Amongst the speakers at the farewell of Brunssum alderman Jo Palmen, this Friday also makes a bueedeedner (carnival comedian) are coming. “Some municipalities spend tons of city marketing,” he says. “Jo Palmen only needs a few words. He calls fellow politicians “pig’s head” or “backward Heini” and Brunssum makes it to the NOS News. “Those present estimate.
More than two years ago, Brunssum in Limburg (more than 28,000 inhabitants) indeed became national news by Palmen, the foreman of the largest party in the city council, BBB Lijst Palmen. Due to rough manners, and a decades-long conflict over a piece of land, he did not pass an integrity test carried out by an external agency. With the support of a council majority he was nevertheless appointed alderman.
The then mayor Luc Winants (CDA) did not want to experience that and left. Minister Kajsa Ollongren (Home Affairs, D66) was also involved: she called on Palmen to resign. A second opinion from two professors requested by the coalition parties subsequently criticized the test and the “putting up” of the conclusions by Winants and the Limburg commissioner of the king Theo Bovens (CDA). According to the professors, Palmen’s use of language, his ‘angular’ behavior, the deliberate leaving of ambiguities and the mixing of roles raised questions, but were not an impediment to an appointment.
“Own and obstinate”, Winants’ successor, interim mayor Gerd Leers Palmen, says at his farewell in a Brunssum brasserie. “Very direct and socially involved, just like the miners of yore. He stood up for the common people, who threatened to be crushed by the system. No yellow vests are needed here. Brunssum has Jo. “
After 42 years in local politics must stop palms for health reasons. He signed for his own honorary citizenship during a previous aldery. So Leers now comes up with something else. “The bronze discus, a very high award that we normally give to retiring commanders from NATO headquarters here in Brunssum.” Palms has to laugh about it. “They give royal awards to others.” Probably there is no ribbon in it because of an earlier conviction by insult. For example, he had to pay a fine after calling a fellow council member “pig’s head.”
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Still, at his farewell reception, Palmen is particularly satisfied with the cheerfulness of those present: “I had expected crying people, with sorrow and joy at my departure.” Leers previously called them ‘comparable to Italian villages and their vendettas’. The interim mayor organized, among other things a council-wide therapy, co-financed by the Ministry of the Interior.
“Nowadays it is sometimes even a bit dull,” laughs SP party leader Katinka Coenen, at the time against Palmen’s appointment. VVD councilor Jaimy van Dijk also resisted. He thinks the atmosphere in the council is slightly better nowadays. “But it is good that Palmen, who was still full of resentment, is leaving.” Van Dijk thinks it is good that a party leader and former alderman of his party have stopped. “The two were like Harry Potter and Voldemort. But there are still people in politics from Brunssum who sit there longer than I am old. Then you have a lot of history and it is good that you might take a step back. ”
Major absentee during Palmens farewell is the mayor Winants, who had resigned earlier. “I didn’t even know there was a reception,” he says goodbye a day before Palmens by phone. Winants, sworn in as mayor of Venray in the north of Limburg last week, has no regrets that he left Brunssum at the time. “It has contributed to steps towards political renewal, to decency courses. Health problems as a reason for saying goodbye is not great, but I do think it coincides very well with the appointment of a new mayor, so that she can really start with a clean slate. ”
Leers will finish his work early March. He makes way for Wilma van der Rijt-van der Kruis (CDA), currently alderman at Best in Brabant.