Moreland residents present at last Monday night’s council meeting in Coburg (think Hawkie’s seat of Wills, Kelvin Thompson, Phil Cleary, etc) may well have thought they were watching an episode of Grass Roots as councillors gathered to elect the new mayor and to assign portfolios for 2010. The mayoralty carries with it a salary of $77,000 and a flash car. It is also an opportunity to rise in the ALP political hierarchy in Melbourne’s working-class northern suburbs.

Imagine an auditorium with about 150 members of the public facing the 11 Moreland councillors, as well as some council officers. Choosing  the mayor is an annual ritual, and an opportunity for the burghers to observe democracy in action, and then get stuck into the council-provided grog and tucker.