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Governor To Initiate Status Process In 2003…Pesquera: Cabinet Changes Reflect Criminalization Of Public Servants…Rodriguez Refers Izquierdo To SIP… Acevedo Vila Asks FTC To Reconsider Wal-Mart Approval… Calderon Urged To Discuss Island’s Status…US Investigating Gil Bonar’s Actions

Calderon Expects To Start Status Process Next Year

December 19, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon said Thursday that she expects to begin some kind of status process next year, with or without the consensus that she unsuccessfully sought on the appropriate method to resolve the island’s political situation.

Calderon reacted to a letter sent Wednesday by Sen. Eudaldo Baez Galib, where he asks that she proceed with a discussion of the island’s status with the people and ignore the veto of New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera on the search for consensus.

"There certainly should be a process, and I would like and I plan to start some kind of status process next year," the governor said after announcing improvements to the Bayamon Regional Hospital.

She said she would prefer that the status consultation be achieved with the consensus of all the ideological sectors, although she said "it might be beyond the NPP presidential figure, who has been extremely inflexible in this process."

"It’s true that I have an interest. . .to achieve a consensus to move along the status issue because it concerns all Puerto Ricans of the three ideologies," she said.

Pesquera refused to participate in the Puerto Rican Unity and Consensus Committee that the governor created to seek a method to resolve the island’s status situation.

Pesquera Describes Cabinet Changes As Sign Of Failure

December 19, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera described the latest changes in the government’s cabinet as "the confirmation of Gov. Sila Calderon’s government collapse."

Pesquera reacted to the new appointments made by Calderon in which Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira and Corrections Secretary Victor Rivera Gonzalez exchanged posts and the resignation of Natural & Environmental Resources Secretary Salvador Salas.

The NPP president predicted that there will be more resignations in the Calderon administration, which he described as a sinking ship.

"In the end, the people will understand that the problem is not the team, but its leader," said Pesquera, adding that the people’s expectations are yet to be met.

"Honestly, I don’t know how she [Calderon] can justify this action to the people of Puerto Rico," Pesquera said referring to the changes of agency heads from one post to another, which he described as musical chairs.

The most serious problem that these changes will bring, according to Pesquera, is that no capable public servant is going to be available to work for the government, since this administration has criminalized Puerto Rican public servants.

More Changes In Calderon’s Cabinet

December 19, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

After reiterating that she has had the honor to work with excellent public servants during her tenure, Gov. Sila M. Calderon announced Thursday the lastest round of changes to her cabinet members with four new designations.

Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira will be the new Corrections secretary, while current Corrections Secretary Victor Rivera will be the Puerto Rico Police Superintendent.

"I am grateful to [both] Pereira and Rivera Gonzalez for their availability to serve the poeple of Puerto Rico through this two new designations," the governor said.

"I understand, as governor of Puerto Rico, that it is the best way that we can serve the island," she added.

Calderon also announced that Department of Natural & Evironmental Resources Secretary Salvador Salas (DNER) had resigned for personal reasons. He will return to his position as professor at the Mayaguez campus of the University of Puerto Rico.

The governor announced the appointment of Luis E. Rodriguez, current executive director of the Solid Waste Management Administration (SWMA), to be the new DNER secretary.

Guillermo Riera, who works as the SWMA deputy secretary, was designated as the agency’s new executive director.

Justice Chief Refers Izquierdo To SIP’s Office

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

December 19, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez requested that a Special Independent Prosecutor (SIP) be appointed to investigate Jose Izquierdo, secretary of the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) for possible violations to the Government Ethics Law.

Rodriguez said the investigation resulted from a complaint filed by New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Anibal Vega Borges in April.

According to the Justice chief, Izquierdo failed to request a dispensation when he signed contracts with Rueda y Asociados, an engineering firm which was born from Izquierdo, Rueda y Asociados, the firm which was dissolved before he took office on Jan. 5, 2001.

"Signing contracts with Rueda y Asociados without dispensation could have constituted a technical violation of the Government Ethics Law," Rodriguez said.

On Feb. 13, 2001, the Government Ethics Office had notified Izquierdo of this rule and had even advised him not to participate in the contracting process with Rueda y Asociados.

Nevertheless, Rodriguez said Izquierdo authorized the granting of four contracts to the engineering firm. The contracts were for $76,137.11; $72,192; $49,000, and $299,520 respectively.

The Justice chief added that although Izquierdo was no longer an associate of the firm, he was still in the process of receiving his share from the association which had been dissolved.

Furthermore, the checks which were used to pay for Izquierdo’s share were from Rueda y Asociados.

Rodriguez emphasized that throughout the investigation, the Justice Department found no evidence of misuse or misappropriation of public funds on Izquierdo’s part.

Should Izquierdo be found in violation of the Government Ethics Law, he could face one year in prison or $2,000 fine or both, Rodriguez said.

Acevedo Vila Asks FTC To Reconsider Merger Approval

December 18, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila on Wednesday asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to reconsider the authorization granted to the merger between Amigo Supermarkets and Wal-Mart in a letter sent to FTC Secretary Donald S. Clark.

"The findings included in the report brings serious concerns regarding the impact of the merger on the island’s economy. Based on these findings, I urge the FTC to reconsider his recent approval of the transaction," reads the letter.

According to Acevedo Vila the sale of some of the Amigo stores does not replace the competence that will be lost creating a monopoly in the supermarkets sector.

The Resident Commissioner also requested in his letter, that if the FTC does not repeal the consent granted to the merger, it should at least require Wal-Mart to sell more stores.

Acevedo Vila explained that this is the third communication sent to the FTC regarding the transaction. In the first he requested that the 30-day term granted to submit an analysis of the merger be extended. The second was a follow up and the third was the FTC’s response asking the commissioner for his analysis in writing.

The term to receive commentaries regarding the merger expires on Dec. 20.

Baez Galib Urges Calderon To Discuss Island’s Status

December 18, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Eudaldo Baez Galib on Wednesday urged Gov. Sila Calderon to order the beginning of the discussion of the island’s status with the people and to desist from achieving a consensus among political party leaders.

According to Baez Galib, it has been two years since the PDP began its tenure and is yet to take an affirmative action regarding the discussion of the island’s political future, in part due to the refusal of New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera to participate.

Baez Galib proposal indicates that if by January Pesquera is not willing to hold a meeting regarding the issue, then he should be relieved from his responsibility as a political leader and the process should continue.

"I suggest to obviate the phase of the dialog among political leaders and proceed to take the dialog to the people," the legislator urged Calderon and Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) President Ruben Berrios in a written communication.

Pesquera has affirmed that he will not discuss the status issue with Calderon and Berrios because he considers the discussion is a waist of time if they do not have the U.S. Congress avail.

"Pesquera’s refusal cannot be impediment for the search to reach a consensus," Baez Galib said.

U.S. Justice Department Investigates Gil Bonar’s Actions

December 18, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department initiated an investigation to determine if U.S. Attorney Guillermo Gil Bonar, incited former Education Secretary Victor Fajardo to commit perjury as part of his testimony in the case of over one million-dollars in fraud in the Education Department.

The investigation comes after Gil Bonar decided to withdraw the extortion charges of 10 people accused of participating in the corruption scheme lead by the former secretary, according to published reports.

"We have initiated an investigation regarding the allegations that Guillermo Gil incited Victor Fajardo to commit perjury," said attorney H. Marshall Jarrett, from the Professional Responsibility Office, in a letter sent to local Senator Eudaldo Baez Galib.

The U.S. Justice Department also has for its evaluation a complaint filed by former Pedro Rossello, who accuses Gil Bonar of anti-ethical conduct and political persecution.

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