The Beagle Editor, How the council breeds haters I know some people in the council and others view me as a bit of a council hater. Sometimes things happen like…
My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was very bad, she had a 1 in 3 chance of surviving. She had her entire breast removed and all 19 lymph nodes, of which 10 were cancerous. She underwent the most toxic chemotherapy possible resulting in her vomiting, having diarrhoea and being ghastly sick for most of the month between chemotherapy sessions. As a result I was unable to work full time and as a result we were having trouble paying our bills. Everybody understood and gave us time to pay off our bills or waived them until we were in a position to pay. Everybody except the shire council.
They took us to court over late payment of rates. The council appointed lawyer from Nowra took one look at my wife's bald head wrapped in a scarf and asked us what was going on. We told her that for over 3 months we had been trying to get the council to understand our situation and agree to a schedule of payments to pay our rates. My wife was completely stressed out. The lawyer looked at us and said "Those f*#ing idiots" and 10 minutes later we had agreed to a schedule of payments. To watch your wife go through the cruelty of chemo and fighting for her life is hard. To see her put through the extra stress bought on by unnecessary legal action taken by the council hardens your heart. This was not a situation that suddenly erupted and decisions that were made in haste. This went on for over 3 months, talking to different people in the council (staff and managers), pleading for some consideration and being unable to budge the council in any way. We couldn’t even make it to first base. The humiliation my wife…..we, suffered standing on the verandah outside the courthouse for everyone in town to see was intense. My wife was sick and wan from a recent chemo session and looked an absolute mess. She was bald, overweight and didn’t want to go out in public and, here the council was, putting her on public display. The council lawyer from Nowra took one look at her and asked, very kindly, what’s going on and 20 minutes later, something that had gone on for over 3 months, was done and dusted and we were on our way home…..after my wife had vomited in the public toilets. Yeah my opinion of the council is negative. Their actions were unconscionable. I had thought that council’s problems largely revolved around the councillors and the executive. The staff we were dealing with were just everyday council employees and this is how they behaved. No empathy, no remorse, no feelings of quilt, no feelings of trying to help, no feelings of…….well no feelings. They just continued on….oblivious, uncaring and unfeeling. And these are just everyday women, mostly, and men working in the council. Women as supposed to be more caring and supportive and, being a woman, more understanding of what my wife…..we, were going through. Didn’t happen. Tell me again about your compassionate, empathetic and caring council. If this is how much they care about a woman with breast cancer, how much do you think they care about your problems? And don’t think for a moment that this is an unusual incident, it is not the first occurrence of council uncaringly destroying people lives and businesses, all well documented and on public display if you care to put in a little effort to look. Meanwhile council deems criticism to be a conspiracy amongst a very small band of malcontents who will never be happy and are free to attack them at will…….public apathy and fear do the rest. This council does not have the interests of its ratepayers at its heart, it doesn’t have a heart. Those council staff who are not directly involved in the way that council behaves are condoners of such behaviour. There were a number of studies undertaken years ago that found council staff had very low morale. They would have been the people whose integrity and humanity was being compromised by the way council conducted itself. The council’s response to these reports was atypical. They solved the low morale problem by getting rid of all the unhappy people. Now they have a crew that is happy to go along with council principles and its ways of doing business. And our councillors, with very few exceptions, are unconcerned, uncaring incompetent sycophants. The intensity and scale of this bushfire in our shire is as a direct result of this council’s incompetence and inanity all nicely bundled up with the arrogance to believe they are the solution to the problems they created. To see the councillors grandstanding with some poor ADF soldier over some unremarkable plaque given out as a matter of politeness for letting the ADF use council facilities while the ADF did council’s job was cringe worthy to the max and an illustration of just how deluded our elected representatives are. Then again cruel uncaring people are like that……. Michael Johnson Tuross Head
Editors Note: IN LIGHT OF THE RECENT EVENTS there will be many in the Eurobodalla Shire that will be pressed to pay their rates. Council has already recognised this hardship waiving the rates for two quarters for those home owners who have lost their homes to the fires. If you haven't lost your home and simply lost your livelihood, your job or savings and are now on hard times and can't find the cash for your rates then be aware that Council has an automatic process to regather overdue rates. It's Debt Recovery Policy "ensures ethical, effective and efficient debt recovery, including rates, charges and other debts." and serves to "To take such steps as are appropriate to minimise the impact of outstanding debts on Council's financial position." Eurobodalla Council also has a Rates and Debtors Hardship Policy It "provides a framework for responding to applications from owners/ ratepayers experiencing genuine hardship for assistance with the payment of the rates and charges, in accordance with the Local Government Act 1993 and the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005." This policy applies to Eurobodalla Shire Council and its ratepayers and debtors. A ratepayer may be eligible for consideration for hardship assistance in the payment of overdue rates, annual charges, debtors and interest , where: The person is unable to pay rates or accrued interest when due and payable for reasons beyond the persons control (Section 567) Payment of the accrued interest would cause the person hardship (section 567) Periodical payment arrangements for overdue rates and charges (section 564) Writing off or reducing interest accrued on rates or charges (sections 564 & 567) Waiving, reducing or deferring the payment of the increase in the amount of rate payable because of hardship resulting from the general revaluation of land in the Local Government Area (section 601) Waiving or reducing rates, charges and interest for eligible pensioners (sections 575 & 582) A ratepayer may be eligible for consideration for hardship assistance in the payment of overdue rates, annual charges, debtors and interest , where: The person is unable to pay rates or accrued interest when due and payable for reasons beyond the persons control (Section 567) Payment of the accrued interest would cause the person hardship (section 567) Periodical payment arrangements for overdue rates and charges (section 564) Writing off or reducing interest accrued on rates or charges (sections 564 & 567) Waiving, reducing or deferring the payment of the increase in the amount of rate payable because of hardship resulting from the general revaluation of land in the Local Government Area (section 601) Waiving or reducing rates, charges and interest for eligible pensioners (sections 575 & 582) Council will consider applications for assistance in accordance with the following principles: Council will individually assess cases of financial hardship Council will not reduce rates or annual charges, but will consider alternative available approaches to dealing with cases of financial hardship Council will consider a scheme of periodical payment outside the due dates in cases of hardship or extenuating circumstance. It appears for the letter to the editor above that there is justifible cause as to why the above were not offered or considered for Mr Johnson and instead Council decided to take him to court at a cost to ratepayers. Any Councillor worth their salt would ask for clarification on this case and on how Council plans to address the plethora of potential defaults that lie ahead as a consequence of the recent shire wide events of fire and flood.