Friday, May 18, 2007

Pigeons and pie crusts make strolling St. Mark's Square less pleasant
"Now, new rules will apply preventive and repressive measures with an iron hand.To begin with, guards will be hired to patrol the St Mark’s area.They will form emergency “decency patrols” with the task of reprimanding disrespectful or delinquent tourists."

If it would do any good, I'd suggest to the authorities in Venice that, rather than banning the sale of take-out food in the St. Mark's area, it might make more sense to tax the businesses in the area a bit more heavily in order to pay for more refuse bins, street sweepers and special officers. This sort of arrangement works reasonably well in many jurisdictions here in the US.

Of course, it is always harder to do anything sensible in Europe. The article linked here mentions that tourists feeding the pigeons is a problem and the city is trying to figure what sort of alternative employment to offer to the birdseed sellers if they decide to outlaw the sale of birdseed.

I am also mystified by this statement in the Corriere della Sera article:
"The cash-strapped Venice local authority has too few municipal police officers (“We need 6,500 and we’ve got 450”, says Mr Salvadori)."

The population of Venice is comparable to that of Lexington, Kentucky and the latter manages to get along with about 550 officers. No doubt the need for a large marine division, the difficulty of responding quickly across scattered islands and the large numbers of tourists justify higher staffing levels, but 6,500 officers seems excessive. New York City (30 times the population of Venice) is mostly surrounded by water and has a huge daily influx of commuters and tourists, yet it gets by with 35 to 40 thousand officers.


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