Committee discipline

The local planning and construction committee is one of the branches of the city council. It is composed of eight members, at least one of whom has to represent the opposition.
Traditionally, the coalition was not required to vote in unison on this committee, but Mayor Nir Barkat has changed that. Now all members of the coalition have to vote in support of the mayor’s position.
According to city council member and veteran member of the committee Pepe Alalu (Meretz), this decision has caused some frustration.
“Members of the coalition who think differently on some issues sometimes express a lot of anger because ultimately they know they have no choice but to vote according to the mayor’s instructions, which are often in contradiction to their own positions. This situation creates a lot of tension at some of the meetings, but I must say that chairman Kobi Kahlon handles it well, especially compared to the former chairman’s functioning. All the atmosphere of a Persian bazaar has gone, and it is clear that the law is respected, as well as residents’ needs.”
According to the regulations, the committee members receive the agenda 48 hours before the next session.
“In my opinion this is not enough,” comments Alalu. “The fact is that we don’t know what is awaiting us in terms of large and potentially sensitive projects. I’m not talking about the permits – those are small local issues that bear no significance to anyone beyond the residents who submit them. But large construction projects are beyond our knowledge until 48 hours before the committee meetings. I think some improvement should be made here because of the sensitivity of the international and political context. I think that Kahlon is doing a great job. I am not my party’s representative on the subcommittee, but I see the results of the committee’s work when its decisions are brought to the city council session for final approval. And when the leadership of the whole council is sometimes handed over to Kahlon, it’s even better.”
Not all the members share this view. For city council member and until recently sole member of the opposition Meir Turgeman, Kahlon is a failure. “He never dares to make any independent decisions. He doesn’t have the courage to disagree with the mayor, and he doesn’t even control the high-ranking employees, who don’t always implement the committee’s decisions.”