Saturday, September 17, 2005

Beware Clover's glass jaw & who really knifed McInerney?

The Sydney Morning Herald explores Clover Moore's glass jaw and states that she has more control of Council than any other time to date. In fact Moore's urgent and paranoid seizure of chairmanship of all committees last Monday underlined her opponent's major criticism with her reign. Like a Pope she expects unquestioning obedience or excommunication. From the Lord Mayor's chair up high she issues instructions to her four puppet councilors. Except one - John McInerney who is reported and known to have stood up to her over-lordship. Why then was John not empowered to negototaite with myself or Chris Harris (or Labor for that matter) to save his Deputy Lord Mayoralty? Some have said that she wanted him punished for his independence of mind - but was happy for the opposition and fate as it were, to push the political knife on her behalf. John McInerney is a very good Councillor and the only true 'Independent' on her village people group. It is a disgrace she let him walk the plank without support.

Tim Dick writes today:

Clover Moore's grip on the controls of the city just got tighter, so be careful not to get in her way, warn her colleagues. Tim Dick reports.
Some people thrive on criticism. Some are broken by it. Some just don't tolerate it - from friend or foe - and are prepared to cop the consequences of not hearing it.
This week, Sydney's Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, discovered the ramifications of what her opponents say are the main irritants of her mayoralty: over-sensitivity, exclusion and taking credit for everything the council does, her idea or not.
Her deputy, the planning expert John McInerney, was dumped from office after the Greens councillor Chris Harris withdrew his support. Without it, McInerney lost by lot, a blind draw from a wooden box, prompting Moore to use a procedural rule to seize all seven of the council's committee chairmanships.
After being criticised for wanting two jobs, member of Parliament and mayor, she now has 10, including chairing the Central Sydney Planning Committee, a government-controlled body which approves major development.
Harris and Moore, a community independent with a decidedly green tinge, should be firm bedfellows. But, after Moore's promise last year to work co-operatively and constructively with other councillors, things have soured.
Harris now offers a scorching assessment of a remote leader who tolerates no criticism and rules her turf with the same party discipline she detests in Macquarie Street.
He hopes to run in the new seat of Sydney at the next state election - the successor to Moore's long-held Bligh electorate - which Moore suspects is fuelling his move.
But he says this week's events have little to do with his ambitions and everything to do with disappointment in her mayoralty, which forced him to vote with the Liberal councillor Shayne Mallard to install Labor's Verity Firth as deputy lord mayor. "I don't feel that I've been supported in [the green] agenda by Clover Moore's team. They've let me down on a number of times now on policy things they ought to have been much more active on," he says.
"If we had a good working relationship, where we did consult, I sat down with them and talked with them, and we nutted out these things, then sure, I would've been happy to support them."
Harris says he hasn't spoken to Moore for six months, except for social gatherings and formal meetings, with informal talks between all councillors stopped after just two meetings.
"Everyone was there; we could say what we wanted," he says. "There was a bit of criticism aimed at her, by various members, and she just couldn't handle it, so she canned it after two meetings.
"Any time I criticise her, I get a ferocious reply. You saw what happened on Monday. She doesn't like to be criticised."
Some of those closest to Moore are reluctant to offer criticism, constructive or otherwise, even in private. Even she says it is "probably true" that she takes things too personally.
"[People think] I should just be very, very thick-skinned, and I'm really quite sensitive, but I try to respond on the issue," Moore says.
After Harris's defection, Labor councillors heard Moore call him a Judas, perhaps a symptom of a sensitivity which must raise questions about the quality of her advice and whether it is filtered - consciously or not - to avoid upsetting her.
She is a strong woman with strong views and fires up when responding to perceptions - shared by all five opposition councillors - that she isn't inclusive, moves last-minute motions and controls her team absolutely. In short, perceptions that she talks the talk of openness, but walks it only when it suits her.
"I totally reject that. Council's never been so accountable, council's never been so transparent, there's never been so much consultation, there's never been such inclusion," she says.
But criticism there is, including that she takes credit for projects that weren't her idea, from plastic bags to rainbow flags. She dismisses all but one of the gripes as the stuff of personal ambition.
Moore rails against "the major parties" and their practices, but in 18 months the Herald has seen only one instance - she remembers more - of her team not voting as one, when Marcelle Hoff backed a union idea for bans on construction work on long weekends. She says their discussions are robust and critical, but they lead to a remarkably disciplined common line among the five, which she says reflects their "common approach". "If you think they vote in the way they vote because they feel obliged to me, I think you're very mistaken. They vote in the way they vote because they believe in it."
She says the seizure of committees was to stop a genuine threat to her plans for central Sydney, but another interpretation is that the politics of Macquarie Street are colouring her view at Town Hall.
The 10 city councillors are politicians who see the world in a remarkably similar way. From Liberal, through Labor to the Greens and her team, all are progressive.
Firth, her new deputy, says Moore is too nervous. She wants their relationship to be constructive, not adversarial, saying her hobby horses of child care, parks and affordable housing are hardly contrary to Moore's doctrine. "I think Clover is far too stressed about the wrecking role that we could play," she says. "I don't intend to play that at all."
Which should be welcome news to Moore, who pledges to co-operate with her new deputy. "There'll be a lot of things for Verity to do. She'll have to get herself a hat and a pair of gloves."

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Phil said...

No thanks Shayne. We cannot trust you.
You have policies that are worth noting.
Bikes and parks are not enough.
Your pro-developer policy simply raises the question: how much in developers' donation have you received?

Shayne Mallard said...

Thanks Phil (come out from the fake ID some day). All donations to my campaigns are on the public record per the laws of Australia and Council policies. I'll be asking the mulinational push bike companies to come to a fundraiser next time - but I gues that would not be a conflict? SM