Monday, February 12, 2007

Irbid town meeting (on the internet)

Ammon news has a report on a new park that is supposed to be established in Irbid. Last summer, the king visited the city and donated seven million dinars for the project. Since then, little has happened, the previous mayor (Walid Masri) was fired (as I mentioned at the time), and the area designated for the park has been reduced from 244 dunums (24.4 hectares) to 177 dunums. Until now, the only visible achievement has been the laying of the foundation stone by the king.

What is more interesting than the report has been the comment section has evolved into a virtual town meeting. Many people are using their real names, and are either impressed by the achievements of the previous mayor (and are against the current mayor) or openly opposed to him. Some of what is said is quite revealing.

One comment states that the ministry of public works owed the municipality 4.5 million dinars, of which an installment was due to be paid on August 6, four days after the Masri was dismissed. The new mayor “forgave” the ministry of the money, with the obvious implication that Masri was removed to achieve this result. One reason cited for why the area of the planned park has been reduced has been the lack of funds needed to confiscate the extra lands.

Most comments support Masri, and assert that the activities and services in the city have deteriorated since the appointment of the new mayor. A joint comment signed by 16 city councilmen says that work on the park project slowed down after the appointment of the new mayor. They imply that the story was written to harm Masri “for electoral purposes”. Other commentators accuse the new mayor of being an underling to the minister of municipalities, who held a grudge against Masri and wanted to sabotage his work. They assert that he expanded his office and purchased fancy new furniture even as he claimed the city was broke and services declined. They accuse him and his administration of misusing city vehicles for personal purposes, even giving details of where the cars go.

Others attack Masri, claiming that he wanted to raise the prices of land in Nueimeh by encouraging development towards that area. Other accusations include nepotism.

Anyway, I find it to be a riveting and refreshing debate. My vote is with Masri.



At 2:31 PM, Blogger Abu Daoud said...

So glad to hear there is some forum for criticizing or praising the government in JO. Every journey starts with a few steps...

At 10:50 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Abu Daoud: Also notable is the use of real names, including those of employees. I also am interested in the passion, the details and the lack of dogma. Remember, this is a local issue, which political parties rarely show genuine interest in.

At 11:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One never imagined that Ammon would pick up such mega audiences for such a topic. I do not want to brandish my cynicism, but i am tempted to predict that most of the annons are motivated and encouraged to write by either of the mayors. Waaaaa Red Kennaaaah. The real names are in indication of the degree of the polarization of the debate and a hint of what is or was at stake. Al Masri certainly was a man of vision. Having said that, his gaudy egotistic behavior as well as his long Cohibas was bound to cause some stir amongst the most tolerant of Irbidawys. What those traits, coupled with his inherent leadership qualities and the blessings of the Pharmacist from the Vega Vega, will cause to our corrupt system of pity rivalry was a head-on collision with the higher ranks in the making. The sacked him. Now, he will run for the elected mayor post. Will win by hook or crock (if impartiality secured) and the gardens will start to have a more hidden arena to early evening fondling rituals for couples sheltered only by the opening ceremony granites.


At 9:49 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Mefleh: Sure, there is a lot of politics. Masri will have a good chance, not because he "will take it by hook or by crook", but because people actually like clean streets and lots of trees. Shocking but true.

None of the points you make diminish the fact that this has the flavor of mature political evolution. I am sure that it is certainly better than the debates the government has when the hire or fire mayors or other officials.


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