The first domino has fallen. On November 7, the city of Toa Baja officially shut down. There is no local government, no government services, 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.
Mayor Borges says goodbye…before all hell breaks loose
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.
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…and 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, you know.”
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 (FCB).
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.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
Si prefiere ver la página web en español por favor visite: http://www.guerracontratodoslospuertorriquenos</span