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Election 2010: Duffy meets Latinos in Buffalo

October 11, 2010

Robert J. “Bob” Duffy

Robert  J. “Bob” Duffy, Mayor of Rochester, Democratic candidate for  lieutenant governor, passed through town on Sunday, meeting with a diverse group of residents many of them from the Puerto Rican community and other Latinos at the Urban Family Practice on Niagara Street.

He has an impressive background in law enforcement, extending to 1976 when he joined the Rochester Police Department, moving through the ranks until appointed the Chief of Police in 1998, serving in this capacity until he became the 65th Mayor of Rochester in 2005.

A larger than expected crowd about 40 huddled in a lobby area of the Urban Family Practice office building for a discussion that lasted from 2:30 PM to 4 PM, drawing leaders from  Stonewall Democrats of WNY asking questions about sensitivity training on issues involving the  LGBT community in law enforcement in which the Democratic gubernatorial nominee positively responded.

Mayor Duffy supports the Mayoral control of the Rochester School, defending his position when this blogger asked him about it in a response typical of those who support the take-over of  public schools by the Mayor. He commented how less than 50% of Rochester high school students graduate from school, that the system pays adults not teaches children and the money is not reaching the children in the classroom.

He believes Major changes needed  in the educational system and his answer is Mayoral control of the Rochester City School System, dissolving the elected Rochester Board of Education to one  where Duffy appoints five and the Rochester Common Council four members among a few of the changes slated to happen if the Senate votes to pass bill similar to the Assembly back in June.

Although,   more residents oppose Mayoral control, preferring an elected Board of Education  since  eight members two  Latinos,  six African-Americans and two whites make up the School Board,  Duffy has resisted it, pushing for Mayoral control of the Rochester School System until its completed  with Senate voting on the bill next year and one of his first pet projects to work on if he becomes the lieutenant governor of New York State.

And Duffy, ” has been chipping away at the mayoral control rock …, and the issue has bitterly divided the city. The NYS Assembly  voted to pass the bill for Mayoral control of the Rochester Schools on June 24, 2010. Rochester Schools similar to Buffalo with a student enrollment of over 32,000, 65% African-Americans, 22% Latinos and 11% whites,  having a $700 million budget and  more than one billion in facilities. The bill for Mayoral control of the Rochester Schools was not voted in the State Senate, but maybe next year.

The people benefiting from the Mayoral control of the schools are the hedge fund investors that have pumped millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of  attorney general Andrew Cuomo, expecting the team to deliver the school system to them through privatization of the Rochester School System, more charter schools and the for profit educational management group.

Duffy talked about  creating an incubator model for small business development in the  WNY Region and consolidating government agencies that have overlapping functions such as the  Industrial Development Agencies (IDA)  a question Erie County Legislator Maria Whyte posed to the gubernatorial nominee.

Others in the audience interested in the fate of the long-term health care in the Latino community events associated with the closing of many facilities in the City and the plight of the bill in Albany on the issue related to the closing of the Waterfront Health Care Center, the only one serving the Latinos in the Lower West Side.

The topic of access to the governor  in Albany an issue important to the group as well as education and employment for area residents, suffering a higher unemployment rate than other groups in the city figures from 2005 in the Puerto Rican community as high as 42%

Duffy commented he would be back if elected and suggested the group gathered to hear him write-up a report of  discussion with  him today as well as form a committee to write ideas of what it is they would like the Cuomo administration to address in the community.

The push for Mayoral control of the Rochester Schools when community members oppose it is troubling when it involves abolishing  an elected School Board made up of African-Americans and Latinos.

Carmen Melendez, Fabiola Friot, Casimiro Rodriguez, Cesar Cabrera, Jonathan Rivera, Arturo Salas, Judge BettyCalvo-Torres, Charles Torres, Thomas Gleed, Bryan Ball, Legislator Maria Whyte, Council Member David Rivera, Dr. Vazquez and other leaders attended.


Melisza Campos, Vice-President, Rochester School Board



José Cruz, Board Member Rochester Schools



Malik Evans, President, Rochester School Board



Van Henry White, School Board Member



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