Monthly Archives: September 2010

Vesuvius National Park becoming garbage dump

Demonstrators clash with police

Anthony M. Quattrone

The political conflict that has developed within Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right coalition, which has been governing Italy since May 2008, has added a new level of complexity to the already difficult-to-resolve garbage crisis in Naples.  The public acrimony manifested by Berlusconi towards his former ally, Gianfranco Fini, and his followers, is having a ripple effect in Naples and Campania.  Mayors, presidents of provinces, and the president of the Campania Region, who belong to the same center-right coalition led by Berlusconi, are in conflict with each other, and, in many cases, are at odds with Rome.  The Berlusconi-Fini feud pits the Prime Minister against the President of the Chamber of Deputies, setting in motion a significant institutional crisis within the whole system of governance.  The institutional crisis could have not come at a worse time for Naples and the Campania Region.

Campania and most of the cities in the region do not have an integrated waste management system.  Most garbage ends up in landfills, with some refuse transported to Germany or Sicily, and very little is recycled, while very few incineration plants are operational.  The initial hope provided by Silvio Berlusconi’s promise to tackle the Naples garbage crisis in May 2008, as a priority activity of his newly elected government, has now dissipated as garbage reappears on the streets of the former Capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and as demonstrators clash with police units, protesting over the decision made by the government to dig a new landfill in the environmentally protected area on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.  

When Berlusconi took over two years ago, the streets of Naples were filled with mountains of garbage.  Within a few weeks, his government decided to open a new landfill in Chiaiano, which is a north-western suburb of Naples, with a population of about 23,000, causing very determined protests by the inhabitants.  The Italian government militarized the landfill and placed the streets leading to the landfill under heavy police guard.  A year later, during the night of 14 June 2009, the Italian government gave orders to begin using the landfill in Terzigno, a town located about 20 km east of Naples, inside the Vesuvius National Park, without giving the population any advance notice that the landfill was going to be used.  The reaction of the population was very strong, but the government promised to compensate the town with a payment of 20 million euro, which, over a year later, has not yet arrived.  In meantime, the government has now decided to open up a second landfill in Terzigno, causing extreme and justified anger on the part of the local population. Read whole article

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Garbage crisis explodes again

Anthony M. Quattrone

The garbage emergency in Naples has exploded again.  Tons of garbage is on the streets in many parts of the city due to a combination of problems dealing with the outsourcing of the collection system and how to dispose of the garbage collected.

On the garbage collection front, a decision made by Paolo Giacomelli, the Naples city councilor responsible for the environment, to redesign the town for the purpose of awarding garbage collection contracts, has led to major industrial action on the part of the workers currently employed to collect garbage, who fear that they will lose their jobs.

ASIA, a company that was formerly owned by the city of Naples, is responsible for collecting garbage in an area that covers little over than half of the city.  Currently, a company from Venice, Enerambiente, collects garbage in the rest of the city.  Giacomelli decided to split the latter area into five sections, not allowing any single company to be awarded more than two contracts.  Giacomella made the decision in order to reduce the power of any single company. The five sections, which account for a population of about 310 thousand inhabitants, have been awarded to three companies from northern Italy.  Two sections have been awarded to company from Savona, two to Enerambiente from Venice, and one to a company from Genoa. Read whole article

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Naples City Council sets bad example

Anthony M. Quattrone

During the past four years, the Naples City Council was scheduled to hold 135 sessions, but, 36 meetings had to be called off because there were not enough council members present for the session to be considered legal.  The Council was elected in May 2006, when the center left coalition headed by outgoing mayor, Rosa Russo Iervolino, won the elections reconfirming her for another five years, until April of 2011, when her mandate will expire.

On 21 September 2010, the president of the City Council, Leonardo Impegno, who is member of the center-left Democratic Party, had to make use of a loophole in city regulations, to allow the Council to stay operational.  The rule allows the president to reconvene a new meeting when the first one does not reach the minimum number of council members present, allowing the Council to deliberate even with the presence of 20% of the council members.  The Naples City Council is composed of 61 members—the loophole would allow a session to be considered valid with only 12 members, thus allowing a minority to deliberate on behalf of the Council.

The inefficiency of the Naples City Council has been exacerbated also by the constant but inexorable balkanization into splinter groups of the coalitions of center-right and center-left.  The Council now has 17 different political groups, with each group leader entitled to administrative and logistical support from and paid by City Hall.  According to Impegno, the City gives each group leader a mobile phone, commercial lines, three admin assistants, and office space, at no cost.  Additionally, 135 thousand euro are divided in 17 parts for each group leader, and another 135 thousand euro are divided proportionally based on the number of council members belonging to each of the 17 groups.  The work of the City Council is quite inefficient also because the president is required to meet with group leaders to formulate the agenda of the items and issues to be discussed by the Council.

The meeting scheduled on 28 and 29 September 2010 will probably see a full house, because the budget will be discussed.  In this case, should the Council not meet the necessary quorum to make the meeting legal, that is, 50%, the minister of the Interior will automatically disband the Council.  In this case, the city government would be assigned to a commissioner reporting directly to the national government, and all of the elected officials would be sent home.  Observers are of the opinion that the City Council Members will probably make sure that the minimum quorum will be met in the budget meeting in order to not lose the remuneration and fringe benefits that are currently receiving.

The judgment of the Neapolitan press is particularly severe regarding the behaviour of the City Council members because Naples needs leadership and proper decision making in tackling the many emergencies facing the city.  The bad example set by many of the members of the City Council is disheartening.

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Italian minister defines Naples and the south as a cancer

Renato Brunetta, Minister of Public Administration and Innovation

Anthony M. Quattrone

The debate is continuing in Naples regarding the statements made by Renato Brunetta, Minister of Public Administration and Innovation, in an interview published by “Il Giornale” on 11 September 2010.  Brunetta stated that “if we did not have Calabria and the general metropolitan area of Naples-Caserta, or, better, if these areas had the same standards as the rest of the Nation, Italy would be the first in Europe.  The Naples-Caserta area is a social and cultural cancer.  It is an ethical cancer, where the State is not present, where there is no politics, where there is no society”.

There were many reactions to Brunetta’s statements from the Neapolitan intelligentsia.  Dozens of articles have appeared in the press and a very lively debate has taken place on the Internet, with hundreds of comments on Facebook and in the local blogs.

The bishop emeritus of Acerra, a town 20 kilometers northeast of Naples, Antonio Riboldi, stated that “Brunetta should be less reckless when expressing his opinions.  Blustering is not needed — it is necessary to know what one is talking about.  He needs to be more balanced when expressing his views.  Poverty in the South is not the fault of the people of the South, but it is due to the lack of investments, the lack of employment.”

Stefano Caldoro, president of the Campania Region and a member of  Brunetta’s political party, reacted to the minister’s comments stating that “he is wrong when he speaks only of the disease, without indicating the therapy to cure it. Campania and the south are ready to rise again, but they seek a type of federalism without tricks”.   According to Caldoro, “Brunetta, as a professor and economist, has formulated a correct diagnosis, which takes into consideration a set of irrefutable economic data.  In his role as minister, however, he makes a mistake because it is the responsibility of leaders to provide solutions to the problem.  Otherwise, his analysis is insufficient and dangerous, because it lends itself to support the belief that nothing can be done to change the status quo.”

Umberto Ranieri, member of the Democratic Party and a potential candidate for mayor of Naples in the elections that will take place next spring, is critical of Brunetta’s style, but, with respect to the content, he appeared to accept the criticism, stating that the “leadership of the south should perform self-criticism.”  In the past, leftist commentators, such as Giorgio Bocca, and politicians, such as Enrico Letta of the Democratic Party, had also expressed concerns regarding the ethics of the southern leadership.

The representatives of various Southern movements have also reacted to Brunetta’s statements. Read the whole article

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