Tag Archives: Mayor of Naples

America’s Cup World Series in Naples – final countdown

Course map -- photo by ACEA
Click on photo for full size map.

Anthony M. Quattrone

Events are scheduled to take place from 11 through 15 April 2012

Naples is almost ready for the World Series of the America’s Cup. The water front road, Via Caracciolo, which is closed to traffic, is hosting the Village where the different sailing teams will be setting their headquarters. The whole downtown area is undergoing major traffic rerouting and the City is attempting to make last minutes repairs to pot holes and general asphalt maintenance.

The Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, appears to be quite satisfied with the general reaction of the population to the many restrictions imposed on traffic, but he and his team remain open to suggestions from different stakeholders who lament that certain policies have gone a little too far, causing a downturn in income for restaurants, pubs, and bars, especially during the evening hours.

Mayor de Magistris is experiencing a surge in popularity with almost 70 percent of the population approving his performance, making him the best-liked mayor in all of Italy. His sternness with respect to law and order coupled with his attention to the weaker segments of the population has allowed him to implement dramatic changes in everyday life of most Neapolitans, especially in the area of downtown living conditions.

The Mayor has decided that Via Caracciolo will remain closed to traffic also after the end of the World Series. His intention is to transform the waterfront into an area where citizens can enjoy a peaceful walk without any concern for vehicles, noise and bust from traffic.

The extension of the breakwaters in front of Via Caracciolo is well under way. The new breakwaters infrastructure is required to allow the AC World Series teams to safely launch and hoist the AC45 catamarans from flat water behind the protective barrier during the training and actual competition which will start on 11 April 2012.

Mayor de Magistris stated that “The city is getting ready to host the event in the best possible way. There is much enthusiasm and the desire to participate is palpable. I am sure that this event there is not going to be only a sporting event, but it will also be a flywheel for real development, from tourism to employment. The AC World Series will provide great visibility to the already exceptional setting of the waterfront of via Caracciolo. This event will allow us all to fully enjoy the beauty of the sea, of the beach and of the landscape of our city”.

The clock is ticking to the final countdown. Go Naples!

Click for more information from the AC World Series web site

Click for the schedule of events

Read also “Where it happens” published by the America’s Cup World Series staff

Information on Naples and what to visit

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Naples is becoming a laboratory for social innovation

Participatory democracy, bottom-up initiatives, and social innovation

Participatory democracy in action: Deputy Mayor Tommaso Sodano takes questions from citizens and listens to their proposals in an open-air assembly in Bagnoli on 29 July 2011.

Anthony M. Quattrone

The election of Luigi de Magistris on 31 May 2011 has coincided with a renewed sense of citizenship on the part of many Neapolitans who have become disheartened towards the political process.  During the latest rounds of local and national elections, Neapolitans have demonstrated their unhappiness by simply not going to vote or by voiding their ballot in the privacy of the poll booth.  The “non-vote party” has hovered in the 35 to 40 percent range reaching a enduring level of disaffection towards all political sides.  A famous Neapolitan actor, Beppe Barra, during a concert in support of the electoral campaign of Luigi de Magistris’ for the post of Mayor  bluntly warned the candidate on 13 May 2011: “Luigi, please don’t disappoint me!”  Many citizens in Naples feel that the election of Luigi de Magistris is a last-ditch bid to save whatever is left of the glorious capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, conquered by the North 150 years ago and annexed to the newly formed Italian state.  Some historical revisionist analysts feel that Neapolitans first became disillusioned by Italian politics exactly 150 years ago, when the Capital was downgraded to a mere province in the new Italian state, and the northern Italian conquerors made ill thought political agreements with members of organized crime, the Camorra, making them become the first police commissioners. Neapolitan disenchantment with politics and total distrust of politicians started with the unification of Italy and has basically persisted to this day.

However, with the election of Luigi de Magistris, Naples appears to have become a sort of laboratory for participatory democracy, bottom-up initiatives, and social innovation.  On the participatory democracy front, the new mayor has kept his promise, so far, to consult with stakeholders prior to implementing policies, with the intention of making citizens part of the decision making process.  De Magistris and members of his City Government have taken their policies to the street holding open air assemblies in several neighborhoods, where citizens were given the opportunity to put forward challenging questions and where the mayor and his team have been required to provide candid and straightforward answers. The Mayor has also made time at City Hall to receive social action groups and private citizens interested in providing him with their view on all aspects of governing the City.  De Magistris has stated that 90 percent of the meetings are about issues of general interest while only 10 percent pertain to “personal” matters.  He commented also that most of the meetings produce a wealth of raw information not readily available to City Government officials and, in many cases, citizens also provide reasonable solutions.  The deputy mayor, Tommaso Sodano, for example, held a fiery meeting with several hundred residents of the western neighborhood of Bagnoli, on 29 July 2011, to discuss several practical topics related to living conditions, such as getting more police on the streets, cleaning municipal gardens, picking up the garbage, improving the flow of traffic, and reducing noise at night caused by open air discotheques and hoards of kids roaming the streets.  Although the meeting, organized by the Assise Cittadina per Bagnoli (City Assembly for Bagnoli), was publicized only via leaflets and word of mouth, the participation was high.

Bottom-up initiatives keep flourishing in all neighborhoods.  Three groups that Naples Politics mentioned in a 12 June 2011 article in Naples Politics are still on the move and have not let up their work, receiving praise by citizens and attention in the media.  Two groups are directly involved in taking action to clean up neighborhoods and to take care of gardens, trees and plants.  CLEANAP (whose name comes from combining the English verb “to clean” with “Naples”, to form CLEANAP, which is pronounced like the English “clean up”) continues to tackle different squares and streets cleaning up monuments, scrubbing streets and walls, removing graffiti and garbage, while Friarielli Ribelli (“friarielli” refers to a local type of broccoli and “ribelli” means “rebels”) are involved in “guerilla gardening“, cutting weeds, taking care of the gardens, and planting flowers and plants.  Both groups have continued to make headlines by relentlessly going from one neighborhood to another attacking urban blight and degradation.  The third group, V.A.N.T.O, whose acronym stands for “pride”, is relentlessly documenting and denouncing damage and deterioration of monuments, churches, gardens and buildings in Naples, while indicating low cost methods for preventing future damage.  The leader of V.A.N.T.O, Angelo Forgione together with singer Eddy Napoli were received on 20 July 2011 by Mayor De Magistris who was particularly surprised by the documentation presented by the group and who promised to take get involved.

Naples is getting attention also from international promoters of social innovation.  The UniCredit Foundation, in collaboration with the European Network of Civil Society Leaders Euclid Network and Project Ahead has launched an international competition expiring on 10 August 2011 entitled “Social Innovation for Naples” in which social innovators from across the world are invited to offer innovative solutions to six problems encountered in the city of Naples.  According to a press release issued by the organizers, “Naples is the epitome of state and market failures, its recent history has been marred by a barrage of corruption and a culture that still does not believe in change. These on-going challenges provide the perfect test field for social innovation to move beyond being a ‘nice label’ and to having tangible impacts on the ground and demonstrating that the time for a new approach has arrived.”  According to the press release, the organizers “aim to succeed where all else has failed” and that they “are running a competition to attract the brightest and most creative minds from around the world which can solve selected challenges in Naples.”  The six problems or challenges identified by the organizers are: 1)  Turning a confiscated villa into a financially sustainable Social Business. 2) Making an abandoned Roman bath accessible and sustainable. 3) Creating a sustainable business plan for a volunteering organization. 4) Creating a sustainable business model for a nonprofit organization that works with school dropouts. 5) Creating an innovative new method for inclusion of the young Roma population. 6) Creating an innovative new method for recycling textiles sustainably.

An international panel of judges,  will select a winner for each of these fields of intervention who will receive a grant of €10,000 from UniCredit Foundation, and who, together with a previously identified local nonprofit organization, will turn the idea into a concrete program, drawing up an executive project and a business plan. The second phase of the initiative will consist of the assessment and possible implementation of the most effective projects.  More information for participating in the competition can be found at Naples 2.0 – International Social Innovation Competition.

The city of Naples is going through very interesting times with many citizens involved in participatory democracy, bottom-up initiatives, and social innovation. Neapolitan analysts, historians, politicians, and intellectuals are split between pessimists and optimists, with the former ready to bet that nothing will ever change in Naples, and the latter placing all their bets on the power of participatory democracy, bottom up initiatives, and social innovation. The Mayor and his team are with the optimists.

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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

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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.

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