News Edam-Volendam, Landsmeer, Purmerend and Waterland

On 14 July 2022, I took office on behalf of the largest party Lokaal Landsmeer as councilor and first deputy mayor of Landsmeer municipality.

I had set the bar high for myself. I wanted to quickly show results in my portfolio of spatial planning, land and infrastructure, housing, environmental vision, mobility, economy, recreation and tourism, road maintenance, water and sewerage and administrative future.

A solid package that I set to work with full of ambition, especially in construction and housing. Landsetters want to live, so they have to build. I was keen to reduce the years of waiting for Landsmeer residents to get a home, tighten performance agreements with companies and finally get some ‘bunks in the ground’ for our local residents.

Since I took office, I encountered cases where arbitrariness and opacity dominate. My intention to break through this culture met with systematic resistance. For example, by order of the municipal official, officials were not allowed to take orders from me and not communicate with me (either by e-mail or verbally). I was even whispered that people should no longer be seen with me due to sanctions.

And not only internally, but also to the residents, it was announced (by order) that there was no use meeting with me because I was under fire and my political end would be near. Despite my request, appointments with residents have not been made or removed from my agenda at all since I took office.

I kept track of what I asked whom and what was officially not delivered. If requested, I can provide insight and reasons why progress could not be made on many files.

I am proud that we still managed to get the 2022 province of North Holland’s environmental and planning law forwarded on time, and that in close consultation with the Landsmeer Lejerforeningen (HVL) and the housing company Eigen Haard, we succeeded in submitting the Oude Keern file in order to reopen; the first new drawing was already on the table in December.

Since September, I have made several reports to the mayor about the unsafe working environment. On October 3rd, I announced that I was no longer supported by the city clerk and that I was isolated. Because no (re)action followed, I made my first official report to B&W on November 1 about the unsafe working environment for me. On 8 November I repeated this report because it was not in the minutes. Afterwards, the minutes became even more selective and colourful, which meant that the paper reality (which the mayor has been talking about since I took office) is increasingly removed from reality.

The reaction from my fellow administrators was always that my way of acting did not fit with Landsmeer’s administrative style and administrative culture. I was asked several times whether it would not be better to leave to take up a position elsewhere. Transparency towards the city council is not a problem, because “then there is no management here. It must be turned so that it passes the Council. The less information you provide, the less chance of questions. You do not have to answer all the questions. You must be selective and stick to what we agree before the meeting. This is how we do it here”, I was told several times.

My party, Local Landsmeer, is well suited to such a way of governing. It is contrary to the political intentions on which the coalition program is based, and it is contrary to the way we want to function as a board. I have discussed this several times with the coalition. I have also made this known to my co-directors. As a result, only one ‘solution’ was seen: councilor Breij must go.

It didn’t help that I always argued for a wider investigation, including an integrity investigation involving both the council, the entire civil service (including the team leaders and the municipal secretary) and the council (including the mayor) working together. An investigation into the way in which the municipality of Landsmeer functions administratively and administratively. A study where the bottom rock comes up.

To destroy

Apparently inspired by the wave of publicity of accusations against celebrities and stories of drivers creating an aggressive and unsafe work environment, on November 21, 2022, a “report on a signal” was submitted to the mayor by four senior officials, who stated in purely abstract terms. that I would create an unsafe working environment. A climate where employees feel threatened, overworked, threaten to leave, etc.

This report prompted the mayor to immediately commission a private investigative agency. The signal was never discussed with me nor was any attempt made to find solutions. I myself managed to see the report only after much insistence, as the investigation had already been started for a long time. The report does not mention any concrete fact, let alone any criminal behavior.

However, the analysis agency that the mayor has engaged uses the word Integrity in its name. That fact alone – she shouldn’t be honest – contributed to the ‘campaign’ that the national parties had launched to damage my reputation and get me out. The analysis agency has now delivered its report.

I did not cooperate with the investigation because such investigations are supposed to be impartial and they were not. The mayor, who is also involved in politics in Landsmeer, was both the developer and a participant in the study.

The result of the study was predictable. My conclusion is that Landsmeer is controlled by a few (top) officials. A mortal sin for democracy and a waste of money.

During the January 17th B&W meeting, I was informed that on January 16th the Mayor had been informed that again, and now individually, there had been reports of continued unrest within the civil service organization related to my conduct.

It’s strange to say the least, because I haven’t been allowed to have contact with officials for months and sort everything out on my own. Nevertheless, this was reason for my board colleagues to immediately place a (repeated) restraining order against officials and residents during the meeting and remove all portfolios from me.

To date the contents of these new reports have not been made known to me. Again, it is unknown to me who the people are that are sending the ‘signal’.

If I knew the names, I might be able to establish a causal link between factual errors made by officials that I pointed out to them and/or commitments by officials before a council decision was made and the notification of the signal. The mayor refuses to provide any information on this, which feeds my feeling that this is all part of a political reckoning.

Personally

The past few months have been a series of negative experiences for me personally. I was trying to operate in an environment that was openly hostile to me. It felt like walking on a minefield every day. I was structurally ignored, intimidated, excluded, blackmailed and isolated.

Since the beginning of November, I didn’t dare to have one-on-one contact with anyone because I didn’t feel safe. Threatened, intimidated, manipulated. It actually only gave me negative energy. Energy that I would have liked to have invested in moving forward with the ambitions of the coalition programme.

Since the Mayor completely failed me and I got no support from my fellow administrators, since November 6, 2022 I have been trying to get an interview with the King’s Commissioner.

I sent several e-mails, spoke confidentially about the precarious work situation for me with the chief of staff and tried all the time to arrange a personal meeting with the King’s Commissioner, where I could also explain why I want a broad investigation of the administrative culture in Landsmeer. .

However, a meeting with the king’s commissioner did not fit into his agenda until the end of January. Previously he did not have time for me as a councillor, but today (January 19, 2023) he rushed to the council meeting. Now the time was released.

Unfortunately, I have to conclude that Local Landsmeer’s ambitions, the willingness to tackle matters in the interest of Landsmeer municipality and all its inhabitants, collided with the Landsmeer culture of informal power relations, bureaucratic arbitrariness and not wanting and not being allowed. to be transparent. We regret that, as a result of this culture, I cannot complete my job in the interest of Landsmeer municipality and its residents. That culture is not new. On the contrary.

I note that, in any case, since that period, now more than 10 years ago, the record in which Mayor Nienhuis had to resign because a small majority of the Council lost confidence in her, little has changed. That the dismissal of Mayor Nienhuis was against many Landsmelaar’s sore legs, and that she could return to her position after a petition from our residents, has unfortunately not (yet) led to a healthy administrative and organizational culture.

In fact, a new smear campaign ensued recently between some officials and the then municipal official. And now, hopefully the last smear campaign for Landsmeer, between some officials and ‘the local government’.

I can only hope that my departure contributes to achieving the desired effect. I maintain that a review of the organization will make an important contribution to this.

Then it had all been for nothing for me.

Marion Brei
former councillor

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