Meanwhile in Cuckooland 89

The second round of local elections came without surprises: PiS candidates have been knocked out pretty much everywhere where it mattered usually by the ratio of 2:1 against them. Even the city of Elbląg, despite all those promises of the golden era that is about to be delivered by new shipping channel to be dug by PiS, is going to have a president from the opposition. Which poses a serious question: during the campaign, PiS threatened voters, that if they don’t vote for their candidates, the money from the central budget will be cut for them. Now, there are voices from the right that suggest, that after a disastrous defeat PiS encountered in bigger towns, the central funds will now be focused more on the countryside. In that light, will they go ahead with digging the canal, considering it to be rural area investment, or they chose to punish Elbląg and halt the project (until next elections, that is, when they will be able to yet again stage a great opening of the construction work)?

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Now, PiS faces the second tough test. It is to be seen how much coalition capability they have. As the fact is: while PiS managed to get over a third of votes, nearly twice as much of voters casts their ballots against them. Because this is what those elections were really about – there was in fact only two choices: PiS and anti-PiS. Ok, there is still Kukiz 15, a chaotic association of random people bunched together by the former rock star, but they themselves seem to be unable to put out what they really want, and therefore the whole project seems to be falling apart. Some of it’s MP’s, mostly radical nationalists, have already left the party. Recently, another few prominent members left Paweł Kukiz, which resulted in an uncontrolled outburst of emotions on his tweeter page. Next day he disowned all those vulgar tweets and claimed, that he lost control over his account, and therefore has to close it (I thought that to be able to close Twitter account one need an access to it, but what would I know…). Of course, nobody believed it, as Kukiz’ alcohol problem is a public knowledge for years, so endless jokes followed, claiming, that his account was taken by agent Smirnoff of the local off-sales shop, or that it was compromised by famous hackers Jim Beam and Johnnie Walker. Finally, Kukiz admitted, that “he was carried away by the Friday night’s fever” and called for those, who never got drunk and totally compromised their organisation online to first cast the stone (sadly, I live in Scotland, so it is too far for me to throw). But at least he indeed deleted his Twitter account, so something good had come out of it.

Meanwhile, it had emerged, that PiS could not count on its supporters not only during elections. As informed Radio Zet, a group of farmers and PiS activists from Lubuskie district in Western Poland had to be transported across the country to attend the meeting with prime minister Morawiecki near Lublin. It was really lucky, that they have been provided with a police coach, as it was a really long journey – their travel there and back took about 33 hours. So it came very handy that they did not have to hire a commercial coach, but could ride on Ministry of Internal Affairs vehicle, that is exempt from tachograph regulations, and thus does not require for drivers to observe driving time limits and mandatory breaks… And, if they would be running late, this vehicle is fully fitted with all police gear – blue lights, sirens and so, so they would be able to travel like any other VIP carrying vehicle… But hopefully not, we have enough trouble with government drivers crashing into everything without them using vehicles with a gross mass of 15 tons…

But jokes aside: this is actually not the only example of the uniformed forces stepping in to help PiS. It had just emerged, that the Army is boosting its road building program. The Army has special funds, allowing for it to take care of the minor roads, that are not in the scope of the interest of the local council but are strategically important. They could, for example, pay for that the bridge in some local road in the middle of nowhere would be capable to carry heavy armoured vehicles and tanks. Usually, the Army was spending about 22 million per year on such projects. From next year onwards, this budget was boosted up to 500 million. Is PiS planning some war or anything? Don’t think so, especially, that under the rule of Antoni Macierewicz the forces are nearly disarmed – most of the weaponry purchases were either halted, slowed down or cancelled altogether. But now it has become clear, that the pace of road building set by the previous government has been set very high, and is impossible to keep up with it. The fact, that prices went up while the government spent billions on buying voters with generous give-aways is not helping. Due to the conflict with Brussels regarding rule of law, they can’t count on a generous EU funding any more as well. But hey-ho, the Army haven’t bought any helicopters, submarines and many other things that were planned, so there is a surplus money in there. So why don’t use it for road building?

Luckily, there might soon be savings on the salaries of catechists as well. Despite there is no requirement for it in the concordat, they are paid by the state. But they might not be needed soon. In Łódź the number of kids who attend religious classes in school dropped dramatically. Only 27 000 of 60 000 of pupils signed up this year. Just three years ago more than 80% were attending. But this might not be only due to religious reasons: there was no significant number of those, who would like to attend alternative ethics classes. It seems, that parents simply take kids off the religious classes, as due to disastrous school reform introduced by PiS, kids are overworked and at the same time face the toughest competition than usual…

I know, that I am boring here, but I really can’t help it: PiS is a kind of King Midas au rebours: everything they touch instantly turn into crap – from the Arabian Horses Studs through educational system to theatres. For example in Wrocław, despite widespread protests of employees, residents of the city and cultural activists across the country, a leading local theatre, Teatr Polski, got a new director: Cezary Morawski. He had absolutely no plan as per how to run one of the best theatres in Poland, but what could PiS do: the previous director just became an opposition MP, and other candidates were some leftist weirdos, none of them could be allowed to run a theatre that with PiS taking over the power in Poland had just been reclaimed for the Polish nation, right?

Morawski took over a well-established institution popular with the local audience in a good financial situation, with a good team of actors and other staff and world-famous directors willing to stage their plays there. Just a year later, the institution was full of conflict and most popular shows that were played for years were cancelled overnight – some say it was new director revenge and attempt to change the repertoire into a more classic one. But others point out, that shows were struggling due to lack of actors, who either boycotted it and left, or were sacked on the disciplinary ground for participating in the protests (some of the latter won their cases in the employment courts later). The local council voted to remove him from the position, but this move has been blocked by the government. Today, the institution is over 1.3 million zł in the red, and its financial situation is so bad, that the city heat and power plant cut off hot water and heating due to unpaid bills. At the moment of writing, even the theatre’s web page is down. The tragic financial situation can be partially due to the fact, that director decided to stage monumental and expensive shows, that failed to attract the public. One of the shows needs the participation of 43 actors, of whom the majority are guest stars, and thus cost much more than staff actors. But the audit uncovered some more appealing facts: it has emerged, that Morawski, who is an actor himself, paid himself five times the average for every show he’ve been on the stage. He also paid himself 1300 zł for every rehearsal, which really shocked everyone, as no other actors are paid for participation in the rehearsals. He also lives in a luxury apartment for which majority of the rent is paid by the theatre. He sees nothing wrong with his earnings, pointing out, that “he had to pay taxes on them”. As if nobody else does…

This seems like a pattern – last week we wrote about the situation in Polish Airlines LOT. There also we had a new CEO nominated by PiS, who showed a complete lack of managing skills and total disrespect for his crew, yet was very keen to pocket as much money as possible himself. Luckily, the fire had been put down for now – in the negotiation between the trade unions and the company (but with no CEO present), the company agreed to meet all demands of the crews. Was it worth to nearly destroy the company reputation and cause significant financial loss?

When it is about money or workplaces, it’s not that bad yet, though. Sometimes, people’s basic human rights are at stake. Jarosław Gowin, today a minister in PiS government, used to be a justice minister in Donald Tusk’s cabinet. When they have realized, that people, who with the abolition of death penalty in Poland had their sentence changed into 25 years of imprisonment are about to be released, they had a hard nut to crack: from one side, one should not be imprisoned for more than his sentence. On the other hand, it might not be a great idea to let serial killers, such as murderer-paedophile Mariusz Trynkiewicz, roam free. And so, the new law was created, according to which such people could be placed indefinitely in an increased security psychiatric ward. This bill was nicknamed “the monster act”. But it did not work as well as imagined, as the recent report of shows:

Today, the institution is already overcrowded. The detainees live in bunk beds, 8 to the room. They had virtually no rights, as there is a lack of legal acts regulating their situation. Therapy is a fiction, as most of them don’t believe, that they will ever be allowed out, so they see no point of taking part in it. Moreover, the institution is full of people who never should be placed there: the inmates include a young schizophrenic girl, a man, who spent 7 years in jail but never committed any sexual or violent crimes, and a fully re-socialized man, who, after serving his time, managed to get a job and started a family. Then, suddenly, a court decided, that he is dangerous and needs to be separated from the society. With the odium of monsters surrounding the inmates, no expert or judge is brave enough to grant their release, especially, that the legal situation is unclear, so if something happens, they might be held responsible.

But of course, not every one of the inmates should be free. On the contrary: Mariusz Trynkiewicz, for example, was found to be in possession of indecent pictures of children and sentenced to another 5 times in prison. But due to lack of the regulations, there are no procedures that allow for him to be transferred back to regular jail.

The prison system was part of responsibilities of Patryk Jaki, deputy justice minister. But apparently, he was too busy trying to become mayor of Warsaw and therefore had no time to deal with such difficult and unpopular topics like the basic human rights of some criminals… And now, PiS is preparing for their biggest event so far: celebrations of the centenary of Polish independence. They always say how important patriotism and honouring our past is for them. They have an organisation committee with a budget of 200 000 000 that was working on preparing the event for 2 years. Surely, with their talent to turn things into gold, such long preparation and vast amounts of money spent, it will have to be great. Right?

This piece was written for Britske Listy
Picture: Teatr Polski by Michał460 via Wikipedia. Public Domain



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