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Governor Names Tripartisan Committee On Tax Reform, Tells Cabinet To Cut Costs… New Economic Proposal Ready In 1-2 Months… Construction On Phase 2 Of UT Could Begin Soon, Normal Operation Expected In 2 Mos…. Santini Is Inaugurated… Speechless Beach… New NPP Suit Challenges Election Results… Pell Grant Support Reduced… Tirado Will Take Fight For Senate Seat To Court

Governor Names Tripartisan Committee On Tax Reform

January 18, 2005
Copyright © 2005
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – With the intention of attaining tripartisan consensus on tax reform, Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila has named a committee to look at the issue, with members from professional, academic, political and governmental groups.

The group will be co-directed by the president of the Certified Public Accountants, Andrés Murgado, and his colleague at the Economists Association, Luis Benitez.

"My intention is to achieve a proposal by consensus from the committee, which I will present to the Legislative Assembly," Acevedo Vila said, according to press reports.

The committee members also include the former PIP candidate for resident commissioner, who is also an economics professor, Edwin Irizarry Mora; the director of the School of Public Administration at the University of Puerto Rico, Palmira Rios; the designated Treasury Secretary, Juan Carlos Mendez; and the nominated director for the Office of Management and Budget, Ileana Fas Pacheco.

Acevedo Vila Tells Cabinet Members To Cut Costs

January 18, 2005
Copyright © 2005
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vila has given his Cabinet 10 days to deliver proposals on how to reduce costs at their agencies.

The governor also instructed the agency chiefs to evaluate the proposals of civic groups and the platforms of the three political parties to look for similarities and areas where they overlap.

"My government is one of inclusion. With this I want to say that you have to listen to not only elected politicians, but also the diverse areas of Puerto Rican society," Acevedo Vila said, according to news reports.

The governor insisted that agencies will have to make more effective use of public funds, consolidate offices, costs and work supplies.

New Economic Proposal Ready In 1-2 Months

January 18, 2005
Copyright © 2005
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The new economic development proposal that will be boosted by the Puerto Rico government in the federal capital, Washington, D.C., could be finished in one to two months, said the director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, Eduardo Bhatia.

He said the alternatives of the Puerto Rico executive branch will depend on a proposal from President George W. Bush for the United States that has not been completed yet.

"The president is going to present a proposal for global economic development. Where is Puerto Rico in this proposal? We have to wait one or two months to evaluate it," Bhatia said on his arrival to a Cabinet meting with Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila at La Fortaleza.

Bhatia, the defeated PDP candidate for mayor of San Juan, said in the preparation of the proposal it will be vital to collaborate with the resident commissioner, New Progressive Luis Fortuño.

Construction On Phase 2 Of Urban Train Could Begin Soon

January 18, 2005
Copyright © 2005
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The designated Transportation and Public Works Secretary,

Gabriel Alcaraz, said that at the end of this term construction on the second phase of the Urban Train could begin, which would take the transportation system into Carolina.

Federal requirements to receive funds mean that the Transportation and Public Works Department must do studies that demonstrate that the current roads in Carolina are not sufficient and that traffic in the area is very heavy.

"If all goes well, construction could begin at the end of the term," Alcaraz said.

He said the agency had already begun planning and environmental studies that would allow the extension.

He added they between seven and eight possible routes have already been identified, such as beginning one route at the underground station in Rio Piedras and ending it at the Roberto Clemente Stadium.

The new phase will use a train system similar to the first phase, but the stations will not be as large as the ones in Santurce and Bayamon.

Alcaraz said the cost of the second phase could be $1 billion.

Normal Operation Of Urban Train Should Begin Between Feb., March

January 17, 2005
Copyright © 2005
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The designated Transportation Secretary, Gabriel Alcaraz, announced that the regular operation of the Urban Train, including the start of fare collections, should start between Feb. 21 and March 21.

Alcaraz said that regular operations of the new train will start when it is completely coordinated with the Metropolitan Bus Authority and the public drivers that have united with the Integrated Alternative Transport.

"We have to wait until this is all meshed, when a ticket for service creates expectations of quality," Alcaraz said.

The general ticket for the train will be $1.50, including a bus transfer. For the moment, rides on weekends will continue to be free, Alcaraz said.

Santini Is Inaugurated As Mayor Of San Juan

January 17, 2005
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ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Dozens of people gathered Sunday at the ‘Paseo de la Princesa’ to witness the second inauguration of Jorge Santini as the mayor of San Juan.

The event was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., but at 3 p.m. it had not begun, as some of the officials who had said they would attend had not yet arrived – among them, Pedro Rossello and Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila.

Rossello, the president of the New Progressive Party, had confirmed that he would attend, and did not send advance word that he would be unable to come.

Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila was present, though some in the crowd booed him.

Among the officials present were the House President Jose Aponte and Senate President Kenneth McCLintock. Also, former president of Rossello’s campaign team, Juan R. Melecio and the former secretary general of the NPP, Maria Milagros Charbonier.

Speechless Beach

Compiled by Eric Michael | Sentinel Staff writer

January 16, 2005
Copyright © 2005
THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

Connoisseurs of sand will find a list of 50 "Beaches That Leave You Speechless" in the latest issue of Caribbean Travel & Life magazine. The "Ultimate Beaches" feature covers the region's best.

Here[’s one] of the magazine's favorites:

  • Flamenco Beach, Culebra, a sandy paradise that's a 17-mile ferry ride from Puerto Rico, is devoid of development, save for a rusting tank left over from the island's military heritage.

New NPP Lawsuit Challenges Election Results

January 15, 2005
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ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Another group of New Progressive Party (NPP) activists has challenged the election of Anibal Acevedo Vila as governor in a lawsuit, using arguments brought up in the previous federal complaint filed by the NPP leadership.

Judge Oscar Davila Suliveres scheduled a hearing for 2 p.m. on Jan. 18, but warned that the plaintiffs did not leave a telephone number for him to summon them, and the mail notification may not reach them by that date.

"In the administrative matter, some of the fraudulent, illegal or irregular actions were never taken under consideration," the lawsuit says, which was reviewed by the press.

Also, they allege that that sum of the irregularities cited in the appeal of the election review represent votes that could change the results of the election.

Universities Will See Reduction In Pell Grant Support

January 15, 2005
Copyright © 2005
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – A significant percentage of the 193,000 university students who receive the Pell grant could see a reduction in their checks starting in the 2005-2006 school year due to an adjustment in the formula used by the U.S. Education Dept. to distribute funds.

The vice president of academic affairs at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Celeste Freytes, said that nearly 47 percent of the 37,713 students that have rights to the Pell grant at that school will lose $100 annually. Another group of between 200 to 250 students will not receive the $400 they get in annual support.

"Because credit costs at UPR are so low ($30 for undergraduates), it is possible reductions will not have an adverse affect on the academic aspirations of our students," Freytes said in an interview.

Other universities on the island, besides UPR, have not yet calculated the effect the changes in the Pell grant distribution could have on their students.

Tirado Will Take Fight For Senate Seat To Court

January 14, 2005
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ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Former legislator Calvin Tirado announced he will file an appeal in the courts to oblige the New Progressive Party (NPP) to hold a primary in order to fill the vacant Senate seat for the Arecibo district, which was opened by the resignation of Victor Loubriel, and to which former governor Pedro Rosselló also aspires.

The NPP directory decided Tuesday to hold a delegate assembly to fill the chair, and candidates have until Jan. 24 to file their desire to take the post. The assembly is scheduled for Feb. 20.

"I have obtained lawyers that are going to assess the case and they have instructed me not to comment. I am not going to comment, but I am going to submit a motion that will give me the right to a primary of the people," Tirado said, according to a local newspaper.

Tirado also said he will not file his candidacy in the NPP while the group’s leadership insists on a delegate assembly as the process for selecting Loubriel’s substitute.

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