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Just blame (and threaten) somebody else – Odessa City Hall

January 7, 2015

The weather in Odessa recently has been somewhat cool and blustery.  Today for example, it is -13 degrees with a chill wind.  Not, it has to be said, anything particularly unusual for this time of year in Odessa.  Only a few years ago the temperature dropped to -27 degrees and the Black Sea froze.  People where then  walking out across the Black Sea far further than they normally swim when the summer temperatures approach +40 degrees.

What has perhaps been somewhat different this year, has been the rather ineffective way Odessa City Hall dealt with the exceptionally large dumping of snow last week – to a point where no buses, trams or trolley buses were running, what taxis were running where charging 3 times the price of their usual fares, and supermarkets were simply putting signs on the doors stating “Нет хлеб” (No bread).

Indeed it took Odessa City Hall several days to clear the main roads to a point where they were actually passable without much difficulty.  Naturally a great many constituents were muttering rather loudly to anybody who would listen – which was generally the local media owned by opponents of Odessa’s nefarious and rather incompetent Mayor Truhanov.

odessa-snow-russia

To be fair to Mayor Truhanov, there were two days that made it almost impossible to clear the streets, for as swiftly as the snow could be cleared, it would have replaced itself.  The expectations of some residents, perhaps far exceeding the abilities of the city to respond to the exception, rather than the anticipated annual winter snow dumping.

The issue of unrealistic expectations in exceptional circumstances is something that perhaps Mayor Truhanov should consider a little longer – even if he is looking to divert any inferred blame from himself and City Hall, in what has been a rather slow and uncoordinated response once the snow had stopped.

As usual, however, scape goats and attention diverting themes are required.  Heaven forbid Mayor Truhanov take responsibility for anything that makes him appear anything other than a Saviour and statesman.

Thus, the following entry appeared on the Mayor’s Facebook page:

“Итак, мы провели несколько этапов переговоров с собственниками «Одессаоблэнерго». Основное требование – увеличение количества работающих бригад, обеспечение их оперативной работы, а также налаживание информационного взаимодействия с одесситами и городскими службами.

Результатом этих переговоров стало восстановление подачи электроэнергии к большинству отключенных домов. По состоянию на утро 2 января в Одессе подключили к электричеству более 50 домов.

Сегодня одной из главных проблем является полное самоустранение «Одессаоблэнерго» от взаимодействия с городской властью и контакта с населением. Предприятие не предоставляет городу данные об авариях, отключенных от электроэнергии домах, не дает заявки на расчистку подъездов к трансформаторным будкам, где это необходимо. В то же время, в наши call-центры поступают сотни звонков об отключениях электроэнергии. В некоторых домах света нет уже несколько дней.

В ближайшее время будет проверено выполнение предприятием «Одессаоблэнерго» Мирового соглашения между компанией и горсоветом в части модернизации сетей. В случае невыполнения соглашения городом будут предприняты все возможные правовые и политические шаги для обеспечения управления стратегически важным предприятием в условиях военных действий в стране и стихийного бедствия в городе.”

Indeed, Mayor Truhanov is to launch “all possible legal and political steps” to take control of Odessaoblenergo – a public trading company – because some homes lost power for a few days during the more extreme weather when Mayor Truhanov couldn’t keep the roads passable.  One of the company’s failures, was not to submit requests for snow to be cleared in order to access electrical transformer boxes for example – even though had any such request been made, clearance was unlikely, and engineers actually managing to reach the transformer boxes almost impossible due to the roads.

Even if such access had been possible, apparently the hundreds of calls to the City call centres mentioned in the Mayor’s Facebook entry are quite meaningless.  Clearly there was no attempt to pro-actively clear the snow that would allow Odessaoblenergo access to transformer boxes – Odessaobloenergo must request it, and didn’t.  The City, it seems, therefore responds to Odessaoblenergo, rather than Odessaoblenergo responding to the City Administration.  Cart before horse.

Similar statements have been made regarding the collection of mounting rubbish that has been unable to be collected too, relating to the responsible contractor by City Hall.

Undoubtedly there will be issues with how Odessaoblenergo reacted and liaised with City Hall – and vice versa.  There will be lessons to be learned by both – not least of which is do not expect the Mayor to assume any responsibility, but rather to make threats instead.  (You can take the man from within the criminal underworld, but not the criminal underworld from within the man).

Legally, quite how Odessa City Hall anticipates taking control of a public trading company, without resorting to threats, corporate raiding and nefariously obtained court judgements – all of which Odessa’s odious Mayor is well versed in – is difficult to see.

It is one thing to hold Odessaoblenergo accountable and legally liable to the contract it has with the City, or indeed to stealthily/strategically buy out enough shareholders to take effective control if they want to sell, – but it is quite another to forcibly have the City take over a public trading company via “all possible legal and political steps”.  How very Kremlin-esque in the perception that statement gives.

Further, and let us be blunt – if the City (Mayor Truhanov or odious cohorts) were to take control of this company, we can also forget any meaningful tenders and/or competitors entering the Odessa energy market – an energy market already opaque and a spring from which much corruption flows.

There are times when it is simply far better to accept that in extreme weather circumstances, the ability to respond effectively and immediately was hampered – moaning constituents or otherwise.  That the electricity was restored as swiftly as the roads became passable is all that can be reasonably expected after all.

If all roads lead to Rome, then Rome is where you will arrive.  If all roads remain impassable because City Hall fails to clear them days after the somewhat extreme weather passes, are either the refuse collection or energy infrastructure contractors responsible for the public disquiet as the Odessa Mayor would try to portray?

Apparently so.

Responsibility is clearly not something the Mayor or City Hall are prepared to take – far easier to blame (and threaten) others.

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