Savisaar Brushes Off Criticism of Free Transit Campaign
An old-fashioned ticket punch in a Tallinn bus
( Photo: Scanpix/Postimees )
Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar has hit back at criticism of a taxpayer-funded ad campaign encouraging residents to vote in this week's public transit referendum, calling the complaints a typical opposition reaction to a good initiative.
During the week-long referendum, which lasts March 19 to 25, residents of the capital are being asked whether they support the administration's proposed introduction of free transportation for residents on city-operated bus, trolley and tram lines starting from 2013.
Days earlier, outdoor advertising appeared in the city center that appear to support the Centre Party-controlled City Government's stance on the issue.
Speaking to ERR, however, Savisaar said that the campaign was simply informing voters that the referendum is taking place.
“With a large information campaign, city officials want to eliminate the possibility of a situation whereby after the referendum disgruntled citizens complain that they didn't know anything about it,” he said.
IRL member Toivo Jurgenson, chairman of the opposition faction in the Tallinn City Council, had accused the mayor of organizing Centre Party election campaign using Tallinn funds.
“I don't understand what elections they're talking about. As far as I know, the only election coming up is for the Speaker of Parliament, and I'm not running for that. There aren't any other elections in the near future. This is a typical reaction by city opposition politicians to a good initiative,” he said.
Municipal elections are scheduled for October 2013, the same year that the city's planned free public transportation scheme would come into effect.
Critics of the plan have questioned the city's ability to pay for the change.
The referendum itself was organized by the city at a cost of 259,000 euros, another point of contention for City Council opposition.