Host Nation Update, Dec. 14, 2023
Charity evening at the Christmas market in Stuttgart – VfB heroes serve Gluehwein (mulled wine) – and sign autographs
In a collision during a header, the 27-year-old captain “Waldi” suffered a laceration, bled profusely, was given a kind of turban and played a strong game despite the injury. The stitches on his head were clearly visible at Sonja Merz’s stand at the Christmas market the following day. You can rely on “Waldi”, as everyone calls him. That’s why, despite the wound, he has not canceled his club and takes over the mulled wine bar with other colleagues. All proceeds from the evening go to the VfB Foundation, which was established in July. Its statutory purposes include the promotion of sport, education and training, health, environmental and climate protection, welfare and civic engagement. The “chest ring of hearts” is intended to help the disadvantaged and show that social commitment plays an important role at the club. Booth owner, Sonja Merz is delighted with the large crowds and the fact that many visitors throw money into the glass donation box, even if they don’t want to buy anything. The atmosphere, says Sonja Merz, is particularly good and absolutely harmonious this year at the shorter Christmas market (the fourth Advent coincides with Christmas Eve). Next week, the VfB legends are coming to serve mulled wine. VfB President Claus Vogt and VfB CEO Alex Wehrle have also been there to serve mulled wine in aid of the VfB Foundation. It continues on Tuesday, December 19, when VfB legends Timo Hildebrand, Cacau, Guido Buchwald and Manuel Fischer will help with the serving. Players from the VfB women’s team will also be there. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Dec 12, 2023)
Sindelfingen is swimming in money: what does a city do with an unexpected 100 million euros?
The city of Sindelfingen is probably highly resilient in one respect: in the amount of its trade tax income. The city set an absolute record in 2023. Thanks to 100 million euros in unscheduled income, trade tax will climb to the 320 million euro mark. This has never happened before in the city’s history. The city is not saying who is responsible for the millions – “tax secrecy”, comments Sindelfingen treasurer Wolfgang Pflumm, but it is of course clear that Mercedes-Benz AG with its Sindelfingen plant is the main source of the new wealth. However, the city of Sindelfingen is not in unrestricted financial bliss, as it has to cope with huge fluctuations in revenue. These fluctuations are unpredictable and have already led to the city having to pay back 20 million euros in trade tax, as it did in 2009 after the economic and financial crisis. “When we’re doing well, we’re doing extremely well, when we’re doing badly, we’re doing extremely badly,” says city treasurer Wolfgang Pflumm, summing up the yin and yang of Sindelfingen’s finances.
“First of all, however, the joy of being able to invest heavily in the city’s future prevails,” says Wolfgang Pflumm, even if not even half of the new revenue of 100 million euros remains with the city. This is because 9.3 million euros will go to the state of Baden-Württemberg as a levy, 24.3 million will go to municipal financial equalization and 21.4 million to the district levy, i.e. the money with which the district of Böblingen finances itself. The treasurer now has two options for dealing with the remaining 45 million euros: He can form provisions or he can form reserves. Reserves are parked funds for expenditure that has already been partially approved by the city, such as the schools master plan or the renovation of the underground parking garage under the market square. Reserves would then be the emergency fund for worse times. However, reserves can never be used as play money for speculative city administrations. The local authorities require the state treasurers to invest the money safely. This means that the only option for municipal finances is to invest fixed-term deposits.
On the other hand, Sindelfingen’s Lord Mayor Bernd Vöhringer already has ideas about where the money from the tax surplus will be well invested: “Whether it’s the renovation and digitalization of our schools, the upgrading of our transport infrastructure, the modernization of our sports facilities or the further development of our city center, all measures are intended to further improve the quality of life of the citizens of Sindelfingen.
First Mayor Christian Gangl is already looking ahead to the coming financial year: “We are very pleased about the additional income, but at the same time we will continue our prudent budgetary policy with a sense of proportion in 2024.”
This is because the city of Sindelfingen is also expecting 100 million euros more in trade tax revenue for the coming year 2024 than calculated in the budget. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how 2024 will develop in view of the subdued economic forecast for Germany. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten Dec 12, 2023)
Driven hunt in the Schönbuch
The time for driven hunts begins. It was now or never for wild boar and roe deer on a large scale. More than 70 beaters and hunters battled their way through the Schönbuch at the weekend – and one reporter.
Annie is there too. The jovial American woman, whose husband works for the U.S. government, is part of a German/American cultural exchange program. The Army has also set up a hunt on its training ground in Böblingen and Annie wants to get to know hunting according to German custom, wearing rubber boots, a felt hat and an olive green jacket. Early morning briefing: Claus Kissel has drawn up a confusing diagram that looks like a maneuver plan. Four groups of drivers advance from four directions towards oval areas where Kissel suspects the sows are.
“Be loud, be slow, don’t get shot!” is how hunting photographer Arnulf Hettrich describes the golden rules for the beaters. In the meantime, Claus Kissel reads out the hunting rules and the hunting horn players start playing. Here we go, finally!
“Annie get your gun”, I quote the title of an American musical and Annie acknowledges the joke with a broad laugh before setting off in search of her car.
“Six sows” says a beater just as dryly, then another shot pops, “five”.
None of the hunters here see what they do as sport. For Claus Kissel, it’s about keeping the population down, obtaining meat and the cultural tradition of hunting, which includes clothing, music and hunting behavior. Hunting is the oldest craft of mankind, much older than agriculture. Hunters pay tribute to the game they have hunted and lay a so-called track. A sow and a deer lie bedded on fir trees. The successful hunters are given a fir branch which they place behind their hatband. The horns start playing and the hunt ends. Annie listens attentively to the musicians who have formed a semi-circle, moved by the dignity that this ceremony radiates. If you want to eat, you have to kill – it’s that simple and that complicated. At the end of the day, everyone sits in the lounge of Claus Kissel’s heating company and talks about hunting or deepens their friendships, while enjoying cabbage, dumplings and venison goulash. (Stgt Nachrichten, Dec 13, 2023)
Stuttgart S-Bahn – Main line blocked twice – next “chaos day” imminent
S-Bahn passengers must once again prepare for delays on Wednesday. As in the morning, another train broke down on the main line in the afternoon. In both cases, there was a backlog and there were and are “delays and individual train cancellations on all lines”, the S-Bahn announced on X (formerly Twitter).
The disruption is affecting the entire S-Bahn network. In addition, there are the typical delays in after-work traffic. The chart shows the current situation: the higher the value shown in the curve, the more trains are unpunctual. The data comes from the “S-Bahn-Chaos” portal. In the afternoon, every second train is sometimes six minutes late or more. “Please check your S-Bahn online before setting off,” advises the S-Bahn, and: “Apologies for the inconvenience.” After Tuesday, Wednesday threatens to become the second “chaos day” of the current week. This is how we define days on which at least one in five trains runs significantly late, i.e. at least six minutes late. On Tuesday, the proportion was 36 percent. (Stgt Nachrichten, Dec 14, 2023)
What’s going on in Leonberg and the surrounding area this weekend – Last round for Christmas markets
The Leonberger Adventsdörfle, that magical village of huts on the market square, enters its final round on the third weekend of Advent, precisely because the fourth Advent is already Christmas Eve and therefore not a Christmas market date. As always, the booths are catered by clubs and associations, one of which has set up its own stall this time amidst the glittering lights and fir trees.
The finale of the local Christmas markets will then take place in Heimsheim, where the Schlossplatz will shine in festive lights on Sunday and the local clubs will be inviting visitors to enjoy food and drink. A great backdrop, well worth a visit to the “Schlegler town!”” The Musikverein invites you to its end-of-year concert on Saturday. Under the motto “Very British”, there will be a musical journey through Great Britain in the town hall at 7.30 pm. The annual concert of the Renningen Music Association, which takes place on Saturday at 7 p.m., is under a special star.
Waldenbuch Christmas Market takes place on Saturday, Dec 16 from 2 – 8 p.m. on the market square in Waldenbuch. The town band will be playing music there and the youth band will be making crepes.