From the Ausländerbeirat

The members of the Ausländerbeirat must be getting used to longer meetings, as the one they held on Monday, 20th January, 2014 went on until almost 8.30pm.  That is according to my notes.  The official minutes of the meeting are not yet available on the town’s website to verify this fact, and this may well have to do with one of the new rules that have come into effect for such committees this year.

Until now, the minutes of the meetings have been written by the independent town hall employees known as the “Büro der Gremien”.  Since they are understaffed, it is now up to most of the town council’s sub-committees to nominate someone from their own ranks to write them instead.

The Ausländerbeirat nominated their only paid member – Thomas Eifert – to do the job, and he started mid-meeting, however they made it a condition that he receives additional paid time in order to write up the notes later.

The meeting got underway with a question that had been dealt with previously, but had taken a new twist when the department operating the local rubbish tip (“Bauhof”) put out a press release saying that those without a German ID card showing their registered address would need to fetch a document from the town hall known as a “Meldebescheinigung” – something that is not free – in order to prove that they live in the town.  Previously other documents had been accepted but the committee had asked for this in writing prompting the rather unfortunate release to be written.

Chairman Dr. Franz Zenker had then given an interview, claiming that the rule would discriminate against foreigners in the town, unless the document was for free, and was please to report back that the old situation had been restored and that anything that proves that someone lives in Oberursel, such as a telephone bill, will be accepted again.

The question and answer session was followed by a presentation about the local organisation “Windrose”, who explained how they provide German ans a Second Language (DAZ) teaching at the IGS school in Stierstadt for children whose first language is not German.  25% of the children at the school have some form of foreign background.  They also provide help with homework for these pupils, and this project received financial support to the tune of €450 from the Ausländerbeirat’s budget last year.

One piece of information from the meeting that will be of interest to many in the town was about an event taking on Tuesday, 13th May, 2014 about pension rights for foreigners, either staying in Germany for their retirement or returning to their countries of origin and drawing a German pension.  Further details are to follow.

And one late addition to the Agenda may come back to haunt the committee if they go ahead with it.  Committee member Natalia Bild put forward a motion for the committee to come up with its own parliamentary rules (“Geschäftsordnung”), rather than adhering to the rules that the town itself has set and are binding for all sub-committees, unless they draw up their own.

Asked why she wanted to do this, she gave two examples.  One was that members of the town council at present appear to have an automatic right to attend and speak at the committee meetings, even if they do not have voting rights.  She suggests that they lose this automatic right.  The other point was that guests should only be able to talk at meetings after a vote has been taken.  At present, the chairman Dr. Franz Zenker is able to invite guests to say something if it helps a point being discussed, especially if they have more knowledge of it than the committee members.

The discussion was fairly short, as she wanted a yes or no answer as to whether the committee wanted to go ahead with this, and the committee wanted her to prepare some concrete suggestions as to what would be in the new rules.  However, she said that she did not want to spend time on it if the committee did not agree in principle to having their own rules.

However later in the meeting Dr. Zenker announced that in his annual report to town council this evening (6th Feburary, 2014), he will be asking for the committee to have the right to put motions to the council, whereas at present he can only speak to the council by invitation.

It does seem rather daft to approach the councillors with a view to being able to talk at their meetings and even table motions for them, whilst at the same time discussing reversing the situation in the Ausländerbeirat meetings.

Maybe they don’t know and so won’t question the issue.  After all, I suspect that they haven’t received the minutes yet…


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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