Mayor of Bucharest Gabriela Firea was this morning shocked – shocked, we tell you – to discover that the centre of Bucharest is not quite as salubrious as it should be.
‘Calea Victoriei, Bulevardul Magheru and the Old Town are in a deplorable state,’ she said, adding that ‘as the city’s mayor I am ashamed and hereby tender my immediate resignation.’ OK, she didn’t actually say that last bit.
What she did say is that she has – as if by magic – already begun to contact property owners who have allowed their facades to deteriorate, reminding them that they are obliged to clean their windows and remove any graffiti. ‘We have begun to do our bit, cleaning streets and pavements and bus stops,’ Firea said. ‘We will also increase the number of bins in the Old Town.’
No mention was made of possibly the biggest blight on the Bucharest urban landscape: the huge outdoor ads which cover entire blocks (particularly on Magheru: click here for an example). Firea could, at a stroke, declare all such aberrations illegal given her personal majority on the city council. Do not hold your breath though. Today’s little show was not about making Bucharest look any better but about giving the idiots who vote for her the impression that she is doing something. ‘Oh look! Doamna Gabi has said the city should be cleaned up and was very angry with the people who should be doing it. What a wonderful mayor!’
Bollocks to that. It’s the oldest trick in the book, one still successfully employed by politicians the world over, especially in local government where individuals have direct control over such things as how cities look. We half expect Firea to appear on our screens tomorrow telling us how shocked she is that traffic in Bucharest is so bad, and how somebody really needs to do something about it.
PS Firea’s majority on the council is currently blocking the appointment of four new councillors. Back in December four USR councillors were elected to parliament as MPs, leaving four vacant council seats. Now, these should be filled by the next four USR candidates on the party’s list from the last council election (held in June of last year). However, before the four councillors can take their seats they have to be validated by the council. Unfortunately, Firea and the PSD-ALDE-PMP majority have so far refused the formal validation process to take place. At every council meeting since December it has been the last item of the agenda, only for Firea and her minions to leave before the issue can even be discussed.