Corridors of Power: Card carriers

'Lest the public think our dear mayor sought to promote himself ahead of the elections, his picture has been blurred on each ID card.'

no parking 88 (photo credit: )
no parking 88
(photo credit: )
What do you do if you're a decent and honest person, and at the same time, a politician eager to win a candidacy? This is not a rhetorical question. Our mayor recently tried to solve this conundrum, apparently with little success. A few years ago, there was a suggestion at Kikar Safra that Jerusalemites should enjoy VIP privileges, compared to visitors from all over the country and abroad. A representative of the Ariel municipal auxiliary in charge of cultural events suggested a special ID card for local residents that would grant them special discounts and additional privileges. For some unknown reason, apparently technical, nothing came of the idea until very recently when the municipality announced that the new ID cards would soon be dispatched. The catch: The cards carry a picture of Mayor Uri Lupolianski. Lest the public think our dear mayor sought to take advantage of the project to promote himself ahead of the municipal elections, his picture has been blurred on each card. The outcome: It's not clear if the mayor is truly modest or just acting like it. But it seems that things are more complicated, at least as far as Kikar Safra is concerned. Before the mayor even had time to find out if the new IDs had won him some sympathy among Jerusalemites, a new tempest was brewing in Camelot. And this time, the nasty rumors were coming from the coalition's weakest link: the National Religious Party list. City councilor Yair Gabbai, who has been making more noise as we near both the NRP primaries and the municipal elections, has recently made Shabbat observance his major issue. That the mayor is haredi is of little comfort, it seems, as Gabbai has been intent on locating public transgressions, God forbid. Last week Gabbai struck gold when he discovered that the municipality had used Jewish inspectors on Shabbat in the Old City. He immediately wrote to director-general Yair Ma'ayan and asked for an explanation of the religious transgression. Lupolianski was indeed very embarrassed by the discovery, although his spokesman immediately issued a press release stating that "this municipality doesn't use Jewish inspectors on Shabbat and holidays," and that "the matter will be investigated." Meanwhile, Lupolianski's colleague United Torah Judaism MK Avraham Ravitz told the press that the incident had been perpetrated by those from inside who wished to embarrass the mayor and jeopardize his last chances to run again as the haredi mayoral candidate. (According to an agreement, an Agudat Yisrael candidate - possibly MK Meir Porush - will run as the haredi representative in the next elections. Lupolianski is identified with Degel Hatorah.) Other sources from inside the NRP told In Jerusalem that Gabbai's revelation wasn't at all intended as a ploy for the haredi constituency, but rather to impress his NRP colleagues - who will soon elect the head of their list to the city council. And guess who is among the candidates? One Yair Gabbai. The same Gabbai who recently tried to prevent the municipality from allocating money to any institution that didn't observe Shabbat, even secular and public institutions. Oh, yes, and there was an additional outcome: Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) announced that his ministry would immediately investigate the incident. Not that we are against this minister doing his job seriously, but when was the last time any of us heard of such vigilance in investigating, say, a violation of employee rights?