New Laws Turn to Veterans to Help Address Manufacturing Gap, Extend Benefits

New Laws Turn to Veterans to Help Address Manufacturing Gap, Extend Benefits

State and veterans officials are highlighting three new laws taking effect on October 1 that are designed to support Connecticut veterans. All three - on job training programs, expanding eligibility for veterans to receive certain services, and on property tax relief - were approved unanimously by the state legislature this year.

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Global Security Forum to Bring Leading Diplomats, Experts to Connecticut

Global Security Forum to Bring Leading Diplomats, Experts to Connecticut

Global security is rarely a simple subject.  But one can reasonably argue that it hasn’t been as contentious and controversial a topic as it is in 2019 for quite some time.  Next month, that conversation arrives in Hartford, with a strong contingent of leaders on the world stage prepared to share their expertise and views on future prospects.

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New Haven Free Public Library is Finalist for Prestigious National Award

The New Haven Free Public Library (NHFPL) is among the 30 finalists nationwide for the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to their communities. For 25 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service and are making a difference for individuals, families, and communities.

“The 30 National Medal finalists showcase the tremendous ability of libraries and museums to serve as vital community resources,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “The Institute of Museum and Library Services is honored to recognize these leading institutions. We congratulate them on the work they are doing across the United States.”

The New Haven Free Public Library welcomes more than 500,000 library users through its doors each year, realizing its mission of fostering lifelong learning, inspiring curiosity, and building community through shared access to resources, experiences, and opportunities for all. Open to all, the New Haven Free Public Library is described as a “community pillar of learning, exploration and inspiration.”

“We are honored that the New Haven Free Public Library is a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, and appreciate the inaugural nomination by U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy,” said City Librarian Martha Brogan. “We proudly share this nomination as recognition of our home, the community and the City of New Haven.”

“I nominated the New Haven Free Public Library for this award because of their unmatched commitment to serving the New Haven community. NHFPL has gone above and beyond to offer innovative 21st Century programming to fit the diverse needs of New Haven residents. I’m so excited the IMLS is recognizing and celebrating their great work,” said Murphy.

Finalists are chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Each year, five museums and five libraries are awarded for their exceptional contributions to their communities. Representatives from winning institutions will be honored for their extraordinary contributions at the National Medal Ceremony on June 12 in Washington, D.C. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums.

Brogan added: “Our application emphasized the civic-minded fighting spirit of our founders which continues to this day, our training with EXCITE Transformation for Libraries – originally funded by IMLS in a grant to the CT State Library – and our new Strategic Framework, along with highlights of a few of our exemplary programs and partnerships including READy for the Grade, Long Wharf Theatre, and Ives Squared anchor role in the Elm City Innovation Collaborative.”

IMLS is encouraging community members who have visited the New Haven Free Public Library to share their story on social media. To #ShareYourStory, please visit www.facebook.com/USIMLS  or www.twitter.com/us_imls  and use #IMLSmedals and #myNHFPLstory.

Wesleyan Grad, Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to Seek Presidency

John Hickenlooper, a former two-term Governor of Colorado, Mayor of Denver and 1974 graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, is the latest Democrat to announce he will be seeking the party’s presidential nomination in the 2020 election cycle. Hickenlooper, 67, is expected to point to his eight years governing Colorado, a modern-day political swing state with an electorate nearly evenly divided among registered Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters, the Denver Post reported this week.

In addition to leading the state during an explosive economic expansion following the Great Recession, Hickenlooper nudged the state to the left, the Post reported. By the time his second term ended in January, he had expanded the state’s Medicaid program, signed comprehensive gun-control legislation and helped establish civil unions for same-sex couples prior to the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing marriage equality.

“I’m running for president because we’re facing a crisis that threatens everything we stand for,” Hickenlooper says in a taped announcement, promising to “repair the damage done to our country and be stronger than ever.”  He will kick-off his campaign at a rally Thursday in Denver.

Hickenlooper graduated from Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in geology. He began his career as a geologist and later opened a series of restaurants and brewpubs across the country, including the Wynkoop Brewing Co. in downtown Denver, which helped spark the revitalization of the city’s now-thriving Lower Downtown (“LoDo”) district.  He served as the mayor of Denver from 2003 to 2011.

Hickenlooper delivered the commencement address at Wesleyan in 2010, where he said “Frankness impels me to say that my Wesleyan undergraduate career was notable, which is not to say distinguished. I came to Wesleyan as a slightly dyslexic extrovert with attention deficit disorders. And don’t you think that’s a particularly cruel irony – that the slowest readers could also have the short attention spans?”

On a more serious note, he explained that “in spite of the fact that my degrees are in English and geology – what I learned at Wesleyan was how to be an entrepreneur. The essence of entrepreneurship is not just the economic bottom-line so much as it is an exploration of innovation and creativity.

It’s the creative spark that has always interested me most, because there is such joy and satisfaction in the process of creating something that works, that fills a need, building something where nothing existed before, adding value to people’s lives so that their creative energies can also flourish.”

Reflecting on his time as Mayor, he said “I like to refer to myself, because the word ‘politician’ is still somewhat tainted despite our efforts, as an entrepreneur on loan to Public Service.”

Hickenlooper described a start-up as “the single best learning process in American enterprise. When you build something from scratch, you acquire a depth of understanding that no ‘professional,’ no management expert can match. There are few better ways to learn about yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses, than in beginning and building something, an enterprise. It is a wonderful mirror.”

“Entrepreneurship,’ he added, “is all about innovation, re-invention, adaptation and perseverance.”

A past chair of the National Governor’s Association, he was guest on the weekly podcast hosted by the leaders of Middletown-based Community Health Center a year ago, discussing how expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act has improved access to health care in his state, how embedding behavioral health in primary care is improving outcomes, lessons learned from the state’s marijuana legalization, and how the opioid crisis was being combated in Colorado.

His Wesleyan commencement address at the start of this decade included this description of his years as Mayor:  “We challenged the status quo that government can’t work. We were transparent and accountable. We sought talent, without regard to politics, whether someone was Republican or Democrat. We weren’t bi-partisan, we were non-partisan. Every good restaurateur learns early that there’s no margin, there’s no profit in having enemies. You need everyone. We were always about solving problems, and you can’t solve problems with only half the people.”

 

https://youtu.be/QwIk0hUmzk8

 

Connecticut Hall of Fame Inductions Seem to Have Ended

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  More than a decade ago, in 2005, a committee of legislators successfully urged the state legislature to establish the Connecticut Hall of Fame, to be featured in the Legislative Office Building (LOB) in Hartford. In announcing the proposal, they explained “the hall of fame is designed to recognize those individuals from Connecticut who have distinguished themselves in their professions, nationally or internationally. It will also have an education function because of the great number of students who visit the Capitol and LOB annually.”  It was even specified that the lettering of the names of inductees “will be in brass.”

The first class of inductees, in February 2007, were Mark Twain, Igor Sikorsky and Katharine Hepburn, their names affixed to the wall of the second floor atrium in the LOB.  It marked a successful launch, after being “in the planning stages for four years,” according to an announcement at the time.

The legislators driving the initiative were then-Senators Joseph Crisco (D-Woodbridge) and John McKinney (R-Fairfield) and then-Representatives Elizabeth “Betty” Boukus (D-Plainville), and Michael Caron (R-Danielson).  Today, all no longer hold legislative seats.  When it began, it was said that “Funding for the Connecticut Hall of Fame is expected to come from corporate contributions, grants, and contributions from individuals, foundations and, potentially, appropriate state agencies.”

The Hall has slowly fallen from the legislative radar screen. A brochure about the Hall of Fame indicates that “Each year the committee reviews the applications of many nominees and refers their selection to the Legislative Leaders for approval. An awards ceremony, ‘Connecticut Hall of Fame Day,’ is held to honor those inducted.”  Not lately.

Induction ceremonies were held in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, but only in three years since – 2013, 2014 and 2016.  In 2008, the committee reviewed the applications of 30 nominees.  No ceremonies have been held, however, in three of the past four years, and none appear to be on the immediate horizon.  Officials indicate that the “committee” currently is without leaders.

In 2009, the committee included Rep. Themis Klarides, now the House Republican leader. In a news release that year, she saluted one of the inductees:  “Paul Newman’s story is a truly American story and Connecticut can be proud he called our state home,” said Representative Klarides. “Mr. Newman is known widely for his distinguished film and Broadway career, but his service to our nation in WWII and his life-long philanthropic dedication further make him uniquely worthy of addition to the Connecticut Hall of Fame.”

Most recently, in 2017, the co-chairs were then-Sen. Anthony Guglielmo and Rep. Terrie Wood, along with then-Rep. Matt Lesser, now a State Senator.

Among the inductees are UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Jim Calhoun, along with historic figures Noah Webster, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Roger Sherman, Nathan Hale, Henry Burbeck, Helen Keller, Horace Wells, Marian Anderson, Harry Gray, Jackie Robinson and Ralph Sturges, longtime leader of the Mohegan Tribe.

The inductees also Judge Constance Baker Motley; composer and musician David Brubeck; architect Frederick Law Olmsted; aviation pioneer Frederick Rentschler; composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim; actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, and actress Meryl Streep.  Also having their names added to the roster of inductees on a second-floor wall of the Legislative Office Building are Judge John T. Downey; American inventor and businessman Alfred Carlton Gilbert; artist Deane Keller and undersea explorer Robert Ballard.

Whether the Connecticut Hall of Fame will see additional inductees this year, or in future years, remains uncertain. Information on the Hall can be seen at https://www.cga.ct.gov/hof/