During São Paulo’s 2016 mayoral race, João Doria repeated to the point of exhaustion that he is not a politician, but an administrator. But he’s not a good one, however, if his first days in office have been any indication.
Doria has launched the program “Beautiful City” (“Cidade Linda”). It consists of reversing decades of street art with a city-wide cover-up mission. One main highway saw its entire stretch of graffiti painted gray over the weekend. An intense – and predictable – backlash followed the move. After all, Doria began to destroy one of the few things that make São Paulo’s landscape enjoyable.
To the surprise of the city’s residents, however, the Mayor’s Office has backpedaled. Doria’s Secretary of Culture has announced that graffiti could come back to the gray walls. According to André Sturm, the city is now “too gray, and there a will to recolor the walls.” The city intends to promote a Graffiti Festival, providing the material to the artists.
So, the “administrator” spent public money to erase graffiti and will now spend more public funds to repaint the graffiti. There’s a name for that: incompetence.
Regardless of the angle you approach it from, Mayor João Doria has screwed up. In the first place, the whole “beautification” initiative is questionable. It’s not like São Paulo doesn’t have more pressing issues than its graffiti. Off the top of my head, I’d say: the 103,000 children without a spot in a daycare center; crack addiction programs; or constant floods.
His office never questioned the residents on how they felt about the graffiti. A simple survey would have cost less money and avoided trouble. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that he actually believes in that policy. Then why would he backpedal only a couple of days later?
Doria became popular in Brazil thanks to his stint as the host of “The Apprentice Brazil.” I can only imagine if one of his contestants had pulled a similar move. They would most certainly hear the famous catchphrase: “You’re fired.”