I write in reference to your very good article ‘New Rules threaten to stifle questioning of Council’ dated August 11.
I was prompted by this to write a letter to the councillors voicing my concern on this matter. I have received polite responses from all councillors thus far bar one – Michael Whelan. I don’t know if you think his response is newsworthy or not (attached). I do! I just cannot believe a councillor thinks it is okay to respond to the concerns of a ratepayer in this way. I am really shocked to be honest.
For the record, I am not a journalist (maybe he should have looked at his sources first!), but I do work with journalists.
The letters are verbatim and nothing has been changed:
“Dear Councillor Whelan,
“I am writing to express my significant concern at the seeming constraint of power and voice of our elected officials, you our councillors, by the paid executive body of BCC.
“I find it alarming that the draft changes to the BCC Governance rules limit the freedom of expression of you and other councillors and centralises power of the paid officials at Bass Coast Council.
“You, our councillors are elected as our voice and representatives to keep the paid executive accountable, honest and faithful to the community. The proposed erosion of this accountability and transparency is a real concern to me.
“Over the years I have had my own interactions with the current CEO and the executive of the Council, and I have on the whole found them evasive and obfuscating. On this basis I think it is imperative that councillors as a collective and individually are allowed to speak out against council decisions and resist restraint of your freedom of expression and voice.
“On this basis, I support the amendments proposed to Divisions 3, 6, 8 and 9 of the draft proposed by the Bass Coast Ratepayers and Residents Association.
“Please note, despite my work address I am a fulltime resident of Inverloch and a ratepayer of BCSC.
“I look forward to your timely response.
“Cait McMahon, Inverloch”
Response from Cr Whelan
“Hi Cait
“I am appalled at your attack on the CEO and senior officers and by implication on me. If you think my freedom of expression is limited by the CEO and staff, you simply do not know me.
“This nonsense is being pedalled by a few people and as a journalist I expect you would check your sources before speaking out like this.
“THE BCRA submission has been considered by council and what you need to understand is that the decisions have been taken by councillors. Of course, an individual councillor does not always get his or her way on these matters but nonetheless they have the opportunity to contribute.
“Cr Michael Whelan, Island Ward.”
Cait McMahon, Inverloch