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Adeus, Kassab

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

The conservatively inclined but civic-minded Estado de S. Paulo often does a fine job of cross-checking lists of political promises with lists of practical achievements.

Today’s paper runs a post mortem on the performance of outgoing mayor Gilberto Kassab.

Source: Portal ClippingMP.| Estado de S. Paulo
Translation: C. Brayton

A mere 123 of the 223 objectives listed at the outset of the Kassab administration — 55.1% of the total — were carried out, according to the list of objectives announced in 2009.

The mayor says the city government’s “efficacy rate” is 81%, but this figure includes projects not yet completed. Among the main projects promised but not completed on time was the construction of three hospitals, the creation of more day care vacancies, drainage projects, and 60 km of bus corridors.

As part of his “efficacy rate,” the mayor counts both finished and unfinished projects, but says we will leave the city in better shape and with more resources.


The final report of Agenda 2012, the official planning document announced by Kassab in 2009, shows that only 123 of its 223 commitments — 55.1% of the total — have been met as Kassab’s four years in office come to a close. Nevertheless, the mayor says that the city’s “index of efficacy” stands at 81%. This number includes projects that were initiated but not completed.

This was the first time a São Paulo mayor has published a planning document detailing the goals of the administration.  The publication of such a planning document was ordered by the city council in February 2008 in an amendment to the city’s Organic Law that gives incoming mayors three months to define objectives to be met during their term in office.

Bureaucratic and regulatory problems, as well as difficulties in obtaining environmental licenses account for at least part of Kassab’s performance. Among the principal works not completed on time were hospital construction, an increase in daycare capacity, drainage works and 66 km of bus corridors.

These performance were neverthless cited in order to raise the city’s “efficacy rate.” According to the mayor, this index takes into account the bureaucratic status of the city’s projects — contract complete, property rights established, bidding process executed — to measure how far the city has come to completing the road to its objective.

Yesterday,  Kassab said he is leaving “a better city, with more resources” to mayor-elect  Fernando Haddad (PT), who has until March to define his goals.

Actually, Haddad published a highly detailed plan of government during the election campaign.

My browser thanks the candidate for dialing down the Flash the next time around, by the way.

Whether Haddad will do any better at minimizing bureaucratic friction is the question.

Kassab finishes out his second term with very negative polling numbers: 42% rate his government as bad or the worst. Only 27% rate it as good or best. These figures are the worst for any mayor in history except Celso Pitta (1997-2000), with 74% negatives.

Kassab was Pitta’s secretary of urban planning.

It is odd that the Estado does not touch on the Nova Luz project — urban renewal in a  historic downtown neighborhood abutting present-day Cracolândia — Crack City Sambodia.

On a Personal Note

Our little neighborhood here in the Vila was the focus of some of the parks development that the Kassab government promoted.

Our local praça is now a popular spot, with kids playing, dogs sniffing the Internet of dogs and urban DIY greengrocers importing their household grown compost.

It was also the site of a fatal police shooting in which a local resident was shot eight times during a police stop and search. This happened 25 meters from our front door.



The park is not exactly a world-class urban green space, however. As an architect neighbor and another, an engineer, remark, the materials used for the pedestrian paths — sand and brick dust on either shoulder — will soon wash down into the abutting creek.

The playground equipment is dangerously far from up to specs.

If you ask me, the city’s most typical project is the urban reforestation project the city eventually got around to doing on our next door neighbor’s property: A moribund, fenced in sapling bearing the brand of the city environment secretary.

Remember “Ozymandia”?

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!



In short, long live the Potemkin village.