Regular business of Chapala’s municipal government was hampered this week after the Sixth Civil Court of Jalisco imposed a freeze on its bank assets.
The lien applies to 38 bank accounts that hold funds used to carry out regular operations, pay employee salaries, cover social benefits and continue public works projects that are under way, essentially paralyzing all government business.
The judicial order derives from a lawsuit filed against City Hall by a lawyer hired by the previous administration who sued for non-payment of his 3.5-million-peso contract as an outside legal counsel.
Abelardo Martínez Ayón was contracted under former Mayor Joaquín Huerta to defend the city against the complaint lodged by MK Ideas Tech and Comers, the private companies that held concession to install and operated parking meters in the downtown area.
The deal was set up during the 2010-2012 administration of Jesús Cabrera. After Huerta took steps to rescind the concession, the businesses went to court to demand payment of a 44-million-peso penalty laid out in an early cancellation clause in their contract. The government ended up losing the case, making it responsible for covering the steep penalty.
Mayor Javier Degollado blames Martinez for a faulty defense that caused the costly legal debacle, and has expressed his outrage at the lawyer’s claim for full payment.
Under the mayor’s instructions, Chapala legal department director Antonio Mendoza immediately set to work on drawing up an amparo injunction suit to reverse the financial freeze. Arguments will center on the ruling that appears to exceed the court’s legal powers by putting a lien on public funds rather than adhering to limitations referring solely to property and material assets. Meanwhile, city treasurer Roberto Molina is relying on day-by-day cash income to to cover essential expenses.