The first three years:The other side of the coin

we are delighted to present you with a list of our mayor's worthy successes.

lupolianski 224.88  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
lupolianski 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Some readers may think that the job of a journalist is limited to being critical. Not this column, dear readers. So if last week's column gave some of you the impression that we are blind to our mayor's achievements - then this week's column comes to correct that impression. Over here in the Corridors of Power, we are always happy and proud to report on good deeds, welcome improvements, and long-lasting, meaningful achievements. And so, after last week's long and detailed list of failures and problems over at Kikar Safra, we are delighted to present you with a list of worthy successes. First of all, it's important to note that our mayor, Uri Lupolianski has scrupulously maintained the status quo. We have pointed to the lack of women singers at all official municipal events, but we also want to point to the ever-growing number of restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues that are opening in our city. The fact that many of these establishments are open on Shabbat and holidays speaks for itself. As you probably remember, the mayor has been criticized in these Corridors because he has absented himself from most public cultural events. But we also would like to add that, with the help of the Deputy Mayor, Yigal Amedi, Lupolianski has enlarged the culture budget of the city from NIS 4 million when he began to NIS 7 million this year. True, Tel Aviv, with a population half the size of Jerusalem's, has a culture budget of NIS 85 million - yet we still applaud this move in the right direction. Meanwhile, the city really is hopping - with more cultural events every week than ever before and Special Olympics for Senior Citizens and Developmentally-Challenged Children. We also want to comment on the mayor's economic plans. Only a few weeks after he stepped into office, Lupolianski became painfully aware of the urgent need for a rehabilitation plan to contend with the huge budgetary deficit left by his predecessor. Even though this necessitated firing hundreds of employees, Lupolianski approved the radical plan as proposed by his director general. And as In Jerusalem has pointed out several times - this year, for the first time in many years, the municipal budget is a balanced budget, an achievement the mayor reached without even one day of strikes. From his first days on the job, Mayor Lupolianski has acknowledged that the city is - let us say - less than clean. He promised that cleaning the city up would be one of his first priorities and that he was willing to allocate the funds to do this. Indeed, this year, he allocated NIS 83 million to cleaning up the city. The mayor himself has participated in numerous media campaigns to promote the message. Even if the situation on the ground (literally) still needs improvement, and even if the national authorities are holding the mayor personally responsible for some of the most egregious offenses, he has proved his commitment to cleaning up our streets. While we're talking about the environment, we also want to note that Jerusalem is now the first city in the country to have passed a municipal regulation that forbids the establishment of factories that use dirty fuels. And let's not forget the mobile vehicle pollution units that are prowling through the city. Or the mayor's initiative to try to close the Old City to vehicular traffic. The municipality has concluded preparation of its new Master Plan, the first in nearly 50 years, which was recently approved by the District Planning Committee of the Ministry of the Interior. Jerusalem is hopping and hot. The city has been hot-wired, so there's free internet connection downtown. We don't know how many people are using this new service, because no numbers have been released - but we're sure that many are. And last, but far from least, there's the "Lupolianski Package." The Finance Ministry would prefer that we called it the "Ministry's Package," but to us Jerusalemites, the name isn't important. This special project was designed to ease the way for students and young couples to live in the city center and then continue to live here after they finish their studies. Overall, the project has a budget of NIS 12.3 million. One part of the plan provides an NIS 8,500 loan to any student who chooses to study in one of the preferred programs; the loan turns into a grant if the student stays in the city after completing his or her studies. Some 490 students have taken advantage of this program this year. The municipality also tells us that 650 students have already taken advantage of this subsidy, including yeshiva, university, and college students. Another part of the plan provides an NIS 1,500 rent-subsidy to people who move to Jerusalem to work in hi-tech. According to the municipal spokesman, some 70 workers have applied. And some 180 young couples who have chosen to buy a home in Jerusalem have benefited from an NIS 20,000 grant, too. And so, dear readers, our mayor doesn't only smile. He also acts. Allow me to end this column with a quote from our sages, as an inspiration to us all: It is not your duty to finish the work, But neither are you at liberty to neglect it. (Avot 2:16)