United in Struggle for a Better World — People’s World Amistad Awards

by Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

This year’s People’s World Amistad Awards will take place on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 4 p.m. at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College St, New Haven. We come together “United in Struggle for a Better World – Unidos en La Lucha por un Mundo Mejor.”

We are excited to announce this year’s awardees, Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, Shellye Davis and Louise Simmons. Three women on the front lines resisting the policies of white supremacy, hate, division and fear that threaten democracy and our future. Three fierce warriors in the forefront demanding workers’ and immigrant rights, social justice, peace and equality for a better and sustainable world.

A solidarity tribute will be made to Nelson Pinos and his family in sanctuary at the church since last November. Special recognition will be given to Chaz Carmon, director of Ice the Beef Youth, for his extraordinary talent and dedication to provide opportunities for young people in the performing arts. A reception will follow.

Eva Bermudez Zimmerman made history as the first Puerto Rican candidate for Lt. Governor in Connecticut. An SEIU union organizer representing childcare workers, her passion for justice began as a child and touches communities everywhere.

Shellye Davis is president of the Hartford Labor Coalition and co-president of the Hartford Federation of Paraeducators affiliated with AFT Connecticut. She is a leader for the rights of public sector union members and the people they serve.

Louise Simmons is an acclaimed educator and labor-community activist. She was a City Councilperson in Hartford (People for Change Party), has led many racial and economic justice organizations and has chaired CT Center for a New Economy board.

The annual Awards are presented to allies by the Connecticut People’s World Committee on the occasion of the 99th anniversary of the Communist Party USA. We come together in hope and unity as increased economic and racial inequalities, climate change and war give rise to new organizing by youth, low-wage workers and the 99% toward a society that puts people and planet before corporate profits.

 

‘Our Community at Winchester: An Elm City Story’ — A traveling exhibit

by Joan Cavanagh, researcher and curator

From 1870 until 2006, the Olin-Winchester plant operated in New Haven under various names and with multiple corporate owners. Famous around the world for the Winchester rifle and other firearms (along with occasional tentative and short-lived ventures into the production of more benign goods), it has been the subject of many books, films and articles. But before the Greater New Haven Labor History Association’s traveling exhibit, “Our Community at Winchester: An Elm City Story,” the tale of the company’s workers and its impact on the New Haven community throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries had not been told.

In a series of panels which include interviews with former employees as well as a historical chronology, the exhibit depicts workers’ struggles to unionize and gain racial and economic justice and equality in the face of relentless management resistance. It illustrates the rich culture they formed within the plant, and it describes the always fraught interaction between the company’s owners and managers and the city of New Haven.

The exhibit, which opened at Gateway Community College on Jan. 29, 2014, was shown in several other venues including Yale’s Science Park, the Stetson branch of the New Haven Free Public Library, New Haven’s City Hall, Fairfield University and the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Thanks to volunteer David Cirella, it can be viewed online at http://exhibits.winchesterworkers.gnhlha.org.

Researcher and curator, Joan Cavanagh, and designer, Jeanne Criscola, are planning a book based on the exhibit which will include additional material to bring the story up to date in the context of New Haven’s current housing and economic crises. They are also seeking a venue in which to mount the exhibit for permanent display. If you can suggest a location or would like to help fund these efforts, please email joan.cavanagh@gmail.com.

Arts of the Syrian Revolt

by Stan Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

There’s no way to pretty-up the immense suffering in Syria, but at our program at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, we used photos, photos of artwork and music as a way to keep spirits up. The audience of mostly Syrians was very appreciative.

Featured was a world class professional photographer whose work has appeared in many news sites and newspapers. Dylan Connor, a teacher, professional singer and member of the Syrian-American Congress spoke and sang. He visited the Jordanian “Free Zone” right next to Syria this year and distributed aid to Syrian refugees and recorded their stories.  We showed Connor’s music video “Idlib” and he sang songs including “Man of Peace” which was part of Little Gandhi, the first Syrian film considered for an Academy Award. In addition to viewing the art we discussed the remaining liberated zones in Syria, Idlib in the northwest, Rukban in the south and the third of the country controlled by Kurdish forces. In Connor’s music video we saw large crowds waving the original flags and chanting the same slogans that appeared in 2011.

The event was sponsored by Promoting Enduring Peace, the Middle East Crisis Committee and cosponsored by nearly ten other groups.

Interestingly enough the New Haven-based Syrian artist Mohammed Hafez has an exhibit in the city of Fairfield at a different university. It’s called “Collateral Damage” and it will run until Dec. 15. It’s at the Fairfield University Museum in the Walsh Gallery, Quick Center for the Arts. Hafez’s works, which highlight the trauma of refugees and the destruction inside Syria, have gotten enormous attention.

Two News Reports on Disability Access

by Joseph A. Luciano, disability rights activist

1) Seymour shows hostility against downtown senior-disabled residents

All 38 residents of Seymour’s downtown Columbus Street may have gasped in dismay when they realized their street had been re-paved and white-striped—but without the handicapped parking spaces that had been there when they moved in. Instead, a glut of new signs warns of no parking on their side of the street and two-hour parking on the other.

One Columbus Street resident, Amanda (not her real name) goes for dialysis three times a week. Exhausted afterwards, she just wants again to park close to her apartment and go in for a nap to recover. Now that there are no handicapped spaces on Columbus—where 37 other senior-disabled per-sons live—she drives around looking for a parking space. Most always there is none: customers of the growing antiques and gift shop businesses in downtown have taken all of them.

So, Amanda resorts to parking in the municipal parking lot, which is on the other side of the block she lives on. Town Hall know-it-alls blithely think that lot is convenient for her. But they aren’t pushing a walker over pot holes, cracked pavement, and then over fake-brick bumps as they trudge around Tony’s Diner to get home. For her, it’s a long, laborious walk. It’s a hardship.

There is no justifiable reason for having a fire lane nearly the entire length of Columbus Street instead of parking spaces. There is also no reason for not having handicapped parking in the downtown district. The selectmen, P&Z, economic development and engineering have simply adopted a generally hostile attitude towards seniors and senior housing downtown. It may be that town leaders feel Amanda has little to offer the community when, in fact, over 18% of the population (50 million Americans) have disabilities and are living more independently and participating more actively in their communities. Each is a potential customer.

2) Want to be marooned somewhere? Try “Cross Service Area Transit”!

This writer, an ADA certified passenger, warns about using wheelchair bus transport called “Cross Service Area Transit” (CSAT). For it to work without being marooned depends on precise timing and coordination worthy of a circus trapeze act. Recently I was marooned if not abandoned at the transfer station established by Connecticut ADA service providers.

A year ago without public or rider input—and without safeguards—CONNDOT invented CSAT. In theory, the first bus company takes you to a transfer station, where a different bus company takes you to the next transfer station. Coordination between bus companies is poor to nonexistent. There is no real-time shared information about locations of buses of different companies that are meeting up at transfer points.

I have just updated the Underground Travel Guide of “Accessible” Places to Visit in New Haven County. Readers will notice that venues and visitor attractions outside of New Haven County will not be reviewed for ADA compliance and accessibility. Because of my location, trips out of New Haven County require CSAT, which I refuse to try again. Readers are welcome to submit their reviews (for ADA compliance/accessibility) of venues and visitor attractions outside of New Haven County. Please send text and photos to DRAGconnecticut@yahoo.com. 250-300 word limit. (203) 463-8323.

Update of Lawsuit about State Seizure of Energy Efficiency Funds; Millstone Tries to Pose Nuclear Energy as ‘Renewable’

by Paula Panzarella, Fight the Hike

This year, a large portion of the efficiency and clean energy funds that we pay through our electric bills was appropriated by the legislature to go into the state’s General Fund. $87.5 million was taken in 2018, and $77.5 million is scheduled to be transferred in 2019.

Many organizations, including Fight the Hike and CT Fund for the Environment (CFE), were involved in a lawsuit against the state to have the money returned. U.S District Judge Janet Hall recently filed her decision against us. The following excerpts are from CFE’s announcement on this:

  • Unfortunately, the judge just ruled that the state’s sweep of ratepayer funds did not break contracts between ratepayers and their electric companies because nobody promised ratepayers that their dollars would not be transferred to the General Fund for unrelated purposes.
  • Silly us for trusting what it says on our energy bill.
  • Now, these funds are just another hidden tax, and you’ll still breathe dirty air.
  • The loss of the lawsuit proves how difficult it is to stop lawmakers from stealing and spending millions of dollars earmarked for specific purposes on anything they want unless there are clear requirements in the law.
  • We won’t forget what happened after the raid. The legislature’s sweep of these funds destroyed more than 3,000 jobs in Connecticut, clean energy businesses have closed their doors, and energy efficiency projects across the state have been canceled.

There are plans to appeal this decision. We must let our legislators know we disagree with Judge Hall’s ruling, and demand that all the efficiency and clean energy funds be restored.

Regarding Millstone: If it weren’t tragic, it would be laughable that anyone could consider nuclear power a clean, renewable source of electricity. This is a deadly mistake. Just the excavation of uranium is enough to render it a filthy, polluting source of energy, let alone its risk of exposing millions of people to radiation.

  • A tentative ruling by state utility regulators may boost efforts by the owner of the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant to have the electricity it produces considered in ‘zero carbon’ auction that the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection conducts to procure power.
  • Commissioners with Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority ruled that the Waterford-based power plant “is at risk of retirement.” Dominion Energy, the Virginia-based company that owns Millstone, has claimed for several years that economic conditions in the nation’s energy markets are making it difficult for the utility to keep operating the plant if it not be allowed to compete for lucrative long-term contracts that are awarded to the winners of the zero-carbon auction.
  • Joel Gordes, a West Hartford-based energy industry consultant, said PURA’s commissioners erred in their draft ruling.
  • “To treat nuclear power as if it were a renewable resource is completely inappropriate,” Gordes said. “Real renewable resources don’t produce a deadly byproduct that has to be guarded for an eternity.”

(excerpts from the on-line New Haven Register of Nov. 17, 2018, “Connecticut Utility Regulators Say Millstone Nuclear Power Plant ‘At Risk’ of Closing” by Luther Turmelle)

Tell DEEP and PURA that we will not stand for Dominion trying to redefine “clean, renewable resources.” Contact: Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, (860) 827-1553, (800) 382-4586, pura.information@ct.gov. Katie Dykes, Chair of PURA, (860) 827-2805, katie.dykes@ct.gov.

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, (860) 424-3000, deep.webmaster@ct.gov. Rob Klee, Commissioner of DEEP, (860) 424-3571, robert.klee@ct.gov.

Get Involved with the Greater New Haven Peace Council

by Mary Compton, co-chair, GNHPC

The Greater New Haven Peace Council is a local peace activist group founded in the 70s. We work for peace, universal disarmament, economic and social justice, and international solidarity with the peoples of the world. We recognize that the struggle for peace is indivisibly connected with the rights and needs of working people.

We are currently organizing on a resolution that calls for public hearings on moving funds from the 717 billion dollar military budget to fund human needs. The resolution asks members of Congress to report on their efforts to create a strategy to reduce military spending to fund human needs. The central question we ask is, what could cities and towns do with money redirected from a military budget that takes up 61% of the federal budget.

We are a coordinating member of the Global Coalition Against US/NATO Foreign Military Bases, which took place on Nov. 16-19 in Dublin, Ireland. It calls for the closure of all foreign US/NATO bases. The conference was successful with many groups participating who had not worked together in the past. We are looking forward to our members’ return for reports from other countries and to discuss future actions. The basis for this success was a Unity Statement signed by all coordinators of the Conference. Visit nousbases.org for video coverage.

We meet on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the People’s Center, 37 Howe St., New Haven. Our weekly vigils take place on Fridays in front of City Hall at noon. Our fliers address current issues of war and peace. Find us on Facebook: @newhavenpeace Website: uspeacecouncil.org. Email: grnhpeacecouncil@gmail.com.

Is the Green Fund the right fit to fund your project?

Need Funding for Your Environmental Project? The Greater New Haven Green Fund May Be Able to Help!

Request for applications (RFA) is now open for the Greater New Haven Green Fund’s 2019 grants cycle. Funding up to $10,000 is available. Visit the website and download the application.
Deadline for submitting your application is Jan. 11, 2019, 5 p.m. Contact us with questions at info@gnhgreenfund.org. http://www.gnhgreenfund.org.

CT Working Families Organization Annual Awards Night 6 p.m. Dec. 12 Hartford

Please join us on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 6-9 p.m. for the 2018 CTWFO Annual Awards Dinner. Every year, our organization recognizes the contributions made by labor leaders, grassroots activists, and rank and file workers — all of whom have helped protect and advance the fight for economic, racial, and social justice in our state.

We’re excited to announce our honorees this year!:

  • State Representative Robyn Porter (Progressive Political Leadership Award)
  • Ana María Rivera-Forastieri (Merrilee Milstein Award for Organizing, Activism, and Leadership)
  • Eva Bermudez Zimmerman (Brian Petronella Labor Leader Award)

And more to be announced! We look forward to seeing you there and appreciate your support.

Hors d’oeuvres will be provided, including vegetarian and vegan options, alongside a cash bar. Please email Kristin at kburgess@workingfamilies.org with any dietary restrictions and allergies.

The suggested contribution is $50, but come no matter what. Wednesday, Dec. 12, 6-0 p.m. at the Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford. RSVP: http://workingfamilies.org/ctawards2018.

Contributions benefit Connecticut Working Families, a 501(c)(4) organization, that fights for an economy that works for everyone in Connecticut so we can all find good jobs, get healthcare when we need it, afford homes, send our kids to good schools, and have a secure retirement. Funds support our community organizing, legislative outreach and lobbying efforts, door to door issue canvasses and legislative communications strategy. Contributions can come from individuals, incorporated businesses, union general fund accounts, PACs, or other non-profit entities.

Save the Date: Coalition for People Annual Meeting April 17, 2019

Coalition for People will hold its annual meeting on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the main New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm Street. Put this on your calendar! All are invited to attend and become members. We hope many PAR members will consider joining the board. One of our major issues this year has been the lack of affordable housing and the need for our policymakers to address this life-and-death concern.

In March we will need your RSVP if you will attend and if you want to be elected to the board. Pizza will be served at our annual meeting. More information will be forthcoming.

Our next board meeting is Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2-4 p.m. at the Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Ave. in the community room, lower level. All are welcome to attend. For more information, email coalitionforpeople@hotmail.com.

Petition: Return Khashoggi’s Remains

Stanley Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

At a meeting in the West Haven library in November, a suggestion became a petition. While the Saudis and the U.S. investigate the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, an idea bubbled up for a simple act of decency that could be concluded right away: the return of the remains of Khashoggi to his family. The Middle East Crisis Committee created a petition that simply says “Saudi authorities should return the body of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi to his family. They should also return all other bodies of those executed or killed by the Saudi government.” You can get to it by visiting MoveOn.org.

The meeting had been called to discuss ideas to pressure the University of New Haven to break its ties to the Saudi regime. The college assists the Saudi police college, the King Fahd Security College in Riyadh. The nature of the assistance is very vague. MECC’s discovery that one of the members of the hit team sent to Istanbul was a top Saudi forensic scientist who was on a Saudi forensic board with UNH’s Henry C. Lee attracted national and even international attention.

Saudi authorities arrested a score of people and intend to seek the death penalty for five. Surely after two months, the Saudi investigators know the location of the remains or the names of the Turkish operatives they claim disposed of the body. There is no reason the information should not be shared with the family and the public. The petition also mentions other bodies kept by the Saudi government as a continued punishment of families. A Saudi human rights group based in Berlin says over 30 bodies of people executed or killed in raids have been “detained” by the government.

It became apparent that President Trump, for all his talk of “severe punishment” of the killers of the U.S.-based journalist, will do nothing since the murder was ordered by high Saudi authorities and Trump doesn’t want to harm weapons sales. We cannot let the issue die. Please sign the petition.

For more on local actions, visit TheStruggle.org.

1 2 3 55