Parcel 36 the lot San Franciscos county city and tax collector forgot

first_imgTwo San Francisco parks, Parque Ninos Unidos and Juri Commons, between San Jose and Guerrero, owe their existence to the railroads. The city has taken note of this history and has, to some extent, concurred with Rubenstein’s vision: In a 2010 draft document, the San Francisco Planning Department refers to Treat Avenue as “railroad row” and contemplates turning the wedge-shaped junction of Treat Avenue where it intersects with Harrison Street into a plaza that acknowledges and “celebrates” the old railroad corridor. In housing-starved San Francisco, land usage and productivity get measured in ways that have nothing to do with the yield of a fruit tree. It wouldn’t be surprising if the owners of Parcel 36 are entertaining development offers. Rubenstein and other neighbors would like to know. But there’s one problem. No one — not the Planning Department and, until recently, not the San Francisco Assessors and Recorder’s office — knows who owns Parcel 36. Because railroads are designated as utilities, the parcel was overseen by the California State Board of Equalization until 2006 and was last appraised by them, that year, for $1,242,890. According to Jack McCool, Supervising Property Appraiser at the Equalization Board, property assessments are done on “behalf” of California’s 52 counties. It’s up to San Francisco County Controller’s office and the County Tax Collector to prepare and deliver the actual bill. This never happened. According to Roberto Mercado, Senior Administrative Analyst at the San Francisco Office of the Controller, no tax bill was ever sent to anyone by the County Controller’s office. No taxes were ever paid. Carmen Chu’s office has confirmed that it is opening a potentially year-long investigation, with the help of the city’s attorney, to untangle the history of the property.  “We understand how important property taxes are for our city,” said Chu in a statement to Mission Local. “Our office oversees over 210,000 parcels in San Francisco and look to the community as partners to provide us information we may not have. We’re in the process of looking into this issue. If it is determined the parcel is taxable, we plan to add back value as far back as the law allows us to.”Untangling that history will not be easy. The vexing question of who owns it needs to determined first. An ownership trail strewn with produce and vegetablesThere’s no mystery about the first owner of the parcel. That was a man named John Center, an immigrant from Scotland, called the Father of the Mission in his 1908 obituary. Center arrived in San Francisco in October 1849, two months before the end of the first fabled year of California’s Gold Rush.Center concluded that his time was better spent supplying the city with produce and began purchasing real estate in the Mission District. In an early version of Rubenstein’s vision, Center planted gardens and orchards across the “fertile plain” of the Mission District, using Mission Creek for irrigation and cultivating apple and peach trees, strawberries and onions — all highly desirable produce in a city where San Franciscans often lived on beer, biscuits and salt pork. The profits of his gardens and orchards allowed Center to go on a spending spree in the Mission District. “There is scarcely an abstract of title to a Mission Lot upon which his name does not appear,” remarked Horatio Stoll, a San Francisco Call reporter, who claimed that Center once cleared $30,000 in one year from one acre of onions.One of the lots that Center purchased was located within the former precincts of the Union racecourse, which encompassed Mission, Harrison, 19th and 24th streets. In the early 1860s, Center subdivided this land and sold the lots at a profit. However, he held onto some of the land. He was looking for something other than his orchards for wealth, foreseeing correctly that transportation was the key to a profitable future.Center had already constructed two plank roads that wound through the mud flats of the San Francisco Bay and into the Mission District, and had invested in the North Beach and Mission railroad company. In 1860, he and 11 other men invested in another: the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad. Three years later, Center donated the land between 22nd, 23rd and Harrison Street and Treat Avenue to the railroad. It turned out to be his least profitable investment. The railway made no money. In October 1870, the Southern Pacific Transportation Company, whose monopolistic tendencies earned them the moniker “the Octopus,” snapped up the San Francisco San Jose Railway company. The trail of ownership stopped after CenterCenter was the last clear owner and possessor of a deed. Today, only wildly contradictory information about the real owner exists. According to Gina Simi, communications manager for the San Francisco Planning Department, the Southern Pacific Transportation Company (SPTC) owns it. This isn’t possible: that company was acquired in 1996 by Union Pacific Railroad Corporation, a publicly traded company. However, Union Pacific doesn’t own parcel 36 any longer. In 2007, one year after its final assessment, the Board of Equalization was notified by Union Pacific that they had sold it to an owner identified in a Statement of Land Changes form as “Heinzer” for an undisclosed sum of money. Union Pacific refused to confirm this transaction, saying only, in a statement to Mission Local, that they “do not claim an ownership interest in the property.” The freight trains come to a halt and ownership of Parcel 36 gets complicatedIn 1991, a man named George Allen Center filed a quitclaim on Parcel 36, granting it to Earnest and James W. Heinzer, presumably the same “Heinzer” noted on the Statement of Land Use Change form on file with the state. Quitclaim deeds are dubious instruments for granting property, a sort of hedged bet or admission that there may be other claims on the land and that the possession of the property isn’t “warranted,” according to Michael Barnacle, Head of Zephyr Realtors Association.  The two Heinzer brothers who own property on Treat Avenue, with its own 215-foot rail spur, have a contentious and litigious history with federal and state regulatory agencies and the Union Pacific railroad. In the early nineties, the Heinzers engaged in a protracted dispute with the Southern Pacific Transportation Company (SPTC), which was trying to end service on its line in San Francisco. California Public Utility Commission documents show, remarkably, that the SPTC ran a train providing freight service through the Mission District until 1990. Known as the “Old Main Line,” the last Southern Pacific train in service in San Francisco rumbled down Harrison Street, limping to a profitless end. That fate became certain after its best customer, Best Foods, closed its processing plant on Florida Street on June 30, 1990.Business on the freight line plunged from 349 carloads a year in 1988 to just six in 1990. The only customer left in the Mission was Ernest A. Heinzer and Sons Company, which since 1953 had manufactured furniture at its factory, a green concrete warehouse located at 933 Treat avenue. The Heinzer Company had been receiving shipments from Southern Pacific for 40 years, but those shipments were shrinking. The CPUC estimated that the Heinzers only received freight five to seven times a year between 1981 to 1988. In 1989, the Heinzer Company received one last shipment from the railroad. Faced with the loss of demand, Southern Pacific had made a pragmatic decision to stop freight operations. James W. and Earnest Heinzer immediately filed a lawsuit against the SPTC with the California Public Utilities Commission in June of 1991, alleging that the financially beleaguered railroad was illegally abandoning its track agreement with them and, moreover, that the the entirety of the Old Main Line should be considered as an extension of the Heinzer’s 215-foot private rail spur — and therefore not open to abandonment by the SPTC.Neither the commission or the Interstate Commerce Commission found this claim to be true. Moreover, the CPUC decision found that the Heinzers were allowing two other businesses which edged the parcel, the Western Plywood Company and Surber & Associates, to use their spur, hoping to artificially boost the number of freight deliveries on the line — and contesting the Southern Pacific’s claim that business on the line was so scant as to be “vestigial.” The Heinzers, like the other businesses, had been receiving the majority of their shipments from “motor” freight throughout the eighties. According to Southern Pacific’s plaint and the utility commission’s findings, the Heinzer brothers wanted one of two outcomes: either Southern Pacific should be forced to continue delivering freight, or it should sell them the right-of-way. Southern Pacific offered to sell the Old Main Line to the Heinzer brothers for $3,536,950 million if — and only if — the brothers took responsibility for track maintenance and the business of running a freight train. In return, the Heinzers offered $11,950 for the right-of-way, which was valued at $2.5 million by the commission.  Unsurprisingly, the SPTC declined the Heinzers’ offer, contending that the brothers were only interested in the “rent-free use of Southern Pacific real estate.” The CPUC concurred with this belief, stating that the Heinzers’ offer “failed to meet” federal standards and that their offer to purchase was not “bona fide.”The Heinzers lost their case with the California Public Utility Commision and the Interstate Commerce Commission, which granted the Southern Pacific the right to discontinue service. This didn’t deter the Heinzer brothers. Four months later, in October of 1991, they filed the quitclaim to the parcel, paying no transfer tax at the time of filing. Sixteen years later, they may have purchased it for an undisclosed sum of money from Union Pacific. It will be the work of the Office of the Assessor-Recorder to locate this deed — and the owner. Life after the QuitclaimSince then, the lot has been used informally as a sort of social and financial commons by surrounding businesses. Tenants of the Heinzer warehouse have access to the parcel. The concrete deck that used to be a loading dock is now in use as a patio, complete with deck chairs. Tenants of the Heinzers use the weedy grounds for recreation, and are often seen by this reporter kicking a soccer ball around the old railroad tracks. Some business owners appear to be making a profit from the parcel, despite having no publicly recorded right to or claim on the land. The Safeway Roofing and Siding Company, owned by a man named Eldon Verette, charges the Little Giant Lighting and Grip Company “rent” to park their trucks inside the gate that fences off the parcel on Treat avenue, according to an employee of the Little Giant Lighting and Grip Company who wished to remain anonymous. It’s not clear how Safeway Roofing obtained the right to rent parking spaces within the parcel, nor how many individuals or businesses controls access in and out of the place.  Emails and phone calls to James and Ernest Heinzer, and the Safeway Roofing and Siding business, were unanswered. Parcel 36 is a vacant lot occupied by a colony of feral cats, redolent with the scent of wild fennel and other, less pleasing odors. Two distinctive buildings stand on either side of the 22nd Street entrance: The wedge-shaped Western Plywood building and the Atlas Stair Company, a quaintly turreted building that wouldn’t look out of place in Disneyland. Just inside the chain-link fence that separates the property from the 22nd street sidewalk, an odd metal implement is embedded in the ground. Rusted and corroding, it merges vertically with the stalks of wild fennel which surround it. It’s an old railroad switcher. Next to it, sections of iron rail track are still visible.Although the 2,245-square-foot lot has been city property since 2007, there is no title or deed on file at the Office of the Assessor-Recorder of the City and County of San Francisco. For more than a decade, it has eluded both mention in the city rolls and an assessment of its taxable value. Consequently, it has never been taxed. The lot twists in a southwesterly direction and emerges on Treat Street, next to a fenced-off cottage. Both Western Plywood and the tattered cottage are already part of the Mission’s past. Both buildings are slated for demolition and, by next year, two four-story residential buildings will rise on the footprint of Western Plywood and 953 Treat Ave, encasing Parcel 36 between them and partially erasing it from sight. 0% Some railroad history and a new investigationParcel 36 started life in 1860 as the right-of-way for the short-lived San Francisco and San Jose Railroad Company. According to train historian Dennis Evanosky, the railroad was built to carry passengers and freight — crops, mostly — from San Jose and ten other peninsular cities to the port of San Francisco. It made stops at stations in Bernal Hill and the Mission. Carol Deasy, who lives on Harrison Street, remembers the sights and sounds of the trains as they ran through the Mission. “In 1975, my husband and I purchased property across the street from the shrouded railroad tracks, between 22nd and 23rd on Harrison. At night, we loved hearing the cargo train tooting, with wheels squealing against tracks. It was quite a romantic reminder of earlier days.”Railway switch. Photo by Elizabeth Creely The past of Parcel 36 — railroads and fruit orchards — could inform its future. There’s strong neighborhood support for conserving open space as density and infill creep into the Mission District, and a belief that all needs, commercial and communal, need to be carefully weighed as priorities shift and emerge with each new building development. “In a city as dense as San Francisco, every parcel is precious,” said Hillary Ronen, supervisor for District 9, said. “I’m glad this open space is back on the city’s radar.” Before anything thing can be planned, the owner must be identified and taxes on the parcel paid. Carol Scott, who lives at 24th and Folsom, is eagerly anticipating that discovery. “I’m a huge fan of Tree and his vision of transforming the property. He is truly a visionary in the way he sees possibilities that might not be obvious to others.” Scott, who volunteers at the Free Food Farm stand, agrees with Tree Rubenstein and his vision of an open space dedicated to the community. “In the 19th and 20th centuries, railroads transformed the country by enabling people to come together more easily,” she said. “It would be fitting to use this parcel to bring people closer together in the 21st century, too.”Photo by Elizabeth Creely.This story has been corrected to reflect that the lot measures 23,522, not 2,245, square feet. Vacant lots are often seen as desolate, vaguely menacing places. Tree Rubenstein, a Mission resident for 30 years and an award-winning urban gardener, sees Parcel 36 differently. Where stalks of wild fennel now grow, Rubenstein envisions orchards of fruit trees and raised garden beds. “My idea has been to have a small farm. A greenway,” Rubenstein said one muggy morning in August. “We need more open space as the city gets more dense. It’s short-sighted not to keep some space open.” He knows of what he speaks. A decade ago, Rubenstein successfully lobbied the city to create Parque Ninos Unidos, on the site of an old building materials site on the corner of 23rd and Folsom streets.  The park’s northeast corner hosts an urban garden and the Sunday Free Food Farmstand. Rubenstein sees no reason that the weedy, litter-strewn lot across the way shouldn’t have the same fate.Tree Rubenstein. Photo by Elizabeth Creely. Tags: development • history Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

TODAY marks 100 days until the first quarterfinal

first_imgTODAY marks 100 days until the first quarter-final at Rugby League World Cup 2013, and several nations are already talking up their chances of qualification ahead of the big kick-off.Scotland have made a number of notable additions to their roster in recent weeks, including North Queensland Cowboys centre Kane Linnett, who has been in fine form in the NRL in 2013.“I still have loads of uncles, aunties and cousins there so playing for Scotland will mean a lot to me,” said Linnett.“I know my family will all be watching from both here and Scotland. My grandfather, who passed away a couple years ago, would be very proud.“World Cups don’t come around very often and I’m really looking forward to experiencing the tournament in England and meeting a new bunch of boys and performing well.”Linnett joins Brisbane half-back Peter Wallace and Newcastle winger James McManus as new recruits for Scotland coach Steve McCormack.While Super League stars Danny Brough, Michael Robertson and Joe Wardle could also add iron to the Bravehearts’ squad this autumn.Scotland will compete with Tonga and Italy for the one available qualification place from Group C, while Wales will also fancy their chances of reaching the last eight, and beating Group D rivals Cook Islands and USA to top spot.“If we can get out of the group stages then we can start looking at things on a match-by-match basis,” said Wales’ Gil Dudson.“I think failure would be the wrong word to use but if we don’t make it out of the group then we’ll be pretty disappointed.”Tickets are now on sale for RLWC2013, with 55% of tickets priced £20 or less. To make sure you will BE THERE buy now at www.rlwc2013.com/tickets or call the 24-hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.last_img read more

JONNY Lomax season is over after he suffered a se

first_imgJONNY Lomax’ season is over after he suffered a serious injury in last weekend’s game at Catalan.The 23-year-old damaged his knee in the second half and needs an operation.Saints Head Coach Nathan Brown said: “This is obviously a blow to the team but more importantly to Jonny. He has been in great form and has settled well into the full back position.“He will now begin his road to recovery led by our medical staff and we wish him well.“Jonny has a strong character and we’re sure he will come back and prove once again to be a pivotal player for us.”last_img read more

PRESEASON is about team building and preparation

first_imgPRE-SEASON is about team building and preparation – and Saints have had it in spades building up to the 2016 Super League campaign.Gruelling sessions at the Club’s Cowley International College Training Centre have been the norm – with trips to the Dream, the Lake District and 42 Commando in Plymouth thrown in for good measure.But it’s all about establishing the teamwork that could carry Saints back to title success.“When you are a rugby league professional you try to find things which replicate how tough being in a game is,” Captain Jon Wilkin said. “To be honest in training you rarely find anything as tough as that.“But the Lake’s camp was the closest I have got to the pure exhaustion you get in a match.“It opened our eyes to some of the things we take for granted as professionals; the things that make us what we are.“When you are tired you find out a lot about yourself. You discover what you can do with limited energy and see what energy comes from teammates too.“Sessions like that are trying to find out who wants to do that for their teammates and who doesn’t.“Tough times draw you close and it’s about getting through those tough times together.”That team togetherness was on show at the Cassius Camp as Head of Strength and Conditioning Matt Daniels and his assistant Ade Gardner joined in the sessions alongside Nathan Mill, the Club’s and England physio!last_img read more

He follows Billy Boston Gus Risman Mike Nicholas

first_imgHe follows Billy Boston, Gus Risman, Mike Nicholas and David Watkins who were inducted over the last few years.The presentation occurred at half-time of the recent Rugby League World Cup qualifier between Wales and Ireland which Wales won to qualify for the 2021 tournament.Many of his former teammates, plus former WRL internationals from many eras, were there to witness the presentation, some of whom were on the pitch with WRL chairman Brian Juliff, who made the presentation.Juliff said: “Kel was chosen because of his outstanding contribution to WRL as a player and coach.“He is a living legend of the game and hugely respected not only at St. Helens but across all the clubs in Rugby League. His points scoring record is quite amazing and he is recognised amongst the top 10 of all time.“He was thrilled to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame and accepted the honour in his own inimitable and humble way.”Coslett, who was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to Rugby League in 2014, was a player and coach for Wales in rugby league, the latter from 1978 until 1981.Hailing from Bynea in Carmarthenshire, he played for Llanelli and Aberavon in rugby union and won caps against England, Scotland and France in the 1962 Five Nations Championship, but it’s in Rugby League where he became famous after moving north to join St Helens later that year.He had 15 seasons at Knowsley Road and was an outstanding goalkicker landing 1,639 in his Saints career and scoring 45 tries for the club. He skippered the team to Challenge Cup Final wins at Wembley in 1972 and 1976 and still holds the club record for most appearances and points.He left to become player-coach of Rochdale Hornets in 1976, went on to coach Wigan for the 1979-80 season before returning to St Helens, coaching them for two years between 1980 to 1982. He is now life president of the club after fulfilling a number of roles for the Saints.Internationally in Rugby League, Coslett was WRL heritage #254, won 13 caps between 1963 and 1975 and was famously in the Wales side that beat England 12-7 in the 1975 World Cup in the Battle of Brisbane, a match that eventually cost England the title.He is one of less than ten Welshmen to have scored more than 2,000 points in their rugby league career and with 3,545 points is seventh on British rugby league’s ‘most points in a career’ record list behind Neil Fox, Jim Sullivan, Gus Risman, John Woods, Cyril Kellett and Kevin Sinfield.Coslett said: “I’m delighted to have been recognised in this way by Wales Rugby League especially as it was on a big day for Wales and accompanied by many of my friends and former teammates.”last_img read more

Chadbourn dad arrested in alleged baseball bat assault

first_imgCHADBOURN, NC (WWAY) — The father of the man allegedly assaulted with a baseball bat in Chadbourn on Sunday faces charges in the crime.George Phillips Nobles, 58, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.- Advertisement – The sheriff’s office says the 23-year-old victim and Nobles got into an argument that ended with the victim being hit approximately four times with a baseball bat.According to the arrest report, Nobles lives at the home where the beating happened.Nobles was gone by the time deputies arrived.Related Article: Conviction upheld for woman who urged boyfriend’s suicideNobles was arrested on Monday and posted his $5,000 bond about 30 minutes later.last_img read more

Fundraiser to cover costs of shipping students devices to African Farmers

first_img “We have learned so much through this experience and have had so much fun, too!” said Gabrielle Loue, President of the BETA club. Organizers say so far, the students have built three Rocker Water Pumps (RWPs) and they hope to build seven more to send to Full Belly’s farmer cooperative partners in the African country of Zambia. The RWP is an irrigation device designed by the Full Belly Project and made completely with recycled materials that enables small farmers around the world to get more food and money from their land than ever before.Swahili Coast, a local business in the Cotton Exchange that also works to improve lives in 3rd world countries, is hosting a fundraiser to cover the cost of shipping the student’s devices, so that life-changing machines can get to the farmers while fulfilling the goal of the students.EVENT DETAILS: Swahili Coast’s SIP + SHOP event on Friday, December 8th from 6-9 p.m.Parking is free in the lot behind the Cotton Exchange and 20% of all proceeds that night will be donated to shipping these students’ machines to Africa.For those who are unable to attend on the 8th, a voucher will be available on the Full Belly Project’s website that will make it so 20% of any purchase made at Swahili Coast until December 15th will go to the BETA Club Project as well. Full Belly will also be accepting donations that night and continuously until the needed funds are raised.To learn more and donate directly online, please visit: www.thefullbellyproject.org/beta-clubThey say any donation amount helps!Hoggard BETA club volunteers at the Full Belly Project.Hoggard BETA club volunteers at Full Belly Project. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Hoggard High School BETA club students have been volunteering every Wednesday after school to build irrigation devices for farmers in Africa. Friday, December 8th, you can help them ship the machines overseas.The students have worked side by side with the Full Belly Project, a Wilmington non-profit that designs and distributes income-generating devices that improve life around the world.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Flooding causes concern throughout Brunswick County

first_imgBRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — For many people in Brunswick County, flooding is around almost every corner.“A lot of noise from the pump trying to pump the water out. Lot of mosquitoes, a lot of flies. Just mainly a nuisance cause they did pump it out yesterday, the water was much lower. And then last night, the rain came again and this is what we have,” Tommie Smith said.- Advertisement – Brunswick County government offices closed at noon because of predicted rainfall and road conditions. Some streets in Caswell Beach were completely covered in water and drivers and their families were worried if they would make it through.“Couple of particularly tricky spots where we have to just stop and make sure it’s nice and flat and everybody opens the doors and looks out the window to make sure it’s not coming up to high. Sometimes we’ll watch other cars and see if mini vans like ours will make it. And if they decide to turn around, we turn around,” Patrick Kavanaugh said.“It’s been pretty deep for our mini-van and we had to turn around on Tuesday because the water was too deep,” Charles Kavanaugh said.Related Article: Stage 1 Water Conservation Alert remains in Brunswick Co. despite improvementsMany front yards in Southport are looking more like ponds.“All the way down this street as far as you go, till you get up to the cemetery just about is- everybody’s got a little water standing in their yard,” Smith said.Now they’re just hoping for some dry days with little rain.last_img read more

Cleanliness at the top of the PL agenda for Local Councils

first_imgPartit Laburista (PL) presented their electoral manifest for the imminent Local Council elections. Prime Minister and PL leader Joseph Muscat said that the manifesto was possible thanks to continuous consultation with the localities via PL structures. He explained that both the general and the locality specific manifests focus on the quality of life, quality family time, quality of sites, quality of the infrastructure and the quality of cleanliness in their locality.The Prime Minister also said that Local Councils should be involved in the plastic bottles refund scheme which will start by the end of the year. He also said that the Local Councils should give preference to electric cars and set up more charging points around their locality.The Environment holds an important place in the PL’s agenda for Local Councils, as well as alternative transport, modern infrastructure, the social dimension and cultural life.Special measures relating to pets have also been mentioned. These include dog parks and cat cafes which will be placed in areas that will not inconvenience the local residents.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

EU Elections Issues at stake in various member states

first_imgThis election weekend where, besides Malta, countries are exercising their democratic right to elect their MEPs. Some, like the UK have already voted while others like Malta, are voting today. The main issues in this election for the majority of the EU member states remains Immigration. Fourty per cent of resppondents in the April 2019 Eurobarometer cited this as a major concern. Even so, this is roughly 20% less than the tally in 2015 when immigration concerns had peaked at 60%.An interesting development is gradual but constant upward trend in concern about climate change. In 2011, 60% were concerned about the economy and 5% concerned about climate change. In 2019, Economic concerns are down to 19% while climate cgange concerns are up to 18%. Indeed, the Eurobarometer results show that people are more concerned about climate change than about crime (8%).What changes can we possibly see?The European parliament is dominated by 2 big centrist groups: The more concervative EPP and the more Socialist ESP. While Eurosceptics in the EP are still strong, Bbrexit seems to have put paid to any notions of a mass exodus. Indeed the débâcle which has led to the resignation of UK’s PM Theresa May was a sufficient ice bucket challenge for any exiteers. Two elements may chip away at the centrist block: environmentalist groups and populist groups.The ‘Greta Thunberg effect’ has been gathering momentum and her Fridays for Future youth movment has galvanised considerable action among voters who are determined to push for climate change. Pro-EU parties are riding this wave and pushing for positive action in this issue.Another interesting development is Italy’s Salvini’s rallying call to the populist rightist parties. Salvini is trying to create a powerful bloc. If he succeeds, that that is a big if, considering that the far-right has never been able to find common ground, he would be a force to be reckoned with.And the country issues?The big question in Austria is, the impact the so-called Ibiza scandal could have on the far-right Freedom Party (FPO). Its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, resigned as Austria’s vice chancellor earlier this month after a secret video appeared to show him trying to trade public contracts for party donations from a woman he thought was the niece of a Russian oligarch. FPO came third in 2014’s EU elections with 19% of the vote; latest projections suggest it will pick up around 18% this time, but that figure is down from 24.5% before the scandal broke.Belgium is holding three elections on Sunday: federal, regional and European. Opinion leaders are asking if the greens will capitalise on a strong showing in local elections to improve on their 6.6% vote share in 2014? Like many other European countries, Belgium also has a far-right party, Vlaams Belang, which is forecast to get up to 14.8% of the vote in Flanders. Nationally, the party got 4.2% five years ago.There are fears that the dramatic campaign for Denmark’s general election set for June 5 will overshadow the European Parliament poll and hit turnout. Some are saying Danes are more concerned with the domestic vote, which is predicted to see Stram Kurs, a far-right party advocating the forced deportation of up to 700,000 Muslims, gain seats in parliament. The voting turnout of the Danes always hovers around the mid-50% markThe key question in Estonia is whether anti-EU far-right party EKRE will perform as well in these European elections as it did in March’s national poll. That election saw EKRE come third, winning it a place in the ruling coalition. The party won 4% of the vote in 2014’s European poll; this time around it is forecast to get as much as 17%.FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not pictured) attend a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File PhotoIn France, all eyes will be on whether the party of pro-European president Emmanuel Macron — under pressure domestically from the anti-government “gilets jaunes” protesters — will be beaten into second place by Marine Le Pen who lost out to Macron in France’s presidential election.  Her National Rally movement is forecast to get the biggest vote share in Sunday’s election. Her previous party, Front National, won the 2014 vote with a 24% share. Macron’s La Republique En Marche! movement did not exist then.In Germany, there has been a surge in support for the German Green Party in federal polls and some are even daring to dream the movement could spawn its first chancellor. In forecasts for the European Parliament elections, it has been polling in second at around 18%, which is an improvement on its 10.70% vote share in 2014. It is worth keeping an eye on the anti-migrant and anti-euro Alternative for Germany (AfD), who won seven seats five years ago and entered the national parliament for the first time in 2017.Ireland went to the ballot box on Friday and the greens enjoyed a good showing, particularly in the capital Dublin, according to exit polls. After two days of voting in Ireland, exit polls showed the centre-right ruling party Fine Gael (which will join the European People’s Party) coming out on top for the European elections, according to Europe Elects based on national Irish exit polls.In 2014, the liberal Fianna Fáil party (which would join ALDE at the EU level) had 425 more votes than in 2014. This year Fine Gael will take the plurality, according to EU Elects. The Green Party also had a strong showing, overtaking the Labour party to become the fourth largest party in Ireland.©Pierre Teyssot/MAXPPP ; European Elections Far Right leaders Rally in Milano, Italy on May 18, 2019; Pictured : Matteo Salvini (Leader of Italy’s La Lega) shows a rosary© Pierre Teyssot / Maxppp (MaxPPP TagID: maxnewsworldfour830790.jpg) [Photo via MaxPPP]In Italy, the future of the Italian government is strictly connected to the outcome of the European Parliament elections. The two ruling parties, The League and the Five Star Movement, have spent the last couple of weeks fighting about every topic on the political agenda. Polls predict Salvini’s party will come out stronger than ever. His party, then the Northern League, won 6% of the vote in 2014. Latest projections suggest the League will get more than 30% this time around. If this happens, Salvini could be in a position to govern (rule?) without a major partner to hold him in check.Poland’s EU elections kick-off a series of polls in the country: a parliamentary one follows in the autumn before a presidential vote next year. Some say polls point to this being the beginning of the end for the ruling Eurosceptic Law and Justice Party (PiS). With the country at odds with Brussels over the independence of its judiciary, it will be interesting to see if PiS can improve on its 31.78% vote share in 2014. All eyes will also be on Poland’s first openly gay politician Robert Biedroń and the performance of his newly-formed pro-EU party, Wiosna (Spring).Portugal is one of the few EU countries without a strongly-performing far-right populist party, especially with the emergence of Vox in neighbouring Spain. This election has seen the emergence of Andre Ventura’s radical-right Basta! (Enough!) movement, which opposes the EU. Campaigning has focussed on the opposition attacking Portugal’s ruling socialists on domestic issues, with an eye on a forthcoming national poll. It will, therefore, be interesting to see whether the pro-EU socialists are able to better their performance from 2014 when they got 34% of the vote.One of the most interesting things to watch in Slovakia is turnout: just 13.05% voted in 2014, the lowest figure in the EU. Look too at the performance of Progressive Slovakia, the party of newly-elected pro-EU president Zuzana Caputova, and compare it with the anti-Brussels, far-right movement of People’s Party – Our Slovakia. Meanwhile, while the ruling social democrats (SMER-SD) are predicted to win, their vote share could fall — from 24% in 2014 — after anti-government protests over the last year.Turning to the United Kingdom, will voters punish the traditional two main parties — Labour and Conservative — for failing to deliver Brexit by switching to the new political movement fronted by anti-EU MEP Nigel Farage? And while the anti-Brexit vote will be split by the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Change UK, will it add up to more than that of Farage’s Brexit Party? 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