Americas - Issue 47 - Magazine | Monocle

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Mayor challenges

Colombia — CITY HALL

Since the suspension of Bogotá’s mayor, Samuel Moreno Rojas, in May for alleged negligence in the overseeing of public contracts, most Bogotanos feel the capital has been in decline. Elections will be held for a new mayor in October. Among the front-runners is former mayor Enrique Peñalosa, who has become a global urban adviser. Whoever wins will face a big task. Here are five key challenges:

  1. Corruption: The next mayor will have to get to the bottom of a web of corruption and embezzlement scandals affecting major public contracts.

  2. Poverty: Roughly half of Bogotá’s 8.26 million residents live in poverty. Building affordable housing and improving access to clean water, quality healthcare and education among the poor remains vital.

  3. Climate: It’s a question of when, not if, Bogotá will be hit again by heavy rains. The landslides and blocked roads caused by severe flooding earlier this year showed that Bogotá is ill-prepared to deal with flooding. Implementing contingency plans needs to be a priority.

  4. Transport: Pushing ahead with Bogotá’s first metro line will be a major task. Despite millions of dollars spent on studies, it’s still not clear what the underground will look like, when construction will start or how it will be funded.

  5. Crime: While murder rates have remained largely stable (20.5 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2011), street muggings, crime on public transport and burglaries have increased in the capital.


Elizabeth Berger

President, DA

New York

Elizabeth Berger directs the Downtown Alliance (DA), the advocacy group for residents and businesses in Lower Manhattan. Since 9/11, her organisation has guided the area’s transformation.

How will the reopening of the World Trade Center site change life downtown?
One of the great achievements of this project is the reopening of Greenwich and Fulton streets—retiring the old superblock concept and returning the Trade Center site to lower Manhattan. It’s about the creation of a Lower West Side that stretches from the Battery to the High Line. Greenwich Street is the spine. It connects all the historic live-work creative communities.

Have you seen a transformation in the character of the neighbourhood in recent years?
There’s been a real diversification. We’ve seen particular growth in media and the creative industries: Condé Nast will be the anchor tenant for 1 World Trade Center, but they’ll be the 63rd media company to set up downtown. There’s also been huge maturity in the residential community.

How much doubt did you face about the future of downtown after 9/11?
Not a lot here in Lower Manhattan. There may have been elsewhere, but there was no doubt here from business leaders, residents and politicians. I’m glad to see sceptics proven wrong.

Park life


The arrival of a new park on Toronto’s waterfront should have been a signal that the city had turned the corner in its frustrated ambitions to develop its lakefront properties. But Sherbourne Common’s ribbon-cutting arrived only one week before new populist mayor Rob Ford’s budget cut drive. Ford has called the agency spearheading waterfront development a “boondoggle” and suggested the city sell off its lands to private developers.

Politicians don’t often pass on the opening of a new civic amenity — but at Sherbourne Common, Ford was nowhere to be seen.

Folded papers

12 newspapers in major US cities have closed since 2007, including the Rocky Mountain News, Cincinnati Post and Honolulu Advertiser

8 other dailies have switched to online or print/online, such as The Christian Science Monitor




Type: Presidential and legislative
Date: 23 October
Candidates: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, hoping for a second term with the centre-left Front for Victory (FpV) Peronist alliance, came out on top in August’s primaries. Lagging behind is closest rival Ricardo Alfonsín, son of former president Raúl.
Issues: Despite having one of the continent’s highest growth rates (alongside Peru and Panama), the economy is the issue, with several candidates playing on fears of food price rises and an unofficial inflation rate of 25 per cent.

Comment: After decades of military dictatorship and financial mismanagement, Argentina is booming. But the country needs a strong leader who can unite the country – and stamp out excessive red tape and corruption.

One man band


Of the almost 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the US, around 2,000 have just one member of staff.

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