Outgoing directors note pros and cons
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
On October 9, Mayor Luz María Nuñez and her cabinet concluded their three-year term. Directors of several departments talked to Atención about their work during this period. They talked about their good decisions and also about their mistakes and, based on that, they themselves graded their performances. They also talked about the projects and programs yet to be resolved and expressed their satisfaction and frustrations. Adolfo Cervantes, director of Traffic, acknowledged his mistakes and offered an apology to the residents of San Miguel. Helio Bastién, director of Ecology said, “I did this work because I like it.” Esteban Kuhne, director of Social Development, leaves his position with the frustration of “not rebuilding the Guadalupe de Támbula dam,” which caused flooding in the city in 1997. Others, such as Édgar Bautista, head of Urban Development, commented that “the satisfaction of being able to help sanmiguelenses is priceless.”
Department of Traffic, 8
Adolfo Cervantes, former director of the Traffic Department, said that he is not a traffic officer but a citizen who accepted the responsibility for this department and worked 24 hours, seven days a week. He commented that under his direction they launched a program to prevent accidents and save lives. He also said that during these past three years, thanks to programs such as the implementation of Breathalyzer tests, they reduced the number of drunk drivers as well as the number of deaths caused by alcohol. “We just had one driving-related fatality in our jurisdiction due to alcohol in three years,” said Cervantes. When he became director, most motorcyclists did not wear helmets, but at the end of this administration at least 80 percent of cyclists wear them. Under the supervision of the Traffic Department, pedestrian crosswalks were constructed on Boulevard de la Conspiración and other urban roads, in part to supplement pedestrian bridges, which according to Cervantes are the invention of advertising companies but are not much used by pedestrians.
Cervantes said that one of his mistakes was treating his personnel harshly, but that he did so because about half of them were corrupt. “I have a passion for legality,” he said, “and this passion made me intolerant of the corruption and extortion of citizens.” He made it clear that some traffic officers are corrupt because their salary (215 pesos per day) is not enough to meet their needs and also because many times drivers who ignore the laws or regulations give them bribes to look the other way. He added that this is a national problem and not exclusive to San Miguel.
Cervantes said that the new administration should work on programs for providing traffic services in rural communities, and also on modernizing public transportation. He commented he had several confrontations with city councilor Luz María Ramírez, president of the commission of transportation, who also has a public transportation concession. “When, in an administration, we have a city councilor who is president of the commission of transportation, but is also a concessionaire, who is she going to work to benefit: the citizens or bus concessions? As public servants we must look out for the welfare of the majority, and not of those small groups with power, out of personal interests,” concluded Cervantes.
Public Security, satisfactory
Carlos Godínez, who ran the Public Security Department for two years, graded his performance as satisfactory, noting accomplishments and shortcomings during his term in office. He said that in the area of legislation the department updated and launched five new regulations, such as the Regulations of Citizens’ Participation. In concert with federal and state forces, public security officers performed operations that resulted in the capture of criminals and confiscation of guns, vehicles and drugs. Police officers receive ongoing training, he said, and nowadays the municipality has eight officials who have been certified to train local police officers. Currently, the Public Security Department is also training police officers from the region in three courses, including riot control. The department bought 13 motorcycles, 10 pickup trucks and eight compact cars, and each officer has the necessary equipment. The local government provides scholarships for those officers who want to finish a degree or their high school education.
One mistake, according to Godínez, was that sometimes officers must work more hours than normal, and for that reason they spent very little time with their families. The next administration must follow up on the installation of surveillance cameras, he said. Half of the total cost of the 16 cameras has been paid, and at the end of this year the cameras must be operating. Also, two new pickup trucks will be received, in addition to new weapons. Godínez said that they conducted a study of security and the next administration must work on implementing a plan to avoid the security problems uncovered in the study.
The main achievements of this department, according to its director, Helio Bastién, was the authorization and publication of the Code for Ecologic Management, which will be useful for sanmiguelenses and investors and “gives a general panorama of the ecological situation in the city.” During these three years, the municipality bought and regularized the land for relocating the brick makers from Nuevo Pantoja, increased the number of green spaces from 44 to 120 and restored the municipal nursery, where native plants are being cultivated currently.
The error of this department was the lack of attention to green spaces, due to a 30 percent reduction in staff, “because the city council reduced our annual budget,” commented Bastién. The current administration must keep working on the relocation of the brick makers, the renovation of the green space at the Jardín Principal (the materials and plants have been paid for) and the construction of the clinic for protection of animals, which is 25 percent complete, he added.
Urban Development, 7
Some cases that have an effect on the city, such as BANTERRA (which proposed building a large development near Atotonilco), McDonald’s (which intended to open a store in the historic center) and the “duck” construction in Colonia Allende “are legal processes that must be solved by the next administration,” said Edgar Bautista. Their solution will depend on negotiations with the involved citizens. The new administration also must work on the Code of Territorial Order, which must be finished, as well as the Unique Municipal Code, which is a compilation of the municipal regulations. The achievements of this department, according to Bautista, were quick responses to those seeking building permits, official numbers or land zoning. Bautista said he had good communication with the city councilors, who always considered his suggestions before making decisions. During his period as director, he worked on the regularization of 30 percent of irregular land as well as in the unification of processes with departments related to Urban Development such as Civil Protection, the Municipal Institute for Housing and the Water Authority Department.
The errors, according to Bautista, were very small and did not greatly affect the city itself, only those interested in the processes, and they were fixed on time. Even if there were not huge mistakes, he graded his performance as a 7, saying, “I did not achieve in 10 months all the projects I had, such as the updating of regulations or staff training.”
Social Development, 7
Esteban Kuhne Keider said, “I do not want to pretend that we were the best, but we did what we could, and with a little more trust from the municipal authorities, we could have done much more.” He commented that during the three-year period they helped people put in more than 40,000 square meters of concrete floors, although he said “the rural communities are growing; people construct their homes, but they do not construct their floors because they know that it will be provided by the government. The program tried to eradicate poverty, but what the government got was people living in houses without floors.” They also brought electrical service to two rural communities, and now almost 100 percent of the rural communities have electricity. They also launched the biggest program for constructing sidewalks in the city. “We tried to take advantage of the little money that we had,” said Keider.
One mistake he pointed out, made by the Secretariat of Social Development, was the distribution of water tanks to communities lacking water—“but they did not even know whether we had tankers to deliver the water,” he commented.
Public Services, 9
Julian Villela, who has worked nine consecutive years in this department, commented that there were not really mistakes in his department; the problem, he said, was that the needs of the population are increasing day by day and sometimes they cannot provide them the services they need, such as cleaning or public lighting. The new administration, according to Villela, must keep working on improving those services.