The Bottom Line / The Appointment's in the Mail

Labor Party members, activists, friends, acquaintances, please get in line. We won't check talent or achievements.

Labor Party members, activists, friends, acquaintances, please get in line. We won't check talent or achievements. Just declare loyalty to Dalia Itzik, and we'll immediately register you for an excellent job opening at the Postal Authority.

But the communications minister is not the first. If a qualified archaeologist would dig at the authority, he would discover layers upon layers of political appointments, from the days of minister of posts Israel Yeshayahu through to the present.

Itzik's problem, however, was director general Yossi Shelly. He didn't belong to the right party, and also wasn't prepared to flood the authority with political appointments, even when they came from the Likud's or Omri Sharon's office. He even had the gall to try and make the authority more efficient, cutting costs and operating the Postal Authority as a business, which would soon undergo privatization.

All this only worked against him. I wrote in this column on April 15 that Itzik wanted to replace Shelly with an "easy director general, the kind who knows which side of his bread is buttered. She wants the kind who won't argue; a yes man to do what she says, to agree with her political appointments, to oppose privatization." And here we are - four months have passed, and the mission has been crowned with success. Shelly was forced to quit, and Itzik found a puppy dog candidate: Amos Rudin.

The Postal Authority is an enormous retail network spread across the country. It does not rely on the cabinet, but rather on the need to sell stamps and services to survive. Bulk mail competition is going to be opened against it in four months, when private, flexible and efficient companies will enter the market. In addition, the Finance Ministry intends to make the Postal Bank commercial.

All this constitutes a first-degree professional challenge demanding a veteran manager with extensive experience in the business retail sector. It requires a manager who will bring proven results in competitive sectors, not in governmental-Histadrut labor federation type jobs, where there's no competition at all.

However, Itzik selected a candidate whose main advantage is in the political arena. Rudin is a political man who received most of his positions from Labor ministers and the Histadrut. He is an expert at political appointments. He knew how to deliver the goods to all the ministers who appointed him to positions like Housing and Construction Ministry director general, Amidar director general, as well as senior posts at Halamish and Mishan, all places that are light years behind the business and competitive environment in which the Postal Authority will need to be managed.

Now his appointment depends on the Revivi committee for civil service appointments, which will check his political affinities. Is he a member of the Labor Party central committee? Does he have an academic degree. Is he sufficiently qualified

But the talents I'm talking about, efficiency and competition, are not the things for which Rudin was brought to the Pstal Authority. He came more or less to add another archaeological level to political appointments.

Itzik, of course, views the matter completely differently. She says that "Rudin is perhaps an associate of Labor, but he is a successful man who can do the job better than any of the other candidates. It's made for him. He's a leader. The only question is his demeanor. I don't know if he is comfortable getting angry, and it is my only doubt in the struggles that he perhaps will have to confront. They told me that he is not prepared to lend a hand to corruption. And if he will appoint 10 political appointments, is that what will save me? What is this cynicism of yours? I have always appointed good people, since I also want to succeed. Give me a little credit."

So, Itzik, take a lot of credit. We'll all follow the Postal Authority. We'll see how he makes it more efficient, how he'll reduce its deficit, how labor relations with postal workers will improve, and how the organization will become a successful and profitable governmental company. With Allah's help.