Letters

Fair and Reasonable

The statement by Office of Personnel Management attorney Antonio San Martin Jr., which falsely compares Latino demands for fair federal employment policies to handouts, is outrageous ("Unquiet Minority," Aug. 1, and "OPM Blamed for Underrepresentation of Hispanics in Government," GovExec.com, Aug. 1). He said, "I can't show up . . . with 50 jobs in my pocket and give them out . . . as door prizes."

Members of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda demand effective federal outreach, hiring and employee retention initiatives for Hispanic job candidates and employees. As documented in the NHLA report noted in your article, OPM has failed to make any inroads regarding Latinos, as is required under federal law.

We renew our call for OPM to implement effective measures to address the underrepresentation of Hispanics and to recognize the gravity of the civil rights and legal issues involved. Mr. San Martin's public comment has served to increase our level of concerns regarding OPM's efforts.

Nelson Castillo
President
Hispanic National Bar Association

John Trasviña
Interim President and General Counsel
Mexican American Legal Defense and
Educational Fund

Cesar Perales
President and General Counsel
Puerto Rican Legal Defense and
Education Fund

At the Forest Service, I share the concerns my Agriculture Department colleague Jose Osegueda stated in "Unquiet Minority." We must address the lack of Hispanics in the federal government from entry level to executive positions, including at USDA. This lack of workforce diversity impacts our ability to provide quality services and products to the Hispanic community.

In the Forest Service, we are doing something about it. Along with the USDA Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service, we have partnered with the University of Texas, San Antonio, and Texas A&M University, College Station, to rectify the underrepresentation. The partnership provides opportunities for graduate fellows in agricultural and environmental issues of importance to the Hispanic community.

This truly is a win-win-win situation. The fellows receive high-quality graduate education. USDA gets access to a pool of qualified, energetic and committed professionals. The Hispanic community benefits from the research and shared knowledge, and at least as important, increased representation in planning and decision-making at USDA. In the past year, the Forest Service has recruited five Hispanic employees from the fellows.

Ann M. Bartuska
Deputy Chief of
Research and Development
Forest Service

Corrections

"New Order" (Aug. 1) incorrectly stated that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is third in line for the presidency. The succession is vice president, speaker of the House, president pro tem of the Senate and then secretary of State.

"Turbulent Weather" (Aug. 1) omitted the full name and title for the National Weather Service's deputy director, John Jones.

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