Wednesday 6 February 2008

What goes around

What's Black and white and red [read] all over?

It was an old joke my dad used to tell.

Well this newspaper clipping (below) from the Cairns Sun in June 2001 is rather interested. Two things.

Firstly, it's written by the then journalist with the Cairns Sun and Cairns Post, Robyn Holmes. She's now Council's full time PR and Media spin doctor. She writes letters submitted to the Cairns Post for Councillor Freebody, among others.

We should call her Dr Holmes I guess, as she helps fix people up.

In her article, Robyn even reports that the then Council is "limp-wristed" - a term usually set aside for those of the flappy, weak variety. And it was her now boss she was taking aim at.

In a telephone conversation with Robyn some months ago, representing a number of health-services along the Esplanade, I was angry that Council never communicated with a variety of health-related businesses in the Hospital precinct. Holmes was upset that I had not talked to her [or the Council] before going to the newspaper.

Council installed a regulated parking system across the road from the hospital last June, the furthest from the CBD. There were acknowledged problems with the parking situation in that many workers were using public parking, making it often unavailable for short-term visitors to the hospital, sexual health and dental clinic, and the Blood Service.

However, no negotiation occurred to explore alternatives and overnight, the regulated parking system was rolled out to the shock of all hospital visitors. I argued that it was more about revenue collection than finding a solution that would benefit everyone, not just Council's parking revenue budget. It was a crying disgrace.

The new Council should bulldose those meters on the morning of Monday March 17th. I can see the front page photo of Val driving the CEC Tractor.

Free parking access to vital health services should not have been compromised. The last thing you want to think about when visiting the hospital is finding some bloody coins to feed the meter, only to worry about when it will expire while you're visiting a loved-one or waiting yourself in the emergency department.

Retiring Councillor Margaret Gill, who looks after this patch, was invisible on the issue, and the Mayor was sent in to defend Council's steamrolling action on his weekly McKenzie radio show.

Interestingly, McKenzie interviewed me for his 4 minute Channel 7 "This is John McKenzie" stint at the end of the local TV news. This was prior to speaking with his strange bedfellow, Kevin. It was a postive and supportive piece and John rasied the debate on this issue, albeit after the parking meters were concreted into place. Off camera, he was stunned the Council acted in this was. Off camera, we're all a bit different.

So Robyn Holmes, as the PR Council spin chief, telephoned me following some press I fired off questioning Council's action without consultation.

"Michael, why didn't you call me first before going to the newspaper? We could have worked something out," she told me in what sounded like a condescending yet polite tone.

I thought for a few seconds of a reply. "Robyn, why didn't you call me before you put in the parking meters. We could have worked something out!"

It was events like this that spurred me to start blogging last year.

The other thing about this newspaper clipping below, and some things never change, they are still using the good old trusty "threat clause" about the non-approval of development applications.. "or risk costly court action."

Councillor Sno Bonneau, in questioning a 2-story unit development at Trinity Beach in his Northern Beaches division, which he has held since 2000, said "this Council is proudly pro-development and it's a matter of growth at any cost in some circumstances," he said back in 2001.

Sno went on to say that the town plan was being ignored and that as a Council they were weak and the previous [Tom Pyne] administration, were more honourable to the town plan.

What happened to Sno's standing up against this trashy development on the beaches from his position 7 years ago?

Terry James is also quoted in this article saying that the town plan is a "living breathing document that changes every 7-10 years."

Another long time Byne ally and Council bureaucrat, Council planner Peter Tabulo said from a purely planning perspective, "if you're going to have unit development, you can't go past this [Trinity Beach] site. It would be difficult to argue against the proposal in court."

Some Council's never change. But we all have a choice in a month's time.

This March not only will the majority of old school team get the boot, their foot soldiers behind the scenes must as well.

Enjoy this blast from the recent past....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Fourth Estate is good when it comes home to haunt people in the second life.. Great tale!