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by Paul Bass | Aug 26, 2013 11:09 am
Posted to: Arts & Culture, Visual Arts, Dixwell, Westville, Campaign 2013
Campaigning in Westville, Toni Harp came across one of her favorite New Haven scenes—on a wall.
The scene: the West River opening up from a spot near Orange Avenue onto a sweeping vista leading to West Rock in the distance.
Harp, one of four Democrats running around town this weekend in anticipation of the hotly contested Sept. 10 Democratic mayoral primary, came across the scene during a visit to DaSilva Gallery in Westville Village.
Gallery owner (and unofficial Westville Mayor) Gabriel DaSilva (at left in photo) welcomed Harp (at right) and state Rep. Pat Dillon (center) to the gallery Sunday afternoon for a meet-and-greet. DaSilva, who is neutral in the mayor’s race, has invited candidates to hold Sunday meet-and-greets at his gallery throughout the campaign. Harp and DIllon were particularly taken with some 3-D retro American works by Scott E. Matyjaszek, and the large, prominently displayed West River/West Rock painting, by New Haven’s Paul Ondrejka.
“This is the one of the most underappreciated sites in New Haven, one of the most beautiful in New Haven,” Harp said, staring for quite a while at the painting. “West River becomes a reflecting pool for West Rock. Most people drive by [the spot] every day; it’s across the street from Dunkin Donuts. This person has captured its beauty, what I would consider to be natural art. It is really beautiful when the sun is setting.”
Then Harp talked about another underappreciated gem—Westville Village’s commercial corridor. She spoke of how DaSIlva’s gallery survived the recession, how several restaurants have thrived as well. She said that as mayor she’d focus economic development efforts on filling in long-empty storefronts in corridors like Westville Village, Dixwell Avenue, and Howard and Columbus Avenues in the Hill, to help them grow.
From art appreciation in Westville, Harp headed over to Goffe Street Park to check out some flag football. Her campaign organized a football tournament there Sunday complete with a deejay and a cookout for kids. Some 75 young men battled it out through several rounds on the gridiron.
Harp campaign volunteer Wakil Rashid served up the burgers and hot dogs.
Harp campaign staffer James Baker, a Hyde graduate and current Central Connecticut State University communications major, organized the event. At halftime during the tournament’s championship round, he gathered the players together to introduce them to Harp. He spoke of how as a state senator she successfully pushed repeatedly to raise the minimum wage, to $8.25 an hour.; the campaign has started making sure to list Harp’s specific accomplishments on the trail. “A lot of you are getting paid a lot more because she’s done a great job,” Baker told the players. Then he told them the campaign had brought cards for them to register to vote on the spot.
First they gathered for a photo with the candidate.
Then some of them signed up as they prepared to take the field for the second half. Meanwhile, Booker T. McJunkin pressed Harp to help him find more money support the Venom, the minor-league football squad he organizes when he’s not working his orthopedic technician’s job at Yale-New Haven Hospital. (Click here to read a full-length story on the team, by the Register’s Shahid Abdul-Karim.) “A lot of these kids would be on the street” causing trouble if not for the Venom, the coach argued. “We take people from the Trey, the Tribe, the Hill, and make them one team,” rather than off-field violent combatants. Harp promised to do her best to support the squad.
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What an awesome event. I hope that flag football can get some local business sponsors and part time coaches to maybe create a summer league to give some of our youth something constructive to do. Perhaps the businesses can sponsor a team and give the kids part time work as well.
Our representatives at the state level (e.g. Harp) have done little to improve the standard of living for those making minimum wage. $8.25/hour is a joke. If you don’t think so, try making ends meet on that wage. Harp and her colleagues in Hartford could have done a lot better than that. Don’t insult us.
Fwiw, the minimum wage is finally going up. In January it will rise to $8.70/hr, and then in January of 2015 it will be $9.00/hr.
See also, minimum wage history in CT:
I agree with Atticus, this looks like a great event. It’s nice to see the parks system being used, despite the fact that the park maintenance workforce has been decimated over the past 10 years.
HewNaven: I agree, raising the minimum wage does virtually nothing if you let the transportation system deteriorate, like Harp, Looney, and DeStefano have over the past 20 years. The overwhelming majority of jobs especially those outside of Yale are located in the suburbs. If you can’t get to a job, then the wage doesn’t matter. A job that pays $15/hour may be worth a 3 hour commute, but a $10/hour job typically is not.
Given their voting record, the “Unite Here” leadership that crows in public about controlling our entire city following the 2011 election doesn’t see this, perhaps because unlike most residents, 1) they have cars and drive everywhere, as they live in places like East Haven, and 2) many of them work at Yale, earn enough to have a couple cars, and/or don’t need to reverse commute.
The minimum wage is actually a big deal. Connecticut is tied for the third highest minimum wage rates in the country: http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm. It is a big deal to be one of the leaders of wage rights. Indeed, the higher minimum wage adds over $2,000 to each minimum wage employees paycheck per year. It also forces employers to pay more for skilled workers.
With that said, it can and should be debated whether this helps or hurts our state economy as jobs trickle to places in the South where certain minimum wage rates are less than the federal minimum wage.
I don’t blame people for wanting to belittle the minimum wage raise. But it is truly a complex issue and Connecticut is on the forefront of raising the wage of its employees to a livable wage. I’m proud to live in a state where our legislators have the audacity to ensure better economic conditions for employees and am happy that they are not foolhardy enough to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, which would effectively drive many people out of work and many businesses into bankruptcy.
I agree. Awesome event. Great to see New Haven youth doing positive things and enjoying life! Good things do indeed happen in the inner city.
Can you speak to the organizer of this event and see if he will make a call or plea to locally owned businesses to promote a summer flag football or kickball league? It could be a good way to get local cops, firefighters, business persons, etc., involved. I’m not certain how much it would cost a business to sponsor a team but I’m assuming t-shirts and the occasional snack or something after practice would be less than $3,000 for the summer.
I’m not certain how this would work, but I can see it also piggybacking off of summer school programs. Any chance you’d be willing to help promote this? Perhaps you can get an interview with the organizer and/or put him in touch with some local businesses.
I get that this is not a typical function of the news but this is an opportunity to create the news!
If you think $15/hour is too high, try raising a family on less than that. If that’s going to drive out business then at least you’re acknowledging that the working poor are in quite a dire situation. Don’t act like there are any easy solutions and don’t celebrate the pittance that we receive now for minimum wage. It is insulting to those of us who care about our jobs.
As another comment points out, until the Yale unions bring their level of compensation to the rest of the city, they will continue to be laughed at for claiming to care about good jobs.
I also agree great event! The event organizer is James Baker-Howard currently a sophmore at CCSU good guy up and coming. Hopefully he will be able to continue coordinating events that are positive in the city.
posted by: Willie Williams Jr on August 31, 2013 3:50pm
I Hope They’re Honest Leaders!.