Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Disability activist advocates in Latino community

From My Latino Voice:

For the last 15 years Daniel Porro III, Community Advocate for People with Disabilities, has fought on many fronts for the rights of the disabled.

Porro began advocating for himself as a student placed in special education. He has since gone on to open his home and give his time to work for disabled members of his Bronx community. He secures health benefits, equitable and fair treatment in the work place and in businesses, knowing that disabled Americans must receive equal treatment under the law.

"I had to learn at an early age to navigate the system," said Porro. "You become a messenger for yourself."

A jeweler and former New York City Housing Authority employee, Porro involved himself with Al Sharpton's National Action Network and became a co-chair of the Bronx Mental Health Council. Porro still understands the importance of becoming familiar and supporting politicians.

This was why this election year Porro supports Assemblyman Peter M. Rivera's re-election to the state senate. Along with the United Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO and Gay Pride Agenda, Assemblyman Rivera has been re-elected nine times. Rivera has worked as Pro Temp Speaker of the Assembly, chairman of the Mental Health Committee and Chair of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force.

Rivera sponsored a law that forces New York State to pay for drugs prescribed by doctors and not drug companies. He rebuked allegations that he's in the pocket of big pharmaceutical companies. He said that he did not vote against student MetroCards or receive illegal campaign contributions. Rivera was accused of these improper actions during the primary but went on to win that election.

In an open letter to his constituents, Rivera wrote, "We have achieved many wonderful things, including passing laws and increasing funding for schools, libraries, senior centers, health, economic development, housing safety, transportation, parks and playgrounds. I have worked hard for you, your families and neighbors."

In the last Presidential election, Senator John McCain's experience was flouted over then candidate Obama's inexperience. The national electorate voted for change however between Rivera and his former opponent, Luis Sepulveda, the Assemblyman is tried and proven having worked as an N.Y.P.D patrolman, assistant district attorney and a DEA agent. Rivera received support from 23 unions and he is a proven political commodity in his commitment to the people of the Bronx and New York State over and over again.

Here experience trumps the neophyte, as was shown in Rivera's primary victory, and Porro attests to that fact saying that Rivera's primary opponent had not spoken up for the needs of the disabled.

With some political savvy of his own, Porro continues to navigate the labyrinth of New York City and Bronx politics fighting for equity and civil rights for the disabled.

"I'm a very shy person," said Porro, who is quite vocal and comprehensive in his knowledge of the needs of the disabled from the necessity for ramps at buildings, transit repairs that should accommodate the disabled and the need to keep local hospitals open.

"I realized that I'm going to live my life...I knew I had rights but no one told me what they were...I asked questions, got involved...I can speak for the Bronx but the Bronx doesn't know I speak for them."