Friday, August 28, 2009

Open Letter to A. Daniel Weygandt, Paolo Costa and Ignazio La Russa

(Venice, Italy)

To: A. Daniel Weygandt, Former US Consul General to Italy

To: Paolo Costa, Former Mayor of Venice, Special Commissioner to Italian Defense Minister, Italian Member of European Parliament, President, Port of Venice

To: Ignazio La Russa, Italian Minister of Defense


cc: David H. Thorne, US Ambassador to Italy
cc: William Gill, Office of the US Consul, Milan
cc: Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State
cc: Barack Obama, President of the United States

Dear Dan, Dear Paolo, Dear Ignazio:

Many of my readers are curious and puzzled as to why this situation has happened to me in particular. I, too, was absolutely in the dark as to what was going on until yesterday, when I read the letter that Paolo Costa wrote to former Defense Minster Arturo Parisi on September 17, 2007 (see below). Suddenly, everything tumbled into place and started to make sense.

All I have to say, boys, is: SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

I can tell you what has felt like: as if I am stumbling around a real-life video game, trying to survive, without knowing who my enemies are or why I am under attack. It is as if I have stumbled into someone else's nightmare. All sorts of stories of who I am have been created: if you are a Jew, I am a Nazi. If you are a Nazi, I am a Jew. If you are Catholic, I am the devil. If you are the devil, I am a saint. Or, I am a Russian spy. Or, I am working secretly for the Austrian Empire. Or, I am secretly working with the Chinese. My favorite is that I am a Templar, because I really do feel like one:) And so on. It is a game I am not familiar with, nor do I want to learn how to play. Dan, you, especially, are completely aware of how naive I am when it comes to politics. Sorry to disappoint everybody, but in reality I am just a writer. Everything else is either utter fantasy, or deliberate character defamation. In a way, it is sort of like an honor that so much effort has gone into the attempt to silence my voice. I guess it is based upon what Paolo Costa states needs to happen: eliminate the elements of local opposition at its roots.

The methods that have been used against me -- violence, starvation, forcing me out of my apartment, interfering with my means of earning a living, defamation of my character, veiled threats, etc., etc. -- are bully tactics and the lowest form of warfare.

The most appalling incident was when a dagger-shaped piece of glass was forced into my foot during a pedicure. It is so far beyond anything in my experience that, to this day, I can hardly believe it happened. However, there are many people who actually saw the glass embedded in my foot. There are hundreds of people here in Venice and Meran who have seen and touched the piece of glass itself, which has since been confiscated by the police. I shaded the glass with a pencil, as I was afraid that it would disappear, as many of my documents have had a tendency to do -- which is why I made this stencil:

Updated on May 19, 2015 since previous photos were no longer visible (last updated 3-29-2015)
Updated on March 29, 2015 after discovering previous photo was no longer visible... AGAIN
I have no politics. I am not religious, although I am certain you know that I deeply believe in God. I always say that this is the Divine Comedy, not the Divine Tragedy, but it is a tragedy when deliberate cruelty is involved. In a rush to accomplish certain goals, all sorts of rules and regulations are being trampled upon: human rights, the environment, architecture, building codes -- you name it. A whispering campaign and gossip has been used against me in every aspect of my life, playing on people's individual fears and weaknesses. People who help me are threatened. City agencies and religious organizations have been instructed not assist me. It is absolutely shocking and appalling that an American woman is being treated in this fashion in the year 2009 by what are supposed to be democratic republics.

In case people are not reading the comments, here is an Anonymous comment posted yesterday:

Anonymous said...
Knowing Mr. William Gill personally as a man of incredible integrity, kindness and empathy, I am suspicious of Ms. Bauer's rants about this situation. Honestly, without hearing Mr. Gill's side of this story, we cannot know what is going on here. To be direct, she sounds defensive to the point that I wonder what she did to engender such a response from a person as caring and thoughtful as Mr. Gill. Sounds like the Consulate has had enough and is setting a limit on her. Most of you out there have never met or had contact with the person she is absolutely trashing in her blog but let me be the sole voice standing up for him. I am not related to him, but have had professional contact as an American through an embassy where he was incredibly helpful and kind. What have you done Ms. Bauer? Can we have details??? Why were you held by the police?

Now, everyone can read for themselves that I have asked Mr. Gill myself for his side of the story as I have never in my life met the man and have no idea whatsoever as to why he had an antagonistic attitude toward me -- which is why I said I must have been confused with another Catherine Bauer -- not impossible, as the name is common enough. As to what I have done -- you can all read for yourselves what I have done. I have written this blog, Venetian Cat - Venice Blog, and I have written two novels, HARLEY, LIKE A PERSON and HARLEY'S NINTH. I am completely transparent. I have never been arrested. Up until last year, when all these shenanigans started, I had perfect credit without even a finance charge or a late fee. I commit all my "sins" in public, and that includes swimming in the nude:) I think, more importantly, the question is: where is my apartment located and what do THEY want to do to the Rialto area?

Here's a little story: either last summer or the summer before (I have it written down exactly but my notes are locked inside my house and I do not have the key:), about 9:30 at night, I heard some construction going on across the Grand Canal. I looked out over my balcony and saw scaffolding going up on the side of the Rialto Hotel where the terrace is located. I was exhausted, but I thought: they cannot put up illegal construction right in front of my eyes. I went downstairs, walked over the Rialto Bridge and found five policemen standing in front of the Rialto Hotel. I said, "So, now we are allowed to do construction at night?" They said, "Construction? Construction where?" I said, "You are standing here." I took a few steps to the right. "Construction there." Two of the policemen came over with me. They said, "Do you have identification?" I said, "I came out without out it." I pointed across the canal. "I live right there. My name is Cat Bauer. I know the mayor, the vice-mayor, the presidents of the universities, the heads of the Casinò, the Patriarch, the doctors, the lawyers, the Indian chiefs. Tell them it's me complaining. I am going home." I went home and got the binoculars that Ludovico de Luigi gave me to spy on our mayor (and we will not get into those details -- I never used them for that purpose, Mr. Cacciari:) After twenty minutes, two men came down off the scaffolding. After two hours, the scaffolding was gone. I will confess to getting on my knees and giving thanks to God:)

There are absolutely sacred rules when it comes to the structures and buildings of Venice. That is why they are still standing after 500-1,000 years. Venice was constructed by enlightened beings, and their ghosts still walk the calli at night, weeping for what is happening to their city. I can hear them weep. This what they say: The rules of construction cannot be broken, or the whole city will come down. And I am sorry, Paolo Costa, if that takes a lot of time, but you of all people know it is the way it works in Venice. Better to get things right before, than spending much more later to fix errors.

As I think those involved are aware of by now, legally there is no reason why I cannot enter my apartment, which I intend to do. It is no longer a case of "does this mysterious document exist?" We have moved from gray to black and white, and I now have solid black and white evidence that the eviction is illegal, if not downright criminal.

Of one thing I am certain: if I have been abused this way by the "Powers-That-Be," we certainly do not want them as the "Ruling Class," and we certainly do not want their negative influence in Venice herself. As you know if you read this blog, every nation has tried to conquer Venice throughout millennium. This is yet one more battle, fought with real estate instead of bombs.

You cannot build a solid structure if the foundation is rotten, or the whole thing will collapse. I absolutely agree that the Rialto area needs improvement, but if you start by trampling all over people and using force, lies, cheating and other forms of bullying, it is doomed to fail. Venice was built by noble people using the highest principles. It is as if the Barbarians have almost figured out how to invade the island! I don't know much about the military, but I do know something about film crews. To me, the military is behaving like a badly organized film crew, who comes in, shoots the scene, trashes the place, and trots merrily off again, leaving destruction in its wake. Oh, wait. Sometimes they give you new flowers and plants.

Since, to this day, I have yet to find a lawyer who will handle this matter -- even though I have approval for di ammisione al gratuito patrocinio a spese dello Stato for two actions: 1) to contest the eviction and 2) to claim the 63.675,00 euro overpayment -- I have scanned and am in the process of uploading many of the documents I have in reference to the illegal eviction, which can be found at a new blog called: Venetian Cat - Eviction Documents at:

My method is to be as transparent and honest as possible. I am sure I have made mistakes, but if I have, it is because of ignorance, and is not intentional. They are sometimes in Italian and sometimes in English, and anyone who is interested can draw their own conclusions as to what is going on.

I am, however, looking forward to the film festival next week, and focusing the Venetian Cat - Venice Blog once again on what I love to write about: art, film, culture, architecture, etc. I sincerely hope that since we now have our new Ambassador in place -- I won't even repeat the bizarre conversation I had with the Embassy before the David Thorne had been sworn in... oh, why not -- at this point, it even becomes funny:

Cat: This is Catherine Bauer in Venice. May I please speak to David Thorne?
Male voice: I do not know this man. You must speak to the Consul in Milan.
Cat: I have tried to talk to the Consul in Milan. The Consul in Milan does not want to speak to me. David Thorne. He is the Ambassador-Designate.
Voice: I do not know this man. Hang up and call back the switchboard and ask for him.

This I do.

Cat: This is Catherine Bauer in Venice. May I please speak to David Thorne?
Female voice: There is no one here by that name.
Cat: He is the Ambassador-Designate.
Voice: Do you want to speak to the secretary of the Ambassador?
Cat: Yes! Please.

Female Voice: May I help you?
Cat: To whom am I speaking?
Voice: My name is Gail.
Cat: Gail, my name is Catherine Bauer, and I am calling you from Venice. I am having a problem with my apartment eviction (I say this in Italian.) You do speak Italian, don't you?
Gail: No, I don't.
Cat: But you are the secretary to the US Ambassador to Italy...
Gail: I'm just temporary.
Cat: May I speak to the Ambassador?
Gail: There is no Ambassador.
Cat: Let me get this straight: You are the temporary secretary who does not speak Italian to the US Ambassador to Italy who does not exist.
Gail: That's correct.

I left my phone number. That was a few weeks ago, so now that David H. Thorne is officially in place, hopefully we can arrive at an amicable resolution -- especially since when I went to check my mail today, someone had torn my name off my mail slot! My name was there on Wednesday -- in fact, my phone bill had arrived; the phone is still connected and still in my name.

I am ready for a serious conversation.

All the best,
Cat Bauer

Here is the Paolo Costa letter. The most important thing to remember is that I HAD ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA THEY WERE EXPANDING THE MILITARY BASE UNTIL A FEW WEEKS AGO and I JUST READ THIS LETTER YESTERDAY. Although I found it on a Peace & Justice site, I am not a hippie -- in fact, on a lot of issues, I am rather conservative:). After what has happened to me, I would imagine that the major press has been blocked from reporting, and the alternative press is the only place it gets some airplay. In any event, I had arrived at the same conclusion just by what my what was happening to me personally, so it is a bit of a relief to know there was some logic behind what has got to be the most bizarre experience of my life.

Letter by Special Commissioner Costa to then Defense Minister Arturo Parisi on the need to eradicate the local opposition to the base as well as how to circumvent the Minister of the Environment's intention of subjecting the project to an environmental impact study. [emphasis added]

Vicenza, September 17, 2007
Distinguished Sir
Honorable Professor Arturo PARISI
Minister of Defense

Dear Minister, dear Arturo,

The time has come for a final decision regarding the expansion project of the U.S. military base at the Dal Molin Airport in Vicenza.

This is a decision that can now be made by taking advantage of the groundwork done in the past months by the Commissioner (which has been summarized by the Director of GENIODIFE, General Resce) and that must now be made in order to establish a positive momentum for the completion of the project and eliminate the elements of local opposition at its roots.

As concerns external non-local opposition elements (apodictic pacifism and anti-Americanism) it will be necessary to intervene with a well thought-out information campaign that, of course, must not regard only the Commissioner.

The three day protest – increasingly characterized by anti-globalization elements – that took place in Vicenza from Thursday, September 13 to Saturday, September 15, at the conclusion of an activist campout that lasted from September 6 to 16, could be the last demonstration of opposition enjoying local support; but only if we act in a timely manner to eliminate the reasonable concerns – because they are valid – of this opposition. I am referring to the concern over traffic created by access to the new base, which could increase the problems of an already difficult traffic situation due to the historic formation of the city of Vicenza, and that of the use of the last important large green area of the city for the base expansion. These are reasonable concerns that should be separated once and for all from those tied to anti-Americanism, anti-Militarism a/o apolitical pacifism, that is, from the concerns that have nothing to do with the characteristics of the new U.S. military base in Vicenza.

After months of relative calm, due to the summer vacation period and the possibility of an alternative solution of lesser impact disclosed by the Commissioner in its communications and in its authorizations for the advancement of the project, today there are renewed risks due to the activities of the Presidio Permanente supported by the anti-globalization movements of the North East, if not those of all of Italy and beyond. It is foreseeable that tensions will increase as soon as the initial work of clearing the area, work already under contract, begins.

This is, therefore, the moment to intervene decisively and transform the possible alternative solution, which has already been made public, into a definite solution, and to start using this alternative solution in communications.

We need to be able to state – with certainty – that the new U.S. military base is nothing more that the reuse, with some expansion, of the area west of the runway, already in use by the Italian Air Force and therefore the area east of the runway, the large open field that would have been destroyed according to the first proposal, and which ignited the local opposition, would remain intact. This assertion, together with another that has already been put forth, that access to the new base will be organized, both temporarily and in the long term, so that it will not interfere with the local traffic and above all traffic crossing the historic center of Vicenza, would remove all reasonable concerns of the opposition movement.

If I may I would add, as must be added, that Vicenza will be compensated for its “sacrifice” with the completion of the new road north of the city and with other possible initiatives in the areas of higher education and health care, the complete package should pave the way for the project.

But it is imperative that we make use of all means and do so immediately.

In order to do this, it is necessary to complete the work that I have conducted, also during the month of August, with U.S. representatives (in Vicenza with the U.S. commander of Camp Ederle, in Rome with the U.S. Embassy, and in Venice during a meeting with Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Chair [note: she is a member but not chair] of the House Armed Services Committee) to convince them that the alternative “west” solution, though technically more complicated, is instead the only solution that, if defined immediately, can make it through the authorization process and possible legal proceedings while still meeting deadlines foreseen by the United States for the transfer of the paratrooper contingent from Germany to Italy. I demonstrated to the U.S. officials how it is still possible to respect the deadlines with the “west” solution, while I warned them that this solution is certainly more costly (and therefore they must obtain the additional funds needed from now to 2011).

The Prime Minister is aware of this proposed solution and he has given me the go ahead.

It follows that several documents from the respective Ministries will be necessary, first and foremost the Defense Ministry.

The first, and this is crucial, is the definition and respect of a date not after June 30, 2008 for the liberation on the part of the Italian Air Force of the Dal Molin area. I realize there are some difficulties, also of a financial nature, tied to the helicopter maintenance program, however these must be overcome — perhaps taking advantage of the budget session that will take place at the end of the month — because the definition of a date is a fundamental condition to reassure the U.S. regarding the respect of deadlines for the completion of the project. The decision should be made by the end of the month in order to add it as an amendment to the call for bids to be published by September 30, 2007 so that bidding companies will be in a position to consider this date in the offers they must present by October 16, 2007.
It is evident that this decision must be communicated in a timely manner to General Enrico Pino of the COMIPA (Joint Committee on Military Servitude) of the Veneto Region, which will examine the project – both solutions east and west of the runway – on September 26, 2007.

The second regards the decision of whether or not the expansion project of the U.S. military base in Vicenza is subject to a VIA (Evaluation of Environmental Impact).

It is clear that this point represents an obvious risk to the possibilities of proceeding while respecting deadlines; and it is possible that it could even put the final decision in jeopardy , since currently is it entirely predictable (and has already been practically announced) that the Minister of the Environment intends to subject the project to a VIA. This can only give rise to likely obstacles – the case of the MOSE project has set an indicative precedent – capable of being resolved only through the extreme solution of a resolution by the Council of Ministers, which could result in lacerations that in a moment such as this I believe are better avoided.

According to legal opinions I have gathered, which the State Attorney Marco Corsini, who is assisting me in the activities of the Commissioner, is ready to discuss with those from your office, the project of the U.S. base at Dal Molin is not subject to a VIA since it is an administrative procedure relative to “facilities destined for national defense” (which are associated with infrastructures financed with NATO funds and other allied forces) introduced by petition prior to July 31, 2007, the date in which Law 152/2006 went into effect, and therefore subject to regulations in act previously (see article 52, comma 2), and for such type of intervention the VIA is excluded.

I therefore feel that while we await the necessary analysis, we should avoid expressing willingness toward the position of the Minister of the Environment , expressions that perhaps in the view of political opportunity could help attenuate some current pressures, but that later would be difficult to retract.
It seems to me evident, in any event, that asserting that the project is not subject to the VIA would be more promising if referred to the project of substantial re-use of the existing Italian military structures (west solution) rather than the use of the large open field (east solution).

The third act, to be put together starting with the Defense Ministry and to be concluded under the direction of the Prime Minister's Office, regards the elaboration and the signing of a “framework agreement” with all interested parties in order to make official the deadlines, actions and responsibilities, to which appropriate publicity will be given.

Best regards,
Paolo Costa
To read the entire article, click here:

To read more about the expansion of the base at Vicenza and the strong-armed tactics being used:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Open Letter to William Gill of the US Consul, Milan

TO: William Gill of the US Consul Office, Milan

cc: David H. Thorne Ambassador-Designate to the Italian Republic and the Republic of San Marino

cc: Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State

cc: Barack Obama, President of the United States of America

Love is so powerful that it always wins.
Truth is so powerful that it always wins.
All it takes is Time.
----------Cat Bauer

Dear William Gill,

I am writing to you from my heart. We have never met, which I is why I am puzzled by what appears to be an adversarial attitude directed toward me by the US Consul Office in Milan. Prior to that, I had a good relationship with A. Daniel Weygandt, and was surprised to learn that he was no longer the Consul. After you called me Catherine "von Brauer" or "von Bauer," I told Megan Jones, the local Consul here in Venice, that I thought you had the wrong file! Megan Jones told me the Consul had no file on me. Therefore, I was even more surprised when I called the emergency number in Milan this past Friday because I could not access my personal possessions -- including my American passport -- and was told by a man who refused to give his name that: you were not in; that they were aware of who I was and of the problems I was having in Venice; that I should speak to my "many friends" and to the Italian police; and that there was nothing they could do to help.

Since you and I have not met, I researched you on the internet and discovered you are from Roanoke, and have a passion for reading. From the Roanoke Times, LOVE OF READING FUELS A DIPOMAT'S CAREER by Shannon Flowers, May 11, 2006:

"Gill's journey begins as a first-grader, when he traveled to faraway places in an imagination fueled by a love of reading instilled in him by his mother and later nurtured by his teachers at Huff Lane Elementary School in the early 1970s.

'I think books are important. I think not just what they represent, but what they can do for a person. It's traveling without moving, as the song goes...'"

To read the entire article, please click here:

UPDATE: January 19, 2014: This link works. There is one less "w" -- making it "ww" not "www":

Have you read my books, HARLEY, LIKE A PERSON and HARLEY'S NINTH? If you had, you would know that we are on the same side. I promote imagination, creativity and hope. I hold the same values dear that you expressed in the article. That is why I am becoming more convinced that there misinformation about me at the State Department.

I also researched the Ambassador-Designate, David H. Thorne, and read his testimony:
"If confirmed, I hope to harness this love for Italy with my pride in being a citizen of our great nation to promote American interests abroad. At this critical juncture in our foreign policy, President Obama has set a new tone for our engagement with other countries. In his recent speech in Cairo, the President emphasized the “need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible.” If confirmed, I will take on that charge personally and work to convey an America that listens to and collaborates with our allies and friends around the world."

To read the entire piece, click here:

Again, these are the same values I hold in high esteem. As I am sure you are aware, I have been approached on more than one occasion because America wanted to have a stronger presence here in Venice. Foreigners have always been a solid part of the Venetian infrastructure. In every part of town, you will find ancient buildings that housed a cornucopia of foreigners, important ingredients in the magical mix of Venice. The United States, too, was welcomed in the past. In fact, the Venetians were the first government in the world to recognize the existence of the United States of America. News of the signing of the Declaration of Independence traveled so fast that it reached the ears of the Doge by mid-August, 1776 (if I had access to my notes that are locked inside my house, I could provide the exact date.:) The house of the explorer Giovanni Caboto, aka John Cabot, can be found down on Via Garibaldi... Venice has always had a very strong interest in the United States of America.

However, I have always maintained that Venice belongs to Venetians, and I am firmly against anything that interferes with that delicate infrastructure. Living, breathing Venetians are the soul of Venice. With all the bizarre experiences I have had recently, perhaps one could conclude that this attitude is not appreciated by certain powers-that-be. To be very clear: real or imagined, many locals feel that there is an organized effort underway to destroy the Venetian infrastructure. There is an effort to encourage mothers to have their babies born on the mainland, not in Venice. There has been a sudden increase in the trafficking of cocaine and heroin -- the young people have spoken to me about this with pain in their voices; they speak to me because I write for them. I could go on and on about the rapid changes taking place here in Venice; that is just the tip.

Rialto is the heart of Venice. My apartment is located right on the Grand Canal, right at the Rialto Bridge, right in the heart of Venice. Again, perhaps one could conclude that what seems to be a simple eviction for non-payment of rent is something else entirely -- especially when defamation of character and violence are involved. In any event, I believe I have at least four solid causes of action as to why the eviction is not legal -- one of which is that I have been a resident of Venice for more than ten years, and am entitled to certain rights, not renting as a tourist as stated in the Order, etc., etc.... and I did pay the rent:)

It would be a great thing if the United States of America and Venice could work together as a unit. I strongly believe in what our Founders fought and died for, and I know that many Venetians support those ideals, too. Again, what I am against is the interference with Venice's right to self-determination. Venetian voices are being silenced. Since I often speak on behalf of Venice, one might conclude that my voice is also being silenced...

I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss these issues with you, in person, here in Venice. Since I have been having extreme difficulty accessing the Internet, it is best to call my cell phone: +39-347-772-0453. My friends in the USA tell me that when they dial my number, they cannot get through -- another puzzle to solve.

All the best,
Cat Bauer
aka Catherine Ann Bauer

(The above photo of the Rialto Hotel was shot from my balcony since that is most definitely my Venetian flag -- the pole is the handle of my mop. I am using the photo without their permission as I would love to know how it got in the brochure of the Rialto Hotel, and up on their website without MY permission!)