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Federal Funds Head Start Deficiencies To Be Corrected…New VA Hospital Sought…Burgos Files 10 Legislative Reform Bills… Navy To Transfer Beach To Ceiba …Trial Of NPP Leaders Set For Feb. 3rd …Oldest Living Veteran Honored…Luis Muñoz Marin Foundation Honors Alegria

Acevedo Vila: Family Will Comply With Corrective Plan

November 13, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Carolina — Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila said on Tuesday the Family Department will submit by the end of the month its plan to correct the deficiencies detected in the administration of federal funds for Head Start federal funds in 2000 and 2001.

Acevedo Vila said the agency already has hired the companies that will prepare the audits for 2002 and 2003, the first of which should be ready by February.

The resident commissioner added that during the past administration, both the Family and U.S. Health departments were negligent in the supervision of these federal funds.

He added that more than 36,000 children living in low-income communities on the island benefit from the educational and health services offered in more than 700 Head Start centers in Puerto Rico.

Acevedo Vila also highlighted a $46.4 million increase in Head Start funds for Puerto Rico since 2000, representing a 20% increase in the past three years.

Puerto Rico receives more than $225 million a yearly for the Head Start Program. The funds are managed and distributed among 48 governmental entities, 21 which are under the Family Department, which manages $113 million of that allocation.

Need For New P.R. Veterans Hospital Acknowledged

November 12, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila and Veterans Department Deputy Secretary Jacob Lozada acknowledges the need for a new Veterans Hospital on the island.

Acevedo Vila said Puerto Rican veterans make use of Veterans Hospital medical services more frequently than veterans in other U.S. jurisdictions and said the current facilities are inadequate.

Lozada, for his part, pointed out that resolving the lack of technology in the services offered is one of the priorities.

According to published reports, the commissioner suggested the new hospital could be constructed at the Sabana Seca Naval Base, where the transfer of main National Guard headquarters also has been proposed, as an alternative when the military base ceases operations in January.

Burgos Files Ten Bills Aimed At Establishing The Legislative Reform

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

November 12, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Arguing that the time for evaluation is over and action must be take New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Norma Burgos filed on Tuesday ten bills aimed at establishing a radical Legislative Reform.

The bills include legislation to eliminate the use of official vehicles by the legislators and substituting it for a car allowance, eliminating the right of legislators to earn income from outside their duties, eliminating the tax exemption right that currently applies to the expenses payment, eliminating the pork barrel funds, and force the floor to approve official trips.

Burgos acknowledged that right upfront, her bills could be rejected but urged fellow legislators to give them a chance, evaluate them before disregarding them.

She added that if there is an opportunity to have a Legislative Reform it should be a complete one.

"The time to submit ideas is over what we need to do is submit legislation," Burgos said.

At present, a special committee in the House is evaluating proposals for the Legislative Reform. It was recently the center of a controversy when House Secretary Nestor Duprey made public his suggestions, similar to that of Burgos, of eliminating official vehicles and mobile funds, as well as the meal checks.

The Senate refused to be part of the special committee, and according to Burgos no ideas or proposals have been presented.

Burgos said legislators should not have the right to a car paid entirely by the people when they also use it for personal purposes. Therefore she suggested a $500 monthly car allowance for legislators. The amount, she added could be discussed, but she noted her figure was more than fare.

"Why should I have a car paid by the people, when I use it to go shopping, to go to church, to go to the theater, that is not fair, $500 is more than enough. If I want a more expensive car, I will pay for it with my funds," Burgos said.

One of her proposed legislations is aimed at controlling the use of public funds for the senator’s official trips, something for which the senate has been criticized harshly in recent days.

Burgos suggested that just as it is done in the House, it be the members of the Senate in the floor who approve a trip, and once that trip is completed the participant senators must file a report before the floor explaining the benefits of it.

The NPP senator made clear that her own policy is not to participate in any official trip and the NPP caucus has approved her decision.

"It is very difficult to criticize the Popular Democratic Party, when my peers in the caucus are doing the same," Burgos said.

U.S. Navy To Transfer Beach To Ceiba

November 12, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The U.S. Navy transferred to the Ceiba municipality administration of the beach known as Los Machos, where public beach facilities will be developed with parking for 200 vehicles.

The project will be constructed on the 165 acres that the Navy already has negotiated to transfer to the municipality, according to published report.

However, approval of the transfer is still pending authorization from Congress, an effort Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila said would be easy to obtain since Navy Secretary Gordon England already recommended the initiative.

The military will be in charge of obtaining the permits for the construction and the municipality will contribute the design and construction material, at a cost of $400,000.

Trial Of NPP Leaders Set For Feb. 3

November 12, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The trial of New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos I. Pesquera and three other NPP leaders, accused of rioting in the Women’s Advocate Office June 20, was scheduled for Feb. 3.

On Dec. 10, a hearing is scheduled to address defense’s request to dismiss the charges.

NPP Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz, NPP Rep. Edwin Mundo Rios, and former legislator Leo Diaz Urbina also face rioting charges for their attempt to place a U.S. flag along with the Puerto Rican flag in the Women’s Advocate Office lobby.

Superior Court Judge Fernando Gierbolini Boreli presided over Tuesday’s process, in which the new dates were determined.

Pesquera reaffirmed upon his exit from the court that he doesn’t expect to be found guilty.

"I feel very good, and we are confident that at the end of this process everything will be all right, everything will be cleared up, and all this will be in the past," Pesquera said.

The NPP leader affirmed he didn’t commit any crime and reaffirmed that this process is part of the government’s political persecution campaign against opposition leaders.

Although the trial was initially scheduled to begin today [Tuesday], Judge Gierbolini had previously agreed to postponed it until January 2003 to allow evidence to be presented, a process that wasn’t concluded in October.

The defense attorneys haven’t said if they will choose to have a trial by jury.

Oldest Living Veteran In Puerto Rico Honored In Parade

November 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002 EFE. All rights reserved. 

Isabela, Puerto Rico- Puerto Rico's oldest living veteran, a 111-year-old man who served in the U.S. Army during World War I, was the grand marshal of the Veterans Day parade in this northern Puerto Rican town.

The honor went to Emiliano Mercado del Toro, who was born on Aug. 21, 1891, in Cabo Rojo. At the age of 25, he was recruited by the U.S. military to serve in World War I.

Mercado del Toro told EFE that he clearly remembered the invasion of Puerto Rico by U.S. soldiers in July 1898, when he was seven years old, ending four centuries of Spanish rule over the Caribbean island.

On Monday, when Veteran's Day is celebrated in the United States to honor the country's soldiers, Mercado del Toro led the parade, wearing the uniform of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization and riding in a vintage convertible.

DAV president Josue Cruz Sanchez said the ceremony was in homage to Mercado del Toro, in recognition of being the oldest veteran in Puerto Rico and possibly in the entire United States.

Mercado del Toro told EFE he felt satisfied with the honor and mentioned that among the rewards, he was given his favorite drink, coffee.

"I feel good, what I felt like doing was drinking coffee and they gave it to me, so I feel good," the veteran commented, smiling.

He told EFE that, although he was mobilized to participate in the Great War, he never saw combat since the armistice in Paris, which ended the war, was signed a just few months after he was recruited.

He explained that when World War I ended, he was with a group of soldiers in Panama training for combat.

Luis Muñoz Marin Foundation Honors Ricardo Alegria

November 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Historian and founder of the Puerto Rican Culture Institute Ricardo Alegria received the Luis Muñoz Marin Medal in recognition of his life achievements.

The ceremony was presided over by Governor and Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President Sila Calderon, according to published reports.

Calderon praised Alegria’s life and work describing it as a true national treasure.

The governor also referred to him as a special person dedicated with total devotion to value what we are: our culture, our traditions, our literature, and our music.

Hector Luis Acevedo, Victoria Muñoz Mendoza and Anibal Acevedo Vila, former PDP presidents were also present at the ceremony. Former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon was not present.

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