The Mayor of Iraq's third-largest city was touring city government Thursday, including a stop in City Council, where he received a warm welcome and got to watch a sleepy Council session.
Zuhair Mohsin Mohammed Abdulazeez, the mayor of Mosul in northern Iraq, is on a 10-day tour of the states, with stops in Minnesapolic, Philadelphia and New York. Mosul, a city of 2 million, is beset with problems, and Abdulazeez is examing everything from budgeting to cultural funding to solid waste.
Councilman Bill Green was his tour guide in council. Below is a briefing on his trip from the International Visitors Council:
MR. ZUHAIR MOHSIN MOHAMMED ABDULAZEEZ
Mayor of Mosul, Iraq
This visitor is invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program. Department of State Program Officer: Office of International Visitors; Ms. Pat Kowall.
May 5 - 12, 2008
Philadelphia program dates May 6 – 9, 2008
Accompanied By: Arabic Language Interpreter: one, not yet assigned
Name: Mr. Zuhair Mohsin Mohammed ABDULAZEEZ
Present Position: Mayor of Mosul
Previous Positions: Security Advisor, City of Mosul; Economic Advisor, City of Mosul; Iraqi Military, Civilian Auditor
Education/Training: Currently pursuing courses in Municipal Administration, University of Mosul; BA, Military Science, University of Baghdad, Iraq
No pork; no alcohol
U.S. Travel: No previous U.S. travel
IVC Program Background: Mosul is a city of approximately two million people. Many current city services are outdated, non-existent, or non-deliverable. The generation of electricity is inadequate, fuel distribution is difficult, the water delivery system does not work effectively and the water is often non potable; there is no viable solid waste treatment program; and there are no cultural events to speak of in the city, for example the museum is closed and the artists union is afraid to work.
Following attendance at the U.S.-Arab Cities Forum in Chicago, Mayor Abdulazeez will visit the United States for ten-days. He will visit Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and New York City and wishes to examine:
- Waste Water Treatment: design and construction of municipal sewage treatment systems; maintenance of municipal waste water treatment facilities; programs utilized to avoid pollution and environmental degradation; and regulation of waste water treatment facilities; a site visit to a water treatment plant.
- Small Business Development: City-wide initiatives that encourage small business development (with an emphasis on development of small factories); training programs that are available for small business owners and potential employees; financial and management assistance programs for small business owners; and microloan programs that provide start-up capital to new businesses.
-City, State and Federal Government Interaction: Attendance at some type of city government meeting (city council meeting, board of education meeting, community organization meeting) to allow the mayors to see how citizens have a voice in the city government decision making process. Meet with mayors and their financial officers to see first-hand the budget execution process for a city of similar size. Receive practical information about budget development, prioritization of projects, and an overview of how local government ensures that basic services are provided to all citizens.
- Solid Waste Disposal: An overview of integrated solutions to municipal solid waste management. View the entire solid waste process starting with garbage collection and then moving to the separation procedures and finally the disposal sites. Visit a site that has a successful recycling program (especially plastic and aluminum) and compare and contrast private and municipal run waste disposal programs.
- Public Transportation Systems: Development, management, maintenance, and funding programs for public transportation in cities of comparable size (Mosul has approx. 2.0 million population). Special provisions are made by municipalities for the elderly and people with disabilities.
- Cultural Activities and Entertainment Venues: How are these services provided to citizens; how does the city work with private business and non profit organizations to ensure that citizens have cultural opportunities, festivals, and sporting opportunities. This should be at a very basic level because there is virtually no cultural activity currently available in Mosul. The mayor is interested in looking at traditional cultural activities but also at youth sports leagues, soccer field development, coffee shops, internet cafes, and shopping centers. He would like to explore this at the neighborhood level, but also see how a city properly plans cultural and entertainment opportunities for its citizens.