Another Puerto Rico Oversight Board member steps down

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A third member of the Puerto Rico Oversight Board, José Ramón González, is stepping down.

Ramón González announced Tuesday that he would leave the board Aug. 31.

Jose Ramon Gonzalez, Jose Carrion, and Ana Matasantos of Puerto Rico Oversight Board
Puerto Rico Oversight Board Member José Ramón González, left is joining Chairman José Carrión, right, in leaving the board.

Then-U.S. President Barack Obama appointed the members of the board on Aug. 31, 2016, to what were supposed to be three-year terms. However, since the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a legal challenge to the appointment method, Congress has not appointed any replacements. The existing members have been allowed to continue to serve.

In late May the court rejected the challenge. Since then Chairman José Carrión and board member Carlos García have given notice of their departure from the board.

Other board members may also step down. As things currently stand, two Republican-nominated and one Democratic-nominated members will be replaced by three Democratic-nominated members. This assumes the president approves the nominations.

Ramón González said being selected as a member of the Oversight Board "has been a great honor and serving has been an exceptional experience and privilege.” .

“We have not accomplished all the Oversight Board needs to accomplish, or even all I was hoping to accomplish,” Ramón González said. “But in those four years we have taken significant steps forward on a path toward recovery. It is time for a new Oversight Board to continue on this path and fulfill the mandate of" the Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act.

According to commentator Cate Long, then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., nominated Ramón González to the board. Schumer still has that position and following PROMESA he will be responsible for nominating Ramón González’s replacement. It is up to the president to accept or reject nominations from the congressional leadership.

Ramón González had a background as former president of the Puerto Rico Government Development Bank, which kept an eye on Puerto Rico’s issuance of debt in the years leading up to the bankruptcy. He also held leadership roles in two of Puerto Rico’s major banks, at least one of which lent to Puerto Rico and underwrote debt issuance.

Ramón González and García have deeper backgrounds in municipal debt then anyone else on the board.

People have not always seen this positively. When the board members were announced in 2016, U.S. House Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, lamented in a Facebook post that “some of the architects of the crisis on the island” had been appointed to help resolve it. He was certainly referring at least to these two members.

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