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One Of ' Vieques 4' To Teach

By Curtis L. Taylor

April 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002
Newsday Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Is there life after politics?

Apparently, former Bronx Democratic Party Leader Roberto Ramirez has no intentions of finding out as he moves into his new job teaching politics as a graduate professor at the City University of New York.

Ramirez's course is tentatively titled "The Power of Politics and Policy in the Making."

The former Albany lawmaker, jailed with the Rev. Al Sharpton as one of the " Vieques Four," will find plenty of material from his own career.

A lawyer by trade, Ramirez drew national attention as the mastermind of the unsuccessful mayoral bid of former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, who narrowly lost a racially charged Democratic primary to former Public Advocate Mark Green.

While the campaign was unsuccessful, it generated national attention as Ramirez, who is Puerto Rican , successfully built an impressive coalition of labor, African-American and Latino voters. Many political experts believe that strategy will be necessary to win major elections as the nation's demographics continue to swing toward people of color.

Ramirez and Sharpton angered those in the local and national Democratic party when they openly questioned Green's campaign tactics, particularly campaign literature Green supporters put out that was seen as racist. Many say their questioning contributed to Green's narrow defeat to Republican Michael Bloomberg in an overwhelmingly Democratic city.

Ramirez has emerged as a national force in urban politics, forging a strong relationship with Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat who narrowly lost a racially charged campaign for mayor of Los Angeles - which many compared to the Democratic primary in New York.

Ramirez recently participated in a conference sponsored by Harvard University in Musgrove, Ga., looking at the emerging national voting power of African-American and Latino voters.

Ramirez, who will begin teaching in September, said his conversations with Ferrer, Villaraigosa, Sharpton and other leaders will provide the materials for his class. He is also a political consultant for state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, a Democratic challenger for governor.

"I have always wanted to teach," Ramirez said. "We will be tackling contemporary issues that are affecting New York State. What better place to try out my ideas than on the graduate students?"

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