March 16th, 2010 | Karlos Kohlbach, Katia Brembatti, James Alberti and Gabriel Tabatcheik
Hanging on the wall in the office of the Recording & Filing Department of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Parana there is a warning to visitors. It reads that consultations to the Assembly daily journals can only be made under the consent of the general director, Abib Miguel. The reason for such extreme caution is explained by the head of the House Recording & Filing Department, Walter Kraft. Unaware he is being taped, he unveiled the methodology adopted by the legislature to keep the press and the society from having access to the documents.
“If the press gets to the library, it can have access to certain things. So, they might have hidden [part of the daily files] with the excuse the files were removed for binding”, said Kraft. He also ironically admits that the Assembly is obscure. “The dictatorship was more transparent than this”. Since 2008, the House uses the files binding as an excuse for the documents to be kept away from the press. By circulating through the premises of the Assembly, it was possible to verify that not even the House Recording & Filing Department keeps all the published daily files. Some numbered editions are missing and many are single page files.
Unaware they were being taped, employees from the House Recording & Filing Department told Gazeta do Povo that not all daily files were sent to the filing department. “There are orders from above that keep us and other sectors from getting the daily files”, whispered an employee. The employees also claim that the fact of the department is not entirely computerized is intentional. They also informed there is a sort of warehouse with restricted access where many documents are stored.
Gazeta do Povo tried to contact Kraft at the Legislative Assembly yesterday so that he could give his official version of the facts. The head of the House Recording & Filing Department was nowhere to be found. Contact through the telephone wasn’t possible either, for his number in the phone book is no longer in service.
Check out excerpts from the conversation with the House Recording & Filing Department, Walter Kraft
Why do some daily files never get filed by the House?
It’s a mystery. They publish their own single copy. If anything happens, they say: “I have the file here, I don’t know why anyone else has it”. But if all of a sudden they are forced to publicize something they don’t want anybody else to see, then they make ten copies. They keep these copies in safe hands. Others don’t have access to the documents. I think the dictatorship was more transparent than this.
How do these whole thing with the files work here in the House?
Some items were even stolen from me here: documents, files, a whole bunch of files that were downstairs and someone should have brought to me on Monday, but the guy said he would do it on Saturday. We came here to organize them, but the guy said:”Hey, I couldn’t bring that stuff up”. When I realized, two weeks later, the files had been sold to a paper recycling company.
Why were there unnumbered files?
Unnumbered files are just an excuse… there should have a form of control. There should have a numbering system. From appendix 1 to appendix 2, so that one can read it, don’t you think?
Why are the files hidden?
If the press gets to the library, they can have access to certain things. So, they [legislators] might hide them [some files] with the excuse the files must go through the binding process. Since some files were left here, they wanted to know if anyone came here and found anything out. They say the press was eager for some information that could be meaningful.
A two-year investigation
Gazeta do Povo will now publish, starting today, a series of special reports about what has happened in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Parana over the last ten years.
The series, which will also be broadcasted on RPCTV daily news, is the result of two-year long research. To gather all the information, our field reports read more than 700 Assembly daily files published from 1998 to March, 31st 2009 – day when the House payroll finally was made public. The files were obtained though a source in the Assembly, since the House Administration denied, several times, access to the files by journalists. The documents are still kept in small offices away from the eyes of society. Such secrecy is a violation of federal and state laws that grant the citizens the right to know what the Assembly does with the budget – BRL 319 mi, in 2009.
The access to the Assembly daily files –both the numbered and unnumbered – has made it possible to unveil part of the dark side of the House: financial irregularities and misuse of public money, besides the bad management of the institution. It was possible to finally paint a portrait of the shadows that covered, for decades, the acts of the Assembly.