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In New Britain, An Abandoned Building is Being Demolished to Make Way for New Construction

A boarded-up structure in the center of New Britain's downtown will be razed on Wednesday. While saying goodbye to the past, the city has huge ambitions for the future. Right now, all eyes are on the former Burritt Bank. It's been vacant since the early 1990s, but it'll be demolished on Wednesday to make way for a new development. Change has finally arrived in downtown New Britain after a long wait. People turned out in anticipation of the demolition, calling the structure an eyesore in the neighborhood. “It's past time for it to come down. It's been empty for quite some time. Parts of it have lately fallen off,” said Alden Russell, a New Britain resident. Construction on a new project to re-energize the city's center will commence after the structure has been demolished. There are going to be 107 apartments and 5,700 square feet of ground retail wrapping around Main and Bank Streets. Now it's time to get to work tearing down the structure brick by brick. Mayor Erin Stewart estimated the renovation will cost about $19 million. The demolition and cleaning are estimated to take around six weeks. The new project will be completed by the end of 2022.

Roll Out the Red Carpet for the R.T.C. Endorsement Night, Tonight!

The New Britain Republican Town Committee will be endorsing a strong slate of candidates for elected office tonight. For Alderman at-large, probable candidates include incumbent Willie Pabon, Matthew Malinowski, Desiree Costa, Luz Ortiz, and Alden Russell. In Ward One, incumbent Howard Dyson and Peter Scirpo are vying for recognition in the southern portion of New Britain, which includes the campuses of New Britain High School, Slade Middle School, and Vance Elementary School. Valerie Ruby Ingram and Jerrell Hargraves are working hard to get approved for Ward Two, which covers the Roosevelt Middle School and Chamberlain School campuses in New Britain. Ward Three, which encompasses both North and Oak Streets, will be represented by Sara Piatti and Jeffrey Gumbs. Ward Four incumbents Robert Smedley and Michael Thompson will be supported, which has made and continues to make significant advances in the Belvedere region among CCSU off-campus students. Ward Five will be represented by Paul Catanzaro and Kris Rutkowski. On the ballot for the Board of Education are incumbents Athena Tina Santana, Anthony Cane, and Matthew Marino. Sheryl Mala and John Board want to run for the Board of Assessment Appeals. Last, but not least, incumbents Richard Moreno, Alan Zaniewski, Sean Steele, and Kenneth Haas are among the four candidates for Constable.

Mayor Erin Stewart Slams Juvenile Justice Leniency

"I refuse to stay silent when innocent people are dying because of criminals who have no regard for life. Elected officials at the State Capitol are the only ones who can change these laws, and they need to take action..." Mayor Erin Stewart slammed the Connecticut juvenile justice system on social media on Friday, July 2nd, following the death of a victim in a hit-and-run in New Britain on Tuesday. Henryk Gudelski, a 53-year-old marathon runner, has been confirmed as the victim. The driver, a juvenile, was apprehended. State legislators are now asking for revisions to juvenile criminal legislation. According to Gudelski's fiancée, Henryk was a highly decorated marathon runner. Republicans have advocated for a bipartisan bill to improve juvenile justice legislation. Citing several occurrences around the state as well as anger with a lack of legislative authority to prosecute repeat violent criminals. Vin Candelora, the Republican House Minority Leader, stated, “Here we are today with this crisis that continues to play out; people are now dying.” State Rep. Candelora put an amendment to tighten the juvenile laws up for a vote during the regular legislative session. Republicans persuaded some Democrats to join them and vote yes. However, it was insufficient, and the amendment was defeated. According to the Democratic House Speaker, the situation is complicated stating that car thefts have decreased in the previous five years. WTNH News 8: https://bit.ly/3jxYBBj FOX61: https://bit.ly/3jBcbnn NBC Connecticut: https://bit.ly/3hxihCr Lee Elci - The Voice of Freedom: https://bit.ly/365VKaG

Come and Meet with Mayor Erin Stewart (Plus Elle the RTC Mascot) at Frisbie's Dairy Barn

Come join Mayor Erin E. Stewart at Frisbie's Dairy Barn today! The event known as the Mobile Mayor's office will running from 10:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and will be located outside in the parking lot. Also, come to the event and meet Elle, the new Republican Town Committee mascot.

Owners of Former Israel Putnam School to Receive Blight Fines

The former Israel Putnam school located at 43 Osgood Avenue has been a longstanding eyesore for that area of town. This building is owned by two private developers and continues to fall into greater disrepair. On Tuesday, June 15th the City of New Britain Health Department sent them the a notice of violation citing the following matters: 1. Openings/Windows boarded with unpainted wood; Boarded up, but some or all of the material used has been broken, pried off, or otherwise vandalized; 7-42(b)(2)(a)(ii)(iii)
2. Exterior facades (masonry) which contain damaged or absent siding, holes, breaks, lose or rotting materials, which are not properly surface coated to prevent deterioration, or the paint on which is significantly discolored or faded; 7-42(b)(2)(b)
3. Chimneys and similar appurtenances which are in a state of disrepair; 7-42(b)(2)(e)
4. Damage to roof; 7-42(b)(2)(u), 13-142 The owners of this building have been given 30 days to rectify ALL of these issues or face a fine of $99 per day, which will be enforceable by a lien on their property. New Britain's blight ordinance was updated by the Common Council and signed off by Mayor Erin Stewart in July of 2019. The ordinance was a product of the Building and Health Services Department's continued efforts to remediate blighted properties within the city.

Nation's Most Legendary Mayor Announces Budgetary Comeback for Local Community

“I am here tonight to present my Mayor’s budget to all of you,” is how the live feed to New Britain residents started on April 14th, 2021. “I’m going to be putting forth a budget this evening that proposes to lower the tax rate in the City of New Britain by one mill.” When Mayor Erin Stewart first took office, she was staring at a $30 million operating deficit. “That was really scary,” Stewart said while expounding that she came in as a new mayor and looked at that type of debt that we were facing.“ From trying to figure out okay how do we fix it to here, [where] we are now, [eight] years later… I can sit here and say that I’m finally at a point where we can lower taxes for our residents, and honestly, it couldn’t come at a more important time and for many of us who are in desperate need of some assistance no matter how small at it may be.” The one mil reduction will amount to a 2% tax cut on personal property, real estate, and motor vehicles. That means property taxes will go down from 50.50 to 49.50 mills, and the rate on vehicles will go down from 45 to 44 mills. That amounts to around $350 a year in savings for the average family of four. However, what exactly led to the decrease in the mill rate? Where did the extra revenue come from? The answer is growth, new anticipated major development, and added state dollars. Over 1,400 new businesses were created under the public administration of Erin E. Stewart. Mayor Stewart has been notably one of New Britain’s most entrepreneurial mayors, often saying that “businesses invest in cities that invest in themselves.” That has proven to be a sound political theory that has increased our city’s Grand List substantially; the Grand List has grown for eight consecutive years. Essentially, a grandlist is the basis for the amount of all taxable property within New Britain. Also adding to our new revenues is the expected sale of City property for major private developments off of Hartford Rd. and Osgood Avenue. Additionally, as a direct result of aggressive lobbying by the Mayor, the City is expected to receive an additional $3.8 million in PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) monies owed to the City. Mayor Stewart’s proposed budget also makes an increased investment into New Britain Schools. Included in her budget is an additional $500k to place into the Education Savings Account she created as another source of revenue for the Board of Education to utilize towards student needs. This investment into our City’s education system comes at no additional cost to taxpayers. The Mayor also devotes $1 million in this budget to Anti-blight. This money will be used for projects such as the demolition of Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, which is a building that is crumbling and has become a hazard to the neighborhood of Kelsey and East Street. It’s clear that the Mayor takes a holistic approach in her budget to meet the needs of the City in this time period and keeps the taxpayer in mind.

Open Letter to Candidate Strong

Dear Democratic Candidate for Mayor Alicia Hernandez Strong, You have made serious, false, and defamatory allegations about the New Britain Journal. According to a Facebook post you stated that, “The New Britain City Journal is a straight-up propaganda paper. It has almost always been funded by New Britain’s wealthy landlords, developers and real estate agents. It’s reappearance just before a municipal election and it’s commitment to exclusively targeting those who challenge Stewart makes this quite obvious. Wealthy landlords in the state are politically organized and and extremely powerful, even at the municipal level. They feel threatened by me because I dare to call out the ways they use their money to influence politics and oppose the rights of renters. I am not talking about working people who own a few properties for extra income. I’m talking about landlords that own 100+ units who involve themselves in state and local politics. Many of whom don’t actually live in the city themselves. But y’all know me. I’m a fighter. I will not stay quiet while working people are silenced and disregarded by politicians who are funded—directly and indirectly—by absentee landlords. If you ready to take on this fight with me donate and sign up to volunteer for my campaign.” Just to be clear the New Britain City Journal was a newspaper written by Robin Vinci, who has since retired. In fact, the New Britain Journal has no relation to Vinci’s paper. We are a politically independent online newspaper, with no ties to the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party. Still, our authors may share their political beliefs in association in their respective authorship. As well, we are not funded by any landlords and will not be going away after any election. We ask you, Candidate Strong, to do what is right and retract your defamatory allegations in as public a manner as that in which they were made. Sincerely, The New Britain Journal

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor, After reading the article “'New Britain Schools Deserve Better' is rallying cry as city leaders defend district, want more funding from city”, I am wondering why it fails to mention the additional $78.3 million the Consolidated School District will be receiving next year? The Democratic Town Committee’s press conference about public school funding conveniently did not address the very public knowledge that the School District will be receiving $23 million in CARES Act funding to be used towards integrating students back into the classroom. It was also announced by our federal delegation that the School District will be receiving an additional lump sum of $55.3 million in American Recovery Act funding to be used at the Board of Education’s discretion. Where is the article regarding how the School District plans to spend these additional resources which could theoretically increase per student expenditures by almost 60%? Is it because there is no plan? New Britain’s residents are struggling, and the financial and emotional hardships that came along with the pandemic have just exacerbated these challenges. Now is not the time to raise taxes for families who already may not know how to make ends meet to fund a School District that will receive an additional $78.3 million in financial help from the federal government. Mayor Erin Stewart is making financially sound decisions based in care and compassion for the hard realities she knows so many of us are facing, as she has done since Day One of taking office. -Alden Russell Dear Editor, The tired and trite argument that the Consolidated School District of New Britain does not receive enough money is simply not doing it for me. Where are the hard working residents of New Britain who are already facing challenges, including a worldwide pandemic that has severely altered our daily lives, supposed to find the money for the School District that is already receiving a total of $75.3 million in federal assistance? Like many of us in our day-to-day lives, Mayor Stewart has had to make a do with much less than that from the moment she took office. Mayor Stewart inherited a $30 million operating deficit when she started her first term, but instead of looking to others to fix the City’s financial challenges she rolled up her sleeves, and made the tough, but necessary decisions that lead the City back to eight straight years of balanced budgets, a return to an “A” credit rating, and a commercial grand list that has grown year after year. That was all certainly without over $75 million in extra money from the federal government. When are the School District administrators going to make the hard decisions to improve their financial challenges instead of simply complaining and continually asking from more money from City residents? I hope the leaders of the School District take Mayor Stewart up on her public offer to use her extremely relevant fiscal management experience to help right this ship that has so clearly veered off course. -John Buckley

New Britain Board of Education Spends More on Administrators and Teachers; Surpasses That of Mayor

Have you ever wondered where your money is going once it reaches the coffers of the New Britain Board of Education? Well, the New Britain Journal knows. We have recently received some documentation showing the names and salaries of everyone employed by the New Britain BOE. Our city’s mayor, which rakes in only $99,407 after the 13% Raise slated to take effect on November 9, 2021, is, much to our dismay, less than most of our Board of Education Administrators and even most teachers. See the Entire List Here:

Candidate Alicia Hernandez Strong Engages in Conspiracy Theories, Targets a Marginalized Landlord

As of 6:26 PM on Thursday, April 1, 2021 Democratic Mayoral Candidate Alicia Hernandez Strong posted to Facebook regarding a victimized landlord in Bristol, CT. According to the post by Strong, “The guy whose apartment was trashed in Bristol has a history of opposing tenants’ rights. It’s disturbing the way the media is hyping up these claims and buying his narrative, especially when the tenant is denying the charges.” Strong went on to say that, “I just think it’s curious that he sued Lamont in summer over the rent moratorium and then this happens...all of a sudden the media is pushing the narrative that the eviction moratorium is to blame. Don’t believe the hype. Especially since this comes when a number of bills to protect tenants have been introduced in the legislature. Even if this incident is legitimate, one bad tenant does not negate the rights of most good tenants who are often taken advantage by landlords.” The issue Strong is referencing is regarding a Bristol landlord, whose home was destroyed by a tenant after the landlord was not able to evict said tenant during the pandemic. Note: Alicia Hernandez Strong, is a Graduate Student of Yale University, who has previously caused trouble around town by not pulling permits for campaign events on city property during a raging pandemic.

John McNamara Endorses Greater Spending for Adjunct Faculty Amidst Massive CSCU Budget Deficits

The Former New Britain Democratic Town Committee Chairman and Director of Institutional Advancement at Capital Community College, and occasional author of the New Britain Progressive, Jonathan McNamara, is endorsing a bill that would “require the Labor Department to consider specific circumstances when determining whether an individual who performs instructional, research, or principal administrative duties at an institution of higher education is eligible to receive unemployment compensation.” According to Public Testimony, Mr. McNamara states that “The year-long pandemic has caused more job insecurity and uncertainty for individuals who teach part-time at our colleges and universities. Many adjunct faculty provide instruction at more than one institution as they pursue a teaching career that comes without the guarantees of benefits and tenure. As enrollments fluctuate, adjuncts may go from one semester to another without knowing where needed income will come from. During the pandemic and after the pandemic adjuncts should be entitled to unemployment compensation, a system they contribute to as wage earners.” McNamara goes on to say, “Because of the fiscal constraints of hiring full-time faculty, adjuncts are essential to ensuring academic quality and serving students at the campus where I work and others in the CSCU system. I urge Connecticut to follow New Jersey’s lead. Our neighbors just enacted legislation that opens unemployment compensation to adjuncts. In signing the act that in all respects is similar to HB6582 here in CT, New Jersey Gov. Murphy said: “Our adjunct professors have too often been caught in limbo in terms of their eligibility for unemployment benefits. This legislation will provide adjunct instructors and other employees the clarity they need to receive full unemployment benefits so they can get back on their feet.” However, here is the problem: severe budget deficits. Due to a drop in community college enrollment and lower occupancy of university dorms that have fueled a $69 Million deficit at Connecticut’s state colleges and universities, “The state system has been under significant budgetary pressure. In September, the Board of Regents imposed a hiring freeze on CSCU colleges. On October 7, a presentation by the board projected that the total net reserves for the community colleges would decrease from $32.1 million in June 2020 to $15.7 million in June 2021. Six of the 12 colleges projected to have negative reserves. A staff report from the board’s Finance and Infrastructure Committee also warned that further budget reductions could mean a loss of tutoring services, lab assistants, and course offerings. Yet from 2017 to 2020, the budget for the System Office, the colleges’ administrative branch, increased by 46.5 percent, according to documents from the same meeting. This year, System Office reserves are projected to reach $16.04 million. At the October meeting, Board Chair Richard Balducci suggested lowering costs at the universities by decreasing funds directed toward student work positions, part-time lecturers and graduate assistants,” according to a publication known at the CTexaminer. With a combination of a lack of revenue and more lavish spending, one has to ask if there is any inkling of fiscal responsibility left to ensure unemployment benefits for all.

ARKX Space Exploration ETF Enters Wall Street

The ARK Space Exploration & Innovation ETF’s (“Fund”) investment objective is long-term growth of capital. ARKX is an actively-managed exchange-traded fund (“ETF”) that will invest under normal circumstances primarily (at least 80% of its assets) in domestic and foreign equity securities of companies that are engaged in the Fund’s investment theme of Space Exploration and innovation. The Adviser defines “Space Exploration” as leading, enabling, or benefitting from technologically enabled products and/or services that occur beyond the surface of the Earth. This Exchange Traded Fund holds 39 stocks and is listed with the ticker symbol ARKX.