Mayor to reshuffle executive amid alarm at Rome's state

Pressure rising on Marino to sort out capital or quit

(ANSA) - Rome, July 27 - Beleaguered Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino was expected to shuffle his council executive on Tuesday amid intense pressure coming not only from city residents but from across Italy and even internationally.
    Even as Marino announced plans to fix Rome's chronically dysfunctional public transport system, including firing managers last Friday, Italian newspapers were filled with headlines of the capital city's decline coming from such publications as The New York Times.
    Last week, it listed the many problems from unkempt public parks to strikes by transport workers and the so-called Mafia Capitale investigation into alleged infiltration by criminal organisations into contracts in the city.
    The Times reported that many Rome residents and commentators credited Marino for his honesty, but registered frustration that he was not getting more done.
    On Monday Valeria Fedeli, Senate deputy speaker, said the clock was ticking for Marino to take serious measures to clean up Rome.
    "It is unclear (why Rome) cannot be as clean as other European capitals," Fedeli, a member of Marino's centre-left Democratic Party (PD), told RAI.
    "Marino has 24 hours to present a team and decide the program quickly to solve Rome's problems". As he prepared to shuffle Rome's council and replace three councillors, Marino was consulting with Matteo Orfini, chairman of the PD which is led by Premier Matteo Renzi.
    Orfini was named commissioner for the PD's Rome branch earlier this year amid the Mafia Capitale scandal.
    Marino announced last Friday he would replace the board of directors at the publicly held ATAC transportation company, and would fire managers under whose watch the city's transport system has degenerated into chaos.
    His next move was to ask councillor for transportation Guido Improta to step down.
    "An immediate change of direction is needed," the mayor said at the time.
    As well, the councillor responsible for budgets, Silvia Scozzese, resigned as did Luigi Nieri, who had been deputy mayor.
    Sources said that the shortlist of eligible candidates for the post of new councillor for transportation included women such as Anna Donati, former councillor for transportation in Bologna and in Naples.
    Meanwhile, Marino told the city's budget committee Monday that he was seeking national government help to update Rome's crumbling subway system.
    Metro lines A and B have long needed new rail lines, with 58.3 million euros budgeted to begin replacements between 2015 to 2017, he said.
    But replacing aged infrastructure "has a major cost and (senior) government participation would be necessary," Marino added.
    On the crumbling ATAC transportation service overall, Marino said change was essential to avoid throwing good money after bad, adding he had been meeting with Lazio Governor Nicola Zingaretti about the system's future.
    "It is never intelligent to give a blood transfusion if there is no chance of recovery," said Marino, a transplant surgeon.
    "I think it is important to search for a private partner to manage (Rome's) metro, tram and bus system," he said. Still, about 178 million euros have been allocated in the 2015 city budget for the recapitalization of ATAC.
    At the same time, Marino said the city administration is finally get a grip on its accounting, slashing fiscal emergency spending by 97%.
    Rome's administration has also "cleaned up" its budget process, applying "rigour and seriousness," he said.


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