City head’s civil council necessity debated in Penza
Penza, 18 February 2016. PenzaNews. The necessity of the civil council under the city head became the main topic of the debate during the meeting held in the Penza city Duma on Wednesday, February 17, which featured over 20 people – journalists, representatives of civil organizations, and civil activists.
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In an opening word of the event, the city head Valery Savelyev explained he thinks it is important that the council is created, as that would help learn more about the thoughts of regular citizens, and find solutions to the problems that trouble them.
In turn, Semen Vakhshtain, editor-in-chief of “Echo of Penza” radio station, said he sees no acute importance in the creation of such a group.
“With the creation of the civil council, we would reduce the legitimacy of election of Penza city Duma deputies,” he claimed, adding that a better option, in his opinion, would be instituting a number of expert consulting councils in various fields, including urban planning and communal affairs.
Olga Sorokina, editor of “Lyubimaya Gazeta” newspaper, supported his point of view.
Alongside that, Vladimir Loschinin, memver of the Civic Chamber of the Penza region, pointed out the importance for the authorities to truly seek to know the public opinion and take it into account, as usually the public is simply ignored.
“The issues related to the communal field get swamped as soon as you approach this building. […] The ‘Samouchet’ system – how much longer do we need to struggle against it? It became the pothole magnet for practically everyone, and rightfully so, by the way, but it is still alive and prospering. The prosecutor’s office already focused on it, but still noting is getting done,” he said.
Vladimir Loschinin expressed his hope that the creation of a civil council would possibly help to make the public opinion heard, but doubted that it would allow to change the state of affairs.
Pavel Prokhorenkov, editor of “Express” TV company, chairman of the regional branch fo the Journalists Union of Russia, joined the discussion, and pointed out that the same people are taking part in all such meetings and projects, similar to the civil council, while the activists that could bring in the genuinely worthy ideas are left out.
“I do not see here any representatives from the young Penza architects community. […] Their project of Klyuchevskovo street reconstruction is just splendid. Sadly, I do not see here the people that fight for the Penza culture. […] Sadly, no local lore experts here. […] Sadly, same people [are being] everywhere. We need to seek to involve new ones,” he suggested.
According to Evgeny Malyshev, assistant editor-in-chief of “Ulitsa Moskovskaya” newspaper, any talk about the real influence of the civil council should begin only when the authorities begin to show adequate reaction to current troubling issues.
“People always come to where they are listened to, asking those who listen to them, those who actually solve problems. So only when the Penza city Duma begins to show actual results and make actual actions, when it begins to notice the headline topics in the focus of newspapers and blogs, the topics which are even just discussed by the people, only then I think all will change,” he explained his position.
During the further discussion, the participants proposed to form task groups, related to permanent committies of the City Duma, within the civil council.
Another suggestion that came afterwards proposed to hold all City Duma meetings in open-doors format, so that those who are interested would be able to attend them and raise questions about the problems for the deputies. However, the discussion members agreed that that suggestion would quickly “turn [the City Duma] into a circus.”
In turn, Ivan Finogeev, chairman of the Penza youth civil organization “Modern Age Generation,” supported the creation of the civil council and proposed to involve in its activities as many youth representatives, such as students, as possible.
From time to time, the discussion veered off the main topic as the participants tried to focus on standalone issues.
In particular, Yuri Ushakov, civil activist, expert in communal affairs, claimed that it is necessary to create a unified heating supply organization.
“This question is getting swept under the rug for 6 years in a row. As a result, the citizens have practically no alternative in the choice of a heating supply organization. In particular, if we take the former ‘TGK-6,’ the heating tariff of ‘Teplosnabzhenie’ is over 30% higher than their tariff. And the tariff of the company that inherited after ‘SKM’ — ‘Penzateplosnabzhenie’ — is 40% higher. As a result, we get a level of tension and misunderstanding from the people: why are we living in the same city but paying differently,” he pointed out.
Mikhail Kozin, who participated in the December 2015 Penza mayor election as a candidate, asked Valery Savelyev about his readiness for the change. In return, the city head stressed that he seeks to perform his duty in an honest and sincere manner, with the main objective of making it all better for the citizens.
“That is why we gathered here – to identify the acute issues and react to them in some way,” he explained.
In conclusion of the discussion, Valery Savelyev thanked everyone for taking part in the life of their native city.
“I agree with many of the speakers that the council is needed – I saw it. We need to plan out its structure. […] Perhaps we really should make it work in various fields, related to the committees we have in our Duma,” the city head summed up.