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February 8th, 2009
From San Marcos Hispanic Chamber: Obama appoints record Hispanics

STAFF REPORT

This just in, from the San Marcos Area Hispanic Chamber of Commece:

The San Marcos Hispanic Chamber of Commerce can help with HUB Certification, and overall assistance in every phase of the business cycle.  Direct referrals to lending sources or referrals to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can be obtained for you.  The Hispanic Chamer offers these services in Spanish. For more assistance on HUB Certification,  call the Hispanic Chamber Office at (512) 353-1103, or email rhg@sanmarcoshispanic.com …

After a slow start, President Barack Obama sets a record with his appointments of three Hispanics to Cabinet

At first Hispanic groups were anxious as the president-elect began to roll out his Cabinet appointments and no Hispanics made the initial economic or national security teams. By December, when President-elect Obama trotted out once-rival Bill Richardson (D-NM) for Secretary of Commerce, observers called it merely a consolation prize.

“We think we should do as well as or better than we did under Bush and Clinton,” said Raul Yzaguirre, who co-chaired Hillary Clinton’s Hispanic outreach efforts, and was in the Obama meeting along with Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers. According to insiders at that meeting, which included key Clinton supporters, all they asked was that they receive fair representation in an Obama Cabinet

“Parity with the population” was the phrase commonly used, said advocates for Hispanics, who now represent about 15 percent of the U.S. population. And at minimum, the hope was that there would be Hispanic representation in line with recent years.

Hispanics have had two seats at the Cabinet table for most of the last two presidencies. By Christmas, President-elect Obama had announced an historic three Hispanic appointments to the Cabinet — naming New Mexico Gov. Richardson for Commerce, Sen. Ken Salazar (D-C0) for Interior, and Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), for Labor.

At the League of United Latin American Citizens, Executive Director Brent Wilkes had said they were “shooting for three” Cabinet posts to be filled by Hispanics.

“Anything less than that I think you’ll have some concern expressed by the community,” said Mr. Wilkes, pointing to the rapid growth of the Hispanic population since Bill Clinton became president in 1992. “You can’t just repeat Clinton’s numbers. You’ve got to improve upon that.”

Obama’s appointments are particularly pivotal at a time when U.S. Hispanics are growing in both numbers and influence. On issues of education, health care and the economy, Hispanics are playing an increasingly vital role in determining public policy. Still, top political jobs remain elusive.

Other minority groups are also hoping to have their seats at the table in the new government.  Obama named Eric Holder to be the nation’s first African-American attorney general. He also selected two African-American women — Susan Rice as ambassador to the U.N. and Melody Barnes as his domestic policy adviser.

Obama also named two Asian-Americans to his Cabinet – Eric Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, to serve as his Energy Secretary.

Aides note the following Hispanic appointments: Cecelia Munoz to be director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs; Nancy Sutley to be Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Moises Vela to be the vice president’s Director of Administration; and Louis Caldera to run the White House Military Office. Obama pledged to create a team that people would refer to as “one of the most diverse Cabinets and White House staffs.”

For Hispanics, who voted 67 percent for Mr. Obama, the appointments also serve a purpose beyond policy.

“Symbolically it’s important the president acknowledge the role the Latino community played in the vote,” said Mr. Wilkes. From the community’s perspective “if excluded, it would hurt . . . his standing.”

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