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PDP: Rossello Has A Lot To Explain, He Offers Pro-Environment Development Plan…Archbishop Urges Votes Of Conscience…Crime-Fighting Ads Called Political…Grievance Filed Against Santini Campaign

PDP: Rossello Has A Lot To Explain

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

March 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
WOW News. All rights reserved.

Popular Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila’s only statement concerning the controversy surrounding his main contender’s residency during 2001 and 2002 is that he has a lot of explaining to do.

"Regarding the controversy that has surfaced concerning information released by a television network, the only thing that I will say is that this is a very serious allegation; if someone puts lies on his income tax form, especially when he was governor and wants to be elected governor again, it can be taken lightly, Pedro Rossello has a lot of explaining to do," said Acevedo Vila during a brief appearance before the press on Tuesday at PDP headquarters in Puerta de Tierra before his return to Washington D.C.

Acevedo Vila noted that as Resident Commissioner living in both Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, his primary tax responsibility is to the Commonwealth; as such, he has filed income tax forms in both the mainland and the island.

Acevedo Vila also declined comment on the possibility of challenging Rossello’s gubernatorial candidacy in the courts as New Progressive Party Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Shatz had urged the PDP to do on Tuesday.

Prior to the Resident Commissioner’s statements, House majority alternate leader Rep. Hector Ferrer showed the media copies of the income tax forms that must be filed by residents and non- residents of Virginia. In doing so, he tried to show Rossello’s intent of deceiving the local Treasury Department to avoid paying taxes, it wasn’t that Rossello made a mistake in marking whether he was a resident or not, because the former governor filed a residents form.

"We are not talking about making a mistake in marking the wrong box on a form; it was that he willingly filed the tax form for residents of the state of Virginia," Ferrer said, showing the forms: Form 760 is for residents and form 763 for nonresidents.

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico states that only a person who is 35 years or older, a U.S. citizen, and a resident of Puerto Rico for the five consecutive years previous to the election, can run for governor of the island.

But the State Elections Commission certified Rossello as a valid candidate for the governor’s seat.

For this reason NPP urged the PDP to file a complaint before the SEC or challenge Rossello’s candidacy in court.

Arguing that there are "many legal options" to challenge Rossello’s candidacy, Ferrer said the PDP should not do so.

He said the people of Puerto Rico will be the judge of Rossello’s credibility when the votes are cast in November.

Rossello Presents Pro-Environment Development Plan

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

March 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004
WOW News. All rights reserved.

New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello said on Monday that should he become governor, he would make sure that Puerto Rico gets started on an environment-friendly plan to become an island city.

"We are proposing the development of Puerto Rico from coast to coast," Rossello said during a press conference at the party headquarters in Hato Rey.

Rossello's plan will consist of four main areas: the acquisition and preservation of green areas and natural reserves; the development and revitalization of urban and rural areas; infrastructure development; and the division of the island into specialized districts.

The first point of Rossello’s plan includes the creation and preservation of green areas that will act as buffer zones along highways and between urban areas. Rossello also plans to create a Grand Park in Puerto Rico.

The plan’s second element involves improving infrastructure and natural resources within urban and rural communities.

The third point will include the simultaneous development of the Urban Train expansion to Carolina and Caguas, the creation of an island-wide train, the transshipment port in Roosevelt Roads, seven superaqueducts, and the expansion of cable TV, satellite TV, and high-speed internet service throughout the island.

The fourth point of Rossello’s plan will consist in dividing Puerto Rico into financial districts, commercial districts, high-tech districts, agriculture districts, and eco-tourism districts.

Rossello acknowledged that "new Puerto Rico" he has in mind would take time to develop. However, he assured the press that the projects will be underway in four years.

"We can expect this plan to be established during a four-year term," Rossello said.

The former governor added that his plan will be possible through a concerted effort from private and public sectors.

As an example, Rossello mentioned the gas plant and charcoal plant that were built with private funds in Peñuelas and Guayama, respectively during his past administration. He said the two plants now constitute a source of energy that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority uses to meet the demands of island residents.

Archbishop Urges People To Vote With The Future In Mind

March 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Voters should exercise their right to vote in November thinking about the island’s future in order to leave behind the corruption of the past, San Juan Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves said.

"Corruption is one of the big problems and tragedies that our people have faced in recent years. We have to go down new roads to leave corruption behind and create a more decent living for Puerto Rico’s people," Gonzalez said.

"Every election is important. It would be a great tragedy if apathy were to take over and the general election’s results were to reveal something other than the true will of the people," Gonzalez said.

The top leader of the Roman Catholic Church in San Juan urged candidates to participate in a clean campaign, promoting dialogue, tolerance, respect, diversity, culture, education, and peace.

Ads Talking About Harmony, Peace Become Latest Crime-Fighting Tool

Ray Quintanilla

March 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- In the 1970s, the rock band Cheap Trick released an album titled Dream Police and the lead song went something like this:

"The dream police, they live inside of my head. The dream police, they come to me in my bed. The dream police, they're coming to arrest me, oh no."

This is, in large measure, the basis for Puerto Rico's latest plan to reduce a crime wave that's run amok. And when it's over, the effort will surely be remembered as either a stroke of brilliance -- a 21st-century approach to fighting crime -- or one of the biggest mistakes on record.

Gov. Sila Calderón plans to spend $10 million on a new advertising campaign that is based upon using the power of suggestion to lower crime. It follows this logic: If messages on television glorify crime and influence children to carry out crimes, then perhaps messages of harmony and peace can do the same thing and help reduce crime.

Her plan, called "Puerto Rico at Peace," will underscore good citizenship and harmony across the island's 3.8 million residents -- especially the youth, who are helping to drive one of the island's worst crime waves in recent memory.

In all, the governor plans to develop 10 ads that will air sometime in the next few weeks and continue until the fall. Funds for the campaign will come from the island's electric utility company, the highway authority and insurance interests on the island, according to its proponents.

But as one might expect, early reaction on the island has been negative. Some political leaders have called it wasteful and an attempt to influence the fall elections.

There are even threats of lawsuits and other warnings if public funds are used.

It may be that Calderón is the right person, acting at the right time, to put this kind of unconventional effort into action.

She's not running for re-election, and has nothing to lose. The plan's opponents call it too costly: Why waste money that is needed to build medical facilities or improve public infrastructure?

The governor's office responds by asking: What is a human life worth? Ask the families of the more than 165 people who have been killed here so far in 2004.

The pace of homicides on the island is far ahead of last year. And some suggest it might set a record by year's end.

Like most major metropolitan areas, police here have tried just about everything and crime continues to grow.

This year, police officers got raises, and new squad cars were purchased. A "get-tough" new chief was hired, and he's been busy making major arrests across then island and boosting police presence in high-crime areas.

There's even $400,000 that has been set aside to pay informants for tips to help police solve crimes.

How the ad campaign would be evaluated is a bit fuzzy. But here's what is most important about that: when it becomes an issue, Calderón will be out of office.

Cheap Trick made a fortune from its album. Perhaps, Puerto Rico's version of the "Dream Police" will have the good fortune of saving lives.

Complaint Filed Against Santini Campaign

March 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – On Friday Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) filed a complaint against New Progressive Party San Juan mayor Jorge Santini for violations to the electoral law.

PIP Electoral Commissioner Juan Dalmau asked the State Elections Commissions Advertising Regulatory Board to order Santini to stop using the phrases "More Health, More Santini" on billboards promoting the municipality’s health program.

"Santini’s electoral campaign is taking advantage of municipal campaigns," said Dalmau.

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