For several years, the relative safety of the territory allowed the shantytown residents to live out their economic, and in particular social relations in the context of a compact Romani community. Because it was inherently bound up with the existence of the shantytown, this community was only a temporary fixture. To ensure its permanence and control, Mihai, the headman, had to deal with other equally territorialised agents, whose authority encompassed the shantytown. Mihai drew his legitimacy from his material management of everyday life in the shantytown: its sanitation, security and urbanism. Mihai's governance at the local level, rooted in contemporary France, presented a symmetrical challenge to city government, which thus appeared to be deprived of its principal functions, leaving it with only the power to destroy. The list of Mihai's attributes adds up to the classic French legal definition of a mayor's administrative policing powers: to ensure security, peace and public health.