State might pass money for Communist-affiliated People’s Center through city hall

A state official once asked if a newspaper affiliated with the New Haven People's Center had ads for jackboots. A memorial to "Stalin's Boots" in Hungary. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A state official reviewing the credentials of the Communist-linked New Haven People’s Center suggested routing taxpayer money through city hall to avoid a direct connection with the organization, according to documents obtained by Raising Hale.

“If there is any concern with giving the grant, I would suggest that we pass it through the city of New Haven on behalf of the organization,” Steven Kitowicz, an Office of Policy and Management principal budget specialist, wrote in an email to his boss, OPM Secretary Ben Barnes.

The State Bond Commission is considering a $300,000 grant for a new roof at the People’s Center.

Kitowicz vetted the People’s Center and its parent organization, Progressive Education and Research Associates, after officials at OPM and Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office received a tip from former state employee Mary Plaskonka.

Plaskonka also pointed out the organization’s links to the Communist Party USA.

“I know that Joelle Fishman is a Communist,” OPM Undersecretary Gian-Carl Casa said in an email. Fishman is vice president of the People’s Center’s parent organization, Progressive Education and Research Associates.

“I once saw her handing out The Daily Worker on the Green and asked her if it had classified ads for jackboots,” Casa said, referring to the footwear of totalitarian regimes. “She wasn’t amused.”

After his review of public documents available online, Kitowicz said PERA had filed the required documents with the Internal Revenue Service and the Secretary of the State.

Plaskonka sent an email three days before the commission was set to vote on the grant, warning that the organization might not have the ability to properly oversee use of taxpayer money.

Prior to retiring in March, Plaskonka oversaw Department of Social Service grants that went through the commission. She said DSS did not vet most grants sponsored by legislators and only received paperwork to support them after the money was allocated.

The first document OPM has related to the New Haven People’s Center, according to a request for documents going back to 2005, was Plaskonka’s April 24 email.

DSS, the agency responsible for the grant to the People’s Center, had no documents at all, an agency spokesman said in response to Raising Hale’s Freedom of Information Act request.

Instead of voting on the item, it was removed from the commission’s agenda.

“A couple of reporters are all over us on this,” Occhiogrosso said in an email to Barnes and Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba immediately after the commission met. “I think it makes sense for us to have a statement from you explaining what happened, and why it happened. Can you pls call Andrew and work it out?”

“The project was pulled at the request of the Delegation member that originally submitted it. It may be resubmitted in the future. The administration is satisfied that the project is eligible for funding once any concerns of its legislative sponsors are resolved,” Barnes wrote. “Is that enough?”

“This is going to prompt a bunch more questions, but let’s see if we can get away with just this,” Occhiogrosso said.

The commission is expected to consider the People’s Center grant at its June 4 meeting.

The ‘other’ project

The OPM document request also turned up a May 3 email discussion about a mysterious “’other’ project.” OPM Spokesman Gian-Carl Casa did not respond to an email seeking comment.

“Here we go,” Casa said forwarding an email from Connecticut Law Tribune columnist Karen Torre to Phyllis Silverman, Sen. Toni Harp’s legislative aide, and Vinnie Mauro, special counsel to the Senate and a former New Haven alderman who recently ran for chairman of the city’s Democratic Town Committee.

“How’s the ‘other’ project going?” Mauro said in response.

“The person you suggested we speak with is fine with it,” Casa said.

“Ok we should chat again today to figure out what next,” Mauro said.

“OK. We’ll check in,” Mauro said.

Two days earlier, on May Day, DSS Spokesman David Dearborn forwarded the Raising Hale story “DSS has no records related to project with Communist ties” to OPM.

“Thanks,” Casa replied. “All nine of his readers will be interested.”

“LOL,” Dearborn said in response.

Related stories:

Retired state employee raised first red flags about state funding for Communist building
City money budgeted for New Haven People’s Center
DSS has no records related to project with Communist ties
State funding for Communist Party building in New Haven delayed
Bond Commission to vote on $300,000 grant for left-wing hub in New Haven

zombie_woof says:

The “budget” (do any of them understand the concept?) chief of Corrupticut agrees with a Communist agenda -eh? It certainly explains a lot particularly when one stops to consider that part of a that agenda is likely the destruction of a free market system whose strength lies in private businesses and not a centralized state run economy. Subtract the rhetoric and consider only the actions of this administration and legislature– it only makes sense if the premise is that they are aiming to demolish the economy of this state and it would certainly make sense that they would be sympathetic enough with a communist organization to advocate the completely inappropriate action of availing taxpayer money to effectively enable the organization to purchase the building whose assessed value is less than the $300,000.00 that the state would have us pathetic Tax dollar ATM monkeys believe is for roof repairs.

Let them raise their own funds through charitable donations for roof repairs and let tax monies go toward what is being neglected in this state because our government insists on looting gas tax funds that are supposed to be for the maintenance and repair of roads and bridges which have fallen to disrepair with the word coming down that there’s no money to do the necessary work- that despite sufficient revenue being generated from our punitive gas tax to get the work done.

…and the working class, which is getting robbed and hoodwinked by its government, shrugs its shoulders. It brings to mind the sad fact that until we collectively take some sort of stand we deserve everything these legislative hoodlums do to us.

meridenite says:

The state budget chief barnes stated at a news conf. on ct-now the he agreed with the organizations agenda, thats the communist party agenda.

Cornelia_7 says:

What a disgrace that we are going to bond such a pet project for the representatives in New Haven. The good legislators forget that this is a state debt that we can ill afford in these economic times. The state must enter into debt to give the People’s Center money for their project because it isn’t money that we currently have in the state’s checkbook. It is basically credit card debt in the amount of over $300,000 that the taxpayers of Connecticut will have to pay for years to come. Since this is a volunteer organization which one of the great volunteers has the expertise to put the project out to bid. All projects which are funded with state funds must be advertised and publicly put out to bid. How will the accountability on the expenditure of these funds work when it comes to the volunteers. Do they have the expertise for that. Grants require the submission of proper reports – if the volunteers are there on a part time basis how will the state get its reports on the expenditure of these funds or even be able to contact someone at their offices since it is a part time operated facility. I would recommend that the good legislators who are in support of this project open up their personal checkbooks and write out checks towards this organization if it is so worthy and necessary. I for one have to limit my credit card debt so should the state. In addition to this what if a Neo-Nazi group wanted funds to renovate their facility are we OK with that too. If they provided the same types of services such as the People’s Communist Center would they also get public funds. Any funding of a facility which has a Communist affiation, the taxpayers do not want to fund. Too bad the good legislators have forgotten the Vietnam war and why we fount against Communism and speak to the people who escaped the Communist rule of Fidel Castro in Cuba – they would tell you what Communism means. Speak to the people who continue to live under communist rule and they will tell a story and it is not kumbaya. Speak to the people who lived in East Germany under Communist rule learn what Communism truly is all about. Go live in China and see if you will have the freedoms afforded to you which you have in the United States of America. As a decendent of the oppressed people who lived under Communist rulers I thank God for the United States of America and may the Communist party and its members go live in a Communist country which would be more to their liking. By the way legislators Merrim Webster defines Communism as theory of advocating the elimination of property so that goods are owned in common – let the good legislators redistribute their personal possessions with the Communist party and then there will be money for the renovations.