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Archive for category Bullying Councillors
The ridiculing and gagging standing order for controlling council meetings is not enough for Mayor Lake. He now wants roll calling to be his new black in councillors’ conduct management. Tracking councillors’ attendance is his next level up in bastardising the LG Act’s code of conduct guidelines, of course conveniently through exercising his Mayoralty position.
Everyone knows Mayor Lake is certainly gearing up for the Council Elections, evident in his recent and growing use of the press, radio interviews and council resources (website), to broadcast disparaging remarks about two Liberal Councillors he personally disperses. By publicising their names, it is a no brainer that Mayor Lake’s aim is to discredit them in an attempt to dissuade constituents from re-electing them in October Council Elections. His hope is that mud sticks – a common low political tactic.
Those of us who have been to Council meetings know Crs Davies and Zographos care about their community’s views and when they do voice their concerns, commonly Lake lets loose with a tedious verbal onslaught.
If we review past attendances, which are shown at the end of this commentary, we see that ex Cr Paul Klisaris was serially absent but nothing was raised then. Cr Klisaris also claims the highest reimbursement, especially on mobile phone bills and he only announces a council land line number as his telephone contact. He also shirt-front Cr Davis and nearly started a physical fight, if not for Cr Perrie and a council staff quickly coming to break up the near fight. Lake just wants to humiliate these two Councillors, and unfortunately the media assists this master manipulator.
We understand that Cr Lake was on an overseas trip – possibly – but not yet proven – a “junket”, when he was not present at the (changes to the ) C125 Amendment Council Meeting on 3rd May (but Crs Davies and Zographos were) where submitters could air their views. He had been absent for the 26th April 2016 Council meeting too. No one can remember hearing any publically announced apology for his absence on 3rd May. Since Cr Lake was the one who hashed the Council Planners C125 Proposal that had been previously distributed widely to the community, he should have been present to hear the submitters’ arguments against the changes HE HAD MADE to the original document.
The funny thing is the meetings are far more bearable without Cr Lake present.
The fact is that Mayor Lake revels in dishing out incriminations but cannot accommodate any debate or opposition from others. Hence the unnecessary employment, and cost to Council, of four Wilsons Security Guards for four hours minimum at each Council Meeting; not to mention intermittent Vic Police presence ( a complete inappropriate waste of emergency resources to flatter his ego).
His frequent public behaviors and attention seeking through the media indicate his agenda is to disadvantage non-Labor Councillors who may want to again contest the next council election. When next Lake pursues such a contrived and biased “dirty” media release we hope the press will be more guarded in reporting his spin.
Below are Council Attendances for the past 4 years:
Is Cr Lake joking when he is worrying decline in behaviour in council?
It is common knowledge among the community that he is the main culprit in fostering bullying, groupthink and disrespectful behaviors during council meetings, including manipulating and controlling discussion directions and orchestrate decision making (such as selling Monash and Elizabeth Gardens aged care facilities and now the Glen Waverley Central Car-park) against his constituents’ interests. In 2013, residents and ratepayers signed and presented over 10,000 signatures during council meetings, to protest against the sale of the Monash and Elizabeth facilities and Cr Lake maintained council communications to insist that it is only a “small group” of people against the sale.
Waverley Leader, 10 May 2016, Page 5
Jack Davies, an ex councillor who worked with Geoff in his early days of becoming a Councillor said:
“Cr Lake would have the worst record of abuse of the list is massive let’s not forget the abuse of ex Cr Kathy Mc Gee or the abuse of her credit card to buy alcohol at a Canberra conference. The matter was reported to the Police, who confirmed credit card fraud.
Or the miss leading lies to council to dismiss the Huntingdale committee of management and he is famous for frequent abuse of the code of conduct in Monash.
Let’s not forget he (and Cr Klisaris) stalked and harrassed ex Cr Morrissey at his business office. Cr Lake distributed his mobile number, alleging he had travelled at ratepayers’ expense, which prompted dozens of abusive calls. Mr Lake parked his mayoral car at ex Cr Morrissey’s business with placards repeating the claims.
In his early days, he even called one of his councillor-peers a slut and used the f-word when shouting at her during council meetings”.
Has he changed? Many of his constituents think NOT. In fact anecdotal news say he is taking his bullying fights at Cr Davies and Cr Zographos into the media arena now and abusing his mayoralty privilege to silence Councillors he sees are his opponents.
Cr Lake’s brand “bullying boy” has a long history, making headlines in media, as well brought into attention in Parliament sessions about his bullying, abusive and unethical behaviours:
- He tried to bury media articles about his bullying history but lost the compliant case – Press Council Adjudication, 2014
- He was kicked out by Kevin Rudd in the 2013 election because of his bullying records – news.com, 2013; Australian Financial Review, 2013
- He make a sting with his own ALP officers in 2013 – The Age, 2013
- He was investigated with two other Councillors in tampering the 2012 council election process by Parliament in 2009
- He is good mate with Casey Cr Aziz, who has a notorious reputation – Vexnew, 2009
- His early days of bullying when he leaned over ex Cr Solity and said to her “I can’t believe what you did you f—— bitch. You are a f —— for doing that” – The Age, 2005
Slanging match has Monash chambers on its ear
The Age, August 27, 2005
IT WAS 7.37 on a Tuesday night last month when Jeanne Solity arrived at the Monash City chambers for a council meeting.
She was seven minutes late, but didn’t care. She was angry and distracted by what she believed had been an ongoing “personal vendetta” against her by Monash Mayor Stephen Dimopoulos, Deputy Mayor Joy Banerji, and former mayor, Geoff Lake.
For the most part, the meeting progressed as normal, as the eight-member, Labor-dominated council waded through petitions, officers’ reports and planning applications.
But soon enough, tensions erupted with Cr Solity lashing out over what she said was a “culture of intimidation and bullying” at Monash by her three colleagues.
Cr Dimopoulos immediately rejected the allegations. He too was fed up, telling the meeting that there were “many inaccuracies and untruths” in Cr Solity’s claims.
A few weeks later Cr Solity lodged an application at the Dandenong Magistrates Court against Cr Dimopoulos, 32, Cr Banerji, 42, and Cr Lake, 25, accusing them of stalking, harassing and bullying her — allegations they all vehemently deny.
In her application for an intervention order, Cr Solity states: “I’ve known (Cr Dimopoulos) for 10 years through the Australian Labor Party affiliation. The (defendant) is bullying and intimidating towards me … On the 07/06/05 outside the counsil (sic) chambers the deft (was) screaming abuse and using abusive language towards me … I’m unable to perform at work effectively.”
Similar statements were made in the applications against Crs Lake and Banerji, who — with Crs Solity and Dimopoulos — make up the dominant Labor grouping at Monash.
The application was eventually withdrawn (Cr Solity says she could not make the hearing because she was caring for her dying mother). But today, the usually harmonious Monash Council is in turmoil. An Equal Opportunity Commission complaint has been lodged against the three councillors, and $30,000 in ratepayers’ money has been spent to defend Cr Solity’s intervention order applications — yet the group is no closer to resolving their differences.
So how did it get to this? In the often ugly world of local government, that all depends on who you believe. Cr Solity said her relationship with her colleagues soured two years ago, when Cr Banerji made what Cr Solity believed was a disparaging remark against her. She has also alleged that Cr Lake came to her home in January last year, “screaming at me and shouting abuse”, while, recently, Cr Dimopoulos, 32, was pressuring her to have a relationship with him. All three councillors have rejected her claims, saying they are nothing more than “destructive fantasies”.
In a letter dated March 8, Cr Dimopoulos tells Cr Solity that he is “extremely concerned” about her actions and claims.
“I am bewildered and concerned to receive letters and text messages from you that appear to be referring to a non-existent relationship that does not exist and never did exist,” the letter says.
“I do not have any sexual, personal or romantic feelings for you and any advances towards me are unwelcome. I demand that you refrain from these in the future as they will cause upset and concern to us both … If your manner continues like it has, I will take it very seriously and seek legal redress.”
In an email on May 2, Cr Dimopoulos told Cr Solity not to call him, text message him, or speak to him face to face unless in a council meeting. He adds: “You are to stop telling people that we are having a romantic relationship and that I am in love with you as this is absolutely false.”
A month later, the pair had a council-funded mediation session, where they agreed not to text message one another, and that all meetings, other than council meetings, would be held in a special executive room at the council.
But the internal woes continued. On June 11, Cr Solity wrote an email to the Monash chief executive, David Conran, telling him that “little has changed, and in fact things for me there (are) worsening”. Complaints have also been sent to the office of Local Government Minister Candy Broad, who has referred them to her department for advice.
Council sources have theories for the brawling at Monash, some less polite than others. Cr Solity said she was being discredited so other councillors could take advantage of her hard work at the council.
But some insiders believe she is being “manipulated by politically motivated ex-councillors” who want to bump off the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and Cr Lake at the next local elections in November. A statement by seven of the eight Monash councillors has also expressed the view that “Cr Solity is not acting out of malice, but rather, is experiencing a range of behavioural issues and problems”.
In a statement yesterday, Crs Dimopoulos, Banerji and Lake said: “We are caught between wanting to help an individual who is clearly troubled and in need of professional help, while at the same time having to defend council and ourselves from her destructive fantasies.”
Cr Solity replied: “They’ve got no medical evidence that I have behavioural problems. I am extremely competent at what I do. Besides, why would I make up these things when I have so much to lose? They make me out to be a fool, but I’m no fool.”
Totally agree with Tom Elliot in his Herald Sun article, 13 May 2016, Page 21:
Convenient that Cr Klisaris did not resign when Mayor Perri resigned (she did the right thing) and just in time resignation after voting mate Lake to be the mayor (again!).
Many residents and ratepayers in Monash hope he leaves for good and they do not want him back. That says a lot of how well his constituents think of him, especially when he doesn’t even live in Monash.
The discussion paper aims to have the State Government effectively support a professional, credible and high performing network of councils across Victoria. Supporting high standards of councillor behaviour is one strategy to achieve this goal.
MRI’s report is based on cumulative observations and recent feedback from many residents who have attended Council meetings and personally dealt with Councillors in matters of local issues and advocacy support.
Unfortunately one of our Councillors have a poor and documented track history in behaviour conduct. Hopefully this reform will make some difference in holding our Councillors to account, even through behavioral expectations.
(Sent Out 3 May 2013 ):
“Recently, I received several phone calls of complaints regarding a breach of the code of conduct when one Councillor defame / insult another at a personal level during discussions about university cuts. In past years, your behaviours were often out of line with the code of conduct compliance. However, over the last 2-3 months, behaviours have improved significantly and appropriate behaviours were sustaining until Tuesday during the last Council Meeting.
MRI is cautioning everyone that the Monash community will not tolerate further bullying and rude behaviours during future public meetings, communications and engagements. We also expect future meeting chairing prevent such incidents from reoccurring.
Council is not the place for Parliamentary like debates and bipartisan political issues and conflict interplays – under the Local Government Act, you are here to ensure service delivery and quality management matters for the community while fostering peace, order and good government of Monash.
This sort of bullying behaviour not only reflects but also tarnishes the organisation culture and brand image of Monash Council. As community members, we do not and will not sanction bullying attitudes, especially among our Councillors.
The CEO is trying hard to establish a high quality customer service culture and outcomes for the Council, and such negative public behaviours will only erode and curtail the good work of Council officers and any progress of this good quality improvement program. Furthermore the incident has also degraded good governance practice in Council.
We will continue to monitor Councillors’ behaviours and if behavioural improvements do not continue, we will not hesitate to use the necessary state policy actions and complaint systems to stop future continuing bullying offenders.
Monash Ratepayers Incorporation.”
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