Sunday, 25 August 2013

Depose her or not?

The underground, divided into two separate sections since 29 June was opened last Friday, 9 days before original deadline. The decision the two stations located in the hub of the capital would be opened on Friday was announced on Monday and accidentally coincided with another important piece of news.

Last Monday it was proclaimed the number of valid signatures collected was sufficient to call the referendum. Now the fate of mayor lies in voters’ hands. Thus, the campaign has started out. The communiqués in the underground on Thursday and Friday smacked of success propaganda. The tone in which a speaker informed the passengers of the success of getting ahead of the schedule was repulsive and infuriating. I looked at fellow passengers’ faces and felt I was not the only one holding such view.

Is the just called referendum a political move or an essential step taken to improve the way capital is governed? Probably the answer is ‘both’, however with a tilt at the former. The current mayor had several slip-ups, which spoilt her image rather than had real influence on how the capital is run, but also made several errors, some of which are hard to be forgiven.

What I remember and hold against her? Increasing the number of clerks in the town hall, bonuses and pay rises for them, ignorance in terms of the simple things that affect city inhabitants (e.g. how much a single ticket costs), badly organised implementation of new rubbish collection law. And that complacency, conceit and smugness she and her henchmen exude every day.

Which situations will I remember? Her refusal to purchase an entrance ticket for 5 PLN, her statements irate drivers sitting in traffic jam on detour of the flooded tunnel along the river should enjoy beautiful sights, the ludicrous page showing what was done since the beginning of her first term in 2006 – the map is full of spots, such as “building an individual waterworks link to a building located… for 65 thousand zlotys”.

What I cannot understand? How, despite ticket price hikes, proceeds from public transport fares diminished? Laffer curve worked in practice? I am in two minds about rising prices of public transport – the value for money in terms of 90-day ticket is still damn good, but how come a 20-minutes ticket costs the equivalent of petrol used to drive 7 kilometres in town (if you drive on your own, take three passengers and same money is enough to drive 28 kilometres – from one end of the capital to the other).

What I can say to defend her – really a lot has been done in the capital since the beginning of her first term, the stride made is noticeable. The city has caught up on development that was really overdue… Lack of proper co-ordination is the other story… Only the one who does nothing does not make mistakes… In 2010 voters elected her almost unanimously, as the first term was indeed fine. Only later she fell into the same trap of complacency as her party did…

I am registered beyond the borders of capital, so even if wanted, I would not have the right to vote. If I could, I would definitely go, but cannot tell you in which rectangle I would put a cross. The party is shooting itself in a foot by discouraging citizens from participation in the referendum which is a vital instrument in democracy. If somebody thinks the mayor should stay, they should go and vote against ousting her. They probably think urging on boycotting the referendum is a better strategy as the low turnout will make it invalid. Guys, this is a dead-end street. The true virtue will defend itself (in fact here you cannot talk about a true virtue, so a drowning man tries to catch a straw), so whoever thinks she should hold the office until the end of the term, do not stay at home!

What will the referendum change? My guess is nothing, it will just serve as a barometer of support for the mayor and her party. The more probable scenario is that she is deposed. Then the prime minister will likely appoint a caretaker mayor to run the city until local election scheduled in autumn 2014.

No matter what you think of it, follow my short reasoning. You cannot have your flat refurbished without letting in painters and having to endure a few days of total mess (or spending more time doing it on your own and falling flat on you face at the end). Similarly, you cannot enjoy the pleasure of using modernised infrastructure without enduring inconveniences beforehand. In other words, each improvement requires some sacrifice… Therefore I put up with inconveniences patiently.

I somehow sense the summer won’t last long, autumn will come this year soon and will be chilly, wet and gloom. Take delight in wonderful weather until it flies past.

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