Corridors of Power: Out of comptroll

Is Meir Turgeman pleased to be removed from the comptroller's committee?

The sigh of relief emitted by city council member Meir Turgeman, after the labor court ruled that he must resign as head of the municipal comptroller's committee, reverberated in the halls of Kikar Safra. One of the three council members who recently split from Nir Barkat's list, Turgeman experienced a Pyrrhic victory: Two months ago asked to become head of the prestigious committee, which was until then headed by Meretz city councilor Pepe Allalu, and to his great surprise he obtained it. Now his peers, opposition and coalition members alike, swear that Turgeman didn't really want the appointment - which requires a lot of work. "He made the move to obtain some respect and [expected] membership in other committees as a consolation," says one city council member. "No one expected the commotion that would ultimately put the committee in Turgeman's hands, and as a result, Turgman almost immediately began to look for an honorable exit from this situation." Turgeman was finally saved by the bell - the court's bell - that ruled in response to a petition by Barkat and Meretz council members that the move was unlawful and ordered the committee returned to the faithful Allalu. CITY COUNCIL member Mina Fenton (National Religious Party) could be considered a very optimistic person, although she is currently predicting doom in the form of evangelical Christians. She believes the scope of the mission's activity in Israel, and especially in Jerusalem, has reached an unprecedented level which requires urgent action. Fenton has discovered that three books, in Hebrew, English and Russian, entitled The Universal Truth were sent by a Bat Yam-based Christian group to city council members and MKs. "A little book caused such a fuss, but thousands and thousands of Christians who insidiously work here under the cover of social welfare associations do not arouse anyone's suspicion?" asked Fenton in a long and detailed letter addressed to the Knesset speaker, Dalia Itzik. She asked Itzik to create a national authority to fight the Christian mission. Just to be safe, a copy of the letter urging an end to the national scandal was also sent to President Moshe Katsav, the chief rabbis (former and incumbent) and a long list of senior rabbis, the state comptroller, Mayor Uri Lupolianski and city council members. At Kikar Safra no one, especially among the haredi city council members, dares to question her efforts. But off the record, a few of them admit that they do not share her extreme concern. Or as one of them put it this week: "I don't like them or trust them any more than she does, but do we really have to renounce the support and the money they are ready to give?" Until now, Fenton's only achievement in the war against the mission was halting the funding one of these associations had allocated for needy Jerusalem citizens. . THIS WEEK it was Lupolianski's turn to celebrate: After all, it's not every day he receives a payment from opposition head Nir Barkat. The labor court judge who is to rule in attorney Yossi Havilio's appeal to cancel his firing by the mayor decided that Barkat's (very late) decision to force the mayor to prove his integrity in this case was just too much. Havilio's case is still in court, and he has a good chance of winning, but meanwhile, Barkat was ordered to pay a fine of NIS 2,000 to the mayor and withdraw from the case.