Following weeks of questions and criticisms from Republican lawmakers and others about the efficacy of the project, Governor Malloy announced at the Monday, June 4th State Bond Commission meeting that he has reversed his support for a $300,000 grant-in-aid to the New Haven Peoples Center in New Haven. The Peoples Center houses, among other things, “The People’s World,” a communist newspaper.
State Representative Sean Williams (R- Oakville), one of the two Republican members of the Bond Commission, led the effort to block the funding with fellow member Senator Andrew Roraback (R- Goshen). Williams said that state taxpayers’ dollars should not be subsidizing organizations that have such political ties.
“I don’t doubt that the people that run this are nice people and do some good things for the community,” Williams said. “But the organization is overtly political- and funding it would be inappropriate. This is America and in America people are allowed to have their own political thoughts and beliefs, but it doesn’t mean that taxpayers should foot the bill for their activities.”
The New Haven People’s Center, located at 37 Howe Street in New Haven, is run by Joelle Fishman who is the bureau chief of People’s World and is the chairman of the state Communist Party. Proponents of the funding claim the building is in disrepair and serves as an important community center, but Williams argued that the state is not and should not be in a position to make those repairs.
The item was originally on the Bond Commission agenda for the April 27th meeting but was pulled temporarily after a former state employee raised concerns about the center’s activities. After Malloy announced the item would be placed back on the agenda, Williams and Andrew Rorabach held a press conference questioning the use of state money to subsidize the activities of the Peoples Center. The item was subsequently pulled and Williams credits the public with making their voices heard.
(To view a clip of the press conference please click here. )
“This was a good victory for the people of Connecticut; it is quite rare to have an agenda item fail like this one did today, but we stuck to our guns” Williams said. “I think our various state agencies need to do a better job of thoroughly investigating each of these projects to make sure state money is truly being used to benefit the public good. I hope to work with the Governor’s office and members of both parties to achieve reform.”