Last updateFri, 05 Feb 2016 2pm

Chapala’s Degollado sets sail in rough waters

While ardent supporters of Javier Degollado are hailing Chapala’s new mayor as the savior who will perform marvels to set the municipality on course for a prosperous future, his administration got off to a somewhat rocky start this week. 

Wednesday night’s swearing-in ceremony for the 2015-2018 city council was plagued with organizational and social missteps. As nattily dressed VIPS were ushered past a red velvet rope to be seated in the auditorium of the old town hall building, lesser privileged persons scrambled for folding chairs in the outdoor patio and a throng of common folk was left in the street hankering for a glimpse of new chief executive and elective officials take the spotlight to pledge the oath of office. 

As the proceedings finally got underway nearly a half hour behind schedule, the giant projection screen set up across the way at the plaza remained blank due to a technical failure that scotched live transmission of the event. And a grumbling press corps, relegated to a narrow aisle at the far end of the auditorium, followed the hour-long happening while standing plastered against the back wall. 

Leaving all that aside, there have been some disturbing signs that Degollado and his team are not quite ready for prime time. The designation of most department heads and other top level city officials remained on hold as the Reporter went to press on Thursday. 

The mayor says his appointments will be announced early next week. Does that mean that he still hasn’t worked out his highly touted re-engineering of streamlined government framework? Or is he mired instead in dicey negotiations to divvy up the posts among local political cronies, contrary factions within the PRI party and displaced bureaucrats from the Guadalajara metro area?

The new government officially took charge Wednesday at midnight. Nearly immediately local media outlets were advised that the city council’s first session would take place first thing the next morning. Initially there was word it would start at 7 a.m. Later messages confirmed the hour was set for 9 a.m. 

This reporter haunted the council hall for three full hours before bailing out to meet this week’s news deadline. According to scuttlebutt inside city hall, the mayor and councilors were holed up behind closed doors, hashing out the distribution of positions on the varied commissions giving responsibility for forging policies and initiatives. 

Thanks to information filtered by colleagues from other media outlets, I’m relieved to report the council finally settled down to business at 1:30 p.m., if only to confirm Miguel Mendoza Anderson as the new government’s secretary general and Roberto Molina Salazar as treasurer. 

But we’re left to wonder if the new mayor will finally correct a chronic disrespect for punctuality. Can he overcome the Degollado dynasty’s widespread reputation for overblown conceit? And most importantly, will he pan out as a decisive and effective leader and fulfill his campaign promises to get transcendent actions on a fast track? 

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