Beancounting in Alagoas: “Murky Clerk Is a Quirky Albuquerque”

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Posted to the Web site of the Alagoas state assembly at 1:35 pm, December 6, 2007: “FEDERAL OPERATION: Albuquerque is in the House. The president of the state assembly is in the Chamber of Commerce where the legislature is temporarily housed, meeting with [other lawmakers].” In other words, “news of my arrest have been greatly exaggerated.”

“Who one’s relatives are is a philosophical question, for someone who is not a relative today might become one tomorrow.” –José Rocha, congressmember from Bahia.

I did this within a philosophical framework, and a moral and legal framework. And I have been turned into a cartoon of the greatest villain in the history of lobbying. –Jack Abramoff, cooperating federal witness

Conflicts of interest are at the heart of many of the recent scandals that have shaken the U.S. economy. Conflicts of interest like those between a firm’s managers, its shareholders, and its auditors have existed for some time. Why is it that they have recently resulted in such colossal business failures? A common theme in many discussions of recent scandals is that problems have followed changes in professional mindset. –Don A. Moore and George Loewenstein, “Self-Interest, Automaticity, and the Psychology of Conflict of Interest,” Social Justice Research, Vol. 17, No. 2, June 2004.

Example: Arthur Andersen. Remember Arthur Andersen? From the dustheap of history?

(The current Controller-General of the United States, Mr. Walker, is, however, a former Andersen executive, and shows signs of perhaps having been converted on the road to Tarsus.)

… the unimpeachable reputation that Arthur Andersen worked so hard to cultivate at the firm that bore his name began to falter. The ethics watchdogs at Andersen’s Professional Standards Group saw their influence wane while the influence of the firm’s salesmen increased. New hires were told that Andersen served as a business partner to its clients, seeking to help them become successful in every aspect of their businesses. Indeed, shortly before the collapse of the Enron Corporation, Andersen had been preparing a campaign advertising its new “integrated audit” approach, with Enron as the example. Andersen’s “mindset” with regard to what the task of auditing was all about, it seems, underwent a radical evolution.

A radical devolution, don’t you mean?

Here is a potential example of what I mean, from the Globo South: Gazetaweb (Globo, Alagoas, Brazil), November 28, 2007: Rosa, sister of the president of the state legislative assembly of Alagoas, Antônio Albuquerque, is nominated by the governor to the state accounting tribunal — responsible for auditing the state assembly — and sworn in under cover of murky darkness.

Or so somebody says.

Gazetaweb does not tell you who.

The federal police later arrest top aides to the president of the state legislative assembly — including his brother — on suspicion of padding the payroll with ghost employees and siphoning off the (public) funds into some sort of black hole.

Horas depois de ter sido nomeada pelo governador Teotonio Vilela Filho (PSDB) para o cargo de conselheira do Tribunal de Contas de Alagoas (TC/AL) – decisão publicada na edição de ontem do Diário Oficial do Estado –, a advogada Rosa Maria Ribeiro de Albuquerque, 40, compareceu à sede do órgão para tomar posse no cargo, surpreendendo os integrantes daquele poder. Rosa Albuquerque foi eleita na quinta-feira da semana passada com 23 votos dos 26 deputados estaduais presentes à sessão da Assembléia Legislativa.

Hours after being nominated by governor Teotônio Vilela Filho (PSDB) to the state accounting tribunal (TCE) — a decision published in yesterday’s Official Diary — attorney Rosa Maria Ribeiro de Albuquerque, 40, showed up at TCE headquarters to be sworn in, suprising the members of that body. Rosa Albuquerque was elected last Thursday with 23 votes from the 26 state lawmakers present at the session.

Out of 29 deputies in all, I think.

A solenidade de posse no TC foi presidida pelo presidente do órgão, conselheiro IOsnaldo Bulhões, e teve a presença dos conselheiros José Alfredo Mendonça, Luiz Eustáquio Toledo, Otávio Lessa e Roberto Torres, além do desembargador José Carlos Malta Marques.

The swearing-in ceremony was presided over by TCE president IOsnaldo [sic] Bulhôes, and witnessed by TCE commissioners José Alfredo Mendonça, Luiz Eustáquio Toledo, Otávio Lessa and Roberto Torres, as well as judge José Carlos Malta Marques.

A “pressa” de Rosa Albuquerque, que é irmã do presidente da Assembléia Legislativa, deputado Antônio Albuquerque (DEM), em antecipar a sua posse, evitando inclusive solenidade festiva, teria como objetivo dificultar supostas ações na justiça contra sua indicação, por ser considerada inapta para a função pelo descumprimento de dois artigos da Constituição Estadual. GILVAN FERREIRA (Leia mais na edição de hoje da GAZETA DE ALAGOAS)

The “haste” of Rosa Albuquerque, who is the sister of the president of Antônio Albuquerque, president of the state assembly, in taking office, avoiding even a formal public ceremony, may have as its objective to make it difficult supposed lawsuits against her nomination, charging that she is ineligible for the post due to two violations of the state constitution.

“Haste” in quotes?

Whose word is this, that it requires quotation marks?

Or are these “sneer” or “scare quotes”?

See

“May have”?

“Supposed lawsuits”?

Who says?

Ecce Globo.

In an article in Congresso em Foco (Brazil) — sort of a Tupi The Hill — dated December 7, 107 [sic], the topic of nepotism in the federal congress was addressed thus:

O nepotismo não é totalmente ilegal na Casa. No ano passado, foi vedada a contratação de familiares para os cargos de natureza especial (CNE), mas não há restrição nos demais 10 mil cargos de secretário parlamentar. Os salários chegam a até R$ 8 mil e engordam a renda familiar dos deputados.

Nepotism is not totally illegal in the House. Last year [Year 106, apparently], the hiring of family members for posts of a special nature (CNEs) was banned, but there is no restriction on the other 10,000 posts for parliamentary secretaries. Salaries are as much as R$8,000 a month and fatten the family income of lawmakers.

“Na divisão do nepotismo por partidos, destacam-se o PMDB, com dez parlamentares, o recém-formado Partido da República (PR) e o PFL, com nove cada um. Mas o nepotismo é praticado pela maioria dos partidos, incluindo o PSB, o PV e o PT. Há seis casos na bancada baiana, cinco entre os mineiros e quatro entre os cearenses”, destaca a matéria.

“In the division of nepotism by party, the PMDB stands out, with 10 lawmakers, along with the recently formed PR and the PFL (The PFL are now the DEMs, which means that 107 is probably not 2007 — or else, oh, now that I look at it, that is today’s date, not the date of the publication of this article, which is not stated, that I can readily see), with 9 apiece. But nepotism is practiced by most parties, including the PSB, PV, and PT. There are six cases in the delegation from Bahia, five among the Minas delegation, and four among the Ceará delegation,” the article says.

The list published with the article lists one PT deputy reportedly engaged in the practice (a son on the payroll); one PV (Green) deputy (wife); and 5 PSB deputies. And four from the PSDB.

The article cited was by Lúcio Vaz, of the Correio Braziliense, who reported that 61 relatives of lawmakers are employed in 51 offices.

Para o deputado José Rocha (PFL-BA), “o parentesco é uma questão filosófica, pois quem não é seu parente hoje pode ser amanhã”. O pefelista empregou a filha Ticiana Azevedo como sua assessora e afirma não haver problemas na prática, desde que a pessoa compareça ao trabalho.

For deputy José Rocha (PFL-Bahia), “Who one’s relatives are is a philosophical question, for someone who is not a relative today might become one tomorrow.” He hired his daughter, Ticiana Azevedo, as an aide, and says there is nothing wrong with the practice provided the person shows up for work.

O deputado Luiz Carlos Setim (PFL-PR) acredita que se o parente trabalhar corretamente, não há motivo para condenar a contratação. O paranaense contratou a mulher, Neide Maria Ferraz Setim. “Condeno os parlamentares que abusam”, disse a funcionária ao Correio.

Deputy Luiz Carlos Setim (PFL-Paraná) believes that if the relative works properly, there is no reason to condemn their hiring. The man from Paraná hired his wife, Neide Maria Ferraz Setim. “I condemn those lawmakers who abuse [the practice],” Neide, a post office employee, said.

See also

I am sorry to be cynical about this, or partisan, but these are some of your foremost exponents of the free, open and well-governed markets — and hysterical moral virginity — here in Brazil.

Medieval doges with Rolexes and tailored business suits.

It is really something else to watch.

The lawyer representing one of the presidential campaigns last year, for example, has the same last name as the candidate — and is a former justice of the supreme elections tribunal, representing his client (relative) before his former colleagues.

The head of new projects at the subway authority here is the owner of a public works contractor and has the same last name — and mother, and father — as the mayor.

A new project on the subway system here collapsed in a smoking hole this year, and will now be delivered one year behind schedule.

See

Coincidence? Or germane correlation?

Innovation?

Radical evolution?

There is nothing new under the sun.

Thus sayeth the Preacher.

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