Out on the town

The mayor and an aide discussed the status of the capital's younger generation at an after-hours session in a downtown bar.

barkat waves 248 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
barkat waves 248 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The mayor and one of his coalition members decided that Sunday evening was the perfect time to discuss the best ways to promote the status of the capital's young generation. It was way past working hours at Kikar Safra, and no employees of any of the relevant departments were to be found. In fact, the only accessories around were a couple of beer glasses on the counter of a downtown Jerusalem bar. The mayor and his faithful city council member hadn't spent too much time on the issue. Apparently solutions had been found promptly; and once the beer was finished, the urgent council meeting was terminated and the two went on their separate ways. Corridors is delighted that this city finally has a mayor who is able to appreciate a glass of beer in a public place after work, and he certainly is entitled to enjoy it without discussing serious matters with city council members. What is much less acceptable, however, is the fact that this administration has repeated at least one of its predecessor's mistakes. In the income column of the city's budget appears the sum of NIS 43 million (from parking tickets (NIS 2 million more than in last year's budget). This means that in the minds of the treasurer and the head of the Finance Committee at least, residents are considered a priori as lawbreakers and thus have the duty to finance, on top of the property taxes, part of the municipal budget. Might "greedy" be the best term to describe it? But the truth is, this is really petty cash compared to other, more important issues. For example, the fact that Jerusalem is expecting a very important visitor and that the combination of politics and provincialism is threatening to turn this visit into a real mess. The pope's visit to the holy city may remind some of us of the first visit of our future in-laws: extremely important but a real headache - and a very expensive one to boot. You couldn't really invite your future in-laws to a house that hasn't been refurnished from top to bottom, including new outfits for you and the rest of the family. In the case of the capital, it means cleaning the little street on Mount Zion, repaving the road to the Mount of Olives, where the pope will spend the night, manufacturing the flags, hats and shirts specially designed for the visit, setting up a communication center for the hundreds of journalists that are expected, and hosting a welcome ceremony with all the city's who's who. Total cost: NIS 6 million. The government agrees that this is a very important visit, but as far as money is concerned, it has so far approved only NIS 1.8 million. For some people at Kikar Safra - high-ranking officials as well as elected officials - the headache is reaching its peak. How are they going to organize a successful visit, obtain the money they need from the government and still keep all the dirty laundry inside? One thing is sure: At least five city council members, including two deputy mayors, will boycott the ceremony on religious and political grounds. But there's still one positive thing: David Hadari (Habayit Hayehudi), deputy mayor and head of the Finance Committee, has already announced that although he will not attend the welcome ceremony, he will approve the municipality's part in the special budget: NIS 700,000.