And you thought the Sydney City Council elections were tough…


Glen Eira meeting ends in fisticuffs

Sealed section – 23 March

Crikey correspondent Stacey Stack lifted her head out of the
trenches at dawn just long enough to check out the charred remains of
last night’s Glen Eira council meeting.

Melbourne’s south-eastern council continues to grab headlines after
last night’s meeting ended in an explosive bit of Korean-style biff and
boff.

The action started early with standing room only in the public
gallery, and rolled ‘Mayor-in-Exile’ Cr Jamie Hyams accusing ex-Mayor
Cr Dorothy Marwick of using council meetings for her own private “show
and tell”.

Further into the meeting there was the obligatory trading of insults
and accusations with Hyams accusing Cr Rachelle Sapir of breaching
entitlements and demanding that she repay ratepayer funded airfares and
hotel bills from an interstate junket she took last year.

Cr Noel Erlich referred to Cr Peter Goudge as the “Honourable
backbench Member for Eltham”; while Goudge accused Erlich of not
declaring a conflict of interest when his wife was an objector to a
planning application considered by the council.

Right after the meeting the sparks really flew with members of the
public gallery shouting each other down, the CEO dived for cover in an
adjoining room and Cr Noel Erlich shirt-fronted David Feldman from the
local ratepayers group. (Which was quite an interesting sight as
Feldman is only slightly built and 5 foot not much; whereas Erlich is
about twice his size and then some).

Stunned Councillors, officers and the public looked on as David and
Goliath battled it out with Erlich pushing Featherweight Dave around
and at one point saying “f*ck you, you little f*cker!”

Featherweight Dave did his best to stand his ground and maintain
composure when Cr Erlich came back for more with “Let’s step outside so
I can beat you to a pulp” which Stacey heard quite clearly as she dived
for cover behind the sandbags.

At this point Council Officers stepped in between the pair and pulled Erlich away.

Featherweight Dave did the ‘strength-to-weight ratio’ sums and
decided it was time to leave and walked out of the chambers. The last
thing Stacey saw was Erlich running after him down the stairs a few
moments later.

The real question on everyone’s lips down here in the trenches is
will Cr Erlich resign? Or will the minister have to sack the council?

===========================================

This saga began when years of council tradition were ignored in a last minute grad for leadership. See how it unfolded below:

Glen Eira Mayoral charade turns ugly

Sealed section – 16 March

The Glen Eira Mayoral elections in Melbourne’s affluent south eastern suburbs were held on Monday 15th March.

It is a long-standing tradition since before time began that the
councillors assemble behind closed doors the day prior (Sunday) and
conduct a secret ballot for the mayoral election.

This is so that on the real election night (in front of the public) the
council only nominates one candidate and they are elected unopposed –
to create a united council from a PR persepctive.
It also allows the “mayor-elect” to invite his/her family and friends along the following night.

On Sunday, Cr Jamie Hyams won the secret ballot after nominations from
Cr Jamie Hyams, Cr Bob Bury and Cr Margaret Esakoff. Being a close win
– Cr Noel Erlich (bagman for Melbourne Ports Labor MP – Michael Danby)
showed Jamie Hyams his vote (which was for Jamie).

On the Monday night ahead of the public meeting – 5 Councillors (all
Bob Bury’s votes plus Noel Erlich) met secretly and decided to vote
against Jamie and overturn the secret ballot from the night before. (It
should be noted that the public vote is by a show of hands – not a
secret ballot).

At the public meeting there were two nominations – Jamie Hyams and Bob
Bury – Bob won as a result of Noel suddenly supporting Bob.

All Jamie Hyams’ supporters launched a stinging rebuke against Noel
Erlich for voting the previous day based on the assumption as to how
others would vote.

Cr Rachelle Sapir (Labor candidate for Brighton in 2002) has admitted
that Noel Erlich was acting on advice from Michael Danby, Rachelle
Sapir was acting for Rob Hudson (State MP for Bentleigh), and Veronika
Martens for Ann Barker (State MP for Oakleigh).

Oh dear, the Bruvvas and their factions are all so contrived, aren’t they?

Caulfield racecourse and Glen Eira council

Sealed section – 18 March

Crikey hears that the real story in Melbourne’s Glen Eira council
is the political inteference that has been brought to bear in relation
to the Caulfield Racecourse Trust.

The council has three councillors that sit on the trust and council
last year voted that these should be Cr Alan Grossbard, Cr Dorothy
Marwick, and Cr Noel Erlich.

It turns out that Cr Dorothy Marwick and Cr Noel Erlich both received
letters congratulating them and welcoming them to the trust – but Cr
Alan Grossbard didn’t.

It seems that the Bracks Government substituted Cr Veronika Martens in his place.

Can anyone shed any light on why this happened and which State MPs were involved in the plot?

Glen Eira council and the Liberal Party

Sealed section – 19 March

A subscriber writes:

Anyone who has watched “Grass Roots” or follows local council affairs
knows that back-stabbing, betrayal, jealousy, corruption, petty
ambition and feral behaviour is far more prevalant in local government
than Federal or State.

Your item on the election of the Mayor in Glen Eira contains elements
of fact but your correspondent obviously has a very political agenda.

Yes, Jamie Hyams was dudded when Cr Bury was elected Mayor after the
agreement made in secret the previous day was spectacularly overturned
in the council meeting when Cr Erlich changed his vote.

However, it’s not a case of political interference from Labor
politicians. Cr Rachelle Sapir is the only Labor councillor. Cr Martens
is an independent and to suggest that Cr Erlich is a”bagman” for
Michael Danby is laughable – he swapped preferences with Liberal Party
candidates at the last election and put the endorsed Labor candidate
last. In fact, at least 6 of the 9 councillors are members of or
married to members of the Liberal Party. What else would you expect in
the middle class south-east suburbs? As long as they are united they
control the council and the election of the Mayor. But obviously they
are not.

The real explanation is that the egos of individual councillors and the
games played by some who have higher political ambitions have split the
Liberal grouping. In the aftermath of the election of the Mayor, Cr
Goudge – a Liberal candidate in the last state election – angrily
declared the Mayor did not have his support while a stunned Cr Hyams
was comforted by his family and friends. They are now more likely to
spend their time fighting each other than focussing on civic matters –
but at least it will be entertaining.

Your subscriber,

Glen Huntly

Australian Jewish News also weighed in on the debate in today’s edition saying:

“A Jewish community employee who expected to be ratified as mayor of
the city of Glen Eira on Monday was voted out of office by his fellow
councillors.”

AJN says Councillor Jamie Hyams, 35, a researcheer and policy analyst
at teh Australian/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, lashed out out
at his fellow councillors this week, assucinf them of “a complete
disregard for council convention”.

Hymas was defeated five votes to four.

The Glen Eira files

Sealed section – 21 March

A well connected East Bentleigh resident writes:

Your contributor from Glenhuntly argues that inter-party politics is
not a factor in the Glen Eira Council vis a vis the recent Mayoral
contest and the undignified way that a group conspired to roll Mayor
elect Jamie Hyams at the statutory meeting.

But Crikey’s Glen Eira story asked if party politics had anything to do
with Alain Grossbard being rolled from the Caulfield Race Course Trust
( despite the desire of the Trust to keep Cr Grossbard on the board )
and replaced with Cr Veronica Martens, a close ally of local Labor MPs
especially Ann Barker.

I’d say that the answer is quite obvious. Cr Martens may be one in
number, but with the support of local Labor MPs, she has been masterful
in devising divide and conquer strategies to gain the upper hand on the
council.

Independent? Well, not to those who know her well!

Glen Eira Council meeting Merry-go-round

Stacey Stack is still amusing herself with the ‘merry-go-round’ laps of
the council chamber being perfomed by some councillors last night.

Glen Eira’s new ‘Mayor au Scandal’ – Cr Bob Bury chaired his first council meeting and it sure was a ripper.

Cr Hyams was asking a question when Crs Erlich, Sapir, Martens and
Marwick just got up and walked out – leaving the meeting without a
quorum and leaving Cr Hyams at the microphone and unable to ask his
question.

When Cr Marwick walked back in – Hyams started his question again – then Marwick realised and walked back out.

The whole group walked back in after a while, just to walk back out again after Hyams got another sentence of his question out.

Eventually the rogue group felt the need to rest their bottoms on their
ratepayer funded leather chairs and Cr Hyams asked Mayor Bob Bury – “Am
I able to ask my question Mr Mayor or are we just going to do laps of
the council chamber all night?”

Crikey and Stacey Stack are relieved to learn that Glen Eira obviously has a fitness program for its councillors.

===========================================

Readers feedback:

As a long-suffering ratepayer of Glen Eira I now pay over $2000 a year
to the wastrel ratbags ensconced in clown hall. For this I get garbage
collection & recycling, and occasionally somebody fixes the
road. Cat & dog rego and green waste collection are extras
you have to pay for. I’ve got no objection to aged care,
libraries and sporting facilities, but councillors and council
employees squandering public money on themselves is a different matter.

The renovations of the town hall a few years ago said it all. The
council chambers, meeting rooms and executive offices were luxuriously
revamped. The councillors & staff got comfy new leather
chairs in the chamber. But what about the ratepayers who came
along to council meetings as observers? They got the same hard
old recycled church pews that had numbed their bums before the
revamp. That said everything about the council’s view of the
punters.

Rummaging through the council website throws up other gems of attitude.
The council has an art collection. It’s too big to display all at
once. So the works are hung on rotation around the town hall, and
no doubt hugely appreciated by the art lovers on the council and the
staff. Some bright spark has tumbled to the fact that the
residents of Glen Eira might be wondering why there’s an art collection
if they don’t get the benefit. So there’s now a virtual gallery
attached to the council website. Paid for by guess who.

Add to this the ridiculous sister city arrangements, the overseas trips
by councillors to study things that have been studied by experts
before, and the minor but ludicrously unnecessary expense of robes
& regalia to enable the mayor to dress up like a third-rate King of Moomba, and you realise why the Residents Association of Glen Eira is rightly initialled RAGE.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW