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Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 15:48:24 -0600 (CST)
From: Marpessa Kupendua <nattyreb@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: !*CT town with KKK presence refuses MLK holiday
Article: 51712
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.18023.19990111181611@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Date: Sat, 09 Jan 1999 10:57:23 -0800
From: Michael Novick <part2001@usa.net>

Town mayor refuses Martin Luther King holiday

By Brigitte Greenberg, AP, Monday 4 January 1999

(01-04) 15:34 PST WALLINGFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The mayor of this town with a history of Ku Klux Klan activity has refused to make Martin Luther King Day a paid holiday for city workers.

Wallingford, where 1 percent of the population of 41,000 people is black, is the only municipality in the state that does not give workers a day off to honor the slain civil rights leader.

I think it sends a negative message, and it distinguishes Wallingford in a way that it should not be distinguished, said Roger Vann, president of the Connecticut chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. To have Wallingford as the only town not to have a holiday is really inexcusable.

Mayor William Dickinson said his refusal has nothing to do with discrimination against the holiday, which the rest of Connecticut celebrates Jan. 18.

The unions want the day off but refuse to trade one of 12 previously negotiated holidays to get it, Dickinson said. Adding another day off would be a government giveaway costing taxpayers about $30,000, plus lost time and productivity, the mayor said.

I don't think it's appropriate that government give away benefits, Dickinson said.

But some workers felt there was more to the snub in a town where the KKK has had a presence in the past.

In 1994, several KKK members were convicted on federal bomb and weapons charges in a case authorities said was linked to Klan activity in Wallingford.

City Hall secretary Karin Buster, 28, one of the town's few black workers out of a total of 450, said employees should get the day off.

To me, it just says something about Wallingford, Buster said. It's pretty sad.

But Dickinson noted that the town honors King every year with a ceremony that includes songs and speeches.

I think Martin Luther King Day is a very important day, and I think it's important that we recognize what he stands for. He is an American hero, Dickinson said.