Transparency and commission on public property do not go together

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Mission of the Sumy city council members does not only embrace work at their electing districts and in the session hall. One of the most important part of their work is work in commissions.

During three years after elections in 2010 the commission of city council members on public property became a champion of scandals. This commission chooses and recommends property for competitive or non-competitive rental procedure. It also defines who gets the permission for repair or privatization and who does not. Composition of the commission is quite interesting. Half of the members of the commission are independent city council members. Most of them are former members of the Ukrainian Union “Batkivschyna” (“Motherland”), who joined the majority of the political parties “Native city” and Party of regions in the city council. Membership in the commission and opportunity to dispose public property were their reward for participation in the Mayer’s majority.

Not so long ago all the protocols of all city council commissions were published on the Mayer’s office web-site. Every citizen could learn the decisions of the commissions and voting list.

But as soon as the scandal on public property blew in Sumy, the protocols suddenly disappeared from the web-site. The mentioned scandal referred to two premises (area of each was 80 sqm) in Voskresenska Street. At first, the property was given for rent and later for privatization to the unknown public organization “Art world”. Except that, on July, 16 the executive committee of the Sumy city council took decision № 340 “Regulation of the order of access to public information of the Sumy city council and its executive bodies”. According to the regulation, protocols of the commissions are not public information.

Thus the city authority decided that citizens should not know how the city council members work in commissions and how they dispose public property.

Nevertheless, we managed to get some protocols.

Here I am describing the story of the “Sumy press-club”.

The NGO “Sumy press-club” has being functioning in Sumy for 10 years already. At the moment it is the only independent platform for press-conferences and round-tables. It’s a stronghold of democracy and freedom of speech in the city.

Representatives of the “Sumy press-club” appealed the city council commission asking for permission for repair of non-residential premises rented by the organization (area is 87,6 sqm; address: Pokrovska Sq., 13).

During a month this issue was discussed by the commission three times. But the decision was never taken.

Compare: the commission took positive decision for the “Art world” that is “close” to the city authority at once.

At the same time the commission members still regularly approve public premises rental on non-competitive basis. As an example, there are two premises in Horkogo Str., 2 (area: 63 sqm) that were given to private entrepreneur Didukh M.V. (the person of the inner circle, close to the commission members).

On September, 27, 2013 a member of the executive committee of the city council Olexandr Takul registered the draft decision of the executive committee about changes in “Regulation of the order of access to public information …” of the Sumy city council. According to it, the commissions’ protocols have to be excluded from the list of service information.

We hope that this issue will be viewed and supported at the next meeting of the executive committee. So, every citizen will be capable to monitor the city council members’ work again.

The citizens of Sumy should know local “heroes”.

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Mykola Chernotytsky

Expert on public property and land resources, media-expert, expert of Bureau of policy analysis, head of the Sumy regional public organization «Freedom media»

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