Civil Society Tools Up to Help Rio Residents Keep an Eye on New Mayor Marcelo Crivella

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The new mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo Crivella, is now in his fifth month in office. Crivella has guaranteed that his goals will be met on schedule by the end of 2020–but some are already behind schedule or have a smaller scope than originally planned. At this moment, for example, 300 of 900 special educational support specialists that Crivella promoted have been nominated for the position, while only 176 have actually entered the classroom. The expansion of surgical procedures, promoted by the administration since the first day in office, was initiated at the end of January, but by early April only 500 of the 154,000 people waiting for a procedure had been seen. In some cases, the mayor has had to completely reverse his position: for example, he abandoned his promise to assume management of the 16 state Emergency Care Units (UPAs) located in the city of Rio, allegedly due to insufficient funding.

For this first year of office, Crivella should still comply with at least these following promises:

  • Bid transit vans to operate at medium and high capacity in the West Zone;
  • Complete the public transportation works on the TransBrasil Bus Rapid Transit project and guarantee its effective operation;
  • Apply R$250 million (US$77 million) or more to healthcare;
  • Create three more Regional Emergency Coordinators (CER);
  • Create a new qualification and evaluation program for municipal teachers;
  • Legally guarantee at least 1% of the municipal budget is allocated to promoting culture;
  • Create an incentive program to involve parents in their children’s school activities; and
  • Prune trees and restore furnishing in all city squares and parks.

In addition, the administration has until mid-2017 to present its Goals Plan, an instrument that will be used to measure the results of the municipal administration and ensure social accountability. This plan should reflect the lessons learned and the advances made by former Mayor Eduardo Paes and his administration, and not completely disregard his previously commissioned plan for the 2016-2020 period, since the goals are designed to meet the city’s needs and not a specific administration’s. In addition, the Plan should not exist to give a corporate face to city management, but instead act as a tool to achieve transparency and social participation. After the presentation of the plan, the Planning and Management Secretary will have 90 days to promote general, sectoral, and regional public hearings on the Plan to promote and deepen participatory democracy. The civil society actors mentioned in this article are poised to press for the presentation of the Plan and for citizen participation in its construction. Learn more here.

Check out some of the mechanisms that are available to Rio residents to follow City Hall’s activities and keep an eye on Crivella:

#OnTopOfCrivella | Meu Rio

Meu Rio (My Rio) is a network of people that sends out alerts about the municipal government’s political activities (like attempts to approve a controversial law, for example), aiming to influence political decisions and generate movements with real impact. The Facebook page has over 100,000 likes.

#EmCimaDoCrivella (#OnTopofCrivella) is one such action, a campaign that promises to “ensure promises will be fulfilled, resist setbacks, supervise management and challenge the administration every day.” It invites everyone to join the movement to stay “#OnTopofCrivella.” For this, they track the Official Gazette daily, keep an eye on City Hall expenses, advocate for laws that Rio residents would like see enacted, and mobilize their network to pressure against proposals that violate citizens’ rights. Some of their actions up until this moment include lobbying on behalf of special education support agents and against the appointment of Crivella’s son as the Casa Civil secretary. To subscribe to the site and become part of an organized network that receives alerts, click here.

Said and Done | The Intelligent Citizenship Foundation

The Intelligent Citizenship Foundation is a Chilean non-governmental organization that recently expanded to Brazil, and aims to monitor public administrations, promote information transparency and civic participation through technology, and influence public policy. The project Said and Done is its first project in Brazil and will periodically evaluate whether Rio’s municipal government fulfills its campaign promises in various categories, including social justice and human rights, urban mobility, and municipal security and protection.

In its first publication, launched 100 days into Crivella’s term, the tool identified that 6.5% of the government’s program had been met, and communicated that for 35 of 50 promises made during the campaign, at least one decree requesting feasibility studies had been launched. The category with the lowest percentage of promises accomplished was housing and urbanism, in which little progress was made on the two goals set by the campaign (one regarding sanitation improvements in the 20 largest favelas of Rio, and one about controlling density in part of the city’s West Zone). The category that saw the largest number of promises kept was in the area of health, with 6 of 10 promises in progress. The next version will be released at the 200 day milestone of Crivella’s term.

Beyond turning data into qualitative measurements to visualize and measure the percentage of a goal that the government accomplished, the organization also provides sources of evidence to evaluate each of the government’s goals, along with links to different decrees in the city’s Official Gazette. Other actors use the tool as a base for their own checks on government activity. The Agência Lupa (Lupa Agency), for example, relied on this survey to reach the conclusion that the government was mutating its initial proposals on basic education and health in regards to hiring more professionals and increasing resource allocations. National radio station CBN cited its data in one of its programs, announcing that 39% of contracts with private companies occurred without bidding.

Monitoring Panel | Casa Fluminense

Casa Fluminense is an organization that aims for the collective construction of public policies for the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Region. In order to ensure that public policies are successfully executed and to deepen a citizen monitoring culture, the organization created a Monitoring Panel that helps citizens visualize data with greater quality and transparency. It encourages municipal governments to open dialogue channels and proactively disseminate information. In addition to giving direct attention to the other 20 municipalities (which are frequently neglected) in the Metropolitan Region, this Monitoring Panel has become a shared way to deepen democracy across the entire metropolitan area.

In its first edition, the Panel brings data from management tools completed at the end of the last term, while in future annual editions it will evaluate plans and processes that are currently in preparation. Information from the last term of office serves as a baseline to evaluate the current administration’s progress in addressing the gaps left by the old one. A mobilization plan has yet to be put in place for Rio de Janeiro, but should be delivered by 2018. Crivella’s updated Goals Plan should be presented by the middle of the year, in addition to the sanitation plan of 2011, which should have been revised in 2015.

Beyond its checks on the municipal government, the Panel also provides an accessible and interactive platform for qualitative information, with links to outside sources (for example, from the Panel it is possible to access the Solid Waste Management Plan) and information about upcoming challenges. In an attempt to move beyond existing laws, Casa Fluminense, in partnership with other organizations, sent a letter in March to Crivella officials proposing improvements to the city’s Law on Access to Information. The letter emphasizes, among other things, the inaccessibility of information and the state’s requirements for extensive documentation to access it, which can intimidate people. The Municipal Controller’s Office has until the end of June to present his analysis of the law.

Crivella’s Promises | G1

G1 newspaper hosts a page titled “Crivella’s Promises,” which highlights promises made by Crivella during interviews and debates “that can be clearly measured,” and updates the progress on each of these promises. The portal also contains pages to monitor the promises made by acting president Michel Temer, and of 27 governors and mayors of 26 states and capitols.

On the site, the top of the page reads “Page updated on 01/01/2017, Inauguration Day. Next update: 2017.” Following this there is a thematic map of 30 promises that Crivella made during the campaign, out of the 41 that were officially registered by the Regional Electoral Tribunal. However, if you go to the G1 page of Rio’s governor, Pezão, who is currently involved in legal corruption proceedings, the monitoring system is demonstrated by the image below and is scheduled for annual updates, which is a time scale that is not sensitive to those who wish to pressure the city to keep its promises.

What about us?

RioOnWatch is also committed to monitoring Mayor Crivella’s activity, by focusing on the measures that impact favela residents and their views on the city’s public policy in an effort to inform municipal management decisions and open up further debate on the importance of favela residents’ political participation. The first piece that we published in this area was about Crivella’s housing policies and their impact on social housing, in addition to a series at the end of last year titled Housing Policy Lessons from Rio’s Favelas.

Over the years we have also monitored decisions and relevant policies that go beyond the municipal administration, but whose effects are felt at the local level. This is the case with questions of water supply and sanitation, which are shared between the municipal and state governments, and also public security policies, which are decided at the state level. The privatization of CEDAE, for example, which Rio’s state authorities approved during a five-minute voting procedure, could have a profound impact on the quality of water services in favelasas Rocinha resident Michel Silva reported, since private sector investments tend to exclude favela populations.

While we follow the development of these and other public policy activities, we, together, will keep our eyes on Crivella!