Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz's blog

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Pass the Salt-Police

No one will deny that we Puerto Ricans are proud of our culture and very proud of our cuisine. Much of our food contains – dare I say it: salt.  It’s part of who we are, have been, and will be.  The unique blend of salt and a variety of flavors in every Puerto Rican meal is to be savored and enjoyed. 

It’s hard to understand how any Puerto Rican would consider making a law to cast our food aside and recommend ways to punish restaurants that prepare and serve Puerto Rican dishes.

There Are Alternatives to Education Cuts

It deeply offends me that our Democratic Governor, David Paterson continues to ignore sound alternatives addressing New York State’s deficits.  Instead, his proposed budget cuts slash $686 million from public education.

His cuts include $223 million from New York City’s schools. Fifty-one percent of the cuts target high poverty school districts and will impact the most vulnerable and neediest students. 
At this point, mid-year cuts would lead to larger class sizes, fewer arts programs and eliminate important services and education programs. 

These cuts would disproportionately hurt Black and Hispanic students.  It would deprive them of class materials and many other education resources.  Among Black and Hispanic students, the drop-out rate continues to grow.  Patterson’s cuts will make matters worse.

About Mayoral Control

As Chair of the New York State Senate Puerto Rican and Latino Caucus and as a member of the Hispanic Community, I believe that it is an assault on many New Yorkers for Mayor Bloomberg to play upon the feelings and sentiments and emotions of our communities.  These are scare tactics. Making believe that the sky is going to fall and that the walls of education are about to crumble is completely false.

I believe that Dr. Dolores Fernandez, the person appointed by the Bronx Borough President is quite capable, educationally speaking, of addressing the problems in our public education system.  I believe that Dr. Fernandez is more capable and more qualified than the Mayor and Chancellor Klein and anyone in the Bloomberg Administration.

Make a stand, Malcolm

Today’s Daily News editorial: “Make a stand, Malcolm” shows the desire and desperation of this City’s editorial boards to be the ones that run, control and shape the political factors in this State without even being elected to do so.

My Two Cents

A round of applause to the New York Post for today’s editorial Flip-Flopping With Kirsten: “Still, Gillibrand’s metamorphosis has been so swift, and so effortless, that it’s necessary to wonder whether she holds any convictions at all.”

Like many New Yorkers, I am still trying to understand where our new US Senator will stand tomorrow on any number of today’s issues.  One month ago, her constituents upstate knew her as someone who would stand firm.  In November, they re-elected her because of her positions on issues that mattered to them.  While some apologists excuse her flip-flop as her ability to evolve, many see it as a betrayal.  

Homeless Prevention Program in NYS

I applaud Ms. Susan Dominus and The New York Times for shedding some light on the plight of Bronx families who will face eviction due to Governor Paterson’s intent to cut funding for the homeless.  “A Safety Net for Those Facing Eviction Is Itself in Peril” should sound an alarm to all New Yorkers that removing homeless prevention programs will have drastic impact on the lives of many, many families.

New York State’s financed homeless prevention programs are cost effective - especially when compared with the cost of housing families in homeless shelters.  These programs have a proven track record of saving families and improving the lives of children both in their communities and in their schools.  The State is not the one who will profit from these directives ... but the shelter owners sure will.

Dear Consituents:

As Democrats, it is our responsibility to offer protection for the most needy, the poor, the elderly, our children and handicapped people in all communities throughout New York State.

It is for this reason that I am surprised that our Democratic Governor has proposed budget cuts of 2 billion dollars to the State’s budget and that these cuts will directly and definitely hurt our most needy communities.

This proposal by Governor David Paterson includes cuts to programs and services for the elderly, cuts to our children’s education, increases in college tuitions, cuts to health care services, hospital closings, cuts to Medicaid, cuts to programs and services for the disabled, cuts to mental health services, and salary reductions to health care workers such as home-attendants, nurses and maintenance workers.

An Example That Can and Should be Followed

By choosing the Reverend Rick Warren to offer the invocation during his Swearing In Ceremony as the 44th President of the United States of America, President-Elect Barack Obama has set an example that many leaders of the Democratic Party should follow.

Reverend Rick Warren is the Evangelical Pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.  He is also an opponent of homosexual marriage and the author of the best selling book, “A Life with a Purpose”.

President-Elect Obama has been receiving ongoing complaints by leaders of the homosexual community who are furious after finding out that Reverend Warren has been selected, and are asking for Barack Obama to disinvite Reverend Warren.  He won’t. This is a great example by Barack Obama, and should be taken seriously by the leaders of the Democratic Party.

For the Record

I need to state exactly what I told Liz Benjamin from the NY Daily News this past Tuesday evening because some of the important facts that I told her were not reported:

I told Liz Smith Benjamin that the gay community has been jamming my office phone line and making threats to me and my staff.  I told her that I am very angry that my office has received phone calls threatening my life and calling the women on my staff “whores” and “bitches”.  I told her that to add to those names, Ed Koch called us rats.

I told Liz that the only rat is Ed Koch.  I told her that when he was Mayor and was rejected in my community, the only person who stood by him was this rat, and that now this rat is good no more.  I told her that I am so angry that because of their calls and editorial boards and because of the insulting Koch statement, there is nothing else that they can do to us or say to us, and that they will see what we can do.

In Total Disagreement with El Diario la Prensa

One more time, I need to take the opportunity to express my disagreement with El Diario la Prensa “the champion of the Hispanic community” and its editorial of Sunday, November 30, 2008.

In its struggle to motivate the Hispanic people to continue to be Democrats and its commitment to maintain a Democratic majority in the State Senate, El Diario la Prensa has written a negative editorial about the Republican Party. In its editorial, El Diario la Prensa said,” Last year, when it came to a policy that would have allowed undocumented persons to access a driver’s license, it was mostly Republican fear-mongering that killed that initiative.”

Benevolent Dictator

Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to remain in office for a third term seems like nothing but a cynical attempt to capitalize on the Wall Street crisis and tap into the same sentiment of fear that motivated suggestions to keep Mayor Giuliani’s benevolent guiding hand in place beyond his mayoral term.

Mayor Giuliani was asked to extend his term for three months to help keep our City on course after we were attacked on 9/11 by Al Qaeda. He contemplated changing the city's term-limits law, but respected and trusted our democratic process and declined the possible three month extension.

My Two Cents In Helping The Governor Solve New York State’s Fiscal Crisis

New York State Governor David Paterson is facing serious fiscal challenges with our State’s next budget, and has some difficult decisions to make regarding this enormous projected deficit. Herewith, I am adding my two cents and sharing my ideas with the Governor.

As usual, no one wants to go after special interest groups to solve these problems. The easiest targets, to no one’s surprise nor concern, are funding cuts for Medicaid, higher education, and social services that will have a disproportionate effect on the lives of poor and less fortunate New Yorkers.

Why do we need to target the poor, Black, and Hispanic communities instead of the special interest groups that have lots of money?

Say NO to Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The following is a letter I sent today in response to the Empire State Stem Cell Board's Draft framework. I would like to remind New Yorkers that the due date for all public comments is June 20.


June 13, 2008

Judy Doesschate, J.D.
Director of Board Operations
Wadsworth Center
New York State Department of Health
Empire State Plaza, Box 509
Albany, NY 12208-0509

Dear Ms. Doesschate:

This letter is to express my response to the Empire State Stem Cell Board’s strategic framework that will guide New York State’s $600 Million, 11-year investment in stem cell research.

Open Letter To Vito Fossella

Dear Congressman Fossella:

In light of the serious controversy you are experiencing, I would like to clearly point out something that has been overlooked that you deserve to be credited for, and that is the fact that you supported Retired Air Force Col Fay’s decision to allow her baby to live, and that you have been involved in your child’s life.

All too often, men in power expect and pressure women to terminate their unborn children’s lives in order to spare them the embarrassment of the scrutiny of an extra-marital affair. Your concern and care for your child was apparently the prompting cause for the events that led to the arrest and public scrutiny of your life that followed.

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