October 21, 2016
Today is the last day for residents to get their votes in – although many have undoubtedly made up their minds and already cast their votes. It’s now time for reflection as to the entire process and its potential outcomes.
The Age ran a story a few days ago on council elections and the associated ‘problems’. We will go a step further and state that much needs reforming, especially the legislation governing council elections. It is not enough that candidates have the choice as to whether or not they tick a box on some useless questions. Nor is it satisfactory that candidates are asked whether or not they are ‘endorsed’ by a political party. The Greens are the only party which officially endorses individuals. Labor and Liberal do not. But this doesn’t mean that these major political parties don’t influence the candidates or get involved in what happens in council chambers – Skyrail being the perfect example. Even asking whether or not a candidate is a member of any political party is not enough. The example of Esakoff’s campaign and her claim to be ‘independent’ shows how inadequate this is! What this election has shown above all is the (deliberate?) impotence of the legislation.
Remember the de-facto How-To-Vote cards? When Liberal candidates can nominate Vote #1, Vote #2 and Vote #3 on their candidate statements, and the VEC can rule that this is okay, then there is something drastically wrong with our system. And since the Bayside Libs did exactly the same thing, we can only conclude that the ‘orders’ came from on high from headquarters! And what influence did the Labor party have on awarding preferences to their members?
In Glen Eira dirty tricks have been abundant –
- Posters torn down
- Stooges and trolls operating to their heart’s content on social media
- Flyers distributed which allege collusion between Labor candidates and sporting clubs
- Candidates’ billboards advertising real estate agents
It has been a dirty campaign where the gulf between the incumbents’ statements on their flyers and their actions are miles apart. If Magee can state that he supports 3 and 4 storeys in activity centres, yet in chamber supports 7 storeys for Carnegie, then truth has no value. Nor do Hyams’ claims to be working for the ‘community’ hold up to scrutiny when his voting patterns on so many issues clearly show how one sector of the community can so regularly outweigh the wishes of the majority of the community. Pilling of course is the classic case of someone elected on Green credentials, only to become a ‘turncoat’ and basically align himself with the conservatives time and time again. Yet this hasn’t stopped him from producing flyers and posters which are still green in colour – but without naming the Greens.
Here are some suggested reforms that we hope will improve both the quality of candidates and the electoral process. We welcome your thoughts!
- Prospective candidates to nominate 6 months out from the election date
- Prospective candidates to undertake a comprehensive ‘induction/education’ process at this time and not once they are elected
- This ‘course’ to be standard across all councils and conducted by ‘independent’ bodies including – Law Reform Commission; Accountants Association etc. In other words covering all the major areas that councils operate within. If candidates ‘fail’ these courses they become ineligible to stand.
- Standards to be set on all election material
- Compulsory ‘town hall’ meetings for all candidates 2 weeks out from the election
- Councils to provide the facilities for these meetings
Much, much more can and should be done. This of course depends on the will of legislators and whether their primary concern is true democratic process and an equal playing field!
October 19, 2016
Gary Max interview with 2 Glen Eira Residents on elections, and council performance
PS: The minutes for Monday night’s special council meeting have now been published on council’s website. We believe that an all time record has been set in that the meeting lasted exactly 3 minutes to ratify the most important document that a council can produce – the Annual Report! Both Delahunty and Lobo were absent.
The stuff ups with minutes still continue however. Item 4.1 states that the item under consideration is the Councillor Code of Conduct. Yet when it comes to the actual nominated 4.1, it is on the Annual Report. Would whoever is doing the minutes please, oh please, proof read and ensure that what goes out to the public is accurate and a true record of what occurred!
October 18, 2016
Small McKinnon street sandwiched by large developments
Sam Bidey, Moorabbin Glen Eira Leader
October 18, 2016 12:00am
PEOPLE living in a small McKinnon street feel they are being overrun by major developments which are changing their neighbourhood character.
Foster St runs parallel to Claire St, where a three-storey 33 apartment block is set to be built, and adjacent to Adelaide St, where a 34 unit, three-storey dwelling has just been approved by Glen Eira City Council.
All but two of the original homes on Claire St have been snapped up by developers who have taken advantage of the new zones which allow a three-storey height limit.
Steve Toth, who has lived in Foster St for 21 years, fought against both the builds that will leave him and his neighbours sandwiched between two major developments.
Mr Toth said he was more understanding about the need for developments than most of his neighbours, but was put off by the size and style of the builds.
“I accept that we are a developing suburb but there has to set backs and it doesn’t have to look so industrial,” Mr Toth said.
“The side facing me (of the Adelaide St development) which is the one I can comment on — looks like the back end of a power station and that’s something we don’t like.”
Mr Toth said the “butt ugly” building proposed from Adelaide St took away from the character of the neighbourhood.
“If you have a look at Adelaide St now you have five of the most unique, nice houses with each one creative and each one different.
“That’s what I find very disappointing — there are five beautiful houses and now we’ll get Lego land in their place.”
Councillors Jamie Hyams and Jim Magee opposed the Adelaide St development at last week’s council meeting.
Cr Hyams said the proposal was “out of touch” with the character of the opposite side of the road and surrounding streets.
He suggested it would be more appropriate if the townhouses were two stories nearest the street with a setback to a third story at the rear of the block.
Mr Magee said the main issue was VCAT would always allow these developments unless the State Government introduced legislation to make them apply the Glen Eira Planning Scheme to their decisions.
We have had a gut full of the hypocrisy, contradictions, and straight out mistruths that this council and in particular Hyams and Magee keep inflicting on residents via their statements. This is an election period and current councillors are definitely panicking – most noticeably in Tucker Ward. The blame VCAT game continues, as does the promulgation of half truths and deceptions.
Shortly after the zones were introduced, Magee on one application in Centre Road Bentleigh, voted for a permit whilst saying – MAGEE: He will support the application because ‘you can support it without liking it’ and ‘developer does have the right’ to go for ‘the maximum’ and ‘the planning scheme allows that’. So that’s the policy and he will ‘support it’.
VCAT has not set the ‘maximum’ – it is council and its zoning of properties in the GRZ or RGZ. Developers go for broke because of the zoning and because VCAT must resort to what the planning scheme says!
As for Hyams, we repeat his statements from before the introduction of the zones and after their introduction. Contradiction and opportunism certainly don’t appear to worry this councillor who, we remind readers, played an integral part in the introduction of the zones in the first place!
Prior to the secret and devious introduction of the new zones, which is repeatedly heralded as Glen Eira’s crowning achievement strictly because of its height limits, Hyams proclaimed the following (dates are from our postings)
HYAMS: Said that a problem was that if you set height limits then ‘people will build up to that height and you can’t stop them’ but if you don’t have height limits and let each application be ‘judged on its merits’ then you could get ‘better outcomes’. (from our post of 6/2/2013 – ie on application for Glen Huntly Road – 6 storeys and 45 dwellings which got a permit from council.)
Then post zones we get this diametrically opposed statement –
Hyams – ‘The new zones are limiting development’ because of the height limits and that ‘anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about’ or ‘is deliberately seeking to mislead you’.(25/9/2014)
October 17, 2016
Residents will remember the GESAC basketball allocation fiasco where the Oakleigh Warriors were given the lease of the newly created basketball courts instead of the local McKinnon Basketball group. The arguments presented by Paul Burke at the time were that the Warriors had promised council more money and about 120 hours filled in court time. We also believe that the ombudsman became involved in this decision. Public questions followed, none of which were satisfactorily answered – for example: are the Warriors paying their weekly rental? are they meeting the stated court hours?
Well now it appears that:
- Council could be owed thousands and thousands of dollars that the Warriors have not paid on their weekly rent
- Bob Mann is now gone
- McKinnon Basketball has been granted access to GESAC
- Does any of this account for GESAC’s stated loss of $340,000+ from the anticipated income?
- What does this say about the ‘business plan’ instituted by Newton, Burke and the councillor group? What ‘evidence’ was supplied at the time to ensure that the Warriors could afford what they promised? and
- How much have residents forked out over the years in subsidising another woeful decision from this administration and councillors?
- Will this council produce figures that clearly reveal all income and expenditure on GESAC? If not, why not?
Here is the Leader’s version of events –
Oakleigh Basketball Association slammed by messy off-court chaos
OAKLEIGH Basketball Association is in tatters with financial and governance issues meaning hundreds of children have been forced to leave the league.
The association, which last year had more than 500 junior players, has had its operations put on hold by Basketball Victoria after an inquiry.
Some players have been transferred to the McKinnon Basketball Association, while representative players had the option of trying out with other associations or establishing an Oakleigh team in the McKinnon or Port Phillip associations.
Glen Eira Council reached a deal with McKinnon which will see the association have use of the Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre basketball courts this season; the courts would usually be used by Oakleigh.
Basketball Victoria manager Stephen Walter said he initially stepped in to resolve a governance issue as two committees had claimed control of the association.
“There were lot of families leaving the club or they just weren’t re-registering; the club had lost critical mass to run a domestic competition,” Mr Walter said.
Tony Pitara, who was president of one of the club committees, said he had identified a tax debt at the club, dating back to 2009 and that was being addressed.
Mr Pitara said he respected Basketball Victoria’s decision, but was confident that had the club sorted out its internal “politics”, it could have found a solid financial footing in two to three seasons.
Karen Wilson, vice-president of the newer committee said she had been informed the debt was in the region of a “manageable” $70,000.
But she said the sacking of the head of coaching had created dissatisfaction and prompted the establishment of the second committee.
Cheltenham mum Rosey Cooke, whose son Andrew had played at Oakleigh for five years, said parents weren’t consulted.
“The kids don’t understand all this business — they just want to play ball,” Ms Cooke said.
October 17, 2016
We’ve received this email from a resident asking for Tucker Ward candidates’ responses –
As you are a candidate for Tucker Ward, I would like to hear your views about the following local problem.
If you visit Mckinnon station and walk along Nicholson street, you will see exposed pilings, both within the station and external rail corridor. The job to rebuild Mckinnon station and reinstate appropriate aesthetic finishes to the rail corridor is clearly unfinished and not done to an equivalent standard as Ormond Station.
Since the beginning of the level crossing removal, we have been asking what the final structures will look like. Early on, we were told there would be a concrete wall with additional fencing for safety and screening. This has not been the outcome.
In the rush to re-open McKinnon station first, the completion of the concreting and aesthetic finishes were not completed. Not only are the exposed pilings and partial concreting unsightly, but the incomplete nature of the works appear to be unsafe (e.g., the exposed sharp edges of the metal pilings). This will inevitably encourage vandalism, which has already started.
However, the job is finished according to the Level Crossing Removal Authority, with the exception of some revegetation along parts of the rail corridor. They claim that Glen Eira Council have signed off on the “design”, including the exposed pilings and partially concreted beams. This clearly contradicts the concrete covering of these same structures that have been done at the Ormond location.
Most of Bent Street and Nicholson Street have already been sold for development. There are simply not enough long-term residents left to garner interest in this local issue.
So my question to you is: What will you do, if elected, to ensure the Level Crossing Removal Authority really finish McKinnon station and the surrounding rail corridor?
Resident of Nicholson Street McKinnon, Tucker Ward
October 15, 2016
On Thursday night at the Camden ward forum there was some discussion on structure planning and how this was to be the be all and end all for Glen Eira’s problems! A solution in one fell swoop! Delahunty expressed some regret that council had not undertaken this process during her four years as a councillor but assured residents that Elsternwick would be better off once these plans were introduced.
Even if we accept this position, it still leaves a multitude of questions that require honest answering. Structure plans are intended for use in activity centres. Elsternwick is a MAJOR activity centre – yet it has been excluded from the interim height controls recently proposed by council. The spurious and unbelievable excuse provided by councillors was that in the ‘popularity’ contest, Elsternwick featured lower on the list of priorities than did Bentleigh and Carnegie. This may well be true, but it is hardly a valid excuse for neglecting Elsternwick and the prospect of major high rise development that is on the cards with Coles, Ripponlea studios, etc. This leads us to suspect that Council has geared Elsternwick to accommodate much denser development in this area.
Further, council’s ‘action plan’ following the ordered Planning Scheme Review, states that 2 structure plans (Bentleigh & Carnegie) will be completed within 4 years. If it takes 2 years per plan, and if Elsternwick is next in line, we won’t see anything happen for another 6 years! Unacceptable! Then there are all the so called ‘neighbourhood centres’ such as McKinnon, East Bentleigh (with Virginia Park looming), Ormond, Caulfield North (already seeing 7 storeys go up) etc. The time lag for completion of these structure plans could be as far away as 20 years. In the meantime street after street, neighbourhood after neighbourhood will be overdeveloped and ruined if the current rate of development continues.
As for the interim amendments recently submitted to the Minister for rubber stamping, residents have again been left out in the cold with no opportunity to comment or express their viewpoints. No-one was asked whether they thought discretionary rather than mandatory heights should be the option; no one was asked whether they thought 7 storeys in Carnegie was acceptable or appropriate or whether 5 storeys in Bentleigh was suitable. Not one single piece of strategic justification for any of these decisions has been provided. This makes us suspect once more than a neat little secret deal has already been teed up with the department and the minister in order to buy time for council and to delay and continue to delay any real strategic work!
Below we feature council’s ‘justification’ (obtained under FOI) for these two amendments as sent off to the minister. Hardly solid, researched, and validated ‘strategic justification’ for anything.
Thus if new councillors are elected in a few week’s time we suggest that their immediate priority should be to:
- Rejig the budget so that funds are available to immediately hire outside consultants to start on these structure plans and other amendments that would change the schedules to the various zones.
- To immediately implement a full and complete review of the zones with community consultation