On the nose
A FINAL sorry chapter has closed on our local shire council’s ill-fated attempts to use the civil courts to sue two former civic leaders for alleged financial wrongdoing.
One might hope the good news is that important lessons were learned so that such a costly fiasco will never happen again.
The bad news is that we poor ratepayers have been left to carry the can.
More than half a million dollars was squandered on what some saw as partly a pursuit of personal vendettas, and now somebody is going to have to pay for it.
Councillors are meeting this month to set a budget for the new financial year, and higher rates are expected to top the agenda.
This will be a particularly bitter pill to swallow for those who would have preferred the hundreds of thousands of
dollars wasted on lawyers’ fees to have been spent instead on a town swimming pool, or at least a water playground for families to enjoy in hot summer months.
Instead, we have a shire council that seems hell-bent on pretending that nothing happened and that everything is going along swimmingly, pardon the pun.
There have been no explanations or apologies, only a smiling public façade that appears to conceal an underlying resentment that anyone should dare to keep asking inconvenient questions.
At least that’s the way it seems from where The Toodyay Herald stands.
It’s understandable that some people may feel upset that the town’s reputation is being tarnished by startling revelations that most ordinary people would prefer weren’t splashed across our front pages.
We feel the same.
But no amount of concern about defending ‘hard-working councillors’ and gripes about the perceived unfairness of constantly negative news can conceal the fact that this council is on the nose.
Most of the damage has been done behind closed doors by a small group of people who seem to think that public accountability is a nuisance to be avoided at all costs.
Shooting the messenger is a knee-jerk reaction that can only lead to more pain.
The ones who deserve our sympathy and support are the hard-working council staff and workers who have to bear the brunt of disgruntled community expectations.
Without them, there would be no functioning local government and we think they do a pretty good job in what must often be trying circumstances.
All hail to them.
Michael Sinclair-Jones, Editor