Show Me The Money

Special Town Council Ordinance Meeting May 4th

The Ordinance Committee of the Stratford Town Council conducted a public hearing on Tuesday May 4th for residents to give testimony regarding the adopting of the annual operating budget for the Town of Stratford.

The number of residents that signed up to give testimony was extremely disappointing considering that the operating budget is used as a basis to determine our mill rate – which determines our town taxes.

Eight residents spoke out at the hearing and were allotted 3 minutes each. The Stratford Library garnered all of their devoted users. Library supporters outlined what an important resource our town library is, and that cutting $500,000 from the budget would hamper their services and growth. “Programs and books are invaluable, grab and go activities kept residents productive. We are looking for the library to prosper. Budget cuts of 55K are excessive and punitive.”

Residents speaking out believe that the library is the heart and soul of Stratford, and they cited that the library is used daily by almost 700 people; that hours fit into anyone’s schedule; that many students rely on library computers and staff help.

“Stratford is a mixed demographic, and if you look at the Connecticut Mastery Scores you will see that towns with highest scores support their libraries, and have a vibrant, active library.”

Comments on the Board of Education budget by a Stratford resident noted that at the Board of Education Liaison meeting on April 21st, Councilwoman Laura Dancho asked the difficult questions. “Ms. Dancho stated the Board of Education had monies left over year after year and couldn’t spend all of their budget.” According to the audit, this is true. The Board of Education has not used all of the funds allotted to them year after year. Yet they still receive that amount yearly plus additional funding. This is evident in their own documents on their website. In 2018/19 – they had over $400,000 unused and they also encumbered $500,000 for the magnet school tuition bill. In 2019/20 – they had over $700,000 unused at year end. How much will be left over this year? Why not adjust it accordingly?”

“The magnet school bill was paid this year? How, when it wasn’t budgeted in the Board of Education budget? Where did the encumbered funds go? Year after year there were unused funds and where did they go? Where is the CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) annual audit?”

“Reevaluations contributed significantly to the grand list this year. What about next year? Think of the taxpayer or homeowner. Look at adjusting accordingly and lower taxes for the homeowner.”
Releasing the BOE audit was helpful in looking at the town budget, but, the town audit still has not be published. Why?

Other resident input regarding the budget (Numbers based on 2021 adopted and 2022 proposed budget):

  • Senator Kelly complains of runaway state spending, yet Governor Lamont is gifting Stratford a onetime $4.7million “distressed municipality” grant which the town has labeled as “COVID Relief”, yet the town is allocating zero ($0.00) toward mitigating costs of COVID.
  • Town is budgeting an extra $9 million of long term debt which 1/2 is to be used to balance the budget – this is like putting your salary on a credit card and paying high interest rates so that your bottom line looks good. This practice is not acceptable business practices.
  • Budget cuts Open Space & Redevelopment funding, and puts EMS Fund in a negative balance – where is the investment in economic development? A vital proactive redevelopment committee is necessary if we are to lift Stratford out of the “distressed community” label.
  • Why is the EMS budget going from $450,000 to $350,000? A loss of $100,000? Their budget includes Pandemic response including vaccination’s, and opioid overdose response/safety, and of course emergency response – all hot topics and needed services. So why reduce their budget? Who is picking up the “slack” when they are unavailable.
  • Overhead & Debt: was $58,562,222 and increased to $61,918,922 – an increase of $335,6700. Why? “I would think with the pandemic closing Town Hall for months and new energy initiatives being brought online that there would not be a need for an increase.
  • Education and Travel (office of the mayor) in 2020 the budget was $5,819, now in 2021 and 2022 you are asking for $15,750 — and increase of $9,931 Why? . Due to the COVID-19 pandemic education and travel costs for the Human Resources department were and I quote “have been reduced at this time as educational conferences have been delayed/suspended”, how is it that the Mayor’s department increased by almost $10K?

During the Town Council Special meeting following the Ordinance Committee public hearing, Councilman Gregg Cann (D-Fifth District) stated that if Stratford had a viable economic development we would not have to rely on state money to balance our budget. “The budget reduces money in redevelopment, overstates revenue. The budget relies on state and federal agencies to bail us out, we need to own the solution, which would demonstrate local control”.

Chris Pia (Town Council Chairman) response: “let’s wait to see how much money from the feds before moving on the budget.”

The proposed budget 2.1 was sent with a Favorable.
Councilors who voted Against 2.1 were: Councilwoman Shake, Councilmen Paul Tavares and Greg Cann.
Editor’s Note: Facts and Figures
(Source: The following information was discussed by the Town Council during this special ordinance committee meeting and this information that can be found in the town’s budget book.

(1) In 2018 the Town of Stratford paid off its 1998 Pension Bond! Per the town’s budget book, this represented a $7.9million annual reduction in expense, the equivalent of a 1.7 reduction in the town’s Mill Rate.
(2) In December 2020, following the election of President Biden, the Town of Stratford utilized historically low interest rates to re-finance $180million of its long-term debt. The Mayor stated our interest cost savings are $3million, annually. That is the equivalent of a 0.7 reduction in the town’s Mill Rate.
(3) If you add those numbers (0.5 + 1.0 + 1.7 + 0.7 = 3.9 Mills). The value of a Mill is approximately $4.7m. For the average household, these new monies represent a potential property tax saving of $880 per year.

Question of the Day: So why has our Mill Rate only been reduced by only 0.1 over the past four years?
A. Town’s operating expenses continue to grow at 3.5% – 4.0% per year.
B. The town’s commercial/industrial Grand List has been trending at 1/3 that rate
C. Therefore, despite an extra $17million added to our coffers ($7.2million from State of CT, $9.9million from improved economic conditions,
D. the Town of Stratford cannot reduce its Mill Rate!
E. Yet, the town is collecting an extra 15% from your automobile taxes, and
F. for owners of low and moderately priced residences, the re-valuation hit you with a 20% tax increase, even while Mil Rate decreased by all of 0.1.

“Off the Rails” – Train Talk!

Stratford Library “Sunday Afternoon Talks”

Jim Cameron Explains Transportation Post-Covid June 6th Zoom talk.

by Tom Holehan
Public Relations & Programming
Stratford Public Library

Long-time commuter advocate and newspaper commentator Jim Cameron offers a lively presentation and Q&A about Connecticut’s transportation crisis: – “Off the Rails: Connecticut’s Transportation Future Post-COVID” on Sunday, June 6 at 2 pm, on the Stratford Library’s Zoom platform. The talk, presented by Jim Cameron, is free and open to the public

A former NBC News anchor, Jim Cameron, a Connecticut resident for over 25 years, has served on the Metro-North Commuter Council and authors a weekly newspaper column, “Getting There” which runs in the Hearst daily and weekly newspapers including the Greenwich Times. An archive of 12 years of his commentaries can be found on his blog, “GettingThereCT” He is also author of his first book “Off the Record: Confessions of a Media Consultant”. He is a recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award

Cameron will address such topics as:
• Will riders ever return to commuter rail even after a vaccine?
• Who will pay to keep the trains running?
• Where will money be found for our highways?
• And how will new residential and workplace trends affect Connecticut’s economy?

Cameron explores the options in an engaging, thought-provoking workshop with plenty of time to hear your ideas and answer questions. Cameron has been called “the transportation guru” having spent over 25 years working and reporting on the issue.

The “Sunday Afternoon Talks” series, hosted by Charles Lautier of Stratford, is held from 2-3:30 pm. To register online and receive a Zoom invitation for the June 6th program visit: stratfordlibrary.libcal.com/event/7556685. For further information call: 203.385.4162.

Stratford Housing Strategies Public Hearing May 10, 2021

The Ordinance Committee of the Stratford Town Council conducted a public hearing on Tuesday May 4th for residents to give testimony regarding the adopting of the annual operating budget for the Town of Stratford.

The number of residents that signed up to give testimony was extremely disappointing considering that the operating budget is used as a basis to determine our mill rate – which determines our town taxes.

Eight residents spoke out at the hearing and were allotted 3 minutes each. The Stratford Library garnered all of their devoted users. Library supporters outlined what an important resource our town library is, and that cutting $500,000 from the budget would hamper their services and growth. “Programs and books are invaluable, grab and go activities kept residents productive. We are looking for the library to prosper. Budget cuts of 55K are excessive and punitive.”

Residents speaking out believe that the library is the heart and soul of Stratford, and they cited that the library is used daily by almost 700 people; that hours fit into anyone’s schedule; that many students rely on library computers and staff help.

“Stratford is a mixed demographic, and if you look at the Connecticut Mastery Scores you will see that towns with highest scores support their libraries, and have a vibrant, active library.”

Comments on the Board of Education budget by a Stratford resident noted that at the Board of Education Liaison meeting on April 21st, Councilwoman Laura Dancho asked the difficult questions. “Ms. Dancho stated the Board of Education had monies left over year after year and couldn’t spend all of their budget.” According to the audit, this is true. The Board of Education has not used all of the funds allotted to them year after year. Yet they still receive that amount yearly plus additional funding. This is evident in their own documents on their website. In 2018/19 – they had over $400,000 unused and they also encumbered $500,000 for the magnet school tuition bill. In 2019/20 – they had over $700,000 unused at year end. How much will be left over this year? Why not adjust it accordingly?”

“The magnet school bill was paid this year? How, when it wasn’t budgeted in the Board of Education budget? Where did the encumbered funds go? Year after year there were unused funds and where did they go? Where is the CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) annual audit?”

“Reevaluations contributed significantly to the grand list this year. What about next year? Think of the taxpayer or homeowner. Look at adjusting accordingly and lower taxes for the homeowner.”
Releasing the BOE audit was helpful in looking at the town budget, but, the town audit still has not be published. Why?

Other resident input regarding the budget (Numbers based on 2021 adopted and 2022 proposed budget):

  • Senator Kelly complains of runaway state spending, yet Governor Lamont is gifting Stratford a onetime $4.7million “distressed municipality” grant which the town has labeled as “COVID Relief”, yet the town is allocating zero ($0.00) toward mitigating costs of COVID.
  • Town is budgeting an extra $9 million of long term debt which 1/2 is to be used to balance the budget – this is like putting your salary on a credit card and paying high interest rates so that your bottom line looks good. This practice is not acceptable business practices.
  • Budget cuts Open Space & Redevelopment funding, and puts EMS Fund in a negative balance – where is the investment in economic development? A vital proactive redevelopment committee is necessary if we are to lift Stratford out of the “distressed community” label.
  • Why is the EMS budget going from $450,000 to $350,000? A loss of $100,000? Their budget includes Pandemic response including vaccination’s, and opioid overdose response/safety, and of course emergency response – all hot topics and needed services. So why reduce their budget? Who is picking up the “slack” when they are unavailable
  • Overhead & Debt: was $58,562,222 and increased to $61,918,922 – an increase of $335,6700. Why? “I would think with the pandemic closing Town Hall for months and new energy initiatives being brought online that there would not be a need for an increase.
  • Education and Travel (office of the mayor) in 2020 the budget was $5,819, now in 2021 and 2022 you are asking for $15,750 — and increase of $9,931 Why? . Due to the COVID-19 pandemic education and travel costs for the Human Resources department were and I quote “have been reduced at this time as educational conferences have been delayed/suspended”, how is it that the Mayor’s department increased by almost $10K?

During the Town Council Special meeting following the Ordinance Committee public hearing, Councilman Gregg Cann (D-Fifth District) stated that if Stratford had a viable economic development we would not have to rely on state money to balance our budget. “The budget reduces money in redevelopment, overstates revenue. The budget relies on state and federal agencies to bail us out, we need to own the solution, which would demonstrate local control”.

Chris Pia (Town Council Chairman) response: “let’s wait to see how much money from the feds before moving on the budget.”

The proposed budget 2.1 was sent with a Favorable.
Councilors who voted Against 2.1 were: Councilwoman Shake, Councilmen Paul Tavares and Greg Cann.
Editor’s Note: Facts and Figures
(Source: The following information was discussed by the Town Council during this special ordinance committee meeting and this information that can be found in the town’s budget book.

(1) In 2018 the Town of Stratford paid off its 1998 Pension Bond! Per the town’s budget book, this represented a $7.9million annual reduction in expense, the equivalent of a 1.7 reduction in the town’s Mill Rate.
(2) In December 2020, following the election of President Biden, the Town of Stratford utilized historically low interest rates to re-finance $180million of its long-term debt. The Mayor stated our interest cost savings are $3million, annually. That is the equivalent of a 0.7 reduction in the town’s Mill Rate.
(3) If you add those numbers (0.5 + 1.0 + 1.7 + 0.7 = 3.9 Mills). The value of a Mill is approximately $4.7m. For the average household, these new monies represent a potential property tax saving of $880 per year.

Question of the Day: So why has our Mill Rate only been reduced by only 0.1 over the past four years?
A. Town’s operating expenses continue to grow at 3.5% – 4.0% per year.
B. The town’s commercial/industrial Grand List has been trending at 1/3 that rate
C. Therefore, despite an extra $17million added to our coffers ($7.2million from State of CT, $9.9million from improved economic conditions,
D. the Town of Stratford cannot reduce its Mill Rate!
E. Yet, the town is collecting an extra 15% from your automobile taxes, and
F. for owners of low and moderately priced residences, the re-valuation hit you with a 20% tax increase, even while Mil Rate decreased by all of 0.1.

On the Dishonorable Roll: Stratford Makes the Distressed Municipalities List

By Rachel Rusnak

In a blow to the residents of Stratford for the second time in 15 years, we have the unfortunate distinction of landing on the State of Connecticut’s Distressed Municipalities list. A dis-honor I’m sure most of us would have rather avoid; we find ourselves among the top 25 impoverished communities out of 169, and one of only two in Fairfield County. Each year the State, per statute, calculates community fiscal capacity and identifies distressed municipalities as those with “high unemployment and poverty, aging housing stock and low or declining rates of growth in job creation, population, and per capita income.”

Thanks to our distressed status Stratford is on track to receive an additional $4,719,720 from the Distressed Municipalities pot, which is funded via state bonds, and in this fiscal year through the Cares Act. (The Mayor’s Proposed 2022 Operating Budget misidentifies this revenue as “State Covid Funding”, however, the Governor’s budget is very clear that this funding is a result of Stratford being identified as a “Distressed Municipality”.)

Stratford last appeared on the list in 2012, under the guidance of former Mayor Harkins. Since then, in 2018 the Yankee Institutes’ “Assessing Municipal Fiscal Health in Connecticut” identified Stratford as the third worst-off municipality in the state, based on general fund balances, long-term obligations, pension contributions, and changes in unemployment rates and property values. Who knew?
Heading into the campaign season, what say the candidates running for mayor? How can we get Stratford booted off this dreadful list, draw high-quality employment, thoughtful development, boost our local economy, and improve the fiscal health of Stratford? These are the questions that I and likely many of my townspeople would like answered – we cannot afford to wait.

References:
https://portal.ct.gov/media/OPM/Budget/2022_2023_Biennial_Budget/Bud_WebPage/GovBud_2022-23_Final_Web_Update.pdf
https://yankeeinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Warning-Signs-min-1.pdf
https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/About_DECD/Research-and-Publications/02_Review_Publications/Distressed-Municipalities?fbclid=IwAR3gKp1AZaWc7aJfrlIsabaS7yReAah-PHbBjno7AWdbJNJdQY-IqXgAZ08

 

Stratford Library News

by Tom Holehan
Public Relations & Programming
Stratford Public Library

Stratford Library Seeks Children’s Summer Volunteers: The Stratford Library Children’s Department is now accepting applications for summer volunteers. Responsible students entering grades 8 to 12 who enjoy working with children and preparing crafts are welcome to apply and will be notified in June of any openings. Hours and jobs vary. Opportunities for virtual volunteering from home are also available.

To express an interest or for further information, email the Stratford Library at: teenvolunteer@stratfordlibrary.org or call the Children’s Department at: 203.385.4165.

Library to Close for Memorial Day
The Stratford Library will be closed on Monday, May 31st in observance of Memorial Day. The library will reopen on Tuesday, June 1 at 1 pm. Current library hours are: Monday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday & Wednesday: 1-8 pm. For further Library information, call 203.385.4161 or visit its website at: www.stratfordlibrary.org.

Martha Simpson Honored

Martha Simpson, Children’s Department Head Cited by CT Library Association

by Tom Holehan
Public Relations & Programming
Stratford Public Library

The Connecticut Library Association has selected Head of Children’s Services, Martha Simpson, as the 2021 recipient of the Faith Hektoen Award. The award is presented annually to a librarian who has developed an outstanding program or project that has made a significant impact on library service for children in Connecticut.

Simpson was nominated for her work in bringing the Healing Library Kit program to life in Stratford and also for her agility in creating an online version of the program to address the needs of children and families during the pandemic. The reach of the program was significantly expanded with the availability of online kits reaching users nationwide.

The Healing Library program provided an opportunity for the Library to collaborate with both Stratford Parents’ Place and Stratford Community Services. Simpson was also proactive in spreading the word to local nursery schools and daycare providers.

According to Library Director Sheri Szymanski, Simpson will receive her award during the Connecticut Library Association Conference (CLA) to be held virtually later this year. She added, “We are pleased that the CLA recognized what we have known for many years, that Martha Simpson is an invaluable resource to our Library and the greater Stratford community. We congratulate her on this great honor”.

For more information about the Healing Library kit program, visit: http://stratfordlibrary.org/healing-library/.

Here’s One Trump Inadvertently Got Right

By Joseph Gerics, Ed.D.

Thinking about tax policy can be complicated. The first issue is fundamental philosophical differences. Some people emphasize maximizing economic growth because “a rising tide lifts all boats,” while others concerned about income inequality would sacrifice a degree of growth to achieve greater equity.

Second, tax policy influences behavior, and policy goals vary. For example, housing policies intended to promote home ownership will differ from those intended to reduce homelessness.

Perhaps most important, taxes hit us in the pocketbook. Few people enjoy paying taxes; most people consider their “fair share” of the tax burden to be somewhat less than they are now paying.

Let’s see if we can overcome these hurdles and analyze one piece of tax policy. Since the start of the federal income tax in 1913, Americans have taken deductions for State And Local Taxes (SALT) on their federal tax returns. This SALT deduction for local property taxes was justified in part as a means of promoting home ownership by reducing its net cost.

President Trump capped the SALT deduction at $10,000. Some viewed this change as punitive because it primarily impacted residents of high-service, high-tax states like Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, which happen to vote Democratic. Opponents of President Trump’s SALT cap sometimes argue that not being able to deduct state and local taxes is “double taxation.”

Frankly, I just don’t get this argument, though it sounds pretty good if one’s point is just to lambaste any taxation as too high. Local and state taxes fund services the federal government does not provide, like recreation, libraries, and police and fire protection. Paying for these services is, of course, additional taxation—for additional services. But additional taxation, like gasoline taxes, real estate conveyance taxes and estate taxes, does not mean “double taxation.”

Senators and representatives from the Northeast are pressing President Biden to restore the full SALT deduction. Doing so would result in a federal tax decrease for Connecticut residents who currently pay more than $10,000 in state and local taxes. But this tax break would do more harm than good.

Let’s look at some examples. A Bridgeport home valued at $300,000 would have a property tax over $11,000, exceeding President Trump’s $10,000 SALT cap. This homeowner might support restoration of the full SALT deduction, since they would have an additional $1,000 deduction on their federal tax return for their property tax, plus an additional deduction for any state income taxes they paid. But let’s take a deeper dive into comparative benefits.
Consider a second Bridgeport home valued at $1,000,000. This property’s tax bill would be almost $38,000. The full SALT deduction would give this homeowner almost an additional $28,000 deduction, substantially more than their counterpart in a more modest dwelling.

Bridgeport has no $10 million homes, but Fairfield County’s Gold Coast does. In New Canaan a $10 million home would be taxed at over $127,000. Removing Trump’s SALT cap of $10,000 would provide this lucky homeowner with an additional $117,000 federal tax deduction.

Now, you might think it would be equitable if the property tax bill for a New Canaan home worth ten times a Bridgeport home were ten times that of the Bridgeport property. Instead, the fortunate New Canaanite’s property tax bill is less than four times the Bridgeport homeowner’s, because of the disparity in local mill rates. But this inequity is a subject for another column.

Not all plutocrats live in spartan $10 million mansions. Bill Gates’ Seattle estate is worth more than $131 million. And the New York Times recently advertised a Beverly Hills estate—27,000 square feet, 11 bedrooms, tennis court, pool and screening room—for $115 million. California property taxes are based on the purchase price, and in Beverly Hills the effective property tax rate is 1.1%. So a buyer purchasing this property at the listed price would get a whopping tax deduction of $1,265,000 from a full SALT deduction.

These examples take only local property taxes into account. While the analysis would be more complete by taking state income taxes into account, it is clear that a full SALT deduction would be another tax give-away to the wealthy. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, approximately 85% of its benefit would go to the richest 5% of households.

The richest Americans benefited disproportionately when President Trump reduced corporate taxes, cut the top personal tax rate and raised the income level at which it kicked in. By definition his tax plan was regressive, burdening poorer households in comparison to wealthier households.

But a full SALT deduction is not a good deal for working- and middle-class families. The SALT deduction benefits the rich far more than the poor, and progressives should not lobby President Biden for it. If they are concerned about the tax burden on working class families struggling to buy their first home, perhaps a modest increase in President Trump’s $10,000 SALT cap is worth considering.

If the SALT deduction is increased, we need to return to a limitation on total itemized deductions to prevent a windfall. Prior to President Trump’s tax reform, overall itemized tax deductions were reduced once a threshold in adjusted gross income was reached. This at least prevented itemized deduction windfalls from high SALT deductions.
Of course, also worth considering is the fact that renters see significantly smaller benefits from the SALT deduction. And while increasing the rate of home ownership may be a worthwhile goal, the true crisis in our housing market is homelessness.

More than 111,000 students in New York City are homeless. To get some sense of the extent of this crisis, compare that startling number to the total number of students attending Bridgeport public schools, about 23,000. Maybe it’s time to worry less about promoting home ownership, and more about providing decent, affordable housing for all.

Dr. Gerics is a retired Catholic school teacher and administrator.
He is a member of the Stratford Democratic Town Committee.

Foodie Alert: You Are What You Eat!!

Stratford Restaurant Week Ends on Saturday

Stratford’s popular Restaurant Week ends on Saturday, May 22. More than 25 restaurants teamed up to showcase and celebrate the best of Stratford’s dining scene.

Last year’s event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.  “We are delighted to bring Restaurant Week back to the community,” Stratford Mayor Laura R. Hoydick said. “As we all know; the restaurant industry was deeply impacted by the pandemic. I encourage residents, family and friends to take advantage of our local restaurants’ promotions. We are lucky to have such a wide range of cuisine, from all over the globe, right here in Stratford.”

Combined with a variety of waterfront establishments, a “host of trendy hotspots and several Stratford landmarks, Stratford’s Restaurant Week promises to please the inner foodie in all of us!” officials wrote in a news release.

New this year, Restaurant Week patrons are invited to participate in the inaugural Golden Fork Award.  Visit any participating Restaurant Week business and send a picture of your receipt to info@StratfordRestaurantWeek.com.

One lucky winner will receive The Golden Fork award, a bundle of Stratford restaurant gift cards worth more than $500.

For a list of participating restaurants and their Restaurant Week specials, and to learn more about The Golden Fork award, visit   www.stratfordrestaurantweek.com

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Saturday, May 1 and ends on Monday, May 31

Sources: Wikipedia, Bonusly, U.S. Census Bureau

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is celebrated during the month of May and recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.

So, why May? It commemorates the first Japanese people to immigrate to the United States, on May 7, 1843, and also is a nod toward the May 10, 1869 completion of the transcontinental railroad.

History:
In 1976, congressional staffer Jeanie Jew witnessed the United States’ bicentennial celebration (it’d been 200 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed) and was troubled by the lack of recognition for AAPI contributions. Her great-grandfather, M.Y. Lee, had immigrated to the United States in the 1800s to help build the transcontinental railroad—a tremendous accomplishment that was blighted by violent anti-Asian discrimination and the introduction of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

She’d mentioned her concerns to New York Congressman Frank Horton, and it took until 1992—more than 15 years later—before the legislation to permanently designate May as AAPI Heritage Month passed through Congress.

“The revelations about Mr. Lee and the story of Asian Americans led [Jeanie Jew] to believe that not only should Asians understand their own heritage, but that all Americans must know about the contributions and histories of the Asian-Pacific American experience in the United States.” –New York Congressman Frank Horton

Now, 23 million Asian American and Pacific Islanders trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, each with their own unique histories and cultural practices. This area includes, for example, China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and Samoa; and in South Asia, includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore and Bhutan.” The AAPI community consists of more than 50 ethnic groups, grouped together as a demographic purely because of vague geographic borders; it’s impossible to capture a singular “Asian-American” experience.

Often seen as a monolithic “model minority,” you should first understand that “Employment and economic status among members of the AAPI community are also far from uniform: While some AAPI subpopulations are heavily concentrated in higher-wage professional and management occupations, others are heavily concentrated in lower-wage service occupations.”

Bonus Facts:

Why many AAPI People have been in America before our ancestors:
The first Asians documented in the Americas arrived in 1587, when Filipinos landed in California; from 1898 to 1946, the Philippines was an American possession.

The next group of Asians documented in what would be the United States were Indians in Jamestown, documented as early as 1635.

In 1778, the first Chinese to reach what would be the United States, arrived in Hawaii. In 1788, the first Native Hawaiian arrived on the continental United States, in Oregon; in 1900, Hawaii was annexed by the United States.

The next group of Asians documented in what would be the United States were Japanese, who arrived in Hawaii in 1806.  In 1884, the first Koreans arrived in the United States.

In 1898, Guam was ceded to the United States; beginning in the 1900s
Chamorro’s (indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, politically divided between the United States territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Micronesia) began to migrate to California and Hawaii.

In 1904, what is now American Samoa was ceded to the United States; beginning in the 1920s, Samoans began to migrate to Hawaii and the continental United States, with the first Samoans documented in Hawaii in 1920.

In 1912, the first Vietnamese was documented in the United States.

Today there are more than 300,000 living Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander American veterans.

Did You Know?

22.9 million: The estimated number of Asian alone-or-in-combination residents in the United States in 2019.

5.2 million: The estimated number of the Asian population of Chinese, except Taiwanese, descent in the United States in 2019. The Chinese (except Taiwanese) population was the largest Asian group, followed by Asian Indian (4.6 million), Filipino (4.2 million), Vietnamese (2.2 million), Korean (1.9 million) and Japanese (1.5 million). These estimates represent the number of people who reported a specific detailed Asian group alone, as well as people who reported that detailed Asian group in combination with one or more other detailed Asian groups or another race(s).

54.6%: The percentage of the Asian alone-or-in-combination population age 25 and older who had a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education in 2019.

88.3%: The percentage of the Asian alone-or-in-combination population age 25 and older who had at least a high school diploma or equivalency in 2019.

577,835: The estimated number of Asian-owned employer firms in the United States in 2018.
For further information go to https://asianpacificheritage.gov/images/

There you will find virtural exhibits and collections celebrating AAPI.

Memorial Day Marchers Wanted

Sterling House Community Center

Calling all Sterling House Community Center families (SHCC), friends, fans, athletes, campers, preschoolers, After Schoolers, and volunteers!

March in the Memorial Day Parade with us in your favorite SHCC gear! Whether it’s your SHCC baseball cap, soccer jersey, or an event swag item, we want to see you showing off your SHCC pride with us!

We can’t wait to march with you! — Please RSVP