Dear Governor: Here a Latino, there a Latino. Everywhere, Latinos

ASSOCIATED PRESS Gov. Corbett stepped in some caca yet again last week, this time over Latinos on his staff.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Gov. Corbett stepped in some caca yet again last week, this time over Latinos on his staff.
Posted: May 24, 2013

DEAR GOV. CORBETT,

Aren't you getting tired of that smell?

First you step in it when you suggest that the jobless are unemployed because they can't pass a drug test.

And now, you're talking about Latinos as if they're as elusive as the chupacabra. (It's like a Latino Jersey Devil.)

In case you missed it, Corbett stepped in it - again - Friday during a roundtable discussion at the Union League hosted by the Hispanic newspaper Al Dia. (Apparently the big guy didn't get the memo about knowing your audience.)

The exchange went like this:

Moderator: Do you have staff members that are Latino?

Corbett: No, we do not have any staff members in there. If you can find us one, please let me know.

Moderator: I am sure that there are Latinos that . . .

Corbett (turning to the audience): Do any of you want to come to Harrisburg? See?!

Ay yi yi, where to start? Seriously, how out of touch can a leader be before somebody stages an intervention - or a coup?

First, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Helen Ubiñas and I am a . . . wait for it . . . Latina. I come from a long line of . . . wait for it . . . Latinos.

Oh, lookie over there, a Latina. And over there, a Latino. Here a Latino, there a Latino, everywhere Latinos.

On any given day, I can walk out the door of the Daily News onto the streets of our city, where Latinos make up about 12 percent of the population, and bump into all kinds of, well, me.

We're not hard to find in your hood either, Guv.

More than 18,000 people of Hispanic or Latino origin call the Harrisburg-Carlisle metropolitan region home, a 2008 survey found.

A third of them live right in the city of Harrisburg, where the Latino Hispanic American Community Center is on Derry Street.

The center's home page says: "All of the members of the community are welcome to visit and seek support and services. We are eager to meet you, serve you and partner with you."

See, Guv, you don't even have to leave town.

But c'mon, you're in politics, so you must know what a huge part Latinos play in politics, specifically in the last few presidential elections. If you don't, some of your people do because they wasted no time shooting out a defense.

The response from your spokesman, Kevin Harley, was nearly on fire. He called the brouhaha misinformation "by an extreme, left-wing blog to malign Gov. Tom Corbett." The story broke on the Think Progress blog.

Oh, Kevin, don't hate the players. Hate the game. They couldn't poke the bear if the bear didn't give them the stick, and man, did he give them a sharp stick.

It also doesn't help when you start pulling the "some-of-my-former-staffers-were-Latinos" bit.

In the response, the administration pointed out that Dr. Eli Avila served as secretary of health. And early on in his administration, Corbett named Maria Montero as director of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs.

Congratulations. But I'm curious: Did the governor lose their numbers? Because maybe he could have turned to those qualified Latinos to oh, I dunno, find other qualified Latinos to join his team. Just a thought.

Lucky for the governor we're a forgiving and helpful people. Not long after Corbett's Latino moment, a webpage called Latinos4Corbett popped up.

Of the 750,431 Hispanics who live in Pennsylvania, it said, none wants to work for Corbett.

But I don't believe that. Señor Corbett, I'll hook you up with a Latino in no time. Si se puede!


Email: ubinas@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5943

On Twitter: @NotesFromHel

On Facebook: Helen.Ubinas

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