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<nettime> Re: Croatia Mayor Car Crash Turns Worse
Ivo Skoric on Wed, 16 Jan 2002 20:20:37 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Re: Croatia Mayor Car Crash Turns Worse

Croatia is not alone in having a politically popular capital city mayor 
with personal problems - the US had a Washington DC mayor with 
a crack-cocaine problem, and he did get re-elected. So, I think, we 
shouldn't judge the situation in Croatia, by how mayor Bandic is 
treated politically, but by how is he treated by judiciary - he 
shouldn't be showed any special treatment just because he is a 
high ranking official: that would send wrong signals to other 
citizens - who would obey the DUI laws, if the mayor can break 
them and not pay for it?


From:           	TEPESHK {AT} aol.com
Date sent:      	Sun, 13 Jan 2002 22:03:13 EST
Subject:        	Croatia Mayor Car Crash Turns Worse 
To:             	CroWorldNet {AT} aol.com, brankobarbir {AT} attbi.com, pavuna {AT} bluewin.ch,
       	CROATIANS {AT} aol.com, hmfgsf {AT} juno.com, brigall {AT} yahoo.co.uk,
       	JKraljic {AT} email.msn.com, CROATIANAMERICAN {AT} aol.com, xsive {AT} rogers.com,
       	ivo {AT} reporters.net, MViscovich {AT} aol.com

Croatia Mayor Car Crash Turns Worse

.c The Associated Press

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) - The mayor of Croatia's largest city sideswiped a car 
with his Range Rover last week, fled the scene and dodged police trying to 
give him a breath test. 

And then the unthinkable happened in this Balkan country, where for decades 
the indiscretions of politicians were covered up or buried as briefs in the 
back of newspapers: A huge public scandal erupted. 

``It marks progress in our society,'' said Mirjana Krizmanic, a psychologist 
who studies the reaction of the public to political issues. ``People 
obviously have had enough of politicians making trouble that ordinary people 
would answer for - and getting away with it.'' 

Only five years ago, a county administrator named Ivo Peko was convicted of 
striking and killing an 11-year-old girl - only to be pardoned within two 
years by the regime of then-President Franjo Tudjman. 

Soon after that, a Croatian army general who was speeding on a road in 
southern Croatia allegedly caused an accident in which two people were 
seriously hurt. Military police took over the case and never released the 
results of their investigation. Mirko Norac, who was close to Tudjman's 
regime, was never charged in the incident. 

But change is under way in this former communist state moving to embrace 
Western democracy - and political accountability. 

People in this country of 4.7 million no longer seem inclined to accept a 
whitewash - even when it involves Zagreb's popular 46-year-old mayor Milan 
Bandic, known for championing the causes of the poor and bringing basic 
services such as water to impoverished neighborhoods. 

The media is no longer state-dominated, making headlines like: ``Drunk Bandic 
Causes Accident, Then Flees Police,'' a possibility for the first time ever. 

There are changes at the top: Tudjman is dead and voters ousted his 
corruption-plagued party two years ago, electing a pro-Western coalition that 
promised to take responsibility for their actions. 

Bandic's accident is the first big test of that pledge. Though he didn't 
injure anyone, police say his blood-alcohol test showed he was intoxicated 
and that he tried to escape. His Range Rover swiped an Opel Vectra and caused 
an estimated $900 in damage. 

After the story broke, Bandic - in true Western style - offered a tearful 
apology. He begged reporters to remember the Bible and said ``the one without 
sin should cast the first stone.'' 

``The fact that he drove drunk shows his huge irresponsibility,'' said Davor 
Butkovic, chief editor of the weekly Globus. ``But more importantly, it is 
scandalous and inexcusable that he, a government representative, fled other 
state officials while they were doing their job.'' 

``Bandic has to go,'' he wrote. 

Under public pressure, Bandic offered his resignation. The city assembly will 
consider whether to accept it Jan. 31. 

Bandic's party, Prime Minister Ivica Racan's Social Democrats, have offered 
support, issuing a statement arguing he shouldn't be disqualified ``because 
of a mistake he committed as a citizen, and not as mayor.'' 

The opposition - Tudjman's old party -says contrition isn't enough, 
complaining Bandic is an embarrassment to the city. 

The outcome will show whether Racan is serious about accountability, said 
Slavica Ivin, a 32-year-old elementary school teacher as she waited for her 
streetcar home from work. 

``If he stays, then it shows politicians are still the untouchables,'' Ivin 
said. ``Then nothing has changed.'' 

Political analysts like Frenki Lausic argue that scandal or no, Racan's party 
likely will get enough votes in the city council to keep Bandic in office. 

``Bandic's resignation, of course, won't be accepted,'' Lausic said. ``Our 
political culture is still miles away from a Nordic state, for example, where 
a minister resigned when the media discovered she charged a pair of socks 
with the government's credit card.'' 

Though polls show the public is divided on whether Bandic should go, some 
observers suggest Racan's coalition has been marred by the scandal. 

Racan received a glimpse of things to come this week when speaking before 
students at the city's main university. As Racan outlined ambitious 
job-creation plans, one teen-ager challenged him. 

``How can we trust you,'' the youth said, ``when your mayor is driving drunk 
around the city and is fleeing the police?'' 

AP-NY-01-12-02 1922EST

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news 
report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed 
without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.  All active 
hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL. 

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