Let’s call it the $2. 1 million dollar question – after all, that’s what the two recent inquiries in to Canning have cost.
A highly contentious ward boundary and councillor representation review has just been “concluded” at Canning. Why contentious?
- we had a relatively small problem to correct, but staff tried for more – before a council of people who actually live in Canning returns
- the staff left nothing to chance – the community ended up only being able to vote for the City’s suggestions for change
- ratepayer groups objected
- hundreds of community members came together to submit an alternative
- the City made sure only one of its options made it to the Local Govt Advisory Board, in time to be in place for the October 2015 elections
All of this occurred faster than goose shit slides across a linoleum floor.
Now the LGAB has only the City’s suggestion in front of it. As for the community’s groundswell of reaction and bid for an alternative option? Heck, the City never had any intention of resubmitting the very ideas and suggestions it invited of the community back out to the community, before coming to a conclusion as to what the community “preferred”.
But the disturbing aspects of this exercise don’t stop there – the final report of independent market researcher Painted Dog (who conducted the review’s survey) was changed after being adopted as a record at the rushed through Special Council Meeting to get the City’s options to the LGAB, held on 18 May 2015.
To quote a former Mayor
“Once a report has been to council and moved without amendment it cannot be changed no matter what because that is the record of it”.
Except at Canning, apparently. It is now only furnishing a copy of the report that was updated on 22 May – four days after the meeting.
BTW, as we offer up our view of events, here is the City’s hyped up media release as to the community’s “preferred” option for change at Canning (this blog hasn’t “updated” it!).
So we asked and we asked and we asked a question of the Chief Executive Officer, Lyn Russell, as to what changes were made to that report, that official record of council business, and here’s what happened:-
CANNING ACCOUNTABILITY (CA): It states on the Ward Review website that an updated Final Report from Painted Dog has been uploaded (update is dated 22 May 2015). It is important the public know what has been updated since, I’m assuming, the community briefing held on Monday 18 May 2015. Could you please arrange for a detailing of what changes have now been made to the final report to go up on the ward review website?
LYN RUSSELL (CEO): I am advised that the consultants made some minor adjustments to their report to make the tables easier to read, following comments and suggestions made at the public briefing session.
CA: Thank you, but can you confirm specifically if Painted Dog changed any figures, or any wording within its report, in any way?
CEO: We have reviewed the minor adjustments made to the final report and are satisfied that they did not materially affect the outcome and recommendations.
CA: My understanding is that a report, once tabled and accepted without amendment at Council, cannot be altered after the fact, Ms Russell. The SCM to accept the ward et al review outcomes, and its associated documents, occurred 18 May. The public access point to the Painted Dog report, accepted by council on that date, records that the report was updated on 22 May. It is reasonable that if the City and Commissioners have seen fit to replace the original report with a latterly updated report, it should also detail the changes made – and especially on request. That report is a key part of a process you and Chairman Commissioner Cole assured the public was to be open, transparent and thorough. Your answers to date have been of a non-specific nature. Again, could you please ask Painted Dog to provide full details of the changes made to the report after it was accepted as a record by Council. Could you please also specifically answer my question as to whether any wording or figures were changed, and what those changes were.
CEO: My previous response below stands.
CA: As does the community’s concerns that a report accepted at council appears to have been altered after the fact and the City is unwilling to divulge the exact detail of what changes were made, Ms Russell.
So is the City of Canning behaving in such a way as Dr Christopher Kendall, the Panel Member across the $1.6 million Panel of Inquiry in to the City of Canning would believe provides for good government – that which the community is entitled to? Judge for yourself:-
CHAPTER TWO: THE MEANING OF “GOOD GOVERNMENT”
[Six principles result in] and are central to the meaning of good government because of the benefits that flow to the community from good governance procedures.
(2) Promotes community confidence
Transparent and accountable decisions increase the community’s confidence in their local government by demonstrating that decisions will be made in the community’s overall interest regardless of differing opinions.
Good governance reminds local governments that they are acting on behalf of their community and fosters an understanding of the importance of having open and ethical processes which complies with the law and withstands scrutiny.
Image “Applause” by Alicia Gibb. Link embedded in image. Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0