Julia Amalia Heyer has a great Der Spiegel article this week on Yiannis Boutaris, the relatively new Mayor of Thessaloniki that even Berlin has to admit is doing a pretty fine job.Boutaris has even gone so far as to ask the Germans for help — a pretty big deal given the verbal sparring we’ve seen between the two nations recently.
So far the Mayor of Greece’s second biggest city has cut public spending by 30 per cent, hired an auditor, and helped boost the city’s tourism industry, running the city like a businessman rather than a politician (Boutaris isn’t even a member of a political party and came to prominence as the owner of a wine company).
His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. A member of a European Commission team in Athens even says: “Boutaris is the exception, a beacon. Everyone else can learn something from him.”
His unorthodox policies represent the fact he is an unorthodox person. He was an alcoholic for 10 years, and divorced his wife before remarrying her seven years later — he now has a tattoo of a unicorn to remember her after her death, and later got a tattoo of a lizard to tell himself it was time to stop mourning.
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