Ex Provinces, where democracy has fallen asleep for years

When in 2008 the Sicilians voted for the last time to democratically elect their representatives in the provinces, Barack Obama had yet to run for the White House and Romano Prodi was prime minister. Another world, thirteen years ago. Imagine if for thirteen years they did not make you vote to elect the mayor of your municipality. You would hardly take it well. Yet for the other local authorities, those of a large area that were called Provinces and now called free consortia, it works like this. No more voting. And it has been going on for almost eight years with the police stations and suspended democracy. The latest postponement, this time due to Covid, this week. It will be discussed in September, perhaps, for the second level elections (the mayors and city councilors vote). Who can say, after all? The postponements have been so many and such that it is now risky to make predictions. The Ars for the moment has moved everything to autumn. A scandal that is not newsworthy, we called it a year ago. And we are still standing.

The mess born with Crocetta

Meanwhile, the former provinces are waiting and moldy. A mess that has its roots in the reform launched amid the sound of trumpets in the last legislature by the Crocetta government – it was due to vote in spring 2013, eight years ago – and which ended in a sensational mess. The new Ars legislature put his own. And the season of postponements began. Which still continues.

La Lega: “Problem of credibility”

“The umpteenth postponement of the second level elections for the former Sicilian provinces voted by ARS poses a problem of credibility to all regional politics”, says the secretary of the League in Sicily Nino Minardo. He recalls how the Free Consortia are “in perennial commissioner, without any political leadership, in financial crisis and with thousands of employees who could be put in more productive and rewarding working conditions”. Serious financial problems: Syracuse has already gone ko, Enna has been in serious condition for some time.

The case of Agrigento

Take Agrigento, for example. Thirteen years have passed since the last time the people of Agrigento were called to elect the president of the province when – it was June 2008 – the then coordinator of the Movement for Autonomies, Eugenio D’Orsi, made a full booty getting the 67, 88% of the votes. On that occasion, over 225 thousand people from Agrigento went to the polls, certainly not aware that this would be the last election of a president of the province. D’Orsi’s mandate, characterized by a losing battle for the construction of the airport in Licata and several council resettings, ended on June 15, 2013.

The era of the commissioners

From that moment on – as well as in the rest of Sicily – various extraordinary commissioners appointed by the Region have followed one another from time to time, initially called to the task of “ferrymen” and which instead still last today. The Free Consortium of Agrigento was officially born on March 12, 2014 with the management of the body which was entrusted to the extraordinary commissioner Benito Infurnari who was then followed by the management of the commissioner Alessandra Diliberto. The Alberto Di Pisa era began in 2018. The former prosecutor of Termini Imerese and Marsala was reconfirmed just ten days ago – for the fifth time – extraordinary commissioner of the Libero Consorzio.

A hybrid subject

One of the direct consequences of the (lack of) reform of the provinces is the birth of a hybrid entity which still retains some prerogatives that belonged to the old bodies but which has lost others. Under the management of Pisa, particular importance was given – for example – to school buildings but above all to internal roads, one of the most “delicate” sectors of the Agrigento area. According to the layout of the latest budget – approved last July by the extraordinary commissioner Di Pisa – the former province expects to collect almost 94 million euros as a result of current revenues (18,520,000.00 euros), current transfers (23,954. 555.43 euros), non-tax revenues (1,614,571.50 euros) and capital account receipts (40,069,567.29 euros). The expenditure chapter, on the other hand, provides for a current expenditure of just over 43 million euros, to which are added approximately 50 million euros for investment expenses destined mainly for interventions on internal roads, road infrastructures, provincial school buildings and high school. Personnel expenses decreased for 2020 which count on 449 permanent and 126 temporary units. In addition, the 2020 budget plan also had to take into account the heavy forced levy by the state which is around ten million euros and which significantly reduces the ability to ensure the services provided by law for citizens.

The case of Trapani

The presence of a commissioner at Palazzo Riccio di Morana, seat of the Regional Province of Trapani, even began in 2012 when it was still called the Regional Province. And this is because the then president Mimmo Turano, today regional councilor for Productive Activities in the junta led by Governor Nello Musumeci, resigned to run for the ARS where he was elected deputy.

Turano left the regency of the provincial body government to the honorable vice president Enzo Culicchia. But a few days after his resignation the then governor Rosario Crocetta appointed the extraordinary commissioner in the figure of Alessandra Giammanco, director of the local autonomy department of the Sicilian Region.
Giammanco did not get in tune with the provincial council that had remained in office pending the electoral renewal, and in January 2013 she was disheartened. In the meantime, Crocetta’s desire to abolish provincial bodies had become increasingly evident and, in fact, in 2013, Dr.Dario Pellos took over as extraordinary commissioner, who came from the post of deputy vicar in Forlì (Pellos later became prefect and his first assignment was in Trapani).

The Ingroia era

After Pellos Crocetta he handed the organization over to the ex magistrate Antonio Ingroia. It was February 21, 2014, Ingroia took office in the Government Palace and in the press conference he said he had arrived in Trapani “not to be a Public Prosecutor but there is no doubt that if I encounter events worthy of reporting I will do my duty to public official “. Clear words that immediately made it clear that Ingroia would not be a simple ferryman of the organization. Ingroia supported the Regional Province of Trapani for about eight months (from February 21st to October 31st), acting in substitution and with the functions of all the provincial bodies.

Waltz of commissioners

After Ingroia, on February 21, 2014, the lawyer Ignazio Tozzo, manager of the Region arrived in Trapani, but was preceded by an ad acta commissioner, Dr. Daniela Leonelli, an official of the Regional Department of Local Autonomies. Tozzo remained in office for only four months. In April 2015, the new Extraordinary Commissioner for the Free Municipal Consortium of Trapani was appointed Giuseppe Amato, regional manager, but before the installation of Dr. Amato, the administrative activity of the body in recent days had been ensured, in his capacity Commissioner ad acta, by Angelo Sajeva, an official of the Sicilian Region. Giuseppe Amato resigned from his post on 13 January 2017. A few days later, and so far he has been the last (and is still in office), a retired magistrate was appointed at the helm of the Free Municipal Consortium: Dr. Raimondo Cerami.

Minardo’s appeal

The events that have marked these years in Syracuse, Ragusa, Enna and Caltanissetta are similar. The Northern League Minardo launches an appeal: “In agreement with the regional deputies of the League, we appeal to all the deputies of the center-right and to the regional Parliament to lay the foundations for immediately starting a new discussion on the merits and in the method with all carrying on since immediately the principle that the one voted on last Wednesday should be the last postponement for the second level elections of the Free Consortia in Sicily ”. Who knows if it will really happen.