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World cities in rush to
launch own top level
internet domain names

Berlin, 20 April 2014:
After Berlin became the first city in the world with its own internet domain name, a handful of other cities, including London, Tokyo, Vienna, Paris and New York City, have announced that they will launch generic top level domains (gTLDs) in the coming weeks and months. At the launch of •berlin last month, Cherine Culaby, a director with ICANN*, said that some 50 cities and regions worldwide had applied for top-level-domain names with her organisation. It is thought that during 2014/15, more than 20 cities will be in a position to market their own domains.

Within an hour after •berlin was launched on 14 March, some 20,000 individuals, businesses and non-profit organisations had reserved Berlin-specific web addresses. Prior to the public launch, the owners of brands like Pepsi, VW or Lufthansa could register their Berlin domains. Berlin’s local government already owns a number of domains including polizei•berlin (police), rotes-rathaus•berlin (city hall) but also sex•berlin. For most private individuals and small businesses, a berlin suffix will cost some €50 (US$65) per year. The Berlin domains are managed by the private company, DotBerlin GmbH, whose founder and chief executive Dirk Krischenowski has for the past ten years campaigned for a unique Berlin domain. He believes that moving away from national and international suffixes, like •de or •com, will allow local businesses - restaurants, tradesmen or taxi firms - to use the internet to its full potential. Cologne and Hamburg are thought to be following Berlin’s example later this year.

Austria’s capital Vienna announced in February that it’s •wien top level domain would be launched to the public on 15 July. But the owners of national and international brands as well as registered local companies can already reserve domains reflecting the names of their businesses.

Earlier this month, Tokyo’s new Governor Yoichi Masuzoe welcomed the introduction of a top-level domain for his city. At a press conference, he said •tokyo would enable the Japanese capital to challenge New York, London and Paris for the for the title ‘world’s best city’. “In the challenge to become the number one city, I hope that •tokyo will be a great tool for promoting Tokyo to the world,” the governor added. The public launch of tokyo is scheduled for 9 June Successful applicants will pay some $300 for the first year and between $9 to $20 for subsequent years. However, highly sought after domains like taxi•tokyo or hotel•tokyo will cost considerably more. The Japanese city of Nagoya has already registered its own top-level domain.

After some delay, it has now been confirmed that the london domain will be launched on 29 April. During the first three months, trademark and brand owners as well as local companies and individuals will be given priority. According to a poll carried out in January, some 200,000 London businesses are likely to register a london domain. To showcase London’s new domain, a number of companies, such as The London Symphony Orchestra and up-market retailer Fortnum and Mason, have been allowed to go live before the official launch date.

The City of Paris has invited interested parties to be among the first to sign up for a •paris domain. Initially, organisers are keen to attract some 100 well-known companies and individuals who would become ‘ambassadors’ for the new domain. During a second stage, Paris will allot high-value domains such as hotels•paris, visit•paris or metro•paris. The public launch of •paris is programmed for the second half of 2014.

The •nyc domain is scheduled to go live on 8 October 2014. Operators of the New York City name will offer a 45-day ‘sunrise period’ to allow brand owners and trademark holders to secure their names. Following the ‘sunrise period’, the domain name organisers will provide a 60-day ‘landrush period’ during which eligible applicants can apply for business-specific domain names before the commencement of general availability. Where there are multiple applications for the same domain name during the ‘landrush’ period these applications will proceed to auction. In general, •nyc domains are reserved for individuals whose first home is New York City or an organisation that has a physical street address in city.

City top level domains likely to be launched during 2014/15:
•Amsterdam •Berlin •Boston •Brussels •Budapest •Capetown •Doha •Dubai •Durban •Gent •Hamburg •Helsinki •Istanbul •Joburg •Koeln/Cologne •Kyoto •London •Madrid •Melbourne •Miamai •Nagoya •Nyc •Okinawa •Rome/Roma •Vegas •Wien/Vienna

*ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is a non-profit organisation that coordinates the Internet's global domain name system. ICANN was created in September 1998. It is headquartered in Los Angeles.

Uncertainty over EU and financial
scandals cost London its crown

London, 16 March 2014:
London and New York City swapped places at the top of the latest Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) but NYC’s lead over the UK capital is a mere 0.2 per cent. Hong Kong and Singapore remain third and fourth respectively, while Zurich moves up to fifth place. London’s reputation in the world has suffered due to uncertainty over the Britain’s European Union membership and a number of financial scandals at the heart of its financial centre. Britain is also perceived to be unwelcoming to foreign workers.

While there are few changes in the top 10, the five leaders, NYC, London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Zurich are increasingly challenged by cities further down the table. Three years ago the difference between first and tenth was 117 points, now San Francisco, in tenth place, is only 75 points behind its East Coast rival.

In Asia, established centres like Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul are performing considerably better than weaker cities such as Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta or Mumbai. The oil wealth of the Gulf states is propelling centres like Qatar, Dubai and Riyadh up the table. The latter is up 16 places, Bahrain is up 12 places and Abu Dhabi is up ten.

The financial troubles in Europe meant that 23 out 27 centres declined by rank. Significant falls include Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Dublin, Madrid, Lisbon and Rome. Athens, in last place, is 82 points behind the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, which is second to last.

The Global Financial Centres Index 2014 ranks
(with last year’s ranks in brackets)

1 New York City (2)
2 London (1)
3 Hong Kong (3)
4 Singapore (4)
5 Zurich (6)
6 Tokyo (5)
7 Seoul (10)
8 Boston (7)
9 Geneva (8)
10 San Francisco (12)

11 Frankfurt (9)
12 Luxembourg (13)
13 Washington DC (17)
14 Toronto (11)
15 Chicago (14)
16 Montreal (18)
17 Vancouver (19)
18 Shenzhen (27)
19 Vienna (20)
20 Shanghai (16)

21 Tel Aviv (32)
22 Calgary (21)
23 Sydney (15)
24 Monaco (23)
25 Buenos Aires (46)
26 Qatar (24)
27 Busan (n/a)
28 Munich (34)
29 Dubai (25)
30 Stockholm (37)

31 Riyadh (47)
32 Abu Dhabi (42)
33 Oslo (36)
34 (Osaka (30)
35 Kuala Lumpur (22)
36 Paris (29)
37 Melbourne (33)
38 Sao Paulo (38)
39 Wellington (43
40 Bahrain (52

Methodology: The organisers of the GFCI, the Z/Yen Group, uses an online questionnaire to ask international financial services professionals to rate those centres they are familiar with. In the 24 months leading up to December 2013, 3,246 responses were collected.

Rio de Janeiro mayor
new boss of C40 cities

New York City, 1 December 2013:
C40, the coalition of large cities committed to reduce omissions harmful to the environment, have elected the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro as its new chairman of its steering committee, which consists of the cities of Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Houston, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London, New York City, Seoul, and Tokyo. Eduardo Paes will take over from New York’s outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg who will become president of the C40 board. A spokesman for the group said the dual leadership made sense.

“As C40 Chair, Mayor Paes will lead the strategic direction of the organisation, while as president, Mayor Bloomberg will oversee day-to- day operations of the organisation’s professional staff and serve as a key counsellor to both the new chair and the organisation.” With Bloomberg Philanthropies continuing as a “key funder” of C40, Michael Bloomberg will no doubt remain an influential player in the organisation.

Eduardo Paes, who will taker over as chairman on 15 December, said after being elected that cities were leading the way in the fight against global climate change and Rio - like New York City and all of our members - were on the front lines. “As the world becomes more urbanised - particularly in Latin America - our work going forward will be critical to creating a healthier, safer planet for all of our citizens today and for future generations.”

The new C40 chairman won praise from his predecessors and the mayors of Berlin and London. Michael Bloomberg called him a determined and focused leader with a clear passion for his city, while London’s Boris Johnson said: “I have come to know Eduardo Paes well through both our cities hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Eduardo is a dynamic, creative, and strategic leader. He has had great success in Rio and has been playing a vital role with C40.”

World cities fight
over billionaires

New York City, 23 September 2013:
  New York City is already home to more billionaires than any other city in the world, but its mayor wants more. Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire himself, said on his weekly radio show that it would be a godsend if every billionaire around the globe moved to New York. "They are the ones that pay a lot of the taxes. They're the ones that spend a lot of money in the stores and restaurants and create a big chunk of our economy," he said. A new report cites NYC, Moscow, London, Hong Kong and Beijing as the five most popular cities for billionaires.

During the recent mayoral primaries, Mayor Bloomberg has been accused of neglecting New York’s less well off. Recent research by the US Census Bureau showed an increase in the city’s poverty rate and a widening gap between the wealthy and the poor. The mayor dismissed the figures, saying that the large number multi-millionaires and billionaires in the city were the reason for wealth gab between rich and poor. “If we are fortunate enough to attract more wealthy individuals that would create an even wider income gap.”

According to the figures by the US Census Bureau, New York’s poverty rate rose from 20.1 per cent in 2010 to 21.2 per cent last year, while the average annual household income of the lowest fifth of the city’s population stood at just under nine thousand dollars, compared to US$223,000 for the highest fifth. Bill de Blasio, the Democratic candidate for mayor in the November elections, described New York as a tale of two cities.

New York is not the only city that vies to attract the world’s super-rich. London has been so successful in positioning itself as one of the most desirable locations for the wealthy that house-hunting billionaires have difficulties in finding homes that fulfil their security concerns and lifestyle expectations. Meanwhile, Moscow, which ranks second after New York for the number of resident billionaires, is eager to prevent its rich from moving to London, New York or Zurich.

Home to billionaires

Number of billionaires
New York City
Hong Kong
Los Angeles
San Francisco
Sao Paulo
Source: Wealth Insight

Separate research by the Hurun Research Institute reports that London has most multi-millionaires (those enjoying net wealth of between US$30 million to one billion) with Tokyo and Singapore placed second and third respectively. Mere millionaires meanwhile, seem to prefer Tokyo over New York and London. The number of multi-millionaires in London is reported to stand at 4,224, while 281,000 millionaires call the British capital their home. Some 461,000 millionaires live in Tokyo with another 389,000 in New York.

Asian cities most at risk
from natural disasters

Zurich, 22 September 2013:
Asia’s mega metro areas are most at risk from natural disasters, with Tokyo topping the list of the most vulnerable cities in the world. Research by insurance giant Swiss Re warns that the populations of some of the world’s fastest growing mega cities, including Jakarta, Kolkata and Shanghai, should be prepared for devastating floods and earthquakes. "Already today, major river floods alone have the potential to affect 380 million people living in cities; and some 280 million people could be impacted by severe earthquakes," the author of the survey said.

The Swiss Re survey Mind the risk: A global ranking of cities under threat from natural disasters shows that floods endanger more city people than any other natural peril, followed by earthquakes and storms. When they occur, they can affect millions of people and significantly disrupt the economy. Urban dwellers in Asia's mega cities are especially at risk, with Tokyo, Manila and Hong Kong-Guangzhou topping the population-at-risk index. Although smaller in size, European and US cities could also face huge economic repercussions in the event of a major disaster. Amsterdam-Rotterdam, Los Angeles and New York all feature in the top ten cities with the highest loss potential.

When essential infrastructure breaks down and people can no longer get to work, natural catastrophes can significantly disrupt the local and national economy. The report finds that metropolitan areas such as Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York and Amsterdam-Rotterdam rank high in terms of potential lost productivity, measured by the value of working days lost. For example, the report shows that while a devastating earthquake in Los Angeles could affect just as many people as in Jakarta, the resulting value of working days lost would be 25 times higher.

In some conurbations, a natural disaster can have a devastating effect on the economy of the entire country. This is the case in larger cities such as Lima, but also in smaller cities such as San Jose in Costa Rica. Although potential economic losses in these cities are relatively modest, their importance as national centres of production places them among the top ten riskiest cities when measured by the expected fallout for their home countries.

Across the metropolitan areas studied, river flooding poses by far the largest risk. India and China have the most people exposed to flooding. However, the economic loss potential from river flooding pushes European cities such as Amsterdam-Rotterdam, Paris, Milan and London higher in the rankings.

World's most vulnerable cities
Tokyo / Yokohama, Japan (57.1 million)
Manila, Philippines (34.6 million)
Pearl-River Delta, China (34.5 million)
Osaka / Kobe, Japan (32.1 million)
Jakarta, Indonesia (27.7 million)
Nagoya, Japan (22.9 million)
Kolkata, India (17.9 million)
Shanghai, China (16.7 million)
Los Angeles, USA (16.4 million)
Tehran, Iran (15.6 million)

The most ‘expensive’
mayors in the world

London, 16 September 2013:
Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino caused controversy when, shortly after being elected in June, he indicated that his salary of US$72,000 (€54,000) per annum was insufficient and did not compensate him adequately for his duties and responsibilities. He argued that even most of his senior staff was being paid more. (The city’s press officer is on €125,000, the mayor’s spokesman on $90,000 and various heads of department can expect remuneration packages of between €95,000 and €105,000.) Indeed, new research will show that the Mayor of Rome is one of the lowest paid leaders of major capital cities and that, per capita, he provides more value for money than the mayors of London, Paris or Berlin.

Research to be published by City Mayors later this year is also likely to show that while the Governor of Tokyo may be the highest paid city leader in the world, he is by no means the most expensive. Naoki Inose costs every Tokyo resident some 2.8 US cents per year, while the citizens of Helsinki contribute almost four cents each to their mayor’s salary.

Salaries and per capita costs for selected mayors
(US$ per annum)
Per capita costs
(US cents pa)
Berlin Klaus Wowereit
Chicago Rahm Emanuel
$ 216,000
Helsinki Jussi Pajunen
$ 229,000
London Boris Johnson
$ 234,000
Los Angeles Eric Garcetti
$ 232,000
New York City Michael Bloomberg*
$ 225,000
Oslo Fabian Stang
$ 207,000
Paris Bertrand Delanoë
Rome Ignazio Marino
Stockholm Sten Nordin
$ 210,000
Tokyo Naoki Inose
$ 238,000
Toronto Rob Ford

Extracts from research to be published by City Mayors in late 2013. Earning and population figures are based on 2012 and 2011 data respectively.

*Michael Bloomberg does not draw his salary.

Please email the City Mayors’ editor if you want your city and mayor to be included in our salary survey, inserting Salary Survey 2013 in the subject line

Syria and doping issues put an
end to Istanbul’s Olympic dream

Buenos Aires, 9 September 2013:
Istanbul’s Mayor Kadir Topbas was gracious in defeat after it was announced that Tokyo had won the right to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. “Naturally we are disappointed that a city that has hosted the Games before was elected but we wish Tokyo well,” he said. But some members of the 600-strong Turkish delegation put the blame on the civil war in Syria for their city’s defeat. “The threat of an imminent American missile attack on Syrian targets - some close to the Turkish border - and the general upheaval in the Middle East had delegates vote for the ‘safe’ option,” City Mayors was told by sources close to the Turkish bid.
The Turkish assessment was backed by leading IOC (International Olympic Committee) members. Prince Albert of Monaco told the French Press Agency (AFP) that the unstable situation in the region had harmed Istanbul’s cause. “The geopolitical situation certainly played a role. IOC members prefer surefire bets. Istanbul, like the others, was a really good candidacy. However, Tokyo offered a safe pair of hands,” he said. IOC Vice-President Thomas Bach also agreed that the instability in the Middle East hurt Istanbul’s chances. Other IOC members also mentioned the public unrests Istanbul experienced during the summer. One observer told City Mayors that one shouldn’t forget that the IOC was an organisation run mostly by ‘old’, risk-adverse men. “They feel more at home in Japan than in Turkey.”
IOC President Jacques Rogge commented after the vote that doping also weighed heavily on members minds. It was widely agreed in Buenos Aires that several of them had not made their choice until the final presentations. During these neither Madrid nor Istanbul were able to deal effectively with questioning on their countries’ doping control records led by the UK member Adam Pengilly. The London-based Guardian newspaper reported that athletes had asked the British IOC member Adam Pengill not to vote for Madrid or Istanbul over unresolved doping issues. (More than 30 Turkish athletes failed drug tests in recent months.)
Sunday’s vote was the fifth time an Olympic submission by Istanbul was unsuccessful. Previously, the city, which straddles Europe and Asia, bid to host the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 Summer Games.

Tokyo Governor Naoki Inosi said throughout the next seven years Team Japan would carry out its delivery plan. “By hosting the 2020 Tokyo Games we will create hope. We will offer dreams and hope to future generations and our hosting of the Games will accelerate the recovery of Japan’s tsunami affected area. Tokyo will be an environment where athletes can perform at their best and we will offer guests from every corner of the world our excellent hospitality.”
IOC delegates eliminated Madrid after the first round of voting. Both Madrid and Istanbul were tied with 26 votes each after a first ballot - meaning Tokyo comfortably topped that round with 42 votes - and it had to be put to a second decisive vote to see who would be eliminated. Istanbul then garnered 49 of the 94 votes cast to progress and kept their hopes alive of bringing the Games to Turkey for the first time.
Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964. The Winter Olympics were held in Japan in 1972 and 1998. Barcelona hosted the Summer Games in 1992.

Mixed response to demands
to cut ties with Russian cities

Chicago, 19 August 2013:
In Russia, this article is deemed unsuitable for readers under the age of 18. Cities right across the US have been urged to sever or suspend their sister-city ties with Russian municipalities. Human rights organisations say that Russian cities, rather than opposing the country’s recent anti-gay laws, have actually pioneered them. In March last year, the governor of St Petersburg signed a law, which banned ‘homosexual propaganda’ in the city. While, similar restrictions had already been enacted by cities like Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma, the ban in St Petersburg, Russia’s most European city and a community with a lively gay scene, caused international anger. The law, which the Duma (the Russian parliament) passed unanimously in June, is modelled on the St Petersburg decree.

Some 28 US cities have now been asked to end their twinning arrangements with their Russian counterparts. They include Los Angeles, twinned with St Petersburg; Philadelphia, twinned with Nizhny Novgorod; Charlotte, twinned with Voronezh; Honolulu, twinned with Kyzyl; Oakland, twinned with Nakhodka; San Jose, twinned with Ekaterinburg and Cleveland, twinned with Volgograd.

Lansing, Michigan, has been the first US city to have severed the relationship with its Russian sister city, a district of St Petersburg. But Chicago has said it would not suspend its ties with Moscow despite a plea from the publisher of the city’s Windy City Times urging City Hall to send a message to Russia by either cancelling or suspending its sister-city partnership with the Russian capital. "The entire Sister Cities International organisation should be involved in putting pressure on sister cities in Russia to work against this anti-gay law," Tracey Baim wrote. Back in Lansing, City Council President Carol Wood said:  "We want to make sure that we're supporting the LGBT community not only in our own city but in cities across the world. When we see atrocities like this, this is how we speak, through our resolutions. This is our opportunity to say that this is not right."

But there are others, even within the gay community, who argue that US cities, rather than cutting their ties with their Russian partners, should use their influence to urge moderation. San Jose councillors Ash Kaira, who sits on the board of Sister Cities International and whose city is twinned with Ekaterinburg, agrees a strong statement condemning Russia’s anti gay legislation should be made but doesn’t believe US cities should suspend relations with their Russian counterparts. Commentators also pointed out that there are no calls for Lansing to cancel its twinning arrangements with Akuapem in Ghana, where homosexuality is still illegal.

The mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, also said that the city would not sever ties with its Russian sister city Voronezh. In an open letter, Mayor Patsy Kinsey wrote that as a longtime advocate for LGBT rights in Charlotte and across America, she strongly condemned anti-LGBT legislation and violence anywhere in the world. “However, severing our ties with Voronezh would do nothing to help the LGBT community there. On the contrary, it would deprive us of the best means we have to ameliorate the situation,” she stressed.

In Europe, Bjorn van Roozendaal, a director with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) wrote US cities with sister links to Russian communities could probably better use their relations to foster dialogue and support local LGBT communities in their twinning cities.

World Mayor 2014
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World cities in rush to launch own top level internet domain names

Uncertainty over EU and financial scandals cost London its crown

Rio de Janeiro mayor new boss of C40 cities

World cities fight over billionaires

Asian cities most at risk from natural disasters

The most 'expensive' mayors in the world

Syria and doping issues put an end to Istanbul’s Olympic dreams

Mixed response to demands to cut ties with Russian cities (Photo: It is now illegal to fly the Rainbow flag in Russian cities)