The Beagle Editor, In light of the Mayor's recent deplorable manners that she bought to the chamber by way of a verbal haranguing of a fellow councillor and then the following slanging match with a member of the gallery having openly denounced the Greens implying they were complicit in purveying misinformation to sabotage the Rural Lands Strategy one might wonder whether, under the current Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW and Procedures anything will come of the codes of conduct that have been raised suggesting the mayor's misconduct and breaches. As many of your readers have already discovered there have been a plethora of Codes of Conduct raised in the two years of this current term of council and only a few have stuck resulting in "letters from the OLG" identifying the breach and suggesting not to do it again. There are many in the community who are now keen to see the newly written Code that will remove words such as "should" and replace them with "must" Once prescribed, the new code and associated procedures will apply to more than 45,000 staff and nearly 1300 councillors at 128 councils across NSW, heralding, the Office of Local Government beleives, new era in ethics, accountability and transparency. Yet even then the Code will not cover the minutiae of complaints that the community have around these councillors. It will not insist that a Councillor actively participate during Public Forum by looking at the speaker as they present rather than turn their back or worse, fiddle with their ipads or phones. There won't be any guidance on how long a grandstanding preamble of scathing rhetoric should be before a token question is asked of a speaker. Nor will there be any direction for councillors to not be smug. In regards to the Mayor's recent outbursts: Under the new code is states that General conduct 3.1: You must not conduct yourself in a manner that: a) is likely to bring the council or other council officials into disrepute b) is contrary to statutory requirements or the council’s administrative requirements or policies c) is improper or unethical d) is an abuse of power e) causes, comprises or involves intimidation or verbal abuse f) involves the misuse of your position to obtain a private benefit g) constitutes harassment or bullying behaviour under this code, or is unlawfully discriminatory It could well be argued that the Mayor did bring the council into disrepute, abused her power, intimidated and dealt out verbal abuse and showed evidence of harassment and bullying behaviour. For the purposes of the new code, “harassment” is any form of behaviour towards a person that: a) is not wanted by the person b) offends, humiliates or intimidates the person, and c) creates a hostile environment
In regards to the Mayor's dismissal of the environmental presentations by speakers to the Rural Lands Strategy by denigrating them as Green misinformation the Mayor may well have coerced her councillors into also believing this to be so BEFORE THEY VOTED . Under the Fairness and equity section of the new code 3.3 You must consider issues consistently, promptly and fairly. You must deal with matters in accordance with established procedures, in a non-discriminatory manner. It was very clear that the Mayor did not agree with the presentations that had a contrary viewpoint to her own and, in the capacity of the Chair, dealt with these in a discriminatory manner. It is well known that the Gang of Seven councillors are often at loggerheads with outsiders MacGinlay and Mayne The Mayor's insistent tirade and belittling of Councillor Mayne during a council meeting is evidence that there is a toxicity that lurks below the surface. Anecdotally the staff who are leaving the Council "in droves" report that the moral is at an all time low and the atmosphere is "toxic". Exacerbating the situation is the micromanagement by the Executive staff to keep everything close to the chest, to the extent that senior staff are leaving for their own well being. Adding to the pressures for staff are the litany of shortcomings encountered in the new Council computer system that has now blown out its budget with more spending and commitment required. The staff are stretched. However for Councillor to question any of this they are immediately closed out and considered not to be team players. Under the new code "You must not engage in bullying behaviour towards others. 3.9 For the purposes of this code, “bullying behaviour” is any behaviour in which: a) a person or a group of people repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards another person or a group of persons, and b) the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety. 3.10 Bullying behaviour may involve, but is not limited to, any of the following types of behaviour: a) aggressive, threatening or intimidating conduct b) belittling or humiliating comments 3.20 of the new code is very clear: You must not engage in bullying behaviour towards the chair, other council officials or any members of the public present during council or committee meetings or other proceedings of the council Councillors have now been advised of the Status of the new Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW and Procedures via a circular which advises that the new 2018 Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW (the Model Code) and Procedures for the Administration of the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW (Procedures) have been finalised and will soon be prescribed by the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005.
To date our Eurobodalla Council has pushed the envelope of the current Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW and all but snub their noses at any adverse findings by the Office of Local Government knowing that there are few, if any, consequences. There is little doubt that that will continue under the new code. The Eurobodalla fish is rotting from the head and will continue to do so. Name and address supplied