Ol’ Blind Joe
Shining a light
By Stirling Hamilton
IT HAS come to my attention that some folks see The Toodyay Herald as being overly critical of the shortcomings of our esteemed local shire council.
Well heavens to Murgatroyd, to Betsy, and any other bewildered bystanders.
A little secret my wife Truth always tells me is that a journalist’s prime duty is to dig, discover, deliberate and disseminate.
I’ve been observing local council matters for a decade now, writing for our paper and serving as a volunteer on successive Herald committees for seven years.
I can attest with all sincerity that I have never detected nor witnessed a hidden agenda of malice, prejudice or bias against anyone anywhere or at any time.Read more
Digging, exposing and calling public figures to account is not for everyone.
It can ruffle feathers and make good burghers squirm but would the world be a better place if ostriches ruled the roost?
We consider ourselves a cut above the rest and strive to be the best damn little paper in these parts.
Circulation is up 60 per cent in five years while other local papers have gone bust – so we must be doing something right.
Now, one of the most mind-numbingly boring things you can do on earth is to spend untold hours studying council agendas and minutes.
Hidden craftily and inscrutably among ten thousand pages of crap you’ll find an occasional nugget of gold and realise what our civic leaders are really up to.
Years ago I caught them slipping four little words “and leading up to” into a planning document.
It meant that if you subdivided a property, you no longer paid pro rata only for the frontage but also to seal gravel roads leading up to it.
Another debacle was ‘omnibus’ amendments where they were gonna make it illegal to have a spare truck or park up your sister’s boat for bit, and loads of other nutjob rules and new regulations.
I wrote about it, dozens of people came to a public meeting and the shire backed down.
Councillors cried “we didn’t know” because it was during an administration changeover.
But if a humble volunteer like yours truly could figure it out, why couldn’t our elected representatives manage the same with heaps of supposedly well-educated, well-paid office dwellers to rely on for professional advice?
Tucked away in those dark impenetrable pages, I’ve also discovered how councillors over the years have been delegating more and more powers to shire CEOs.
I’ve watched these power plays for years and they ain’t pretty as we saw when our council blew more than half a million bucks of ratepayer money pursuing former shire CEO Graham Merrick on a wild goose chase through the Perth courts.
Any council deliberations about CEOs always seem to be behind closed doors.
Us ratepaying peasants, electors and scribes are not allowed to be privy to the backroom deals that determine our fate.
Openness, accountability and transparency are not attributes that seem to be understood by most of our overlords.
Our shire won’t even talk publicly to the peasants except through a ratepayer-funded monthly ‘newsletter’ that councillors have no say in even when it breaches their own code of conduct, as in April last year.
But don’t hold your breath waiting for an apology because that’s not how our civic leaders operate.
I feel like the proverbial ‘stunned mullet’ watching them parade as doyens of representative democracy.
I shall no longer lament the past though in my opinion, the sooner their shadows cease to darken these fair valleys, the better.
NOW, I’VE got bigger fish to fry despite the fact that my editor suffers from pusillanimous provincialism and doesn’t think Toodyayites are ready for the big bad world beyond our shire borders.
I’ve spent thousands of hours studying warfare and the geopolitical manoeuvres occurring in the dark fog of the US hegemony machine.
America is the master of lying to get what it wants, especially in warfare.
It broke every treaty ever made with its indigenous citizens and provoked Mexico in 1846 so it could invade and steal more land.
It claimed in the 1898 Spanish-American War that the warship USS Maine had been blown up by Spanish saboteurs when it knew it was an onboard accident, and then stole the Caribbean Islands and Cuba.
It was no deal in Afghanistan when the Taliban wanted to offer up Bin Laden if no death penalty was imposed.
After 18 years of war and how many dead – and what about those weapons of mass destruction which went so well in Iraq?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led the charge in demonising Iran while the US crippled Iraq and Syria for him and then gave him the Golan Heights, which is Syrian land.
Will Iran be the next to fall, fulfilling Netanyahu’s dream of a Greater Israel no matter how many innocents die?
Saudi King Salman – an absolute ruler who commands immense oil wealth – and militant US National Security Advisor John Bolton seem hell-bent on provoking a potentially catastrophic war with Iran, which hasn’t invaded another country for 250 years.
I love America more than any other country in this world; and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticise her perpetually – American playwright, novelist and activist James Baldwin (1924-1987)