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Rossello Leads Acevedo By 14% In Poll… Fed Child Tax Credit Extended… Aid Sent to Haitians… Paralympic Athletes Are Honored… Vélez: PRIIF Should’ve Been More Controlled… UT OK’s Bikes… Water Service Continuing During Strike…Audit: PRIDCO, Olympic Group Aid Irregularities… Sewage Emergency In Guayama… Artist Melvin Antuna

Rossello Leads Acevedo By 14% In Poll

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – A poll published on Tuesday found that if the elections were held today, the New Progressive candidate for governor, Pedro Rossello, would win with 53 percent of the votes over Popular Democratic candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila, with 39 percent.

Independent candidate Ruben Berrios received 3 percent of votes from the poll, while 5 percent said they were undecided.

The poll, with a margin of error of 3 percent, was conducted by the Custom Research Center for a Puerto Rican newspaper [El Vocero]. It used a group of 1,000 people from all over the island (except Vieques and Culebra) who were interviewed between Sept. 22 and 29.

For resident commissioner, 52 percent of those interviewed said they would vote for New Progressive candidate Luis Fortuño, 40 percent would vote for Popular candidate Roberto Prats and 2 percent for Independent candidate Edwin Irizarry Mora.

[Two additional polls published by Primera Hora newspaper provided mixed results.

The first poll, conducted by Radio Isla, gave Rossello a much slimmer lead of 49 percent to Acevedo's 43.1 percent but still showed Berrios running a distant third with 4.9 percent.

The second poll - taken by Acevedo's Popular Democratic Party - gives him a two-point advantage over Rossello.

Another poll by The San Juan Star conducted last week found Rosselló leading Aníbal Acevedo Vilá by 5.6 percentage points.

Rosselló was leading with 44.5 percent support, versus 38.9 percent for Acevedo Vilá and 5.6 percent for Rubén Berríos, of the Puerto Rican Independence Party.

The poll also found that 5.6 percent of the respondents were still undecided about who they will vote for on Election Day, while another 5.4 percent said they would not vote for any of the three candidates on the ballot.

The STAR poll is the first to be taken following the gubernatorial debate. It shows a tighter race than previous polls, which have put Rosselló in the lead by as many as 9 percentage points.

In fact, the poll puts the margin between Rosselló and Acevedo Vilá at 5.6 percent, the same percentage of respondents who say they have yet to decide on a candidate. The poll indicates that, about a month away from Election Day, undecided voters could still decide the race.]

Federal Tax Credit Extension Is Signed Into Law

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – The five-year extension of the child tax credit, which will allow hundreds of families in Puerto Rico to continue to claim an annual $3,000 federal reimbursement, was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Bush on Monday signed the "Tax Relief for Working Families" act in Iowa, one of the states that will be vital in the Nov. 2 presidential election.

The bill also includes a two-year extension of the increase in the reimbursement the federal treasury collected for the rum tax, which represents $120 million for the island, said Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila.

Puerto Rico Group Sends Help To Haitian People

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – Moved by the devastation experienced by the Haitian people after tropical storm Jeanne, several community and religious organizations, headed by the Committee for Solidarity with the people of Haiti, announced Tuesday the start of a journey to support the Caribbean nation.

The initiative, which the College of Lawyers is also participating in, is trying to save money and necessary items to help more than 200,000 suffering Haitians in the country’s northern region.

"The money is from a collection will be used to provide emergency help to victims of floods and in the reconstruction of the ‘Escuela-Albergue de las Hijas de la Caridad de San Vicente de Paúl’ in Gonaives," the spokeswoman for the committee, Lucy Magaly Millan, said at a news conference.

She said the institution provides education, food and health services to children in the region, which was one of the most affected by the storm.

Paralympic Athletes Are Honored

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

SAN JUAN (AP) - Political and sports officials came together Tuesday to pay tribute to the achievements of Alexis Pizarro, winner of a bronze medal in the Paralympic Games in Greece.

"Pizarro is among the major athletes of our world," said Yolanda Irizarry, president of the Paralympic Committee, at an emotional ceremony at the Olympic House in San Juan.

Pizarro, 31, a resident of Trujillo Alto, was awarded the bronze medal in javelin throwing, also earning a fourth place in discus and fifth in the shot put.

Four years ago, in the Australia Paralympic Games, he also won a bronze medal.

The tribute also honored Nilda Gomez, who also participated in Greece.

"Both athletes honored the name of Puerto Rico with their performance and their high level of competency," Irizarry said.

Vélez Says PRIIF Should Have Been More Controlled

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Puerto Rico Industrial Incentives Fund (PRIIF) required more control to distribute its millions to companies, said Xenia Velez, secretary of the Treasury under the previous administration of Pedro Rossello, during which the fund was created.

"If I had the information then that I have now, I probably would have insisted or recommended that they have more rigorous controls over the fund disbursements and over the requirements to qualify for the fund incentives," Velez said during hearings investigating the creation of PRIIF.

"When you deal with public funds it is necessary to establish controls to avoid the appearance of poor management. In this case, I would consider recommending requirements for certain transactions, of a certain type of funds, some parameters," she said.

PRIIF also is the subject of a federal investigation into the creation of the fund, which allegedly cost the public treasury $1 billion.

Bicycles OK On Urban Train

October 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The leadership of the Urban Train received a proposal from the Eco-Urbanism Project at the Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico asking that users of the system be allowed to get on with their bicycles, said the director of the Alternativa de Transportación Integrada (ATI) program, Adaline Torres.

The proposal is one of several that the Eco-Urbanism Project and the campus of Rio Piedras presented to ATI so the impact of the Urban Train has positive repercussions on the quality of life of those studying and working on the campus, according to press reports.

Torres said that ATI drafted regulations that permit a certain number of bicycles to enter on the last cars of the Urban Train.

Prof. Gabriel Moreno, project director, said the Rio Piedras campus is used as a lab to change the lifestyles of citizens accustomed to depending only on their cars as a means of transportation.

ASA Says Water Service Will Continue During Strike

By Manuel Ernesto Rivera

October 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The executive director of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, Jorge Rodriguez, said the company is prepared to guarantee continued water service during the strike by the Independent Authentic Union (IAU), which began Monday morning.

Rodriguez, who could not say exactly what the cost of the strike would be for the island, said the contingency plan was activated at 6 p.m. Sunday afternoon and that some 900 management employees were able to continue operating the ASA system. "I do not know how many managers I have at each plant, but I have required them to be at the plant to guarantee service," he said at a press conference.

Rodriguez said the orders for managers and guards of the two security companies contracted for the conflict were to avoid a confrontation with the IAU. "I don’t want confrontation, where we have differences we are going to talk and look for alternatives … we don’t need to have confrontations," he said.

He said he could not accept the call of union leaders to re-institute the medical plan union members had before a contract with private firm Triple S for about $6 million more than the IAU plan cost. "The Insurance Commissioner is regulating the plan, not the administration or Jorge Rodriguez. I would be irresponsible and would be violating the law if I accept their petition," he said.

He said the Insurance Commissioner, Dorelise Juarbe, ordered the IAU to return $11.7 million used in a unjustified way by the nine members of the board of directors of the medical plan. The money was used to pay salaries, buy luxury vehicles and pay for excess administrative charges that could not be charged to the plan. The IAU announced that as of 11:30 a.m. Monday, they were going on strike. "Sirs, we are on strike after 30 years of labor peace," Hector Rene Lugo, president of the IAU, said at a press conference. According to Lugo, only plant operators will continue working after 2 p.m. Monday.

Audit Reveals Irregularities In Aid From PRIDCO To Olympic Group

October 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – An audit of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (PRIDCO) revealed that the directors of the agency under the past administration illegally awarded millions in incentives to the Olympic Group.

The funds, approximately $9.9 million, "exceed the nature and purpose for which they were awarded," according to the audit, which was reviewed Monday by the press.

The audit revealed that on Dec. 22, 2000, the former director of PRIDCO, Xavier Romeu, approved $2.5 million for Olympic Group on his own, without the approval of the agency’s board of directors.

The maximum amount that an executive director can award without approval from the board is $750,000.

It was also revealed that the Olympic Group bought 100 percent of the shares of a firm with incentives received from PRIDCO that were meant exclusively for the creation of jobs. The firm incurred millions in expenses to determine uses without providing any evidence.

Sewage Water Creates State Of Emergency In Guayama

October 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The municipal government of Guayama declared a state of emergency in the Puerto de Jobos community, where some 300 families have lived with patios and roads filled with sewage water for two weeks.

The situation is so critical that the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (ASA) promised on Saturday to go house to house and spray the sewage water on the patios, mostly covered with fungus, with special chemicals to avoid an epidemic.

A group of about 20 neighbors from the community met Saturday to denounce the situation to municipal leaders and to Luis Ortiz, interim leader of the ASA for Guayama, who made an inspection visit in response to the state of emergency declaration.

ASA said the situation is due to the a lack of maintenance on the pumps and the sewage treatment plant.

Artist Of The Month Melvin Antuna


October 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

Melvin Antuna is the artist of the month at the Osceola Center for the Arts in Kissimmee.

Where I live: Kissimmee.

Medium: Acrylic paint on canvas.

Describe your style: My purpose is to bring the culture of the past to a modern style.

How long have you been an artist? As long as I remember. I have been painting since I was little, but I started painting more when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

What made you become an artist? Every person who sees my art will take a piece of my heart with them. I visualize art as passion, love and creation. Art is a synthesis of my personal feelings. My paintings are most successful, I believe, when they not only show beauty, but also evoke a sense of wonder and mystery. I like my paintings to give a feeling of looking at a hidden world we don't normally see. My art is an expression of everything I am, I was or I will be.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why? Puerto Rico, because that is my culture, what I love, and what I like to paint.

Where can people see your work? In my house. I have a little studio where I paint and put my work.

The Center for the Arts is at 2411 E. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway (U.S. 192). For information, call the Center for the Arts' box office at 407-846-6257 or go online at

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