A National Failure

The case of the city of Lod is a continued national failure, for which the residents have been paying the price for too many years.

The report of State Comptroller Joseph Shapira on local government, which was released on Tuesday, surveys the actions of government ministries and the Lod municipality over the past 12 years. The report implies that the 70,000 residents of Lod were abandoned to their fate by the authorities − those of the state and the city together. Partial planning, a lack of supervision and control, and mismanagement resulted in this depressing reality − another example of the long-term failure of those responsible for improving the situation of weaker populations.

The State Comptroller’s comments on the government plans for Lod are worth paying attention to, especially in light of the tendency of politicians to visit the city, promise the world and have their picture taken next to excited students. It turns out that some of the funds promised were never transferred at all, the supervision of the implementation of plans was not consistent, and a number of cabinet decisions that specifically related to Lod never took into account the conditions there.

The report covers a number of areas, including the low level of personal security of Lod residents, and the partial educational and social services they receive. The comptroller notes that the situation in the city has not changed in 12 years, during which time the city was managed by a council appointed by the Interior Ministry. And all this happened despite some NIS 250 million in government funds the city received between 2006 and 2010. The comptroller also determined that there was faulty management on the part of the appointed city council − and the elected council before that − and two of the three government plans for the city that promised to provide hope for residents failed.

Shapira characterized the government’s plans for Lod euphemistically as “starting with a great shout, then retreating and fading away.” The comptroller explained this mostly as due to budgetary problems and a lack of a continuous mechanism to monitor the implementation of plans and decisions. It is possible that government bureaucracy contributed its share to creating this situation, but the continued failure of government plans testifies how easy it is to sow illusions about changing reality.

The case of Lod is a continued national failure, for which tens of thousands of city residents have been paying the price for too many years.