Administering legality: the challenging job of a Mayor

What does Mafia actually mean?

There are symbolic places in Italy, municipalities that have been a symbol for two reasons: first for the Mafia, and then for redemption and rebirth. Among these we can mention Corleone, in Sicily, and Casal di Principe in Campania. Yet, these places are municipalities and territories requiring Administration. The most delicate and complex phase occurs when the media lights turn off. Before, there was the Camorra, while after, there is freedom. The assumption is that everything is in order, that the roads repair by themselves, that the services are excellent, and that separated waste collection is perfectly organised. However, the reality is quite distinct. To investigate what ‘the aftermath’ is, Renato Natale, Mayor of Casal di Principe, explains its daily routine of Administration. As a medical doctor (now retired), he founded the ‘Jerry Masslo’ Association with other colleagues at the end of the 1980s. As a Don Peppe Diana friend, he has been suffering various intimidations, which have never undermined his commitment.

What does it mean to administer a town like Casal di Principe? What is the main difficulty a mayor encounters in administering a symbolic town, rather than an ordinary one, both negatively and positively?

Prejudice is undoubtedly an issue: for most, Casal di Principe still means organised crime. From the very beginning, one of our goals has been to change the meaning of the term ‘casalese’ in the collective imagination. We have managed to do a lot, but even today, we sometimes face heavy and humiliating stereotypes, which are difficult to reverse. However, Casal di Principe has become, over the years, a symbol of redemption and resurgence. Many people try to understand how this change has been possible, as it sometimes seems to be an absolute miracle. The struggle to redeem one’s identity as a free community is now coupled with the effort to manage this new identity, make it develop, and make it increasingly full of significance and good practice. What is required is cultural action to intervene on awareness and restructure behavioural models and lifestyles: an effort that is as ambitious as necessary.

“Legality’ is a simple word to say, of immediate meaning. How does bureaucracy, the strict application of the law, become an obstacle to it? Is it a paradox to pose the issue in these terms?

“Legality’ is a difficult word to define. What does it mean? A set of established rules? A shared sense of justice? In reality like ours – where illegality corresponded to heavy criminal actions that substantially impacted the citizens’ everyday life – talking about legality meant for many years talking about freedom. Freedom from the oppression of the Camorra. Applying the laws of the democratic State has intended, in this way, re-establishing the principles of civil coexistence based on respect for people and a sense of community. But today, it can sometimes be challenging to reconcile the term legality with the term justice or the protection of rights. One example is the fight against illegal building. Here in Casal di Principe we have more than 2,000 unauthorised dwellings – about 150 have already been subjected to a final order entailing the demolition of the buildings, which are often primary residences inhabited by families who are also in distress. Here the economic and social costs and the human ones run the risk of being so severe that respect for legality is seen as a clear injustice, not as a way to return to civil life, but as the latest oppression of a despotic government. For about 30 years, we must remember how this city was dominated by one of Italy’s most powerful criminal clans. During those years, the only law to be respected was dictated by the bosses, who pursued their associates’ interests. Citizens were given no other guarantees, no other orientation, no other points of reference. It was the social climate in which the entire community of Casal di Principe lived for decades. It led to the growth of a town without rules or, instead, with ‘other’ laws.

Every wall, column or partition built meant money and wealth for the clans, who controlled the entire construction sector, from quarries to warehouses, from cement factories to the transport of materials and the construction companies themselves. The citizens were often either unwitting accomplices or powerless victims. Every house built represented power and enrichment for the Camorristi and their empire. After decades of criminal law, today, the rule of the State finally applies, resulting in legality but, in this case, with the harsh and insensitive face of bulldozers, blind to the phenomenon as a whole, and risking to put entire families on the street who have no other home or other resources. And this also comes at a very high cost for the community. Each house demolished costs the local authority – and therefore the community as a whole – about 200,000 euro. It is an extremely high and unsustainable economic burden.

There is a danger of a new financial collapse, and we do not have the necessary resources currently to assist fragile people and families in need. We cannot provide services and civil infrastructure to the city (such as roads, lighting, sewage system and more). In the end, we are risking that a severe state attitude – ignoring the contexts and histories that led to these situations, could cause a cultural backlash. In this general climate, some might think that probably ‘it was better before when criminals ruled. It is a too high risk, which we can’t take. It would be a too hard blow to the changing process that we have been so hardly undertaken. We must, therefore, proceed with both mind and heart to find adequate solutions. The goal is that “legality” continues to represent a moment of collective growth and civil cohesion, with respect for the fundamental rights of all, solidarity and justice, and not as a simple “obligation” or “constraint” from above.

Does a municipality, a territory, revive just because a municipal administration is changed, or what are the other essential elements needed to trigger change?

A municipal administration is representative of the society that expresses it. The condition for a healthy administration  – in the pursuit of change – in a community that becomes aware of how much more convenient it can be to manage public affairs in a transparent, honest way, in the name of defending rights, rather than in practice based on oppression, corruption and patronage. To build a new community, finally representing an alternative to the criminal one, takes a long and hard road, made up of many small steps. It starts with the example set by those who take charge of that change. In Casal di Principe, it has taken over 20 years of struggle, resistance, and sometimes isolated testimony. Gradually this has nurtured a collective awareness capable of overcoming one’s little interests and has led to increasingly large groups of citizens moving towards cultural and political change.

Inheriting a municipality with a financial collapse – or with a not precisely healthy budget – is – among other complex issues – one to be solved.  An honest administration is called upon to resolve, in a brief timeframe, decades of neglect and mismanagement. Isn’t that a mission impossible to ask of administrators?

It is undoubtedly a demanding mission. Sometimes you may even think it is impossible. Still, then you feel that it is, on the other hand, a significant challenge to be achieved. Only by succeeding you can prove to yourself and the community that we can do it. Moreover, you can also confirm it to those sometimes looking at you distractedly from the sidelines, possibly still with the idea that here in the South, we cannot administrate ourselves – that we can do it.

We are succeeding, albeit with difficulty. Of course, it still takes time, and we need to remove the incrustations of a heavy past, but we have already done a lot. For example, we have emerged from bankruptcy. Despite the constant risk, our accounts are now in order, as we were saying, of relapsing and despite the seriously damaged municipal resources, which still make it challenging to provide services.

As a mayor, what is your perspective over the dissolution of the Municipal Councils for criminal infiltration?

Is the tool still valid, or should it be improved? Besides, it is worth mentioning that while a Municipal Council is dissolved due to criminal infiltration, the technicians cannot be dismissed or moved, as if the Administration were solely responsible. In contrast, the proceedings sometimes show the exact opposite.

The system has been working and can still work, although it certainly needs to be improved considering the experience accumulated over the years. The issue of the administrative structure is undoubtedly crucial. Often, investigations show that it is the officials who are corrupt or collude. However, other times it is the administrators who are involved. But we have to beware of unfounded accusation or too quick corruption charges, which can then prove to be unfounded. Greater caution and more careful investigation of both politicians and officials are needed, avoiding errors that have been increasingly present in the recent dissolution of Municipal Councils decisions.

 

 

Ultime notizie
violenza di genere
Donne

Violenza di genere, i dati degli ultimi sei mesi della Polizia Criminale

Violenza di genere, i dati del Servizio Analisi Criminale della Polizia Criminale documentano un trend in crescita dal 2021 al 2023, ma i dati degli ultimi sei mesi evidenziano una flessione rispetto allo stesso periodo del 2023, soprattutto per i reati spia e gli omicidi volontari.
di redazione
violenza di genere
work life balance
Parità

Work life balance, c’è ancora un gap di genere da colmare

Il work life balance, ovvero l’equilibrio tra vita privata e professionale, riguarda anche la parità di genere, soprattutto in merito al caregiving, che troppo spesso ancora ricade principalmente sulle donne. Adnkronos evidenzia inoltre che il 66% degli utenti si dichiara insoddisfatto del proprio life work balance, e che questo incide nella scelta dell’impiego.
di redazione
work life balance
mediterraneo
Sostenibilità

Giornata internazionale del Mediterraneo, un ecosistema da difendere da plastica e sfruttamento

La Giornata internazionale del Mediterraneo è stata dedicata al dibattito sul nostro mare, un ecosistema che va difeso dallo sfruttamento intensivo della pesca e dalle plastiche. Un incontro presso la Camera dei Deputati organizzato da Fondazione Aqua ha visto numerosi studiosi esprimersi in merito al fragile equilibrio di questa risorsa fondamentale.
di redazione
mediterraneo
Uricchio ANVUR
Intervista

Antonio Uricchio, Presidente ANVUR: la valutazione come strumento per migliorare la qualità di ricerca e didattica

Antonio Uricchio, Presidente di ANVUR interviene nel merito delle critiche mosse verso una eccessiva burocratizzazione delle Università italiane, affermando la valutazione delle stesse come importante strumento per migliorare la qualità della ricerca e della didattica attraverso la raccolta di dati, documenti e informazioni.
di Mario Caligiuri*
Uricchio ANVUR
Corridoi TEN-T
Infrastrutture

Segnali positivi nella nuova strategia dei corridoi europei dei trasporti TEN-T

Il Parlamento europeo ha approvato il nuovo Regolamento sui Corridoi TEN-T. Il testo ha l’obiettivo di completare alcuni importanti collegamenti, aggiornando il piano europeo per una rete di ferrovie, strade, vie navigabili interne e rotte marittime a corto raggio collegate attraverso porti e terminali in tutta l’Unione.
di Giampaolo Basoli*
Corridoi TEN-T
Intervista

Pierluigi Petrone, Presidente Assoram: sfide globali e nuove competenze del comparto healthcare

Il comparto healthcare oggi si trova ad affrontare nuove sfide che vanno oltre gli anni della pandemia: le mutate esigenze dei consumatori, sempre più vicini all’e-commerce, e gli equilibri internazionali che condizionano logistica e distribuzione. Uno sguardo alle sfide del futuro con il Presidente di Assoram Pierluigi Petrone.
di Susanna Fara
scuola
Istruzione

La Scuola di domani: tecnologie digitali e valorizzazione delle eccellenze

Tecnologie digitali e una gestione oculata dei fondi per valorizzare le eccellenze e la qualità: è questa la prospettiva sulla Scuola italiana individuata da Alessandro Curioni, Docente (Università Cattolica di Milano) e Presidente di DI.GI Academy.
di Massimiliano Cannata
scuola
maternità surrogata
Società

Maternità surrogata: italiani contrari, solo dai giovani segnali di apertura

Il 62,9% degli italiani si dichiara oggi contrario alla maternità surrogata, e solo i giovani mostrano segnali di apertura, dal momento che il 58% dei 18-24enni si dichiara favorevole. Ma il tema è complesso e maggiormente avversato dall’opinione pubblica italiana, da Nord a Sud e a dispetto anche del titolo di studio.
di redazione
maternità surrogata
animali
Animali

Vivisezione, caccia, allevamenti intensivi: cresce la sensibilità degli italiani verso il benessere animale

I diritti degli animali contano sempre di più per una maggioranza di italiani: il 76% è contrario alla vivisezione, il 73% agli allevamenti intensivi. I temi etici legati agli animali raccolgono quote consistenti di italiani contrari anche rispetto a vivisezione, caccia, pellicce, uso degli animali nei circhi.
di redazione
animali
corruzione
Internazionale

G7 Anticorruzione, un fenomeno che richiede un’azione globale

Il tema corruzione entra in agenda al G7 con il Gruppo di lavoro anticorruzione, proposto dal nostro Paese per avviare una azione collettiva rispetto a un fenomeno diffuso. Tra i punto fondamentali, l’educazione fin dalla prima età alla cultura della legalità e l’acquisizione di metodi di misurazione della corruzione su basi oggettive.
di Avv. Angelo Caliendo*
corruzione