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Acevedo: Vieques cleanup not yet a priority
The San Juan Star | December 26, 2002 | BY ROBERT FRIEDMAN

Posted on 12/26/2002 6:06:52 AM PST by 4Freedom

The cleanup of Vieques will not be a New Year priority here for the Calderon administration, at least not until after May 1, when the Navy is supposed to end its exercises on the small island, Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila has indicated.

Congressional action on Vieques is now "closed" - as far as the Navy exiting the island is concerned, said the resident commissioner. He did not foresee trying to rally help for the cleanup in Congress for many months, if at all.

"After May, we will have to sit down with federal agencies to talk about a cleanup," Acevedo Vila said. "It will take time to decide whether any congressional action would be needed" to press for the cleanup of unexploded munitions and other fallout from half a century of Navy war games, he said.

The Resident commissioner acknowledged he still had no official word from Navy Secretary Gordon England that military maneuvers would end by May. But he gave assurances that the Navy departure in a little over four months time was "a done deal."

Environmentalists, and others, are trying to get the Calderon administration to request the federal government to declare Vieques a Superfund site, which supposedly will speed the cleanup.

In a recent visit to the island, Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Whitman said the agency would keep tabs on Defense Department efforts towards cleanup, which she called a priority in her administration because of the "sensitivities" involved in the issue.

Acevedo Vila said the commonwealth's two main priorities in the 108th Congress, which convenes in mid-January, would be jobs and infrastructure.

"We will be looking at how Puerto Rico could benefit in terms of any new initiative to improve the U.S. economy, and for the island's share in infrastructure programs, especially transportation."

He noted that the new Congress would be reauthorizing a five-year transportation bill that will cover programs for highways, buses, ferries and other mass transportation.

Funding for Urban Train, new Metropolitan Bus Authority vehicles and the cleanup of the Martin Pena Channel will be part of the transportation appropriations bill, he said. Puerto Rico will be seeking up to $59 million for the yearly federal outlay to the light-rail project and some $85 million for the first-stage in the 10-year-effort to rehabilitate the Martin Pena waterway. While the Calderon administration has decided to pull back on its insistence that a federal tax-sparing program is the principle way for Puerto Rico to boost its economy, Acevedo Vila said that the Section 956 tax plan would still be sought from Congress. Most observers agree that the commonwealth will try to get 956 incorporated into new tax legislation the Bush administration is expected to come up with next year.

The island's non-voting House member said two other targets would be a boost in Medicare reimbursements to island hospitals and the inclusion of island seniors in any federal prescription drug plan. He also hopes to get more child-care funds for the island as welfare reform wends its way through Congress.

Many of the above programs were approved in committee or one chamber last year, but the full Congress failed to give the final OK on the overall legislation that contained the provisions for the island.

Acevedo Vila said that Bill Frist, R-Tenn., the new Senate majority leader, supported Medicare raises for the island in the last Congress. Frist, whose family owns a chain of hospitals, is a heart-lung transplant surgeon. The new Senate chief also gave a "positive response" to bringing the island up to parity in Title 1 education funds, as approved last year, the resident commissioner said.

"Those were the only two issues on which we requested his support, and he was willing to help us on both," said Acevedo Vila.

Despite the close relationship that the Calderon administration had formed with Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., who was forced to resign as Senate chief because of racially insensitive remarks, Acevedo Vila did not see Puerto Rico as being hurt in the upper chamber. He said that Lott "did the right thing" by resigning his post and added that he would attempt to form a similar bonding for the island with Frist.

TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: pandering; politicians; puertorico; rippedoff; section956; taxscam; usnavy; ustaxpayers; vieques; votebuying
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman was in Puerto Rico in early December pledging all kinds of millions in U.S. Taxpayer's dollars for all kinds of projects in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico's estimated haul for Social Security, Student Loans, Education, Medicare and Foodstamps this year alone is going to be somewhere around $16.5 Billion U.S. Taxpayer's dollars.

They're still out to steal the island of Vieques out from under the U.S. Taxpayers even though we may have new wars in Irag and North Korea in addition to our continued involvement in Afghanistan.

Puerto Rico is looking for $500 million more U.S. Taxpayer's dollars in addition to the $850 million they've already received for their new Urban train.

Their Section 956, windfall, tax scam isn't dead by any means, yet. Section 956 would raid jobs and 'Billions and Billions' of U.S. Taxpayer's dollars from the U.S Taxpayers.

Federal government spending programs and tax breaks are the cornerstone of the Puerto Rican economy.

The U.S. Taxpayer owned land that they can con our pandering politicians into giving them for FREE is icing on the cake.

1 posted on 12/26/2002 6:06:52 AM PST by 4Freedom
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To: All
Here's something else they don't tell the tourists.

From the San Juan Star for Thursday, December 19, 2002:

Puerto Rico had more alcohol-related deaths in traffic accidents than any state in the United States last year, according to a federal government study released Wednesday.

With 1.38 per 100 million vehicle miles in 2001, the island's rate is more than double the national rate of 0.63, says the report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission.

In Puerto Rico, a person is four to five times more likely to be killed in a drunken driving accident than in Utah, which has the lowest rate.

Puerto Rico still has an 18-year-old drinking age, and has refused to change it despite the loss of federal highway funds.

You know what they don't mention? How Puerto Rico measures up to the states in non-accident related drinking and driving arrests. I'll bet enforcement is almost non-existant.

2 posted on 12/26/2002 6:38:08 AM PST by 4Freedom
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To: madfly; Sabertooth; Tancredo Fan; Reaganwuzthebest; Barnacle; Poohbah; WRhine
Here's where a large chunk of the money we could be using to build our walls with is going.

In one day, Christine Todd Whitman promised Puerto Rico twice as much money as we're going to gift Afghanistan to secure their borders.

It's like a variation of that old joke about owning a boat.

Puerto Rico is a big hole in the ocean that our pandering politicians throw enormous amounts of U.S. Taxpayer's dollars into. It never stops.

3 posted on 12/26/2002 7:32:13 AM PST by 4Freedom
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To: 4Freedom
The tourism dollars they gain and the absence of income tax more than make up for the lost highway funding.
4 posted on 12/26/2002 9:25:07 AM PST by wideawake
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To: wideawake
I believe I read that tourism is only 5% to 8% of their GDP. There were 5 million tourists to the island in 1999.

I'm sure they drink while they're on the island, but it's local consumption that drives the alcohol industry in Puerto Rico. It seems that every second storefront is a bar in some areas I've been through.

Puerto Rico has a labor force of 1.4 million. A third of them work for the government. The electric and water companies are still nationalized. The phone company was only recently sold off.

Puerto Rico lists their labor force - by occupation like this:

Agriculture 3%, Industry 20%, Services 77%

Unemployment 12.5%

There's no specific mention of Puerto Rico's government or the U.S. federal government as employers in their 'facts and figures', but I've read it elsewhere.

I believe the U.S. federal government is the next biggest employer. Between the U.S. Post Office, the IRS offices, FEMA, all the military bases, Federal Courts, Border Patrol, DEA, EPA, the new TSA, National Parks, etc., every federal agency has enough offices in Puerto Rico to employ another third I'd bet.

There's no federal income tax paid by most residents of Puerto Rico, but they do pay local income tax.

There are no sales or property taxes to speak of. Thanks to the generosity of the U.S Taxpayers, the ingrates in Puerto Rico don't have worry about taxes like that.

There's also a definite lack of diversity on the island. According to the Census 2000, Puerto Rico is:

8% Black

11.5% Other

80.5% White (mostly Spanish in origin)

There's also no penalty for Puerto Rican terrorists fire bombing Navy convoys on Vieques.

The government of Puerto Rico just let these 4 terrorists go, because they said there was no probable cause to sentence them.

4 Protesters held for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at Navy on Vieques.

5 posted on 12/26/2002 12:17:35 PM PST by 4Freedom
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