Some victories

Some victories for animals and the environment in NYS legislature
by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English.

After years in which the NYS Senate typically failed to pass legislature to protect the environment, a change in the political makeup of the body resulted in several wins for environmental protection this legislative session. Perhaps the biggest win was passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. This establishes strong targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and prioritizes renewable energy. It also intends to provide green jobs, especially in disadvantaged communities (which have often suffered the greatest impact from climate change and from polluting businesses in their communities). This was the culmination of years of lobbying by NY Renews, a coalition of environmental and social justice organizations. It was a cliff hanger as to whether the NYS Assembly, the NYS Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo could negotiate a settlement for a final bill before the end of the legislative session. I was one of hundreds of people who traveled to Albany to fill the State Capitol with passionate people who demanded action (See attached photo of Stephanie Hitztaler and myself).

On the animal front, the League of Humane Voters of NY played a major role in passing the Anti-Declaw bill out of both the Senate and Assembly. As of this writing, Gov. Cuomo signed into law the ban on declawing of cats, it will prevent untold suffering of felines across the state by prohibiting declawing. This is the first time this legislation has made it to the Governor’s office! In prior years, it was held up in committee. New York is the first state to prohibit declawing.

Another bill which awaits Gov. Cuomo’s signature would require hospitals and nursing homes to provide vegan options for people upon request.

Code Red / Code Blue passed the Senate but did not move in the Assembly. This legislation would protect domestic animals from extreme weather conditions whenever there is a national weather alert. It would require the owner or guardian to remove their animal from these conditions.

The bill to prohibit wildlife killing contests was reported out of the Environmental Conservation Committee favorably. It’s now in the Codes Committee and will be picked up there in January when the legislature convenes. This was the first time in the history of this bill that it made its way out of the most vulnerable committee.

For information about additional bills and to be added to a list to stay informed, contact:

Jeffery Termini
Legislative Director
League of Humane Voters® of New York
(716) 380-7667
League of Humane Voters® of NY
New Paltz, New York 12561, USA

Linda is President of People for Animal Rights. One of our activities is to keep our members informed about state and national bills regarding animals and the environment, and we were happy to share the alerts from the League of Humane Voters with our PAR e list. We also have public events (speakers, films, cooking demos), vegan socials and a physical newsletter. For a brochure about PAR and a sample of our newsletter, contact PAR, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or

Behind a great man (Part 2)…

A Moment of Reflection

by Lilia M. Fiallo

This article is a continuation of the previous edition…

It is important to think, to decide what you desire, before embarking on a change of life, since if things are not what you dreamed possible, it is impossible to turn back and regain the time spend. And what is worse, the aftermath of a defeat cannot be deleted.

It is matter of dignity and self-respect.

Respect is a sense of great value among human beings. This sentiment follows a host of factors as fundamental in coexistence, that together with the intelligence, understanding, peace, harmony, are constant in everyday life.

Prepare yourself to stand out and be a wonderful spouse! The father said to his daughter Alein, when he surprised her, talking animatedly with a youngster. How far was he from reality in those words?

Perhaps, what he wanted to say was:

Study, progress and project yourself towards a bright future. Love yourself so you can appreciate what you currently have. Do not throw away your youth in the trash, because at such a young age, she could not take care of a home and have family.

With maturity, responsibility and aplomb, placing the feet on the ground, everyone can decide to project his/her life with someone who deserves his or her company.

He longs for his future, a woman with morals and values, intelligent and outstanding accompanying it forever.

The standards of urbanity by common sense enhances self-esteem, to apply in public, worth prudence, certain rules of etiquette, glamour and protocol, get to know them. How prepared are you to ride beside your husband, before thousands of looks? You never know the future and the turns that life takes. What if tomorrow, time surprises you as a spouse of an outstanding public figure?

Nobody is born knowledgeable. An advisor of image and take note of the rules that you must follow for certain events, for example, if he does not take you by the hand, do not intend to take him by the arm. If he walks with his arms down, calm and serene, and does not seek your hand do not attempt to crab him by the arm. Walk quietly, as if you were at home.

It is noticeable positive or negative change that a man who committed his life suffers. In the eyes of known and unknown, not indifferent passes, that scruffy character, without visiting a hairdresser, with dirty shoes, detached trouser hem, dirty suit and his tanned shirt.

And how is she now? Nothing to do! it seems that she was disappointed of her new life. Always in slippers, with unkempt hair, wears clothes that looks good, leaves much what to think, with a face that produces compassion and many questions.
How important is it what we decide to look forward to in life? Don´t need to be rich or poor, with a beautiful childhood or otherwise, don’t´ need anything like that. You need love yourselves, to value and respect yourself, and to give your best to the people surrounding us.

That your partner is regarded and admired by how well he or she looks. That your hearts beat of love, understanding and peace. To let God see, that there is a great man behind a great woman: You!
That is the meaning of life, giving the best of ourselves. If you are still thinking about it, it is better that to continue contemplating a fantastic bachelorhood.

Lilia M. Fiallo was born in Bogotá, Colombia, where, between tasks and free time, she found a place to write about subjects, somehow forgotten by others. With gold letters engraved in her memory, she began her working life, in the heart of the technical part, of the air traffic control of her native country. In the midst of aeronautical phraseology and codes, the world of aviation gave her one of the highest experiences, because of the precision required by this craft, where a single mistake could cost many lives. It is there, where in her concern to communicate her ideas, she begins to write with dedication, themes a little relegated by society, the Church and the State. Discovering a truth that nobody wants to talk about, but much more real and every day, than it seems. It is thus, as it appears, her first work, “Parir por parir”. You can find her book at for sale in Amazon and if you want to connect with her send her an email to

How a local historical landmark is Supporting Latin Culture in Syracuse

by Maximilian Eyle

If you drive down James St. in Syracuse, you will come across a gorgeous piece of local history – the Barnes Hiscock Mansion. The house was built in 1853 by George and Rebecca Barnes and served as a part of the Underground Railroad. Both George and Rebecca were passionate abolitionists and used their wealth and resources to help fight against slavery and help escaped slaves. The Mansion, which has been beautifully preserved, is now serving as a venue for Syracuse’s Argentine Tango community. Each month, a public milonga (social dance) will be hosted there.

The Mansion is currently maintained and owned by the George & Rebecca Barnes Foundation which was started in 2005 to preserve the house and its history. Despite being over 150 years old, it is in beautiful condition and stands as a reminder to Syracuse’s proud history as a center of the abolitionist movement. George and Rebecca Barnes fought hard against the Fugitive Slave Act, and even posted bail for those arrested during the famous Jerry Rescue of 1851. While preserving the history of the Mansion remains the primary purpose of the George & Rebecca Barnes Foundation, they have decided to allow part of the space to be used to support the local Argentine tango community.

Argentine tango also has a long history in Syracuse. It brings together an eclectic mix of dancers of varying ages, abilities, and backgrounds and even attracts dancers from Ithaca, Rochester, Buffalo, and other cities in New York State. They host a weekly práctica on Wednesday nights at the Sky Barn on the Syracuse University Campus, as well as their milonga which happens on the second Saturday of each month at the Barnes Hiscock Mansion.

It is exciting to see Syracuse’s local institutions supporting one another and joining together to encourage the appreciation of art and history in our community. The inclusion of tango into the legacy of the Mansion only adds to its diverse history, while also serving to educate dancers about that part of Syracuse history. For more information, please visit or

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at

Young Heroes

by Elizabeth Ammirato

The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes celebrates inspiring, public-spirited young people from all across North America. Established in 2001 by author T.A. Barron, the Barron Prize annually honors a diverse group of 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive impact on people or the environment.  Fifteen top winners each receive $10,000 to support their service work or higher education. For more information, visit

Here are some recent winners of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes:

Alex Mancevski, age 17, of Austin, Texas founded a non-profit working to eradicate preventable diseases, especially pediatric Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. In the past two years, he has recruited 150 student volunteers from six local high schools to mentor 1,500 children each month at 20 elementary schools. His volunteers act as science coaches for underserved students, promoting health awareness and teaching the material needed for kids to participate in science fairs – a staple of the fourth- and fifth-grade curriculum nationwide, but an opportunity that many low-income students don’t have

Armando Pizano, age 18, of Chicago, Illinois created a tutoring program in Chicago to provide students in under-resourced communities with free weekly after-school tutoring and mentorship. His non-profit matches elementary students with high-achieving high school-age tutors. During the past school year, his program paired 100 tutors from five high schools with over 300 students at four elementary schools in the same neighborhoods. Raised on Chicago’s South Side, Armando believes the high levels of crime, gang violence, and poverty that often
characterize his Back of the Yards neighborhood stem from a lack of academic support and scarcity of role models. His tutoring program addresses both issues.

Mercedes Thompson, age 17, of Baltimore, Maryland co-founded an organization to reduce trash and plastic pollution in their city on the Chesapeake Bay. In the past year, their non-profit of more than 500 students, many of them young people of color, has convinced the Baltimore City Council to pass a citywide ban on Styrofoam food containers. They’ve also convinced Baltimore Public Schools to switch to compostable lunch trays. Mercedes and her co-founder began their work two years ago after learning that Baltimore incinerates most of its trash, including plastics, releasing toxic chemicals into the air. They were also tired of seeing their school’s Styrofoam lunch trays floating in the waters of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The girls decided to take action.



The Rock Bottom Myth

by Maximilian Eyle

Everyone is familiar with the concept. We see it in movies, books, and on stage. Someone’s life spirals downward until they are struck with a lightning bolt of clarity and begin to make amends and change their ways. The message is clear: What do people who use drugs need to do? Hit rock bottom. How do we help them? Tough love or they’ll never learn. In many cases, we are afraid to show support or compassion for fear of becoming an “enabler”. There is an assumption that the person needs to be “torn down” before they can decide to change their behavior. The problem is that this concept is patently false. Not only that, but it has led to disastrous public policy results.

But what about all of the stories from people who described “hitting rock bottom” before changing their behavior? The key here is precisely defining what we mean by Rock Bottom. Many people do decide to make a change in their lives once they recognize the damage that their behavior is causing. However, this does not mean that they have to be coerced or “lose everything” to reach this point. What it does mean is that they experienced a shift in perspective. To quote Dr. Peggilee Wupperman, a professor at both John Jay and Yale University, it means that “they reached a point when they realized their life was extremely (and distressingly) different from the life they wanted or a life that fit their values.” Yet it is extremely important to recognize that this can be achieved without being torn down in therapy or experiencing severe material or emotional loss.

This idea that fostering shame and suffering is somehow the right thing to do is the natural conclusion of the Rock Bottom Myth. As a result, we turn our backs on our instincts for compassion and support. Tragically, this only makes things worse. Dr. Wupperman is a vocal critic of this philosophy. She points out that: “Despite widespread (and erroneous!) beliefs, shaming does not stop dysregulated behavior. In fact, the reality is the opposite. Shame actually increases the chance a person will continue to engage in dysregulated behavior.” This should not come as much of a surprise. We know that many people use mind altering substances to self-medicate their trauma and to ease their suffering. Consequently, when we increase the trauma and suffering in their lives – they will often consume more, not less.

It is imperative that we disengage ourselves from the punishment approach to substance use. The failed War on Drugs, the AIDS crisis, and the overdose epidemic are just some of the examples of how our determination to shame and marginalize people for their substance use has only served to worsen the problem. We have the opportunity to rethink our approach using evidence-based strategies that emphasize compassion over stigma, and empowerment over persecution.

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at

New Music Director at SU

VPA Names Pianist, Scholar Milton Laufer New Setnor School of Music Director
by Erica Blust

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) has announced that Milton Rubén Laufer, a pianist and scholar and current director of Western Carolina University’s School of Music, has been named director of the Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music, effective July 1.

Laufer will be responsible for the Setnor School of Music’s creative, academic and strategic leadership, and he will provide public advocacy for the school at the University, regional and national levels. He will also serve as an associate professor of music.
Laufer succeeds Martha Sutter, who will return to the faculty following a one-year research leave.

“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Laufer to Syracuse University, the college and the Setnor School,” says VPA Dean Michael S. Tick. “Our hard-working search committee, led by Ralph Zito, chair and professor of our Department of Drama, commended him for being a skilled and dedicated musician as well as an accomplished entrepreneurial leader in music education, arts consulting and arts advocacy. I look forward to collaborating with him on his vision for the Setnor School.”

“I am so honored to have been chosen to serve this remarkable institution,” says Laufer. “Music has been woven into the fabric of Syracuse University for 142 years. I endeavor to honor this great legacy while working alongside the extraordinary faculty, staff and talented students of the Setnor School of Music toward a bright and prosperous future.”
A Chicago native of Puerto Rican and Cuban parents, Laufer began playing the piano at three years of age, and his training includes studies at the Music Institute of Chicago, the Gnessin Institute, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Michigan (B.M.) and Rice University (M.M., D.M.A.).

Laufer has delighted audiences on four continents in prestigious venues from Lincoln Center to Tchaikowsky Hall. A versatile artist, he has shared the stage with artists ranging from Natalie Cole to Guerassim Voronkov. His appearances on Spanish-speaking television and radio have been aired throughout Europe, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Laufer is recognized internationally as a leading interpreter and scholar of Spanish piano music. His editions of Isaac Albéniz’s Three Improvisations for Piano and “La Vega” are published by G. Henle Verlag of Munich and available worldwide. Currently he is writing the book “The Pianist’s Guide to the Repertoire of Spain.”

In addition, he has two recording projects planned: an album featuring piano and vocal works by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona and recording of Latin works for cello and piano with Canadian cellist Nigel Boehm. His recording credits include albums on the Naxos, Zenph Sound Innovations, Bis Records and Beauport Classics record labels.

As an educator, Laufer is guided by the principle that students must be adaptable to the changing vocational landscape that awaits them. They must not only be skilled, expressive technicians, but also entrepreneurs and convincing communicators who understand the value of their art as a commodity in the marketplace and its power as a force for change within their community.

Laufer is a charter trustee and lifetime member of the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame and an active voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammys) and Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Latin Grammys)

Everson Museum exhibits the art of Juan Cruz

by Ricardo Loubriel

Juan Cruz is a Puerto Rican artist who at the early age of five was forced to leave the island and move to New York City, where his journey as an artist took form. Life situations and setbacks sparked the flame of creativity.

Cruz is 77 years old and a resident of Syracuse NY since 1975. He has been invited by the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse to present a retrospective exhibit that includes works from 1960 to the present. The show titled Juan Cruz: A Retrospective, opens on May 4 at 10am, at the Everson Museum, 401 Harrison St. Syracuse, NY 13202. The show will remain on view through August 4th, 2019.

In recent days, we had a chance to interview the artist, who has contributed so much in the fields of painting, sculpture, and the education of our youth in the arts. This is an excerpt of our conversation.

RL: What was the reason for your family to move out from Puerto Rico?
JC: Necessity and lack of resources.

RL: At what age did you first hold a brush?
JC: I was around 20 years old, but even as a five year old, ever since I can remember I spent my time drawing with pencils. This exhibition at the Everson will include one of my first paintings, a portrait of a young girl. That was in the 1960s.

RL: Did your parents in any way influence your career as an artist?
JC: I think about that and a lot. We were a poor family. I met my father when I was 12-years-old. My mom was a seamstress and she had that creative vision for drawing and designing dresses.

RL: Do you feel that the island of Puerto Rico influence your work?
JC: I do not know. My first influences were when I decided that art was more than painting pretty things, like flowers. I felt there had to be something more profound. I used to paint what I saw, very realistic. At that time I was struggling to make money. But when I started to analyze what I was doing, I opened my eyes realizing that art is not painting everything that you see. My work evolved in an attempt to reflect my experiences and my moods.

RL: Do you have a memory or anecdote that continually comes back to mind in relation to your art?
JC: I always liked to draw; I never had an interest in baseball or other sports. The truth is that all children are creators. The first thing they do is draw on walls, on the floor or the stove. We are all artists, but there comes a time when we take other interests or shift directions. For me, art comes from another planet. I am centered on personal experiences and social problems such as abuse, in all its manifestations.

RL: What does your art express, or what is the primary focus in relation with your work?
JC: My experiences, what I have lived through. Art for me is like music. Sometimes it grabs you and it speaks to your spirit. It pulls something out of us that provokes a certain connection. It is different for each person. The same happens with painting.

RL: How do you feel about this upcoming exhibition at the Everson Museum?
JC: Last New Year’s Eve, I was wondering what would happen to me this year. I was sick, alone, far from my family, broke and very cold. I read in a horoscope, “This year, something will open up for you.” I thought to myself, “There’s no other way around it!” One week later I got an invitation from the Everson to organize a show.

RL: Is there anything else you would like to say?
JC: Yes, art is therapy. I would like to send a message to our youth and tell them to think about what they are doing. Life in street gangs hit me hard when I was 17 years old, and landed me in prison without even speaking English. I did not know to read or write. I learned
to read, write and paint in prison. Not knowing English was a problem and one of the reasons why I would not advocate in my own defense. I learned that it is important to think before taking any action, rather than act without thinking. Any decision made thoughtlessly can change your life in a second. I spent 16 and a half years in prison, for a moment’s action that I made without thinking. That can take you to jail or to your grave. I want to advise our youth and tell them that it is never too late; that education is super important and it is what will pull you out of many miseries. It is important to be patient, think about what you do and work hard to move ahead. I was able to overcome that crisis in my life. I held on to my art. It saved me. Many do not have that life support. I want to tell our young people to not waste time, to get an education, seek understanding and do not let anyone pressure you to act without thinking. Art is therapy