August 2, 2018 – Mayor of Jelsa Niksa Peronja held a public meeting in Vrboska two days ago, with two topics on the agenda – an update on projects completed and more information on the future of the islet of Zecevo.
It was actually a rather fun evening with a lot of positive energy in some respects. It was certainly an evening of education for the 100 or so people who came to listen to Mayor of Jelsa Niksa Peronja in Vrboska two nights ago. The strong turnout was all the more impressive given that it coincided with the farewell tribute to Oliver, as he made his final journey to Vela Luka.
The meeting was called after an anonymous poster appeared in various public locations around Vrboska, suggesting there was some suspicious goings-on on the islet of Zecevo, close to Vrboska. It was something which I decided to take a closer look at, publishing an article a few days ago on my findings. The anonymous poster had some rather shocking findings. You can read my article here in English, and here in Croatian.
Mayor Peronja responded to the posters in record time, announcing a meeting the following Tuesday, where he would not only explain everything about Zecevo, but also explain all the investments and projects that the Jelsa Municipality had undertaken during his time as Mayor. Having written the article and taken an interest in the whole issue, I decided to go along and listen to what the mayor had to say, as well as film the meeting, as there was great interest and a demand for answers. You can find a very amateur video of almost everything at the bottom of this article. I apologise for the quality – 12 gigabites on my phones and my technical ability trying to extract the video and put online was quite a struggle. I did the best I could. I am only sorry that one of the most interesting points of the whole evening was not recorded, as Gabro Kersic from Croatian Forests gave a brilliant overview of how to change land zoning. I will try and get an interview with Gabro, although I hardly know him – we met once on the top of Hvar as I was helping (badly) to plant Dalmatian pines for the Sustainable Island NGO.
Although Mayor Peronja was understandably not happy with the articles I wrote, he was extremely professional and polite, welcoming the fact that the meeting was being filmed as you can see in the video above, so that his explanations went to a wider audience. As such, I tried to film as much as I could, the results of which you can find below.
Mayor Peronja had a surprise for me, as he publicly announced (see above) that he was suing me. I didn’t quite understand the reason, but I will soon apparently with the arrival of a (presumably) blue letter. I subsequently learned that he had announced the same thing at the town council meeting the night before. Never having been sued before in my 49.5 years, I kind of expected that I would find out by letter from the court, or a lawyer. But, as you can see above, it seems that public proclamations are the way to go. And so when I had a phone call from a journalist at Slobodna Dalmacija earlier asking me for comment, I understood how this is going to play. Publicly, and I am sure tomorrow’s article will make interesting reading as a campaign to discredit me begins. If this disagreement of views is to be played out publicly, so be it. We all have skeletons, some a lot bigger than others. And the Slobodna journalist is not the local Jelsa one, who has written so many nice articles about me over the years (thank you, M.C.), but one I have not come across before. I am grateful for the opportunity to be included in the interview, an invitation I have also extended each time to Mayor Peronja. I replied that I would prefer to answer through my own website and this article.
There were SO many aspects to the meeting in Vrboska, and so many people there for different reasons, one more reason why the videos below should be of interest to people. If you are interested in the topic, I do encourage you to watch (in Croatian obviously), and if you are a foreign investor, you might learn a trick or two. For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on one topic – the rumour that Carpe Diem is involved in either the Gradska Kavana concession or the islet of Zecevo. So many rumours in Jelsa, and very little concrete information. As I wrote previously in the article above, Mayor Peronja claims to have no knowledge of any Carpe Diem involvement.
As you can see above, he was asked about any knowledge about Carpe Diem connections to all this and, to much laughter – as you can see above – he had no knowledge at all of any Carpe Diem involvement.
He was kind enough to answer my question (this one in English) as you can see in the video:
“And if it is proved beyond doubt that Carpe Diem are involved, would you change anything?”
After a moment’s thought, the answer came, as you can see above:
Sticking to the Carpe Diem theme, as this is my focus on this article, the star of the night came up and delivered a very simple, but staggeringly concise little presentation, where – he claimed – there was proof that Carpe Diem was not only involved, but effectively WAS Luksar Solutions, the IT company from Zagreb with no employees and a 2017 declared annual income of just 7,517 kuna. That is income of about 20 kuna a day. Not a huge income for a company about to invest 1.75 million kuna into revonating the Gradska Kavana. But business was never my strong point.
I know Renato only slightly – he was the judo teacher for my daughters when we lived in Jelsa. His short presentation was stunning. One of the Luksar Solutions directors is called Nikola Prib. According to Renato, Mr. Prib is also involved in various other companies, including one called Tlaka d.o.o. which is co-owned by one of the owners or Carpe Diem. Not only that, but allegedly (and I use the word allegedly as it is impossible for me to find out), Tlaka is one of the main Carpe Diem companies.
Just as interesting, claims Renato – you can see his explanation in the video above – Luksar Solutions is registered at the address Jelsa 714, which happens also to be owned by a Mr. S.T. mentioned in the anonymous poster, the same person who was given a 12-month ‘koncesijsko odobrenje’ on the islet of Zecevo. Quite a coincidence.
I am not an expert in these things, but it would seem to me that perhaps there was something in Renato’s words. If true, then it would appear that there was a concrete link between the concessionaire in Gradska Kavana and Carpe Diem. 20 minutes earlier, Mayor Peronja had said that if a link was proven, it was ‘possible’ that things would change. How did he react to Renato’s little presentation? Rather than use my words, I point you to the video response by Mayor Peronja above.
But could Renato be right? The Internet is a beautiful thing and so I went to check his claims.
It seems that Mr. Prib is indeed involved with Tlaka d.o.o., according to the court register. I will leave others to follow that trail.
A Mr S.T. did indeed own Jelsa 714, and his identity was confirmed during the meeting.
And yes indeed – it appeared that Luksar Solutions was also resident at the property of Mr. S.T. According to the tender, which was awarded to Luksar Solutions, a requirement was that they moved their office address to Jelsa within 3 months – so by about July, 2017. They only actually moved earlier this year, but presumably it was because they couldn’t afford to in 2017, with that annual income of just 7,517 kuna.
They did, however, have enough money to buy web domains, according to some information sent to me.
A lot of Carpe love for a company not connected to Carpe Diem.
Really quite a lot of love.
Lots of web domains should the business ever expand – not that Luksar Solutions is connected to Carpe Diem at all.
But what’s this? The Carpe Diem Beach website at Stipanska, which was once owned by our Gradska Kavana catering maestros, Luksar Solutions.
I don’t know much about brand protection, but if I were the chaps at Carpe Diem, I would be pretty upset at someone using my brand for their web domains and even owning my Stipanska website if they were not connected to me.
And it is not just Luksar Solutions using the Carpe brand. Back to Mr. S.T. with his concession on Zecevo, with some ‘Rooms Carpe Diem Hvar’ for rent. And now that both are living at Jelsa 714, perhaps there will be some brainstorming to come up with more uses of the Carpe brand.
Luksar Solutions, the IT company in Zagreb, which had an income of just 7,517 kuna in 2017, has two directors. One is Mr. Prib, whose alleged connections to Carpe Diem, have been outlined above. The other is a company called Pietas Julia from Istria. Somebody sent me some information about former directors – you can check on the Internet. One of them was one of the owners of Carpe Diem several years ago.
The official Luksar Solutions balance sheet for 2017 – 7,517 kuna. I can see cash flow issues for our Gradska Kavana.
A key theme of the meeting in Mayor Peronja’s very professional presentation – and I mean that genuinely, he was extremely articulate and controlled the crowd well – was something called transparentnost, or transparency. He gave his word that there would be no Carpe Diem-like partying at the Gradska Kavana while he was mayor.
“And what about when you move to Zagreb at the end of your mandate?” asked a cynical voice from behind.
About 15 years ago, I went for a walk in Hvar Town past Hotel Amfora. It is a stunning area and the sunsets are divine. There was a guy who had a concession on a small part of the coast, and he had some plastic beach loungers and some cool boxes with beers and possibly ice cream. When he sold his beers, he went home. A simple life, causing no bother to anyone. Above there was some kind of tiny restaurant or fast food place, I can’t remember exactly. It also got its annual concession and it was largely unobtrusive.
And then one day, the two were joined together, and Hula Hula was born. At first, it was an outstanding addition to the island and quickly became one of the top 50 beach bars of the world. And then…
Ask the residents near Hula Hula how they feel about the tranquil concession of the young man with the coolboxes and plastic chairs all those years ago.
It is not for me to draw conclusions. These are the facts from publicly available documents online as I see them. Is Carpe Diem involved in any of this, Mayor Peronja? If you are perhaps persuaded by some of the evidence above, does it change anything? You said it was ‘possible’ during the meeting.
There was one question I was planning to ask at the meeting, but I decided against, as it might have put the mayor on the spot. And much as it might sound strange to say about the first person ever to sue me, I am actually quite fond of Mayor Peronja, as he was once of me (at least I got that impression) – we used to have some great chats.
But perhaps it would be fairer to give Mayor Peronja a little time to think about the question(s) by placing them here. I don’t expect Mayor Peronja will answer me, but it would be interesting to know the answers if someone else wants to ask the questions. In the interests of transparentnost…
1. You claim you have no knowledge of any connection between Luksar Solutions and Carpe Diem, and we take you at your word. Have you ever met any of the Carpe Diem owners or management?
2. If yes, when was the last time you had contact – either by SMS, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook, Email, Phone, Meeting or any other means of communication?
3. If yes, what was the topic of conversation and reason for the meeting?
4. If yes, how often do you have contact of any kind with Carpe Diem owners or management – once in a blue moon, several times a day, once a week, once a month? What are the reasons for those conversations? I think some of the people who voted for you would like to know about that.
A few people have advised me not to write this article and point out these facts. Apparently, it could be dangerous. I thought a lot about it, and my decision to publish centres around the feeling that if I stood by and watched the destruction of the safe, family destination that I and thousands have come to love, knowing that I could perhaps have done something about it, I would have felt terrible.
By highlighting what I have found out, perhaps Mayor Peronja will see the situation in a different light. He is a very busy man and has genuinely done some amazing things for Jelsa and Vrboska, for which he should be applauded. It is perfectly plausible that he was not aware of many of the alleged connections in these articles.
Now he is. The ball is in his court as to how to proceed.
The ball is also in the court of the people of Jelsa and Vrboska. If they care, this is their fight, not mine, and I leave this article as a parting gift to a town which has been extraordinarily good to me in life, giving me an amazing wife (yes she, with the eyes like the sea), two gorgeous daughters, a fabulous punica and title of Brusjki zet, and a place on The Bench (The Bench which sadly is no more). This will be my last summer in Jelsa, and I will spend summers in future in places where I feel welcome.
Dear Niksa, sue me if you must, and make it as public as you decide is necessary. It is a challenge which I will rise to – isn’t that what fat, pink bloggers do?
For many at the meeting, of course, this was not the main focus of their interest. The meeting was truly fascinating, and a real education for everyone there. As stated above, Mayor Peronja did an excellent job both in controlling a notoriously difficult crowd, as well as explaining the fine details of certain aspects of concessions and land splitting. There is a LOT of great information and – the Carpe Diem issue aside – I hope other portals will take a greater look at the contents of the meeting. I managed to capture 95% of it on my phones, and I have reproduced in full what I managed to film. In its entirety. In the interests of transparentnost.
I am only sad that I did not have enough space to film Gabro Kersic from Croatian Forests, who made some magnificent points at the end about the changing nature of land use. I encourage any journalists who do want to follow some of the non-Carpe Diem aspects to the story to contact Mr. Kersic. His knowledge of the details of the subject is quite outstanding.