NiLPnote: Now that New York State's Latino state legislators concluded their statewide Somos El Futuro Conference in Albany, we thought it would be important to restate the persistent problem facing Latinos in New York State government --- Latino extreme underrepresentation in state government employment (19 percent of the state's population, but only 5 percent of the state government work force). The NYS Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force chaired by Bronx Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo and the Somos El Futuro Conference chaired by Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, but have yet to address this disgraceful widespread exclusion of Latinos from state public service jobs.
Over the lifespan of the Somos Conferences, the disparity in Latino employment in New York State government has grown dramatically. Here is the track record between 1980 and 2016:
Despite an otherwise well-received conference this year, generally attributed to the leadership of Assemblyman Crespo, this persistent problem was not addressed by the conference overall or in any of its legislative workshops. Does this mean that the Latino state legislators do not see it as a priority or a problem worth even talking about? Does Governor Cuomo's great work on Puerto Rico's recovery mean that touchy issues like this will be swept under the rug by Latino leaders during his reelection campaign? Well, it sure looks that way!
By the way, has the Latino community ever gotten a formal written report from Somos or the Task Force on their legislative or budgetary agendas and priorities? What about an audited financial report on what they spent on the conference and the sources of funding? Just sayin'!
NiLP Latino Datanote
Latino Underrepresentation in New York State Government 2016
By Angelo Falcón
The NiLP Report
A review of the latest employment data from the government of the State of New York reveals the continuing extreme underrepresentation of Latinos in its workforce. According to the just-released statistics from the Census Bureau, Latinos are now estimated to comprise 19 percent of the state's population. However, in 2016 Latinos only made up 4.9 percent of state government employees.
Compared to their share of the state civilian labor force, 17 percent, this makes Latinos the most underrepresented group in state government. As the graph below indicates, compared to other racial-ethnic groups, Latinos have the greatest disparity in state jobs. This is at a point in which Blacks and Asians have achieved parity and Whites are overrepresented.
One way to gauging the prospects for improvement in Latinos' representation in the New York State government workforce is their rate of new hires. According to the state's Civil Service Department, Latinos made up only 5.5 percent of new hires, which indicates that no serious progress if made by the Cuomo Administration address the virtual exclusion of Latinos from state government jobs.
Among new hires in relations to their share in the general state labor force, Whites are greatly overrepresented, Blacks are also overrepresented but to a lesser degree, and Asians have achieved parity. This demonstrates that efforts by the Cuomo Administration to be more inclusive of Blacks and Asians, as well as efforts to maintain White overrepresentation, have been successful but for Latinos. The reasons for this major disparity are open to debate.
Finally, we present the degree of Latino representation on the staffs of individual agencies. There are a large number of state agencies with none or only one Latino on staff (13 of 65). Only five agencies have staffs that are 10 percent or more Latino.
"The truth is there are a few among us who are so up Cuomo's ass that they think talking to him in private is the best way." I asked: "You mean begging de rodillas?" (on your knees) The assemblyman responded, "You have a way with words." So, who's to blame? The governor or the submissive Latinos in Albany?
This persistent problem of extreme Latino underrepresentation in New York State government employment seems unique to this community, and it appears that very little is being dome to address this problem. We have discussed elsewhere the importance of public services employment to the Latino community and have tracked this problem since 1982 with the election of Mario Cuomo as Governor. Despite documenting the problem and making numerous recommendations, it has received very little attention from the current Cuomo Administration.
As an example of this neglect, last week it was revealed in the media that of 108 nominations for state government appointments submitted by NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo to the State Senate, only 5 (4.6 percent) were Latinos. State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. of the Bronx reacted as follows: ". . . Some people might think that this could be racial and ethnic discrimination against a group that has always been very supportive of the Governor." Besides the tiny number of Latino nominees, two of the five recycled Latino appointments --- Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who was appointed to the Port Authority Board; and former Secretary of State Cesar Perales appointed as the only Latino on the SUNY Board of Trustees. Fernando Ferrer was nominated for reappointment to the MTA Board, of which he was Acting Chair until yesterday when he was replaced by Joe Lohta. This approach to Latino appointments by Governor Cuomo amounts to little more than window dressing, a minimal effort to give the impression of being inclusive.
A week ago, the Governor announced the appointment of a Puerto Rican, Havidan Rodriguez, as President of the State University of New York at Albany, the first Latino to head a senior college in the state system. While SUNY-Albany has a respectable Latino student enrollment of 15 percent, the SUNY system as a whole only has a 12 percent Latino student enrollment, and Latinos make up less than 3 percent of leadership positions within their faculty and staff. He is joined by Cesar Perales as the only Latino to serve as a SUNY Trustee.
It is difficult to believe that it is 2017 and the Cuomo Administration continues to essentially exclude and marginalize Latinos from his government's workforce at all levels. Among his top level appointments as well, Latinos are few and far between, and even the appointment of a Puerto Rican to head one of the state's senior colleges id heralded as progress, it is notable that this is the first such an appointment of a Latino in the state university system.
While Governor Cuomo needs to be held more accountable for this failure to more fairly include Latinos, the problem arises as to who is supposed to hold him accountable. It is clear that this should be the major role of the 6 Latino State Senators and 10 State Assemblymembers. However, these Latino state legislators have apparently not been up to the task and have, as a consequence, become complicit in the state's and Governor Cuomo's employment discrimination against the community they were elected to represent.