Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

4 Candidates, 8 Questions, only 2 Replied. You decide.

November 12, 2014

Due to the untimely death of Councillor Emanuel Tsardoulias, this Saturday 15th all West Ward residents are required to vote in a by-election to elect a new candidate to the vacated Council seat.  Although Arlington Recreation Reserve has now been artificially turfed and the issue now largely a historical one, the “experience” left several lingering questions in the minds of both organisers & local residents alike, including the 1500+ people who signed our petition in 2012-2013, and the several dozen who gave written submissions in response to Council’s report on options for Arlington.

In short, the events that transpired during our efforts left significant questions about governance, the rational selection of a site suitable for conversion vs the “emotions” of the home teams involved, Council finance policy in the obvious face of project budget uncertainty, community consultation, and what priority, if any, is given to the environmental considerations in any project presented to Council.
The Candidates:
So we came up with a few questions and sent them to all 4 candidates running for this seat.  Those candidates are:
Daniel Barbar (Labor)
Jim Salem (Australia First Party)
George Andrade (Liberal)
Justine Langford (Greens)
(this is the order selected by the Aust. Electoral Commission, as they will be on your printed voting slips on Saturday)

Only 2 of those candidates have responded – Justine Langford (Greens) and Daniel Barbar (Labor) – and their replies will be posted in the next couple of posts to this blog.  We urge you to read them carefully, as we think they provide a decent insight into the mindset of these 2 candidates.

In short, one candidate answered the questions as we presented them, and one did not.  We will leave you to evaluate for yourself the reasoning given by the candidate who did not, and whether there was a reasonable expectation that they could have engaged in the non-issue-specific nature of most of the questions as we posed them.

As for George Andrade (Liberal), we have gone to significant lengths to obtain contact details for him, but he has not made himself contactable, nor replied to two emails (one containing the questions) we believe would have been received by him.  It is unfortunate that Mr Andrade, despite what is likely to be a strong allegiance to the soccer fraternity, decided not to address the broader issues that go far beyond the ‘seed’ Arlington issue. (And in case you’re wondering, Question 8 came about due to the behaviour of Councillor Rosana Tyler (also Liberal).)

And Jim Saleam (Australia First Party), well, we’ll leave you to google him yourself.  Mr Saleam also chose not to reply to any of our questions.

Here’s the 8 questions sent to all 4 candidates.  In following posts will be their replies.

1- Council’s proposal to artificially turf Arlington Reserve, as voted, placed the project cost estimate at $950k.  The Save Arlington Reserve group vociferously drew Council’s attention to a wide range of cost items that hadn’t been itemised, or even mentioned, that risked the project’s budget “blowing out” during its construction period.  Council proceeded regardless (but as always on this issue in 2012-2013, only by virtue of the Mayor’s casting vote resolving an otherwise evenly split Council).  Unfortunately this is indeed what happened – $2.3M, and counting.  Do you think this is an acceptable manner for Council to make decisions on expensive infrastructure projects?
2- What is your prioritisation of the needs of sporting clubs (whose members may or may not be local LGA residents), and the needs of local residents, when it comes to (re)development?  Or when it comes to cost of access/use?  What of local schools, some of them desperately needing green space for a variety of activities, but being unable to afford it?
3- In areas that are already “medium density” or higher, where nearby parks are already serving a higher density of population than other less dense areas, &/or in areas not well served by associated infrastructure (like parking & easy traffic flow) do you think it’s appropriate to approve (re)development projects that place even further pressure on these resources, or indeed effectively remove access to them by the broader community, in preference to higher paying consumers?
4- In Marrickville Council’s report to Council in early 2013, it itemised 16 criteria for environmental impact consideration of the Arlington proposal.  The artificial turf option had worse environmental impact in 14 of those 16 criterial (compared to retaining natural turf), and yet Council voted to proceed with the artificial turfing proposal with absolutely no response or plan to address these impacts.  How highly do you priorities the environmental impact of Council’s decisions & activities?
5- Do you think it is appropriate for a group of Councillors consisting of more than one party affiliation to vote together in order to block the motions of a third Party, even when the motion may indeed be within the stated party policies of one or the other blocking party?  Do you think this constitutes anti-democratic behaviour?
6- Do you think all candidates for public office in Marrickville Council should make themselves available to their potential constituents via published phone &/or email contact details &/or a social media presence that foresters public communication with the community, or do you think it’s reasonable that constituents make their determination based solely on the candidate’s party or political affiliation?
7- Once elected, do you think it is reasonable for constituents to be able to access their elected representatives via social media, such as Facebook?
8- When a community member wishes to engage with an elected Councillor on any given topic, even privately, do you think it’s reasonable for that Councillor to ask who that community member voted for, and then decline contact/communication because the community member did not vote for that Councillor?

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