What the Ballot Question Means for Connecticut Voters: Early Voting FAQs

by League of Women Voters of CT

The question that will be on Connecticut’s ballot on November 8, 2022, is: Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to permit the General Assembly to provide for early voting?

Did you know that as of July 2022, Connecticut is one of only 4 states without in-person early voting? Sounds absurd, right? The busy citizens of Connecticut deserve more time to vote in person, not just the 14 hours on Election Day.

Our election laws are part of our state constitution, so in order to make Early Voting (EV) a reality, eligible voters would need to vote “yes” on the referendum question.

Why do we need Early Voting?

Early Voting offers all voters another in-person option; more flexibility means more opportunities for eligible voters to cast their ballot without worrying about whether or not they can make it to the polls on Election Day.

I voted by absentee ballot in the Town Clerk’s office. Isn’t that the same thing as Early Voting?

No. Voting by absentee ballot is not the same as Early Voting. In our state, you can only vote by absentee ballot with a valid excuse, per our state constitution. Early Voting would allow any eligible citizen the choice to vote on a day besides Election Day.

Is Early Voting safe and reliable?

Yes, the process is the same as on Election Day, with the same amount of checks and balances.

Will Early Voting cost the taxpayers a lot of money?

Not necessarily. There are ways to keep the cost to a minimum. The overwhelming number of states who have Early Voting have figured out ways to make the change cost neutral. Connecticut can too.

When will Early Voting become law if the referendum passes?

If the Early Voting question is passed, it will be up to the legislature to determine the parameters and therefore, the state will not be able to institute Early Voting until 2024.

The League’s mission has always been to defend democracy and empower voters, and that includes giving voters more ways to cast their ballot. A “yes” vote on the Early Voting question will help give voters who want to cast their ballot in person another option if they can’t make it to the polls during the hours of voting on Election Day.

It’s time for Connecticut to join the ranks of other states and adopt Early Voting. Let’s give Connecticut voters more freedom to choose how to participate in our democracy.

‘This Is Our Continent’: ULA Honors Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Green

by Noel Sims, New Haven Independent, Oct. 13, 2022

“Our people live without borders,” John Lugo said in Spanish to a small crowd gathered on the corner of Church and Chapel to celebrate both migrants and indigenous people who call this land home.

Noel Sims Photo

Noel Sims Photo

That was the scene Wednesday afternoon during an Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration hosted by the local immigrant rights advocacy group Unidad Latina en Acción.

As Lugo spoke, smoke from sage burning at an altar set up in front of the Bennett Memorial Fountain wafted through the air. Among the group listening intently to his words were women in traditional Mexican and Guatemalan garb, young children, and a few curious passersby walking across the Green. Lugo, who helms ULA, welcomed family, friends and neighbors to join in a celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The rally wasn’t the only celebration of native people and culture that was held on the Green Wednesday. On the Elm Street side, a second group led by longtime local activist and Indigenous Peoples’ Day event organizer Norm Clement gathered for a separate ceremony. (City government, meanwhile, now recognizes the second Monday of October not as Columbus Day or as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but instead as Italian Heritage Day.)

According to a flyer passed out by organizers, the ULA event had an additional purpose: to criticize a lack of action by Democrats and other elected officials to make pathways for migrants to stay in the United States.

Oct. 12 has long been recognized and celebrated in this country as the date that the Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus first arrived in the Americas. On Wednesday, Lugo recognized the date as an anniversary of something much different than a first encounter between two cultures. He described it instead as the beginning of violence and genocide of Indigenous people on this continent. He said today’s immigration policies are a continuation of that violence.

[Read the entire article at www.newhavenindependent.org/article/indigenous_peoples_day_2?fbclid=IwAR2uW49HA6S6d6ZV7Eu1edDDFdjYK9sCXX7rU9eXvn_u22cF_thCLYdnXA]

 

 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Gathers Community

by Danielle Campbell, The Arts Paper, Oct. 14, 2022

Rachel Massaro stepped forward, her purple hair and clothing vibrant in the afternoon light. She took in the circle of people around her, the ground firm beneath her feet. The smell of sage hung low in the air, sweetgrass and turkey feathers laid out nearby. Sentence by sentence, she wove through a history of residential schools, missing and murdered Indigenous women, of children fleeing with their parents. A history that had yet to be taught—and learned from—in Connecticut and across the country.

Rachel Massaro (in purple) with her children and Clement during ritual smudging. — Danielle Campbell Photo

A member of the Northern Cheyenne and Saponi tribes, Massaro was one of roughly 30 people to attend an observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day Wednesday afternoon, held on the New Haven Green now annually. As in previous years, it was organized by Norman Momowetu Clement, a New Haven member of the Penobscot nation and a confederate member of the Quinnipiac tribe.

He said he’d chosen Wednesday—rather than Monday—because many still observe Oct. 12 as Columbus Day. It marks the day in 1492 when Columbus landed in what is now recognized as the Caribbean, beginning the mass rape and murder of Indigenous Taíno people.

“We’re trying to do away with Columbus,” he said. “So, unless you’re fighting to get that change to have Indigenous Peoples’ Day, then you shouldn’t be celebrating that day. One has to cancel out the other. We’re not going to be canceled out. We fought too hard to be canceled.”

For Clement, that fight is personal. Decades ago, his own father was adopted by a white family ostensibly trying to “better” Indigenous children, he said. In his father’s case, that meant hiding his culture and history from him. Growing up in that environment, Clement did not know he was Indigenous until he was 35 years old. His father never spoke of it because he was taught not to. He didn’t know what tribe his father was from until he started searching for answers.

[Entire article can be read at www.newhavenarts.org/arts-paper/articles/indigenous-peoples-day-gathers-community]

 

George Edwards Memorial Event Scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29

Staff, New Haven Independent, Sept. 30, 2022

New Haveners will have a chance to share their memories of the late Black Panther and social justice advocate George Edwards at an event set for Saturday, Oct. 29.

Edwards, possibly the most spied-on and messed-with activist in town and omnipresence at public events, died Sept. 16 at the age of 85. (Read a full story about his life at www.newhavenindependent.org/article/panther_passes_on)

George Edwards at a 2016 Hip-Hop Conference. Photo David Yaffe-Bellany

The state tried to frame George Edwards and lock him up for life. His fellow revolutionaries tortured him and tried to kill him. They didn’t know whom they were messing with. He survived — and kept at his Black Panther mission for another half century long after generations of fellow fighters left the theater.

It was kidney cancer that finally claimed the life of George Edwards. Until his final months, he remained one of New Haven’s most visible and engaging voices, challenging power and supporting grassroots social justice crusades.

The memorial event in his honor will take place at the Q House, 197 Dixwell Ave from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. His daughter Elizabeth Dickerson asks anyone wishing to speak at the event to contact her in advance at liz_dickerson@ sbcglobal.net. Attendees are also encouraged to bring gently used clothing to the event to be distributed to the needy.

A GoFundMe drive at www.gofundme.com/f/a-panther-passes-on?qid=7a85d1598883d37c6f39445c1186572c has been established to help pay for funeral costs. Some money will also go toward placing Edwards’ name on a brick at the Q House.

[George Edwards was an extraordinary and compassionate activist. Many, if not most, of PAR’s readers, worked with him on justice and community issues in New Haven. In almost six decades, we have no doubt he touched the lives of tens of thousands of New Haven residents, activists and Yale students. “The students are here for only four years and then they go all over the world. I’m going to train them
to be activists while I have this chance.” George was a mentor to many and held steadfast to the principles of the original Black Panthers. In addition to his work in the Black Panther Party, he played a core role in New Haven’s struggle against apartheid in South Africa, organized many annual May Day celebrations on the New Haven Green, spoke out and organized against police brutality, was a
supporter of Palestinian rights, demonstrated against the various wars, bombings and invasions the U.S. carried out — Panama, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, etc., demanded the release of Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal and all other U.S. political prisoners, had a weekly show on CTV where he introduced viewers to activism, history and the current events of the day and taught them how to analyze, protested against nuclear power, was an AIDS-prevention activist and worked at the New Haven Needle Ex-change Project, and when the pandemic began, he gave out masks, condoms, water bottles and gloves to people from his front porch. In addition to the New Haven Independent, George has been featured in the New Haven Register many times through the years and the New York Times. This is a brief description of the work George did and the causes he took on.]

 

New Haven Climate Movement Volunteer Recruitment

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven Climate Movement

New Haven Climate Movement would like to invite YOU to get involved. Below are invitations to join the Electric Future, Climate Education and 2023 Campaign committees. There is much to do to cut deadly climate pollution, and we need your help. We need people to specifically help plan campaigns, do research on climate solutions, coordinate outreach, and develop public education materials.

Electric Future campaign – The Electric Future campaign is pushing New Haven to have 100 percent of its buildings, vehicles, and appliances powered by electricity. To truly decarbonize, we must power everything using clean energy, and electrification is a necessary step in that process. Additional benefits of electrification include long-term savings on energy bills and public health benefits from improved air quality. Tasks: coordinate public education, work with City departments; advocate for more city investment and policies to support electrification; research solutions.

Climate Education Committee – advocate for more climate education in schools; support implementation of Board of Education Climate Emergency Resolution to reduce carbon emissions and other pollution (research, meeting with BoE committees); recruit new members, especially students; support NHCM’s Climate Justice Schools program.

2023 Campaign Committee – call on individuals, organizations, and governments in the greater New Haven area to substantially reduce their fossil fuel emissions in 2023. Public education; outreach to organizations; graphic design and video creation.

More info at newhavenclimatemovement.org, or email newhavenclimatemovement@gmail.com.

Help Ensure that No One Goes Hungry on Thanksgiving

Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK)

For 30 years, DESK has partnered with Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers, Yale Hospitality, and others to deliver meals to people in need on Thanksgiving morning. This year, we’re determined to get at least 850 meals out on Thanksgiving morning. In addition, we will once again be providing plenty of Thanksgiving food — including TURKEYS! — at our weekly pantry on the Wednesday before the holiday.
Help us make Thanksgiving special for those in need in the community by donating frozen turkeys, reusable shopping bags, boxed stuffing, and any of the following canned items: green beans, yams, cranberry sauce and corn.

Frozen turkeys should be dropped off on Sunday, Nov. 13, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at 311 Temple St. All other donations can be dropped off during our regular drop-off hours, Sun.-Thurs., 1-4 p.m. through Nov. 20. Questions? Email us at donate@deskct.org or call 203-624-6426, ext. 6137.

Your financial support will ensure that DESK can serve those in need on Thanksgiving and all year round! Show your support and we’ll be able to purchase supplies to keep everyone safe and protected during these difficult times. Questions? Send us an email at donate@deskct.org or call 203-624-6426, ext. 8778.

We have a number of volunteer spots this year. If you’d like to help onsite (sorting donations, packing meals, organizing our shelves), please email Ashley at volunteer@deskct.org or call 203-624-6426, ext. 6170. If you’d like to be one of our drivers and deliver meals to homes, please sign up at ivcg.typeform.com/driveturkeys22. If you can’t volunteer for Thanksgiving, please don’t forget that we need your help 52 weeks per year!

Our mailing address is:
Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen
PO Box 1478
New Haven, CT 06506-1478

Randy Cox Sues City, Police for $100M

Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent, Sept. 27, 2022

Richard “Randy” Cox’s lawyers have filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against the city and five New Haven police officers seeking $100 million in damages for the cops’ alleged violations of the paralyzed 36-year-old New Havener’s constitutional rights.

Wallingford-based attorneys R.J. Weber III and Lou Rubano filed that long-expected federal lawsuit Tuesday morning in the U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut.

At noon, Weber and Rubano joined nationally prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, Cox’s mother Doreen Coleman and sister Latoya Boomer, state NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile and local chapter President Dori Dumas, and a host of other civil rights advocates and supporters for a press conference on the front steps of City Hall to detail the allegations of that complaint.

The 29-page lawsuit…accuses New Haven Police Officers Oscar Diaz, Ronald Pressley, Jocelyn Lavandier and Luis Rivera and Sgt. Betsy Segui of violating Cox’s 4th and 14th Amendment constitutional rights for their roles in an incident that led to Cox suffering severe injuries to his neck and spine while in police custody on June 19.

It also accuses those officers of recklessness, negligence, and excessive force. It claims that the city should be held liable for the officers’ actions, and for not ensuring Cox’s safety after his arrest.

Cox, meanwhile, remains paralyzed from the chest down and is now back in the hospital because of the injuries he sustained during that incident.

“As a direct and proximate result of the aforesaid actions of the defendants, Cox has suffered and continues to suffer great physical and emotional pain, including but not limited to mental anguish, frustration, and anxiety over the fact that he was and remains seriously injured,” one section of the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit continues: “As a direct result of the aforesaid actions of the defendants, Cox has, and will in the future, incur expenses for hospital, physicians, physical therapy, and other related expenses as a result of his injuries.”

[Read the entire article at www.newhavenindependent.org/article/cox_lawsuit]

PURA Establishes Low-Income Utility Rate

Julie Martin Banks, CT News Junkie, Oct. 19, 2022

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority today established a two-tiered discount rate to help provide relief for low-income Connecticut residents who have trouble affording electricity. PURA Vice Chairman Jack Betkoski said the decision was a momentous one that will help ease the pain for Connecticut families who are currently facing a variety of rising costs.

“I think this is a step toward assisting those individuals that are having difficulty quite frankly putting food on the table,” Betkoski said. The final decision unanimously adopted by the three-member commission requires Eversource and United Illuminating to each implement a discount rate with an overall eligibility cap at 60% of the state median income (Tier 1), and eligibility for Tier 2 aligned with existing state benefit programs (up to 160% federal poverty guidelines).

PURA has determined that those who qualify for Tier 1 will receive a 10% discount applied to their monthly bill, while those who fall into Tier 2 will receive a 50% discount to their total monthly bill, according to the decision.

Those who qualify will be able to participate in existing energy assistance, arrearage forgiveness, renewable energy, and energy efficiency programs, the decision states.

The companies will start accepting applications by August 2023 and will be required to create a communications plan to notify and educate eligible residential customers. PURA will re-evaluate the discounted rates every two years as part of its annual energy affordability review process. The first review of the discounted rates will be conducted in 2025.

PURA Chairwoman Marissa P. Gillett […] said the decision is a reflection of PURA digging into the topic of affordability and its recognition of the societal impacts of losing electricity.

It’s also a move to reduce uncollectibles – collecting outstanding amounts from delinquent accounts. “The goal of minimizing uncollectibles is one that helps us all,” she said.

[Read the entire article at ctnewsjunkie.com/2022/10/19/pura-decision-establishes-low-income-rate]

Fair Rent Commission Okays New Tenants’ Union Rules

Laura Glesby, New Haven Independent, Oct. 19, 2022

Local tenants’ unions now have an official path forward for being recognized by the city in order to participate in housing-related investigations, thanks to the Fair Rent Commission’s adoption of a new set of union-related rules.

The commissioners unanimously approved those rules and regulations Tuesday night during their latest regular online monthly meeting.

The now-adopted rules pertaining to tenants’ unions flesh out a renter-power law recently approved by the Board of Alders. Thanks to the alder-approved law and the Fair Rent Commission-approved regulations, tenants’ unions are now able to:

  • officially register with the city;
  • designate a representative (who may or may not be a fellow tenant of the complex);
  • launch a public investigation from the Fair Rent Commission office into housing conditions at the apartment complex in question; and
  • have a representative assist union members in filing an individual fair rent complaint.

The regulations stop short of allowing tenants’ unions to collectively appear before the Fair Rent Commission with a complaint about rent or living conditions within individual units. They also require tenants’ unions to have their registration forms notarized before submitting them to the city.

[Read the entire article at www.newhavenindependent.org/article/fair_rent_recognizes_tenant_unions]

Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide

Based in Connecticut, we oppose medical assisted suicide from the perspective of disability justice and human rights. Medical assisted suicide is a threat to the poor, disabled, people of color and the elderly. These are the people who now are marginalized and devalued in the system of healthcare as we know it today. They stand the greatest danger of being further victimized by medical assisted suicide.

Currently, one’s finances and insurance coverage determine the help that one receives, whether for medical treatments, mental health support, assistive equipment, personal care attendants, a secure living situation, improved palliative care, pain management, enhanced hospice care, etc. Members of Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide have seen firsthand the insistence with which some in the medical community deem people not worthy of treatment because there would “only be another hospital admission down the road,” or “they have no quality of life” because they are disabled or elderly. We have heard medical people try to inflict guilt on patients for staying alive, implying, or stating directly, that they should “think of how much they’re making their families suffer” by continuing treatments and “dragging out the inevitable.”

Supporters of medical assisted suicide often claim that their only opposition comes from the ultraconservative “religious fringe.” This is simply wrong. As progressives, we recognize that this is a human justice issue that lies at the heart of what kind of society we want to live in.

Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide supports LGBTQIA people’s rights and women’s reproductive rights. If you also believe in fighting for the human, civil and economic rights of LGBTQIA people and for reproductive justice, organize with us in ending euthanasia and medical assisted suicide where they exist, and in preventing their legalization elsewhere.

Let us share information and build a progressive, disability justice and human rights-based movement to end medical assisted suicide and euthanasia. Email us at: progressivesagainstmas@hotmail.com.

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