“We’ve hinted at this before and now it’s official Gov. Andrew Cuomo has nominated Jenny Rivera to the Court of Appeals.
Here’s the announcement followed by happy quotes:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today nominated Jenny Rivera, Professor at the City University of New York School of Law, to serve on the New York State Court of Appeals.
Professor Rivera, a longtime Bronx resident and New York native, has had a long and distinguished career in public service. She has held many varied positions, as a staff attorney at Legal Aid Society of New York City, as an Associate Counsel for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (renamed Latino Justice PRLDEF), and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She was Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights from 2002 to 2007. In 2007 she joined the Office of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights.
“Throughout her career, Professor Rivera has worked to defend the legal rights of all New Yorkers and make our state a fairer, more just place to live,” Governor Cuomo said. “As a Judge on the Court of Appeals, Professor Rivera’s legal expertise and passion for social justice will serve all New Yorkers well, and I am proud to send her nomination to the Senate today.”
Professor Rivera said, “I am deeply honored to be nominated by Governor Cuomo to serve on our Court of Appeals. As a lifetime New Yorker, this nomination is a special opportunity for me to continue to serve the people of New York. As a member of the Court of Appeals, I will work each day to uphold the laws of the state and advocate for fairness and justice, and I thank the Governor for this opportunity.”
This year, Professor Rivera will receive the Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. In 2012, she received the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) Diversity Trailblazer Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2011 received the NYSBA Kay Crawford Murray Award. She is a graduate of Princeton University, and received her J.D. from the New York University School of Law and her LL.M, from Columbia University School of Law.
U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez said, “The nomination of Jenny Rivera to serve on the Court of Appeals is great news for all New Yorkers. Professor Rivera is a true public servant, and has spent her entire career as a strong, committed advocate for justice and fairness. Her legal knowledge, talents, and vast expertise will be highly valued on the Court of Appeals, and I commend Governor Cuomo for this nomination.”
Seymour W. James, Jr., President of the New York State Bar Association, said, “Jenny Rivera would bring to the Court of Appeals her keen intellect, insightful legal scholarship and a commitment to equal justice for all New Yorkers. The State Bar Association has rated her as well qualified for the position. In 2012, she won our Diversity Trailblazer Lifetime Achievement Award and, in 2010, she was the recipient of our Kay Crawford Murray Award. Her professional achievements also are being recognized in February by the American Bar Association with its prestigious Spirit of Excellence Award.”
Peter M. Reyes, Jr., Hispanic National Bar Association National President, said, “By appointing Jenny Rivera to serve on the Court of Appeals, Governor Cuomo is selecting one of New York’s sharpest legal minds to the highest bench in the state. Professor Rivera’s qualifications, lifetime dedication to public service, and reputation as a legal scholar and neutral advocate render her the right choice for the Court of Appeals. We commend the Governor for this nomination.”
Elena Goldberg Velazquez, President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association, said, “I commend Governor Cuomo for nominating Jenny Rivera to serve on the State Court of Appeals. Professor Rivera is one of New York’s most gifted legal minds, and with this appointment, Governor Cuomo is nominating an extraordinarily qualified Latina to New York State’s highest court. Professor Rivera has been one of the most active and longstanding members of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and we are very proud of her. Throughout her career, Professor Rivera has fought for justice and social inclusion, and all New Yorkers will benefit from her voice and commitment to fairness.”
Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor of the City University of New York, said, “We commend Governor Cuomo for the inspiring appointment of CUNY Law School Professor Jenny Rivera, a highly regarded scholar and teacher who will bring an impressive breadth of professional experience and judgment to the New York State Court of Appeals. On behalf of the entire community of The City University of New York, we extend our warmest congratulations.”
Michelle J. Anderson, Dean of the CUNY School of Law and Professor of Law, said, “Professor Rivera’s deep understanding and grasp of the law, as well as her temperament and integrity, make her an ideal selection to serve New Yorkers on the state’s highest court. For the years she taught our students at CUNY School of Law, Professor Rivera was a role model and example of an individual who put service to others before all else, and whose passion for equality, justice, and fairness was evident in everything she did. We commend Governor Cuomo for nominating Professor Rivera to the Court of Appeals, and look forward to her swift confirmation.”
John Sexton, President of New York University, said, ‘The nomination of Professor Jenny Rivera, a 1995 graduate of NYU Law School where she was a Root Tilden scholar and a former law clerk to Justice Sonya Sotomayor, does us all proud. I have known Jenny since her time at NYU where she was a student of mine in the Root Tilden Scholarship Program, which I directed. Back then, Professor Rivera was an impressive student who possessed a first rate intellect and a deep sense of compassion. Since her graduation from law school, Professor Rivera has been a distinguished member of the bar, a champion of civil rights and social justice, and at various times a dedicated public servant. If confirmed, her addition to the New York Court of Appeal as an Associate Justice will benefit all the People of this State as well as those who look to our Courts for justice. NYU commends Governor Cuomo for his excellent selection and congratulates Professor Rivera and her family.’”
Midway between election and inauguration, Latinas and Latinos across the country may well be asking what’s next. Immigration reform, that campaign issue that became an excuse for hatred among some, and tepid support among others, has finally gained enough political momentum to appear feasible in the short- and medium-term. Will the new leadership stop there? How can we get elected officials to address other issues that are of particular concern to our community?
Latinas and Latinos are believed to have been a key factor in President Obama’s reelection. Beyond 2012, however, sheer demographics dictate that ours will continue to be a key voting bloc. Not surprisingly, the GOP has made overtures about the need to mend fences and reach out. We need to seize the moment to help shape campaign agendas and political discourse.
The Pew Hispanic Center’s recent report calls the Latino and Latina electorate an “awakened giant,” and predicts it will double in size in less than two decades. Growth will be driven by aging U.S. general population, immigration, and naturalization. The report, in various forms, is available at:
The National Latino Children’s Institute in partnership with Phoenix based eLatina Voices convened this weekend national, state and local Latino and children’s organizations, advocates, and policy makers for the XVI National Latino Children’s Summit. Held at the University Of Arizona College Of Medicine in Phoenix, summit participants discussed the unique issues facing Latino children and youth including the impact of the high incidence of poverty, immigration status of the family, and language and cultural differences.
Panelists and speakers reviewed current research and exchanged successful strategies to address the complex set of interconnected issues facing young Latinos. These include the impact of poverty, immigration, family status, access to education and healthcare, and language barriers.
Last April Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee, spoke at a luncheon of small business owners in Washington, D.C. The event was part of the annual economic forum of The Latino Coalition, a national group founded in 1995 by Hispanic business owners “to develop initiatives and partnerships that will foster economic equivalency and enhance overall business, economic and social development of Latinos.”
Mr. Romney’s forum choice raised hopes among Latinos and Latinas that he would present concrete ways in which his campaign, and, if successful, his administration, plans to reach out to our community. Instead, his 25-minute speech outlined his campaign’s policy position paper on education, describing K-12 reforms that amount to little more than the expansion of programs already in place. Mr. Romney’s speech mentioned Latinos and Latinas only once, and in very general terms, suggesting his target audience was much larger.
In his responses to audience questions, Mr. Romney did address economic and other issues of interest to Latinos and Latinas. He said he understood that opportunities drove those seeking the American Dream, past and present, but avoided any references to immigration reform, which is the one issue that galvanizes the U.S. Latino community across party affiliation and socio-economic subgroups. How can he pledge to remove economic barriers in our community without first retracting his promises to veto the DREAM Act and any other legislation that provides immigration relief for the undocumented spouses, partners, siblings, relatives, and friends of so many registered voters?
The disconnect between the political establishment and Latino/Latina voters is not limited to Mr. Romney and the RNC. President Obama and the DNC face a monumental challenge as well. While national polls show the president continues to enjoy a sizable lead over Mr. Romney among Latinos, voter enthusiasm for the president is not what it was in 2008. The reason, not surprisingly, is his administration’s immigration enforcement priorities which have resulted in unprecedented levels of deportations. His timely action on deferred enforcement for DREAMers was a positive step, but it does not go far enough. Mr. Romney’s campaign could capitalize on this by joining forces with Sen. Marco Rubio in a well-designed proposal for immigration relief. Senator Rubio has signaled his intention to work on this, but has produced to date no draft. To be effective, such a draft needs to propose not just change but concrete solutions leading to full U.S. citizenship within a reasonable period of time. Studies have shown that 90 percent of Latinos and Latinas support this.
Sheer demographics dictate neither candidate can expect to succeed without the Latino vote. We are now the largest ethnic minority in the United States. Reaching out requires more than TV spots and occasional campaign phrases in Spanish language. We need to see genuine efforts to exercise good leadership by promoting changes to the current collective construct and highlighting immigrants’ contributions to economic and social development. That in turn would diminish the high levels of hatred towards undocumented workers that has resulted from decades of legislative criminalization of immigration. Empty campaign rhetoric will not suffice. The successful candidate needs to connect with Latinos and Latinas through committed support for ALL issues that challenge our community. Immigration reform and the DREAM Act are good points of departure and would go a long way.
My colleague Yvonne Love is a Senior Lecturer of Art at Penn State Abington. Her research interest is described as follows:
The collaborative process specifically seeks the multiplicity of dialogue; it is this process that has become a recent area of interest in my work. My past work has explored issues of identity, memory, and self as well as the interactions that take place between juxtaposed images and materials. Both my sculptural work and installations place familiar objects in unfamiliar settings, change the functions of the objects from utility to anxious memory, and are often laced with ambiguity. More recent work seeks to engage other artists in this dialogue both in and out of the studio – whether working collaboratively to create a tightly unified piece which engages the response of other artists, as in my recently formed collaborative media/sculptural group TangenT (http://tangent-art.net), or to open a more interactive dialogue with the viewer.
Professor Love has just started a new blog with a Cuba section that is well worth checking out: Yvonne Love: Process. There she uploads things she has made in response to her time in Cuba. There is much more to come. Enjoy!
On Sunday, Venezuelans go to the polls and will choose between giving Hugo Chávez a third term in office and bringing about change by electing Henrique Capriles Rondoski, the young and vibrant former governor of Miranda state who has posed the most serious presidential challenge since 1998. Official polls give Mr. Chávez a considerable lead, but his opponents claim those polls are not reliable. “Anything is possible, even a return to violence that has plagued Venezuela throughout its history,” states Mexican writer Enrique Krauze in an op-ed published yesterday in El País.
The DC-based Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, through its Latin American Program, and the intergovernmental organization IDEA (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance), commissioned two renowned Latin American experts with vast knowledge of and experience on electoral processes to visit Venezuela and prepare a report.
Dr. José Woldenberg, is a former president of Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) and professor, Political Science Faculty, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Dr. Genaro Arriagada, is a former minister of the presidency of Chile and former ambassador of Chile to the United States.
An executive summary, in English, is available at:
The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, a world-leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict, hosted this past Monday a panel of regional experts to share their views on the future of Venezuela and try to address some of the most pressing questions currently facing the region: is this the end of Chávez’s era? Can ‘Chavismo’ survive without Chávez? What would a leadership change mean for Venezuela’s weakened economy? Is it realistic to expect a change in Caracas’ foreign policy? Panelists included:
Arturo Franco, fellow at the Center for International Development, Harvard University, and
Nigel Inkster, Director of Transnational Threats and Political Risk at the IISS, and
The program, entitled “2012 Presidential Election: What does the future hold for Venezuela?¨ was chaired by Brigadier Ben Barry, IISS Senior Fellow for Land Warfare, and took place in in the Lee Kuan Yew Conference Room at Arundel House. It is available via YouTube (1:23:42) at:
A record 24 million Latinos are eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election, finds the Pew Hispanic Center in a study analyzing Census Bureau data released October 1. This is up by more than 4 million, or 22%, since 2008, when 19.5 million Latinos were eligible to vote. With rapid population growth, Latinos today are also a greater share of the nation’s 215 million eligible voters—11.0% this year, up from 9.5% in 2008 and 8.2% in 2004.
However, the turnout rate of eligible Latino voters historically lags that of whites and blacks by substantial margins. To make our voice count, voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts will be key.
On Tuesday, October 2, The Tomorrow is Today Foundation hosted at the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, D.C. an event looking at the role of the minority vote in the upcoming presidential election.
CNN Analyst Roland Martin moderated the discussion and made remarks. The president of the National Council of Black Women and a representative from the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce took part, as well as conservative commentator Lenny McAllister.
Additional participants included: Estuardo V. Rodriguez, Jr., commentator and consultant on Democratic and Hispanic issues and principal partner at The Raben Group; Brent A. Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens; Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition; Hector Sanchez, chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda and executive director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; and Julianne Malveaux, economist and Former President of Bennett College.
A video of this program is available via C-Span at:
This week Wednesday, the GOP presidential nominee appeared in a town-hall-like program moderated by UNIVISIÓN anchors Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas, who asked questions on subjects of interest to the Hispanic/Latino community. On Thursday, President Obama did the same.
Mr. Romney’s program is available in English and Spanish at:
In a nutshell, the more salient issue was immigration. Mr. Romney’s response was minimalistic and predictably vague. The President, in turn, explained that his campaign promise of reform could not be accomplished in his first term because there was no legislative support from Congress. On a more trivial, yet very serious note, Latin@ observers on the web are having a blast commenting on Mr. Romney’s orange/brown face bronzer. They are also speculating on makeup instructions should he be interviewed by Gwen Ifill and Tavis Smiley to address issues of concern to African-American voters. Oh, my!
On the same day the GOP presidential nominee addressed the 33rd annual convention of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, a series of video/audio recordings of the candidate’s remarks at political fundraisers emerged, providing more insight about his private thoughts. Two of those recordings, allegedly made in the last few months, merit greater consideration: the one that claims that 47% of voters support the president because they “believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing;” and the one where he speaks about his Mexican ancestral roots. During the RNC convention in Tampa a few weeks ago, Mr. Romney referred to his migrant ancestors as “refugees of a revolution,” although he did not elaborate.
In 1885, Mr. Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled to Mexico with a group of fellow Mormons, to escape anti-polygamy laws in the US. The elder Romney, who had four wives and 30 children, settled in the Mormon Dublán Colony of Galeana, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where many of the GOP candidate’s relatives still live, and where his father, the late George Romney, was born. In July of 1912, part of the Romney family returned to the US to escape the turmoil that followed the Mexican Revolution. If we consider his statement at the RNC convention, were the candidate´s ancestors “refugees” in Mexico or in the US? Which revolution(s) did they flee? In the YouTube video/audio that have been disseminated, Mr. Romney does not clarify that, although he does take up the subject and is heard to say:
“My heritage, my dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico … and uh, had he been born of uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”
Why would Mr. Romney joke about something so important to a community whose votes he is supposedly courting? Those few words speak volumes about his views on Mexican identity as race (why didn´t his grandfather consider himself Mexican?); migration (do migrants ever take root, assimilate, and belong?); and above all, political opportunity. Let us remember that Mr. Romney and his son Craig have stated in Spanish-language ads that the ancestral family experience in Mexico is the reason the candidate is sensitive to the plight of Latino/Hispanic immigrants, despite the overwhelming record to the contrary developed during the GOP primaries.
In his address to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Romney did touch on immigration, but mainly to underscore that President Obama did not achieve reform as he promised during the 2008 campaign. He restated his views on border security, on employer sanctions for hiring undocumented workers, and his opposition to large-scale administrative relief. He did not offer any new details of his envisioned immigration policy. Mr. Romney went on to speak about the economy, and about higher poverty and unemployment rates among Latin@s than among other groups of Americans; but, again, he did not say what exactly he plans to do about it.
It is not clear whether the Latino-joke video comes from the same May 17th private equity manager Marc Leder’s fundraiser as the 47% entitled victims video, but in any case, they are both available, respectively, at:
The second major party convention has ended, and DNC Latino outreach was evident. In addition to an opening-day keynote address delivered by San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, many other Latin@s got a chance to step up to the podium, beginning with Los Angeles Mayor and DNC 2012 Convention Chair Antonio Villaraigosa, and Hispanic Congressional Caucus Chair, Rep. Charles González.
Other figures included Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Atty. Joaquín Castro, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, CA Assembly Rep. John Pérez, singer Jessica Sánchez, DREAM-Act activist Benita Véliz, journalist Cristina Saralegui, the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, singer Marc Anthony, activist Martha Figueroa, actress Eva Longoria, and students Angie Flores and Alejandra Salinas. Diversity, inclusion, and immigration were key concepts throughout. So was education, which was framed as an integral component of the U.S. economic agenda.
Education was the subject of three policy videos aired during prime time: two on Tuesday (American Hero Video: Education and An Economy Built to Last Video: Education) and one on Wednesday (Progress for People Video: Education). Access to education as a right was also the theme of several speakers who addressed the DREAM-Act and immigration reform. As for education in general, two speeches stand out — one by actress Eva Longoria, and the other by current Education Secretary Arne Duncan, which are available, respectively, at:
Ms. Longoria´s speech focused on education as a key component of the American Dream. She spoke about the need for continuing government funding and other policies that make higher education accessible to working- and middle-class students. Secretary Duncan stressed the link between education and economic progress, stating that President Obama views education as an investment, and went on to raise specific sub-issues like K-12 education reform and teacher´s pay. He reminded the audience about the administration´s achievements in higher education credit reform, and concluded with a reference to the GOP´s budget priorities which would cut funding for education as much as 20%. Similar themes were later addressed, in broader terms, by other speakers like Prof. Elizabeth Warren, former President Bill Clinton, Vice-President Biden, and President Obama.
Prior to the convention, the White House had released a report prepared by the Council of Economic Advisors, the Domestic Policy Council, and the National Economic Council, entitled “Investing in Our Future: Returning Teachers to the Classroom,” which outlines a path to rehire 300,000 teachers; reduce classroom size and preserve key programs; and pursue $25 billion in funding for education reform and support. That paper, which is far more comprehensive than the one released in May by the RNC, is available at:
To understand the administration’s education policy, it may be helpful to review the speech that the President delivered in March of 2009 to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where he outlined the five pillars of his education agenda:
(1) investing in early childhood initiatives, like Head Start;
(2) encouraging better standards and assessments by focusing on testing itineraries that better fit students and the world in which they live;
(3) recruiting, preparing, and rewarding outstanding teachers;
(4) Promoting innovation and excellence in America’s schools by supporting charter schools, reforming the school calendar and the structure of the school day; and
(5) Providing every American with access to quality higher education–whether it’s college or technical training.
A video and transcript of that speech is available at:
The White House´s webpage also makes available ancillary documents and reports, at:
Of special interest to Latin@s, the administration renewed in October of 2010 the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, which was first established in 1990 by the Bush Sr. administration. The President urged a closer working relationship with Latino community agencies in the development of education policies; established a Presidential Advisory Commission and national network of community leaders; and called for the creation of a Federal Interagency Working Group to address education from a comprehensive perspective. Additional info about the Initiative may be found at:
Acknowledging that Latinos have the lowest education attainment level of any group in the U.S., the Initiative’s report goes on to propose a plan of action along the five pillars of the President´s education agenda, but tailored to the Latino community. The President explained them during a program aired on Univision on March 28, 2011, “Es El Momento: El Presidente, la Educación y los Hispanos.@ It is available, in Spanish, at: