The Coimbra City Council announced last Saturday that the Socialist City Councilor had asked Jorge Alves to resign and that he was “immediately accepted” by President Manuel Machado. The reason for the departure of the City Councilor, who had also been Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Urban Services of Urban Transport of Coimbra (SMTUC) since December 2017, was not explained. A day later, the city council opposition asked for explanations from Manuel Machado speaks about illegality and asks the public ministry to investigate. In between there is news in the local press (Diário de Coimbra and Notícias de Coimbra) covering four contracts for a total of 215,400 euros between SMTUC and Strat SA, a company that has a son and nephew Jorge Alves as administrators.
This Monday, the official Coimbra City Council source confirmed to the PUBLIC that the resignation of the City Council, which also had education, social action and civil protection, is related to the contracts signed with Stra SA. This is because the Humor Movement, a Facebook page, posted a cartoon by José Gomes, directed at the city council, son and nephew, prior to the news and February 24 resignation. The caption on the page mentioned that Jorge Alves had bought GPS and Internet systems and that they were “all broken” and asked if “the company that sold the GPS system” “had a family relationship to Mr. Jorge Alves or not ”. .
“We found out about the cartoon. The president asked for clarification and didn’t have it. There was a breach of trust, ”explains a self-sufficient source. On the same day that Jorge Alves announced the resignation, the Chamber decided to open an internal process “to investigate any irregularities”. CMC, adds the same source, is collecting information on administrative processes and contracts to be sent to the public ministry. This should be done later this week. At the weekend, the opposition asked for the prosecutor to intervene.
Between 2016 and 2019, SMTUC signed four contracts with Stra SA, which operates under the trade name Stratio, in the amount of 215.4 thousand euros. Two of them, one in July 2016 and the other in September 2017, were signed when Jorge Alves was a member of the SMTUC and Rosa Reis Marques (now in charge of the centre’s regional health administration) was Chair of the Board of Directors. The now ex-city council took over from Reis Marques in December 2017. He then signed two more contracts with his son’s company: one in July 2018 and one in October 2019 for a total of 118,900 euros.
The site that published the cartoon about the city council is run by José Gomes. The cartoonist explains to the PUBLIC that the drawing in question was based on information that came to him, but that he tried to confirm and justify it. José Gomes also composes cartoons for the Somos Coimbra movement newsletters and states that he is affiliated with the CDS.
The reactions of PSD and Somos Coimbra came on Sunday and those of the CDU this Monday. The PSD rejects Manuel Machado’s “vehemently deafening silence”. “To be confirmed”, stressed the Council chaired by Carlos Lopes, “the case will be a double illegality” for breach of the legal regime of incompatibilities and obstacles of the holders of political positions and high public positions.
Somos Coimbra, who elected two councilors in 2017, also understands that the contracts signed between SMTUC and the councilor’s son’s company “are a clear violation of the law” and expects the prosecution to conduct an in-depth investigation. The movement of José Manuel Silva also calls for “quick and clear explanations” for the two other council members in the SMTUC Board of Directors, Regina Bento (PS) and Francisco Queirós (CDU), whom he regards as “partly responsible for the unclear procedures” led to Resignation of council member Jorge Alves ”. Somos Coimbra understands that the mayors are unable to continue their respective positions.
Manuel Machado made a different assessment and used the declaration on the departure of Jorge Alves to reaffirm his confidence in Regina Bento and Francisco Queirós, who “have performed their duties with competence, honesty and aptitude in the pursuit of the public interest”.
The CDU “strongly condemns the illegal acts that the ex-city council will have committed”. The Communist-Greens coalition, which has a councilor in the Coimbra parish, understands that “a company’s association with its family members would obviously have to be known to the former councilor, who hushed it up and showed a lack of loyalty and honesty, which is Still damaging public service image ”and calls for“ all facts to be established ”.
Stratio, headquartered at the Pedro Nunes Institute in Coimbra, develops fleet management technology. Of the seven contracts signed with public institutions, four are related to the municipal company that manages public transport in Coimbra. In the various contracts, all of which were concluded by direct agreement, the SMTUC acquired from this company the supply and installation of equipment that covers the maintenance needs of the vehicles in real time, as well as the associated service.
Jorge Alves’ successor in the Council will be the PS MP in Parliament, Tiago Estevão Martins. A new chairman of the SMTUC Board of Directors will be appointed “in due course”. The PUBLIC tried unsuccessfully to contact the former city council.