Council of State suspends sentence on super-museums

published today in the Italian Insider.

 

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Council of State suspends sentence on super-museums

By Florence Brock

NAPLES – The five suspended super-museum directors can breathe a sigh of relief as the Council of State suspended the sentence ruled by the Regional Administrative Tribunal (TAR), in May that forced five super-museum directors to step down.

After raging over the ruling, Dario Franceshini, Minister of Culture Heritage, swore to bring the fight to the Council of State in appeal.

Assuring that every aspect of the selection process was conducted according to the law, Franceschini’s infuriated reaction to the May 24 sentence was prompt.

“We are going to file for appeal in Council of State immediately,” he thundered. “I’m seriously worried about the way Italy is going to look in the eyes of the world and for the practical consequences this will cause because, as of today, several museums no longer have a director.”

And so he did.

While the president of the sixth section of the Council of State Luigi Maruotti rejected the Cultural Heritage Minister’s request to freeze the two TAR sentences blocking the museum nominations with two monocratic decrees just a week later, he set the closed council member session discussion for June 15 that decided, in turn, to suspend the TAR ruling.

The press release from Palazzo Spada reads: “considering the lack of prejudice for the plaintiffs who were victorious in the first degree and in possession of positions they continue to hold, the Council of State has called for a precautionary measure that lets them return to their functions while awaiting the definitive verdict.”

The Council of State has now set the public hearing later this year on October 26. On that date, with open doors, the court will definitively discuss the legitimacy of the nominations.

In the meantime, it’s back to work for the museum managers.

Apparently, after short-listing candidates according to titles and merit, the criteria of interview evaluation has been put into discussion. The judges have questioned both the process in the conduction of behind closed-door interviews and in the participation of foreigners for the aspired positions. The administrative court has ruled that there were not the right conditions to extend the public job advertisement and include international candidates.

As the dual between magistrates and the government rages on, PD Prime Minister at the time, Matteo Renzi, was equally quick to defend his government’s 2015 reform deemed as revolutionary by many.

“The fact that TAR Lazio annuls our decision merits institutional respect for the administrative justice system, yet it once again confirms that we can no longer be a Republic founded on ‘finding the needle in the hay stack’ and on petitions,” he wrote on Facebook after hearing the administrative tribunal verdict.

“We have not made a mistake in trying to change museums; we have made a mistake because we have tried to change the TAR system,” he added.

Deposited by TAR Lazio, the administrative sentence involves 5 museum directors: Estense Gallery of Modena (director: Martina Bagnoli), (MarTa) National Archaeological Museum of Taranto (Eva Degl’Innocenti), National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria (Carmelo Malacrino), (MANN)National Archaeological Museum of Naples (Paolo Giulierini), Palazzo Ducale of Mantova (Peter Assmann).

Those unaffected by last month’s TAR Lazio ruling are: The Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt as is Cecile Holberg of the Accademia Gallery of Florence. Tar Lazio rejected the case against them and their professional position due to the fact that the plaintiff “could not demonstrate the illegitimacy of their omission.”

The suspension led to euphoric reaction by the directors involved. “I’m incredibly happy to be returning to work at the service of Mibact, at MANN of Naples”. Once again occupying her position at MarTa di Taranto, Eva Degli Innocenti, thanks the southern city that “has stayed closely by my side; it has shown they believe in our project by highly supporting the museum. For me, this has been the greatest victory.” She goes on to say: “ we are forging ahead now and we will see how the question develops. I really do hope that we can go on working, especially in defence of public service which I firmly believe.”

Council of State to discuss super-museum rulings

published earlier today in the Italian Insider.

 

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Council of State to discuss super-museum rulings

By Florence Brock

 

NAPLES – The day of truth has come in which the five suspended super-museum directors find out whether or not they can continue their work in Italian museums.
After the Regional Administrative Tribunal (TAR) in Lazio ruled to suspend five museum directors in May, the rage of Dario Franceshini, Minister of Culture Heritage, has brought the fight to the Council of State.
Assuring that every aspect of the selection process was conducted according to the law, Franceschini’s infuriated reaction to the May 24 sentence was prompt. “We are going to file for appeal in Council of State immediately,” he thundered. “I’m seriously worried about the way Italy is going to look in the eyes of the world and for the practical consequences this will cause because, as of today, several museums no longer have a director.”
And so he did.
While the president of the sixth section of the Council of State Luigi Maruotti rejected the Cultural Heritage Minister’s request to freeze the two TAR sentences blocking the museum nominations with two monocratic decrees just a week later, he set the closed council member session discussion for June 15.
Apparently, after short-listing candidates according to titles and merit, the criteria of interview evaluation has been put into discussion. The judges have questioned both the process in the conduction of behind closed-door interviews and in the participation of foreigners for the aspired positions. The administrative court has ruled that there were not the right conditions to extend the public job advertisement and include international candidates.
As the dual between magistrates and the government rages on, PD Prime Minister at the time, Matteo Renzi, was equally quick to defend his government’s 2015 reform deemed as revolutionary by many.
“The fact that TAR Lazio annuls our decision merits institutional respect for the administrative justice system, yet it once again confirms that we can no longer be a Republic founded on ‘finding the needle in the hay stack’ and on petitions,” he wrote on Facebook after hearing the administrative tribunal verdict.
“We have not made a mistake in trying to change museums; we have made a mistake because we have tried to change the TAR system,” he added.

 

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Deposited by TAR Lazio, the administrative sentence involves 5 museum directors: Estense Gallery of Modena (director: Martina Bagnoli), the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto (Eva Degl’Innocenti), National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria (Carmelo Malacrino), National Archaeological Museum of Naples (Paolo Giulierini), Palazzo Ducale of Mantova (Peter Assmann).
Those unaffected by last month’s TAR Lazio ruling are: The Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt as is Cecile Holberg of the Accademia Gallery of Florence. Tar Lazio rejected the case against them and their professional position due to the fact that the plaintiff “could not demonstrate the illegitimacy of their omission.”

Task Force dispatched to ant infested hospital

Published earlier today on the Italian Insider.

 

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Task Force dispatched to ant infested hospital

By, Florence Brock 

 

NAPLES – A shocking image in the General Medicine ward at San Paolo Hospital Naples made its way to the Minister of Health Beatrice Lorenzin Tuesday, resulting in immediate Military Police for Public Health (NAS) intervention and the opening of a national Task Force investigation.

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Covered in ants. That is how a patient hospitalized at the Naples’ public hospital was captured on film and disseminated instantly throughout Italian media.
In a place where sterilized environment in hospitals should be at the base of decent healthcare, there is an ant war going on. “Mine is the bed closest to the window and, even with a post-operative wound, I couldn’t stay in bed last night. I had to get up because there were ants in my sheets,” says hospital patient Giuseppe I. age 73. “Unfortunately, the battle against these insects has been going on for days,” another patient confirms: “ The ants come especially when the sun goes down.” Those were the words published on Il Mattino, not this week, but almost five years ago.
Hospital Health Director at the time, Fiorella Cito, responded to the warning by personally going to the public structure.
“I have seen the situation room by room, bathroom by bathroom and I have even visited the external grounds and I am providing for massive intervention that has already shown positive results. The important thing to emphasize is that the situation is not due to shortcomings, hygiene or cleanliness. I have requested for fumigation in order to solve the problem radically.” Her statement was pronounced on September 8, 2012.
Five years later, the war forges ahead.
The NAS military police and inspectors from the ministerial task force went to work Tuesday for hours in San Paolo Hospital offices. With most of the day meticulously spent trying to understand how such an unbelievable thing could happen, authorities tried to figure out who could be responsible for the episode.
“It has come to my attention that there is internal work underway on the ward and bedsheets infested with ants were thereafter found in a storeroom,” declares Minister Lorenzin.
Newly appointed hospital Health Director Vito Rago has already ordered for the first clean-up intervention. During the morning, labourers were already hard at work, cleaning flowerbeds in front of the hospital entrance. The director equally promised for the pruning of uncultivated trees towering over patients’ windows as with the serious clean up of all the green areas.
As Rago announces an internal investigation for the attribution of responsibility due to the ant invasion, he says: “ I am trying to eradicate this ant phenomena that, I have been told, has been causing problems for years and that must never manifest itself again.”
The episode has led to many comments including leader of the LEGA party Matteo Salvini who states: “anyone who speculates on the ill should be behind bars for quite a long time. I hope the culprit responsible for leaving ants crawling around will be fired immediately,” he concludes.
For the Mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris, it has to do with “ something that is absolutely unacceptable, in comprehensible and serious,” that necessitates less propaganda and better-spent public funds and resources.
Met with criticism in the management of regional public health, Governor Vincenzo de Luca personally visited the hospital accompanied by the Regional Health inspection unit. “The ward is clean. There had been some work done on the oxygen system and we currently have a problem with trees because the long branches reach the patient’s balconies.” In reference to the ants, he points out: “I have been told that problems like this arise when patients are fed intravenously with sacks rich of glucose and sugar. Besides this episode, Campania Health system is a disaster. We have been working breathlessly for it to return to a state of excellence. For too many years, it has been penalised by petty politicians, polluted by delinquents, Camorra and speculators of all kinds,” he explains.

Administering Naples: a dream or a utopia?

 

Published earlier today in the Italian Insider.

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Administering Naples: a dream or a utopia?

By Florence Brock

 

NAPLES – ‘Administrating Naples: a dream or a utopia?’ is the theme of the debate that took place Monday with a historical-political discussion involving Antonio Bassolino, Paolo Cirino Pomicino and journalist Roberto Race at Fondazione Valenzi located in Maschio Angioino.
Chaired by the Foundation’s founder and daughter Lucia Valenzi, the debate was led by analysis from Luigi Musella, author of the book “Napoli nel racconto della politica (1945-1997)” (Naples Within the Story of Politics (1945-1997)).
Published by Carocci Editors, the book covers the experiences of the Parthenope city and its administrations from the early years of Achille Lauro to the dominant Demo-Christian figure of Antonio Gava, followed by the first communist mayor Maurizio Valenzi and arriving to the first period of Antonio Bassolino, with particular focus on the media perspective of that part of history.
With a hot question burning panel members, veterans at having participated in local and national government for a total of almost half a century, the tough-to-answer central question meets with continuous reference to Maurizio Valenzi, former brilliant far left-wing mayor who administered the metropolis during the 70’s, in a delicate moment for the city.
“Historians should wait a hundred years before coming to conclusions about a political period,” stated Cirino Pomicino, knowing that Varenzi’s term has been met with criticism. “We love Naples, but it hurts to see it reduced in this state,” he goes on to say. “During the Valenzi administration, people used to say that, at a level of national importance, after the Senate and House of Representatives, came the City Council of Naples, as it was considered a place of real political confrontation between Demo-Christians and the Italian Communist Party (PCI).”
During the turbulent time Valenzi was mayor, he brought the city through years of terrorism and the traumatic Irpinia earthquake that left nearly 300,000 dead, wounded or homeless.
As a resilient part of the communist movement, the Tunisian born Jew originally from Livorno, was sent to Naples after World War II by the PCI, working alongside comrades such as Mario Palermo and former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.
Turning to the current political arena and the outcome of last weekend’s administrative elections held in more than 45 towns, Cirino Pomicino did not hesitate to give his opinion. With Five-star Movement not making any of the 15 major town run-offs, many have been commenting that Grillo and his entourage have started their definitive decline. “People are deluded if they think that Grillo’s political walk has come to and end,” he admonishes those hastily jumping to misled conclusions.
“There’s a need for new ideas,” provokes Bassolino, directing his words towards Parthenope’s current mayor, Luigi de Magistris who has often bucked heads with the left-wing government leading Campania Region and the nation. “Instead, I see there’s a stagnant debate around very old ideas,” he goes on to criticise.
“You cannot set objectives if you do not have the right instruments,” interjects and jabs Cirino Pomicino. “Naples’ Bourgeoisie is not at the same level as other big European capitals.”
With venomous provocations for Naples current administration and leader, the stakes are high for De Magistris and his DemA party. Hopefully, citizens will not have to wait a century to understand the direction in which their city is going.

North-South high-speed train hub inaugurates in Afragola

Published Monday in the Italian Insider.

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North-South high-speed train hub inaugurates in Afragola

By Florence Brock

NAPLES – As the south of Italy gets ready to inaugurate its new high-speed train hub the first week of June, many are concerned about a station sceptics have coined ‘a castle in the desert’.
As the last project designed before her sudden death last year, British-Iraqi award-winning architect Zaha Hadid has undoubtedly produced another avant-garde breathtaking masterpiece.

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Described by CNN reporter Kate Springer as “a high speed station destined to redefine the way people travel by train, with its white sculptured facades similar to a snake,” it has already been deemed as the most beautiful architectural work in 2017, drawing international attention.
Cement, metal and glass form its central body. It’s wonderful sinuous structure rises to railroad tracks 350 metres long making up an extended pedestrian gallery that gives way to train platforms. With a future commercial area to be located on the top floor, surroundings to include an extraordinary natural and technological park, the premises will boast bright illumination thanks to a 5,000 square metered solar powered skylight.
While the beauty of the station is undeniable, a practical question arises: was this 60 million Euro investment necessary in such an off-hand location when Napoli Centrale already exists?
Everyday, 36 trains will transit through the Campania hub junction: 18 heading towards North and the other half going South. With high-speed service already available at the nearby central city station, many fear the impossibility of creating efficient synergy between the two stations.
“The June 6 inauguration is the coronation of four years of hard work that pushed forward Zaha Hadid’s final design project to a completion,” announced Mayor of Afragola Domenico Tuccillo confirming a punctual grand opening.
In reality, the audacious project started far back in 2003 but was then driven to a halt, leaving many sceptical about ever really finalising the revolutionary station.
With the project’s revival attributed to Tuccillo’s administration that took office in 2013, “together with the government and the Campania Region we have offered a concrete answer to the inertia of the passed years,” continues the mayor, “obtaining Pact for Campania financing for the connection between the station and the Naples metro. This station has always been one of my top priorities and, with great satisfaction today it is transformed in an opportunity for growth and development for the large metropolis area, where Afragola becomes a candidate for the a role as a forerunner in the re-launching of Campania and the entire south,” he explains.
“Our timetable has been respected and the grand opening ceremony has been confirmed for June 6,” reiterates Engineer Maurizio Gentile, Managing Director and General Director of Italian Railway Network (RFI) after asserting that the Afragola station has passed inspection. “With the presence of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, the Afragola hub will officially open its doors and welcome a first operative phase,” he explains. “Then, from June 11, with new hours, trains are going to stop here: in all there will be 36 trains, both from Trenitalia and NTV; we will be connecting Afragola to all the cities served by the high speed system, even Reggio Calabria,” he concludes in response to the great concern surrounding the real importance of the station often nick-named as a castle in the desert.
Located in an isolated area travellers and commuters are not used to, the future hinterland station has caused much discussion. “Afragola has a user potential that is quite extensive,” defends the Director, “that extends across several different provinces. I disagree with the preconceived pessimistic view of the new hub: let us let the train station start running and give the passengers a chance to get to know and discover its advantages and potential.”
Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, passengers have been rattling about potential disadvantages of rerouting trains to the new station and ending daily commuter trips to and from Rome in the hinterland, having to continue on to the Parthenope City by other means.
“Of the 36 trains, 32 of these will stop at both stations, with unvaried travel time from Napoli Centrale to Rome. Synergy is the key word here: the two stations serve complementary but different basins and territories,” reassures the engineer referring to the metropolitan station 20 kilometres away. So, the hub will not substitute Napoli Centrale nor inconvenience travellers by stopping in Afragola, forcing them to detour from their usual commute to the big metropolis. As Director Gentile emphasizes, the new station has surged to serve passengers who are currently forced to reach the big city when they really would prefer to leave from Afragola and head straight north or south.

Salerno braces for immigrants as Taormina closes ports for G-7

Published earlier today in the Italian Insider.

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Salerno braces for immigrants as Taormina closes ports for G-7

By Florence Brock

 

NAPLES – As the G-7 nears and spotlights are turned on in the city of Taormina for the upcoming world summit, the closure of Sicilian ports are likely to cause inconvenience for immigrants.

Already speculated days ago, officials have communicated that sea entry points to the Italian island are due to close for a minimum of 13 days as part of security measures.

Although the international meeting officially starts May 26, starting Monday May 22, all island ports will be off-limits and no boat will be allowed in the vicinity.

As indicated by the head of police Franco Gabrielli in an issued police directive, authorities must furnish protection for the heads of state that will participate in the two-day summit. Therefore, incoming ships carrying migrants from the already overcrowded Mediterranean Sea will thus be forced to dock elsewhere.

While ports within the ‘G-7 security area’ will experience a complete lockdown next week, orders from the local perfect have already announced a broader directive, gradually limiting all port traffic starting May 15, stating that: “there has been a need identified for the gradual reduction of boat landings in Messina, starting Monday and a progressive effort to avoid trafficking the ports around the island.”

With the port of Salerno identified as a probable second alternative destination for re-routed migrant boats, after Reggio Calabria, intense weeks are likely to come for an already complicated situation surrounding refugees in the Salerno area.

Trying to prepare and face an unexpected number of migrants over the next days, all the people involved in welcoming activities have been busy with the reconnaissance of men and supplies. Volunteer groups and associations have also been rounding up clothes and essential items in case of need.

All immigration welcome services are getting ready to honourably aide the unknown waves of suffering people. Yet, one of the greatest worries that clouds the operation, is the possibility of having to house and take care of non-accompanied minors. With saturated social homes unable to host any more minors, other young people arriving could result in further malcontent and dissent for an area where just the City of Salerno itself already hosts around 300 asylum seekers.

The Campania area is not foreign to territorial turmoil for its high numbers of refugees. Just three months ago, Mayor of Benevento Clemente Mastella criticised his fellow administrator in Vitulano for refusing to host refugees in a letter to the Prefect, stating:

“More than 400 migrants (of which 60 are in the SPRAR system), are hosted on this territory which is notably higher than the agreed upon 2.5 people per 1000 inhabitants by the Anci-Ministry agreement,” he writes to solicit an ‘equal distribution’ of asylum seekers. “The situation could become explosive.”

 

Sicilian ports are to be reopened at midnight May 28th once all heads of state will have left the area.

Pisapia looks for consensus in Naples

Published earlier today in the Italian Insider.

 

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Pisapia looks for consensus in Naples

By Florence Brock

NAPLES- Former mayor of Milan Giuliano Pisapia debuts in Naples May 13th with ‘Campo Progressivo’ – Progressive Wing – and meets with the public.

Organised by Verdi – Green Party- led by Francesco Emilio Borrelli, the session is expected to bring together many disenchanted hearts from various Italian left-wing political parties and movements.
Born earlier this year by secessionists who left the PD- Democratic Party, and formed MDP – Democratic and Progressive Movement – whose motto defends the first article of the Italian constitution, the newly constituted group is curious to participate as is MecFond- a grassroots movement stemming from the Democratic Party.
Word has it that Pisapia may equally be meeting with former Campania governor Antonio Bassolino during his stay.
Fruit of arduous teamwork led by Borrelli, former president of the Province Dino Di Palma and Fiorella Zabatta, the rendezvous is scheduled to take place in the suggestive Sannazzaro Theatre at 17:30. “We have been among some of the first to adhere to Progressive Wing,” explains the Regional Councillor of Verdi. “We wanted an initiative where people listened rather than screamed in order to talk about politics. The meeting will be on a reversed-type of stage because Pisapia will be listening where the audience is seated and only at the end will be interviewed by Director of Il Mattino Alessandro Barbano. No one from the organization will intervene; this was done on purpose. Our project is aimed at the construction of a central-left with a gentile political approach.”
“In this period, we need to be able to listen and surely I will be at there at the confrontation with Pisapia,” explains Nicola Corrado from the Mecfond, a critical group that has been moving in and out of the Democratic Party around Andrea Cozzolino.
Moderated by Gianni Simeoli, locally renowned members of society such as tie shop owner Maurizio Marinella and pizzeria owner Gino Sorbillo will have a chance to speak as will Tonino Palmese from Libera and writer Pino Imperatore. Taking turns introducing themselves, each will present a local or national issue in the limelight. The idea is for right and left-wing supporters to listen to one another, contrasting the notion that North and South is in opposition, and perhaps even trying to solve some of the nation’s problems.
While the meeting becomes the cause for considerable curiosity on behalf of those disillusioned and disappointed, “speaking about political alliance at this point seems premature and absolutely useless, especially if Pisapia’s project is to be a central-left party with Renzi as Prime Minister,” emphasizes the General secretary of DemA- Autonomous Democracy Movement- Luigi De Magistris. “This would mean the same stale old wine that our political movement is not interested in because ours is a political, social, economic, and cultural alternative,” asserts the Mayor of Naples.
Admitting he has always had a good relationship with the former Milanese mayor, De Magistris makes it clear that DemA is “an experience that breaks away and thus is different. We are not interested in rebuilding old models and placing the country in the hands of those people who have mortified the constitutional values of this country; they do not represent the change needed,” he continues.
The rapidly growing movement leader does not however exclude the possibility of leaving a door open to Pisapia, explaining that: “dialogue is fundamental in democracy”.