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.