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Still time for a puerto rican/latino deputy mayor?

July 16, 2010

Jonathan Simeon Croom and Lt. Charles McCarthy

The Puerto Rican Day  Parade of WNY an off-shoot of the Virginia St. Festival  the defunct Puerto Rican-Chicano Committee (PRCC) sponsored in the 1970s begins on Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 1 PM in front of City Hall.

As a founding member of the Hispanic Women’s League in 1978, I remember marching down Virginia Street with our banner in the late seventies and early eighties in the  Festival. The Parade this year is dedicated to Puerto Rican Heroes.

Jonathan Simeon Croom, the Puerto Rican/African-American fire fighter who died  last summer when a floor collapsed at an East Side deli on August 24, 2009 is a hero. Along with his partner Lt.  Charles McCarthy,  he attempted to rescue what they thought to be people trapped in side a building. But it  turned out to be a senseless death for both men because the building had long been vacant.

Since the departure of former Deputy Mayor Donna Brown from City Hall two weeks ago, the time is an opportune one for Mayor Byron Brown to consider appointing a Deputy Mayor from the Puerto Rican/Latino community in Buffalo.

Her  position had focused on developing an anti-poverty strategy for the City of Buffalo, still among the top poorest in the nation. And  42% of West side residents many Puerto Ricans/Latinos live  in poverty. She left a legacy that should be continued  in the anti-poverty  initiative and she was  highly criticized along with Mayor Brown for the report  Buffalo Poverty Reduction Blue Print she produced on April 29, 2009.

She had a bachelor’s degree in business administration and had a series of jobs in the public and private sector the last one  she had in community relations with LPCiminelli .  Yet she seemed to have struggled with the demands of the position and lacked the “extensive experience” Mayor Brown highlighted when he appointed her on January 2008 to focus on housing, community development, education, youth initiatives, community relations and business development as well as to develop   a blue print for a strategy on anti-poverty .

She resigned her $96,000 position to take a  the newly created post of director  of patient satisfaction  and cultural awareness at Erie County Medical Center a step-down for Mrs. Brown if not in salary certainly in responsibility.

As hundreds of Puerto Ricans/Latinos line  Niagara Streets (Avenida San Juan) waving flags and cheering at the elected officials  headed by Mayor Brown along  the parade route,  appointing   a deputy mayor from the Latino community is an appropriate one to make at this time since as much as 30% of Puerto Ricans live below the poverty level in the City of Buffalo.

Still there is time before September 11, 2010 for Brown to make this appointment to help him  to fulfill his vision when he first ran to bring all ethnic groups to the table, a promise many Latinos believe he has not fully  fulfilled  in a poll the Latin Journal conducted. Brown  was the first Mayor to  appoint the first female Latino judge Betty Calvo-Torres to City Court and David Rodriguez to corporation counsel . Donna Brown  was the sixth African-American to serve in his cabinet or senior staff .

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