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Fuste New U.S. District Ct. Court Chief Justice…Vieques Needs Cancer Center…Parks Hopes To Prevail Against Gun Club… Castro Takes Ring On Tour…NPP Willing To Cooperate With U.S. Authorities…Campaign To Ban Partisan Slogans Opens…Acevedo Seeks $9m In Fed Infrastructure Funds

Fuste Sworn In As New U.S. District Court Chief Justice

By Damaris Suarez of Associated Press

April 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN – U.S. District Court Judge Jose A. Fuste was sworn in on Wednesday as the court’s new Chief Justice.

Following a brief ceremony in the presence of his family and several members of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the new Chief Justice said his priorities include turning the U.S. District Court in San Juan into "the best court of the circuit and one that is open to the press."

"This kind of job is always subject to criticism. That is the truth. I don’t know what will happen in one or two years, in terms of the cases that are seen in the court. What it is important is that we deal with the cases as they come and history will be the judge of that," Fuste said.

Fuste acknowledged that there is a general perception that the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico makes decisions solely based on political reasons. However, he said such perception is the result of the political relation with the United States and the idiosyncrasy of Puerto Rican society.

"I can’t change that perception. In Puerto Rico everything is seen from a political viewpoint, but this system maintain a balance and everything that happens here is evaluated by a Circuit Court of Appeals. For me, that is the most sacred thing in the world," Fuste said.

Fuste added that he will begin a campaign to inform people as to the duties and responsibilities of the federal court.

He said the campaign will focus on visiting schools and publishing newspaper columns on the subject.

National Parks Service Hopes To Prevail Against Gun Club

April 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

MAYAGÜEZ (AP)- On Wednesday, the executive director of the National Parks Service, Samuel Gonzalez, said he was confident that he will win the lawsuit filed at the Bayamon District Court to remove a private gun club from Isla de Cabras.

"The operation of this shooting range is a disaster even though we are implementing cleanup efforts," said Gonzalez to the media.

"We have witnesses, such as Dr. Jose Molinelli, who can attest to the state [of the range]," added the secretary.

He emphasized that the island is an important resource for families who should be able to enjoy the grounds in safety.

The tribunal will hold a preliminary hearing on April 30 to address the National Parks Service’s complaint against the Skeet and Gun Club. They hope to close the shooting range temporarily.

With the lawsuit, the service hopes to permanently remove the gun club from the island and receive $1 million to repair the ecological damage that has accumulated since 1970.

Gonzalez also reached an agreement with the Puerto Rico Police Department, which has facilities on the island. It has agreed to leave.

Vieques In Need Of Cancer Treatment Center

April 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP)- On Tuesday, Vieques Mayor Damaso Serrano asked Secretary of Health Johnny Rullan to establish a cancer treatment center in the municipality of Vieques because of the island’s high cancer rate.

The mayor said his municipality’s cancer rate is 27% higher than that of the rest of Puerto Rico and added that it is economically difficult and counterproductive for residents to seek treatment on the mainland.

"It is time that the government understands that we are far away from the mainland and it is extremely difficult for a cancer patients to seek treatment at the Rio Piedras Medical Center or at other facilities. That is why there should be a cancer treatment center in Vieques," said Serrano in an interview.

Serrano added that in his municipality, 40 cases of cancer are reported annually.

Castro Takes Ring On Tour


April 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved. 

One World Series ring already has found its way to the coastal city of Vega Baja, where catcher Ramon Castro was born and raised.

Castro returned to his roots Monday, feasted on his favorite home-cooked dish -- Mom's rice and red beans -- and drove around town, showing off the ring.

''It was crazy,'' Castro said of the gawkers. ``I went to my neighborhood and I showed it to everybody. They were passing around and trying it on for two hours.''

Castro said many of his friends figured he wasn't awarded a ring because he wasn't on the Marlins' 25-man playoff or World Series roster.

''They opened their eyes [very wide],'' Castro said. 'They were, like, `Wow!' "

NPP Willing To Cooperate With Federal Authorities

By WOW News Staff

April 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Following a Tuesday directorate meeting, New Progressive Party (NPP) President and gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello announced that the party has decided to open itself to any questions the federal authorities may have regarding its finances.

"The party is in the best disposition to assist in any investigation," Rossello said at the NPP headquarters in Hato Rey.

Rossello was quick to note that he has never been asked to cooperate in any investigation. He added that the announcement responds to the recent corruption scandal that has cast a shadow upon his administration.

Last week, federal authorities indicted his former campaign director Rene Vazquez Botet, former NPP Secretary General Marcos Morell, and former NPP Rep. Jose Granados Navedo for $2 million extortion scheme involving the construction of the Superaqueduct project.

"The party has done its internal audits. The comptroller of Puerto Rico has performed an external audit. They both have found that the party’s finances are in accordance to the law," Rossello added.

The former governor also said he trusts that the proceedings will be conducted following the due process of law.

When asked for a reaction to the statements that Gov. Sila Calderon issued on Tuesday regarding the Superaqueduct scandal, Rossello reiterated that he won’t answer personal attacks. He said he would only focus on answering the needs of the people.

"I won’t get into a constant bickering," Rossello stated.

Calderon had said earlier that Rossello is not qualified to run for governor and that the recent turn of events is an embarrassment for the people of Puerto Rico.

GEO Opens Campaign To Ban Partisan Slogans

By WOW News Staff

April 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Government Ethics Office’s (GEO) Executive Director Hiram Morales announced on Tuesday the beginning of a public information campaign geared towards raising awareness of new amendments to the Governments Ethics & Regulations law that have recently been approved.

The law prohibits the use of emblems or symbols of a partisan-political nature by any public official in the executive branch.

The campaign uses the motto: ‘Let yourself be known by your commitment to the people.’

"We are confident that this stratagem will help bring awareness to elected officials and other public employees of the new regulations," Morales said.

The law states that "no public servant or official of the executive branch can wear buttons, emblems, stickers, slogans, or posters depicting the ideology of any political party while performing official duties, regardless of the place where such activities take place.

The island wide awareness campaign, which has been endorsed by the State Elections Commission, will be active until May 30th. It will include the distribution of written materials as well as public service announcements on local radio stations. ?

Acevedo Requests $9 Million For Economic Development

April 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila is asking for $9 million from the Subcommittee of Federal Grants for Veteran Affairs, Housing & Urban Development, and Independent Agencies (VA-HUD), to be used in infrastructure of water utilities and economic development.

Acevedo Vila said on Tuesday that $5 million of the funds requested will go towards the Rafael Cordero Santiago Port of the Americas and for the restoration of Luis Rodriguez Olmos Stadium in Arecibo.

"It is expected that the port will create direct 800 jobs, while indirectly creating some 10,000 jobs in Ponce and around the island, which will have a positive impact on our economy. The $5 million that we have requested will help develop the ports infrastructure, facilities, and security, allowing for an earlier commencement of operations," stated Acevedo Vila in a communiqué.

Meanwhile, the remaining $4 million will be used to improve the Sergio Cuevas Potable Water plant in San Juan, with an expansion of water lines and treatment plants in Peñuelas and Barceloneta.

"The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that improvements to Sergio Cuevas Water Treatment Works will result in health benefits for hundreds, if not thousands, of residents in the metropolitan area. I am requesting these funds to make this a reality," Acevedo Vila added.

According to the resident commissioner, the improvement funds for the water treatment plant were requested from the federal government for the 2005 fiscal year.

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