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Senator Returns Money

Lopez Says She's No Demanding Diva

House Minority: Don’t Sign Bills

Ferre Loses Miami Mayoral Contest

Anti Navy Group Lambastes Calderon

PIP Denounces ATSDR Report

Juarbe Confirmed For U.S. Labor Post

Santini 1st VP


Senator Returns Money Given For Her Stay In New York

By Proviana Colon Diaz

November 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 PRWOW News Service. All rights reserved.

After failing to bring proof to the Senate Internal Audit Office as to how she had spent public funds granted by the Senate for her stay during the Puerto Rican Day Parade festivities in New York, Popular Democratic Party Sen. Maribel Rodriguez returned late Wednesday the $1,945 that she had been given.

Rodriguez still faces an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee as Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora ordered that all nine senators whose expenses were covered for the trip file detailed reports of how they spent the money, and those who failed to do so would then be referred to the committee for the proper investigation.

As acknowledged by her, Rodriguez failed to present the data regarding her trip, and such will be subject to the investigation.

Fas Alzamora revealed the findings of the internal audit during Wednesday's extraordinary session.

Following his statements, Rodriguez met the press at her office where she revealed that she had returned the funds.

Fas Alzamora ordered on Nov. 1 the Internal Audit Office to investigate Rodriguez and the use she gave to public funds that were for her stay at a New York City hotel during the Puerto Rican Day Parade festivities of June 2001.

Rodriguez has been under the public eye since last week when her husband, Vega Alta Mayor Juan Cruzado Laureano, was charged in federal court with extortion, money laundering, theft of federal funds, and witness tampering.

The rookie Vega Alta mayor is facing charges for allegedly extorting $28,945 from several business owners in the area, including a travel agency for tickets to the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Although Rodriguez was to stay at the hotel paid by the Senate, she wound up staying with her husband, even though the room was paid for.

Jennifer Lopez Says She's No Demanding Diva

November 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 REUTERS. All rights reserved.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Demanding diva? Spoiled superstar?

``Not me,'' insists sultry Latin actress-singer Jennifer Lopez. She says she's just a ``cool, nice person'' who wants to make people feel good, who behaves like a professional and who never does anything ``that is going to make it hard for me to sleep at night.''

Two hit albums, a handful of movies, her own fashion line, and a wardrobe of plunging outfits have powered Lopez, 31, to mega stardom in less than two years. She has just played her first live pop concert -- ``the fulfillment of probably my biggest childhood dream'' -- which will be screened as a one-hour music special on NBC television next week (Nov. 20), and is working as a producer on a pilot for a TV sitcom. And in September she acquired her second husband, dancer Cris Judd.

But success has also brought notoriety, such as tales of requests from the ``Love Don't Cost a Thing'' singer for 10 dressing rooms for an appearance at a British pop awards show, or all-white decor and Cuban food for a cameo charity appearance for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Lopez said she tries not to hear or read the negative publicity surrounding her and strived to keep her focus on entertaining people and making them feel good.

``But when I do hear it, it hurts me and it's a surprise to me because I know how I conduct myself. When you know that you're a cool, nice person and people want to create something that's otherwise, it's hurtful.

House Minority Leaders Ask Calderon Not To Sign Bills Into Law

By Proviana Colon Diaz

November 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 PRWOW News Service. All rights reserved.

House minority leaders issued a letter to Gov. Sila Calderon requesting that she not sign into law the bill that postpones until 2004 the so-called marriage penalty nor the 11 bills allocating funds for several purposes that were approved late Wednesday after their delegations had left the floor following an alleged declared recess until 1 p.m. Thursday.

House New Progressive Party Minority Leader Anibal Vega Borges and Puerto Rican Independence Party Rep. Victor Garcia San Inocencio said if the 11 bills that were approved after they left the floor were signed into law, they would fight their "unconstitutionality" in court.

Vega Borges and Garcia San Inocencio warned Calderon not to be "induced into error" by believing that the bills were approved in accordance to the law, because they weren't and were approved solely by the members of the majority.

"With the weak approval in the early morning hours, in absence of the minority, the majority in a forced way pretends to have complied with the constitutional requirements of an approval," Garcia San Inocencio said.

Furthermore, the minority leaders said the 34 bills included by Calderon in the extraordinary session were approved without hearings or a proper procedure on the first day of the 20-day session.

Therefore, they requested that Calderon return anew Bill 1817, which postpones the elimination of the marriage penalty until 2004, for further discussion in the House.

The bill to postpone the elimination of the marriage penalty had been defeated twice in the Legislature and was sent anew to the floor during this extraordinary session by Calderon, arguing that the government would save some $88 million for the current year, which is needed to balance the budget.

Vega Borges and Garcia San Inocencio, like other members of the majority in the past, opposed the bill, arguing that it did not serve justice to the married couples who have been forced to pay higher contributions than single people.

Ferre Loses Miami Mayoral Contest


November 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

Lawyer Manny Diaz completed his rise from political unknown to mayor-elect of South Florida's biggest city Tuesday night with overwhelming support from Cuban American voters.

Diaz, who first came into the public eye last year as a lawyer for the Little Havana relatives of Elián González, beat former mayor Maurice Ferré, who is Puerto Rican, by 55 percent to 45 percent.

In the end, voters responded to Diaz's promise of a ``positive change'' over Ferré's background of ``proven leadership.''

Ferré won decisively in black and white non-Hispanic neighborhoods, but Diaz was carried to office by voters in Little Havana and other Cuban areas.

Ferré's campaign manager, Manny Alfonso, put it bluntly: ``If you're not Cuban in Miami, you don't have a chance.''

[Ferré, who repeatedly criticized Diaz during the past week for running an "ethnic campaign," wished the new mayor well. But Ferré said he longs for the day when skin color, nationality or ethnicity no longer matters.

"Today Miami seems to be a divided community, but sometimes from a divided community to a united community, the change is very quick and very short," Ferré said. "I look forward to the day that in Miami we can all look at each other and say that we are all American citizens who live here in Miami."

Ferre, 66, was Miami's mayor from 1973 to 1985, before mayoral terms were extended from two to four years.

Anti Navy Group Lambastes Calderon's Stance On Vieques

November 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Officials of the Pro Rescue and Development of Vieques group rejected Wednesday Gov. Sila Calderon's support for the cooperation of the local police with the federal authorities in arresting and processing civil disobedience demonstrators.

For Nilda Medina, the participation of the local police in the arrest of Yabureibo Zenon last week is the most recent example of the use of the local police against the fight of the Vieques people.

"Calderon exchanged big clubs for small clubs when she withdrew the Riot Squad and drastically increased the number of police officers assigned to protect the military interests here," Medina said in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, Robert Rabin said the police officers have acted against the Viequenses with arrests, detentions, fines, land and sea persecution, and as witnesses in legal cases against civil disobedience demonstrators.

"The police superintendent and the governor contradict themselves when they say they favor peace for Vieques, while they help the Navy with the war that they have fought against these people for 60 years," Rabin said.

The Vieques leaders reacted this way to the statements of Calderon, who said she supports all the actions that the local police does in Vieques to enforce the law, including video recordings and protections services for the federal authorities.

"The Puerto Rico Police is complying with its duties and must strictly comply with them and has all my support," Calderon said Tuesday.

PIP Denounces Federal Agency Report On Vieques Soil

By Proviana Colon Diaz

November 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 PRWOW News Service. All rights reserved.

Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Environmental Issues Advisor Jorge Fernandez Porto denounced Wednesday that a report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which concluded a non-hazardous presence of heavy metals in the soil of Vieques, failed to take into consideration samples of the soil where civilians live.

Fernandez Porto added that this is the third time the ATSDR files reports with favorable results for the continuing presence of the U.S. Navy in Vieques.

PIP Vice President Maria De Lourdes Santiago questioned how could it be possible for Gov. Sila Calderon to accept the test results filed by ATSDR as true, without complaining.

The latest report, filed Oct. 23 and titled "Focused Petitioned Public Health Assessment Isla de Vieques Bombing Range, Vieques, Puerto Rico," concluded that exposition to heavy metals, such as lead, chromium, magnesium, and arsenic, in the Vieques soil "results in no damaging effect to the health of children and adults who could even accidentally eat the soil."

However, to reach such conclusions, the ATSDR failed to study any samples from the soil of the civil population, Fernandez Porto said. Instead, samples dating back to 1972, when the Navy was still practicing in Culebra, samples from 1998 when soil was taken from the area where the airport is located and where no one lives now, and other samples taken by Navy contractors in 1999 from Camp Garcia were the ones used for the study.

For the environmental scientist, who has conducted similar studies in the soil of Vieques and has found high levels of heavy metals in the soil, the ATSDR results are unacceptable.

"None of the samples were taken from the civil population area. It is thus impossible from a scientific point of view to establish that the civil soil is not contaminated when there are no samples from the population zone," Fernandez Porto said.

The PIP, with the studies it posses that prove the contrary, will refute the ATSDR as established by law that they have 30 days to refute the information, Fernandez Porto said.

Senate Confirms Puerto Rican In Post At U.S. Labor Dept.

November 13, 2001
Copyright © 2001 PRWOW News Service. All rights reserved.

Labor Secretary Elaine Chao announced Tuesday that the U.S. Senate has confirmed Frederico Juarbe Jr. to be assistant secretary of labor for veterans' employment and training.

"I am very pleased that the Senate has confirmed the president's choice for assistant secretary of labor for veterans' employment and training," Chao said. "The events of Sept. 11 highlight again the many contributions veterans like Juarbe provide to our country."

Prior to his nomination, Juarbe served for 23 years as director, National Veterans Service at the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Juarbe has also worked closely with federal and state agencies in formulating policy beneficial to veterans, their dependents, and survivors. In addition, Juarbe has served on numerous federal task forces and advisory committees, such as the President's Steering Committee on Help Through Industry Retraining and Employment.

Juarbe was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Santini To Be NPP's New First Vice President

November 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The New Progressive Party (NPP) Directorate unanimously decided Tuesday to choose San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini as the first vice president of the party.

NPP President Carlos Pesquera made the announcement during a press conference held after a long meeting with the directorate Tuesday.

Sen. Lucy Arce will occupy the second vice presidential post of the NPP, contrary to what happened during former Gov. Pedro Rossello's tenure, when the first vice presidential post was occupied by Sen. Norma Burgos.

Pesquera said he granted the first vice presidential post to Santini because he has more seniority within the party and occupies the highest elective position in the NPP.

The NPP leader also announced that he has reached an agreement with Santini not to be challenged in the primary elections for the gubernatorial run in the 2004 elections.

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