Special independent local news edition
“Independent local media is crucial for scrutiny of all levels of government, including local government.”
Adam Portelli, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Adam Portelli, Director on the union representing journalists, told a local Progressive Port Phillip zoom forum last week that urgent action was needed to maintain public scrutiny of government.
He said that COVID had accelerated the closure of many outlets and the axing of many journalist jobs.
In Port Phillip, we’ve lost all our local media including newspapers owned by media monoliths like News Limited and Fairfax (now Nine).
The next Council elections may be the first of many without any local media scrutiny.
We are reliant on social media, with all its opinion and attitude – are you happy with that?
TWiSK says local news matters
This week we hope to strike a blow or two for independent local media by covering important local stories you won’t get elsewhere, including:
Council declares an economic emergency
Council: A psychologically safe workplace?
Audit report on Councillors expenses released
Musical chairs for ALP in Lake
This Week in St Kilda #234
But first and to stay’ right-sized’ as an arts, music and community newsletter, he’s our run down of local things to do and see…..
Observe biodiversity from home @ NatureSpot with EcoCentre
From Monday 21 September until Sunday 18 October
Here is the perfect activity during the lockdown. Be a part of a local biodiversity survey by spotting flora and fauna in your ‘hood. Go for a walk, snap some photos and submit observations before 18 October.
Learn how at any of these online info sessions
Tuesday 22 September, 12.30 pm
Thursday 24 September, 12.30 pm
Tuesday 29 September, 5.30 pm
Thursday 1 October, 12.30 pm
Click and collect finally starts @ St Kilda Library
From Monday 21 September, 10 am – 5 pm, Monday to Friday
Bravo (but about time folks). Click and collect is back. Reserve items online and you’ll get a notification when your collection is ready. The return shute is also open!
Last week Mayor Bernadene promised that the library C&C service would open last Wednesday,
but it didn’t open at all last week!
Is this what we can expect from Council as we emerge from restrictions?
Surely the staff could have prepared ahead to open ASAP or at the very least stick to their commitments.
Spoonville was so yesterday, now Panville? @ Elwood
Spotted by Elwood photographer Chris Cassar and snapped on his mobile phone. What will emerge in the last weeks of lockdown? What have you seen?
Free festival for seniors @ program out now
Seniors will be zooming and a lot more during the upcoming local seniors Festival.
Get set for exhibitions, talks and seminars. Highlights include U3APP Seminar on The Palace Letters presented by Emeritus Professor Jenny Hocking and Crime & Cocktails with Sisters in Crime.
TWiSK will include events as they roll.
Get the program online from today
My reading life @ Seniors Festival
Entries close Friday 25 September
Share the titles of your favourite reads and why they inspire, absorb, educate or entertain you. Your responses and photographs will be part of an online exhibition from 15 October
Val McDermid @ 20th Davitt Awards
Saturday 26 September, 8 pm – 9 pm
Sisters in Crime Australia is thrilled that Val McDermid will present its 20th Davitt Awards for the best crime books by Australian women and published in 2019.
Free but you can by a supporters ticket $10
Candidate Forums @ Progressive Port Phillip
Canal Ward Candidate Forum
Saturday, 26 September 2, 5 pm
Lake Ward Candidate Forum
Sunday, 27 September , 5 pm
Gateway Ward Candidate Forum
Monday 28 September, 8 pm
New design for Brookes Jetty approved @ St Kilda Beach
Melbourne Water has approved a final design for a new-look St Kilda Beach viewing platform. The `Circle of Reflection’ platform will extend 60 metres into Port Phillip Bay. Works are planned to start early next year.
St Kilda Marina a step closer @ Council
Fhew! Just made it.
The long running project to re-lease the ageing and dilapidated St Kilda Marina is almost complete, with Council awarding the lease at it’s final meeting. But it’s not over yet, it’s Crown land and needs final sign off by the Governor in Council.
As reported in previously, it looks like a pretty good deal with lots to like including more public spaces.
And so it should be, the lease is up to 50 years!
Get the detail
Pavilion only St Kilda winner @ Design and development awards
Judged earlier this year, but only recently announced in an online event, these awards celebrate good design over a range of categories. The only St Kilda winner in this set was the Jackalope Pavillion at the Prince – which shared the non-residential development.
Shortlisted entries and photos
Rob Snarski and Shane O’Mara @ Memo live stream
Sunday 4 October, 7 pm
Class with class. $15 bargain because it includes a seat for you and all your bubble.
Soon more local talent ….
Brooke Taylor & The Poison Spitting Gin Queens with Dalicados
Also at Memo
Trifecta of tricky issues at Council’s final meeting
Last Wednesday’s ordinary Council meeting was anything but ordinary, it was the last for this Council before they go into caretaker mode next Tuesday before the October vote.
Traditionally, the final meeting the last chance to finish business and the first chance to leave tricky missives for the incoming Council. And it was not for the faint hearted, as the meeting droned on for over 5 hours.
Finally, council sees the emergency
It took until almost the last item of the last council meeting for the penny to drop.
COVID restrictions had pushed many local small businesses to the brink of collapse. So it was very pleasing to see Council vote to declare that:
“The economic impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic through the loss of jobs and business activity within the City of Port Phillip should be treated as an emergency.”
Bravo. And now the real work starts.
November and December will be make-or-break trading months for many local businesses – especially hospitality. It really is now or never for many. And frankly, struggling small businesses can’t afford for things to happen on ‘Council standard time’ (eg the delays in opening the libraries for click and collect).
Cr Marcus Pearl told TWiSK the first emergency measure should be to speed up the process for getting footpath trading permits. “I’m getting calls from local small businesses complaining about the time it takes to get the permits they need.”
Cr Bond went a bit further saying “It’s important that Council starts issuing outdoor trading permits immediately. Businesses need time to plan and organise prior to any opening.”
TWiSK understands that it was initially planned to turn around permits in 72 hours, but this has already been extended to 5 days.
Now that an emergency has been called, traders need an emergency style response.
A psychologically safe workplace
Out-going Mayor Voss moved a motion calling for Council to be a psychologically safe workplace. She said COVID had highlighted a new range of work stresses and Council need to be proactive. Of course, who could talk against a safe workplace? So why do we need this urgent motion? And why by the outgoing Mayor?
We can only presume that things are not happy in the town halls of Port Phillip
TWiSK would like to draw readers attention to the high rate of staff turnover and workplace injury at Council.
This is reported by the CEO each month. In the last report before COVID, the results were not pretty:
Recordable injury rate was 37.8 when the target is 21.8
Unplanned leave 14.0 when the target is 10.8
Staff turnover is 15.3% when the target is 10%
Read the CEO report
TWiSK welcomes information on this topic – on or off the record – discretion assured
Greg Day 0418 345 829 email@example.com
Last gasp on Councillor expenses
The very last matter considered at the very last meeting – considered in private beyond public scrutiny – was three reports on Councillor expenses. Redacted versions of these report were posted online late Friday afternoon:
*Confidential Attachments made public – Report 18.4 Outcomes of the Special Audit and Risk Committee Meeting of 9 September 2020:
Internal Audit Report – Councillor Code of Conduct Complaint (PDF 1.85MB)
Internal Audit Report – Councillor Childcare Expenses (PDF 255KB)
Internal Audit Report – Councillor Expenses (PDF 418KB)
You need a compass and a magnifying glass to interpret these reports.
But here is a summary of the back story and the facts – read on and wonder ‘what were they thinking’…
This saga starts with Freedom of Information requests by Cr Bond into Cr Simic’s childcare claims. This then spread to RoPP FoI requests about Cr Baxter’s MYKI expense claims.
This prompted an internal audit of councillor expenses and procedures. The latest revelations are the results of that audit.
Some of the issues have been raised publicly before, with Crs Simic and Baxter making refunds of $454 and $2803 respectively.
The new information is that a Councillor (unnamed) will be asked to refund $51 claimed for ‘Ziener Dixon gloves’ as part of annual bicycle maintenance.
Other councillors also made MYKI refunds: Cr Pearl $22, Cr Bond $78 and Cr Copsey $4.
Speaking after the reports were made public, Cr Bond told TWiSK “The FOI requests to Council, and appeals to the Information Commissioner, from myself and others has culminated in these audits, and the repayment by a number of Councillors of incorrectly claimed expenses. These expenses should never have been claimed in the first place.”
Open offer to all Councillors
TWiSK will publish in full any explanation, justification, comment or apology about their expenses in the next edition if received by COB Friday. Here is my email firstname.lastname@example.org
What were they thinking?
Spending other peoples money requires clear thinking, attention to detail and transparency.
All three were missing in these cases.
But the revelation that $51 was spent on gloves is frankly pathetic after all this effort.
TWiSK would like to ask three questions – and we’ll happily include the answers next week.
1. How much was spent on external governance related training for the current councillors?
2. What were the consultancy costs associated with the audit reports?
3. And of course, has the $51 for bicycle gloves been repaid?
TWiSK will publish a special edition on Wednesday listing the final nominees for Council
Musical chairs for ALP @ Lake
ALP candidate Anita Horvath never got out of the starting blocks in her bid for Council. She pulled out without fanfare and disappeared into the sunset.
Shoehorned into the race is Robbie Nyaguy (pictured).
More on Wednesday.
Bernie dives in @ Lake
Bernard Mandile, a long time local with extensive local business experience, has put his hand up.
Here are his answers to our new candidate questions in full.
Who is Bernard Mandile?
I am a candidate for the City of Port Phillip, Lake Ward.
Why are you standing for council?
I have been involved in many local community activities and I have lived here all my life. It has been an ambition to help improve and sustain our local area. I in my early days I did a project on the city at school and I want to work for the people with their issues
What do you hope to achieve?
I would like to be involved with residents and local businesses on a ground level to help them come out of COVID and to create great shopping villages and to make these spots safe again
I want to make change from my experience and not from what I am told by council officers.
How have you been involved in the local community?
Apart from my business acumen, some of my key local achievements have been the formation of Middle Park youth club, coaching South Melbourne Junior Basketball Club & playing for the South Melbourne districts. With Father Bob McGuire, I helped establish Open Family Foundation.
Are you a member of any political party or advocacy group?
I’m an independent and not associated with any political party or advocacy group.
0420 861 098
All new candidates are welcome to respond to our five questions for inclusion.
Monday 14 September – Sunday 20 September
Monday 7 September – Sunday 13 September
Monday 31 August – Sunday 6 September
Monday 24 August – Sunday 30 August
Monday 17 August – Sunday 23 August
Monday 10 August – Sunday 16 August