Temas Especiales

04 de Oct de 2023


Panama City's surf is coming up

The Panama City mayor's race has taken a turn that one might find entertaining, disgusting or both, but it has definitely turned. After ...

The Panama City mayor's race has taken a turn that one might find entertaining, disgusting or both, but it has definitely turned. After being caught lying twice about his meetings with David Muria Guzmán, Bobby Velásquez is toast. He'll get the loyal third or so that always votes PRD, buteither Bosco Vallarino or Miguel Antonio Bernal is going to beat him.

The presidential race is shaping up as such a blowout that voters will be able to focus on legislative and local races earlier in the campaign than they usually do. Let's hope that the principal topic of discussion about the now-rearranged mayoral race will not continue to be whether Bobby's a crook, because there are some other serious matters to weigh.

For years, whenever heavy rain coincided with high tide, the drainage system has lost suction and neighborhoods, some of them not close to the water, have seen flooding.

This problem is not a stationary target. It's going to get substantially worse.

In 2004 oceanographers noted that worldwide sea levels had risen four to eight inches due to global warming that's melting the polar ice caps. In the last couple of years, the scientists' climate models broke down in the face of a polar melt that's proceeding much faster than expected. Now Dr. Jianjun Yin, a Florida State University climate modeler, predicts a dramatic rise in sea levels over the next year, on the order of 18 inches. Others are predicting double that. The problem is not just higher sea levels, but even greater differences at high tide.

If the level of Panama Bay doesn't go up a meter or more in the next year, it surely will over the next mayor's five-year term. So are we going to factor that into the design of the new sewer and sewage treatment system, or risk that expensive system being unusable soon after its completion? So are we going to update our already inadequate storm drainage system? What about the building codes? When people from the new towers along the waterfront come to the city demanding money to deal with flooding, what will we say?

None of the candidates are talking about these things.

We do know, however, that Bobby Velásquez has promised "continuity." That, taken literally, means five more years of urban planning insanity.

We know that Bosco Vallarino, in the course of his promotions of the now collapsed real estate speculation bubble, pumped investment in the Palacio de la Bahia, that spectacular tower which was going to have seven stories of underground parking in the Avenida Balboa landfill where it was to be built.

Miguel Antonio Bernal hasn't said anything about rising sea levels, but at least he has a former Vice Minister of Public Works as his running mate and some very astute environmentalists in his camp.

Miguel Batista, the Vanguardia Moral candidate, hasn't said anything about rising sea levels.

The basic underlying issue is whether we will have development based on the untrammeled whims of people with money, or whether on the other hand public interest will play a role in the process. We can extrapolate from the positions that the candidates have taken on similar issues and from the identities of their backers.

Another fundamental issue is quite simply who's an idiot and who's not. Quite frankly, I don't want someone who hyped a project with seven stories of underground parking in a landfill setting Panama City's urban design policies

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