Bertrand Le Gendre
Paris is a dysfunctional city, said Bertrand Le Gendre in Le Monde. The worst overcrowding is in the suburbs, scene of last years immigrant riots, while most of the hospitals and other services are in the less populous center. Yet there is no one who can decree that tax money flow to the suburbs, because Paris isnt governed by a single central authority. Instead, it has layers upon layers of councils and boards with overlapping mandates that squabble over every proposed development. There is the City of Paris, made up of 20 arrondissements, with a mayor elected by the city council. Then there is the département of Paris, which matches the borders of the City but has its own authority. The nearest banlieues, or suburbs, which are considered part of Greater Paris, have their own governments. And then Greater Paris as a whole is divided into seven councils and 1,300 communes, or townships. No wonder the city cant make any decisions that would relieve overcrowding and provide infrastructure in the suburbsthere are simply too many competing interests. Paris needs a strong executive, as London has. Londons Mayor Ken Livingstone reigns supreme over his city and its outlying suburbs, an area 15 times the size of Paris. The key is that he is directly elected by all residents. That would be a radical change for Paris: Suffrage for all Parisians!