Breach of trust
LOCAL ratepayers have every right to be angry at the outcome of a damning official inquiry into the Shire of Toodyay.
It exposes seven years of gross incompetence, appalling civic leadership and the senseless loss of more than half a million dollars of ratepayers’ money.
Herald readers will already know most of the facts behind the findings from regular newspaper reports over that period.
A culture of concealment and denial at the highest levels of local civic leadership – and unrestrained contempt for those who asked questions – has served now only to bring public disgrace on our community.Read more
At the heart of this debacle was the abject failure of our elected representatives to understand their roles and responsibilities.
Toodyay shire councillors are required by law to take the following oath of office before they sit in the council chamber:
“I will undertake the duties of the office of councillor in the best interests of the people in the municipality of Toodyay and faithfully and impartially carry out the functions, powers, authorities and discretions vested in me under the Local Government Act or any other Act to the best of my skill and judgment.”
Local government law requires all councillors to “represent the interests of electors, ratepayers and residents” and “provide leadership and guidance to the community”.
A report tabled in State Parliament last month clearly shows this did not happen.
In particular, it said Toodyay councillors failed in their duty to control a bungling CEO who repeatedly blew large amounts of public money on senseless legal cases while attacking his critics with derogatory emails and a “condescending tone”.
Toodyay was already undergoing an official State Government inquiry when councillors voted 5-4 in a bitterly contested decision in May last year not to renew the flailing former CEO’s three-year contract.
It was inexplicably reversed a month later when former shire president Brian Rayner, former deputy shire president Therese Chitty and Cr Paula Greenway – who all still sit on the council – voted 6-2 behind closed doors to support a secret backflip led by former Cr Judy Dow.
The inquiry result clearly shows that this was entirely the wrong decision – and now is the time for those responsible to be called to account for their actions.
They should resign.