News from Amsterdam

To the front page

11/1 Jurists want to stay in Oudemanhuispoort

8/2 Mayor’s portrait

8/2 Websites for social cohesion

7/2 Spreading tourism proceeds with difficulty

7/2 GroenLinks on districts: Be a man

6/2 Zuideramstel opens new office on Sabbath

5/2 The truth about integration

4/2 Wilders has little support on Amsterdam

3/2 Elite involved in neighbourhood

2/2 Johnnie Walker avoids taxes in Amsterdam

1/2 Rotterdam to tinker with district councils as well

31/1 Wooden rowing boats to disappear from Amstel

31/1 ZeeburgTV launched

27/1 Privacy activists to mess up loyalty card system

27/1 A few were still coughing, but that was an act

27/1 Chrisis in de Baarsjes

26/1 Youth have positive view of districts

24/1 Action groups call for Carmel and Jaffa boycott

24/1 PvdA members dismiss plan for districts

23/1 KLM takes on crisis with new uniform

23/1 District office not squatted

21/1 Merge districts

20/1 Closing squat bar Vrankrijk not necessary

20/1 Cleaners welcome new Schiphol director

18/1 Palestine at the Jewish Historical Museum

18/1 What is the right size for a district?

17/1 PvdA Oost against fewer districts

16/1 Committee: 7 districts by 2010

15/1 Soldiers may attend Afghanistan debate after all

15/1 Bait bike leads to arrest

14/1 Youth for Christ to republish vacancies

13/1 Paintings of the Zuidas

13/1 New Youth for Christ contoversy

11/1 Social cohesion initiative raises eyebrows

10/1 Fewer districts in 2010

10/1 Zuidas: People feel that we are losers

9/1 Fun on the ice - but not for all

9/1 Supermarket coupon fraud thwarted

9/1 I Amsterdam must remain exclusive

8/1 Use term Apartheid in every discussion

8/1 No city kiosk in Amsterdam yet

7/1 Snow

7/1 Fatima Elatik to run Zeeburg

7/1 Municipal managers to return to shop floor

4/1 Police: take photo of strange people

3/1 Gaza protest criticises politicians

1/1 Thousands to protest against attacks on Gaza

1/1 Mustapha Laboui leaves district council


2008 Archive

2007 Archive

2006 Archive

2005 Archive





Stepping down because of subsidy

2 July 2006 – Last year, district council member André Bhola of the social-democrat PvdA party stepped down as chairman of the Anand Joti Foundation, to avoid even the semblance of a conflict of interests. Others are less rigorous. However, integrity is a matter of discussion in many districts.

Bhola is a district council member, and by now chairman of the council, in Zuidoost. The foundation that he headed has received a one-time subsidy of five thousand euro from the district. Bhola has stepped down as chairman of the foundation. He abstained from the discussion and from voting on the decision to award the subsidy.

Incidentally, to avoid the semblance of a conflict of interests was not the only reason to step down as chairman of the foundation. “It was also about the workload. I have reached the age to give young people a chance as well, and fortunately a good successor was available”, says Bhola.

One might ask whether it was really necessary from a perspective of integrity to step down. The PvdA party leader in Zuidoost, Lourens Burgers, is in doubt: “That is a very difficult question”.

“We want council members with close ties to the population and who are active in society, that is what we look for in the selection procedure”, says Burgers. “But it is extremely important to avoid even the semblance of a conflict of interests. You have to be very watchful”.

The districts keep a public record of the functions of council members and they have codes of conduct. As a general rule, these codes state that council members must avoid the semblance of a conflict of interests, but that it is pretty much their own responsibility how they deal with such issues.

In practice, situations in which councils decide on issues in which the interests of a council member are at stake are not very frequent, it appears from information provided by a number of registries. In Noord, the council has discussed places on the local market, where one of the members also has a place. The member abstained from the discussion and the vote on the issue.

In Oost, the council decided on a new use for the Frankendael House, which is inhabited by the mother of a council member. Here as well, the member abstained from the discussion and the vote.

The Zuidoost Registry reports that it happens ‘occasionally’: “subsidy for an organisation in which a council member is a board member or otherwise directly involved, commissioning an organisation that employs a council member or in which a member has a financial interest, even when it regards projects in the street where a council member lives, they usually abstain from participating in the decision making”.

In Centrum as well, it happens ‘sporadically’ that council members abstain from voting. “This is the responsibility of the council member and we do not keep a record of such incidents”, says the registry.

In ZuiderAmstel, there has been a discussion about a council member who was ‘on paper’ the director of a family business that is active in project development. The enterprise turned out not to work on projects in the district. The issue is no longer relevant, because the council member has stepped down as director.

In many districts, council members follow a course offered by the Integrity Office of the municipality. This is also the case in Zuidoost. PvdA leader Burgers: “In such a course, very probing questions are asked. Everybody makes a risk analysis of themselves. You ask yourself: what precisely moves me to take a particular stand”.

At the national level, the PvdA has drawn up its own code of conduct for politicians six months ago, which states that they are politicians even when they are not working. “They are no model citizens, but they are role models. Even when they are not acting as a politician, their actions can affect their credibility and the credibility of their party”, the code says.

Burgers thinks that this is going quite far: “Of course politicians are role models, but I think that they should be allowed to be human too. If, for example, someone has once been caught for riding a bicycle without a light, this is not alright of course, but I do not think that we should hold that against them”.

Burgers is not referring to former alderman Rob Oudkerk, who was once caught riding a bicycle without a light, but to the current District Chairwoman Elvira Sweet. Recently, it became known that she has twice been caught for drinking and driving in 2003. “We thoroughly went through her past once more, and it turned out that at age nineteen she has been fined for riding a bicycle without a light”.


Want to receive News from Amsterdam? Click here

This is the old website. Please find new content here