ROMA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: Iganzio Marino – “Ho distrutto Roma”, Rome’s Mayor Ignazio Marino Resigns Under Pressure, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL & THE NEW YORK TIMES (08|10|2015).

— Rome’s Mayor Ignazio Marino Resigns Under Pressure. Beleaguered official’s departure ends months of friction over his running of the city and comes amid scandals, but he might revoke his resignation. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (08|10|2015).

ROME— Ignazio Marino, Rome’s beleaguered mayor, resigned late on Thursday, bringing to a close months of friction over his management of the city, which culminated this month in tension with the Vatican and a scandal over his personal expenses.

Mr. Marino, a U.S.-trained transplant surgeon who returned to his native country to enter politics, announced his resignation following a meeting of the center-left Democratic Party to which he belongs.

However, even as he tendered his resignation, Mr. Marino, who has battled for months to hold on to his job despite eroding support among Romans and from his own party, reserved the right to reverse his decision.

In a statement, he invoked a law giving him the possibility of revoking his resignation within the next 20 days should “it be possible to rebuild the political conditions” to carry on as mayor of Italy’s largest city.

Pressure on Mr. Marino mounted this week, as a scandal emerged concerning personal expenses he had apparently claimed as being work related. After the mayor published his expenses online, Italian newspapers found that some of them appeared to be personal rather than for business, including private dinners.

Mr. Marino has denied any wrongdoing and late on Wednesday said on his Facebook page that he would “give as a gift” to Rome the 20,000 euros ($22,600) that he had charged to his city-issued credit card, including both official entertainment and the personal expenses.

And late last month, Mr. Marino suffered a major embarrassment when Pope Francis publicly suggested the mayor shouldn’t have traveled to Philadelphia during the pontiff’s visit to the city.

Meanwhile, Mr. Marino on Thursday defended his record. “In these two years, I brought major changes,” he said. “I changed a government that had been based on the acquiescence to lobbies and to forces that include criminal elements. I didn’t know—no one did—how grave the situation was.”

Mr. Marino, a liver transplant surgeon who lived and worked in the U.S. and U.K. for two decades, was elected in June 2013 on promises to bring efficiency and transparency to a city that has struggled with corruption, crumbling infrastructure and which has flirted with bankruptcy in recent years. He launched a series of initiatives, such as fighting street vendors and banning cars from some areas of the city’s historic center, to help restore order to an unruly city.

Still, he was increasingly blamed for serious shortcomings in public services, such as Rome’s inadequate public transport network and woeful trash collection. Protests by commuters have mounted over the past year, as has anger over piles of uncollected trash in the city’s streets.

Concern grew this past summer that the city would be unprepared to cope with the huge number of pilgrims and tourists expected in Rome for the Jubilee Year that Pope Francis has called. The Jubilee begins in December and lasts nearly a year. It is expected to draw more than 30 million people to the city, presenting a major test of the city’s infrastructure. The previous Jubilee, called under the papacy of St. John Paul II, drew 25 million visitors to Rome in 2000.

Mr. Marino’s defenders argue that the city had been in serious decline well before he took office. But his problems grew last year, when Rome prosecutors broke up an alleged network of criminals linked to local politicians and municipal officials that had for years dominated the awarding of public contracts worth millions of euros.

Mr. Marino hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing. The case has been dubbed “Mafia Capitale,” and the trial of those charged in the scandal is scheduled to start in November.

The next mayoral elections were due in 2018, but Mr. Marino’s resignation could lead to municipal elections within months.


FOTO: Opponents and supporters of Mayor Ignazio Marino gathered outside Rome’s City Hall on Thursday. A protester held a placard with a picture of the beleaguered mayor and words in Italian that translate to “I destroyed Rome.” Mr. Marino resigned later in the day.


— ROME – Mayor of Rome Resigns Amid Expenses Scandal, THE NEW YORK TIMES (08|10|2015).

He endured a monthslong political and media siege over the inefficiency and degradation of public services and a corruption scandal that left him unblemished but ensnared several city officials.

But on Thursday Rome’s reform mayor, Ignazio Marino, resigned after a scandal over his expense account, which had called into question his own integrity.

In a letter to Romans, he said that in his 27 months in office, he had initiated “epochal changes” to the city’s often shady bidding procedures and governance, but faced a problem of “political conditions” needed to carry them out.

Hours earlier, three members of Mr. Marino’s cabinet also resigned, heightening the feeling that opponents both inside and outside his own Democratic Party were intent on forcing the mayor from office.

“That image is now gone. It’s a big damage to the city’s image just ahead of the jubilee,” said Marco Damilano, a political commentator for the magazine L’Espresso, referring to the year of mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. “Rome will welcome millions of pilgrims, tourists and institutions with no real mayor. It’s embarrassing.”

In recent days, prosecutors had opened an investigation after several reports suggested Mr. Marino might have used his official credit card to pay for personal outings, pretending they were business expenses. People who were supposed to have been the mayor’s guests at expensive restaurants told newspapers that they knew nothing about the meals.

Mr. Marino denied wrongdoing, but also offered to pay back the entire credit card bill— 20,000 euros. That only heightened the attacks on him, with critics saying that their suspicions had been confirmed.

Mr. Marino has been increasingly isolated as his popularity has dropped and the city has been embattled by an extensive investigation that has revealed corrupt bidding on city contracts for services ranging from refugee centers to sanitation to public parks.

Even though much of the bid-rigging took place under his predecessor’s administration, critics have accused Mr. Marino of being naïve and too distracted to impose order on a notoriously disorderly city. Last summer, he was vacationing in the United States when a mob family staged a Hollywood-style funeral for its boss, including a private helicopter that dropped roses onto the procession.

Many saw that as a lavish showcase of organized crime’s enduring power while ordinary people were dealing with subway strikes, government cutbacks and a faulty sanitation system.

Some of his decisions irritated constituents, like the closing of a main thoroughfare through the Foro Imperiali to automobiles, further snarling traffic. He angered those who benefitted from the old bidding system, too. After he tried to change how contracts were awarded, someone left bullet casings and a dead pigeon on his doorstep.

Although Mr. Marino overhauled the managing boards of several city service providers, the services themselves were still seen as coming up short.

Last month, Mr. Marino suffered a humiliating blow from, of all people, Pope Francis. At the end of his visit to the United States, Francis seemed irritated over Mr. Marino’s reported suggestion that the Vatican had asked him to join the pontiff at his final American Mass, in Philadelphia.

“I did not invite Mayor Marino, is that clear?” Francis told reporters as the papal plane was flying back to Italy.

Mr. Marino tried to assume an easy-going, casual style as he attempted difficult reforms and challenged entrenched interests. Unlike his predecessors and other Italian politicians, he rode a bicycle around the city.

Eventually, however, he became a victim of old-time accusations.

“The most damaging impact is in fact the idea that Rome cannot change, regardless of who governs it,” Mr. Damilano said.


— THE NEW YORK TIMES (08|10|2015).


— Roma sotto Marino & Roma Mafia capitale: la città di incompetenza perpetua e la corruzione (06|2013-10|2015).
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