Multi-Demos In the City

photo: lapin agile, montmartre

Montmartre's pink cabaret of the agile rabbit.

This Week Only: Les Faits Divers

Paris:- Sunday, 26. March 2000:- The scorecard for street demonstrations in Paris during the past week was filled and extra names were added to the reverse side. Teachers, posties, doctors, tax persons - who else? - were almost lining up for good starting positions.

Twice I came across random bits of demonstrators carrying signs, milling around my neighborhood looking for lunch before their tramp through the city. Others booked whole TGV trains to bring themselves to the capital.

When the scorecard was added up this weekend, it looked like the Ministers for Education and Finance would be on their way out, or shuffled to other posts.

The actual changing of chairs is expected next Monday or Tuesday, but the government is saying it has run with the same crew for two - or is it a record three? - years, and this is not normal.

Er, hem, yes it is 'normal' for good government - its longevity proves it - but some new faces are needed. Other commentators see it differently. Heads are not rolling, but elections are coming up - so a re-election crew is now needed.

Just as I have no list of all the street parades that have taken place during the week, I have no numbers either. One thing, a demo is a demo, and the police cannot say there were a third fewer of these than there were.

BNF Hit by Strike

Last Tuesday security personnel went on strike at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France at both the new library at Tolbiac and at the old site at Richelieu. The workers are demanding better conditions and salary increases.

A full salad basket of other unions - CFDT, CFTC, CGT, FEN, FSU and SUD - are supporting thephoto: arc de triomphe, champs elysees strikers - their union is the FO - plus have gone the extra step of issuing their own strike warning.

Announced last Wednesday by Le Parisien as 'the BNF's first strike this year,' as if there will be many more to come. The security agents - to protect the library's readers - are employed by a private firm and do not work directly for the BNF.

With the walkout by the security agents, the BNF's management decided to close the libraries until they return to work.

Stinky Air

The 36 hours of spring, beginning of Tuesday and fading away Wednesday afternoon, resulted in a pollution 'alert' on Thursday.

These 'alerts' require drivers to slow down by 20 kph on all roads and even the autoroutes around Paris. Residents, if they have a card to prove it, can also park for free.

The police are also supposed to increase their spot pollution checks of cars and trucks. For dirty exhaust the fine is 300 francs if paid within three days; and 450 francs thereafter. Driving at 20 kph more than the limit costs 600 francs.

If you want to get on top of these pollution 'alerts' in near-real time instead of the day after, the outfit that sniffs out the mucky air has a Web site. It is called Airparif and gives reports for the whole Ile-de-France, and even posts predictions.

Cheeky Car Boosters

Although operating since last July, it was only last week that police managed to put their handcuffs on some really lazy car thieves.

Instead of breaking into cars and cracking their ignitions - on some newer and more expensive cars the ignitions are locked with a coded chip - the thieves would simply go into dealerships, pretending to be potential buyers.

Then, through some feat not explained by Le Parisien, they would simply lift the ignition keys when nobody was looking. They'd wait for a period of confusion - real car buyers panting to buy some new wheels - hop into their chosen car and zoom out the door.

The cops have them nailed - no explanation of how - for seven boosts, but the numbers of cars taken may number closer to 70.

The reason they are hard to count is because they are thought to be in North Africa. Only seven car dealers are claiming that some of their cars are missing.

The two-man crew arrested by police are suspected of being ex-members of two other teams the police rolled up in 1990 and 1996. The police are looking for another two, who got away.

Illegal Parking Tickets

A court has decided that a municipal decree in Bagnolet that instituted metered parking seven years ago is illegal, because the town sought the revenues for paying salaries and not for improving traffic circulation.

The municipality also did not carry out some petty administrative action - thus rending its entire system of fee-based parking null and void.

This history was launched by an opposition councilman, who also suggested that motorists contest their parking tickets. Merchants who think they lost business - since 1992! - have also been advised to sue the municipality.

Bagnolet is appealing the court's decision and reminding motorists that they have to keep paying for parking while the case goes through the courts.

Meanwhile in Clichy, a parking ticket placed on three different cars in three different locations, all at the same time, by one parking cop - has attracted the attention of the court there.

Paris operated a radar control in the Bois de Boulogne for three years. But a court decided in 1996 tat the park is not part of Paris, and therefore its speedphoto: rue de rennes, tour montparnasse limit is 90 kph and not the 50 kph that the radar was set to clock.

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