Going? Staying? Go! Mayor Nir Barkat, who attended the AIPAC conference in Washington and met US Vice President Mike Pence at the White House, seems to have reached a decision regarding his future. Sources at Safra Square say that Barkat is not running for a third term.Barkat has established a stable position for himself in Likud Central Committee, a vital step for anyone who wants to reach the Knesset and any government headed by this party. Now Barkat feels ready for his next move, having announced from the beginning, when he was elected mayor in 2008, that he would serve two or three terms as mayor and then move on to the national level.He has refrained from revealing his intentions, mainly because of the negotiations with the Treasury over the city’s budget. Now it seems that some progress has been made – a key legal issue, for if Barkat cannot present a budget for the council’s approval by March 31, he has to dismiss the council. In such a case, the interior minister can appoint a committee to manage the city and new elections should take place within three months.Barkat doesn’t want to leave the city on such a bad note. Now that this issue seems to be resolved, the road is clear for him to move forward.Another indication of Barkat’s intention is that Deputy Mayors Meir Turgeman and Moshe Lion, who have both repeatedly declared that they would not oppose Barkat if he runs again, have recently agreed to answer In Jerusalem’s questions regarding their candidacy, discreetly hinting that they have reasons to believe that Barkat won’t be a factor.It is expected that Barkat will announce his decision at a press conference after his return from Washington. Young, gifted and artistic“Bikkurim” is the biblical word for the offering of first fruits. Appropriately, Bikkurim is also the name of a project aimed at promoting the first works of young artists working in Jerusalem.Initiated by the New Gallery Artists’ Studios, Teddy Stadium, with the Jerusalem Municipality Plastic Arts Department, the project supports recent graduates of the city’s various art schools who decide to make Jerusalem their home after completing their studies.This first round of Bikkurim exhibits works by seven young artists who recently graduated from the plastic arts, photography and digital media departments in the city. Each artist received professional and financial support to create new work – presented at the exhibition for the first time – that reflects the artist’s fields of interest and artistic creation.The young artists selected for this exhibition curated by Sally Haftel Naveh are Renana Aldor, Aniam Dery, Yoav Fisch, Adva Goldstone, Tohar Lev Jacobson, Polina Kitainik and Shabtai Pinchevsky. The opening is scheduled for Friday, March 16 at noon. Gallery hours are Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and by appointment via Tamar at 050-576-9114.Once upon a time:Tel Aviv Before there was a city, there was a book.Tel Aviv, the first Hebrew translation (by Nahum Sokolow) of Altneuland by Theodor Herzl was printed in Warsaw in 1902. It is now being offered for purchase by Kedem, the Jerusalem auction house. This one-of-a-kind copy includes a part of Sokolow’s translation of Altneuland. A short blurb printed on the back cover explains the nature of this special copy: “Tel Aviv is the new Zionist story about to be published in the Ashkenazi language, titled ‘Altneuland,’ copied from Dr.Herzl’s manuscript with the authorization of the Russian Zionist Organization.”The auction will take place on March 20, at 5 p.m. with a starting price of $500.(Kedem Auctions email@example.com)Sky city The capital’s Mikro Theater recently launched a new play – Ir Shamayim (City of the Sky) – that endeavors to decode, detail and understand Jerusalem. Irina Gorelik, the director and house playwright, brings to the stage an imaginative fantasia about a city that is never completely possessed, but remains always in one’s mind. The play merges dreams, real events and a gallery of typecasts – bringing together centuries, kings, soldiers and residents of this city through the years. Beautiful songs and music, imaginative costumes and rich mise-en-scene reveal the gifted Gorelik to be a true lover of Jerusalem. Info: (02) 648-8118.Medical marathon Planning to take part in today’s Jerusalem “Winner” Marathon? Fear not – Shaare Zedek Medical Center has been chosen, for the second year running (pun intended), to provide the medical care/sports medicine backup during the marathon.Game over at AllianceThe historic Alliance House, strategically located between Mahaneh Yehuda and the Clal Building is in the process of becoming a boutique hotel. As part of the transition, the New Spirit and Mass- Challenge hi-tech initiatives, which enjoyed use of this beautiful venue for a wide range of cultural and social events, will have to relocate by the end of the year. An alternative location has been found only for MassChallenge so far – in one of the buildings on Jaffa Road designated for preservation. The new premises, however, must first undergo massive renovations, that are estimated to require about two years. The New Spirit group has not yet secured an alternative location.End of an eraFor some it will be the end of an era, for many others it may well be the end of a nightmare – a public declaration by Transportation Ministry Director-General Keren Terner Eyal earlier this week that Egged’s monopoly over bus transportation will cease by the end of the year. Egged will continue to run its lines, but competition with additional companies that will enter the public transportation field in the capital may well improve its services. At first, the private companies that win the tenders the ministry will publish soon will run direct lines that cross the city from one neighborhood to another, without intermediate stops. This will serve mainly persons who come to Jerusalem for a specific purpose and thus won’t have to travel through the busy city center to reach their destination. According to City Councillor Elad Malek (Hitorerut), who holds the public transportation portfolio, this will be only the first step toward improving the situation in the city. One of the key focuses for improving the situation is the better conditions that the private companies – which already work in other cities – provide to drivers – for example, NIS 43 per hour instead of NIS 33. Another aspect is linked to a decision by Transportation Minister Israel Katz that drivers will just drive, and through the use of the Rav-Kav card, avoid dealing with cash. During a debate held at the Knesset on Tuesday, Eyal told Malek that Egged’s monopoly in Jerusalem will end “this year.”Money, money, moneyIs the budget saga between Mayor Nir Barkat and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon reaching a happy ending? According to sources at Safra Square, significant advancement has been achieved between the parties, and Barkat could soon – even by the time you read this – announce the end of the crisis – at least for this year. According to the sources, Kahlon hasn’t approved the entire budgetary request of Barkat.But aside from approving a sum that will enable the mayor to cancel plans to fire employees and close down some municipal departments, the negotiating teams on both sides have established the basis for understandings that could prevent the repetition of the ugly scenes between the mayor and minister for the coming years.Run or stop? The word these days in the German Colony and among residents living close to Emek Refaim Street is focused on what will happen during the marathon, taking place this morning, March 9. The runners’ route includes the street that’s at the center of protests by residents – its use for the planned Blue Line light rail. At a recent and stormy meeting of residents, many sought to take their protests to a higher level. One suggestion was to interrupt the runners on Emek Refaim and hence harm the reputation of the mayor’s prestigious event. A final decision is not yet approved, but many residents who are against the light rail on Emek Refaim believe that there is no other way to make their voice heard.