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Now one thing to note is that these neighboroods are not ghettos.

Clichy-sous-Bois, ses 28 000 habitants, ses 80 % de logements collectifs. De la cité verdoyante des années 1960, aux abords du bois de Bondy, à 15 km au nord de Paris, il ne reste qu'un paysage de tours et de barres délabrées. Les classes moyennes et les cadres ­ 4,7 % des habitants ­ ont déserté la ville qui compte 50 % de moins de 25 ans et un taux de chômage de 25 %.

A la population diversifiée d'origine a succédé une majorité de ménages à très faibles revenus, en grande précarité. Parmi elles, un tiers de familles étrangères, originaires de tous les continents, installées de longue date ou arrivées récemment, réfugiés politiques, sans-papiers débarqués dès leur descente d'avion à Roissy.

Les HLM ne représentent que 30 % des logements et ces populations ont trouvé refuge dans une multitude d'appartements surpeuplés, de copropriétés laissées à l'abandon, dans des squats ou chez des marchands de sommeil. La ville est impuissante : "Le parc privé dégradé se trouve sollicité pour loger les personnes les plus pauvres de la région parisienne qui n'ont pas accès au parc social public" , souligne Claude Dilain, maire (PS) depuis 1995. Selon les enquêtes, 30 % des ménages de ces copropriétés ne disposent pas des revenus suffisants pour un HLM.

Le potentiel fiscal de la commune est inférieur de 40 % à celui des villes équivalente
Fuite des classes moyennes, chômage à 25 % : Clichy-sous-Bois, radiographie d'une ville pauvre

You also say that the 'suburbs' are not cut off from the rest of the country - well neither are the American  'inner cities.' And like the 'suburbs', the inner cities do have some middle class residents.

by MarekNYC on Sun Nov 6th, 2005 at 12:57:52 PM EST
Look, you can nitpick to death my post and you'll be right. My question to you: do you feel that what I wrote is closer to the truth than what's been written breathlessly thoughout the English language press about "war, "chaos", "country on fire" etc...

I am just trying to give a different view. It's not THE TRUTH, but it's not so far away either.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 6th, 2005 at 01:25:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
closer to the truth than what's been written breathlessly thoughout the English language press about "war, "chaos", "country on fire"  

Actually I'm primarily following the story in the French press - Le Monde and Libe to be exact. I will note that the two topic headings for the issue in Le Monde are 'Les banlieues en crise' and 'Les banlieues en colere. Aux origines de la crise'.  The current lead title on the Libe site is 'Les banlieues s'embrasent'

by MarekNYC on Sun Nov 6th, 2005 at 01:45:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As the Le Monde piece you quote, most middle class folks move out of these neighborhoods when they can (except for Jerome's aunt :-)

So in that respect, many (but not all) of these cities are turning into some kind of ghettos, but these are primarily social class and income level ghettos, not (that's maybe what Jerome meant) ethnically defined ghettos. Even though arabs and blacks are over-represented among the rioters, the most defining characteristics are the ever growing poverty, despair and lack of prospects (especially job prospects) and most of all a general ostracism in the rest of French society.

Even the few of them who manage to get college degrees still face employment discrimination because they come from a "cité", whether they're black, brown or white.

Just heard on TV: a cartoon in one of tomorrow's papers shows Sarkosy (himself a son of immigrants) issuing a travel advisory: French citizens are urged to avoid "travelling" to the banlieues... Sure looks like a foreign country to the ruling class.

BTW, Marek: Sarkozy is said to take model on Rudy Gulliani and his law & order policy in NYC. If you live there, can you share your thoughts on that. Thanks.

by Bernard on Sun Nov 6th, 2005 at 04:07:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, Giuliani would not be a good model here. Giuliani did two good things in his eight years as mayor - reducing crime in his first term and dealing very well with 9/11 just before his second term was up.  Unfortunately he was also pure poison in terms of race relations - happy to run two thinly veiled racist campaigns against his black predecessor and showing utter contempt for non-whites while he was mayor. Nor was he any good in improving the quality of life in poor areas beyond crime reduction. And while that obviously improved the lives of the poor, it was accompanied by constant harassment of young black men along with a general sense of impunity for police abuse.  Bloomberg's been much better - he's managed to make one of the safest cities in America even safer in spite of much fewer police resources (budget crisis plus the need to shift significant resources to counter-terrorism). At the same time he's worked hard to reach out to and mend relations with non-white communities. His reward is that the polls say that he'll get a majority of the black vote on Tuesday - incredible for a white Republican.
by MarekNYC on Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 04:14:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Giuliani did two good things in his eight years as mayor - reducing crime in his first term

Make that one. Reducing crime could be much more strongly connected to the police boss, William J. Bratton, whom Giuliani fired for fear that he'll take the spotlight. Then the original zero-tolerance method (which Bratton started before Giuliani named him NYC police chief, on the subways) was converted to just being tough.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 04:30:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He took an experimental small pilot program and chose to expand it citywide by appointing Bratton as commissioner.  He then indeed fired Bratton out of jealousy over media attention. I think that a mayor should get credit for selecting strategies and competent people to implement them. Giuliani IMO is just as entitled to praise for Bratton as Bush is rightly blamed for Brown and the rest of his incompetent appointees and chosen strategies.
by MarekNYC on Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 03:47:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Marek.
Mmmm, lemme see:
  • showing utter contempt for non-whites - check
  • not improving the quality of life in poor areas beyond crime reduction - check
  • constant harassment of young dark skinned men - check
  • general sense of impunity for police abuse - check

Yep, that's it: Sarkozy is playing a Gallic version of Giulani. That's good to know since the guys's gonna run for president in 2007 (Sarko, not Rudy).

Your assessment of Bloomberg is interesting; Steve Gilliard doesn't think much of the guy.

by Bernard on Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 03:29:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Steve and I disagree. I should note that I am a lot less partisan in local elections than I am in races for national office - there's no way I'd vote for a Repub for Congress, very unlikely for state office, while for local office partisan affiliation is merely a tiebreaker for me.

Steve's opposition to Bloomberg seems to be based on three factors.

  1. He's a Republican (see above)
  2. His civil liberties record on demonstrators, particularly during the Republican convention is atrocious (I agree)
  3. He hasn't done anything for the poor half of New York. (I feel that within his very limited means he's done ok and that Steve doesn't take into account the horrible budget situation he inherited from Giuliani and the fact that there's only so much a mayor can do)

On the plus side.
  1. Brilliant handling of the budget crisis through modest across the board spending cuts and sharp tax increases targetting the wealthy and upper middle class.
  2. Making government far more responsive to the average New Yorker through his '311' system. What that means is that instead of having to navigate the byzantine bureaucracy on our own, we can just call '311', explain what our problem is, and the people working their figure out how we need to handle it, and then track how well the relevant department deals with the problem.
  3. The handling of the crime issue (see my original comment on Bloomberg)

Ferrer on the other hand is unproven - maybe he would be a competent administrator like Bloomberg, maybe not - in other words the same problem that made me wary of Bloomberg four years ago.  Less relevant but worth mentioning is that he has a record of being very conservative on social issues and did a reverse turn when he decided he wanted city wide office and thus had to get the liberal upper middle class white vote. Bloomberg was your standard issue liberal Democrat wealthy New Yorker until he decided that he wanted to become mayor and that it would be much easier for him to win the Repub nomination than the Dem one but he's remained socially liberal and economically centrist. (In New York the standard electoral calculus is that a credible Republican candidate will win the socially conservative ecnomically centrist white working and middle class outer borough vote overwhelmingly, a non-white Dem candidate will do the same with the socially conservative economically left wing working class Black and Latino electorate and that whoever gets the socially liberal economically centrist upper middle class white vote wins. Ferrer is in serious trouble because he isn't doing anywhere near as well as he needs among non-white voters.)

If the race were close I'd vote for Bloomberg. As it is I might vote for Ferrer as a protest vote since I'm not sure I want Bloomberg to win in a landslide.

by MarekNYC on Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 04:12:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We'll see the NYC results tomorrow in Europe. Thanks Marek.
by Bernard on Tue Nov 8th, 2005 at 04:27:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but at what point do you think a "poor neighbourhood" becomes a ghetto? What is your definition of ghetto?
by mimi on Sun Nov 6th, 2005 at 09:58:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
25% unemployment is the national rate for under 25s, so it doesn't sound so bad, relatively speaking, for Clichy, if it's such an awful place.

Same for the 40% less fiscal potential. That's definitely lower, but it's not lower by an order of magnitude either.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 6th, 2005 at 01:26:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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