From the Ausländerbeirat: Good news, Bad news, No news and Forgotten news

When the Ausländerbeirat met for the first time after their summer break they had plenty to discuss.

They had received a letter from the Chairman of the town council, Dr. Christoph Müllerleile, which their own Chairman, Dr. Franz Zenker, read out.  It announced that the town’s council of elders had decided that with immediate notice the members of the Ausländerbeirat would not be allowed to sit in on committee meetings if they were closed to the public, unless the topic being discussed was particularly relevant to foreigners in the town.

This affects their participation in the finance, social & culture, and building & environmental sub-committees.  They will also not receive the documents associated with those parts of the meeting, unless the relevant chairperson deems it necessary.

The reason given was that some items were particularly sensitive, eg. when it comes to land being purchased or sold, and could be contested in court if someone was present who should not be.  It was argued that the council of elders are playing it safe.

I do wonder, however, if the confidential information that was inadvertently reported on by one member of the committee back in May played a part in the decision.

Anyway, that was the bad news, at least as far as the committee is concerned.

When it came to the open question time I used the opportunity to ask how the plans for the new multi-lingual website are coming along.  Not because I had expected it to be finished, but because I had read on the agenda for the social and culture sub-committee that they would be talking about it the next day.  So obviously the Ausländerbeirat would have prepared for that?

No, they had not.  They had formed a working group to plan what they wanted to have on their new website, but the group had not actually met yet.  They used the opportunity to arrange a date for a meeting in two weeks’ time, but for now the answer was that there is nothing new.

So no news.

When it came to the reports on what the other town sub-committees had talked about or even decided, we were in for a surprise.  Reporting on the finance sub-committee, the person reporting, Natalia Bind, had actually prepared some notes of her own in order to give a decent presentation.  She did not have to resort to the minutes of the meeting, and has to be commended on doing this.

That is definitely good news and a an example to other members of the Ausländerbeirat on how they should prepare for the meeting.

The opposite can be said of a different committee meeting and Giannoula Kalargali, who was meant to report on the building and environmental sub-committee.  “I’ve forgotten everything, it’s such a long time ago” she said.  She was also unable to explain the Bebauungspläne set to be discussed this week at the next meeting, at which point her iPad crashed with the information on it and we were left without any information at all. (at which point Alderman Christof Fink jumped in to at least explain the forthcoming plans).

Now, it might be unreasonable for someone to remember what happened in a meeting over two months ago, but surely it is not unreasonable for someone who has an officially elected role to prepare for a meeting, especially one that they are getting paid expenses for.

On the other hand, perhaps it was less a case of forgetting, and more a case of not knowing in the first place?  The town’s online archive reveals that Frau Kalagali attended the public part of the meeting on 19th June when it started at 6.30pm, but left at 7pm even though it went until 9.50pm.

With those 30 minutes dealing with the sale of the sports field in the Altkönigstraße – one of the topics in the town at the moment – she could have at least reported on that.

Looking into the minutes of other meetings of the same sub-committee  since January 2013, and there have been 10 in total, she has missed one completely and left early on 6 occasions.  The three that she attended for their entire length lasted at most for an hour, so of the 27 hours 10 minutes that the building and environmental sub-committee have sat for this year so far – either public or behind closed doors – she has only attended for 11 hours 40 minutes.  That’s just 43% of the time!  In fact, if you only add together the public parts of the meeting it’s even less at 33%.

No wonder she can never report on anything!

Now she may have her reasons for this, but if it had anything to do with the relevance of the items on the agenda then surely she could report on that?  Otherwise, if it is a matter of the time commitment, maybe she should admit that she is not the right person for the job and let someone else from the Ausländerbeirat take her place.

Dare I call this “forgotten news”?


About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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