The recent outcry against the secret vote for ‘guns in parks’ highlighted once again how Glen Eira continues to operate behind a veil of secrecy and abuse of the legislation. In 2011 we featured a post which itemised the number of decisions made in camera and the number of decisions which were subsequently reported in the minutes (See: https://gleneira.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/a-record-to-be-proud-of/

Not too much has changed since. Countless items that feature in the agenda papers for in camera decision making are not reported in the subsequent minutes and what is even worse, there is no explanation as to why only some items include the number of applicants for the tender, the criteria, and most importantly the estimated cost. Countless others simply describe the vague nature of the tender and that’s it!

But the most damning indictment of all is that an examination of the minutes proves once and for all how decisions are made behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny.  On the 8th April, 2014 the following tender appeared in the in camera agenda items –

under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to the awarding of a contract for refurbishment of the Caulfield Park Conservatory Number of tenders received 8; Number of evaluation criteria tenders

assessed against 3

Estimated contract value $250,000

No outcome for this item was recorded. Yet at the very next Council Meeting (29th April, 2014) there is the extraordinary report and subsequent vote to demolish the conservatory – despite 2 rounds of public consultation and 2 previous resolutions that demanded it be maintained and restored. So what happened on the 8th April that caused this change of heart? What did it cost to produce and advertise the tender documents? Or is it the case that behind closed doors on the 8th April it was decided to scuttle the debate and the subsequent meeting was merely to ‘ratify’ an already made decision? Even if we are wrong here, it does not say much for council and councillors when public money is wasted on tendering and within three weeks this all comes to nought!

Things get even worse with the following –

12.1 under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to awarding of the contract for Tender 2015.049 Booran Reserve Construction of New Playground and Associated Works (21st July 2015)

Nothing was forthcoming. Hence residents had no idea – (1) if a contract was awarded (2) what was the price and (3) exactly what does ‘associated works’ really mean.

There are other gems too which illustrate the nastiness and internal bickering that has been part of Glen Eira ever since Newton set foot in the place. Here are some examples – again not disclosed and we can only wonder how much more of ratepayer funds went into lawyers’ pockets without disclosing the amounts –

Crs Lipshutz/Esakoff

That the meeting be now closed to members of the public under Section 89(2) of the Local Government Act 1989 in order to consider:

12.2 under s89 (2)(a) “personnel” and s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to compliance with the Local Government Act.

The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously. (9th April, 2013)

Crs Hyams/Lipshutz

That the meeting be now closed to members of the public under Section 89(2) of the Local Government Act 1989 in order to consider:

An item of Urgent Business under s89(2)(a) personnel and 89(2)(f) legal advice which relates to a personnel matter. (6th November 2013)

Crs Lipshutz/Magee

That the meeting be now closed to members of the public under Section 89(2) of the Local Government Act 1989 in order to consider:

12.3 Under s89(2)(d) contractual, which relates to the contract for Community Energy Efficiency Program.

12.2 Under s89(2)(d) contractual, which relates to the GESAC construction contract dispute resolution.

The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously.(11th June 2013)

The results of the following items were not disclosed in the minutes –

under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to the awarding of the contract for the provision of legal services.

Number of tenders received 5

Number of evaluation criteria tenders assessed against 5

12.4 under s89(2)(d) “contractual” which relates to completed capital works approved by Council

under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to the contract for the Duncan Mackinnon Pavilion (17th December 2013)

which relates to the contract for internal audit services

under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to the appointment of prequalified supplier panel for the procurement of trucks

under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to the awarding of the contract for processing of organic waste

12.4 under s89 (2)(a) “personnel” which relates to the appointment of Community representatives to the Citizen of the Year Awards Committee

 

But the one we love the best is the ubiquitous nonsense of – under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to a contractual matter.

12.4 under s89 (2)(f) ‘legal advice” which relates to the Code of Conduct.

12.1 under s89 (2)(a) “personnel” which relates to Council’s Audit Committee (4th February 2014)

12.3 under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to insurance

12.3 under s89 (2) (f) “legal advice” which relates to “Code of Conduct – Possible Additions” (july 22nd 2014)

12.2 under (f) “legal advice” which relates to the Code of Conduct. (18th March 2014)

12.5 under s89(2)(e) “proposed developments” which relates to additional open space.

under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to the contract for Tender 2014.043 Provision of Wide Area Network (Wan) Infrastructure

12.5 Under section S89 (2)(e) “proposed developments” Open Space Strategy – gap areas. This report does not recommend any acquisition of any housing. (5th September 2015)

 12.1 under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to awarding of the contract for Tender 2015.049 Booran Reserve Construction of New Playground and Associated Works 21st july 2015

12.2 under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates the appointment of a contractor for the supply of fuel for Council’s vehicle fleet.

12.2 under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to disposal of general household waste

12.0 under s89(2)(a) “personnel”, minutes of Community Consultation Advisory Committee meeting of 19 February 2015 relating to nominations received for Community Representatives on the Committee

Thus it goes on an on. Why on earth residents can’t be told who is the contractor for disposal of general household waste’ or who will be the supplier for fuel and how much this will cost, is literally beyond us. Why the secrecy? Or is it all designed to make it that much more difficult to follow the money trail and to see who is getting what?

We should also be prepared for the fact that when the new Code of Conduct comes out post election that there will be the attempt no doubt to gag councillors even more. You don’t spend thousands upon thousands on lawyers and then maintain the status quo! And please remember that the legislation does not MANDATE in camera decision making. It merely suggests that councils ‘MAY’ decide to deem certain items confidential. In Glen Eira this has come to mean practically everything whilst other councils are prepared to publish their decision making on commercial tenders Glen Eira doesn’t. Whilst other councils are prepared to publish their ceo performance assessments, Glen Eira doesn’t. And whilst other councils are far more specific in their descriptions of confidential items Glen Eira is content to say again and again – under s89 (2)(d) “contractual” which relates to a contractual matter. That is double speak at its absolute best and indicative of a council who pays no credence to their obligations of transparency and accountability.

 

Advertisements