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Dec 27, 2012

Lawlessness in Public Management

A Guest Post by former Bet Shemesh City Councilman Zvi Wolicki

It sometimes happens that I focus on one issue that bothers me or even gets me heated up at the municipal level, then a news item so sensational lands on us that it requires our attention.
So this week I planned to write about the issue of selective enforcement signage in fees and other related business license, then the State Comptroller released a report on the conduct of the City Engineering Division, a report that is so bad I do not know why they are not demanding the resignation of all involved.

The study provides conclusions in relation to the following four areas of activity in the design and construction: Planning, licensing, inspection and enforcement. The results are frightening:
Planning: Along with the planning of residential areas, there was no planning of accompanying industrial and commercial areas.
Licensing: building permits were granted illegally, tofes 4 was awarded without checking that the building matched the plans, houses were built with larger service areas residential area
Supervision: not comprehensive, was not systematic and was not effective
Enforcement: demolition orders were not enforced, stop work orders were not enforced, and the mayor did not use his authority to enforce orders

For many of us these defects are known issues, but when you read about them in a government report, the level of the severity is more impressive.
The report also refers to a reward for good management that the Beit Shemesh Municipality won in 2009 and 2010. So when I asked some people if that was a way fo the Minister of Interior to funnel money to a municipality controlled by a fellow political party member, I was told that I was looking for conspiracies. Now I turn your attention to the following quote:
The Interior Ministry stated that the Beit Shemesh municipality filled the conditions in 2009 and 2010 and merited the award for proper management. However, because the national unit for supervision of the Interior Ministry stated in it's opinion that enforcement of the laws regarding planning and building in Beit Shemesh is very poor, the INterior Ministry withheld the 1/3 of the monetary prize that was awarded to the City. The defects were not fixed,  not in 2009 and not in 2010 - so the City of Bet Shemesh did not receive the outstanding balance of the withheld prize.
Regardless of the trend behind the desire to give the prize to Bet Shemesh, and I leave judgement to the reader's opinion, it is clear that the money could have been used to enrich the quality of life of city residents, if it would have been received and directed to a good cause. So, indifference to the law caused not just suffering to the residents who are forced to live in the shadow of illegal construction that is often invasive, and sometimes ugly, but also lost more money that could have contributed to their lives.

The report goes on and surveys more amazing incidents and I would be happy to send it by e-mail any resident that desires it.
In the Haredi press of Beit Shemesh they attributed the deficienciesof the engineering department and in the functioning of the mayor to his compassion and his lack of desire to "hurt" building offenders that might  absorb heavy financial penalties.
This argument shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of public representatives.The "merciful" in this case is actually being cruel to other law-abiding residents who are forced to live alongside the offenses. Moreover, it is not the mayor's duty to be "merciful" or nice. His duty is to promote the quality of life of residents and to guard our rights, as residents of the city, when they are facing the danger of unethical planners or contractors hungry for profit or greedy neighbors who "steal" areas that do not belong to them and thereby hurt those around them.
In summary, it does not matter if the cause of the shlumialiyut, the clumsiness and lack of performance is  a deficient policy of out of pity or greed, the result is the same. The city suffers from a lack of public spaces as a result of a deficient policy of distribution, shortages in areas for commerce as a result of poor planning, a deficiency of green areas as a result of greed of contractors and of the dysfunction of the Local Committee to prevent the giving of permits for plans that are not good for the public. And it does not seem that there will be a process of coming to conclusions.
And after all of this, the State Comptroller recommends to appropriate the authorities from the Local  Committee and to transfer them to the District Committee. But this leads to two questions. The first being that the person who represents the Municipality of Beit Shemesh in the Regional Committee is none other than the Chairman of the Local Committee. And, secondly, when all these arguments were raised before the Regional Committee during the stages of opposition of the poor planning of new neighborhoods, the  committee's response was that it was convinced that the Engineering Division of Bet Shemesh is working properly. And so the cycle continues...

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  1. Earn money from homeDecember 28, 2012 2:13 PM

    Why didn't the public put Tzvi back into the city council in the last election? Because he actually wants to hold people accountable...yep. But that of course an anathema to the political powers that be. Yep.

  2. That's not why - Anglo voters bought the idea that they needed to back a bigger party to give it more pull. And if he has Israeli voters some also switched to back a bigger party.

    A close friend who used to organize activities at Ber Hatikvah for the Ethiopian sector said that since the city got money to invest in the area, they hired people who kicked the Ethiopians OUT. That isn't the point of government money - to lose services for the needy.


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