Yearly Archives: 2020

On July 9th, G-Health Enterprises and the Buffalo Public Schools partnered to give away over 200 boxes of food to those in need during the COVID 19 Pandemic at their main street location.

GBUAHN is a health home, created under the Affordable Care Act, Section 2703. A Health Home is a group of health and community agencies that have agreed to work together to help people with many health issues get what they need to keep them healthier and safer in the community. Each person who joins gets a “care manager”. A care manager will work closely with him/her to get the services he/she needs in his/her community. This service is being paid for through New York State Medicaid.

There are three GBUAHN locations in Buffalo, N.Y. – one on Jefferson Avenue, Main Street  and one on Niagara Street. GBUAHN provides health care coordination and management for Medicaid beneficiaries with multiple or severe chronic conditions. Prior to the establishment of GBUAHN, health care services for Medicaid recipients were often managed in an expensive and fractured manner.

GBUAHN was designed to be a person-centered system of care that facilitates access to and coordination of a full array of primary and acute physical health services, behavioral health care, and long-term community-based services and supports.

GBUAHN’s mission is to transform health care by removing barriers created by social determinants of health in underserved communities. GBUAHN’s vision is to become the health home of choice for our chosen marketplace. In 2017, GBUAHN opened a new facility at 564 Niagara Street, Buffalo, that also houses Urban Family Practice, an imaging center, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a teaching kitchen and specialists’ offices.

As Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue stood beside President Trump in the Rose Garden Thursday afternoon, the head of a corporation that bills itself as America’s largest Hispanic-owned food company remembered his grandfather. The Spanish immigrant and Trump have something in common, Unanue said.

“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder, and that’s what my grandfather did,” the executive said. “He came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper. And so we have an incredible builder, and we pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country that we will continue to prosper and to grow.”

But what were intended to be celebratory comments marking Trump’s signing of an executive order that pledges to improve Hispanic Americans’ access to educational and economic opportunities instead fueled a firestorm of backlash targeting Unanue and Goya that culminated in widespread calls to boycott the popular brand

As clips of Unanue’s remarks circulated on social media Thursday, Latinos and longtime supporters of Goya’s food slammed the CEO’s commendation of Trump, citing the president’s incendiary rhetoric and controversial policies aimed at minority communities and immigrants. By early Friday, “Goya” was still a top trending term on Twitter along with the hashtags #Goyaway and #BoycottGoya as a number of public figures, and Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and former presidential candidate Julián Castro, criticized Unanue — a third-generation Spanish American — for praising Trump.

“Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo,’” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, sharing a video of Unanue speaking.

Castro urged Americans to “think twice” before buying Goya products.

Goya Foods “has been a staple of so many Latino households for generations,” he tweeted. “Now their CEO, Bob Unanue, is praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gains.

Representatives for Goya did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Panorama Hispano News, The Washington Post or other news outlets late Thursday.

 

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Niagara Café one of Niagara Street’s favorite restaurants in Buffalo has re-opened after a three-month hiatus. One manager calling the day “exciting and hectic.

For now, the restaurant is only doing take out said Lillian Quintana, the manager and daughter of owner Raul Hernandez.

In 1993, Buffalo was introduced to Beanie Babies and Niagara Café. A quarter-century later, one of those is more popular than ever.

The parking lot of Niagara Café, the city’s oldest Puerto Rican restaurant, is usually full. Its concrete parking stops each carry the name of a Puerto Rican locale, so when members of the diaspora pull in, it’s a little bit like coming home.

Inside, customers line up along a counter holding trays of fried snacks under glass, patiently waiting their turn. Others settle into a table or booth and await a server in a colorful Niagara Café jersey.

In the hot days of Buffalo’s summer, there’s nothing like a Niagara Café lunch, sipping the passion fruit drink called parcha and listening to Puerto Rican pop videos on the television while salas music plays all day.  videos of Puerto Rico, make you want to go to the beaches of the Island and sit under a palm tree.

I have eaten lunch at Niagara Café 40 or 50 times. The yellow rice has always been perfect: chewy-firm, medium-grain, golden with sazon spices, punctuated with pigeon peas. How this humble restaurant has achieved consistency that evades more highfalutin places, I do not know. What I do know is that Niagara Café offers one of the best returns for your dining dollar in Buffalo

Lunch specials, served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday, are $6.45. They are the gateway to the Niagara Café experience. This restaurant is cash only, so bring bills or hit the in-house ATM.

The roasted pork lunch special brings a tender heap of pork shoulder that’s been cooked long enough for the sweetness to come out, plus rice and beans. A dash of cooking juice moistens the meat.

The perfect rice wants to be spooned into the soupy ramekin of beans with potatoes, and jacked up with hot sauce from the bottle on the table. Don’t resist. Finish up and think about all the lame sandwiches you’ve endured for more than that $6.45. Promise yourself to do better. For instance, the roast pork hoagie ($6.45) will fill out your roll with roast pork, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. I’d add a spritz of hot sauce, but that’s me.

Niagara Café’s rotisserie chicken is among the better versions in the city, if it hasn’t been waiting for you too long. At its best the skin is browned for enjoying as its own course, the flesh moist and enjoyable as you pull it off the bone. Throw it in with the beans. There are no rules here.

The beef stew and chicken stew are mild versions, begging to be doctored up with hot sauce, salt and pepper. The fried pork chop lunch is for the unapologetic carnivore, up for gnawing on the bones of delicious creatures.

Dinner plates ($10-$11) are bigger, and offer a wider variety of centerpieces. One of my favorites is bistec encebollado ($11), which is strips of beef braised with onions in a vinegary sauce until tender.

Another is the carne frita ($11), one of the peak carnivore moments in this meat-loving city. Carne frita is chunks of pork shoulder, run through with veins of fat, tossed in dry spices and then deep-fried. When I fork up a chunk of that crispy, fatty, well-seasoned meat, I definitely feel on top of the food chain.

If a meal sounds like too much, try one of the fried snacks. Pastelillos ($2.30) are turnovers stuffed with seasoned ground beef. They’re better fresh out of the fryer, as their pastry wilts quickly while waiting for customers. Alcapurria ($2.30) is a chewy log of cassava filled with seasoned ground beef. Relleno de papa ($2.30) is a snowball-sized sphere of mashed potato that’s been stuffed with ground beef, and fried. They could all use a dash of hot sauce.

Roast pork and rotisserie chicken are the main reasons for coming here, but the cooking at this humble restaurant can ably serve vegetarians, too. The rice and beans are vegan, with no animal products. Together, they’re a solid meal.

Then there are the maduros. If you’re not familiar with plantains, Niagara Café’s maduros ($3.50) should end that deficit. Plantains are halfway between banana and potato, and fried to a caramel stickiness, they become maduros. Make sure to ask for the mojito, garlicky tomato sauce. Dunk maduros in mojito, and give thanks for whatever geopolitical currents brought the Puerto Ricans to Buffalo.

 

 

Las razones de las bajas en este cuatrienio han sido diversas: desde investigaciones federales, ser señalados en escándalos de corrupción durante emergencias y hasta cansarse del ambiente político
Por José Karlo Pagán

En los 11 meses de la administración de la gobernadora Wanda Vázquez Garced una veintena de funcionarios han decidido renunciar o fueron despedidos por la mandataria.

Las razones de las bajas han sido diversas: desde investigaciones federales en las agencias que dirigen, hasta ser señalados en escándalos de corrupción durante emergencias como la de los terremotos o la pandemia del coronavirus.

La más reciente dimisión ha desatado una nueva crisis política en La Fortaleza y en el Partido Nuevo Progresista. Mientras Vázquez Garced acusa a la saliente secretaria del Departamento de Justicia, Dennise Longo, de haber intervenido en una pesquisa federal que involucraría a su madre, la exsecretaria de Salud, Concepción Quiñones, la extitular de Justicia resalta que antes de que le pidieran la renuncia había recomendado un Panel sobre el Fiscal Especial Independiente contra la gobernadora.

En los dos años y siete meses de gestión del renunciante gobernador Ricardo Rosselló Nevares este diario contabilizó unas 58 dimisiones o despedidos vinculadas a su administración o al partido.

A continuación, las bajas durante el gobierno de la primera ejecutiva y precandidata a la gobernación en las elecciones de noviembre:

 

The island has had to weather a hurricane, a political crisis and earthquakes, but those crises did not lead to the widespread unemployment caused by the response to the coronavirus pandemic

By Alejandra Rosa and Frances Robles

SAN JUAN, P.R. — With hundreds of thousands of people suddenly out of jobs in Puerto Rico, Luciano Soto, a tour guide who has not worked in nearly four months, wanted to be first in line at the Puerto Rico Convention Center, now outfitted as an unemployment office.

He showed up at 8 p.m. one night a few weeks ago, with a lunchbox full of snacks, prepared to spend the night, so that he could find out why the unemployment benefits he had applied for months earlier had never arrived. By 5 a.m., more than 400 others were also at the convention center, and many furious people were turned away.

Mr. Soto finally got his money last week, after finding three of his checks at the post office: The government had mailed them to the wrong address.“This is going to go on for a while,” said Mr. Soto, 57, who is worried that the cruise industry he depends on will not quickly recover. “Would you take a cruise right now, even if someone gave it to you for free?”

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe, shutting businesses, killing the vulnerable and crippling economies, Puerto Rico has taken one of the country’s hardest economic hits.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez was the first governor in the nation to order businesses to close and people to stay home. Experts say that her quick action helped stave off an even worse medical crisis on the island. But the pandemic has nonetheless plunged Puerto Rico into its fifth dire emergency in three years, one that the government has struggled to manage.

Thanks largely to hurricane reconstruction, Puerto Rico’s economy had been inching toward recovery after a devastating 2017 storm and the bankruptcy of the island’s government the same year. A civic uprising paralyzed the island last summer and led to the ouster of Governor Vázquez’s predecessor. Then a series of earthquakes shook the south side of the island in January, damaging homes and buildings, sending thousands to live on the street, and closing schools across the island.

As of last week, despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that everyone should be washing their hands frequently during the coronavirus pandemic, the governor announced that because of a severe drought, parts of the island would have running water only every other day for the foreseeable future. So far, the island has had 8,714 confirmed and likely cases of the virus, and 157 deaths.Experts say this latest economic crisis has been even more difficult than the one that followed Hurricane Maria. For one thing, aid has not come pouring in from around the world, as it did after disasters of the natural kind. And with Covid-19 creating serious problems in Florida and other parts of the United States, unemployed Puerto Ricans, who fled to the mainland in droves after Hurricane Maria, have nowhere to turn.

As a result, on an island that already had the highest poverty ratein the United States, at least 300,000 Puerto Ricans have filed unemployment claims linked to the pandemic — out of a civilian labor force of 1.05 million — and many others are ineligible for aid because they are part of the island’s large informal economy. Puerto Rico in mid-June had the highest insured unemployment rate in the country, at 23 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Thousands of people were left waiting for their checks as Puerto Rico’s understaffed bureaucracy struggled to keep up with the flood of claims. A postal worker’s video went viral when he showed unemployment checks stuck in mail purgatory because they had been addressed to “Same”: Many applicants had written their home addresses on the form and then, when asked for their mailing address, wrote “same as above.”

The island’s labor secretary, Briseida Torres, resigned in June, when public fury was mounting over the long lines and delayed payouts, including associated delays in receiving federal stimulus checks. Since then, claims have started being paid, but workers without jobs have remained deeply unsettled.

“I lost my job on June 1,” said Marelys Figueroa, 27, who was a marketing and recruitment officer at a university. “I was working from home, and I got an email. It said I was unemployed, effective immediately. My income was the strongest of my household, and I have a 4-year-old child.”

She turned to a local food bank for help, vowing to go back to school and start her own business.

The food bank, Comedores Sociales, said that it received 8,000 requests for help in the first two months of the pandemic. Paola Aponte Cotto, a worker there, said she spends 20 hours a week on the phone, fielding requests.

“We’ve received calls from people crying,” Ms. Aponte said. “The callers who are most shocked are the ones who lost their jobs.”

Puerto Rico’s new labor secretary, Carlos Rivera Santiago, acknowledged that there were delays in getting unemployment checks to those who needed them, but said the government had opened more offices and improved online services to address the backlog. After weeks of chaotic scenes like the one Mr. Soto experienced, the government implemented a more orderly indoor process, with socially distanced seats where weary applicants wait for their appointments.

More than 300,000 people are now getting benefits, Mr. Rivera Santiago said, while total claims in two available assistance programs have reached 500,000.

“It’s a challenge, and one Puerto Rico is going to confront,” he said. “We have to reinvent ourselves, change the way we work. Remote work has become the order of the day, and that was not very usual in Puerto Rico.”

He stressed that the key to recovery will be injecting money into the economy.

Puerto Rico is expected to receive $13 billion in Covid-related federal funds, according to the Financial Oversight and Management Board, the agency in New York that has managed Puerto Rico’s finances since it defaulted on $72 billion in debt. The board has estimated that Puerto Rico’s economy will contract by 4 percent.

In March, Governor Vázquez announced a $787 million stimulus package, which included $160 million in grants to small businesses and the self-employed. The government also set aside some special Covid-related federal grants to help heavily affected sectors like hospitals and tourism. About $350 million in federal funds went to the private sector to help pay employees at businesses that were disrupted, according to a Puerto Rico government report.

José Caraballo-Cueto, an associate professor at the University of Puerto Rico, said the rollout of the stimulus was problematic, because it gave priority to things like hazard pay for front-line workers, who were still employed.

Puerto Rico’s official unemployment rate has not been reported since February, but Mr. Caraballo-Cueto estimates that it is now close to 40 percent. It is unclear how many people have returned to work since the governor authorized businesses to reopen in mid-June.

“The claims were the biggest we ever saw, since the beginning of recording unemployment in the 1980s,” Mr. Caraballo-Cueto said. “And the government pretended to process all of those new claims with the same number of employees they always had.”Maria Enchautegui, an economist at the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico, a policy and research organization, said the greatest challenge was the technical capacity of the island’s Labor Department, which was too limited to deal with the crush of applications. If the promised aid does not quickly arrive, she said, the poverty rate among workers in businesses affected by the recent lockdowns could climb to 77 percent.

“The effect on poverty could be quite bad,” Ms. Enchautegui said.

Many Puerto Ricans have informal off-the-books jobs that do not qualify them for unemployment benefits, making the situation on the island even more complicated, said Amanda M. Rivera, the institute’s executive director.

The poverty rate did not climb after Hurricane Maria in 2017, she said, despite experts’ predictions, because so many people left the island.

“After the hurricane, there was a valve, a place people could go where things were normal,” Ms. Rivera said. “Now that people don’t have that valve, that’s a real concern.”

Roberto Rivera, 55, a driver for a guided tour company, slept in his car one night a few weeks ago, his crutches by his side, so he would be the first in line for a short-lived drive-through service center established by the Labor Department to receive disaster unemployment assistance applications.

The scene resembled gasoline lines that formed during Hurricane Maria, but were much longer, as thousands of people traveled overnight from different parts of Puerto Rico to arrive at the convention center before sunrise, driving on dark highways where the streetlights have not been turned on since government austerity cuts three years ago.

“I arrived here at 11 p.m. — I need the money, I have to pay rent, buy food,” Mr. Rivera said. “I submitted everything a month ago, and I haven’t received anything. I’ve been surviving with the little I have left.”

 

The city of Rochester will post all police disciplinary files into an online database before the end of the year, City Hall officials announced Tuesday.

In June, state lawmakers repealed section 50a of the civil service law, which kept police and firefighter personnel records confidential. Those records will generally be available via a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.

City spokesperson Justin Roj said the online database was the easiest method to meet the demand for records.

“We have already received a number of FOILs asking for such records, including one for all RPD disciplinary records,” Roj said, in a statement. “This new database will allow everyone to access these records without the delay of processing a FOIL request.”

Roj said the city plans to have the database up and running by the end of the year.

Rochester has joined a growing roster of cities taking a proactive approach of posting police personnel records online.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for instance, announced all of his city’s 1,100 active police misconduct cases, as well as past cases and judgements, would be uploaded into a public online database.

Utica pledged a similar plan and has already begun posting files. So far on the city’s website, the records of Chief Mark Williams, Deputy Chief Ed Noonan and four officers are available.

Rochester City Council Member Mary Lupien and Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart had called for the Rochester Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to take a similar tack to the police departments in New York City and Utica.

“Posting disciplinary records online makes them accessible to the public,” Lupien said Tuesday. “This proactive step would go a long way in holding law enforcement accountable and building trust with the community.”

Requests for police personnel files under FOIL can be made by anybody. But waiting for them can be time consuming, and a request containing vague language could plausibly be denied. Barnhart said putting the burden on the people to file FOILs is a barrier to transparency.

“Telling people to file a FOIL isn’t the right approach,” Barnhart said. “The open records law allows governments to drag their feet for weeks or months. The process can be hard for people to navigate.”

President of the Rochester Police Locust Michael Mazzeo had not learned of the planned public database until reading news reports Tuesday morning. He said he has concerns about privacy, and that he would like to have a hand in determining what potentially sensitive information is made available.

“I really think there’s some out there that think we have, like, serial killers, and it’s going to come out,” Mazzeo said, at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “It’s not going to come out, so let’s not be afraid of it, let’s engage in it, but let’s protect certain parts of privacy.”

Mazzeo also referred to making complete personnel files available to the public “very dangerous.”

“Would you want all of your personnel files out there so your next door neighbor could look at them? Or have them just posted on social media for whatever reason?” Mazzeo said. “How does someone get a fair due process when you’re involved in a certain incident that no one has the full facts of? They just paint a certain picture.”

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is creating a system for handling the demand for 50a files, according to a statement released by the agency Tuesday. But the office did not specify whether that meant putting all files into an online database.

“While we are reviewing those requests, MCSO is in the process of building the most efficient business model, to include technologies, that will allow our agency to comply with the law in the most efficient manner possible,” the statement reads.

Rochester City Council on Monday discussed a series of proposals meant to stem a wave of evictions that could come as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has halted evictions until Aug. 20 for people directly impacted by the pandemic. Council is concerned that a surge of evictions could follow.

Among the ideas that Council discussed is helping the Catholic Family Center devise a plan to use the $900,000 that the city already committed to spend on eviction prevention. Another measure would pay for counsel for those involved in eviction proceedings. That would also cost about $900,000.

They’re also considering the potential of using grant funds to help tenants buy their houses from their landlords.

Council members were generally supportive of the ideas, including Vice President Willie Lightfoot, but he expressed concerns about landlords who could be affected by the changes.

“I wouldn’t want to sign onto anything that could have unintended consequences on Black and brown businesses that are already suffering significantly,” said Lightfoot.

Councilmember Malik Evans said he likes the ideas but only if they come with an effort to get to the root cause of evictions. He said evictions are symptoms of other issues.

“They have to go hand in hand,” Evans said. ”The triage, the immediate thing. You stop the bleeding, you help. But then you say, ‘Here’s the resources if you think you’ll be in this situation again. We’ve got to be able to help you so you don’t end up back here again.’ ”

Another idea discussed is potential good or just cause eviction laws. Among other protections, good cause laws limit how much landlords can increase rents, and also prevents an eviction without a court hearing.

One of the biggest proponents of the idea is Councilmember Mary Lupien, who argues that some landlords use month-to-month leases for bad intentions.

“They keep them on month-to-month leases specifically so that they can get them out, whether or not they want to sell the property or they want to do major renovations. It keeps people in unstable housing conditions,” said Lupien.

Councilmember Michael Patterson also expressed some concerns. He said problem tenants exist, and landlords should have some mechanism to remove them.

“I understand the concern. I have it, too,” said Patterson. “If we’re going to restrict rent, in my mind, we have to see that there’s an actual housing emergency because it is the private market — and I’m sorry, I’m going to sound like the bad guy here, but it’s a business, and businesses are in business to make a profit.”

A vacancy study was approved by Council last year. Based on rent reforms passed at the state level last year, if less than 5 percent of apartments are vacant, Council can declare a housing emergency and create its own rent laws.

The measures that Council discussed will likely not be voted on until at least August. Council President Loretta Scott said they need more time to flesh the ideas out.

Scott said Council has spoken to local tenants rights groups a number of times and they need to have discussions with landlords, too.

 

BUFFALO, N.Y. –Buffalo Police now say 60 people have been shot since early June, but Mayor Brown says it should not be a reflection on the work of the department.

We asked the mayor about some very candid statements made yesterday by the head of the police union.

“I think proactive policing is being done. Police officers are working hard doing a good job in very difficult circumstances.”

Mayor Brown says he disagrees with the assessment of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President.

John Evans said yesterday that in light of recent events where officers were charged or suspended, many officers are now reluctant to do any proactive policing and are simply reacting to calls instead.

“Any type of proactive policing is no longer. It’s just not worth it. The current atmosphere doesn’t support it. You’re not gonna get any support from the administration doing that type of work so to see all that spike in shootings, it’s not a surprise,” Evans said.

“Well, I don’t think one person can speak for over 700 officers. I’m out every single day and what I see is great dedication from our police officers,” Mayor Brown said.

The mayor says other large cities are seeing a spike in violent crime too as we endure what he calls a pandemic involving health, economics, and racial justice.

“People are frustrated, people are angry, people are fearful and many people are doing things they would not normally do and that’s why I’ve been saying love is the message. People need to show more live for each other, people need to show more concern for each other and we need to support each other more during this difficult time when every single person is going through more than people usually go through right now,” Brown added.

The Akron native President of the NFLPA sounded off on the NFL’s COVID-19 safety protocolsNEW YORK (AP) –

The NFL and the NFLPA haven’t come to an agreement on all protocols for training camp and the preseason as the report date for teams draws closer. The two sides finalized the protocols regarding team travel, media, and treatment response, and have also updated the facilities protocol to specifically address training camp based on recommendations from a joint committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches formed by the league and players’ union. The league sent a 42-page memo to teams last Friday outlining those proposals. But testing and the number of preseason games remain unresolved.

NFLPA President JC Tretter, who is a native of nearby Akron and plays center for the Cleveland Browns, blogged on the NFLPA site accusing the league of being “unwilling to prioritize player safety.”

The players want no preseason games, while the NFL still wants two.  Players also wanted a 48-day training camp to try to reduce the number of injuries given the shortened offseason.  With the July 28th start to camps, the NFL  has fallen short of that.

 

 

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