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Who Will Be the Post-Kassab? | The Sunday Surprise

«An X-ray of the Kassab administration, which after seven years has made important advances in certain areas, but whose popularity is declining. Also: Proposals of the candidates to replace him.»

Read with interest: Veja magazine and its Time Out-style metro edition, Veja SP, on the city we inherit from Kassab — Gilberto Kassab, a DEM-PFL politician with experience under Maluf and Pitta who has governed the city since José Serra resigned City Hall in March of 2006.

Serra, who broke his promise to serve out his full term, is having a difficult time of it in the upcoming municipal election, where polls suggest he runs a real risk of not making it into the runoff round.

«Are we being fair to Kassab?» — Photoshopped satire looks back in anger on the Kassab years.

The gist of this week’s coverage of the outgoing mayor: «Have we been fair to Kassab?» — above, in an (unsourced, sorry)  Photoshopped satire of this week’s cover story, which reads:

An X-ray of the Kassab administration, which, after seven years of helicopter flights around town, increased bus fares from R$ 1.70 to R$ 3.00, failed to create bus corridors, banned leased private bus lines, and spent money on subway stations that were never completed, forcing Paulistanos to add to auto traffic and thereby make the city a global benchmark of urban catastrophe.

«Global benchmark for urban catastrophe» is laying it on a bit thick, but the city does rank right up there with Mexico City and Tokyo, I have no doubt.

In the Veja article, a number of purported achievements are outlined, and poor polling performance is explained away as a technical effect of survey design and timing.

According to the Estado de S. Paulo, surveys have pointed to resounding rejection of the Kassab adminstration as a weight around Serra’s neck, one that has prevented him from constructing his candidacy in terms of continuity with successful public policies in the past decade.

Skeptical friends note that the Kassab profile runs in same week in which the municipal government announced purchasing  half a million reais in government advertising from the Abril group, Veja‘s mother ship.

A few years back, Federal District governor José Roberto Arruda was the Yellow Pages interview subject in Veja magazine. The same week as the interview, a Brasília blogger  reported an entry in the district’s official diary a payment of R$ 500,000 for subscriptions to Veja.

Touted by the magazine at the time as a leading candidate for the vice-presidency, Arruda fell shockingly from grace in an alleged, and so-called, «payola» scandal — of which there are several making their way through the courts.

Last week,  São Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab was the subject of a highly favorable Veja cover story.

In the official diary of September 20, 2012, meanwhile, we are informed that the city government requisitioned subscriptions to Nova Escola magazine, [publication of an ONG related to the Abril publishing and media group,] for $R 493,000.

The Abril group, with its Ática e Scipione imprint, is a major textbook publisher.

It seems there is a standing price table for transactions such as these.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc? Where there is smoke there is fire?

Your guess is as good as mine.

The blog Verdade Bancoop observes, meanwhile:

“Have we been fair to him?” is the headline of this week’s Veja S. Paulo. The article reads like a campaign brochure designed to give José Serra a breather as the election enters the final straightaway, helping him to avoid his worst ever election defeat — he risks not even qualifying for the runoff.

The VSP article, which provides a wealth of comparative numbers, laced with omissions and editorializing, is essentially saying that Kassab’s lack of popularity is an unfair judgment of him as mayor. In Veja‘s view, only the 20% who approve of Serra’s successor are correct. The rest are wrong.

I am a bit like a Yankees fan watching a Dodgers-Giant game: I have no vote in the matter, although I should disclose that I am sleeping with someone who does. And I do pay income taxes.

The run-up to Sunday’s vote has been notable for two murky October surprise-style incidents: the «monthly payola» trial under way in the Supreme Court, involving senior official of the Lula government, as well as a somewhat confused case of possible campaign finance illegalities in some farflung hinterland, possibly envolving a candidate from the Workers’s Party.

Regarding the latter, O Globo ran with the following, above the fold, page one, complete with photo of a mountain of money — you could right an entire book on  «mountain  of money» journalism:

SÃO PAULO Mais de R$ 1.1 million seized by the elections tribunal last week in Parauapebas, Pará, may have been destined for former city health secretary Alex Pamplona Ohana, campaign coordinator for  mayoral hopeful José das Dores Couto, aka “Coutinho do PT.”This according to an official statement by Adnaldo Correia Braga to federal police official Antonio José Silva Carvalho, who is investigating a suspected vote-buying scheme.  Braga was assigned to carry the cash from Belém toParauapebas and gave the feds the details of the operation.

Friends have been betting on whether the mountain of money will make the national news over the weekend.