A new Mayor for Naples

The need of competent people, not only motivated but "passionate" about the city and its rebirth

It was foreseeable that the thousand problems of Naples would fall on him like a tornado on the new mayor Manfredi. What else could be expected after ten years of absence of government? Or rather, the government of the exaltation of the magnificent conditions of the city? While the Neapolitans, resigned to hard work, walked among the waste and stumbled on uneven streets and sidewalks. Or they were standing still, in the car due to traffic, or waiting for ghost buses or beautiful and damned subway trains. Not to mention the garbage-clogged manholes, which we hope will now be unclogged as soon as possible in view of probable tropical hurricanes.

It was also foreseeable that the new mayor, after the good wishes and hosannas of the first day, would be the object of criticism to which, in democracy, citizens and media rightly subject every decision of those who govern.Perhaps now he takes this into account, after ten years of indifference. It was unpredictable that the new mayo Manfredi, as soon as he set foot in the decay of, the Town Hall Building, Palazzo San Giacomo, would also be criticized for how he started the engines of a rusty and ramshackle car, without the essential pieces of normal operation: human and financial resources.

Administering Naples is not like administering Milan or Bologna (not Swiss or Northern European cities), where at least the bureaucracy and services work. It has been said over and over that a single manager is not enough to administer Napoli. In addition to the decisive civic shock of individual citizens, we need the right people in the right places.

Competent people, not only motivated but "passionate" about the city and its rebirth. Because, without a romantic passion, the emolument of mayor and councilors (modest but perhaps increasing) does not encourage authoritative personalities (entrepreneurs, managers, teachers, professionals, etc.) to abandon remunerative commitments to devote themselves totally to an activity that in a disastrous city does not even leave time to breathe. It is therefore difficult to form a close-knit team of competent and passionate people willing to support the mayor in the superhuman adventure.

Proof of Manfredi's seriousness, therefore, is the decision not to immediately distribute all the proxies, reserving the right to gradually assign them to new assessors over a suitable period of time. Of course, if the reason for this decision - as some hypothesize - were to seek the balance of appointments among the too many and varied members of the majority, much of the appreciation would fail. The alternative hypothesis is that Manfredi takes time not to apply the usual “Cencelli manual” but to understand the organizational needs and calmly evaluate the most suitable profiles, perhaps taking into account pragmatically (also) political equilibrium. We'll see.

Another decision by Manfredi, criticized prematurely, is that of not appointing the councilor for culture. He wants to take care of it personally. Director Enzo d'Errico has already commented on this, underlining among other things that the Department of Culture has passed from the second to the first line of departments. We can only add - recalling the instrumental use that the mayor De Magistris did of it , that it is difficult to find a counselor for a culture worthy of the name.

The usual abuse of the polyvalent term "culture" must certainly be avoided. It includes erudition (which constitutes its first stage), but it includes much more: from the historical and artistic heritage to the set of values, traditions and customs of a people's civilization. And the reality of Naples is characterized by singular stratifications, both historical-artistic and economic and socio-anthropological.

What then is the identikit of the councilor for culture in a city like Naples, where widespread illiteracy and severe school dropout coexist with the enormous amount of historical-artistic heritage and traditions (aristocratic, bourgeois and popular)? Does he have to be a manager (more or less educated) capable of organizing and managing cultural events of the most diverse nature? Or a writer and man of letters, an art historian, a philosopher, a musician, a character from the theater or cinema, etc.?  Precisely because of the transversality of the function, it is not surprising that for some time the mayor keeps the delegation for himself - with the help of very few councilors - in order to evaluate the quality of the people and give the address of the events to be programmed.

A difficult task if you want to ban mediocre and self-referential initiatives and want to bring Naples to Europe and the world and bring Europe and the world to Naples. But sooner or later, and without haste, Manfredi will have to choose a suitable personality to face this important sector. Which is strategic, together with tourism, and therefore needs a counselor with powers and responsibilities.

The mayor has too many things to do to be able to take care of everything. Naples has universities, museums, archives, libraries, art galleries, etc., where fortunately young and valuable people work. Between one headache and another, the mayor will certainly be able to choose a personality of recognized prestige suitable for the high and delicate function.

(Translation from Italian by Insight)

Mario Rusciano

Professore Emerito di Diritto del lavoro, Università di Napoli Federico II.

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