PS: An update on this afternoon’s Tucker Ward ‘Meet the Candidates’. Those present were: Magee, Lobo, Taylor, Searle, Brewster, Mackie, De’Arth.

ABSENT: Hyams, Okotel, Bonney, Elliott, Karlik, Cade and Andonopoulos – the last with apology due to family wedding.

We have reported on planning decisions made by these councillors over the past 4 years. (See: https://gleneira.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/for-the-record-2/). This post we concentrate on the area that has bedevilled this council for over a decade – governance and how community aspirations have been continually ignored and/or thwarted.

THE INTRODUCTION OF THE RESIDENTIAL ZONES

Councils had until June 30th 2014 to introduce their individual versions of the new residential zones. Glen Eira was the first, with Guy’s announcement on August 5th 2013 followed by official gazetting on 23rd August 2013. Countless other councils held extensive community consultations. Glen Eira did not. Even those councils which applied for the ‘fast track’ ministerial intervention under Section 20(4) of the Planning and Environment Act, tabled their intentions and the relevant details of the proposed zonings at formal council meetings. This was then voted on by councillors in an open and transparent fashion at their respective council meetings. Thus their citizens could see what was to occur and had the opportunity to at least contact their representatives. Glen Eira did not, thus being the only council in the state which did not provide its residents with any information and any opportunity to voice an opinion.  There was no council resolution and no official ratification of anything. Another example of decision making behind closed doors!

Add to this various public questions dating from July 2013 asking when council would begin its community consultations and we find responses that were blatantly untrue and designed to mislead and deceive. There was never any intention to alert the public or consult with them. We know this because as far back as 2009 Akehurst had written an officer’s report that said there would be no community consultation if the zones, as they were proposed in 2008 were ever to come in. We also know that Guy, the department honchos, Hyams, Newton and Akehurst had been busy meeting since at least April 2013 and spending taxpayers’ money on getting legal advice as to how best to thwart any potential legal challenges and, we assume, whether or not a formal resolution had to be tabled at council meetings. The intent was always to avoid public consultation and accountability. We, the residents, were irrelevant to the devious and secret collusion going on between Matthew Guy, the department and council.

The following comes from the documents obtained under FOI and reveals the full treachery that all the present councillors allowed to occur and some positively encouraged –

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NOTICE OF MOTION & PUBLIC QUESTIONS

Notice of motion is an essential element of good governance  and community representation since it allows a councillor (once seconded by another councillor) to have an item placed on the agenda for full and open debate and decision. Glen Eira is the only council in the state that has repeatedly refused to grant this right to councillors – and therefore residents who request a councillor to initiate some action on an issue. It has come up at least twice in the past 4 years and been defeated by the conservative faction led by Hyams, Esakoff, Okotel and Lipshutz.

Adding insult to injury, the recent changes to the public question format means that unless the questioner is present in chamber the response will not be recorded in the official minutes. The result? No public record that will provide interested residents with any idea of what council’s position is and what the issues that concern some residents are. With no public record there is no accountability and certainly no transparency.

Those councillors who vetoed these democratic rights are: LIPSHUTZ, HYAMS, ESAKOFF, PILLING & HO

GUNS IN THE PARK

Readers will remember the furore created by this secret (and potentially illegal) in camera vote that permitted private security guards to carry guns in local parks. Those responsible for keeping this secret and deciding that this was in the best interests of the entire community were – PILLING, ESAKOFF, HYAMS, LIPSHUTZ, OKOTEL, MAGEE

FROGMORE

When Council had the opportunity to proceed to a Panel Hearing over the application to build a Jewish Care aged care home at Frogmore, the proposed heritage amendment was abandoned. This meant that the developer  moved in overnight and demolished the building and removed nearly 90 trees – 4 of which were categorised as ‘significant’. Over 1000 signatures on a petition had requested council to implement heritage protection and another 200+ submissions had gone in anticipating a formal panel hearing where residents would get the opportunity to have their say and to present their well researched evidence. Esakoff and Delahunty conveniently declared a ‘conflict of interest’ and Magee was absent. Pilling used his casting vote to ensure that Frogmore was no more. Those who voted against going to the panel were: PILLING, HYAMS, LIPSHUTZ. Thus 3 councillors (a minority) thwarted the stated wishes of over a 1000 residents!

CONSERVATORY

Two expensive community consultations, plus several council resolutions, made it clear that the conservatory at Caulfield Park be maintained and restored. Not satisfied with the results, there was another go to get rid of the building. This time it worked. Those councillors who ignored community views, their own previous resolutions and succeeded in removing the structure were: HYAMS, LIPSHUTZ, ESAKOFF, DELAHUNTY, PILLING

CONCLUSION

These examples are only some of the outrages that have occurred during this council’s term of office. If residents want more of the same, if they want to be continually ignored and told fairy tales, if they want more internal strife and division, then they should retain the incumbents. However, if residents feel that Glen Eira must change and improve their overall performance in so many areas, then these sitting councillors have to go.  Most of them have been there for 8 years. They have achieved very little except to alienate countless residents, each other, and cost ratepayers a fortune in legal fees  – which by the way is far from over given this statement from the 2015/16 Annual Report just published –

Contingent liabilities

(a) Arising from legal matters

Council is presently involved in several confidential legal matters, which are being conducted through Council’s solicitors.

As these matters are yet to be finalised and the financial outcomes are unable to be reliably estimated, no allowance for these contingencies has been made in the Financial Report. (page 214)

Open and transparent governance is dead in Glen Eira thanks to those councillors named above. Glen Eira desperately needs new councillors who put community, honesty and fiscal responsibility first!

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