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Republicans Offer New Objection To Funding Community Center Housing Communist Newspaper

by | May 31, 2012 12:27pm
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Posted to: Town News, New Haven, Media Matters, State Budget

Christine Stuart photo

Sen. Andrew Roraback and Rep. Sean Williams

Two Republican lawmakers were sounding the alarm again Thursday over funding the state Bond Commission is set to approve for an organization with ties to the Communist Party.

Sen. Andrew Roraback of Goshen and Rep. Sean Williams of Watertown said they are concerned about the activities housed in the New Haven Peoples Center and don’t believe the state should be borrowing $300,000 to renovate the community center. Their argument Thursday focused on the People’s World, a newspaper with a Marxist editorial mission.

According to the paper’s mission statement the media outlet “is partisan to the working class, people of color, women, young people, seniors, LGBT community, to international solidarity; to popularize the ideas of Marxism and Bill of Rights socialism.”

“I have every confidence that the people who run this organization are good and decent people,” Williams said at a Capitol press conference. “They have every right to have whatever political beliefs they have, just as we all do as Americans…but that does not entitle them to be the recipients of tax dollars to prop up those political activities.”

“It is the right of the people publishing this newspaper to publish this newspaper and to hold their views, but in my view it’s not appropriate for the taxpayers of Connecticut to be providing a $300,000 grant to an organization which is clearly political in nature,” Roraback said.

He said he would have the same objections is the newspaper had a Republican or free market slant to its news.

“We should not be in the business of funneling bond dollars to organizations which promote partisanship,” he said especially at a time when state resources are scarce.

The New Haven project was flagged as questionable by Mary Plaskonka, a former state employee who emailed members of the state Bond Commission to ask why they would be giving money to an organization which operates on a part-time basis and hasn’t filed a 990 tax form with the IRS since 1999. It was pulled from the April 27 agenda after questions were raised but it was placed back on for Monday’s meeting.

Sen. Toni Harp of New Haven, who requested the money for the center, said she doesn’t believe the state Bond Commission typically looks at who rents or is housed in a building that receives funding.

“I think if they’re opposed to it, they can be opposed to it,” Harp said. “It’s a historic building in my district that opens its doors up to young people and other groups in our community.”

Al Marder, one of the founding members of the People’s Center which is operated by the Progressive Education and Research Associates, is a World War II veteran, Harp said.

“I would have Al Marder stand up to anyone,” she added. Marder is a member of the Communist Party USA.

She said the two Republican lawmakers are probably too young to remember the Cold War and the fear of communism. “They weren’t even alive during those days,” she said. “It’s just political gamesmanship and frankly I find it appalling.”

As for the newspaper argument, Harp said it has the right to freedom of speech where it rents. She said the organization doesn’t endorse political candidates.

“It’s really not some kind communist plot to take over Connecticut,” she said.

Roraback and Williams called on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to have the funding removed from the agenda.

However, Malloy’s Senior Adviser Roy Occhiogrosso said that would start the state down a dangerous path. He said examining the past or present political leanings of every organization the state gives money to raises civil liberty and First Amendment concerns.

“It’s pretty clear they’re trying to score political points but they’re using a playbook from 1955 and they’re not gaining much traction,” he said.

Occhiogrosso said every project needs to be scrutinized based on its merits and its impact on the community. He said the People’s Center is a good project in its totality.

“Good things go on in that building and the administration thinks they should continue,” he said.

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(29) Archived Comments

posted by: robn | May 31, 2012  4:35pm

Despite the fact that Marxism has been completely discredited by the collapse of the Soviet Union, one needn’t worry that communism is creeping across New Haven. Even the Union takeover of the BOA can’t be considered communism because, in the finest traditions of fascism it only enriches a very narrow portion of citizenry.

posted by: Cornelia | May 31, 2012  6:14pm

The State’s current bonding debt is about $19.5 BILLION dollars.  So if the state borrows an additional $300,000 to give to the People’s Center the state will have a new total bonding debt of $19.8 BILLION dollars to pay back.  The reason this state will never be fiscally sound is because we have legislators like Senator Harp who treat public funds as their own personal checkbook.  Thank goodness for Mr. Roraback and Mr. Williams who are mindful that it is the taxpayers who must pay this debt down.  The State Bond Commission should be called the State Borrowing Commission since they are constantly borrowing money to give out grants at the behest of Senator Harp.  At each Bond Commission (Borrowing Commission) they should state exactly how much debt we are in so that the public can be made aware of their actions.

posted by: sickofit | May 31, 2012  7:12pm

Cornelia, your math is wrong. $300k is .3 million, not billion. Big difference. However, I agree with your sentiment.

posted by: Hebee | May 31, 2012  7:33pm

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” -  Albert Einstein

posted by: SocialButterfly | May 31, 2012  9:07pm

Another example of Democratic fiscal incompetence

Toni Harp would fail as a real business woman—with her use of an unlimited spending Connecticut credit card. Toni Harp’s red-ink-thinking keeps intercity New Haven constituents poor, as they can’t run their own homes like like business—looking for Harp to give them CONTINUAL FREEBIES—killing off their incentive to work for a living.

Giving money to an organization that operates on a part-time business and hasn’t filed a 990 IRS tax form since 1999, is stupid.  The bonding commission should reject this poor example of a political partinsaship request.  Money is no object to Toni Harp—even though the state owes over 19.5 billion dollars in bonding indebtedness.

posted by: Lawrence | May 31, 2012  9:41pm


Sean Williams got $500,000 in state bonding last year for an “indoor recreation facility” in his hometown. He talks a good game against ‘wasteful spending’ but put out a press release touting his little piece of local pork.

Senator Roraback secured $1.9 million in state bonding (STEAP funds) for his Senate district in 2011, including a quarter-million dollars for a private ski jump, the group on which he sat as a capital fundraising campaign member.

So your baseless, inaccurate belief that Rep. Williams and Sen. Roraback are pinching pennies while everyone else spends state money is provably wrong.

posted by: Westville Mom | June 1, 2012  7:49am

If the Democrats’ sympathy for in utero female infanticide isn’t proof of their Communist leanings, I don’t know what is—Communism with a Chinese flavor, that is.

When it comes to faulty memories, however, it is Ms. Harp’s, whose needs some help.

To that end, I offer this video of a former KGB agent being interviewed in 1985—NOT the 1950s or 60s.


Ms. Harp is sounding ridiculously uninformed.  She says: “They weren’t even alive during those days.”

My mother-in-law was alive in those days and is still alive today.  Ms. Harp—- please tell my mother-in-law how wonderful Communism is.  Her relatives had their farm confiscated and were sent to Siberia.  I don’t think they ever came back.

But they’re such “good people”, aren’t they?

Your comments are a disgrace and you should be ashamed.  I do not want one penny of my tax dollars being granted to any organization with Communist ties.  Period.  Not one penny.

But you don’t care what THIS constituent thinks because I am a conservative.

Totalitarianism is alive and well in the One-Party system of New Haven, where the brains continue to be “washed” by Democratic (sic) politicians.

posted by: sightover | June 1, 2012  8:51am

Communism and Fascism are the same breed. There isn’t one historical example where communism didn’t enrich only a “narrow portion of citizenry.” Reds claim to be for the “disenfranchised” just as every fascist does. Both ideologies depend on the destruction of individual political and economic freedom. Like the slave master who treats his chattel well: “why do the masses need choice or freedom when I provide so well for them?” The state should no more fund these people as it should a Nazi group, no matter that our feckless pols think they’re “good and decent people.” The fall of the USSR didn’t end the threat of communism. It is an ideological parasite that feeds on humanity’s best traits, charity, kindness, and beauty. It is destruction and rot and should be treated as such.

posted by: gutbomb86 | June 1, 2012  9:18am


@westville mom and sightover and the rest of the red scare nonsense crowd - thank you all for yet more Pavlovian responses to the word “communism” - congratulations you’re a product of 62 years of U.S. propaganda. The money is for work to repair an old building that is being used by the public. That’s it. Nothing more. You are over-reaching (as usual).

By the way, 1985 was 27 years ago and was before the fall of the Soviet Union and no member of the Communist Party has held any office here in CT. In fact, no member of any fascist party has held office either, so you’re basically just barking up a nonexistent tree with this garbage. The red scare was just as ridiculous in 1985 as it was in 1950, just as ridiculous as it is in 2012 - except now you’re really an embarrassment for buying in.

To reiterate what I’ve said elsewhere on this site:

The party affiliation of folks who run community centers (which provide a place for the public to engage in all kinds of activities) has no bearing on the discussion. Your efforts to demonize communism have no bearing on the value of the expenditure. Your objections are obviously coming from your tea party leanings - plain and obviously partisan - rather than against anything that could be considered a real communist threat.

Listen to yourselves . . . you’ve become caricatures.

To wit, public libraries are full of people who may be researching how to build a better communist party, but we’re not shutting down public libraries yet - at least not until the Westville Moms of the world get their way.

A lot of other so-called conservatives (most of whom don’t understand the true meaning of the word) have bought into decades of U.S. gov’t- and corporate-funded anti-communist propaganda.

You rubes bought the nonsense hook-line-and-sinker and essentially gave your government a blank check to do whatever they wanted, anywhere in the world, to further their own interests (read: not our interests) under the guise of the red scare. You should know better by now. You should be ashamed of yourselves for looking the other way all these years.

posted by: robn | June 1, 2012  10:59am


I think Siberian Gulags are scary. Don’t you?

posted by: GMR | June 1, 2012  11:16am


I hate the Connecticut Communists, and the Illinois Nazis…

posted by: Adamec | June 1, 2012  11:25am

19.5 Billion plus 300,000 would be 19,500,300,000.

The rubric for Communism and Fascism, both arguably dependant on “one party rule” is that one is a government that owns businesses and the other is a government that is owned by businesses. In the last 25 years or so, there is only one party in this country whose spokespersons have advocated one party rule in this country. And that being their party. 2 + 2 <> 7.

posted by: Westville Mom | June 1, 2012  12:17pm

Comrade gutbomb, I have a question for you.  If prominent and self-avowed members of the Klan choose to set up a charity organization to give away food to the poor and want tax dollars to fund it ...

I assume you don’t have a problem with that?

Or how about a self-declared member of Al Qaeda? (Arguably a political organization.)

How about the Neo-Nazi Party?

Oh, I know what you would oppose ... funding a self-identified Tea Party organization’s charity!  Well guess what ... so would I.  Government money should not be used for partisan organizations.

No one is saying these “good” people can’t do whatever they please.  Only that tax money should not be awarded them.

Allegiance to and affirmation of ideology have meaning in this world.  If ideology didn’t matter, then no politician would ever have to resign from a golf club that discriminated against minorities.  Politicians need to be held accountable for the ideologies they fund.

If Marder and Fishman don’t embrace the CURRENT (not even past) atrocities of Communism, they should find another party to belong to because they are not the ones defining it.  It defines itself by its actions and history.

For information on current Communist atrocities, I refer you to Chen Guangcheng, whom even the Democrats have acknowledged as requiring protection as an anti-Communist dissident.

It’s a good thing he has been welcomed in New York because he certainly would never be in New Haven, where he would be seen as nothing more than a crank by the oh-so enlightened, self-annointed intelligentsia. 

Out in the real world (outside of La-La Land New Haven) Communists don’t need to be “demonized” as you say, because they demonize themselves with their atrocities.

Only the truly blind fail to see that.

You can sign me…

“A not-so-blind dissident”

posted by: robn | June 1, 2012  4:39pm


But which kind of music do you like? Country or Western?

posted by: Cornelia | June 1, 2012  5:08pm

Lawrence - The Small Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) is authorized every year in the amount of $20M in general revenue bonding.  Each eligible small town must apply through an application to the Office of Policy and Management for a grant from this program.  Most of these grants are for road repairs, bridges, etc.  It is not fluff.  Small towns would have to raise their taxes further on the residents since most of them do not have any major industry in their town to help reduce the tax burden for the residents.  This assistance has been available to small towns since about 2001.  Please see links to the Office of Policy and Management for further additional information.  If you happen to live in a small town on the list have your town apply for this assistance if there are bridges or roads, etc. that need repair.  The links also list the town, the purpose and the amount of the state grant. http://www.ct.gov/opm/lib/opm/budget/steap/fy2011_steap_awards.pdf

posted by: gutbomb86 | June 1, 2012  8:01pm


@westville mom - you really do live in a la-la-land, apparently, because you can’t seem to understand the obvious OR you’re willfully engaging to further some no-longer-pertinent partisan agenda.

Some food for thought before you shutdown for the night and go dark in your bunker til the “danger has passed.”

The $300k is to repair an historic building. It is not going to be used to conduct the business of party politics. It’s money for a building repair. That’s it. If you’re unable to understand that then I think you should step back and look at your motivations.

Bear in mind that it would be pretty darn stupid to stop repairing roads and bridges just because Republicans are among those who drive on them. I wouldn’t suggest it and neither should you. That’s essentially what you’re proposing. Let it go. You look ridiculous.

Further, you seem to be suggesting that Uncle Sam’s hands are clean in comparison to his counterparts in communist governments. Worse yet, one of our Republican lawmakers made a ridiculous comment about North Korea today as well. Let’s just get something straight here - national governments like the USSR and the USA and China and Great Britain and France and Germany and the Vatican ( etc etc etc) have all been responsible for numerous atrocities over the years. There is no arguing that. So if you’ve made a hobby out of highlighting only those crimes perpetrated by communist governments, then your scholarship is far from complete.

It’s frankly embarrassing to me that so many Americans know so little about the criminal activities of their own government. Not just Republicans. Democrat administrations are responsible for a lot of death abroad as well.

The thing is, if Americans actually saw all of the activities their tax dollars have been used to conduct just in our brief lifetimes, no one would vote anymore. At all. Ever. Most Americans practice a willful brand of ignorance. It helps them sleep at night. $300k for the repair of an historic building is meaningless. It would be meaningless even if the money were going to be used to fund the Connecticut Communists. Our political system has been bought and sold repeatedly by people with much deeper pockets than that. You’re whizzing into the wind here about something that will have no impact whatsoever in a political sense, except for the small, positive presence of a working community center where people can go without the roof falling on their heads.

BTW, I can’t recommend this link to you enough. It’s a perfect summation of this entire community center charade.

posted by: Westville Mom | June 1, 2012  8:41pm

Comrade gutbomb—

I read your link—I hope you watched mine.

Btw, how did you know I have a bunker??  ;-)

posted by: GMR | June 2, 2012  11:38am


“The $300k is to repair an historic building. It is not going to be used to conduct the business of party politics. It’s money for a building repair. That’s it. If you’re unable to understand that then I think you should step back and look at your motivations.”

So why shouldn’t the state of CT repair the buildings of the Republican and Democratic Parties?  Or even, I need a new roof.  Can the state pay for that?  Or the local hardware store’s building?  The local hardware store doesn’t engage in party politics, so according to your logic, it’s ok.

As to your next point, the Communists have been responsible for a lot more deaths than the US government, and you really can’t claim they are morally equivalent. 

And while $300K may not be a big percentage of the budget, it isn’t meaningless.  It shows that the state is not willing to tighten its belt even a tiny bit for an ideological suspect cause.  And you shouldn’t justify spending money on X by claiming that Y is worse.  X needs to be judged on its own merits.

posted by: ... | June 2, 2012  5:51pm


One phrase: The public financing option.

Sen. Roraback received over 39,000 dollars in public election funds (2008) to support a political ideology through his campaign, which includes press releases and mailers to his district. Yet he sees every need to call out bonding borrowing (different than what we did to our budget) to renovate a building that is run by a political ideology so off the radar they have never had a candidate in office (and to be clear, we mean an endorsed candidate of ‘the’ communist party who would have a C next to their name instead of R or D)? Politicking at it’s best and a very lucrative position for a U.S. Rep. hopeful who has to fight off his moderate/democrat leaning votes over the years.

As for Rep. Williams, he has very strong convictions, but I believe he (once again) has no challenger for the general, so he might as well act in any way he sees fit that will solidify his reelection this November. You can be blatantly partisan if you are guaranteed to win. It’s basic politicking as well.

posted by: gutbomb86 | June 3, 2012  12:34am


@robn - we have a gulag now as well - it’s called Guantanamo Bay. I’m sure you’re aware of it.

@gmr -

>>So why shouldn’t the state of CT repair the buildings of the Republican and Democratic Parties?

They do repair them. They’re called public buildings. The Dems and the Repubs meet in public buildings all the time, provided for them by government funds.

>>Or even, I need a new roof.  Can the state pay for that?

Pretty simple here… if your home and/or hardware store are being used as a community center, where people schedule their usage and expect the roof not to fall on them, then by all means, apply for public funds. But I suspect you have not opened your home up to the public for use by various groups for the last 70 years or so - the argument is moot. I made my points and I stick by them. The Red Scare was a political propaganda tool that allowed our government to commit all kinds of atrocities around the world and folks are still falling for it. It’s ridiculous.

>>As to your next point, the Communists have been responsible for a lot more deaths than the US government, and you really can’t claim they are morally equivalent.

Hogwash. We no longer have the moral high ground anywhere. Granted, we haven’t killed 20 million of our own in a Stalinist purge, but the USSR is gone now and you’re conveniently ignoring a murderous campaign of coup d’etat and assassinations all over the world to further “our interests,” not to mention an illegal war in Iraq that killed more than 100,000 people ... and weapons sales to brutal, murderous dictators who crush their own people.

You name it, our gov’t has done it. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news about how your tax dollars are being spent, but you’re complaining about $300k for a community center when hundreds of billions of our dollars are being spent to throw Uncle Sam’s weight around at the expense of thousands of lives. We’ve killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers who were men just like our troops. “Heroes” with families, but who were essentially armed with weapons that couldn’t compete with our technology. So we slaughtered them anyway. Maybe you’re proud to have your money spent slaughtering Iraqis or anyone else with darker skin than ours or a different religion, but I for one am not. I’ve got my priorities straight and I can see what our gov’t has done on “our behalf” or in “defense of our freedom” or any other crock of garbage that they come up with. Murder is murder. Uncle Sam’s hands are just as bloody as anyone else’s.

posted by: robn | June 3, 2012  10:29am


Guantanamo detainees=@800
Gulag slave laborers=15,000,000

No comparison.

posted by: ... | June 4, 2012  8:24am


Lol robn, that’s the American way! There’s no comparison between the gulags of Soviet Russia and Guantanamo Bay because we have fewer people in it. Not the ideology behind having a holding cell that permanently holds another human being for an indeterminable amount of time (as well as secret prisons that were closed recently, like Poland http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304177104577311561379340038.html , and probably countless others in ‘friendly’ states with lax human rights laws). Not the historical comparisons of Japanese interment camps or German persecution during WWI because of hyped up socio-ethnic fears of destruction. But because ‘we have fewer people we’re oppressing’.

But this has nothing to do with the story, so maybe you and GB and everyone else pushing the topic away from out state’s issue written above could start a coffee talk circle. This isn’t really the place and it doesn’t matter who started the talk. You guys/gals have fun ^_^!

posted by: robn | June 4, 2012  9:19am

From a purely objective standpoint, the building is mostly intact and is part of relatively intact historical neighborhood fabric and would therefore qualify for historic preservation money.  Why this organization is getting an amount so far above the value of their property is a mystery. More typical historic preservation grants for individual properties in New Haven have been in the low 10s of thousands.


posted by: robn | June 4, 2012  9:59am

Ideology does matter, and I don’t like indefinite detainment any more than you do. But scale matters and as it stands, the ideological repercussions of enslaving 15,000,000 people far outweigh the detaintment of 800.

posted by: Westville Mom | June 4, 2012  1:01pm

Not to mention that those 800 are essentially prisoners of a war which is not over.  The enemy (Al Qaeda in its many forms) has neither surrendered nor signed a truce and continues on a daily quest to attack us.

However, if Bush were still President, there would by now have been military trials and the fates of the prisoners would have been decided.

So in fact, it is the Leftists and their intransigence on the issue of military trials, spearheaded by President Obama himself, who are responsible for their continued detainment.

They had two years of total Democrat control of the federal government to do something about this and they did nothing. 

Obama has painted himself into a corner.  As a candidate, he railed in ignorance against many of Bush’s policies, only to discover (much to his chagrin, I’m quite sure) that the harsh strategic realities of the situation precluded his naive promises from being fulfilled.

If GB continues to pursue this silly comparison to the gulags, then he must cast Obama in the role of Stalin, because it is Obama and no other who is in control.

Fortunately this is a wonderful democratic republic and we ordinary citizens will have a chance to voice our objections and effect real change in November.

posted by: SocialButterfly | June 4, 2012  8:43pm

Gov. Dannel Malloy agreed with a denial of bonding for the Community Center.  Why wasn’t he this rational with all of his political power-play
spending decisions—which have put us such an unwanted state budget deficit once again?

posted by: gutbomb86 | June 5, 2012  10:56am


@robn - if you’re OK with gitmo, then you’re also OK with the gulag. Can’t have it both ways.

My objection to the basis for most of the criticism of the building renovation still stands - anti-communist paranoia in this day and age is misguided and misplaced. It’s propaganda against a baseless, non-existent threat, and you fell for it. If you’re going to complain about communists taking part in activities in public buildings or buildings used for public purposes, then you certainly can’t support the existence of public libraries or any other public resource.

That’s been my point from the beginning of this mess, and it still stands.

Malloy appears to have made the shrewd and easy political decision on several levels in pulling it off the Bond agenda - it’s a tiny project and he can probably get the city to make it happen, or - as some of the veterans had reasonably suggested - push the community to raise the money privately. The building reportedly gets a lot of use by people who live nearby. If there’s no alternative location that works, maybe they can raise the money elsewhere. I wish them luck in the endeavor.

Meanwhile, shame on many of you for playing into the hands of red scare politics. You helped a bunch of partisan hacks make a simple building renovation into a political boondoggle. This red menace paranoia has made us all look ridiculous.

@westville mom - our gov’t's security apparatus is now every bit as oppressive as the worst in the world. We’re fortunate that there are 300 million of us, otherwise by now we would have seen a lot more curtailment of our speech and other freedoms. It has little to do with who’s in the White House. Homeland Security and the defense department and industry are entirely out of control, regardless of anyone’s political persuasion. It has a life of its own and there’s no stopping it now.

I do find it funny that the same pundits who screamed for blood on Sept. 12, 2001 in favor of our “blank check” Patriot Act are now on Fox claiming that we must do something to stop the government from flying drones over American soil… I think those new objections to the loss of privacy must have something to do with who’s in the White House.

But yeah there’s no stopping it now. Your votes won’t mean a thing to the defense establishment.

posted by: robn | June 5, 2012  11:18am


Sorry but I’m having it both ways; my point about scale stands to your argument.

As for your claim that anti-communism is “paranoid”; that’s a bit like suggesting it’s paranoid for one to finish cancer treatment at 100% instead of stopping at 95%. No thanks.

posted by: gutbomb86 | June 5, 2012  11:54am


@robn -

>>Sorry but I’m having it both ways; my point about scale stands to your argument.

Having it both ways just makes you a hypocrite. You may want to “say” you’re having it both ways but that doesn’t mean you haven’t undercut your argument. If it was up to you, a lot more people would be locked up in Gitmo I’m sure.

>>As for your claim that anti-communism is “paranoid”; that’s a bit like suggesting it’s paranoid for one to finish cancer treatment at 100% instead of stopping at 95%. No thanks.

Cancer? You’ve proven my point that the criticism is coming from a position of partisan paranoia.