senator jose serrano
The death of Marcello Lucero is – we hope – a death knell for the vile anti-immigrant rhetoric that has ballooned over the past several years.
It’s no accident that Latinos are the top-ranked victims of hate crimes, representing 62.8 percent of cases nationwide.
But if the Lucero tragedy inspires a change in dialogue, it should also inspire a change in laws. Now more than ever we need a government that all immigrants – both documented and undocumented – can trust.
Yesterday the legislative stars aligned - if only for a fleeting moment - as I was able to address the Senate about one of my bills. Currently, I have 16 active bills being considered by various committees, and have publicly addressed my Senate colleagues only once this session. It will also probably be the last time due to the rules that govern the New York State Senate.
I’ve spent the past month passionately defending the new DMV policy, and if one thing has become clear, it’s this: the other side could use a good public relations firm.
“It’s obvious that you’re Mexican and interested only in Mexican interests,” wrote one person who saw me on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight last week. (I was born in the South Bronx, to Puerto Rican parents.)
Along the same lines: “Despite your assertions, your people are bastardizing American trades … So why don’t you go to Mexico, asshole, and stay. You are a traitor to the people of America.”
As a member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, I was surprised to learn that hundreds of students across the state were selected as winners of the "I’m a Green Nation" contest.
The only problem: all the students were from Republican Senate districts. Click here to read the full article in the Buffalo News. This was the first I’d even heard of the contest.
It’s bad enough the Republicans don’t allow our bills to the floor, or provide equal staffing resource, or a more equitable distribution of member items and capital funds. Now they are snubbing the kids in our district.
I had the opportunity to travel with Minority Leader Malcolm Smith to our nation’s capital this week.
With just two seats needed to re-capture the State Senate, we received a warm welcome from leaders in Washington.
Joe Bruno beware.
Because now is the time when policy and politics collide. When common sense tasks like environmental protection and real campaign finance reform are not likely to happen without a shift in power.
Under the leadership of Senator Smith, we are putting together a formidable slate of candidates for 2008.
We showed our playbook to the likes of Howard Dean, Rahm Emanuel and the New York Congressional Delegation. They were all ears.
It’s the end of June. Legislative session is heating up as fast as the temperature. And New York residents deserve a break in the normal weather pattern.
This week we mourn the loss of State Trooper David C. Brinkerhoff, the second State Trooper shot and killed in the past year.
But I question why this news has prompted yet another debate on capital punishment. The death penalty does not deter crime. Any studies that claim otherwise "fall apart under close scrutiny."
The facts speak for themselves. Across the country, over 100 people have been exonerated and released from death row. The death penalty costs tax payers more than keeping guilty convicts in jail for life.
The 421a tax exemption looms somewhere on the Albany horizon, and it’s not yet getting the attention it deserves.
Created in the 1970s to fuel development in a depressed city, the exemption program has been periodically reformed to help protect affordable housing in a now booming market.
Most recently, Mayor Bloomberg convened a task force to study the program, and Speaker Quinn later fashioned a compromise in the City Council.
But all of it was just a non-binding recommendation for us legislators in Albany. We hold the purse strings on this program, which sunsets at the end of the year.
I never liked the idea of so-called "halls of power." But it sure beats the "backrooms of power." The extraordinary legislative session held earlier this month was an indictment of the current system. We passed nothing.
What followed was the capitol blame game – a boon to the pundit community I’m sure, but a real waste for New York residents. The leaders of the Senate and Assembly must work better together, and they can do so by including the rest of us in the process.
As for the rest of us, if we’re going to call for a more open decision-making process, then we need to promote a more transparent budget. In the future, let's not wait for a judge to order the disclosure of our member items. We can do it ourselves.
I like endorsements just as much as the next guy. So it bothered me when I was recently denied an endorsement from an organization dedicated to environmental protection – this being an issue close to my heart, and one for which my voting record is quite strong.
According to the letter I received, the board of directors “has decided not to endorse any incumbent members of the state legislature this year” because of the “failure to forge solutions to four of the five top environmental priorities” identified by the organization.
Point taken. Many important environmental bills did not even garner a floor vote in the Senate. Rather they died in the Rules, Finance, or – oddly enough – Environmental Conservation committee.
Last week saw the release of plans to renovate and re-open the Highbridge, New York City’s oldest surviving bridge. I believe the next step is focusing on the Harlem River down below.
Environmental infrastructure, like the Roberto Clemente State Park, already exists on the river. But there’s evidence of dumping elsewhere along the banks. Not to mention open-air solid waste sites that contributes to the poor air quality of the Bronx and northern Manhattan.
Environmental bills are notoriously hard to pass in the Senate. It’s a struggle to even get them out of committee for a floor vote. But thanks to the enlarged Environmental Protection Fund, we can and should direct more resources to clean up the Harlem River.
Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has agreed to make public the member items pushed by each of us in the State Senate. This is great news for all New Yorkers.
I've always been out front in releasing my member item lists, both in the City Council and now in the State Senate. To be perfectly honest, the Senate list didn't take so long to compile. As a member of the minority party, I have $150,000 to help fund organizations that I deem worthy. Compare that with the $2 to $3 million that Republican leaders had offered former Senator Seymour Lachman if he switched parties. (He refused.)