Bram Pepper (right) at his inauguration in Rotterdam in 1982. Photo: Anefo/Hans van Dijk via National Archief

Dutch media say former Rotterdam mayor and interior minister Bram Pepper, who died Saturday at the age of 82, drew almost equal amounts of praise and criticism.

Pepper grew up in a working-class family in Harlem. A talented footballer, he went to college instead, studying economics and sociology.

He had political ambitions and joined the Labor Party (PvdA) as a policy adviser in the early 1970s.

In 1982, Pepper became mayor of Rotterdam, but his leadership style was not accepted by anyone. Pepper alternated heavy drinking and positive thinking with his arrogant behavior, which he refuted in an infamous interview with Isha Meyer.

As Rotterdam changed and grew during his tenure, Pepper persuaded then-Infrastructure Minister Hanka Meiweggen to leave the now-iconic model of the Erasmus bridge in his office to give her more room in the budget. Did. Impressed by her, she let him have her way.

After 16 years as mayor of Pepper, he left Rotterdam for national affairs in 1998, serving as Minister of the Interior under PvdA leader Wim Kok. A year later, he was accused of using public funds of 100,000 guilders to finance an extravagant lifestyle during his mayoral years.

Pepper stepped down to clear his name and the incident is now viewed as a back-and-forth act by a disgruntled former city council employee. Some remained suspicious.

However, the incident paid off for his political career. He chose a professorship at Erasmus University and never stepped into the political arena again.

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