The Daily Budget: A modest handout gratefully received, sort ofBy
Not long ago I outlined some of the elements in the Venetian municipal budget, especially the way in which the budget is always discussed to the basso continuo of keening and rending of garments (theirs, not mine). The city is broke, we have no money, no ghe xe schei, we’re going to have to go on the dole. Oh wait — we’re already on the dole (see: Special Law for Venice).
By now, Mayor Massimo Cacciari and his associates have acquired the habit of reminding the constituents that the coffers are bare; the search for cash anywhere was beginning to resemble one of those harrowing cinematic scenes of near-starvation where people start to kill each other over a piece of tree bark.
But good news!! The federal government (otherwise known as “Rome”) has just found another 50 million euros for the beleaguered most beautiful city in the world. Where? How? Why now and not earlier? These are futile questions and let’s not even bother asking them. The mayor’s response to the largesse: “It’s not enough, but it’s something.” (This is one phrase which does not sound better in Italian.)
Now that we’ve all savored that rush of joy and relief, let’s look at the fine print.
- The entire 50 million aren’t going straight into the city’s desiccated bank account. Thirty-five million are earmarked for assorted groups which are responsible for overseeing various aspects of the lagoon, and 15 million are going to the Veneto Region. That leaves 28 million for Venice itself.
Of course this news, like much of the preceding news, doesn’t resolve the problem; a large part of the funds allotted by the Special Law in recent years has been dedicated to the construction of the protective floodgates (MOSE) to prevent exceptional high water from entering the lagoon, i.e. Venice. In other words, too much has gone to too limited a purpose. Worthy though it may be. Which I and many others strongly doubt.
Predictably, the measured gratitude of the (left-leaning) mayor has attracted — as does his every thought, word, or deed — the scorn of the (right-leaning) President of the Veneto Region, Giancarlo Galan.
“I’m sure he (Cacciari) will say that the funds aren’t enough and that it’s all the fault of MOSE,” quoth he. “The Special Law for Venice is an inciucio [a word whose translation defeats me; it contains elements of scam, flimflam, scheme, entanglement of plans and plots and counterplans, sharp dealing, etc.] of the former social-activist regime which re-routed ‘special funds’ (hundreds and hundreds of billions of euros) from its primary objective, which was to confront high tide and environmental degradation of the lagoon, instead to the repaving of piazzas and sidewalks in Mestre and Marghera. It’s these disturbing remnants of aid-ism that cause me to urgently request the reform of the Special Law for Venice.”
I will let you know if anything truly interesting transpires from this parry-riposte, which is the only way they communicate with each other. If “communicate” is the right word.
So let us smile, because today we have 28 million more euros than we did yesterday. If I could say that about myself instead of about the city, you wouldn’t hear any snidery from me about anything. I’d be a walking compliment factory.