PR Again Denied Presidential Vote IAU Asked To End Strike Martin, Medina Reach Settlement Tiger Woods Denied Entry To SJ Port Santini Must Return $2.6m Fed Grant Cool Customer $81.6m Approved In Federal Aid For Disaster Recovery .Plan To Fix UT Flaws Due In 2 Weeks Poll: Rossello 44%, Acevedo Vila 36%, Berrios 5%
Court Rejects Puerto Rican Federal Voting Rights
By KEN MAGUIRE
October 14, 2004
BOSTON (AP) - A federal appeals court for the third time rejected a Puerto Rican attorney's request that island residents be allowed to vote in presidential elections.
Prior rulings by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston denied residents of Puerto Rico federal voting rights until the U.S. territory becomes a state, or until the Constitution is amended to allow it.
The 2-1 decision Thursday again rejected attorney Gregorio Igartua's claims that Puerto Ricans are in a "state of servitude" by not having federal voting rights.
"Our prior opinions canvass the relevant constitutional landscape," two judges wrote. "We need only observe that Igartua has raised no argument that would bring the matter outside the usual `rule that earlier decisions are binding.'"
Igartua proclaimed victory, however, in the dissenting opinion of Judge Juan Torruella, who compared the situation to imperialist England and 1950s segregation in U.S. public schools.
"This is a good basis to request reconsideration from the whole court," Igartua, who plans to file for reconsideration before the full appeals court, told The Associated Press.
Igartua called Torruella's dissent "historic for Puerto Rico."
Torruella wrote a concurring opinion in the 2000 ruling, calling the lack of federal voting rights a "colonial condition." His dissent Thursday goes a step further.
"If on the one hand it can be argued that Puerto Rico and its `citizens' are better off materially than they were when the island was invaded 106 years ago," Torruella wrote Thursday, "the undeniable fact is that it has been, and continues to be, at the basement of the American hegemony."
Torruella said an "indefinite disenfranchisement" exists, perpetuating a "gross violation of their civil rights."
The appeals court rejected Igartua's claims in 1994 and 2000.
Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917. Residents have since been drafted into the military and pay more in federal taxes than many states, Igartua argues. The island population has grown to 4 million, far more than the 500,000 required to be represented in the Electoral College.
"We fight and die to get democratic rights for citizens of other countries," Igartua said.
Puerto Ricans who leave the island may cast ballots in other states, but not in Puerto Rico.
Judges Levin Campbell and Jeffrey H. Howard upheld the federal district court ruling rejecting Igartua's claim. They suggested that ultimately the nation's highest court should make the final decision.
"It seems apparent that a definitive constitutional ruling of the magnitude sought here can, in the final analysis, only emanate authoritatively from the Supreme Court itself," they wrote.
During oral arguments last week, Campbell questioned whether creating "a unique situation for Puerto Rico" by giving it the vote without statehood might violate the Constitution.
Puerto Ricans narrowly rejected statehood in two nonbinding referenda, in 1993 and 1998.
Rodríguez Asks IAU To End Strike
October 14, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) The executive president of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (ASA), Jorge Rodriguez, on Wednesday asked employees of the Independent Authentic Union (IAU) to reconsider their position and end the strike that has gone on for 10 days over disagreement on the unions medical plan.
Rodriguez said the unions decision to not end the strike until the entire collective agreement has been negotiated "is not reasonable" and the result is "unacceptable."
"We ask the union leaders to reconsider their position, and our union coworkers to return to work for the good of Puerto Rico. We are going to talk. We are going to give Puerto Rico the labor peace it asks for and the water service it deserves," he said in a televised message.
Rodriguez presented the ASA proposals on television, which he described as "fair and reasonable." They call for the strike to end when the agreement about the medical plan is made official, and to immediately end the conflict both parties would later meet to negotiate the 15 remaining clauses in a period that would not exceed 30 days.
The offer has been categorically rejected by IAU president Héctor René Lugo, who insists that when all the articles have been negotiated the union will return to work.
According to Rodriguez, the union, "refuses to end" the strike, and in his opinion, "they expect to take the people of Puerto Rico hostage."
ASA also said in a statement that the television message, like an announcement published Wednesday in the written press, complies with the dispositions of the State Election Commission with respect to the filing of requests for authorization.
According to the corporation, in an emergency situation like a strike, the governmental dependence "would have to, no later that 48 labor hours after the publication of the announcement, file a justification about the publication with the commission."
Ricky Martin And Former Manager Reach A Settlement
By Leonardo Aldridge
October 14, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) Singer Ricky Martin and his former manager Angelo Medina reached a settlement Wednesday that ends a legal battle of lawsuits and countersuits over alleged breach of contract and debts.
Superior Judge Oscar Davila announced the agreement, stressing that both parties sent a "message of harmony and understanding" that represents "an example to follow that all Puerto Ricans are capable of."
Davila would not divulge details of the agreement.
After leaving Davilas chambers, Martin and Medina hugged and held a press conference, and hugged a second time at the request of photographers.
"This was horrible. It was extremely exhausting, I wouldnt wish it upon anyone," said Martin, singer of "Livin La Vida Loca."
"Ricky Martin does not have regret. Each thing that he does, he does with conviction," the singer said, speaking in the third person, in response to a question about whether he regretted what had caused the legal battle.
The judge spoke about the successful career of the pair, resulting in Martin singing at the World Cup and winning his first Grammy while he was managed by Medina.
"And anywhere a Puerto Rican goes in the world, they associate this island with Ricky Martin," the judge said.
At the end of his statements, the judge said, "They have made peace, and peace be with all Puerto Ricans."
Medina said that he has good memories of his union with Martin.
"I am proud to be part of this story. He knows that he can count on me," Medina said.
"The possibility is always there," he said about the possibility of again managing the singers career.
Martin sued Medina because the manager allegedly owed him $2.5 million for services that we never completed. Medina, whose defense was led by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Jose Andreu Garcia, countersued with a lawsuit for $63.5 million for breach of contract.
"The past is gone," Martin said.
Tiger Woods, Wife Denied Entry To Puerto Rico Port
October 14, 2004
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)--Tiger Woods and his new bride, Elin Nordegren, were briefly held aboard their private yacht Thursday by U.S. Coast Guard officers and then turned away from San Juan's port because they had failed to notify authorities of their arrival ahead of time, an official said.
Since July 1, new security regulations require many boats to submit an arrival notice at least four days in advance before entering a U.S. port, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Eric Willis said.
The yacht Privacy entered San Juan's port at about noon Thursday and a Coast Guard boat stopped them, Willis said. Five Coast Guard officers boarded the yacht and escorted it to port, he said.
The Privacy's captain said he didn't know that the new security regulations applied to Puerto Rico, a U.S. Caribbean territory, Willis said.
The skipper said he decided to stop in San Juan only to refuel, Willis said. The Privacy was allowed to refuel as immigration authorities spoke with those aboard, including the newlyweds.
Willis said that the yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands to the Privacy Ltd. holding company, which Woods owns.
The holding company could still face up to $32,500 in fines, though it's up to the Coast Guard's captain of the port, Willis said. A Coast Guard small boat escorted the yacht out of San Juan port, he said.
Santini Must Return $2.6 Million Disbursed To Fashion Center
October 14, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) The Labor Departments Board of Occupational Development and Human Resources (BODHR) decided that the mayor of San Juan, Jorge Santini, must return approximately $2.6 million that the administration disbursed to an international sewing center.
The executive director of BODHR, Brenda Sepúlveda, said due to the absence of a reply from the City of San Juan to statements about the program, which has to provide training and eventual employment to 400 displaced workers, City Hall must return $2.6 million in federal funds from the Work Force Investment Act.
"They did not answer our report. Now we are going to bring final action for recovering the funds for costs that were not allowed. Since they dont present any approach or corrective action, now we are going to continue with the process of recovering the funds," Sepúlveda told a newspaper.
She said the she would refer information about the recent incidents to the federal Labor Department and the Office of the Inspector General, agencies that already know about results of an audit that identified 17 irregularities regarding the San Juan Puerto Rico International Fashion Center.
On Monday, the third extension expired that BODHR had given to the City of San Juan to collect evidence and answer the 17 irregularity discoveries.
Neither Santini not the citys Economic Development Director, Luis Velez, complied with the period, despite both having assured that they were working to find information to do so.
Cool Customer Former !BANG! TV Champ
BY DORY FUNK JR.
October 13, 2004
On WWE SmackDown!, we were treated to a great wrestling match between John Cena and Carlito Caribbean Cool.
He is the son of the legendary Carlos Colon. Carlos and Nancy Colon currently own the World Wrestling Council in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Our congratulations to Caribbean Cool and his family. They must be proud of his achievements. Carlito is a natural worker with a promising future with WWE.
My compliments also to John Cena. It was a great match between two young men who wanted to entertain the wrestling fans.
Cool is a former !Bang! TV champ.
More Than $81.6m Approved In Federal Aid For Disaster Recovery In Puerto Rico
October 11, 2004
Department of Homeland Security Documents
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
SAN JUAN, PR -- Federal and commonwealth disaster recovery officials have announced the approval of $81,669,275 in disaster assistance in Puerto Rico. More than 70,500 individuals have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a result of the rains, floods, mudslides and landslides caused by Tropical Storm Jeanne on September 14-19, 2004.
"The approval of this aid has been done in less than three weeks after the presidential disaster declaration included Individual Assistance for the recovery operations in Puerto Rico," said Peter Martinasco, federal coordinating officer. "FEMA, as well as Commonwealth and municipal agencies and several voluntary organizations have been quite diligent in this disaster recovery operation to ensure that Tropical Storm Jeanne victims have habitable conditions."
The disaster relief funds have been approved under the FEMA Individual and Households Program (IHP), which helps homeowners to perform minimal repairs, provides rental assistance for renters and homeowners whose homes are uninhabitable, and funds for medical, dental, transportation expenses and other disaster-related essential needs.
Residents from the 57 disaster-declared municipalities who suffered losses or damages from the storm are urged to register for assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362. The TTY number is 1-800-462-7585 for those who are speech or hearing-impaired. Both lines are available daily from 6 a.m. to midnight, until further notice. Individuals can also find valuable recovery information on FEMA's website at http: // www.fema.gov.
Plan To Fix Urban Train Flaws Due In 2 Weeks
October 13, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) The plan to improve flaws in the Urban Train system should be submitted by the Puerto Rican government to federal authorities in two weeks, said Transportation and Public Works Secretary Fernando Fagundo.
Fagundo said the evaluation of this "extensive report" could take one month.
Newspapers reported Wednesday that Fagundo again rejected an opening date for the Urban Train, which has been set back several times.
Fagundo said the flaws had already been identified, that many of them are "essential to the operation of the train" and that a plan has been put in place to work on each of the problems.
Poll: Rossello 44%, Acevedo Vila 36%, Berrios 5%
October 13, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) A poll published Wednesday said that if the elections were today, New Progressive candidate for governor Pedro Rossello would win by 8 percent over his Popular Democratic opponent Aníbal Acevedo Vila. That is 1 percent less than forecast in an August poll by the same company.
Forty-four percent of people interviewed favored former governor Rossello; 36 percent favored Resident Commissioner Acevedo Vila, and 5 percent favored Independent candidate Ruben Berrios.
The poll, with a margin of error of 3 percent, was designed and analyzed by Kaagan Research Associates for a local newspaper (El Nuevo Dia). It used a sample of 1,000 people from all over the island, except Vieques and Culebra, who were interviewed between Sept. 22 and Oct. 4. They also polled a "sub-sample" of 250 San Juan voters.
According to the published analysis, Rossello gained a percentage point in the number of voters favoring him, while Acevedo Vila gained two points in comparison to the poll published in August.
Twenty days before the Nov. 2 elections, 8 percent of eligible voters said they were not sure which candidate they would choose.