Open Letter To El Diario La Prensa By New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz

Ruben Diaz

February 12, 2009

Reading the Editorial Page of El Diario la Prensa today, Thursday February 12, I find the observations in "The Missing Latinos" very interesting. Among other things, El Diario la Prensa wrote, "The number of Latinos who occupy leadership position in the Assembly and the Senate stands at zero."

In part, I have to agree with El Diario la Prensa – except - that even though we have not reached a level of conformity, I have to say that El Diario la Prensa forgot to mention the achievements obtained by the Hispanic community in the New York State Senate.

It is important for our community and El Diario la Prensa to recognize that the Secretary of the New York State Senate, for the first time in the history of this State, is Mr. Angelo Aponte, a Puerto Rican.

The Secretary of the Senate is the second most powerful person in the New York State Senate. It is the Secretary who, under and in consultation with the Majority leader controls, distributes, assigns and decides how, where and when all the resources are to be distributed.

Every single Senator, at one point or another, has to sit down with the Secretary of the Senate to request some kind of resources, be it financial or physical. That person, ladies and gentlemen of El Diario la Prensa, is a Hispanic, appointed for the first time in history by the Majority Leader, the Honorable Malcolm Smith.

It is important, also, to recognize, that no other leader in the history of the New York State Senate has created a Puerto Rican/Latino Caucus, with financial resources and support to assist with problems facing the Hispanic community in New York State, and has hired Marlene Cinton, one of our community’s most respected individuals to serve as its Executive Director.

We all know that for the past 43 years, we Democrats did not have control of the Senate. We are only one month in power and already, we are in control of the New York Senate Housing Committee, the New York Senate Transportation Committee, the New York Senate Aging Committee, New York Senate Cultural Affairs, and the New York Senate Consumer Affairs Committee. Add to that, the appointment given to Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. to lead the Urban Policy Agenda in New York State.

So ladies and gentlemen, I believe, that it is unfair for El Diario l a Prensa not to recognize these achievements, which are far away from what we need, but nonetheless are steps in the right direction and solid advances. In only a few months, under the new leadership of New York State Senator Malcolm Smith and the persistence, advice, requests and tenacity of myself and my fellow Senators Pedro Espada, Jr., Senator Martin Dilan, Senator Jose Serrano and Senator Hiram Monserrate, we have obtained things that were never there for our community, and shows that the number of Latinos who occupy positions of leadership in the New York State Senate does not stand at zero!

There is still a long way to go, but we have a leader who is willing to listen and members who are willing to fight.