters-have-a-gender-and-a-race/#sthash.aNvg0nsX.dpbs

ter·ror·ism
[ˈterəˌrizəm]
NOUN
the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

Terrorists

Timothy McVeigh:  Blew up a federal building in Oklahoma, in response to Branch Davidian standoff with federal agents.

Wade Michael Page:  White supremacist, committed mass shooting at Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

Dylann Roof:  White supremacist, committed mass shooting at historically Black church in South Carolina.

Mass Murderers

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold: Committed mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.

James Holmes: Committed mass shooting at Colorado movie theater.

Adam Lanza: Committed mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

????

Stephen Paddock: Committed mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music concert.

Calling every white person who commits a mass shooting a terrorist without knowing the facts, is willfully disregarding the definition of terrorism, and hurts your credibility. Imitating the knee-jerk reactions of Donald Trump and his Islamophobic supporters is not a good look. There’s no need to manufacture facts about whites who commit acts of violence.

 

 

NFL Update

NFL, NFLPA Meet to Discuss Social Activism Among Players
The NFL and NFLPA held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss social activism by players. Sports Illustrated

“Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith, Eric Winston, Robert Craft, John Mara, Art Rooney and other player leaders engaged in a productive conversation,” a statement from the NFL and NFLPA said. “We are all committed to an ongoing dialogue.”
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Kirk Cousins, Demario Davis and Mark Herzlich were some of the players who attended the meeting.
It was recently reported that Michael Bennett, Malcolm Jenkins, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin sent a memo to Roger Goodell asking for the league to become more involved in the players social activism efforts by providing public support and dedicating a month during the season to activism awareness.
During the last two weeks, player activism has become an even bigger focus around the league after Donald Trump criticized players for kneeling during the national anthem. After Trump’s comments, some team owners joined their teams on the field during the anthem to link arms as a sign of unity.

 

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 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/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.

 

 

 

Las Vegas Mass Shooting / Puerto Rico / Democrats Protect CVH Abusers

October 4, 2017

by David Samuels

This column appears in the October 5 – 12 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: October 17. 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 Podcast

Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/

 

Community Update

Las Vegas Mass Shooting

 

58 people have been killed and 527 wounded following a mass shooting at a country music concert Sunday night in Las Vegas. 64 year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd from his hotel room window, and fatally shot himself as police broke into his room. Australia, a country with a gun culture similar to the United States, stopped mass shootings following a 1996 massacre where 35 people were killed, and 23 were injured.  Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman interviewed Rebecca Peters, an international arms control advocate who organized the campaign to reform Australia’s gun laws, following the 1996 mass shooting. You can watch the interview here. https://www.democracynow.org/2016/6/13/australia_stopped_mass_shootings_after_1996

 

The White Nationalist President Disses Puerto Rico

President Donald Trump took a break from cursing out Black NFL players to lash out at San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has been critical of the federal response to Hurricane Maria. Tweeting from his luxury golf course in New Jersey, Trump said that those lazy Puerto Ricans want white people to save them. Trump took five days to tweet about Puerto Rico, while he was complaining about uppity Black football players and their annoying demands for racial justice. Trump, who received five deferments from the Vietnam War draft, railed about national anthem protests being disrespectful to the military. Trump tweeted about the NFL 17 times, Puerto Rico 5 times. Here is a report on what’s really happening, courtesy of Telesur English. https://www.telesurtv.net/

‘We’re Not Going to Rely on US Govt’: Grassroots Groups Mobilize for Puerto Rico Amid US Govt Neglect

“This is Puerto Rico’s Katrina,” Letty Concepcion, who is flying to the island from Florida to distribute aid, told teleSUR. Civilian groups are helping recovery efforts in Puerto Rico as the country deals with its “greatest catastrophe in modern history” with little help from the U.S. government.

In the wake of Hurricane Maria’s destruction, a contingent from 365 Jeep Life — an auto enthusiasts’ club — from Orlando, Florida is set to deliver on Wednesday 200,000 pounds of food, water and other emergency supplies donations to the hurricane-struck island.
Concepcion explained they have nearly 10 trucks filled up with supplies for the island. The groups gathering the donations have since paired with an aviation company that will fly out all of the aid from Florida to Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

“The biggest problem is manpower,” Concepcion said, adding that while some aid has managed to reach Puerto Rico, there are few people to help distribute it.

The hurricane has left much of the island nearly uninhabitable, the organizer explained, with many currently stranded without food, water and electricity.

“We decided we’re not going to rely on the government,” pressed Concepcion.
“Civilians have done more … we’ve basically been on our own,” she added.
As the contingent prepares to leave Wednesday, Concepcion has also set up a Go Fund Me page in order to fundraise for the island’s disaster victims.
While Puerto Rico struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria, which hit the island last week, U.S. President Donald Trump has instead reminded the island of its “massive debt,” adding that the U.S. territory owes “Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

Visit Colorlines.com for info on supporting these relief efforts.

http://www.colorlines.com/articles/how-help-residents-puerto-rico-and-us-virgin-islands-recover-after-hurricane-maria

State Budget Crisis

Next week I’ll analyze the chaotic October 3 special session on the state budget.

 

Suspending Democracy in Hartford

Last week WFSB Face the State host Dennis House touted the benefits of Hartford filing for bankruptcy.  If you live in this city and haven’t been paying attention to this issue, you damn well better start. During the segment, the idea was floated of suspending the powers of the mayor and city council, and installing Mayor Luke Bronin as the emergency manager. Bronin would have total power over all fiscal policy decisions. Bankruptcy is a racist, neoliberal agenda targeting predominantly Black cities.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/from-hartford-to-kansas-neoliberalism-disaster/

 

 

Colin Kaepernick

I think those of us who support Colin Kaepernick and the national anthem protests, should stop explaining why the protests aren’t disrespectful. Yes, the kneeling stance was the idea of Nate Boyer, a former NFL player and military veteran, and we know that the Star Spangled Banner celebrates slavery. I told a white co-worker who was complaining about the protests about #VeteransforKaepernick. She had no idea that veterans support Kaepernick. We ended up having a good conversation.

 

However we all know damn well that the truth doesn’t matter to white bigots. Really, they should be the ones on their knees every damn day, begging Black, Latinx and Indigenous people for forgiveness for their acts of genocide, land stealing, slavery and discriminatory public policies. So, I DON’T CARE whether or not they like the protests. They’re not supposed to like it. I’m glad they don’t like it.

 

Kaepernick is donating one million dollars to grassroots racial justice groups. Kaepernick’s website provides details on the mission of every organization that receives money from him. Kaepernick has his own organization, Know Your Rights Camp, that teaches youth how to interact with police. Four NFL players, Malcolm Jenkins and Torrey Smith, Philadelphia Eagles, Anquan Boldin, Buffalo Bills (retired) and Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks, submitted a racial justice policy paper to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and asked for the league’s support. Let’s talk about that, and the undoing racism work we need to do.

 

Policy Watch

CVH Patient Abuse Scandal:  Malloy & Democrats Obstruct Justice

Last week Josh Kovner of the Courant reported on new allegations of patient abuse at Connecticut Valley Hospital, involving the same abused patient.

*****

New charges of abuse have again rocked the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital. Three more Whiting employees — in addition to the 31 suspended and nine arrested in the spring and summer for patient abuse — have been transferred from their jobs and are under internal investigation for an alleged assault of the same patient in a Whiting bathroom within the last 30 days, a source inside the maximum-security psychiatric hospital said. This comes months after surveillance video tape captured extended abuse of that 62-year-old patient, and led to the suspensions beginning in March and the arrests earlier this month. Officials with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services did not comment directly on the new allegations.

The department oversees Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown, which includes Whiting. The patient’s co-conservator told The Courant on Thursday that she’d recently received a call from the Whiting administration that had unnerved her.
Karen Kangas said she was told that a Whiting nurse had received a call on her cellphone advising her that the patient might be the victim of further abuse and to check the bathrooms.
Kangas said Whiting officials confirmed to her on Thursday that the workers had been shifted from their jobs and were going through ‘due process’ as the officials assessed the allegations.
“My first thought was, ‘This can’t possibly be happening now, after all this,’’’ said Kangas, a mental health advocate and a former official with DMHAS.
“It’s shocking, and it makes me question whether they are taking this seriously. I have to wonder if [the patient] is safe,” Kangas said.
It could not be determined if mental health officials have notified state police investigators about the most recent allegations. Detectives have charged nine of the suspended Whiting workers with cruelty to persons, a felony.
No charges have been filed against the three additional workers.

*****

Gov. Dan Malloy appointed DMHAS commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon so he’s going to protect her, as will the Democrats in the General Assembly. They are not going to do what is necessary to hold DMHAS and CVH accountable. Republican Sen. Heather Somers, co-chair of the legislature’s public health committee, is calling for a public hearing. You don’t hear Malloy and the Democrats doing that.

 

I recently reached out to a Democrat legislator, and made it clear that outside intervention was essential in addressing the rampant culture of abuse and workplace bullying being perpetuated by CVH and DMHAS, as they should not be allowed to police themselves under any circumstances. I sent him data on CVH’s racist disciplinary and hiring practices, and wage disparities. I also sent him a Hartford News interview I did a few years ago with a Latinx state employee, who said bullying by DMHAS led her to contemplate committing suicide. A couple weeks later I received a response. This legislator spoke to Delphin-Rittmon, and he wanted me to join a DMHAS “CVH task force.”

 

When I shared this lawmaker’s response with my co-workers, they were understandably furious. This individual and I had a heated email exchange; a few hours later I received a text from John Hollis, a retired CVH employee and former union steward, informing me about the Courant report on the new CVH patient abuse allegations.

 

The latest report of abuse underscores my point to this legislator, which is that this so-called task force is DMHAS’ pathetic attempt at damage control. Of course, he already knew that. Malloy, the Democrats, DMHAS and CVH are trying to make this scandal go away, so they can all return to business as usual. The culture of abuse and workplace bullying targeting CVH employees led to patient abuse. The violators cannot be trusted to resolve the problem they created. SOMEONE must step in, and hold CVH / DMHAS accountable.

 

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X said that the greatest enemy of racial justice is the white liberal. This liberal legislator tried to lecture me about “coalition building”, which is paternalistic liberal code meaning “Just do what I say, and don’t challenge me.” What has this white liberal / left “coalition” accomplished? Let’s check the scoreboard. Trump is the President. The Republicans control Congress. The Supreme Court has a conservative majority. 34 governors are Republican, and the GOP controls 32 state legislatures. If the Republicans gain control of ONE MORE state, they will be able to amend the U.S. Constitution.

 

Last week Malloy had to veto a Republican budget, that was passed by what is still technically a Democratic Party controlled Connecticut General Assembly. The GOP will likely seize control of the Governor’s Mansion and the legislature, after the 2018 elections. I don’t want any part of a “coalition” that yields these types of results. The Democrats have imploded on the state and national level, because they serve rich people and corporate donors instead of the people.  I’ll stick to my principles, and the crew that I roll with. At least I’m able to sleep well at night.

 

I have not revealed the name of the legislator who attempted to get me to join the DMHAS “CVH task force” (yet), because my objective is to keep the focus on Malloy and the Democrats. I don’t want to give validity to this individual’s claim that I’m engaging in a personal attack against him. I have challenged this lawmaker to join Sen. Somers in calling for a public hearing on CVH, and bring about outside intervention to hold CVH and DMHAS leadership accountable for perpetuating a culture of abuse and workplace bullying, that reportedly has now infected the same patient TWICE. Stay tuned.

 

Resources

NFL players submit racial justice policy paper to commissioner Roger Goodell:

https://sports.yahoo.com/memo-4-players-sent-nfl-commissioner-roger-goodell-030818178.html

Colin Kaepernick website. Includes updates on his community organizing efforts:

http://kaepernick7.com/

 

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 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/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com.

 

 

 

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio October 3

October 1, 2017

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio returns Tuesday, October 3. Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective.  We’ll provide an update on the Las Vegas mass shooting and examine how Australia, a country with a gun culture similar to the United States, stopped mass shootings following a 1996 massacre where 35 people were killed, and 23 were injured. We will discuss urban gun violence with Camiella D. Williams, Outreach Coordinator at the Streets of Chicago. We will also have information on grassroots hurricane disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the rest of the Caribbean islands.

We’ll provide an update on stunning new allegations of patient abuse at Connecticut Valley Hospital, involving the same patient currently at the center of abuse charges that resulted in the arrests of nine CVH staff members last month. We’ll also have an update on the Hartford bankruptcy issue, Colin Kaepernick, and NFL national anthem protests.  8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. http://sometroradio.com/

 

 

 

Resources

A Young Chicago Woman Has Lost 23 Loved Ones to Gun Violence. She Wants You To See Their Faces.

https://www.thetrace.org/2016/03/chicago-woman-loses-23-loved-ones-gun-violence/

 

Black Chicago Politicians are “in the Mayor’s Pocket”

https://www.blackagendareport.com/black-chicago-politicians-are-mayors-pocket

 

Hurricane Relief in Caribbean Islands, Florida and Houston

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/hurricane-relief-in-caribbean-islands-florida-and-houston/

 

From Hartford to Kansas, Neoliberalism = Disaster

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/from-hartford-to-kansas-neoliberalism-disaster/

 

Colin Kaepernick website:

http://kaepernick7.com/

 

Four NFL players send racial justice policy paper to commissioner Roger Goodell.

https://sports.yahoo.com/memo-4-players-sent-nfl-commissioner-roger-goodell-030818178.html