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Latino Leaders Grade Obama

Vida en el Valle, Interviews, Staff Posted: Jan 31, 2010

Traduccin al espaol

FRESNO, Calif.--Latino voters helped Barack Obama make history and become the first black president by handing him more than seven out of 10 votes in the November 2008 election.

Obama -- while not delivering on a campaign promise to overhaul the country's immigration system -- remains popular among Latinos, with a recent poll showing him with a 67 percent approval rate from Latinos.

The president, who marked his first year in office last week, has been praised for naming Latinos to top positions at a record rate. He has appointed 48 Latinos to posts that require Senate confirmation. Obama's most visible appointees are U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Labor Secretary Hilda Sols and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Vida en el Valle asked local Latinos for their impressions of Obama.

Abel Maldonado
State Senator, R-Santa Mara
Grade: B

"One of the promises that Barack Obama made was to work in a bipartisan manner during his administration but he has not fulfilled that promise. The country is already tired of partisan politics, and the great hope of everyone was that Obama would work together with both parties."

"It's true that Obama arrived in the middle of a great economic crisis and that there are other priorities, but working together with both parties is what could help the country solve this crisis."

"I would focus on three issues: jobs, jobs and jobs. The people have to work because without work there is no money and no development."

Arnoldo Torres
Political analyst
Grade: C

"The political transparency that was touted so much in his campaign has yet to be seen. We have only seen the same of the past administration. He also promised he would work in a bipartisan manner and we have yet to see that."

"I would impose conditions on the banks that, upon receiving federal money, that they provide funds more easily to small businesses. That is the only way to build an economic recovery.

"I would also help the families recuperate their homes following the mortgage crisis. And, finally, I would leave stop the rhetoric and offer a health reform so that the working class, the poor, would have access to quality health care."

Anna Caballero
Assemblymember, D-Salinas
Grade: A

"When he came into the presidency, he was burdened with an economic crisis not seen too many times in this country. Additionally, he was burdened with other great problems like the war in Iraq and a high unemployment rate, without forgetting about the mortgage crisis."

A year into his term, Obama has taken actions in the right direction. Although the situation is still difficult, it's clear that we are starting to see the advances in the economy and other areas that used to be really bad."

"I would focus on providing help to the people who lost their homes during the mortgage crisis. Instead of giving the banks money, I would give it directly to the affected people. Also, to stimulate the economy, I would create different infrastructure projects which would result in more work in the community."

Luisa Medina
Development director for Central California Legal Services
Grade: A+

"Because he has tackled some really big issues that no one else has before, like health care reform, the whole economy, and job creation. He inherited a mess, and he's making the right moves in terms of addressing these really big issues."

(I would probably not do anything differently.) "The mere fact that he's out there talking about (these issues) and trying to find a solution -- the effort is definitely an A+. He's been out there trying to find some resolution...Do I agree with everything? Absolutely not. Has he accomplished everything? No. But at least he's out there willing to talk about it and not burying his head in the sand. He's willing to lead on it."

Jess Gamboa
CEO, Proteus, Inc., former Visalia mayor
Grade: B+

"In our business, he's made a lot of investments in programs for working with people, training people, and trying to get people back into the marketplace. Our programs have grown from March of 2009 to now -- our programs have almost doubled in funding because of the investments he's making in green technology...But as we train our people for new jobs, the question is: Are the jobs going to be there? The focus has to be on the other end of the economy, on expanding the economy to create jobs."

"We have to give the man a chance to operate. We didn't get into this mess over night. A lot of this -- the economy, the bailouts, the war -- it was there before he even got here. We need to give him a chance to opeate, just like we've given other presidents a chance to operate."

Humberto vila Jr.
AmeriCorps volunteer and 2008 candidate for the 29th district Assembly seat
Grade: A-

"(Obama) is going about it the right way, but it has been a lot slower than anyone thought it would be. It took President Bush eight years to put us in the mess we're in, and it's going to take more than one year to get us out of it. It's easier to break a glass, and it's harder to put it back together."

"I wish he would talk to people about why things are not getting done. It's really getting blamed on him, when it's not really his fault."

Maggie Meja
Latino Community Roundtable member
Grade: B

"He, like all presidents before him, needs more than one year to make a difference.

"I would stay focused and bring us: Immigration reform and amnesty; far too many have been lost in the shuffle and we do not want to see families separated; A successful health care program for the U.S.
Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs in each and every state; Less federal regulations in California for jobs, environmental, endangered lists and employment qualifications; Continue to support veterans and their families by improving their health and disabilities programs and hire more people to catch up to the never-ending paperwork to qualify veterans."

Dale Butler
Lder comunitario en Modesto
Grade: A for effort, C+ for actual accomplishment

"Having inherited a 'horn of plenty' involving two wars, unstable relations with Iran and North Korea, an economy that was poised for possible collapse, and other problems at home and abroad. Obama has done a good job of providing effective leadership to our nation. However, the fact that he has faced so many tough challenges during his first year in office, has made it difficult for him to focus and produce results. Unfortunately, immigration reform as promised by the President has not been achieved, and this continues to be a festering sore with many in the Latino community."

"My hope is that the remainder of the president's term will be more productive insofar as results are concerned. While immigration reform registers high on the Latino radar, with two wars and high unemployment facing our nation, this reform might have to take a backseat during the remainder of his term. When Mr. Obama ran, his support from Latinos exceeded the 60th percentile. However, this support has been waning, in part, because of his inability to bring about immigration reform as promised. Only if Obama implements immigration reform, reduces unemployment, and champions and secures societal changes that have a direct and favorable impact on Latinos, will he continue to enjoy the high level of support he has thus far received from the Latino community."

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