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April 18, 2014
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Macri-UNEN-FpV pact carried out in City

By Mariano Beldyk
For The Herald

After voting key bills, Kirchnerism and UNEN shared with PRO watchdog agencies’ appointments

Looking ahead of 2014, BA City’s political game board will reflect a cohabitation pact among its major players, considering how local watchdog agencies and other institutional key appointments were finally distributed between PRO, UNEN and Kirchnerism’s nominees during this year’s last session.

The Ombudsman’s six-member board, Public Ministry heads and local Public Services Monitoring Agency’s main authorities were negotiated during previous weeks in exchange for votes during December’s outburst of legislative hyperactivity with Mayor Mauricio Macri trying to pass his strategic agenda, leftist forces reported.

City Hall’s next year Budget set a clear example of this lining up. UNEN coalition lawmakers refrained from opposing it and, therefore, allowed the ruling PRO’s bill to get voted with only 28 positive votes in a 60-member chamber.

Conflicting as it may sound, some of the harshest critics over City Hall’s future expenditures during previous weeks came from Civic Coalition legislators —part of UNEN— inside the Budget Committee.

They even attacked loudly Macri’s administration for masking the under-funding of social areas like Housing and Education, contrary to local government’s arguments that more money would be available for schools.

During discussion in the floor, part of UNEN suggested that the bill should be transferred once again to Committee for further studying. But, at the end, they ended up doing Macri a great favour.

Undoubtedly, the Ombudsman office’s new board is the most complete example of the political pact with five out of its six members being legislators and four of them coming from the three major forces.

Victory Front’s Alejandro Amor was voted to head the civil right’s watchdog agency while PRO’s Lidia Saya and Oscar Zago and Radical Claudio Presman will accompany him on the board.

The fifth seat was for Buenos Aires para Todos’ María América González while the last place went to former PRO legislator José Palmiotti who was already in the Ombudsman’s board since 2008 when he was proposed by lawmaker Oscar Moscariello, then head of the PRO caucus.

A total of 42 candidates ran for the office but all challenges made public by the legislative Ethics Board during open hearings pointed toward the legislators posing a manifest conflict of interest over their role in the chamber. Opponents like former nominee Eduardo Fachal then told the Herald that the institution’s “reputation” and “integrity” were jeopardized.

In the case of the Public Ministry, controversy focused mainly on PRO legislator Martín Ocampo and Children and Youth’s Rights Council’s out-going head Yael Bendel. Both of them were heavily challenged by civil society’s organizations for considering they weren’t sufficiently prepared to be appointed as Attorney-General and General Tribunal Counsel of Buenos Aires, respectively,

Ocampo is a Radical Party-rooted lawyer who won a legislative seat under the PRO umbrella and was long responsible for orchestrating a large number of bills related to the legal field. The last of them was Macri’s bid to reform some articles of the Misdemeanor Code to toughen penalties. Macri’s intention was to get it passed last Monday but it was postponed till 2014 as PRO couldn’t garner enorugh support. Bendel, on the other hand, is said to be close to Deputy Mayor María Eugenia Vidal.

In a desperate move, the Civil Association for Equity and Justice’s legal advisors together with organizations like the Association for Civil Rights, Legislative Directory Foundation, the Women’s Study and Research Foundation and Poder Ciudadano organizations went to court to block the procedure. But they were both appointed together with Horacio Corti as General Public Defender.

Finally, Macri’s nominee Paola Michielotto was voted as new Public Services Monitoring Agency’s head while UNEN legislator Julio Raffo, whose term ended last Tuesday, the Victory Front’s applicant Fernando Barrera and Alejandra Goldsack from Macri’s ally Bases para la Unión, completed the managing board together with a consumers organization’s representative. @Mibeldyk

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