The new Mayor is better than the old Mayor, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. The wins are much bigger than the fails, but that doesn’t mean the fails shouldn’t be criticised.
Overall I am still an optimist, but I am normally an optimist anyway. One thing I know for sure is that being the Mayor is a very hard job.
- Open data and citizen coding initiatives are awesome.
- River regeneration might actually be happening at last.
- City Council’s airline and taxi company is not a thing any more.
- Kindergarten system didn’t break, and more places were created.
- Christmas tree was mentioned all over the world despite costing almost nothing.
- The Mayor loudly installed a gun-weilding settler as a “Jewish adviser” and then went silent about it. Jewish gravestones still decorate our city as building materials. War criminals are still honoured on our walls. Visitors still find it hard to notice that this was once a centre of Jewish life, and although he says nice words, I don’t think the Mayor understands what needs to be done. We need more than a few new signs. And if his new adviser is bringing investment and doing great things for the Jewish community, then I would like to hear more about it. Unfortunately the Mayor refused many times to give me any details. I hope it’s all OK but I just don’t know.
- The Mayor loudly announced Vokiečių street renovation and then went silent about it. There was no connection to the Jewish history of the place, and residents rightly complained that the renovation wouldn’t improve the very serious problems of parking and rubbish just a few metres from main street. Failure to do anything brave or creative. I want an open-air museum funded by private donors and local businesses. I doubt that will happen, if they can’t even sort out sponsoring a miniature train without a huge scandal.
- The Mayor loudly announced a stupid hotel tax and then went silent about it. The idea was to raise money for advertising the city, but I don’t think the Mayor should be raising taxes or centrally organising advertising. It was all just a weak attempt to “do something for attracting tourists” after closing Air Lituanica. Government-produced adverts tend to be very embarassing anyway. Public procurement is not awesome.
- The Mayor loudly praised the TechPark, then opposed the TechPark, accused people of corruption, then made a few changes to the contract so that it would look like he had made it a “significantly better deal for Vilnius”, and voila, there will be a TechPark. Later. Well, I hope it works out, because I want a good techpark in Vilnius. I just can’t be persuaded that government involvement helps every time.
- The Mayor failed to control the coalition, failed to encourage a strong frakcija, failed to capitalise on his huge win, and failed to discipline the Council members, so meetings are basically a long and nearly useless filibuster. Worried too much about Zuokas (who lost the election anyway). Failed to make good arguments against the conservatives, so now the conservatives can do some stupid stuff to disrupt everything and make the Mayor look weak, because Majauskas wants more attention, and he looks like he is using Vilnius as the start of the imaginary Presidential campaign in his head.
Look out for the huge upcoming fail of 2016: “Stadium”, the story of an absurd “multi-functional centre” stuck on the side of a stadium, which will cost a lot of money and will probably turn into a huge embarassment, because it’s a totally flawed concept which nobody asked for or needs. It’s a desperate attempt to get EU money and nobody I talk to actually believes in it. Hopefully the project will die, people will moan that Šimašius destroys stuff, and we won’t have to pay for this enormous mistake. If people really want a stadium, they can have one in much simpler and cheaper ways, especially if they actually pay for it themselves instead of relying on politicians to do things.
Have a happy new year, and look out for my next article, which will be about my own wins and fails as a Councillor 🙂