John So’s Casting Karma Lord Mayor Survives No-Confidence Vote by His Own Casting Vote

John So Narrowly survived a a vote of no-confidence in his leadership by using his casting vote.

The vote of no-Confidence was moved following John’s So’s inability to properly manage the City of Melbourne fiscal budget and his decision to introduce a deficit for the 2007-8 financial year.

The Melbourne City Council, in what was seen as another blow to John So was that he was forced to invite the Dalai Lama to visit the Town Hall on his trip to Melbourne next month. The Dalai Lama has previously been welcomed at Town Hall during his past visits but ever since John So has been at the helm Town Hall, acting on the instructions of the Chinese Government have refused to extend a cordial invitation to the Tibetan spiritual leader. The Dalai Lama in 1992 had officated at a planting of a Budhi Tree in the Council designed ‘Peace Garden’ located in Carlton Gardens. The original tree was attacked by Vandals and the City Council under Rob Adams has not reinstated the tree.

Mayor survives attacks, but loses Dalai Lama fight
Clay Lucas The Age May 30, 2007

LORD Mayor John So has been forced to use his casting vote to stop a vote of no confidence in his leadership — the first such vote in his six years at the helm of Melbourne City Council.

And at a special meeting of the council last night, the Lord Mayor was forced to invite the Dalai Lama to visit the Town Hall on his trip to Melbourne next month.

Cr So, who is closely aligned to Melbourne’s Chinese business community, came under fire two weeks ago for trying to ensure that no councillors met the Tibetan spiritual leader.

He came under renewed attack last night from four of the nine councillors, who confronted him on issues ranging from his failure to attend council committee meetings to accusations of economic mismanagement and claims that he ordered council spending without proper authority.

Cr So normally controls the numbers on the council, but with Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer in Europe, visiting the mayors of London and Milan, the Lord Mayor was forced to use his casting vote to defend himself from the attacks.

Shrugging off accusations from Cr Peter Clarke that his mayoral style was becoming reminiscent of former Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen — because he “made decisions behind closed doors” — the Lord Mayor said: “Melbourne is doing very, very well.”

Last night’s meeting comes ahead of today’s announcement of the biggest shake-up at the council in 14 years.

Consultants Ernst & Young last month completed a $300,000 report on how the council could cut costs.

Chief executive David Pitchford, who deemed the report highly confidential, will give his recommendations to the council’s 1100 staff today.

The recommendations could could result in lay-offs at the council.

But the biggest news may have already been revealed inadvertently by the Lord Mayor.

Cr So last week appeared to break the confidentiality agreement surrounding the report when, under pressure from 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, he said: “Yes, we get some staff redundants. Yes, of course.”

Immediately after staff are told their fate today, the chief executive will hold talks with the Australian Services Union.

Other related coverage
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Councillor to attend Dalai event, even if So doesn’t
Budget blow-out a ‘turn on’ for media man So
As you spend, So shall you reap?
Rudd’s Dalai Lama drama