Two New ADA Advocacy Organizations Established

Joseph A. Luciano, Founder, DRAG Connecticut, ADA Education Project

When the U.S. Dept. of Justice and other ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) enforcement agencies are slow to act, property owners, municipalities, and places of public accommodation must be “dragged” by private individuals into ADA compliance. The general public is mostly unaware of the rights and responsibilities provided by ADA 1990. As a consequence, persons with disabilities encounter discrimination and architectural and mobility barriers nearly everywhere. Inexplicably, barriers are found at medical centers, doctors’ offices, post offices, malls, rest rooms, houses of worship, restaurants, and more.

DRAG Connecticut organized a protest rally at the Seymour post office on May 13. Elderly/disabled residents of down-town Seymour who were unable to climb the steps to the public lobby protested because the postmaster shut down the handicapped ramp at the rear and established a discriminatory policy requiring only elderly/disabled to telephone for service and wait on the sidewalk. The Center for Disability Rights supported this event by organizing transportation of CDR members to participate.  They also made the signs.

DRAG Connecticut wants the de facto handicapped ramp in the rear of the building re-opened—and an access route to it provided compliant with 25-year-old ADA mandates (de facto, because Seymour’s post office has been providing services on that ramp to people with disabilities for years. The ramp, therefore, acquired status as a handicapped ramp for disabled postal customers). Or, the USPS can lease an accessible storefront in downtown Seymour or lease space in an existing accessible downtown business.

To see coverage of the protest, view these links:

To raise public awareness of rights and responsibilities provided by the now 25-year-old ADA, the ADA Education Project is writing an “ADA education” curriculum to be launched as a website that Connecticut social studies teachers and the general public can freely use. All its lesson plans, activities, and resources will be online—therefore requiring no expenses for books and having little impact on school budgets. With public awareness of ADA, towns and cities can become Livable Communities, a prerequisite to enable Aging in Place. Connecticut’s population is increasingly aging. Aging in Place can save America billions.

For more information about DRAG Connecticut or the ADA Education Project, please contact Joseph A. Luciano at (203) 463-8323 or e-mail dragconnecticut@yahoo.com.

March for Good Jobs Thursday, June 11

Jaime Myers-McPhail, New Haven Rising

new-haven-risingTogether with our allies in the labor and faith communities, New Haven Rising calls for a March for Good Jobs on Thursday, June 11. Meet at the Amistad Statue outside City Hall (165 Church Street) at 5 p.m.

There are over 83,000 jobs in the city. Yet less than 1 in 4 of those jobs is held by a New Haven resident. And of the livable wage jobs only 2,000 are held by residents of neighborhoods of need like Dixwell, Fair Haven and the Hill. This needs to change. We call on the city’s large employers, developers and construction companies to do their part to solve this jobs crisis. It’s time to hire qualified New Haven residents and create a strong, prosperous future for all New Haven communities.

Contact us at risingnewhaven@gmail.com or (203) 533-2283 for more information.

Election for Seats on New Haven Board of Education

by Rachel Heerema, NH Votes Coalition

For the first time in New Haven, an election will be held for seats on the New Haven Board of Education, which over-sees the public school system. The Board of Alders created two voting districts, each comprising exactly half the city’s wards. One Board of Ed member will be elected from each district. Because of the staggering of board member terms, in this year’s election one member will be elected for a two-year term and the other for a four-year term. Beginning in 2017, both elected seats will have four-year terms.

New Haven Votes Coalition is sponsoring a survey to raise awareness and gather information on candidate qualifications and school board issues (see inserts). Here’s a link to the online survey: http://bit.ly/1G3aDbH

You can complete the survey and mail it back to: New Haven Votes Coalition, c/o The Grove, 760 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06510.

More background here: www.newhavenvotescoalition.org.

 

Will CT Legislators Finally Get the Bright Idea to Support Solar Power for All?

by Paula Panzarella, Fight the Hike

As of this printing, Senate Bill 928, facilitating shared solar projects in Connecticut, has still not been scheduled for a vote in the CT State Legislature. As mentioned in last month’s PAR newsletter, “Large-scale solar investment has been successful in Massachusetts and other states. Pilot projects are not necessary to track its feasibility. It works!”

The legislative session will end June 3, a few days after this newsletter is mailed out. If the fate of SB 928 has not yet been decided, please contact your legislators and the co-chairs of the Energy and Technology committee and the governor  to let them know you support expansion of shared solar in CT.

Co-chair Rep. Lonnie Reed, 1-800-842-8267
Lonnie.Reed@cga.ct.gov

Co-chair Sen. Paul Doyle, 1-800-842-1420
Doyle@senatedems.ct.gov

Gov. Dannel Malloy, 1-800-406-1527

There is an on-line petition here: petitions.moveon.org/sign/let-everyone-go-solar?source=s.icn.em.cp&r_by=13042003

Any questions? Call Paula or Frank, (203) 562-2798.

Will Batteries Change the Power Grid?

by Judi Friedman, PACE (with special thanks to Joel Gordes)

Watch out! Natural gas expansion may turn out to be a stranded cost that we all pay for! The expansion of Tesla, the luxury electric car maker, into batteries for homes could make projects like the Eversource Northern Pass transmission project and the proposed natural gas pipeline expansion into a stranded cost. Perhaps someday even insurance companies may also provide insurance policy premium reductions for battery storage capabilities.

Jewish Voice for Peace hosts filmmaker Dr. Alice Rothchild

Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven (JVPNH) recently hosted a visit by filmmaker Dr. Alice Rothchild with screenings of her film Voices Across the Divide. The film explores the Palestinian narrative of the Nakba, featuring interviews with three generations of North American Palestinians whose families were forced into refugee status during the war of 1948-49.

In a retrospective on her visit, Rothchild states “I discussed the complexities of the Zionist movement, the fact that Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together pretty well until Zionists arrived, that the goal was clearly to create a Jewish-only state and that required getting rid of indigenous Arabs.[…] I urged people to understand that Netanyahu is not an aberration, that if you found a state based on Jewish privilege and dominance and you support militant settlers and the profound racism that has been present since the birth of the Zionist movement, then you get the government we have now. This is clearly highly problematic for liberal American Jews and we need to face these contradictions.”
Questioned by an audience member at the Whitney Center about her recent visit to Gaza, Rothchild spoke of the devastating effects of the collective punishment of Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). She referenced on her blog a meeting with Dr. Mona el-Farra of Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA). Rothchild quotes Dr. el-Farra:

“400,000 children are traumatized after the attack due to eyewitness experiences according to the UN and UNICEF. I see that those kids, age five to 16, who are suffering this trauma, were eyewitnesses of the attack, are the future youth, those kids will be the future negotiators. When Israel hits Gaza, it hits the psychological well-being of those kids.”

See her blog at alicerothchild.com/blog-2015 for a remarkable daily recounting of her March journey.
That is the present reality in Gaza. For a conversation about growing up and attending school in the West Bank, come June 17 at 6:30 p.m. to the Spring Glen Congregational Church, 1825 Whitney Ave., Hamden, to hear Shurouq Isam Alatrash and Heba Elias Bannoura, 2015 Nursing and Mid-wifery graduates respectively from Bethlehem University. For more details, see http://www.jvpnh.org/event/discussion-palestinian-nursing-and-midwifery-students.

You can reach JVP New Haven on the web: www.jvpnh.org, by email:  newhaven@jewishvoiceforpeace.org, or facebook: jvpnewhaven, or twitter: @jvpnewhaven.

Court Sessions Continue Against the ‘Westport 2′

Stanley Heller, Exec. Director, Middle East Crisis Committee

On May 12 two young men went into a Westport, CT, synagogue to read a three-paragraph statement opposing the meeting there to raise funds for the “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.” They were stopped before they could get into the meeting room and someone FALSELY claimed the two were armed. Many police cars came to the synagogue. Police brandished automatic weapons. Schools in the area were sent into lockdown. The two men, Dan Fischer and Gregory Williams, were arrested on a charge that if punished to the maximum could get them one year in prison.

In court on May 22 in Stamford Dan Fischer applied for “Accelerated Rehabilitation.” Gregory Williams opted for a jury trial. The next court session is July 21.

The two had attempted to enter the talk and to read testimony by Nabilah Abu Halima, a Palestinian woman whose son was killed in Gaza during 2009’s Operation Cast Lead and who had to flee her home with the rest of her family during 2014’s Gaza Massacre.

Fischer and Williams were particularly concerned that the event, a women’s luncheon sponsored by Friends of the IDF, claimed that the occupying army is “a world leader in integrating women in the armed forces.” The activists intended their demonstration to call attention to the experiences of women living under the apartheid regime in Palestine.

Palestinian women and families suffer the brunt of the violence of the IDF’s periodic assaults on Gaza. The family of Nabilah Abu Halima, whose testimony Fischer and Williams were attempting to read at the talk, is just one example: “Our son Matar was 17 when he was killed in the 2009 war [Operation Cast Lead]. He was killed together with his cousin Muhammad, who was 12, while they were trying to escape the bombardments. Other members of the family who were with them were injured. One of them, Ghada Abu Halima, died of her wounds three months later….My son Matar was killed right before my eyes.” Ghada Abu Halima died from burns she suffered from a white phosphorus bomb.

A defense fund has been created to help pay for lawyers.  To see how to contribute and for latest developments see: www.TheStruggle.org.

West River Neighborhood 10th Annual International Day of Peace, Sept. 20

Frank Panzarella, WRNSC Board Member

The West River Neighborhood Services Corporation is making plans for our 10th Annual International Day of Peace celebration. As in past years, we invite area peace groups to set up information tables and displays. We hope that the various groups affiliated with PAR consider joining us that day. The entire event is free for the public — free music and entertainment, free food, giveaways, etc. Groups may distribute literature and have displays but the sale of goods is prohibited. This is a great networking opportunity with our community. Please share your work, dedication and aspirations with the neighborhood!

The International Day of Peace will be held Sunday, September 20, from 1-5 p.m. at the U.N. Peace Garden bounded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Legion Avenue and Ella Grasso Boulevard (Route 34 Connector). Please contact me if your group is interested in joining us. We supply a limited number of tables and chairs for free. Thank you. frankpanzarella@hotmail.com, (203) 562-2798.

Milada Marsalka’s Memoirs Now Available in New Haven

PAR Planning Committee

milada-marsalkaMilada Marsalka, founding member of PAR (1993), long-time president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, New Haven County Branch, and a fiery activist in countless struggles for peace, labor rights, equality and justice, had the foresight to write about her life. She died in 2000 at the age of 95, leaving a manuscript that could inform and inspire others.

Through the diligence of Milada’s nieces, Regina Stevenson and Catherine Nathan, Pursuing Peace: Memoirs of Milada Marsalka has been published.

Thanks to New Haven/León Sister City Project, a box of books was shipped to New Haven. You can purchase your copy of Pursuing Peace from PAR for $15. Please call Paula at (203) 562-2798 to arrange your pick-up. This book makes a great gift!

For a description of the book go to the publisher’s site: wordassociation.com/memoir%20book%20page/pursuingpeace.html.

Tribute to Charlotte Brown

by Coalition for People

charlotte-brownWe mourn the loss of our dear friend, Charlotte Brown, who passed away on May 10, 2015. She was an active member of the Coalition for People and served as the Treasurer for many years. She participated in the Coalition for People’s long struggle to have New Haven’s downtown bus stops returned to the New Haven Green (which was accomplished in 2007) and participated in organizing efforts to have a National Single Payer Healthcare system. She retired from St. Raphael’s Hospital after many years and traveled the world. She is survived by her daughters Charlyne Brooks and Lunda Brown. We will miss her beautiful smile and sweet, lovely personality.

Is Your PAR Subscription About to Run Out?

PAR Planning Committee

The Progressive Action Roundtable newsletter publishes from September through June. Subscriptions from many of our readers will expire with the June issue.

We hope you enjoy your subscription and see the PAR newsletter as a community resource. To see if your subscription is due for renewal, please look at your address label. If “201506” is printed on the label to the right of your name, your subscription ends with this issue. Please send in $13 for 10 issues (Sept. 2015-June 2016) so that you can continue to read about what local organizations are doing and you can submit articles about your own organization.

The Progressive Action Roundtable was started in January 1993.  After several months, this community Newsletter became the main activity of PAR, giving New Haven area organizations an opportunity for networking and for advertising their activities. We hope to hear from you.

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