Barrientos pursuing a political agenda hurts Make the Road on Long Island
Daniel was always a person open to dialogue and driven by results without ever losing sight of his and the organization’s commitment to causes such as social justice, inclusivity and pro-immigrant.
Lialdia.com / Jesús A. Ríos L/ Editor/ 8/4/2017 – Spanish – What seemed to be a “well-known secret” among progressive groups on Long Island was confirmed this week when the political arm of the organization Make the Road New York (MRNY) announced their endorsement in the primary for the 9th District of the Suffolk County Legislature. The lead staff of the organization on Long Island, Walter Barrientos, led members to support the candidacy of Angela Ramos, to allegedly “pay a personal vendetta” against Legislator Monica Martinez.
Since the promotion of Daniel Altschuler – formerly in charge of the MRNY Long Island office, the work of this entity has greatly declined on the island. There are no legislative or public policy victories either in Nassau or Suffolk counties that can be attributed to the leadership of Walter Barrientos. On the contrary, many progressive leaders, elected officials, and heads of other non-profit organizations constantly comment on the bellicosity and lacking of political maturity of Barrientos to navigate the difficult political waters on Long Island.
During the screening process of the Working Families Party (WFP) for the 9th legislative district, people with knowledge of the process singled out Walter Barrientos as the only dissident vote in the regional committee. Allegedly, his main complaint was that the legislator did not pay enough attention to his demands and was therefore “not a strong advocate of the immigrant community” – as if the level of interaction with him were the litmus test for an official to be declared “pro-immigrant” on Long Island.
It should be emphasized that at no time has any substantive public policy or public issue been specifically singled out on which Legislator Martinez and the organization Make the Road New York differ. In fact, the record of photos, press releases and other press materials – even under the direction of Barrientos – shows differently. When one looks at the entire picture, it tells a story of a good working relationship and support from Legislator Martinez to the organization’s causes.
It seems that the problem lies in the lack of capacity of the local leadership, specifically of Walter Barrientos, to work with diverse groups of Long Island. For sure, we would not know if it is Walter’s lack of knowledge of the political context of Long Island or simply professional ineptitude. To be fair, maybe we got used to Daniel Altschuler’s intellect. During his time in our region, Daniel was always a person open to dialogue and driven by results without ever losing sight of his and the organization’s commitment to causes such as social justice, inclusivity and pro-immigrant. In fact, I in my capacity as editor of Long Island Al Día presented Daniel Altschuler with an “Person of the Year” award because he demonstrated his capacity by the results he achieved.
In this context, we knew from the beginning that filling Daniel’s shoes would be very difficult but what we have seen so far is not even material for comparison. We reiterate: the work of the organization has lessened and this latest episode in which apparent family ties of Angela to Phil Ramos seems to have stupefied Walter.
Unfortunately, this type of behavior highlights the emotional and immature way in which Walter Barrientos has been managing the membership of this well-regarded organization on Long Island. Barrientos’ actions are not up to par with the genuine efforts of the organization elsewhere. On the contrary, the whims of a person with clear limitations puts in question the work of the organization locally. This should be a wake up call to the leadership of Make the Road to avoid falling into total irrelevance on Long Island. Hopefully for the sake of the immigrant community, the leadership will reconsider Barrientos’ position and deal with it swiftly and accordingly.