Goodness me, sitting through this week’s council meetings took real fortitude, they are long, somewhat unruly and did I mention long. This week not quite the whole agenda was covered but enough to see the real dynamic of this council at play.
There were many speakers in the speakers forum last night, a couple of Major retailers discussing their hopes and dreams for the Orange grove development, the Orange grove owners and their list of requests, hopes and wishes, members of the community speaking against the intermodal, the ATC discussing their Voluntary Planning agreement and more. I love that we fought to maintain the speaker’s forums it’s an important part of community interaction in Liverpool, albeit it would be nice if those same speakers attempted to keep to the 5 mins each especially considering the length of our meetings and most leave as soon as they’ve had their say.
Listening to the Auditor is always interesting, and for the most part his news was that LCC is in good financial place, albeit that our infrastructure backlog in 2008 was $180Million … and is now $250M.. This is most distressing as we either choose to maintain our assets (desirable) OR we wait until they fall down and are worthless then sell off the land (totally undesirable). A little concerning is that the new councillor who is apparently an Accountant Cllr Ritevski couldn’t understand the financial situation especially the debt ratio, I guess he will learn but hopefully won’t be offering too much financial advice in the interim.
As always if you are friendly with a councillor you may seek a councillors support to have that item moved up in the agenda thereby moving others further back.. Considerate perhaps and clearly a way to empty the room…except for those few of us who attempt to hang in for the whole event. I can only guess that Cllr Hadchiti moving the nom’s for committees to the end was that he had an idea of how pathetically they would be approached. I, as always, have particular interest in the distribution of committees and which councillors choose what committee etc, as all of them I believe are designed to support and represent the community better. As I mentioned this item was moved to almost last and I wondered why until we sat through that actual segment of the agenda.
In 2008 the new, excited and somewhat energetic group of councillors did their best to participate in numerous committees, a good thing in my opinion as committees are where a lot of things are discussed and shared by representatives of the community… interest wanes as the years progress but for the entire term at least one councillor put his or her hand up to be that councillor for every committee… if you recall last year I commented that the interest had waned and councillor Lucas had been the default representative.. he did by the way for the most part turn up as did Cllr Harle.. Many however managed around 50% attendance on their elected committee.
Well last night was quite different and a few things were more than obvious…1) this group of Liberals are less than excited to have to ‘deal’ with or participate in committees. 2) if you want them to nominate for a committee at all…have Labor volunteer then they’ll reluctantly fill the committee rather than allow others 3) According to Deputy Mayor Hadid, he did his time and wasn’t going to put his hand up for any, he paid his dues. Why then did he seek re-election? 4) Mayor Mannoun can be shamed into attending some of the ( less desirable) committees (refer Cllr Hadid) and sadly some of them seemed unworthy of any councillor commitment at all. For the first time in the last 5 elections to committees some of the committees themselves presently have no councillor attending as a representative… sure any councillor can show up to any committee but that remains to be seen, talk is cheap getting them to attend even their own committees only reaped an approx 50% attendance as mentioned before.
Creating your own committee though is very different, Cllr Ritevski did that, a multicultural one and appears to be no real problem getting the councillors on a new committee…just not easy getting them involved in the regular ones. The floodplain committee was one left unrepresented and the Environment Advisory committee struggled, to his credit Cllr Harle who has been a regular attendee stood up again – some committees are funded by the levies paid by the rate payers thereby ensuring community participation, poor or no representation is a sad state of affairs IMHO.
The other thing I found particularly disappointing was that too many of these new councillors have never attended a council meeting prior to seeking election, let alone get a grasp on the important issues that affect our community, this now adds considerable time to the processing of some matters until they get up to speed … so ‘Dear developer, sorry we know you’ve been waiting but our councillors are new and need even more time to ‘get their heads around’ your matter… so sit back and wait some more..” I guess the community can’t complain they elected them, too many of them never showing a modicum of interest in our community before but clearly that’s ok, they wanted to get elected and were obliged. I noticed that Cllr Mamone only yawned half as much this month, is she’s perhaps becoming accustomed to the long meetings.
On a brighter note, I’m a political junkie… I love politics, I wish more people would embrace it, learn about it and their politicians, so I was delighted that Barak Obama was re elected President of the US of A yesterday, I heard one Republican spokesperson (AU Liberal) say the defeat for the republicans had one really good outcome, that the Tea Party (extreme right wingers) should now be given the heave hoe and I have to agree, in Politics, like Religion imho, extremists generally are bad for the overall populous, so I hope he is right. The other thing I found extremely interesting is that when Polls were taken around the world the majority of people wanted Obama re elected (between 62 -66%)…that said here in Australia 85% wanted Obama back, which raises the question: how then do many of those same people consider electing our equivalent to the republicans here next year? I’ll leave you to ponder that and catch up with you again.