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A big mess: Rome's mayor is getting thumbs down.

ROME -- Pigs root through garbage piling up in a working class neighborhood. City buses improvise routes on streets clogged with triple-parked cars. On rainy days, muck-choked sewers make crossing the road a Herculean labor.

Ignazio Marino promised to bring order to Rome's chaos when he was elected mayor in a landslide last year. Instead, critics say the liver transplant surgeon is the affliction not the cure -- and are pressuring him to resign.

The biggest challenge Marino faced upon winning office was tackling Rome's notorious traffic gridlock. His first major move? Banning cars on the boulevard flanking the Roman Forum so tourists have a more pleasant stroll, strangling Rome's center even more. The ban enraged residents and shopkeepers, whose streets became bottlenecks of detoured traffic.

Then Marino hiked parking meter fees, an unpopular move among Romans who have abandoned the capital's strike-prone mass transit system in droves. But what has really poisoned the Roman mood is that after enforcing his big idea on parking fees, Marino was himself repeatedly caught in traffic violations with his bright red Fiat Panda -- and allowed fines to pile up unpaid.

Ordinary Romans can drive into the historic center only with an annual permit that costs hundreds of euros. Marino this summer drove his Fiat into the heart of Rome after his own permit had expired. Tickets, eight of them, accumulated -- as Marino blamed careless aides for failing to renew the permit. Anger only increased when a national TV program caught the Panda parked in a no-parking zone near the Senate.

Even members of Marino's own Democratic Party have begun to give him the thumbs down, worried that he could damage Premier Matteo Renzi, who heads the party. Marino's office turned down interview requests for this story.

''Resign, resign!'' Romans hooted recently when Marino stepped into Julius Caesar Hall for a city council hearing about the Panda debacle.

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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 25, 2014
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