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(en) Poland, rozbrat: ILLEGAL LOBBYING OF DEVELOPERS AND POZNAN GREEN WEDGES[machine translation]

Date Mon, 1 Mar 2021 10:44:19 +0200

Maciej Klimaszewski, "Spolecznik" with impunity, represents developers. We reveal implicit lobbying and pathology of the law-making process in the case of the development plan for the western green wedge in Poznan. ---- Keywords wedges of green Darex Rozbrat stays developers ---- After years of construction lawlessness and the destruction of green areas for development, many Poznan residents associate the word "developer" with a curse. Aware of this state of affairs, the construction business, wanting to concret new valuable parts of the city, begins to force its interests by pretending to be "social workers". Implicit lobbying means that public consultations regarding the development plans for Poznan are only a formality. Thanks to crypto-lobbyists, developer-friendly politicians are adopting the anti-social concreting plan as the result of a fabricated debate. We reveal the methods of circumventing the law on lobbying in Poznan and the links between the "social activists" and the world of local developers and politicians, leading to the development of the western wedge of greenery.

Currently, the Municipal Urban Studio is working on the local spatial development plan "Solacz - Part C". There is part of the western green wedge within this plan. His records also include the Rozbrat squat. As usual in the case of development plans, the project prepared by MPU assumes development of green areas. In relation to many areas, there are no provisions guaranteeing the preservation of greenery. Thus, it favors developer interests.

For the second time, the MPU created a draft plan, assuming the development of Solacz. The first version of the plan was blocked in 2010 as a result of protests from Poznan. Due to the fact that city planners again do not take into account the needs of the general public related to access to greenery and create a plan that does not actually protect it, we are taking steps to change its provisions.

Part of them was to organize an online working meeting of the inhabitants of Solacz and environmental associations in order to prepare joint comments on the plan. At the meeting, which took place on January 22, Mr. Maciej appeared. The man stated that he was active socially and argued as a social worker for the development of the area where Rozbrat is located, as well as for the allotment gardens at the Bogdanka ROD. He also presented a visualization of the development of this area. During the conversation, he claimed that he created his project in his spare time, because as a community worker he would like to "contribute something positive to the development of the district". However, he could not answer the question of whether he works for a developer. "Spolecznik" Maciej also appeared on January 26 at the online meeting of the Council of the Solacz Estate with the residents,

In fact, the "social worker" referred to is Maciej Klimaszewski, an architect who has been working for many years for the most influential developers in Poznan. He is the founder of the Habitum Architekci architectural studio. He designs his works mainly for well-known investors on the Poznan market, such as Dom-Eko Sp. z o. o. and Malta-Deweloper Sp. z o. o. The owner and manager of the first company is Agnieszka Banaszak, who also sits on the board of the Polish Association of Developers (PZFD) - an organization at the forefront of defending development interests, which currently includes 221 companies. Well-known Poznan development companies such as Nikiel, UWI, Nickel, Agrobex, Inwestycje Wielkopolski, etc. have a large representation in PZFD. Therefore, the links between Maciej's Socialist and the developer interest are obvious.

At the same time, Maciej Klimaszewski is the son of Izabela Klimaszewska, a well-known Poznan architect, former councilor of the City of Poznan and a person associated with such a developer tycoon as Ataner. At the company's 25th anniversary celebration in 2016, apart from the management of Ataner and Klimaszewska, all the political cream of Poznan was present, including former mayor of the city Ryszard Grobelny, and current - Jacek Jaskowiak and former Poznan voivode Piotr Florek. The latter politician assured in his speech: "We will try to help companies that need land for construction (...) we will try to remove these difficulties and obstacles".

Klimaszewski, in his attempts to push through the development plans for the western wedge of greenery, including the development of Rozbrat, tries to establish contact with various environments dealing with nature conservation in the city. On January 20, after a telephone conversation with activists from the Coalition ZaZiele Poznan, to whom he claimed he had obtained phone numbers from the MPU, he sent them an e-mail. In it, he wrote: "I am asking you to meet, so that at the very beginning of the project, establish cooperation with you in this respect, so that the possible project meets the social and environmental expectations as much as possible". The coalition did not undertake the proposed cooperation because it does not cooperate with entities that seek to intensify development in areas of high natural value.

At the same time, proceedings from an application for prescription have been pending since 2015. Its subject is the property on which Rozbrat is located. The application was filed by the "Ulica" Association for Social Initiatives. A participant in the proceedings, that is Darex sp. Z oo, called Klimaszewski as a witness regarding the exercise of ownership rights by Darex. During the testimony, Klimaszewski showed that he was designing the development of the plot occupied by Rozbrat and allotment gardens belonging to ROD "Bogdanka". At the same time, he pointed out that his task is difficult due to the lack of a spatial development plan, but the plan is being prepared and in its current form it enables the development of the Rozbrat area. Therefore, the preliminary development projects and the lease of Klimaszewski by Darex was justified in his opinion.

From Klimaszewski's current activities, bearing the hallmarks of hidden lobbying, as well as from his family, political and business ties, we conclude that it has an informal but practical impact on the decisions of city authorities regarding spatial planning. The methods of "social activist" and fabricating social support for developers are a very dangerous tendency in the politics of Poznan.

Sixteen years after the introduction of the Act on Lobbying Activities, the Poznan self-government has still not fulfilled the obligation arising from this act to define the method of dealing with lobbyists operating in the city (Article 16 (2)). This is dangerous because the law on lobbying in Poland was adopted against the background of high-profile scandals and official surveys, which revealed that local government officials are twice as much involved in lobbying for friendly enterprises as parliamentarians[1]. Experts dealing with lobbying research have been alarming for years that Polish cities avoiding strict regulations are the area of free American and "cowboy lobbying". As Dr. Pawel Kuczma emphasizes, in the field of cities, lobbyists-cowboys most often force interests "related to spatial development, obtaining favorable decisions on land development or land use"[2].

In the absence of clear procedures regarding city authorities, in the gray lobbying zone, developers use various, extra-legal techniques to influence politicians. One of them is so-called covert lobbying. According to the definition of prof. Anna Kubiak, it is a process of influencing law-making "secret in the sense that the person who exerts pressure does not openly act as a lobbyist. He often hides because he is formally, officially, a journalist, expert or adviser. Together with other researchers, Kubiak adds that covert lobbying "is contrary not only to good practice, but also to the law". Being unattended, it undermines trust in authorities and is considered a vestibule of corruption.

The Marshal of the Greater Poland Voivodeship[3]protected himself against such accusations by issuing an ordinance in 2016 that eliminates hidden forms of lobbying. Business representatives interested in influencing the shape of the law must state their intentions on an official form. The notification is sent to the Public Information Bulletin, the course of the meeting with the lobbyist is documented in the form of a protocol, which is attached to the project. If lobbying has achieved some success, the way in which the influence of pressure groups has been taken into account goes into the office's records. For developers, however, it is not the voivodeship authorities, but the cities that are the key decision-maker. They have greater competences in terms of creating spatial and ownership policy, hence the city office is an area of stronger pressure on politicians and residents.

The process of creating the law on the protection of Greenery Wedges in Poznan shows that good manners simply do not exist in the murky waters of this city. Worse, politicians and developers behave as if there is also no law to protect us from business influence. An example of such a state of affairs is the activity of Maciej, a "social worker".

Jaskowiak, like his predecessor Grobelny, avoids defining clear procedures to this day as regards relations with groups influencing the law-making processes in the city. The urban space is shaped by the gray lobbying zone and techniques that should simply be banned. As long as the authorities allow business sharks to freely engage in covert lobbying, impersonate social activists, manipulate residents and councilors, Poznan will remain a facade democracy under the control of the elite.


[1]"Lobbying towards local government in Poland" Michal Piechowicz[in: Contemporary challenges of government and local government administration, p. 196]

[2]"Local government lobbying or a free American woman ", Pawel Kuczma, https://www.rp.pl/artykul/776302-Radni--Lobbing-samorzadowy.html (accessed on February 21, 21)


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