Improper supervision of advertising in the city has been alleged by, among others, the mayor of Poznań by NIK inspectors. They have sent a notice to the Prosecutor's Office in this case. This is the aftermath of an audit in Poznań's city hall conducted over a year ago. Jaskowiak claims it's a political matter, speaks of „shenanigans” at NIK, and currently does not address the merits.
Since this spring, Poznań has finally had a landscape resolution, which was worked out with much delay. However, this is not the end of the problems with advertising chaos. According to the NIK, the city authorities have been negligent in their control of outdoor advertising. The Supreme Audit Office has therefore filed a notice with the Public Prosecutor's Office regarding the suspected commission of a crime by the Mayor and the City's Landscape Maintenance Officer. The case concerns the period between 2018 and 2022. This period was investigated by the inspectors.
Careless, tardy, reactive
What exactly is at stake? The NIK inspection took place on the initiative of, among others, a well-known Poznań social activist Tomasz Hejna (he runs a profile on FB called Gemela Poznańska, and is a councilman of the Piątkowo estate), who has been fighting, often successfully, against illegal advertising in the city for many years. As a result of his activities, he discovered so many irregularities that he decided to take an interest in the Chamber. Hejna noted that, in his opinion, the City is too lenient with „wild” advertisements located on municipal land or in the road strip, losing money it could collect for land use.
He also alarmed that over the past two decades, many decisions have been issued in a careless or inconsistent manner. For example: approval for an advertisement was given by the Municipal Roads Administration, even though it did not stand on land under its authority. The Supreme Audit Office therefore launched an inspection, the results of which we learned this spring.
Officials reported, among other things, that:
"in Poznań, no systematic verification was ensured that real estate owned by the City was not being illegally used for advertising purposes. This applied both to municipal properties and to the road strip [...] managed by the ZDM [Municipal Road Administration — editor's note]. The Authority's activity was limited to responding to complaints and notices of illegal use for advertising purposes of municipal properties.
They also added that the MKZ did not respond sufficiently to notification of advertisements on monuments, and the ZDM did not monitor its land very carefully. Meanwhile, the City was tardy in responding to reports of illegal media. In an extreme case, it was said to take 1212 days for it to respond to a notification of a „wild” advertisement. The inspectors also pointed to the insufficiently careful transfer of bus shelters with citylights to the MTP Group (Poznań International Fair) for management.
Up to three years
The city strongly objected to the findings in the spring and raised objections to them. At the time, the national NIK finally dropped the negative opinion issued by the Poznań branch. City officials therefore say they are surprised by the turn of the case and the notice saying the offense is punishable by up to three la in prison under Article 231 par. 1 of the Criminal Code, which speaks of "exceeding powers or failing to perform duties" resulting in "acting to the detriment of public or private interests."
Mayor Jaskowiak did not speak out on the notice made public last Friday until yesterday. In comments made to Poznań media, however, he did not address the merits of the case. Instead, he launched an attack on the Supreme Audit Office. He considered it a political move ahead of the planned election campaign. He was also highly critical of NIK vice-president Tadeusz Dziuba, a right-wing politician with ties to Poznań in the past (he ran for mayor in 2014, when Jaskowiak won). He also did not fail to scold Chairman Marian Banaś by mentioning "the brothel he owns." Poznań's Gazeta Wyborcza quotes the president's words:
NIK is discredited not only by Agent Tom's reports of politicization and use for political purposes of state offices and agencies, but also by its own actions.
I have no doubt that this institution is unreliable and I have no doubt that it is politically motivated. I am convinced that right now there will be a time when all those sons of bitches who took advantage of their jobs in the Supreme Chamber of Control, in the CBA, in the friendly media, will be held accountable for this and will simply go to jail.
NIK gives a chance
Today the same radio station reported that NIK officials are considering legal action for insulting public officials. However, they are giving the president a chance by telling him to verify his words yesterday. They point out that a notice of suspicion of a crime does not prejudge the commission of an act, as this will be dealt with by a possible lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Tomasz Hejna, with whose work the whole affair began, comments:
First of all, I would prefer that there were no reasons at all why the situation took such a turn. However, the reasons are there, and they look serious. So it's good if someone, perhaps, will bear responsibility for years of negligence regarding common space and city finances. My only concern is that the landscape resolution passed this year separates with a thick line the actions of outdoor companies and media owners, who will not bear the financial consequences of arbitrary actions in decades past. I have, by the way, applied to the Prosecutor's Office to include me in the investigation, as I have knowledge and materials covering a longer period than the four years under investigation by the NIK.