Latinos protest outside Corbett's Phila. office

Joshua Novotney (left), director of Gov. Corbett's Philadelphia office, receives a binder containing resumés of Latino job candidates from community activist Pedro Rodriguez.
Joshua Novotney (left), director of Gov. Corbett's Philadelphia office, receives a binder containing resumés of Latino job candidates from community activist Pedro Rodriguez. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 02, 2013

Outraged by Gov. Corbett's recent remarks about the lack of Latinos in his administration, about two dozen people gathered outside the governor's Philadelphia office Friday and delivered two binders filled with resumés.

"If he is genuinely interested in putting Latinos on his staff, we have binders of resumés," said Pedro Rodriguez, who joined a group that gathered to deride Corbett as insensitive.

The crowd gathered in front of the Union League about 1:30 p.m. and marched three blocks down Broad Street to the Hyatt at the Bellevue, site of the governor's regional office.

"Gov. Corbett, remember. We voted in November," they chanted.

In a forum this month at the Union League, Corbett was asked how many Latinos he had on his staff. None, he replied, adding: "If you can find us one, please let me know."

Latino leaders quickly denounced him for that reply.

Friday's gathering was organized by Pennsylvania United for Immigration Reform, which described Corbett as out of touch with the Latino community.

Jorge Salazar, 30, a community organizer, said Corbett should recognize the power of Latino voters.

"The message is for all elected officials - not just Gov. Corbett - to remember November," Salazar said, "to remember that we came out in large numbers for our community members and the issues that matter to us."

Salazar assailed Corbett for suggesting there was a dearth of qualified Latino candidates for positions in his administration.

"Corbett said something kind of ridiculous and kind of stupid," he said. "It shows that he's not taking us seriously."

As the rally was underway, Joshua Novotney, director of the governor's Philadelphia office, emerged to accept the binders containing the resumés of dozens of Latinos the group said were qualified to work in the administration. He declined to comment.

Novotney was accompanied by Lourdes Padilla, deputy secretary of the state Department of Public Welfare, who addressed the group in Spanish and said the governor was interested in its concerns and was not taking Latino voters for granted.

She added that there were about 1,500 Latinos working in state government.

Rodriguez called on Corbett to meet directly with Latino leaders.

"We want a face-to-face meeting with the governor to hear our concerns," Rodriguez said.

Erika Sutherland, a leader of Grupo de Apoyo of Allentown, which works to help immigrants get college degrees and make friends and business contacts, said she was at the rally "because I'm ticked off."

"We understand that Corbett made an off-the-cuff comment, however, off-the-cuff comments often reveal a lot about what someone really feels," Sutherland said. "He said there are no Latinos in the administration. We're here to show him that there are Latinos here who can work for the administration."

Javier Hernandez of Philaposh, a Philadelphia group that advocates for occupational safety in the workplace, said the Latino vote in Pennsylvania must not be ignored.

"Do not assume because I am brown that I don't count," Hernandez said. "The time is now to let Gov. Corbett know we are ready."

Hernandez, who described himself as an immigrant, said, "Corbett has not done anything for immigration."

"We will stand together and fight together," Hernandez said. "You have Latinos in your community and we are ready to go."


Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.

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