New Haven Community Fights for Civilian Review Board

by Al Riccio and Dom Grzybko, ANSWER CT

On the night of Jan. 29, over 200 people packed a Board of Alders committee meeting with the demand for a powerful All-Civilian Review Board. Community members, organizers and students came to declare that changes were needed in the current CRB. Chief demands included:

  •  Members must not be police officers and must be selected by the community and not by private nomination. The Board must be independent of Internal Affairs.
  • The CRB must be adequately funded, so as to ensure it can function effectively and independently.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the Board must have subpoena power — the ability to compel witnesses, including active officers, to testify before it.

All of these characteristics are absent from the current Civilian Review Board, which can effectively only recommend Internal Affairs investigate the NHPD and which is currently inactive. Most testimony at the meeting included references to the MALIK/Dawson proposal, which is a powerful review board model approved by referendum in 2000, only to be struck down by then-Mayor DeStefano. Each person who testified addressed the need for profound change, having witnessed or experienced unpunished mistreatment or brutality by the New Haven and Yale police. Speakers brought attention to the growing dissent and distrust of the police. As Emma Jones, mother of Malik Jones (who was killed in 1997 by an East Haven police officer) and drafter of the MALIK/Dawson proposal calling for an All-Civilian Review Board, pointed out: “People discovered that the civilian review board did not have the authority to do anything. It could take a complaint and walk it over to internal affairs. If they didn’t like what internal affairs did, they could come back and ask that it be re-opened. It was a paper tiger that had no authority and no teeth.”

The current CRB is unacceptable; the community is well aware of its inadequacy. The New Haven people will not stand idly by in the coming weeks as the Board of Alders considers their demands. The people will accept nothing less than an All-Civilian Review Board with real power.

While only a fundamental change in society will end police brutality, ANSWER CT supports the community call for a powerful All-Civilian Review Board and will continue to struggle in City Hall and in the streets alongside all people who want change. For more information, contact ANSWER CT at (203) 903-4480 or connecticut@answercoaliton.org.

Norway Muslims to Jews: If Someone Wants To Attack You, They’ll Have To Step Over Us First

by Abby Zimet, staff writer, CommonDreams.org

In the wake of last week’s attack on a Copenhagen synagogue – along with the Paris terrorist attacks, the murders of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill [NC], and growing anti-Semitism across Europe – a group of young Muslims in Norway have organized a Shabbat “Ring of Peace” around an Oslo synagogue to, in the words of its 17-year-old organizer, “extinguish the prejudices people have against Jews and against Muslims.” Concerned the event could prove “counter-productive” in an increasingly volatile climate, the leader of Oslo’s Jewish community agreed to it only if at least 30 people signed up.

To date, over 1,500 have, agreeing with organizers’ argument that, “Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regard-less of which religion they belong to.” The event has also sparked a wave of online campaigns expressing similar soli-darity, including #IgoToSynagogue, #WeMustStickTogether, #MuslimsAndJewsRefuseToBeEnemies. Explained one attendee for the Ring of Peace, “We all have to live under the same sky.”

 

Energy and Technology Committee Tackles Electricity Issues

by Paula Panzarella, Fight the Hike

On Feb. 24 (as PAR goes to print), the Energy and Technology Committee of the CT State Legislature held public hearings on a number of bills. At least six bills were scheduled about capping or lowering the fixed customer charge. Since many different legislators submitted bills on the same topic, the concern of customers from around the state was heard and there is good chance the bills will be merged and go before the general assembly.

Why cap the base rate? If ratepayers conserve but still have ever-rising bills because of the base rate, all the advantages of efficiency, conservation or using solar won’t necessarily result in lower costs. Here are the different bills on this one issue: 5281 (441), 5402 (673), 6014 (1553), 6029 (1811), 570 (2226), 574 (2402). The CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs has worked on getting the rate capped for months. You can contact the organizer John Humphries for updates: john.humphries1664@gmail.com or (860) 216-7972.

Other bills scheduled were to ban variable electric rates, Bill 573 (2222); to improve transparency and increase opportunities for public comment on proposed changes in electric rates, Bill 575 (2235); have the tax on electric bills itemized on the monthly bills, Bill 625 (2293); require the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to develop policies to lower electric rates, Bill 728 (1668); prohibit companies from raising electric rates to cover costs of repairs from actual or anticipated storm damage, Bill 5019 (11); for every five days of power outage, customers to be credited with one day of service, Bill 6013 (510); public service companies prioritize restoration of services for customers with disabilities, Bill 6018 (2706); establish a cap for electric rates and have more public hearings on the rate-making process, Bill 6019 (2686); improve the microgrid development, Bill 6027 (1803).

Written testimony can be sent in up to a week AFTER the hearing. E-mail testimony to ettestimony@cga.ct.gov.  Or write to: Energy and Technology Committee
Legislative Office Building, Room 3900
Hartford, CT  06106

It’s not too early to let your legislators know what you think about these bills. Phone numbers for state senators and representatives are in the box on page 6. The website of the Energy and Technology Committee is www.cga.ct.gov/et/.

News from People’s Action for Clean Energy

by Judi Friedman, PACE

A Pure House in Westport: www.ThePureHouse.com

PACE is excited about this concept : a high performance building envelope that has eliminated carcinogens!

Doug McDonald, owner and builder of a PASSIV house in Westport, has taken the next step! He has built a design/build team which will construct houses that are safe to live in and absolutely energy-efficient! Using pure and natural products he will have a house ready for market in three weeks in Westport, Conn.

More Research to be Done at Millstone Nuclear Power Plant

Each day, some two billion gallons of water are pumped from Long Island Sound into the Millstone Power Station in Waterford, CT – our state’s only nuclear power plant – and used to help cool systems and support the station’s two operating reactors. After it heats up, about 90 percent of that water is discharged back into the Sound at about 20 degrees warmer than when it was taken in, said Ken Holt, a spokesman for Millstone.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) wants to better understand what, if any, impact that heated water is having on the ecology of the Sound and has reached out to researchers at Stony Brook University’s School of Atmospheric Science, hoping they can determine whether Millstone might be “overheating” the Sound’s waters.

“No one has really studied the broader impacts of this plant,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a recent interview, noting that biology experts have recorded an “undeniable” increase in Long Island Sound water temperatures over the last few decades, which has affected the health of local fisheries, including lobster and flounder populations.

Soon the Waterford plant, which is just under 10 miles north of Plum Island, will need to renew a permit mandated by the federal Clean Water Act. Known as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, it helps the government regulate pollution – in this case thermal pollution – discharging into ground and surface waters.

Report on Rick Wolff’s January Talks in New Haven

by Allan Brison, CT Green Party

Over 20 people gathered to hear Rick Wolff in January at the Unitarian Universalist Society. He spoke about his evolution from his education attending three of the nation’s most prestigious schools (Harvard, Stamford and Yale), to being one of the rare Marxist economists in the Economic Department at Yale, and, in turn, to his present incarnation as being in great demand for radio and TV interviews across the nation, and having his advice sought by such luminaries as Bill Moyers, as well as being a driving force behind the Left Forum every year in Manhattan.

Contributions were made to Democracy At Work, Rick’s organization to bring real democracy to the workplace and everywhere else in American society (donations can also be made on his website http://www.democracyatwork.info/).

Then Rick spoke to the Yale Political Union for the debate on the question: Should US Banks be Nationalized? But his position is not for either Nationalization or Privatization, but rather what he calls Socialization – a more nuanced form of collective ownership of goods and services by those most affected by those goods or services. Though he believes that Socialization is the way to go, he did point out that there have been some very successful examples of public owner-ship. These include the Bank of North Dakota and the much larger publicly owned Bank of Germany.

Rick gave other examples where public ventures have outperformed their privately owned counterparts, including the Wallingford, CT Electric District, the publicly owned utilities in Los Angeles and Sacramento, and the Green Bay Packers football team in the NFL.

One of the largest and most striking examples of Socialization in the ownership of goods and services is the Mondragon Corporation in Spain. This company started in 1956 and today is the largest corporation in the Basque Region. It employs 74,000 people in 257 companies and organizations in four areas of activity: Finance, Industry, Retail, and Knowledge.

For more on the Mondragon Corporation, see Rick’s website or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation.

At the end of the YPU debate, the students voted in favor of nationalization of banks by a narrow margin. The debate was captured on videotape for public showings.

Please contact me for more information. Allan Brison, (203) 782-6808

PAR Articles and Calendar Items Due Wednesday, Feb. 18

If you haven’t sent us an article or calendar listing yet for the March newsletter, there is still time. Hope you are doing well with this over-the-top cold and snow.
Thanks for your contributions to PAR!

Sign up on our website for automatic PAR updates.
If your group has a website, please add our link to your webpage

PAR Articles and Calendar Items Due Wednesday, Feb. 18

Dear PAR Contributors —

Readers want to know: What is the purpose of your organization? How are you building your group? What campaigns are you organizing? What events are you planning? The deadline for the March Progressive Action Roundtable Newsletter is Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Please send in to this e-mail address – parnewhaven@hotmail.com – articles about your group’s recent and current activities and upcoming actions and events.   We are asking everyone to limit her/his article to 350 words.   Be sure to indicate your name and organization as they should appear in your byline.

If you haven’t written recent articles for PAR, please include information about your group’s purpose. Do not use different fonts or sizes in your article. List either a phone, e-mail address or website so that readers will have a way to get further information.  About calendar items:If you mention an event in an article, please also send a SEPARATE calendar announcement.Please give street addresses for any events or meetings–even for “well-known” public buildings.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please indicate whether your event location is wheelchair accessible.

You can also send us SAVE THE DATE items about future events, even if you do not yet have all the details in place.The Newsletter will come out approximately  Feb. 27; please consider this when submitting calendar items.Here are other suggestions about submitting copy to the PAR Newsletter:

1. If you ask or encourage new groups to submit articles or calendar items to PAR, please give them a copy of these tips.

2. Submit copy by e-mail, either as regular e-mail text or as an MS Word attachment (.doc).

3. If you are a first-time author in the PAR Newsletter, thank you! We hope you will also subscribe and encourage others in your organization to do so.

4. If someone else from your organization who doesn’t have e-mail is going to write an article, we can arrange to receive a disk or a paper copy.  Send an e-mail to us and include the name and phone number of the person who needs help, or call Paula at (203) 562-2798.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT INSERTS:

We prefer to carry articles & calendar listings rather than inserts. But if you have an insert to include in the Newsletter, we ask you to send the information contained in the flyer to this e-mail address as well so that it can be easily added to the PAR Calendar.Your organization must make and pay for the copies of the insert, and you must call Mary Johnson (203) 387-7858 in advance to see if there is room for it.  There is a fee of $7 for an insert, which we hope will offset the extra postage.

We will be able to handle only those inserts that are a full (8.5×11) or half (5.5×8.5) sheet of paper (not postcard).

It would be very helpful if groups that submit an insert could send someone to help with the mailing. Call Mary (203) 387-7858 to volunteer.

We always welcome more helpers and new ideas! If you would consider attending the monthly planning meeting or helping with the Newsletter mailing, please call Mary Johnson at (203) 387-7858.  Many thanks! We’re looking forward to your articles!

Thank you for your help in creating this community newsletter. — PAR Planning Committee

To renew your own subscription or buy a subscription for a friend, the rate is $13 for 10 issues (check made out to PAR, & mailed to PAR, PO Box 995, New Haven, CT 06504 The subscription charge almost covers our production costs (printing, postage and post office box).  

We encourage you all to re-subscribe and buy gift subscriptions before we have to raise the rate to $15.

Washington DC Lobbying Opportunity for Young Adults March 14-17

by Tracy Blanford, New Haven Friends Meeting

New Haven Friends Meeting is interested in sponsoring young adults under age 30 to learn first hand about the legislative process and who are also passionate about climate disruption. This program is offered through the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Join hundreds of young adults from across the country to lobby Congress to act on climate change.

Congressional action is essential to catalyzing the urgently-needed national and global solutions to climate change. But Congress is letting bipartisan politics stand in the way of progress—disagreement about whether climate change is human-caused is threatening our future. Strategists believe that the faith community is in a unique position to end this debate and illuminate the way forward by establishing the moral foundation surrounding the climate change movement.

Programming will include:

  • In-depth briefings on climate change policy
  • Training on how to effectively lobby your members of
    Congress
  • Preparation for how to bring the message home and share
  • Dialogue about the faith call advocacy
  • Opportunities to explore Washington, DC

About The Friends Committee on National Legislation: The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is a Quaker lobby in the public interest. FCNL believes that citizen involvement in the political process is critical for our country’s future, and we’re dedicated to providing tools, resources, and training to help people of all ages participate in that process.

FCNL has a big vision: for a world free of war and the threat of war, a community where every person’s potential may be fulfilled, a society with equity and justice for all, and an earth restored. And we are committed to identifying and working strategically to bring that vision closer to reality. We’re non-partisan and multi-issue. Our work connects historic Quaker testimonies of peace, equality, simplicity and truth with current public policy decisions. Founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends, today FCNL fields the largest team of registered peace lobbyists in Washington, DC. Info: tracyblanford@gmail.com

http://futureadvocate.org/program/spring-lobby-weekend

“Let Us Breathe And Grow” – People’s World African American History Month Celebration

by Joelle Fishman, People’s World

The 41st Annual People’s World African American History Month Celebration on Sunday, February 22, will feature a youth march followed by a program highlighting guest speaker Zenobia Thompson, long time social justice activist in St. Louis, Missouri.

The youth organization New Elm City Dream is organizing the march around the theme “Hands Up, Hoodies Up – Jobs for Youth, Jobs for All.” Time and place will be announced soon.

Following the march the annual program will be held at 4 p.m. at the New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe Street. Its theme is “Indict the System – Life Matters for All – Let Us Breathe and Grow.” Guest speaker Zenobia Thompson, a retired nurse, serves as a board member of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and participates with Jobs with Justice, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the Organization for Black Struggle. She will address the situation of police violence in Ferguson, near where she lives, and issues of overcoming structural and institutional racism.

The program will begin with drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray. Winners of the High School Arts and Writing Competition will present their essays, poems or artwork on the theme “How Do We Achieve Justice for All?” In the context of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act the students are asked to create their work on the following question: “Your vote is your voice. If your voice were heard what ideas would you present to local, state and federal governments toward a bill of rights for fair and equal policing? What actions could you take to achieve justice for all?” Deadline for entries is February 12.
Drawings from the Martin Luther King celebration at Peabody Museum will be on exhibit, drawn at the People’s World exhibit on the theme, “With My Vote I would Love to See…” Highlighting the Voting Rights Act, a mock voting booth was available and children cast their ballots for the best way to honor Dr. King.

Contributions will be accepted for the 2015 People’s World fund drive in Connecticut.
For more information call (203) 624-8664 or e-mail ct-pww@pobox.com.

Three updates from People’s Action for Clean Energy

by Judi Friedman, PACE

1) We are breathing a sigh of relief. Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has been a dangerous neighbor for too long.

Thanks to decades of citizen organizing and protest plus the wise backing of the elected officials of the state of Vermont, the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor has been shut down permanently. The Vermont governor, Peter Schumlin, said: “Thanks to investments in renewable energy such as solar, Vermont energy future is on a different and more sustainable path that is creating jobs, reducing energy costs for Vermonters and slowing climate change.”

The lights will not go out. The closing will not affect regional grid stability.
This important information comes from  BEYOND NUCLEAR To see how scary Vermont Yankee was, go to www.beyondnuclear.org  and briefly watch “Shut Vermont Yankee” and/or “The Activists.”

2) A cozy and uniquely informative PACE meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 11 at the very special home of Nevin and Julie Christensen on 44 West Mountain Rd. in West Simsbury. Good food included! Note: snow date: Thursday, February 12.
Please come to discuss and act on many of the following subjects: solar expansion in Connecticut, shared solar, hemp agriculture (hemp pellets), solar awards, legislative priorities, cyber security, the status of Millstone nuclear plant and Vermont Yankee, the Pure House, the utility rate structure, and the exciting spring solar tour!

If possible, please bring tasty treats to share and your favorite solar device. See the new iPhone solar cell charger and the amazing Luci inflatable solar lantern… plus meet some really nice people!

3) Listen to this important broadcast about Fukushima if you can: http://www.nuclearhotseat.com/category/uss-ronald-reagan NUCLEAR HOTSEAT is a fascinating weekly radio program on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. This interview is with Dr. Alex Rosen of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War blasting the UN Report on Fukushima. The second interview with Joseph Mangano is about the US sailors who came to try to help Fukushima victims and were exposed to radiation.

Help Decide Connecticut’s Energy Future!

by Onté Johnson, CT Beyond Coal, Sierra Club

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is making long-term plans for our state’s energy future and we have until Feb. 11 to weigh in.

DEEP’s plan, known as an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), includes some good things, like an increase in energy efficiency, but also some bad things, including a continued reliance on coal-fired power from the Bridgeport coal plant. These plans are for the next ten years, so it’s important that we make our voices heard for solar, wind and efficiency today! Submit an official comment to DEEP to make plans for retiring coal and replacing it with solar, wind and efficiency in Connecticut’s long-term energy plans.
The Bridgeport plant was rated the 8th worst environmental justice offender out of 431 coal plants across the country and needs to be replaced with clean energy to protect our health and the environment.

Connecticut has the skilled workforce and resources we need to move beyond coal to clean energy, but we need a plan to get there. Help move Connecticut beyond coal to a clean energy future!

Let DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee know that you support better energy efficiency, increased use of solar and wind, and the retirement of the Bridgeport coal plant. DEEP is taking comments on the draft 2014 IRP until February 11. Submit comments at DEEP.EnergyBureau@ct.gov, or via the Department’s Energy Web Filings system.

Thanks for all you do to protect the environment, Onté Johnson, Organizing Representative, Connecticut Beyond Coal–Sierra Club

64 Days of Nonviolence

SCSU Women’s Studies Program

The 64 Days officially begins each year on January 30, the day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, and ends on April 4, the day we commemorate Dr. King. In our annual observation of the 64 Days at SCSU, we continue to celebrate the peace and justice heritage in many of our cultures and heritages, including our observation of Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Asian/Pacific Heritage Month.

For information about this year’s events, contact the Women’s Studies Program of SCSU, (203) 392-6133; (203) 392-6864 www.southernct.edu/womensstudies

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