"Assisi, which is still recovering from the earthquake in 1997 that damaged its famous basilica and killed 11 people, is now traumatized by the crackdown on pigeons. ..."

"St. Francis was a saint; I'm just a humble mayor. I have no interest in becoming a saint. I am trying to apply common sense and pragmatism."-Giorgio Bartolini, the mayor of Assisi, defending a new city ordinance that bans the feeding of birds.
-The New York Times

To: Giorgio Bartolini, Mayor of Assisi
From: Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor of New York

Dear Mr. Bartolini,
It was with great perplexity that I read of your recent bird woes. Let me see if I have this straight. You've got thousands of foul, disease-ridden pigeons, rats with wings, basically, and they're crapping all over public property, and when you lay down a little law the local priests and tree huggers jump on you. Then you explain yourself in the press, saying stuff like "I'm just a humble mayor," "I don't want to be a saint." Giorgio, as one mayor to another, allow me to give you some advice: Get a grip!

First, drop the "humble mayor" bit. There's no place for humility in the mayoral office unless you want to be a one-term milquetoast. Second, what's wrong with a mayor aspiring to be a saint? Oh, sure, Assisi's idea of sainthood may be a peacenik who loves animals and preaches to the birds. But there are other saints, you know! Like St. James, my personal favorite. In 845, he appeared in the sky at the battle of Clavijo atop a mighty white charger. Sword in one hand, a head dripping gore in the other, he slaughtered 60,000 Moors that afternoon, helping the Christians reclaim Spain from the infidels.

My point? Sometimes even a saint, no less a mayor, needs to kick ass. Draw blood, demand respect. St. James wouldn't let a bunch of criminal bird feeders make him look weak and pathetic! And if you don't ruffle some feathers today, you open the door to more serious problems tomorrow-crime, violence, pornography, Al Sharpton. With that in mind, I'd like to propose a pigeon crackdown for Assisi, Giuliani-style.

You don't have a bird problem, you have a people problem Face it, if a bird poops on a historic monument, the guy who fed the bird is an accessory to vandalism-grounds for you to slap on the cuffs.

Start a "workfare" program I'll bet a bag of bagels against a box of canolis that lots of feeders are homeless, the deadbeat demographic that itself feeds off the town. Well, make those people earn the right to roost in Assisi! Start a workfare program by which they can either scrub bird goop from the streets and rooftops or go find a new town to ruin.

Stick cameras in plazas Nothing strikes the fear of God in people like a citywide video surveillance program. Believe me, Assisians will think twice before they toss another breadcrumb.

Make an arrest, take DNA sample Suppose a repeat offender bites into a biscotti and gives half to a bird. There's saliva on that biscotti-as good as fingerprints!

Disney-fy Assisi If Mickey Mouse can drive the hookers and pimps out of Times Square, I'm sure he can vanquish your bird feeders. And it'll be a real shot in the arm for tourism. No offense, but how many visitors can one yellow-belly saint and some decrepit old buildings draw anyway?

Hamstring your opposition Recently I learned about a party in honor of Hillary Clinton, my opponent for the Senate. I canceled the organizer's permit, forcing her backers to find another place to hold their shindig! Similarly, those priests who complain about your crackdown may just change their tune after you've put the kibosh on, say, Wednesday night bingo.

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