We write to respond to the very public "Interim Administrator Minute-Community Update" on 23 September 2020.
We welcomed the appointment of Viv May as elected representatives of the community and welcomed him personally.
We trusted the advice we were given that he'd be able to fix the problems caused by what we believed were fundamental failures in performance of the Mayor and CEO, who both resigned shortly after his arrival.
We were advised that he would be working with us, to help us heal after the court case that arose from a difference of opinion between those who supported the Mayor and CEO and those who thought their leadership was failing the council and our community. Such divisions are normal and at times unavoidable in local government and there is a lawful process to resolve them under the Local Government Act 1993, which, unfortunately the former Mayor Cr Murray failed to follow. These facts are well known to Viv May and clearly set out on the public record. There is no mystery.
It was very disappointing that after each of us met once with him and answered all his questions, he later adopted a hostile position and refused to have any further dialogue to clarify his apparent misconceptions. We continue our respect for his position and him personally, but contend that our community is being short-changed by his official position of contempt and disregard for us.
He has also indicated to members of the community that he has no interest in reading our affidavits that contain sworn evidence refuting many false accusations. He appears to also have ignored the pleadings and judgements that contain the very answers he says he can't find. Instead, he calls for an expensive public inquiry which will be charged to our ratepayers. Is this reasonable when he declines to read these public documents himself during his six month appointment?
We are dismayed that Viv May appears intent on smearing our reputations in his official minutes to the community as well as in private and public meetings. We believe this is beyond his remit. We are proud of our region, our council, our community. We value local democracy and deplore the public denigration that undermines our precious civic assets and rights.
Our community deserves good government, which includes truth, transparency and respect for our elected representatives. Negative campaigns and "trash talking" have no place in public dialogue about our region's past, present or future.
Both Viv May and the Minister have accused us of being at fault, but repeatedly refuse to identify the nature of the allegations, so we are unable to refute them. It is confusing and disturbing for our community and for us, their elected representatives, to continue hearing these unfounded allegations.
We have fewer rights than defendants in even the most petty legal matter. They are entitled to see a charge sheet or summons setting out the complaint against them. We have had nothing. Players sent off the sporting field know what rule they have been accused of breaking and suspensions are subject to appeal. But not for us. The most senior referee in the NSW judicial league has said "play on" yet you insist we be kicked off the field.
We wanted a fresh start to solve ARC's problems. Our community deserves to have the rule of law and democracy respected. Our community is entitled to procedural fairness for their democratically elected representatives.
The remaining suspended councillors have a collective local government experience of over 70 years and over 71 percent of the vote of all the elected councillors in 2017. Other local government areas with double our population have only seven councillors and manage very well.
We request that democracy be reinstated on 12 December 2020, with or without a state-appointed adviser, to help fix the problems we were trying to fix before the 'Alice in Wonderland' court case.
Our next letter will tackle a number of questionable statements in Viv May's September 23 minute. Our community wants to know the truth.