The Age today has reported that Liberal Party Councillor Fiona Sneden coaching lessons. State MP Louise Asher’s former chief of Staff, Brett Barton, was paid $5,600 to advise Cr Sneden. Councillor Sneden’s expenses were made known following publication of the the City of Melbourne’s Councillor expense.
Missing from the councillor expense statements are costs related to Councillor’s allowances and additional expenses that the council has not disclosed. Creative accounting and hidden costs are an art form when it comes to the corrupt Council administration.
It appears that the Council administration, having been caught out, has gone back and modified past expense statements to include expenses that were not previously reported. Under Council guidelines all expenses should be finalised “acquitted” within one month of the expenses occurring. review of the published statements indicate that the summary results published by the City Council are false and incorrect. (It looks as though the Council Goverance/Finance department can not add up correctly).
Questions are still outstanding with the Council administration filing to respond to previous correspondence highlighting a number of issues identified in relation to the accuracy of Council’s expense and travel statements.
Last year the City Council was subject to an Ombudsman investigation that showed up similar problems in relational to the City Councils accounting and administration. A number of Council staff reigned and or were allocated alternative employment following the Ombudsman inquiry. Former City Council’s Legal Officer Alison Lyon resigned and Linda Weatherson as been removed from her role as Council governance director. Ms Weatherson was implicated in the “Acquittal” scandal related to a previous cover-up of undisclosed Councillor expense in 2003.
Despite promises made by the City Councillors, Melbourne’s City Council’s “Car Fee City policy”, costs related to John So and Gary Singers Council funded Limousines still do not appear in the Councillor expense statements.
It is estimated that the associated missing costs adds around $2,500,00 per year to the costs of servicing our City fathers and daughters. Including in this estimate is the costs of Internal catering and the Council’s free open booze bar, the later which the Age reported as possibly contributing to Cr Sneden’s $1,000 in fines and a loss of her driving licence for 4 years.
Responsible Governance – No Way.
The above graph shows consolidated reported Councillor’s expenses for the mid term of the current Council Dec 2004 to Dec 2006 (Including the adjustments made to the ‘dodgy’ July to October 2006 statements)
City council paid Liberal staffer $5600 to mentor Cr Sneden
February 2, 2007
Source: The Age
MELBOURNE City Council has paid $5600 for Liberal Party blue-blood Fiona Sneden to receive mentoring from a Liberal Party strategist.
The payments, of around $220 a week over the past six months, were paid to Brett Barton, former chief of staff to Liberal MP Louise Asher.
Cr Sneden last night defended the use of ratepayers’ money to pay for professional mentoring, saying it was about getting better results for the council, not personal improvement.
“Professional mentoring is all about me being better prepared to deal with issues that face my constituents,” Cr Sneden said.
Cr Sneden said Mr Barton provided her with “leadership coaching”, not counselling.
“The coaching means understanding and how to deal with aspects of council. It means basically anything that I need mentoring for.
“I have a part-time secretary but I felt that there was not the support or the mentoring that was required,” said Cr Sneden, who argued that councillors at the City of Melbourne were not adequately supported.
“It is considered part-time employment and Town Hall does not provide any expert advice.”
Her adviser Mr Barton has worked for several high-profile Liberals, most recently Liberal major projects spokesman David Davis, in the lead-up to last year’s state election.
Mr Barton could not be reached for comment last night. But Louise Asher said Mr Barton was an experienced adviser with “a good political nose”.
A list of councillor expenses released by Melbourne City Council this week also revealed that, in 2006, Cr Sneden claimed $35,072 in expenses — $20,000 more than any of eight other Melbourne councillors over the same period.
Former lord mayor Kevin Chamberlin said it was a disgrace that the city council was paying for its elected representatives to be trained to be more effective councillors.
“This is a direct result of the election system put in place by the Bracks Government that was deliberately designed to get elected poor quality councillors,” Mr Chamberlin said. “The constituents have well and truly been paying for it for a long time, and not just in money.”
Cr Sneden, 50, is the daughter of former federal Liberal leader Sir Billy Sneden.
Last year she pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to drink driving.
She was fined $1000 and lost her licence for four years.