Gov: Crimes Down, Convictions Up… Pioneering Latino Officer Honored… Lawsuits Against Marriott Consolidated… UPR Student Group Calls For Sanctions… Haddock New UR Dean… Coqui Eradication OKd… Rossello: NPP Assembly Has Final Word… AAV Tells Fed Prosecutors To Forego Death Penalty

Governor Announces A Reduction In Criminality

May 5, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

San Juan (EFE).- Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá announced today that a significant reduction in criminal activity has been registered, as well as an increase in the level of felonies resolved.

He added, up to May 2, 25 fewer assassinations had been reported as of the same date last year, and the assassination rate has decreased 9.6%.

"More dramatically still are statistics that reflect criminals will receive serious punishment related to the resolved felonies, which have shown a 14% increase," the governor said after attending a meeting with Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo.

In that regard, Acevedo Vila asked the Legislature to approve the law that creates the Council for the Coordination of the Metropolitan [San Juan] Police Forces (Consejos Para la Coordinación de las Fuerzas Policíacas Metropolitanas) as a tool for further reducing the crime rate.

This project is a tool we want to develop to continue to reduce crime activity," the governor expressed.

Pioneering Latino Officer Honored

Once Lone Spanish-Speaking Cop, Figueroa Now Community Liaison


May 5, 2005
Copyright © 2005 The Atlanta Journal - Constitution. All rights reserved. 

Officer Frank Figueroa remembers when he was the only cop in the DeKalb County Police Department who spoke Spanish.

"I was going everywhere in the county," he said. "If someone didn't speak English, they'd call me."

Figueroa ended up working the Buford Highway corridor and has concentrated on north DeKalb during his 18 years on the force. Last week he was recognized by Atlanta's Latin American Association for his work with the Latino community. He received an award for "outstanding public service and leadership" at the association's luncheon at which U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona gave the keynote speech.

Figueroa was born in New York and returned to Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, when he was 8 years old. He had to stay back one year in schools there, because he didn't speak Spanish.

He studied criminal justice at the Universidad InterAmericano in Puerto Rico and then returned to the United States in his early 20s with the idea of becoming an FBI agent. He attended Georgia Southern College for two years. This time he had to adapt to English.

Figueroa decided to become a police officer and signed on with DeKalb County in 1987. In those early years, Figueroa said, he was "the only Spanish guy" on the force. Now he works in the chief's office as the department's liaison for Latin American affairs.

Court Consolidates Three Lawsuits Against Marriott

May 5, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) – Carolina Superior Court Judge Jose Loubriel Vazquez on Wednesday ordered the consolidation of three civil lawsuits that were filed against HR Properties and three government agencies regarding a hotel construction project in Isla Verde.

Loubriel Vazquez ordered the consolidation after Isla Verde Residents Committee requested that their case be heard together with those of the Carolina Municipal Government and the National Parks Company.

The municipal lawsuit seeks to annul the environmental compliance certificate that gave way to the Planning Board’s approval of the condo-hotel construction.

It also requests the court to order the Planning Board and the Environmental Quality Board—which are co-defendants in the case—to ask the developers for an Environmental Impact Report that was never submitted in the process.

The plaintiff has also requested an interdiction to stop the Rules & Permits Administration from issuing construction permits for the project.

UPR Student Group Calls For Sanctions

May 4, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) – A group of students who oppose the tuition strike at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) on Wednesday requested that the Students General Council and Rio Piedras Campus Chancellor Gladys Escalona impose sanctions against those responsible for the acts of vandalism that were perpetrated during the student conflict.

"No one should go unpunished," group members said in prepared statement.

The group also urged students to participate in the assembly that the general council has scheduled for Thursday.

"It is vital that we all participate in the assemblies to prevent a minority from making decisions for the 21,000 students in Rio Piedras," they added.

The group also called for the classes to resume and urged the campus community to show contempt for the acts of violence that took place during the past general assembly.

UR Business School Names Its New Dean

May 5, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

The Richmond Times-Dispatch

Jorge Haddock, a native of Puerto Rico, will be leaving Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to become the new dean of the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond. He will assume duties July 1.

Haddock is associate dean and professor of information technology at the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer.

He earned his doctorate at Purdue University and has a Master of Science from Rensselaer and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Puerto Rico. He held academic posts at the University of Puerto Rico and Clemson University before moving to Rensselaer in 1986.

Coqui Eradication Plan Gets Final Approval

May 4, 2005
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

HONOLULU (AP) - State lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill that gives $300,000 to county efforts to rid the islands of coqui frogs.

The Big Island and Maui each will get $100,000. Oahu and Kauai each will get $50,000. The largest concentrations of the tiny, noisy invasive frogs are on the Big Island and Maui.

The measure passed unanimously in both houses.

"This is a milestone in the war against the coqui frog," said Rep. Clifton Tsuji, D-Hilo-Glenwood, who has spearheaded the eradication effort.

The Big Island had been hoping for up to $2 million in aid to eradicate the frog, which is beloved in its native Puerto Rico but whose loud chirping is seen as a nuisance in Hawaii.

Maui officials have estimated that it would take $500,000 to eradicate coqui frogs from the Valley Isle.

Federal officials recently rejected the state's application for nearly $9 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fight coqui frogs -- mainly on Maui and the Big Island.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the state's request for an emergency exemption to allow the use of a chemical commonly known as hydrated lime to control the coqui infestations.

State agriculture officials said hydrated lime is much cheaper than citric acid, which already is on the exempted list, and is readily available.

The frogs have been detected in only one location on Kauai, and a population in Wahiawa on Oahu is under control, according to state invasive species officials.

Rossello: NPP Assembly Has Final Word

May 4, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) – New Progressive Party (NPP) President and Sen. Pedro Rossello reiterated on Tuesday that he trusts his colleagues at the Senate will respect whatever decision the NPP Assembly of delegates may reach regarding the issue of whether he should become the new Senate president.

On Tuesday, the NPP directorate voted in favor holding the assembly, which has been scheduled for May 15.

The delegates will vote on whether Kenneth McClintock should step aside and let Rossello assume the senatorial presidency.

"I’m sure (the NPP senators) will accept the assembly’s decision because elected government officials owe themselves to the people," Rossello said.

On another note, Rossello denied rumors that he would create a new party if he doesn’t receive the support he expects to receive on May 15.

Governor Insists Federal Prosecutors Should Not Seek Death Penalty On Island


May 4, 2005
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Rico's governor insisted Wednesday that federal prosecutors should not seek the death penalty in the U.S. Caribbean territory, saying capital punishment is unpopular on the island and will not prevail with local juries.

Anibal Acevedo Vila's comments came two days after a jury spared the lives of two men in a federal murder trial that brought the debate to the forefront of Puerto Rican politics.

"I'm sure that no Puerto Rican jury will impose the death penalty ... but the ideal thing would be for federal prosecutors to abstain" from seeking it, Acevedo Vila told a news conference.

Death penalty opponents said the outcome of the trial displayed Puerto Rico's aversion to capital punishment. But U.S. Attorney Humberto Garcia, the island's chief federal prosecutor, said he would continuing pursuing death penalty cases, noting the jury did not reach unanimity in the sentence of one of the defendants.

The 12-member jury decided that Lorenzo Catalan Roman, 25, and Hernando Villegas Medina, 24, should spend the rest of their lives in prison rather than be executed for shooting and killing a security guard while robbing an armored truck three years ago.

In Catalan's case, the jury unanimously voted to sentence him to life in prison. But in Villegas' case, the jury could not agree, resulting in an automatic life sentence. Garcia had argued that the jury's split decision showed Puerto Ricans were open to imposing the death penalty.

Acevedo Vila acknowledged that he had no legal recourse for preventing federal prosecutors from seeking the death penalty. But he said he would make his objections known to the U.S. Justice Department every time prosecutors pursue capital punishment.

Puerto Rico abolished the death penalty in 1929 and has not held an execution since 1927. But the island of 4 million people is subject to federal law, which allows the death penalty in some cases.

For death penalty foes, the debate illustrates problems with Puerto Rico's status as a U.S. commonwealth. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, but don't pay federal taxes, cannot vote for the U.S. president and have no voting representation in the U.S. Congress. Critics say the situation makes Puerto Ricans subject to controversial federal laws in which they have little say.

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