Bet Shemesh News

By Rabbi Dov Lipman

HALFWAY HOUSE FOR PEDOPHILES IN MIDDLE OF OLD BET SHEMESH

200 residents of the Rechov Hamishlat neighborhood in Old Bet Shemesh took to the streets last Sunday to protest the establishment of a halfway house for convicted pedophiles who have been released from prison.  City councilman Motti Cohen (Dor Acher) pointed out that a city council committee had to approve the use of a building in a residential neighborhood for this purpose which did not happen and, therefore, he would be asking the city attorney to close the home.  An emotional moment took place when the mother of a girl who was killed at the city's shuk 4 years ago spoke and said that she asked the Mayor to use the home for a Midrasha named after her daughter to help troubled girls.  Many accused the Mayor of allowing the halfway house to be established because it is run by his friend who is a Shas activist.  The city government issued an official response that it was checking into the situation with the police and whether the city has legal rights to intervene.   It seems that the protests of the residents along with work done by city councilmen has been successful and there appears to be a decision to remove the pedophiles from the home.
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POLICE CLOSE 4 PIZZA SHOPS FOR ILLEGAL SALES
The Bet Shemesh Police closed four local pizza shops for illegal sales.  Three of the pizza shops were closed for selling "Mister Nice Guy" - a drug like "incense."   The fourth pizzeria was closed for selling alcohol to minors.   The owners of the pizza shops fought the closing order in court arguing that "Mr. Nice Guy" is not on the official list of illegal drugs.  The judge ruled that the closing order would be lifted in the middle of this coming week.  Police Chief Koby Cohen announced that while he wanted the stores to be closed for longer, he hopes that all stores take this development as a strong warning and there won't be as much compassion if there are future violations.
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LOCAL LIKUD TAKES A STAND AGAINST THE MAYOR
The elder statesman of the local Likud, Amram Abuchatzeira signed a letter to Mayor Abutbol, together with the head of the Likud list, Natan Sheetrit, clarifying that Likud did not authorize Likud city councilwoman Irit Marciano's entrance into the coalition and that the Mayor was incorrect in declaring that his coalition now included every local party.  The Mayor's agreement with Marciano was between the Mayor/Shas and Irit on her own, with no party affiliation.  They also declared that as the party in control of the national government, they would make sure to monitor the Mayor's actions over the next three years and stop illegal and corrupt activities in City Hall.  The Mayor responded with a scathing letter defending his stance that Marciano is part of Likud while questioning what Sheetrit has to do with Likud since he was part of Ichud Leumi and placed on the Likud list right before the elections by former Mayor Dani Vaknin. 
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MK HAIM AMSALLEM VISITS BET SHEMESH
Rabbi Haim Amsallem, Knesset member from the Shas party, spoke in Bet Shemesh on Wednesday night.  He has made waves recently for his call for general studies and career training for chareidim as well as a halachic decision to be lenient on non Jewish soldiers with Jewish ancestry.  To hear his presentation please click here:
http://yeshivalive.net/bmtl/ravhaimamsalem190111.mp3
Anyone who wants to be in touch with Ram Amsallem and be part of his movement can feel free to contact me (Dov) at: ddlipman@gmail.com.
The three city council members in the opposition met with Amsallem after the speech to discuss local problems and the Shas mayorship.  MK Amsallem explained some of the inner workings of Shas and pledged to help the opposition in any way he can if there is immoral or illegal activity in the municipal government. 
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MAYOR ABUTBOL FIGHTING EDUCATION MINISTRY REGARDING GAN TUITION 
The Education Ministry announced that it would follow through on the decision of the courts which dictates that most of Bet Shemesh is no longer in category 2 in terms of its economic standing and, therefore, residents are no longer eligible for subsidies on gan tuition for 3 and 4 year olds.  Gan tuition in the country is 800 NIS per month.  Since Bet Shemesh had been in a lower financial bracket, subsidies enabled parents to pay just 160 NIS per month.  For Ramat Bet Shemesh and parts of Givat Sharet, the amount will rise to 800 NIS per month.  Mayor Abutbol protested to the Education Ministry and a decision was made to implement this change in steps - next year parents will pay 40% of the tuition, in two years 70% and then in 3 years 100%.  Mayor Abutbol is protesting this decision and has not opened registration for gans in the city despite the fact that nationally this process began over a week ago.  City councilman Richard Peres (Labor) who holds the education portfolio has asked the Mayor not to continue with this step since it is hurting parents, especially in the very poor areas.  The Mayor and Minister of Education have a negative history with each other going back to the battle for the Safot V'Tarbuyot school and it is unlikely that he will yield to the Mayor's protest.  Time will tell...  
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WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE CITY BUDGET?
We are nearing the end of January and there is still no city budget for 2011.  Insiders involved in the process are quietly saying that there is simply no one ready to make the difficult decisions to prepare the budget in a professional manner.  City manager Motti Chuta was responsible for preparing the 2010 budget but he seems to be shying away from any formal involvement in the difficult task of pleasing all the parties involved - perhaps after his difficult year with legal troubles with the Holyland affair from which he was exonerated.  The entrance of five new members into the coalition has only made the process more difficult with more people and interests pulling at the Mayor for funds.  The chairman of the city's finance committee, councilman Dovid Viner (Agudah) relates that a budget will be completed by the end of January. 
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SOME PROTECTION FOR LOCAL SCHOOLS
Deputy Mayor Shmulik Greenberg (Degel HaTorah) has announced that the Education Ministry has agreed to provide 75% of the funding for new alarm systems and security cameras for local schools.  (Will the city provide the other 25%?  That is unclear).  Schools which are interested in obtaining these funds should contact Shelli Gil at 990-9831.   
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MAZAL TOV TO MAYOR ABUTBOL
Mayor Abutbol and his wife are celerating the birth of their first grandson.  The shalom zachar is tonight at Beit Knesset Mimizrach Hashemesh, Sfat Emet 5 in Nachal Umenucha beginning at 8:00p.m. and all city residents re invited to attend.  
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