Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Melbourne's Mascot Lord Mayor

John So what do you do?

Getting back to basics and the main purpose of this blog being the Melbourne City Council.

The Age today reports on the fact that Melbourne's mascot and most expensive Lord Mayor John So does little of the real work when it comes to earning his keep. John So receives a salary of $100,000.00 plus lurks and perks that double that amount.

Absent from all committee meetings, John So is not well informed and is more interested in seeking awards and self-grandeur then new policy development. In the meantime Melbourne City Council's committee structure is failing to provide real effective and professional input whilst local communities go unrepresented. The City Council which is too inward looking has not taken advantage of professional outside expert input.

In the absence of an effective Lord Mayor, Melbourne should open up its committee structure and appoint outside experts and community representatives to its advisory committees.

The current system of every councillor except the Lord Mayor doing all the work is not delivery good governance. The City Councillor's are being over worked and side-tracked from the real task of reviewing the Council's administration and policy development.

'Mascot mayor' under attack
Source: The Age - November 21, 2006

JOHN So might be our bro, and a favourite in the vote for World Mayor 2006 next month, but the popular Lord Mayor also appears to be bending Melbourne City Council's own rules by not attending the committee meetings where most of its work is done.

Cr Peter Clarke, who has branded Cr So a "mascot mayor", says he will campaign to force the Lord Mayor to attend meetings as part of his $110,000 annual salary.

"It is fine for John to turn up to the Myer Christmas window launch and sit next to Jennifer Hawkins — that's the ceremonial role he plays well," Cr Clarke said. "But he doesn't do anything else."

There is also disquiet among several other councillors, including from within Cr So's own team of supporters, about his unwillingness to attend committee meetings.

Cr Clarke last week lost a vote calling on the Lord Mayor to "honour" the council's "good governance charter".

Tonight he will call for another vote.

The charter requires the Lord Mayor to attend at least some of the council's seven committee meetings, instead of just the one council meeting each month.

"He attends no committee meetings," Cr Clarke said. "He needs to attend because he is paid to go."

Since being elected Lord Mayor in 2001, Cr So has seldom attended committee meetings, the main forum for residents and businesses to present matters to the council.

The public rarely presents matters at the monthly council meetings that the Lord Mayor attends. The council meeting is often little more than a rubber stamp for decisions made by committees.

Cr So's predecessors, Ivan Deveson and Peter Costigan, the only lord mayors since council amalgamations under the Kennett government, rarely missed committee meetings. Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney and also a member of the NSW State Parliament, attends every Sydney City Council committee meeting.

Cr So defended his non-appearance, saying he was elected as part of a team that included Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer, who attends all committee meetings.

"If Peter Clarke wants to make it an issue, he should have made it an issue at the 2004 election," Cr So said.

He said he dealt with all issues in private meetings with constituents before matters came before the council — something Cr Clarke said left the council open to corruption or nepotism.

The Lord Mayor rejected this. "It's not done behind closed doors," he said.

Cr So said he did not take offence at being called a "mascot" mayor. "People can call me all sorts of names, but the most important thing is that Melbourne is doing well."

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