Saturday, September 25, 2021

Trump to Make New Appointments to Fiscal Board; Current Members’ Tenure in Doubt

By on December 8, 2020

The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico during a 2016 public meeting (CB file)

Puerto Rican Educator from New York, Former Michigan Budget Director Named 

By José Alvarado Vega and Philipe Schoene Roura 

SAN JUAN – President Donald Trump announced Tuesday his intent to appoint two new members to Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) one of which is of Puerto Rican descent, confirming what sources on Capitol Hill had told Caribbean Business earlier. A third member, Andrew George Biggs will be renamed to serve a second term.

(Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)
Andrew George Biggs (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

The release confirms what sources had told this journal: Dr. Betty A. Rosa, acting commissioner of Education for the state of New York and president of the University of the State of New York, and certified public accountant John E. Nixon of Utah, who served as Michigan’s budget director from 2011 to 2014 under Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, are the new appointees. 

FOMB member Biggs, whose name was resubmitted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to serve a second three-year term as a Category C member, will be selected by Trump. 

Dr. Betty A. Rosa (N.Y. Education Department)

Sources said Rosa comes from the Category E list submitted by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), while Nixon comes from the Category D list submitted by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Cal.). 

Although current FOMB Chairman David Skeel recently told Caribbean Business that his name had been resubmitted by McConnell, his naming has yet to be made official by the president. Another board member, Ana Matosantos, a cabinet secretary in the office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, was presumed to be from the Category D list, which in 2016 was submitted by then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. 

John E. Nixon (Screen capture of www.cns-inc.com)

The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa) created the board. Because the president will be naming Nixon from the House minority leader’s list—Promesa stipulates that successors being named must be nominated in the same fashion as their predecessor—it is presumed that Matosantos is out as the Category D member. It does not preclude Matosantos from being submitted under a different category. In fact, this newspaper has learned that her name and that of former board member Arthur González have been resubmitted from Pelosi’s list to become the Category B member. Only one member can occupy the Category B seat; however, the president can choose to not appoint either of them. 

Trump made his first new appointment to the oversight board on Oct. 7, when he named Justin Peterson, a managing partner at Washington, D.C.-based lobbying and public relations firm DCI Group. He replaced Arthur González, a former bankruptcy judge who is presumed to have been the Category F member selected by former President Barack Obama. 

In a press release issued late Tuesday, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González welcomed the new appointments of Rosa and Nixon to the board as well as the reappointment of Biggs.  

“These appointments combine maintaining continuity and institutional memory, in the renomination of Mr. Biggs, together with bringing in new members who I hope we can count on to bring a fresh perspective that allows moving on to a greater focus on Puerto Rico’s social and economic recovery,” the island’s sole member in Congress said in her statement. “Dr. Rosa’s extensive experience in education planning is a valuable resource that should help bring forward attention to that critical component of any society’s long-term development, [while] Mr. Nixon’s expertise on state government budgeting should let him see the importance of allowing the government of Puerto Rico flexibility in how the goals of restoring fiscal stability are met.” 

González said the “primary purpose of the FOMB should be to find a way to make itself no longer needed, enabling Puerto Rico to once again take its own path towards prosperity and growth.” 

“I have always held that it is a matter of will and commitment to prove that we can do it, and I expect that we will be able to show this to the new members of the Board and together move in that direction,” she added. 

The oversight board was left with three vacancies earlier this year, with the exit of former FOMB Chairman José Carrión III, banking executives Carlos García and José Ramón González, and former Judge González. 

Rosa was first elected to the New York Board of Regents for a five-year term in 2008, as the Regent for the Twelfth Judicial District (Bronx County), and then re-elected for a second term in 2013 and a third term in 2018, according to the New York State Education Department website, which states that Rosa is a “nationally recognized education leader” with a doctorate in education administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University. 

Rosa also earned two other master’s degrees in education, one in administration and supervision and the other in bilingual education, from the City College of New York and Lehman College, respectively, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the City College of New York. She has more than 30 years of instructional and administrative experience with an expertise in inclusive education, cooperative teaching models, student achievement and policy implementation, according to the website. 

Since 2015, Rosa has received numerous awards for her leadership, including the Champions of Education Leadership Award from the Alliance for Quality Education, Woman of the Year Award from the New York League of Puerto Rican Women, the Heimlich Community Service Award from the Ben Franklin Reform Democratic Club, and the Latina of the Year Award from the New York State Assembly and Senate’s Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force. 

Meanwhile, Nixon served as the director of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, according to his LinkedIn account, and is currently senior vice president and senior account executive at CNSI, focusing on corporate strategy, government relations, and client management.

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