Without a divisive subject on the agenda, the municipal council of May 10 took place in relative tranquility. A trompe-l’oeil harmony, which does not hide the stubborn reservations of the opposition.
From the start of the session, the bodies betray fatigue. We twist, we stretch, we grind our still sore eyes. A concerto of yawns begins, as Mayor Jeanne Barseghian sets out the list of points retained. In all, 24 points are retained – those we will talk about – out of only 43 on the agenda. Mathematically, this is the short session promise. But the elected officials hold back their relief. Even without divisive points, they know that a light agenda is never synonymous with an easy plenary. And this municipal council of May 10 will prove their caution right.
On paper, no trap deliberation. The question of the protection and management of animals in the City, or that of recruiting mediators to counter “conflicts and incivility”, should bring everyone to agreement. Who doesn’t love animals? Above all, who will assume to say it publicly? Overall peaceful, this city council will still be peppered with its share of surprises.
No partnership with an ultranationalist municipality
First item on the agenda, first surprise. Approval of a partnership with the Ukrainian city of Khmelnytskyi has been withdrawn, “the conditions not being met for us to be able to study this point”, soberly announced the mayor. Her communist allies would have alerted her in advance to the dubious political positions of the mayor of the city. The latter was re-elected in 2020 with the label of the ultranationalist party “Svoboda”, former “Social-National Party of Ukraine”.
This is followed by a deliberation on the local health plan, which allows the opposition and the majority to agree on the lack of doctors. The Regional Health Agency had identified as such several “sectors in tension”, equivalent to medical deserts, including some in the peri-urban districts of Strasbourg.
Heated debate over the financing of a “Steiner” kindergarten
The tension rises when addressing the third point, seemingly trivial: the allocation of subsidies to associations managing childcare establishments. What was supposed to be a formality turns into a duel between the assistant in charge of early childhood, Soraya Ouldji and the socialist Anne-Pernelle Richardot. The latter launches the pavement in the hopscotch, by asking for a separate vote on the attribution of a subsidy to a kindergarten “Steiner”.
Inspired by theses on the pedagogy of Rudolf Steiner, founder of anthroposophy, Steiner-Waldorf schools and kindergartens are the subject of serious suspicions of the interministerial mission of vigilance and fight against sectarian aberrations, Miviludes. In its annual report, published in November 2022, the observatory brought together several edifying testimonies and concluded in a concise manner:
“The particularly opaque functioning of this movement, which targets a vulnerable public, in particular sick people and children, involves questioning the implementation of a potential mental hold on its members. »
“There is a concordance of facts that worry”
Despite the testimonies collected, Miviludes does not directly note the existence of a sectarian drift, but limits itself to the warning. “There is a confusion, we are not in charge of the control of these schools, it is the maternal and child protection service (PMI) which takes care of it”, comments in aside the deputy Soraya Ouldji.
“At our level, no parent has sent us a report on the establishment. So what ? We stop funding and we take the risk that the kindergarten closes? And therefore put parents and their children in difficulty? »
Outside, of the hemicycle, Anne-Pernelle Richardot assumes her reserve:
“I asked that we apply the precautionary principle. We are elected representatives of the Republic, we are not just there to distribute subsidies, but also to question the schools when there are doubts. »
The opposition councilor and her group will abstain during the vote, assuming a frank distrust of schools claiming Steiner’s precepts, evoking testimonies relating to dubious rights-of-way practices. “I’m not saying that this establishment concentrates all that, but there is a concordance of facts which worries. The other opposition groups and elected Communists will rally to his position.
Unanimity expected for animal welfare
Immediately after this debate, the intervention of the assistant delegate for animal welfare, Marie-Françoise Hamard. With her finely gravelly voice – almost sand – the elected official slowly and charismaly explains the City’s plans for management and animal protection. “Almost mid-term, it became necessary to present the structure of our policies concerning animal welfare”. Disparate, the measures range from the mapping of domestic hives, the “free cats” device or the contraceptive dovecote. Two measures in particular hold the attention of the hemicycle: the creation of an animal protection brigade and the possibility for dogs to board public transport.
The first measure is unanimous. The elected defends it with solemnity: “It is a great chance to have in our municipal police a hard core of police officers very interested in the subject, by conviction. Eventually, each team will have an officer trained in animal protection, including training as a dog handler. »
Regarding the possibility for dogs to take public transport, Jean-Philippe Vetter is annoyed that the adviser postpones the conditions of application to a later date. “I am very surprised that Ms. Hamard sends back her answers to a press conference. Mayor Jeanne Barseghian replies, assuring that it is up to the CTS to say more.
Eternal war against the rats
Very quickly, the opposition redirected the discussions towards the question of rats. Like Jean-Philippe Maurer, who “dares” to speak of pests to evoke the rodents hated by local residents confronted with these problems, who gnaw even the cables of cars – in particular those on the avenue des Vosges, perhaps. Jean-Philippe Vetter drives the point home on the subject:
“The presence of these rats has a strong social impact on the inhabitants, on the perception of their neighborhood and their housing. This is why we must fight the proliferation of rats. »
In the gallery, the warrior expression makes Marc Hoffsess wince, who insists on the obsolete nature of the expression “harmful”. “The term pest has recently disappeared from our legislation, we can no longer designate animals like that”, mocks the latter. Yet the group of Republicans stands out from the rest of the opposition, voting in favor of the text. “Everything is not perfect, but we feel that there is a certain desire to do well. This is what our vote wants to underline,” explains Jean-Philippe Vetter. Moments of harmony with the right are rare, the majority savors it.
Before repression, promote prevention
After a heated debate on the overhaul of participatory democracy – concerning the creation of an independent observatory of citizen participation – elected officials find new common ground on the issue of public tranquility. The deputy in charge, Nadia Zourgui, being on the move for the municipality, it is the mayor herself who presents the file.
“It is a device that we wanted to create since the beginning of the mandate. It will put in place a complementary system favoring an approach based on dialogue and negotiation. The objective is to have teams of mediators in the field, to carry out prevention missions. The equipment will allow officers to be visually identified. »
An experimental perimeter will be set up, with a call for tenders to external service providers, for a maximum annual amount of 600,000 euros, which may extend up to four years. Very quickly, the socialist opposition underlined the use of external service providers, while Renaissance councilor Nicolas Matt mentioned the situation of the municipal police: “What are you doing to make their work more attractive? Many agents are already relaying equipment problems to us. Above all, how are you going to build the link between the two services? »
Despite reservations and a few questions, the deliberation seems to have been well received. In particular by the elected opposition Pierre Jakubowicz (Horizons):
“It is a deliberation which, in its spirit and its philosophy, goes in the right direction, even if it requires good coordination with the police. We often tend to talk more about the repression aspect when prevention is also very important. »
Apart from the Socialists, all the groups will vote in favor of the deliberation. While the elected officials move on to the next point, the agents gradually leave the Administrative Center. In an almost empty building, the councilors continue to debate for a few more hours, to the great misfortune of their tired bodies.