Posts Tagged ‘Latino in America’

With the announcement of a Dialogue Committee by Puerto Rico’s Republican and pro-statehood leader Luis Fortuño that has attempted to bring consensus to the colony’s upcoming plebiscite on political status, several organizations, particularly those who support a “free associated state,” have been prohibited from participating in Fortuño’s committee.

As a result, these organizations have decided to take the matter into their own hands and hold their own forums about why Fortuño has not allowed them into the conversation.


La organización Alianza pro Libre Asociación Soberana (ALAS) se une a los compañeros de Acción Democrática Puertorriqueña (ADP) en el coauspicio de la siguiente actividad:



Conferenciante:   Lcdo.  Manuel Rivera

Sábado 7 de mayo de 2011 a las 2:30 PM



Este tema es de gran interés para los miembros de ALAS, ya que ese derecho para los puertorriqueños es uno de los requisitos que estaremos solicitando en la implantación de la ley habilitadora del plebiscito de estatus si finalmente se realizara.

Por estas razones invitamos a todos los simpatizantes de ALAS y colaboradores nos demos cita para acompañar a nuestros hermanos de ADP en la actividad del próximo sábado 7 en el Ateneo Puertorriqueño en San Juan.

“Recordando siempre, que lo que necesitamos es voluntad para dar un primer paso”


The organization of the Alliance for an Associated Free State (ALAS) joins fellow organization Puerto Rican Democratic Action (PDA) in the co-sponsorship of the following activity:



Speaker: Atty. Manuel Rivera

Saturday May 7, 2011 at 2:30 PM



This issue is of great interest to members of ALAS. This right for Puerto Ricans is one of the requirements that we request in the implementation of the status plebiscite, if it were to finally be held.

For these reasons we urge all supporters of ALAS and colleagues to mark their calendars and to join our brothers and sisters from the ADP this Saturday May 7 at the Ateneo Puertorriqueño in San Juan.

“Remembering always that what we need is the will to take a first step”

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

We applaud ALAS and ADP for addressing what we feel is a serious flaw of Governor Fortuño’s Dialogue Committee: denying all interested stakeholders to have a say in how the plebiscite will be shaped.

ALAS was one of the organizations that presented the option of a free associated state to the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico Status, an option that is recognized as legal and valid.

While Governor Fortuño speaks about practicing true American democracy, his recents actions to not include ALAS and ADP in the Dialogue Committee remind us of tactics better served for typical Latin American leaders who would rather keep detractors away in order to keep their agenda unscathed.

Governor Fortuño’s actions are as un-American and unpatriotic as anything we have ever seen. You cannot have it both ways: either practice true and transparent democracy, or else stop promoting your unwavering belief in the uniqueness and openness that is America’s democratic process

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Yes, we are rebels. Always have, always will.

On Cinco de Mayo of this year during the ever popular LATINOS IN SOCIAL MEDIA (#LATISM) Twitter party, we will be premiering the soft launch of LatinoRebels.com.

What is Latino Rebels?

Simply stated, it is a group of some of the top Latino social media influentials who have banded together. Our mission is clear: to educate the world about US Latino issues—from crazy immigration talk to the fact that Latinos now make up 17% of the entire US population and 25% of all US residents under 18.

We will share our knowledge in several ways:

  • Through comedy
  • Through satire
  • Through political analysis
  • Through drives, pledges, petitions, and education
Think a Daily Show vibe about US Latino issues.
We are a rowdy bunch, and we will have fun. Simple as that.
How do we know that the REBELDES will be an online success? Since we formed Latino Rebels 6 weeks ago, we have already accumulated more than 2,000 fans on Facebook and more than 800 followers on Twitter. And that is with NO ADVERTISING. Our demographic is young, educated, edgy, and of course, Latino. And we feel that we haven’t even started. Come grow with us and feel free to let out a GRITO once in while.
In the meantime, we have a favor to ask. We need a logo for our site. We have whittled the choices to three. Here they are:

Logo 1: Minimalist Latino Rebels

Logo 2: The Red and Black Latino Rebels

Logo 3: The Jazzy, Colorful Rebels Logo

Cast your vote, REBELDES!!!! ¡GRITO!

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We are committed to providing comprehensive coverage of Tuesday’s Puerto Rican Status Forum organized by the pro-statehood group, the Center for Puerto Rico Equality and Advancement (CPREA), which was held in the Rayburn Building of the United States House of Representatives.

Speakers included pro-statehooders Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and Puerto Rican Secretary of State Kenneth D. McClintock, two of the highest ranking government officials in the administration of Republican Governor Luis Fortuño.

Pierluisi, who is a non-voting member of Congress but is also Congress’ biggest spender, said the following:

The only way we can begin the [statehood] process is by obtaining more than 50% [support on the island.] We have to do a better job and stop making excuses.

We have included pictures of the event. Later today, we plan to have a FULL AUDIO RECORDING of the forum. In addition, we were also able to ask three questions during the Q & A session of the forum. The answers to these questions appear below.

CPREA's Rafael Rodríguez addresses the session

Attendees at Tuesday's Puerto Rican status forum at the US House of Representatives

Puerto Rican Secretary of State and pro-statehooder, Kenneth D. McClintock (center)

Here were the three questions were asked:

Why aren’t the Puerto Rican Independence Party, a legitimate political party, and spokespeople for the new Free Associated State option not at this forum? Doesn’t this send a message that this forum is limited in its democratic scope?

This question was fielded by Mr. Andrés W. López, member of the DNC, He said “like any election, all people who are eligible to participate should participate.  It is up to those who are concerned about the issue to attend these and other meetings dealing with the upcoming plebiscite.”

What is your position on the fact that the White House does not recommend Puerto Ricans born on the island but now living on the mainland cannot vote on the upcoming plebiscite?

This question was fielded by McClintock. He said that everyone in the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico Status agreed that this was the best way to keep non-islanders from controlling the fate of those living on the island.  This was backed by Mr. Howard L. Hills, another panelist, who stated that it would be easy for outside political groups to muddy up the results.

Why will the second phase of the plebiscite be held in 2013? Why can’t it be held in 2012?

This question was fielded by McClintock. He said the decision not to hold the plebiscite in 2012 was to keep it clear of politics and political machines. He felt that if the plebiscite was held in 2012 it would confuse voters, because all the other candidates and referendums that would be introduced in 2012 [US presidential primaries and Puerto Rican gubernatorial elections].  He also said the timing of the plebiscite in 2013 would give a new Congress time to deal with issues that may come up during and after the plebiscite election.

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Los Angeles radio talk show host Fernando Espuelas

Dear Congressman Gutiérrez,

Are you a secret Republican? Are you now actively engaged in making sure that Obama is a one-term President? Are you trying to destroy any chance for comprehensive immigration reform for the next 10 years?

Based on your words and actions over the last two years, it sure seems that the answer to all three questions is “yes.”

You have become a familiar face in the media, purporting to speak for all 52 million American Latinos. You tell the world of our collective pain, our supposed victimization at the hands of the unjust U.S. immigration system.

You remind us, over and over again, that Obama “broke his promise” to push for immigration reform in the first year of his Administration – a political absurdity when the country was undergoing the most devastating economic crisis in 70 years.

You decry the President’s enforcement of existing immigration law – never acknowledging that under our Constitution that is exactly what the President must do.

You leave out of your drama-queen performances the inconvenient truth – President George Bush was lambasted by his own party for his supposed lackadaisical enforcement of immigration law. The party eventually forced Bush to abandon immigration reform, leaving him humiliated by his own party and frustrating Karl Rove’s plan to capture the Latino vote for the GOP.

And now, Congressman, you tour the country giving histrionic speeches and making emotional statements to the media. “Obama broke his promise,” you tell people ad naseum – as if the President of the United States can enact laws without Congress actually passing them.

But that’s not how it works, right? Congress passes laws and the President signs them. You know that. So why the fiction that Obama is fully and uniquely responsible for our joke of an immigration “system”? In fact, you lay all the blame on the President.

US Congressman Luis Guitérrez

And in an act of pure political nihilism – and strategic folly – you have even advised that Latinos not vote in elections if immigration reform is not passed. You’ve hinted that you want to create a new “movement” outside of the Democratic Party.

Do you actually believe all this nonsense? Or has this absurd message merely become a handy platform from which to launch your media vanity tour, now taking you to 20 cities across the country in which you blameyour lack of success in passing immigration reform in the Democratic Party controlled House of Representatives in 2008 and 2009 on Obama?

If memory serves, you never passed a bill. Yet you were the point person in Congress for immigration reform – you were even made the Chair of the Democratic Caucus Immigration Task Force.

Why were you unable to convince your own House Democratic colleagues to, at the very least, approve a bill in the House and put pressure on the Senate to do the same? President Obama has said over and over that he will sign an immigration reform bill – why didn’t you send him one?

In the Latino community we all speak about the need to come together, to “unify.” But unify around what? Your bizarre idea that we can reform America’s laws by not voting?

You seem enthralled by the transcendence of Martin Luther King Jr.’s accomplishments – yet you ignore the fact that Dr. King was principally fighting for the right of people of color to vote. Get it? Dr. King believed in America, he believed in the values of our country – and the institutions that, once reformed, would serve all Americans.

He never advocated not voting. He never advocated “sitting it out” – Dr. King spurred a whole nation into action. And opened the door for millions of people – including Latinos in the South – to vote and be able to participate in the democratic system.

And here’s the irony: you were born in America. You are not an immigrant. You were educated in our schools. Surely you must know how our system works – how it has worked for every immigrant group in this country.

You vote, you have power. If you sit home on election day, you let others chose your leaders and therefore the laws that govern our nation. The Arizona anti-Latino laws, now ruled un-Constitutional by a Federal judge, are proof of what happens when Latinos fail to show up at the voting booth.

Recently you told the media – your new constituency, I suppose – that you had not decided whether to support Obama for reelection. Does that mean that you will support a GOP candidate? With the exceptions of Newt Gingrich and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, all other presumptive GOP candidates have come out squarely against immigration reform.

So let’s see, you encourage Latinos to blame Obama for your own legislative failure – and then you encourage Hispanics not to vote, even though a critical part of the Obama coalition is Latino voters. Meanwhile, the Republican Party stands firmly against immigration reform. Effectively you attack the supporters of reform while strengthening its opponents. If there’s a strategy here for achieving immigration reform it is as opaque as it is risible.

But you, sir, are the Nativists’ best asset. With your high-profile campaign suggesting that Latinos not participate in the mainstream political process, encouraging our community to abandon the ballot box for more useless, even counter-productive marches, you retard immigration reform with every speech you give.

If there ever is a successful reform of immigration policies you will have nothing to talk about. Your burgeoning career as the Latino-whiner-in-Chief will be over and you will have to go back to the mundane job of actually getting laws passed.

As you well know, and as the new Census proves, Latinos have the numbers to be the king makers in 2012. We will be the determinate voting block for both the Presidency and control of Congress.

But unless we get our act together and register millions of citizens who are now hypnotized by your dis-empowering message of non-participation in the democratic process, there is a very real possibility that the next Administration and the next Congress elected in 2012 will be in complete opposition to immigration reform – pushing it back years, if not decades.

So unless you are in fact a double-agent, a tool of the Nativist extremist who are feverishly working to duplicate Arizona’s experiment in institutionalized racism across the nation, go back to Congress, roll-up your sleeves and get back work on building an effective coalition to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Your emotional speeches must give you a huge adrenalin rush – but America needs less of your made-for-TV drama and and more of a real focus on a smart, strategic reform of our immigration laws so that we can effectively compete in the 21st century.

Your MLK fantasies aside, that means passing new laws. And guess what – that’s your job.


Fernando Espuelas

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In one of the first detailed interviews he has given since learning that his controversial SMUGGLE TRUCK immigration game was banned from Apple’s App Store, Alex Schwartz of Owlchemy Labs admitted that that the initial uproar about the game earlier this year was “merited,” but he is still determined to showcasing the game in the market.

Owlchemy released a statement last week about Apple’s ban and how the game company plans to sell the game via PC and Apple non-app versions. Also, a variation of the game called SNUGGLE TRUCK is available at the App Store.

We interviewed Schwartz via email today. Here is what he had to share:

Alex Schwartz of Owlchemy Labs

FB: Did Apple give you a specific reason as to why they banned Smuggle Truck?

AS: Our communications with Apple are unfortunately under NDA so we cannot discuss the reasons for the denial other than the fact that the rejection was based on content.

FB: Why did you create an adapted version of Smuggle Truck called Snuggle Truck?

AS: Smuggle Truck was denied from the App Store due to content reasons. Snuggle Truck was our way to get the fun and excitement you see people experiencing in our gameplay trailer to the App Store.

FB: Most Latino organizations we know only (particularly Being Latino and Latinos in Social Media) were and have been extremely critical of the Smuggle Truck game. Was this criticism merited, in your opinion?

AS: I think the criticism was merited back when the initial news broke in early February. When the stories came out, all that was available for people to judge our game was a 20-second teaser trailer and a few screenshots. The game was approximately 20% completed. I think it was easy to assume based on the premise of the game that we were creating a hateful game, without having a proper window into the backstory, the reasoning behind it, and a proper showcase for the satire. Once we were able to get closer to a final version of the game and have tested it in players hands, we’ve received quite a bit of support for publishing such a satire.

FB: When you released Smuggle Truck earlier this year, you said that part of the reason was because you had friends who have had and were having major frustrations with the immigration process in the United States? Can you share more general details (without naming names) of those problems they experienced?

AS: As you mentioned, our friend chose to remain nameless due to the fragility of his status in the country. To sum up the issues broadly, our friend wanted to come to the U.S. to develop video games, had a U.S. college bachelors degree but no family living here. Without a full time job to get an H1B, and without enough proof to substantiate an O1, it appeared that there were no legal ways to immigrate. Even though he/she had plans to begin a startup, the proposed Startup Visa would not have applied due to the harsh requirements for investor funding. They can’t talk about their status currently, and it’s quite sad that it’s so common to be secretive about ones own immigration status for fear of further investigation by authorities, but rightly justified.

FB: You said that you believe this country needs comprehensive immigration reform. How does a game like Smuggle Truck fit into the debate?

Smuggle Truck definitely doesn’t address specifics on ways to reform immigration. Smuggle Truck also doesn’t impose a viewpoint on the issue of illegal immigration. The one major point that it addresses is the absurdity of the wait times for citizenship, as displayed in the Legal Immigration Mode. If you’re not familiar, this is a mode in Smuggle Truck where the player can sit in a waiting room for 19 years as a timer counts down to the point at which they can obtain a green card. See this chart below for some of our inspiration:

FB: Smuggle Truck recently won a local award in Boston? What was it for and why did you win it?

AS: We were chosen as finalists in the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX East) Boston Indie Showcase. The PAX conference chose three independent games that rose to the top by the criteria of innovation, fun, technical excellence, or otherwise displayed that they stood out from the crowd in some significant way. Here thousands of attendees were able to play the game and the results were fairly unanimous – people enjoyed the game and they “got it” once they picked it up. With the forest (read: Canadian) smuggling levels and the legal immigration, it was very apparent to players that they were experiencing something oozing with satire.

FB: Do you still stand by the fact that Smuggle Truck is not a controversial game that has offended many US Latinos? What would you like to say to the people who have criticized the game?

AS: Not at all, the game is most definitely controversial. Many of the criticisms of Smuggle Truck boil down to an ideology that believes a game cannot talk about a subject like immigration. The misconception that interactive games can only work with fun, happy, light, and airy subjects is something that we as game developers need to address, whereas film has had decades of experience in that realm. We’ve definitely learned that satire is something that requires ample context and in an interactive medium like games, it requires you, in some cases, to experience it for yourself. The original press pieces about Smuggle Truck back in February definitely did not get a chance to see that angle nor the more structured satire included in the game, such as our Legal Immigration mode. To those who criticize the game, I challenge you to try out the game. Subtlety is sometimes lost when viewed from afar.

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Boston City Councillor Felix Arroyo

April 28, 2011

Dear Chair Laferriere,

I want to thank you and all of the members of the committee and the Neighborhood Council for your dedication to our community. As a former member of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, I know firsthand the many hours each of you devote to improving our neighborhood. Your service is greatly appreciated.

News of Whole Foods Market moving into the Hyde Square section of Jamaica Plain has caused much discussion and debate in our neighborhood. The views range from complete support to complete opposition to everywhere in between.

We must recognize that the arrival of Whole Foods Market brings some immediate positive impacts to the neighborhood including jobs, a larger variety of organic and natural foods, and for property owners, a quick increase in property value.

However, along with these benefits come some concerns that need to be addressed. The same increase in property value can potentially lead to the rapid displacement of low and moderate income renters in the neighborhood. Many of these residents have worked hard to make Jamaica Plain the attractive and desirable neighborhood we are proud to call home. There are also concerns about local employment, the potential parking and traffic congestion, the impact on neighboring small businesses, opportunities for area youth, and preservation of the culture and identity of the community.

After many hours of reflection and conversations with my Jamaica Plain neighbors, I have come to the conclusion that there is an opportunity to take Whole Foods Market up on their offer to be a good community partner. The following are a few ideas, but in the end, I believe this should be an inclusive community-led effort in concert with Whole Foods Market.

  1. Local Hiring — Whole Foods Market has stated there will be 100 jobs at the Whole Foods Market in Hyde Square. Of the 100 jobs, they stated to me that 75 are entry level positions. Whole Foods could commit to hiring a significant percentage of local residents for all 100 jobs. By hiring locally, our community can benefit from the new jobs in our neighborhood.
  2. Parking/Traffic — Whole Foods Market in Hyde Square will attract hundreds of customers that do not normally drive through Jamaica Plain. This will undoubtedly create parking and traffic issues. If Whole Foods hires locally, they can also ensure that their workforce walk, bike or take public transit to work. Also, Whole Foods Market could play a role in solving traffic and parking concerns in the neighborhood.
  3. Neighboring Small Businesses — There are numerous small and locally owned businesses in Hyde Square. By partnering with neighborhood businesses, Whole Foods Market can help ensure that these businesses benefit from their arrival.
  4. The Latin Quarter — Whole Foods Market has stated that every store is reflective of the neighborhood in which they do business. They are planning to move into an area commonly referred to as Boston’s Latin Quarter. Whole Foods Market can best reflect the Latin Quarter by offering traditional Latin foods and by helping to promote the many cultures that help make up Boston’s Latin Quarter.

Whole Foods Market has expressed willingness to financially support local efforts in the communities they enter. I laud this position. I would urge Whole Foods Market to support two very important causes in our community.

  1. Affordable Housing — There are great organizations in Jamaica Plain that work to create and preserve affordable housing. Whole Foods Market could partner with them to help ensure that Jamaica Plain remain the economically diverse community we all love.
  2. Youth Development and Training — Whole Foods Market has shown willingness in word and in action to support youth development and training in our community. I am grateful for that support. Whole Foods Market can continue and explain its support of youth development and training in Jamaica Plain.

Our community is home to many residents and organizations that have dedicated themselves to making Jamaica Plain the great community it is today. It is my hope that Jamaica Plain residents, community based organizations, and Whole Foods Market will agree to come together to ensure that all of Jamaica Plain benefits from a Whole Foods Market in Hyde Square.


Felix G. Arroyo

Boston City Councilor At-Large

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Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz

April 28, 2011

Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council
Whole Foods Ad-Hoc Committee

Dear Chair Steve Laferriere and Members of the JPNC Whole Foods Ad-Hoc Committee:

Thank you for your service to the Jamaica Plain community by taking on this new role within the JP Neighborhood Council. I write today to outline what I hope will serve as constructive suggestions for addressing the controversies that have divided our neighborhood since the release of the news that Whole Foods intended to move into the space of the former Hi-Lo Market.

The planned expansion of a Whole Foods Market into the Hyde Square section of Jamaica Plain has generated heated debate among my constituents. Since I first learned of Hi-Lo Foods’ closing, my office has done its best to understand from all sides the different perspectives on this highly divisive issue. I’ve met with representatives from Whole Foods, spoken with former employees of Hi-Lo, heard from members of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, and spoken with staff at the JPNDC and local Main Streets organizations. My staff members and I attended community meetings at the Blessed Sacrament development, the Kennedy Elementary, and the First Baptist Church, where we listened to the concerns of community activists both for and against the expansion, and in the middle. Most important, we read hundreds of emails and letters from ordinary residents throughout Jamaica Plain detailing how the opening of a Whole Foods in Hyde Square would affect their lives—for better and for worse.

As many residents expressed, there are several positives to bringing a retailer such as Whole Foods to JP. We stand to gain potentially dozens of new jobs in the neighborhood, at rates of pay and with benefits that will likely exceed those paid by Hi-Lo. This is no small thing for the workers and families who will be touched by employment, especially at a time of still-fragile recovery for our economy. Whole Foods could also increase access to healthy food to the Hyde/Jackson area, especially for those without cars, at a time when many other low-income neighborhoods suffer dire health impacts because of the lack of such access. I believe firmly that all people deserve to have realistic healthful food options, no matter what zip code or socio-economic bracket they live in.

Unfortunately, there are also serious negative impacts that Whole Foods’ entry into the neighborhood is likely to bring. I believe, with a heavy heart, that these disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

Looking at data from other instances where Whole Foods has located in low- and middle-income neighborhoods, it’s clear that the presence of Whole Foods rapidly and substantially raises property values in its surrounding areas. This is the inherent problem. Even if Whole Foods behaves as the best corporate citizen, the best neighbor possible by all of our usual standards, its presence will still light a fire under the gentrification process that will displace low- and moderate- income residents from JP.

Increasing property values in our community is not always bad. Indeed, this is something every home owner in JP—low- or high-income, white, brown, or black—probably hopes for. But pace matters. A lot. There are families who have spent generations building JP into the incredible neighborhood it is today. We stand to lose many of these families, and their friends and neighbors, if property taxes and rents balloon so fast that their incomes can’t keep up. In order to preserve the character of JP that we all love and believe in so deeply, development has to happen at a pace our neighbors can benefit from, not be displaced by.

Whole Foods has said many times that they aspire to be a positive neighbor and a responsible corporate citizen in the JP community. I believe this is true and therefore ask Whole Foods to recognize that their typical strategy for integrating into new neighborhoods is not designed to protect economically and socially diverse communities. In action, this requires Whole Foods to take some specific steps to help mitigate the impacts described above.

  1. Whole Foods has stated that they expect to hire about 100 workers at their planned JP location. In order for local residents to actually benefit from this job creation, and for Whole Foods’ presence to contribute to local wealth creation, Whole Foods needs to commit to hiring locally for a specific percentage of these jobs.
  2. Whole Foods should also work with credible community groups in the Hyde/Jackson area to set up and endow a community preservation fund for the purpose of keeping Hyde/Jackson area properties affordable for current residents. This will mean front-loading Whole Foods’ typical neighborhood philanthropy, replacing its current strategy of rolling “5% days” and small donations to a variety of groups. The trouble with that existing strategy is that, not too long from now, Whole Foods’ corporate giving in JP will be benefiting the future neighborhood that its presence will create—not the current neighbors who’ve worked so hard to make JP what it is today and who stand to be displaced. Endowing a fund that could buy available property in the Hyde/Jackson area with a commitment to keeping it affordable will require a serious financial commitment—no doubt. But Whole Foods’ detrimental impact on the neighborhood in the absence of such an investment would be of a far greater magnitude.

If making commitments of this size is beyond Whole Foods’ reach, the simplest way to protect the neighborhood would be for Whole Foods to break their lease on the Hyde Square space, or sublet it to another grocer specializing in Latino foods.

I make these proposals as an elected official who represents all of the JP community, and who is committed to stewarding its long-term interests. But I also make them as a JP resident who deeply loves this community—with all its blemishes, all its character, and all its complexities. I know you, as JPNC members, share this passion for our community. I thank you again for your service in tackling these difficult issues and look forward to working with you to find solutions that reflect the pride, creativity, and mutual respect that are the fundamental values of our neighborhood.


Sonia Chang-Díaz 
State Senator 
Second Suffolk District

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