How a Pirate Councillor Improves Transparency in Lleida
Since last year, Pirates de Catalunya and Confederación Pirata have a pirate in Lleida council. Lleida is the capital city in one the four Catalonian provinces. The pirate Councillor works actively to improve transparency in the city council.
During the last city elections, Pirates de Catalunya participated in several cities in collaboration with other parties or citizen groups. In Lleida, PPCAT participated with other parties in a coalition named: Comú de Lleida (Lleida in common). This new party took 7,55% of votes which gave them two councilmen and one of them was the pirate Carlos González.
Two years ago Carlos tried to launch a public tool for budgetary control in the city of Lleida together with a few others. That attempt was without much success but now that Carlos is a councilman things have moved forward. They could not launch the Citizen’s Municipal Observatory (a citizens NGO for more transparency) for Lleida in 2014, but since then it has been one of Carlos’ goals as a municipal representative.
During this year, Carlos has been focusing especially on transparency topics. One of his initiatives, as a member of Comú de Lleida, was to request all bills of Council purchases. Thus he has enabled all people from Lleida (and the world) to see where their money goes when the Council spends it.
This year, on the ‘International Day of the Archives’ (June 9) transparency was improved in Lleida with the help of some activists. They accessed information in the public administration and managed to release about a thousand notes and bills from Lleida City Council. The information was released in an open, editable and colored format for better understanding of the data.
“Today, we have released Paeria’s 2016 invoices (Lleida ‘s city hall): which we pay among all of us, so everybody has the right to consult them, haven’t they? Becoming transparent is not only about make public this information, it is about to make an effort to make it clearer, and comprehensible to the whole citizenship, which has the right to know in detail how do their taxes are spent. If it is done by a little municipal group, why can’t the government team do it?”
“First I’d like to thank the 3.875 people who placed their trust in us and thanks to them I am today Municipal councilor smaller group of City Hall. Thanks to the hours spent typing data from our assistant at City Hall and especially thanks to all the impediments that have put us from the municipal corporation to get Lleida know how and where we spend part of the municipal budget. Each excuse put another reason to continue.” -Carlos González
Pirates demand a transparent administration because that is the way to understand democracy. Information is the foundation for citizen participation and leads toward a more direct democracy. The publishing of the data file proved that it wasn’t ‘impossible to do’ (something the government had told them over the past year). The data was also carefully edited to protect personal data and sensitive information. With few resources but with strong convictions (including effort and perseverance) the activists brought more transparency and democracy to Lleida.
If despite our efforts to preserve anonymity or sensitive information there are still some visible information, I apologize, but considering the Law 19/2014 we believe we can share with the people this public information, because it is the reflection of everyday activity in the town hall and the citizens must know what happens with their taxes” – Carlos González