Category Archives: Puerto Rico

Malliotakis On Puerto Rico & Trump Tweets

Republican/Conservative mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis urged the federal government to accelerate its response to the post-Maria crisis in Puerto Rico, but had little to say about President Trump’s multiple tweets criticizing the mayor of San Juan and Puerto Ricans’ efforts in the recovery.  Speaking just before marching in Sunday’s Pulaksi Day Parade Malliotakis offered that “I’ve always been one to say that nothing good comes out of staying on Twitter so much” when asked about the president’s tweets and spoken comments.  She did not have any direct criticism or comment on Trump’s tweets, however.

Malliotakis did urge increased and accelerated federal aid to Puerto Rico, terming it a “crisis” that requires bipartisan support in Washington.  While voicing empathy for the frustration people in Puerto Rico are experiencing in the lengthy timeframe for federal assistance, she also noted that reality is that federal efforts take time to to organize and effect.  Malliotakis recalled the post-Sandy recovery in her assembly district, noting that local officials acted well before significant federal aid arrived.

Malliotakis has previously said that her family members in Puerto Rico are safe, but she has no new information as her family has had very limited communication with those on the island.  Malliotakis said she’s considered going to Puerto Rico but, due both to the conditions and her pending election, she’s unlikely to do so before election day.

Malliotakis On Puerto Rico

Republican/mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis today expressed frustration with the pace of federal storm relief in Puerto Rico and urged the federal government to treat Puerto Rico equally with other areas of the United States in providing storm relief and to accelerate its current emergency aid and response.

Puerto Rico faces many challenges in the coming months and years of storm recovery, with its pre-Maria financial crisis and infrastructure issues deepening those challenges and increasing the cost and difficulty of long term rebuilding.  Pre-storm, Congress has been loath to provide financial assistance to Puerto Rico in addressing its massive indebtedness.  How that indebtedness may factor into Congressional funding of post-Maria rebuilding is not yet clear, but it’s distinctly possible that Congress may limit or restrict rebuilding funding as a consequence of Puerto Rico’s financial troubles.

I spoke with Malliotakis during a press conference today in Throggs Neck focused on funding for senior centers.

Massey On The Puerto Rican Day Parade – Update

Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey has refined his approach to the controversial Puerto Rican Day Parade.  Massey previously said that he would not march due to the parade honoring Oscar Lopez Rivera, a co-founder of the FALN, but would attend.  He’s now said that he won’t attend the parade, but will instead attend an unspecified “celebration of Puerto Rican heritage.”  At a Staten Island press conference this afternoon Massey was asked (by Erin Durkin of the Daily News) for an explanation of his changed position.  Like rival candidate Nicole Malliotakis Massey has never marched in the parade, nor has he ever attended.

Malliotakis P.R. Parade Past

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis held a press conference today condemning the National Puerto Rican Day Parade for honoring Oscar Lopez Rivera, co-founder of the F.A.L.N. which carried out fatal bombings in New York City and elsewhere.  Malliotakis has said that she will not march in the parade and has condemned Mayor de Blasio for planning to march.  Malliotakis has never marched in the parade, however, and said she last attended the parade in 2009.  It was unclear whether she attended the parade before 2009.


Malliotakis on Puerto Rico’s Status

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis does not have a personal view or preference on whether Puerto Rico should remain a commonwealth, become a state or gain full independence.  “I think it’s up to the people of Puerto Rico” was how Malliotakis concluded her brief response to my question today.  Note, however, that Malliotakis spoke in terms of a choice between statehood and commonwealth, without mentioning independence. Continue reading Malliotakis on Puerto Rico’s Status

Malliotakis Urges de Blasio To Skip Parade

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis today demanded that Mayor Bill de Blasio skip the Puerto Rican Day Parade due to the parade honoring Oscar Lopez Rivera.  Malliotakis spoke at a press conference in front of Fraunces Tavern, the lower Manhattan target of a fatal bombing by a group led by Lopez Rivera.  She was joined by Joseph Connor, whose father Frank was killed in the bombing, and Thomas Engel, who prosecuted members of the FALN as an assistant U.S. Attorney. Continue reading Malliotakis Urges de Blasio To Skip Parade

Kasich On Puerto Rico Fiscal Crisis

Kasich - Keene, NH 12-29-15Ohio Governor John Kasich punted on the topic of whether Puerto Rico should be given the legal authority to file for bankruptcy protection.  Puerto Rico, overwhelmed by more than $70 billion of debt owed by the Commonwealth and some of its agencies and municipalities, is seeking the ability to file a bankruptcy petition.  Current law precludes Puerto Rico, as well all of the states, from filing a bankruptcy petition.  Unlike states however, which may authorize their municipalities and agencies to file petitions under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code, Puerto Rico is also precluded from allowing its municipalities and agencies from filing bankruptcy petitions.  With the first significant default on Puerto Rico’s debt having just occurred, the situation is likely to rapidly deteriorate.

Kasich initially referenced Puerto Rico’s status by saying that bankruptcy would require statehood.  That’s not quite right, however, and allowing Puerto Rico to be treated like a state (i.e. permitted to authorize its municipalities and agencies to file, but not itself authorized to file) would only require a very simple (albeit consequential) change in the federal bankruptcy code.  Kasich’s brief response then moved to a quick statement that he would put “people in a room” to discuss solutions and concluding that he’s “not prepared to say… yet” that bankruptcy is an appropriate solution.

The day after our conversation Kasich’s campaign announced the selection of a “chair for Governor Kasich’s newly created Puerto Rico team.”*  The announcement references “the importance of permanently resolving Puerto Rico’s status issue” (whether continuing as a commonwealth, becoming a state or an independent nation), but makes no mention of Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis.  While status seems likely to be discusses as part of any federal action on bankruptcy or otherwise dealing with Puerto Rico’s debt, it’s a distinct topic without direct bearing on the fiscal crisis.

I spoke with Kasich following a presidential campaign town hall in Keene, New Hampshire.


Note:  Puerto Rico does not participate in the presidential general election, but presidential primaries are held in Puerto Rico.

Rubio On Puerto Rico Fiscal Crisis

Senator Marco Rubio today reiterated that he’s “open … as a last resort” to granting Puerto Rico legal authority to file a bankruptcy petition, but additionally commented that Puerto Rico must first  “undertake some very difficult reforms in the way it operates and funds its government.”  With proponents of granting Puerto Rico that authority unsuccessful in including it in the recent omnibus spending bill further efforts will likely involve what Rubio is suggesting; significant fiscal controls and limits on Puerto Rico’s borrowing and spending authority as a condition for bankruptcy.

I spoke with Rubio after a presidential campaign appearance in Rochester, New Hampshire.

NYC Electeds Demand Federal Assistance For Puerto Rico (Updated)

IMG_3161New York City’s three citywide elected officials – Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Tish James and Comptroller Scott Stringer – and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito joined a press conference today demanding federal action to address Puerto Rico’s deep fiscal and financial crisis.  Puerto Rico’s government and related public authorities owe more than $70 billion to creditors, an amount which Puerto Rico’s governor recently termed “unpayable”, with looming large payments pushing the Commonwealth toward a critical moment.

The City Hall Plaza press conference, hosted by the Hispanic Federation, called for a laundry list of federal actions, including implementing “a federal investment plan”, eliminating Jones Act requirements that goods shipped between Puerto Rico and other places in America be transported on U.S. ships with U.S. crews, changing the U.S. bankruptcy code to allow Puerto Rico and its government related enterprises to file bankruptcy petitions and urging President Obama to “explore a Federal Reserve loan” and “oppose severe austerity.”

Puerto Rico’s crisis is decades in the making.  With a shrinking population and a shrinking economy Puerto Rico has long borrowed to fund operating costs.  As described in a recent report commissioned by the Puerto Rican government, Puerto Rico’s fiscal shortcomings have been masked and ultimately worsened by poor fiscal and accounting practices.

The press conference produced an infrequent appearance of all three citywide elected officials and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito – the “CW3+MMV”, perhaps – at an event.  There appeared to be polite interaction among them, but no sign of great warmth.



Continue reading NYC Electeds Demand Federal Assistance For Puerto Rico (Updated)

Bi-Borough Cuomo Gaggling: The South Bronx & Harlem Edition (Updated)

Governor Andrew Cuomo campaigned energetically today, with four New York City rallies.  At events in the South Bronx, Central Harlem and East Harlem*, Cuomo touted his record, aggressively attacked Republican opponent Rob Astorino and urged his supporters to turn out on election day.  Cuomo twice spoke separately with the press, in the South Bronx and East Harlem.

During the South Bronx rally Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia-Padilla made an amusing reference to wardrobe planning confusion which resulted in Governor Cuomo appearing in a navy blazer and Governor Garcia-Padilla in a leather jacket.  Both gaggles began with a reference to that moment.

South Bronx:

Question topics at a post-rally gaggle included whether Governor Cuomo is confident that his margin of victory will come from black and latino neighborhoods, his reaction to a recent National Transportation Safety Board report that harshly criticized the MTA, whether the 1st offense penalty in the newly-effective driving-while-texting law is too harsh, the principal of a bio-hazard cleanup company sued by then-Attorney General Cuomo, the necessity of political fundraising, his recent reference to the Working Families Party as a “fringe party” and whether he has any advice for the Governor of Puerto Rico concerning marriage equality.

East Harlem:

Question topics included whether there are similarities between past defenses of states banning interracial marriage and current defenses of states banning same-sex marriages, his reaction to NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks’s resignation, whether campaign contribution limits are too high and what Cuomo intends to seek as campaign finance reforms if reelected, whether he’s going to the Somo el Futuro conference in Puerto Rico next week, whether he’s worried that “minorities” will not turn out on election day and how his recent references to recent New York Republicans as being “moderates” reconciles with his past statements about “ultraconservatives” in the state senate.

Continue reading Bi-Borough Cuomo Gaggling: The South Bronx & Harlem Edition (Updated)

Puerto Rico’s Status & New York’s 13th Congressional District

We asked Congressman Charles B. Rangel and State Senator Adriano Espaillat for their views on Puerto Rico’s status.  Puerto Rico is, of course, a commonwealth of the United States, although many Puerto Ricans prefer statehood or independence.  A substantial portion of the voters in the 13th Congressional District are of Puerto Rican descent, with particularly heavy concentrations in East Harlem and Jerome Park and Norwood in the Bronx, and many maintain a strong attachment to the island.