Monday, March 06, 2006

Sunday Telegraph reports Clover Moore's Spin City

Clover chooses PR over people
March 5, 2006

SYDNEY Lord Mayor Clover Moore is facing an angry backlash within her own council over her decision to spend more than $1 million on her public relations team at the expense of much-needed community projects.
Ms Moore, who already has 10 media staff and spends $30,000 a month on an external public relations consultancy, now wants to hire a new panel of communication consultants.
The panel comprises seven public relations companies that would be on call to manage special projects.
A council meeting last week approved the extra staff, but funding for maintenance at a local pre-school, a community centre for people with disabilities and a public school was knocked back.
Ms Moore's opponents, including Deputy Lord Mayor Verity Firth, have attacked Ms Moore for her excessive spending.
"On Monday night, the council approved a new panel of media advisers," Ms Firth said.
"At the same meeting, eight capital funding requests from church groups and public schools were knocked back.
"We are spending about $1 million on media advice, when we could be spending it on services for local residents."
The Sunday Telegraph understands former lord mayor Frank Sartor spent about $250,000 a year on media advisers.
In response to questions on notice, Ms Moore said media consultancy firm, Cato Counsel was being paid $30,000 a month.
Liberal councillor Shayne Mallard said his estimate that $1 million was being spent this year on spin doctors was conservative.
He said the unprecedented spending on media and communications officers was part of a plan to help the Lord Mayor get re-elected.
"A new director as part of a new communications department has been created and he is paid at least $150,000," he said.
"Five staff have been built around him, each with salaries of at least $60,000 each, totalling at least $300,000.
"There is also a communications manager for the Officer of Lord Mayor, who is on at least $100,000 and he has one media adviser at about $75,000 and is looking for another."
Among the community projects denied funding at Monday's meeting were a $3080 common area for people with disabilities at the Euralla Community Service and $5000 for urgent maintenance at Green Square Community Church hall.
The Darlinghurst Public School P & C also asked for $5000 to restore the school's fence, install ceiling fans and paint the assembly hall.
The Sunbeam pre-school's request for less than $3000 to provide grass and shade for children was also rejected.
Ms Moore said the communications unit helped promote the city.
"The community projects were thrown in at the meeting when we were dealing with setting up a panel of consultants," Ms Moore said yesterday.
The Sunday Telegraph

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