Archive for category Transparency
Cr Lake’s past to present bullying behaviour is not the only concern for the Monash Community.
He sits on many superannuation boards and a private equity and property funds company. While he is a director of Vision Super (the fund management entity that manage the Defined Superannuation funds for council employees), he also own shares.
It is common knowledge that many superannuation funds are the key players in property investments – they fund property developers. Cr Lake leads the Glen Waverley Activity Centre subcommittee, and a key influencer in directing the massive redevelopment of Glen Waverley and the sale of the Glen Waverley central car park. Obviously he did not consider any conflict of interest between his personal and council work to date, because he did not declare any potential conflict of interest, even indirect ones.
Alarm bells were ringing last year when the Mayne report (July, 2015) highlighted that Lake failed to disclose that he is pocketing $70,000 a year from his Vision Super board seat as one of two representatives of the Municipal Association of Victoria. The report said “He wouldn’t be getting this much as deputy chair without the voting support of the four ASU directors and broader support from Labor councillors in Victoria. At City of Melbourne, we have a policy that councillors appointed to board seats return any fees paid to council. This is just one of many governance issues at the MAV which Lake, as a former President and the longest serving director, needs to sort out following this damning report by the Victorian Auditor General earlier this year.”
The 26 April 2016 Waverley Leader recently reported that he is regular recipient of gifts, which the Monash community hears for the first time, including his connections with Asian targeted property investment funds, which fund property developers.
The redevelopment saga of Glen Waverley’s central car park has attracted another community option for best value consideration by Monash Council. This new community option, called People’s Park, was developed as a result of consulting local residents, traders, local school parents and other Monash ratepayers and residents and conducting due diligent business case research. The proposal is a substantiated and viable alternative for redeveloping the central car park, in addition to Cr Lake’s option.
This People’s Park option proposes partnership with Apple to build an underground technology retail and multimedia library center with two additional levels of underground car parks.
It recommends more and viable funding choices than Cr Lake’s option, which only pursues to sell the car park to fund a new library and a small public space, and allow high density developments that will threaten the feng shui of Glen Waverley and increase local population without providing local and green open space in close proximity. The sale of the central car park will also mean the loss of GW’s most prized land that can potentially provide the local community and shoppers scarce green open space amenities and services.
March’s meeting documentation has revealed continuing preference for Cr Lake’s option to progress into Request for Tender. Quality due diligent information to substantiate Cr Lake’s option against the John Monash Multicultural Square (JMMS) proposal (put in by another community group) was lacking, as there was the absence of evidence based business case information and a best value evaluation framework, resulting in the GW subcommittee (lead by Cr Lake) and council staff making subjective recommendations to reject the JMMS proposition. In the three public community consultation sessions (attended by more than 150 people) that Council has organized to discuss the fate of the central car park, MRI representatives who attended all 4 meetings, including the JMMS one, had witnessed over 95% of participants did not want the new library and high rise developments and prefer the central car park remain an open space. This strong non support for Cr lake’s library was never documented clearly in council’s public records. However, the March meeting documentation continues to misrepresent the strong Monash community’s non support for Cr Lake’s option during the community consultations and instead presented information that says otherwise.
Like the selling of Monash and Elizabeth Gardens aged care facilities in 2013 and the deliberate and the long standing deficit financial management of the Euvena carpark, Cr Lake is once again leading and strengthening group-think decision making towards selling the central car park to fund and build a state of the art new library in the Glen Waverley central car park, a personal obsession that he willed on his constituents since the 2012 election, despite the community’s strong non support for his obsession.
Party politics stricken Councillors representing their own interests first is the growing new black in Monash, a proven fact also recently supported by the Waverley Leader, reporting the lateness and poor governance of council meeting in March and their growing failure to represent the community’s views.
Ratepayers and residents concerned about Council’s one direction for redeveloping the Glen Waverley central car park should have their say at a Community Consultation session at Monash Council Glen Waverley on Thursday 28 Jan 7pm. A residents’ investigation aka citizen jury report explains why:
Non-residents and political career hopefuls Councillors Klisaris and Lake are once again imposing another monumental and potentially costly mistake in the form of a library and community hub adjacent to yet another inappropriate high rise on the Central Car Park site, in order to justify their disastrous Euneva Car Park. Lacking in business acumen, they did not get it right with the financial management of operating Euneva Car Park, such as ignoring opportunities for it to attract fees for all day parking. With such poor decisions, should the Monash community trust them with another spending spree?
If the proposed library and community hub usage reflects that of Euneva car-park, it will be under utilised from day one.
Glen Waverley property sales turned over $885 Million in the 12 months to Nov 2015, second (in Australia) only to Mosman in Sydney. Like comparing apples and bananas, does our Council seriously think that the Monash demographic, residing in its 81 sq km, requires ratepayers to upgrade its sixth community funded regional library to mirror the size and criteria of Geelong’s new regional library? Geelong has a lower SEIFA index, higher unemployment and was the recipient of $25 million in state and federal funding for their Regional Library and Heritage (Archive) Centre servicing an area of 1249 sq km. Furthermore, the Geelong library is located on the site of the original 750sq m Geelong library, with views of Corio Bay is adjacent to the large Johnstone Park, and therefore its location does not interfere with commercial precincts. In contrast, Glen Waverley residents and its schools are well equipped to provide technology to those who need it but there will be a lack of open space and social connectedness if all land is swallowed by developers. Open all hours and to everyone, free public open space allows equal access and does not discriminate.
Lifeline received over million calls for help in 2015. “Lifeline Australia CEO Pete Shmigel CEO has said Australians’ emotional well being was not in sync with their material wealth. They have three digital devices and sometimes that technology, as great as it is, can also enhance our feelings of loneliness, our feelings of isolation.” ( Ref: 13 Jan 2016 ABC reporter Eliza Laschon).
For the mental and physical health of all in the community and to facilitate ongoing economic activity in the southern end of Kingsway – it’s imperative we retain the whole of the Central Car Park site a public open space, with free WiFi above ground and an underground car park below, as it will be Glen Waverley’s most valuable asset for all to enjoy for decades to come.
EU (you) NEVA (never) want to park here
In attempts to woo motorists to this unpopular 3 ½ year old parking option, Council decided to spend $57,000 on lighting this eyesore, and on the days leading up to Christmas, the Euneva Ave Car Park was advertised on two electronic Traffic Management Signs on either side of Kingsway. However, despite these measures, at 11.20am pre-Christmas on 22 December 2015 Euneva housed 113 cars i.e.35% full and at 2.40pm on Friday 8 January 2016 only 65 cars i.e. 20% parked there. In contrast the popular Central Car Park was full on both occasions.
Therefore, many Monash constituents are increasingly viewing that their self-absorbed councillors are playing ‘Monopoly’ with ratepayers money as if it were their own, to build the new library on the Central Car Park site, in order to force cars of clientele of Kingsway and surrounds, into the inconveniently located Euneva Car Park. Euneva now, and always should have been, available for all day ‘destination’ parking, but it is being reserved for limited parking to satisfy the development of Cr lake’s dream library he imposed on his constituents as his self decided election goal.
In July 2015 the Council approved a $500 million redevelopment of The Glen, and in turn ignored future height controls for buildings along Sneddon Avenue. The ‘new’ Glen will include 3,800 car spaces. Shopping centres very often allow unrestricted parking in order to encourage consumers to increase their time within the centres to maximise spending. Once captured, few will venture outside i.e. to the old Kingsway strip, especially as dining and entertainment has been muted as one of the ‘new’ Glen’s focus.
In recent years Kingsway has diversified from traditional retail to that of food and entertainment strip with late night trading embraced by locals and visitors. To continue to have one hour car parking in front of restaurants and cinemas reflects the disconnect between the council officers who are in control [yet themselves get free parking], and their ignorance of real life consequences as it discriminates against Kingsway traders and their customers. The new one hour electronically monitored constraint does not allow drivers to park one minute late the moment their cars get scanned electronically. This increase car parking penalty fines, as an indirect strategy of new fund raising used by many councils, because of capped rates legislation commencing next financial year.
In Sept 2015 parking overstay devices (PODS) were installed in Monash, including in Kingsway, rear of the existing Library and Council Offices, and the Central Car Park to enforce disproportionate penalties on patrons parking overtime in the immediate vicinity of Kingsway’s food and entertainment precinct. The signage associated with these PODS is fastened with flimsy cable ties, not explanatory of the fines that could be incurred and are often at *right angles to the parking signs and not noticed by motorists. Overstay fines jump from $76 to around $100 if left unpaid. Park and display ticketing options would have been fairer and more acceptable.
While Cr Lake has consistently insist that Monash Council will not charge car parking, he also contradicts the GWAC Transport Plan that confirms that the council is considering a car parking fee scheme. The GWAC structural plan also stated the city planning goal is to make GW a primary pedestrian realm and the transport plan indicates that council will cost shift car parking problem management to the state to find alternatives in other public areas.
Euneva Ave car park was built using subscription money provided by Glen Waverley traders when they purchase their business licences. Reality sucks because customers of these subscribing businesses don’t park there because it’s in the wrong place for them. The lead decision makers, Cr Lake and Klisaris, just can’t accept this reality, for reasons we don’t know or they are really lousy part-time car-park planning consultants.
In June 2013, the local papers reported that Monash Council is looking to traders and council staff to fill hundreds of vacant spaces at the $17.3 million white elephant Euneva car park, while shoppers and commuters battle for parking spaces in Kingsway and Bogong Ave (Waverley Leader, 6 June 2013)
In Aug 2014, the Euvena car park was less than 30% capacity and the Council decided to increase two levels of 176 car-parks to increase parking to five hours, while the parking limit for the remaining 177 spaces continued to be 3 hours. Cr Lake advocate against renting out of car parking spaces while acknowledging feedback from a community satisfaction survey revealed a need for more flexible parking in Glen Waverley (Waverley Leader, 13 Aug 2014)
Even more curious is that the recent 15 storey tower for Village Walk was granted an exemption from the required number of visitor spaces because, in part at least, there was spare capacity in the “nearby Euneva Avenue multi-storey car park”. Hmm, wonder what is the covet decision criterion?
In Feb 2015, Julia Rabar from Waverley leader reported the decisions made by Council to increase car parking hours in 2014 continues to fail attracting patrons. Patronage has declined further. The news article claimed “Cr Klisaris has also rejected a suggestion from the Glen Waverley Traders Association to scrap parking restrictions for the time being, saying the council was legally required to ensure customers had access to short-term parking…. Cr Klisaris said he would not bring forward a review scheduled for September.”
The Mayor said “We’re continuing to monitor usage and looking for ways to improve it, such as installing new signage,” and indicated that “two illuminated signs with a blue “P” would be installed to advertise the car park, with the cost to ratepayers yet to be determined.”
Glen Waverley Traders Association president Christo Christophidis supported current parking restrictions should be scrapped in the short term even if it meant commuters parking there (Waverley Leader, 19 Feb 2015)
No wonder car parking is in such a disarray, as it is last two years Cr Lake and Klisaris are directing Council officer experts how car-parks should be utilised. Why is this the case. It all links to the intending sale of central car-park that is anticipated just before or after the 2016 council election.
Is political self interest at play again in this Laklisaris city of ours?
Look at the facts:
On 23 January (during school holiday season), the car park was just 27.5% used
- In May 2014, it was 29% being used and in December 2013, capacity was 28%.
Why are Councillors refusing to maximise returns from assets utilisation?
Do they not know they are breaching best value principles in their 2013, 2014 and perhaps 2015 decision making over Glen Waverley car-parking affairs and therefore not making decisions in the best interest of the community?
The 2014 performance result of Council is just released – click here for details. Under bad leaders, the Council has gone backwards in its performance during the last 3 years, especially 2014. In any year, the leadership of Councillors, especially the Mayor, is the primary cause of Council’s poor performance. As part of a bad leadership culture, it is easier to blame it on others, which still goes on – see Council official response to explaining the bad results:
The aged care matter only highlighted what are already growing governance issues in Council’s decision making. If not for the high impact protests, people think that the outcome would be worst – the community pressure at least made Councillors choose a buyer that is non for profit and not for the highest bidder, as originally would have happened as money was the reason for selling. The experience for the first Clarinda aged care facility sold did not have a good outcome for the aged residents, because the community were unaware and did not respond to the sale decision. Councillors thought selling the Monash & Elizabeth aged care facilities would be a piece of cake, but the consequences turned otherwise. The community did not disfavor the decision to sell, provided there was a business case and if community participation in decision making was fostered.
No instead, the Mayor and Councillors refused to disclose the business case (because they have not considered all other options and hence there is no business case); closed too many decision point meetings that raises too many transparency issues and their community engagement behaviours and actions were not sincere and were terse. Simply put, the aged care matter only magnified the real causes of Council’s performance issues – ie lack of good governance values in Council’s leadership behaviors, community engagement and decision making – the evidence revealed in the community’s report – Poor Governance by Monash Council 16 Jan 2014. Poor leadership is another main cause. The aged care incident only manifested the symptoms that reveal about our city leadership quality and how Councillors govern decision making that continues to fail to including community participation; disclosing best value business case, fostering transparent decision discussions; showing unbiased decision making, etc.
Disengaging Council: The Evidence
All Councillors, under the leadership of the prevailing Mayor, are primarily responsible for performance in community consultation and advocacy as they are the front end people who make or break these service levels. However Council staff are more influential in affecting customer service and overall council direction as its their operational and management competencies that sets the service levels in these areas – good compliment to staff. Unfortunately, staff are often collateral damage as a result of Councillors’ leadership and/or organisational incompetence.
Worst Service Performers:
Finally, the truth is out , that Monash Council’s decision making sucks – it commonly known, although Councillors refuse to believe, that their decision making culture fosters biased decision making, often incited by party politics and group-think premeditated directions, lacks best value qualification, transparency and implementation achievement accountability. Keep closing Council meetings and this performance will worsen their performance further and we shall see how many more closed meetings will be advocated by the Mayor this year.
An excellent editorial piece by the Herald Sun:
The heat is growing on Councils to watch their appetites for escalating rate increases beyond CPI each year.
- Councils sting Victorians $2 billion in rate rises above rate of inflation over 10 years, by: John Masanauskas, Christopher Gillet from Herald Sun, March 18, 2014 5:31PM
- Councils are giving into relentless community demands too often by John Masanauskas from Herald Sun, March 18, 2014 12:00AM
What we experienced in Monash Council via the recent sell-off of Council’s aged care facilities (and later on in the coming budget planning cycle), is not unique to Monash.
Beechworth ratepayers are facing a similar situation with their Indigo Shire Council, who is deciding to approve funding for a project for building the Council double headquarters in two sites. Beechworth ratepayers want to know the expenditure amount and the underlying budget details of expenditure breakdown. They started asking questions in December last year, and their Council is building a transparency barrier to elude or delay answers to the public questions asked:
The transparency barrier is artfully disguised as a procedural compliance to LG Act in deciding to fund the project (see below).
It is a Yes Minister approach to constraining community engagement to block access to information underpinning a Council’s decision making matter. Ratepayers can change this game by using:
- The new Local Government Performance Reporting Framework (LGPRF) to produce a Report Card that evaluates the governance performance of this decision making matter;
- The Good Governance Guide to evaluate which of its 7 governance principles have been breached, which would then lead to the identification of underlying Local Government Act violations. An example of this Governance Evaluation report is like the one developed by the Monash community.
Ratepayers/residents can present the Report Card and Governance Evaluation report to their Council for an explanation of poor governance and if and when needed, activate escalation to higher authorities to report the community’s evidence based dissatisfaction of their Council’s lacking governance performance. This capability empowers a local community to increasing pressure for change in Council to come clean with transparency of their decision making and seriously taking accountability for their behaviors, decisions and actions.
Over the last 12++ months, Monash Ratepayers Inc (MRI), collaborating with several ratepayer groups in the southern east region, had built and reported to the Local Government authorities and the Victorian Auditor General Office, many case studies of transparency, conduct and other poor governance issues in their Councils. This conciliation of concerned ratepayers group was also involved in contributing to the development of future Councils’ Key Performance Indicators (KPI) from ratepayers’ perspectives. The unprecedented community governance feedback has certainly influenced the development of the new Local Government reforms that were passed in State Parliament last week.
Since starting 2012, MRI’s priority 1 is to improve good governance conduct and practices in Monash Council. After eighteen most challenging and often tiring months into this revolutionary “community governance” quest, the hard work is now starting to pay off.
MRI commemorates Minister Jeanette Powell for her resolve to legislate these change making/breaking reforms that are so much needed in many Councils, especially Monash Council.
The community is now ever more resolved to see the next generation of Councillors reinforce the realisation of these reforms sooner than later in Monash. It will be an interesting local government election in 2015/16, especially for presumptuous Councillors who have spent more than 1 term in office. Those running in this year’s state election will also soon realise their past deeds may also haunt them. They will soon realise very quickly that they will have to change their public attitudes, uplift their compliance performance and genuinely collaborate with (not just inform, consult and involve) the Monash community , and bending the laws administration support will no longer be tolerated by the community.
Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell’s new legislated reforms to improve leadership conduct, decision making transparency and accountability, responsible performance and good governance compliance will give every ratepayers the authority to expect and see with clear evidence unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in their Councils. For more details about the reform – click the Feb 10, 2014 Herald Sun’s article to read more.
It is time for MRI to upscale its current capability in community governance to the next capability maturity level. Hence, MRI and other ratepayers groups will continue to lead and expand their already growing strategic network of influence and facilitate the implementation of these reforms in their cities. A major community driven program for consideration will be the development of Internet apps to provide community centered and social media enabled tools that ratepayers and residents can use. These tools will be acquired or developed by ratepayers groups to provide new value add to the “My School” website, including contributing to the building of its open system, cloud service oriented infrastructure platform. The days of cronyism and groupthink influenced, i-centred and lacking governance leadership in Councils are certainly numbered!
It is distributing that some Councils are starting to be its own laws.
What is happening now
Take for example the City of Melbourne. This Council is using Google Street View-style camera monitoring of its property in inner city residential streets.
The Age reported (17 July 2013):
“A Carlton woman claims she saw a council contractor filming backyards, with the camera gazing over fences.
But the council says the $93,000 project – which it hasn’t advertised – is capturing images only of roads, council-owned buildings, street furniture and signs, and not private properties.
The SUV with pole-mounted camera, in Victoria Lane.
Linda Bond said she was in the backyard of her Princes Street house on Friday July 5 when she spotted a camera on a pole peering over her back fence.
Stepping into Victoria Lane behind her house, she saw the pole and camera was attached to a white SUV with Queensland number plates.
Miss Bond said she had received no warning the council was taking footage and regards it as a disturbing invasion of privacy.
She said that when she asked the two men in the vehicle what they were doing they said they were “doing some work for the council” and handed her a letter.
Click here to read more….
What is Privacy?
Extracts from Privacy Victoria
What is privacy?
‘Privacy’ means many different things to people.
It can mean protecting your personal space by not having others observe you when you are at home or in your backyard. It may be expecting not to be subject to video surveillance when you are at work. Central to all ideas of ‘privacy’ is keeping your own actions, conversations, information and movements free from public knowledge and attention.
What privacy means as a general concept is often different to what privacy means under law. Only certain types of information and activities are protected by privacy legislation.
Data protection laws
Most privacy laws are more correctly described as data protection laws, as they are limited to regulating the handling of personal information by organisations.
Knowing Your Rights
You have rights to at least 4 Privacy Laws in Victoria:
- The Information Privacy Act which is a standard for the protection of the privacy of personal information by the Victorian public sector, It has 10 underlying principles governing
- Collection – how your private information is collected
- Use or Disclosure – A Council’s use or disclosure , which includes getting your consent to the intended use or disclosure
- Data Quality – A Council must take reasonable steps to ensure your information collected is accurate, complete and up to date
- Data Security – A Council must take reasonable steps to protect your personal information it holds from misuse and loss and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. On request by any person, your Council must take reasonable steps to let the person know, generally, what sort of personal information it holds, for what purposes, and how it collects, holds, uses and discloses that information.
- Openness – A Council must set out in a document that clearly expressed policies on its management of your personal information, including making the document available to anyone who asks for it.
- Access & Correction – If and when a Council holds personal information about your, it must provide your with access to the information on request by your, except to specific conditions specified in the Information Privacy Act
- Unique Identifiers – Your Council must not assign unique identifiers to individuals unless the assignment of unique identifiers is necessary to enable the organisation to carry out any of its functions efficiently. It cannot adopt as its own unique identifier of the individual that has been assigned by another organisation unless it meets the exception conditions set out in the Information Privacy Act
- Anonymity– Wherever it is lawful and practicable, you must have the option of not identifying yourself when entering transactions with your Council
- Transborder Data Flows – Council may transfer your personal information to someone (other than you or a Council staff) who is outside Victoria only if it meets very specific conditions set out in the Information Privacy Act
- The Health Records Act 2001 (Victoria) that protects your private health information
- The Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth) covers the handling of your personal information (including health information) by Federal government agencies, credit reporting organisations and parts of the private sector (excluding small businesses)
- Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 that all Victorian government organisations (inclusive of all Councils) must act in a way that protects human rights. This includes the right to privacy.
How you can complain breaches of Privacy Laws
When you have detected a breach, lodge an official complaint to your Council with violation specifics of which laws’ sections . When you get an unsatisfactory response from your Council, lodge a complaint to the
If you need help contact your local ratepayers group or MRI to assist.