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Some Connecticut Black community leaders join Senate GOP to demand a public hearing on COVID-19 spen

Mark Lennihan

In Connecticut, a group of Black community leaders have joined with state Senate Republicans to demand an immediate public hearing into how federal COVID-19 relief funds are being distributed.

The Black leaders, who said they are Democrats, are concerned that the money is not going to the people in their communities who need it the most. The arrest of a state lawmaker for allegedly misappropriating $600,000 of the relief money from the city of West Haven is an example, they said.

“We demand a public hearing, because these legislators and the governor have been able to use his executive order power to circumvent the voice of the people… It's not a Black issue or just a white issue. It's a Connecticut people issue,” said Gwenn Samuel, the founder of the Hartford-based Connecticut Parents Union. "There needs to be public input on how the money is spent."

The discussion of a public hearing would have to wait until lawmakers return for a new legislative session in February, said a spokesman for Senate Democrats.

In the meantime, the state’s budget director is auditing all state and local federal COVID relief spending.

Copyright 2021 WSHU

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year. In addition to providing long-form reports and features for WSHU, he regularly contributes spot news to NPR, and has worked at the NPR National News Desk as part of NPR’s diversity initiative.