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“Let the Best Man, Woman or Mayor Win”

We Expats are keeping one eye on the results from Super Tuesday’s Primary Race. Being six hours ahead of New York and nine hours ahead of California, the results are still coming in as I write this. Of course, Senator John McCain is a happy man and it’s looking good for Hilary Clinton even though her lead isn’t all that impressive. May the best man or woman win.

Our other eye is on Paris, the upcoming Mayoral election (March) and what’s in store for the city’s future.

You all know how I feel about current Mayor Bertrand Delanöe. He’s done more to move and improve the city than any other mayor ever in office. Even those who have criticized him for removing parking places to make way for trees and bike lanes must know that he’s the best thing that’s happened to Paris since American peanut butter. No one doubts that he will be re-elected in March and if you take note of history, he could eventually end up in the Elysée Palace just like Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy (who was mayor of Neuilly before becoming Minister of the Interior and then of course, President).

Yesterday I saw a poster of Delanöe and mayor of the 3rd Arrondissement, Pierre Aidenbaum, standing together, posted outside the Socialist Party office on rue Charlot. Aidenbaum is my other favorite French politician. In March 2001, he was elected by 65.3% of the voters, a record in the capital and “a paradox for such a rich neighborhood to vote ‘socialist.'” Known for his progressive initiatives, he is sure to be re-elected as well, and that means a bright outlook for the district. He is one of reasons we residents of the 3rd think so highly of our little village — it’s like no other with Pierre at the helm. (To learn more about M. Aidenbaum, visit http://www.pierreaidenbaum.net/, in French.)

As it turns out, M. Delanöe’s campaign headquarters are tucked away at 7 rue Dupuis here in the 3rd and I wondered if that had to do with his close association with Pierre Aidenbaum. Either way, I’m not unhappy that the city leaders are choosing to make this little corner of Paris their home.

On the horizon for the City of Light, according to a publication distributed by the City Hall titled “Paris, un Temps d’Avance: Project 2008 > 2014,” we can expect even more moving and improving for the city:

* more public housing, the new “Autolib” free car system (like the Vélib bike program),
* more and better public transportation, more public spaces and more green space (Place de la République will go from concrete to green and the Périphérique at Porte de Vanves will be covered by a garden),
* advancement of use of solar energy, more money spent on research for economic innovation,
* reforms to reduce unemployment,
* more voice and power to citizens via public debates and votes on local issue

s,
* more public health facilities, more child care centers, more schools, more public sports facilities,
* more reforms to counteract discrimination,
* more services and ease of movement for the handicapped,
* more retirement homes and services for the aged, reforms to encourage new businesses (soon a business will be able to operate using a “credit card,” not a “debit” card!),
* the renovation and re-opening of 13 covered markets,
* more cultural events, spaces and investment in support of our artists,
* WiFi for everyone (set to be totally cover the city by 2012!)
* and more international association such as partnering with other major cities around the world we’ve already seen…

Thanks to Delanöe. Maybe this is just a lot of hot air — but not when you look at his record. I’d guess all these things will come to pass and residents will be the better for it.

On the national scene, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has just presented a report of more than “300 proposals to ‘unleash’ national economic growth” with goals to increase economic growth at least 1% by 2012 and reduce unemployment to 5%. Reforms range from job market deregulation to local government reform, life-long training, boosting Internet access, investing in green technologies and opening up French borders to immigration.

“By seeking to regulate everything in the smallest details, we have created a straight-jacket that prevents growth.” Any foreigner or even Frenchman, attempting to do business in France knows this to be true. I think of it as a “constipated” economic environment, where there is no room for movement, growth or fluidity. The details of the 300 proposals, as they unfold, will surely rock the nation, hopefully for the better, even if there will be a series strikes and protests by nay-sayers.

For some reason, perhaps because I’ve seen so many changes here in France in so short a time, and in spite of the age-old notion that the French are allergic to change, I’m more a believer these promises are truly possible to become reality here in France than those made by our American counterparts. I hope I’m wrong.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Don’t miss next week’s monthly coffee gathering at Parler Paris Après Midi, Tuesday 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for more information.

P.P.S. And there’s just a week left to register for the Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference in Miami February 16-17, so don’t delay. I’ll be there with the best professionals France, Europe and the U.S. have to offer on this important subject. Visit /parlerparis/liveinfrance/LIF_Miami_AF_Feb_2008/index.html for more information.

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