Talking to the Wall

When a tourist visiting Safed three and a half years ago was horrified by the state of city's sidewalks, she took the trouble to go to city hall and drop a letter in the complaint box.

"I strongly protest the state of the paving stones in the sidewalks. This hazard could cause an accident," she warned.

Until yesterday, that letter remained in the complaint box, unseen by a single soul.

Newly-minted Safed mayor Ilan Shochat noticed the complaint box, as do all visitors to city hall passing through the main lobby, and asked to read the complaint mail.

Shochat was disappointed to discover that no municipal worker actually had a key to the box.

After picking the lock, city hall staffers found complaints that had been filed as long as four years ago.

Some were quite detailed, such as a letter from one city resident that included several clauses covering sanitation complaints such as a trash can too close to a public telephone.

"I hope my requests will be handled in a timely fashion as they are quite urgent," the resident signed the letter, adding "this could hurt tourism." That letter was never read either.

Shochat asked that the box be reinstalled, promising it will now be opened and complaints addressed on a regular basis.

And someone will have the key.