Now, for those of you with a short attention span, you might just like to scroll down to the last paragraph…
Although the councillor sat alone facing the press and parents of the pupils from the now-closed municipal school of music, Manuel Novo, a representative of Todo Cultura sat amongst them, choosing to answer several of the questions aimed at Councillor Ruano.
Despite the scandal affecting the Town Council in general, not the Mayor nor the Councillor of the Economy were present, which is surprising because the whole issue revolves around the alleged misuse of public funds from the municipal coffers.
“I have decided to appear by myself because I am responsible for the Cultural Department and because I consider that it should be me who responds – one should face the music when it is necessary,” she said.
She then explained in detail what money had been granted to Todo Cultura (a private association) and why. She said that private teachers couldn’t be hired directly by the Town Hall and how that “an association is more agile than municipal administrations,” when it comes to making payments with promptitude to artistes and the like.
She had strong words for those that had made accusations in the written media, saying, “to lynch or punish so vilely without having the necessary information is unjustifiable.”
“When I took office I didn’t now how the Escuela de Música was run so I asked management services in the Town Hall for all the information on the running the Al Zagal Association, who had been hired in 1987 to run the cultural programme. Even to this very day have I ever received a file with documents from that association. The only thing I received from its chairman was a sheet of hand-written foolscap with plus/minus entries.”
She went on to say that Todo Cultura worked with the same budget as the previous association – 98,000 euros per year.
“The School Board runs the association on the fees from pupils and grants from the Junta de Andalucia, so that the [municipal] allowance is reduced to 68,000 euros per annum, therefore, I don’t know where they get this 600,000-euro figure from,” she went on.
On the subject of the outstanding back pay of the music teachers and the closing down of the school, she said, “As the Municipal Treasure, Mª Ángeles del Castillo, is ‘seeing ghosts,’ she makes a negative interpretation of what the previous Treasurer, Ildefonso Cobo, saw as crystal clear, and thus suspended the payments to Todo Cultura. From October no payments are made. Taking my advice, some association members pay the teachers’ Social-Security payments from their own pockets. But after some weeks, it couldn’t go on like that and so we closed the school.”
Then speaking directly to those gathered in the conference hall she rebuked those that had made comments on the social media, “Members of the general public have the same responsibility as politicians [concerning making public statements]. Why didn’t any of you go to the Town Hall and ask to see the receipts? Did any of you do that? Is it easier to obtain the said documents than to write insults on facebook,” she asked bitterly.
When asked about the link between the Chairwoman of Todo Cultura, Vanesa Martin, who is also the Chairwoman of the political party to which Councillor Ruano belongs, the question was answered by Manolo Novo from his seat amongst the public.
He explained that when the agreement between Todo Cultura and the Town Council was signed, the Más-Almuñécar political party did not even exist.
“The only agreement that exists in the Escuela de Música was signed on the 10th of October, 2011, and to my knowledge, Más-Almuñécar didn’t even exist in our thoughts, he pointed out with a touch of sarcasm.
“For this reason,” he went on, “it is clear that there is much interest in confusing things, whilst talking about illegal financing because it sounds spicier in the press.”
Concerning the implied ‘fishy circumstances’ of Todo Cultura having its office in the Casa de la Cultura, Manolo Novo pointed out that many associations do, including Juventudes Musicales, but ‘somehow’ the accusers ‘had neglected to point that out.’
And this, Ladies & Gentlemen, goes on an on, leaving impartial observers with the suspicion that this all has more to do with the proximity of elections and the time-honoured political art of ‘mud slinging’ then anything else. nAnd with that… I’m going to bed
(News: Almunecar, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia – Photo: infocostatropical)