Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

Exactly two years ago today, while I was covering the latest from Puerto Rico, several of my friends shared a report about the island that, according to them, was a “must watch.” It was a segment called “Puerto Rico: The fiscal experiment,” produced by Al Jazeera. To this day, it is still one of the most comprehensive reports I have ever seen about Puerto Rico’s current situation. The piece was journalism at its best: tell the story, include different points of view, and invite viewers to draw their own conclusions.

I was highly impressed, and it was the first time I had ever really noticed the quality of news content Al Jazeera was producing in English.

Fast forward to the end of 2012. I was in New York City hanging with friends in lower Manhattan when I got a call from Washington, D.C. It was an Al Jazeera English producer for a show called “The Stream.” Would I like to be a guest next week to talk about Puerto Rico’s social media activism and the issues surrounding the “La Comay” controversy?


Even though my schedule couldn’t accommodate the invite, I was even more impressed that Al Jazeera English was dedicating time to a story that deeply connected with me and millions of others in the Latino online space. Ever since then, I was hooked to the “The Stream.” The combination of conversation and social media was powerful. Here was the new media “60 Minutes.” I soon found out that many of my friends also loved the show, as well as a huge part of our Latino Rebels community.

This Monday, I start my new job as a Digital Producer for “The Stream.” Having met the show’s core staff and leadership, this decision was an exciting one for me, as well as an easy one to make. Simply stated, “The Stream” fully understands the power of the new media. For example, tomorrow they are running an #OpenEditorial for content and ideas. They believe in amplifying stories that come from the ground up, a belief I have been embracing ever since I started tweeting in 2008 and founded LatinoRebels.com in 2011.

Although the Rebeldes will always be with me, my new position at “The Stream” allows me to expand my talents at a ground-breaking award-winning news show I believe is the future of news media.

And no, I won’t be disappearing from the online world. Quite the contrary. I will do my best to get the stories that matter to “The Stream.” If you ever have a story that you think needs attention, please do not hesitate to contact me via Twitter or Facebook. You know where to find me.

This is going to be an incredible adventure. Something’s coming, for sure.

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The political games in Puerto Rico continue as PPD (Popular Party Resident Commissione Candidate Rafael Cox Alomar’s positions on the Puerto Rican status question are still finding partisan criticism by  other of the island’s major political parties. Yesterday, the Puerto Rican Independence Party’s candidate for Resident Commissioner, Juan Manuel Mercado, wrote that the selection of Cox Alomar by the PPD is an action that confirm the PPD’s belief in the political status quo (Puerto Rico has been a Commonwealth of the United States for over 50 years and has been a territory since 1898). As Mercado says:

“Cox Alomar’s positions picture him as yet another diplomat who pretends to go to Washington, and does not demand for the immediate decolonization of Puerto Ricom, but instead to perform public relations in a city that has no interest in fulfilling its obligation to decolonize Puerto Rico.

Mr. Cox wants to go to Washington to do the same thing that his PPD and PNP (pro-statehood) predecessors have done: to say they are sorry and to ask for permission, but above all, to pick up the crumbs from the floor that reflect the hypocrisy of an entire nation.

Although the PPD spin says that Cox Alomar is a new voice in the PPD because he has never held elective office, the message from PPD gubernatorial candidate Alejandro García Padilla and Cox Alomar’s own writings suggest that the PPD would rather maintain the current political system on the island than try to take bolder actions to change it.

UPDATE: We inaccurately reported that Cox Alomar was a congressional staffer for former Resident Commissione r Aníbal Acevedo Vilá. The information we listed was for Pedro Cox Alomar, Rafael’s brother, and not Rafael Cox Alomar.

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At a time when the political landscape is examining government budgets with fine tooth combs and microscopes, a report by the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation has listed the Hon. Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner and non-voting member of the US House of Representatives, as the House’s biggest spender, having accumulated $2.1 million in expenses to keep his office running.

As Sunlight’s article mentions:

In 2010, members, committees and other offices of the U.S. House of Representatives spent more than $1.36 billion on salaries, benefits, office equipment, travel, consultants and other expenses. Of that, the largest expense–about $1 billion–was for salaries and benefits, followed by spending on rent and communication costs, technology and related maintenance costs.

In addition, the report lists the House’s 10 biggest spenders, with Pierluisi outspending former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi by more than $300,000. Pierluisi, a registered Democrat in Republican Governor Luis Fortuño’s administration, is one of nine Democrats on the Top 10 list of spenders:

  1. Pedro Pierluisi, D-Puerto Rico: $2,117,000
  2. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: $1,860,000
  3. Jim Costa, D-Calif.: $1,764,000
  4. *Dina Titus, D-Nev.: $1,742,000
  5. *Scott Murphy, D-N.Y.: $1,741,000
  6. Ken Calvert, R-Calif.: $1,737,000
  7. Brad Sherman, D-Calif.: $1,733,000
  8. *Mary Jo Kilroy, D-Ohio: $1,724,000
  9. David Wu, D-Ore.: $1,699,000
  10. Laura Richardson, D-Calif.: $1,688,000

*-Denotes former member

EL NUEVO DÍA, Puerto Rico’s largest circulation newspaper, did get Pierluisi to comment about the Sunlight findings, as reported in Spanish by reporter José A. Delgado. We have translated a few sections of the article here:

Pedro Pierluisi said today that it is the very leadership of the House of Representatives that decides how money allocated to the office of Resident Commissioner in Washington.

“There is a process to request funds,” Commissioner Pierluisi said.

This week, an analysis from the Sunlight Foundation, which highlights the expenses of the offices of House members, said Pierluisi had the highest budget for 2010, with about $ 2.1 million.

The costs that stands out in the Sunlight report is the $ 173.000 in printed material (mainly fact sheets Pierluisi’s office inserted into publications for Puerto Rico) and the nearly $ 60,000 in travel, three times more than any other federal legislator of Puerto Rican origin.

“The trip includes spending on employees,” said Pierluisi, who also said that the cost of tickets to Puerto Rico is much higher than that of tickets that his colleagues can purchase.

Later in the article, Popular Democratic Party Chairman Héctor Ferrer criticized Pierluisi for his actions:

This is not the amount of money that is given. My question is: what is the benefit obtained by the people of Puerto Rico with the expenditure of that money? I have a budget that is a quarter that of Pierluisi’s and I represent the same number of voters.

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