Designated constitutional cabinet to meet with Gov. Pierluisi at La Fortaleza
Most appointments to face scrutiny from Legislature
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
A new government, a new agenda.
With the new year just begun, Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, who was sworn in as governor of Puerto Rico on Saturday, and his cabinet appointees will get to work today when they meet at La Fortaleza.
According to STAR sources, one of the appointees who will hit the ground running is the designated Health secretary, Carlos Mellado, as discussions on the fight against the coronavirus on the island and a new executive order to tackle the pandemic are expected to take place at the cabinet meeting.
Mellado’s appointment is one of many that are subject to approval from the newly formed Legislative Assembly, which includes members from five political parties and an independent member in the Senate.
The STAR gathered some of the appointments that will be under scrutiny by the Legislature.
One of the appointments subject to legislative approval is designated Secretary of State Lawrence “Larry” Seilhamer. The former Senate vice president said he will be working “with the objective and spirit of having a government of consensus and that responds to the people.”
At the Justice Department, Pierluisi appointed attorney Domingo Emanuelli as secretary.
Emmanuelli said he is committed to elevating the agency’s image and defending “the civil rights of every human being who lives on the island.”
In addition, the governor appointed former businessman Manuel Cidre as Economic Development and Commerce secretary.
Cidre said he will “give everything for Puerto Rico” with the objective of providing “a different and inclusive government that is focused on our people’s priorities.”
Another appointment under legislative scrutiny is that of former Puerto Rico Teachers Association President Elba Aponte as Education secretary, who said it was possible to push for a “better education” that would “follow the principles of equality, equity, and thus be able to lead [students] to a world of opportunities.”
One intended carry-over from the previous administration, former Highway and Transportation Authority Executive Director Rosana Aguilar, resigned from her position on Dec. 31 and declined Pierluisi’s appointment. Pierluisi told the press that he and designated Transportation and Public Works Secretary Eileen Vélez would evaluate a future appointment to the post vacated by Aguilar.
Here are other appointments under legislative approval:
* Agriculture secretary: Ramón González
* Family secretary: Carmen Ana González
* Housing secretary: William Rodríguez
* Public Housing administrator: Alejandro Salgado
* Office of Management and Budget director: Juan Carlos Blanco
* Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) executive director: Former Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Laboy
* Ports Authority executive director: Joel Pizá
* Correction and Rehabilitation secretary: Ana Escobar
* Police Bureau commissioner: Col. Antonio López
* Emergency Medical Corps commissioner: Dr. José Antonio Colón
* Innovation & Technology Service executive director: Enrique Volckers
* Chief of staff: Noelia García
* Senior legal adviser: Isaías Sánchez Báez
* Judicial and Executive Appointments Office director: Ileana Borges Borges
* Press secretary and spokesperson: Sheila Angleró
* Public and Programmatic Affairs Office director: Rosemarie “Maí” Vizcarrondo
* La Fortaleza administrator: Carmen Salgado Rodríguez
* Public Safety secretary: Alexis Torres
* 911 Systems Division commissioner: Manuel González
* Firefighters Bureau commissioner: Javish Collazo Hernández
* Solicitor General: Fernando Figueroa Santiago
* Recreation and Sports secretary: Ray Jones Quiñones Vázquez
* Consumer Affairs secretary: Edan Rivera Rodríguez
* Industrial Development Co. director: Javier Bayón
* Insurance Commissioner: Mariano Mier Romeu
* Natural and Environmental Resources secretary: Rafael A. Machargo
Some appointments that aren’t under legislative scrutiny are Forensic Sciences Institute Executive Director María Conte Miller, Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea, Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority Executive Director Omar Marrero, Labor and Human Resources Secretary Carlos Rivera Santiago, and Puerto Rico National Guard Adj. Gen. José Juan Reyes.
Beginning on Dec. 3, Pierluisi announced his picks to head the island’s governmental agencies, emphasizing that the appointments would “comply with my commitment to Puerto Rico by bringing in good, capable and committed people to serve our people.”