Commission Initiates Proceedings Against Jelsa Mayor Niksa Peronja

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Mayor of Jelsa Niksa Peronja announcing he was suing me in a public meeting in Vrboska in 2018. He never did.
Mayor of Jelsa Niksa Peronja announcing he was suing me in a public meeting in Vrboska in 2018. He never did.

November the 23rd, 2021 – The Commission for Deciding on Conflicts of Interest has initiated proceedings against official Niksa Peronja (SDP), the mayor of Jelsa, for possible violations of the Law on the Prevention of Conflicts of Interest.

As Slobodna Dalmacija/Mirko Crncevic reports, this has come to be the case because allegedly, Niksa Peronja, as the only member of the Assembly of the utility company “Jelkom”, appointed the acting director of the public company on March the 18th and again on November the 12th, 2020, and on November the 30th last year, he also appointed Ruzica Viskovic (SDP) as the “permanent” head of the company, all without the prior proposal of the Municipal Council. This was also done on the eve of the local elections held in late May this year. It’s worth noting that Slobodna Dalmacija wrote about Niksa Peronja having made this questionable move back on February the 10th, and Sandra Barcot was the author of the text.

The aforementioned publication contacted Mayor Niksa Peronja to tey to find out his view of the new “continuation” of this story, but he only briefly said that this was “just the initiation of proceedings and that he couldn’t comment further on it,”

”I’ll make a comment as soon as the Commission makes its final decision, and since several proceedings before this state body have already turned out in my favour, I believe that it will be the same situation with this one,” Peronja stated.

Since in the Municipal Official Gazette his decision was, among other things, explained by the wording that “it is a person [who was appointed to the aformentioned position] with a vision that coincides with the vision of the members of Jelkom,” Niksa Peronja then answered the question about the context of the appointment of Ruzica Viskovic, instead of the previous director Toni Damjanic. He stated the following:

”When it comes to the new director of “Jelkom”, she’s an excellent lawyer, with more work experience, who, except in the classic law firm with a bar exam, has worked for a high position in the legal department of “Suncani Hvar” for the last two years. She’s a very capable and proven member of staff, so I’m convinced that she’s going to greatly improve the services of waste collection, campsites and all other activities that Jelkom in engaged in,”

Peronja also added that he was “convinced that she would achieve better communication with the population than how things were before, because utility companies exist to serve their residents, and not the other way around.” Niksa Peronja also said that “former director Damjanic had been in that position for almost a decade and that after such a period, it was necessary to refresh and improve overall functionality and compliance, which the external, independent audit of the company’s business suggested.”

”Ruzica Viskovic was directly appointed to the position of director, in accordance with all legal provisions and possibilities. The previous director, Damjanic, had been appointed in the same way for the last two years. A number of directors were also appointed in all other towns across the island of Hvar in various utility companies, as well as most directors of utility companies throughout Croatia, and a report was submitted to the Municipal Council, which adopted it,” Niksa Peronja concluded when discussing this move.


Not the biggest problem in the world of public service in Croatia for sure, but one which caught my attention and took me back a few years to the unpleasant summer of 2018 in Jelsa. 

It was something of a surprise to attend a public meeeting, only to record the speaker on camera announcing that he was suing me. It was the first time in my life that someone had declared that they were suing me. More than three years later, I await the lawsuit. 

The reasons for the lawsuit were apparently something to do with my reporting on a procedure that was a little controversial surrounding a tender for the use of the Gradska Kavana commercial space that lay behind Jelsa’s iconic bench. Ironically, it was probably the most researched article I have ever written on TCN. 


(Photo credit Vivian Grisogono)

Things got so unpleasant that I wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who was gracious enough to call me over for a chat and told me not to worry, promising he would never sue me. He never has.

We will watch proceedings with interest and wonder if the scope of the investigation will take a closer look at other issues, tenders and appointments should the commission uphold the complaint of conflict of interest.  


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