(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The opening was rather encouraging. In a hall packed with residents at the monthly city council meeting on Sunday evening, February 12, Mayor Nir Barkat surprised the audience by starting his speech with an apology. Admitting that the strike had caused much damage to residents, he added that he welcomed all critics “with a hug” and promised that he would learn lessons from them.Unfortunately, this declaration was about the only optimistic moment of the meeting, which quickly became stormy, reminding some veteran journalists of the ugly days of mayor Ehud Olmert, infamous for his tendency to quarrel with residents and political opponents on the council. As in those bad old days, microphones of opposition city council members (Laura Wharton for Meretz and the three Yerushalmim members, who resigned from Barkat’s coalition due to the strike) were cut off. Permission to speak was denied repeatedly on the grounds that the rules allowed only short questions and no long statements.