John Dowson, President of the Fremantle Society, has blamed The  Society’s committee for a change in support related to a potential candidates for City Ward in forthcoming elections. He describes himself as ‘A servant to the committee’.

The Society have reneged on a promise to support Claudia Green, the founder and former chairperson of the Fremantle Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (FRRA), in her campaign for a seat in City Ward at Fremantle’s October elections.

From February of this year Ms Green and John Dowson negotiated to amalgamate their respective organisations.

A Special General Meeting which included members of both organisations was held on April 27th. There was overwhelming support for the amalgamation.

The minutes of the meeting state:”John Dowson President of the Fremantle Society spoke to the group about the activity of the FS. He was sure that the merger would result in benefit to the community. He wished Claudia Green well and offered her support in her campaign for a seat in City Ward”.

NEGOTIATIONS ENSURED A PLACE ON COMMITTEE

Ms Green said: “In negotiations with John I am to be given a position on the committees of the amalgamated organisations and also be supported in my campaign for City Ward”.

Claudia Green is experienced in the processes under which governments and local governments have to operate. She is a critic of Fremantle Council’s apparent lack of correct process.

In 2012 she established FRRA, the ratepayers’ association, to gain support for and to represent Fremantle citizens.

A major exposé was made by FRRA, initially in WA Business News in 2014 and widely reported in the general media. Martin Lee, a financial analyst, had been alerted to the Council’s 2012 business plan for the development of King’s Square and new council offices. His analysis of the plan exposed  financial flaws in the council’s estimates which may result in a debt to ratepayers of between $30m and $50m .

Those figures were supported by the Fremantle Society. A financial analyst contracted by The Society concluded the City is ‘technically insolvent’.

Claudia Green resigned from the chair of the FRRA in order to run her election campaign for a City Ward seat. Her platform will include issues related to the King’s Square Business Plan.

DOWSON PROMISE TAKEN ON FACE VALUE

Last week it was revealed that Dowson and the Fremantle  Society Committee had ignored the undertaking  made to Claudia Green, who has been a City Ward resident for 25 years,  and will instead support Catherine Hammond in Hilton and Mike Finn in City Ward.

Mike Finn is a resident of Cottesloe and proprietor of Kakulas’ Sister, a popular grocery store in Market Street.

The minutes of the special general meeting have been confirmed by FRRA secretary, Dr Elena Monaco, who said in an email to Fremantle Backchat:”With regard to the minutes of the FRRA meeting of 27 April, I took the minutes and they reflect what happened. John made his statement and those present took it at face value”.

‘THIS IS APPALLING’ – CITY WARD RESIDENT

Suzanne John, a long time resident of City Ward, was at the general meeting and agreed with the version of events which outlined John Dowson’s promise.

She said: “I am appalled by this”, explaining that she is not a member of the Fremantle Society. “We have little hope with this mysterious Mike Finn, I’m told he is a businessman. So is Nabor and look what happened there. No one had ever heard of him before the election, or for that matter, since!!!! I am supporting Claudia Green.”

“I AM A SERVANT OF THE COMMITTEE” – DOWSON

The Fremantle Society has not made an official announcement related to support for Hammond and Finn. John Dowson was asked if the report of the broken undertaking was true. He was asked: “…a point which has emerged, related to the elections and City Ward in particular, is that the FS/FRRA plan to support Michael Finn (Kakulas’s Sister) as a City Ward candidate.

“Does it mean they may be supporting two candidates? The joint press release from FS & FRRA said the combined organisations would be supporting Claudia Green.

“The amalgamation was given as her reason for letting go of FRRA, to give her the time and space to run a campaign. Could you clarify that situation?”

A copy of the relevant minute, related to Dowson’s undertaking of support for Green was attached with the question.

Mr Dowson replied:”There is a surfeit of good talent having Claudia and Mike running but there is a lot going on behind the scenes. The FS committee is fortunate in having two members of its committee running and the committee has voted to endorse and support Catherine Hammond for Hilton and Mike Finn for City. I am obviously a servant of the committee.”

SO WHO APPROACHED WHOM? WHAT’S THE RELEVANCE?

Mr Dowson was also asked: “One point made is that you approached Mike Finn to sit on the FS committee. Is that accurate or did he approach you?”

He replied: “Not sure [of] the relevance of what might have happened months ago.”

The relevance is that if Dowson approached Finn (or vice versa) ‘months ago’ that approach may predate the negotiations held with Green in relation to an amalgamation. The FS President may already have made a commitment to Finn to support him in his run for a seat in City Ward. If that is the case the commitment by Dowson to include Green on the committee of the combined organisation, as well as his statement of support at the special meeting only a month ago, may have been misleading.

PRESIDENT ON LEAVE

The Fremantle Society President is reported to have left Australia for two months travel. Vice President Robert Bodkin has been asked, in Mr Dowson’s absence: “John Dowson has described himself as a ‘slave of his committee’. Would that be an accurate description and does it reflect the meeting at which the decision to support Finn was made? Who proposed and seconded Finn? Who asked Finn to join the FS committee? He was not elected.

At the time of publishing no answer had been received.

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