News Column

Washington Insider

June 2004, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine

Patricia Guadalupe

TOP FED AGENCIES: Federal government minority employees have ranked the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Social Security Administration as the best federal agencies to work for, according to the report, "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government," compiled by the Partnership for Public Service and the Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation at American University in Washington, D.C.

2. Social Security Admin.
3. National Science Found.
4. General Services Admin.
5. EPA
6. U. S. Air Force
7. U.S. Army
8. (tie) OMB
8. (tie) HUD
10. Office of Personnel Mgmt.

The report surveyed 100,000 federal employees 6 percent of them Hispanic at 28 agencies. According to minority employees, the National Science Foundation, the General Services Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency rounded out the five-best list. According to employees under 40, the U.S. Marine Corps also ranked in the five-best. Among the five worst? The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Agency for International Development, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

FREE TRADE DECISION: The U.S. Supreme Court soon will decide whether the Bush administration can open U.S. roads to Mexican trucks without first undertaking an environmental study. The decision is viewed as a key measure of advancing U.S.-Mexico business gains under the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, which would allow trucks from Mexico to access roads in the United States beyond a current commercial border zone. But implementation of the agreement's provisions on truck access have been blocked by groups that have pushed for an environmental impact study under the premise that the older trucks pose a pollution hazard. An appeals court had ordered the federal government to conduct a study on the short- and long-term effects of the trucks on air quality in the United States, but the Bush administration appealed, saying the ruling impedes on the president's responsibility to conduct foreign relations and make foreign trade decisions, and costs billions of dollars in potential lost trade with Mexico.

EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE FOR HISPANICS: As part of an ongoing effort to improve minority educational opportunities, President Bush has appointed Adam Chavarria executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence. Chavarria formerly served as associate director, and worked with the president's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBORS EXEMPT: In a move expected to ease business travel and trade with U.S. neighbors, Canadian and Mexican citizens with border cards will be exempt from being photographed and fingerprinted when entering the United States as part of new security measures undertaken by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The exemption doesn't apply to other countries, however, and critics say business could be affected by more lengthy delays. Beginning this September, visitors from 27 industrialized countries, including Great Britain, France and Spain, will be subject to the security procedures to be implemented at 115 airports and 14 seaports.

ANOTHER BORDER ISSUE: President Bush has signed into law an agreement between the United States and Mexico to improve the operations of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission, which is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement's North American Development Bank. Under the new law, the commission will be responsible for "accelerating delivering of environmental infrastructure projects on the border [with Mexico]," by giving authority to the president to instruct U.S. representatives on the Board of Directors of the North American Development Bank to take a particular position on certain grant proposals. The commission and the bank have been criticized for not moving quickly enough on environmental-improvement projects on the U.S.-Mexico border.

RICHARDSON RELIGION: Noted Catholic theologian and author Andrew Greeley said during a radio interview that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson would make an "excellent" vice president, but would face discrimination by right-wing conservative evangelicals who would be opposed to two Catholics on the same presidential ticket. Presumptive Democratic Party nominee John Kerry is also Catholic. Richardson "would energize the Hispanic vote. Many of them don't vote, but they would definitely turn out for him," Mr. Greeley said of Mr. Richardson during an interview on "The Diane Rehm Show," a nationally syndicated public radio program broadcast from Washington, D.C. "But," he added, "imagine what that would do to the conservative evangelicals out there who hate Catholics - and there are many of them. Two Catholics on the same ticket. It would be too much for them." Richardson has maintained he is not interested in the vice presidential position.


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