AAV Seeks To Lower Ponce Murder Rate Termination Of 10 Pro-Rossello Senators Advisers Contracts Decried Parga Blasted For Using Religious Analogy 80 Schools In Serious Condition Rosario Honored $65M FEMA Safe Home Grant Suspended Senators Appeal McClintock Queries Unicameral Vote P.R. In BB Classic Group C Gov. Opposes Patriot Act
Governor To Lower Murder Rate In Ponce
July 14, 2005
PONCE (EFE) Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila on Wednesday announced a series of measures aimed at lowering Ponces high murder rate.
Some of these measures include the permanent transfer of 100 agents to the area, the appointment of a ballistics expert from the Institute of Forensic Sciences and of two prosecutors for the Department of Justice in Ponce.
Acevedo Vila said the agents should be transferred in two weeks.
"The Ponce area needs some adjustments. So far, there have been 25 more murder cases than last year. I want to say that we will catch these criminals. That is our commitment," Acevedo Vila said.
Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo reiterated that most crime cases in Puerto Rico are linked to drug-trafficking and illegal weapons.
Toledo admitted that more than 100 agents are actually needed in the Ponce region, but that there would be no additional transfers at the moment to avoid affecting other police areas.
Pedro Rossellos Adviser Regrets McClintock's Decision
July 14, 2005
Kathy Erazo, adviser to New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Pedro Rossello on Wednesday regretted Senate President Kenneth McClintocks decision not to renew the contracts of Senate advisers to the 10 senators who have favored Rossellos bid for the Senate helm.
On Wednesday, published reports revealed that McClintock had decided not to renew the contracts in retaliation for the NPP directorates decision to suspend him and the other five senators who have stood by him in the dispute over the Senate presidency. These senators are Orlando Parga, Migdalia Padilla, Lucy Arce, Carlos Diaz, and Jorge De Castro Font.
Some of these advisers whose contracts wont be renewed are Erazo, wife of former Senate President Charlie Rodriguez; former Rep. Waldemar Quiles, former Consumer Affairs Secretary Antonio Alicea; former Sen. Roger Iglesias, and former Naranjito mayoral candidate Orlando Ortiz.
"We were expecting to have the same [budget] as before. Although it is true that the basic budget has increased from $360,000 to $372,000 [which is the same for all senators], it still represents a cut because the $63,000 in professional services has been eliminated," Erazo said.
She will now become a regular employee of Rossellos office. Erazo also said that in order to comply with the work that needs to be done at the office, two posts have been eliminated and several other adjustments have been made.
"I believe these people [the advisers] have been penalized for a decision made by the majority caucus, the assembly, and the party directorate," Erazo said.
She also said it was too much of a coincidence that only the advisers to the senators who are in favor of Rossello have been affected by McClintocks decision.
However, McClintock has reiterated that he was only trying to reduce costs.
"There will be a lot of speculation. There is no question about the professional capability of either of them, [but] management decisions must be made," McClintock emphasized.
Nevertheless, Senate Vice President Orlando Parga said the decision was an act of defense against those who are in favor of Rossello.
Senate President Kenneth McClintock has reiterated that he was only trying to reduce costs.
Parga Blasted For Using Jews Example
July 14, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Norma Burgos on Thursday criticized Senate Vice President Orlando Parga for comparing the legislators who support Senate President Kenneth McClintock to the millions of Jewish people who died in gas chambers during World War II.
Burgos said Pargas remarks were disrespectful to human beings in general, were insensitive, and deserved to be rejected by the people.
On Wednesday, Parga defended McClintocks decision not to renew the contracts of several advisers who have supported NPP Sen. Pedro Rossellos bid for the Senate helm.
Parga said he thought it was unusual to expect the Senate president to give economic resources to those who have been conspiring against him. "That would be like expecting us to do just as the Jews did in World War II, by submissively going into the gas chamber without a fight," the Senate vice president said.
Burgos urged Parga to be more careful with his comments and criticized him for using the six million Jews who suffered some of the greatest atrocities in the history of humankind as an example "to defend Kenneth McClintock and justify strictly political and irresponsible actions".
Aragunde: 80 Schools In Serious Condition
July 14, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Education Secretary Rafael Aragunde on Wednesday said 80 of more than 1,500 public schools on the island are in poor condition and the Department has yet to hire 1,500 new teachers for the upcoming school year slated to begin in August.
"We will be ready, but we cant overlook the obvious," Aragunde Torres said in a press conference.
Aragunde Torres said half of the seriously deteriorated schools are located in the Ponce region.
"We are making the effort to have most of them ready by August, but some of them will need permanent improvements that wont be ready in two months," Aragunde Torres noted.
General Director of Public School Improvements, Livet Rojas, said the main problem with these schools is the lack of space and the need for additional classrooms.
Rojas also denounced the fact that they dont have a single engineer to attend to these needs. According to the general director, the agency would need $400 million to put the classrooms up-to-date. In order to do this, Rojas said the Department has designed a four-year plan in which $96 million would be invested during the first year.
Aragunde Torres also said the Department needs to hire 1,500 teachers and fill 200 teaching posts that will become vacant by the end of the month; when many teachers are expected retire. Aragunde Torres said the agency can't hire new teachers until after the posts become vacant, and that the Department would need to go over these rules to prevent this situation from happening again.
Latino Group Honors Female Leaders
Rosalina Rosario, whose hard work has paid off with a job and a car, is among those recognized.
By Víctor Manuel Ramos | Sentinel Staff Writer
July 14, 2005
Rosalina Rosario was looking for a clean break from her broken marriage when she left Caguas, Puerto Rico, for Orlando three years ago "with two children, six pieces of luggage, a broken heart and a million wishes."
Instead, she got to Orlando International Airport and found herself comforting her children by the curbside, shocked that the people who would have been her lifeline never picked her up as promised.
Wednesday was a symbolic happy ending for Rosario. She stood before activists and corporate executives to receive a community award for her accomplishments.
Rosario was the only unknown among several high-profile women whom the advocacy group Latino Leadership honored for their achievements. She represents the people at the core of the organization's mission to assist Hispanics trying to settle here.
The ceremony kicked off the group's annual Central Florida Community Information Fair, an event for Orlando newcomers who are limited by language, lack of information and cultural differences.
Rosario, who reached out to Latino Leadership when she was lost and penniless, said she was living proof that a little help can go a long way. The group's leader helped her with temporary housing and advice until she could stand on her feet.
"Today, I have a roof over my head, I have a car, and I feel very proud to work for the U.S. Postal Service," an emotional Rosario, 44, said in Spanish. "I now look forward to every day with happiness, with hope and with peace."
The event also recognized other women who have been pioneers in their fields and have a track record of community service in Orlando.
The honorees included former Orange County Chairman Linda Chapin; two former Orlando City Council members who also served as Orange County commissioners,
Mable Butler and Mary Johnson; and the only other nonpolitician, Sister Ann Kendrick, a nun at the Apopka-based Office for Farmworker Ministry. Two honorees, Orlando City Commissioner Betty Wyman and Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart, were not able to attend.
Marytza Sanz, Latino Leadership's president, called on the community to support others like Rosario. Hundreds of struggling families are expected at the July 30 fair.
"Rosalina's story," Sanz said, "plays out again every day."
FEMA Grants $65M For Safe New Home Program
July 13, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has granted $65 million for the Safe New Home program, Puerto Rico Federal Affairs (PRFAA) Executive Director Eduardo Bhatia said Tuesday.
Bhatia noted that at the beginning of the year, the Anibal Acevedo Vila administration was informed that the federal funding would be cancelled.
However, Bhatia said local government efforts to keep the funding coming eventually paid off.
The program, which has been available to local families since Hurricane Georges in 1998, will help alleviate more than 700 Puerto Rican families currently living in flood-prone areas.
Suspended Senators Appeal NPP Decision
July 12, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) The five senators who were suspended from the New Progressive Party (NPP) have filed a petition urging the party directorate to leave its decision without effect.
Senators Kenneth McClintock, Orlando Parga, Lucy Arce, Migdalia Padilla, and Carlos Diaz said the directorate has yet to present evidence that can prove their so-called defiant behavior, which was the basis for their suspension on July 1.
The senators had filed their petition on July 8, but chose to make the announcement on Tuesday.
They also requested to be reinstated in their NPP posts.
The directorate decided to suspend the senators for refusing to abide by the partys assembly decision to let NPP Sen. Pedro Rossello assume the Senate presidency.
The senators also claimed that they havent had the opportunity to defend themselves or to state their arguments before the party directorate.
They said the NPP rules guarantee their right to due process in all internal disciplinary procedures.
However, they noted that there is a certain animosity hindering this process that hasnt allowed them to have an impartial party in the issue.
The senators also argued that they have never gone against the partys programmatic issues.
McClintock Questions Unicameral Vote
July 12, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Senate President Kenneth McClintock on Monday requested that the Senate Government & Labor Affairs Committee conduct a study on the referendum results that favored a unicameral system for the Puerto Rico legislature.
In his letter to Committee Chairwoman Lucy Arce, McClintock said the study should evaluate, but not limit itself to, the number of votes that were cast in favor of each of the options that were on the ballot on Sunday. It should also evaluate the voter turnout and the level of abstention at the polling stations.
[McClintock said that despite the fact that nearly 84 percent of voters opted for the unicameral system in the referendum, the extremely low turnout of 22 percent was a defeat for those who support eliminating one branch of the legislature.
''The outcome Sunday was a resounding defeat for unicameralism,'' he told El Nuevo Dia newspaper. ``But the Senate has an obligation to evaluate the results, the participation, the lack of participation . . . and other messages that are enclosed in this result.''
The referendum directs the legislature to hold another referendum in 2007 that would ask voters to amend the island's constitution and establish a one-house system, eliminating either the Senate or the House or Representatives, by 2009. Opponents of the change have suggested the results may not be binding on lawmakers.]
McClintock also requested a study of the arguments that were used during the campaign, as well as the cost and effectiveness of the electoral event, and the electoral mechanisms that were used in the referendum.
"The electoral event held yesterday [Sunday] deserves to be analyzed; the positions that were assumed by the voters should be heard and evaluated," McClintock said in his letter.
He also said that the Senate should take the legislative actions it deems necessary once the evaluation has been completed.
P.R. In Group C at World Baseball Classic
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
July 11, 2005
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) -- The United States will be grouped with Mexico, Canada and South Africa next year in the first round of baseball's first World Cup-style tournament.
The 16-nation, 18-day event, called the World Baseball Classic, opens March 3 in Tokyo or Taiwan, where Group A will include Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China.
The United States will be in Group B, which starts play March 8 along with the other groups and will be based in the United States.
Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panama and the Netherlands are in Group C, which will be in [San Juan, Puerto Rico], and the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Australia and Italy are in Group D, which will be based in Florida.
Gov. Acevedo Vila Against U.S. Patriot Act
July 11, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila said the U.S. Patriot Act was approved during a "moment of hysteria," after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and it should be amended.
"I was there [as resident commissioner] when it was approved. [The Patriot Act] was approved in a moment of hysteria, and that cant be denied," the governor said during his appearance at the Puerto Rico Association of Journalists (ASPPRO by its Spanish acronym) Annual Assembly on Saturday.
The law has been "widely criticized" because it violates rights.
"I trust that the United States, sooner rather than later, will make the changes that have to be made because in some areas it could affect rights, not just the right to freedom of the press, but of assembly, association, and public expression," Acevedo Vila said.
The governor also expressed his regret for the U.S. Supreme Courts decision not to hear the case of two American journalists, one of whom was jailed for refusing to reveal the source that disclosed the identity of a CIA agent.
While New York Times reporter Judith Miller serves time, journalist Matthew Cooper, of Time magazine, has agreed to testify before a grand jury.