Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Citizens Union

News Feed http://www.gothamgazette.com/ Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:23:10 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) New York Needs Electronic Health Records http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5656-new-york-needs-electronic-health-records Hoylman flu shot

State Sen. Hoylman gets a flu shot (photo: @bradhoylman)

Teenagers aren't the only ones keeping up with the latest technology. Today, nearly three-quarters of Americans over the age of fifty are "plugged in" and regularly using the internet. As we get more connected, however, we're demanding the same of our medical care. Because many patients often have multiple doctors, it's important that all of their providers have access to their medical records.

This year, Governor Cuomo's budget again includes support for the continued development of New York's Statewide Health Information Network (SHIN-NY). This important state investment will enable patients and their doctors to seamlessly exchange electronic health records wherever they are in the state. The network is already gaining momentum: over 50,000 doctors and healthcare providers participate in SHIN-NY, and over 7 million New Yorkers have given consent to have their records shared.

SHIN-NY will be a game-changer for millions of people in New York State, especially those living with chronic conditions. Sixty percent of the American population over the age of fifty may have at least one chronic illness, whether it's heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or arthritis. In fact, many have more than one condition. For these New Yorkers, SHIN-NY will greatly simplify and improve the way medical care is delivered.

For example, it will no longer be necessary to hand-carry blood tests, x-rays, MRI scans or charts between doctors. If you're away from home and have an unexpected emergency, it means the doctor treating you will be able to access your health history, including drug allergies and pre-existing conditions, in order to provide the best possible care.

SHIN-NY will also help doctors share vital care information with other doctors, greatly improving the coordination of your care. This is critical, for example, if you see multiple doctors or have several medical conditions because doctors can make sure that the medication they prescribe doesn't conflict with your other medications or conditions.

Further, SHIN-NY will allow doctors and providers across healthcare settings to work together to address different parts of a person's illness. For example, a woman who recently had open-heart surgery and is a diabetic can be assured that her cardiologist, dietician, and primary care physician are coordinating effectively by accessing information through SHIN-NY to ensure she fully recovers from the surgery and receives proper, post-operative care, even after she's been discharged from the hospital.

Longer-term, increased care coordination will dramatically impact the cost and quality of healthcare in New York by reducing hospital re-admissions and avoiding unnecessary tests. And, this coordination will have the most profound impact on New Yorkers over the age of 50.

With budget negotiations ongoing, I urge the New York State Senate and Assembly to join Governor Cuomo in renewing their efforts to continue the development of the SHIN-NY.

by Carol Raphael, a board member of the New York eHealth Collaborative and former CEO, Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? E-mail editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com

webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Carol Raphael) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 05:00:00 GMT http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5656-new-york-needs-electronic-health-records
Debate Over Evaluations Leaves Teachers Frustrated http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5657-debate-over-evaluations-leaves-teachers-frustrated Cuomo

Governor Cuomo (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)

A room full of high school students was answering questions on an excerpt from Stephen Hawking's "The (Elusive) Theory of Everything." The result of the exam could significantly affect their academic future. Also hanging in the balance: the evaluation their English teacher would receive - as well as those to be received by their art, Spanish and music teachers.

"The test is designed to fail both us and the students," said English teacher Jennifer Onopa. In January, her 10th graders were among students across New York who took a Common Core-aligned English Regents exam consisting mostly of science-based reading passages. And, because of a twist in the law, teachers of subjects not tested by the State would also see a portion of their fates decided by the students' scores.

New York's teachers and students are caught in the middle of a political battle. As the April 1 deadline for the state budget approaches, Governor Andrew Cuomo does not seem ready to compromise on his education reform demands, which include shifts to teacher evaluations and tenure rules. On the other side, teachers unions and their political allies are also holding their ground, rebuking the governor's agenda.

The ongoing and contentious debate around overhauling the system of teacher evaluations is likely to extend beyond budget negotiations and into the legislative session to follow.

Changes to the evaluation system would affect how New York's public school teachers are measured, when they earn tenure, and whether they are fired. To pressure state legislators to accept the changes he wants, Cuomo is using education funding as a bargaining chip. The governor is making a $1.1 billion increase in education spending in the state budget contingent on his reforms, which include raising the significance of test scores in teacher evaluations and extending the probationary period before tenure is granted. If the state Legislature rejects his changes, funding for schools would increase by markedly less: $337 million. If an evaluation system overhaul is pushed post-budget, it is unclear what the funding level might be.

In his January State of the State Address, Cuomo called the current evaluation system "baloney." He highlighted the discrepancy between only 38 percent of New York high school students being college ready while 96 percent of teachers were rated "effective" or "highly effective."

Under the current system, 60 percent of teachers' evaluations are based on classroom observations by internal evaluators. These observations are usually done by the school's principal, taking into account the many qualitative aspects of teaching. Based on the Danielson Framework, evaluators look at factors such as a teacher's knowledge of their subject, effective communication with students, and creating a classroom environment of respect.

State standardized tests currently count for 20 percent of the evaluation. The remaining 20 percent is based on local measures, such as school or district-based exams. Under the revisions Cuomo proposed in January, 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation would be based on state standardized tests. The weight of internal observations would decrease to 15 percent and 35 percent would depend on external observers, though it is not clear who those observers would be. Use of local measures would be eliminated.

On tenure reform, Cuomo is calling for a system whereby a teacher would have to be rated "qualified" for five consecutive years, instead of three, to obtain tenure status. An "unqualified" rating for two consecutive years could get a teacher fired.

Teachers' unions oppose the governor's proposed reforms. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, and Democrats in the state Legislature, especially the Democratically-dominated Assembly, are also against the changes. During a February budget hearing in Albany, Fariña explained her opposition, saying, "I was a teacher for more than 20 years and if I was only measured in test scores, that would have only been a little bit of my work."

As Fariña pointed out, Cuomo's reforms risk making teachers' evaluations even less representative of the actual quality of the teaching. With 50 percent of their evaluation on the line, teachers may increasingly focus their teaching on students' performance on standardized tests. An added emphasis on teaching to the test would, many argue, greatly compromise the qualitative aspects of teaching.

Teachers like Onopo, as well as parents, are also questioning the content and difficulty level of the state exams, particularly under the new Common Core standards. These factors are leading more and more parents to have their children "opt out" of standardized tests. Cuomo's proposal seems inconsistent with the public mood of increasing opposition to Common Core standardized tests. This is reflected in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, which shows that only 28 percent of voters approve of the governor's handling of education. The poll also showed that voters trust the teachers unions more than Cuomo to improve education.

The new evaluation criteria could potentially put the most pressure on teachers of English Language Learners. Around 14 percent of students in New York City are categorized as ELLs. As non-native English speakers routinely score lower on English standardized tests, the evaluations of those teaching ELLs across the state would suffer for reasons unconnected to their teaching. This would be a huge disincentive for those considering teaching in schools with high proportions of ELLs.

A further complication is that state standardized tests are not administered for all subjects and grades. While there are exams for English, Science, Mathematics, and Social Studies, there are no standardized tests for art, music, drama, physical education or foreign languages. Presently, 20 percent of the evaluation of teachers of these classes is based on exams for subjects that they do not teach. With the weight for standardized tests increasing to 50 percent, their job could largely depend on someone else's work. "If this were any other profession, there would be rebellion," says English and Drama teacher Jason Zanitsch. "If you took the word 'education' out of the equation and proposed this in any business in the country, people would dismiss it out of hand."

Along the lines of what Zanitsch envisions, teachers and their allies have been repeatedly protesting Cuomo's policies in Albany and elsewhere.

The governor's plan is not clear on how teachers of non-tested subjects would be evaluated. Teachers fear a situation where half of an art teacher's evaluation would hinge on student performance on a science exam. "This thing that I know, that I've dedicated my career to, can make a huge difference in people's lives...They're saying that what matters is the math score," says music teacher Eric Dalio.

The current evaluation system certainly has flaws. Principals are often overburdened and unable to properly conduct classroom observations. And few objective observers would believe that only 1 percent of the state's teachers are "ineffective." Teachers unions have become extremely powerful, making it difficult to remove even the least competent teachers. Instead of acknowledging flaws in the system, unions are adopting a largely combative approach.

Cuomo has called public education "the great discriminator," with separate systems for the rich and poor. However, the governor's financial ultimatum is putting already disadvantaged students in a lose-lose situation. If school funding is not increased in the budget, these students would be the most affected. While some schools can draw on donations from parents, schools with students from lower income families often rely entirely on public funding.

Zanitsch says his school, where most students are from low-income families, is owed $1.3 million in funding from federal Race to the Top programming and the New York Campaign for Fiscal Equity court ruling. "$1.3 million would mean five teachers, all our after-school funding, iPads for every student. That much money is transformational," he explains. On the other hand, if the evaluation reforms are passed, struggling schools could lose good teachers who would be reluctant to teach where students do not perform well on standardized tests.

With negotiations ongoing, there is uncertainty and unease among educators. It already appears to be taking a toll. As Dalio explains, "It makes it frustrating to come to work and do what I love."

Zehra Rehman is pursuing a graduate degree in Journalism and International Relations at NYU.

webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Zehra Rehman) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 05:00:00 GMT http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5657-debate-over-evaluations-leaves-teachers-frustrated
The City Council Definition of Women's Issues http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5658-the-city-council-definition-of-womens-issues Cumbo

Council Member Cumbo at a Women's History Month celebration (photo: Ben Max)

On Monday, March 30, the New York City Council will host a Women's History Month celebration at City Hall. Council members will likely celebrate women heroes of city government, past and present, and acknowledge the history-making leadership of both Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the first Latina to hold the position, and Public Advocate Letitia James, a former council member who is the first woman of color elected to city-wide office.

At a different Women's History Month celebration last Friday evening in Brooklyn, Mark-Viverito lamented the fact that there are currently only 15 women among the Council's 51 members. She also said that with six, including herself, term-limited out of office after 2017, there is a need to recruit a new wave of women to run for local office. There's a good chance this message will be echoed Monday night in Council Chambers.

Monday's event will come on the heels of a month of City Council preliminary budget hearings held in those very chambers. One such hearing, on Tuesday, March 17, featured the Council's Committee on Women's Issues, which is chaired by Council Member Laurie Cumbo. Without one clearly defined city agency to call in for budget oversight on its own - like, for example, the Education Committee has the city's Department of Education - the women's issues committee is matched with other committees for budget proceedings. Groupings are not uncommon, as there are 38 council issue committees. But, Women's Issues is one of only a handful of council committees dedicated to a specific demographic group and where it fits for its budget hearings defines its focus narrowly.

Because it has jurisdiction over child development, for budget hearings the Committee on Women's Issues joins the Committee on General Welfare and the Committee on Juvenile Justice to analyze the budget of the city's Administration for Children's Services (ACS). For budget purposes, it means a definition of "women's issues" as those related to children, poverty, and families in crisis.

On the City Council website, the women's issues committee has the following description: "Issues relating to public policy concerns of women, domestic violence, Office to Combat Domestic Violence and Agency for Child Development."

As Mark-Viverito, Cumbo, and many others readily note, the "public policy concerns of women" are unlimited. Asked by Gotham Gazette for more clarity on the budget hearing grouping, council sources pressed that the Council has been extremely active in addressing a wide variety of issues important to women and that female council members are at the forefront in many ways - points that are true, of course, especially considering that both the speaker and the powerful finance committee chair (Julissa Ferreras) are women.

When asked to further explain the budget hearing grouping, Council Member Cumbo said in a statement, "Through our collaboration with the Committees on General Welfare and Juvenile Justice, we have worked to assess the operations of the City agencies most frequently used by women and families."

This set-up is not new: since 2009 the Committee on Women's Issues has been partnered with the Committee on General Welfare for preliminary and executive budget hearings. The Committee on Juvenile Justice has been part of this group for three years. These trends span multiple council speakers and mayors, of course, as well as chairs of each of the three committees. The Women's Issues Committee is one of the smallest in the Council, with just five members.

Getting at her committee's much broader focus than what its budget hearings indicate, Cumbo also said that Women's Issues "is uniquely positioned to address the challenges faced by the millions of women who make up more than half of our city's population. We have a broad responsibility to ensure that women from all walks of life have access to critical programs and services to meet their personal, familial, and professional obligations." She points to wage equity, education, entrepreneurship, and affordable housing among key issues she is focused on as chair.

Since the start of 2014, when Cumbo became chair, Women's Issues has held joint hearings with the a variety of other committees including education, finance, civil rights, public safety, and health, among others. These groupings, unlike that for the budget, suggest the reality, that all issues are "women's issues."

To that end, women members of the City Council meet as a Women's Caucus - as do the Council's Jewish members, LGBT members, and Black, Latino and Asian members - and evaluates how to best influence public policy of all kinds. Of these four caucuses, the only one with a parallel council committee is women's. Perhaps the Women's Issues chair should be at most, if not all, council budget hearings.

On the subject, Democratic political consultant and City & State columnist Alexis Grenell said, "We have a tremendous amount of female leadership right now in New York City, a feminist Mayor, and receptive male colleagues in government. It's a very interesting time to expand the conversation about so called "women's issues" beyond traditional categories and think about what a gender mainstreaming agenda might look like."

Council Member Stephen Levin is the chair of the General Welfare Committee. On the subject of why his committee is partnered with Women's Issues for budget hearings, he emphasized that it should not be read into too heavily.

"There's a significant amount of overlap in the issues that we work on with the women's committee," said Levin. "So when you're talking about child care, child welfare issues, there's certainly an area when we've done joint hearings." He concluded, "I wouldn't read too much into it other than there are a lot of times that we do work closely together."

At the preliminary budget hearing, Cumbo gave opening remarks, acknowledging that it is Women's History Month - calling it "herstory" month - and recognizing the great strides that women have made and will continue to make. She singled out Speaker Mark-Viverito and Public Advocate James for their remarkable achievements. She also spoke about the work that the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) must do to "positively impact the women and girls of New York, including women and girls of color that face even greater economic disparities."

With Mark-Viverito and James, Cumbo will co-host the event at City Hall Monday evening, as she did a Women's History Month event in Brooklyn on March 20 with colleague Jumaane Williams.

Pointing to the overarching mission of her committee, Cumbo said at the budget hearing that it is essential the City supports children and families, "while also empowering the women across our city."

She told Gotham Gazette that she is continuing to explore "future opportunities to work with multiple Committees year-round to identify effective ways to cultivate a more inclusive society where any woman can reach her full potential."

by Shannon Ho and Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Shannon Ho and Ben Max) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 05:00:00 GMT http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5658-the-city-council-definition-of-womens-issues
Sky’s the Limit for Solar in New York http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5651-skys-the-limit-for-solar-in-new-york-environment-leibowitz solar

The author, far left, & others at a solar panel event

Fifteen years ago, flat-screen televisions were a rare luxury item, a smart phone was one with an address book, we kept our music on plastic discs, and video chats were a feature in Star Trek episodes. Now there's widespread use of handheld devices that enable us to listen to music, watch videos, talk, text or video-chat with friends or colleagues, while also providing immediate access to a world of information.

Times have changed, and solar power is a case in point. Fifteen years ago, solar was used by a small number of true believers. Now, because of advances in technology and growing economies of scale, solar costs 25 percent of what it cost in 2000.

Solar panels are popping up all over: on homes, businesses, places of worship, and government buildings. Just over two months ago, in his State of the Union address, President Obama summed it up when he said, "Every three weeks, we bring as much solar online as we did in all of 2008."

Here in New York, solar energy grew 63 percent per year between 2010 and 2013. That's fast enough to reach a goal of 20 percent solar in New York by 2025– a goal once thought ambitious, if not impossible, but now readily achievable.

"Star Power: the Growing Role of Solar Energy in New York," a recent report by Environment New York Research & Policy Center, shows that growth could actually slow down to 47 percent and solar energy would still provide 20 percent of our power in the next decade.

This is a critical finding at a time when state regulators are trying to transform the New York's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs through Governor Cuomo's "Reforming the Energy Vision" (REV) initiative.

Boosting solar energy power production is more urgent than ever. Scientists have never been clearer that global warming is real, happening now, and will only get worse without meaningful action. In New York, we're already feeling consequences like Hurricane Sandy and other more extreme weather.

Achieving 20 percent solar energy would cut as much carbon pollution as 3 million cars emit in a year, and put New York more than halfway to the benchmark set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, which requires cuts in power plant carbon pollution of 44 percent.

More solar isn't just good for the environment. It's also good for our economy. Solar is currently the fastest-growing industry in the country, adding 143,000 jobs nationwide in 2013. According to the latest solar jobs census from the Solar Foundation, the solar industry employed more than 7,000 people in New York last year.

Of course, 20 percent solar is just a sliver of the possible. The state is home to more than 1.9 million residential and commercial rooftops that could host solar panels, and it has enough technical potential to meet the state's energy needs 11 times over.

We've made progress. But we can't take that progress for granted. Powerful interests, including the fossil fuel industry and electric utilities are working hard to slow gains. To take solar to the next level, we'll need a strong commitment from our local, state, and national leaders. By adopting a goal of getting 20 percent of our power from the sun by 2025 and working together, we can begin to move New York and the nation toward a future where we get all of our power from pollution-free energy sources. Our quality of life and our children's future depend on it.

Heather Leibowitz, Esq. is the Director of Environment New York, a statewide environmental advocacy organization.

Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? E-mail editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com

webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Heather Leibowitz) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 05:00:00 GMT http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5651-skys-the-limit-for-solar-in-new-york-environment-leibowitz
Hurting Homeowners Say Bank Settlement Funds Belong with Them http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5652-hurting-homeowners-say-bank-settlement-funds-belong-with-them build it back home

A home rebuilt after Sandy (photo: @NYCBuilditBack)

More than two years on and David Velez's battle with Hurricane Sandy is far from over. But, thanks to some help from the Attorney General's office, Velez's fight with his mortgage lender may soon be coming to an end.

The first floor of the retired NYPD officer's home in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn was destroyed by flooding during the hurricane, and without help from insurance he and his wife used their savings to rebuild.

Unfortunately, after the construction was complete an architect from the City's Build it Back program deemed the residence structurally unsafe. Velez and his family moved out of the home this past October and were told that demolition would begin in November. Now March, Velez is still waiting for Department of Housing Preservation and Development contractors to begin construction of his home. While the program has gotten a shot in the arm under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the pace is still too slow for many.

Even living out of his home there is another reminder of the damage Sandy has done: Velez gets regular calls from Citibank representatives asking when he will catch up on his mortgage. "They even called me the day I had cancer surgery to remove a tumor," said Velez who was advised like other Sandy victims that he could stop mortgage payments while his home was being rebuilt, only for his lender to demand missed payments immediately after the forbearance was over.

It is a call increasingly familiar to homeowners across the state who are behind on their mortgages, whether from unexpected disasters like Hurricane Sandy or thanks to the economic downturn of 2008 and subsequent recession. Even in 2014, New York City saw a 33 percent increase in first-time foreclosures compared to the year before, according to one recent study.

Many homeowners have watched as Attorney General Eric Schniederman won the state multi-million dollar settlements from major lenders like Bank of America, Citibank, and JPMorgan. Like Velez, many struggling homeowners expected that those settlements would go directly to help New Yorkers who are underwater with their mortgage.

In Velez's case the AG's office did offer help, through an initiative called the Mortgage Assistance Program, which makes up to a $40,000 loan for homeowners who face foreclosure to pay off mortgage debt, second or third mortgages, or tax liens. Eligible families must be able to keep up with their mortgage to qualify for the program. Thousands of New Yorkers face foreclosure and don't qualify for the AG's program - some New Yorkers are simply far too behind on their mortgages to qualify.

Groups like The Fair Share for Housing Coalition and New York Communities for Change say the State needs to commit all of the funds from settlements with major lenders over mortgage fraud to go to helping homeowners.

In 2013 Schneiderman won a $615 million settlement for "mortgage misconduct" and according to the settlement 85 percent of that money had to go to programs to help homeowners. Schneiderman announced he was going to parse the cash out to nonprofits across the state that help homeowners avoid foreclosures, but Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature cut a deal in the 2014 budget that swept the cash into their coffers. According to Crain's New York, Schneiderman only ended up with $85 million of settlement funds.

Many advocates say they expected a number of "innovative" programs from Schneiderman's office given his national prominence on the issue. They feel those programs were kneecapped by Cuomo, who has a searing rivalry with the attorney general.

The AG's office currently works with nonprofits around the state to help homeowners avoid mortgage fraud through a program called the Homeowner Protection Program. A network of over 85 groups gets about $60 million in funding from the AG's office. Homeowners are directed through that program to the Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP). The AG's office expects to be able to give out "several hundred" loans through MAP. The program began last October and has given out 100 loans of up to $40,000.

The Fair Share for Housing Coalition lists a total of $492 million in settlements with Bank of America, Ocwen Financial Corporation, and Citigroup as directly related to mortgage fraud and it advocates that the State utilize, at the minimum, those funds to help homeowners. But the State actually has over $5 billion in settlements with banks and corporations that advocates would also like to go to homeowners' cause.

Charles Pollydore, a homeowner from Long Island and member of New York Communities for Change, has been circulating a petition demanding Cuomo use settlement funds to help homeowners who are underwater or face foreclosure.

Pollydore lost his consultant job on Wall Street in 2008 and, while on unemployment, began trying to negotiate a loan modification with Bank of America. He said he was repeatedly rebuffed or ignored. He reached out to a slew of state and federal representatives only to be directed to a different office each time. Also in 2008, Pollydore became disabled due to a diabetes-related amputation and he fears he will never be able to come to terms with his bank for an affordable mortgage payment.

"It is great the State is getting all this money back from the banks, but I feel like they need to give the money back to the homeowners - especially the money that came from these predatory lenders," Pollydore said.

He adds that his Long Island neighborhood has been ravaged by foreclosures. "You drive through the neighborhood and the houses are boarded up, there are squatters, we have increased crime, school taxes have increased." Pollydore says he is now surviving on government assistance and still owes back taxes.

"The money the attorney general is using for his program is a drop in the bucket compared to the settlements they have reached," said Pollydore. "We need the money back to stop so many people walking away from their homes."

Cuomo's budget proposal combines the State's pot into $5.8 billion in settlement cash and proposes to put it largely toward one-time expenditures. The plan would use $1.5 billion for upstate revitalization, $3 billion for infrastructure including the Tappan Zee bridge, $500 million to increase broadband infrastructure across the state, and $850 million for a rainy-day fund.

The Assembly budget is largely in line with Cuomo's proposal, but adds $200 million in increased spending on housing issues, including $100 million for homeowners "at risk of foreclosure or who are underwater on their mortgage." The Assembly budget plan only offers this about the program: "The Assembly provides $100 million for a mortgage modification program." Calls to the Assembly for more details were not returned.

While The Fair Share for Housing Coalition praises Cuomo for including more funding for affordable housng and has tried to avoid ruffling feathers in its push for more help for homeowners, New York Communities for Change (NYCC) has used a more confrontational style. It issued a report earlier this year called "Wall St. On The 2nd Floor" that details the connections between Cuomo's new chief of staff, William Mulrow, and his former employer, Blackstone. Blackstone is the largest private equity company in the world and NYCC worries Murrow, and by extension Cuomo, has a conflict of interest.

The NYCC report reads: "Private equity companies "snapped up properties after prices fell as much as 35 percent from the 2006 peak and rental demand rose from the almost 5 million owners who went through foreclosure since 2008." The company that bought the most foreclosed properties during this time was Blackstone."

NYCC members plan to deliver Pollydore's petition to the governor soon.

"I think the governor has made his priorities pretty clear," said Peter Nagy of NYCC. " Helping people hurt by the banking crisis doesn't seem to be as important as helping those who caused the banking crisis. I think the governor's friends believe it is in their best interest not to help homeowners."

As they do during budget season, deals will materialize and implode, and it appears that the use of settlement funds may be decided in negotiations between the Legislature and Cuomo outside of the budget, which is due by April 1. Legislative session continues through mid June.

"The windfall money is something that I believe should be settled outside of the budget and done in a very deliberate way rather than rushing it in the next three days," Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said after meeting with Cuomo on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Cuomo administration was pushing back.

Velez said he is happy with the AG's program but wished there was more help out their for other homeowners, "This was a hurricane, no one asked for this," he said.

Pollydore, meanwhile, plans to keep advocating for Cuomo and the Legislature to dedicate all of the mortgage-related settlement funds to helping homeowners who are facing foreclosure. "This is why I'm appealing to the governor to help us. The banks got a bailout from the government and we didn't - so the State got that money from us. They got it from us."

by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette

dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 05:00:00 GMT http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5652-hurting-homeowners-say-bank-settlement-funds-belong-with-them
Democrats Frustrated by Governor Backing Off Party's Issues http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5654-democrats-frustrated-by-governor-backing-off-partys-issues Cuomo Heastie ethics

Cuomo and Heastie agree on ethics reforms (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)

On Tuesday Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters that the DREAM Act and the Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC) he had paired were no longer part of budget negotiations. For many Black and Latino legislators the news was painful - they had pushed Cuomo to include the DREAM Act as part of his budget after he and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul campaigned on the issue across the city this summer. But there was also a sinking sense of deja vu.

"DREAM Act, ETC are very important. Two different reasons, two different constituencies, but both get to the same point, which is access to education," Cuomo told reporters during a visit to the state Senate chambers Tuesday. "We have no agreement. We are nowhere close to an agreement."

A number of city-based legislators, especially from the Senate, say they have been repeatedly burned by a governor who is willing to talk about their issues on the stump to earn votes from their constituents but not willing to actually expend political capital to move their issues when the opportunity presents itself. They are increasingly concerned that Cuomo is willing to cede any number of policy points in budget talks, including further raising the minimum wage, in an effort to win the support of Senate Republicans on other issues.

Sen. Jose Peralta, who has worn a "Pass the DREAM Act!" t-shirt under his jacket during session, has been very active in supporting the act as part of the budget. The $27 million program Cuomo had included would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants. Peralta said he was let down by Cuomo's decision to drop the bill and will work with advocates to push Cuomo and Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos on the issue. The DREAM Act has more than enough support in the overwhelmingly Democratic Assembly.

Senate Republicans believe their opposition to the DREAM Act actually bolstered them in a number of races across the state this past fall.

In a new op-ed on Thursday, Cuomo explains that he wants to see votes on both the DREAM Act and EITC, and that while they may not be in the budget deal, he will continue to push each of them in the legislative session to follow, which lasts into mid June.

However, legislators are frustrated more generally. What is particularly irksome to Democrats this year is that Cuomo appears to be jettisoning contentious issues to get an on-time budget when he claimed earlier in the year that he would sacrifice budget timeliness for ethics reform (which the governor and Assembly Democrats have come to an agreement on).

"The governor should be equally committed to items in appropriations as he is on ethics," said Sen. Martin Dilan. "If DREAM comes out it should all come out. The budget is where we have leverage. Outside of the budget [The DREAM Act] is dead. This was a campaign promise of the governor, and I believe he and the lieutenant governor ran very hard on it."

Sen. Kevin Parker said he still has hope for the DREAM Act despite what Cuomo might have said. "There is still time for anything to happen," he said of ongoing budget negotiations. The budget is due by Wednesday, April 1.

Another item Democratic legislators point out Cuomo ran on was women's equality. And while Cuomo was supposed to help elect a Democratic Senate, he appeared to put little effort into doing so. Now the two converge as a Republican Senate blocks several key pieces of Democratic legislation, such as the DREAM Act and the abortion plank of the Women's Equality Act, and Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a woman, is left out of budget negotiations.

Meanwhile, Cuomo has allowed his ally Jeff Klein, who heads the five-member Independent Democratic Conference, to join in leadership meetings around the budget. Mainline Democrats have cried foul over Klein being included and not Stewart-Cousins. At the first meeting of the budget conference committees, nicknamed "the mothership," Stewart-Cousins used her brief opportunity to speak to protest her exclusion. "Apparently the mothership is the only place this mother will appear negotiating the budget," she said.

Democrats appear to now have most of their eggs in the debate over increasing the minimum wage but a number of them fear Cuomo has already caved to Senate Republicans on the issue - something Skelos said was the case on Thursday, declaring an increase out of budget negotiations.

"This guy should be with us on $15," said one legislator who requested to remain anonymous of Cuomo, "but instead we have to beg and scrape to get him to push for $11.50 [for New York City]."

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh called the minimum wage increase "the Assembly's top priority" when speaking with Gotham Gazette, but added that negotiations were centered around Cuomo's proposal for an eventual $10.50 for the state and $11.50 for the city. Parker said that the minimum wage needed to be done in this budget. "We don't want this to be another thing that comes up each year."

There has been underlying concern among Democrats that Cuomo would dump minimum wage in an effort to appease Skelos, who appears to back him on a number of education and financial issues. Skelos has pushed to remove a number of issues from budget discussions including how to use the State's massive bank settlement windfall and the renewal of mayoral control of schools. "I would guess that the independent monitor [for grand juries] is not going to be there," Skelos said after meeting with Cuomo on Tuesday. "Raising the age is not going to be there. DREAM Act is not going to be there. Other than that things are up for negotiation," he said, seemingly taking a victory lap for having nixed these items, which he and his conference oppose, from the budget.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters on Wednesday that a minimum wage increase is his top priority. "It absolutely has to be on the table as far as we're concerned in this conference," Heastie said.

During last year's Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus Weekend, Cuomo, joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio, made a grand announcement that he would support a program to provide prison inmates with access to college degrees. A great majority of the lawmakers there would rather have heard Cuomo pledge to deliver the DREAM Act, but they praised and supported his plan. However, Republicans mocked and derided the idea as a waste of taxpayer money that rewarded criminals and Cuomo quietly let the initiative die.

It appears the governor may be having a similar moment this year - except that the program at stake faces criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Cuomo's "Raise the Age" initiative that would raise the age youths can be tried as adults to 18 from 16 was initially greeted warmly by Democratic legislators. But after analyzing the complex program, which is spread out in different sections of the budget, a majority of Democrats now think Cuomo's proposal is deeply flawed. The Assembly presented a reworked version in their budget and Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, wrote to Cuomo on Tuesday saying they favor the Assembly version because they believe some of the provisions in Cuomo's plan will actually lead to juvenile offenders spending more time in jail.

"Raise the Age is not likely to be done in the budget," Cuomo told reporters outside of the Senate Republican conference room on Tuesday. "It's very complex. It connects with other issues..."

Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo's spokesperson, quickly contradicted her boss, on Twitter and in a statement, saying, "Raise the age is still part of budget negotiations; we believe we will successfully secure the necessary funding to implement the program."

It appears, though, that the policy will be decided outside of the budget while funding to implement it will be included in anticipation of legislation.

Cuomo defended his decision to remove issues from the negotiating table after he met with Senate Republicans on Tuesday: "The budget is my statement of saying, these are the priority issues, right? And now, people will say, 'If he didn't put it in the budget, he doesn't really care about it. That's what's happened over the years, and if it's not in the budget, then he doesn't mean it.' So the budget has become expansive from that point of view."

by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette

dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 05:00:00 GMT http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5654-democrats-frustrated-by-governor-backing-off-partys-issues
The 'Either/Or' of an Assembly Member's Stand on Education http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5655-the-eitheror-of-an-assembly-members-stand-on-education-rodriguez-ruiz parents 
Rally outside AM Rodriguez's office (photo: Alliance for Quality Education)

Last Friday, and despite a snowstorm, dozens of parents, students, and education advocates picketed in front of Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez's East Harlem office demanding that he stand up for all public school children. Many in his district are frustrated by the fact that he has turned a deaf ear to their concerns, as reflected in his wrong stands on education.

While many of the public schools in his district can no longer support co-locations, Mr. Rodríguez has pledged his support for raising the charter school cap, which will lead to additional co-locations.

In a recent column printed in this publication, Assembly Member Rodriguez tried to paint himself as fair, but his arguments proved his charter bias. While he mentions the 143,000 students attending struggling district schools, he makes no reference to the troubling disparities in student population at charter schools and the suspension rates that are ten times those in public schools. Like the Assembly Member wrote, "education isn't either/or."

In his district, for example, public district schools serve 30 percent special education students compared to only 17 percent in charters. The disparity in the children taught in self-contained special education classes is not any better – 9 percent in district schools versus only 1 percent in charters, according to data from Alliance for Quality Education.

During the picket, parents delivered an over-sized copy of a letter that the assembly member refused to sign, which not only highlights all those staggering facts about charters but that also has been signed by two dozen Democrats in the Assembly. Parents are still waiting for an answer.

In his column, he does ask for an increase in funding for children with special needs who can be in mainstream classrooms, but rather than a call for inclusion, his argument sounds more like an excuse for why charters exclude high-need student populations.

More privately-run charter schools will divert funds from our local public schools desperately in need of those resources.

Raising the charter cap will only benefit the pockets of hedge fund billionaires who are now driving Governor Andrew Cuomo's education policy - and clearly now Assembly Member Rodriguez's too. He is responding to the $20,700 he has received in campaign donations from the same group of donors who have contributed so heavily to the governor's campaigns. That's why parents and advocates have urged him to return it.

We need our elected officials to stand up for a government that works for all of our children and not the interests of the wealthy. That's a position that Assembly Member Rodriguez has yet to prove.

by Carlos Ruiz, East Harlem resident, public school parent, and member of New York Communities for Change

Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? E-mail editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com

webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Carlos Ruiz) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 05:00:00 GMT http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5655-the-eitheror-of-an-assembly-members-stand-on-education-rodriguez-ruiz
Albany Sunshine Week Looked Like an Eclipse to Advocates http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5648-sunshine-week-in-albany-looked-like-an-eclipse-to-advocates Cuomo Heastie ethics

Cuomo and Heastie embrace over ethics deal (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)

The Cuomo administration and the state Legislature are doing battle on a variety of fronts, perhaps none more intense than that over ethics reform. Last week, the administration launched a two-pronged attack in response to criticism of its 90-day email deletion policy and over a push for increased financial disclosure by administration employees and their significant others.

The pushback came during Sunshine Week, when state government is supposed to be focused on transparency and accountability. And while there were several announcements related to efforts to let more sunshine into government, the week was dominated by bickering. Cuomo's office was often focused on deflecting attention back onto the Legislature with surprisingly ugly attacks, even by Albany standards, rather than promoting transparency.

"Instead of sunshine we have an eclipse," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). "This is a Sunshine Week where the major players aren't even acknowledging the week with major initiatives. Instead we are fighting about whether the governor should automatically delete email after 90 days and disclosure for girlfriends."

Past Sunshine Weeks have seen the announcement of major open-data portals and other transparency initiatives. To be sure, the governor is pushing his ethics reform package, and even announced a two-way deal with the state Assembly on measures to require lawmakers disclose their outside income, verify their presence in the capital to collect per diems, and more. But, controversy over the email purge and the limited nature of the ethics reform plans have often kept the governor and other legislators on the defensive.

Cuomo responded to criticism of his email policy and new bills to require longer retention of government emails by insisting the Legislature must agree to be subject to FOIL for him to consider making changes. When pushed by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Cuomo did declare that he is ready to revisit the policy and said he will be convening a summit around email retention.

In response to the push for more financial disclosure from his administration and, specifically, his wealthy live-in girlfriend Sandra Lee - who Capital New York reported has business with a company that has business before the State - Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi tweeted, "The administration is glad to negotiate disclosure of all girlfriends," in a thinly-veiled insinuation that legislators have extra-marital relationships.

"This is not anything that is personal," Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told reporters of his push for Lee to disclose her income. He went on to declare interest in more disclosure from Cuomo's "minions," of which Azzopardi clearly qualifies. "You can find out where any of our council staff people went, how much they paid for lodging, their gas expenses, whatever they chit," Skelos said. "The governor, his staff, when they move their minions for a press conference, other than for security purposes, they don't have to disclose."

"It is getting really nasty," Horner said of the debate over increased disclosure from legislators and the administration. "It is sort of embarrassing."

Bills have been introduced that would do away with the executive's controversial policy that sees all state emails deleted after 90 days unless they are specifically saved. Advocates say the policy interferes with transparency and the freedom of information law, and state employees say it complicates their work.

A bill introduced by State Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell would both drastically reform the email retention policy and make the Legislature subject to FOIL. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ended his office's 90-day email deletion policy and said it would be formulating a new one, provoking Cuomo to act.

On March 12 Cuomo called for a state government summit on email and transparency, but a date has not yet been set. "We believe the policy should honor transparency while maintaining efficiency," Cuomo's head spokesperson Melissa DeRosa said in a statement. "To that end, as the Attorney General and the legislature appear open to revising their policies, the governor's office will convene a meeting with representatives from the Legislature, the attorney general and the comptroller to come up with one uniform email retention and [Freedom of Information Law] policy that applies to all state officials and agencies."

With no sign of a conference in sight Krueger and O'Donnell issued a statement on the 18th calling on Cuomo to end his policy regardless of a conference. "We don't need to hold a summit before we halt the current indefensible email deletion policy," said O'Donnell. "An immediate suspension and then a summit as soon as possible will enable us to have the intelligent conversation we need regarding a unified state policy." Krueger noted that Schneiderman did not wait for a summit to end his policy.

John Kaehny of good government group Reinvent Albany said that it is "unfortunate" that Sunshine Week was dominated by the email deletion policy, and calls the policy a "big step backwards" that could be adjusted quickly, thereby ending the public outcry against it.

Last Tuesday, perhaps looking to break up a newscycle dominated by his email policy, Cuomo made an impromptu announcement of an ethics package that he had agreed to with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie but not Skelos, who heads the Senate. The agreement would require tighter disclosure of legislators' outside income, take pensions away from officials convicted of corruption offenses, force lawmakers to check in with a swipe card to collect per diem reimbursements, and tighten rules pertaining to the personal use of campaign funds.

Skelos rejected the package for not holding the Executive to the same disclosure standards as the Legislature and good government groups criticized it for not going far enough, especially considering the indictment of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

The announcement also came on the heels of Schneiderman's unveiling of a drastic reform package that would create a full-time Legislature, among other sweeping reforms. Schneiderman explicitly stated that he was pushing the conversation further than the governor and that incremental steps at ethics reform would no longer suffice. His proposals are likely to go nowhere any time soon.

Sunshine Week did have its moments in the advancement of government transparency. Schneiderman's office announced that it will release an application programming interface, or API, that will allow app developers to use data from the Attorney General's NYopengovernment.com database. Kaehny and Schneiderman's office believe the API will make it easier for programmers to provide real-time data analysis of things like campaign finance, lobbying, and state contracts. "Giving the public direct access to this data will help shine a much-needed light on our state government," Schneiderman said in a statement.

The Senate passed a bill that would codify its practice of livecasting its proceedings and posting votes to the internet - the catch is that the Assembly would also have to pass the same bill. The Senate has passed the bill for years while the Assembly has refused to consider it.

The Assembly, meanwhile, passed a slew of one-house bills that work at strengthening response to freedom of information requests.

"This Sunshine Week was all about passing the buck," said Horner.

by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette

dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) Tue, 24 Mar 2015 05:00:00 GMT http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5648-sunshine-week-in-albany-looked-like-an-eclipse-to-advocates
New York Colleges Need the DREAM Act http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5649-new-york-colleges-need-the-dream-act-queens-college Curiel

Francisco Curiel, one of the co-authors

Queens College is a special place. As one of the country's most culturally diverse campuses—we serve men and women from more than 150 countries—the college seeks to "prepare students to become leading citizens of an increasingly global society," as our mission statement notes. We pride ourselves on being accessible and offering a rigorous education. In keeping with our motto—"We learn so that we can serve"—we provide an education that will enable our graduates to better serve their communities and the needs of our beloved New York State.

We strive to make Queens College as accessible as possible to all New Yorkers who meet our high admissions criteria. But there is a major roadblock confronting many DREAMers (undocumented immigrant students). The roadblock is that, because of their status, DREAMers are ineligible for financial aid.

All of New York State's colleges and universities would benefit from the passing of the DREAM Act. Its passage would open up the state's Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to DREAMers who meet TAP's eligibility criteria. We would also be better able to achieve our goal of educating all New Yorkers and putting them on the path to high-skilled employment.

There are three main reasons why the DREAM Act should be passed immediately. First, the DREAM Act would open the doors of educational opportunity to thousands of students who otherwise would be unable to earn a college degree. This would be life changing for these young people and their families. The DREAM Act would also benefit immigrant youth who already are on campus. One of us (Mr. Curiel) is an undocumented youth and a Queens College student who maintains good grades and participates in campus life. However, he has no access to state-funded financial aid, which means significant financial strain on his family, as it does on thousands of other New York families.

Second, the DREAM Act could further advance academic excellence on our campuses. Numerous studies show that all students benefit when they are part of a diverse student body. Queens College students benefit from the rich exchange of ideas and experience that occurs in our classrooms, cafeterias, and common spaces among students from different backgrounds—whether those be national origin, race, culture, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Having more DREAMers on our campuses would further invigorate classroom discussions and campus life, benefiting DREAMers and non-DREAMers alike. It could also help DREAMers feel more comfortable on campus by eliminating the arbitrary barrier that immigration status can sometimes impose.

And third, the DREAM Act would enable us to fulfill our mission of educating all New Yorkers and developing a skilled workforce grounded in a liberal arts and science education. In today's global economy, it is essential that we develop an educated workforce to keep New York State ahead of its competition. To do this, we must ensure that every qualified young person who wants to go to college can do so.

Queens College President Matos Rodriguez
Queens College President Matos Rodriguez

A report by the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) found in 2014 that "the short-term costs of extending financial assistance to undocumented students would be outweighed by the long-term economic benefits." Having more DREAMers in our colleges would significantly increase the ranks of high-skilled workers contributing to our state economy. It would also strengthen our state's tax base, as the OSC found that "a person earning a bachelor's degree would pay more than $60,000 in additional State taxes, compared with a maximum TAP award of $20,000."

In short, the DREAM Act makes sense on three fronts: expanding educational access to New York's youth, enriching our campus life, and benefiting our state economically and socially.

The only challenge now is the willingness to act. By passing the DREAM Act, New York State would be standing up for its talented immigrant youth. It also would be standing up for the continued excellence and vibrancy of our higher education institutions. These are goals we can all support.

by Félix V. Matos Rodríguez and Francisco Curiel. Matos Rodríguez is the President of Queens College; Curiel is a Queens College student and a Youth Power Project member of Make the Road New York.

Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? E-mail editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com

webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Félix V. Matos Rodríguez and Francisco Curiel) Tue, 24 Mar 2015 05:00:00 GMT http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5649-new-york-colleges-need-the-dream-act-queens-college
Education Isn't Either/Or http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5650-education-isnt-either-or-reform-funding-cfe-rodriguez AM Rodriguez

Assembly Member Rodriguez, the author (photo: investined.org)

Each year education advocates head to Albany to fight for our children, this year was no different as thousands arrived on the steps of the Capitol last week clad with signs, flyers, and banners. Yet, among all the differences, all the arguments they bring to the table, one thing is clear – our children need our help.

There are a bounty of choices for parents: public schools, charter schools, private and parochial schools; I hear the benefits of each and we feel the successes of their graduates in our community. There are a million reasons to choose one over another, but the choice is limited if they don't receive adequate funding to stay open.

There are 143,000 children, the majority of them children of color from low-income neighborhoods, stuck in failing schools that are crippled by a lack of basic resources, including equitable funding. The $1.8 billion increase in school funding put forth by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, myself, and my colleagues will fill the Gap Elimination Adjustment and start meeting the $4.9 billion Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) commitment we so badly need to keep schools funded.

It's simple to fix this problem by allocating more money in the budget for schools through tax proposals - we already have a school system that has been hurt by property tax caps. However, dedicating a larger portion of the State's bank settlement funds towards CFE will allow us to make the needed improvements to our schools.

As we fight for what we deserve from the CFE settlement, we must also explore education reforms. Funding and improving our schools must not be an either/or conversation; we should willingly implement reasonable changes that provide the best results for our kids.

First, we must ensure adequate funding for quality pre-Kindergarten programs. Pre-K is integral in identifying and helping special needs students early in the educational process. The ability to detect special needs early will allow parents to work with teachers to identify the best course of action to ensure their child gets the help they need and can potentially eliminate their need to be enrolled in special education (SPED) to begin with.

Second, we need to reevaluate our SPED programs. African-American and Hispanic children are more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to be identified by teachers as having serious learning disabilities, and they are 1.5 times more likely to be funneled into SPED services than all other racial and ethnic groups combined.

In New York City, district schools receive an extra $2,309 to $8,609 per SPED student, and often even this is insufficient. Further, If a school graduates a student out of SPED status and provides only supplemental support, the extra school aid drops to just $500, creating a disincentive for schools to graduate students from SPED. While there are schools, both district and charter, which do serve special needs students, and serve them well, many do not. We should increase special education funding for students who can be in mainstream classrooms but need additional services, eliminating the disincentive to move students out of SPED.

Third, we need to explore what accountability looks like through fair and unbiased evaluations. Our teachers can't be portrayed as villains, they are our greatest ally in ensuring our children get the best education.

Last, where teachers and principals have been found to have committed a violent crime, been involved in misconduct involving the sexual abuse of a student, or found incompetent through a pattern of ineffective teaching, a swift suspension or removal process must be implemented to protect our children. Lengthy processes hurt our schools' abilities to educate our children and thus hold our students back.

As we work toward a budget that includes what is owed us from the CFE lawsuit, we must not ignore the areas where we can learn and enhance the opportunities we provide to our children. Our educators and communities, our teachers, our district schools, our charters, and ultimately, our students, have too much on the line to ignore the necessity for bold action, structural improvements, and needed investments to end our state's failing school crisis.

Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez represents East Harlem/El Barrio and the Upper East Side.

Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? E-mail editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com

webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Robert J. Rodriguez) Tue, 24 Mar 2015 05:00:00 GMT http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5650-education-isnt-either-or-reform-funding-cfe-rodriguez