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…]

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: The Last and the Longest

The last meeting of the Ausländerbeirat in 2013 was also the longest this year, lasting a staggering 2½ hours.

One of the reasons was no doubt the visit by members of Amnesty International to talk about the developments in the case of the Yang Family, which have been reported on in detail in a separate article.

But financial discussions also led to a heated and prolonged debate. [Read more…]

From the Ausländerbeirat…

When the Ausländerbeirat met on Monday, 4th November, 2013, there were a number of guests present.

And it was one of those guests who asked the question, that I have been trying to answer for the past year: “Womit beschäftigen Sie sich immer?” – the ominous “what do you do?”

One of the things that the committee had been dealing with was the issue of taking rubbish to the tip (“Bauhof”), where a policy has been introduced of asking for ID to prove that those going there are also resident in Oberursel. [Read more…]

A long evening with the Ausländerbeirat

If the members of the Ausländerbeirat thought they were in for a short meeting when they met on Monday, 23rd September, 2013, then they had to think again.  Lasting almost two hours, the meeting was the longest that I personally had experienced to date.

Part of the reason for this was certainly down to the questions from the public, two of which led to extensive discussions.

One question that did not was about a new playground in the town next to a building where – according to one of the town councillors who happened to be present – a lot of foreigners live.  The opening times for the playground only list work days, but not Sunday.  So is it closed on a Sunday or just open all day?

Not that the Ausländerbeirat could really be expected to give an answer to this, but maybe they could have passed the question on instead of referring the councillor to the social and culture sub-committee of which, ironically, he is himself a member. [Read more…]

When the Ausländerbeirat visited the FIS…

It was a meeting of the Ausländerbeirat like no other that I have visited until now.  Not only where all the members of the foreigners’ sub-committee present for the entirety of the meeting, but 16 guests turned up as well.

Admittedly those 16 included the press and members of the town council, with all of the parliamentary groups except the CDU represented, but at least half were simply members of the public who had come along to see the committee in action and to pose their questions.

The reason for such interest in a committee whose guests don’t normally make it into double figures was very likely due to the meeting place: Frankfurt International School. [Read more…]

A first look at Oberursel’s Ausländerbeirat

The last time that I wrote about the term “Ausländerbeirat” I had just voted in Oberursel to elect a new one in November 2010.  At the time I asked what the point of having one was, especially I did not know any of the candidates and the turnout at the election was only 3%.

For the benefit of readers who are not aware of the Ausländerbeirat (other than a voting slip every 5 years), it is an elected parliamentary body that every town in Hessen has where more than 1000 foreigners live.  And only those foreigners are eligible to stand for election and to vote.

As I understand it they have two purposes.  One is to support the integration of foreigners in the local community, and the other is to look at the decisions being made by other committees and the town parliament in order to comment on whether the non-German communities will be particularly affected by them.

Whether they have any power to block any of those decisions, I have yet to discover. [Read more…]

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