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Archive for April, 2011

From March 16 on Pedro R. Pierluisi’s website. For those who don’t know, Pedro is the Resident Commissioner for Puerto Rico in Congress:

Historic White House Task Force Report is Released

White House supports consulting the people of Puerto Rico on their political status choice, declares that the current status is territorial, and characterizes “enhanced Commonwealth” proposal as impossible

Washington, DC- The Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, called the White House Task Force Report an historic document, one that says that resolution of Puerto Rico’s status issue should be an urgent priority, discusses the economic situation on the Island in detailed fashion, and offers recommendations in important areas like health and education.

“The Task Force Report contains the most complete analysis that we have received from the White House regarding our political status problem. I thank the members of the Task Force for the effort, integrity and care they have shown in addressing a subject of such importance to the people of Puerto Rico. Now, we must take action consistent with the guidance and recommendations set forth in the Report,” said Pierluisi.

The voluminous Report supports the government of Puerto Rico conducting a plebiscite process under local law on the question of the Island’s future political status. The Report expresses a preference that the plebiscite be conducted in two stages, with voters first deciding if they want to remain part of the United States or to seek independence and then, depending on their answer to that threshold question, choosing between either the current status and statehood or independence and free association.

The Report observes that the government of Puerto Rico has discussed the possibility of holding a plebiscite this summer that would seek to ascertain the will of the people of Puerto Rico regarding their political status. The Task Force recommends that the President and Congress support any fair, transparent, and swift effort that is consistent with and reflects the will of the people of Puerto Rico. If the process produces a clear result, the Task Force recommends that Congress act on it quickly with the President’s support. If efforts on the Island do not yield a clear result, the Task Force recommends that Congress, with the President’s support, enact federal legislation.

“We welcome this recommendation because it demonstrates—yet again—the Task Force’s commitment to resolve the status issue. It also confirms what I have repeatedly said: that, for now, the ball is in Puerto Rico’s court,” said the Resident Commissioner.

In addition, the Report buries, once and for all, the three myths long promoted by the leadership of the Island’s Popular Democratic Party (PDP). First, it expressly states that Puerto Rico is currently a territory subject to Congress’s plenary power under the Territory Clause of the Constitution. Second, according to the Report, under any of the various “Commonwealth” proposals that have been put forward by the PDP, Puerto Rico would remain subject to congressional authority under the Territory Clause. Finally, the Report explicitly concludes that the fundamental basis of the PDP’s “enhanced Commonwealth” proposal—namely, the establishment of a covenant whose terms could not be later changed by Congress without Puerto Rico’s consent—is impossible. The Report says that the Obama Administration has taken a fresh look at such mutual consent provisions, and has concluded that such provisions would not be enforceable because a future Congress could choose to alter that relationship unilaterally.

“It is clear that the Obama Administration has dealt a fatal blow to the notion of ‘enhanced Commonwealth.’ The Report explicitly says that Puerto Rico is now subject to Congress’s power under the Territory Clause; that, under the PDP’s various proposals to “enhance” or “develop” the Commonwealth, Puerto Rico would remain subject to Congress’s Territory Clause powers; and that the fundamental core of the PDP’s proposal—the mutual consent provision—is impossible,” said Pierluisi.

The Task Force Report also expresses a clear preference for a plebiscite process over a constitutional convention process to determine the views of the people of Puerto Rico on the status question.

In addition, the Report states that, if Puerto Rico were to become a state, Island residents should control their own cultural and linguistic identity. The Report further notes that, under statehood, English should have the same important role in Puerto Rico that it does today.

The White House Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status was established by President Clinton in 2000, with a mandate to focus on the political status issue. President Bush maintained the Task Force in effect and retained its sole focus on status. In October 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing the Task Force maintain its focus on status, while also making recommendation on policies to promote job creation, education, health, clean energy and economic development on the Island.

This report is virtually a verbatim re-write from Bush’s 2005 report. The island is a territory under Congress’s control and that the island cannot unilaterally change its relationship between itself and the United States. But these plebiscites are usually a crock as multitudes of politicians on the island try to dilute the vote by added multiple variations of the status of “Commonwealth.” I just hope that Fortuno is able to run the plebiscite without having politicians try to dilute the vote with having multiple variations of the term “Commonwealth” stuffed into the ballot.

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Last week I had to deal with a serious challenge that tested my level of maturity, my optimism, and my stoicism as a man and a human being. I can’t say I passed this challenge with flying colors. In fact I think I’d give myself a C for the effort. But I’ve pulled through, learned lessons, and ready to move forward.

As some may know, while I have a license to practice law in New York and New Jersey, I’ve been searching for permanent employment with someone, ANYONE, ever since I finished taking the bar exams. For the last 3 months, I have been working with getting a year-long fellowship with a non-profit organization and/or its affiliates. I had gone through several interviews and a few weeks ago I was able to access an exclusive job portal with several open positions. I applied to about 4 of them, and was told I would attend a reception in D.C. last Thursday and interview for one or all of the positions on Friday.

Well, that didn’t happen. I got a call from the organization the day before I was to leave saying that none of the employers I applied to wanted to interview me. And the one position I wanted the most was snapped up just the week before. It was pretty devastating. I had gone through a lot with this organization, conducting a number of interviews, passing through them and moving further and further down the trail to what I hoped to finally become employment. My ambition is to be in D.C. and those open positions would put me exactly where I want to be. That made the cancellation all the more painful.

I was in a rut days after and most of this weekend. I felt like I was back to square one in my job search. I was so sure that I had a job in the bag in the coming weeks, even though technically I was never guaranteed an interview. I put far too much emotion into it and was guilty of counting my chickens before they hatched.

This weekend revealed a lot about myself, but also a lot about who my friends are. When I revealed what happened on Twitter and Facebook, there was an outpouring of support from friends and family. Some gave words of encouragement, others began working to find new leads for me, others gave me an ear for me to blow off the steam of frustration and anxiousness I felt.

Although there are many folks who lent their support to me, I want to particularly thank my parents for putting up with me this weekend, my grandmother who refuses to doubt me, and @TXSusanB, @DinaFraioli, and @MsKittyAlvarez. Those three tweeps have all been my biggest help not only through this endeavor but throughout my job hunt, providing support when I needed it, and tough love when I REALLY needed it. I needed a kick in the ass to get myself out of the rut this weekend and they were more than happy to provide it and I can’t thank them enough.

However, on Saturday I was still feeling down, and feeling sorry for myself. I was taking it out on my parents unfairly and they were having family over for a dinner party. Attending was my uncle Raymond and my father’s cousin Angelo, who was visiting from Florida. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I felt like all it would do was remind me of my current station. Sure enough the first thing my uncle asked me was about the D.C. trip! I did my best to put up a nice face.

During dinner, Angelo talked to me about where I am and where I’d be going. I told him what happened and he told me his life experiences. “It’s never going to be easy,” he said. Setbacks like this are going to happen a lot, and in this economy its only going to be more numerous. It’s all about “working the room, talking to people, and taking that shit job, even though you deserve better.” He said “when you get knocked down 4 times, you get up 8. You can’t let this one eat at you because more will be coming. I believe in you, Sam. I’m 72 years old, but I hope to see you again in 20 years because I know you will be successful then. And when you do become successful, you’re taking me out to McDonald’s for a burger.” Of course I knew all of this, I’ve heard it all. I guess I needed someone to say it to my face who wasn’t a parent. It finally got me over the hump and I can’t thank him enough for it.

The moral of this long-winded, aloof, and slightly self-serving story is that I can’t let setbacks like these tear me up for days on end because there will be more of them around the corner. I gotta get up, brush the dirt off my suit and be ready for the next one cause it’ll be coming, and know that even though those doors have closed, others will open. Also, I am blessed to have the amount of support that I have in my family and friends, and it is unfair for me to take my frustrations and pains out on them. They deserve my thanks, not my scowls.

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