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6/2 Zuideramstel opens new office on Sabbath

5/2 The truth about integration

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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

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14/1 Youth for Christ to republish vacancies

13/1 Paintings of the Zuidas

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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

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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


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Zuidoost: ‘no proof of clientelism’

28 June 2007 - Council members in Zuidoost have argued for subsidies for organisations that they in turn receive money from, the Accounting Office concludes. According to PvdA party leader Lourens Burgres, there is no proof of clientelism.

According to the Accounting Office, seven council members were involved in conflicts of interest, four of them benefiting personally. In some cases, council members personally took the initiative of putting subsidies for ‘their’ organisations on the agenda of the district council.

The Accounting Office states that council members are actively involved in granting subsidies, and that decisions are made on an ad hoc basis. It counted 227 motions and amendments in the 2004-2006 period.

There are speculations that the PvdA should ‘sacrifice’ council member André Bhola, but Burgers says that he does not see why anybody should step down as yet. This would only become an issue if they should have enriched themselves consciously.

The Accounting Office says that ideally, council members should not be active in organisations that may be subsidised. The Integrity Office also argues for tighter rules, but is not necessarily against council members working as volunteers or employees for subsidised institutions.

Burgers believes that the recommendation of the Accounting Office is going too far. “Then you will get technocratic governance, alienating politics from society. We consciously choose for council members who are rooted in society”.

The investigation was launched after de Volkskrant published an article on conflicts of interest in Zuidoost last October.

Photo: volunteer activities at Anand Joti

UPDATE 1 July 2007 - National party leader Ruud Koole and Amsterdam party leader Lodewijk Asscher of the PvdA have announced that steps will be taken against politicians who have benefited themselves.

What have council members done?

The Accounting Office has screened fourteen politicians:

André Bhola (PvdA) was the chairman of the Anand Joti social welfare organisation for years. Anand Joti is subsidised by the district. For his activities for Anand Joti and other subsidised organisations, he received over ten thousand euro. At his initiative, the council in 2004 decided to make funds available to a communal housing project connected to Anand Joti, where he himself also lives. In 2005, he voted for a subsidy for an organisation that contracted him. He also on a number of occasions took the initiative for subsidies that would benefit Anand Joti.

Bhola repeatedly used relatives in Anand Joti projects, for which they received expenses. Also, five relatives followed a courses he gave with subsidy from the district.

Henk Lalji (PvdA) in September 2006 presented a motion instructing the district to reconsider its decision on a number of applications for subsidies for integration programmes. One of the organisations that had been turned down was HCC Vikaash. Lalji had been chairman of this organisation until July, for which he received expenses. His brother was treasurer.

Lalji objects that HCC Vikaash was not the only organisation that saw its request for subsidy turned down. Various organisations would have asked him to do something about their not receiving subsidies. “I thought that, being a representative, I should do as they asked me”.

In November, a motion was presented asking to end the subsidy HCC Vikaash received. According to Lalji, the person who presented the motion thought that the organisation was ‘rich enough’ as it was. Lalji voted against the motion. “I do not see why I should not speak out on this motion”.

Ana Alcántara (PvdA) failed to report that she came along on a trip to Tunisia as a volunteer. The trip was partly subsidised by the district.

Henk van de Belt (Leefbaar Zuidoost) failed to report that he was a volunteer for a youth tennis club subsidised by the district. He received no expenses.

Soebhash Darsan (VVD) failed to report that he was a volunteer at the Holi Divali Comité, which had its cleaning costs paid by the district. He received no expenses.

Egbert Doest (PvdA) is the owner of a consultancy that does the financial administration for the Bolletrie Foundation. He voted against a proposal to reduce Bolletrie’s subsidy. Today Doest told Trouw that he has not been paid by Bolletrie since he became a council member (the Accounting Office did not claim otherwise).

Willem van Driel (SP) took the initiative to make funds available for sports promotion and named Sporthal Gaasperdam as an accommodation to be supported. He is a member of the board of this facility, a function he failed to report.

Mala Eckardt-Angna (PvdA) is active in a number of organisations with links to Anand Joti. On various occasions, she voted for subsidies for organisations she participates in.

Emile Esajas (Solidariteit Zuidoost, Toekomst 21) failed to report that he provided unpaid consultancy services to the Samego Foundation, which was subsidised by the district.

Stephen Kwasi Oduro (PvdA, Leefbaar Zuidoost) failed to report that he was active for AMC De Meren, which was subsidised by the district. He received expenses.

Ernest Owusu Sekeyre (GroenLinks, LOS, PvdA) is vice chairman of Recogin. He was involved in decision-making on debt counselling, a service provided by Recogin.

Randy Stena (PvdA) failed to report that came along on a trip to Tunesia as a volunteer. The trip was partly subsidised by the district.

Maria Tiggelaven (VVD) failed to report that she organises soccer tournaments for a sports facility subsidised by the district. She receives no expenses.

Els Verdonk (alderwoman, PvdA) failed to report that she does volunteer work at the Riding School for the Handicapped, which is subsidised by the district. She receives no expenses.


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