Final stretch of mandate in Barcelona with all eyes on the court cases. A little over a year before the next local elections, the third in a row to which Ada Colau would run, the mayor faces multiple court dates with which your image can be seriously damaged. The opposition, which has hardened its tone in the face of the trickle of cases, at least suspicious, is confident that the municipal leader will lose strength before a campaign that many believe will face him again due to the lack of a clear municipal alternative and the , at least for now, arithmetic needed to kick her out.
Although in his seven years at the head of the Colau council he has already had several judicial fronts, never before has the situation left him at such a delicate point.
And it is that Barcelona had not had no mayor sitting as investigated before a judge. She had to do it at the beginning of March, as ABC advanced, to testify for the alleged granting of subsidies and financing agreements by the city council to entities related to its formation after the complaint of the Association for Transparency and Democratic Quality.
Specifically, they are analyzing items for organizations such as the DESC Observatory –where Colau worked before becoming mayor in 2015–, Engineers Without Borders, the Platform for People Affected by Mortgage –an entity he founded and of which he was the spokesperson for five years– and the Alliance against Energy Poverty. All of them have been linked, before or after, to some of his trusted positions. The day before yesterday the defense of Colau returned to request the file of the cause.
As if this were not enough, last week the Barcelona Court reopened the case against Colau for alleged administrative prevarication and coercion to the investment fund Vauras Investments, which sued the city council after being fined for refusing to offer a social rental to a ‘squatter’ group. This week, by surprise, the Consistory has tried to settle this case by revoking the sanctions it imposed on the company, as ABC also advanced, but Vauras maintains the complaint.
ZBE and other cases
Before these cases, the mayor has already had other troubles, a priori minor, related to the courts. Just over a month ago, the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) set its sights on the ordinance that regulates the Low Emissions Zone (ZBE) of the Barcelona area, one of Colau’s star measures, after the demands of transportation groups that asked to suspend it. The day before yesterday, the TSJC announced that it is not annulling the ZBE for now due to a procedural issue.
No less stellar was the implementation of ‘superilles‘ in the city –or what is the same, blocks that are pedestrianised–, a plan also developed by Colau. Less than a month ago, the Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation into the future ‘superilla’ of the Ensanche, whose works are scheduled to start in June. The Salvem Barcelona platform promoted the cause, alleging that the previous urban planning procedures are lacking.
Along the same lines, the employers’ organization Fomento del Trabajo and the commercial entity Barcelona Oberta have taken to the courts the reform of the Via Layetana, an important artery that those of Colau also want to leave with the minimum trace of cars and that the plaintiffs criticize that it will have very serious effects on mobility. Both voices announced contentious-administrative appeals that the Barcelona City Council believes do not have a “course”.
Although somewhat less showy because it does not directly affect Colau, the municipal government has a cause compromised by the blockade for a company to build a luxury hotel in Barcelona. Councilor Janet Sanz, who leads Urban Planning, together with a dozen technicians, are being investigated for coercion, prevarication, obstruction of Justice and omission of the duty to prosecute a crime. Some judicial voices see the case as especially difficult for the municipal government.
Before these, Colau faced other lawsuits that were archived. The mayor recently assured that there was a “judicial offensive” that “intimidates” her, but she was absolutely calm and reaffirmed that all the municipal actions that have been called into question had been transparent and legal. Much of the opposition does not see it the same.
Ethics committee without ethics?
And it is that beyond her policies questioned before the Justice, many question the ways of the mayor, especially for her episodes about aid to related groups or signings of personnel close to her team. In addition, the fact that Colau promoted with great fanfare an Ethics Committee in 2017 and that to this day seems anesthetized and hardly have known activity unworthy of the opposition.
The City Council’s Code of Ethics and Conduct was presented as a pioneer project in Spain to set and defend the ethical values and standards of conduct of all elected officials, trusted personnel or other municipal managers. He intended to be a “firewall in defense of the common good and against possible corruption that threatens the public function”, as the then purple councilor Jaume Asens defended at the time.
Obligatory and that could even entail sanctions and disqualifications, the regulation was outlined with all the groups and placed special emphasis on the possible benefit that the positions could obtain from their work. A team made up of five external members they had to watch over the execution of the regulation. Among its missions was also to prepare an annual report.
The committee was effectively launched in July 2018. At the end of 2020, the first report of the committee’s activity was presented, corresponding to the years 2018 and 2019, and in which the authors made it clear that they did not have “at obtains all the legal instruments necessary to fully carry out its activity” until the beginning of 2019. Since then, no other report has been made public. “The committee it has yet to prepare the report for the years 2020 and 2021”, recognize ABC municipal sources, who hide behind the fact that it is “an independent body from which we have already requested the two documents.”
More aid to related in question
While waiting for these memorandums to arrive, other slaps have been known from the Committee to the municipal government by the opposition. In March 2021, the criticism against former councilor Gala Pin stood out, because when she left the City Council she signed for a foundation that the municipal government had been subsidizing – something that Junts denounced – or the disapproval of Colau known a little over a month ago for having hired by finger to the partner of a mayor –presented to the Committee by Cs and that received a response nine months later–.
On the other hand, a few days ago the municipal group of Junts has brought to the Committee the purchase by the City Council of a premises that is owned by Max Cahner, municipal councilor of the commons, and also the hiring of 17 positions of trust de Colau, who attended a call that was made, according to the formation, “in an extraordinary way, without agenda, criticized by unions and that may have questioned equal opportunities and access for everyone.”
In addition, the body arrived in mid-February at the Presidency commission of the Cosnistorio, where the PP asked to respect it. The measure prospered with the unanimous support from all groupseven those who make up the government and have allowed their little action.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism