Election 2008: Yahav Vs. Borovski
Campaign fervor is in full swing here in Haifa, but the balding eagles of the American big-leagues aren’t on the roster. On November 11th, a week or so after that other horse race finally sublimates its two-year itch in a spurting fountain of televised vote-tallying and indecent pundit exposure, Israel’s third-largest city will select a (hopefully new) mayor. As in every abb-busting exercise of modern democracy, the pack is dominated by an architypal pair: charismatic incumbent and outraged, well-financed challenger.
It’s big news. Both candidates have whipped up a little-brotherly display of PR glitz to rival the upcoming national race currently leaning towards Tzipi Livni. Airbrushed and color-corrected faces of the would-be mayors leer down from buildings, busses and billboards from the wadi to the uni. Some have already been humorously vandalized, and the doomsday-type election countdown clock that Borovski commisioned in kikar sefer has spent the last week blinking incompresensible patterns like a prophesying stroke victim. Throngs of bountifully cleavaged students in cutoff shirts emblazoned with vaguely apolitical labels such as “The Young of Haifa” were deployed to canvass bystanders with aggressive pitches for change and/or continuing prosperity. Of particular interest is the city’s dismal environmental record and its ongoing and catastrophic outflow of the young. Both issues make ready rhetoric for the challenger, but the sad truth of corrupt Israeli politics makes it impossible to predict what effect (if any) a change would bring.
Here are a few things that I would like to see change in Haifa:
1. No more Dutch tulips in Kikar Sefer: This city is uniquely blessed as one of the greenest in Israel, and its not because of all the water we waste irrigating tulips and mums. Haifa perches proudly on the high Carmel ridge, naturally green because uplift and cooling of moist ocean air causes greater rainfall. Instead of planting ornamentals and allowing untold gallons to evaporate from public fountains, lets plant well-planned, beautiful local varieties and never have to irrigate. Forget the fountains. Come on people, last time I was out on the Kinneret we couldn’t even get to the refueling dock in Tiberius because the lake was so shallow.
2. More bus service, specifically late at night and on shabbat, shuttling quickly between young neighborhoods and nightlife (think Nevei Shaanan to Port to Carmel to University).
3. More funding for cultural events and the arts.
4. Less money wasted on unneccessary and poorly-planned infrastructure repair.
5. More parking and better services at the Carmel beach and adjacent train station, plus some incentives for businesses other than bars and shishlik restaurants to open there (what about water sports, yoga studios, cafes, ice cream shops, etc?) Why not concentrate the things that people want, so that multi-use destinations become fun and convenient. Who wouldnt rather get their morning paper and muffin at the beach than at the mall?!? Also, it would be nice if someone would clean that darling mantle of trash off the beach.
6. Municipal sports facilities. Period.
7. Serious environmental regulation of the Nesher-area industrial leviathin. A cleaner Kishon. These are probably the least likely to occur.
Just a few thoughts as my personal attention turns to more pressing matters. Of course, I’ve already voted early for Obama, so now I’m free to devote all of my energy to the approaching trainwreck of the winter semester. Just this week they announced that a deal was struck with the faculty and the fourth consecutive higher-education strike of my graduate career is postponed until further notice.