IT MUST surely by now be obvious to even the most ardent Shire of Toodyay supporters that something is badly wrong.
Three councillors have quit in less than a year, two of them deeply upset by how they were treated, and two within a month.Read more
The dysfunction in our shire is not that it has been placed on official notice to fix deficiencies in its operations and affairs, but in its culture and attitude.
Serious allegations of workplace bullying have been raised in an appallingly rude and condescending email that was sent last month to a newly elected councillor who quit two days later in disgust.
The shire has already been warned by the WA Local Government Department to lift its game or face possible further action.
But we are not talking here about shire “policies, processes, procedures and compliance’, which have been placed under ongoing departmental scrutiny.
This is about a written attack by a shire employee on a newly elected councillor in patronising language that can only be described as disgraceful.
The fact that it was sent on a Saturday afternoon makes it even worse.
What kind of public servant rips into an elected member by accusing them of ignorance and “ill-considered opinions”, threatens that they will be “jumped on” and then delivers a lecture on what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour?
All this was over a councillor’s email that wasn’t even addressed to him and to which he responded without first consulting those to whom it was addressed.
Had this occurred in a State or Federal Government department, that public servant would most likely have been fired.
But in our council, all that happens publicly is that the shire president says the employee “shouldn’t have played it so strong”.
Our council – already under pressure from the regulatory authority in Perth – is now in damage-control mode with in-house mediation to try to sort out the mess.
But it comes too late to save the job of a highly regarded professional who won public office last year with overwhelming public support and whose expertise in governance could have been a valuable asset to our shire over the next few years.
Upcoming by-elections in the shire’s Central and West Wards are described elsewhere in this month’s Herald as a battle between the past and the future.
Prospective candidates would do well to consider this before nominating.