Monday, August 19, 2019
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I’m keeping an eye on you

At the last municipal elections, I made a mistake. After having chosen the wrong candidate in the two previous electoral periods (since the policies that they adopt in practice are only recognised much later), at the last elections I didn’t even vote. I thought to myself that, when you have to choose between a bad candidate and an even worse candidate, it’s better to stay at home or put on a yellow vest and go down to the town hall to open some windows (see what happened in France), so that some fresh air can enter the offices where bureaucracy reigns.

Another alternative would be to dump a load of eucalyptus trees in front of the town hall building, so that the mayor and his gang can wake up before next summer comes around. It’s just that fires don’t happen on rainy days! And next summer is almost upon us. A year passes quickly.

Why am I writing this? Because we’re already in the middle of another period of local government, while in May there are elections for the European Parliament and in the autumn parliamentary elections in Portugal. Dear reader, set your alarm to wake you in time to vote. So that you don’t regret the result. Because in our country and also in our town, power has been divided between the two large parties; alternating between Socialists and Social Democrats. They’re the dishes of the day, which all taste the same. Take a look at the party menu that the ballot paper offers you. There are certainly other options. It doesn’t always have to be the same old “roast pork”.

But I’m also writing about this to tell you a little story. Recently, the mayor of this municipality (PSD), with the support of the opposition votes of the Municipal Council (PS), wasted the possibility of raising 500,000 euros in taxes. His own party didn’t entirely agree with him. They rebelled. This council is fundamentally bankrupt and impoverished due to the constant fires we’ve been suffering. But the mayor didn’t accept this money, for example, to create a fund for the victims of the latest fires, so that his council could support the citizens who voted for him in rebuilding their houses. No! He simply decreed an exemption from the Municipal Tax on Property Transactions (IMT) of half a million euros to a hotel group that was buying a hotel business. But the hotel group can’t be very pleased either because now, around the hotel, everything is burned. Tourists are no longer going to be taken in by the song and dance of marketing. What burned, burned and even the most beautiful images touched up with Photoshop can’t conceal this fact. If our mayor had acted as he had proclaimed in his fine words (before the fires), the fire would probably have ploughed through less of this land.

IMT is an important tax for municipalities: important for enabling us to have well-equipped and decentralised firefighters, with larger teams and less beholden to the eucalyptus “mafia”. The man in charge in this region is just over 40 years old. Some may say, in his defence, that perhaps he is too young for this responsibility. But no, he’s been in office for ten years. It’s his third and final legislative term. Let him finish his term in peace, perhaps others will say. No!

This mayor hasn’t understood the challenges of our times. He doesn’t assume his responsibilities, partly because he’s adopted a stance that belongs to the past. One of the challenges is to work transparently and within the law. He doesn’t know this. He can’t even make it to an appointment on time. A tax revenue of half a million euros, in times of climate change, should be used by the mayor for projects that are of interest to the municipality: for a change to the Municipal Master Plan (PDM); for a long-term reforestation project; for support for the victims of fires; for genuine support to local agriculture and forestry, provided these are practised in a sustainable way. These are projects that could be initiated and given continuous support with these financial resources. Avoid CO2 emissions, this is the message that must be given if we want to guarantee a future for our children. When a mayor takes 500,000 euros of municipal funds and distributes them transparently for the good of all, he no longer has to listen to rumours about pigs that are corrupt and bribed.

lixo monchique

About pigs. It was this same mayor who bought the municipality an intensive pig farm that was in ruins, whose roof, like the school’s (see Issue no. 24), is made of asbestos. At the time, I didn’t understand the reason for doing this. He told us that this was where he intended to establish the new school for the training of firefighters, making the announcement with great pomp and circumstance. But what do these statements from the past matter? Now it’s set to be the new heliport. But what we see there at the moment is a disused concentration camp for pigs – pigs that long ago were fattened, slaughtered and eaten.

Actually, it’s no longer worth fattening pigs in an industrial way. The manure can no longer be spread on the earth willy-nilly, because there are laws regulating the treatment of effluents. And this costs money and it’s not a small amount. And what did the Town Council do, despite being a supervisory body for the environment and having a responsibility to control environmental situations? The council piled up the asbestos and plastic on its own land and burned it illegally in an open rubbish dump. But who is controlling whom here? What level of environmental competence is there in the offices of our Town Hall? How much rubbish still has to be swept under the carpet until someone rebels and says that’s enough? Because diseases like cancer don’t fall out of the sky like this!

How many mistakes can we make by not going to vote because we can’t decide between two candidates … Maybe soon we will have a third candidate in the municipality. A candidate that everyone (after careful analysis) thinks is honest and upright. Hope is the last thing to die. But this time maybe not.

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