Perelló already began remodelling his new workspace
SAN JUAN – It has been 11 days since Jaime Perelló resigned as speaker of the House of Representatives, at the request of Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President David Bernier, but the lawmaker already has a large space on the fourth floor of the former School of Tropical Medicine in which he will establish his new office.
The new space, which is still under construction, has a bathroom with a shower, an oceanview, wood furniture that is still covered in plastic, and a conference room that sources told Caribbean Business Perelló used to meet with important PDP figures since before stepping down.
His workspace can be accessed two ways: through Rep. José “Conny” Varela’s office or through a building entrance to the left of Police headquarters, where after an elevator ride to the third floor can only be accessed going up stairs that lead to a metal gate.
It is unclear where the representative’s temporary office is located while the work is completed, since the Capitol employees asked gave an incorrect address.
Perelló’s is just one of many renovations taking place in the Tropical Medicine building, which has beautiful marble floors and has been managed by the Capitol Superintendence Office since 2006. Sources said many of the changes in the building began during the past administration, when it was intended to serve as an extension to the House speaker’s office.
Tradition of remodeling before becoming minorities
Remodeling before a change in administration due to general elections has become a constant among the island’s politicians. Before Perelló, whom it was revealed this week knew of irregularities with the contract awarded to 3Comm Global, a company owned by convicted PDP fundraiser Anaudi Hernández, the New Progressive Party (NPP) had done the same.
After the 2012 elections, former Capitol Superintendent Eliezer Velázquez reportedly approved unbid contracts for nearly $1 million to remodel offices to be used by NPP representatives. An alleged corruption scheme for which cause for trial was found against seven people for acts unrelated to the remodeling of the offices, occurred under Velázquez’s tenure.
“This has happened under all administrations. It always looks bad, and it looks much worse when done by a person who leaves his post precisely because he didn’t carry out purchase processes prudently or legally,” political analyst Ramón Rosario said.
For Rosario, who is an NPP board member, “There’s no way to carry out the purchase process overnight, and Perelló resigned last week. This doesn’t speak well of Perelló, who stepped down under the worst circumstances, not for losing an election but because his own party forced him to, but it also doesn’t speak well of the interim [House] president [Roberto Rivera Ruiz de Porras], who hasn’t stopped the [construction] work.”
In the past four years, the Legislature has invested more than $18 million in renovations at the Capitol, including improvements to offices, audience halls, elevators, window replacements, and marble maintenance.