Getting away from Rome from time to time is a must if you want to hold on to your sanity. You usually get back in a far lighter mood and tend to actually believe things will really change one day. Reality sets in quickly.
In what was a pretty reckless gamble, Romans voted in a new mayor last June and expected her grassroots “new” party to start cleaning up municipal ills with what was mostly wishful thinking, and no relevant prior experience.
Running a complex metropolis such as this one without any kind of track record, just on the basis of political theories and slogans was doomed to be bumpy, however well-meaning their intentions. Not surprisingly, vaguely catty – the three main competing lobbies appear to be headed by women- party infighting started almost immediately, with added disagreements regarding the higher pay necessary to lure a number of very needed high-profile experts to join her team.
In a nutshell, after the days and days of garbage removal strikes in the smelly sweltering heat of summer, media have moved on to filling local news with pictures of the mayor’s visits to main city sites, with tales of municipal haggling as an afterthought.
There were also an unusual number of large fires in various city parks in the last few weeks, causes unknown. Besides, I read the bizarre news that Ms Mayor informed the press she suffers from cellulite – pre-empting their photos of her mini-skirted legs during a conference.
On a more serious note, she made good on her election promise to withdraw Rome’s candidacy for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The whole issue of holding Olympics is highly debatable, yet consensus is that her team and party are aware they’re amateurs at the game, and petrified at realizing just how arduous simple day-to-day city corruption cleanup is going to be. Let alone revamping the bureaucracy. Thus their choice to withdraw, whatever possible benefits holding Olympics could have turned out to provide for the city.
Further disruption will follow from the resignations of five members of the new municipal management team, and the lady who was put in charge of garbage issues is in danger of being formally charged with prior misdeeds. Moreover, the heads of both the municipal transit authority and the garbage disposal company have decided to leave too.
So just about everything’s on hold, including an urgently needed overhaul of zoning and real estate laws, and thousands of would-be apartment sellers and buyers are wondering if the only way to go is the age-old … “unofficial” market way… ?
Not surprisingly, the stand-up comedian-turned-politician who launched the “new” party is keeping a low profile and avoiding the Rome political scene.
I always wonder at the fairy-tale vision people have of Rome from abroad. I’m actually in the USA right now, observing the disarray from a distance …
Summer in Rome 2016 (Spanish Steps and Rome garbage), porch in the USA: ©14thcountry.com; legs: http://www.wikihow.com; Roma logo: www-comune-roma-it.png;