The citizens pay for everything and everyone. Always. In Italy, where the squandering of economic resources and bureaucracy are reigning, this phrase has become the symbol of inefficiency and of the public money being used in improper ways. For years the squandering public administration held court in the administrative life without anyone feeling the need to moralize. Then arrived the crisis, times changed, and many of those cases became the subject of journalistic and judiciary investigations. Those who thought that we arrived at a turning point, were wrong. Not only squandering did not cease, but in the Land of the litigators often there is no way to recover the public money spent unnecessarily. Without considering the damage caused by bureaucracy. A deadly cocktail of inefficiencies, superficiality and rigor that presents the bill always and only to the same people: the citizens.
One of the last cases was highlighted by a sentence of the Court of Auditors (the n.173, 2015), and relates to a small town in the province of Grosseto, Gavorrano. Everything was born in the context of the last local Municipality elections. Among the candidates there was also an employee of the local authority, who according to law, should have had to request to be placed on leave before competing for the mayor’s office. But bureaucracy fixes net times, within which this operation can be made. The deadline was – in this case – on 18th April. On 20th April, the act was formally made, long before the vote, but after the deadline. And the trick of making it retrospectively valid, starting from 1st April, was not considered legitimate by the judges. A matter of dates: a “joke” that costed the Municipality almost one hundred thousand euro. Yes, because that candidate was elected as the city’s mayor, and started to carry out his functions. But at the same time went on the timely verification of his ineligibility that arrived. A slap in the face of common sense.
Thus, had to be reprogrammed the entire electoral process, with all the costs it implies: the organization of the administrative “machine”, tellers, days of presence for police, finance and forester at the polling stations, supplies to the Istituto Poligrafico and the Zecca dello Stato.
“If it is true, on the one hand, that the brevity of this delay – write the judges in their sentence – limits the potential contamination of the electoral campaign and the alteration of the level playing field between the candidates, on the other hand, it cannot be forgotten that case law is constant in believing peremptory the considered term”.
Therefore, even if it is quite evident that a change of date did not alter the substantial regularity of the elections, remains the problem of the formal regularity. Everything needs to be done over again. And considering that a cause is easy to define, i.e. due to the delay of the future, at the time, mayor to submit the request for leave, the Prefecture has required the intervention of the Court of Auditors. In short, they wanted to make pay those who had committed this mistake, and who, though aware of it, insisted on running in the elections.
Judges, however, while condemning the politician to the payment of the costs, have considered that the time spent by him as a mayor, although illegally, needed to be paid. And that the salary paid to someone who did not formally have the title, was still delivered. In short, he got it away with 16 thousand euros of condemnation, and the issue was closed.
A symbolic story which happened in a small Italian town, but which mirrors everything – literally – what is wrong in Italy. Where bureaucracy complicates unnecessarily, politics does not care, justice condemns, but not too much, entangled in the myriad of laces of the law. In this vicious circle, those who pay, in the end, are the citizens, unaware of the law’s dispositions, unable to control, mere spectators. Obviously paying spectators.