The cabinet and Knesset make the fateful decisions, but the individual's contact with the government is mainly through its local authority. Everyday life is determined by the decisions made by the local authority or municipality council, and especially by its head.
Therefore the State Comptroller's report into the local authorities, released this week, is alarmingly severe. It is one more chapter in a series of critical reports issued over the course of Judge (ret. ) Micha Lindenstrauss' term in office.
Tension is rising as we near the completion of the reports dealing with the responsibility of senior government officials for the December 2010 Carmel fire disaster, and the relations between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
The report on the Carmel fire is expected to place "special responsibility" on the prime minister and certain ministers, and deal severely with officials in executive positions as well. Some people hastened to criticize the report even before it had been published. This may also be seen as an introduction to the struggle over appointing the next comptroller, indicating that powerful forces will try to make sure he/she is not as meticulous and strict as Lindenstrauss.
According to the report, the rules that apply to central government, including the forbidden alliance between money and power (a term resounding ever since state comptroller Miriam Ben-Porat's days ), also apply to local government. Mayors - the comptroller did well to list their names - are good to those who have been good to them, at the expense of the public and public funds.
When such affairs border on criminal acts, the comptroller passes the material on to the attorney general and the police. But even when they are not strictly illegal and infringe only on proper conduct and order, they should be uprooted. Without the confidence of the people, who are the taxpayers (and city rates payers ), the local authorities would crumble.
The report also addresses security issues and their connection to the local authorities. Repeated reports have warned about the situation; a national emergency authority and a Home Front Command have been set up; rocket volleys that began in the north continued in the south and spread to the center, so that no community or town is safe from harm. Yet numerous communities and local authorities have not made the necessary preparations for emergency.
This is no longer financial corruption but negligence, whose price is exacted in human life. The comptroller is doing well to warn of it, but regrettably his findings are being handled sluggishly.
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