Canning Mayor Patrick Hall has been savaged by a Curtin University academic after he called on an elected member or executive to resign over a leaked email in a public scolding.
On February 9, Examiner Newspapers revealed that, in an email leaked by a source close to council, chief executive Michael Littleton had called on councillors and executive staff to record a video message wishing the Mayor a happy birthday.
At last week’s agenda forum, after dispensing with the formalities of opening the meeting, Mr Hall thanked the community for their birthday wishes before launching an attack on the unknown person who leaked the email.
“I did however want to say a few words about an article that appeared in last week’s newspaper, it’s a matter that I’ve discussed a number of times in relation to goings on and I just wanted to say how betrayed I felt when I learnt through local media that an internal email sent by CEO Michael Littleton to this council and executive team regarding my birthday was leaked,” he said.
“That resulted in an article in a local newspaper that did nothing other than embarrass this council, myself and our new CEO, and it damaged the reputation of the City of Canning, which we’ve all been really working so hard to rebuild.
“In my view it was a really petty and childish act and it was a betrayal of the trust that we now have in each other which we need to work collaboratively and in the best interests of the community.
“So I say to the person that leaked the email, and I don’t know who it is, surely you’ve seen where we were as a council, surely you recognise where we are now as a council, and surely you can see where we are headed.
“I say to you either get on the bus or get off it. If you feel disengaged from this council or this organisation, if you feel resentful, if you’re now actively or wilfully working with those who seek only to damage this council, then I urge you to consider resigning. There is no place in this organisation for someone who would so easily betray the trust of their colleagues.”
Examiner Newspapers understands that three councillors did not record a video message for the Mayor.
Curtin University local government expert Dr Andy Asquith said Mr Hall’s comments undermined democracy and were, to quote the Mayor, “petty and childish”.
“If he hadn’t said anything it would have just passed by,” he said.
“Basically he’s got a hole in one foot and a smoking gun in one hand.
“It’s completely improper for the Mayor to even silence councillors, or try to silence councillors.
“It seems to me the Mayor is saying ‘I’m top dog, you do as I say’, and that is inherently bad for democracy.
“The Mayor doing things like this is inherently undemocratic, it’s bad governance, it’s bad government and it should be discouraged.
“It’s an abuse of local democracy and it needs to be exposed and pointed out.”
He also questioned if organising a birthday video was an appropriate use of the chief executive’s time, labelling it as “somewhat sycophantic”.
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