Comptroller Gives Failing Grade to San Juan Mayor on City Finances
SAN JUAN—Puerto Rico Comptroller Yesmín Valdivieso blasted San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Monday, giving a grade of “F” to the mayor’s handling of the capital city’s finances and refuting the mayor’s claims of having a surplus in the municipal coffers.
During an AM news radio interview in Notiuno 630, Valdivieso said that Cruz had earned a failing grade because “she is carrying a debt of [around] $888 million as of June 2014.” The comptroller added that the mayor’s claims of a surplus were “not real because the so-called surplus is the result of a loan.”
Valdivieso also criticized Mayagüez Mayor José Guillermo Rodríguez and his staff for allegedly hiding crucial auditing information. “We had to halt an audit at one point because [city hall employees] did not want to talk to us,” she said. “There was almost a fear of disclosing any financial number, and this made us think that they were trying to hide something.”
The comptroller’s remarks prompted Mercedes Gautier, a New Progressive Party candidate to the House of Representatives, to call on the House committee in charge of seeing the comptroller’s reports to investigate Cruz’s handling of city finances.
“[The municipal government of] San Juan keeps an unreal surplus based on loans that during this term have added some $309 million to the municipal debt,” Gautier said. “Even Gov. Alejandro García Padilla has said that she has taken out loans [from the government’s central bank].”
“The committee should investigate and determine if this was a prudent course of action or if, on the contrary, it would leave San Juan in a fiscal hole that will take decades to get out of,” she noted.
Cruz also had her defenders, among them the former president of the Popular Democratic Party and current pre-candidate for resident commissioner in Washington, Héctor Ferrer. “The comptroller should get in her official vehicle during working hours and travel through the streets of San Juan, so she can see the positive changes that are being seen and felt in the city’s communities,” he said.