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Fed Aid For Poor Students Up $83.5m… Rodriguez Dismayed About Student Murder Case, Union Demands Permanence Of School Guard Corps…2 U.S. Senators Endorse Rossello, Justice Won’t Investigate His Pension Case…Polytechnic Opens Orlando Campus…Forecast: 3 Intense Hurricanes In 2004…So. Command Home Port Shift

Fed Aid For Poor Students Up $83.5m


April 5, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Eleven states will get less federal money for poor students next school year, while the 39 other states and the District of Columbia will get more, new figures show.

Puerto Rico also is affected by use of the new estimates, gaining $83.5 million.

The dollar changes come about for two reasons: the use of new estimates of where poor students live, and overall spending increases in the federal aid program known as Title I.

Under law, the Education Department is supposed to use the most current, reliable population data available in determining how to distribute more than $12 billion. So the agency has plugged in census data released last year, reflecting family incomes in 2000.

Federal spending on Title I hit a record $12.3 billion for the next school year, up more than $650 million in one year. But $18.5 billion was authorized under Bush's education law.

The federal money is meant to help disadvantaged kids in reading, math and other subjects.

States [that] will see sizable gains in funding, including Arizona, California, Florida, New York and Texas.

Anabelle Rodriguez Dismayed About Student Murder Case

April 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez expressed her dismay at the decision to try the suspected murderer of Jason Melendez as a minor and to charge him with second-degree murder.

She said nonetheless that she respects the decision and will consider other options in the weeks to come.

"We are certain that the crime was nothing less than second-degree murder," added Rodriguez

Judge Susana Serrano ruled on Thursday that the defendant should be judged for a mistake, not a crime.

"We respect the decision, but we disagree," added Rodriguez.

The Attorney General’s office attended the Thursday hearing with the recommendation that the suspect be tried as an adult; three witnesses testified to that effect, but the judge found no merit in their arguments.

If found guilty, the suspect could be back on the street in six years.

The defendant, who was on probation for a drug charge, stabbed Jason in the heart in between class periods at Jose Padin Middle School in Salinas.

Union Leader Demands Permanence Of School Guard Corps

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

April 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

The Puerto Rican Workers Union (SPT by its Spanish acronym) urged the Legislature on Friday to not replace the school guard corps with state police officers in island public schools.

SPT President Roberto Pagan and Israel Marrero, president of the Education Department’s Maintenance, Surveillance, & Conservation Chapter, claimed that the plan proposed by the administration of Gov. Sila Calderon is no more than a show to convince people that the government is doing something to fight school violence.

The leaders oppose Senate bill 2472, which would allow state police to carry weapons inside public schools to prevent violent incidents such as the recent murders of a teacher and a student at two separate schools.

"What they should do is guarantee the jobs of those guards," Marrero said during a press conference at the Capitol on Friday. He added that the program, which involves units that are specialized in working with children and teenagers in crime prevention and conflict mediation, should be expanded, not eliminated.

The school guard corps was created in 1985 by Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon’s administration. Though they are not authorized to carry weapons, the guards receive three months of training at the Puerto Rico Police Academy.

The SPT, which represents these guards as employees of the Education Department, said the corps has shrunk from more than 600 guards to 255.

Pagan said none of the fatal events that have recently been reported occurred at facilities where school guards work.

Rodriguez: Federal Support For Rossello On The Rise

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

April 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Charlies Rodriguez, who is the link between New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello and the U.S. Democratic Party, announced on Friday that two important Democratic senators have endorsed Rossello’s candidacy this week.

Rodriguez said the endorsements of Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) prove that each day Rossello is being recognized as the candidate with better chances of becoming governor of Puerto Rico.

"Time and time again, members of the U.S. Congress have looked at Pedro Rossello as the true leader of Puerto Rico. These endorsements didn’t happen by accident. These senators have seen Rossello’s plan, they know what he has done in the past, and they believe he is the best choice for Puerto Rico," Rodriguez said during a press conference at the NPP headquarters in Hato Rey.

Rodriguez read a few of the statements of Bayh and Landrieu, both of whom have continued to refer to the NPP gubernatorial candidate as Gov. Rossello.

"Gov. Rossello is a leader with a record of experience, vision, and commitment that is the right combination for the people of Puerto Rico," Landrieu said in a prepared statement.

"Gov. Rossello has proved he has the vision to fight crime and bring the people of Puerto Rico the feeling of safety in the streets and hope for the future," said Bayh in a press release.

Rodriguez added that even Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX) who belongs to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus–of which Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate and Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila is also a member–has expressed himself in favor of a political formula that is different from the status quo, currently defended by the PDP.

"I would hope that, in terms of looking at the issue of both independence and statehood, those should be the only two available options. As long as that third option is there, we should not be supportive of it because it only supports the issue of a second-class-type of operation we shouldn’t be supporting at this point in time," the congressman said back in 2001.

Justice Department Won’t Investigate Rossello’s Case

By Istra Pacheco of Associated Press

April 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN — Secretary of Justice, Anabelle Rodriguez, doesn’t plan to investigate the certification that allowed former governor Pedro Rossello to claim a full pension reserved for those who work 30 years in public service. Some have accused him of obtaining this certification illegally.

Rodriguez has the authority to open an investigation on the matter but said that she won’t do so at this time.

"That is a decision I would have to make with the attorney general…but I don’t foresee that happening for now," said Rodriguez in a meeting with reporters.

Thanks to a certificate issued in 2000 by the Mental Health & Anti-Addiction Services Administration (ASSMCA by its Spanish acronym), Rossello had the documentation needed to say he had worked a full 30 years. Otherwise, he would have been nine months short and ineligible to collect the $52,900 annual pension.

Those who work less than 30 years have their pension cut by at least $18,900 per year.

On Wednesday, Johnny Rullan, secretary of the Health Department, started investigating the former director of Human Resources at ASSMCA, Carmen Haddock. She had to answer questions under oath as to what criteria she used to claim that Rossello had been an agency employee during the summers of 1962, 1963, and 1964.

Rodriguez pointed out should there be any proof that his documents were falsified, the perpetrator could still be charged because under the penal code, it is considered a serious offense which carries a five-year prison sentence.

Rullan ordered the investigation after he tried to find documentation of Rossello’s contracts in the ASSMCA and Health Department archives.

"There is nothing in the Health Department that can substantiate the claim that Rossello had a contract with ASSMCA," said Rullan.

The former governor insists that he worked for ASSMCA during the summers of 1962 through 1964, which means he worked for 30 years in public service.

However, he has refused to show his contracts unless an official inquiry is opened and the authorities ask him to do so.

College Opens Branch Campus

From Sentinel staff reports

April 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

ORLANDO -- Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico has opened an Orlando branch campus. Registration for summer business courses is now open, an official said.

The campus will offer bachelor's and master's degree programs in computer, business and engineering sciences.

The school, founded in 1966, graduates the second-highest number of Hispanic engineers in the United States and hopes to enroll as many as 150 students annually in Orlando, spokeswoman Viola Anguiano said.

For more information, call 407-677-5661.

Forecast: 14 Named Storms, 3 Intense Hurricanes In 2004

April 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

FORT COLLINS, Colorado (AP) - The Atlantic Ocean will probably see 14 named storms this year, eight of them hurricanes and three of them intense hurricanes, a storm researcher said Friday.

The revised forecast by William Gray and his team at Colorado State University includes one more named storm than the previous forecast.

The long-term average is about 10 named storms, including six hurricanes. Of those, two are "intense" hurricanes, defined as those with sustained wind of at least 111 mph (179 kph) .

The Colorado State team also warned the chances of at least one intense hurricane making landfall in the United States is 71 percent, much higher than the long-term average of 52 percent.

For the East Coast, the probability of an intense hurricane making landfall is 52 percent, compared with a long-term average of 31 percent.

For the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to Brownsville, Texas, the probability is 40 percent, compared with a long-term average of 30 percent, Gray's team said.

Higher hurricane numbers over the past seven to nine years indicate the United States has entered a period of increased storms that will last two or three decades, said Philip Klotzbach, an atmospheric research scientist and a member of the forecast team.

The Atlantic hurricane names for 2004 are: Alex, Bonnie, Charley, Danielle, Earl, Frances, Gaston, Hermine, Ivan, Jeanne, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie and Walter.

Home Port Shift

March 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

The Florida Times-Union

Rear Adm. Vinson E. Smith, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, hoisted his flag Tuesday for the first time at Mayport Naval Station.

Smith's arrival at the naval station signified the home port shift of the Southern Command headquarters from Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico to Mayport. An official change of home port and flag breaking ceremony to commemorate the event will be April 23.

"Mayport is an ideal location for our headquarters since most of the ships that deploy and operate in our area of responsibility are home ported right here," Smith said. "Given the high quality of life and strong community support for the Navy, Mayport was a great choice."

Smith and his 70-member staff are in charge of all U.S. Navy personnel and assets operating in the Southern Command area of responsibility, which includes the Caribbean Sea, eastern Pacific Ocean and south Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to operational command and control of naval forces in the region, the Southern Command is the lead agent for cooperation and training initiatives between the United States and navies from Central and South America and the Caribbean.

While based in Puerto Rico, the Southern Command was also responsible for the administration of the Navy's $40 million Economic Development Fund for Vieques, that supported key projects for the island, including airport, road and port improvements, health studies and medical support, mini-grants for small businesses, and natural resource conservation activities.

The Southern Command's move was in compliance with the 2004 Defense Appropriations Act, which directed the Secretary of the Navy to close Roosevelt Roads Naval Station by Wednesday.

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