Corridors of Powe: Darkness before dawn

Although we don't yet know what shape redemption will take, here is a brief run-down of the bad times that will precede it.

Remember what Karl Marx predicted? That for people to discover the benefits of his socialist paradise, things had to become bad - really bad - first. But even before Marx, this behavioral trend proved itself: Life became unbearable in the Land of Goshen before the Israelites saw freedom. Well, it seems that the social phenomenon is alive and kicking at City Hall. Although we don't yet know what shape redemption will take, here is a brief run-down of the bad times that will precede it. As you all probably know by now, the planned VIP ceremony to inaugurate the Bridge of Strings is in jeopardy. To finish construction on the bridge, the municipality is seriously considering naming it after an as yet unknown Jewish American millionaire, who offered to fund its completion. So much for learning to pronounce Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava's name. But there's more. It seems, at least according to some bridge-related sources, that the structure's planned opening on Jerusalem Day is also up in the air in light of information that the bridge may not be safe. Apparently, because of a miscalculation in the amount of iron and steel, the bridge is not able to support the weight of the tram and its passengers. This, of course, makes the opening ceremony a bit… hazardous. On that optimistic note, last week's city council monthly meeting was canceled. The reason: an insufficient quorum. Translation: not enough members of the city council took the trouble to attend the meeting. Opposition leader Nir Barkat, who prepares himself very carefully for each meeting and invited a group of Beit Hakerem residents who were frustrated about changes to Egged's bus lines to attend, was outraged at its postponement, insisting that there were, indeed, enough city councilors in the municipality building. According to Barkat, the real reason behind the meeting's cancellation was a case of cold feet. "Mayor [Uri] Lupolianski canceled the meeting because he was scared off by the presence of so many angry citizens while so few of his list members cared to show up," he said in a press release. United Torah Judaism city councilor Shlomo Rosenstein tried to defend his boss. "Members of the opposition have a habit: They linger in the hall until the meeting opens. So the mayor's assistants thought none of them was present and declared an insufficient quorum." Rosenstein is right: Members of the opposition do hang out in the hall, usually to speak to the media. But seeing as "in the hall" is in the neighborhood of the sole entrance to the municipality building, you can't miss who and how many are inside! Moving on, as we all remember, just a few months ago the municipality completed the firing of 1,000 employees in the framework of its rehabilitation program. The plan, which enabled City Hall to obtain large government contributions, required a strict avoidance of hiring new employees. Well, that's the written law, but it seems that the oral law is more flexible. According to municipal sources, more and more new employees have joined the ranks, starting with a new - and third - assistant to the head of the high school department in the Education Department, which of course, the opposition immediately denounced as a poor educational example. By now, you must be asking yourselves where and when we will see the improvement expected after so many troubles. Well, here it comes. Following numerous municipal staff workshops - including, "How to tell a joke to an angry citizen" and "How to hold relaxing small talk with a (still) angry citizen" - and a lack of results, City Hall has given us something to really laugh about: Municipal employees who have direct contact with city residents will all be sent to training on how to improve their attitude and relationship with residents, angry or not.