Minority aldermen address city problems


Ward 28 Alderwoman Claudette Robinson-Thorpe delivered the Black and Hispanic Caucus’s annual State of the City Address before the Board of Aldermen and about thirty community members Monday evening.

Robinson-Thorpe focused on jobs and unemployment in her address, which was accompanied by speeches from two city residents. In the address, Robinson-Thorpe reiterated the major features of the legislative agenda that the Board unanimously signed in January, including a commitment to a “jobs pipeline” program, community policing at the New Haven Police Department, and services for the city’s youth.

“Our vision is ambitious, but it’s necessary,” Robinson-Thorpe said. “The vast majority of unemployed are black and Hispanic. It’s hit our community the hardest.”

She put particular emphasis on the so-called “jobs pipeline” — a municipal program aimed at job creation in the city — citing her personal success with a similar program. Twenty years ago, she said, she enrolled in the New Haven Residents Training Program, a partnership between Yale, Connecticut and local unions. The program allowed her to get an associate’s degree, as well as a part-time job with the University. With the program’s help, she also completed a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

“I stand before you today saying that more people should have the opportunities that I had,” she said.

She also praised the diversity of this year’s Board of Aldermen. The Black and Hispanic Caucus currently claims 21 members, she said — the largest membership in the Board’s history.

Two New Haven residents also shared their experiences before the chamber, which marks the first time community involvement has been a part of the address. “There are stories people need to hear,” said Robinson-Thorpe of her decision to include them in the ceremony.

Jazmine Vega, a high school student in New Haven, spoke about the struggles her family is facing.

“My mother has a master’s degree, but she still struggles,” Vega said. She told the assembly about a recent time when her mother needed “to choose between buying toilet paper and milk.”

Shelton Tucker, a community activist and co-founder of My Brother’s Keeper, a community advocacy organization, also spoke about the economic problems facing New Haven neighborhoods.

“My story started out like a lot of kids in my neighborhood. When drugs emerged in our community, it was seen more as a way out of our impoverished situation,” he said. “Within a few years, I had lost over a dozen friends to violence.”

Tucker also praised the jobs pipeline program as a potential solution to violence in the community. “Destitution will eventually lead to desperation, and a community of desperate and hopeless people is an unsafe community,” he said.

City Hall’s latest surveys show that 12.9 percent of New Haveners are unemployed.

Comments

  • Sara

    A jobs pipeline is drop in the bucket. The few who get decent jobs will mostly move to the suburbs. The only way to substantially reduce unemployment (and crime) in this town is to improve transportation networks, and to some extent to develop a larger tax base.

    Unfortunately it seems that most of the Aldermen have this at the bottom of their priority list, as evidenced by their recent decision to kill a 10 year planning effort that would have improved the City’s bus and streetcar system (they voted against spending about two dollars in debt service but lost out on potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in Federal and State transportation grants, not to mention the 1,000+ good union jobs that would have been directly created).

  • DocHollidaye

    Tucker also praised the jobs pipeline program as a potential solution to violence in the community. “Destitution will eventually lead to desperation, and a community of desperate and hopeless people is an unsafe community,” he said.

    This is a true statement and I believe that this situation is correctable. But it starts by allowing people the freedom to provide for themselves, to freely turn to agricultural ways of life. However, we see way too many regulations that prevent this from happening.