Friday 2 October 2009

We'll decide who gets your money

A majority of Cairns Regional Council has gone against it's own recommendation, to decide how community grants are decided and dished out.

The Council Grants Policy has been changed in dramatic fashion, to deliberately exclude the community participating in the decision-making process.

Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane moved the motion, seconded by Robert Pyne, to adopt the new grants policy. It supersedes the existing policy that covered:-
- Sport and Recreation Grants,
- Community Development Grants,
- Arts and Cultural Grants,P
- Sport, Recreation, Community, Arts and Cultural In-Kind Assistance,
- Community Organisation Sustainability Grants,
- Community Partnership Grants;

The new assessment process for grants will be decided solely by Councillors, with the Sport and Recreation grants undertaking one final round via the Reference Group assessment this year.

This method will come down to local political alliances and what Councillor wants an organisation in their own patch to gain. The existing system was judged by an independent reference group, not dominated by Councillors. A five-level point system determined how each applicant was graded by the panel.

It was a coup for Cochrane, as the subject was discussed at a workshop prior to the meeting where they agreed the existing system was supported. However, when the motion put before last week's full Council meeting, the numbers were set up and Cochrane, Bonneau, Gregory, Blake, Cooper, and Pyne put their hand up in contradiction to the previous agreement.

Mayor Val Schier, Councillors Leu, Forsyth, Lesina and Lanskey did not support the change.

In a blast from the Byne past, Robert Pyne said that they should make such decisions, as they were elected to do so. Both Linda Cooper and Paul Gregory were silent during the discussion, yet supported the move.

"Of course we were elected to make decisions, but we listen to the community when we're making them," Val Schier told CairnsBlog.

"This is why we have the Urban Design Advisory Board, and the Indigenous Reference Group, and the cycling and walking reference group to provide advice, and the Douglas Water Reference Group, and the Youth Advisory Group," Schier said.

"We respect that people have specialist knowledge and interests. We harness their knowledge," Schier said.

Such a change in handing out grants money is at odds with community engagement when it comes to deciding financial grants, as the Deputy Mayor wants to decide who will get money.

There was a process for allocating funding, and there's always been a sports and recreation reference group, and the workshop recommended that this be continued. In addition, it was planned to form a Community Development Advisory Group that would be make up of representatives from local residents' associations. This body would then be consulted and involved about community grants.

"I would have seen the likes Fiona Tulip from Clifton Beach and Pam Bigelow from Yorkeys and others of that calibre from resident groups all over the region," Val Schier said.

Margaret Cochrane moved a motion at the last minute, with no warning, that Council not establish a Community Development Group, and abolish the Sports and Recreation Advisory Group.

"I can't belive you're saying this," Julia Leu told the meeting.

This change effectively gives control to Cochrane, who chairs the Sports and Recreation Committee. Grants will be become evaluated less on merit and more on what Councillor lobbies for their own local Tiddly Winks Pensioners Association.

I urge Robert Pyne to call a rescission motion at the next meeting, and return to the community values he professes so strongly. Robert proudly waves a big community consultation flag, so this decision seems at odds.

The new Local Government Act says that all Councils must develop a new community plan.

"It's all about community engagement," Val Schier says. "It's all about the community being informed and having open and transparent information. These are the things we're meant to be moving towards and they shut the door on that."

"It was shocking, unbelievable," Schier says about the dumping of the community reference group.

The opportunity to set up a Community group would have been a strong arm to Council and been able to used as a valuable conduit with the community.

I hope they come to their senses.


Anonymous said...

So people get to see the true colours of Margaret Cochrane and her cohorts Bonneau and Blake. Paul Gregory is just a fish out of water in this new council and so for comfort runs with the old-guard and it seems that wherever Paul is Linda Cooper isn't far behind (or perhaps its the other way around - in fact people are starting to talk). And what can you say about Rob Pyne. There is so much inconsistency in his decision making I wonder what planet he is on. His behaviour is quite bizarre at the best of times. And good old Margaret knows how to manipulate those who are weak or seeking political advantage.

Oliver of Redlynch said...

This is shocking important news, yet NOT A PEEP in the Cairns Post - instead we get a mini-cyclone non-event in Redlynch Valley blowing someone's garden furniture around. This information needs to be made very very public to make the power-hungry Cochrane accountable.

Brad M said...

Robert, what are you doing??

That's certainly caused me to re-evaluate my opinion of your motives and abilities to see through manipulation.

It seems the deputy has discovered a new tool in getting her own way, surprise and spin. Seems like she's able to fool people with last minute suggestions that are too good to be true!

Damn those pesky community reference groups... what would they know anyway!

Thornton On Spence said...

Well we know in advance where the Grants will all be going:
Soccer - Margaret Cochrane
Bell Ringing - Sno Bonneau
Wife Chasing - Alan Blake
Hairdressing - Margaret Cochrane
Escaping From Bedrooms - Alan Blake
Magic Circle Invisibility - Sno
Playing With Yourself - Alan Blake

george said...

This story was in the cairns post a few saturdays ago.

Al said...

Memo to all CRC councillors: Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sammy Jaye, Holloways said...

George, this was only just decided by Council so how could it been on the Compost weeks ago!?

Julie E said...

If ever there was an example of Val's failure to influence and control, this is it. Successful leadership requires strength and cunning to combat this type of behaviour, and again it seems that Val simply does not have it.
Her whining about another coup does little to impress when she has shunned so much good advice.
I'm sure her young academic advsior makes for a nice "toy boy" look, but a street wise and connected player of the Ross Parisi ilk would have been a much better pick. Val has no one to blame but herself.

george said...

Sorry, sammy. i just checked. it was last saturday.

NQ Lager lover said...

The Cairns Post will report the story like this..."Council removes/dismisses community consultation", with no mention of Cochrane, so that the reading public will put the blame on Val.

Gold Top said...

Beer man is right. The shit ALWAYS sticks to Val, regardless of who is responsible. What is even worse - she is too weak or incompetent to doing anything about it.

Cairns Resident said...

Why is it that Val always gets the bad publicity for set-ups by the old KB gang like this one. The CP won't give us the full story. The workshop agreed that the current system worked and yet at the last minute the old KB gang plus Pyne (very dissaspointing) voted against it. So much for community input, but please DONT blame Val. Give the woman some support, it was she that we elected for Mayor - the Deputy Mayor elected herself!!!

Jack Rabbit said...

Have pyne and Lanskey traded bodies?

Ben Farinelli said...

Face the facts kids, Val ain't the Mayor. Teflon Al and Maggie run the show. And right now they rebranding Val as the "The Blanket", cos that's what shit sticks to!

The Headless Horseman said...

Robert Pyne's anti-community position on this matter has taken me by surprise. Community-mindedness has been the strength behind his performance on council.
It is a shame he has joined Cochrane's Cronies in giving the community the finger. Come on, Rob, you're a good man. Get with the strength.
Hey, Gold Top, perhaps you need reminding that Val Schier's strength of character and integrity have ensured our council has not descended into dysfunctionalism. Remember, it's one thing to deal with the pettiness of councillors and disloyal senior council staff. But it's quite another thing when Val, as our Mayor, has to deal with state and federal ministers, MPs, government agencies, developers and community groups. These people couldn't be bothered with the Blake/Cochrane trivialities. Val is putting Cairns First and the Blake/Cohrane clique are really just a sideshow.

KitchenSlut said...

Somewhere recently I saw a blog link to a current project to allocate smaller community grants via a voting process including online access.

Thought it was on Club Troppo but can't find or Google! Basically the community could vote for their preferred project but had to allocate to several. So Margaret say, or anyone else in the community, could give half her votes to soccer but has to distribute the rest among other grant applicants with a minimum.

But not sure where I saw it .....

Harry said...

I agree Headless, Schier's higher level dealings are her strengh.
However, as we have seen, petty squabbling and dysfunctionalism can be very damaging to this city. Where is Val's authority and control?

Balaclava Rd Bandit said...

Have you ever had any 'high level' dealings with Aunty Val????
I have, and i'll say just this, if someone can't remember you name by the 4th meeting (with each previous meeting lasting a couple of hours, with no more than 2 other people in the room), gotta say that is far from impressive........ in fact, it is insulting.
I won’t start on her attention to detail.................

Anonymous said...

Balaclava Road Bandit - maybe you just have to face the fact that you are not worth remembering. You must have had a real impact on the Mayor. Probably just a bit player trying to be someone - you're not Danny Betros are you?

James J - North Cairns said...

Balaclava Rd Bandit you are a coward if you make empty claims in a very public forum yet don't declare who you are.

No one here would believe a word you say mate.


Thaddeus said...

I'm suspicious. Why has Cochrane done this? Is there some little community/sporting/artsy-fartsy/enviromental group with a bank account in dear old Marg's name? Hey??? I mean why would you let yourself be wide open to all sorts of allegations of favouritism/cronyism etc by demanding to control the purse strings? What was the reasoning behind this?

Thislittlepiggy said...

If it looks like pork barrelling and smells like pork barrelling then it is pork barrelling.

In fact, during one meeting before the elections in 2008, Margaret Cochrane moved a motion to bring forward the distribution of grants so that they could be done before the election and KB made a comment along the lines of 'I smell pork' and Margaret replied 'with crackling', proving that she is indeed all about the pork (barrelling that is).

Balaclava Rd Bandit said...

James J I choose not to reveal my real name like most of the posters here, I do that so i might comment without fear or favour. I was just sharing an experience, you can choose to believe or not. I'll admit to being a coward, when you admit to being a theckless thug.
I suggest you poll most people who have dealt with her (in and our of teh Council) and you'll find a majority have had the same experience i have.

D'Artagnan I may have a forgettable face.... Maybe if i was Betros she would of remembered my name, she's probably got a photo of him up on the wall with 'dont meet in a dark alley' on the bottom of it.....
I met a former Labor state politician once professionally about 4 years ago, i saw him about 6 months ago, he still remembered my name and the project we spoke about, now thats professionalism.

Denis Walls said...

I remember someone saying about Bill Clinton that what made him such a good politician was his ability to remember faces and names of people he had met even if only for a few minutes. He made people feel that they really mattered.

There was a time a few years back when I was at the uni, at TAFE, had a mugshot in Barfly most weeks and was standing in various elections that people would come up to say hello and I would feel genuinely embarrassed because I didn't know who they were. So, I feel for Val - with a much higher public profile than I ever had - on this one.

Balaclava Rd Bandit said...

Perfect quote from bill.

And a fair call Denis, but it doesn't take much though to remember the name of someone who has a couple of scheduled meeting with you, or just pretend you know them. Randoms who see you and say hi because they know your face is a another thing altogether.
I forget names and faces all the time, but there are ways around it that make it not as obvious! instead of just giving you a blank look and saying 'who are you?'.

The Blanket said...

It was great to see Robert using his executive assistant position to gain VIP access to Vibe. He looked so professional, and was networking really hard when the Sunday Mail took the photo. I am so glad my latest advisor is politically savvy, I feel so in control!

Brad M said...

So, Robert (the councillor variety) are you going to tell us all in your own words why you voted as you did?

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

Ah, Marg "Forked Tongue" Cochrane & her Machiavellian dealings. Folks, the only thing Marg is interested in is power, & photo-ops. Propose anything to Marg involving a photo-op, & she's OK'd it in a flash, & found the funding.

Anything else involving community development, infrastructure, upgrading community facilities & so on, unless there's a photo-op, it doesn't get addressed, or is ignored. But that's not news to all of you.

Yes, odd decision of Rob Pyne's - it would be good to hear from him.