Over the past few weeks I’ve stayed out of the limelight in order to rest for the election campaign, but also to make Council staff believe that they’ve successfully silenced and demoralised me. One never knows what further tricks those people have up their sleeve in order to advance the prospects of their preferred candidates: Lyon, Ndiaye and Swivel.
During the campaign I will mainly focus on the cred of other candidates, particularly their familiarity (or not) with local government culture. The last thing we need is another bunch of well-intending dolts walking right into the open arms of the staff. If they don’t understand what’s going on then they don’t deserve your vote, yet they will inevitably front up with their empty slogans, trust-me smiles and vague promises.
Council staff invariably focus their main attention on the new mayor, who must at all costs be brought to heel, suborned or co-opted. The new mayor invariably comes from a background that provides no insight into politics or local government issues and is therefore vulnerable. Kingston, Wilson and Richardson all succumbed to faux friendship and flattery – and betrayed their constituents. Only Jan Barham stood up to them, to such an extent that their animosity made it impossible for her in the end to go anywhere near the Council chambers if she didn’t have to.
The fundamental problem is that probably 50 per cent of councillors only do one term, meaning that whatever they’ve learned is wasted when they quit. Only a pest like Fast Buck$ regularly returns to say to the latest bunch, ‘Hey, it doesn’t have to be this way’ or, ‘Hey, you’re being shafted, and here’s why’.
By contrast Council staff tend to stay most of their lives, generating knowledge and an evolving culture about how to deal with elected councillors. Even if they relocate to another council or state, the culture will be the same: ‘treat them like mushrooms, we are the true rulers here’.
The State government does its bit by limiting the councillors pay to a pittance, which almost guarantees that no-one with talent and nous will apply for the job; only blowhards, wannabees and suckers.
Which leads me to my punchline: The Greens have out-embarrassed themselves by serving up four duds out of four. Which is why the Council staff love them to bits. And why the National Party also loves them to bits.