Tuesday, 1 June 2021

New Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević: Sandra Benčić (Mozemo!) On First Moves

June 1, 2021 - With the new Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević soon coming to the office, Sandra Benčić of the green-left platform Mozemo! (We Can!) spoke to Index.hr about the first moves of the new administration.

Following intense post-first round campaigns in Zagreb for the second round of local elections, Tomislav Tomašević is the new mayor of Zagreb. Additionally, Tomašević's green-left coalition Mozemo! earned 23 seats in the City's assembly, and if the previously announced support of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) that has five, Mozemo! will have the majority in the assembly. 

The new mayor is expected to take his seat by the end of this week, and as Index.hr reports, Sandra Benčić, the Mozemo! MP says that ZG Holding chief and directors can be removed from their position immediately.

However, first and foremost, the earthquake damages seem to be taking the lead.

„The most urgent thing is to prepare documentation for the reconstructions of kindergartens, schools, and institutions in the city ownership that were damaged in the earthquake. We have to do that as fast as possible because the deadline to pull money from the EU Solidarity Fund is June 2022. I'm afraid there will be a fiasco regarding how much will the State pull from the fund, but we can only take the money for estates in the city property, and the damaged kindergartens and schools are our priority“, told Benčić for Index.hr

She added that they plan to start an Office for Zagreb Reconstruction and establish mobile teams which will help citizens to fill in documentation and requests for the reconstruction of damaged homes.

Regarding the statement about the fiasco with the State pulling money from Solidarity Fund, the conflict with the government was sparked yesterday when PM Andrej Plenković talked to the press regarding Tomašević's victory. He said he didn't congratulate Tomašević yet, but he will and that he expects good cooperation.

„I see that Mozemo! is paraphrasing my message from 2016 when I said that we are changing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) so we can change Croatia. They say they are changing Zagreb to change Croatia. Clearly, they have something against this Croatia“, said Plenković, sparking controversy.

And Benčić is not the one to remain silent on such statements.

„Yes, we do have something against this kind of HDZ and evening HDZ with the State. They are not the State but an interest group that trapped our country. We want to see the country returns to all its citizens and that, of course, hurts them to the level that the prime minister allows himself these kinds of statements which, if they weren't malice, would be at minimal, unsmart“, said Benčić.

With the biggest number of votes in the history of mayoral elections in Zagreb, Benčić continues they are ready to justify this trust, and they start with work immediately.

„We are going with the financial revision of City's administration, restructuring City offices. We will do it step by step and connect offices while ensuring that functions and services need to deliver to the citizens. It should be noted that Zagreb used to have fewer offices, 17 until 2000 and then offices start to grow exponentially, only to put politically suited people to positions and raise their payments“, explained Benčić.

 And the new Mayor Tomislav Tomašević also gave an interview on Monday. As Jutarnji List reported, Tomašević also talked about his plans to improve Zagreb and fulfill his promises, particularly with so many earned votes.

„This big trust is also a big responsibility. Citizens can expect that we will lead by example from the start. The city administration and authority will be based on three things: decency, modesty, and being at the citizen's service.

He also added that Mozemo! is considering filing a lawsuit against Miroslav Škoro for the filthy instigating campaign, as Tomašević and many other public figures described it.

„I wouldn't like this to happen to anyone anymore on any other elections in Croatia, regardless are we talking about a candidate from the right, left or center," commented Tomašević.

Although no direct link can be proved at the moment, Škoro's rhetoric could've been the fuel for the attacker that set fire to the Mozemo! election headquarters at Zagreb Contemporary Museum on the election night saying to the gathered that „they are communists“ and how he will „kill them all“, on which T-portal reported

The elections are over, but will Zagreb continue to celebrate in such a majority as it did on election night? This is something only Tomašević on his new function can answer in the following months and years.

Learn more about Zagreb on our TC page.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Zagreb City Administration Has More Employees Than That of London

A look at the Zagreb city administration and just how many needless individuals it employs instead of boldly stepping forward into digitisation, you know, like the rest of the developed world in the 21st century.

Croatia is famous for many things. From the sparkling Adriatic sea to the glorious landscapes, to the food, the warm hospitality of the people to great minds like Nikola Tesla and Slavoljub Penkala. All of these positives make for an excellent impression of a gorgeous country that produces talent across all fields, from Luka Modric and the sporting world to Oliver Dragojevic and the musical one. One other thing it is famous for (or perhaps it is better to say infamous) to those of us who live and work here, is its masochistic love of paper, stamps, and providing job positions to blood suckers who enjoy watching people pointlessly wait in lines.

Let's look at another European country. It's a little further north on the map, it's a bit more rainy, the food can be a bit grim, and it is made up of four constituent countries, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Equally famed for its beauty and talent, from its rolling green hills and wild beaches to William Shakepeare and David Beckham, the United Kingdom is home to one of the most expensive cities in all of Europe, and one of the financial centres of the planet - the City of London.

Zagreb boasts a population of just under one million. London boasts a population of almost nine million, more than the entire population of Croatia, much less its capital. One would imagine London's city administration operations to be vast and complicated. One might expect this entity to be a machine that employs countless people, all yelling and throwing paper around. Quite on the contrary, unlike that of Zagreb.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 24th of April, 2020, the City of London publishes a workforce report every six months. As Faktograf reports, according to that document, at the end of September last year, 1074 employees were employed in the City Administration in London, with 97 agency workers working for the City Administration.

The Zagreb city administration currently employs around 3,200 civil servants and state employees. One must ask why a city of less than one million residents needs 3000+ city administration employees. What on earth is their purpose? One must also ask why Croatia is continuing to so fiercely resist the process of digitisation. It has to be admitted that the coronavirus crisis we're currently in the middle of has forced the country into the 21st century, but without the pandemic, very many things would have remained exactly the same.

Waiting in long lines grasping handfulls of documents and photocopies of them, not even being looked at until you show your ID card, being yelled at by poorly trained employees who know they won't lose their jobs no matter how unacceptably they behave and needing to take entire days off work much to employers' dismay just for the pleasure of it is the Croatian norm. At least it has been until the anti-epidemic measures came into force. But will it continue to be? Will this unprecedented situation be a desperately needed learning curve?

It will be interesting to see just how much Croatia takes from this pandemic when it is all over. Will the country begin to understand that an EU country should not be operating in such a fashion anymore? More importantly, will city administration employees, tax office employees and others across the vast spectrum of the nation's administrative, uhljebic culture finally begin to realise that those computers in their offices serve for more than just playing Angry Birds and Solitaire?

Maybe. But probably not.

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