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So, who is running this show anyhow?

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Don’t talk and don’t ask? CEO blocks councillor’s survey questions

A WANGARATTA councillor has been denied information critical to a community survey on the city’s new $7.6 million performing arts centre.

Cr Justin Scholz last week requested various details on who, when and how the survey was to be conducted, and the proposed sampling and auditing process of the exercise.

He was told by council’s chief executive officer, Doug Sharp, that he would not be provided with the information as it was of an operational manner and does not involve councillors.

This prompted Cr Scholz to this week question the amount of authority given to council officers.

“I do wonder if we have our delegations quite right, when individual councillors are denied information by the administration on important procedural issues,” he said at a council meeting on Tuesday night.

“I absolutely acknowledge the need for councillors to separate themselves from undertaking operation duties.

“However, surely being provided with information on a process that councillors must make a future decision on is reasonable.”

Cr Scholz later said he regarded the information as crucial in the future decision-making of the proposed arts centre.

“Surely as a councillor I should be able to be given information about the process so I can form my own opinion about the type of information the survey is asking from the public,” he said.

Mr Sharp defended his actions by saying councillors oversee issues of strategy and policy, while the chief executive office looks after operational matters.

“Firstly, (that information) wasn’t available,” he said.

“Secondly, I’m charged under the local government act to look after the operations and day-to-day management of the shire.

“I regard some of the information he was seeking as operational.

“We want to do this independently and professionally so that there can’t be any accusations of any interference by the council.”

Mr Sharp said information about the survey would be made available to all councillors at a later date.

“The survey report will be available to the council and they’ll be able to access the validity and accuracy and appropriateness of how the survey is conducted,” he said.

The survey is set to gauge community support for the demolition of the Wangaratta Town Hall to make way for the 530-seat performing arts centre.

Published in The Chronicle, Friday, 18 Aug 2006 – Page 5 – written by Sally Evans

Watchdog Comment:

And you thought the CEO worked for the Rural City of Wangaratta!

Well, think about it. The Local Government Act requires the council to have a CEO. It also requires that the CEO be approved by the Minister for Local Government. Our elected representatives are also required to delegate the power we gave them to the CEO and the Council Officers as they did at last week’s council meeting.

With that delegated power, CEO Doug Sharp informs us that he is charged under the local government act to look after the operations and day-to-day management of the shire and shows us that he has the power to refuse to co-operate with our elected representatives.

Under the regulations to the Act, the CEO also has the power to declare any matter confidential for up to 50 days. If he invokes that power, our community minded councillor, Justin Scholtz, would be breaking the law if he publicly discussed that issue.

And by the way, when your elected representatives were sworn in to Council, they had to take an oath of allegience to the State. Remember when Brumby was standing for election, he was going to “sort out those silvertails” – unfortunately, the system has caused him to become one of them.

That’s the way it is. That is why Ratepayers Victoria are fighting for
more transparency
in local government. Local government is effectively controlled by the state government through the CEO. You just pay his wages.

So, forget about your elected local government representative

Readers may think that I am continually attacking the Rural City of Wangaratta. I am not. I am simply showing the community the loss of grass roots democracy brought on by the Kennet government and enshrined by the Bracks government.

Nothing can change until we get a government with a philosophy of allowing municipalities to determine their own future direction.


Written by Greg Naylor

18 August 2006 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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