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81 Games In Puerto Rico?…Pesquera Claims Credit For RR Reprieve…Cruz To Run For Res. Comm… Calderon Ready To Begin Transition Process…Acevedo Vila: New PDP Gubernatorial Candidate, Miranda Marin: Harder To Defeat NPP In ‘04…Rossello Officially Files Candidacy…Hospital Junked…Team USA Crushes P.R.

81 Games In Puerto Rico?


July 16, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved. 

CHICAGO - The Montreal Expos could play their entire home schedule in Puerto Rico next season under a plan being considered by Major League Baseball.

To raise revenue, the commissioner's office moved 22 of the team's 81 home games this season to Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. Baseball has not still come up with a permanent solution for the Expos, who were bought by the other 29 teams before the 2002 season.

While baseball's goal is to have a decision by September, top officials do not feel bound by a deadline. "Puerto Rico has made a proposal to play all 81 home games in Puerto Rico, and it has not been rejected," Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said before the All-Star Game.

Northern Virginia, Portland, Ore., and Washington are all trying to land the Expos on a permanent basis, but baseball owners want to have a complete financing plan for a new ballpark in place before making a decision.

DuPuy said no particular plan was a front-runner at this point, either for a long-term solution or for 2004. "They could play 81 games in any one of a number of locations," he said.

The Expos are averaging 12,206 fans for home games, the lowest in the major leagues. They are averaging 11,133 in Montreal and 14,216 in Puerto Rico, where they have played 16 games. (AP)

Pesquera Claims Credit For RR Reprieve

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

July 15, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera praised the U.S. Senate decision not to include the U.S. House version of the Defense Expense Bill that would have forced the shutdown of the Roosevelt Roads naval base in Ceiba.

Pesquera–who went to Washington D.C. last week to lobby against the closing of the base–also took credit for the Senate’s decision.

"We are very pleased and we acknowledge that our lobbying had a positive effect," Pesquera said during a press conference on Tuesday, while refusing to enter into a controversy as to who should really take credit for the Senate’s decision.

Pesquera made the statement after he was questioned about NPP Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer, who also considered herself a key player in the congressional process that led to the elimination of the wording that called for the closing of the base.

The NPP president, who is also seeking the gubernatorial candidacy for the party, claims to have information confirming that the U.S. Navy is well aware of the value of Roosevelt Roads to the national defense and said he was optimistic that the base will remain open.

According to Pesquera, the closing of Roosevelt Roads means the loss of more than 2,000 jobs and $300 million of annual income for the local economy.

"The closing of the base is damaging to the national defense as well as to the economic stability of Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland," Pesquera said.

The NPP president added that the naval practices conducted in Ceiba cannot be performed anywhere else on the east coast of the U.S. He said the withdrawal of the Navy from Vieques is not reason enough to close the base, arguing that 80% of Roosevelt Roads works independently from the operations that used to be linked to Vieques.

AA General Manager To Run For Resident Commissioner

July 15, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — American Airlines (AA) Caribbean General Manager Enrique Cruz announced Monday evening that he is "seriously" considering running for resident commissioner on the New Progressive Party (NPP)’s ballot for the 2004 general elections.

"I am seriously considering, through a personal analysis that is at its final stage, running for the NPP resident commissioner post," Cruz said while at a political meeting.

Earlier in the afternoon and while filing his candidacy for the governorship, former Gov. Pedro Rossello was asked if his team had approached Cruz to offer him the resident commissioner post, which he announced in the negative.

Cruz, 44, who is also the Professional Baseball League’s president, would run in primaries against former Senate President Charlie Rodriguez and Sen. Miriam Ramirez, who have already filed their candidacies.

Former Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo is expected to submit his on Wednesday.

Cruz, who has also been a board member of several nonprofit organizations, has never been active in politics.

Calderon Ready To Begin Transition Process At PDP

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

July 15, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Gov. Sila Calderon said Tuesday that she’s ready to begin a transition process with Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila at the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and said she will abandon the head of the PDP only after Acevedo Vila is ready.

The PDP General Council endorsed Monday evening the resident commissioner to run for governor in 2004.

"We have not been able to discuss the transition process (between Anibal and I), but I am certain it will be reasonable and organized," said Calderon. "We will make the transition when Anibal decides the time is right."

Calderon also said the PDP has a candidate for governor and that she is focused on being governor and promoting the island’s economic development.

Finally, Calderon welcomed former PDP pre-gubernatorial Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral to join the political campaign in support of Acevedo Vila.

Acevedo Vila: The New PDP Gubernatorial Candidate

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

July 15, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

As expected, the Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) Governing Board and General Council endorsed Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila to run for governor in the 2004 general elections.

In a packed meeting held at the Luis Muñoz Marin room at the PDP on Monday, where people sang verses supporting Acevedo Vila, the party’s president, Gov. Sila Calderon, announced the unanimous endorsement of the resident commissioner for the gubernatorial post.

Calderon praised Acevedo Vila’s performance and said repeatedly that he is willing to serve Puerto Rico.

"I know Anibal very well; he is a fighter and a winner; and he deeply loves his country," added Calderon.

The governor challenged New Progressive Party leaders by saying that "Anibal is a man with experience, a man who does not step back, a man who gives no respite, and who does not give up."

Acevedo Vila replaces Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral, who stepped back from the gubernatorial race last week. The attorney, who withdrew from the race for family reasons, endorsed Acevedo Vila on Monday.

In a meeting that lasted less than two hours, the Governing Board submitted to the General Council a resolution in support of Acevedo Vila. Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora presented a motion endorsing the resolution and House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo and Mayors Association President and Carolina Mayor Jose Aponte de la Torre seconded the motion. The mayors of Ponce and Mayagüez were the great absentees from the meeting.

"I am here, as always. Each time Puerto Rico has needed me, I have been here. Now, I am here and ready to give the PDP another victory," said Acevedo Vila.

The commonwealth leader said he has prepared himself throughout his life to run for governor although he was not looking for that opportunity at this time.

Acevedo Vila committed to continue Calderon’s Special Communities Program, to restructure and decentralize government through the conferral of more power to mayors, and to solve the island’s status.

Calderon, who at some times seemed to not be paying attention to Acevedo Vila’s speech, praised the dialogue and election process held last week, in which nearly 2,700 participated and endorsed Acevedo Vila for the leading post.

She also minimized the poor attendance to the event of PDP followers by saying the mobilization process was done Sunday during the internal election process held at the 78 municipal committees.

The meeting and the press conference concluded around 9 p.m., and Acevedo Vila moved to the PDP outskirts to greet a few dozen of partisans. The festivities were concluded nearly 20 minutes later.

Miranda Marin: Difficult For PDP To Win 2004 Elections

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

July 15, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin endorsed Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila to run for governor on Monday but acknowledged that it will be more difficult for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) to win the general elections in 2004.

Prior his entrance to the Governing Board’s meeting, Miranda Marin praised Acevedo Vila and said he will be elected governor.

However, the mayor said that according to PDP internal polls, Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral had more probabilities to win an election against the New Progressive Party (NPP).

But he also pointed out that his polls in Caguas revealed that any PDP candidate could beat former Gov. Pedro Rossello, who will seek re-election if he results victorious in a primary against NPP President Carlos Pesquera.

Miranda Marin was one of many Popular Democratic Party (PDP) mayors who attended the meeting convoked by Gov. Sila Calderon to select Hernandez Mayoral’s replacement.

Rossello Officially Files Candidacy For Gubernatorial Primary

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

July 14, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Surrounded by an outpouring of enthusiasm from hundreds of sympathizers, former Gov. Pedro Rossello officially filed his candidacy for the gubernatorial primary that will be held in November, when he will challenge New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera to become the official NPP gubernatorial candidate for 2004.

NPP Secretary General William Rosales confirmed that Rossello had complied with all the required documentation to become a candidate.

"I comply with all the requirements. The party, through its Evaluating Committee, has certified that I comply with the requirements," said Rossello with a smile of satisfaction on his face during a press conference at the party headquarters in Santurce.

The former governor arrived at around 4:30 p.m. at the main building which by then was already packed with hundreds of sympathizers chanting slogans like "No more abuse!" and "Rossello, Rossello!".

The main streets of Santurce remained jammed throughout the afternoon, including Las Americas Expressway, where many drivers had parked their cars to root for Rossello.

During the press conference that followed the official filing of his candidacy, the former governor said that he was confident of his party’s victory in the 2004 general elections. While he declined to comment on the nomination of resident commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidacy, Rossello said the NPP would win regardless of who its contenders may be.

Rossello was referring to the PDP bouts of instability, especially after Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral–Gov. Sila Calderon’s designate for the gubernatorial run–announced his withdrawal from the race.

The former governor also used the opportunity to address the issue that now PDP Sen. Sergio Peña Clos has raised against him regarding whether Rossello could run for governor, given the fact that he has been residing in Virginia for the past eight years.

"That has no validity whatsoever. I regard that as a symptom of fear of losing, and those who fear losing, don’t deserve to win," said Rossello, who asserted that he has never stopped being a Puerto Rico resident.

Rossello reiterated his commitment to improve the health reform system that he had created under his eight-year administration, to boost the local economy, and to come up with an education system that is more up to date with technological world we live in.

Accompanying the former governor were Rossello’s Campaign Committee Chairman Juan R. Melecio, Campaign Director Frances Rodriguez, former Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo, former NPP President Leo Diaz, San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini, Canovanas Mayor Jose Soto, as well as many other legislators including NPP Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer, and NPP Rep. Jose Chico.

Hospital Junked

Michael McDonald

July 14, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THOMAS MEDIA INC. All rights reserved. 

The Bond Buyer
Vol. 345, No. 31676

DALLAS -- Mennonite General Hospital's $47.3 million of outstanding bonds were dropped to junk status last week. On Wednesday, Fitch Ratings downgraded the two series of bonds, sold in 1996 and 1997, to BB-plus with a negative outlook from BBB-minus.

Fitch said the 266-bed, two-hospital system is suffering from thin liquidity ratios and poor financial performance, including a $5 million operating loss last year on operating revenues of $71.3 million. It said that Mennonite will likely have a technical rate covenant violation related to debt-service coverage, which was 0.9-times in fiscal 2003.

Fitch said last year's losses were "primarily related to larger-than-expected contractual allowances, inadequate premium pricing on its health plan and increasing supplies expense." The rating agency blamed the weak local economic climate. Mennonite is located in Cayey and Aibonito, where it has strong market share. Standard & Poor's rates the credit BBB-minus and put it on negative outlook last year.

Team USA Crushes Puerto Rico In Quarterfinal Round Opening Game

July 14, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

THESSALONIKI, Greece -- The United States routed Puerto Rico 106-72 Monday behind De Angelo Alexander's 23 points to remain unbeaten in quarterfinal round action at the 2003 FIBA Men's Junior World Championships. at the World Junior Basketball Championships.

The U.S. led the entire way, jumping out to a 17-10 lead in the game's first 6:28. The lead was 27-19 at the end of one quarter, and grew to 48-34 by intermission. The U.S. team pulled away to a 71-50 lead after three quarters, before outscoring Puerto Rico, 35-22, in the final stanza.

The U.S. team is 4-0 in the under-19 tournament. Puerto Rican guard Jose Barea scored 35 points.

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