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Archive for March, 2011


Obama Charms Puerto Rico in 2008

Before I share my commentary about the latest White House Report on Puerto Rico’s status later this week, I wanted to post the original letter that then-presidential hopeful Barack Obama sent to Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, now the former Governor of Puerto Rico. This letter was sent during a critical time in the 2008 Democratic presidential race when Obama was still virtually tied with Hilary Rodham Clinton and the Puerto Rican Democratic Primary meant something in terms of garnering much needed primary delegates.

February 12, 2008
Honorable Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
Governor Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
La Fortaleza
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901

Dear Governor Acevedo Vilá:
Puerto Rico is a vitally important part of our country and Puerto Ricans have made immeasurable contributions to the United States. As President of the United States, I will pay close attention to issues that have an impact on the well-being of the people of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s status must be based on the principle of self-determination. Puerto Rico has a proud history, an extraordinary culture, its own traditions, customs and language, and a distinct identity. As President, I will work closely with the Puerto Rican government, its civil society, and with Congress to create a genuine and transparent process for self-determination that will be true to the best traditions of democracy.

As President, I will actively engage Congress and the Puerto Rican people in promoting this deliberative, open and unbiased process, that may include a constitutional convention or a plebiscite, and my Administration will adhere to a policy of strict neutrality on Puerto Rican status matters. My Administration will recognize all valid options to resolve the question of Puerto Rico’s status, including commonwealth, statehood, and independence. I strongly believe in equality before the law for all American citizens. This principle extends fully to Puerto Ricans.

The American citizenship of Puerto Ricans is constitutionally guaranteed for as long as the people of Puerto Rico choose to retain it. I reject the assertion in reports submitted by a Presidential Task Force on December 22, 2005 and December 21, 2007 that sovereignty over Puerto Rico could be unilaterally transferred by the United States to a foreign country, and the U.S. citizenship of Puerto Ricans is not constitutionally guaranteed.

I will also work closely with the government of Puerto Rico, its private sector and labor leaders to advance an aggressive agenda of job creation, economic development and new prosperity. The levels of unemployment on the Island over the last three decades are unacceptable, which is why I will propose the creation a federal-Puerto Rico joint task force to study and report not later than August 31, 2009 on specific ways to maximize the use of existing federal initiatives to generate jobs in Puerto Rico or on new federal initiatives to achieve that goal.

In addition, I will work closely with the govemment of Puerto  Rico and Congress to enhance the participation of Puerto Rico in Medicaid and all federal health care assistance programs. My Administration will actively work with the Department of Defense as well to achieve an environmentally acceptable clean-up ofthe former U.S. Navy lands in Vieques, Puerto Rico. We will closely monitor the health of the people of Vieques and promote appropriate remedies to health conditions caused by military activities conducted by the U.S. Navy on Vieques. I will also work to evaluate and expand the existing land use plan for the former U.S. Navy lands to prioritize improving the lives of the Island’s residents and the sustainable economic development of the people of Vieques.

Sincerely, Barack Obama

Three years have passed, and with the current recommendations that President Obama’s Task Force included about Puerto Rico, it is safe to say that Candidate Obama sounded more promising that President Obama. In the end, President Obama did not achieve what he had promised, and I speak for many Puerto Ricans, both on the island and on the mainland, who are disappointed by the latest events.

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As he faces what is turning into a very hotly contested and controversial re-election bid, Luis Fortuño, the incumbent Republican and pro-statehood Governor of Puerto Rico, now finds himself in a very difficult situation: trailing his challenger by 22 percentage points in a poll released Tuesday by EL NUEVO DÍA, the island’s largest newspaper.

The political spin, as you might imagine, has already begun.

First, the newspaper has a video of Fortuño, who is clearly flustered as he tries to answer questions about the poll and whether he will be the New Progressive Party’s (PNP) candidate to run against Popular Democratic Party (PPD) candidate Alejandro García Padilla.

“There’s a time and place (to inform the people’s decision about seeking re-validate in November 2012),” said Fortuño in the video. “There will be an announcement this year.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Fortuño said that “four years is not enough to straighten out Puerto Rico.”

This poll, along with one released on Monday that gave Fortuño overwhelmingly low approval ratings, comes at a very precarious time for the island, which is also facing another possible round of future plebiscites to permanently determine its political status and its relationship with the United States. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States since 1898, when American troops invaded the island during the Spanish-American War. After becoming a Commonwealth (or Associated Free State) in 1952, there is a desire by Fortuño and other pro-statehood leaders to finalize the island’s status.

Puerto Rican Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz

Puerto Rican Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz was quick to defend the latest poll numbers and remind voters that the real numbers are how the island feels about becoming the 51st state of the Union.

“The real numbers of the PNP are the statehood numbers,” Rivera Schatz said. “The survey is just a picture of just one moment, and I am confident that one the statehood force is united, it will no doubt defeat the Popular Party.”

Even though Fortuño received very low numbers, the newspaper reported that 43% of Puerto Ricans support statehood and 39% support the current Commonwealth structure.

“The strength of the PNP is not to any political figure,” Rivera Schatz said. “it lies in the ideological force of statehood.”

Still, Rivera Schatz said that all politicians should “have the ear to the ground”, pay attention to any dissatisfaction, and then make “adjustments.”Among the “adjustments” that, in his view, could make Fortuño administration, said “communicating the work of government.”

Fortuño: “I Came to Right the Ship”

“I said that things were bad and I came to right the ship and it would not matter if it had a political cost, and it does not bother me when I had to make the right decisions,” Fortuño said in a radio interview.

Fortuño insisted that the former governor, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá and Sila María Calderón, left the country in economic ruin, and in the past two years he has had to focus on “righting the ship.” He hoped that in these next two years people will realize that he has been able to cut their taxes with Tax Reform, to improve the health system and modernize schools, among other things.

“We had to right the ship to do what we came to do,” he said.

García Padilla Reacts

Alejandro García Padilla

Meanwhile, García Padilla believes he has such a large lead in the polls because “the country is tired of excuses and wants a leadership that will propose solutions.”

“We cannot merely redouble the effort,” the PPD candidate told EL NUEVO DÍA. “This is what we’re going to do: continue working on the street, stay focused, the country wants solutions. No more excuses, you want to fight crime, unemployment, lack of education.”

García Padilla declined to comment on the reactions of major PNP leaders, especially Secretary of the Interior Marcos Rodríguez Ema, ensuring that voters eventually be disappointed in them.

“Again, the country is tired of excuses government wants a new leadership to bring solutions in employment, education, health,” García Padilla said.

PNP Leaders Predicts a PNP Victory

PNP member and Yauco Mayor Abel Nazario predicted that Fortuño would still win the election 125,000 votes.

“It is very interesting. It means that we have to work hard,” Nazario said in a radio interview.

Nazario said that while Popular members will celebrating the poll numbers, PNP leaders believe privately that Fortuño will win the election with a 52% majority.

“(Fortuño) will not listen to the polls and he will keep working, because in the end always the one who decides is the people and we are a wise people” he said.

Ema Rodríguez, meanwhile, said that the people will soon realize that García Padilla “is a great disappointment.”

Said it is “unlikely” that 18% of respondents who are PNP members would vote for García Padilla.

“That will not happen again” Rodríguez Ema said.

Puerto Rican Speaker of the House Jennifer González

Puerto Rico’s Speaker of the House, Jenniffer González, said García Padilla is leading in the polls because it is at the peak of his candidacy announcement. (García announced his intentions to run for governor this past February.)

“From now on, people are going to have to listen to a person who has been silent,” It’s going to deflate like a balloon and a lie it is. ”

Resident Commissioner Pierluisi: “We Need to Roll Up Our Sleeves”

Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, a non-voting member of the US Congress

The island’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, a non-voting member of the US Congress, said that “we must roll up our sleeves” and “improve the way we communicate the things that we have yet to do.”

“We must take this poll to help us with motivation,” said Pierluisi. “The Governor has the support of the party. My impression is that he wants to go for re-election.”

When appropriate, Pierluisi said he is “totally focused” on being a candidate for re-election to the post of Resident Commissioner.

He avoided further comment on the fact that Rivera Schatz, appears as the second PNP politician with more support to run for governor.

Rivera Schatz polled at 44% for possible PNP candidates, compared to 49% for Fortuño and 41% for Pierluisi.

“I announced that I aspire for re-election as Resident Commissioner,” Pierluisi said, “I should not be included in a poll for governor.”

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After hitting a minor lull, the controversy surrounding the opening of a new Whole Foods store in the Hyde Square section of Jamaica Plain in Boston has bubbled up again, and social media continues to play a major role in how different messages are being communicated.

The Jamaica Plain Patch reported today that more anti-Whole Foods banners were hung on a billboard in JP.

The JP Patch reported this story today.

Another banner in Spanish also appeared:

The Spanish banner contain an error for Verdaderamente but it says the same thing as English.

The banners were making a reference to the Facebook page of JP for All, a site that is promoting diversity in JP businesses and economic growth for the neighborhood. The site has been organizing a petition drive to all of Boston’s political leaders who have interest in the issue. Earlier today, it posted the following:

We are closing in on 400 declared City of Boston supporters of a JP for All. Keep up the momentum. It would be incredible if we could hit the 500 mark before our first signature gathering event on April 9th! Keep passing along the link and/or the downloadable petition to your City of Boston friends and family.

In the meantime, the anti-Whole Foods organization called Whose Foods? has issued an email about their activities:

Friends and neighbors,

We’re excited to share some updates with you and to let you know of ways you can plug into working for an affordable and diverse JP this week! In this email, you’ll find:

1. Rally this Saturday, April 2! Join us!
2. Outreach this week
3. JP Neighborhood Council meeting tomorrow night
4. Vision for alternatives meeting
5. JP residents’ visit to Whole Foods regional headquarters last week

1. RALLY THIS SATURDAY: Celebrate JP’s Diversity & Protect it Now
We will rally and march to celebrate JP’s diversity this Saturday, April 2. Meet us in Mozart Park at 3 PM, where we’ll have food to share, a DJ, activities for kids and more! By 4 PM, we’ll leave the park on a march to the former Hi-Lo space, where we’ll hold another short rally. Please join us!

… And please help us create a strong event. We need your help this week!


2. OUTREACH this week

Petition gathering & flyering:
Groups of folks are meeting up at Jackson Square T station this week to petition and pass out flyers. Please join us! Email whosefoodsjp@gmail.com with any questions.
• Monday 5:30-6:30pm
• Tuesday: Sign up to coordinate! whosefoodsjp@gmail.com
• Wednesday 12:00-2:00pm
• Thursday 4:30pm
• Friday: Sign up to coordinate! whosefoodsjp@gmail.com 

Phone banking to turn out people to the rally:
We’re calling everybody on our list to turn out folks! Food will be provided. Spanish speakers needed!
Thursday 6-8pm – email Cheryl at CDeSanctis47@gmail.com
Friday 6-8pm – email Ximena at ximenaiz2@gmail.com for location details


3. JP Neighborhood Council Meeting
Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 29 at 7 PM
At First Baptist on Centre Street, next to the Post Office

The JPNC will meet for their regular monthly meeting tomorrow night, March 29. On their agenda will be the role of the new Whole Foods Ad-Hoc Committee. It would be great to have supporters attend the meeting to let the JPNC know we support their work for an affordable and diverse neighborhood, and that support for that vision is growing. 

4. Vision for alternatives meeting:
People will be meeting to explore alternatives for 415 Centre St. If you are excited about exploring alternatives, you should get involved!
Tuesday 3/29 at 6 PM in Hyde Square. Email Ximena at ximenaiz2@gmail.com for location information

5. JP Residents visit Whole Foods Regional Headquarters & mail packets to Whole Foods Board of Directors

In case you missed the news, last week a dozen JP residents delivered our first 1,000 petition signatures to the Whole Foods regional headquarters in Cambridge. Last week each member of the Whole Foods Board of Directors also received a packet of information that included media coverage of our work and copies of our first 1,000 petition signatures. Check out photos and video of the petition delivery and news coverage from the Metro, Boston.com, and the JP Patch. (Please take a minute to leave a positive comment on those news pages while you’re there!)

 

 

This coalition is a group of all-volunteer JP residents and friends that came together in early February with shared concerns about Hi-Lo’s closing and the news of Whole Foods entrance to JP. Thanks to your work and support, in just over a month we’ve managed to gather over 1,000 petition signatures, deliver those petitions to Whole Foods Regional Headquarters, meet with our elected officials, talk to thousands of our neighbors, turn out hundreds of residents to JP Neighborhood Council meetings and support them in their stance for an equitable JP, and create a base of support for an affordable and diverse JP, one that is stronger without Whole Foods.

The Patch also wrote about a flyer in Spanish that is appearing in the neighborhood, encouraging people to attend the Whose Foods? rally on Saturday. The translation of the flyer reads as follows:

OUR NEIGHBORHOOD IS IN DANGER

Organizations and individuals from JP and beyond, motivated by greed, are manipulating a plan that will raise rents by up to 20% for EVERYONE in the Hyde Square area, this means that a war against the working class and especially against ALL the minorities that have lived here for such a long time, who have invested a lot of work in having a Community where Diversity is what UNITES us!

COME ATTEND THIS IMPORTANT MEETING WHERE YOU WILL RECEIVE MORE INFORMATION!

The Patch did confirm on its Facebook site that this flyer was not authorized by Whose Foods? nor does it represent Whose Foods?

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EL NUEVO DÍA, Puerto Rico’s largest and most widely-read newspaper, released a poll today that concludes that the current administration of Republican pro-statehood Governor Luis Fortuño is being seen as the worst in the island’s history.

The most telling statistic is 31% of voters in Fortuño’s own party, the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP), says that Fortuño’s performance has been “worse” since he was took office in January, 2009. 50% of PNP voters say that Fortuño’s leadership is within expectations.

Governor Luis Fortuño

Facing a possible reelection bid, Fortuño has a tough battle ahead, since 69% of all the island’s unaffiliated voters (the key “swing vote”) say that Fortuño’s performance is worse than expected.

58% of all voters gave the Governor a grade of D or F. 30% of PNP party members gave him a D or an F. The overwhelming majority of 65% of unaffiliated voters awarded Fortuño a D or F. Only 10% of this group rated Fortuño with an A or a B.

When compared to former Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá in May 2007 when it comes to grades of D and F, Fortuño look worse, 58% versus Vila’s 48%.

Secretary of the Interior Supports Fortuño, Blames Previous Governors for “Tsunami”

“There is tremendous frustration. That is what happens when an eight-year that means when a tsunami occurs,” said Puerto Rican Secretary of the Interior Marcos Rodríguez Ema in a radio interview, when asked about the survey results.

Ema Rodríguez also said the Government’s recovery signs are starting to show “little by little,” but people are still pessimistic about the results.

Puerto Rico's Secretary of the Interior Marcos Rodríguez Ema

“People in Puerto Rico traditionally has always been very pessimistic about the future of our island,” said Rodríguez Ema, who accused former Govenors Sila Calderón and Vilá for creating this perception. Both Calderón and Vilá are members of the island’s Popular Democratic Party (PPD)

“If they the [PPD] stayed in power, the government would have been a total failure,” said the owner, noting that the economy and health care have improved with changes made by the Fortuño administration.

Ema Rodríguez also indicated that there is still a year and a half for people to see the changes made by Fortuño.

“It’s better have people in government who know what they are doing than to be governed by people who sank us into tsunami of terror,” he said.

PPD Leader Says Fortuño Government Has Collapsed

Meanwhile, the president of the Partido Popular Democratico (PPD), Héctor Ferrer, told the NotiUno radio station that Fortuño’s government collapsed long ago and people are very clear about it.

“Note that the percentage of those who do not want to share their opinions does not exceed 2%. In other words, people are clear that the government has collapsed,” said Ferrer, referring to the people who abstained when asked what grade they would give Fortuño.

Héctor Ferrer, President of the PPD

“The government collapsed and collapsed in each and one of the issues important to the country. It is a government bus going in reverse,” said Ferrer.

Former Senator Miriam Ramírez de Ferrer of the PNP gave the Fortuño government a C minus.

Former PNP Senator Miriam Ramírez de Ferrer (left)

“The government still cannot deliver, even with all the money it is spending, all the money being spent on advertising and public relations, with all those millions is degrading and that money could have solved many problems in Puerto Rico. I think this figure has already reached a billion dollars with everything. and that the people of Puerto Rico do not realize or feel that things are better, ” Ramírez de Ferrer said in a radio interview.

He added, “I can not agree with someone who thinks that things are good and getting better in Puerto Rico.”

PPD Leadership Says Fortuño is the Worst Governor in Puerto Rican History

In a press release written in Spanish, the PPD leadership said the following: “Luis Fortuño is not a viable candidate (for the elections of 2012) and the remainder of the leadership of the New Progressive Party (PNP) will suffer the consequences of involvement in the thousands of layoffs under the law.”

“Fortuño has become the worst governor in history,” the press release reads.

Regarding the spending of funds for the island’s latest status plebiscite, the group called it “immoral” because thousands of parents and families are without a livelihood on the streets. The funds to support the operational costs and publicity of the plebiscite should be redirected to reinstate the unemployed workers who have been laid off.

“The plebiscite does not obligate anyone and the second round is scheduled as a blackmail to reelect Fortuño, the same one who has fired us from our jobs,” the group concluded.

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The weekend was a busy one for Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood party and its Republican Governor Luis Fortuño. The island’s New Progressive Party, which is led by Fortuño, approved two plebiscites that will determine Puerto Rico’s political status. The first one would be held in late 2011, with the second one to be held in early 2013.

Puerto Rican Republican Governor Luis Fortuño

Inspired by the recommendations of the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico, the PNP would not allow the island’s current Commonwealth status (Estado Libre Asociado, or Associated Free State—also known as the ELA) as an option on the first plebiscite.

“We will file management legislation as recommended on page 28 of the task force established two ballots, the first one between the non-territorial options, statehood, independence and free association, as defined on pages 24, 25 and 26 of the report, “said Fortuño.

Free association is loosely defined as a state that is “a minor partner in a formal, free relationship between a political territory with a degree of statehood and a (usually larger) nation, for which no other specific term, such as a protectorate, is adopted.” All free associated states either are independent or have the potential right to independence. Unlike the ELA, which has a more colonial relationship with the United States, a free associated state is more in line with current thinking of political status, as supported by the United Nations.

The PNP leadership claimed that they are following the White House report faithfully.

“And we will pass legislation at the state level are going to write so that the voting process is a requirement to the President and Congress to resolve this once and for all,” Fortuño said. “We are voting to make a claim the Puerto Rican people.”

The White House report states the following on page 28 (we include part of pages 27 and 29 for more context) of its recommendation:

Two Plebiscites. In response to concerns about the potential for uncertainty that may result from a single plebiscite, many advocates have supported an approach with two plebiscites, the first of which would narrow the options and the second of which would make a final decision.A challenge with any two-tiered plebiscite system is the perception that how the votes are ordered may favor one outcome over others.

H.R.2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010, provides for just such a process.It would first require voters to choose between the current political status and a different political status.Under H.R.2499, if a majority voted for the current political status, then a plebiscite would be held every 8 years to see if the electorate has changed its mind.

In the original form of the bill, if a majority voted for a different political status, the people of Puerto Rico would then have another plebiscite to vote on three options: (1) Statehood; (2) Independence; or (3) Free Association.There was criticism that, under H.R.2499 in its original form, if change of status won the first vote but the vote was close, the second vote would not include an option that perhaps 49 percent of the population supported as a first option and an unspecified number believed was the second best option.In part, for this reason, those supporting certain options objected to the bill, and, as a result, it was amended to include a fourth option in the second plebiscite: the current political status.

A second option would be the reverse of the original version of H.R.2499.Under this approach, all of the status options would be included in the first vote, except the current political status.The option that received sufficient votes from the first plebiscite (plurality, majority, or supermajority) would then be paired against the current political status in the second plebiscite.Another variation of this type would have all status options as part of the first plebiscite, with the top two vote-getters being the two options in the second plebiscite.This would effectively operate like a single plebiscite with a runoff, as discussed above.

Another variation of the two plebiscite option is to have a first plebiscite that requires the people of Puerto Rico to choose whether they wish to be part of the United States (either via Statehood or Commonwealth) or wish to be independent (via Independence or Free Association).If continuing to be part of the United States were chosen in the first plebiscite, a second vote would be taken between Statehood and Commonwealth.If independence were selected, a second vote would be taken between full Independence and Free Association.

As noted above, this last variation has certain appeal.To the extent that a core question is whether—given clear and specific information about each option and commitments that the United States would or would not make—the people of Puerto Rico would prefer to remain part of the United States or (as noted below, with their existing citizenship protected) be an independent nation, this approach would address that question directly.

Alternative Voting Systems. To overcome the limitations of a single plebiscite and the criticisms that would attend any of the above ways of managing two plebiscites, one could choose from several other systems of voting rather than a pure one-person, one-vote, one-option approach.The benefit of such systems is that they may provide more information about the will of the people; the drawbacks are that they are complex and require significant voter education.In addition, these systems do not answer the question of how many votes are sufficient to justify a change in status.

One option would be ranked voting, which would allow voters to rank the status options in order of preference.Such an approach would reveal, for example, in a single plebiscite, if a substantial majority of the people put one status option as first or second, whereas another status option was the first choice of a similar number of people, but poorly ranked by the rest of the population.A further step in this regard would be cumulative voting, which could give each voter four votes that could be distributed among several options or dedicated entirely to one; such an approach would reveal the strength of the voters’ views.

Constitutional Convention. Given the uncertainty about the status options and the need for a full debate on these issues on the Island, some advocates have suggested that a constitutional convention is a superior means for reaching resolution on the status question.Constitutional conventions have the advantage of being able to adapt the language of the status options and to allow for a more complete consideration of a variety of subsidiary issues.However, if (as discussed below) congressional legislation commits to honoring the outcome of a determination made by the people of Puerto Rico, the virtues of a constitutional convention are reduced.Any changes made by the constitutional convention to the status options outlined in the legislation could negate the commitment made by the United States, or at least require further congressional action reflecting consent to the changes made.

An additional challenge of a constitutional convention is the selection of delegates for that convention.The Task Force’s outreach indicated that there would be significant disagreement concerning how delegates would be selected.Delegates could be elected, but it is unclear whether such a process would be an improvement on the idea of a plebiscite itself.Some advocates argued that delegates should be selected from a broad swath of Puerto Rican society, with a de-emphasis on political parties.

The most common form of a constitutional convention suggested was one that itself would define the status options, which would then be taken to the people for a popular vote.Under such an approach, the constitutional convention would define the status options (or choose a single option to be presented to the people), develop a process, and draft a ballot, which would then be presented to the people of Puerto Rico, who would vote in a referendum.The constitutional convention could precede a vote of Congress defining the status options or could follow it.If the convention preceded congressional action, the status options defined by the convention could take effect only with congressional approval.If Congress failed to provide such approval, the constitutional convention might need to reconvene to consider other options.If the constitutional convention followed congressional action, the convention could approve the congressionally defined status options or modify them, but any modification would then require further congressional approval.H.R.1230, the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2007, proposed a process that included a constitutional convention.

Because 2012 is a year full electorally in Puerto Rico and the United States, the second query would be left in early 2013 and that would involve the formula that is winning on the first ballot and “territorial status” as described the first executive to the Commonwealth.

The PNP decided to not have the second plebiscite until 2013 because 2012 is a major election year both in the United States (President) and in Puerto Rico (Governor).

As expected, the PNP’s actions created some very strong reactions from the island’s other political groups.

Alejandro García Padilla

The gubernatorial candidate for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Alejandro García Padilla, said the intention of excluding the ELA in a vote this year demonstrated the “lack of seriousness and determination on the issue of status.”

He noted that nothing prevents the two plebiscites to be conducted this year, as proposed by the PDP.

“With the President pledging to present the results to Congress, the PNP cannot seriously justify neither the structure nor the separation proposed so wide of the two events,” said García Padilla.

“Just looking to create artificial and false appearance of support for statehood is worthless. And to postpone the second vote for the next two years, the Governor seeks only to remove the President and to wait to see if there is a change of government in the United States to return to the crooked ways of the past. The Popular Party strongly rejects the decision of the board of the PNP as an insult to Puerto Ricans who want this settled now and as a rebuke to a president who is committed to address this issue, “said the gubernatorial candidate.

Earlier today, García Padilla sounded more determined when he said the following at a PPD press conference: “The PPD will not stand idly by, we’re going to expose here and in Washington. The PNP has positioned itself as the party of tricks and deceptions.”

PPD Senator Eduardo Bhatia

PPD Senator Eduardo Bhatia was very clear when saying that the PNP’s intentions to include the current ELA as a option is “illegitimate, anti-democratic, and has no validity.”

“The United States, since Congress and the White House and the people of Puerto Rico have been emphatic that the Commonwealth [ELA] must be included in any process of self-determination. Democracy can not be a half democracy, without all the options there is no democracy, “said Bhatia.

Julio Fontanet, the former president of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and spokesman for the United Sovereignty Movement (MUS) , focused on the political reality that the PNP is facing in the 2012 elections

“They are doing this process on the premise that their option will prevail in this first round, perhaps with the hope that it will strengthen their party in 2012 because they anticipate a big defeat, and that’s why they put the second round after the election,” said Fontanet.

Fernando Martin, President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party

As for comments from the island’s Independence Party (PIP), Fernando Martin, the PIP’s executive president, said the following:

“It is clear that this decision is a politically motivated move which is not intended or will result in accelerating the decolonization of Puerto Rico and it is being made by the New Progressive Party (NPP) to create an electoral advantage for the upcoming elections.”

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As Georgia debates Arizona-style anti-immigration bills that have led to demonstrations in Atlanta this week, a more curious story out of a Gwinnett Country Elementary School in Duluth brought the debate to the reading homework of a third-grade classroom.

The following video from Atlanta’s Channel 11 reports how Kelly Avalos discovered a worksheet entitled “What Is an Illegal Alien?” in her brother’s homework.

 

The worksheet, distributed by EdHelper.com, also contained the following multiple choice question:

What does the U.S. do with illegal aliens?

A. The U.S. puts them to work in the army.
B. The U.S. shoots them into outer space.
C. The U.S. puts them to death.
D. The U.S. sends them back where they came from.

Even though Gwinnett County is looking into the incident, Channel 11 did report the following: “Quintana said the teacher in question has only been teaching for a year. Ironically, the student’s family said the teacher is Hispanic.”

 

Web page of the Illegal Alien lesson developed by EdHelper.com

As for EdHelper.com, the actual Illegal Alien lesson can be found on this link, although you must be a paid subscriber to access the content. We did contact EdHelper tonight for a comment, and we will share once we hear back from them.

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In their latest edition, Dallas-based D MAGAZINE has listed “hiring a day laborer” as one of the things one must do in Dallas to become “a true local.” In a section called “What You Must Do In Dallas: The city’s essential experiences. You’re not a true local until you’ve done them all,” the magazine lists 52 “must do” things, including such favorites as riding a bull, eating chicken fried steak at Babe’s,  going to the drive-in at the Galaxy, and spotting Troy Aikman.

Tucked in the last row of the list, right before going to the State Fair of Texas and exploring the Trinity River Audubon Center, is the suggestion to go and hire a day laborer.

Here is the advice D MAGAZINE is giving its readers so that they earn the badge of a being a true resident of Dallas:

Hire a day laborer

Need someone to dig a trench, tile a patio, cut down a tree, or haul trash? Don’t ask your elderly father. He’s weak. Good, cheap labor is a short drive away on Carroll Avenue, between Ross and San Jacinto. Look for the vacant lot with mustachioed men sitting on stumps by the cyclone fence of wind-trapped Funyuns bags. Arrive early in the morning for the best workers. If they’re motivated to get up early, they’re motivated to work hard. They’ll swarm your car, which can feel a bit like a nascent siege, but it’s normal. Negotiate rates up front and be prepared to pay $10–$14 an hour. A few years ago, we offered $7 an hour and dudes scattered as if our vehicle read “INS.” Hopefully, you have a truck. Anything less makes for an uncomfortable ride to the jobsite. Especially if you’re hiring multiple guys. We once endured an awkward trip in a Miata with one laborer straddling our lap, facing us, and telling us he loved us. Give them clear instructions, buy them lunch, and keep them in water. If a guy is a loafer, pay him, take him back to the lot, and pick up another one. Sounds cruel, but in this job market it’s survival of the fittest.

We did contact D MAGAZINE via email tonight for comment, but have yet to get a response. Once we do, we will share. According to its own official information about its history (it launched in 1974), D MAGAZINE actually takes these types of lists rather seriously. It also touts its reputation as one of the city’s (and the country’s) most successful magazines today.

Not everyone was happy with the new magazine. It was frequently attacked, and even sued, by politicians and business interests who were upset by its candid editorial content and strong positions. But readers continued to support D even when advertisers didn’t, and by 1977 when it launched its annual “Best and Worst” awards, D Magazine was an unqualified financial and editorial success.

(Founding editor Jim Atkinson remembers how we blew the lid off this city with restaurant reviews. Read “The Wonder Years,” published in D Magazine’s 30th anniversary issue.) In 1990, D Magazine was sold to American Express. In 1995 Wick Allison once again assumed the helm of the magazine and in 1996 led a group of investors in buying the magazine. Today, D Magazine is again part of the lifeblood of Dallas. Circulation has soared some 500 percent since 1996, and D has become one of the best-selling magazines per capita in the United States on local newsstands. The reason for its success is its devotion to editorial quality. D Magazine has been named the “Best City Magazine” in the nation three times by the City and Regional Magazine Association. D Magazine has also won five of the Press Club of Dallas’ 2005 Katie Awards, including the awards for “Best Magazine” and the “Visual Communications Award for Magazine Design” for the March 2005 issue.

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