Julio Alak

Julio Alak

Julio César Alak (born 9 January 1958 in Benito Juárez, Buenos Aires province) is an Argentine politician, the former mayor of provincial capital La Plata. A lawyer by training, Alak is married and has three children.

Political career

In his youth, Alak worked as a journalist while studying law in the University of La Plata; in his professional career, he alternated between public service and private practice, and was engaged also in university teaching and politics (as a member of the Justicialist Party) since 1984.

In 1988, Alak became the president of the La Plata branch of the party, and was designated as mayoral candidate in 1991. He won the election, and held the post until the 2007 election.

Alak struggled with the devastating effects of the economic crisis, as La Plata suffers from serious poverty and crime issues. Alak's administration has been criticized for misuse of public funds, such as the 120 million dollar debacle of the Municipal Bank, and dismantling the old public transportation system in favor of a less efficient and more expensive one.

A former follower of Carlos Menem, Alak declared his allegiance to president Néstor Kirchner prior to the 2005 mid-term senate elections.

2007 election

First results of the 28/October/2007 election indicate that Alak finished behind opposition candidate Pablo Bruera who took 25% to Alak's 20%.

Sensing defeat, Alak's campaign operators attempted to suggest a link between Bruera and the killing of three policemen in La Plata [http://www.eldia.com.ar/edis/20071028/tapa3.htm] that took place nine days before the election, but all investigations were inconclusive as of voting day (three were detained and released).

Divisive football issue

In the 1990s, Alak pushed through the construction of a new stadium for La Plata, over the objections of the two major football clubs, which chose to remain in their home fields.

In parallel, Alak sponsored a minor club, "La Plata FC", which some claimed was part of an Alak patronage scheme. Significant sums were allegedly spent out of the city budgets for activities related to that club, which has virtually no following. For some time, it was thought that it would be the only side to play in the new stadium, which was used mainly for concerts.

When a security regulation forbidding wooden stands came into effect in 2005, Estudiantes de La Plata relocated their home games to the "Bosque" (the field of rival side Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata), and later to the Quilmes stadium. The municipality has refused to allow Estudiantes an upgrade of their field, and ignored a court order that allowed its operation until a better solution was found. This behavior triggered animosity in the Estudiantes fan base.

In 2006, Gimnasia's stadium was banned as well, and their management transferred their games to the new stadium, over fans' objections. In April 2006, Alak intervened against a judicial order that would have allowed the re-opening of both fields. [http://www.ole.clarin.com/jsp/v4/pagina.jsp?pagId=1171964] . In August 2006, an agreement has been reached to allow remodeling Estudiantes' field, using newer technologies, to allow for a 20,000 sitting room capacity.

Critics argue that while millions went into the construction of the stadium, which the city did not need, thousands of poor people live in its shadow without receiving proper municipal services.

Some criticism of Alak points to his behavior in this issue as a barometer of more serious character and ethical issues [http://desdeelsillon.blogspot.com/2005/06/vergenza-fc.html] .

When Estudiantes obtained the 2006 "Apertura" title, Alak invited the team to an official ceremony but the players declined to attend, claiming that the pressure from the crowd would not allow them to reach his office. Actually, the players were at the La Plata Cathedral, 200 m (650 ft) from City Hall, and so the refusal to attend was perceived as a rebuke of Alak [http://www.lanacion.com.ar/deportiva/nota.asp?nota_id=867711&origen=relacionadas] .

Prior to the 2007 provincial election, Alak signed Estudiantes legend Juan Ramón Verón to a post as children sports services coordinator. Estudiantes fans puzzled over the designation, which is perceived as cementing Alak's alignment with candidate Daniel Scioli and an attempt to heal the rift between Estudiantes and Alak's administration [http://www.eldia.com.ar/edis/20070921/laprovincia9.htm] [http://www.eldia.com.ar/edis/20070920/deportes15.htm] .

La Plata FC was dissolved only three months after Alak left office [http://antilobo.blogspot.com/2008/03/pol7ergeis7-ii.html] .

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