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#16: Berghain, Friedrichstrasse, the referendum
Berlin's new government is in final talks to become Berlin's new government, and is promising to fix a basic Berlin bureaucracy problem.
Hello 20 Percent,
Apologies for the slight tardiness today - I’m finishing this from the relative safety of Portland, Oregon, USA. Fall break, you know. The family is concerned Ignatz the storm might affect our return tomorrow but I’m confident the thing that made our escape so laborious will be our downfall Saturday - BER.
We passed through Denver International Airport on this trip and I was reminded that that airport more than stumbled when it opened in 1995 too. An automated baggage system didn’t work so employees had to hand-sort and transport luggage. And for years it’s been going through a remodel that was supposed to just take months.
“Maybe Berlin’s incompetence,” I thought as we tried to find our way to security, “is just human incompetence.”
The real difference? Berlin’s culture of complaint and Germany’s disdain for its own capital. BER will eventually be fine and, like in Denver, then suffer a months-long remodel that will probably last a decade.
Have a good, if windy, weekend.
PS: If you haven’t already done so, why not sign up to our twice-weekly newsletter?
The Berlin corona stats for Friday, October 22
Fully vaccinated: 66.1% (65.8% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: 713 (894 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 3,671 (+6 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 113.7 (92.5 Friday)
🟢 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 3.2 (2.6 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 9.4% (9.5% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page
Incidence inching (centimetering?) up
The local corona incidence eked over 100 Thursday, moving one traffic light to red. At the moment no new measures are expected but it seems odd not to highlight it. The fourth wave? Maybe. Probably. We’ll keep an eye on it.
Clubbing and corona, a new normal
Add Covid-19 to the list of things you can score in a Berghain darkroom, bathroom or dancefloor. Nineteen guests caught the bug - and 2,500 were notified of possible exposure - after Berlin’s most famous institution re-opened two weeks ago, according to the Morgenpost. Newswire dpa said Berghain isn’t alone - other unspecified 2G events have also led to similar-level outbreaks. The Clubcommission, a nightlife lobbying group, downplayed the outbreak, saying the warning system works and that outbreaks leading to minor illness are the new normal.
Friedrichstrasse may stay free of cars
Berlin traffic officials earlier this month applied to permanently close Friedrichstrasse to cars between Französische and Leipziger Strasse. The stretch has been open to only bikes and pedestrians since August 2020 and was to re-open this month. Officials are waiting for study results which, because this is Germany, won’t be available early next year, before making a final decision. The experiment always felt odd - why pick that mostly forgotten area when anywhere else would have a greater impact? Maybe I just answered my own question.
About that referendum
Mayor-in-waiting Franziska Giffey (SPD) wants Berlin’s new coalition government to be in place by late December (her center-left party started final coalition negotiations Friday with leftists Die linke and environmentalists Die Grüne). They’ve already agreed to appoint a commission of constitutional attorneys and referendum organizers to determine how to best implement the Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Enteignen referendum. The commission is to give its recommendation in early 2023. Giffey was against the referendum but admitted in a Tagesspiegel interview that no government could ignore such a popular ballot item.
Fixing city administration
The main reason nothing works in Berlin is because no one really knows who’s responsible for nearly everything from streets to parks to crime. It might be the city-state’s government (known as the Senat) or the 12 borough governments. This overlap often leads to stalemate as bureaucrats argue over tasks and budgets. In the Tagesspiegel interview, Giffey said she wants a reform to allow the Senat to take over on city-wide issues (such as residential real estate) when necessary but laid the blame for our garbage Bürgerämter (where you register addresses and dogs) on borough governments. Former mayor Klaus Wowereit (SPD) earlier this week criticized the current structure on broadcaster RBB as a “collective non-responsibility”, sparking a round of finger-pointing that makes one wonder if blame, outrage and defensiveness aren’t part of the problem too.
Some weekend tips
An event slash exhibition in an old casino on Nollendorfplatz. They say it’s all about the odd phenomenon that is NFTs but it looks like much more, and very urban. More info here: Gameover.berlin.
Time for a festival reflecting the diversity of Berlin podcasters. The first PodFest Berlin celebrates podcasts in all genres and languages. The three-day fest kicks off on Saturday, October 23 and promises to be a place to mingle, participate in workshops, attend live recordings and forge new cooperations. Most events take place at the Comedy Cafe in Neukölln. Info and tickets.