The coqui of Puerto Rico/AJC file
Photo: Joey Ivansco/AJC
Photo: Joey Ivansco/AJC

The Jolt: A cheat sheet for passing (maybe) Georgia’s license test for Puerto Ricans

Perhaps you’ve already heard about the federal lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of a former resident of Puerto Rico, who says Georgia has subjected him and others to a driver’s license test of a sort very different than those given to other U.S. citizens. From our AJC colleague David Wickert:

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, says the state’s Department of Driver Services seizes the identity documents of Puerto Ricans and often fails to award licenses in a timely manner. It also says the department requires Puerto Ricans to take extra driver tests and to answer “trick” questions about Puerto Rico to prove they are from the U.S. territory.

Attorneys representing Kenneth Caban Gonzalez say they know of roughly 40 others, all who moved to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico, who have been treated likewise. The suit says a specific Department of Driver Services document, called the “Puerto Rico Interview Guide,” requires these questions and others:

a) “’What a meat filled with plantain fritter’ is called;

b) “Where a specific beach is located;”

c) “The name of the frog [that is] native only to PR.”

At least they’re not asking how many bubbles are contained in a bar of soap.

Nonetheless, this is a serious situation. Roughly 170,000 Puerto Ricans have given up on their island since it was devastated by two hurricanes in 2017 and have moved to the U.S. mainland. Caban Gonzalez was issued a non-driving photo ID by DDS, even as it has denied him a driver’s license for the last 600 days or so. So he can register to vote – even if he can’t drive to a job. We don’t know about the others.

But it occurs to us that the simplest way to resolve this situation is to apply the Puerto Rican test to everyone. In which case, you’ll need a cheat sheet. Your answers to the above questions:

a)Whether intentional or not, we think this is a misworded question. A plantain filled with meat is more likely than a meat filled with plantain. If that’s the case, thenoshery.com says this is the correct answer: “Alcapurria is basically a fritter made of green bananas and yautia (taro root) and stuffed with meat.”

b) This question is more than vague, but “Luquillo Beach” or “Flamenco Beach” might work.

c) Thus sayeth Wikipedia: “The common coqui is a very important aspect of Puerto Rican culture, and it has become an unofficial territorial symbol of Puerto Rico.”

If you nail a) and c), that gives you a 66. Guess right on the beach, and you might earn yourself a driver’s license. You think we’re making this up? Click here for your copy of the lawsuit, or stroll through it here:

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11Alive reports that it has caught Avery Niles, who heads up the state Department of Juvenile Justice, fibbing about his college education. Something like a confession, from the TV station’s website:

“My appointment to the Department of Juvenile Justice as the Commissioner in 2012 was based on my 25-plus years of distinguished service in law enforcement. During a 2017 legal matter, I misspoke by stating that I had an associate degree. Earlier this year, the error was brought to my attention and it was corrected,” said Niles.

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Cobb County residents will be subject to a 4.52% increase in property taxes, according to the Marietta Daily Journal – the result of a decision not to roll back the millage rate to completely erase a 6.2% increase in the tax digest.

Commission Chairman Mike Boyce, a Republican, is up for re-election in 2020, and Cobb is already tilting blue. Commissioner Lisa Cupid, a Democrat, has announced that she’ll challenge the incumbent. The open question is whether Boyce will face a primary opponent as well.

Not by coincidence, the Cobb County GOP is planning a Fourth of July straw poll on the matter that will be taken at a post-parade gathering. The other names: Commissioner Bob Ott and former commissioner Louie Hunter.

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Welcome a new player to town: The Georgia Action Fund is a new super PAC backing Sen. David Perdue’s re-election, and it recently hired an executive director.

John Burke is a longtime deputy of Georgia Republican strategist Paul Bennecke, most recently serving as a deputy communications director for the Republican Governors Association. Burke was responsible for coordinating the group’s communication and messaging in support of Republican Brian Kemp’s run.

Consider this another example of the tight bonds between Georgia’s governor and the Perdue cousins.

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Four of the state's Democratic members of the U.S. House are asking for answers after the Georgia Department of Community Health temporarily cut off Medicaid benefits to thousands of elderly and disabled Georgians.

U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson, David Scott, Sanford Bishop and Lucy McBath recently wrote to Gov. Brian Kemp and Frank Berry, commissioner for the Georgia Department of Community Health, asking about the technology glitch that led to the mass disenrollment last month.

The state eventually said it would reinstate the benefits for all 30,000 Georgians slated for cutoff, and go back through the renewal process with them.

"This was an egregious error with causes that have not yet been remedied. If they aren't corrected, seniors, disabled folks, and the most vulnerable of my constituents will have their healthcare placed in jeopardy again, and face extremely high healthcare costs," the lawmakers wrote. 

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