Category Archives: Garbage crisis

New Mayor and Campania Region President to Brussels to unfreeze funds

Mayor calls for ridding city of garbage in five days with help of all

Anthony M. Quattrone

Via Speranzella in downtown Naples loaded with garbage (photo Siano, "La Repubblica")

The new mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, and the President of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, will be going to Brussels on 22 June 2011 to discuss the Campania waste management issue with the European Union, hoping to unfreeze 150 million euro that Europe had earmarked for investments in Naples and Campania.  The funds, which, according to news reports, were blocked by European officials mainly due to lack of trust and confidence in local administrators from Naples and Campania, are desperately needed to fund stalled projects aiming at re-launching the economy in the city and the Region.  Caldoro, who was elected last year, and de Magistris, who was elected only three weeks ago, are hoping that European officials will provide them with a chance to prove that they deserve the trust and confidence of the European Union.

Luigi de Magistris appointed the new Naples city government on 13 June 2011. He nominated twelve officials to form the executive branch of the Naples city government.  Each official is responsible for several departments apiece.  One of the twelve officials, Tommaso Sodano, will also serve as deputy mayor, in addition to occupying the critical seat in charge of waste management.   The mayor can count on a solid majority of 34 of the 48 members of the City Council, the legislative body.  Twenty nine councilpersons come from the parties and groups forming his initial coalition in the two-round election system, while an additional five belong to formations that have supported him in the run-off election on 30 and 31 May 2011.

The president of the new City Council is professor Raimondo Pasquino, the Chancellor of the University of Salerno, who was elected with 38 votes coming from the parties supporting the new Mayor and from centrist formations that supported the chancellor’s bid to become mayor of Naples in the recently held elections.  Professor Pasquino lost in the first round of the mayoral elections, gaining almost ten percent of the vote.  Mayor de Magistris, who admires Pasquino very much, asked him to lead City Council, hoping to forge a strong alliance between the city government and the Council, in the interest of the Naples.  This is the first time since 1993 that the coalition winning the elections does not take over the leadership of the City Council.

The first decision by the new city government has been to tackle the failed waste management system that has brought Naples to the center of world attention on many occasions since the mid-1990s with pictures of high rising mounds of trash on the streets and news regarding collusion between oranized crime, politicians, and public officials.  While the city’s priority is to immediately remove the 2,000 metric tons of garbage piled up in many parts of the city, the first executive order targets a permanent solution, in line with campaign promises.  The city is immediately increasing the door-to-door waste collection system adding five areas to the eight currently served, raising the participating population from 146 to 325 thousand by the end of September. The areas served by the door-to-door waste collections system are not experiencing the problems seen in other parts of the city, where high mounds of garbage bags are piling up to record levels.

Removing 2,000 tons of garbage will take approximately five days according to the Mayor, if a place to dump the collected waste is found.  He and the president of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, were counting on an urgent decree by Silvio Berlusconi’s government allowing Naples and the Campania Region to export trash to other Italian Regions willing to help.  Regrettably, internal strife between Berlusconi’s party, the People of Liberty (PdL) and the Northern League stalled the decision until sometime next week, with the former attempting to throw roadblocks of all types to avoid that waste from Campania be exported to other regions.  The inaction on the part of Berlusconi’s government has caused serious embarrassment to the party’s local leadership, to include President Caldoro.

The waste management system in Italy is shared between four levels of government.  City hall is responsible only for collecting and transporting waste.  The Provincial government is responsible for the processing, recycling, and disposal of waste.  The Regional government is responsible for medical waste disposal, for the movement of waste across its borders, and for ensuring that there is an integrated waste management system within its jurisdiction.  The national government is to ensure general oversight over Regional management plans, and to intervene to guarantee cooperation among local institutions, thus ensuring maximum integration of services in line with European Union standards and guidelines.

The mayor of Naples is tackling the waste management problem at source.  Without properly differentiating between the types of waste produced, thus separating recyclables from other types of waste, and enforcing a door-to-door system, Naples will continue to lag behind all other major cities in the world.  The Provincial government and the Campania Region have done almost nothing in the past year in terms of identifying new landfills or building processing plants, but they blame the former Mayor, Rosa Russo Iervolino, for having done too little to implement a modern trash separation system to raise the level of recycling.  The former mayor, on the other hand, blamed the central and regional governments for not having provided necessary funds and assistance for improving recycling in Naples.  The new mayor, Luigi de Magistris, is fighting hard to obtain 8.25 million euro from the Campania Region for funding the door-to-door collection system, and, according to news reports, it appears that the president of the Region, Stefano Caldoro, might release the funds next week.

Leave a comment

Filed under Economy, Garbage crisis, Luigi de Magistris Mayor "for" Naples

Naples: Change is taking place bottom-up

CLEANAP and Friarielli Ribelli volunteers in Piazza Bellini, Naples, on 11 June 2011 (Photo by Maurizio Pannico)

Citizens are on the move

Anthony M. Quattrone

The election of Luigi de Magistris as new mayor of Naples on 31 May 2011 might be having an interesting effect on the participation of Neapolitans in improving their city through a bottom-up approach. Citizens appear to be on the move on several fronts. The Mayor had promised during the election campaign that he would have paid special attention to the points of view expressed by committees and movements, with the purpose of ensuring a higher level of democratic participation in the management of the city. Several committees and movements have taken the Mayor at his word and they have already engaged him through discussions and initiatives on the ground, not even leaving him time to complete the formation of his new city government, which will be announced on 13 June 2011.

A group of fifty citizens led by Rino De Martino, who manages the Treves International bookstore, cleaned up the portico in Piazza del Plebiscito (known as Largo di Palazzo prior to the invasion of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1860), cutting grass and picking up garbage under the colonnade of the San Francesco di Paola Basilica on 4 June 2011. A week later other citizens, led by a Facebook group called CLEANAP, (the group’s name comes from combining the English verb “to clean” with “Naples”, to form CLEANAP, which is pronounced like the English “clean up”) worked on Piazza Bellini, bringing it back to a spick-and-span condition, while a second group Friarielli Ribelli (“friarielli” refers to a local type of broccoli and “ribelli” means “rebels”) performed “guerilla gardening“, cutting weeds, taking care of the gardens, and planting flowers and plants in the same piazza.

Citizens are also on the move trying to get the city to put back into use equipment sitting in warehouses or simply made “inactive” through the lack of attention by city administrators and lazy citizens. Angelo Forgione of the V.A.N.T.O. movement (the acronym plays on the Italian word “pride”) is attempting to get the attention of the Mayor and city officials regarding a giant movie screen in Piazza del Plebiscito, whose existence is regularly forgotten every summer. The screen, which is placed underneath the pavement between two famous equestrian statues with the Bourbon kings of Naples, Charles III and Ferdinand IV, can be electronically raised and used for open air movies during the summer. Forgione claims that with a very small investment, the system can be brought back to life.

On the security front, citizens have been on the move giving examples that something is changing both in terms of breaking a code of silence that has too often allowed organized and petty crime to gain the upper hand, and in terms of demonstrating that the city is fundamentally inhabited by honest citizens. Since the election of the new Mayor, several criminals have been caught within a matter of hours after committing robberies against tourists or merchants. On 2 June 2011, a couple of thieves stole clothes in the fashionable Barbaro boutique in the central Galleria Umberto, injuring a shopkeeper. Six days later they were arrested. On 5 June 2011, several hours after that two British tourists were robbed near the Cathedral (il Duomo), the Carabinieri were able to identify and arrest the alleged criminal. On 8 June 2011, two criminals were arrested several hours after robbing an American woman, member of the military, in the Capodichino airport area.

On two different occasions during the last ten days, tourists have been pleasantly surprised that honest Neapolitans have returned valuables that they had misplaced or lost. In one case, a tourist from Florence lost, in the Port area, her wallet with over 500 Euros and credit cards and in another an Italian who lives abroad left his personal computer in a taxi cab. In both cases, all valuables were returned to the happy owners.

The death of American tourist Antonio Oscar Mendoza, who died on 27 May 2011, nine days after that two criminals injured him when snatching his Rolex in the Port area, has led many Neapolitans to become more sensitive to the damage done to the image of the city by organized and petty crime. The two alleged criminals accused of having caused the death of the American tourist have been arrested on 31 May 2011. The new Mayor, in a meeting with the American Consul General, Donald Moore, expressed his condolences for the death of the American tourist and discussed with the American official his ideas for making Naples a more secure place for citizens and visitors alike. Neapolitans have reacted to Mendoza’s death in different ways, to include the official request to the Mayor to name a street in the Port area in the honor of the slain tourist.

Now it is up to Luigi de Magistris, the new mayor, to keep up the momentum and to start implementing real change. Tomorrow he will announce his new city government.

Guerilla Gardening in Piazza Bellini – photographs from “La Repubblica”

CLEANAP photos on Facebook (must have a Facebook account)

6 Comments

Filed under Garbage crisis, Luigi de Magistris Mayor "for" Naples, Monuments, Organized crime

New Mayor invites Obama to Naples

Anthony M. Quattrone

Mayor of Naples, Luigi De Magistris (L), shakes hands with US Vice President Joe Biden during the visit to Capodichino U.S. Navy Base in Naples, Italy, on 04 June 2011. On Right President of Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro. (Photo SkyTg24)

The newly elected mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, has invited President Barack Obama to visit Naples.  The Mayor, who is a staunch supporter of the American president, is hopeful that a visit by Obama could be used as a milestone for the rebirth of the city, which has been plagued by waste disposal problems, violent and petty crime against citizens and tourists, and collusion between organized crime and politicians.
During the visit by American Vice President, Joe Biden, to the US Naval Support Activity in Naples, Mayor de Magistris formalized his invitation to President Obama.  The Mayor stated that “I will work very hard for this event to take place – it is not an improvised matter, but something in which I firmly believe.  I believe that there are all the conditions for the visit to take place, but the timing needs to be verified.  I am an Obama supporter and I know that the States are very careful regarding the movement that has been created around my person.  There are analogies with what happened with Obama”.

The Neapolitan daily “Il Mattino” reported on 5 June 2011, that there will be a meeting next week between the Mayor and the American Consul General, Donald Moore.  According to the paper, the Consul stated that “we need to re-launch tourism, discuss the relationship between Naples and the United States, the relationship with the Neapolitan citizens who live in the United States, and the necessary commitment regarding security in light of what has happened very recently”.  The Consul was obviously referring to the violent death of an American tourist who died as a consequence of injuries received when robbers stole his Rolex watch downtown.

The President of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, also supports the idea of inviting President Obama. “Il Mattino” reports that discussions have already taken place with the Italian President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The objective would appear to be to create and international event or an Italy-USA bilateral meeting in Naples which would allow the city to benefit from major influx of public funds which could serve to bring it up to speed. Commentators are looking at the positive effect that the G7 had on the city in 1994, when President Bill Clinton and other international leaders were hosted by the city.  At that time, during Antonio Bassolino’s first term in office as mayor, the city underwent major refurbishing and restyling, leading many to label the period as a new Neapolitan renaissance.

While discussions proceed on getting Obama to visit the city, Luigi de Magistris is working on nominating his new city government.  His objective is to announce the names of the twelve department heads on 13 June 2011 .  Observers believe that the new government will include many technicians, a high number of women, relatively young persons, and it will be non-ideological. De Magistris will be relatively free from the influence of major political parties because he won defeating the candidates put forward by Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right and Pier Luigi Bersani’s center-left.   His most daunting task is to rid the city of tons of garbage before the high heat of the summer leads the disposal problem to become a major sanitary issue.

More photos from SkyTg24 of Vice President Joe Biden with US troops and with the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris

More photos from “La Repubblica” of Vice President Joe Biden with US troops and with the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris

10 Comments

Filed under Elections, Garbage crisis, Luigi de Magistris Mayor "for" Naples, Political parties

Naples has a new mayor: Luigi de Magistris

Anthony M. Quattrone

Official campaign poster: Luigi de Magistris Mayor "for" Naples

New mayor wins with 65% of vote

A former magistrate, Luigi de Magistris, is the new mayor of Naples. He has been elected today during a runoff between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes during the first round held two weeks ago. He defeated Gianni Lettieri, an entrepreneur representing a center right coalition supported by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The new mayor is a member of the European Parliament where he is the Chair of the Budgetary Control Committee. He was elected in 2009 representing the Italia dei Valori (Italy of Values) party, which is affiliated with the Alliance of Democrats and Liberals for Europe formation in the European Parliament.

De Magistris is a 43 old native of Naples. He is married to the former Maria Teresa Dolce and has two sons. He became a public prosecutor in 1995, with assignments in Naples from 1998 to 2002, and as deputy public prosecutor in Catanzaro, Italy, from 2002 to 2009. He entered the European Parliament as the second most voted Italian politician after Silvio Berlusconi. During the course of his career as public prosecutor, his investigations have frequently run into political roadblocks leading to his transfer and attempt to subject him to internal disciplinary measures. One of his investigations caused serious controversy leading to the resignation of Clemente Mastella, the Italian Minister of Justice, in 2008, causing the fall of the center-left government led by Romano Prodi.

Luigi de Magistris decided to run for the seat of mayor of Naples after that the center left primaries were cancelled last January due to alleged irregularities on the part of supporters of the very influential politician Antonio Bassolino, an ex-communist former mayor of Naples and former governor of the Campania Region. De Magistris announced his candidacy for mayor in February and he was supported by a coalition of three parties, his own Italia dei Valori, the Federation of the Left, and the relatively new Partito del Sud (Party of the South). A citizens’ list also, “Napoli è tua” (Naples is yours) supported him.

During the two-round runoff competition, Luigi de Magistris obtained approximately 28 percent of the vote, second to Gianni Lettieri with approximately 38 percent. The candidate of the center left, Mario Morcone scored slightly below 20 percent and the candidate for the center, Professor Raimondo Paquino scored approximately 9 percent. During the negotiations between the different coalitions, De Magistris refused an official agreement with the center-left, but appealed to their electorate. He also courted in public Paquino, obtaining his informal support. In the end, he was able to muster enough support to win with a striking 65 percent against 35 for his opponent, Lettieri.

De Magistris ran on a law and order platform, combined with proposals for re-launching Naples as a major European capital, ridding it of garbage and creating the premises for major investments. His electorate includes citizens of the whole political spectrum ranging from the far left to conservatives concerned with ramping insecurity and disorder. De Magistris will be able to count on a very solid majority in City Hall where at least 32 council members out of 48 will support his program, and another 4 will be neutral. The center right opposition will be able to count on only 12 votes.

Now de Magistris will need to immediately deliver on his promise to rid the city of garbage and to implement modern waste collection and disposal systems in line with the high environmental standards that he and his coalition have advocated during the election campaign.

17 Comments

Filed under Elections, Garbage crisis, Luigi de Magistris Mayor "for" Naples, Political parties