Friday, February 29, 2008

Local elections

Municipal elections take place in March and so electioneering is reaching its peak. You don't vote for individual city councillors here, let alone a mayor, several judges, hospital and water board supervisors, and so on as in the United States. You vote for a list of over 30 cronies, who split the jobs between themselves if elected. The head of the list usually gets to be mayor. Of the many lists on the first ballot, the two or three with the most votes will go forward to the final round.

At a public meeting last night in our quartier, members of a prominent centre-left list presented themselves to about 80 local inhabitants. Hot issues were, predictably, the recent steep rise in local taxes and the destruction of parking facilities in the city centre. It's obvious to an outsider that the current regime has performed disastrously, but it's not clear if the opposition would have done any better.

One interesting question from the floor was whether the head of the list approved of the "professionalisation" of jobs at the Mairie. Apparently, the current gang in power has converted part-time appointments to salaried positions. Jobs for the boys, combined with an unwillingness to consult with electors, have given an impression of arrogance that will be hard to overcome. We expect a change.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bonfires

Two all-day bonfires down, one to go to demolish the mounds of tree branches and hedge clippings at the end of the garden.  As it's below freezing at night, there's not much danger of washing being on the line or windows being open if one starts a fire at breakfast time. It's warm and sunny by noon, so bonfires must be under control and not smoking by then, in case neighbours want to eat lunch out of doors. A lack of respect for the two-hour lunch break would label one as an inconsiderate foreigner. After 2 p.m., the fire can be restarted and kept going until dusk.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Spring?

It is still frosty at night, but we have had so many warm, sunny afternoons recently that birds are nesting and there is blossom everywhere. My hedgehogs are tired of hibernation and are raiding the dry cat food hopper nightly. The stray cat is pregnant. It feels like spring.