Monday, September 14, 2015

Baltimore and Munich: Why mayors can't cope with what they are dealt

Baltimore the day after the riots and Munich this past weekend, what would they have possibly in common?
Volunteers clean up in Baltimore after the riots

Munich isn't a city with large disinvestment and abandonment, as Baltimore is. Like Austin, Texas, Munich is a liberal bastion in a conservative state (Bavaria, Texas) that flourishes as a mecca of IT industries (Munich: Siemens, Austin: Dell) and attracts young creative talent with a high quality of life. But Munich is also Germany's entry point for refugees from the Middle East coming in via train from Hungary and Austria.

This last weekend 14,000 refugees arrived in just two days. Like Baltimore on the day after the riots discovered its better side with scores of volunteers descending on the sites of rubble and loot to help and clean up, so Munich discovered its better side after the German chancellor had declared Germany as a country where refugees are welcome, compared to Hungary where they clearly were not. Thousands descended on the central railway station to help during last week.
Volunteers provide food supplies at Munich's railway station

But yesterday Munich's  Mayor Dieter Reiter called on the federal government to pull the emergency break. Munich couldn't cope with the influx anymore in spite of 1,500 volunteer helpers that had manned the train station alone to supply assistance in the shape of food, blankets, smart phone SIM cards and cots. With so many jam-packed trains arriving in succession the city's best attempts to move the refugees from the station to gymnasiums, barracks and other shelters began to fail and refugees had to sleep in the station just like in Hungary.

It turns out that cities always bear the brunt of failed national and international policies. In Baltimore, in New Orleans and in Budapest and Munich. Even equipped with moral support and an abundance of resources (Munich is one of the richest cities in Europe), 14,000 people arriving with nothing but a suitcase and a few belongings on their back represent a massive problem, especially if they are followed by thousands more every single day. To disperse crowds like that, find housing (it is getting already cold at night in Germany) and eventually even jobs to avoid large concentrations and camp misery is an almost impossible task.
This way Munich gets in one weekend what Baltimore had hoped to get in 10 years! (Munich processed 63,000 refugees since the end of August!)
thousands arrive on packed trains every hour at Munich railway station

Refuges flooding Munichs Streets

Baltimore and Munich both show that citizens can very well rise to a task for a day, a week, maybe a month. But then they tired, resentments set in and the finger-pointing begins, no matter that the root causes don't sit with the young men that vented anger and frustration in the streets of Baltimore nor with the refugees streaming across Europe, no matter that there are always some who abuse the situation, take advantage or are plain criminal.

Yesterday Germany re-introduced border controls, a turn-around of the "all are welcome" policy. It is not clear what effect that will have if any other than more anger.
Munich's Mayor Dieter Reiter on Saturday with a chart of
refugee arrivals in the background

Baltimore has armed its police better, it remains to be seen what effect that has other than more anger. For a moment Germany's Chancellor is heralded by refugees as the benign "Mutti" who takes care of them (quite the opposite of what the Greeks said just a few weeks ago).

Baltimore's Mutti, SRB was not so lucky, nor was her police commissioner Batts.
SRB announces that she won't tun again
as mayor
We are already in the scapegoat stage. But unlike Merkel, SRB (or whoever will be her successor) has little power in dealing with the cards dealt to her, and that she shares with the Mayor of Munich.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

The Telegraph: Migrant crisis: Refugees welcomed in Germany like war heroes as Berlin expects 10,000 in one day

Munich soccer fans showing their better side last week

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