Friday, September 19, 2014

Corporate Welfare Agents Hired To Stop Puerto Rico Statehood


Governor Hires English-Only Advocate

You might have heard of the English-Only or English-First movement. While the United States has very deliberately chosen not to have an official language, there are those who believe that English should be the official language of the United States. These people believe that Puerto Rico, which has both English and Spanish as official languages, should not become a state until the people agree to use English as the only official language.
The administration of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has hired a representative of this position as a lobbyist for Puerto Rico.
The new lobbyist for Puerto Rico is former Republican U.S. House of Representatives Member Toby Roth, who has opposed equality for the territory since he was in Congress.
Roth chaired a group of House members urging that English be made the official language of the U.S. and sponsored a national Official English bill while he was in Congress.
When a bill was proposed that would allow the voters of Puerto Rico to choose their status — a bill calling for a plebiscite on status — Roth worked to amend the bill to require that a State of Puerto Rico would use only English as the language of government. The amendment was defeated. Instead of requiring English Only, the bill recommended more English language education in Puerto Rico. This did not satisfy Roth, and he tried to defeat the bill.
The bill passed the House two years later — despite Roth’s lobbying against it — and the people of Puerto Rico were able to vote on their status. Unfortunately, “None of the above” was the winner in the 1998 plebiscite, so the status of Puerto Rico was not settled. In 2012, the next referendum brought in a clear majority vote for statehood; however, the Garcia Administration refuses to accept the vote of Puerto Ricans for statehood and against territory status.
In the face of controversy over the vote, the U.S. government has arranged for the first Federally-funded plebiscite, with the goal of settling Puerto Rico’s status permanently. Puerto Rico’s governor is preparing for the 2016 plebiscite — and Roth is helping.
Roth began to lobby for Garcia’s “commonwealth” party and “commonwealth” party administrations the year after he left Congress in 1997, having represented a Wisconsin district for 18 years. Roth has previously worked for PRFAA and at least four Puerto Rico municipalities with “commonwealth” party mayors as well as for the “commonwealth” party itself.
Now, Roth is back.
He is being paid $10,000 a month by the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA). Puerto Rico is in serious financial trouble, so putting this kind of money into lobbying shows that it must be important to the administration.
The right-wing Republican might seem to be an odd representative of Garcia, who claims to be a liberal Democrat in national politics, but they both strongly oppose statehood for Puerto Rico.
Garcia supports Puerto Rico’s current status as a territory. Under it, Puerto Rico does not have voting representation in its national government and is denied equal treatment in major programs to ensure health care and improve the lives of low-income individuals.
The government’s hiring of an anti-statehood lobbyist to prepare for the referendum on Puerto Rico’s status shows how hard they are prepared to work against statehood for Puerto Rico. 

We believe that statehood is the only way that Puerto Rico will be able to have full citizenship and equal rights. If you agree, please sign the petition!
Published by PR51

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Another Problem for Puerto Rico's Municipal Bondholders and PR Taxpayers

Trump-Branded Golf Course in Puerto Rico Continues to Struggle
Sept 8, 2014
by Katy Stech

Donald Trump
A golf course in Puerto Rico that uses celebrity developer Donald Trump's name has defaulted on its borrowing agreement with municipal bondholders who extended more than $20 million to build the 36-hole luxury course.

In an Aug. 29 letter filed to public bond disclosures, the owner of The Trump International Golf Club Puerto Rico blamed its failure to pay $119,814.17 in August on "financial difficulties." The borrowing deal is in default, said Jorge L. Diaz, executive vice president of the course's owner that extended the bonds. The letter wasn't posted to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board's disclosures website until Sept. 4.

Mr. Diaz didn't respond to interview requests to explain the course's financial challenges or say whether the course would file for bankruptcy. He is the son of Arturo Diaz Jr., a prominent developer who owned the course with his wife during the golf course's 2011 refinancing deal and who died in October 2012. Mr. Arturo Diaz's asphalt business paved major roadways in Puerto Rico, along with parking lots at stadiums and airport runways, according to news reports.

The golf course opened in March 2004 as Coco Beach Golf & Country Club but renamed itself in 2008 after making a licensing deal to use the Trump name. The facility has two 18-hole courses that were designed by professional golfer Tom Kite and a 46,000-square foot clubhouse.

The golf course was built with municipal bonds that were refinanced in a $25.6 million deal in March 2011. The bonds, which have tax perks for investors who bought them, flowed through the island's tourism fund, created in 1993 to back projects that would draw visitors to the 3.6 million-resident island.

The course is located next to the 486-room Gran MeliĆ” Hotel, but by the time of the refinancing, local players made up about 85% of its customers.

The golf course's owner has long struggled to keep up with its bond payment promises. Since early 2012, the tourism agency has paid at least $3.2 million of the golf course's bond debt, according to public filings. In July, Standard & Poor's lowered the rating on golf course's bonds to BB- from BB.

At the time of the 2011 refinancing, the cours
e employed 82 people.

Monday, September 8, 2014

There are nearly 900,000 Puerto Ricans living in Florida

Census data highlights PR-Florida flow

Friday, September 5, 2014 09:25 AM
By CB Online Staff

New U.S. Census Bureau migration statistics released Wednesday highlight the flow of Puerto Rico residents into Florida in recent years. According to American Community Survey statistics, 68,847 people moved from Puerto Rico to the U.S and 27,208 moved from the U.S. to Puerto Rico during the year prior to being surveyed.

The Census Bureau included flows from Puerto Rico municipalities
to U.S. counties for the first time.The vast majority of Puerto Rico’s municipalities have seen their populations drop over the past several years amid an exodus sparked by the ongoing island recession dating back nearly a decade.

There are nearly 900,000 Puerto Ricans living in Florida, representing a growing political power in the key battleground state.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Putin talks about ‘statehood’ for Eastern Ukraine

September 1

In an interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin calls for immediate talks between pro-Russian rebels and Kiev, on issues including “statehood” for eastern Ukraine. (Reuters)


MOSCOW — Seeming to be searching for the right word during a prerecorded television interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Sunday that one of the issues to be resolved in the Ukrainian conflict is “statehood” for the eastern regions now controlled by separatists.

That’s a new idea, and if he meant it, it would raise the stakes considerably in the nearly 10-month-old Ukrainian crisis.

Earlier in the day, the European Union delayed imposing new economic sanctions on Russia but promised that if there is no policy change from Moscow within a week, more sanctions will be put in place.