When boring is interesting

City council members use paper for virtually every purpose instead of laptops bought with taxpayer money.

sage council 298 (photo credit: Werner Braun)
sage council 298
(photo credit: Werner Braun)
Once in a while, events really do proceed exactly as predicted. Last week, as he entered city hall to attend the monthly city council meeting, a medium-ranking official told the guard, "It's gonna being a short and boring meeting - you can make plans for tonight." He was right. The monthly city council meeting was indeed boring. It was so boring that even I couldn't make it through to the yawn-filled conclusion and I left a little early. But all was not for naught. The boredom provided a rare opportunity to observe those little details that make the big differences. For example, I noticed that most of the city council members came in without the laptop computers that we, the citizens, bought for them with our tax money. Before I had even finished coping with the implications of this issue - after all, how can they fulfill their duties without their laptops? - I realized that someone unknown had placed huge piles of papers in front of each council member's seat, including questions to be presented, points of order and all the other usual information. Tens of thousands of shekels and they are still destroying the Amazon forests? The meeting started as usual - a little later than scheduled. But not only the city council members came in late - most of the high-ranking employees did, too. So I thought to myself - why do the bureaucrats even come to these meetings? In all my years as a city council reporter, I have never seen the mayor or any city council member address a question to them. They never participate in the discussions. Yet, even though the food is quite modest - some pretzels and pretty lousy candies - they always seem to enjoy being there. So I motioned to one of the more talkative council members to come closer. At this point, dear readers, I must explain that I meant no disrespect towards our elected representatives. Guests, and especially journalists, are not allowed to come too close to the councillors once the meeting has convened. Said representative came over quite quickly (remember - it was a boring discussion.) "It's part of their job," he answered my investigative question. "What do you mean, 'it's part of their job?' It's part of my job - I have to report. What do they do?" I retorted. He lowered his eyelids and his look seemed to say, "Is she really that naive?" "Look, they get paid for overtime." Of course, I said to myself. So that's why I don't see any of the secretaries or lower-level employees. Ever since the municipality instituted the financial rehabilitation program, they no longer receive overtime. Unlike their bosses. But since the continuing discussion continued to be boring, I still had time to think a bit more: why did they cut the secretaries' overtime, when their hours are cheap, and retain the overtime for the higher-ups, whose hours are very expensive? I was that close to thinking that I understand more than our estimable experts in finance and rehabilitation. But then I realized that I was becoming too bold and that I had better stop thinking before it was too late! So I left. Oh, by the way: Just in case some of you are curious about the content of this boring meeting - here is a sample of the items that were on the agenda: Question: Who decides which verses are written on the electronic board at the entrance to the city? Answer: The department of haredi culture. Question: Who approves the director-general's trips abroad? Answer: The director-general. And so on.