Puerto Rico gov appoints rep to fiscal board, chief of staff
Names water utility chief Elí Díaz and Sen. Zoé Laboy, respectively
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced Wednesday the appointments of Sen. Zoé Laboy Alvarado as her chief of staff and Elí Díaz Atienza as her nonvoting representative to the island’s Financial Oversight and Management Board.
“I am proud to have them as part of our team. They are proven professionals who, like me, want the best for Puerto Rico. We will work together to be able to put the government on track both administratively and financially,” Vázquez said in a press conference.
Laboy has been a senator-at-large since 2016, chairing the Social and Economic Revitalization Committee. The governor’s office said she has stood out for her defense of “vulnerable populations, women and young people.”
Laboy also served as the Corrections and Rehabilitation secretary and as the department’s administrator. Before that, she was a legal adviser, interim warden at the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo and worked at the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs in Washington, D.C. Laboy has also been an entrepreneur and university professor.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in social sciences and a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and of the Southern States Energy Board. She is also the vice president of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.
“I have dedicated most of my professional career to public service, both locally and federally, always focused on the wellbeing of the citizenry. Today, I am honored to join the team of Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced and from this position ensure that work plans are executed quickly but carefully. We have little time, but we also have the determination to achieve the results that the people of Puerto Rico expect and deserve,” Laboy said.
“The public policy of this government is that we are going to protect public employees. We have to recognize that the pensions are of employees who sacrificed their families for 30 years and need a decent retirement. We will work on that facing the board. The priority is to listen to the mandate sought in the recent demonstrations. I am convinced that since I have no political aspirations, I come to change the old styles,” the governor said.
In the case of Laboy, she will resign from the Senate on Friday, while Díaz Atienza will resign only to the Governing Board of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority but remain as Prasa’s president.
“I know the fellow agency heads, I know of their commitment, but Puerto Rico needs to see more results. The governor told me from the beginning that we have to give the people what they deserve and, with that purpose, I decided with great pride to join the workgroup of our governor, Wanda Vázquez, as chief of staff,” Laboy said.
The senator stressed that “things have to be done differently” and that she will carry out her duties as chief of staff with that in mind.
“I give up my seat. I have to tell the people of Puerto Rico, with all sincerity, that I decided that at this moment, where I can best serve the people is as chief of staff. It’s no time to talk about candidacies,” Laboy added when asked about her political aspirations.
For his part, Díaz, who is the executive president of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa), was resigning Wednesday as chairman of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
“We have had an excellent relationship with the board at Prasa and we want to replicate that in all government efforts. We know there are some meetings that we have to have. We are going to implement public policy and we are going to address these issues before the fiscal control board,” Díaz said.
“He will remain as the liaison between the Government and the [fiscal board], a job that does not entail additional financial remuneration,” a release says.
The Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) issued a statement Thursday welcoming Díaz Atienza’s appointment, saying he has been an “invaluable contributor to the ongoing efforts” to transform both Prasa and Prepa “for the benefit of the people.”
“[Díaz Atienza] is well-versed in the complex issues at hand and has demonstrated an ability to pursue consensual solutions,” FOMB Chair José B. Carrión said in a written statement. “We have had an excellent collaboration with him in the past and look forward to his contributions to the work of the Board into the future.”
Díaz was president of One Stone Ventures, where he was a consultant in engineering and law. Previously, he worked at the McConnell Valdés LLC law firm from 2012 to 2016, and was the director of the Puerto Rico Solid Waste Authority from 2010 to 2012. Before that, he was assistant to the vice president of real estate at Banco Popular of Puerto Rico from 2005 to 2007.
He earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico and his a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.