Saturday, September 15, 2012

It’s getting down and dirty at the Townsville City Council, with Mayor Mullet bunging on a Queen Bee act – and the strange case of when good news is bad news for the mayor.

Just when things looked outwardly mature and all grown up, behind the scenes Jenny Hill has taken her spiteful, self-stroking  and time-wasting feud with her CEO to new lengths.

In state matters, Kid Crisafulli proves to be as good as his word on local government reforms, giving more power to councils, but has he missed an opportunity to save both money and muddles regarding local government elections?    

In world politics, the main game for the moment is over in the Yew Ess of Eh. If you think Canberra – or perhaps Brisbane of late - is the center of the political Whackosphere – especially the singing variety - you may feel the cold comfort that we are but a backwater of fruitcakery when you look at the array of beliefs that the Republicans are harboring – and hope to enact if they can knock off Bazza Obama.

Fair dinkum, if he were up against this lot in a Crackpot Olympics , even Bob Katter with his ‘crocodiles in the ceiling’ climate change explanation, wouldn’t finish in the medals.

And an American school board sweeps up the Nanny State Award of the Decade by telling a three-year-old deaf toddler he has to change his name because of skool rools about weapons.

Seems there’s something for everybody in this week’s nest at

Mayor Mullet has gone all regal and hoity-toity on us. 

Her latest tactic in her unrelenting battle with council CEO Ray Burton is two-fold.

As an informal rule, when the mayor of the city meets with the CEO for a cuppa, an Iced VoVo and a natter about the doin’s of the day, the Deputy Doo-Dah has always been invited along. 
Vern Veitch: persona non grata at CEO meetings.

But it turns out that Jenny has done a Queen Bee, and banished Vern ‘Uncle Fester’ Veitch from these regular meetings. But not only has she issued the “begone you varlet, Veitch’ edict, she has also demanded that a council legal officer sit in on such meetings. The purpose of this somewhat insulting little ploy seems further proof of a muddled Mullet – if said officer (probably head of legals Tony Bligh) sat in, he couldn’t be used as a witness to anything. The ‘Pie is informed that there would be a conflict of interest for him in such a situation.

And it would be a pretty pass – probably legally questionable – to have a private solicitor privy to this long-running and unedifying stoush about council maneuverings. Anyway, if the ‘Pie’s info is good, he understands Ray Burton has told Mayor Mullet to get knotted – perhaps not his words but you get the drift.

And while she goes about seething with clenched fists and grinding teeth (not a pretty sight), madam’s mood hasn’t been improved with news which, under any other circumstance, would be cause for rejoicing.

It appears that the council deficit for the past year isn’t $5 million, it is more of the order of around $1.7 million – pretty good when starting from an inherited $56 million deficit four years ago. But while this will show Mr Burton in a favorable light in one sense, it does beg the question of how come he didn’t know about before announcing just before the budget that the projected $25,000 surplus was in fact a $5 million dollar deficit? Some procedures clearly have to be tightened up. Perhaps if the CEO wasn't so frequently  side-tracked by the mayor’s ego-driven attacks, he might better be able to keep his eye on the ball.
How Jenny Hill sees herself?
While we’re with The Mullet, it seems she suffering from MMS – Movie Star Syndrome. At council committee meetings – sometimes council meetings themselves – and at public engagements, it is a rapidly expanding running joke about her penchant for late grand entries. People, including councillors, are now reported to be taking bets on how long they will be supposed to wait, the one closest to the delay getting the money.

But there are some no nonsense folks on the council. And one of them is debutante councilor Gary Eddiehausen. 

The former copper chaired a meeting during the week on some matter or other, and like several other committee chairs, believes meetings – especially those which involve busy council staff – start when they are due to. The mayor was, as always, entitled to sit in if she so chose.  But in this instance, to use the catch-phrase from One Foot In The Grave 'would you bloody believe it' -  Madam Mayor turned up just as the words ‘that concludes this presentation, thanks for coming’.

Kerr -ikey, she didn’t half crack a darky, demanding the whole thing start over again. The councillors present told her she must be joking and buggered orf, so the mayor made the staff go through the whole thing again for her. It is thought The Mullet is emulating His Radiance, who was notorious for the late entry tactic, but just why Jenny does it no one really knows (Mongrel the Barrister uncharitably snurffled that’ she sure couldn’t be checking her hair in the mirror hur hur hur wheeze’.)

But what’s the chances of running a three billion dollar local economy if you’re not disciplined or considerate enough to even turn up to meetings and functions on time?

On the state front, there seems to be an inkling of the old Nationals/Liberals divide during the week, over the reorganization of rural firies and emergency services. There's been some dumb politics in this big-majority stampede over jobs, something that Bentley takes a distinctly dim view of.

The Minister Jack Dempsey, who has a name that would discourage any wanting to fight him, led with his chin when announcing the Emergency Services sackings (at one stage describing those who would go as ‘ fat-arsed bureaucrats’ – charming – don’t just sack ‘em, denigrate them at the same time). Then, when several regional MPs arced up about this plan, Dempsey back-flipped with some lame non-explanation that nothing was finalised. Hmm, why announce it then? But wait - after being hauled in over all the brou ha-ha and told not to wimp out, our man went for gold with another back-flip the next day, saying his original statement was right. It’s still unclear what’s going to happen and when, but this latest ‘government by galoots’ episode was more than unedifying.

Far clearer was Kid Crisafulli, who spelt out his changes to the Local Government Act to devolve more power to councils. This was no vote-catching exercise; throughout his years on the council, The Kid continually called for exactly the reforms he has now put in place.

But there may be a missed opportunity here, and a money-saving one at that.

Surely he should consider the rule prevalent in other states that the mayor is elected by the councillors from among their number? Several states have this option, and it is by far the most popular and sensible way to find a leader. And a big money saver. Just to keep things on the straight and narrow, mayors elected by this method have a term of one year, and then face the councillors’ vote again.

This would at least avoid the cringe-worthy situation in which Townsville now finds itself.

(Some councils have mayors elected as in the Queensland example, but that is only after a one-off referendum and the punters indicate they want a direct separate mayoral vote.)

Moving on now to the international arena, there is a word that should apply to all American voters right now, and that word is ‘coulrophobia’ – the fear of clowns.

There are some folks in the Republican Party who have been drinking to much red lemonade, and have some of the most fevered ideas about the world and how they’d like to change it. But unlike our own resident (and lovable – sometimes) clown Bob Katter, many of these Republicans have real power, and have already acted on some of their loonier ideas.

And since what happens in the States inevitably affects us in Australia, be afraid – be very afraid - as you read the following.

Let’s start at the top.

In Mitt Romney, the Republicans have a standard bearer worthy to lead this formidable team of thought-disordered but powerful dingbats. 

This is the bloke who drove to Canada for a family holiday with his Irish Setter Seamus strapped to the top of his station wagon. Admittedly the dog had a crate with a makeshift windshield for the 12 hour trip, but Seamus made his feelings  - well, not exactly crystal clear, by having a diarrhoea attack which ran down the windows and windscreen, forcing the then governor of Massachusetts to stop at a servo to hose down the vehicle.

Depending on your political persuasion, that could be seen as prophetic, given that his Republican party and his Mormon church are hardly blinded by the light - it is more blinded by the political, malodorous version of what Mitt was blinded by on that trip. 

Mitt is also a tad shy about talking about his personal taxes and multiple off-shore bank accounts, which seems a bit strange for someone who wants to call the shots on the world's biggest economy.  

Much has been made of Seamus’s trip back in 1983, both for and against, but Mitt’s canine caprices are nothing to the party’s nutjobs putting the whole Republican effort in jeopardy – and they don’t even have Sarah Palin on board for the laughs this time around.

Influenced by the powerful fundamentalist Christian Goths in the electorate, one hot button issue is abortion and under what circumstances it can be agreed to under Republican rule (none, basically).

Todd Akin.
It's always a worry when a dangerous idiot is smiling.

Representative Todd Akin of – where else? – Missouri, recently went to the edge even for some in his own party when he declared that raped women ‘can’t get pregnant because women’s bodies shut the whole thing down before pregnancy occurs’.

As the witty and delightfully dry humored columnist Gail Collins explained in the New York Times, it’s a theory that goes back to the forefathers in colonial America, who believed that for a woman to conceive ‘the womb must be in a state of delight’.

‘The idea never entirely faded away’, Collins wrote ‘possibly because it reflects so well on male lovemaking prowess. Failure to conceive, by the same rule, was all because of female frigidity.’

Akin has also mentioned the term ‘forcible rape’ (surely a hateful redundancy) and at an earlier time, had used the even stranger term ‘legitimate rape’ whatever the hell that is. But it was enough to have his own party calling for him to pull out of the House of Reps race, something he refused to do because he said that basically, he had just had a bad day with the press. This bloke has more front than Gina Rinehart.

Sadly, Akin isn’t alone in his in his lunacy. An unnamed former member of Congress is on record that when ‘people are truly raped, the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant’.

Truly raped? Does that mean that if someone becomes pregnant after an incident, she had really been ‘wanting it’ and was therefore not truly raped? What about man-on-man (or boy) rape? Is that, in this twisted world, somehow OK on the criterion that no one got pregnant?

The old court reporter in The ‘Pie  would love to see that one come before an Australian judge - old Magpie mate Clive Wall would have a field day - but don’t hope for that in the States. Ms. Collins tells us that a certain James Leon Holmes, a Federal judge currently hearing cases in Arkansas once said that ‘concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami’.

But while abortion is a hot button issue, and is likely to pop up again in the next couple of months, the screwball element has plenty of other subjects on which to expound some original theories – or as one commentator put it ‘ideas totally removed from reality’.

Republicans in Congress now and on the hustings believe climate change is a big hoax. That stance is not without it’s supporters elsewhere, but the reasoning behind this termite-infected plank in the party platform is the real doozy.
John Shimkuschecking in with God.
Rep John Shimkus, the chairman of a sub-committee that has a big say in matters related to climate change, soothed the American electorate’s anxiety about the impending doom with the insight that the biblical signs aren’t properly aligned just yet. ‘The earth will end only when God declares it to be over,’ he declared. This is a bloke with a lot of clout on climate change matters that come before the Senate!

And it seems Rep Shimkus is in like-minded (ie deranged) company on his committee.
Joe Barton tests the winds of change.

Like Rep Joe L. Barton of Texas, who believes wind turbines are tempting God’s wrath.

‘Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Clean energy would slow the winds down (thus making the planet hotter),’ he instructed us with a straight face masking a twisted brain. For emphasis, he interrupted a House debate on global warming by yelling at the speaker ‘You can’t regulate God’. Vice versa would be nice. His campaigns have been funded by oil and mining interests, and he apologised to BP for the company having to pay damages for those affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

Republican nut jobs have some interesting takes on that other favorite fundamentalist Christian bugaboo, evolution.

Republican Representative Jack Kingston isn’t having any truck with this ‘ev–eee–loo-shun sterf ‘ for a simple (right word) reason. ‘I cain’t see the indent where the monkey’s tail used to be. Where’s the missing link, I just want to know what it is?’ Rep Kingston serves on a committee that regulates education.

Before we go on, The ‘Pie feels he should point out that this is all true, the main source for these quotes is the New York Times, a real newspaper which is meticulous in checking its facts. (It isn’t owned by Rupert Murdoch).
Michelle Bachmann - she's mad.

You may have heard of presidential aspirant Michelle Bachmann, an airhead who could give Sarah Palin a run for her dotty dough. Bachmann is a dangerously stupid woman who told a national audience that a vaccine that fights a virus linked to cervical cancer could cause mental retardation. She said she knew this because some woman she didn’t know had told her so at a previous campaign rally. Scientists who usually just roll their eyes but stay on the sidelines of campaigns were so alarmed at this statement that a leading pediatrics organization issued an immediate statement saying ‘ there is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement’.

But even more alarmingly, in what writer Timothy Egan called ‘an unintended joke’, Bachmann is a member of the Committee on Intelligence. That akin to making our own singing politicos Craig Emerson and Cuddlepie Wallace judges on The Voice.

Not all Republicans support this nincompoopery, but they don't hold much sway, as former Utah governor Jon Huntsman found out when going up against Mitt Romney et al for the presidential nomination. In a quote that said it all with both humour and insight, Huntsman said ‘I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming – call me crazy’. He was trounced in the primaries.

Writer Egan had a killer blow in his summation, after quoting a former Republican saying on television that he was sick of the Republican Party being ‘the stupid party’.

Egan wrote: ‘ Don’t expect the reality chorus to grow. For if intelligence were contagious, the Republicans would be giving out a vaccine for it’.


But rank stupidity isn’t confined to the political ranks. A school board in Nebraska earns the Nanny State Nincompoopery Award for the decade when they told the parents of three year old deaf boy Hunter Spanjer they had to change his name because the sign language for it violated the school’s weapons policy.

Basically, as shown here by a signing expert for the London Mail On Line,  Hunter waggled his crossed fingers up and down to 'say' his name, which in some fevered minds, represented him going ‘bang bang’, as all kids the world over do. And that was a no-no under school rules.

A justifiable storm of derision hit cyberspace, and the board eventually had to back down, but did not apologise for their idiocy. See the full story here and you’ll see this fearsome three-year-old terrorist at his dastardly worst.

Enough now, it is away to Poseurs’ Bar to seek out the company of a comely but gloomy maid … after all, the last thing a single old bird needs is a companion with a delighted womb.




  1. Uncle Fester.
    The brightest man on Council? (Insert light-globe).
    Thank you, Magpie.

  2. As always, great read and entertaining. thanks Pie.


    Oh god, they've published the ogden street offices. Ha!

  4. Monday morning Bulletin (17th Sept) has an article and comment by labor has been Jim Soorley. How the hell did he get into the CBD act??
    Also Jim if you remove your labor biased tinted glasses for just a moment and seek truth and reality you would find that the only person "brawling in Walker Street" (your words)is the mayor...... no one else!!! The quicker she ceases her vindictive and vitriolic posturing, the quicker the city will move forward.

  5. Call me sick, but I have these recurring fantasies involving Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. And, of course, self. Thankfully, they involve very little political or philosophical discussion. Rather of the delighted womb variety.

    To prove that I not totally depraved, The Mullet is never involved. Even perverts have standards.

    This farcical Mayor/CEO situation must end sooner, rather than later. However, it shall not be with a whimper - although that is what I suspect Jenny will be doing once the dust clears.

  6. Pie. We should start a game show. For Ten points and a rubbery 'red' jacket Who said "Everyone knows there's a brawl going on up there at Walker St," "Who should be responsible for setting the vision for the city"? Your time starts now.

    1. Ummm, The 'Pie would phone a friend - if he had one.

      But the answer is James Gerard Soorley one of the yesterday's men from the thinning ranks of the ALP. Seems this aging mincer is on a fat consultancy contract regarding our CBD, (wonder how much he is reefing off the ratepayers), but can't resist giving Mayor Mullet a helping hand in the spin department.

      Actually, it's none of his business - this sort of arrogant posturing is one of many reasons why Labor is so out of favour.

      But 'brawl'? The truth is there is no brawl, just one person who is maintaining a perpetual and vindictive sulk because a democratic election didn't give her the clout or numbers to dole out of few Mooney-like jobs for the boys - like Paul Askern for the CEO's spot.

      Very undignified.

    2. Take it easy old'll be upsetting Ron Bairstow!

  7. Finally, a good news story. Townsville is on the weather map.

    If only Mickey Mouse knew what a visual weather picture means on deadline.

    As a former Bully photographer, I was astounded when asked by Mickey Mouse to find a 'sunny' landscape picture at 8pm at night.?!?

  8. Like Minister David Crisafulli's deamalgamation moving ahead down south, I wish mayor Mullet would do the same but with her job.

  9. Im amazed that the Bulletin published front page images of Wills and Kate today. The Courier Mail gave it very littel coverage. Must be a no news day out fishing.