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Rivera Schatz denies O’Neill case undermines governor’s power

By on March 21, 2017

SAN JUAN – Even though Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló requested Guaynabo Mayor Héctor O’Neill‘s immediate resignation 16 days ago, to no avail, Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz said Tuesday that this doesn’t affect the governor’s control over the New Progressive Party (NPP).

When questioned by Caribbean Business, Rivera Schatz stated that Rosselló’s situation isn’t comparable to former Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, whom he criticized in the past term over his so-called lack of leadership over the Popular Democratic Party (PDP).

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz denied that O'Neill's permanence as Guaynabo mayor undermines the governor's power, who requested O'Neill's resignation in early March. (Cindy Burgos/CB)

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz. (Cindy Burgos/CB)

“Our governor’s leadership isn’t questioned. Everything has been approved for him in legislation; in ideological terms, the party is behind him, the government is behind him, so if there is someone who can claim leadership today it is the governor of Puerto Rico,” Rivera Schatz said. “That didn’t happen with Alejandro García Padilla, who didn’t get nominations [approved] in some cases, didn’t achieve legislative approval in others; in ideological terms, they were fractured. There lie the contrasts,” he added after a public hearing to confirm designated Consumer Affairs Secretary Michael Pierluisi.

The senator explained that, although Rosselló demanded O’Neill’s resignation more than two weeks ago, the Guaynabo mayor “hasn’t resigned because he believes he will defend himself.”

“This a legal aspect that is currently being debated; it simply isn’t a matter of leadership,” he said.

Moreover, he acknowledged that the governor “did a good job” in requesting the Justice Department to investigate the accusations against the mayor, who allegedly settled a sexual harassment suit filed by a municipal Police officer.

“I am convinced that the Justice secretary [Wanda Vázquez]–who besides being a woman, was [the head of the Women’s] advocate [Office], was a prosecutor–I am convinced she will exercise her role and responsibility as far as possible to ensure the clarification of this information, and take to any complaint and any allegation against whomever it may be to the end,” he assured.

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