GOVERNMENTS REVEAL FREMANTLE HAS WORST FINANCIAL RECORD & HIGHEST PAID MAYOR IN WA

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                          Work progressing on Fremantle Council’s new Administration Centre 

•Fremantle Has Highest Financial Risk Factor

•Brad Pettitt Top of the Financial League of Mayors

•Government Advise Ratepayers: ‘question council performances

Statistics, published in The West Australian (17th April 2018), show Dr Brad Pettitt has become the highest paid mayor in Western Australia.. These figures are confirmed by Fremantle Council’s accounts and exclude various allowances. 

Additional statistics, published in WA Government’s Financial Health Index (FHI), show that during Dr Pettitt’s tenure the City of Fremantle has fallen to the lowest position in the State with a Financial Health Index  figure of 44

In two of the immediate past three financial years the city had a low score of 42 and 44. In the Financial year of 2016-17 the score was also very low but the city changed its accounting methodology and elevated the FHI to 87. At that time Treasury issued a statement saying: ‘We stand by our original figures’.

Top Mayoral Salaries are:

Fremantle: $139,419

Joondalup: $139,410

Belmont:   $139,409

Bayswater: $139,310

The Financial Health Index of those Councils show:

Fremantle: 44

Joondalup: 61

Bayswater: 86

Belmont:   94

The higher the score, the better the financial health of a council. These scores are an indication of financial management and of services offered to ratepayers. They show ratepayers’ their value for money.

It is interesting to note the second lowest performance is Nedlands with an FHI of 50. Fremantle based consultancy LewiCorp Pty Ltd, owned by Chris Lewis who spearheaded the failed ‘Keep the Dockers in Fremantle’ campaign, is shown as being paid as a council adviser in the accounts of both Fremantle and Nedlands. Lewis was also instrumental in a fundraising campaign for Dr Pettit’s first mayoral campaign. 

GOVERNMENT ADVISES COMMUNITIES TO QUESTION COUNCIL PERFORMANCES

The WA Government website <https://mycouncil.wa.gov.au/Council/CompareAllCouncil> advise to ratepayers states: “A very high or low FHI may be a prompt for questions to be asked by the community about a local government’s revenue, expenses, and service delivery. The FHI is best viewed as a trend over time”

ACADEMIC THEORY- ARE THE CHOOKS COMING HOME TO ROOST ?

When Dr Pettitt was first elected mayor he stated: ‘. . . I’m delighted to be able to put my academic theories into practice in Fremantle . . . ’. but has never detailed his academic theories. After nearly ten years in the top job, and based on the performance of council under his leadership, the theories must be questioned.

A ratepayer-funded, multimillion dollar, public relations campaign has failed to halt the slide in the city’s fortunes. The campaign includes websites, newspaper advertising and a magazine which has ceased publication after council admitted it has failed. 

There is a growing impatience among ratepayers and businesses, a very high proportion of whom have closed shop and left or are struggling to pay higher rents and increasing rates in the face of falling customer numbers.

FAILED PROMISES

The city’s east end now has approximately 80 vacant retail premises with no sign of the resurgence of business promised as a result of the development of a Woolworth’s shopping centre (now prematurely closed). The increase of trade from residents expected from new developments have not materialised. Anectodal evidence indicates the LIV apartments are about 50% occupied following an increase in service personnel taking up residence..

In the instance of the re-development of Atwell Arcade the mayor promised that 300 people would be employed in the new offices. That was three years ago. So far there are about 40.

Without knowing Dr Pettitt’s academic theories it is difficult to comment but there is scant evidence of their success. There is no questioning Brad Pettitt’s youthful enthusiasm but after ten years it is reasonable to question the efficacy of his theories.

Over the next few weeks Fremantle Backchat will examine issues related to the current failure of the city to improve its financial position.

Part Two: Next Week. Council’s Lack of Transparency

Roger Garwood, Editor. <editorbackchat@gmail.com>

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70th ANNIVERSARY of the BLESSING OF THE FLEET

This Sunday, 28th October, Fremantle’s Blessing of the Fleet opens  Fremantle’s annual festival. A new book celebrates the 70th anniversary of one of the oldest religious  ceremonies in Australia.

The Fishing Fleet Festival Association have published “Blessing of the Fleet” compiled and edited by Susanna  Iuliano and Maria Amato-Gorman. The 224 page book has interviews with leading members of the fishing community as well as photographs taken by  many people who are an intricate part of the festival.

These are few of my favourite pictures taken in  earlier days, from 1976.  They are in  no particular order but  show  the varied and distinctive nature of the city’s oldest celebration. The book will be available from New Edition Bookshop and the Maritime Museum.

SIRONA MISS DEADLINE

SIRONA CAPITAL MISS DEADLINE FOR $6.65m SPICER PAYMENT

CLAIMING “THERE  IS NO DEBT”

Sirona Capital, after gaining an additional six month extension from Fremantle Council to settle the $6.65m payment  for the Spicer Site did not settle on the amended due date, 30th September 2018. The Spicer site has been described as a part of the The King’s Square Plan  (KSP) a joint venture between Fremantle Council and Sirona Capital and is designed to revitalise the city’s centre. COUNCIL: “SETTLEMENT … NOT YET HAPPENED” On the 8th October Fremantle Backchat  were informed by the council’s administration that: “Settlement of the sale of the former Spicer site has not yet happened, however the agreement for the City of Fremantle to sell the property to Sirona (Capital) remains in place.” A City administration spokesperson continued in an email “… under these circumstance The City and Sirona will now be subject to this process which involves a 30 working day period for settlement to occur”. That takes the settlement day to Friday, 9th November. SIRONA: “THERE IS NO DEBT” A spokesperson for Sirona Capital said in an email to Fremantle Backchat:  “ I understand you have also approached the City of Fremantle on this topic and they have responded. However, I cannot allow your interpretation of the commercial arrangement between the City and Sirona to go uncorrected. We have entered into a contract for sale with deferred settlement terms. There is no debt.” This statement leads to some confusion. Sirona claim “There is no debt”, the City claim the debt has not been paid on the due date but a process, presumably to agree a settlement, is part of a contract. Fremantle Backchat have approached Sirona Capital to clarify the ‘no debt’ statement. There was no reply at the time this story was published. COUNCIL MINUTES DEFINED DATE The date for settlement was stated unequivocally in the Council’s minutes for the 11th April 2018 General Meeting: “COUNCIL DECISION ITEM FPOL1802-12 (Committee Recommendation) Moved: Mayor, Brad Pettitt  Seconded: Cr Dave Hume That Council authorise the Chief Executive Officer authority to approve extension of the settlement date for the former Spicer property for a period up to 30 September, 2018, and amend the Project Development Deed in accordance with this extension.” LACK OF TRANSPARENCY For some years questions have been raised regarding the lack of transparency surrounding the KSP. Financial analyst Martin Lee  together with Claudia Green, a former candidate for City Ward, exposed flaws which indicated the financial plans were not sustainable and that ratepayers could face a debt of up to $50m. In January this year Sirona Capital had a writ issued against it claiming the directors  had acted “fraudulently”,  “negligently” and made “misrepresentations” related to the conversion of a $5m loan into equity. The writ, issued by Cooper and Oxley’s administrators was seeking $5 million plus 15% interest on that sum since late 2011, about $1.2 million, plus unspecified damages. This occurred at the time $6,65m was to be paid to Fremantle Council for the Spicer Site. Sirona Capital instead requested a further postponement of 12 months. Council granted six months. The writ was claimed to have been “settled” by Sirona MD Matthew McNeilly though the administrators for Cooper and Oxley did not confirm that settlement when  Fremantle Backchat requested clarification. SIRONA CLAIMED: “BACKING OF $190m” These events occurred before Sirona announced they had secured financial backing for the King’s Square plan of $190m from superannuation fund managers FSS. The question is why, with this financial backing for the KSP, of which the Spicer site has been named a part, could the company not pay $6.65m on the due date? On 15th June 2018 Fremantle Backchat questioned Sirona Capital’s solvency. <https://wp.me/p3YA9m-zA> SIRONA DIVIDED & LOSE $100m On September 25th 2018 joint statements from Sirona Capital and Harvis outlined that the Sirona’s two managing directors had divided Sirona Capital. Kelvin Flynn left Sirona and formed Harvis taking $100m of assets and a number of Sirona’s principle executives, leaving Matthew McNeilly with Sirona Capital, less $100m in assets.   Roger Garwood Editor editorbackchat@gmail.com

MELLOW YELLOW, THE MAYOR,  DONOVAN AND  AN ELECTRIC BANANA  WHICH WENT PEAR SHAPED

THE TRUE STORY OF A FABLED ARTWORK  WHICH USED THE WRONG RECIPE

Back in the mid 1960s, the days of flower power and a few substances, other than alcohol, which could mess with your head  I was fortunate enough to be living and working in the middle of London. 

Naturally I was cautious about imbibing in substances other than water or eating anything more adventurous than a cucumber sandwich.

At that time, around 1965,  a young troubadour by the name of Donovan was making waves in the music world. His lyrics were a little difficult to understand but a modicum of research has revealed that he may have been the unwitting instigator of the great artwork in Fremantle which is now refusing to leave. 

MELLOW YELLOW

One of his hits from around 1966 was ‘Mellow Yellow’. Nobody has actually been able to work out what it was all about, let alone Donovan himself.  

One verse runs:

Electrical banana

Is gonna be a sudden craze

Electrical banana

Is bound to be the very next phase

Nobody actually knew what an Electric Banana was.  Donovan was unable to offer a clear explanation and there may have been a good reason.

However one story is that an Electric Banana was made by getting a couple of sticks of Juicy Fruit chewing gum and inserting them under the skin of the ‘nana. The fruit was then left to mature over a few days and, in fact, go a little mouldy. Hence ‘Mellow Yellow’ Then, and there are several versions of this, you simply peel the banana and eat it, gum and all. The net results were some pretty wild hallucinations.

Some people say it didn’t work. I confess my memory is not serving me well.

FAST FORWARD TO FREO FESTIVAL 2017

It does appear that our mayor  dreamt that a  lot of banana shaped curves, draped artistically on the walls of the West End buildings, would serve the city well. 

Thus the dream of Brad and Felice the Artist came to fruition (fruit being the operative word). The High Street was decorated with banana peel look-alike graphics. It worked and the world woke up to the dream.

Sadly, or at least amusingly, the artwork is refusing to leave us and true to the legend, going a little mouldy. It’s now supplying endless entertainment. It is, as the mayor likes to expound – a sustainable dream come true. 

MISSING: PAINT STRIPPER AND AN  ELECTRIC DILDO

Those of us who have been around since well before the last rains know the original recipe for the Mellow Yellow bananas didn’t work too well. 

A modified version was derived using Dichloromethane injected into the bananas. It apparently worked wonders. But here’s the real rub – Dichloromethane is  nothing more than paint stripper! Had the Mayor used an up-dated recipe for the idea in the first place maybe the art would disappear immediately, just like any other hallucinogen. (I’m not sure up-dated is the right word)

Of course it doesn’t end there. Donovan did at one time confess he’d heard an electric banana is a yellow, battery powered, dildo. 

The mind boggles but there may be enough of them in the sex shop in High Street to supply council members with a few to strip paint, or whatever moves their fancy. I didn’t use ‘up-dated’ in this paragraph but was tempted.

Here are the lyrics to Mellow Yellow. Maybe they can sing along to them while they work and dream.

MELLOW YELLOW (Written by © Donovan Leith, circa 1965)

I’m just mad about Saffron

Saffron’s mad about me

I’m just mad about Saffron

She’s just mad about me

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

I’m just mad about Fourteen

Fourteen’s mad about me

I’m just mad about Fourteen

She’s just mad about me

They call me mellow yellow

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

Born high forever to fly

Wind velocity nil

Wanna high forever to fly

If you want your cup I will fill

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

Electrical banana

Is gonna be a sudden craze

Electrical banana

Is bound to be the very next phase

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

Saffron, yeah

I’m just mad about her

I’m just mad about Saffron

She’s just mad about me

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

Roger Garwood

Editor: <editorbackchat@gmail.com

WHOOPS! “FUCK YOU BRAD”.

I dare not use the term “FUCK YOU BRAD”. 

Many of us are beginning to realise the leadership of council is rather self centred, thin skinned and demonstrably inept. In fact there is concern as to who is actually directing the city. 

DOES THE MAYOR REALLY GIVE A FUCK?

Poor Brad didn’t have his familiar cheesy grin in place when The Herald printed their controversial headline a couple of weeks ago. He delivered  a severe rap over the knuckles to The Herald’s editorial team. It must have been like being hit in the kisser with a damp (undoubtably recycleable) nappy.

YET HE WAS SILENT WHEN AN EX SQUEEZE ADVISED YOUNG GIRLS ‘FORGET YOUR PANTS’  WHEN GOING TO CONCERTS’.

A few weeks ago Brad did not say a word, other than provide tacit endorsement, when one of his former ‘squeezes’, City Ward Councillor Rachel Pemberton, encouraged girls who were planning  to attend the Falls Festival to wear a recommended dress code:

‘NO KNICKERS, SEE THROUGH BRA (or no bra) and FUCK ME BOOTS”’ 

Pemberton made  the comments  on her ratepayer funded blog. 

Is there a sniff of hypocrisy in the council chamber? You bet there is.

The Herald team apologised over the juxtaposition of their headline which made it appear the comment was made by indigenous leader Bropho. But the story was solid.

THE TROLLS WERE OUT

It seems obvious that the Cult of Brad was activated over the headline which clearly ruffled the poor possum’s fur and the trolls were sent out to do battle. The Herald’s letter pages were littered with the cult’s self righteous comments.

WHO IS THE REAL HERO?

Fremantle Backchat would like to meet the real hero of this story – the woman who told the Mayor to get fucked.

Here’s the original story from the Herald, sans Mr Bropho.

Trolls can contact:

Roger Garwood, Editor, Backchat

editorbackchat@gmail.com