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Governor Presents Security Initiatives…Iraqi War Affects Funds For Island Projects… McClintock Maintains NPP Caucus Majority…Fortuño Lobbies For Urban Train... FEMA Aid Tops $398m… PRIIF Report Will Be Referred To Fed, State Agencies… Low-Income Homeowner Program Successful

Governor’s Security Initiatives Include Curfew, Cameras

January 27, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila on Thursday presented a group of legislative security projects, including a curfew for minors under age 15, and the installation of security cameras in public areas, especially public housing projects.

The governor, who announced the measures after meeting for nearly two hours with the Security Council, said the curfew will prohibit youths under 15 from being in the streets without adult supervision between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

"The city and state police have the power to intervene. And if the minor has several offenses, they can’t get their driver’s license till they are 16, and will have to wait one more year," he said at the Justice Department, where the meeting was held.

Acevedo Vila said to establish video cameras throughout the island, he will have a fund of $6 million for cities that request the security system.

The cities, however, will have to match whatever funds they receive from the government.

War In Iraq Affects Fund Allocations For Island Projects

January 27, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) – The director of the Caribbean region for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jose Manuel Rosado, said Thursday that the U.S. war in Iraq has affected projects for flood control on Puerto Rico rivers.

Rosado, who is also head of the U.S. Army Reserve here, said funds were not assigned for flood-control projects on the La Plata, Fajardo, Portugués and Bucana rivers.

"With the war in Iraq, the same as other territories and states in the nation, we also have seen a slight affect with the allocation of funds in civil construction … The budget of the Unites States has had to be adjusted," he said in an interview.

According to Rosado, the budget cuts for these projects reach higher than $320 million, causing thousands of residents in Toa Baja, Dorado, Toa Alta, Fajardo and Ponce to continue to be exposed to flooding when there is torrential rain.

McClintock Continues To Have Majority Support Of NPP Caucus

January 27, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Despite the insistence of defeated gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello that he will occupy the post of Senate president, the current Senate leader, Kenneth McClintock, has the support of 10 of the 17 New Progressive Party (NPP) senators.

Rossello needs as few as nine votes from the NPP delegation to unseat McClintock. The Senate has 27 members, total.

The press reported Thursday that Orlando Parga, Jorge de Castro Font, Lucy Arce, Migdalia Padilla, Jose Garriga Pico, Carlos Diaz, Carmelo Rios, Luis Daniel Muñiz, Hector Martinez and Carlos Pagan are staying with McClintock.

"As of now, nobody has presented me with a reason, a justification, a motive, to politically assassinate a colleague," said Parga, who is Senate vice president.

Another four senators, José Emilio González, Roberto Arango, Margarita Nolasco and Norma Burgos declined to issue public statements about the controversy. Sen. Lornna Sota was the only one to decline to speak with the press.

Fortuño Lobbies For Urban Train Funds

January 27, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – With the warning that he still can not compromise on the proposal to extend the Urban Train to Carolina, Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño began steps in Congress for the second phase of the transportation system. The first stage of the project is still not operating regularly.

Fortuño met with the president of the Infrastructure and Transportation Committee of the U.S. Congress, Don Young, and invited him to the island to see the project.

"I am going to look for the maximum in available funds, within the fiscal reality (of the United States). I can’t say yes or no (that the train will extend to Carolina). But it has to be a technical decision … not for political reasons," Fortuño said to a newspaper.

$398.9m In FEMA Aid – Puerto Rico

January 26, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Department of Homeland Security Documents

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

To date, over $398.9 million has been approved in federal disaster assistance to eligible applicants in the 58 declared municipalities. This aid included grants for basic needs, such as essential repairs, alternate housing and other disaster-related needs not met by insurance or other assistance programs. More than 206 thousand residents in the declared disaster area have applied for disaster assistance.

FEMA's support continues available, just a telephone call away. Those who already applied may reach FEMA through the Helpline at 1-800 621-3362 (TTY: 1-800-462-7585, for those with hearing or speech impairment), to check on the status of their application and other related information.

The Helpline is available Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., until further notice.

FEMA applicants whose home or business were inspected two weeks ago, and have not yet received any mail from FEMA, are urged to call the FEMA Helpline, 1-800-621-3362, to confirm if mail has been remitted. If so, they must visit the US Post Office in their municipality.

Disaster victims who are still having difficulty coping with some disaster related stress-induced problems should seek crisis counseling by calling 1-800-981-0023. The line is available daily, 24 hours a day.

Final PRIIF Report Will Be Referred To Federal, State Agencies

January 26, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The former investigator of the Puerto Rico Industrial Incentives Fund, Nilsa Garcia, announced that the final report of the inquiry done last term by the House Treasury Committee will be referred to all investigative agencies of the state government, to the U.S. Attorney General and to the FBI.

Garcia told a local newspaper that she made the decision due to the refusal by the now-majority NPP House delegation to accept the report and continue the investigation into PRIIF.

The former investigator also said the announcement by the NPP caucus that they will investigate the inquiry she led into PRIIF is an attempt to hide the facts about the fund.

"I hope this investigation is not converted into a witch hunt against me," she said.

PR Has Success With Low-Income Homeowner Program

January 26, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The federal Public Housing Secretary, Michael Liu, on Wednesday told Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila that the island has been successful in helping public housing residents become owners of their apartments.

Liu issued his statement after a meeting with the governor in which they also discussed possible changes to the formula for distributing Section 8 funds.

"Puerto Rico has one of the most successful ownership programs," Liu said at a press conference with the director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, Eduardo Bhatia, and the designated Housing Secretary, Jorge Rivera Jimenez.

Bhatia said he expects the issue about Section 8 funds will end in U.S. Congress, and he added that the subject is already on the agenda of Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño.

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