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The following is my understanding of last Tuesday’s Council Meeting.  Note that the rest of the Council Meeting has been posted as ‘part 1.’  All mistakes are mine.

Audio-streaming of Council meetings:  Greens Clr Phillips moved a motion for Council to implement audio-streaming & put money aside to do this.  He said audio-streaming Council meetings would increase transparency, allow for better accountability & may improve behaviour of councillors in the chamber.  He said it would also allow residents to know what is happening in Council & that many NSW Councils are already doing it.

Clr Thanos became lively saying, “0000.1% of the population will want to listen in.  I don’t want to spend 1% of 000000.1% for them to listen in when they are not interested.”  He went on to say Council will have to take funds away from Tom Foster & other community services to do this & Council has a lot better to spend their money on.  Then with much laughter & mirth, “It’s not going to make me better behaved.  I’ll be the same person I’ve been over the last 12 years & I have a long history of misbehaving in these chambers.  It’s worked well for me so far.  I’m not going to be better behaved.”

a gorgeous Morten Bay Fig in Sydney's Domain

You can see how a transcript obtained under FOI would exclude any nuances in tone of voice, laughter etc & the minutes would not include statements like the above.

Clr Kontellis said people want to be engaged about how they are governed, saying it was not about the minutes. “They want to be actively involved in the debate,” to which Clr Thanos interjected asking, “How could they be engaged when they are listening.” He received 5 “Order!” from the Chair because he would not stop interjecting.

Clr Kontellis continued saying that mums, the elderly, people with no transport & people from a NESB would be interested.  Implementing audio-streaming would allow Council to tick off a number of targets in their plan.  Clr Thanos interjected all the way through & was warned by the Chair that he would be removed from the Chamber if he did not stop.  I guess this is his idea of misbehaving & I have seen him do this a lot when the Greens are speaking.  I cannot recall him doing this to any of the other Councillors in the few meetings I have attended.

Clr Wright spoke against the proposal saying she didn’t have a problem with Council’s transparency now, citing all the places where the public can access papers, including being able to access tapes for 3 months after a meeting under FOI (which you have to pay for).  She was concerned about legal & privacy in regards to what people (not councillors) say about others when they address Council & the risk of defamation.  She also thought there wasn’t a demand for this from the community.

Clr O’Sullivan said she was concerned that neither the Councillors nor members of the community were protected by parliamentary privilege & warned that the virtual environment can be viral & toxic in many ways.  She preferred the Greek mode of democracy, which is face to face.

Clr Tsardoulias said he couldn’t support the motion “until the infrastructure is fixed up,” then said, “Even the clairvoyant who donated to the Greens wouldn’t want to watch it.  A clairvoyant wouldn’t want to watch this.”

a 'ring of Figs' planted at Tempe Reserve

Clr Byrne agreed in part with Clr Tsardoulias in regards to infrastructure needing to be fixed, but said that footpaths, night-time safety, public transport & accessibility are important & a social justice issue.  Said, “We make the community jump through hoops with FOI which makes us less responsible,” & that the legal requirements are exactly the same.  Clr Thanos spoke all the way through her speech.

Clr Peters said the audio recording didn’t have to be live & could be edited if there were any defamatory statements as is common in radio.  Said the technical term was ‘moderating the stream.’  She also said this is not an expensive technology.  It only requires a small file put onto the net.

Clr Macri said it didn’t bother him if it was done, but he was worried about the budget & “about the people who would want to sit at home & listen to this.” Also expressed concern about children listening.  I’m sure he was joking.  He went on to say there were lifts & ramps for accessibility.

Clr Hanna said, “The money will add up & the Greens will want to put the rates up.”

Clr Phillips tried to finish the debate by saying Councillors are responsible for they say.  While he was speaking the room was alive with expressions of doubt & laughter as to whether anyone would even want to listen to Council meetings.  Clr Phillps went on to say that $8,490 was not a lot of money to offer this service citing the recent $5,000 given to the Greek Orthodox Church for to quieten their bells.  He also said spending this money would increase Councils transparency & accountability & was therefore worth it.

Clr Thanos interjected saying he, “resented that his concern for fiscal concerns about things which are useless” & it was a political stunt of the Greens. “I don’t want to waste people’s money to satisfy your political concerns.” The motion was lost with the Independents & Labor voting against it.

Clr Thanos then put up a motion to reschedule Council meetings to 12noon on Sunday’s. Clr Byrne said this would incur great costs for staff time & opening up the building.  The motion was lost with all voting against it except Clrs Thanos & Hanna.

a bit of brilliant light relief from Art Express 2010 at the NSW Art Gallery showing a dog painted on a soccer ball - I love it!

Here ends my take on this month’s Business Meeting at Marrickville Council.

I find this issue of audio-streaming very interesting.  Some NSW Councils do not bother with audio-streaming which offers listening only. Instead they offer live webcasts allowing you to watch the Council meeting on your computer like you would TV.

The Sydney Morning Herald ran an article in 2003 saying 14 Councils were expected to have webcasting of their meetings up & running within the year.  Greater Dandenong Council in Victoria regularly had 1,000 people tuning in &  Botany Bay Council said “some meetings attract hundreds.”  The article is very interesting & covers the topic in detail from many angles.  I think it is still relevant to the issue despite being written 7 years ago. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/24/1069522526626.html

A quick & by no means exhaustive google search showed the following:

The Councils who webcast Council Meetings deal with the issues of defamatory comments & privacy by informing all speakers & attendees both verbally & with signs that they must refrain from this type of comment & the Council’s also do not take legal responsibility for the same.  Here ends this long post.  I hope you found it interesting. J

It was a very quiet meeting last night.  Councillors Kontellis, Thanos & Hanna were absent & Mayor Iskandar & Clr Tsardoulias had to leave for other engagements around half way through the agenda.  The following is how I understood the meeting.  All mistakes are mine.

First up was quest speaker Cathy Lloyd, London Co-ordinator & Director of Open Bethlehem which is trying to save Bethlehem by encouraging interfaith dialogue, peaceful cooperation & harmony.  She said only 15% of Bethlehem residents are Christian & if relations between religious groups do not improve, it is likely that the Christian churches in Bethlehem will be museums within a few years.  She will speak at St Luke’s Church in Enmore this Thursday night.

Then on to the Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting.

South Ward Local Area Traffic: Marrickville Council’s report recommended 24 points & a few residents came to speak about various points in the report.

Traffic on Warren Road Marrickville South: one resident spoke against & 2 spoke for the recommendations.

The ‘for’ arguments were about the size of trucks using the streets with particular reference to the 19 metre trucks currently used by Woolworths, saying they were too long for the local streets, caused traffic grid-lock, road rage incidents, frequent property damage, increased the risk of accidents & lowered pedestrian safety amongst other issues.  They agreed Warren Road should be made one-way from Carrington to Illawarra Road & wanted traffic to be allowed to turn right from Renwick into Illawarra Road to stop a large percentage of traffic leaving Woolworths being forced to travel around the block to go west & north.

The ‘against’ argument reminded of past experience when roads were made one-way which resulted in significant traffic increases & also expressed concern that other residential streets would get more traffic as a result of Warren Rd & Schwebel Street being made one-way.  Mayor Iskandar & Clr Tsardoulias supported this fear.

Clr Macri suggested a 12 month trial to see if the one-way option worked, but a council staff member advised this wouldn’t be a good idea because if the trial was unsuccessful, the residents would not like losing their parking rights again.  Clr Marcri also said Woolworths needed to act responsibly & suggested council erect ‘concrete tank traps’ to stop damage by trucks to council property.

Clr O’Sullivan said 75% of Warren Road residents said they wanted Warren to become one-way with parking returned to them & 50% of Schwebell Street residents supported one-way for their street.

The outcome is the report will be open for community consultation soon before a final decision is voted upon.

Road closure in Wilford Lane Newtown:  One resident spoke, but I was not in the Gallery during this discussion.  The outcome was the issue was to return to the Traffic Committee.

Proposed Metro Bus service from Sydenham to Spit Junction in Mosman: A representative from the NSW State Transit Authority spoke about the proposed service saying buses will be the low to the ground, 19 metre ‘bendy-buses,’ air conditioned & wheelchair accessible.  After listing all the pluses of which there

Just to lighten up this post a little, here is a photo of Roundup madness

are many, he then said that Council would be expected to pay for all new signage, the relocation of other signage & a loading zone.  If Council didn’t agree to this, then State Transit may have to think seriously about NOT instigating this service or continuing to provide other bus services.

Sounded very much to me like Council was being held to ransom & Clr O’Sullivan used these exact words a few minutes later.

The cost of the signage is $9,000, which doesn’t seem much, but Marrickville Council is poor & this money will have to be taken away from essential works in the locality. Clr Phillips said with rates pegged at 2.6%, it was going to be very difficult for council to look after services & the state government should pay for the required signage.  This was supported by Clrs Byrne & O’Sullivan.  Clr Byrne said that currently only 17% of routes are accessible routes & only 18% of the buses were accessible.  Clr Macri said it was disappointing that this amount of money was being debated & the community would be prepared to pay for such a bus service.  The motion was carried.

Marrickville Local Environment Plan Update: Clr Phillips was disturbed that the Department of Planning did not want to include the McGill Street Masterplan rezoning in the LEP until Part 3A is settled “which this council is against.” Clr Byrne was concerned that Department of Planning wanted to remove ‘accessibility’ from the LEP.  The LEP will return at a later date.

Duration of council meetings:  All Councillors & the new GM thought meetings were too long.  It was noted that meetings run late when DAs are being decided upon & when many residents want to speak.  It was decided meetings will aim to finish by 10.30pm with a half hour extension if required & that Councillors could use responsibility & discipline & limit their need to speak, especially if others have said the same thing.

Government Information (Public Access) Act: This was about Freedom of Information applications, meaning what information you & I can get hold of.  One person has requested a recording of a council meeting & was supplied with the same.  Marrickville Council keeps audio recordings of their meetings for 3 months after they are approved, so you mustn’t delay if you want one.  You could apply for a transcript, but I have no idea how long they keep these.  However, the written word loses all other nuances that are clear with recordings.

Finally a recision motion was accepted to put mobility parking space outside a residential home in Newtown.  It had previously been declined, but new information regarding the level of disability was submitted.  9pm & the committee meeting was over.

In other council news of late, The Cumberland Courier published an article about Strathfield Councillor Danny Lim, including breach of code of conduct findings against him. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/in-spotlight-for-wrong-reasons/

Next, also from The Cumberland Courier, Camden Council finances are in surplus largely due to development. I wonder whether Marrickville Council is hoping for similar with Section 94 money helping their financial position to become viable. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/development-surge-boosts-camden-council-s-coffers/

The Manly Daily asked “Is Warringah Council back on track?” with an article addressing poor behaviour by Councillors & long meetings with one where the agenda was not completed. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/warringah-councillors-try-to-get-with-agenda/

Lastly, another from the Cumberland Courier concerning Backpackers clogging Sydney’s local streets with their vehicles many up for sale.  Something to think about with the proposed DA for a 132 bed Backpackers in Addison Road Enmore with 7 parking spaces.  See Report from the Gallery – 2nd March 2010. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/backpacker-car-yards-on-our-streets/

Trees are featuring in the news a lot at the moment, which is good to see.  The following is what I found most interesting.

1.  In Camden LGA vandals have been ripping out & chopping down street trees after dark. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/outrage-growing-over-tree-vandalism-in-camden/

2.  Similar vandalism in Northbridge with community fruit trees that were part of Willoughby Council’s Sustainability Street program were stolen last month. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/residents-sour-at-theft/

3.  In Western Australia the government is planning to log a Dardanup forest containing 500 year old Jarrah trees, which they can’t guarantee will be spared. The Preston Environment Group are fighting to save this forest.  These trees will make the princely sum of between $160,000 & $240,000.  Is nothing sacred anymore? http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/6894699/plan-to-log-500-year-old-trees/

4.  Residents in Dee Why are lobbying Warringah Council who are set to vote on a DA that will remove a healthy 45 year old Angophora just to fit 3 more units into a development.  A resident asked, “Why is it that developers have so much power over Warringah Council, yet local residents who have lived in the area for over 15 years & wildlife that use the tree as a habitat have been left helpless?” Sounds familiar? http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/old-tree-to-make-room-for-development-in-dy/

5.  The traditional owners of the Murray-Riverina Red Gum forest called for the forest to be managed by the traditional owners. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/01/2833148.htm

Later, federal minister Peter Garrett supported Premier Kristina Kenneally by agreeing to allow some logging to occur for the next 5 years despite prolonged activism to save these very special & unique forests.   It’s a hard decision to understand or support. http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/local/6881475/red-gum-park-decision-miserable/

6.  Residents are fighting Sunshine Coast Regional Council who have removed 2 Hills Figs & want to remove another 20 trees in Caloundra, South East QLD. A residents said, “Without the trees, Bulcock St is going to be another hot, characterless urban strip….” They will certainly bake.

Interesting, as my experience of this area of QLD is that there were large trees everywhere, including along shopping strips.  There were also massive garden beds & a green outlook that the locals were very proud of.  The area looked totally unlike Sydney. Perhaps the fact that much of the planting & maintenance was done by people serving Community Service Orders helped get such a green outlook.  Maybe, but there is also a culture which is pro-nature in QLD. The comments are overwhelming in support of retaining the trees. http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/residents-angry-over-plans-to-remove-bulcock-st-trees/story-e6freoof-1225821748442 and today – http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/story/2010/03/06/800-join-fight-to-save-trees/

7.  A November 2009 article from The Canberra Times because the trees in the ACT are mostly mature & the Council want to remove & replace them all.  Pertinent to Marrickville Council’s recent proposal to remove 59% of the public trees across the LGA.  A great many of the street & park trees in Canberra are Eucalypt’s & the city & suburbs are full of native birds because of this.   This article questions chopping a tree down if a branch falls & the issue of litigation.  Again, the comments are very interesting. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/greens-call-for-trees-probe/1673875.aspx

8.  In overseas news, the United Nation’s Billion Tree Campaign has reached 10 billion trees.  The BTC was launched in 2006.  170 countries participate & the latest to join were China late 2009 & India last February.  India has planted 6.1 billion trees since 2006 & 2.6 billion of these trees have been added to the UN’s program.

The UN says worldwide, 14 billion trees need to be planted annually to combat global warming.  This initiative is seriously tackling the serious problem of global deforestation.   Australia is a participant with the Boy Scouts planting trees.   I was unable to find out any other information about Australia’s input other than this reference.  http://www.prokerala.com/news/articles/a117813.html

So many of our street trees across Marrickville LGA try to survive in such dreadful conditions when it could have easily been fixed

9.  Not only is India making the news for their massive & commendable tree planting achievements (they don’t argue about the reality of climate change because they are living it), they have also an amazing High Court.  Why?  Because Delhi’s High Court ordered all concrete around street trees to be finished being removed within 3 months starting last week. 9,395 trees will have the concrete removed from around their trunk.  I wish the Delhi High Court had jurisdiction here. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Remove-concrete-near-trees-in-3-months–HC/586569/

10.  New York City’s Million Trees program has planted over 300,000 trees since it began in 2007 focusing on all the empty street tree sites as well as areas of land which are bare. They call it “revolutionizing urban street tree programs.”  Over 1,000 volunteers showed up to plant 20,000 trees on one day. I love this program.  There are Million Tree programs in other cities across America & they are all successful.  Not only do they result in a significant increase in the green canopy, programs like these educate people about the benefits of trees & by offering regular days where the community can be actively involved, create pride & ownership in the community. http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/02/24/2010-02-24_big_town_going_green_trees_bring_green_benefits_to_the_city.html#ixzz0h3k2oVDW

11.  In Wellesley, Massachusetts USA more than 90 trees that were almost 100 years old & were 60-70 foot tall were chopped down by accident. How does this happen?  Were the lumberjacks talking & just numbed out for a moment? http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/02/18/scores_of_trees_felled_in_error_on_wellesley_park_land/

12.  In a generous green act, Chris Clark from Middle Tennessee USA is donating 100,000 trees in memory of his father who died 6 years ago.  This is a fantastic gift to the community & further confirms my belief that people like to plant trees in memory of a loved one.  http://www.wkrn.com/global/story.asp?s=12087906

13.  2,500 shade street trees are to be planted in Worchester USA to replace the same amount of street trees which were recently lost to the Asian Long-Horned Beetle.  Where trees will be affected by overhead powerlines, they are planting ornamental trees & larger shade trees everywhere else.  The comments after the article are quite interesting. http://www.telegram.com/article/20100302/NEWS/3020415/1116

14.   In Lichfield Connecticut USA, it is illegal to tie a yellow ribbon around an old Oak tree or any tree for that matter even if it is to honor troops in Iraq & Afghanistan.  I anticipate there will be peaceful civil disobedience about this.  http://www.wfsb.com/news/22703733/detail.html

young Oak street tree

15.  Lastly, a Welsh Oak tree died of the cold aged 1,200 years. (not a typo)  It had a girth of 10.36 metres.  It was called The Great Oak at the Gates of the Dead. From the article, According to legend, in 1165, King Henry II of England, preparing to meet Owain Gwynedd in the Battle of Crogen, commanded his men to clear Ceiriog Woods, but ordered the Great Oak to be spared. I bet there are many people who are very upset about the loss of this tree.  It reached an astounding age & if it weren’t for the extreme weather this last winter, it may have lived for much longer.  http://greenanswers.com/news/127110/winter-overcomes-1200-year-old-oak

1. Marrickville Councillors will be voting on a DA soon which will see the demolition of 2 houses built in the 1920’s at 34-36 Piggott St Dulwich Hill, the conversion of the original area manor house built in the early 1880’s as well as the loss of 15 mature trees to build a 3 & 4 storeys development overlooking Hoskins Park.  The local community is rallying to prevent this development. They believe the DA has many negative impacts on the community as well as destroying a green corridor & the green outlook of Hoskins Park.  It is DA 201000022 & can be accessed via Council’s web-site.

2. The Manly Daily reported last week that Warringah Council removed a much-loved palm tree planted on the verge in Forestville without consulting the community. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/loved-palm-tree-gets-the-chop/ Interestingly, a cross was spray-painted on the tree’s trunk a few days before it

What is the purpose of these symbols?

was chopped down.  I note similar strange rune-like markings sprayed on a couple of the Hills Figs in Carrington Road Marrickville South.  Were these put there by Council?  Are Marrickville Council intending to remove these trees?  I seem to remember 1 Fig tree was agreed to be removed for the new development which has recently commenced.

3. I wrote in the post Tempe Wetlands protest & trees at risk in Tempe that I would try to get further information about the mature trees at risk at the State Rail land in Edgar Street Tempe.  Kerry, a local resident kindly left a comment (see comment roll) saying “I believe they (the trees) are under threat by the 27 townhouse development going in on the land next to the railway line.  An underground car park & water tank retention system is to be built along the boundary line with the railway.  At no stage have these trees been mentioned by the DA or State Rail or Marrickville Council’s tree officer.”

4. Sydney is getting it’s own 5.8 hectare Central Park at the old Carlton & United Brewery site at Broadway. This is a huge boon for the community on may levels & for Sydney’s urban wildlife.    http://www.smh.com.au/national/central-park-off-broadway–thats-sydney-not-manhattan-20100209-notw.html

5. A little old as it was published last November.  Hornsby Council intends to plant tree-lined boulevards with a councilor suggesting council create ‘immediate’ boulevards by planting trees which are already 4-5 metres tall.  Wonderful if it happens & maybe cost effective considering the high loss of saplings Hornsby Council also experience. http://hornsby-advocate.whereilive.com.au/news/story/tree-lined-boulevardes-plan-for-hornsby/

new street trees - hanging baskets & planter box

6.  City of Sydney Council recently planted numerous young trees along Glebe Point Road & some side streets.  They used a porous hard substance to cover larger than average planting holes.  The new street tree planting resulted in instant & significant greening of this already green street.  Because of their size, I doubt they will be vandalized.  It looks terrific.

7. The Star Tribune reported that a woman in Eden Prairie USA took to a tree service worker with a shot-gun to stop him chopping down a tree.  We should never have this kind of action here. http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/83607162.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU

8. The Home Owners Association in San Diego California will chop down in excess of 200 mature Eucalypts because 1 fell on a house recently. The residents are campaigning to prevent the removal of the trees saying they are prepared to live with the risk.  You can read the story & watch a video which is an interesting look at their urban environment. http://www.760kfmb.com/Global/story.asp?S=11985277

9. World Forestry day is coming up on 21 March 2010.   Many countries plant thousands of trees on this day.  I don’t know as yet whether our Council is participating. The NSW Department of Industry & Investment has a range of activities planned – http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/forests/info/escape

10. Lastly, the NSW Department of Climate Change & Water has a great resource about threatened species which may be of interest to those of you are concerned about the Bandicoots at Lewisham. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspecies/index.htm & http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/Search/QuickSearch.aspx

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