Thursday, August 16, 2007

So's Vision splendid undeclared

Will he or wont he seek a third term

The glamour and public appeal of John So's populist Mayor has come under serious scrutiny in recent weeks with revelations that Our Worlds most popular Lord Mayor is unable to manage the business affairs of the council.

John So only survived a vote of confidence in his leadership earlier this year by use of his casting vote. The Ernst and Young report released in June espoused the truth and facts behind John So's leadership. If Melbourne continues to head in teh direction John So was heading the City of Melbourne would be bankrupt within 10 years.

Under John So there has been uncontrolled expansion in teh Councils bureaucracy with senior officers designing their own jobs to saute thicare life style. Staff cuts were inevitable but as we found out this week Senior management will not bear the brunt of the review as senior management close ranks to protect their life-style designer jobs.

The Trade Union movement last week joined a growing chorus of discontent in the Council's administration calling on the State Government to consider appointing administrators to oversee the administration of the City Council.

John So has failed to deliver where it counts most. his undeclared vision for Melbourne is undefined.

The Age today reports that John So will be seeking a third term as Melbourne Lord Mayor but as yet So is not prepared to rule himself in or out. he says he needs a third term to complete his vision for Melbourne. But what exactly is his vision.

Under john So we have seen unparalled expenditure and a serious decrease in teh councils working capital ratio.

Could his vision be a City bankrupt both financially and morally?

Mayor first declares he'll run, now not So sure
Clay Lucas August 16, 2007

JOHN So confirmed for the first time yesterday that he would seek a third term as Melbourne's Lord Mayor.

"I'm running," he told The Age — twice — after he mapped out his vision for Melbourne.

But two hours later, in classic So style, the Lord Mayor rang back to say he was no longer certain. He would, he said, only make an iron-clad commitment to run six months before Melbourne City Council's poll late next year.

The council, along with all of Victoria's 79 councils, will go to the polls on the final Saturday in November next year.

Cr So was last year voted the world's most popular mayor in an Internet poll. At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, he received more cheers than the Queen or Prime Minister John Howard.

However, many who work closely with the Lord Mayor find his lack of certainty about many key city issues — including his own future — infuriating.

While the Lord Mayor's popularity was a phenomenon in 2006, this year has not been as kind to him.

He has been repeatedly called into question over behind-the-scenes deals to promote himself, including personally guaranteeing a $100,000 grant to the Grand Prix Corporation for a Ferrari event in Lygon Street.

He also directed council officers to spend almost $500,000 extra on Christmas decorations, without consulting councillors.

Cr So will today meet both Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd and Mr Howard to seek federal funding for key city projects.

Yesterday he told The Age it was important he was re-elected next year so he could complete his vision for Melbourne.

He nominated key city projects as:

■ Decking over the Flinders Street rail yards to create a new pedestrian link to the Yarra.

■ Better connecting the western suburbs to the city by turning Footscray Road into another grand boulevard.

■ Making Melbourne one of the world's great cycling cities.

■ Reducing tram congestion in Swanston Street.

In June this year, Docklands came under the control of Melbourne City Council. Cr So said it was crucial the new suburb was completely integrated into the city grid.


Anonymous said...

If the Council's finances are in a disarray, the Chair of Finance, Cr. Brian Shannahan, should consider resigning in favour of someone more competent to oversee and monitor the Council's finances. Cr. Shannahan responsibilities are the same, if not more than the CFO of a publicly-listed corporation. It is amazing how he seeks to shift the blame on the Council's CEO and the mayor.

The Council's finances do not magically deteriorate overnight. It's the process of sustained policies over the past years. If Cr. Shannahan, as the Councillor overseeing the Council's finances, only realised the dire situation on the day the budget was released, one must raise serious questions either about his ability to comprehend financial statements or his ulterior motives.

MelbCity said...

True they do not evaporate overnight. the problem facing the city of Melbourne deteriorating financial position has been a process over the last decade, exacerbated over the last two terms.

The problem is John So and his team not Cr Shanahan. Cr Shanahan opposed the last budget.

John So is the person who is overall responsible. This is a manifest problem of the directly elected model. the Lord Mayor is not appointed on the basis of his corporate management skills but his perceived popularity Council no longer has say on who leads the council. It could be a benevolent dictator or a clown. The direct elected model should never have been adopted.

It does not provide good governance.

The City of Melbourne should undergo a representation review as is the case with all other municipalities. Part of this review should consider not only the Council's external boundaries bit also the issue of direct election of Lord Mayor.

If Melbourne MUST have a directly elected Lord Mayor then the position of Council Chairman MUST be separated from the role of the Lord Mayor and elected from and by the City Councillors.

In the end it is the State Government that MUST take responsibility for the Councils State of affairs. It MUST initiate a review NOW rather then later.

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