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Santini: More San Juan Irregularities

Hernandez Colon Regrets Governor’s Analysis

Calderon Reaffirms No Wrongdoing

Gutierrez Crushes Castro

PDP Asks SEC To Investigate All Parties

Governor Supports Possible Arrests

Island Might Be Part Of New Security Command

Santini Digs Out More Irregularities In San Juan

March 21, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) — San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini revealed Wednesday documents, pictures, and checks that resulted from an audit performed by his municipality that allegedly proves a conflict of interest and a deviation of local and federal public funds for the San Juan 2000 Committee of former San Juan Mayor and now Gov. Sila Calderon.

The mayor said the findings of the audit were sent to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday for further investigation. A similar petition was sent to the Commonwealth Comptroller’s Office on Feb. 26.

Among the irregularities cited in the audit are the purchase of six vehicles for Educarte, a program created by the Committee 2000. The Educarte contract established that in case the program would disappear, all purchases would become property of the committee or the municipal government.

However, Mary Ann Hoopgood, the public official in charge of the program, sold the six vehicles without rendering the profit to the municipality or the committee.

Santini said the municipal auditors interviewed Hoopgood, but she was unable to determine where the cars were.

The findings also include the payment for fireworks whose use cannot be proven and the deviation of federal funds that were originally for a vaccination campaign but were used to pay the committee’s TV ads.

The mayor and municipal auditor Julio Alicea Vasallo confirmed that attorney Michael Corona had nothing to do with the audit regarding the committee, although accountant Alma Lopez, who worked in the committee and now works with Consultants and Associates, did review the files.

Santini also revealed a legal opinion from the Reichard & Escalera law firm stating to former San Juan Litigations Division Director William Vazquez that there were reasons for "solid arguments to the effect that the committee is an extension of the San Juan municipality and that it may become a subterfuge to violate the electoral advertising ban."

The mayor said all the people linked to the committee were fully aware of the possibility of violating the Electoral Law.

Hernandez Colon Regrets Calderon’s Analysis Of His Words

March 21, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) — Former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon regretted Thursday that Gov. Sila Calderon has taken an offense to his expressions on the possible violations to the Electoral Law during the last electoral campaign denounced recently by the media.

Hernandez Colon said his expressions Wednesday did not constitute a political attack against anyone and did not pretend to award the truth of the matter.

"That expression was not a political attack against anybody. It was just some advice we should give to the present generations, those who occupied positions of high responsibility," the former governor said in a press release.

Hernandez Colon said in the light of the fact that his advice does not help the issue, "for me, this matter is over."

"Her reaction and the reaction of other Popular Democratic Party (PDP) leaders was of total surprise for me. In the spirit of my expressions, I urge them that if they have to say something about my conduct in the past, they shouldn’t hesitate, since that is their duty," the former governor said.

Gov. Sila Calderon criticized Hernandez Colon for his expressions regarding that the party should speak the truth about the alleged scheme adjudicated to the collectivity.

Governor Reaffirms No Wrongdoing In Gubernatorial Campaign

By Proviana Colon Diaz

March 20th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.  

Gov. Sila Calderon delivering televised speech

At a cost of $42,000 worth of public funds, Gov. Sila Calderon gave a televised message Tuesday evening to repeat exactly what she had told the media Monday afternoon during a press conference at La Fortaleza in an attempt on her part to reaffirm that no irregularities were conducted during her gubernatorial campaign and to deny the use of federal funds in the process.

In almost a copycat of her statements Monday before the media, Calderon denied all the imputations that have been published in the media in recent days.

This time, however, she did not identify San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini as the source behind the stories that indicate the used of federal funds during her administration as mayor of the city to cover advertising agencies’ bills.

She said Tuesday that she has come to believe that the purpose of the allegations made against her are to "generate confusion and doubts over my credibility."

"My dear Puerto Rican, you that are hearing me, you have seen me since I took the post of governor. You have seen me attack and persecute corruption in the previous administrations and within my own political party. I have done it without stutter and will continue to do so. I will continue to fight the war, until the end," Calderon said.

During the five-minute message, the governor was seen wearing a peach-colored suit, standing in front of one of La Fortaleza’s windows.

Calderon again said although she can assure that no irregularities were committed during her campaign, she would refer the matter of the alleged deviation of funds to the Justice Department, the Commonwealth comptroller, and the Blue Ribbon Committee.

The alleged scheme within the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) for the electoral campaign was referred to the State Elections Commission for an audit.

"This way, I am the first governor to voluntary open the books of the campaigns for the scrutiny of the commission, as well as I think I am the first governor to ask the Justice Department, the comptroller, and other organisms to enter and examine their own matters," Calderon said.

Gutierrez Crushes Castro

March 20, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Chicago Sun-Times. All rights reserved.

In the 4th District, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) crushed Marty Castro to win nomination for a sixth term in what was the first serious challenge for Gutierrez since he won the seat in 1992.

The district is heavily Democratic, so Tuesday's results virtually guarantee victory for Gutierrez in the November general election.

Gutierrez swept every ward in the district beating back the challenge of Castro, an attorney. Gutierrez was also backed by Daley and put together a coalition of Puerto Rican and Mexican-American political organizations to cruise to an easy victory.

Castro, a political protege of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), attacked Gutierrez for months on many fronts. His main charge: The congressman has been ineffective in Washington, ignoring the needs of his district while spending too much energy on international issues, particularly opposition to Navy bombing on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

Gutierrez fought back, saying Castro, a lawyer, represented corporate polluters and firms that moved operations to Mexico and exploited Mexican workers.

Unofficial returns put Gutierrez's margin at 68 percent to Castro's 21 percent with more than 98 percent of the vote counted.

Castro, 38, called the race "a wonderful adventure for me.'' He said he would continue "to address the issues we talked about in the campaign.''

PDP Asks SEC To Investigate All Parties

March 19th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Electoral Commissioner Carlos Lopez Feliciano requested that State Elections Commission (SEC) Interim President Juan Toledo immediately begin the audit ordered by Gov. Sila Calderon but added the two other parties in his request.

Lopez Feliciano made the petition to Toledo in a letter, where he states that the investigation on the PDP electoral campaign reports should also be performed on the New Progressive Party and Puerto Rican Independence Party reports.

"The people of Puerto Rico and particularly all the voters should know as soon as possible the compliance of all political parties and their candidates with the electoral law, so if any irregularity is detected, the administrative actions that correspond could be activated diligently," Feliciano said in the letter.

If the audit shows any penal law violation, this should be referred to the Justice Department before any of the crimes could prescribe, Lopez Feliciano said.

Governor Supports Possible Arrests

March 19th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) – For Gov. Sila Calderon, Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira must arrest anyone who tries to trespass on the U.S. Navy’s restricted land in Vieques, as the presidential directives on the issue are still standing and because Pereira must continue his surveillance at the gates of Camp Garcia.

"First, the presidential directives have not been derogated. Second, complying with the law is one of the main ministerial duties of the superintendent," the governor said Monday.

The Navy notified the resumption of its military practices with inert ammunition April 1 for approximately 22 days.

The announcement triggered criticism from anti-Navy protesters who have said they would enter the restricted land in Vieques to halt the military maneuvers.

For her part, Vieques civil leader Alba Encarnacion censured Pereira’s "confrontational style" and made him responsible for any "disgrace" that happens between police officers and anti-Navy demonstrators.

"If the person in charge in a situation like the one expected doesn’t have diplomacy or tolerance, he is really going to be responsible for a major disgrace, and I see Pereira doesn’t have tolerance," Encarnacion stated.

The civil leader assured Pereira’s style greatly differs from that of former superintendents, whom she described as "very tolerant" toward protests held in front of Camp Garcia.

"If one thing I must acknowledge to Pedro Toledo is the level of tolerance that he had. I didn’t know Pierre Vivoni, but he too was very tolerant. If there isn’t going to be a diplomatic person here, if this is going to be a rough process, this really doesn’t look good," Encarnacion warned.

Island Might Be Part Of New Security Command

By Proviana Colon Diaz

March 19th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.  

Puerto Rico could become part of the soon-to-be-created military Northern Command, in charge of the Homeland Security, U.S. Army South Commanding General Alfred Valenzuela said Tuesday.

A move, he said, that will increase the military importance of the island and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"If the move to the northern command becomes a reality, then the role of Puerto Rico will be much more important," Valenzuela said.

The decision of creating the new command will most probably be announced within two months, and possibly three months after, the changes for Puerto Rico will be announced, Valenzuela said.

The change in command also includes the possibility of relocating more units to the island.

"Absolutely, exactly. . .there are possibilities that with the change of command, new units will be located here," Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela, however, has not yet been informed if the Army South will be eliminated or will continue to exist at its Fort Buchanan headquarters.

"There is another possibility - that they eliminate the Southern Command, not Fort Buchanan. One possibility is that they eliminate 350 posts from the Southern Command; if they do, that’s me because Army South has only 400 people," Valenzuela said.

But another possible scenario could be the relocation of the Army South to Roosevelt Roads in Ceiba, along with the special forces.

Before any change is made, the president must talk to the governor in charge, in this case Gov. Sila Calderon, for her to approve the use of the National Guard as part of the Northern Command.

The Army South had been requested to conduct a stationing strategy review.

According to published reports on Aug. 22, Valenzuela wrote to the deputy chief of the Army Planning and Operations Cabinet, Gen. Phillip Kensinger, that the continued loss in civilian workers in Buchanan will affect the mission of the Army South, while it continues in Puerto Rico.

Valenzuela allegedly proposed the Sam Houston Fort in San Antonio, Texas, and the Benning Fort in Columbus, Georgia, as possible alternatives to Fort Buchanan in Puerto Rico.

On Tuesday, however, Valenzuela denied that he had ever made such a request, arguing that "a general never asks for the move of his station." He did, however, affirm that he had been asked his opinion and he had acknowledged that the high cost of living for civilian employees is one of the reasons taken into consideration to move the unit.

"I am a very sincere person, and I care a lot for my soldiers. I have soldiers living here on food stamps and others that have been forced to move their families to the states because the cost of living here is to high; it is higher than in Guam, Hawaii, or Alaska," Valenzuela.

Fort Buchanan is located in Guaynabo, where the value of real estate property is one of the highest on the island.

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