Corridors of power: Reports, compensation and politics

Municipality ordered to pay out NIS 35m. to citizens whose property values were hurt as a result of Begin highway construction.

uri lupolianski 88 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
uri lupolianski 88 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
This week, the municipal comptroller issued her annual report, the opposition at the city council split into two separates parties and the courts ruled that the municipality must pay out NIS 35 million to citizens whose property values were hurt as a result of the construction of the Begin highway. The comptroller didn't bring good news: over more than 1,000 pages, bound into two volumes, she provided us with yet another exhausting list of wrong-doings, bad administration and wasted public funds - with a few cases of sheer stupidity thrown in for good measure. Dear readers, are you interested in a few choice examples? As a public service, Corridors of Power will provide them. How about the employee in the Welfare Department, who has been receiving her salary from the municipality (meaning from your taxes and mine) for 15 years, even though she was supposed to be doing something else. She was supposed to be running the municipal elder hot-line - but during all those years, she has been in charge of human resources at... Yad Sarah. Mayor Uri Lupolianski, who has been chairman of Yad Sarah, deputy mayor and then mayor during these years, chose not to respond to this issue. Some others: fake tenders, tailored to fit the dimensions of friends and relatives. Millions of shekels paid out by high-level employees without authorization or oversight by municipal commissions or city council members, as dictated by law. Oh, and let's not forget the report about the high ranking employee in the Welfare Department who, apparently "confused," mis-allocated monies intended for the underprivileged to a seemingly more worthy cause - himself. If you happen to live in Beit Hakerem neighborhood and suffer from the proximity of the Begin highway, you might be interested to check if you are among the happy residents who will soon receive a large check from the municipality. The High Court has recently ruled that the local Committee for Planning and Construction acted incorrectly and that citizens whose apartments and real estate were devalued by their proximity to the Begin highway are entitled to compensation for their loss. The court responded to an association of citizens, formed some five years ago. These intrepid activists never gave up, dragged themselves from court to court and finally won their case, to the tune of NIS 35 million, to be disbursed among several hundred citizens. And last but not least - the opposition at the city council. What hasn't yet been said about the 11 members of the opposition? That they are politically weak, that they are divided and indecisive, that they are motivated by their own interests, that they are ineffective... and so on. To be fair, this fragmented opposition has been able to give the mayor a hard time more than once and forced him to play by the rules. But last week, at least one group came to a thudding dead-end. Nir Barkat's Jerusalem Will Succeed split into two lists. Dramatically, Ruth Ralbag, Avi Kostelitz and Meir Turjeman announced that they "cannot work together anymore and we want to stay faithful to our public commitments." Forming a new faction, they left Barkat with Rami Levy and Lidya Bilitzki. The other four members of the opposition - Sa'ar Netanel and Pepe Allalu from Meretz and Dalia Zommer and Boaz Atzmon from Shinui - tried desperately to prevail upon them: duty should come before personal interests, they said, at least in politics. But to no avail. And so the new three Musketeers have about two years to prove to their voters that they can do better on their own. We'll be watching them carefully.