Are refugees a topic for the Ausländerbeirat or not?

The first meeting of Oberursel’s Ausländerbeirat after their inaugural meeting started off less spectacularly than the previous one had.  Held on Monday, 8th February, 2016, it was a 18:03 that Dr. Franz Zenker (ILO) asked “shall we start?”, with only 5 of the 9 members present.  “You’re the chairman” came the reply from Natalia Bind (AZO), who only a month before had appeared to be more eager to get things going.

At the time, there were several hundred refugees still camped out in one of the school halls, so it was a topic likely to be discussed.  Indeed, it was even on the Agenda.  Twice.  Four weeks previously the mayor, Hans-Georg Brum, had made it a key topic for the committee.

So when a question was posed about why there had been no mention in that previous meeting of a local building being set up to take 200 asylum seekers, less than 24 hours before the fire brigade carried the beds in, the reply was that the town itself was only informed by the local government (Kreis) at a very late stage.  Thomas Eifert, the committee’s contact in the town hall, commented that “the communication is really bad”. [Read more…]

From the Ausländerbeirat: the old chairman stays, the new refugees are coming

The inaugural meeting of the new Ausländerbeirat last Friday was no normal meeting, especially with the number of guests who were present.  Many of the town’s councillors and members of the administration had come along to observe the meeting, so that almost all of the political parties from the council were represented.  Even the press seats where unusually well occupied.

As previously reported, the election at the end of last November gave voters a choice of two lists of candidates.  The “Internationale Liste Oberursel” (ILO) led by Dr. Franz Zenker won 5 seats, whilst “Alle Zusammen Oberursel” (AZO) led by Natalia Bind won 4.  Both had said after the election that they would be standing for election as the new chairperson.

As it turned 6pm it did not so good for Dr. Zenker’s majority, as two of his members were still missing, and it was impossible to miss Natalia Bind grinning like a cheshire cat on the other side of the table.  “It’s 6 O’Clock” she said cheerfully.  “We can start, we have a quorum”, she continued.  Dr. Zenker wanted to wait, but gave in in the end and opened the meeting.  He passed over the chair temporarily to Chantal le Nestour (ILO), who as longest-serving member of the committee was to run the meeting until the vote had taken place. [Read more…]

Only 3% went to vote

Sunday, 29th November, 2015 saw the chance for the foreign residents in Oberursel to vote: for a new Ausländerbeirat.  The committee, which is supposed to represent the interests of the foreigners in the town.  Committee members not only have the right to speak at town council sub-committee meetings, for the past year they have also been able to table motions directly to the council itself.

At the last election five years ago the turnout had only been 3.43%, so one of the targets for this election had been to get more voters to the ballot box.  In terms of voters they managed it, but only just: 188 instead of 171 went to the town hall to cast their vote.  But due to the increased number of foreigners in the town, the turnout as a percentage sank to a record low of 3.08%. [Read more…]

Ausländerbeirat – Polling Day

Sunday, 29th November, 2015 is the day that elections for the Ausländerbeirat take place in Oberursel.

Foreign residents of the town that have lived here for at least three months are eligible to vote and should have recieved their polling cards several weeks ago.

The only polling station for the entire town and its suburbs is in the Georg-Hieronymi-Saal, which is located between the town hall and the police station, with voting possible between 8am and 6pm.

It is not necessary to take the polling card along to vote, although it is better to do so. An ID card or passport is, however, necessary.

In cases of sudden illness, a postal vote is possible up to 3pm, which must, however, be collected by someone in person who has a power of attorney.

There are two lists of candidates that voters can choose between: [Read more…]

Calling all foreigners in Oberursel…

This year sees a rather unusual election take place.  Apart from electing a new Mayor on 21st June, 2015, Oberursel will also be holding elections for all 9 seats on the Ausländerbeirat – the foreigners’ advisory council.

The election itself will take place on Sunday, 29th November, 2015 and for the first time it will be possible to apply for a postal vote.  But for now, the town are looking for candidates and are holding an information evening for anyone interested on Wednesday, 6th May at 6pm in the town hall. [Read more…]

The Ausländerbeirat: a lost cause?

Regular readers of this website will know that I am a regular visitor to the Ausländerbeirat meetings in Oberursel, and often critical of what goes on there.

This week, after their meeting on Monday, 13th April, 2015, I can only shake my head and wonder what the purpose of this committee is.

First of all, what use is a committee without proper minutes?  Having pointed out the two omissions and one error – in my opinion – of the last set of minutes to the chairman, Dr. Franz Zenker, in advance, I effectively gave him the chance to bring the items to the table himself or I would ask about them in the public question part of the meeting.  So he did.

These were: [Read more…]

From the Ausländerbeirat

All members of the Ausländerbeirat were present when their meeting started on Monday, 9th March, 2015.  The meeting got speedily underway, with no questions from members of the public, a short statement by the chairman, and no messages from the town’s administration.  The guest speaker on the topic of “Anti-discrimination in Frankfurt” was not there, so within a few minutes the committee had already made it to item 6 on their agenda.

However before they could deal with that item, and after some discussion about how exactly to change the agenda, they added item 12: a discussion about the gala evening of the Windrose charity.  Theoretically item 12 could have been added to the end of the agenda, but there was an objection to this as committee member Giannoula Kalargali wanted to be there for the discussion (and vote) and had – as so often in the past – to leave early.

So item 12 became item 5 (neu), or mabye it became just item 5, because item 5 was dropped, because the speaker was not there.  Let’s just say it made it onto the agenda between items 4 and 6. [Read more…]

The Same Procedure as Last Year at the Ausländerbeirat

Regular readers may have noticed that there have been less articles about the Ausländerbeirat on this blog in the second half of last year. There are a number of reasons for that, but one is the lack of new things to write about. One meeting is very much like another, and the few highlights that did happen didn’t always make it as far as an article.

But with the committee’s attention turning towards their own election on 29th November, 2015, would they make an effort to be more productive? Maybe even come up with their first motion for the town council?

The first meeting of the Ausländerbeirat in 2015 took place on Monday, 19th January, 2015. All members were present, except for their man in the town hall, Thomas Eifert, who was on holiday in Thailand.

There were very few guests, and when it came to the public questions part of the meeting, I was the only one who had anything to ask.

So I asked if it was possible to inform the foreigners in the town about the forthcoming election by writing to them directly with unbiased information, and not just send them the usual voting notification postcard. [Read more…]

Celebrating 20 years of Oberursel’s Ausländerbeirat

The Ausländerbeirat (Foreigners’ Advisory Council) in Oberursel first saw the light of day 20 years ago.  It was a difficult beginning for the committee, as their former chairman Hansjörg Schlegel pointed out recently at their anniversary celebrations.  “The town did not want such a committee, they were forced to have one by law” be remembered.  There was also some uncertainty as to who was responsible for them in the town hall and what rights they should have.

The invited guests – including former members of the committee – had gathered in the Georg-Hieronymi hall on Saturday, 13th December, 2014 to celebrate the committee’s anniversary – a committee which is elected every five years to represent the foreigners in the town.  And they were determined to celebrate with about 60% of their annual budget being spent on the evening.

But whether their situation had got better with time was something that Herr Schlegel did not go into.  However the role that the committee should be playing was something that their current chairman Dr. Franz Zenker talked about in his speech.  He talked of a “democratic deficit” and how important it is, that the foreigners have voting rights in the towns in which they live.  After all, other areas of normal life do not differentiate between between foreigners and German nationals.  “The tax office does not ask which nationality you are” he commented. [Read more…]

How do pensions work across borders?

Anyone working abroad will probably at some time be confronted with the issue of how to claim their pension.  Either because they made pension payments in their country of origin before coming to Germany, or because they return there after a working life here and want to claim their German state pension.

The foreigners’ advisory council (Ausländerbeirat) have organised an information evening about the topic which will take place on Tuesday, 13th May, 2014 at 5.30pm in the council chamber at Oberursel’s town hall. [Read more…]

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