Days away from opening, work on the new McDonald’s has been ordered stopped due to the removal of a Jacaranda tree. The restaurant is located on Av. Astudillo Florence, across the street from Parque de la Madre.
The city says it had denied a request by the owners to remove the tree in front of the restaurant and had ordered the project to take extra precautions to preserve adjacent vegetation. “Despite our order, they went ahead and removed the tree illegally,” said Juan Pablo Galvez, legal advisor for the environmental office of the Municipal Sanitation Department.
The tree removal occurred Sunday night in the hopes, according to Galvez, that it would escape the notice of authorities. City personnel were tipped off, however, and arrived just as the 15-year-old tree was being felled.
Owners of the McDonald’s franchise have been ordered to replace the tree and repair any other environmental damage to the area between the sidewalk and Av. Astudillo Florence. They have also been ordered to pay a fine. By law, the stop order on construction will be in place for at least 10 days.
Coopera members refuse to attend meeting
Members of the failed financial cooperative Coopera have again refused to participate in a government meeting to discuss the process to repay unpaid account holders. About 670 out of 116,000 members, including 120 North American expats, remain unpaid. It is the third attempt by Superintendent of Popular and Solidarity Economy (SEPS) to convene a board of Coopera members.
Gustavo Quito, attorney for unpaid members, said his group refuses to participate because it has not been allowed to be part of making decisions surrounding the coop closure and liquidation. He also complained that SEPS sold the financial institution’s loan portfolio on unfavorable terms, limiting the amount of money that unpaid members can recoup.
Doris Soliz, director of the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES), under which SEPS operates, was scheduled to attend the meeting had it been held.
Meanwhile, SEPS reports that it is investigating the possible loss of $48.8 million in coop funds due to illegal activities.
SEPS Superintendent Hugo Jacome says the money was used in a variety of transcations, including real estate acquisitions, overpayment for services and inflated inventories.
He also said that Coopera’s board of directors was derelict in its duties and appeared to be “totally submissive” to the financial requests of general manager Rodrigo Aucay. Aucay was arrested in June and is awaiting trial.
City says bus transfer system will soon be operational
The city’s Municipal Traffic Management (DMT) office says that the new bus transfer stations will begin operations in November and that new bus routes will soon be announced.
DMT director Boris Palacios says that all agreements between the city and bus operators have been signed and details of the new system agreed to. Bus operators had objected to the new bus transfer system, claiming that it would cost them revenue.
The transfer stations, on Av. España and on Av. De las Americas near the Fiera Libre mercado, have been standing empty for more than a year due to the dispute.
Palacio said that the city would begin a public information campaign within weeks to advise the public of route changes. Once that the transfer stations open, he said, all route changes will be operational within a month.
Palacio said the city and bus operators agreed to monitor the new system once it becomes operational to assure that it does not adversely affect bus riders or operators.
Photo caption: Offical posts stop order on McDonald’s construction site; Arrested Coopera general manager Rodrigo Aucay; Photo credit: (McDonald’s) El Mercurio