Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bobby Brown Buggers Off, but look who we’ve got now. And just when you thought Les Messagebank Walker had mended his ways … our phonephobic mate does it again – officially.

And The Magpie has some very interesting questions for mayoral wanabee Jeff Jimmieson, who is openly advocating we become Shabbyville.

The Magpie invites Mr Jimmieson to respond to some pertinent concerns raised by some about his suitability to represent and help run this city as it’s mayor.

And if you think local government is crazy around here, have a look what the mayor of a small Spanish town has come up with – in a world class Nanny State edict, this El Joker has devised a politeness and behavior charter which, if introduced here, would have every single Townsvillean fined, locked up or put in the stocks (slurping soup loudly and picking one’s beak … err, nose … are just two of the new fine-attracting rules).

And the good old Astonisher gets itself in a tangle over sloppy handling of letters, both those to the editor and those of the good old garden variety in news stories.

All here in this week’s overflowing nest (you know what it’s overflowing with) at

Fair dinkum, if bullshit was bitumen, there’d be no potholes in Townsville.

This mayoral race is one of the silliest exercises in amateur one-upmanship, as the three main contenders try to deflect attention from the different sorts of baggage in their pasts. Truth be, it is really a matter of keeping the good ship SS Townsville steadily on course, and concentrating on the three Rs - rates, roads and rubbish - putting the 'big vision' thing aside just for the moment. In other words, a touch of what they call Realpolitik is needed (in its non-perjorative sense).

Resident doodler Bentley best sums of the handicaps of the three main candidates.
There is a quite cretinous phrase that floats around elections of any stripe - ‘listening to the people’. That usually means people tell candidates what they think, candidates go ‘there, there, tut, tut, suitable noise, empty phrase etc etc’ and then do whatever they, or their party, intended anyway.

But ersatz Labor candidate Jeff Jimmieson seems to be the opposite, a somewhat addled candidate who is promising EXACTLY what the punters say they don’t want – less services for their soaring rateable dollar! His front page story in the Astonisher on Thursday raises questions about his perception of political reality, let alone his business and financial acumen. But then, he is a drummer.

Our Little Drummer Boy - that's Jeff on drums playing with the Godfathers of Funk.

Jeff says he will save $30 million by slashing into council’s middle management ranks, infrastructure and maintenance projects, consultants, advertising campaigns, computer and phone upgrades, fleet vehicles (his missus will like that, she drives a council vehicle), heritage and sustainability programs, library services and, for God’s sake, the council’s customer service center. So when you do have a problem, you won't be able to get through to anyone. 

Jeff says his cunning Baldrick-like plan is necessary ‘so that rate rises can be kept to inflation or lower’.

This is smoke and mirrors flapdoodle of the first order - and its coming from all three candidates. 

You see, the truth regarding the rates issue is that the heavy lifting has already been done by the much-maligned, outgoing council.  The ‘Pie is told that the new councillors were informed two months after the amalgamation election that they would be sacked and an administrator installed unless the operating deficit it inherited from the previous Mooney administration was quickly brought back into the black. Lickety split.

So, in the past four years, the annual rate rises have been, in order, 14.9%, 7.5%, 2% (approx.) and 1.9%. And as council CEO Ray Burton says (see below) the inherited $56million operating deficit is now a $25,000 surplus. So the tough yards have been done, there will be no more massive rate rises foisted on us, as Beattie did by rushing amalgamation through as a final finger to Queenslanders before retirement. 

Whoever comes into the new council should be warned about claiming responsibility for rate rises staying under the inflation rate, that work has already been done for you.

But you can’t beat Jeff-boy for barefaced chutzpah.

Among those things he is going to jettison is ‘contract work’, which apparently costs the council $5million a year.

Err, mate, would this include people contracted to put on events for the council for a pretty public penny? Just like you and your company Access All Wallets - sorry Areas -  so lucratively did when you were on the Mooney public tit?

In politics, perception is everything, so a bit of business nous is also required.

So the old bird offers you equal space to reply to the following questions.

Is it true that you:

Left Toowoomba in the mid 90s, where you had been a National Party gofer if not member, to come to Townsville to take over as CEO of the (short title) local Show Association?

That you left, or were invited to leave that organisation after 18 months or so, departing with the finances in a worse state than when you started?

That you pleaded to be excused a $5000 pledge to your Rotary Club, for a failed ‘beer festival’ where Rotary members worked as free staff? It was a monumental flop.

That you cost the combined Rotary Clubs of Townsville more than $50,000 for the failed ‘Yasi  Benefit concert’ last year which the club sponsored , after you offered to help organize it at ‘ the lowest price’ for the sponsorship?

And that the ‘best price’ for the bands, including your own outfit as well as headliners like Barnesy, cost (including accommodation) an unsustainable $150,000?

Did this turn out to be a monumental financial fizzler, which would have been twice as bad had not Xtrata been talked into forking out fifty grand for what sounded like a fine idea? And did Rotary have to pass the hat around all local branches to cover the $50K+ shortfall?

Why has The Magpie been contacted by several people involved with the Rotary Club, incensed at your claim (made to The Magpie yourself) that ‘why should they worry, I’ve made them about $200,000 since the (failed) beer festival’? Is this, as they claim, complete bullshit?

Nothing illegal is suggested in any of this,  but judgement and competency questions abound if all or any of this is true.

Politics is all about perception, Jeff, and The Magpie isn’t in the business of taking sides, he’s in the business of asking the questions others don’t or won’t ask.

So let’s clear the air, mate - The 'Pie offers you unedited space in the Townsville Magpie in which to reply to the above. And if any of the above is true, how can you lay claim that you should be trusted with this city’s top job, and that you could ever hope to deliver your desperate promises to the ratepayer?

As the atypical Aussie gal letter writer to The Astonisher keeps saying ingenuously after aiming one at Jimmy and the Twins, ‘you know, just saying’.

Ironically, some of those involved in Rotary had second thoughts when they realized that The ‘Pie may mention their genuinely laudable organization. Some asked that any reference should be to ‘ a leading community service club’.

But after consideration, The 'Pie decided such a vague reference would tar other innocent and equally laudable organisations (Apex, Lions etc) with the same brush. If you are raising money from the public, then the community is entitled to some accountability for its use. 

Service club members generally deserve the highest public esteem, and that can only come with transparency.

While we’re on local matters, one of the two contenders for the best laugh of the week comes from a TCC prospective councillor.

The winner has to be our old mate, Les 'Messagebank' Walker, renowned for not answering his phone or replying to messages left on same. The Magpie had heard that he mended his ways, and the old bird happily accepted that assessment – until he was checking the official Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) site.

On there are listed all the candidates for all the Queensland local government elections. Every one had answered the pro forma questions full name, division, political party if applicable and … ready for it … contact details. Many even went to the trouble of giving their street address (they’ll learn) but all gave their mobile number and/or email address.

Except one.

Under Townsville Division 10, one Leslie Alexander Walker lists his contact details as ‘Not Available’. Don’t believe it? … look here.
Les's messagebank number is 0458 913 883. Say hi from The 'Pie.

Actually, it figures. This is the bloke who was a Mooney councillor for about eight years, and His Radiance gave him the sop of being the council’s (ie our) representative on both the North Queensland Field Days and the North Queensland Games organisations.  And how many of these groups meetings did he attend? According to whom you believe, the answer varies between one and none. This from a bloke who boasts on his team Hill site (where he does list his mobile #) that among his achievements are ' providing financial and in-kind support to many sporting clubs and community organisations'.

Nice work if you can get it, and our Les wants it again.

But if you think all the wheedling promises, pledges and outright lies being peddled around the place right now are over the top, spare a thought for the residents of  La Toba, a village north-east of Madrid (yes, that’s in Spain, dear). The mayor has taken it upon himself to introduce a ‘politeness code’ which, among its 65 politness edicts, bans the loud slurping of soup, nose picking and farting. This paints a rather pause-giving picture of daily life in La Toba, and some folks ain’t all that happy with their Mr Manners mayor. Check out this rib-tickler here.

On the national scene, it’s been a great week for the cutlery trade in the ACT, with knife sales soaring after The Undertaker gave us an undertaking for which some of us (the sane ones) have long yearned.

Bob Brown has decided to retire to his home among the gum trees in Tassie, where he and his pal Paul can lie on the grass of an evening, shyly holding hands and chewing blades of grass while gazing at the stars, dreamily chatting about a future World Parliament. (See previous blog.) 

The coughing in the surrounding bush is that of Tasmanian Devils sticking their fingers down their throats and wondering if extinction is the better option.

But look what he’s left us with!

None other than the rebarbative Christine Milne!

She was apparently chosen as Bobbyboys successor because she has a similar drone, and The Greens didn’t want anybody to notice any change. (We won’t).

On telly, Madam Milne, a sort of Julie Bishop gone wrong and possessed of an unnerving dead-fish stare- she's a former schoolteacher -  delivered some prim homilies of the sort that are always trotted out on these occasions – The ‘Pie can’t repeat them since he nodded off after about ten seconds.

But what he did like was the po-faced crew behind Milne, including the attractively expanding chubster Sarah Hanson-Young, who had unsuccessfully applied for Milne’s new job of overseeing the Democrats-like death of these socialist pests. All seemed to be honing serious knives just below camera shot, which would make Ms Milne’s lips become even thinner, if that were possible. Fun and games lie ahead, methinks.

Finally, the Daily Astonisher aka The Bulletin continued to fly the flag for high journalistic standards, during the week of the mysterious missive.

Last Monday, the Astonisher carried a letter challenging the qualifications of Keith Parsons, the TCC’s Executive Manager of Finance. It was signed ‘Jenny Manganaro, South Townsville’. Just why it carried the letter anyway is open to conjecture ... couldn't the lazy writer be told to make a bloody phone call herself?

On Wednesday, an justifiably indignant TCC CEO Ray Burton wrote to set the record straight, listing not only Mr Parsons’ high qualifications, but also his considerable achievements with the council (getting the Mooney-inherited operating deficit of $56million at amalgamation back to its present $25,000 surplus, and also seeing the State Government assign Townsville the second highest credit rating of any council in Queensland).

Underneath Mr Burton's letter was an editor’s note that Mrs Manganaro had contacted the paper and said she did not write the letter. The paper huffed and puffed about how it had checked email addresses and such (but never, as Mary Vernon used to do, speak directly to the writer to confirm identities), and decided it was blameless in the matter. 

So now, the paper has dimwittedly left itself open to any half-way decent geek to play all sorts of mischief with easily set-up gmail addresses.

Back in the news pages of the same edition, there were a couple of spelling gaffes. Now, The ‘Pie usually ignores these for the most part – God knows, he has made and still makes enough of them himself – but there is good reason why these are worth noting.

In a page 9 story about real estate reform, reporter Anthony Galloway quotes ‘Mrs Sally Elliot, principal of Smith and Elliot’. Ms Elliott chortled like a chook when she was told about this. You see, the irony is that Ms Elliott’s name has not only been plastered all over town on advertising signs over the years and has featured prominently in every edition of the Townsville Bulletin’s property section, her correctly spelt signature has also been on the bottom of regular, largish cheques to the paper's advertising department over the years, cheques totally several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You'd think getting her name right would be the least they could do.

And in an adjacent story about Queensland's new cabinet, we have ‘Hinchinbrook MP David Cripps’. Err, that would –ahem – be Andrew Cripps, wouldn’t it? And no, don’t try it on, his middle name isn’t David, it’s Peter. 

To cap off yet another stellar week for the paper, its Savvy supplement carried a pic of an athlete with what appears to be some of his ... errr ... tackle dangling from his shorts leg. No, The 'Pie won't name the poor bloke, but if you want to get hold of it (the pic, that is) it's on page 5 of Savvy. 

Always good to know who your dealing with – the dimishing number of Bulletin readers certainly know what they’re dealing with, anyway.   

Enough now, it is away to Poseur’ Bar, to bebubble a suitable lass, with a view to suggesting a little lie-down on the grass, where she can look at the stars while The 'Pie looks in the other direction – she can chew a blade of grass for all The ‘Pie cares. 

You know, just saying.



  1. My problem with the rates increases wasn't the annual percentage - it was the changing of the 5% annual cap on increases in the unimproved value. This was replaced with a 30% cap. Since I bought my house over 20 years ago, my unimproved value had been sitting at about double what it was when I bought. I have now been savaged by a 30% increase in the base price, to which was then applied the increased rates charges. This has happened every year of the amalgamated council. So, after a few years of compounding increases I have (I think)reached the level as if I had just moved here and brought my property. My fault for buying in an area which has since become very popular. The shanties have all been demolished and replaced with mansions and my little house sits in the middle costing me $160 a week in rates ... bah humbug!

    Shall I sign myself off as 'Jenny Manganaro, South Townsville’and get that poor lady into more trouble? Perhaps not!

    Soon-to-be-really-poor person. North Ward

  2. How can a Mayor promiss anything - without the agreement of at least 50% of the Councillors?

    A Mayor's promises are as good as "squat"!

    .... and just as good as most politicians!

  3. Err, I believe someone from the Bulletin's IT dept posted on facebook a hotograph of a Bully female journalist with the athlete's image up on screen.

    Little 'Mickey Mouse' comments 'See? That's what happens when I'm on holidays'.

    Funny, I've seen mickey on Flinders eyeing a few like these. Including me.

  4. Oh goody! Maggie Magpie does it again. Always entertaining and it's great to read your indepth coverage.