Peace Activist Killed in Hit-and-Run

by Dereen Shirnekhi, April 29, 2024, New Haven Independent

[The PAR Planning Committee was shocked to learn of Yusuf Gürsey’s tragic death. We extend our condolences to all who knew him. Yusuf was a well-known peace and justice activist for decades and will be greatly missed.]

Seventy-year-old scholar and city Peace Commission member Yusuf Gürsey died Sunday night [April 28] after a car fatally struck him — and then fled the scene — while he was walking near his home on Whalley Avenue.

New Haven Police Department Public Information Officer Christian Bruckhart announced Gürsey’s death in a Monday press release.

… At 9:26 p.m. Sunday night, officers responded to the area of Whalley Avenue and Brownell Street for a car accident involving a pedestrian. They found Gürsey in the street, injured.
… The car, which had fled after the accident, was found later and is being processed for evidence. Police ask that anyone who may have witnessed this incident or who may have information valuable to investigators to call detectives at 203-946-6304 or through the department’s anonymous tip-line at 866-888-TIPS (8477).

Gürsey was originally from Istanbul, Turkey. He had lived in New Haven for almost 40 years and had studied both engineering and linguistics. He was an academic who spent his life at times as a researcher, a professor, and a freelance medical and court translator. He spoke both Turkish and Arabic. Gürsey served on the Greater New Haven Peace Council as well as the city’s Peace Commission.

Fellow city peace commissioner Aaron Goode … described Gürsey as someone who wanted peace in the Middle East: he advocated for nuclear nonproliferation, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now, ending the war in Gaza.

“It’s very shocking,” said Goode, who said he knew that Gürsey had attended [a] downtown protest in support of Palestine.

Yusuf Gursey. Photo: Yale University

Gürsey was passionate about ending the conflict involving Israel and Gaza, and according to fellow peace commissioner Millie Grenough, he attended every one of the commission’s community conversations around the conflict, the most recent one being just two weeks ago at the Mitchell Library in Westville.

“He was a very learned person,” Goode said of Gürsey, especially when it came to Middle East history. He had an​“encyclopedic knowledge” of history, geography, and theology. Gürsey brought his scholarly nature — he often posted on social media for the birthdays of Turkish writers and thinkers — to everything he did, including the Peace Commission.

“He wasn’t loud and assertive and ebullient,” Goode remembered, ​“he was just a very quiet, scholarly, intellectual, thoughtful presence in whatever setting he was in.” …

[Entire article available here: newhavenindependent.org/article/70_year_old_pedestrian_killed_in_hit_and_run]

Ceasefire Now! No Support for Israel’s War on Gaza! Humanitarian Aid Must Be Allowed!

As we prepare this newsletter for print, the rallies and demonstrations demanding an end to Israel’s war on the Palestinian people have not ceased. Students continue to demand their universities divest their holdings from Israeli companies and from companies that service Israel’s war-making. Graduations have become visible displays of dissent against the war and the killing and enforced starvation of Palestinian citizens. Non-student peace groups continue their protests and meet with their congressional representatives. The 3-day Walk for Gaza in CT, to raise awareness of the situation and to raise funds for humanitarian aid to Palestinians through UNRWA, is occurring now (see article in the May issue of the PAR newsletter, par-newhaven.org/2024/04/28/walk-for-gaza-may-23-25/).

Veterans for Peace on May 7 began the Peace Walk 2024. The 700-mile journey, from Maine to Washington, D.C., will culminate on July 5. To find out more about the march and how you can join in, please go to https://peacewalk2024.org.

‘I Heart New Haven Day’ June 1

by Jane Hendrickson, Executive Director, Bridges of Hope I Heart New Haven Day, Committee Chair

Bridges of Hope is a group of diverse New Haven area churches from across denominational, social, and cultural lines that have agreed to come together as one to serve the New Haven community as members of the community.

This year we are organizing our ninth annual “I Heart New Haven Day,” which will take place on June 1. The goal is to serve the city through over 25 different projects with 450 volunteers participating from Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church, Church on the Rock, Vox Church, Vertical Church, Trinity Baptist Church, Christ Presbyterian Church, All Nations Church, Shoreline Community Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, CT Korean Presbyterian Church, and several other churches.
Year after year, our church members, as residents and community members in New Haven, come together to build partnerships, serve immediate needs and give back to the city they know and love. People know these volunteers as the “blue shirts,” but they are also residents, public servants and leaders in the city. The day will begin at 9 a.m. on the New Haven Green with words of encouragement from the pastors and then the volunteers will be sent off to their projects to serve from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Here is a glimpse of sites we will be serving across the city. A full and comprehensive list can be supplied upon request:

● Organizing clothes and goods at Loaves and Fishes,
● Landscaping, painting for elderly community members.
● Cleanup at local public schools,
● Expanding a deck for a non-profit organization.

Please email Bru Hickey with any questions at [email protected] or phone her at 475-271-7978.

New Haven Alders Cop Out on Ceasefire Resolution

Five months after a proposed ceasefire resolution was presented to the Board of Alders, and five days after hearing testimony via Zoom that lasted five hours, the Board of Alders voted to “read and file,” and not act on the resolution. Would your alder have supported a ceasefire? We’ll never know, according to the meeting.

Only East Rock Alder Caroline Smith was opposed to dismissing the resolution in this way.

[The New Haven Independent coverage can be read here:
newhavenindependent.org/article/ceasefire_resolution_vote_results]

CT Legislature Ends Session with No Major Climate Change Action – Again

by Jan Ellen Spiegel, CT Mirror, May 10, 2024

Connecticut’s environmental community awoke Thursday morning to yet another legislative session that took no substantial action on climate change.

Aside from some slight expansions for solar power and funding for some climate-focused projects in the bonding package, other major climate bills failed — a tiny improvement from the previous session, which resulted in no climate action, period.

“I would give the session as far as the environment is concerned a C-minus,” said Rep. Joe Gresko, D-Stratford, co-chair of the Environment Committee, which handled the two biggest bills.

Reaction from advocates was even more harsh.

“Appallingly, this session has turned out to be yet another failure for climate legislation and for Connecticut’s people, businesses, and future,” Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney with Save the Sound said in a statement. “Where once we were a leader, we are now a laggard, watching impotently as our neighboring states adopt milestone policies commensurate to the threat that climate change poses. Connecticut cannot continue to allow itself to be held hostage to a vocal minority of climate change deniers that reject the science, reject the evidence of our own eyes, and reject the clear desire of Connecticut’s residents for meaningful action on climate.”

[Entire article available here: ctmirror.org/2024/05/10/ct-climate-change-hb-5004]

CT Bills That Didn’t Pass in 2024: EV Study, Eviction Reform, More

by Gabby DeBenedictis, CT Mirror, May 13, 2024

Connecticut’s 2024 legislative session ended on Wednesday night [May 8] with lawmakers passing a bevy of bills concerning housing, elder care, K-12 education and more.

But a large number of bills never made it out of their committees, and many of those that did were never voted on by the full legislature. …

Here…[are] some of the bills that didn’t come up for a full vote this year, but that legislators will likely revisit next year.

Electric vehicles

After efforts to phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars in Connecticut by 2035 failed, the legislature considered a bill that would have created a 40-person group to assess a transition to electric vehicles in the state.

That bill — part of an effort to reduce motor vehicle emissions, Connecticut’s largest source of pollution — never came up for a vote in the House.

‘Just cause’ evictions

A bill that would have required landlords to provide a reason, or “just cause,” when they evict tenants at the end of their leases passed out of the Housing Committee but was never voted on in the full House or Senate.

Connecticut already protects against evictions without cause for senior citizens and people with disabilities. The bill would have expanded those protections to most tenants who live in apartments with five or more units.

Falsified traffic tickets

Proposed by Gov. Ned Lamont, House Bill 5055 would have made it a Class D felony for any person acting in a law enforcement capacity to knowingly make false written statements or enter false information into a law enforcement record and explicitly make those acts a basis for decertification of an officer’s policing license. …

Though it passed the House unanimously, it was not voted on in the Senate.

Tipped minimum wage

A proposal to eliminate Connecticut’s tipped minimum wage — currently $6.38 for wait staff and $8.23 for bartenders — passed the Labor and Public Employees Committee but was not voted on by the full House or Senate.

The bill would have brought wages for tipped workers in line with the state’s minimum wage, which is currently $15.69 per hour.

[See entire article here: ctmirror.org/2024/05/13/ct-2024-legislative-session-failed-bills]

Job Opening for PAR Newsletter Production

The Progressive Action Roundtable newsletter team is looking to hire someone to help with the creation and layout of our newsletter. PAR subscribers know what to expect from our coverage of local organizations and the general layout of our print newsletter. We want to work with someone who has experience with creating printed newsletters and can respect deadlines. We currently use Microsoft Word and Open Office.

If you are interested in working on the newsletter for about fifteen hours during the third week of the month (approximately) from August through May, please call Paula at 203-562-2798 or email [email protected] to discuss your experience, qualifications and stipend.

Thank you!

HazWaste Central Is Open at 90 Sargent Drive

HazWaste Central is co-sponsored by the Regional Water Authority and the South Central Regional Council of Governments. Visiting HazWaste Central is convenient and easy because visitors never have to leave their cars, and all hazwaste is off-loaded by professionals. HazWaste Central helps residents in member towns protect local waterways and natural environments by providing a location for the appropriate and safe disposal of household hazardous waste. HazWaste Central is provided at no cost to residents whose towns are active members of the HazWaste Central Municipal Planning Committee only.

Register

Please pre-register for the collection event you would like to attend. Attendance to multiple collection events throughout the Hazwaste season will require registration for each visit.

Registration Form:

https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/a69c2c00e2674223a7438dbff47679c2.

What to Bring

Check here for a list of all acceptable items:

https://www.rwater.com/media/ip0pr1de/acceptable-list-2023-03-a.pdf

Future Collections at 90 Sargent Dr.: June 1, 8, 15, 22; July 6, 13, 20, 27, August 3, 10, 17, 24. Hours: 9 a.m.-noon.

Tents Don’t Pop Up on the Green, For Now

by Thomas Breen, May 15, 2024, New Haven Independent

Anthony wasn’t sure where he and his fiancee would spend the night Wednesday. But he did know where they wouldn’t be: in a downtown encampment proposed and ultimately postponed by a group of unhoused activists.

“I’m not staying on the Green,” he said. ​“I’m not getting arrested.”

Pushing a stroller filled with blankets and spare clothing, all quickly soaked through in Wednesday afternoon’s rain, Anthony was one of around 50 people to gather on the Green by Church Street across from City Hall at around 4 p.m. The Unhoused Activists Community Team (U‑ACT) had initially planned on pitching tents and spending the night on the Green, in view of the mayor’s second-floor office at City Hall, to protest past clearings of homeless encampments. …

Brian C. asked the mayor point blank what would happen if the encampment proceeded on the Green as planned.​“Somebody told me if we set up a tent tonight, they’re going to arrest us. Is that true?”
“You’re not allowed to set up tents,” the mayor replied.

“That’s crazy,” Brian said. But will people get arrested?

“If you sleep in a tent and don’t let us remove it, you may get arrested,” Elicker said. Sleeping outside won’t get you arrested, but setting up an unauthorized structure might. … Brian said … he was at The 180 Center warming center on East Street on Tuesday, but that center is now closed for the season. ​“I’m trying to get into an encampment,” he said, ideally the one on Rosette Street behind the Amistad Catholic Worker House, but there might not be enough room.

Mark Colville, who co-runs the Amistad Catholic Worker House, gathered attendees into a circle at around 4:30 to try to figure out as a group what to do next….

Ultimately, at Colville’s suggestion, those gathered agreed to continue organizing in the month ahead, including by going to U‑ACT’s weekly meetings on Friday afternoons at the downtown public library. In a month’s time, Colville said, an even larger group will come back to the Green for a subsequent action uplifting the basic human rights of those with nowhere to sleep but outside.

[Entire article is available here: newhavenindependent.org/article/unhoused_activists]

Interior Dept Staffer Becomes First Jewish Biden Appointee to Publicly Resign Over War in Gaza

by Ellen Knickmeyer, AP, May 15, 2024

An Interior Department staffer on Wednesday became the first Jewish political appointee to publicly resign in protest of U.S. support for Israel’s war in Gaza.

Lily Greenberg Call, a special assistant to the chief of staff in the Interior Department, accused President Joe Biden of using Jews to justify U.S. policy in the conflict. …She is at least the fifth mid- or senior-level administration staffer to make public their resignation in protest of the Biden administration’s military and diplomatic support of the now seven-month Israeli war against Hamas. She is the second political appointee to do so, after an Education Department official of Palestinian heritage resigned in January. … “I can no longer in good conscience continue to represent this administration,” she wrote. “He [Pres. Biden] is making Jews the face of the American war machine. And that is so deeply wrong.”… “I think the president has to know that there are people in his administration who think this is disastrous,” Call said of the war overall and U.S. support for it. “Not just for Palestinians, for Israelis, for Jews, for Americans, for his election prospects.”

[Entire article available here: apnews.com/article/resignation-gaza-war-biden-israel-a55c20d136f08127d16bce6ced1af82d]

CT Green Energy News May 17, 2024

News and events for advocates of clean energy, energy efficiency and climate action at the state and local levels, focusing on Connecticut. Brought to you by People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), www.pacecleanenergy.org.

Some Connecticut Towns Are Banning Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers. Will More Join In?
New Haven Register. “Connecticut has seen a handful of communities taking action against the noisy and often environmentally-unfriendly equipment. In January, Greenwich adopted a new ordinance to ban the use of internal-combustion leaf blowers during the summer months…Norwalk will require landscapers to shelve gas-powered leaf blowers eight months of the year…The California Air Resources Board estimates that running a gas-powered leaf blower for an hour produces pollution equal to a car that is driven from Los Angeles to Denver, which at just over 1,000 miles is the rough equivalent of the distance from Hartford to Jacksonville, Fla.”

OP-ED | Environmental Justice
CT News Junkie. “Power plants, highways, and other pollution sources in Connecticut disproportionately impact the health of Black and brown communities and low-income communities in our state. Here in Hart-ford, polluting energy facilities and two highways are key drivers of air pollution that make people sick. … This truth makes it all the more important that the State of Connecticut seize an unmissable opportunity to rectify the historic harm caused by one of our city’s highest polluting sources, the Capitol Area System. … For the Hartford community, exposure to pollution from the Capitol Area System and other fossil fuel combustion, has been a long-term environmental injustice that must be healed. … Hartford residents deserve a 100% clean and renewable Capitol Area System and job opportunities in the green economy, and we’re counting on Governor Lamont to ensure that it happens.”

Next Deadline for Newsletter Articles: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2024

Please submit copy to [email protected]. 350-word limit. Questions? Call Paula at 203-562-2798. The next issue is our September issue. Please let us know what events your group has planned. Subscription: $13 for 10 issues, check payable to PAR, 608 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511.

Reminder: The PAR Newsletter does not publish in July or August. Your next newsletter will be the September issue. Summer updates will be on our website par-newhaven.org.

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