If you wish to add a comment to any of my articles please do so as I am always pleased to have a contribution from any reader as this increases the interest for other visitors.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Opposition Parties Shocked by Mayor Lorente's New Press Officer Appointment in Orihuela Costa!

Thursday the 2nd December was a day that the Opposition parties, in Orihuela Costa, of the Orihuela Town Council, would never think they could experience in their wildest nightmares! As several of them explained to me it was a day of personal shock and consternation for the future of Orihuela Costa. Having heard what they had to say I have the same feelings.

What could have caused such surprise and disbelief amongst them?

It was the day they learnt that Louise Clarke, the reporter covering the southern area of the Costa Blanca for the Round Town News, the area in which the Orihuela municipal is situated, is to leave the paper at the end of December to take up a new position. During her time with the newspaper the Opposition parties have perceived her as an ally in their fight against the governing Partido Popular party in the Town Council. They feel that she has been the most vehement reporter of all the local area newspapers in bringing to the readers attention any failings of the PP Mayor, Monica Lorente, and her team, in providing the services and facilities to the residents of the Orihuela municipality and in particular the Orihuela Costa area. The Opposition parties believe that Louise Clarke has played a considerable part, up till now, in helping them to have a chance to get their criticisms of the governing PP into print and circulated to the public. They believed in her honesty and integrity in her writings, and that the readers of the RTN felt the same. They have attributed to her the role of a thorn in the side or a stone in the shoe of Mayor Lorente. Louise Clarke has always seemed to accept and relish this task.

It is not so much the departure from the paper that has caused such foreboding, it is to where she is going.

She informed the members of the Opposition that she had accepted the offer of the newly created position of Press Officer for Monica Lorente, Mayor of Orihuela and leader of the governing Partido Popular party.

Louise Clarke is joining the government team that she has been so critical about for the last four years at least!

Why has Monica Lorente offered her this job? The simple answer in the words of Louise Clarke when I discussed it with her is “My job is to get Monica Lorente more votes on the coast,..... I will be the voice of the PP within the Town Hall in Orihuela Costa”. The other probable answer from Monica Lorente's point of view is to remove the thorn and the stone and get Louise Clarke under her control to stop future criticism from that source.

Why has Louise Clarke accepted this role? I believe the simple answer is the money, as I understand it, a substantial increase in salary from that at the RTN newspaper. For mercenary reasons, not for Partido Popular ideological reasons!

There is also, I understand, the tempting promise that, after the May 2011 elections, of assuming the role of the European Residents Liaison Officer in the Orihuela Costa Town Hall, a position currently held by Mr Stefan Pokroppa, who, it is felt within the PP, has not connected with the United Kingdom and Ireland expatriate residents. However he is to be included in the PP's election candidate list and expected to become a PP Councillor in the May 2011 elections. A reward for not doing his job properly. What if he doesn't become a Councillor, will he stay in his current position?

When I spoke to Louise Clarke about her new, unprecedented, role she commented that she will be the “Andy Coulson of the Costa Blanca”. She went on to say that it will be a “hard and challenging job” working with Monica Lorente and the PP.

I suggested that in order to carry out the task successfully a person in her position would normally be a supporter of the PP ideology and member of the party and asked about her about this. She confirmed that she is not a member and does not intend at this time to join the PP party.

On the question of whether she would miss writing about, and trying to help solve, the problems of local residents suffering from the failings of the PP controlled Town Council, she made the point that she believes she can help the English speaking expatriate residents better from inside the PP government rather than from outside as in the past. She believes that she can help and influence the Mayor and her Councillors to change their attitude to Orihuela Costa and its residents; really!

Having been in contact with representatives of the three official Opposition parties and made aware of their views about Louise Clarke's new role, I was interested to hear that she is hopeful that she will be able to liaise and work with the parties in the same manner as in the past few years whilst being a non-partisan reporter. I think not, as their trust in her has been badly damaged, if not totally destroyed, by her unexpected decision to join the PP team. How much of what she learnt as a critic of Monica Lorente from the Opposition party representatives, perhaps about their plans to bring about the defeat of the PP in forthcoming elections, will be passed on to the Mayor.

From my perspective I can understand why Monica Lorente and the PP have taken the step of creating the role of a press officer to deal with English speaking residents in Orihuela Costa. With the May 2011 local elections getting closer they have to take some drastic actions to try to convince the electorate that the party is not as bad as people on the coast think; and know. The Mayor has probably realized that the infamous Stefan Pokroppa (European Residents Liaison Officer) has no respect amongst the majority of UK and Irish residents and she needs a face in the Town Hall who the people might trust. Monica Lorente obviously believes that Louise Clarke could be that person. The PP know that the party's future fortunes in government rest with the electorate on the coast and must do anything to gain votes.

In the case of why Louise Clarke has changed sides and joined the PP government team I’m still trying to fully understand her action but thoughts such as; 30 pieces of silver; selling one’s soul to the devil; sold out for gold; what cost principles; come to mind. Unlike Margaret Thatcher who said “You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning.” obviously for the right price this lady is for turning!

We all want to provide for our family and for their future so it is understandable that she should look for a position that offers a better financial package but at what price to ones principles and conscience. What value does it put on the words she has written in the past when criticising the actions of the PP now we learn they are to be her employer!

Having listened to her explanation and reasoning for her accepting the new position I don’t believe that she believes some of the points she made to me, and to the Opposition parties on Thursday from what I've been told. I think they are excuses, justifications, for taking the 30 pieces of silver.

I consider that uncharacteristically she is being very naive if she believes she can change the way that the PP party machine in Orihuela headed by the 'Devil Incarnate' Mayor Monica Lorente works. She might be given a few token titbits at first to make her feel at home and of some small value, but ultimately the PP is a closed shop of Monica Lorente and her dubious close cohorts, the 'illuminanti' of the PP. They are only interested in achieving their own personal ambitions and the Orihuela Town Council is just a tool for them to use as is the cash from Orihuela Costa. As suggested to me, Monica Lorente's ultimate goal is to be President of the Valencia regional government and Orihuela is a mere stepping stone to be used on the way. That's the employer who Louise Clarke will be working for and promoting to the electorate as a public spirited Mayor; really!

I have no doubt in my mind that we the sensible electorate have to stop the PP and the ‘Devil Incarnate’ Lorente from continuing to be the government in the Town Council after the elections in May 2011, for the benefit of Orihuela as a whole and the Orihuela Costa residents in particular.

There will a battle royal between now and the 22nd May 2011 election for the Opposition parties to fight and win. The PP hunting season will need to begin with greater vigour. One thing is certain, by accepting her new role as press officer for the unpopular Monica Lorente, Louise Clarke has certainly, like any mercenary, put herself in the battlefield and the line of fire. I hope she has a very thick skin, suit of amour, and a guardian angel (although I don’t believe in such things). Unfortunately there will be casualties and if she is a victim of the fight for fair and honest government that is the way it has to be for the benefit of the residents of Orihuela Costa. She knows from her journalistic experience that politics can be a dirty game and she’s joined the dirtiest players.

I hope for Louise Clarke's sake that the financial rewards are really worth it! Once she steps over the threshold into the PP camp there will be no turning back. The good reputation she has personally built up in the past with the public will be lost. How long will it be before Monica Lorente decides that Louise Clarke has served her purpose, is of no more value to the PP and Ms Lorente's ambitions, and is thrown by the wayside. A substantial financial gain now may not lead to financial security in the long run!

It seems to me that two desperate women, one for more power and one for more money, have made a pact, an alliance, to try to mislead the electorate of Orihuela Costa into voting for four more years of the same selfish secretive government they have suffered for the last twenty or more years.


  1. I.K. by emailDecember 07, 2010

    "She may have success among those people who do not know her and what she believed in, but not her former readers.... You say in your blog that politics CAN be a dirty business. You are wrong, politics IS a dirty business"

  2. Very dirty and will get worse in next few months. Lets hope we can have proper election here on the coast

  3. I am sure that my opinion will be in the minority, but I can totally understand why Louise took the new job. She is trying to earn a living and provide for her family. Any job with a contract - and paying a decent salary! - is as rare as a flock of flying pigs out here in Spain. She is not a pensioner with a guaranteed income and NHS healthcare entitlement, so '30 pieces of silver' is unfair. All we can do is hope that she will have Monica's ear, and really do her best to effect change for the better in Orihuela Costa. We should be honest with ourselves - if PP is re-elected here it will be down to voter apathy, not Louise Clarke's new role. I'm sure she will find the change tough, and miss the high regard that she was held in previously. If she hadn't been so good, she wouldn't be missed so much! We should all bear this in mind before critising her decision. Being negative will achieve nothing. As my mother always says, 'you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar'. Let's hope that she stays true to her expressed intentions...

  4. Alison, thank you for your comment which raises a couple of points I would reply to.

    Let's not forget that Louise has a position already with the RTN newspaper until she commences her new role so she is earning a living and providing for her family and presumably has a contract. As I understand it there was no suggestion that she was under the threat of loosing that job but has chosen to leave. I'm not sure why the question of being a pensioner and receiving an income is relevant. If she is employed and paying into the Spanish social security, as she should, she and her family will have a Spanish healthcare entitlement as I understand it.

    If Louise Clarke's new role is not important in winning the election as you suggest, then there is no need for the PP to employ her. This is a newly created position with the objective of obtaining votes for the PP in Orihuela Costa up to the date of the May 2011 elections. Her new position is classed as an 'Assesor' or consultant to the Mayor purely to help Monica Lorente and her party win the election, not for the benefit of the public. The salary that she will be earning will almost certainly be in line with the other 22 plus Assesors that Monica Lorente employs and will be somewhere between €27,000 to €40,000 per annum, money that the residents of the Orihuela Municipality have to pay for out of the annual municipal budget. A budget which we are told doesn't have enough money to provide proper services to the residents. Yet it seems that the PP and Monica Lorente can find enough money when they want to pay a new salary to Louise Clarke. The PP are using public money to fund part of their election campaign and Louise is happy to accept it. From her journalistic experience of how the PP governed Council and its finances function she must know how this works and is happy to go along with it. What price conscience!

    Part of the strategy of Monica Lorente, as I made reference to, for employing Louise is I believe to stop her writing any more criticisms of the PP governing council between now and the elections, and this is done by bringing her into the PP team. To pick up on the saying of your mother that you quote 'you catch more flies with honey” the PP work on the principle 'you can catch more allies with money' so perhaps 30 pieces of silver is not so unfair.

    One last point that you might like to consider is that this position was not advertised for anyone else to apply for so no one else who may have better qualifications for this newly created non-job could submit a CV.

  5. Martina ScheurerDecember 07, 2010

    If Louise really thinks that she could take any kind of influence on Monica Lorente or on one of the councillors, she will soon find out that she it totally wrong. Even though I know Louise and respect and like her, I do agree with Elliot: The only reason she got this job is to stop her writing criticisms. Also remember that this job did not exist until now and considering that Orihuela has only high debts and no money, we could have lived without it a bit longer.

  6. I think it is a great idea that Miss lorente has employed a bi-lingual press officer for the costa. It is long overdue and is very welcome.
    I have watched the left wing bias from the likes of Watkins, Griffin, etc over the years and it is now good to have someone at last promoting the another viewpoint.
    By the way Elliot, whereas you don't believe in 'angels' it seems you do believe in the 'devil.'

  7. steve o'gradyDecember 08, 2010

    Oh my! Politics is a dirty business eh! As the ex editor of RTN I can quite clearly state that Louise reported fairly on all of the local political parties in the area and quite rightly reported on any of their failings or successes. Her story is one of successful integration in her local community, not of political affiliations.
    Mr. Stamford has no knowledge of employment conditions at the RTN and therefore his article is invalid and inaccurate as is his account of her articles over the past several years.
    Louise is going to be a huge loss to the newspaper but a very large gain to the town hall.

  8. Mick, thank you for your comment.

    On the question of Monica Lorente and the PP having a bi-lingual spokesperson/press officer for Orihuela Costa being long overdue I would suggest you seem to be forgetting the role of Stefan Pokroppa since May 2007 when he was appointed as an 'asesor' on the coast by Monica Lorent as he didn't get a Councillors seat. To my personal knowledge he is at the least trilingual in English, Spanish and German, and has been a mouth piece for the the Mayor and her PP governed council since that time. He maintains a website and you might find this particular page of interest on the site under the heading 'Politics Orihuela Costa' which promotes the PP government. This is in addition to the numerous emails he regularly circulates via a mailing list to promote the mayor and her government.

    So why does Monica Lorente need a new bi-lingual press officer now? Why have the residents of the Orihuela Municipality got to pay for an addition 'asesor' to help Monica Lorente on the coast to stay in power?

  9. Steve,

    It would have been polite for you to have a least spelt my name correctly!

    Your comment “Mr. Stamford has no knowledge of employment conditions at the RTN and therefore his article is invalid and inaccurate” is ridiculous and totally without logic. I assume you base your argument on the fact that in the comments section, and not the body of the article, in reply to Alison's comment I said 'presumably has a contract'. I don't think anyone could assume from this that I profess to have a detailed knowledge of employment terms within the RTN.

    I do know, because I spoke to her before writing my article, that Louise Clarke is leaving the RTN through choice to take up a position, because it pays a lot more than she has been paid by the RTN, within the Partido Popular party team with the aim of gaining votes for Monica Lorente's team in the next local elections. She is certainly in your words showing her 'political affiliations' now.

    Perhaps I should assume that as you have 'no knowledge' of how to spell my name correctly your comment 'is invalid and inaccurate'.

  10. Louise leaving the RTN and going to work for Monica is a great loss for all those who want to see a better, fairer Orihuela. I always thought her work was very good and the RTN a paper that deserved praise for the line it took against the ruling PP.So we, the opposition, are now experiencing a real loss.To think that Monica Lorente has tempted across to the PP a journalist that we all respected, is very upsetting, but it shows the lengths she will go to stay in power. It seems Monica can find money for absolutely everything. Surely we need to be asking how much this new press office is costing and where the money is coming from.
    It also shows that this council will use any dirty tricks in the book in order to keep the PP in, even if it includes tempting a young woman by offering her a fat salary and vague notions of further employment. In this recession, jobs are scarce and playing on people's fears is a despicable act.As for changing sides during an election campaign, I can only hope that Louise is prepared to deal with the possible consequences of this.Political divisions in Spain run deep.
    In the future, it will be hard for all of us but knowing the way Ms Lorente behaves and thinks I sense this could be the first of a few more suprises. Dont demonise Louise instead focus on the real traitor Monica Lorente!

  11. Derek Mc MahonDecember 08, 2010

    I was present when Louise broke the news she was taking up her new post. I am of the opinion she had given this a lot of thought defore reaching the decision she came to. Louise also said that Monica told her that she would be able to do some freelance work. I believe she is very naive in this as "whoever pays the piper calls the tune" Louise's tenure will I believe be short lived. If the P.P. win next year(God forbid) Louise's services will be dispensed with. I see that in the long run she will have done herself more harm than good.

  12. Pedro ManceboDecember 08, 2010

    Honestly I have to say that I was not shocked at all or even surprised when I knew about Louise Clarke decission. I cannot say either it was something that could not be expected from Monica's PP usual tricks. She has always proved huge talent in manipulating people using their own wishes and expectations. Now, Monica Lorente has bought with public funds just something she has not ever got as a councillor first (she is part of the governing team since 1999) and as the Mayor now. CREDIBILITY. That is what Louise has developed with her work as a journalist, always by the side of the residents and supporting energetically their demands when these were fair. I think she is totally right and entitled in looking for a better job with double the salary she was earning, but I also know that she will have to leave so many good things behind by standing next to Monica that she will regret her decission before May. Im sure. For those who do not believe what is the real intention of Monica in regards to Louise, please answer this question yourselves, what is then the reason for taking on Louise Clarke just at six months view to the local elections? If she wanted a bilingual person to liaise with the british residents and help them, why not doing it in 2007? The answer is simple, Monica needs CREDIBILITY and support now after her poor action of local government and specially after the outbreak of the corruption case Brugal which affects not only half of her team but herself directly. Does Louise really know that she is joining a team that according to the police reports has allowed fraud, bribery, influence peddling and breach of legal duty as the way to run our local public administration? From now on the voice of the opposition parties will have less echo within the OC residents than before, people will be left with no true and direct information about our Council, as Monica's PP does not want the citizens in Orihuela Costa to know the real situation of the local PP party. They have never been interested in OC claims and demands, but now it is the only place where they expect to obtain an increase in votes as the corruption case wave effects have not arrived yet to the coast. To me it is very sad that this is the only investment that Monica Lorente is making in OC for the next 6 months: 15.000€ in a press officer salary.

  13. Elliot, Stefan was not a press officer.
    Totally different skills required hence the new appointment, I would guess.
    If he was doing stuff 'off his own bat' then that is what one would expect from a person with some commitment. But of course in some peoples eyes you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. Any of my dealings with Stefan at the town hall have always been most satisfactory.
    When I first arrived in Orihuela Costa, about seven years ago, there was not a squeak from the local English press about the then obvious neglect on the Orihuela Costa.
    Now that things have improved, their coverage has been selective and partisan. And frankly, once Stefan Pokroppa was appointed, it was open season. I am not sure they would be so unfriendly if he was a Brit. And no, I do not have a good opinion of the journalistic skills and integrity of the local press.
    For me the election next year will be about issues and not personalities, and as there are only two big parties, it is really down to who will be the most capable and who will not increase local taxation significently.

  14. I think several valid points and counter points have been made in response to Elliot's blog.

    Ultimately, Louise's resignation from RTN is a big loss to everyone who relies on decent local media coverage for news about their community. Who will take her place? Will they be as good?

    Why should we, the electorate, fund Monica's re-election campaign when so many residents are being denied their right to vote in order to save some money? It all just smacks of desperation and a complete lack of integrity.

    Do we wish to be governed by people who resort to these tactics? If not, then we must ALL vote in May 2011.

  15. David LawrieDecember 10, 2010

    So the old "Jobs to keep employed" chestnut comes up once again. Since the 1980s, the word "integrity" may as well have been scratched from the Oxford Dictionary. As usual, it appears to be OK to put salary before principle. Is this not the very problem that has finally affected the whole world recently? The lack of integrity and principle is exactly what we have from both the PP and Ms Clarke in this case and like everything else it will end in disaster if nothing is done about it.

  16. I am sorry to say that "Monica Lorente's new press officer", regardless of her intentions (for a better job to be able to look after her family) just a joke and a buy-out from her previous outlook against the PP!!... She has been bought by Lorente, and therefore is a traitor to the original cause she always fought for!...(Where has loyality gone to?? It certainly doesn't exist anymore, for people who go over bodies to achieve their goals!) And certainly not when I read an article in the Coast-Rider that "Stefan" probably is up for a councilers-job in case the PP wins the next election?? I for sure don't want a "Pre-Historic German god" representing the people of the Costa's, when its already well known that in his present position in the last 3 years he hasn't done a thing for the expats, for a job which he hasn't either earned or performed. Shame on Lorente and the whole PP that they don't care about the people on the Costa's.

    Comment also made on

  17. To Mick's comments of above:....
    You say that "Stefan was not a press officer."
    Well in my view he certainly acts as one, and when you say that you never had any bad experience with him since his appointment, then you would almost be a "one off person", as I, meeting with many people of all sorts of nationalities, have heard quite different stories!
    The way Louise was appointed, brings to my mind the way Stefan was appointed 3 years ago, where he actually defected from a high position from the "Claro-Party", and joined the PP....also for the extra monye offered to him. Evenso he is not a Brit, he did represent in Dreamhills the majority of English living there, while he was president of that community at that time! So your argument that if he were a Brit, not many people would have complained....just doesn't fly!! And Louise's appointment smacks of the same PP tactics as Stefan's.


Please be courteous and add your name rather than 'Anonymous' to your comment, as it may not be published. In the 'Comment as' box above use the drop-down menu and select 'Name/URL'. In the 'Edit profile' pop-up enter your name and press continue. There will be a period of delay before your comment appears on the article until I receive the automatic notification that you have made one and can authorised its publication.

Any comment that includes vulgar language, racist remarks or anything of that nature will either be edited or not published at my discretion.