Catalunya is under pressure to reduce the number of counselors in its government after it was revealed that the community currently had the largest team (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). In a time of austerity and sacrifice the government's number of staff is being called into question with several other communities under going reductions including the Balearics and Castilla-La Mancha. José Maria Barreda, the socialist president of Castilla-La Mancha has so far eliminated three consejerías (ministries in a regional government), this being the second time Barreda has reduced this term - he began the season in June 2008 with 14 members, double the number he has now. Joining Barreda in moves to slim down cabinets is the socialist president of the Balearic government Francesc Antich who has also agreed to narrow his team down to 10 ministries, three months after his last cut. Other autonomic presidents have dramatically reduced numbers, including two PP cabinets, Esperanza Aguirre's Madrid team and Galician president Alberto Núñez Feijoo. All these reductions have left the Catalunya government with the greatest number forcing president José Montilla to face possible reductions. Montilla, however argues that reducing the council for cost-cutting purposes would not be seen as "serious" but "populist and superficial".
It was revealed yesterday that the department of the environment, Medi Ambient has concealed information about the existence of illegal landfills and other environmental crimes (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). After what is being called the "unjustified inaction of the government" it has been requested that all problems, which were previously handled by the administration, would now be handled by the public prosecutor's office. At present the 278/1993 decree states that the administrative procedure must only notify the prosecution if during an investigation it "reveals that the facts constitute a crime prosecuted". With the penal code being the law that defines what constitutes an environmental crime. According to public prosecutor Perez de Gregorio, he is receiving too few files, ie, being handled as a crime, which has lead him to talk about a "lack of communication" within the Administration. To illustrate his argument De Gregorio pointed out that the ARC and the Agència Catalana de l'Aigua (ACA) have sent just two complaints and in response to this has asked to be sent all administrative records to discern whether there are some that may constitute criminal offenses.
Adigsa, a Generalitat public enterprise has revealed that houses, set aside for emergency housing, are being inhabited by squatters and that the problem is now no longer seen as being just isolated cases (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The company has details of 53 houses being occupied by squatting families with the greatest intensity in Barcelona, L'Hospitalet, Badalona, El Prat and Sant Boi. It was also revealed that many properties that have been repossessed by banks for mortgage defaults are also being used illegally. Carme Trilla, the secretary general of housing has admitted that the process to reallocate properties that have been left abandoned to public housing has been slow and that this fact has left a significant number of empty flats. Of the flats available in Barcelona the government argue that they need to keep around 20 percent empty in order to be available as and when an emergency occurs. Trilla explains "The situation is not fixed but people are constantly leaving their homes and reallocation can never be immediate." Adigsa argues that the problem of the occupation of flats is "nothing new" but with the growing economic difficulties occupational cases have increased.
Also in the news: The Dama de Elche, a replica bust that sat in the jardines d'Elx de Barcelona has been robbed (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The new coach of Real Madrid, José Mourinho, has claimed he is not "antibarcelonista" and that he is simply concerned about building his team - with regards to Barcelona he claimed that "the word fear is not in my dictionary" (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico).