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A case of My way or the Highway: best we close ranks on the community

Dear Beagle Editor

At today’s meeting, Madam Mayor insisted that a public speaker, Mr Peter Bernard, an 85 year old pensioner, withdraw/apologise for using a word that she, by her own admission, not only did not hear but also she did not understand the meaning thereof. Madam Mayor goes further that if the speaker did not ‘apologise’ for his use of the word ‘malfeasance’ (referring to the general manager), she would have the pensioner removed from the council building which, of course, she does not have the power so to do. By the way, the word ‘malfeasance’ simply means, and is broadly accepted as meaning, ‘wrongdoing particularly by a public official’.

Madam Mayor then goes on to state that this particular presenter has never been treated with rudeness at a public meeting. Untrue Madam Mayor. During a previous council meeting, chaired by Madam Mayor, today’s presenter addressed council on a different agenda item. At the conclusion of the presenter’s address, Councillor Rob Pollock uttered the word ‘bullshit’, referring to today’s presenter. Again Madam Mayor claims she did not hear Clr Pollock’s remark yet it is audible on replay of the live streaming and clearly heard by members of the public at that meeting. Madam Mayor has never insisted on an apology to Mr Bernard from Clr Pollock.

A Code of Conduct complaint lodged against Clr Pollock was presided over by Council’s preferred (sole) conduct reviewer, with that reviewer finding that Clr Pollock may have been ‘provoked’ by the presenter and that Clr Pollock, after some 30 years as a Councillor, should receiving counselling. No apology.

Madam Mayor allowed Clr Tait to go way off topic when he embarked on a Perry Mason style inquisition of Mrs Hellier, seeking her ‘opinion’ whether or not pseudonyms should be allowed in the Beagle. No point of order was raised and Madam Mayor allowed Clr Tait way too much latitude whilst, at the same time, adopting a heavy handed approach to members of the public with whom she did not agree.

And finally, Madam Mayor concludes, before a 5 minute break, that the ‘behaviour of the community’ justifies her apparent support/endorsement of the general manager’s proposed optional additions to the Model Code of Meeting Practice thus, I believe, inferring that members of the community, as a whole, behave in an unacceptable manner. This came across to me as a slur on ‘the community as a whole’ and I believe warrants an immediate apology to ‘the community’.

If the Mayor or any of our councillors end up voting to adopt the suggestions put forward by the General Manager to the Model Code of Meeting Practice, then the only recourse the public has is to think long and hard about who you elect to represent the community in 2020.

Interestingly, during the pensioner’s presentation, there were several breaks in transmission. Coincidence? Name and Address supplied


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