Why Run for Mayor? by Wendy Hamilton

Wendy Hamilton, NH homeless advocate and mayoral candidate

PAR readers may remember the article Wendy wrote in the Feb. 2018 issue of PAR about homelessness and Mark Cochran. Mark died shortly after Yale New Haven Hospital discharged him in winter with no place to go. Wendy has filed the paperwork to run for mayor and has asked if we would share her concerns with our readers.

One day I just felt fed up with the chaos, the lies, the crazy spending, the near bankruptcy, the greed, the lack of compassion, the apathy…

Justin [Elicker] and Liam [Brennan] were sitting on the fence. I decided to commit to the research and the signature-collecting because I want to be heard at the Democratic primary debates coming this fall.

After making a list of city problems, I saw they fit into four categories–Housing, Budget, Safety, and Transportation.

Housing is no longer affordable for the masses without job security and bank loans for the working poor. The cost of living increases during years of flatline wages and a widening wealth gap. Developers and slumlords are getting all the breaks. Homelessness exists in every town and city and is growing despite what mass media says. Foreclosures and evictions are everyday occurrences.

The Budget is a runaway train growing by $100 million plus with our current mayor in office. We are in debt and near bankruptcy. The biggest contribution comes from our property taxes. Biggest expenditures are police, fire, and school systems, all of which need revamping with fair and intelligent contracts and pensions. We also have a huge yearly debt payoff. Yale, on 50% of the town land, only pays about 1/33 of the yearly take. The state offers a little better money but not enough.

Safety, which includes physical elements like crime, fire, pollution of air and water and climate change, is also a desirable feeling for the public to have and many don’t feel safe here for many reasons. Our police and firefighters require contracts to make them feel safe and appreciated. City residents require a civilian review board that can address their problems by affecting real change. We need to stop treating the homeless, the addicted, and sex workers (mostly homeless women) like criminals. We need year-round hazardous waste collection and cleaner parks that operate for the public benefit, not just the lucky few. We need to get housing quickly for those living on the street.  We all need affordable medical care.

Transportation is a city theme. We have trains, buses, major highways, bike and pedestrian trails, and a harbor. We are part of East Coast Metro which includes several huge cities.  The age of automobiles is over, but city hall hasn’t figured it out yet. 25% of us have asthma. Our air is just plain dirty. Bike travel is on the rise fortunately (I am 70 and own 2). Bus routes and schedules need to be examined and improved here. Many here can’t afford a bike or a car or a cab. Cab service is pricey and undependable here. A $40 million boathouse that took years to build on its own pier lies empty and unavailable to us even though our taxes paid for it — a colossal waste.

I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) Gathering Momentum in Connecticut

by Owen Charles, Chair Shoreline Green Party

December 18 and Jan. 22 at the New Haven Public Library were the first organizing meetings of a movement to institute Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in Connecticut. Over 60 people turned out to show their support and get involved, including a number of state representatives, political party leaders, and other organizations. Watch out for the next meetings (likely to be 3rd Tuesdays, 6 p.m., at the NH Public Library) and for progress in the state legislature.

Instituted last year in Maine, Ranked Choice Voting is becoming a real possibility given recent progressive wins in the legislature, and the popular recognition that we need to re-democratize our electoral system.

RCV works by allowing voters to rank their top candidates for an office, and if their top choice does not have enough votes in the first round of counted votes, their next choice is activated… until a winner with greater than 50% is determined. It is a way of ensuring all votes count, greater participation in elections, avoiding the ‘spoiler effect,’ and ensuring that winners are capable of obtaining a majority.

Active in beginning this process and presenting at the meetings have been Adam Friedman and Liz Popolo from Voter Choice MA, Steven Winter (National Popular Vote) of New Haven, Jefferey Hart of New London, and Caleb Kleppner (Fairvote) of New Haven.

State Rep. Josh Elliott pointed out that although he introduced but was not able to proceed with an RCV bill in the last legislative session, the huge number of people and groups supporting it this time is “a very good sign.”

Many dedicated individuals appeared at the meetings and are rolling up their sleeves to get involved. The movement has formed committees for outreach, communication, policy and fundraising and will continue to grow, develop and plan an organized approach to getting RCV in place in Connecticut. Check back for updates–more to come!

Sign up for more information from the CT groups: bit.ly/rcv-ct-signup.

Jan. 19 Women’s March in Hartford

On Jan. 19, the third annual Women’s March took place in cities all over the country. The Hartford march is reported to have 2,500 to 3,000 in attendance. The following excerpt is from CT News Junkie. See the full story at www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/20190119_womens_march_smaller_in_numbers_but_loud_with_its_message.

One of the organizers, Melissa Kane, said Connecticut has much to be proud of when it comes to pushing issues women care about.

“We need to thank the hundreds of women who ran for office,” she said as the crowd roared. She quickly added: “We are making a difference.” She noted that the Connecticut General Assembly saw a record number of women elected in 2018.

Originally spurred by the election of President Donald Trump, the Women’s March has become an annual event involving hundreds of thousands of women across the country who show up to demonstrate over issues, such as racial equality, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, health care access, and protections for the environment, among others.

In Hartford, as was the case across the country, many held signs poking fun at Trump, such as: “Lock Him Up!”

PAR wants to hear from our readers who attended any of the Jan. 19 marches for our next issue. Please send your reports to parnewhaven@hotmail.com.

Cop Review Panel Passes, With Teeth | New Haven Independent

by Markeshia Ricks

A 22-year quest for justice culminated Monday night as Emma Jones watched New Haven’s Board of Alders vote to create an all-civilian review board (CRB) with power to investigate officers accused of misconduct.

The Board of Alders voted unanimously during its first meeting of the year to create the new version of the CRB.

 Emma Jones, whose son was shot dead by an East Haven police officer, was given a standing ovation after the vote. Markeshia Ricks Photo

Emma Jones, whose son was shot dead by an East Haven police officer, was given a standing ovation after the vote. Markeshia Ricks Photo

That vote came after weeks of public pressure and behind the scenes negotiating among alders and activists. After Monday night’s votes were cast, Jones— who became the most visible proponent of such a board after an East Haven cop chased her son Malik into Fair Haven in 1997 and shot him to death — was given a standing ovation by alders and activists who took the efforts that she started across the goal line.

Read the whole story here: Cop Review Panel Passes, With Teeth | New Haven Independent

Yale Arrests 48 Students Demanding Climate Justice for Puerto Rico

by Nora Heaphy, Fossil Free Yale

On the last day of Yale’s 2018 Fall semester [Dec. 7], 48 students, professors, and New Haven community members were arrested after a 5-hour occupation of the Yale Investments Office.

We were sitting in to demand that Yale direct its fund managers to cancel their holdings in Puerto Rico’s debt and divest from the fossil fuel industry. After 6 years of trying to engage with the Yale administration, the few channels available had failed us, and our only alternative was direct action.

As Puerto Rico struggles to recover from a climate change-fueled hurricane and a massive debt crisis, Yale’s fifth largest fund manager Baupost is suing to have its debt repaid before the island can rebuild, and renowned Yale Chief Investment Officer David Swensen sits on the board of Baupost. Our university’s investments in injustice don’t surprise us. We also know that Yale invests at least $678 million in fossil fuel companies, including ExxonMobil and Antero. These corporations intend to extract and burn as much coal, oil, and natural gas as possible, regardless of the consequences to islands like Puerto Rico. And they’ve spent billions funding climate denial and paying off politicians to lobby against climate policies like a Green New Deal.

In the Investments Office lobby, members of our coalition presented on Puerto Rico’s debt and the roots of Yale’s endowment in slavery, held trainings, sang songs, and read statements of support from around the world. Meanwhile, 450 students marched to the Investments Office and rallied in support, as those inside were arrested. The Yale administration—who had recently published a statement blaming climate change on everyday consumers rather than fossil fuel corporations—chose to arrest its students rather than have a conversation with us. A few days later, at the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility’s public meeting, we again confronted the administration’s failure to act in the face of climate injustice. Our calls for moral leadership from Yale have been met with stalling, inaction, and a willful naiveté that amounts to gross negligence. But students, New Haven, and Puerto Rico are powerful, and we will hold this university accountable.

Email fossilfreeyale@gmail.com to get involved.

Film Screenings with Stand Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

Freedom Summer (2014), Saturday, Jan. 19, 2 p.m. at
the Wilson Library, 303 Washington Ave., chronicling the 1964 voter registration efforts in Mississippi. World Cinema Film Screening Tsotsi (Rated R) South Africa, 2005. English subtitles. Sat., January 26, 1 p.m. at the Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Ave.

A young Johannesburg hoodlum lives by a code of violence after he steals a dead woman’s car, although he finds an infant in the back seat. Find out what happens next. Awarded the best Foreign Language Film 2006. Free popcorn!

Life on Parole — Film and Talk-Back at Milford Public Library, 57 New Haven Ave., Jan. 23

Life on Parole — Film and Talk-Back at Milford Public Library, 57 New Haven Ave., Jan. 23

Milford Library and Milford Speaks Out are pleased to co-host a screening and discussion Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m., of Life on Parole, a documentary produced by FRONTLINE and The New York Times. Life on Parole goes inside the parole system in Connecticut to examine ongoing efforts to rethink parole: A condition that offers freedom, but comes with strict prohibitions like with whom one can live with, where one can go, what time one has to be home, and more.

“Most people who are in prison in America will one day be released on parole,” says Matthew O’Neill, the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning director of Life on Parole. “And as Connecticut brings its prison population down and attempts to give parolees more chances to succeed, we wanted to see if the experience of the parolees reflected these changes.”

With unique access inside Connecticut’s corrections system, as well as camera-phone footage filmed by the parolees themselves, the film follows four former prisoners as they navigate the challenges of more than a year on parole — from finding work, to staying sober, to parenting — and doing it all while under intense supervision from the state. A discussion will follow the screening. Admission is free.

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Forms Community Leadership Teams

The mission of New Haven LEAD is to implement a LEAD model that reduces incarceration and criminal justice involvement for persons living with substance use disorders.  The overall goal is harm reduction for the participant, their families, and the community.

The next meeting of the Community Leadership Team is on Thursday, Jan. 3, 6 p.m., at Christian Community Action at 168 Davenport Ave. More people can be involved with this to help establish policy. Residents of Hill North, Hill South and Downtown are especially welcome, as these are the neighborhoods where LEAD is presently focused. Site Contact: Shaunette Marquis, Family Coach, Christian Community Action. RSVP to Cynthia at CWatson@newhavenct.gov.

LEAD only works if there is meaningful community input. Establishing mechanisms to ensure such input can serve to keep the program actors accountable and keep the processes connected to community needs and interests. A Community Leadership Team needs to have interested community members, neighborhood leaders, people with relevant lived experience, etc. who are not already represented by groups linked to the LEAD Policy and Operational Workgroups. Such a team can prove incredibly useful both operationally and for program sustainability.  (Taken from: LEAD National Support Bureau, www.leadbureau.org)

New Haven LEAD’s website is veoci.com/veoci/p/dashboard/h2567kvepg. For more information, contact Cynthia Watson, Project Manager for LEAD. Office: (203) 946-4905, cell: (203) 668-0154, cwatson@newhavenct.gov.

City Homeless Demand Bill Of Rights, Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent

Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent

Verna spent five years sleeping on the streets after she lost her manufacturing job.

Now living in her own Fair Haven apartment, she’s still haunted by the constant stress, anxiety, and humiliation she felt whenever city police asked her to move from a bench or a sidewalk grate or a stretch of grass downtown where she had managed to fall asleep.

On Monday afternoon, Verna added er voice and her story to a broader call by local homelessness advocates seeking to codify a city “bill of rights” for New Haveners without a home.

Read the full article at http://www.nhindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/homeless_rights

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.

 

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.

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