Corridors of Power: Off the top of his head?

Eli Simhayoff (Shas) contacted one of the largest hat importers and convinced him 'for the sake of the Torah learners' to offer a discount.

The sweet days of Pessah may be long past, but an unusual development initiated during the holiday remains: a proliferation of yeshiva students sporting new hats. True, there's no lack of issues that may better warrant our attention - the (lack of) cleanliness of our streets, a shrinking young sector and the over-budget Bridge of Strings, to name just a few - but, nonetheless, this curious matter is worth exploring. So here's the story behind the hats of Pessah. Deputy Mayor and Finance Committee head Eli Simhayoff (Shas) noticed that many young yeshiva students, especially married ones, wore shabby hats, even on Shabbat and holidays. The black felt hats, whether authentic Borsalinos or other models, are very expensive - a fact of which Simhayoff is well aware, as he himself wears one. "Yeshiva students, especially married ones, cannot afford new hats when they have to care first for their families, particularly during the holidays," Simhayoff's spokesperson wrote in a statement. "It's sad to see these righteous young men wearing old and second-hand hats, but they have no choice." The result? Simhayoff contacted one of the largest hat importers and convinced him "for the sake of the Torah learners" to offer a discount. Not exactly in the job description of the head of the Finance Committee, but a genuine hesed (act of kindness) nonetheless. For some reason, however, Simhayoff asked those interested in availing themselves of the beneficence to come to his office to pick up the 10% discount voucher to be used at a certain downtown store. Perhaps he was keeping his upcoming electoral aspirations under his hat. AND NOW to the vagaries of Mayor Uri Lupolianski's schedule. On Remembrance Day, Lupolianski arrived more than 20 minutes late to the main memorial ceremony at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery. As the entire ceremony is broadcast on all local TV networks (not to mention some foreign networks), we couldn't help but notice our mayor arriving at the last moment to present flowers from the municipality. According to sources at Kikar Safra, Lupolianski was late because earlier that morning he had attended a memorial ceremony organized by the municipality - an explanation that raises at least one eyebrow regarding his staff's ability to set up an effective schedule. The scheduling blunders didn't stop there, however. The following day, Independence Day, Lupolianski was slated to present the prize to the runner-up of the International Bible Quiz contest, held at the Jerusalem Theater, in the presence of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Education Minister Yuli Tamir and a substantial audience - a ceremony that was also broadcast live. But when the moderator called "the honorable Uri Lupolianski, mayor of Jerusalem" to come to the stage and present the second-place winner with the prize, His Honor was nowhere to be found. Considering that the training of the mayor's staff on logistical matters such as these has cost taxpayers more than a few thousand shekels, it begs the question "What's going on at Kikar Safra?" Municipal spokesperson Gidi Schmerling wrote in response: "Unfortunately, the mayor can only be in one place at a time. Throughout Remembrance Day and Independence Day he participated in dozens of ceremonies and events, some of which overlapped, out of respect for ceremony participants and bereaved families. It is all too easy to criticize, and we do not appreciate the blatant attempt to denigrate the mayor and his office." As for the Remembrance Day ceremony on Mount Herzl, "The mayor was not late. Rather, he spoke at length with bereaved families in the galleries, stood with them during the siren and only then did he go to take his place in his assigned seat," the statement read. Finally, "The mayor sent word that he would arrive late [to the Bible Quiz award ceremony], as he was participating in the paratrooper air show and flag ceremony at Givat Ram. We are certain that if the mayor had notified the soldiers that he would not be able to attend their event because of the Bible Quiz ceremony, it would have elicited even greater criticism," the statement read.