Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Today's Mexico City Headlines: We never called it "Today's Federal District Headlines" anyway

Four of the five major dailies lead with the Senate passage of the long-anticipated (for like 194 years) Federal District overhaul, granting it greater autonomy and changing its name officially to Mexico City, which is what most people called it anyway.
    Excelsior’s lead head is all about the name change: “Good-bye DF, hello Mexico City.” La Jornada emphasizes the autonomy: “Senate endorses DF being an autonomous entity.” Milenio finds room for both: “Good-bye DF, Mexico City autonomous.”
    It’s really two ways of saying the same thing, since Mexico City will no longer be a Federal District (DF). It won’t quite be a state either — there will continue to be 31 of those, with Mexico City still being the 32nd “federal entity.”
    The chief executive will be a governor, but there will be no municipalities. Instead, the 16 delegaciones — often translated as “boroughs,” more out of convenience than accuracy —  will become mayoralties (alcaldías), each with a mayor (alcalde) and a purse-controlling council (consejo).
    Citywide, the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District (ALDF) will be converted into a local Congress, as in the states.
    The new set-up will create a lot more elected positions, which Reforma hopped on in its lead headline: “The DF will have  . . .  300 councilors.”
    That arithmetic includes some conjecture. The 16 councils will have 10 members, so Reforma’s lead paragraph adds the 16 mayors to the 160 councilors to warn us of “176 new elected officials whose salaries will be paid with the money of Mexicans.” That’s a little off, since the 16 mayors will be replacing the 16 delegación heads, who are already elected and paid for by “the money of Mexicans.”
    The number then jumps to 300 based on expectations that the council members will eventually total 15 and the number of mayoralties will increase to at least 20, with larger current delegaciones such as Izatapalapa, Álvaro Obregón and Gustavo A. Madero splitting up.
    The first order of business (assuming the lower house also passes the reform, which is expected) will be the formation of a constitutional assembly charged with forging Mexico City’s first constitution (all the states have one).
    There will be 100 of these diputados constituyentes. The way they’ll be chosen smacks of a complex series of compromises.
    Sixty will be elected by Mexico City residents in a special election in June of next year.
    The other 40 will be selected as follows: 14 by the Senate, 14 by the Chamber of Deputies, six by the president and six by the sitting head of the Mexico City government (as of now Miguel Ángel Mancera).
    The formula is a sore point with the PRD, since, given the PRI's control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, the ruling party is likely to have a 32% voice in the selection of the constitutional committee members for an entity (Mexico City) where it has only 20% of the political power.
     None of the papers' coverage of the political reorganization addresses a lurking fear of a balkanization that won't help at all with the real issues at stake — urban planning, transportation, energy consumption, air quality, livability. The reform we seem to need would create not a lot of little "mayoralties" but a regional government taking in at least the entire metropolitan area, with its 22 million people, 90 or so municipalities, and countless problems.

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