This week in Jerusalem: no money for the naughty

Peggy Cidor's round-up of city affairs.

Beitar Jerusaelm FC team at its training grounds between Beit Hakerem and Bayit Vegan (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Beitar Jerusaelm FC team at its training grounds between Beit Hakerem and Bayit Vegan
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
No money for the naughty
The annual NIS 1.3 million that the Beitar soccer team gets from the municipality might be at risk. Following the appearance of a video in which one of Beitar’s current players is seen sexually assaulting a woman, city council opposition member Fleur Hassan-Nahoum (Yerushalmim) sent a letter requesting that Mayor Nir Barkat freeze the team’s budget. She feels that the team hasn’t done enough to punish the player involved. Guidelines for funds allocated by the municipality prohibit behavior that violates the city’s values regarding racism, vandalism and violence. Barkat has condemned the video, but is leaving the soccer club’s management to decide how to react.
The video incident occurred before the player joined the team and the player has apologized and expressed regret.
Where to?
The issue has been simmering for more than two years, but the deadline for action is fast approaching. Some 450 senior olim from the former Soviet Union live in the Diplomat Hotel in Arnona, which is to be handed over to the American Consulate in June. A stormy discussion of the Aliya and Absorption commission at the Knesset last week yielded no solution. Wishing to begin renovations, the Americans would like to gain possession this year.
The optimal resolution is to find alternative housing in the city not only for the individuals, but to preserve the social ties of the elderly tenants, who wish to remain together. Neither the Absorption and Integration Ministry nor the municipality have approved funds to solve the problem and no existing housing for hundreds of senior olim has yet been identified.
Locked in
Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman was released by the police on Monday with restrictive conditions. He is allowed to leave his home only for scheduled meetings with his lawyers with police supervision.He is proscribed from attending his synagogue on Shabbat, as some of his associates and friends implicated in the legal issues pray there, too. He is not permitted to approach Safra Square, nor may he leave the country for 90 days.The same restrictions are in effect for his son, Itzik Turgeman, who is his campaign manager.
Turgeman has not announced his intentions regarding the coming election, in which he is a candidate for the position of mayor. He is suspected of bribery and corruption as head of the Planning and Construction committee, but denies the accusations against him.In his absence, the meetings of the committee are taking place as usual with Deputy Mayor Yossi Daitch (United Torah Judaism), filling in to chair the committee.
Earlier this week, another city councilor and member of Mayor Nir Barkat’s coalition, Rami Levy, was called in for investigation by the police in connection with a different suspected case of bribery. A municipality spokesman said Barkat isn’t familiar with the details of this inquiry, but will cooperate with the police if asked to do so.”
What now?
Sources say that next week, probably on Sunday, Mayor Nir Barkat will announce his decision to move on from the helm of the city to the national political playground, as member of the Likud. The city’s NIS 6 billion budget for 2018 – the largest ever – has been approved by the finance committee and city council. Now that this issue is settled, Barkat can announce his plans for the future. Since he will not run for a third term, the active candidacy of Moshe Lion, officially endorsed by the haredim, seems to be assured.
Separate but equal?
About a decade after an attempt to create gender separation in public buses failed, some haredi zealots are trying again – this time on the light rail. In light of High Court rulings prohibiting it, the initiative is discreet. Flyers distributed in Mea She’arim encourage male travelers to ride on the last car on the train. The men should “gently and without causing any trouble” address women there and encourage them to move to another space on the train. The flyers have also been spotted in Beitar Illit and Beit Shemesh, from which a significant number of haredi men come to the capital and use the light rail. No city council member has yet addressed the issue. It is speculated that the flyer initiative may come from extremists in Beit Shemesh, the same who initiated the signs calling for modesty in that city a few months ago.
The shape of things to come
Prior to presenting their latest recommendations for the Emek Refaim segment of the Blue Line to the district planning commission, the Master Plan team presented them to the residents. The commission gave the municipality three months (with an extension possible) to submit their proposals for that segment.
Residents of the German Colony and surrounding area proposed creation of a tunnel that would run under the Mesila Park (Harakevet Street) to protect and preserve both Emek Refaim and the park, rejecting accusations that they were ready to sacrifice the park to preserve their own neighborhood.
The tunnel option requires destruction of about 200 meters of the park to enable the light rail to return to the surface and facilitate a junction between the Blue and the Green lines, which should meet at the end of Oranim junction.
And the winner is...
The budget for this year’s Independence Day has been approved, including NIS 450,000 for performances by popular singers. Payments to performers range from NIS 20,000 up to NIS 175,000 for a show by popular singer Lior Narkiss. The high cost of popular entertainers for one evening is an issue that was raised in the past, with some city council members, mostly from the haredi benches, questioning the need for the high cost. A suggestion to focus more on local performers, thereby avoiding the high cost of top-ranked singers, was not adopted. The popular preference expressed through several local council presidents is that the capital should not do less than other cities, especially for Independence Day.
Tel Aviv’s budget for the same kind of event stands this year at NIS 200,000.