The relative glory days of Jaffa Rd.
Every Jerusalem taxpayer is paying for the construction of the light rail. But some are paying a whole lot more than others. In a display of unprecedented callousness, the government of Mayor Uri Lupolianski is refusing to consider financial compensation for the dozens of businesses along Jaffa Rd. who will be cut off from their customers as the Jaffa Rd. line of the light rail is laid.
Chairman of the Opposition at the Jerusalem City Council Nir Barkat recently took Lupolianski to task for the oversight and received a contemptuous response from the esteemed mayor:
In order to gauge how City Hall intends to relate to the business owners, the Leader of the Municipal Opposition, Nir Barkat, posed a question to Mayor Lupolianski at the last City Council meeting. Barkat asked if business-owners who had suffered losses due to the work on the Light Rail Track had received compensation, (a reduction in Municipal rates, for example), and whether any compensation was planned for businesses which would suffer losses in the future.
As Mayor Lupolianski expressed, "Not one claim for compensation has been received until now from any business, although sometimes we encounter a desire to incite and to make waves; but, thank God, until now we have not received one claim for compensation and, in any case, compensation won't be given."
In response to Mayor Lupolianski's answer, Barkat said, "Many business owners have turned to me because they are suffering from the lack of access to their businesses and, consequently, more than a 50% reduction in their turnover. This is due to a faulty City management which has failed to take drivers or businesses into account."
So did business owners fail to request compensation because they didn't want any, or because it had already been made to clear to them they wouldn't receive any?
Apparently the Municipality's programme for revitalizing the city center is to allow a major hub of the city's mercantile economy to wither away while it scorns and disregards the concerns of merchants and residents. Taxation without representation was once seen as a casus belli. Today it should at least be cause for a change in government.
Photo of pre-light rail Jaffa Rd. courtesy of Creap from flickr under a creative commons license