Wednesday 11 November 2009

Good riddance to a trouble-maker

The speculation that Kerie Hull got a payout is just that.

When she was officially sacked for "gross misconduct" on September 21st, the Council Communications Manager and received $20,000 in pay owned, after many weeks away from the office, while the destruction and mess she left behind was sorted out.

For an employer to publicly declare such a charge, means that the claims were of an extremely serious nature.

Regardless of a final settlement, which is nowhere near the figure invented by the Cairns Post, Hull now has a professional reputation left in tatters across Queensland's media and PR circles, where she once commanded hefty remunerations and respect. This saga may have damaged Council and Schier, but it's hardly been good for Kerie Hull.

The Post likes to spin that this was a "$250 deal with a radio station." Well, it wasn't. It was because Hull, as a very senior employee was there to advise and represent the Council and Mayor, failed in such a fundamental way that the trust between the two parties was irreparably broken.

Kerie Hull would not have found herself in such an awful an embarrassing predicament if she simply got on with the job she was meant to do when employed just a year ago. She should have used the skills she undoubtedly has, instead, she got lured by the power games that many said bordered on corruption, that were an active part of the culture under former CEO Noel Briggs. There were two sides to the place, certain Councillors had closed door sessions and from the day Schier took up her 3rd floor office, the plans started to be plotted.

Hull was so very close to Briggs, until his premature departure, an agenda he controlled so as to not draw attention and subject himself to anymore public ridicule and scrutiny. He dropped supporting Kerie Hull faster than you can say "You're a liar Schier."

The Post has spun out of control about the former CEO's so-called "payout." The media's reporting of this is in itself a conundrum. If Council had a media professional in place and effectively doing the job, advising and directing the media relationship, then the payout would have been carefully explained in detail in an open and transparent manner. Briggs' payout was no golden handshake. He was owed substantial long service leave, along with other standard entitlements, the likes an employee receives after 20 years service. Val Schier has not been able to manage the media and her representation in the community, and whilst they've hardly been supportive in her first 18 months, her normal demands have distracted the Mayor from continually trying to defend and explain the facts behind the stories leveled against her.

She could have taken control, but early on we saw she was not going to do this. A great politician is also a great and charismatic communicator. These are rare beasts.

Case in point was how Noel Briggs played out the set-up and vindictive attack against Councillor Di Forsyth when she mounted the historic Cairns Yacht Club in protest of it's destruction. I was pleased to expose his secret "Red Hot Poker" report that he changed and manipulated before presenting to Councillors.

In July, I revealed that Hull was moon-lighting and that this was not declared to her employer. After I shared this revelation, Hull put out a statement to say she was doing "voluntary work" for some organisations.

However, over the past few months, still whilst in the employ of Cairns Regional Council, Kerie Hull was working two jobs. She received $12,000 from Balkanu Corporation, undertaking media and public relations duties for Noel Pearson and others, and was often seen at the ABC studios in Sheridan Street. Hull used her business name, just recently registered, called Blue Sky Communications.

This was also one of the mitigating reasons for her "gross misconduct."

It's easy to yet again take aim at the vulnerable and poorly advised and supported Mayor Val Schier who's media track record is far from satisfactory. But Schier wasn't employed as a media expert, she relied on that advice and expertise to come from within the Council organisation.

The whole drama from woe to go has been an almighty mess, and not only for the Mayor and her sympathetic Councillors. From the day that Blake underhandedly started the story via his then LNP mate in early April, it's been a damaging and awful time to be an elected representative with this Council. That damage was never Blake's intention, of that I'm sure. He wanted to masterfully take aim at a female mayor he detested and thought he could roll. He wanted her to resign, in the face of the original allegation, yet along the way he reduced the Council's relation with the community to such a low ebb, it's name was dirt.

As a result he was exposed and lost his Finance Committee chair. His good mate Kerie Hull has lost her job, and Blake's reputation plummeted as he dragged Council down on the way.

For me the whole drama was triggered when Kerie Hull, colluding with Noel Briggs, refusing me access to Council's media information. After I published my initial story on April 8th, many CairnsBlog readers came forward with their stories. I went on a quest to uncover what was behind the stonewalling and the way many senior Council employees were running the show, deliberately keeping the public and local media at arm's length. My experience wasn't unique. Traditional media staff around town shared their tales about Council's media unit and how ineffective and embarrassing it was to deal with.

In the best of times it's hard to maintain a confident and respectful relationship with the community without orchestrating a Laurel and Hardy circus. If Blake was a clever political strategic operator, he may well have pulled it off.

Like the Godwin Grech fake email scam, this one also unraveled in the face of the perpetrators, however not once was this t told in an open and honest way by our local media, least of all, the Cairns Post. All the way along they printed budget leaks and other information that Hull, who then still had access to Council information, dropped off on Andrew Webster's desk on a regular basis, to thicken the plot against one Val Schier.

If the Cairns Post had done their job, they would have named those behind the plan to unseat and disrupt the normal running of Council. However, they too were involved in the mess that they've help support and condone, because they deliberately played along with the torrid game.

In perfect timing, as if it had been co-ordinated, the infamous 'cash for comments' "award-winning" reporter Thomas Chamberlin, will leave the Post this week, just as he posted the last part in this seven month saga. Little does he know, he only scratched the surface. He and his paper never told the full story, only the bits that suited their deliberate agenda.

They always do, on the basis that the majority of the public read tabloids on face value and never question beyond a headline. Thomas' career is set.

It's hard to predict how much damage will be sustained in time as a result of Hull's employment at Cairns Regional Council, along with the dodgy hidden deal done with Radio 4CA. A week's a long time in politics, goes the age-old adage. The reputation of this Council has taken a massive blow, all from a tiny disruptive few who never achieved the outcome they set out to. The sad story is, that all along the way, the really good stories, the achievements, the dramatic changes this new Schier Council have undertaken, that hundreds of committed Council employees make every week, have gone unreported, unrecognised and ignored.

Some of this mud will stick. That's for sure. Briggs, Hull and Blake, and the others wrapped up in this mess, have also sustained damage to their own reputations forever.


Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that apparently a "Council source" has been leaking information to the Post about Ms Hull's supposed payout. Why the hell would Council do that. The truth is that Ms Hull still has very close connections with staff and even closer with one or two
councillors. If anyone from "Council" leaked this story it was a friend of hers who got the information from her. This is just one last sling at Val before she has to keep her mouth shut. Because if she does get a payout surely that would be a condition of such an arrangement.

Personnally whether there is money paid or not this city is well rid of the malicious, manipulative, mendacious, misleading Miss Hull.

Good bye !!

Tony Hillier said...

How ironical, yet typical, that a Compost journaloid should get an award for "breaking" a story that he nicked off the blog, then hardly told 'like it was'. Still, the NQ Media Awards have always veered slightly to the right of Mickey Mouse.

Eggbert said...

Mike, Tony, you boys sound bitter. Sour grapes?

Rich said...

And where did Kerrie Hull end up?

Why as spin doctor for Noel Pearson's "Give Us a Go" anti-Wild Rivers campaign of course.

She is helping churn out so much crap and lies that clearly she is determined to plunge her reputation to even further depths.

Person 3, Spence Street Spy said...

Probably over-heard today:

HULL: I think a particular Councillor will "leak" the details of the "confidential" settlement and why there was a cover-up.

PERSON 1: Really?

HULL: Yeah, I think that might just happen.

PERSON 1: But it's confidential to only you, your lawyer and the Acting CEO?

PERSON: Wouldn't you have to share it with a Councillor?

HULL: You might well think that. I couldn't possibly comment.

nocturnal congress said...

Eggbert, there's no sour grapes here mate. Just disgust and revulsion. Kev Byrne said he never had to pay anything to appear on rugnut's crap program, yet 4CA demanded ratepayers money for Val. That's outright sex discrimination for a start. 4CA sparked off this whole costly bloody mess in the first place. If they had given Val Schier the exact same respect and fair go they had given Kev Byrne, Tom Pyne, Ron Davis etc, there wouldn't have been any bloody "Cash for Comment" scandal.

Anonymous said...

Yet Val appears on the show every Friday, after McKenzie bags her all week long.

There also seems to be a disproportionate percentage of callers who get stuck into the Mayor about the planned cultural centre and anything to do with bicycles.

On top of that, unlike people who disagree with Macca himself, they are allowed to go on and on..

So why is Val still appearing on the show ? Is it because of that 'arrangement' that we are not allowed to know about it ?

Al said...

Nocturnal Congress ... the 'truth' and 'what Kevin Byrne said' are (likely to be) two different things here. Of course Rugnut and his station were paid by Council in Byrne's time. It may have been in a surreptitious way, but Rugnut and 4CA wouldn't care how they received their shekel. It's the game-change which Schier's mayoral win brought that has caused the big upset with the Cairns wheelers and dealers.

nocturnal congress said...

Yeah Tiles...and don't I know mate what happens when you disagree with that know-it-all prick, rugnut.
I well remember calling him in 2003 to explain that Saddam Hussein COULD not possibly have WMD...
The ignoramus not only refused to listen but responded predictably with all the reasoning of a neanderthal with an ossified brain that he was "sick and tired of all the Saddam lovers...".

Thaddeus said...

Tiles, the media machine have played the people of Cairns like violins, relentlessly pulling their strings by ranting about Val Schier.
As a concerted campaign to smear and thoroughly discredit someone, it is unprecedented in its intensity and malignancy. It is unquestionably a planned and premeditated campaign, aimed, I believe, to cause Val to resign before her term is up. The people are being primed to accept ANYONE, like the second coming of Jesus Christ to "save" them from armageddon itself. I admire Val for digging in and staying her ground. I have personally met some of the previous male Mayors and none of these gutless wimps would have been able to have withstood the duration and vileness of these attacks. Someone wants her out of office and soon.
I fear those people orchestrating the fear and hate campaign, are going to increase their tactics, as Val is demonstrating remarkable stoicism.

Oliver Redlynch said...

As long as there are people out there that Val knows support her and her actions, then she will stay the course. Somehow we need to cut through this vile and unfair crap and show her publically this support. Suggestions anyone?

Unknown said...

Today's appearance on the McKenzie show said it all. Again, the only callers who seemed to get through are those who attack her in an incredibly disrespectful manner about bikes and the proposed cultural centre.
And they are allowed to go on and on..Of course the host of the show has spent all week fanning the flames. It is so grossly biased that it almost painful to listen to.There is not even a pretence of looking at both sides of an issue.

I wonder if any of those cranky old blokes ("we don't want change, we wanter bigger roads and dams..") would have had the guts to rave on like this to the previous mayor in such a manner.

It's pathetic. I don't think these people realise how out of touch they are.

Tony Hillier said...

Rugnut's show and the station it is broadcast on are anachronistic. One wonders why Mayor Schier bothers, especially since the whole thing is such a set-up.

Unknown said...

" One wonders why Mayor Schier bothers, especially since the whole thing is such a set-up."

Maybe she is obliged to do it, because of that "cash for comment" deal we are not allowed to know about ...

Dicso Dave said...

Tidy piece Mikey, just because you direct an entertaining, educational website doesn't mean I have to like you...

There is no bigger target going around than Council and it is nice to see a bit of support for the organisation, as a whole, for a change.

Nothing makes me run faster to toilet than the regular 'Crime Stoppers Update'. Gives me the...

Go on.

Thaddeus said...

The Grateful Mac, good point. McKenzie gets office staff to "screen" the callers, hence some of the more respectful callers are probably being deflected. However McKenzie fires his audience up during the week, stroking their bile, so that when they start to talk with the Mayor, they are ripe with malice. It's ugly alright. When Byrne was on the show, if anyone dared to show disrespect, McKenzie would pull them into line or cut them off.
By allowing this type of behaviour on radio McKenzie isn't doing our community any favours.

Thaddeus said...

Oliver Redlynch, how to support Val - we can send off letters to "The Cairns Post", post comments on their website, or even phone rugnut's program if you have the stomach for it. Other than that, offer Val a friendly face whenever she is out in public.

Rosalind (Ros) Pulley, The Cairns Sun said...

That was a riveting three lines of absolutely nothing.

nocturnal congress said...

What three (3) lines Ros? Do tell.

James Newall, Edmonton said...

Don't worry Noturnal, Ros can't count. She works for the Sun.

We use the Sun in our kitty litter tray. Fits perfectly and a fresh one arrives every handy!

Keep up the intelligent observation Ros.

Thaddeus said...

Interesting bit of research I uncovered today....on the Advance Cairns website. A cornerstone of their "Recovery Plan" for Cairns is the development of the Cairns cultural precinct with a world class entertainment centre on the Cairns waterfront." So why the hell haven't any of these bastards on Advance Cairns been supporting the Mayor in selling the idea to FNQ residents? Rugnut is firing up his audience to such a fever pitch against the concept that he could derail the entire thing. Val is copping a bucketing from rugnuts redneck listeners over it. Where is the support from TTNQ, Advance Cairns, the CAPTA Group etc etc?