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PuertoRicoWOW News Service

Santini Becomes Mayor Of San Juan

By Proviana Colon Diaz

January 9, 2001
Copyright © 2001 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved.

Comparing the fiscal situation of the San Juan municipality to that of a Third World country, Jorge Santini was sworn in Monday as the new capital city mayor.

In his one-hour-long acceptance speech, Santini went from presenting the ideas for his administration to asking the former mayor and now Gov. Sila Calderon for help. Still, he then dedicated the latter part of his message to accusing her of being responsible for the fiscal "disaster" in which the municipality was left with a $70 million deficit.

In his message, Santini declined to accept any responsibility for the deficit, saying he was proud to be the legislator that filed the bill to include San Juan in the central government's health reform. He said Calderon was wrong to fail to set the money aside to cover the costs of the health reform, even though they knew it would be implemented in the capital city.

"The members of the outgoing administration claim the responsibility of the financial disaster in San Juan is not theirs. They say the fault lies with someone who had no power in the municipality. On someone who had nothing to do with the capital city administration for the past eight years. They say the fault is mine," said the mayor.

Sitting in the front row next to Santini's young daughter, Calderon nodded in the affirmative when Santini asked for her help but shook her head when he made his accusations.

Despite the charges in his speech, neither Calderon, former Deputy Mayor Angel Blanco Botey, nor former Municipal Assembly President Ramon Cantero Frau left the event. Following the speech, Calderon shook the mayor's hand, barely exchanging eye contact and she left the premises.

Afterwards, in an afternoon press conference at Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora's office, Calderon rebutted Santini's statements saying she told him three times that he had lied in his speech.

"The deficit of San Juan is directly linked to the unfair cost set by the central government against the municipality to implement the health reform," Calderon said.

Like former Gov. Pedro Rossello at her swearing-in ceremony, Calderon was booed by the crowd as she entered the Ballaja Barracks where Santini's ceremony took place.

Accompanied by his family, Santini was sworn in to his post by former House Speaker and now Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Zaida Hernandez Torres.

The main guest speaker was New Progressive Party founder and former Gov. Luis A. Ferre.

Other special guests included former NPP Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo, his daughter Melinda Romero, and former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon and his family.

PDP San Juan Sen. Margarita Oztolaza, as well as NPP legislators Norma Burgos, Edison Misla Aldarondo and Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer, were also present.

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