This picture was taken at Lugar de Baixo marina yesterday evening. Despite earlier reports that the reopening was still a while away, it will in fact be open to the public again this afternoon.
(24th September). Today’s main news headline : ‘Câmara Of Santana Promotes [Staff] Continually - On the eve of abandoning the presidency, Carlos Pereira gives spectacular improvements to workers’. After 20 years in Santana, the president of the council is on his way out, out of favour with the PSD-M leader and president of Madeira, Alberto João Jardim. One of the favours has now put a subordinate on a higher salary than Pereira himself. He has promoted 3 staff seemingly just to give them a higher salary. It’s legal, but raises some policy questions. In January, Carlos Pereira signed an order to allocate €79 thousand of the council budget of 2009, for "the purposes" of Contracts, Careers and Remuneration. Of this €53,500 was for movements within pay scales of 55 council employees, and €10,000 was for performance bonuses. Normally movements in pay scales work on a points system, but a council president has the power to override this. Legal or not, the deals are to be seen as an appreciation of the president at the end of his mandate, and a ‘hot potato’ left for his successor.
‘Customs Strike Opens ‘Green Route’ In The Airport – Funchal Customs yesterday registered 100% participation in the strike. And there remain two days without control’. The three day strike started yesterday, leaving airport checks non existent in terms of customs activity. Two officers were on duty, in order to meet minimum service levels, but aside from that the strike achieved 100% participation. Airport baggage was going through unchecked, even that from ‘risk countries’. In the main offices in Funchal, just the boss, his assistant, two cleaners, and a telephonist were present.
The main front page photo today shows a group of cops on the move : ‘Police From Here Complain To Lisbon – President of the ASPP in Lisbon say that they are already receiving denunciations from the police of Madeira about alleged attempts to pressure by regional political powers’. The police complain to their trade union in Lisbon, but there is no documentation to prove the allegations that political power is being used to apply pressure. Paulo Rodrigues, president of the TU, says Madeira is not the only case, as other police forces in Portugal suffer similar pressure and political interference in attempts to control the police. He stresses that security is not a regionalized responsibility, and that it is therefore an area controlled by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI), without any intervention permitted from the Regional Government. He cites as a very recent example, the order of president Jardim to the police, to stop the opposition PND political party entering Curral das Freiras, because he was attending an event there. "It is for the police not to fall into the trap of giving in to pressure", and if they are victims of exploitation, the union recommends that they make a complaint. The National Election Commission (CNE), commenting on the same case said "only for strict safety reasons that were concerned with public protection, could a political party be prevented from campaigning in a public place". A "landslide" could justify the conduct of the PSP in this situation, which, according to the PND, the party was prevented from campaigning in the Nun’s Valley. "I do not think that [landslide] has been the case, since there was no report of the evacuation of the Nun’s Valley", he added. He said he had not yet received a formal complaint regarding this incident, but had so far received 17 complaints relating to the national elections to be held here on Sunday. He expects that number to triple on Sunday. As regards the local elections on 11th October, he said 114 complaints had been received, with the PS socialists heading the count as complainers.
‘School Bus Pass Scalds In The Country And In The University’. This has been already covered recently on this blog, and is about the disparity in costs of bus passes for students, which seem to depend on several factors: social standing (financially), distance travelled, and the need for crossing between different bus zones.
In football : ‘Shalke 04 Waves €5 Million At Rúben Micael – The exit of the Nacional player in December seems inevitable’. The German club has already made an offer for the star Madeiran, and he could be on his way in January. Bit of a tenuous link here though, as Shalke are being financed through sponsorship by Gazprom, the biggest company in Russia and biggest gas supplier in the world, who are also the major shareholder in Zenith St. Petersburg, the club that Nacional knocked out of the qualifying game for the Europa League. The boss at Shalke has already raided Nacional once. Micael has already had a whacking pay rise at Nacional to keep him happy, after a Spanish club offered him 14 times his salary at that time. Even so, a move in the new transfer window is inevitable, with a number of clubs interested. Perhaps this is a move in revenge for the Europa League result, at a price which is pocket money for Gazprom, and without Micael, Nacional’s chances in Europe look even limper than they already are.
Madeira University has 47 student vacancies, 36 which were caused by students who were accepted for places but who didn’t register.
‘Caniço Is Going To Have A Garden And Sports Facility’. The problem of the lack of green areas and leisure in Caniço will soon be alleviated. The council of Santa Cruz has already secured the necessary investment to enable the construction of a city park, in the heart of the area. A considerable work, considered a priority by the current council president, and a ‘flagship’ in the campaign of the PSD social democrats in the area. The park will incorporate various courts for ball games, a multipurpose court, a children’s park, parking for 200 vehicles, a small cycle path, a mini golf ‘space’, and a green area. The money for the work, €1.5 to €2 million, will be ‘publically’ released next week, but the exact location of the park is still a closely guarded secret. The population of the area has escalated from 12 thousand to around 28 thousand, in just 8 years, and as one Diário reader, Dimitrios, says in the comments : "After having transformed Caniço into one of the most horrible places in Portugal in terms of disorganised construction, only now they remembered to make a garden". I don’t think they even ‘remembered’ Dimitrios’, as it can be no coincidence that the câmara and local elections are just over two weeks away. Still if the money has already been secured, maybe that will not now be the election winner that the PSD in Santa Cruz are hoping, and any party can now jump on the same ‘city park’ bandwagon.
Gripe A swine flu has taken the first life in Portugal. The 41 year old man was actually an emigrant in France, on holiday in Portugal, but he died yesterday in a Porto hospital.
‘Service For Workplace Conflicts Already Received 12 Cases – The new body is a faster alternative for both trade unions and employers’. The Regional Service for Voluntary Resolution of Workplace Conflicts, was officially inaugurated yesterday, but even up until then had received 12 applications, 8 of which have been dealt with. The objective of the body is to resolve workplace problems without legal recourse. The service, which seems to be based on arbitration and compromise, can also refer cases to the courts if they remain unresolved, and can issue certificates of exemption for the court costs.
Some leftovers from yesterday, which was a huge newspaper :
(23rd September). The last of yesterday’s headlines : ‘Induction For The Rookies Starts Parties And Gatherings’. The ‘newcomers’ are already in the initiation routines, and between games and war cries the new students integrate themselves in the usual manner’. "The initiation has been quite good fun, and is not bad as many people think, we have our rights and duties", says one new students about the initiation of new students in the University of Madeira. The initiation period lasts a month, and aside from the fun element, is supposed to welcome the newcomers and make them feel comfortable in UMa with their new colleagues. on 14th October there is then a ‘baptism’ ceremony.
‘Government Order To Regulate Determination Of Career Progression – Teacher’s Union accuses the Madeira government of frustrating the expectations of teachers’. President Jardim had promised changes in the rules for teacher career progression, following the national changes that based progression on teacher evaluations (where Jardim bypassed the national scheme, by automatically giving all of Madeira’s teachers a blanket rating of ‘good’). Jardim criticised the national scheme, and said Madeira would be different, promising career progression. In effect what Jardim did froze the salaries of the teachers, leaving them untouched now since 2005.
‘Foreign Doctors To Fill Gaps – The health service is considering hiring a Polish anaesthetist’. While there is still a shortage of doctors in some specialties, the Regional Health Service SESARAM may resort to foreign professionals. Miguel Ferreira, clinical director of SESARAM, has already announced the appointment of a doctor from Venezuela. The possibility of using more foreign professionals to fill gaps is a situation to consider in individual cases. "We can not hire 15 or 20 foreign doctors because we have to think of those internally who are currently doing the specialty", he added. Odd to hear that Madeira is actively seeking foreigners, well nearly. Must mean that all the political cronies already have their offspring employed in the top jobs, or is it that the hospital chief thinks that a spotty orange-tinted brain surgeon is just a step too far.
‘Image of Our Lady of Fátima in Madeira’. On the 12th October the Diocese of Funchal will receive the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fátima, where it will stay until the 18th, before going around to some of the other major towns, on a tour that will run through until May. Fátima is the home of the shrine called the Basilica, built to commemorate the events of 1917 when three peasant children claimed to have seen the "Virgin of the Rosary", Our Lady of Fátima. It was and still is a very important religious event in Portugal. Unfortunately the original photograph of the statue that I saw has now disappeared, but I managed to find another one to satisfy ones curiosity.
‘Number Of Cases Of AIDS Grows On Madeira’. The president of the association ‘Abraço’ announced the fact without giving any definite numbers. The charitable organization that supports AIDS / SIDA sufferers is trying to raise €500,000 to open a new support facility through a national campaign to collect and sell waste copper. The building has been made available in Rua da Carreira by the regional government, but a lack of funds has prevented the reconstruction and adaptation for 3 years now. Electrical cables and wires, telephone chargers, and computer parts containing copper can be donated through Dolce Vita shopping malls and Post Offices.
‘Magalhães Not Finished’. The project to provide mini laptop computers to school children throughout Portugal is to continue. The announcement by the Minister for Education said the decision has been made, regardless of the election results on Sunday. Over 400,000 children already have the computers, which as well as serving as a teaching / learning aid, gives wireless internet access, and also allows the possibility of remote teaching in case a school is temporarily closed, or a child cannot get to school.
‘Construction restricted by falling demand – The engineering works are the only ones to record a positive change’. A spokesman for the national Federation of Construction said that housing construction in Portugal had fallen 25.3% in comparative quarters in a year. Unemployment from the construction industry was up 77.3% between July 2008 and July 2009.
A Cooperative in Portugal will next week launch internet shopping. Customers will be able to order their groceries on-line and have them delivered to their homes, with a minimum order value of €25 . The website is here, but it is not functioning yet : www.coopbeja.com I will be looking again on Tuesday, to see if they deliver to Madeira, but somehow I think not. Anyway, it’s a good sign (perhaps) of things to come.
‘Portuguese Economy Should Contract 4% – The estimates of Standard & Poor are not very cheering for the national economy’. The ‘rating’ agency also said the economy would contract 1.2% in 2010, owing to the continuing effects of the financial crisis and weaknesses at home. The report stresses that external competiveness is particularly weak, that levels of investment are stagnant, and that the private sector is highly geared. Well I need a new TV, so that might help a bit, and the freezer broke last down month too, but that will have to wait until I can pluck up the courage to look inside. Anyway, I wouldn’t take much notice of anything produced by a company called ‘Standard & Poor’, as if it was any good at what it was doing it wouldn’t be ‘standard’ or even worse ‘poor’, now would it? I am think of starting a new venture next week, along the same lines, writing reports about country’s economies and finances, the name I have in mind is ‘Jolly Decent Yet Far From Rich’, and I reckon I can have S & P out of business in a month. Anyway, I just rolled the dice, and I predict the Portuguese economy will grow 18% next year (6 + 6 = 12, then a free roll for a double, 1 + 3). If you need a forecast for your favourite economy, drop me a line and you can have a special blog readers discount. I can only do positive forecasts mind, as I don’t have any dice with negative spots, so Americans, Brits and Spaniards, you are unfortunately beyond help.
No politics today, as I just can’t take any more!!!!!