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Author: William-Jose Velez

UPDATED: Blurred lines between administration and PPD

Even though it is often assumed that when a party is in power some if not all of its staffers will have positions within the government, sometimes their roles can create potential ethical and legal issues, which is what the opposition New Progressive Party thinks to have found with the Garcia Padilla administration from the Popular Democratic Party. The former, as part of its 75 year anniversary celebration, launched a new memories sites called Casa Grande, or big house, asking supporters to submit pictures of the party’s history. The website uses the APIs or application programming interfaces of Facebook, Twitter and Google, allowing users of those services to log on with their credentials of the mentioned networks. It was in then in the login screens for the website, that a potential issue was uncovered, when by clicking the link to log in, users where asked to provide access permissions to Puerto Rico by Puerto Ricans, which is a government website established to promote internal tourism in the US territory, a supposedly distinct operation from the Casa Grande initiative. While some of the login screens were changed to the Casa Grande name after the allegations by NPP, the Google option still reflects the ‘PuertoRicobyPuertoRicans’ identifier, which is where the conflict lies. In addition, the login screens for both the party and government websites reveal the same developer’s email, d.o.bartolomei@gmail.com. Each of...

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Top 10 takeaways from the Senate status hearing

Following yesterday’s appearance of Puerto Rico’s top political leadership before the United States Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, the ripples have been felt through the local political stratosphere. Here are the top 10 takeaways from the hearing:     1. Congress is convinced the current territorial status was rejected Despite Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla‘s attempts at discrediting the results of the 2012 plebiscite, in particular of the first question which asked voters whether they wished to keep the current territorial status, where 54% selected the no option, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Lisa Murkowsky (R-AK) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) all seemed to resoundingly agree that the current territorial status, which is the commonwealth status AGP tried to establish, was rejected. First Wyden and Murkowski in their respective opening remarks made it clear that was their position, then Wyden asked those presenting whether the territorial status ought to be included in a ballot which prompted Garcia Padilla to make a lengthy, yet failed attempt (he was interrupted every time he tried) to claim that the ‘commonwealth status’ (technically speaking, there is no such thing as a commonwealth status, since commonwealth refers to the body politic, but that’s a discussion for another day) was not the same as a territorial status and therefore it couldn’t be excluded and was not rejected. Who says there can’t be bipartisan agreement in Washington?...

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Senate Committee holds hearing on Puerto Rico status, rejects territorial and enhanced commonwealth options

With the participation of the leaders of the three main political parties in Puerto Rico, the United States Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources held a hearing on Puerto Rico’s status and the results of the 2012 plebiscite. During the hearing, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and former senator Ruben Berrios spoke as presidents of the Popular Democratic, New Progressive, and Puerto Rican Independence parties respectively. While the Obama administration was invited to send a representative to speak, it declined to do so. The hearing began with a statement from Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) who...

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Statehooders celebrate Barbosa’s birthday

Last Saturday statehood supporters from across the island met to commemorate the birth of Jose Celso Barbosa at a low key event organized by Proyecto Estrella and the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association. The even had what we’re sure was an awkward encounter between New Progressive Party potential gubernatorial candidates Pedro Pierluisi and Ricardo Rossello, who through their own independent channels, promote the event, and highlighted their participation. Pictures of the event from each camp however, would have led anyone to believe there were two separate events, even though it was the one and the same. Proyecto Estrella managed to get the only picture that showed both leaders in the same frame in their appropriately named post “United for...

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Secret moves of Government of Puerto Rico to exempt territory from health insurance reform uncovered

The Puerto Rico Report has uncovered that the administration of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla tried to exempt Puerto Rico from the Affordable Care Act health insurance guarantee privisions, a key part of the signature law of the Obama administration, arguing that the same provisions of the states did not apply in the territory. The request was promptly rejected by the federal government, who indicated that the territory did have the authority to require health insurance, and in fact had asked to be included in the law. From the article: In May, Garcia’s Commissioner of Insurance, Angela Weyne, led a stealth territorial request to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to waive the requirement in the islands. The argument was that, unlike in the States, in the territories, Obamacare does not require employers to offer health insurance and individuals to purchase it.  In the States, the required new policies for previously uninsured individuals will pay for the coverage of those who need more health care than other people. But the Garcia Administration’s argument also surprisingly ignored that the territorial government can require health insurance coverage by employers and individuals.  This is surprising in light of Garcia saying as recently as yesterday that Puerto Rico should exercise as much autonomy as it can with its political status (territory, sometimes misleadingly called “commonwealth.”) A Federal health official politely slapped down...

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