[News] The Disaster Begins: the city of Toa Baja shuts down in Puerto Rico
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 22 17:10:57 EST 2016
The Disaster Begins: the city of Toa Baja shuts down in Puerto Rico
November 22, 2016
The first domino has fallen. On November 7, the city of Toa Baja
officially shut down. There is no local government, no government
and the only remaining employees – the police
– are now working without pay.
If the police stop working…then chaos will consume the city of Toa Baja.
*A CHRONOLOGY FROM HELL *
The first sign of disaster came from the mayor himself.
When Anibal Vega Borges lost the primary election on June 5, 2016, he
wasted no time in abandoning his sinking ship.
Just eighteen days later, Borges announced his immediate retirement
and an interim mayor – Jorge Ortíz – was appointed until December 31, 2016.
And then a hellish chronology unfolded…
A few weeks later in August, the Toa Baja municipal hospital/(Centro de
Diagnostico y Tratamiento – CDT)/ is put up for sale in order to “pay
outstanding municipal debts
The city stops paying its 884 employees
Municipal employees are still working unpaid, since October 15.
They demonstrate to demand their wages, and to call the ex-mayor a thief
and a coward <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q22397qaM14>.
*November 4 *
Senior citizen nutrition programs
close throughout the city.
*November 7 – THE BIG DAY*
The CDT hospital is sold
for $4,251,000 to private buyers, in order to “pay municipal debts.”
All 884 city employees are sent home “on vacation
and the government of Toa Baja shuts down.
All government offices close, and 88,000 city residents
are left without municipal services.
*But it gets worse…*
The press is suddenly informed that the Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) has frozen all of Toa Baja’s accounts.
Because for years, the government of Toa Baja had been withholding
social security payments from all its employees’ paychecks…
*But it kept the money, and failed to forward it to the IRS !*
The debt to the IRS exceeds $1.5 million
the IRS will not un-freeze the bank accounts of Toa Baja, until the debt
is fully repaid.
The government is still shut down.
No one has been paid.
Interim mayor Jorge Ortíz is under so much pressure, that he tells the
press: “Keep it up…I can quit this job tomorrow
As of today, a mere handful of the 884 employees are still working.
These are mostly policemen
and *_none_* of them have been paid since October 15.
*MORE DOMINOES MAY FALL*
Toa Baja is the first municipal tragedy in Financial Control Board
Puerto Rico. But what is even more frightening, is the municipal default
landscape throughout the entire island.
If Toa Baja was keeping two sets of books with the IRS, what are all the
/other /municipalities doing…not only with the IRS, but with their
pension, vendor and contractor accounts?
The total long-term debt for all 78 Puerto Rico municipalities surpassed
the $5 billion mark in 2015, and all of them have pension obligations
that are not fully accounted for.
At least 25 cities in Puerto Rico currently receive over 50 percent of
their general fund revenue from the Commonwealth government…but the
Commonwealth will now be run by a cost-cutting Financial Control Board
What will the FCB say, and do, to these 25 cities?.
Toa Baja was only the first domino. There are 77 more…and all of them
are in trouble.
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