Dangerous municipal road in Ogre leads to mayor's tantrum

The students and staff of the state-owned Ogre Vocational School have been hoping for a decent road for years. However, instead of fixing the road that has now become dangerous, Ogre municipality has turned against the staff, Latvian Radio reported on February 14.

Ogre Vocational School can only be reached by an extension of Mednieku Street, the last hundred meters of which is gravel. The road belongs to the Ogre municipality. 

"Students come every day and we have to overcome an obstacle course. This road is nearly hazardous to life, there is a pit where anyone can fall in and break their leg. And we, the students, are in hysteria right now and we don't know what to do," said a third-year student Krišjānis Kalniņš.

A group of students had approached the Ogre Mayor Egils Helmanis (National Alliance). "And Mr Helmanis did not offer any solution. He only mocked the issue. I showed him the photos, all the hazardous places, but Mr Helmanis has not solved the issue. It looks like he doesn't care," said Kalniņš. 

The school's principal has also sent two letters to the city council. Meanwhile, Mayor Helmanis had called the school's lawyer Māris Bērziņš, who had suggested that the students attend the council meeting.

"He spoke to me in a manner that it seemed like I'd committed a crime. He expressed his dissatisfaction, said I was stirring up minors to rebel. Said he would come speak to the principal and me the next day. It seemed like he wanted to fire me. In a democractic country, this attitude is unacceptable. We're not even fighting for personal good, we want the city to be tidy. But it seems like we are back in the Soviet era. Rather unpleasant," said Bērziņš.

Ogre Mayor Helmanis had a different opinion.

Egils Helmanis: The problem is that an adult is trying to incite the youth to rebel. It is a problem because the education establishment must only ensure education. Stirring up youth, maybe minors – it's not very ethical. If someone tries to use these children for such matters, it's not pretty, it's not polite.
Latvian Radio: But the students use the road too.
Do you agree that the adults should deal with this?
Most of those who visited you were of age. And it shouldn't matter whether they are of legal age or not.
Well, it doesn't matter. Well... The city council has a budget and it views the matter within the budget framework.
Is it planned within the budget this year?
I can't tell you that.
The council meeting is on February 14. Could it be resolved then?
Could also not be.
Will you order that the lawyer be fired?
We have no such right.

The Ogre municipality has no right to dictate personnel policy in state educational establishments. But the council must adhere to their own rules and nationwide law. However, according to court materials at the disposal of Latvian Radio, it can be concluded that the council has taken an illegal path several times.

For instance, an administrative court decision has just come into force that will stipulate that the council pay a 500-euro compensation to a multi-child family. This applies because the council declined issuing food parcels to them at the peak of Covid when the students were at home. The court materials contain visible document forgery and no replies to the family's requests. The court decided in favor of the family.

Meanwhile another court trial shows that the municipality has not ensured all children an opportunity to get to school. This time the court too decided in favor of the children and families.

Latvian Radio asked the city council to comment. A written reply was received: 

Given that your stories about Ogre municipality and the local government are not objective and contain deceptive information, we do not see an opportunity to give you an interview. 


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