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Dec 18 update on Latino Appointments in the Obama Administration

December 18th, 2008 · 34 Comments

Seneca penned a comprehensive update on Latino appointments in the Obama administration last night with lots of detail, but today we learned that Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA) has been nominated for the Secretary of Labor post. Hilda Solis has been a strong advocate of organized labor, and upon hearing this news, Eliseo Medina, the International Executive VP of SEIU, offered this about the congresswoman from CA, “She has been a true workers champion in California. There could not be a better choice.” SEIU, one of the more prominent unions, and advocates for Janitors for Justice, also offered this statement today. Solis is the daughter of Mexican union shop steward and a Nicaraguan assemblyline worker, so she definitely has blue collar credentials.

Here is Seneca’s update:

As Obama goes into home stretch just before the holidays on his first tier appointments, which include the Cabinet, top White House Staff and a few other lesser appointments, it looks like Latinos will now have three Cabinet slots: Commerce (Richardson) , Interior (Salazar),  and Labor (Solis), two White House upper middle selections Cecilia Munoz (Inter Government Affairs) and Louis Caldera (White House Military Office). Rep. Becerra is not accepting USTR. Mayor Manny Diaz of Miami is now apparently out of the running for Transportation. Rep. Grijalva lost out on Interior, but another Latino Sen. Salazar was named. Now it remains to be seen if this only Mexican-American US Senator will be replaced by his brother in Congress, John Salazar. With Mel Martinez (R) leaving after one term from Florida and if no Latino replaces Salazar in the Senate, then Bob Menendez (D-NJ) may be the only Latino (Cuban American) US Senator after 2010.

Congress will see in 2009 at least one more Latino Congressman, Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM). Also the newly elected Connecticut Democrat Jim Himes defeated the last remaining GOP Congressman from New England, Chris Shays. Himes, who is Peruvian born to white American parents and grew up in Lima and Colombia, speaks fluent Spanish. But will he join the Congressional Hispanic Caucus? If he does, he will be the first Rhodes scholar in the Caucus.

In the next Congress the Cuban-Americans will retain their six people in Congress: Sen Menendez (D) and Sen Martinez (R), two GOP Diaz Balart brothers (Mario and Lincoln) and Ileana Ros Lehtenin (R) from Florida and Albino Sires (D) from New Jersey who replaced Menendez in the House. The three Democrat Puerto Ricans will remain unchanged in numbers: Jose Serrano and Nydia Velazquez from New York and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. The Mexican-Americans will have 17 members with New Mexican Lujan’s election. Texas has Democrats Hinojosa, Ortiz, Gonzalez, Rodriguez, Cuellar and Reyes, add Arizona’s Democrats Pastor and Grijalva and California’s Democrats Roybal, Napolitano, Becerra, Baca and two sisters Loretta and Linda Sanchez and Colorado’s Rep. John Salazar and his brother soon to be Secretary of Interior, US Senator Ken Salazar. Now we have to wonder who will replace Hilda Solis. It looks like CA State Senator Gloria Romero is interested in the seat. The current national grand total is three Latino US Senators and 23 Latino Congress-persons (House) plus ‘honorary’ Hispanic Caucus members Reps Costa and Cardoza. Unfortunately, the four Cuban GOP members and the two Sanchez sisters are not members of the Hispanic Caucus (see Joe Baca’s name calling, but it looks like the Sanchez sisters will rejoin now that Nydia Velazquez is the chair of CHC), another painful indication of the Latino lack of unity and penchant for squabbles.

The Obama sub-cabinet (Deputy Secretaries, Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, members of powerful federal regulatory agencies and some other independent agencies) basically all the Presidential Appointments with Senate Confirmation (PAS) will be closely monitored. Obama will have the opportunity to name the first Latino to the ultimate Uber-independent regulatory agency: the Federal Reserve Board in Washington. Also, the possible opening of a seat on the Supreme Court thus enabling Obama to name the first Latino to that August body. Meanwhile all eyes in the Latino community will be on the rest of the Obama PAS appointments. The primary focus will be in the Education, Health, Labor and immigration areas. Also will the Congressional Hispanic Caucus get to ‘vet’ or at least meet as a whole with the nominees for Homeland Security (Secretary) and its two (Under Secretaries) Latino key component agencies: Immigration (CIS) and Immigration Enforcement (ICE)? And will the CHC get to vet the Health, Education, Justice and Labor nominees for Secretaries? And will the CHC be consulted regarding the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere, the nominee for US Ambassador to Mexico, the OAS Ambassador, Special Envoys and others?

Latino advocacy groups should ensure that these nominees address their NGO groups and appear before the Congressional Hispanic Caucus members and staff to review the Hispanic agenda (if one can be agreed upon) and provide ‘top cover’ to the Latino appointees and Latino career personnel be moved upwards. One expectation, which should be conveyed to the senior Latino appointees (Cabinet), is that they should periodically gather the senior Latino PAS appointees and other identifiable high fly-er Latino appointees and career types i.e. diplomats and senior civil service (SES). Latino numbers among military General/Flag rank officers should be reviewed to provide interest and top cover in the DoD selection and promotion process. Also the process of gathering Latinos federal movers and shakers is to ensure that it helps tremendously to improve the Latino esprit de corps among the Hispanic federal work force as well as the appointee group. The national Hispanic issues agenda should be reviewed, promoted, changed or modified as needed and addressed publicly whenever required. Immigration, for instance, will most likely not be addressed in the first year or two of the new Administration because of the high political costs. Obama will need to preserve his ‘going-in political capital’ for the most urgent national needs: the economy and extracting ourselves out of the quagmire of Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Yet, the fact that Latinos are over 60% of the undocumented immigrants in the US, which is a reality and requires attention especially in an alarmingly declining economic situation, could provoke an ugly and contentious anti-Latino backlash from the US body politic. This tangle’s remedy cannot be postponed indefinitely. To avoid or duck the immigration challenge would be highly irresponsible.

Forceful leadership at the highest level of the Executive and the Congress will be indispensable for an inevitable Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). In sum, Obama has his work cut out. The expectations are high within the whole Latino agenda. Hence, the appointments and social/economic issues will be paramount. The challenge for the Latino community is to wisely articulate its expectations, its needs, and its vision of the role of the Latino population in the out years. This will require unity of purpose, focus, constant reminders to the Administration, public commentary and provide top cover to Latino public servants, similarly judicious cooperation and coordination with Latino advocacy groups are necessary to address the Latino community’s needs and the hurdles posed. Lastly, the palpable tomfoolery among some of our Latino Congress people is readily viewed as a lack of seriousness. The recent antics of the Sanchez Sisters, Joe Baca and former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez’s madcap caper are dreadful examples…por lo tanto veremos!

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ron Edmonds, Hilda Solis at DNC 08/27/08

Tags: Barack Obama · CA State Senator Gloria Romero · Congressional Hispanic Caucus · Congressman Joe Baca · diversity · Fabian Núñez · Immigration · Labor Relations · Rep. Albio Sires · Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez · Rep. Grace Napolitano · Rep. Hilda Solis · Rep. John Salazar · Rep. Lincoln Diaz Balart · Rep. Linda Sanchez · Rep. Loretta Sanchez · Rep. Luis Gutierrez · Rep. Nydia Velazquez · Rep. Raul Grijalva · Rep. Silvestre Reyes · Rep. Xavier Becerra · Sen. Ken Salazar · Sen. Mel Martinez · Sen. Robert Menendez · Seneca · Supreme Court

34 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anna // Dec 18, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Great choice! I hope Gloria Romero gets elected to the open seat.

  • 2 Michaelr // Dec 18, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Her constituents in the 32nd Congressional District are going to miss her. But congratulations anyway.

  • 3 Maria // Dec 18, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Hey. My name is Maria and I’m part of a group of student activists working towards the passage of the DREAM Act (www.dreamACTivist.org). I wanted to make you aware of an idea being discussed and voted on over at Change.org regarding this important issue. The link is http://www.change.org/ideas/view/pass_the_dream_act_now.

    We currently have over 1300 votes and are one of the top 3 ideas on the whole website. However, the second round of voting begins in January 5th and the top 10 ideas will be presented to the Obama administration and will have a lot of publicity, something we desperately need. I urge you to register (it only takes a couple of minutes) and vote for this idea and put a widget of it on your blog to make others aware of this important cause. Also, please vote for the other immigration ideas on the top 3 list to make sure they make it to the second round.

    Thank you so much for your help!

  • 4 DfD // Dec 18, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Is Hilda and Janet gonna work together to ensure Americans job and wage security remains intact by enforcing our immigration laws at the borders. ports. and in the workplace?

  • 5 DfD // Dec 18, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Will Hilda support E-VERIFY for employers?

  • 6 DfD // Dec 18, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    The Dream Act should not pass because the racist mexicans only want it for the Illegal Aliens. Why should Americans foot the bill for these corrupt Illegal Aliens and their supporters?

  • 7 Christopher // Dec 18, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Great blog. If anyone is coming to DC for the inauguration, may I suggest visiting cambio2009.com for a list of things that are taking place.

  • 8 jammer // Dec 19, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Just waiting to see who picks up the first stone. DfD doesn’t count. He/She is to easy. I am very happy with the make up of his cabinet in total. Several of my personal favorites made it and they pack alot of brain power. Lets be supportive and give them time to do something before hurling the bile.

  • 9 Michaelr // Dec 19, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Supportive only leads you down the yellow brick road, making you blind and then stupid. There were only two members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that did an exceptional job. Now there’s only one since Hilda Solis is joining Obama’s cabinet. Raul Grijalva is now all alone there. Hopefully we can play a part in pushing the rest of this dead weight out of public service. That is the goal here.

  • 10 LA Latino // Dec 19, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    What is with the half-assed Spanish speech? “Me siento muy honorada”? Really? I’m not talking about speaking it, but she was reading it, for pete’s sake!

    It was atrocious!

  • 11 Lillie Crosby // Dec 19, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Why is there no discussion about the fact that there aren’t any African-Americans in the U.S. senate?

  • 12 DfD // Dec 19, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Corrupt racist Democrat Hilda Solis has a long history of being a proven hater of Americans and American blue-collar workers…Elain Chou has been nothing but a toady for multi-national corporations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

  • 13 webmaster // Dec 19, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Lillie,

    You make a great point re: African-Americans in the Senate. Same goes for Asian-Americans and Native Americans as well.

    The lack of diversity in the upper House (Senate) shows just how much it really is an old boys club, or millionaire’s club to be more accurate. Perhaps this is one area where Latinos and African-Americans can forge ahead together.

  • 14 Anna // Dec 19, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Webmaster: Can you please delete that loser? ^^^

    If he’s so worried about members of Congress maybe he should start with that Fool Maxine Waters. How many people died because that Fool cried racism anytime somebody tried to impose some standards on Killer King Hospital. She is truly the worst member of Congress.

  • 15 DfD // Dec 19, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Looks like Anna hates black people eh? Hmmmm

  • 16 DfD // Dec 19, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Lillie,

    Do you think the reason why there are no blacks in the senate is because America is a downright mean place and a racist country?

  • 17 Omar Torres from San Jose // Dec 20, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Cant we all just get along!

  • 18 DfD // Dec 20, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Democratic Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown is continuing taking the State of California down into the slime-pit of anarchy. The Rule of Law means absolutely nothing to these Left-wing nutjobs, mexican racists, and perverts. Look at what the Democrats tried to pull to rape it’s citizens into getting more tax dollars out of the residents of this state. What scumbags these homos are!!!!

  • 19 webmaster // Dec 20, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    DfD,

    Consider this your warning. I will not tolerate hate speech, the flinging around of terms like “Left wing nutjobs, mexican racists, and perverts” all in one sentence. You do not help your cause, and you certainly don’t promote an honest or intelligent discussion of the issues by resorting to these tactics.

    If you continue, I will have to ban you from this blog.

  • 20 DfD // Dec 21, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Web,

    Is it fair to say honesty and truth won’t be factored in to The Fairness Doctrine? Certainly, exposing folks on the Far-Left won’t be tolerated eh? And for the record, putting all those in one sentence is the way my Freshman Comp. professor taught me how to write….BTW, what cause do I have?

  • 21 webmaster // Dec 21, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    DfD,

    There is no fairness doctrine here, as I don’t have a broadcasting license, but we are pretty tolerant, criticizing politicians on both the right and the left.

    Actually, the death of the fairness doctrine can be attributed to the Reagan administration and his FCC Chair Mark Fowler. I’m not against “honesty” and “truth” whatever that may be. Both are subjective, but I do think that you can articulate yourself better than resorting to AM radio discourse.

  • 22 DfD // Dec 21, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Better than Frangela, Johnny Wendell, and Mario Solis Marich? That’s a tall order. You must think awful highly of me…

  • 23 Anna // Dec 22, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Webmaster: Please just ban him.

    Anyway, back to the topic. I have a question: Is Hilda Solis the first Latina to be appointed to a Cabinet position?

  • 24 webmaster // Dec 22, 2008 at 11:47 am

    DfD,

    I think that you are capable of articulating yourself better than Frangela, etc.

    Anna,

    Linda Chavez was appointed by GWB to be Sec. of Labor, not to be confused with Linda Chavez-Thompson. Linda Chavez never made it through the process because she hired an undocumented woman to work in her home. You can read about the Linda Chavez debacle here:

    http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0108-04.htm

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20010109/aponline172303_000.htm

  • 25 DfD // Dec 22, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Does everybody here agree with ethnocentric special interest shill Hilda Solis that “we’re all americans here whether we’re legalized or not”?

  • 26 Anna // Dec 22, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Oh yeah, I forgot about Linda Chavez. I guess Solis will be the first to serve in the Cabinet.

  • 27 Johnny Dilznik // Dec 22, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Can some of you latinos who are American Citizens tell me what you think of Solis doing part of her acceptence speech in spanish? As an American I believe this shows the great divide many latino politicians have beyond their latino constituents.

  • 28 DfD // Dec 22, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Democratic SEIU shill Hilda Solis should also do her speeches in German. Why only the ethnocentric racist rant in spanish? We all want equal time!

  • 29 Johnny Dilznik // Dec 22, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    That is part of my point DfD. Especially since Solis now represents and is addressing “The Nation” not just the over populated areas of East LA. Unfortunatelly I think many latino politicians are practicing ethnocentric politics.

  • 30 Tony Herrera // Dec 22, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    @webmaster

    I must commend you for your patience with some those who post comments on this good blog.

    That said, you really, really should consider adopting a policy wherein this blog will only accept comments from those who add to discussion or whose identity can be referenced.

    By allowing comments from individuals such as DfD and Johnny Dilznik, especially comments that add little to the discussion and only amount to rants against certain segments of our population you allow them the opportunity to hi-jack the discussion and serves no one any good.

    Lastly, their mere presence in the comment thread only diminishes the stature of this well respected blog.

    Respectfully,

    Tony Herrera

  • 31 DfD // Dec 22, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    webmaster,

    Please ban Anna and Tony Hererra already. The door has continually been left open for their opinions and they have clearly either dropped the ball or are not on a very high plane in communicating their feelings. I mean, try to act as if they’re really smart while saying absolutely nothing at all…Please we’d all like some real conversation here.

  • 32 DfD // Dec 22, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Tony,

    Your comments are divisive and inflammatory…

  • 33 Johnny Dilznik // Dec 22, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    So just like in the other section Tony Herrera does not want to answer questions posed in response to comments made. I would say it is you Tony who want to blather on about everything latino without having to have a real discussion.

  • 34 DfD // Dec 22, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    No human is illegal…

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