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Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard sounds like a jerk

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard sounds like a jerk just like Mexican President Felipe Calderón. He wants a bigger better police state with more government!

He also sounds a lot like New York City Mayor Ed Koch who also was a jerk! And like Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio another world class jerk!


Mexico City mayor on a quest for increased quality of life

Campaign to clean up city's streets, behavior is paying off politically

by Chris Hawley and Sergio Solache - Nov. 23, 2009 12:00 AM

Republic Mexico City Bureau

MEXICO CITY - The world's second-largest city has a lot of problems: kidnappings for ransom, drug-related murders, severe poverty. But if there's one thing that really sets off Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, it's gum.

"Throwing your chewing gum on the ground is one of the most aggressive things you can do to your community," Ebrard said.

And he's serious. "When you throw your gum on the ground, you're saying, 'I don't care about my quality of life,' " said Ebrard, 50. "The idea . . . is to change our civic culture."

Since taking office three years ago, the liberal, Paris-educated mayor has imposed broad quality-of-life measures that seem more fitting for a genteel European city than rough-and-tumble Mexico. He's also working to tackle some of the city's major problems, but it's Ebrard's quest for civility that has garnered the headlines.

He has banned smoking in bars and restaurants, evicted thousands of vendors from public streets, outlawed plastic bags in stores, closed night clubs at 1:30 a.m., closed huge swaths of streets to allow joggers and cyclists on weekends, and barred out-of-state cars from entering the city from 5 to 11 a.m. to cut down on pollution.

New traffic laws have outlawed talking on cellphones while driving and letting children under 12 ride in the front seats. A publicity campaign called the "Ten Commandments of Urban Conduct" urges residents not to whistle at women or throw gum on the ground.

And though not everything has gone smoothly - crime and water shortages remain major problems - Ebrard's efforts to make the capital more livable have attracted international accolades and pushed him to the top of the list of possible 2012 presidential candidates.

There has been grumbling, but the capital's denizens are actually abiding by Ebrard's rules. The city's bars are now clear of smoke. Supermarkets are switching to biodegradable plastic bags. Downtown streets that were once nearly impassable because of vendors are now free for strolling.

This month, Harvard University gave Ebrard an award for replacing hundreds of privately owned "microbuses," notorious for their belching exhaust, with large, environmentally friendly city buses.

"They're small things, but they're important so you can enjoy life," said Nadia Rangel, 32, an office worker, as she ate ice cream in a plaza in the Coyoacán neighborhood where the mayor recently evicted dozens of street vendors who had clogged the walkways on weekends.

Political comeback

Ebrard, a graduate of the elite Colegio de Mexico and the National School of Administration in Paris, is the leading figure to be the Democratic Revolutionary Party's presidential candidate in 2012, said José Fernández Santillán, a political-science professor at Monterrey Institute for Technological and Advanced Studies. Elected officials in Mexico are limited to one term.

"The rich like him and so do the poor," Santillán said. "He's trying to project this image of revitalizing the city and Mexico."

It marks a remarkable comeback for Ebrard, whose government career nearly ended in disgrace in 2004, when he was the city's police commissioner under former Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The city was struggling to stem a wave of kidnappings for ransom.

In November 2004, a mob mistook for kidnappers three plainclothes federal police officers who had staked out an elementary school in Mexico City as part of a drug investigation. As television helicopters transmitted the scene live, the mob doused two of the officers with gasoline and burned them to death.

Angry that city police failed to send help in time, then-President Vicente Fox fired Ebrard by invoking a little-used law giving the president power over the city's law enforcement.

López Obrador rescued Ebrard's career by making him the city's secretary of social development, then backing his successful 2006 campaign for mayor.

Tackling big issues

As mayor, Ebrard is the top elected official in Mexico's Federal District, which has a population of 8.7 million - slightly bigger than New York City's 8.4 million. An additional 12 million live in Mexico City's suburbs, making it the world's second-biggest metropolitan area, after Tokyo. Ebrard's six-year term ends in 2012.

In April, the mayor became the focus of international attention when the swine-flu virus surfaced in Mexico City. Ebrard quickly shut down schools, businesses and government offices, helping to slow the spread. He also held daily press conferences, often pre-empting the federal Health Department with the latest infection statistics.

"He handled the flu outbreak very well," said Hector Zamitiz, a political-science professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "The entire world was watching, and the city managed to contain the crisis while keeping everyone informed."

Ebrard, meanwhile, says he's also trying to tackle some of the city's longstanding problems. To stem crime, including kidnappings, his administration is installing 11,000 security cameras on streets and in the subway. It also has mounted cameras on police tow trucks to discourage bribe-taking by traffic police and has distributed 800 handheld computers to officers to aid investigations.

In an effort to improve water service, the city has built three new water-treatment plants, overhauled four more and replaced about 300 miles of leaky pipes.

Some critics, however, say the mayor needs to do more to improve infrastructure, fight crime and create jobs.

"These problems are not being addressed," said Carlos Alberto Flores, a city councilman from the rival National Action Party. "He's taking on things that generate really good headlines in the media but don't really solve the city's problems. For example, he clears the street vendors out of the tourist areas, but he doesn't attack the real problem, which is the lack of good jobs that forces them to be street vendors."

Curbing smoking and plastic bags are "boutique policies" meant to generate news, said Federico Estévez, a political-science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico.

"On things like jobs and crime and the economy, he's not done so well," Estévez said.

And not all citizens are happy with the mayor's efforts to civilize the city.

Maximiliano Diaz, 45, sold handmade flutes and drums from a booth in the Coyoacán plaza for 22 years. In August the city forced him to move to a market it built for former street vendors. The market is hard to find, Díaz said, and his sales have fallen by 80 percent.

"There's this fever to civilize Mexico, but in the process we're losing our rights to our public spaces," Díaz said. "I understand the mayor wants to modernize us, but he's taking away a bit of our culture."


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