Monthly Archives: July 2011

Mayor: Foreign country to take Naples waste

Aerial view of the port of Naples - waste may soon be leaving Naples by sea (photo by Antonio Retaggio)

Anthony M. Quattrone

The transfer of garbage from Naples and other cities in Campania to other regions in Italy is encountering a myriad of administrative, political, and technical obstacles, and the streets of the city are once again covered with about 2,400 tons of garbage.

The first obstacle encountered by the new administration headed by mayor Luigi de Magistris was the decision taken by the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio on 31 May 2011, the day that the new mayor was elected, that the procedure adopted by the Campania Region in transferring garbage to a commercial firm, Italcave, in Puglia violated the agreements between the governments of Campania and Puglia.  In particular, authorities complained that trucks from Campania were not sealed and that they were dispersing leachate on the road and bad odor in the areas that they drove through.  The arrangements with Puglia were to take care of 45,000 tons of garbage, but due to the decision by the tribunal only 1,131 tons were delivered to the commercial firm.

In the meantime, the President of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, had asked the central government, headed by his political ally Silvio Berlusconi, to issue a special legislative decree slightly changing the laws in force to allow Campania to transfer to firms in other Italian regions waste that was properly shredded and screened.  On 12 July 2011, forty-two days after that the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio had decided to block transfers from Campania to Puglia, the Berlusconi government enacted a decree partially allowing the transfer of waste.  The decree, which requires the approval of Parliament within sixty days, is heavily opposed by the Northern League, who will fight it during the upcoming discussions in the House and the Senate.

Finally, there is some good news for the administration, because today the Council of State, which is a higher administrative tribunal, suspended the decision taken on 31 May 2011 by the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio which had blocked the transfer of waste from Campania to Puglia, thus allowing the transfer of all properly shredded and screened waste currently sitting in temporary depots in Naples to firms in other regions.  It is now expected that trucks will soon be leaving Naples and other cities in Campania to export waste that will be processed for a fee by commercial companies throughout Italy.  Current legislation, however, places on the governors of each Region the responsibility for authorizing commercial firms to import and process waste.

Mayor Luigi de Magistris has learned the hard way that technical solutions which appear to be within reach are hard to implement when there are interest groups putting up roadblocks at every corner.  Garbage separation and recycling is working in every area of the city where it has been implemented using the “door-to-door” model.  Prior to implementing separation and recycling city-wide, it is necessary to remove from the streets the garbage sitting there and to free up the temporary depots.  The Mayor has issued a fourth city order which provides for the opening of a new temporary depot which will provide the city with necessary relief.

De Magistris has also announced that by the end of this week the city will sign an agreement with a foreign country willing to take Neapolitan waste.  He expressed concern that there is constant sabotage against every action that the city is taking to rid the streets of garbage because special interests want to force him and his administration to agree to the construction of a new incineration plant in the eastern side of Naples and to digging additional dumps.  De Magistris stated that he would not publicize yet the terms of the agreement and the country involved because “as we go along with our plan to make Naples autonomous in terms of waste management, we have noted that processing plants come to a full stop, transfer of waste is reduced, and there is an attempt to create dissent among sanitation workers”.

Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Porto_di_Napoli_2005_0602.jpg?uselang=it#metadata

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Mayor de Magistris gets tough on security

Anthony M. Quattrone

The Mayor of Naples wants more video surveillance cameras downtown (photo from "Il Mattino" on line, 12 July 2011)

The new mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, who ran on a law-and-order platform during recent city elections, is pushing to increase the number of police video surveillance cameras in several locations in the city.  The Mayor wants more cameras downtown, especially in the main port and central train station areas, where tourists have been the subject of petty and violent crime over the past months.

The mayor met on 11 July 2011 with the Prefect of Naples, Andrea De Martino, at the prefecture government building in Naples to discuss the closed circuit TV system.  According to the Prefect, the main issue is not the installation of the cameras, but their maintenance.  There is a plan to add an additional 20 cameras to the ones already installed and connected to police headquarters.  The Mayor has announced that a feed from the state police closed circuit video surveillance system will now also reach municipal police headquarters. He has also told the Prefect that the city will seek funding from the Campania Region for the maintenance of the video surveillance system.

The mayor’s push, however, is encountering some difficulty due to the intricacies of the overall Italian police system, which is composed of different forces that, at times, get into each other’s way. The mayor, a former prosecutor, only controls municipal police, whose major mission is to direct traffic, enforce parking rules, and to ensure administrative compliance on the part of commercial activities.  The state police, who are under the control of the Ministry of the Interior, and the Carabinieri, who are part of the Ministry of Defense, perform overlapping duties with respect to security services in the city and, at times, also perform the duties of the municipal police.  The finance police, who are under the Minister of Economy and Finance, are responsible for dealing with financial crime and smuggling, but may be called to perform some of the same duties as the state police and the Carabinieri.

The Prefect, who is an official appointed by the central government, is responsible for providing security in the province under his control.  He must ensure that the activities of the Carabinieri, the state police, and the finance police are coordinated to the maximum extent possible to obtain best efficiency and to avoid misunderstandings between commanders and between units of the different security forces patrolling the territory.  The 11 July 2011 meeting between the Prefect and the Mayor will need to become a routine event if both parties are interested in providing the city with the highest level of security within existing budgetary limitations.

In Naples, municipal police have been the target of severe criticism due to their extreme tolerance of traffic and parking misbehavior on the part of particularly creative Neapolitan drivers who are notoriously allergic to traffic and parking rules and regulations.  On 1 July 2011, the mayor confirmed the appointment of the chief of municipal police, Colonel Luigi Sementa, on a fixed term contract for the next twelve months.  The mayor also announced that 106 new municipal cops had come into service and were already on the beat. The total municipal police force is now up to approximately 2,500, of which about two-thirds can be or are deployed to patrols.

The Mayor intends to use municipal police to increase the sense of security in the city on the part of citizens and tourists by increasing the number of policemen on patrols.  He also intends to have municipal police sanction violations with respect to waste management.  In particular, city police will be checking if commercial activities are respecting city deliberations regarding waste separation and the method and times for disposing of garbage.  Private citizens will also be subject to higher scrutiny on the part of city police, who will be on the lookout for the type of garbage placed on the streets and the time when citizens are dumping trash.

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Waste crisis: Naples snubbed by Northern League

Reaction by Naples Mayor engenders pride in citizenry to fight off racism from Northern League.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is flanked on his right by Stefano Calderoli, the outspoken Northern League minister who would like to use a flamethrower in Naples to resolve the garbage crisis, and on his left by the equally outspoken Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League and also a minister in the government. Both Calderoli and Bossi regularly make statements against the people of the south of Italy. (Photo from “Il Mattino” online, 3 July 2011).

Anthony M. Quattrone

The mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, is aiming at making Naples totally autonomous from the central government in terms of waste collection and management after that the Berlusconi government failed to come to the city’s help with an emergency decree which would have allowed Naples to export garbage to other regions.  In Italy, only special waste can be moved from one region to another, with the permission of the governor of each region, to be processed in specialized plants.  Ordinary waste cannot be transferred unless a special temporary decree is issued by the central government.  Naples needs a place to dump or process its garbage until the end of the year, when the door-to-door waste collection system and new compost sites are scheduled to be in place.

On 30 June 2011, the Berlusconi government issued a decree with numerous caveats which make the transfer of ordinary waste from Campania to other regions slow and difficult.  The decree also emphasized that all Neapolitan waste should be kept in southern Italian regions. The Berlusconi government was unable to approve a better decree because of the opposition of the Northern League ministers who hold the prime minister under check because their votes are needed to keep his government alive.

The Neapolitan daily, “Il Mattino” reported on 1 July 2011, criticism expressed by the Italian President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and by the Cardinal of Naples, Crescenzio Sepe.  The President noted that the decree basically fails to provide the city with tools to climb out of the trash emergency.  Cardinal Sepe stated that the decree offends the dignity of Naples and does not respect the rights of its citizens.  In an interview, Berlusconi defended himself stating that he does not hold the 51% of the seats in Parliament, so he must make compromises with the Northern League.  Racist comments from Northern League politicians and some journalists have abounded during the past days.  Stefano Calderoli, a Northern League minister, announced that he is willing to work on the problems in Naples by using a flamethrower, while journalist Oscar Giannino looks forward to an explosion on the part of Mount Vesuvius for Naples to become a civilized society.

Resentment in Naples against the Northern League has now reached its all-time peak, with several restaurants and stores placing notices that they refuse to serve members of the Northern League.  Several consumer groups sprung up over the Internet requesting followers to boycott northern Italian products and to “buy south”.  Even the moderate Stefano Caldoro, the President of the Campania Region and member of Berlusconi’s center right coalition, is looking for retaliatory measures against the north.  Caldoro is now seeking to conduct a special inventory regarding all toxic waste that Campania imports from the north of Italy.  The Party of the South, a small formation which is part of the original coalition that has supported Luigi de Magistris’ bid for mayor, concerned about the de facto alliance created between the Northern League and organized crime, has called for a “democratic presidium” to be formed, to include the national unions and the associations representing entrepreneurs to assist the Mayor in informing citizens on the way ahead and in getting their participation in resolving the crisis, bottom-up.  The Party has also called on the Mayor to seek the assistance of Cardinal Sepe to inform citizens through the Catholic Church’s parish system regarding what City Hall is asking all citizens to do.

In the 15 days since Luigi de Magistris has appointed his city government, Naples is well on the way to collecting remaining garbage on the streets, placing garbage in temporary transition sites. As of this morning, Naples has reduced garbage sitting on the ground from 2,500 tons to approximately 1,300, with the center of the city basically clean, while several neighborhoods in the periphery are still in critical condition and should be tackled over the next couple of days. Naples produces approximately 1250 tons per day.  The independent suburban towns of Pozzuoli, Quarto, and Giugliano are still submerged with garbage, and they were hoping that the governmental decree would also provide them with relief.  They are now looking for help from the Provincial Government president, Luigi Cesaro, who is a member of Belursconi’s political party, and from the governor of the Campania Region, Caldoro.

In Naples, the city-owned garbage collection company, Asia, is playing a major role in turning the situation around.  The mayor hired on 16 June 2011 a new president for the company, Raphael Rossi, a 35 year old expert in waste collection, processing, and recycling, who earned notoriety last year for refusing a very high bribe in Turin when he had opposed the purchase of useless waste processing equipment with tax payer’s money.  Rossi’s exemplary behavior led to the arrest of those involved in the scam.  The mayor has also has placed all garbage collection workers on 24-hour shifts and he has decided to recapitalize Asia with 43 million euro.  The influx of capital will be essential for ensuring that suppliers are paid and that the new door-to-door collection system will be in place in September for an additional 200 thousand citizens.  Currently, 146 thousand Neapolitans are served with door-to-door waste collection, and their neighborhoods have not suffered during the current garbage crises.

Mayor de Magistris, deputy mayor, Tommaso Sodano, Asia president Rossi, and Raffaele del Giudice, a very well known ecologist who currently serves as counselor with Asia, are constantly in the streets speaking with citizens and encouraging Asia workers in meeting objectives.  The mayor’s personal visit to one of the garbage truck dispatch centers at 6 a.m. on 28 June 2011 paid off with a renewed sense of direction and commitment on the part of the workers.  Del Giudice noted that the waste collection employees are working beyond the call of duty.  In several neighborhoods, citizens who are appreciating the new spirit displayed by the Asia workers have independently formed groups to assist the garbage collection workers with loading trucks with large size items.  In several parts of town, long lines have formed to dump recyclable items in the mobile ecological centers that have been dispatched throughout the city in those neighborhoods that are not yet covered by the door-to-door garbage collection system.

Mayor de Magistris and Governor Caldoro are in touch with six Regions that have expressed an interest in importing garbage from the Campania Region.  If agreements are made quickly, Naples and Campania will be able to implement garbage separation processes without needing to be concerned about mountains of garbage sitting on the streets in the heat of the summer.  If the agreements fail, or if the Northern League and organized crime are able to put up additional roadblocks, Naples and Campania will spend one of the worst summers in their history.

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