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Wednesday
Nov162011

'Closed Door' Workshops

There was much indignation expresed at today's Council meeting about adverse comment "out there" regarding 'workshops'. Denial was in the air, and both the Mayor and Cr. Bartley took the lead in denigrating those who express this viewpoint.  I guess it is I who is in their sights. They both tend to avoid mentioning me, or the Peninsula Press by name. 

The Governance person who attends the meetings was instructed to review how many such workshops took place in the first year of the last three councils, and to report back to the Mayor, I presume so that he can refute the claims that I have made on several occasions.

The point that he, and clearly others overlook is that it is not the number of 'closed door' meetings that are called so much as the content of the agenda, and the manner in which 'decisions' are clearly arrived at at these gatherings, and simply referred back to following Council meeting for what amounts to 'ratification'. This is not the manner in which the business of the Council is meant to be conducted, and these facts are borne out by the length of time during which ordinary busines of the Council is conducted - roughly one and a half hours on both the most recent occasions. There is no debate whatsoever - the Mayor moves to close off discussions almost immediately after each item is introduced, and the meeting is over in a flash. In fact, I may stand corrected, but I cannot recall a single occasion over the last year when there has been open debate on any matter of substance whatsoever. 

The Local Government Act makes clear that workshops to which the public is normally excluded are for the purpose of providing staff with the opportunity of 'informing' members in a frank and open manner as to the facts surrounding particular issues. They are not meant to be used for the purpose of hiding debate from the public.

Any statistics as to the number of such meetings are irrelevant - the purpose, and content would be far more revealing, but I doubt if that information will be released. I really fail to understand the need for such secrecy, but clearly the Mayor has a different view - he stated this morning that "There is a great deal going on behind the scenes that most members of the public would not understand".

So there you are, the perfect rationalisation. On three separate occasions, the Mayor mentioned the word conspiracy in relation to the manner in which members of the public were perceiving certain actions of Council. Well, paranoia works in both directions, and a little more openness all round would go a long way to reducing the level of paranoia.    

 

 

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Reader Comments (1)

Hear hear Bill I feel that the Mayor has no idea of the amount of suspicion around him and his council at the moment. they are far from trust worthy and the way he is conductinh himself he will definitly be a one termer

November 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

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