Rep. Aponte Hernández calls on Senate leadership to get on with appointments
By The Star Staff
Veteran New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. José Aponte Hernández urged the leadership of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) majority in the Senate on Wednesday to “evaluate” all of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia’s appointments with the detail and responsibility they deserve.
“The role of the Senate is to evaluate each nominee on their merits, taking everything into consideration,” the former speaker of the island House of Representatives said. “However, what we have seen these past three years is a lack of action with the study of each nominee. In fact, in the last session that ended on June 30, 40 nominations ranging from 2022 were not addressed; that is, including prosecutors and commissioners of the Industrial Commission, to name a few.”
Aponte Hernández stressed that several prosecutors, including two in the Ponce region, were left “without work” for not having been considered during the session that ended on June 30, but at the same time PDP lawmakers criticize the Department of Justice for not having enough prosecutors working cases.
“What we ask for is a detailed, but agile, evaluation of each nomination, not only of those who ‘remained’ pending in the last session, when the governor renominates them, but also of all those who are appointed to fill vacancies in the coming months,” the at-large legislator said. “We can differ on the merits of someone appointed to occupy the position; what the Senate cannot do is not attend to them with the care, speed and responsibility they deserve.”
Aponte Hernández added that the lack of action, field evaluation, confirmation hearings and debate on the Senate floor may have the effect of deterring professionals from occupying positions that require confirmation from that legislative body.
“We have to be clear that the effect of delays in evaluations, the delay and, in some cases, the non-holding of public hearings and the lack of debate in the chamber leads many professionals to take a second and third look at entering into public service to lead a unit or occupy a position that requires confirmation in the Senate,” he said. “The accumulation of nearly three years of delays with hundreds of nominees is going to have that effect, not only now, but in the future as well.”
Also on Wednesday, the former executive director of the Office of Innovation and Technology Services (PRITS), Nannette Martínez Ortiz, requested not to be renamed because the Senate has not confirmed her appointment during the current regular session.
“Serving Puerto Rico has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever lived,” Martinez Ortiz said in a written statement. “I thank Gov. Pedro Pierluisi for having trusted in my leadership and knowledge to lead one of the offices that became more relevant when experiencing the pandemic emergency. I thank my family for their sacrifice, and all PRITS employees for their commitment and dedication.”
According to press reports, Antonio Ramos Guardiola has been picked as the interim director of PRITS.
The appointment of Martínez Ortiz was returned to the Appointments Committee back in April as part of a negotiation process between the NPP and PDP delegations in the Senate.