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Rossello Rebuts Acevedo Vila & Calderon On Taxes, Pension… Berrios Says Court Challenge Could Benefit Rossello, He’s Unfazed By Suit…PDP Begins Media Campaign…NPP: PPD Opposes Legislative Reform… Ferrer Sees No Future In Lawsuit Against Rossello’s Candidacy, NPP Leaders Agree

Rossello Insists That He Was Employed By ASSMCA

April 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — The former governor Pedro Rossello insisted on Thursday that he had worked for the Mental Health & Anti-Addiction Services Administration (ASSMCA by its Spanish acronym) during the summers of 1962 through 1964, which allowed him to complete the 30 years of public service required to receive a full pension.

Today, Health Department Secretary Johnny Rullan opened an investigation of ex- ASSMCA Human Resources Director Carmen Haddock, who had presented evidence to the effect that Rossello had been hired by the agency.

"If he looks at his records, he will see that I worked those summers. The information must be in his records. It is his oversight if he can’t find them. The truth is that I worked there," said the New Progressive Party leader.

Rossello insisted that he will not present any evidence that he signed contracts with the agency unless charges are brought against him and he is required to do so by investigating authorities.

He said prior to being conferred a pension, the Administrator of Retirement Systems, Andres Barbeito, also evaluated his work as governor and as employee of the University of Puerto Rico’s Medical School in San Juan.

After receiving ASSMCA certification in December 2000, Rossello completed the nine months of work he needed to obtain the full pension awarded for 30 years of public service. Because of this, he will $52,900 annually. Retirees who work less then 30 years have their pensions reduced by at least $18,900 annually.

Rullan questioned how Rossello obtained ASSMCA certification at a time when all service contracts were handled by the Health Department and when the agencies were closed and not handling personnel matters.

Rossello Summoned To Clear Up Taxes Controversy

April 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — On Wednesday, Popular Democratic Party President, Anibal Acevedo Vila, called on the former governor Pedro Rossello to disclose his Virginia tax returns and to produce evidence that he is entitled to the pension he currently receives.

According to Acevedo Vila, it is obvious that Rossello has to clarify issues regarding his taxes and his pension.

"You have the evidence: They are your forms, your tax returns, and your pension. My paperwork is fine, but I have to ask myself if you can say the same thing," said Acevedo Vila to Rossello.

Rossello claimed that he worked for the Mental Health & Anti-Addiction Services Administration (ASSMCA by its Spanish acronym) during the summers of 1962 through 1964 With 30 years of public service, he is eligible for a full pension.

The secretary of the Health Department, Johnny Rullan, has called on the former director of Human Resources at ASSMCA, Carmen Haddock, to present the proof that led her to claim that Rossello had been an employee of the agency.

Rossello has refused to present evidence regarding his contract with the agency unless charges are brought against him and he is forced by the investigating authorities to do so.

He also refuses to disclose his Virginia tax returns unless the governor, Sila M. Calderon, discloses hers.

Rossello’s Virginia tax returns became the center of controversy when it was discovered that he declared himself a nonresident of Puerto Rico on his local 2001-2002 tax returns, but later submitted contradictory information to the State Elections Commission.

Gov. Demands That Rossello Discloses Income Tax Reports

March 31, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon urged New Progressive Party gubernatorial

candidate Pedro Rossello to stop making excuses to avoid disclosing the state income tax reports he filed in Virginia and Massachusetts.

On Tuesday, Rossello said he would disclose his income tax reports only if required by the court or if Calderon disclosed hers.

The former governor criticized Calderon for not wanting to disclose information regarding the trusteeship and offshore accounts that he claimed she has.

"That man shouldn’t be hiding behind other people, let alone behind me, to avoid the obligation he has to disclose his income tax reports," Calderon said during an event in Ponce on Wednesday.

Calderon said the information about her trusteeship has been filed at the Government Ethics Office since she was the mayor of San Juan. She also said she has made all the income tax reports she has filed since she became an elected official public.

However, she denied ever having offshore accounts.

Challenge Could Turn Out To Be Beneficial For Rossello

March 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — On Tuesday, Ruben Berrios, president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, said that the lawsuit that challenges Pedro Rossello’s candidacy could prove to be beneficial for the New Progressive Party leader.

"This controversy could convert Rossello into a martyr," Berrios said in a press conference.

He emphasized that if the courts deem Rossello’s candidacy unconstitutional, it would deprive the people of the opportunity to pass their judgment on the candidate.

"Voters should have the opportunity to pass judgment on him", he said.

Last week, Jose Emilio Perez Guzman, a Puerto Rico resident, filed a lawsuit in which he contests the legality of Rossello’s bid for governor.

In his lawsuit, Perez Guzman maintains that Rossello doesn’t comply with the law that requires candidates to be official residents of Puerto Rico for at least five straight years prior to running for governor.

After leaving office in 2001, Rossello moved to the U.S. to work and study.

New Progressive Party Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz has requested that the case be dismissed, arguing that it is waste of time.

Rivera Schatz maintains that after the State Elections Commission certified Rossello’s candidacy, there was a limit of 10 days in which people could contest the certification.

Rossello Ready To Face Up Any Challenges To His Candidacy

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

March 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello said on Tuesday he wasn’t afraid of anyone who dare challenge his candidacy based on the issue regarding his official place of residence.

"I have nothing to fear and I don’t see any possibility of that happening," said Rossello when asked whether he was worried that the court would rule against him in the legal action that private citizen Jose Emilio Perez Guzman filed last week to challenge his candidacy.

Perez Guzman has claimed that Rossello’s candidacy doesn’t comply with the constitutional requirement of being a bona fide Puerto Rico resident for the past five years.

Rossello has reiterated that, although he did file income taxes in 2001 and 2002 as a non-resident of the island, Puerto Rico has always remained his official place of residence. He also said that while it is true that he purchased a home in Virginia and taught at a university, he always retained his Puerto Rico address as his official address.

When asked whether he would disclose the state income tax reports he filed during the two years he lived on the U.S. mainland to prove that he didn’t benefit from any tax exemptions, Rossello said he would do so only if the court required him to do it.

He also underlined the fact that the public already has access to the income tax reports he has filed in Puerto Rico since 1978, including the federal income tax reports he filed while living on the U.S. mainland.

"The record is clear. I am not going to play their games," Rossello said referring to the opposition’s constant demand to explain all his financial statements.

Rossello called the legal suit as an act of desperation from the governing Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and his contender Anibal Acevedo Vila, who he said is lagging behind in the gubernatorial race.

Rossello made his statements during a press conference on Tuesday at the NPP headquarters in Hato Rey to present an infrastructure plan he intends to implement if he becomes governor in 2005. The 10-year plan has been estimated at $7.5 billion.

Popular Democratic Party Begins Media Campaign

March 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) —Popular Democratic Party (PPD) candidate for governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila, starts television ad campaigns.

Under the motto "Positive Revolution", Acevedo Vila’s television ads will focus on education, economic development, and crime, said PPD secretary general Anibal Jose Torres on Tuesday.

"The ads emphasize the need for a positive revolution with new ideas that will help to build a better Puerto Rico", indicated Torres.

"As the TV spots state, economic development, creation of jobs, and cracking down on crime are three of Acevedo Vila’s priorities, who will begin to elaborate on these themes and others during coming weeks", added Torres.

Torres reminded that Electoral Law permits the use of electoral funds for campaigns and candidates’ expenses between January 1 and June 30 of the election year.

NPP: PPD Lawmakers Have No Will To Work On Legislative Reform

March 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — New Progressive Party (NPP) legislators on Monday accused the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) majority of lacking the will necessary to approve a legislative reform and apply it to the current legislature.

"They don’t have the will because they don’t believe in a legislative reform," NPP House minority leader Anibal Vega Borges said.

"It is now up to the soon-to-be-elected House of Representatives to talk about legislative reform... If they really wanted to turn the legislature into a single chamber they would have asked the people in 2001, 2002, or 2003," said Vega Borges.

Vega Borges who is running for mayor of Toa Baja in the upcoming elections in November said the majority is discussing the issue of a single chamber just to get the sympathy of the voters but he claimed that in reality there is no intention to do so.

Senate minority leader Kenneth McClintock said the PDP proposal to call for a referendum for the people to decide if they want a single chamber system or not is an "act of panic in light of the general elections."

NPP lawmakers insisted that they will not vote in favor of any initiative that does not affect the current legislature.

Neither lawmaker expressed an opinion regarding the single chamber system alleging that they will discuss their own proposals for legislative reform with NPP Party President Pedro Rossello.

Ferrer Sees No Future In Lawsuit Against Rosello

March 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — The House of Representative alternative majority leader, Hector Ferrer anticipated that the lawsuit, initiated by a citizen, to challenge Pedro Rosello’s candidacy for governor, will be dismissed.

Ferrer, who is also a lawyer, said the lawsuit was prematurely filed, given that the decision of whether or not a person fulfills the constitutional requirements to be Governor should be made after that person is elected and not while he is still a candidate.

"In the legal aspect, I believe that the lawsuit is going to be dismissed during the next few days," said Ferrer during an interview with The Associated Press.

A member of the new Civil Action Party filed a motion on Friday in the First Instance Court of San Juan challenging the candidacy of Pedro Rosello, claiming that the former governor does not fulfill the constitutional requirement of having lived in Puerto Rico during the five years prior to the election, which will take place on November 2.

Court Motion Challenges Ex-Puerto Rican Gov Re-Election Bid

March 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)--An islander filed a court motion on Friday challenging former Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Rossello's bid for re-election as unconstitutional since he wasn't a Puerto Rico resident for all of the last five years.

Pro-statehood candidate Rossello has been a leading contender ahead of the Nov. 2 ballot. He led the U.S. territory in 1993-2000, after which he lived several years in Virginia and Massachusetts.

The motion, filed by 52-year-old technician Jose Emilio Perez Guzman, said Rossello shouldn't be allowed to run since the island's constitution requires candidates be residents for five years prior to coming to power.

"The motion's intention is to obligate Rossello and the political parties to respect our constitution," Perez Guzman said. "I don't have a good opinion of Rossello, but if he had lived here for the last five years, then he would be within his right to aspire to the government."

Superior Court Judge Oscar Davila set a court hearing for the motion on Tuesday.

Rossello is the leader of the New Progressive Party, which supports Puerto Rico's becoming a full U.S. state. His main competition comes from Anibal Acevedo Vila of the current Gov. Sila Calderon's Popular Democratic Party, which supports the territory's maintaining its current commonwealth status.

Between 2000 and 2003, Rossello lived in Vienna, Virginia, while working as a university lecturer at George Washington University in Washington. He also lived in Boston.

On his tax returns for 2001 and 2002, Rossello declared himself a nonresident of Puerto Rico.

He declared himself a resident over the last five years, however, in his application to the Central Electoral Commission, which certified his candidacy.

"He is running within the law," the party's electoral representative, Thomas Rivera Schatz said. "We are calm and confident."

Rossello himself hasn't commented on the motion.

At least 21 officials from his administration have been convicted of corruption.

NPP’s Key Leaders: Rossello’s Candidacy Will Prevail

March 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — New Progressive Party (NPP) Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz requested the dismissal of a legal petition filed by a private citizen on Friday to challenge the constitutionality of Pedro Rossello’s gubernatorial candidacy.

A few hours after Jose Emilio Perez challenged Rossello’s candidacy at the San Juan Superior Court, Rivera Schatz announced that the NPP had requested the dismissal of such petition.

"We are ready to prove that Rossello complies with all legal requirements," Rivera Schatz said in radio reports.

Rivera Schatz also explained that the petition is invalid because it should have been filed within 10 days of Rossello’s certification at the State Elections Commission.

Perez claims that Rossello doesn’t fulfill the constitutional requirement of being a bona fide resident of the island for the past five years in order to run for governor.

"The evidence is clear. Rossello himself has admitted that he was not living here. This case shouldn’t be a problem," Perez said upon his exit from the court.

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