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#147: Subways are a mess, CDU and the Greens?, school non-choice
Oh, and we now have coffee mugs. Buy them.
We first had the idea to make merch about a day after we came up with this newsletter but because adulting can be hard we only just this month (ok last month but we had to work out the logistics) finally made some merch. Well, a merch.
Introducing the 20% Berlin coffee mug! Just €11.90 (plus €5.50 shipping if you go that route). The logo is printed on both sides so everyone in the office will know you’re not only an Ausländer but also read the city’s best-ever newsletter — pretty impressive considering Berlin’s been around since the 12th century.
But there’s more. If you’ve been a Patreon patron for at least a year, we’re just going to give you one! Really! We’ll e-mail you a code next week to order one for free (we’ll even pick up the shipping because we appreciate you).
Thanks to sometimes-advertiser and supporter Heipl Berlin for handling the logistics. Maybe check out their online store while you’re there or go buy one in person at Schlesi (side note: they won’t have any until tomorrow so don’t go today).
Have a good weekend!
Become a Patreon patron today and start looking forward to a free mug in January 2024!
U1/U3 closed starting Monday, U2 a mess until Sept.
Ugh. The U2 will likely remain as reduced service around Alex(anderplatz) until the end of August as a French property developer repairs the century-old subway tunnel, according to Tagesspiegel. Covivio, the developer, is building a skyscraper above the tunnel and foundation work caused the tunnel to treacherously sink at one end and rise at the other. The plan is now to reinforce a retaining wall for the new building’s foundation and then raise the subway tunnel by pumping concrete underneath it. As if that isn’t enough, the U1 and U3 will be bus replacement service between Warschauer Straße and Kotti until March 5, according to the Morgenpost, because the renovations on the elevated railway two years ago led to new noises that the BVG says it can remedy. The renovations were two years ago? It seems like construction at Schlesi(scher Tor) has never ended.
Friedrichstraße to become bike/pedestrian-only. Again.
Alle gute Dinge sind Drei (the third time’s a charm): Friedrichstraße will be closed permanently to cars between Leipziger and Französischer Straße after the borough of Mitte changed the street’s legal designation — the stretch was closed to cars between August 2020 and November 2022 as part of an official “traffic experiment”. But it had to again allow cars after a Berlin court said the city can’t just close a street that’s legally a street once an experiment ends— traffic guru and mayoral candidate Bettina Jarasch (Die Grüne) had hoped to just keep it closed until the designation was changed. It remains baffling why the city chose to close those insignificant 500 meters of street over all the other 500 meters of street in the city (maybe Galeries Lafayette is growing weary of being on an insignificant 500 meters of street?).
This is where you subscribe to have a newsletter to read with your fabulous new coffee mug.
CDU and the Greens? At least one man can dream
In election do-over news: Kai Wegner, the head of the conservative CDU party in Berlin, is talking with the environmentalist Die Grüne about a potential coalition following next month’s election becaues all major parties are jealous of the SPD’s 22-year reign in Berlin, according to Tagesspiegel. Also, Kai would really like to be mayor (the biggest party in any coalition gets to appoint the mayor). The CDU continue to lead all other parties in the polls (CDU: 23%, Grüne 21%, SPD 18%, Linke 11%, FDP 6%) but have little chance of actually governing since a three-way coalition is always necessary and the city-state skews left. Although Die Grüne are apparently accepting Wegner’s invitation for a schnapps or a beer to discuss the idea, it’s unclear who they could pick up as a third wheel — they already govern together in 4 of Germany’s 16 states.
Find a flat? Try finding a school
It’s not just finding a flat that’s tough in this city, finding a secondary school for your kid is just as awful. But Berlin says they want to reform the process by the 2024-25 school year, according to RBB. To begin with, there’s the stress of hoping your kids’ grades are good enough to get into Gymnasium, the top-tier of German public schools (the structure of German schooling is its own elitist mess). Then, in sixth grade, families have to pick three potential secondary schools and there’s no guarantee they can go to any of those schools (most often neighborhood schools). Schools handpick 60 percent of the incoming classes and 30 percent are accepted by lottery. The remaining 10 percent go to siblings and special cases. If a kid doesn’t get in by these methods, then they have to take what they’re assigned — commutes of up to an hour are seen as acceptable and 170 kids last year were unable to find any spot at all. The city created extra spaces for them.
The world changed exactly three years ago when the first case of Covid-19 was discovered in Germany. An employee of a Chinese industrial company (that had recently bought a German rival) returned from a trip to China with the virus on January 27, 2020. At least we went through it together.
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