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Editorial Oct 19th 2018

Welcome to this week’s editorial, I am often asked why my editorials appear to come down hard on Council. It might be a good time to reiterate what the Beagle is and what lies behind the Beagle and to give you a better understanding of what I consider my role as editor is as well. Nearly two years ago I learnt that the Bay Post was going behind a paywall. I also learnt that it had taken a mighty blow with the dismissal od 120 journalists across the state. I witnessed firsthand that the news content being presented was being diluted and that the community was in fact become less and less informed of what was going on. I saw first hand the reams of material coming across my own desk from readers, publicity officers of community groups, and media officers representing local, state and federal government. So many stories and articles that make up the warp and weft of our community and most going untold. At the same time I saw the outcry of the community who had little if any voice against issues that directly affected their financial and social wellbeing. I saw a need in the community where people could be given their voice back. A paper for the community. Free, inclusive and accessible. The Beagle was created so that it would provide equal coverage to a charity jumble sale as it would to a Federal members media statement. To each of those parties, each notice was equally important. I set out to, where absolutely possible, publish all that came across my desk and that continues providing voice to everyone and celebrating the richness that we have in our community from the arts to sports, from local detail to the big picture. Having worked for Eurobodalla Council for a very enjoyable 21 years I was also more than familiar with how it worked and knew of its shortcomings as well. The primary shortcoming was their difficulty in communication, primarily their continued reluctance to “tell it as it is”. Having followed Council very closely for thirty years I am well informed of much of what they do and how they do it. I have had the pleasure (and displeasure) of rubbing shoulders with most of the councillors over that time and understand well, the machinations of Council. With that I have an expectation that councillors and council executive, as public servants, serve the public and do so in an open, honest and transparent way. It helps to also know the rules and the Beagle is incredibly fortunate to have a host of well informed advisors who indeed do know the rules and keep careful watch over Council and Councillors to ensure they comply by those rules. The Council often refers to this body as “The Usual Suspects”. Initially they contemptuously laughed at them. Now they don’t. Many Beagle readers will have read the editorial pieces around the Mackay Park project. Some have asked what I personally think of the project. I challenge council on the project as I firmly believe that they have failed in due process. While I personally believe the site for the pool and theatrette are ill placed I look beyond that to the audacity and arrogance as to how the Council and Councillors have manipulated the community to accepting a $46m venture without providing any evidence that they have done a full financial feasibility study nor have they used the endorsed Community Engagement framework to include the community in the decision to go ahead with simply a “trust us we know what we are doing”. While Council maintains an audacity, an arrogance, an ignorance, a disregard of its community and a continued approach to make rules and decisions behind closed doors the Beagle will continue to reveal their actions and will continue to bring to the surface the information that the Council would prefer to see buried and forgotten. Council staff advise the Beagle that the atmosphere in the workplace is “toxic”. The Beagle has absolute respect for the staff and I know them to be dedicated and committed. The fish rots from the head and that is where you will find the Beagle, simply asking the questions with the expectation that Councillors and Council executive serve the public. Do I care one way or another about a 50m pool? No…I won’t be using it. But I respect that there are many who do care and that they deserve to be listened to rather than flagrantly disregarded. And I expect Council to be open and transparent. Always. Until that day…. you have The Beagle, watching and sniffing and reporting on what it discovers… whilst also celebrating our wonderful community that deserves to be kept informed and included. ……. Until next Lei

#LeiParker #Editorial #Weekly

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