A city comptroller? You're an unsung hero or a villain
Local comptrollers find their reports are either ignored or result in threats, pressure, slander and costly legal battles, say their authors.
The internal comptrollers of local authorities watch with envy the limelight directed at the state comptroller's report on issues within their purview. Unlike the treatment accorded State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, local comptrollers find their reports are either ignored or result in threats, pressure, slander and costly legal battles, say their authors.
"We are the first line of the comptroller front," said Eran Amir, city comptroller in Ramat Hasharon, adding that the controllers are, in effect, hung out to dry. "We're of no interest to anyone, unlike the state comptroller, who is not subordinate to anyone and doesn't get reprimanded by anyone."
"Here, each comptroller is for himself and needs to work in a horrific structure," said Amir. "Sometimes from being a comptroller you become the subject of an investigation. The municipality starts a campaign against you, using municipal tax money, while you are on your own and sponsor your defense from your own pocket. We don't have the power of deterrence that should be provided by the Justice Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the State Comptroller's Office."
Bennie Eliyahu served as the comptroller of Tiberias for 15 years before losing a power struggle with the city and being found guilty by a disciplinary tribunal of missing work hours and giving information to a journalist. Eliyahu said: "There are reports in local authorities of very serious findings that are destined to be shelved by the Interior Ministry and ignored by the state comptroller."
Eliyahu said the city hired a private company to extract confidential information from his computer, which was used against him, and he was removed from his post after the tribunal found him guilty, but he appealed to the Petah Tikva District Court and was acquitted in a landmark ruling.
"There are comptrollers in local authorities doing very good work, on a level the state comptroller reports can't reach for objective reasons, like lack of time," Eliyahu said yesterday. "Sadly, the State Comptroller's Office doesn't use our reports."