Time Flies – now back to business.

March 27, 2017

While many may be thinking I have disappeared the truth is quite the opposite. Council has changed forums from 2 to 6 and so far this month I have already attended 4 with varying results and have another 2 this week. I know a number of people who are dismayed at the changes without consultation with those who attended the previous forums and for me the decision as to their effectiveness is not yet known. I know that where I used to attend 2 and was welcomed, one councillor (as chair) has decided he would not enforce the ‘you’re not welcome you don’t live here’ clause in the new terms of reference. Lovely isn’t it, as a concerned and involved member of the community (and not just the one around my house) I am deemed an unwelcome addition. Funny I would have expected those kind of comments from the last majority however surprised the new is continuing the ‘them and us’ notions of the past. The eastern and 2168 panels are to be held this week and it will be interesting to see how they go. As I said I am reserving judgement for now, some attendances have been good and others not so, more importantly at some it is noticeable that former attendees have not been in attendance, dividing the areas may have something to do with that. It is also interesting to see these panels being chaired by councillors with staff as supporters. More interesting is that a number of these councillors never saw fit to actually attend any of the former forums but do so now as they get to chair and decide who is welcome and who is not. I do have to say at one if I had heard the word “guys” one more time I might have screamed, our penchant for americanising our language is one thing but 20-30 times in succession is a bit much. It will be interesting to see how these pan out, as has been identified a couple of times the community can request that they are held more frequently than the proposed quarterly and how that will impact on some residents is yet to be seen.

This week is the council meeting, I regret poor health prevented me attending the last (not too bad missing only 5 in 9 yrs) so I am now reading through both last months and this month’s papers in the hope I’ve not missed anything too important. That said items in confidence are again numerous this week, there are 7, and while it is not unusual for there to be a dozen on the agenda, the idea that information (of the non commercial inconfidence style) is being with held. One cannot clearly make out what each of the items in confidence are referring to and the act seems to give license to way too much information being withheld from those who are actually paying for it, we the rate payers.

I am pleased to see a couple of items near and dear to my heart on this agenda, the Tree replacement questions are incredibly important and our lack lustre approach to removal of trees in development sites has for too long gone unaddressed and the councils penchant for replacing trees with shrubs has been questioned by me on numerous occasions previously. Or in the case of this picture and entire tree removed rather than preventative work done in the first place. Worse is it is unlikely this tree will be replaced at all. 😦

There are a few things we as a community should be closely watching and commenting on in the wider community, the councils 2027 strategic plan is on  public exhibition until Wednesday and this is your opportunity to comment… while at the same time the Greater Sydney Commission public comments are due. This is particularly important as in many (all) cases this unelected, unrepresentative group of people get to override the elected members of our councils and make decisions that will impact our futures, how development and growth impact on generations still to come. While I am confident not all their decisions will be bad for us, who elected them, who asked that this group of most likely well meaning but completely unrepresentative of our community gets to make decisions as to what gets dumped on us next?

I don’t think many people are aware of the numerous and enormous impacts things like the Moorebank Intermodal, the Badgerys Creek Airport, CSG mining and the New ever disgraceful Worlds Largest Incinerator (at Eastern Creek)  will affect our air, our water and our climate with all that pollution and concrete. As a community we really do have to rally against being the dumping ground for abhorrent development, no matter how pretty a bow of environmentally friendly they tie to it. None of those projects are good for the environment, not for your health, not for your kids health and their kids to come…  It’s a little like Cllr Balloots Affordable housing question a month or two ago, he titled it Affordable housing, but on reading it, it actually addressed not one concern that would make housing more affordable, it did however if it had not been withdrawn at the last minute, benefit developers very well. Far too often today are we being sold environmentally beneficial projects that in fact have no benefit to the environment at all… the label helps sell the project but on closer reading in too many instances it actually has the opposite effect. It not unlike the present federal government’s push to reduce taxes to big business, one, it would be nice if they paid appropriate taxes in the first place but removing them under the guise that it helps business employ more workers is just bunkum, it most certainly does improve their  bottom line and that of their shareholders but when did you hear of a company increasing wages? when did you hear that they employed more workers and not put off people/downsize or move off shore? As for small businesses they won’t get any benefit at all and if you read the bureau of statistics figures more small businesses operate locally than big ones and they could really do with a few more customers, you know by increasing the support for those unable to find work or those unable to find enough work so they can spend locally, raising wages, supporting penalty hours, so locals could spend at the local stores and actually boost employment and productivity. This is a subject I could talk about for hours but for now I need to work on my submissions and work on things that will actually benefit my community.

Thanks to those who enquired after my non attendance at the last council meeting, all is well and your concerns appreciated.

See you at the council meeting on Wednesday, or the Eastern forum on Tuesday, 2168 on Thursday…

 

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2013 review or Dodging bullets ?

September 25, 2013

Signe Westerberg Headshots FAV (26 of 102)Seems the good people of Werriwa did what the nation as a whole didn’t…they dodged a bullet in this month’s election. Kent Johns was not elected into the Federal parliament and it seems according to the attached media a good thing.  Mr Johns has a somewhat ‘interesting’ approach to the workings of Sutherland council where he is mayor and it would be fair to suggest he would have brought with him to Federal politics the same ethic.

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/sutherland-council-favours-those-with-liberal-connections-20130920-2u5dl.html

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/cloud-over-exministers-campaign-donations-20130920-2u5df.html

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/rainbow-connections-20130920-2u580.html

What is more of concern to me is that  others mentioned in the articles are now on our payroll… Matt Daniels is mentioned often and the SHM clearly identifies him as the 2 IC in Liverpool…. not bad for someone recently appointed, who came to us from the Dept of Planning I would have thought the 2IC title would be with the other executive director Julie Hately.   The fact remains, we seem to be a liberal  (power broker)  job hot spot . I don’t know either of the latest appointees personally but Googling them isn’t inspiring. The ‘well connected’ Shayne Mallard, Senior Policy Adviser at Liverpool City Council, as per his LinkedIn account, (again just Google his name, which is what I did) to the Mayor of Liverpool, Liberal Ned Mannoun. This strikes me as very interesting considering we rate payers are forking out what has been suggested a 6 figure pay packet for his policy advice, (BTW whose policy, LCC or LNP?) I would have thought department heads could provide LCC policy advice as part of their job. Perplexing when the former Mayor struggled for and wasn’t  supplied with a full time assistant from what I’ve heard , while our new Mayor has both an assistant and an adviser.  Is the GM  playing favorites?

Please note before I forget to mention it,  Councillors rates of pay are on exhibition and you have an opportunity to comment, but time is running out, also at this coming council meeting the election of the New Deputy and committee members will be done, won’t that be interesting considering the mess it created last year.

Seems my yearly evaluation of Liverpool events brings with it more media than the past, and clearly not that much of it is good if what is above is an example. On the positive side the Mayor has improved his public speaking ability and sounds less loopy and embarrassing a year in.

So let’s see where this year has taken us,

September:  Liberals elected on mass with a clear majority, one independent  who  tends to vote in line with the majority more often than not, and 4 Labor Councillors.

Lots of promises have been made, some new committees and several  new staff. Shuffling of staff is an expected part of any new council; however we have seen through this last twelve months the removal/loss of some pretty good people, people who did actually put the needs of Liverpool above the needs of corporations imo. I miss the days when I couldn’t tell who the previous GM would have cast his vote for in an election, I spent a good deal of time chatting with him and to his absolute credit I never quite knew where his political  allegiance  lay… not so convinced nowadays.

Things that have happened: We’ve had Bollywood, a fun event for the community, and we’ve had a not so camera shy Mayor on any station that would have him. He’s also pictured in the above articles.

Council has spent more on ‘team building and education of Councillors’ than anytime in the past and as a bonus all that money is being spent on businesses based outside our city , in places like Wollongong and Terrigal.  Wouldn’t you think working to support local business would be a priority?  I shouldn’t laugh at that however as a ‘recipient’ of councils  ‘support’ my business is closed and the majority of my clients now work outside Liverpool.  Some Liberal Councillors also had the pleasure of travelling to the US on a ‘fact finding’ mission earlier this year – on your rates dollars.

The Mayors majority has reworked the parking strategy, even though they had numerous opportunities to voice their concerns, and share their opinion in the last council. The now Mayors failure to even show up at all clearly indicated his lack of interest at the time and at a cost it now seems we the rate payers are bearing. On any number of occasions when we, the committee, were seeking  input from councillor’s he and his colleagues at no time mentioned any of the concerns we the ratepayers are now paying to have changed, YES this does annoy me because the opportunities were there and they simply either failed to show up or didn’t voice them.  This now seems to me to have been an expensive election ploy, one they knew they could trot out later and work to their advantage. That btw was not only a Liberal strategy at the last election however they have been able to capitalise better than their Labor associates. The Promised CCTV is on its way but it won’t be fully monitored and will bring with it free WiFi but at what ultimate cost, it already cost us an extraordinary council meeting, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts and the council did manage a hefty donation from the previous Federal governments proceeds of crime grants, credit I believe to Federal MP Chris Hayes.

The other thing that has been continued with the new Councillors is they have managed to embarrass themselves onto a few committees (please refer my posts in October 2012) and now simply fail to attend approx 50% of those to which they were elected. For some liberal Councillors achieving 50% would be a win, all this as at the time they worked diligently to exclude Labor Councillors except on a few token committees no one else wanted.

We have had leave a couple of truly dedicated executive staff members this year  namely David Tuxford and Milan Marecic who to their credit have now found fulfilling work elsewhere. I have kept in touch with David and  he is happy and working in a council that shows ethics and community care as their core values. We have had a number of others accept redundancy and/or  leave which is also our loss but working in a such an  environment could be more than we should ask of anyone. Best regards to Sandra Kubecka and soon Arvind Lal who are also on  the ‘lost to us’ list. I wish them well.

Achievements/fulfilled promises: Actually one main one, there has been a lot of talking and plenty of promises, but to date, the only fulfilled promise was the removal of some of the paid parking conditions, i.e. no meters on weekends etc and the provision of all day parking back in the CBD in two of the  council parking stations.

I attend the Economic Development committee, which replaced the CBD Committee, as an observer  and Council staff have managed to produce some truly lovely brochures.

One of the most disturbing things that has happened in the last twelve months is the Mayoral minute changes, again, members of the community actually voiced their concerns only to be acknowledged by Cllr Hadchiti as ‘we know who they are’. From there they proceeded to ignore the concerns. Hmmm open and involved community – I think not. This is the same Councillor who arranged and sought support for  a $5,000 donation for a  local private school  for their fete and a council staffed stand for the same fete outside the well advertised and needs based application process LCC has in place. I do hope all 70+ other local schools receive the same diligence from said Councillor.  Spending money from the floor of council without due diligence was started by Former Councillor Gary Lucas but his ability pales compared to what happens now. You’d think the ‘bucket of money’ was theirs 😦

The Mayoral majority seems to pretty much do as they choose, on another item recently the council staffer, former Cllr Napolitano advised strongly against a particular decision, again it was Cllr Hadchiti, who asked if it was illegal to which she replied, no but it’s not in line with councils undertakings of transparency etc, again he asked if it were illegal, she again said no  he then proceeded to have it pushed through. Nice, Mrs Napolitano was employed why? If we’re going to ignore council staff advice why bother installing a former ally if you’re not going to listen anyway? We could have saved some money.

I might seem a little off side with what is happening in council, but I’m not alone, Cllrs Stanley and Shelton ask many of the same questions, over and over only to be laughed at (sadly this is literally), dismissed and then over ridden.  This is merely the tip of the iceberg. As I’ve said in years past I don’t want this to be all doom and gloom but other than the couple of positives I’ve already mentioned there have been way too many questionable actions during the last year.  Please also note I’m not listing them all just touching on a few that come immediately to mind.

Seems having a Liberal dominated council, a Liberal Mayor and Liberal State and Federal member is not swaying the determination of the present Liberal Government in relation to the Gigantic intermodal being thrust upon our residents, nor has it helped those looking for noise mitigation at Casula, the threat of the airport at Badgery’s Creek reigns supreme yet again (however now being supported by Wesroc – whose president is our own Liberal  Cllr Hadchiti)  and then the politicising of the impact at CPAC was the last straw – the Mayors blatant campaigning for liberal colleagues was a step to far. To give him credit he is consistent, he did the same at the No Intermodal rally and blatantly excluded all others to ensure his colleague was elected to the Fed Parliament at the last election.

If we’re spending all our hard earned rates money on  dominant Liberal representation I’d like some action please… promises are cheap, actually we are paying dearly for them and we’ve had plenty of them…but no real action to support our residents to date.

Oh and just when things seemed expensive its worth knowing the council is AGAIN seeking the re-instating  of the 9% rates increase we’ve had over the last five years. Remember that promise, if we add the 9% (worked out to much more in  some instances) we won’t need to borrow money, haha, we’ve now borrowed in EXCESS OF $50m AS WELL AS THE 9% – and will there be a 5 year limit or will it be approved of as a permanent fixture? I know many who simply cannot afford to continue to pay the extra rates, especially when  the purpose was to eliminate additional loans, what a joke and the jokes on us… YOU WILL BE ASKED TO APPROVE THE CONTINUATION OF THE LEVY, you have to speak up, you have to let council know your views,(even if you don’t agree with me)  if you leave it to the few of us who regularly comment, we will be dismissed as we were when the Mayoral minutes were put to the community.

As always I would be delighted to print a hefty list of positives, so go on, send them in, and I’ll publish them… and in fairness there are a couple but is it enough? I think not.

While I know council is taking credit for the likes of Costco and some others coming to Liverpool and bringing some much needed jobs,  I think we should also remember that having the M5 & M7 and the Mega modal might also be reasons some of these large companies are coming to Liverpool, but while patting themselves on the back, consider how many long term jobs would be coming to Liverpool if we were getting a technology park (along the lines of Norwest) instead of the intermodal and how many health and safety risks would not be coming along with it.

Remember this is my opinion/view of what has happened and what I’ve seen, you are welcome to disagree I am more than happy to print your view as well. Lastly please may  I have a list of real positives for 2014 I really would like a positive list, regardless of who makes it so, there is twelve months so I live in hope all the promises come to fruition and I can prepare a great list of achievements in September 2014.

Happy days, see you at the council meeting tonight – please send in your lists and don’t forget to voice any or all your concerns.

Sign off