Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hillary embraced at Yale

By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
— As the race for the Democratic presidential nomination tightens, Hillary Clinton stopped at the Yale Child Study Center Monday where she did research in the 1970s and was embraced by former colleagues and a small group of women who shared their daily struggles with the candidate.
Clinton spent two hours in the city before heading to Massachusetts and New York, a day before millions of primary voters in 22 states go to the polls today on Super Tuesday. There are 60 delegates at stake in Connecticut.
About 200 people squeezed into the small room at Yale to listen to Clinton describe her work with poor children through Marian Wright Edelson and the Children’s Defense Fund, as well as in developing protocols for dealing with child abuse and mainstreaming special education students.
Clinton worked with Dr. Albert Solnit and the late Dr. Sally Provence at the center as part of her studies at the Yale Law School, where she was a student from 1969 to 1973 and where she met Bill Clinton, who was to become her husband and president of the United States.
“At this center, you helped the doctors and students with the tough legal problems of abused, neglected and troubled children. Over at the storefront Legal Aid office, you helped me and others fight to get children treated better in court,” said Penn Rhodeen, a local public interest lawyer and colleague of Clinton’s at Legal Aid. Both Rhodeen and Clinton teared up as he gave the emotional tribute.
Describing the young Clinton clad “mostly in purple from sheepskin coat to bellbottoms ... it was so 1972,” Rhodeen said she has remained committed to the needs of children for almost four decades, a commitment that could now reach to the White House.
Rhodeen is the father of Alderman Alex Rhodeen, D-13, of Fair Haven Heights.
“I really think back on those years as the most important in my life for many reasons. I was fully immersed in representing and defending kids,” Clinton said.
The candidate talked of the economy and her universal health care plan, through which she would open up the health insurance package available to federal employees, to all Americans.
She would help pay for it by returning to the 1990s tax rates for those earning over $250,000, a fix that would put $55 billion toward underwriting the cost, while premiums would be limited depending on one’s income.
“I think universal health care isn’t only the moral thing to do; it is the economically smart thing to do,” Clinton said of her proposal, which is aimed at prevention and a new paradigm fparadymor insurers.
“It’s more about keeping us well, than fixing us when we get sick,” Clinton said, criticizing the current system in which 4were7 million are uninsured, and where insurers will pay for an amputation but limit checkups for diabetics.
Clinton would mandate coverage for all, as opposed to her Democratic opponent Barack Obama.
“If we start by leaving anybody out ... it will cascade,” with more and more loopholes, said Clinton, who would put medical decisions back in the hands of medical practitioners.
Clinton called for a moratorium on home foreclosures due to the implosion of the subprime mortgage business.
“We have to take this very seriously,” she said, while offering that President Bush’s $600 proposed individual rebate would do little to assist people struggling with education and energy costs.
Clinton sympathized with the problems of the women gathered around a table at the head of the room, who were having a hard time making ends meet or dealing with a broken health care system, particularly mental health care for adolescents.
“To be middle income now is to be barely making it,” Clinton said of “outrageous” energy costs and student loans with 22 percent and 27 percent interest rates.
Amy Lappos Ray, 32, of Seymour, who attended with her children, Austin, 8, and Isabella, 5, said she will soon start a second job so she can afford better child care, while she has struggled to find providers in the state Husky insurance plan for her children and just joined the ranks of the uninsured herself.
But she has faith in Clinton to bring about change. “I’ve never felt so strongly about a candidate. This is what we need,” Ray said.
Hilda Kilpatrick, a 38-year veteran of the New Haven Police Department, who just retired as a detective, said she wants to see better care for the mentally ill. “That is my passion,” she said of an advocacy born from encounters with lost souls on the streets of New Haven.
Deborah Hauser, a clinical psychologist, said it was “really humbling and frightening” to navigate the mental health care system for a sick teen. “If you didn’t have extraordinary resources, you had very little help,” Hauser said.
Mary E. O’Leary can be reached at 789-5731 or moleary@nhregister.com. Register interns Amanda Howe and Eliza Hallabeck contributed to this story.

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