Posts Tagged Governance Issues
MONASH COUNCIL: GOVERNANCE IN CRISIS
by Monash Ratepayers
Recently Monash Mayor Lake stirred up attention about conduct management issues during public meetings, of course blaming others and not himself. As the interest is about conduct, it is time that MRI evaluates the governance performance of Mayor Lake. This evaluation examines two areas:
- The hypocrisy, conflict of interest and governance issues in the Mayor’s per project – Alliance for Gambling Reform, which he discretionary gave away $25K to this MAV lead project with no accountability of outcome indicators and knowing that the project duplicates the State’s wee developed and active gambling program. Simply put he cost-shifted our money to a MAV project.
- The Mayor’s issues of hypocrisy, conflict of interest and lacking governance performance.
(1) Monash Gambling Program Management Performance:
City of Monash Public Health Approach to Gambling Policy Statement 2016 – 2020
has been produced under the banner “ Access & Equity Framework 2015-2020”
- So how can Monash exclude certain groups from receiving funding if Council adheres to its own criteria of Access and Equity?
- Contradictions and Discrimination within City of Monash Public Health Approach to Gambling Policy Statement 2016-2020 refer to Agenda Item 2.2. Attachment 1. 31 May 2016 Council Meeting
“1.12 Council will request that all venue operators make a financial contribution to services and agencies that address the impacts of gambling in the Monash community, for example Gambler’s Help, community health or neighbourhood houses services (Page 17)
“2.7 Council will maintain independence from the gambling industry. Council will not accept financial contributions from gambling venues and will not promote community grants or initiatives offered by local poker machine venues (Page 18)
“4.3 Council staff will not run Council and community events, activities, programs and social outings in venues that have EGMs
“4.4 Through the Monash Community Grants Program, Council will not fund community groups who meet in venues that have EGMs
“4.5 Council will not provide community grants, funding, sponsorship, Council facilities, publicity or promotion for community groups/organisations that promote gambling. All relevant Council guidelines will align with this policy position
“4.6 Council will not support community groups participating in gambling activity and will seek to increase the awareness of community groups to the harms of gambling through information provision and referral to non-gambling community activities and services”
Unintended consequence? Many groups are involved in Community Raffles or conduct their own raffles, and these are deemed a form of gambling!
- Passed (without due diligence) by Monash Council on Tuesday 31 May 2016, the 2016-2020 Gambling Policy Statement does not allow Monash Council to accept money derived from gambling activities. *It is noted that Cr Davies and Cr Zographos did not support the policy.
- Treasury and Finance distributes Community Support Fund money to Councils that has been received from revenue generated from Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) in hotels
- Therefore Monash Council can neither accept nor distribute Community Support Fund (CSF) money previously received from Treasury and Finance as Monash would be ignoring its own policy.
- Therefore the amounts of at least $118,000 [and $25,000?] marked as income from State Government Grants Community Programs in the Council Budget for 2015-16 cannot be received into Council’s coffers. Nor can any other monies from similar grants be received where the money has come via gambling.
- Therefore it is pointless for Council to threaten groups with not providing grants to groups meeting in venues with EGMs as Council will not be funding any groups via this revenue source anyway.
- In addition – there is a no proven correlation between the “problem (pokies) gambler” and community group membership, where group meets in a venue that has EGMs.
(2) LEADERSHIP & GOVERNANCE ISSUES
MAYOR LAKE’S HIDDEN AGENDA
The aim of the proposed exclusion (from funding) of Community Groups currently using rooms in Pokies Venues (most often offered to them free of charge) it seems is to bribe community groups into using Council Facilities at Community Rates; (see pages 98 onwards for rates per hour in Budget 2015-16)……and to ensure a pool of needy groups willing to utilise Cr Geoff Lake’s dream 6000 sq m Library-hub proposed for the Central Car Park Site.
Not obvious to many is that the development of the proposed 5 storey Library Hub means selling this prime land of 7114 sq m in Glen Waverley and therefore removes the entire Central Car Park. It’s sale will allow adjacent high rise towers of 10, 15 (or higher) storeys between Coleman Parade and Railway Parade North; between Kingsway and Springvale Road. (It should be noted that multiple community consultations confirmed that residents wanted this land left as open space and car parking, underground. There was no business case for such a library – especially on this site)
Lake’s preference to support endless construction in the Glen Waverley Activity Centre and to service developers whilst denying community’s wishes, is concerning. Especially as he has revealed he has accepted at least one overseas trip (to Japan and China) funded by property developer/ financier Blackrock Real Estate Asia Fund II and Blackrock Real Estate Europe Fund II (also a substantial investment choice, at approx. $80 million, of Vision Super*). (*see Link 2. below)
MAYOR GEOFF LAKE’S CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND HYPOCRISY
LINK 1. Cr Geoff Lake is a Director on the Board of Muncipal Association of Victoria [MAV] . He is on the MAV Board while he remains as a Councillor at Monash Council
Via the 26 April 2016 Council Meeting Cr Geoff Lake proposed and coerced Monash Council to commit $25,000 to support his own self-serving “creation”, The Alliance for Gambling Reform , (AFGR) even though, concurrent with the Alliance’s inception, on 30/6/2015 Council Meeting Item 7.3, Cr Lake is recorded as stating it would not have a financial impact on Monash Council if Council supported a Memorandum of Understanding with AFGR.
Not surprisingly, Cr Lake is the self-appointed Chair of the Alliance for Gambling Reform. The website www.pokiesplayyou.org.au clearly shows that its platform is specifically focused against gambling via electronic gaming machines at pokies venues despite this being only one of many forms of legal gambling.
The Alliance’s donations page https://gx.nationbuilder.com/donate confirms:
“The Alliance for Gambling Reform is proudly independent. We do not, and will not accept money from any organisation or individual with a financial interest in any part of the gambling industry.”
“We are 100% funded by donations from individuals and foundations that do not have any ties with the gambling industry We are not affiliated with any political party.”
No budget is apparent for why AFGR is entitled to this $25,000 and due to the criteria above, it is understood that Monash Ratepayers’ money (not CSF money) will be diverted to this organisation purely to secure Cr Lake’s relevance as a Director of the MAV. In short, Cr Lake siphons money “out” of Monash Council to the MAV (now in control of AFGR) in order to replicate services offered and delivered already via the State Government’s Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.
*$25,000 is a considerable sum to hand over to an external organisation not based in Monash. In comparison,very small amounts are provided to worthy Monash Community Groups and only after time-consuming grant applications have been submitted. *It is considered this is an inappropriate donation especially in the light of Neighbourhood Watch for Monash residents has had its funding cut; Waverley War Widows will not be provided grant if they meet in RSL! Is this ignorance or irony – when Sir John Monash, the Council’s namesake, was a revered returned serviceman?
Providing this money to AFGR contradicts Monash’s own guidelines:-
“(Monash) Council does not fund projects that duplicate existing public or private programs”.
So how can Council substantiate funding The Alliance for Gambling Reform?
MAYOR GEOFF LAKE’S CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND HYPOCRISY
LINK 2. Cr Lake is a Director of Vision Super Pty Ltd due to his nomination to that Board by the MAV. He is also the Chair of the Investment Committee of Vision Super . He is a Director of Pooled Super Pty Ltd. NOTE Vision Super is the default superannuation fund of Council Employees including Monash employees.
Cr Lake boasts, as representative of Vision Super from June 2009 – Present (7 years), that he is responsible for “developing new investment beliefs, drafting new investment policies”, and “as a director of the fund I am jointly responsible as part of the board for shaping strategy, overseeing investments, governance, performance, compliance, risk management and stakeholder relationships.”
As Chair of the Vision Super Investment Committee he supports Aristocrat Leisure Limited as one of their top 20 stockholdings. Aristocrat Leisure Limited is one of the world’s leading providers of gaming solutions and one of the largest manufacturers of poker machines in the world.. licensed in 240 gaming jurisdictions in 90 countries.
*DIRECT HYPOCRISY with regard to his role as Chair of Alliance for Gambling Reform – via Vision Super Cr Lake invests millions of dollars in shares in Aristocrat, the producer of EGM’s and yet campaigns against them? Go figure?
MAYOR GEOFF LAKE’S CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND HYPOCRISY
LINK 3. , Cr Lake is member of the Administrative Committee of the Australian Labor Party [ALP]
ALP receives donations from Unions – for example, those involved in construction of all these towers! and from gambling revenue derived from (ALP owned) Labor Clubs. Pokies owned and operated by the CFMEU or the ACT ALP through their licensed gambling clubs.The ALP State Conference 2016 will be held at the Moonee Valley Racecourse –oops Cr Lake – a gambling venue!
MAYOR GEOFF LAKE’S HYPOCRISY
From various other benefactors Cr Lake has accepted free entry to the Men’s Semi Final and Final Australian Open 2015, AFL Grand Final 2015, Cricket, Oaks Day Flemington , i.e each Sportsbet / TAB giants. Is this elitist snobbery? Practice what you preach Geoff. Lead by example not by threats.
MAYOR GEOFF LAKE’S HYPOCRISY and NON COMPLIANCE
Mayor Geoff Lake should adhere to Monash Council’s Access and Equity policy– his latest orders imposed on Councillors and Public on 31 May 2016, contravene basic human rights. Threatening members of the public voicing disapproval with Removal; being Charged with an Offence and Fines of 2 Penalty Units (i.e. $300) shows his frustration at not making it through to being a Barrister or Magistrate! These are conditions imposed by Magistrates for breaches of Court Orders.
His manic controlling behaviour, emulating dictatorship, was highlighted on 31 May 2016 as he continued to humiliate Councillors whilst treating them like his children as he forced them to sign his ridiculous onerous codes of conduct (whilst excluding himself from these actions). His despotic “Hands on Head” requirement of Councillors, instead of allowing hand raising, was amplified by his refusal to demonstrate the action when asked to do so by attending journalist ….because HE FOUND IT TOO DEMORALISING. Is it unreasonable to expect that he’ll be forcing Councillors to kiss his feet next?
“Principle 1: Human Rights
Human rights are the universal rights of all people to be treated with respect, equality and dignity. The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006 (The Charter) protects and promotes human rights by recognising that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Monash Council observes the rights incorporated in the Charter when making decisions, creating local laws, developing policies and strategies and providing services.”
MORE CONTROLLING BEHAVIOUR:
- Espousing transparency yet REFUSAL to Video Council Meetings as these would incriminate himself.
- INSTIGATION of AUDIO taping of Council Meetings for his (GL’S) ears only – not the other Councillors. Destruction of the tape prior to the next council meeting! The Point?
BACKGROUND – COUNCILLORS CODE OF CONDUCT PASSED SEPT 2013
- Act honestly
- Not mislead
- Exercise reasonable care, and diligence
- Accept scrutiny
- Ensure resources are used prudently; solely in the public interest
Cr Geoff Lake failed on ALL counts.
CR GEOFF LAKE ‘S MULTIPLE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST; NON COMPLIANCE AND HYPOCRISY CANNOT BE IGNORED. HE DOES NOT REPRESENT THE COMMUNITY. DEMONSTRABLE SELF-INTEREST DEEMS HIM UNFIT TO REMAIN AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF MONASH.
Prepared by Lynnette Saloumi, President Monash Ratepayers Chapter of Eastern Ratepayers Inc Lynnette.firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
In 2012, when Cr Lake thought the world is at his feet, he wasn’t joking about his narcissism. He seriously continues to think the Monash community should share his same dream and have a new library in his ward, Glen Waverley, since he got re-elected in 2012.
Narcissists seldom listen to others. That is exactly how the Monash Community, especially Glen Waverley residents, feel about their local Councillor who doesn’t want to know his constituents do NOT WANT a new indoor library in Glen Waverley. Furthermore, nobody quite understand Cr Lake’s dreamworld of what the state of a library is? It is only in the Expression of Interest (EoI) to sell the central car park (section 3.2.2 pages 3-6) that describes his dream – that the new library functions as a modern community hub space that promotes community learning for the young and old, fosters multi-cultural activities, even serves as an ICT innovation incubation centre that incorporates “technologies that have not yet been developed” (whatever that means) and provides auditorium/conference facilities that cater for 600 people. Realistically and with a logical mind, one would say that even NASA personnel would never claim their facilities would incorporate “technologies that have not yet been developed” into their infrastructure. Competing with Monash University’s real state of the art incubation and startup facilities and expertise appears to be a very ambitious given in this EoI description of the new library / community hub development.
The development specs, even in its conceptual form, is the (most embarrassing) professional standard of how Cr Lake’s dream translate to a procurement criteria for potential investors buying the central car park and developing his dream library. Also fancy imagining Silicon Valley calibre innovators and high flying investors mingling with young kids and the elderly in hallways and sharing the learning/work spaces. Is this an “innovative” Monash perculiar architecture model of mixed human activity and architecture form interfaces?
What Monash want is a virtual library service, and yet their understanding and capacity to implement such forms of library virtualism is very much constrained by their collective level of ICT literacy, and being technology savvy is unfortunately about being mediocre users of today’s technology who have no idea of technology research advancement and innovation development. Conceiving that 3D printers constitute part of future library services without understanding their demand of technical CAD/CAM knowledge and support, and high total cost of ownership is also poor governance in council’s decision making and new service development – cost shifting cannot be the blame for future cost inflation and rate rises because of today’s leadership incompetency. Not long ago, Cr Klisaris thought a social media provider is a language communication specialist who can help improve council’s English language capacity to communicate its city planning proposals to the community (Herald Sun, 17 Nov 2015).
Narcissism is becoming the new black in Monash Council leadership and decision making culture, because of the GWAC plan to redevelop the central car park. 2016 is the time such narcissists should ride into the sunset and disappear forever, banished into exile, if needed.
The Age reported (10 July 2013):
“Privacy advocates have slammed Wyndham council for spying on residents’ mobile phone data and email records almost 50 times in the past three years, ”not to hunt down terrorists but to catch litterbugs and owners of unregistered pets ………………….”