May 19, 2009

shlemialiut at its best

As you might have noticed, ever since the municipal elections several months ago, I have avoided writing anything about the functioning of Bet Shemesh City Hall and the mayor. I did not want it to seem like I am a sore loser - after all, I supported a different candidate. As soon as election results were in, I decided I would not be sore about it and I would hope that Abutbol would succeed, despite my evaluation that he was not right for the job. His success would be the success of all of Bet Shemesh, and bellyaching because of being a sore loser does nobody any good. So I gave him a chance, and decided not to write about anything for a while.

The reason I thought Abutbol was not right for the job is because he never really did anything big. he never led an opposition to the former mayor. he never led big projects and showed leadership. Sure, he helped a number of shuls get plots and build buildings (what chaver iryah has not done this?) - basically he is qualified to be the gabbai of a shul - not to run a city. That along with my concern that he would not stand up to certain elements in the city. For those reasons I chose not to support him.

Enough time has passed that I now feel comfortbale writing about Bet Shemesh again.

It seems my concerns were well founded. Moshe Abutbol runs the city of Bet Shemesh like a shlemiel. Sure, people love him - he is a nice guy and everybody will have a good word to say about him. If you call him up and tell him about a problem, there is a good chance he might dispatch a municipal employee to fix the problem.

However, he takes no initiative. Abutbol campaigned on a platform of giving the city back to the residents. The city would be run in a professional manner, and the residents would have a say in what goes on and the residents would once again be able to be proud of living in Bet Shemesh with an efficiently functioning Bet Shemesh.

The issue of the parks and the sports/gym equipment is a good example of the shlemiel attitude in the irya. They got complaints about the equipment. It does not matter right now whether it was for tzniyus or for safety. Instead of meeting and bringing an engineer and deciding if the equipment is safe or not or what should be done, they sent a tractor in and ripped out the equipment.

The residents had to fight to get the equipment put back in a different place in a safe manner. But lo and behold, the city left the park more dangerous than when the equipment was there. They left the park full of holes from having ripped out the equipment. A kid could have snapped his knees or sprained an ankle running through the park! The city only sent someone to fix it after a number of complaints. The whole reason they took out the equipment (supposedly) was because of safety, and then they left the state in a more unsafe manner.

That is but one example. Another is the neighborhood of Heftziba has been complaining for two months that they have had almost no water flow in the houses. The city once in a while responds that they are dealing with it and are looking for the source of the problem. They kept saying they were dealing with it, while the residents continued suffering for two months with almost no water. It turns out the whole problem was the handle on the water main for the area was partially closed the whole time, limiting the flow of water. It took them two months to check the water main.

Another example is the increased number of complaints I am hearing that the 106 hotline service is not dealing with issues. A resident who sees a problem is meant to be able to dial 106, report the problem, and the city should deal with it. people are complaining about leaking sewage pipes, leaking water, garbage, etc. and it takes weeks before anything gets done, and then usually only by intervention after someone knows someone in the irya and calls them directly.

You can read the local papers on any Friday and see more examples of this attitude.

There are good people in City Hall. I know of some cases, and was involved in a couple, where chavrei irya got involved personally to resolve issue and problems. On an individual level these are good people who do good work. But as a unit of City Hall led by Mayor Abutbol, I am sad to say the city is functioning in a reactive mode, only dealing with problems when they can no longer push them off and ignore them.

What happened to "Tnu La'Toshavim L'Natzeach"???


  1. I am not sure where you are getting this info from. If you read the Chadash newspaper, everything is 100% hunky dorey.

  2. especially ever since the owner of Chadash, Matti Rosenzweig, was appointed as city spokesman..

    read the other papers if you want to know what is happening in the city and not just how the haredi members of the irya so great.

    But even chadash this past week, for what might be the first time, complained about the mayor and 106. They even printed an unusual letter to the editor complaining about the city. I say unusual because the editor responded to defend the mayor and the city. the letter complained about the lack of subsidized buses to Meron on lag B'Omer, and compared it to previous years where the buses were subsidized and relatively cheap. The editor responded, unusually as it is not his job to defend the city - just to defend his reporting - that the writer wa smistaken and there were subsidized buses, and the price was cheaper and the writer must have used a private bus rather than a city sponsored one and it is his own problem. So chadash is far from a reliable barometer as to how the irya is functioning.

  3. really? you mean Rabbis Montag, Greenberg, Abutbol are not the only things going on in the city?

  4. I am sure they all do great work, on an individual level. This post is not about anyone specific (other than perhaps Abutbol), but about the functioning of City Hall as a whole led by the mayor.

    If you call Greenberg or Montag or Abutbol or others and complain about something, they will probably help you. But complain to the city hotline and you can fogettabodit. Expect the city to run efficiently as was promised (even forgetting the promise to build a hospital and to eradicate the issues of "noar nosheir" and violence and filth, etc) - just to fix roads, clean the city, trim the weeds, etc. - just take a look around. It is not getting done. The city, according to chadash, complains about not enough funding in the budget. Poor excuse.

  5. I didn't notice one way or another; by my books, Abutbol was still on probation. But I guess I'll be noticing a lot more now...

  6. This is really bad news in a city with the high growth pattern RBS is undergoing.

  7. I thought we had all agreed to appoint you city spokesman...?

    On a more serious note, what sort of things is one supposed to call 106 for?

  8. happy - anything wrong in the neighborhood that is municipal related. garbage was not picked up?106. parks dirty? 106. sewage leak in the streets? 106. pipe burst (public area, not your building)? 106. street lights not working? 106.

  9. Rafi, Are we any worse off than under Vaknin?

  10. Shimon - I don't know. I think the city is running less efficiently. Asaf Metri says they are in the process of changing contracts and putting out tenders so it should improve soon.

    But anyway - I thought elections and changing mayor were in order to improve the city, not keep it the same. Especially when he ran on a platform of improving the city and making all sorts of promises how the residents would be so proud of living here it would be so efficient and services would be so great. And then it stays the same or gets worse?


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