“Super Block” Revival Ready

City transit chief Doug Hausladen (right) and city engineer Giovanni zinn (left).

City transit chief Doug Hausladen (right) and city engineer Giovanni zinn (left).

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 

A developer is just about ready to put shovels in the ground to start construction on 269 new market-rate apartments that will replace a four-acre surface parking lot on a “super block” at Audubon and Orange — and to help the city add a traffic-calming “speed table” there.

Matthew Edvardsen of South Nowarlk-based Spinnaker Real Estate Partners offered that update at Tuesday night’s monthly meeting of the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team (DWSCMT) on the second floor of City Hall.

Edvardsen told neighbors that his firm should have all necessary building permits, construction funding and subcontractor agreements in place by the end of the year for the new “Audubon Square” mixed-use development.

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German-Inspired Reform Calms Prison

Scott Semple (Yale Law School photo)

Scott Semple (Yale Law School photo)

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 

Young inmates are getting direction — not just detention — in one corner of Connecticut’s prison system, and they’re straightening out as a result.

State Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple created the experiment called the TRUE program (which stands for Truthfulness, Respectfulness, Understanding and Elevating) — to help 18-to-25-year-old inmates mature into responsible adults behind bars, and prepare for successful and productive lives after they have been released from prison.

The program, inspired by a fact-finding visit Semple took to Germany with the governor in June 2015, is currently in place in one 70-bed unit at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. Because of its early success, Semple is looking to expand it to other units at Cheshire, as well as to the York Correctional Institution for Women.

Through the TRUE program, the young inmates are paired up with mentors who are older, fellow inmates serving life sentences for crimes that they committed while they were young.

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Film Fest Brings Latin American Directors To Town

Latin American filmmakers come to town for LIFFY. From left to right: Juan Gomez, Carlos Barba Salva, Luis Alberto García, Deyma D’Atri, and Jean Jean.

Latin American filmmakers come to town for LIFFY. From left to right: Juan Gomez, Carlos Barba Salva, Luis Alberto García, Deyma D’Atri, and Jean Jean.

Friday, November 17, 2017 - 

After decades of cool antagonism, the United States restores full diplomatic relations with Cuba, and a New Yorker returns to the island nation of her birth to look after her ailing father.

Cut to four men playing dominos as they speculate on the political future of Cuba. Or to the story of the first transgender woman to be elected to Venezuela’s National Assembly. Or to the challenges faced by a Haitian woman who has lived in the Dominican Republic for 30 years, but still falls between the cracks as a “non-resident.”

These are just a few of the stories on display this weekend at the Latino and Iberian Film Festival at Yale (LIFFY), an annual celebration of contemporary Spanish and Portuguese-language cinema that takes place in downtown New Haven, at the Whitney Humanities Center at 53 Wall St.

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Next Stop: Springfield! 12 Times A Day

A DOT staffer explains the proposed schedule for the new Hartford Line train service at Monday night’s hearing.

A DOT staffer explains the proposed schedule for the new Hartford Line train service at Monday night’s hearing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 

New Haveners appeared so pumped to start taking more trains to Hartford and Springfield — that no one showed up to complain about the fares.

At least that could be one takeaway from a public meeting Connecticut Department of Transportation (CT DOT) staffers held Monday night at New Haven’s Hall of Records at 200 Orange St.

The DOT didn’t end up hearing much public feedback. But what it did hear was that New Haven is ready to start taking advantage of increased rail service to the north.

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Transgender Life And Movies Celebrated

Staklo and Dunn at the WNHH studio.

Staklo and Dunn at the WNHH studio.

Friday, November 10, 2017 - 

New Haven transgender rights activist IV Staklo didn’t know how much a country could support the identity, rights and healthcare of its transgender citizens until they saw a movie about Cuba’s first transgender woman to receive sex reassignment surgery.

For Staklo, En el cuerpo equivocado (The Wrong Body) is not just about the exceptional life of Mavi Susel, who in 1988 became the first transgender person in Cuba to receive surgery to help her realize her female gender identity.

The 2010 documentary is also about the impact that a national educational initiative, like Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), can have in helping shift a country’s attitude toward LGBTQ people over time from one of homophobia and transphobia to one of tolerance, legal protection and institutional support.

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Son’s Arrest Helped Shape Porter’s Politics

Robyn Porter (Markeshia Ricks photo)

Robyn Porter (Markeshia Ricks photo)

Monday, November 7, 2017 - 

Robyn Porter was cleaning out a cluttered back room in her home when she first learned that her son had been arrested.

She was listening to gospel music, dancing, and chatting on the phone with a girlfriend when her mom walked into the kitchen. Tears streaming down her face, she told Porter that Porter’s 20-year-old son, who had had no previous criminal record, was being held at the police station.

“It’s that call that no mother, especially a black woman in America, wants to get,” Porter recalled on an interview on WNHH FM’s “Criminal Justice Insider” program. “I was devastated. But I was also rooted and grounded in my relationship with God.”

Ten years after the experience, Porter now helps make laws governing when people get arrested and how the criminal justice system handles them, as a Democratic state representative from Newhallville’s 94th General Assembly District.

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Vote For ... What?

Candidate Graves gives his phone number to Monterey Place’s Jeanette Britt.

Candidate Graves gives his phone number to Monterey Place’s Jeanette Britt.

Monday, November 6, 2017 - 

Jeanette Britt told the candidate knocking on her door that she had been tricked.

A man came to her house a few years ago selling life insurance, and she had bought it, assuming that it was a permanent plan that could be cashed out if she were ever in financial trouble.

She later learned that the policy was for term life insurance, which has no cash value and only pays a beneficiary if the owner dies within a specific period of time.

She told this story to Clifton Graves on Saturday when Graves knocked on her door seeking her vote this coming Tuesday in the election for a new probate judge. Graves, a Democrat, is running against Republican Melissa Papantones. (Click here to read a previous story detailing the issues in the race and the two candidates’ biographies, and to watch or listen to a joint radio appearance they made. Or click on the Facebook Live video at the bottom of this story.)

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Cross Helps 11 Starting Over From Maria

NHPS social work supervisor Johanna Samberg-Champion, Wilbur Cross Principal Edith Johnson, and Wilbur Cross social worker Lissette Agosto.

NHPS social work supervisor Johanna Samberg-Champion, Wilbur Cross Principal Edith Johnson, and Wilbur Cross social worker Lissette Agosto.

Friday, November 3, 2017 - 

Two weeks ago, Daisha Rivera was living on Puerto Rico’s north-central coast, where her family had trouble finding clean water a month after Hurricane Maria.

Thursday night Rivera joined other new students for a communal embrace at Wilbur Cross High, the new academic home for 10 other hurricane evacuees as well.

Rivera, who is 17, is a senior at Cross. She now lives with relatives in the Hill and is working on applying to colleges like Yale and University of Connecticut, where she hopes to study nursing.

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Friday Flicks: Knightriders

KNIGHTRIDERS (1981)

KNIGHTRIDERS (1981)

Friday, October 27, 2017 - 

George A. Romero, the legendary horror director who died this summer at age 77, made a movie in the early 1980s about a troupe of medieval reenactors who dress up as knights, perform tricks on motorcycles, and joust with wooden lances and rubber axes.

For a filmmaker best known for reintroducing the zombie as a staple of the American cultural imagination through such movies as Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), the Renaissance Fair-acrobatics of Knightriders(1981) may on its surface seem like quite the thematic departure.

And yet, no movie in his filmography better captures the stubborn idealism, artistic ambition, fierce independence, and persistent social criticism that defined Romero’s five decades as a filmmaker.

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“Debate” Features Call For Democracy

Paca, Ganong show up.

Paca, Ganong show up.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 

At a mayoral “debate” Tuesday night where no active mayoral candidates debated each other, two policy proposals did surface: creating a hybrid elected-appointed Board of Police Commissioners and expanding public financing for city elections.

The New Haven Democracy Fund organized a mayoral debate on Tuesday night in the library of the Benjamin Jepson Magnet School on Lexington Avenue in Fair Haven Heights.

The Democracy Fund is a city program that provides public matching dollars for New Haven mayoral candidates who abide by certain fundraising restrictions, including limiting individual campaign contributions to no more than $370 each.

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Plan For Ex-Factory Breaks Condo Barrier

The old Lehman Brothers Inc. printing company, which has been empty for almost 10 years.

The old Lehman Brothers Inc. printing company, which has been empty for almost 10 years.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 

With a plan to renovate a shuttered Goatville factory printing plant, a fast-growing New Haven real estate company is betting that New Haven’s housing boom is ready for condominiums, not just high-end rental apartments.

The testing ground for this condo experiment will be the former Lehman Brothers printing plant at Foster and Canner streets, which has been closed and derelict for almost a decade.

During Monday night’s East Rock Community Management Team meeting at the mActivity Gym on Nicoll Street, property manager Mendy Paris, architect Wayne Garrick, and lawyer Kenneth Rozich of the company Ocean Management presented their prospective plan for converting the building into a 30-unit condominium complex. New Haven is awash in new high-end housing construction, but other developers report they have been able to obtain financing only for rentals, not condos. Ocean gets private financing from out-of-state investors and doesn’t need to rely on banks.

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Challenger Defeats 4-Term Union Prez

New AFSCME Local 3144 President Malinda Figueroa hugs supporter Sally Brown after union election results are announced early Saturday morning.

New AFSCME Local 3144 President Malinda Figueroa hugs supporter Sally Brown after union election results are announced early Saturday morning.

Saturday, October 21, 2017 - A challenge slate of public employees calling for more democratic, transparent union leadership came into power on Friday night after a municipal union election saw an end to the current president’s eight-year tenure.

That was the result of AFSCME Local 3144 elections, held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday at the New Haven Central Labor Council at 267 Chapel St. in Fair Haven.

Malinda Figueroa, an executive assistant in the Engineering Department who has worked for the city for 18 years, defeated current union President Cherlyn Poindexter by 10 votes to become the next leader of Local 3144.

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Ping Pong Bests Piano, Bikes

The five finalists.

The five finalists.

Friday, October 20, 2017 - Wooster Square will soon be home to two public ping pong tables after neighbors voted in a spirited election to spend part of their annual citizen-controlled allotment of the city budget on tabletop tennis.

Such was the result of the most recent Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team (DWSCMT) meeting, which was held on the second floor of City Hall.

The meeting featured a “ranked choice”-style election — not over personalities seeking public office, but rather over how a community should allot public money. Advocates for public bikes and a kiosk and a piano competed with the ping pong proponent for the public’s support.

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Hundreds Rally Against Student’s Dad’s Deportation

Demonstrators march through Downtown and Yale’s campus on Tuesday night in support of a Yale undergraduate’s father who is facing deportation.

Demonstrators march through Downtown and Yale’s campus on Tuesday night in support of a Yale undergraduate’s father who is facing deportation.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - Hundreds of Yale students, immigrant rights activists, and community allies rallied through the streets of downtown New Haven on Tuesday night in support of a Yale undergraduate’s father who has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Colorado and faces deportation to Mexico.

Wrapped in scarves, coats, bullhorns, and posters, around 400 demonstrators marched and chanted along Crown Street, High Street, and Elm Street from 8:30 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday in opposition to an immigration enforcement system that they said unjustly tears families apart.

The protesters then gathered on the quad outside of Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library for another hour to listen to speakers pledge their support for the immediate release of Melecio Andazola Morales, a 41-year-old construction worker who has been held for the past week at the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Denver Contract Detention Facility in Aurora, Colorado.

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Friday Flicks: Candyman

CANDYMAN (1992)

CANDYMAN (1992)

Friday, October 13, 2017 - Candyman is an electrifying, terrifying film. It is the rare mainstream horror movie that prominently features Black actors, settings, and stories. And it shamelessly trades in some of the most egregious racial stereotypes that American culture has to offer.

Such is the uncomfortable paradox of Candyman: its style, storytelling, and iconic villain stand up favorably with those of any other slasher film, and its serious engagement with Black characters distinguishes it from the otherwise overwhelming Whiteness of the genre.

And yet, watching its continuous distortion and demonization of Black sexual desire, one cannot help but think that this required entry of early 1990s horror cinema is in fact one giant step backwards in the representation of Black people on screen.

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Woman Takes LEAD On Familiar Turf

LEAD’s Minardi and Murphy at Hill North meeting.

LEAD’s Minardi and Murphy at Hill North meeting.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 - Rasheen Murphy grew up in the Hill in the early 1990s. She saw friends and family struggle with drug addiction and fall victim to violent crime and incarceration. She had her first child at age 15, while still a student at Wilbur Cross High School.

Twenty years later, Murphy still lives in the Hill and is about to start working with the city and the police department to help keep low-level, non-violent criminals in her neighborhood out of jail and away from some of the challenges that she and her peers faced while growing up on those same city blocks.

On Tuesday night at the Hill North Community Management Team’s monthly meeting at Career High School, Murphy introduced herself as the neighborhood’s community liaison for the city’s new grant-funded Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, which is slated to begin in the Hill North, Hill South, and downtown neighborhoods in November.

Dwight Signs Off On Eminent Domain

Chair Florita Gillespie: Tonight we’re voting for this.

Chair Florita Gillespie: Tonight we’re voting for this.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - The city’s Redevelopment Agency won hard-earned community support on Tuesday night for its bid to use eminent domain to hold slumlords accountable in the Dwight neighborhood.

City officials offered one final concession to the neighborhood: The city won’t follow through with seizing a specific rundown property If the community vetoes the idea.

Such was the outcome of the latest meeting of the Dwight Community Management Team (DCMT) on Tuesday night, when over 30 neighbors gathered in the cafeteria of the Amistad Academy Middle School on Edgewood Avenue to discuss new developments in the neighborhood. On the table was whether to approve a Chapel/Dwight/Whalley Redevelopment and Renewal Plan proposed by the city’s Redevelopment Agency. The agency has tried for months to win the team’s approval, stop one in a multi-step process of making the plan a realty.

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Dogs Party In Edgewood Park

Marisol Orihuela and her dog Rigoberta at Edgewood Park on Sunday.

Marisol Orihuela and her dog Rigoberta at Edgewood Park on Sunday.

Monday, October 2, 2017 - Feeling depressed after the election of Donald Trump, Yale Law School associate professor Marisol Orihuela decided this January to get a dog: a chihuaha mix that she planned to bring to local protests.

She named the dog Rigoberta, after 1992 Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Indigenous Guatemalan rights activist Rigoberta Menchú.

“She’s lived up to her name so far,” Orihuela said this Sunday afternoon outside of the Edgewood Park dog park. “We’ve gone to immigrant rights protests and universal healthcare demonstrations. If there’s a good protest happening in New Haven, she’s there.”

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Would You Buy A Parking Space From This Man?

Doug Hausladen.

Doug Hausladen.

Thursday, September 28, 2017 - Doug Hausladen came to East Rock looking to make an elusive sale: a flexible parking space designed to bridge the gap between meter-wary merchants who need more on-street parking and neighbors who want to park their cars on the streets where they live.

Hausladen, New Haven’s transit chief, got permission to start selling these parking spaces more than a year ago, when the city amended the code of ordinances to allow for selling business restricted parking spaces on residential side streets.

Since then, Hausladen has pitched different neighborhoods on the idea. So far, no takers.

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Bus Stops Get Fall Reprieve

The crowd at Monday night’s East Rock Community Management Team meeting.

The crowd at Monday night’s East Rock Community Management Team meeting.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - The city’s holding off until the end of the year with a plan to remove six State Street bus stop so neighbors have time to weigh in.

City Transportation, Traffic & Parking Director Doug Hausladen delivered that message to East Rock residents on Monday night during this month’s meeting of the East Rock Community Management Team (ERCMT) at the mActivity gym on Nicoll Street.

Forty neighbors filled the room to hear Hausladen out as he apologized for not have engaged earlier in a clear public discussion about the planned removals of three inbound and three outbound Q bus stops on State Street between Bradley and Mechanic Streets. The city’s Traffic Authority recently gave him permission to remove those stops.

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