State Comptroller Sides With Municipal Whistle-blowers Against Mayor Suspected of Graft

Upper Nazareth’s municipal legal adviser complained that Mayor Shimon Gafsou was dismissing her because she had exposed corruption in the city.

Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel
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Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira has conferred whistle-blower protection on Upper Nazareth’s municipal legal adviser, who had complained that Mayor Shimon Gafsou was dismissing her because she had exposed corruption in the city.

The protection order issued to attorney Olga Gordon monday came only two weeks after Shapira issued a similar order on behalf of city treasurer Ofer Levy.

Although Gafsou, upon assuming his post in 2009, had told Gordon that he wanted to replace her, he never took any steps to do so until over three years later, after she was involved in exposing two cases of corruption. One involved Gordon’s attempt to replace an accounting firm the city had been using for years without a tender, and the other, in October 2011, involved a legal opinion she wrote against granting an exceptional use permit to a banquet hall operating in an industrial building.

After she submitted her opinion on the banquet hall, one of the city councilmen filed a motion to retain an outside lawyer to replace her, in response to which Gordon filed a complaint with the State Comptroller’s Office. Ten months later, while her complaint was still being investigated, she was told she was being fired.

Gafsou told the comptroller with regard to the banquet hall that the proposal to hire an external lawyer had come from a member of the opposition, and that he had supported the opening of the banquet hall because until then there was no kosher banquet hall in the city.

As to replacing the accounting firm, Gafsou said the firm had been engaged during the term of his predecessor and that neither Gordon nor Levy had consulted him about their plans to issue a tender.

Gafsou further told the comptroller that Gordon was unprofessional, acted in accordance with irrelevant considerations and out of a desire to undermine him, and that she would frequently deem initiatives of his illegal, even though they could have been legally approved.

Though Gafsou gave several examples, all of them had taken place after Gordon had sought help from the comptroller. Gordon, for her part, pointed to several other instances in which she had prevented municipal corruption.

In the end, Shapira accepted Gordon’s version of events. He also pointed out that Gafsou had frequently defended Gordon at city council meetings, saying “she’s doing her job and protecting the municipality.” Gafsou had no explanation for this.

Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon GapsoCredit: Ilan Assayag

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