PAULINE’S COUNCIL BLOG – October 2016
Our very first newly elected Council meeting was held on Wednesday night with our new Councillors and what a meeting it turned out to be.
Firstly, it was wonderful to see the 15 LCIT people who attended to support our newly elected Councillors, I know they both appreciated your presence.
Previous reading of the agenda I thought this would be a quite meeting with no real contentious issues apart from the first Notice of Motion and a few confidential tenders, I couldn’t have been more wrong. To say this was a “blooding” of the new council is an understatement. Once the swearing in of the newly elected Councillors was over the proceedings began.
NOTICE OF MOTIONS (NOM’s)
The very first Notice of Motion raised by the Liberals not only referenced the “Ice Room’s in Liverpool” controversy but also referenced Cllr Rhodes involvement in the forum prior to elections. There was a lot of toing and froing between Cllr Rhodes and Cllr Hadchiti which lasted for well over half an hour and congratulations to Cllr Rhodes for holding her own against the very experienced and very determined Cllr Hadchiti in the often heated debate. Karress explained the background to the issue and made it perfectly clear once and for all that LCIT, the Business Community and the Residents do not support an Ice Smoking room in Liverpool and hopefully this issue will be put to bed once and for all, however, it would not surprise me if it continued to raise its ugly head.
The meeting proceeded smoothly after that with another two NOM’s – 1 raised by Cllr Rhodes and 1 raised by Cllr Kaliyanda.
It was refreshing to see all of the newly elected Councillors being so involved in their very first meeting, and that they had done their homework and that secondly they were not intimidated by other Councillors.
APPOINTMENT OF AN INDEPENDENT OMBUDSMAN
That Council analyse the costs and benefit of an Ombudsman model for Liverpool Council
and request a report to Council on the findings of this analysis. This basically means that an Ombudsman would be employed by Council on a part time basis to provide residents, staff, Councillors with an “independent ear” regarding complaints about corruption, misconduct, maladministration and unethical behaviour by Council staff or Councillors. I am not sure how I feel about this except that if we had this in previous Council Administrations maybe we would not be where we are now.
ELECTION OF A DEPUTY MAYOR
Labor Councillor Charishma Kaliyanda raised a NOM that the election for the position of Deputy Mayor be determined by secret ballot, (a NOM that our own Peter Harle had tried to have passed during the previous term of Council and failed), however, this time it was passed unanimously and the reasons then became obvious. After a 5-minute break all Councillors submitted their selections.
There were only 2 nominations Cllr Peter Harle and Cllr Ali Karnib.
The results were Ali Karnib 7 – Peter Harle 2 and 2 Informal votes.
It was blatantly obvious that some Labor and Liberal Councillors were now in an alliance against LCIT. I can only hope that Wendy attends every meeting as I am not sure how Cllr Karnib will handle chairing a meeting especially with this lively lot.
COMMITTEE’S AND MEMBERS
Then we moved into Committee’s and appointment of Councillors to committees and Affiliated Bodies and life became even more interesting.
Karress moved a motion to remove several stand-alone committees and merge them with several new committees and change several committees from monthly or bi monthly to quarterly. There was a great deal of discussion on this issue with Cllr Hadchiti again challenging the decision.
As there are many committees already it was a little difficult to follow, but to my understanding many of the committees are held just for the sake of holding them and rather than cancel them completely amalgamating several committees into one makes sense. I know from experience that a monthly Badgerys Creek Taskforce is not required and now comes under the umbrella of the Economics Committee.
Cllr Kaliyanda (obviously in conjunction with other Labor Councillors) had prepared their list of who should be on what committees and after much discussion the list was completed. Cllr Hadid declined to be on any committees. Labor dominated most of the committees and from what I can ascertain Peter is on 6 Committees and alternate for the Joint Regional Planning Panel and Karress is on 2 Committees and alternate for JRPP, however, all charters will be amended to allow Councillors to attend all Committees and have voting rights, this should have always been the case. As this is only the first year of a 4 year term things will obviously change in the following years.
The spraying of median strips in urban and rural areas was raised by both Cllr Harle and Cllr Haggarty and the Director of City Presentation. Cllr Haggarty mentioned attending the Rural Forum and the concerns of residents/farmers re the content of solutions used in spraying and the detriment it has on their produce/livestock- assurances were given by Council that products used were safe, however, further discussions are required. Cllr Harle raised concerns with spraying footpaths and median strips in urban areas and the unsightly dead grass and inquired as to alternate methods of controlling weeds and long grass.
IN CONFIDENCE MATTERS:
(There were several listed, mostly relating to tenders received etc., but the Propel contract was definitely the most controversial)
Report on Legal Advice – Audit of Prosperity Audit Services relating to Propel Management.
It is no secret that Propel continues to be a contentious issue which divides not just the Council and employees but also residents.
The proposed payout of Propel’s contract for management of Council staff were leaked last year by the then Mayor and I have heard payout figures ranging from $3.5 million to $10 million over the past 6 months and as this matter is kept confidential there is no way to know how much Council and in effect ratepayers would be up for if Council decide to terminate their services.
There is now discussion (a matter of public record) that Propels Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are set way too low and should be investigated with surrounding Council’s to ascertain whether these could be challenged.
Propel has been a disaster since day one, the contract and conditions have been way too secretive and extremely convoluted and the sooner they are gone from Liverpool the better.
It should be the Council Manager’s responsibility to manage, train, and discipline their own staff as a matter of their employment not an external contractor.
The finalisation of this matter will probably take longer to resolve than it did to initiate. As ratepayers, I believe we have a right to know what is going on and how much it will cost to “get out”.
RECRUITMENT OF A NEW CEO;
Cllr Harle put forward a fair and equitable panel of 2 Labor, 2 Liberal and 2 LCIT Councillors to select the new CEO and again, Labor tried flexing their muscle and stacked the panel with 3 Labor, 1 Liberal and 1 LCIT Councillor for the selection of a new CEO. I am glad to say Cllr Harle’s motion was carried and Cllr Kaliyanda’s motion was lost. The selection of a new CEO is a very important decision for Council and all concerned and the need to employ the right person for the position is paramount in having a well-managed and organised Council.
In the meantime, and due to the fact that acting CEO Michael Cullen who has been running the Council for the past 6 or so months will be leaving next month, Ms Kiersten Fishburn has been appointed to the role of acting CEO for 6 months and I wish her well, she will need all the help she can get.
Mayor Waller was back in the Chairperson role and no matter what party you follow or whatever anyone thinks of her as Mayor she is normally extremely knowledgeable when it comes to Local Government. The Mayor started the meeting off well and I am not sure whether it was nerves being back in the hot seat or the disjointed progress of the meeting, but she did falter a little during the night and was called into question on a few of her rulings and several Councillors challenged her interpretation of Notice of Motions. Only time will tell how she will manage this new group of Councillors with some of the new young guns who have a lot of enthusiasm versus experience and some recalcitrant disillusioned older ones. I think we are in for a few rocky months until everyone finds their rhythm.
My biggest concern is that for Council to function effectively we need Councillors to work together for the betterment of Liverpool and not bring their personal agendas into the public arena. We can only but hope that things will settle soon and they get on with running Council as it should be.
I know our two Councillors Peter and Karress are keen to get on with the job and start making some progress. They both conducted themselves with complete professionalism on the night and I am very glad they are there representing me as a resident and representing our LCIT members and I wish them both well in their upcoming endeavours.
16th October 2016
Please note all comments made are the personal opinions and reflections of Pauline Rowe only and are not indicative of any membership or affiliation with any other party.