John So head in the sand and hand in the public pocket

John So continues to spend spend spend whilst burying his head in the sand.

The State Government has also wiped it’s hands clean and failed undertake a review of the City of Melbourne’s representative model. Whilst every other Municipality is subjected to comprehensive review Melbourne has been excluded.

Its been just seven years since Melbourne narrowed its focus and adopted a direct election of its Lord Mayor.

Last year there was a half hearted proposal for the City of Melbourne to initiate it won representative review, A proposal that met with opposition from John So and was rejected on the casting vote of the Lord Mayor.

Why the city councillors that were supporting a review did not appeal directly to the State Government is anyones guess. After all it is the responsibility and determination of the State Government to undertake any serious independent review.

David Dunstan in today’s Age has reflect on the issues that face Melbourne faces and the need to ensure that the City’s governance meets the challenges it faces.

The largest and most central of them all, Melbourne City Council, instead of being made larger to give a lead, was made smaller and more ineffectual to prevent inner-city residents having any say over Melbourne’s lucrative golden mile and inner region. Labor has been careful not to undo the pro-growth, pro-big-property stance of its predecessors. But for nine years it has taken the city for granted, simply assuming that it can absorb the growth to 4.5 million people. Now problems of housing affordability, traffic congestion and the inadequate contribution of the public transport system are upon us.

The proposal to create a greater City of Melbourne is not new but for various reasons has never been taken seriously. Jeff Kennett in fact went the other way and reduced the size of the Council to that of a small island.

There is an urgent need to review and expand the Cities boundaries.

The direct election model has failed to provide good governance and accountability.

John So has spent the Cities inheritance and family jewels. Come November he will also loose the support of a number of his collection or rubber stamps. It is expected that John will dump his Deputy Lord Mayor, Gary Singer, as team up with the third rate councillor David Wilson. Catherine NG, one of So’s best performers. is expected to stand down leaving a serious gap in Johns ability to undertake even the most basic of tasks required by the City Council.

John So leadership is also under question.

John has failed to provide financial management or corporate governance. His ability to chair a meeting is left seriously lacking.

Whilst there is ongoing support and talk around the town hall for an urgent review of the City Council, reality is that both the Councillors and the State Government have left it too late to initiate a serious review.

At best we could hope that the State Government undertakes a ministerial review restore balance and strengthen the Council’s accoutability and governance in the City Structure.

Lord Mayor, by default, is also the Council’s chairman.

One proposal that should be considered and adopted is the need to separate the role of Lord Mayor and that of the Chairman of the Council.

When the State Government implemented a direct election model it did not pay sufficient attention to the functioning of the Council and did not consider to the role of chairman.

The chairman of any council should always maintain the support and confidence of the elected Council, the Chairman must be elected from and by the Council itself and not part and parcel of Lord Mayor’s position.

The separation of the two roles and allowing the City Council to appoint the Council’s chairperson of their own chopping would go a long way to strengthening the Council’s governance and ability to hold the executive to account.

This one change is simple and logical and should be adopted without delay in the first week of the spring parliamentary session prior to the November Municipal election.

The Secret Reviewfor Council’s Eyes only

Melbourne City Council, true to form, held its own internal review of its representative model, conveniently forgetting that it is the State Government that really makes all the decisions and that the only real issue under Council’s control is whether or not to have postal or attendance voting.

The City Council called for submission and looked like it was doing the right thing, but was it. The City of Melbourne did not published copies of the submissions it had received, in fact most of the discussion was once again held behind closed doors at the all illegal Councillor briefing sessions. The meeting they have when they are not having a meeting.

In reading the minutes of last nights Finance and Governance Committee meetings the City Committee has recommended that the City of Melbourne formally request the State Government to include the City of Melbourne in its Local Government representation review and that the review also consider issues related to external boundaries.

The motion was passed four to three with John So’s (Do nothing) team voting against the motion.

It would appear that John does not want a representation review (You never know what it might come up with) The best way to silence your critics is to not give them a voice or opportunity to be heard.

The State Government is the proper authority to undertake the review, independent form the Council itself. The Councill’s review was nothing but a joke and the administration’s failure to published the submissions it received is another example of the Council trying to keep issues under wraps. The City has wasted time and money in the process.

The referral motion to the State Government will now go to the full City Council meeting scheduled in two weeks time. Odds are that John So will veto the motion and deny ratepayers and residents the review that the State Government should have had in the first place.

It is understood that the responsible Minister, Dick Wynn, would like to see a review but will only do so on the initiative and invitation of the City Council.

Will So do the right thing and support the review motion so that a review can be undertaken before next years Municipal elections or will John So once again avoid the tough questions and deny Melbourne the right of an independent public review, representaion and boundaries included? And more imprortant why is teh council limiting teh review of External boundaroes to Kensigton? Does not carlton also deserve the right to be re-united as does South Yarra and other neighbouring inner-metropolitan neighbourhoods.

Below copy of Motion passed by the City Council’s Finance and Governance Committee.

http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/opm/bc/CTEE/meetings/FGC_minutes_200709110630.pdf

The motion was put and carried with the Chair Cr Shanahan and Councillors Brindley, Clarke and Seddon voting
in favour of the motion and the Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer and Councillors Jeter and Wilson voting against
the motion.
The motion in its entirety reads:
1. That the Finance and Governance Committee recommend Council:
1.1. determine to undertake attendance voting for the 2008 Council Elections consistent
with state and commonwealth government practices (postal voting entitlements);
1.2. approach the State Government in relation to:
1.2.1. its published timetable for independent reviews of electoral structures of
Councils in Victoria currently excludes the City of Melbourne;
1.2.2. since the implementation of the City of Melbourne Act 2001, no review of the
structure of Council has been undertaken to ensure it meets the needs and
expectations of constituents of a dynamic and changing capital city;
1.2.3. the outcome community consultative processes instigated by Council on the
issues of electoral processes and local area representation;
1.3. write to the Minister for Local Government, in light of 1.2.1 to 1.2.3 above, to:
1.3.1. request that the City of Melbourne be included in the State Government’s
current review of all municipalities and provide advice in relation to
timeframe;
1.3.2. request that the State Government conduct an external review in line with the
Local Government Act 1989 and publicly declare results by March 2008;
1.3.3. request that the reassessment also include a review of the representative
model, inclusion of Docklands and external boundaries; and
1.3.4. inform on community feedback of City of Melbourne consultative processes.

The Secret Reviewfor Council’s Eyes only

Melbourne City Council, true to form, held its own internal review of its representative model, conveniently forgetting that it is the State Government that really makes all the decisions and that the only real issue under Council’s control is whether or not to have postal or attendance voting.

The City Council called for submission and looked like it was doing the right thing, but was it. The City of Melbourne did not published copies of the submissions it had received, in fact most of the discussion was once again held behind closed doors at the all illegal Councillor briefing sessions. The meeting they have when they are not having a meeting.

In reading the minutes of last nights Finance and Governance Committee meetings the City Committee has recommended that the City of Melbourne formally request the State Government to include the City of Melbourne in its Local Government representation review and that the review also consider issues related to external boundaries.

The motion was passed four to three with John So’s (Do nothing) team voting against the motion.

It would appear that John does not want a representation review (You never know what it might come up with) The best way to silence your critics is to not give them a voice or opportunity to be heard.

The State Government is the proper authority to undertake the review, independent form the Council itself. The Councill’s review was nothing but a joke and the administration’s failure to published the submissions it received is another example of the Council trying to keep issues under wraps. The City has wasted time and money in the process.

The referral motion to the State Government will now go to the full City Council meeting scheduled in two weeks time. Odds are that John So will veto the motion and deny ratepayers and residents the review that the State Government should have had in the first place.

It is understood that the responsible Minister, Dick Wynn, would like to see a review but will only do so on the initiative and invitation of the City Council.

Will So do the right thing and support the review motion so that a review can be undertaken before next years Municipal elections or will John So once again avoid the tough questions and deny Melbourne the right of an independent public review, representaion and boundaries included? And more imprortant why is teh council limiting teh review of External boundaroes to Kensigton? Does not carlton also deserve the right to be re-united as does South Yarra and other neighbouring inner-metropolitan neighbourhoods.

Below copy of Motion passed by the City Council’s Finance and Governance Committee.

http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/opm/bc/CTEE/meetings/FGC_minutes_200709110630.pdf

The motion was put and carried with the Chair Cr Shanahan and Councillors Brindley, Clarke and Seddon voting
in favour of the motion and the Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer and Councillors Jeter and Wilson voting against
the motion.
The motion in its entirety reads:
1. That the Finance and Governance Committee recommend Council:
1.1. determine to undertake attendance voting for the 2008 Council Elections consistent
with state and commonwealth government practices (postal voting entitlements);
1.2. approach the State Government in relation to:
1.2.1. its published timetable for independent reviews of electoral structures of
Councils in Victoria currently excludes the City of Melbourne;
1.2.2. since the implementation of the City of Melbourne Act 2001, no review of the
structure of Council has been undertaken to ensure it meets the needs and
expectations of constituents of a dynamic and changing capital city;
1.2.3. the outcome community consultative processes instigated by Council on the
issues of electoral processes and local area representation;
1.3. write to the Minister for Local Government, in light of 1.2.1 to 1.2.3 above, to:
1.3.1. request that the City of Melbourne be included in the State Government’s
current review of all municipalities and provide advice in relation to
timeframe;
1.3.2. request that the State Government conduct an external review in line with the
Local Government Act 1989 and publicly declare results by March 2008;
1.3.3. request that the reassessment also include a review of the representative
model, inclusion of Docklands and external boundaries; and
1.3.4. inform on community feedback of City of Melbourne consultative processes.

The Secret Reviewfor Council’s Eyes only

Melbourne City Council, true to form, held its own internal review of its representative model, conveniently forgetting that it is the State Government that really makes all the decisions and that the only real issue under Council’s control is whether or not to have postal or attendance voting.

The City Council called for submission and looked like it was doing the right thing, but was it. The City of Melbourne did not published copies of the submissions it had received, in fact most of the discussion was once again held behind closed doors at the all illegal Councillor briefing sessions. The meeting they have when they are not having a meeting.

In reading the minutes of last nights Finance and Governance Committee meetings the City Committee has recommended that the City of Melbourne formally request the State Government to include the City of Melbourne in its Local Government representation review and that the review also consider issues related to external boundaries.

The motion was passed four to three with John So’s (Do nothing) team voting against the motion.

It would appear that John does not want a representation review (You never know what it might come up with) The best way to silence your critics is to not give them a voice or opportunity to be heard.

The State Government is the proper authority to undertake the review, independent form the Council itself. The Councill’s review was nothing but a joke and the administration’s failure to published the submissions it received is another example of the Council trying to keep issues under wraps. The City has wasted time and money in the process.

The referral motion to the State Government will now go to the full City Council meeting scheduled in two weeks time. Odds are that John So will veto the motion and deny ratepayers and residents the review that the State Government should have had in the first place.

It is understood that the responsible Minister, Dick Wynn, would like to see a review but will only do so on the initiative and invitation of the City Council.

Will So do the right thing and support the review motion so that a review can be undertaken before next years Municipal elections or will John So once again avoid the tough questions and deny Melbourne the right of an independent public review, representaion and boundaries included? And more imprortant why is teh council limiting teh review of External boundaroes to Kensigton? Does not carlton also deserve the right to be re-united as does South Yarra and other neighbouring inner-metropolitan neighbourhoods.

Below copy of Motion passed by the City Council’s Finance and Governance Committee.

http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/opm/bc/CTEE/meetings/FGC_minutes_200709110630.pdf

The motion was put and carried with the Chair Cr Shanahan and Councillors Brindley, Clarke and Seddon voting
in favour of the motion and the Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer and Councillors Jeter and Wilson voting against
the motion.
The motion in its entirety reads:
1. That the Finance and Governance Committee recommend Council:
1.1. determine to undertake attendance voting for the 2008 Council Elections consistent
with state and commonwealth government practices (postal voting entitlements);
1.2. approach the State Government in relation to:
1.2.1. its published timetable for independent reviews of electoral structures of
Councils in Victoria currently excludes the City of Melbourne;
1.2.2. since the implementation of the City of Melbourne Act 2001, no review of the
structure of Council has been undertaken to ensure it meets the needs and
expectations of constituents of a dynamic and changing capital city;
1.2.3. the outcome community consultative processes instigated by Council on the
issues of electoral processes and local area representation;
1.3. write to the Minister for Local Government, in light of 1.2.1 to 1.2.3 above, to:
1.3.1. request that the City of Melbourne be included in the State Government’s
current review of all municipalities and provide advice in relation to
timeframe;
1.3.2. request that the State Government conduct an external review in line with the
Local Government Act 1989 and publicly declare results by March 2008;
1.3.3. request that the reassessment also include a review of the representative
model, inclusion of Docklands and external boundaries; and
1.3.4. inform on community feedback of City of Melbourne consultative processes.

State Government MUST act to restore good governance and accountability in the City Council

Herald-Sun Newspaper Article on John So’s Expenses – Public Comment

The directly elected model has failed to deliver accountability or good corporate governance.

Only last week former Lord Mayor, City Councillor and chairman of the the Council’s Finances Committee, Kevin Chamberlain, called on the sate government to sack the City Council following revelations of a blow out in the cost of governance.

Under the provisions of the Local Government Act every municipality is subject to a representation review every second term of office. (That is except the City of Melbourne)

Dick Wynne, Minister for Local Government and former Lord Mayor of Melbourne, MUST subject the City Council to an open and public review in line with the municipal reviews undertaken by every other City Council.

Any review of the City Council must include a review of the representative model including the directly elected Lord Mayor and should also consider changes to Melbourne’s external boundaries.

Melbourne City Council is due for such a review its last review (Which was not made public) was over two terms ago. Why is it The City Council exempt from this process?

State Government MUST act to restore good governance and accountability in the City Council

Herald-Sun Newspaper Article on John So’s Expenses – Public Comment

The directly elected model has failed to deliver accountability or good corporate governance.

Only last week former Lord Mayor, City Councillor and chairman of the the Council’s Finances Committee, Kevin Chamberlain, called on the sate government to sack the City Council following revelations of a blow out in the cost of governance.

Under the provisions of the Local Government Act every municipality is subject to a representation review every second term of office. (That is except the City of Melbourne)

Dick Wynne, Minister for Local Government and former Lord Mayor of Melbourne, MUST subject the City Council to an open and public review in line with the municipal reviews undertaken by every other City Council.

Any review of the City Council must include a review of the representative model including the directly elected Lord Mayor and should also consider changes to Melbourne’s external boundaries.

Melbourne City Council is due for such a review its last review (Which was not made public) was over two terms ago. Why is it The City Council exempt from this process?

State Government MUST act to restore good governance and accountability in the City Council

Herald-Sun Newspaper Article on John So’s Expenses – Public Comment

The directly elected model has failed to deliver accountability or good corporate governance.

Only last week former Lord Mayor, City Councillor and chairman of the the Council’s Finances Committee, Kevin Chamberlain, called on the sate government to sack the City Council following revelations of a blow out in the cost of governance.

Under the provisions of the Local Government Act every municipality is subject to a representation review every second term of office. (That is except the City of Melbourne)

Dick Wynne, Minister for Local Government and former Lord Mayor of Melbourne, MUST subject the City Council to an open and public review in line with the municipal reviews undertaken by every other City Council.

Any review of the City Council must include a review of the representative model including the directly elected Lord Mayor and should also consider changes to Melbourne’s external boundaries.

Melbourne City Council is due for such a review its last review (Which was not made public) was over two terms ago. Why is it The City Council exempt from this process?

Million Dollar Entourage John So’s cost of being popular

The Herald Sun has confirmed what we have been saying for the last six years.

John So has no idea of fiscal policies or how to govern. His Deputy Lord Mayor and political advisor is renowned for his financial activities and lack of transparency.

John So has embarked on a care-free spend fest.

So is prepared to tax motorist and Melbourne’s business community with immunity.

The City Council is more interested in lurks and perks then holding So to account for his expenditure.

Only last month a Ernst and Young review, in which John So and the Council administration tried to keep secret, exposed the fact that the Council has been in the red for the last two years.

The report was condemning of the Council administration, alleging overt deception in the way in which the Council’s finance and governance has been administered.

Designer-a-job is riff within the city council.

The Council had become a private club where senior officers designed themselves a job and their task was empire building. If there was something to their disliking they would employ someone to do the task that they should have done themselves.

Last year the Council also was exposed following a raid by the State Ombudsman. Alison Lyons, Council’s legal advisor at the time, tried to thwart the Ombudsman from looking into the affairs of the Council. The Ombudsman found that the Council had acted corruptly and that the Council had extorted millions of dollars of funds from motorist illegally.

John So suffered a limp wrist blow last month when the City Council moved a motion of no-confidence in the Lord Mayor. The motion was lost on the casting vote of John So himself.

Last week former Lord Mayor, City Councillor and Finance Committee Chairperson Kevin Chamberlain called on the State Government to sack the City Council .

What is clear is that the City of Melbourne must undergo a full review in line with other municipalities reviews. Why is Melbourne exempt?

The Member for Melbourne, Bronwyn Pike, had promised during last years State Election camiagn to undertake a review of Melbourne’s external boundaries. A promis that saved her seat in parliament.

It’s time for the State Government to act on the promises made and to initiate a public review so that any recommendations and findings can be implemented prior to the 2008 council elections.

The proposed review should also reconsider teh merits of the direct election model of te Lord Mayor with further consideration given to creating a expanded rater City for Melbourne.

The State Government’s “Do nothing – bury their head in the sand” approach can not continue. Dick Wynn, Minister for Local Government knows the issues well it is time he puts a plan for reform into action

Peter Mickelburough and Ian Royall
Herald Sun
July 13, 2007 12:00am

JOHN SO is the most expensive mayor Melbourne has had.

An Insight investigation has revealed it costs ratepayers up to $1 million a year to keep the mayoral office running.

Cr So, our first popularly elected Lord Mayor, is a cult figure to many Melburnians and last year became the first Australian named World Mayor.

——————————————————————————–

What do you think? Have your say below.
——————————————————————————–

But his office, like other city council departments, has bloated under his leadership.

His trappings of office include seven personal support staff: a full-time chauffeur, a media minder, an on-call speechwriter, an executive assistant, two part-time Pas and a chief of staff.

Cr So’s office and councillor expenses were off limits to a team from Ernst & Young called in to review council operations amid growing concerns they had become flabby and inefficient.

——————————————————————————–
John So: Power and passion

——————————————————————————–

The $300,000 review found the Town Hall management was top-heavy and disjointed and identified potential savings of at least $11.4 million.

Scores of staff are being axed across council departments to cut costs and balance the books.

But Cr So’s office has been spared the knife. He will retain all his staff, whose annual wages bill alone is estimated to nudge $700,000.

Add to this Cr So’s $120,000 annual allowance, expenses bill, and the cost of running his car and supplying his office.

“He certainly costs more than any lord mayor before him,” said one observer.

“If you include the many thousands spent on promotions that have a John So appearance clause built into them, it would easily top $1 million a year.”

The Lord Mayor yesterday defended the cost of his office and rebuffed his critics.

He said the resources of the mayoral office were for him and his deputy, Cr Gary Singer.

“I’m very conscious of the expenses, and the expenses have been reducing for a number of years,” he said.

“All I can is that we are very conscious of the resources that are available to us.”

Cr So also said he had called for the Ernst & Young report, saying that tough decisions had to be made as the previous review had been back in 1991.

The Insight investigation also revealed generous perks for the Lord Mayor’s chief of staff and close friend Kevin Louey, who is on a package of $140,000.

Cr So said the employment details were a management issue and he was not involved in drawing up Mr Luey’s contract.

“I believe he is the best person for the job,” Cr So said.

Insight can also reveal that councillors and executives were warned of long-term financial woe two years before the Ernst & Young efficiency report.

Cr So defended the council’s spending on marketing, promotions and sponsorships.

They were about stimulating business and bringing people in to the city, he said.

Just this week, councillors were asked to approve $720,000 in sports grants for city events linked to five major sporting events for the coming year. Instead, they signed off on $2.1 million for three years.

Every year until 2010, the council will hand out $100,000 for an international rugby match, $100,000 for the Formula One Grand Prix, $120,000 for the Australian Open tennis, $250,000 for AFL Grand Final week and $150,000 for the Spring Racing Carnival.

The funding was approved despite some earlier disquiet about the wisdom of the council giving cash to wealthy organisations such as the AFL and the Victorian Racing Club year after year.

Cr So said that everything he did was about delivering a balanced budget, stimulating business, and improving the quality of life in the municipality.

“It’s my job as Lord Mayor to represent the people of Melbourne,” he said.

Million Dollar Entourage John So’s cost of being popular

The Herald Sun has confirmed what we have been saying for the last six years.

John So has no idea of fiscal policies or how to govern. His Deputy Lord Mayor and political advisor is renowned for his financial activities and lack of transparency.

John So has embarked on a care-free spend fest.

So is prepared to tax motorist and Melbourne’s business community with immunity.

The City Council is more interested in lurks and perks then holding So to account for his expenditure.

Only last month a Ernst and Young review, in which John So and the Council administration tried to keep secret, exposed the fact that the Council has been in the red for the last two years.

The report was condemning of the Council administration, alleging overt deception in the way in which the Council’s finance and governance has been administered.

Designer-a-job is riff within the city council.

The Council had become a private club where senior officers designed themselves a job and their task was empire building. If there was something to their disliking they would employ someone to do the task that they should have done themselves.

Last year the Council also was exposed following a raid by the State Ombudsman. Alison Lyons, Council’s legal advisor at the time, tried to thwart the Ombudsman from looking into the affairs of the Council. The Ombudsman found that the Council had acted corruptly and that the Council had extorted millions of dollars of funds from motorist illegally.

John So suffered a limp wrist blow last month when the City Council moved a motion of no-confidence in the Lord Mayor. The motion was lost on the casting vote of John So himself.

Last week former Lord Mayor, City Councillor and Finance Committee Chairperson Kevin Chamberlain called on the State Government to sack the City Council .

What is clear is that the City of Melbourne must undergo a full review in line with other municipalities reviews. Why is Melbourne exempt?

The Member for Melbourne, Bronwyn Pike, had promised during last years State Election camiagn to undertake a review of Melbourne’s external boundaries. A promis that saved her seat in parliament.

It’s time for the State Government to act on the promises made and to initiate a public review so that any recommendations and findings can be implemented prior to the 2008 council elections.

The proposed review should also reconsider teh merits of the direct election model of te Lord Mayor with further consideration given to creating a expanded rater City for Melbourne.

The State Government’s “Do nothing – bury their head in the sand” approach can not continue. Dick Wynn, Minister for Local Government knows the issues well it is time he puts a plan for reform into action

Peter Mickelburough and Ian Royall
Herald Sun
July 13, 2007 12:00am

JOHN SO is the most expensive mayor Melbourne has had.

An Insight investigation has revealed it costs ratepayers up to $1 million a year to keep the mayoral office running.

Cr So, our first popularly elected Lord Mayor, is a cult figure to many Melburnians and last year became the first Australian named World Mayor.

——————————————————————————–

What do you think? Have your say below.
——————————————————————————–

But his office, like other city council departments, has bloated under his leadership.

His trappings of office include seven personal support staff: a full-time chauffeur, a media minder, an on-call speechwriter, an executive assistant, two part-time Pas and a chief of staff.

Cr So’s office and councillor expenses were off limits to a team from Ernst & Young called in to review council operations amid growing concerns they had become flabby and inefficient.

——————————————————————————–
John So: Power and passion

——————————————————————————–

The $300,000 review found the Town Hall management was top-heavy and disjointed and identified potential savings of at least $11.4 million.

Scores of staff are being axed across council departments to cut costs and balance the books.

But Cr So’s office has been spared the knife. He will retain all his staff, whose annual wages bill alone is estimated to nudge $700,000.

Add to this Cr So’s $120,000 annual allowance, expenses bill, and the cost of running his car and supplying his office.

“He certainly costs more than any lord mayor before him,” said one observer.

“If you include the many thousands spent on promotions that have a John So appearance clause built into them, it would easily top $1 million a year.”

The Lord Mayor yesterday defended the cost of his office and rebuffed his critics.

He said the resources of the mayoral office were for him and his deputy, Cr Gary Singer.

“I’m very conscious of the expenses, and the expenses have been reducing for a number of years,” he said.

“All I can is that we are very conscious of the resources that are available to us.”

Cr So also said he had called for the Ernst & Young report, saying that tough decisions had to be made as the previous review had been back in 1991.

The Insight investigation also revealed generous perks for the Lord Mayor’s chief of staff and close friend Kevin Louey, who is on a package of $140,000.

Cr So said the employment details were a management issue and he was not involved in drawing up Mr Luey’s contract.

“I believe he is the best person for the job,” Cr So said.

Insight can also reveal that councillors and executives were warned of long-term financial woe two years before the Ernst & Young efficiency report.

Cr So defended the council’s spending on marketing, promotions and sponsorships.

They were about stimulating business and bringing people in to the city, he said.

Just this week, councillors were asked to approve $720,000 in sports grants for city events linked to five major sporting events for the coming year. Instead, they signed off on $2.1 million for three years.

Every year until 2010, the council will hand out $100,000 for an international rugby match, $100,000 for the Formula One Grand Prix, $120,000 for the Australian Open tennis, $250,000 for AFL Grand Final week and $150,000 for the Spring Racing Carnival.

The funding was approved despite some earlier disquiet about the wisdom of the council giving cash to wealthy organisations such as the AFL and the Victorian Racing Club year after year.

Cr So said that everything he did was about delivering a balanced budget, stimulating business, and improving the quality of life in the municipality.

“It’s my job as Lord Mayor to represent the people of Melbourne,” he said.

Million Dollar Entourage John So’s cost of being popular

The Herald Sun has confirmed what we have been saying for the last six years.

John So has no idea of fiscal policies or how to govern. His Deputy Lord Mayor and political advisor is renowned for his financial activities and lack of transparency.

John So has embarked on a care-free spend fest.

So is prepared to tax motorist and Melbourne’s business community with immunity.

The City Council is more interested in lurks and perks then holding So to account for his expenditure.

Only last month a Ernst and Young review, in which John So and the Council administration tried to keep secret, exposed the fact that the Council has been in the red for the last two years.

The report was condemning of the Council administration, alleging overt deception in the way in which the Council’s finance and governance has been administered.

Designer-a-job is riff within the city council.

The Council had become a private club where senior officers designed themselves a job and their task was empire building. If there was something to their disliking they would employ someone to do the task that they should have done themselves.

Last year the Council also was exposed following a raid by the State Ombudsman. Alison Lyons, Council’s legal advisor at the time, tried to thwart the Ombudsman from looking into the affairs of the Council. The Ombudsman found that the Council had acted corruptly and that the Council had extorted millions of dollars of funds from motorist illegally.

John So suffered a limp wrist blow last month when the City Council moved a motion of no-confidence in the Lord Mayor. The motion was lost on the casting vote of John So himself.

Last week former Lord Mayor, City Councillor and Finance Committee Chairperson Kevin Chamberlain called on the State Government to sack the City Council .

What is clear is that the City of Melbourne must undergo a full review in line with other municipalities reviews. Why is Melbourne exempt?

The Member for Melbourne, Bronwyn Pike, had promised during last years State Election camiagn to undertake a review of Melbourne’s external boundaries. A promis that saved her seat in parliament.

It’s time for the State Government to act on the promises made and to initiate a public review so that any recommendations and findings can be implemented prior to the 2008 council elections.

The proposed review should also reconsider teh merits of the direct election model of te Lord Mayor with further consideration given to creating a expanded rater City for Melbourne.

The State Government’s “Do nothing – bury their head in the sand” approach can not continue. Dick Wynn, Minister for Local Government knows the issues well it is time he puts a plan for reform into action

Peter Mickelburough and Ian Royall
Herald Sun
July 13, 2007 12:00am

JOHN SO is the most expensive mayor Melbourne has had.

An Insight investigation has revealed it costs ratepayers up to $1 million a year to keep the mayoral office running.

Cr So, our first popularly elected Lord Mayor, is a cult figure to many Melburnians and last year became the first Australian named World Mayor.

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But his office, like other city council departments, has bloated under his leadership.

His trappings of office include seven personal support staff: a full-time chauffeur, a media minder, an on-call speechwriter, an executive assistant, two part-time Pas and a chief of staff.

Cr So’s office and councillor expenses were off limits to a team from Ernst & Young called in to review council operations amid growing concerns they had become flabby and inefficient.

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John So: Power and passion

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The $300,000 review found the Town Hall management was top-heavy and disjointed and identified potential savings of at least $11.4 million.

Scores of staff are being axed across council departments to cut costs and balance the books.

But Cr So’s office has been spared the knife. He will retain all his staff, whose annual wages bill alone is estimated to nudge $700,000.

Add to this Cr So’s $120,000 annual allowance, expenses bill, and the cost of running his car and supplying his office.

“He certainly costs more than any lord mayor before him,” said one observer.

“If you include the many thousands spent on promotions that have a John So appearance clause built into them, it would easily top $1 million a year.”

The Lord Mayor yesterday defended the cost of his office and rebuffed his critics.

He said the resources of the mayoral office were for him and his deputy, Cr Gary Singer.

“I’m very conscious of the expenses, and the expenses have been reducing for a number of years,” he said.

“All I can is that we are very conscious of the resources that are available to us.”

Cr So also said he had called for the Ernst & Young report, saying that tough decisions had to be made as the previous review had been back in 1991.

The Insight investigation also revealed generous perks for the Lord Mayor’s chief of staff and close friend Kevin Louey, who is on a package of $140,000.

Cr So said the employment details were a management issue and he was not involved in drawing up Mr Luey’s contract.

“I believe he is the best person for the job,” Cr So said.

Insight can also reveal that councillors and executives were warned of long-term financial woe two years before the Ernst & Young efficiency report.

Cr So defended the council’s spending on marketing, promotions and sponsorships.

They were about stimulating business and bringing people in to the city, he said.

Just this week, councillors were asked to approve $720,000 in sports grants for city events linked to five major sporting events for the coming year. Instead, they signed off on $2.1 million for three years.

Every year until 2010, the council will hand out $100,000 for an international rugby match, $100,000 for the Formula One Grand Prix, $120,000 for the Australian Open tennis, $250,000 for AFL Grand Final week and $150,000 for the Spring Racing Carnival.

The funding was approved despite some earlier disquiet about the wisdom of the council giving cash to wealthy organisations such as the AFL and the Victorian Racing Club year after year.

Cr So said that everything he did was about delivering a balanced budget, stimulating business, and improving the quality of life in the municipality.

“It’s my job as Lord Mayor to represent the people of Melbourne,” he said.