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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Mayors Assn. urges Legislature to put more anti-corruption teeth in Municipal Code

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico Mayors Association President Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz called upon the Legislature on Wednesday to approve several bills that amend the Municipal Code to reduce corruption.

“The former [Popular Democratic Party] mayor of Trujillo Alto, José Luis Cruz Cruz, pleaded guilty to acts of corruption. From the Mayors Association of Puerto Rico we reiterate our firm rejection of the use of public funds for any other purpose than offering services to the communities,” said the mayor of Villalba. “To all public servants of the municipality, we urge you to continue fulfilling your obligation to offer services to the population. Nobody is above the law. This situation highlights the importance of being stricter in the management of public administration, and we in the Association have fulfilled our obligation to make recommendations and present alternatives.”

In February, papers were filed in favor of House bills 1113, 1116 and 1117, which propose amendments to the Municipal Code in the areas of solid waste contracting.

“As part of that process, we also met with most of the deans of the departments of public administration of the University of Puerto Rico [campuses], with the Office of the Comptroller and the Government Ethics Office,” Hernández Ortiz said. “After these meetings and listening to their recommendations, we analyzed proposing amendments to the Municipal Code.”

The measures are the following:

* Establish greater rigor in the public bidding and purchase processes, so that the space for possible corruption can be eliminated.

* Hold public bids in solid waste management.

* Reduce the number of contracts that would require public bids.

* Keep emergency purchases to a minimum to set clear limits.

* Continuously train all those who participate in the purchasing processes.

* Ensure that municipal public servants at all levels and ranks comply with required continuing education.

* Impose progressive disciplinary sanctions on municipal public servants who do not comply with the hours of continuing education in ethics established by the Government Ethics Office.

* Include specific compliance language in all municipal contracting.

* Activate recruitment by complying with the principle of merit in a strict and non-cosmetic way.

* Forbid people who participate in a municipal government transition committee from being contractors later.

* Reassess potential conflicts of interest in municipal development corporations.

* Review the audit reports made by the Comptroller’s Office along with the outstanding indications, especially those repeated, to avoid and correct them.

* Consider the possibility of reactivating the Office of the Municipal Affairs Commissioner, which was eliminated.

* Establish prohibitions on contracting with contributors to political campaigns after general or special elections.

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