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Sunday 04.12.2016 | Name days: Baiba, Barba, Barbara
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Opinion: behaviour of Ventspils City Council calls into question fundamentals of logic

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUVentspils nafta terminals (VNT), one of the largest taxpayers in Ventspils and the largest contributor to the cargo turnover in the Ventspils Freeport, is in the process of investing EUR 5 million into the installation of a permanent vapour recovery unit (VRU) in the port of Ventspils.

VNT originally planned to install a permanent VRU by November 2017, while a temporary VRU was supposed to be installed by 15 May 2016. However as to the temporary VRU, VNT has regretfully not been able to succeed with its efforts. The implementation of both VRUs now solely depends on the cooperation with local authorities and Ventspils Freeport Authority as approvals and permits are needed.

For years Ventspils City Council has highlighted the importance to install the VRU in order to increase environmental protection standards and improve well-being of Ventspils residents. Though now VNT offers solutions to the problems, VRU installation still faces a number of bureaucratic obstacles.

VNT has overcome the obstacle of a missing land plot to place the systems on with its neighbour JSC Ventbunkers in a cooperative manner. On 22 February 2016, VNT together with JSC Ventbunkers submitted a joint application to Ventspils Freeport Authority with the request to support the lease of the land plot for the permanent VRU. In addition, VNT approached Ventspils Freeport Authority to grant its approval to place the temporary VRU on a land plot (30 m2) in the area of the jetties on an interim basis until the permanent VRU becomes operational.

Both requests are pending answers. Lars Pantzlaff comments: «Ventspils City Council gets seemingly caught up in its own contradictions and its actions increasingly defy any logic. Understandingly it would like to promote initiatives, in this case the installation of a VRU, that are for the benefit of residents it represents. As a company we support that. On the other hand, there is delay after delay as to related required approvals and permits on behalf of Ventspils Freeport Authority, an institution in which Ventspils City Council is very well represented. Unfortunately the public announcements of the City Council of Ventspils and reality seem to be not very well aligned.»

In response to the efforts of VNT, Ventspils Freeport Authority answered that these issues will be discussed to the board meeting of Ventspils Freeport Authority on 20 May 2016. Given the importance of this matter, VNT requested to be invited to represent the VRU project. On 24 May 2016, Ventspils Freeport Authority informed VNT that a next board meeting is scheduled on 26 May 2016 and VNT is invited to represent its plans as to its VRU projects.

On the actual day of the scheduled board meeting Ventspils Freeport Authority informed VNT that the board meeting has been rescheduled to 27 May 2016. VNT was again invited to present its plans with respect to Its VRU projects. Later on 26 May 2016, Ventspils Freeport Authority notified VNT that due to time constraints, VNT related issues will likely not be discussed in the board meeting on 27 May 2016 and advised VNT not to attend.

As there was no certainty whether the subject will be or will not be discussed during the board meeting on 27 May 2016, VNT prepared for its participation and was present at the premises of Ventspils Freeport Authority prior to the start of the meeting. Regretfully VNT was unable to present its VRU plans as this subject matter apparently had been removed  from the agenda of the board meeting of the Ventspils Freeport Authority on the same day. The prepared materials by VNT for the board meeting are published together with this release.

Managing Director of VNT Lars Pantzlaff stated: «VNT started to approach Ventspils Freeport Authority with the joint application related to the land plot for the permanent vapor recovery unit already in February 2016. Considering the fact that the board of Ventspils Freeport Authority was unable to find time to attend to this urgent matter, clearly suggests a lack of consistency, direction, and self-imposed urgency evident in the management practices of these institutions. It raises questions about true intentions and willingness of local authorities and Ventspils Freeport Authority with respect to environmental protection and care for the residents of Ventspils.»

Ref: 102.109.109.7773


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  1. Ieva Vizule says:

    I represent the academic staff of Ventspils University College (since 1998) as well the Constitutional Council of the given institution, which on May 26 – after a 6-hour debating – voted for the removal of Ms Gita Rēvalde from the rector’s position. The vote was 21 votes for the removal and 6 against, which means the absolute majority of the council members were in favour of this decision.

    Ms Rēvalde is presenting this as the decision imposed by the city mayor Mr Lembergs (which is easy to do because of him having spoken publicly about it not once). However, it is the staff of the university college that finds it impossible to work with Ms Rēvalde, and with her acting Deputy Mr Ratnieks.

    STAFF OF VENTSPILS UNIVERSITY COLLEGE IS AGAINST MS RĒVALDE (Aand MR RATNIEKS

    The reasons: Mr Revalde, who represents the executive power, has been demonstrating obvious disrespect to the decisions and opinion of the Senate – legislative power of the institution (she continued giving orders that counter decisions of the Senate). This is why the Constitutional Council had a meeting and expected the rector to give the annual report of her activities in the position of the rector. Since Aug 28 of 2013, NOT ONCE this has been done. The initial goal of the meeting was only to assess her performance.

    On the day of the meeting – May 26, Ms Rēvalde refused to report on her job performance and the operation of Ventspils University College during and under her management. She just left the room after some excuses presented in a long string of legal considerations. Ms Revalde added that the Constitutional Council had no right to ask her to report on her job performance (despite it being stipulated by the law; the council is the body that both elects the rector into the position, as well as can remove them).

    After listening to all the evidence – audit results by the City Council on how the resources allocated by it were used; account of the instances of psychological abuse from the side of Mr Rēvalde and Mr Ratnieks towards administrative staff; account of instances of abuse of their formal power, thus preventing or slowing down some important procurement procedures, and also after the debates, the formulation of the decision was changed to a much stronger one – Ms Rēvalde was removed from the position, because had lost trust of the staff of Ventspils University College. Her management style was considered absolutely inappropriate, despite her very advanced scientific qualifications and commendable achievements in physics.

    The aftermaths of the decision keep adding to the already strained conflict situation:
    – several staff members – by the order of Ms Revalde have been deprived of the rights to publish official news on the University college website (the rights left only to herself and Mr Ratnieks), which means the information that is currently being placed on our website represnts only Ms Revalde and Ms Ratnieks’ point of view;
    – the signature rights on all important decisions left only to herself and Mr Ratnieks (no other two deputy rectors). Apart from any financial and administrative decision, this also means that no formal letter can leave the institution without her approval;
    – psychological abuse towards the staff members that oppose her is being continued (some have been on sick leave because of her and Mr Ratniek’s activities;
    – the atmosphere of suspicion and lack of trust maintained;
    – attempts to split the staff or worse – to put one group against the other maintained;
    – anybody who does not agree with her opinion is an enemy, hence attempts to get rid of some administrative staff – through her orders, have again been made;
    – numerous legal ‘essays’ and complaints on the council decision and staff have been developed and submitted to different public bodies, including, political party, Mr Ratnieks is a member of, has been involved in this blasphemy. The lawyers, who are funded from the budget of our institution, actually, can be said to work only for her and Mr Ratnieks. We – staff members are made to look for some legal advice outside.

    Isn’t this abuse of formal power?

    Two people try to run Ventspils University College, ignoring the opinion of the majority of the staff. Currently, abusing their power. All they have is the formal power. How do they imagine to run an organisation only through that.

    IT IS NOT Ms Rēvalde versus Mr Lembergs or City Council, but Ms Revalde versus absolute majority of her staff. Ventspils University College is a state higher education institution founded in 1997, but it’s real founder is Ventspils City Council. For the first three years, there was no financing allocated by the government, only by the local municipality. Our university college keeps receiving financial support – for studies, research, publication, staff training and education – from the Ventspils City Council. The mayor, obviously, earlier than the staff of the university college saw through the activities of Ms Revalde. She refused to co-operate with the City Council, even though our institution has signed a bilateral co-operation agreement. She also refused to account for how the financing allocate dby the City Council was used. This was the reason for Mr Lemberg’s outrage.

    The legislative body of Ventspils University college was trying to convince Ms Rēvalde that this co-operation is our history; we as both an educational and research institution have only benefited from it in numerous ways. The same as with your parents – not always you support their words and deeds, but they are your parents. We want a rector that not divides but unites us all.

    Ms Rēvalde – RECTOR AGAINST HER OWN STAFF,

    and yes, STAFF AGAINST Ms Rēvalde.

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