Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Nisan 5766 - April 4, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Jerusalem Mayor Tries to Dismiss the City Attorney

by Betzalel Kahn

Jerusalem Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky recently initiated proceedings to dismiss the municipality's staff attorney, Attorney Yossi Chavilav, by sending letters to Deputy Interior Minister Ruchama Avraham and Local Government Center Chairman Adi Eldar, notifying them of his intention to terminate Chavilav's service.

A short time earlier Mayor Lupoliansky sent a letter to Attorney Chavilav reading, "Due to complaints that have accumulated on the desk of the City Council regarding your work as legal advisor to the municipality, and since your period of employment has ended according to the contract signed with you, I have decided to begin proceedings to end your employment."

Attorney Chavilav is primarily known to the chareidi community for preventing funding transfers to talmudei Torah, blocking land grants for botei knesses and religious institutions and other moves against the Torah world. Chareidi City Councilmen noted that Attorney Chavilav was aware of the lack of lots for new public institutions and that certain neighborhoods had no beis knesses.

Not only chareidi representatives but other members of the City Council and high-ranking officials also regularly fell into disputes and had poor working relations with Attorney Chavilav. In many instances he would refrain from defending the municipality and not represent it in various legal cases, which encouraged the opposition to file complaints against the municipality and municipal employees. Various letters sent to Attorney Chavilav regarding his lack of concern for these matters raise suspicions of impropriety, including listing work hours improperly and helping an employee exempt herself from towing fines.

In the letter he sent to the Interior Ministry and the Center for Local Government, the mayor wrote that since Attorney Chavilav's official period of employment ended over six months ago, dismissal proceedings are unnecessary. Yet he has elected to follow these procedures since it is stipulated in the hiring contract the municipality signed with Attorney Chavilav.

The letter also enumerates instances of flawed work relations with nearly every official at the municipality and concludes that he cannot be entrusted with such a position. "This is not a case of legitimate professional disputes or isolated incidents but a string of incidents that have created a tainted set of working relations and potholes that make day- to-day work between the Legal Advisor and the other municipal departments impossible. Letters of reprimand and criticism to the Legal Advisor have become commonplace. This is true regarding the City Treasury, which has repeatedly been compelled to inform the Legal Advisor of deviations from the municipality's budget regulations, particularly as relates to employee personnel at the Department of the Legal Advisor. There has also been substantial friction between Attorney Chavilav and the directors of the Department of Human Resources and the City Engineer. Attorney Chavilav's work is marked by poor work relations that almost completely neutralize the effectiveness of the office of the Legal Advisor and cause it significant harm."

The letters constitute a necessary part of the dismissal process. The Center for Local Government and the Interior Ministry are expected to convene a meeting to reply to the claims lodged against Attorney Chavilav and at the City Council's upcoming meeting a two-thirds vote (21 councilmen) is needed to finalize the Legal Advisor's discharge.

Deputy Mayor Rabbi Eli Simchayoff says, "The Municipality wants to employ an efficient legal advisor who operates in accordance with the law and who provides the city suitable legal services while striving to make his work more efficient. We don't need someone who makes use of his position as a tool to propagate his opinions solely to highlight his name in the media.

"Attorney Chavilav is at odds with most of the city councilmen, except for a few friends in the opposition, and even with the majority of top-ranking officials in the municipality. The fact he insists on retaining his post and is compelling us to carry out such a procedure demonstrates that other places are less than eager to hire him. The proceedings the mayor is executing are vital for the Torah- based educational and religious institutions, which have been regularly discriminated against during Attorney Chavilav's term. In general this move will undoubtedly contribute to all of the city's residents. We hope during the upcoming City Council meeting we can complete the dismissal procedure in order to limit the damage Attorney Chavilav causes as he lashes out in all directions in his final moments."


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