Wednesday 16 June 2010

Corruption levelled at Cairns Councillor for mixing business with pleasure

For 10 years Councillor Alan Blake has been using a Council-funded mobile telephone for what could amount to tens of thousands of dollars in personal calls.

Since at least 2000, Alan Blake has been using a council-funded mobile telephone account - 0414 708 529 - for his personal businesses.

In late January, I released evidence of his latest business where yet again he was using the official Council mobile telephone to promote and market his private business. It sparked a large response from CairnsBlog readers.

I subsequently put in a formal complaint to Council about Blake's ratepayer-funded phone for his private businesses.

Today's Council finance meeting, chaired by Cr Linda Cooper, will vote if Alan Blake has breached the Councillor's Code of Conduct. Ironically, Alan Blake used to chair this same committee until a majority of his colleagues lost faith with him last July, the only committee chair to be changed. The following month, he was booted out of his office.

Following my complaint, Council commissioned independent investigator Anthony Walsh to undertake a formal investigation. In what Walsh called "Operation Bottlebrush" he found that Blake had breached of the Moral Code of Conduct for Councillors.

“Cr Blake has made an error of judgement in having the mobile telephone number of the Council funded service printed on the subject business cards," Walsh wrote in his report. "To that end we believe that Councillor Blake has committed a minor breach of the Moral Code of Conduct for Councillors (Local Government Act 1993, the Act) in relation to ethics principles for local government councillors."

Chief Executive Officer Lyn Russell says that it is argued that the breach of the Code is a minor breach of Blake’s "ethical obligations with respect of the use of Council entitlements."

Russell said the report was prepared in accordance with Corporate Plan Objectives to ensure that Council is "open, accountable, ethical and financially responsible." "Should Council resolve that a breach has occurred this will then be recorded in [the] 2010/2011 annual report," Lyn Russell says.

Cairns Regional Council, and its predecessor, Cairns City Council, has never granted permission for Blake to use the mobile number for non-Council matters, especially in such an overt and flagrant manner, by advertising it on numerous businesses as a private commercial number.

CairnsBlog is seeking Blake's phone records over the preceding years he has served as an elected councillor.

Whilst the investigation into his latest use of the mobile telephone on a company called "Mogo" failed to get going, the investigator said the intent was there.

Mayor Val Schier, speaking from Canberra this morning, where she is attending the National General Assembly of Local Government, told CairnsBlog that the report is thorough.

"I hope that the Councillors will look at suitable actions to take," Val Schier said. "Lyn's done a good job of getting it investigated and has been very professional about it."

Councillors who talked with CairnsBlog last evening, were quick to express their discomfort with the issue, saying that there should be clear separation and transparency when dealing with public funds.

Councillor Julia Leu said it was a "no brainer" and "so obvious" that councillor-provided mobiles are for official business.

"It's always been understood that it's for council business," Julia Leu said. "There's a zero-tolerance with misuse of a council asset. Who has the time to run another business anyway?"

Councillors are entitled to claim 50 percent of their home telephone costs and also their internet, however some choose not to do this. Councillors Leu and Lesina don't claim this entitlement.

"It's certainly inappropriate," Kirsten Lesina said. "I have a personal mobile as well, and rarely use the council one for any other calls." Lesina said her monthly mobile bill is between $100 and $160, and there's usually a few dollars of personal calls she pays for. "Yes, it's like not much at all, maybe $10, but I have my own mobile for that."

Both Councillor Pyne and Forsyth said it was "totally inappropriate" to use a council-paid mobile for personal use.

Councillor Paul Gregory says there's "some grey areas" that he will seek advice from the finance team.

"The grey areas to me are whether or not the policy was articulated to him [Blake] initially or not," Gregory said. "There is an opportunity to use his old phone number and pay it back. Whether or not he's made a bad error of judgement, one that I would have personally got clear beforehand, I'll have to wait and see. There is some thought going around that this is a code of conduct breach."

"My phone for example, is my own phone, it was clearly articulated to me," Paul Gregory said. "The old Council policy [pre-2008] was simply to get a phone allowance. Under this new Council, Blackberrys were provided if you wished, but I didn't want to do that. I'm still a bit leery about the technology and seen them breaking down. But we have a policy around this phone."

Some councillors confirmed that Alan Blake had boasted on previous occasions that he doesn't have a personal mobile and he "charges it all up."

"It's clear to me and anyone that the Council mobile is for Council business," Diane Forsyth said. "I have two mobiles, and don't use my Council mobile for personal stuff hardly at all. You really shouldn't even have to be told."

The investigator says the the intent to operate Blake's private business was surely there at some point.

"To that end as the business cards had been printed with the mobile telephone number of a service paid for by Council, it would seem that there was intent on that part of Councillor Blake to have used those business cards to promote the business," Anthony Walsh said. "In light of the evidence gathered and the admissions made by Councillor Blake, we believe he have made an error of judgement. We believe he has breached the following ethics principle:
  • 'Councillors must conduct themselves in a way that promotes and maintains the public's trust and confidence in the local government and the good rule and government of its area...'
In Blake's four-page submission, he says the due process was not followed.

"I have not been afforded procedural fairness," Alan Blake said. "[The] findings are not supported by facts. Alternative findings or conclusions are not considered. The report does not explain why the conduct is determined to be a breach."

"I believe that the complaint is frivolous and vexatious, that the investigator failed to follow the Code of Conduct in managing the complaint, that a biased investigation has been conducted to intimidate and discredit me as a councillor, and that I have been prejudged," Alan Blake said. "For this reason the report is flawed and must be rejected."

However, this was not the view of the independent investigator.

"This finding is evidenced by the complaint from Mr Moore insofar as a concern was raised that the Council funded mobile telephone was being used in the conduct of the business 'Mogo'," Anthony Walsh said. "That no personal benefit by Councillor Blake would not appear to mitigate the public doubt raised by the production.... of the business cards."

However Blake says that my CairnsBlog complaint about his use of the Council mobile, is "a continuation of a well orchestrated slanderous campaign driven politically to undermine my ability to perform the duties of my office." He's called the attacks "cyber-bullying".

The Mogo business was to be a bluetooth transmitting "push" message service, where mobile uses would receive advertising when they were in range of the transmitter.

Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane acted as Blake's 'support person' during the investigator's interview.

When Blake was questioned by the investigator, who organised the printing of the business cards, he said he couldn't remember.

"I would have been jointly involved in the decision to print the cards but I cannot recall whether I or Jason organised for the cards to be printed," Alan Blake said.

"I had nothing to do with the printing at all," Jason Greg, Blake's former business partner told CairnsBlog. "He took them to the printer, Lotsa I think it was. He ordered them. He paid for them by his cheque account. Blake knows exactly what he did."

Alan Blake says that even though 1,000 cards were printed, he says that "less than ten" were distributed.

"The only person who had access to the business card other than myself and a family member, was Dr Jason Gregg," Alan Blake said. "He became aggrieved when I decided not to proceed with the venture."

"Well that's an outright lie," Jason Gregg said. "He handed them out all over at Blue Sky [Brewery]. Definitely, absolutely, unequivocally. I was sitting there when he gave many of the cards out. He even gave a bunch of them to Kerie Hull, because Kerie wanted to be the manager of that company."

"How does Blake get away with this?" Jason Gregg said. "You see at that stage he was my friend, but that was before he fucked me over royally. His whole life went to that Blackberry. I arranged for a Motorola Razar (mobile) for him to use, and that's how I found he was *** with my ex-wife [Carla]," Jason Gregg said. "Carla contacted Blake via email and sent it to the wrong phone. From the tone and content, it was obvious that they had colluded to strip me of the business all along, even though it was my idea."

"I spent six months building it [Mogo] and I was an equal 'partner'.. I just happened to have the phone in my possession at the time, and she screwed up and sent it to the wrong phone rather than the infamous Blackberry," Jason Gregg said. "That's how is all ended between us. But he would not use that Motorola, he used the [Council] Blackberry for everything."

Gregg says that Blake later claimed that he had illegally intercepted the messages and took the matter to the Blake's favourite agency, the Federal Police.

"They said it was a ridiculous claim, but she then went ahead to take a domestic violence order against me with Blake's encouragement - even though I had not seen or spoken to her for months. Blake was behind all this and she was Blake's partner in the crime," Jason Gregg said.

The investigator asked Blake if he had made any calls on the council mobile in relation to the Mogo business. "No," Blake said in his sworn statement.

What business allows their employees to use a company-provided mobile telephone for marketing and use for employees private unrelated businesses, especially when no permission is granted?

Last year Blake said "if I take care of what I need to do today, without fear or favour, and do what I feel is right, the future will take care of itself".

In words that will now come to haunt him, when Blake sold his Furniture Associates business, he said it was to "focus on council obligations."

"With the added responsibility of the amalgamated council, I found I was becoming time-poor so something had to give," Alan Blake said. Just months later he actively set up new business ventures and again, for the fourth time in ten years, used his Council mobile to market and promote a private business.

You'd have to be dumb as a sewer rat to find this Cairns Regional Councillor not guilty.

This weekend, Alan Blake turns 59 years old. You would think by now, he would have learnt right from wrong.

The "chosen few..." words in this video from the 2008 election campaign will come home to haunt Councillor Alan Blake... now subject to a code of conduct investigation.


alanslawyer said...

The following document is an updated electronic version of the Booklet entitled "Termination of Employment" issued in August 2002 by the Australian Public Service Commission. The updated booklet takes account of the legislative changes made by the Workplace Relations Amendment (Fair Termination) Act 2003 and the 2006 Workchoices legislation.
Appendix A: Meaning of 'Procedural fairness ' - Extract from APS Commission booklet publication Working with the Act: Managing breaches of the APS Code of Conduct
Procedural fairness
The principles of procedural fairness require people whose interests will be adversely affected by a decision to be given an opportunity to be heard, and decision-makers to act without bias or self-interest, and to base their decisions on compelling or 'logically probative' evidence.

These principles are known as the hearing rule, the bias rule and the no evidence rule.

The application of the principles of procedural fairness may vary, depending on the circumstances of the particular case or the way in which the particular statutory power is framed.

In its fullest application, procedural fairness requires that:

•people against whom an adverse decision may be made must be informed of any allegations against them in as much detail as possible;
•wherever possible people must be provided with an opportunity to put their case, and to hear the case against them, whether at an oral hearing or otherwise;
•where a decision has to be made between competing interests, all parties to a matter must be heard and all arguments considered;
•no person judges their own case or a case in which they have a direct interest; and
•decision-makers must act fairly and without bias.

ugo said...

Cochrane as a support person for this creep. That says it all.

CBD Warrior said...


Sadly there is no "Code of Conduct" for bloggers.

Tockley said...

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

What about the the "little green bag" for free parking?

And have how often have we seen Blakey around town conducting his own private business on council time?

Clifton Ratbag said...

I'd rather have Cr. Blake up and around the CBD, his division, on a daily basis than the example of Snojob Bonneau, who's car rarely leaves the carport. Many believe he's got a serious case of agoraphobia.

Cathy said...

CBD is Blakes division?
Yeah that would be right, that is the only part he is interested in. You have no idea ratbag

watching said...

At least alan has not sworn at me !
bury them all mike don't be selective "what happened to fearless".

Al said...

What an anachronistic left-over piece of shit is this man. Why do we still have him, and his use-by-date-expired cohorts SnoMax Bonneau, and Cochrane in Council. It really doesn't say much for the intelligence of their divisional electors. Spread word folks, next time we need much better than this,

Another jilted lover said...

Blake is as crocked as a dogs hind leg,
As sleazy as a bag of fleas,
As low as the belly of a blake snake,
As sneaky as a cheating partner,
As loyal as an imposter,
As genuine as a Nigerian email,
As trustworthy as Rudd the dud,
Its time to call in the CMC

Brenda Francis (via Facebook) said...

Is that news or normal politics ?

Michael said...

Al, the problem is, who would replace these dinosaurs? Do you see any intelligent, talented people (I don't mean Brian Law) putting their hands up?
The same problem occurs when it comes to state and federal elections, not much choice there, you either take some shit from the left or similar shit from the right. The crap in the middle is not electable.

Oliver Redlynch said...

So this is a "vindictive politically motivated campaign". I nearly choked, kettle calling the pot black I reckon after the cash for radio scandle.

Thornton On Spence said...

I heard Cr Pyne on the Radio and he appeared to be condoning this action "saying we all do it". He also started to place a lot of the blame on Val Schier saying there was a vendetta against Alan Blake and then backed off.

So we now have Cochrane and Pyne siding with Blake. How sad. They should walk away and leave him to dig himself out of the muck he so loves and has become somewhat expert and adept at coming up smelling of Roses. What about the Computers you have offered around Alan that are Council issued? Maybe it is time for the CMC.

Stat Dec said...

Council Computers. Ahhhh now there's something with a familiar ring. There is a rumour around that other than tacky artworks, cheap Chinese statues and ladies panties there is also a large collection of Computers that could possibly be of Council origin. Now that is something that would suit the peddling skills of Alan Blake. Pssst wanna buy a Computer cheap!!!

Anyone want to step forward with some evidence they purchased a computer from Blakie?

Shelley Aitken (via Facebook) said...

hi rob michael moore has been defaming one of the councillors on and using misleading information from a source who has a long history of mental illness and I think that michael moore has taken advantage of jason gregg's reduced mental capacity and this is so wrong.
What has the world come to by using someone with a disability to attack someone else.

Shelley Aitken (via Facebook) said...

thanks Rob I think its sad that so many untrue things have been posted on that blog.....whether a code was breached or not is irrelevant as any cost can be paid by the councillor all the rest is just a form of bullying really......sad sad sad that council is allowing bullying to happen at any level with targeting..........whether it political or not.....what happened to principals of the party rather than character assasinations on people

Rob Pyne said...

The disability aspect is more concerning. Let me know if there is anything I can do.

the key words are "what could amount to". lots of things 'could' be the case i suppose ... so not technically a lie.

Michael P Moore said...

Well I think you'd better read the Facebook posting rules, Shelley. There's a rather obvious condition that all Facebook users agree to when they sign up, that says "All content is public".

If you wanted to make a private comment to Rob, his Facebook page, that has nearly 900 followers, including myself, is hardly the place! CairnsBlog has around 29,000.

You're welcome to your "opinion", just as Jason Gregg is.

Shelley Aitken (via Facebook) said...

Michael I did not give you permission to print what I have posted on facebook in your blog and I would appreciate it if you would remove them NOW.

Rob Pyne said...

Not sure Shelley ... checked out the article. It is biased, but not completely wrong. Alan did breach the code.
I admit Alan is being targeted for political reasons, but that goes with the territory I am afraid. I am likely to get done for some minor breach or other that I am unaware of, but hopefully I am complying with the code. Personally, I feel there are bigger issues we should be focusing on, but I note your concern.

Shelley Aitken (via Facebook) said...

Michael as you are unable to post the posts from facebook in order of their dates and manipulate the content for your own agenda that the users of facebook have written I removed them. This is so you cannot misuse and misinform any more than you already have the unsuspecting cairns public with incorrect and iinconsistent reporting.

Michael P Moore said...

"manipulate "? Just coping your comments exactly as you typed them Shelley.

So, how close are you and Alan Blake, huh? Quite close I hear. I hear you're one of Carla's "l" friends....

Jan from Kewarra said...

Re Shelley's comments...

"whether a code was breached or not is irrelevant ...."

How wrong can you be Shelley.

Rules and policies are made for a reason. In this case, there is a Local government policy and CRC policy re the use of government facilities/resources etc for private use by staff.

Alan Blake has clearly breached this policy which I am sure you will find nationwide and applicable in many organisations not just local government. ie I cannot use the Internet at work in a State goverment department for non work related purposes, and penalities include losing your job a result of such actions. Misuse of company cars is another No, No.

These policies/rules are everywhere and "staff" are made aware of the rules and penalties involved for any misuse when you are given a phone, internet access or take a company vehicle.

Personally as a ratepayer of ever increasing rates, I object most strongly to the fraudulent use of my rates money to pay for a Counsillor's private mobile phone calls under the guise of "perks".

There is ongoing deliberate abuse of these public purse resources, and this singular case highlights this point very well.

And what is even more disturbing in this issue, is that Deputy CEO, Margaret Cochrane, in her defence of Councillor Blake at the Council meeting stated for the record, that she believed, that these Council policies were only meant for "Staff" of Council.

Therein lies the problem!!!!!!

Alan Blake got caught out, (probably after years of abuse), so this now should send a very strong message to any other Councillor who rips off Cairns ratepayers in a similar fashion!!

BB said...

Check out Jeff Bridges Oscar winning performance as "Bad Blake" in Crazy Heart.

The awe inspiring story of a Cairns Councillor's abusive journey through love and self gratification on his final path to redemption.

Bobby Duvall as Noel Briggs will send shivers up your spine.

four and half stars

You got this one wrong Michael. said...

If 'Shelley' didn't contribute directly to this blog, through the comments section, then why was it included? The fact that it wasn't even posted on the Cairns Blog Facebook page makes it even worse.

I'm no apologist for Blake, or a friend of a friend, I know none of them and care less, but this is deceit of the first order.

Shelley Aitken said...

well michael thanks for posting what jan wrote in your cairns blog............ jan obviously believed your source ...someone you used for their personal  relationship to alan blake as an ex business partner and not in good health as we have discussed.......where is the proof alan blake used it for private purposes?  sounds like a kangaroo court hearing and isnt cairns going to get out of the dark ages and finally like jan said and stick to policy..where is the proof...I applaud rob pyne for wanting a third party present as the hometown trash of cairns blog is being used as evidence in a kangaroo court...........

Shelley Aitken said...

michael ..... pity you dont know what chronological order is then as the comments on facebook from rob are not in the correct order and neither were mine....thats manipulation for your own agenda...posting them how you would like it to read not the actual fact......if your aim is now to target me this is getting off the point entirely now is it not....if you are going to print something for public consumption at least have the decency to make it worth debating..... like rob pyne with his posts here on facebook not like your blog which indulges in liable gossip...try and hold yourself back from personal insults as you degrade yourself....find another bone to chew on fido...!!!!!

Jude Johnston said...

ummm Shelley, is the mobile number on Councillor Blake's personal business card the same number of his council provided mobile phone? If it is, what part of "you don't use your employers time and equipment to do your own personal business transactions" don't you understand.
I am 100% with Jan on this one.

walter kronkite said...

This is not the new york times ,this is mikes blog he owns it .

If he grabs something of facebook ,myspace or twitter it is in the public domain and free to use.

If you wanted it private you should send it private you dumb blonde or learn how to use the system.

shelley aching stop your gutsing woman !