Corridors of Power: Unhappily ever after

Once upon a time, there were two friends in Jerusalem. Though they came from different backgrounds, a mutual passion was their love of Jerusalem. That friendship was built on their opposition to the situation in the city at the time, in particular to mayor Ehud Olmert. The bond that developed between the young, wealthy, secular hi-tech golden boy who swore to save the city and the young religious leader of the community centers and neighborhood administrations served as an inspiration to many. They also shared a tremendous desire to bring about changes in their beloved city and a faith in their ability to do so. "Jerusalem Will Succeed" they called their new party and prepared for the 2003 elections. They were defeated, and Jerusalem got its first haredi mayor. But the two friends didn't leave the battlefield and became respectively head and member of the opposition on the city council. After a while, some dissonance arose between the two. Soon it became an open war. They finally split and formed two separate parties. Years went by, the new elections came about, and the golden boy was elected mayor. He strove for a total coalition but decided to exclude his once close friend, who thus became the one-member head of the opposition. The situation of Nir Barkat and Meir Turgeman - the heroes of our tale - is a sad one to watch, though for some in the local Hebrew press it was a conflict to feast on. But last week, things went a step too far. Turgeman, who is also head of the municipality's inspection committee, invited a television crew to check the renovations in the mayor's chambers, claiming that his name was on a "black list" of people forbidden to enter. The guard at the entrance allowed him in, assuming that a city councilor didn't need special permission. Turgeman had it wrong. There was no black list, but even the head of such an important committee must make an appointment, especially if he comes with a TV crew that was not authorized by the spokesman's office. This week, Turgeman sent a complaint requesting the immediate closure of the mayor's offices. The reason: The work was done without a building permit. But no one needs a building permit to break down a few walls. The feud will probably continue until the end of the term, some time in 2013! For those who want to know, the mayor's offices will have room for the additional new tasks - fundraiser, ombudsman, chief of staff and spokesperson. The general budget of the mayor's office is NIS 100,000 - the same budget that was available to mayor Lupolianski. It was just allocated in a different way.