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The Parasites of Western Economy, Part 12: Local councilors and their self-granted benefits.

by tonytran2015 (Melbourne, Australia).

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(Blog No. … ).

The Parasites of Western Economy, Part 12: Local councilors and their self-granted benefits.

#parasite, #local council, #oversea junket, #misspending, #budget over-run,

Advanced Western countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many EU countries) have multilayered governments. Governments at the lowest level in that hierarchy are the Local Governments. They are responsible with all matters not delegated to their higher governments.

Typical local governments (such as in Victoria, Australia) are called the Local Councils, they are responsible for the following matters:
Rubbish removal service, Local roads and parks maintenance, Running primary and secondary schools, library service, local hospitals.
They are expressly excluded in the following matters: Foreign Affairs, Defense, All matters delegated to Federal and State governments.

The systems in other advanced Western countries are similar.

Any government in the World obtains its money from taxes imposed on its citizens. However citizens have the herd mentality and are often unconcerned that their money may be in the wrong hands. This sets the scene for parasites to come in and suck the communal treasury. [1-12]

1. The runaway Local governments.

Local Councils are currently not audited and their spending are open to abuse. The budget of any Council can be easily siphoned by:

1a- Excessive costs of “external consultancy” on projects. Councilor candidates should have declared their expertise on projects promised to constituents before standing as candidates for elected offices and external consultancy should not be but have been used as a shield to hide incompetence of elected representatives. [13-21]

1b- Unnecessary expensive costs granted by Councilors to themselves for oversea “study trips” (Councilors should have learned about the costs of their promises before standing as candidates for election). Councilors love going on oversea study trips. Those oversea study trips if necessary should have been delegated to professional specialist employees of Council. [22-32]

1d- Non-transparent tendering on approved project.

1e- Unacceptable accounting method lumping significant costs under the headings “others” to hide specific spending items from tax payers. (The heading “others” in any accounting report should only be used just to avoid its overcrowding, by reducing any of its long lists of competing significant items to less than 10 items long).

2. Reform to Local Government are needed.

Residents have cried out for reform to local governments. The following points should be addressed by any reform:

2a. Taxes (also called rates) by local government should be based on service provided. Currently the collection of Council taxes (also called rates) is capped by a percentage on the values of property (land and houses).

2b- Councils are responsible for the following core activities:

Rubbish removal service, Local roads and parks maintenance, Primary and secondary schools, library service, local health offices.[33]

2c- Each Local Council must have functioning information office at town hall and website for residents to follow its activities and register their objections to its actions.

2d. Issues affecting residents significantly (including major and costly projects) must be made public for significant time through Council information office and website.

2e- Councilors must vote in public by show of hands in meeting at their respective town halls on issues affecting residents significantly (including major projects) but the latter have to be made public. Such decisions should be made subjected to revocation by more than 50% of voting residents registering objection by internet within 4 weeks. [34]

2f- Councils can only have recurrent budget items covering the salaries and expenses on their core activity categories specified in 2b.

2g- Any intended spending on all other activities must be publicized, discussed and approved in public meetings as specified by 2e.

Study costs, especially oversea trips for Councilors (who should have learned about their policy promises before standing up for election) should be banned as elected office holders should not be able to grant “benefits” to themselves. [35-36]

2h- Project spending should be carried out with transparent public tenders.

2i- Councilor candidates must declare their expertise on projects promised to constituents before standing for elected office and external consultancy costs to Council on those promises must be revealed.

As a consequence, a candidate would have to say:

If elected I will pay $1M dollars to get a consultant to give us the price to build a Taj Mahal for the Town Hall

instead of

If elected I will spend $10M dollars to build a Taj Mahal for the Town Hall.

2j- Records of all previous election promises at all elections of each councilor candidate must be declared.

2k- A higher government (such as State government in Australia) should audit Council Budgets annually. This audit should reveal activities which are inefficient or are outside the authorized responsibilities of Councils.

3. Examples of run-away Councils.

3a- Councils now have little idea on how to do its core business of garbage collection and dealing with recyclable wastes. [37]

3b- A local council spend money to promote LGBT in the referendum. This is a human rights issue which is for the Federal government to solve.[38]

The ratepayers of Moreland will be astonished to learn that the council is considering spending their hard-earned dollars in support of Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot. This is a human rights issue which is for the Federal government to solve.[39]

3c- Council of Marybyrnong keep the expensive practice of replanting kerbside trees every few years near its Footscray Library.

3d- Council of Brimsbank spent large amount of money to erect a temporary luxury huts promoting “green houses” on Hampshire Road in August-September 2018.

3e- Bayside Council runs its own bus services. [40-41]

3f- Councils running City sisterhood with oversea cities.[42]

Fortunately, the NSW government will crack down on council travel junkets. Under the overhaul, councils will have to disclose what is spent on sister city trips

4. Conclusions.

4a- Reforms to Local Governments are urgently needed.

4b- Every citizen has to be vigilant and report to the higher, supervising Government any cheating he can see at Local Government level. Only by doing so he can avoid being turned into a tax-donkey provider for those cheats. Citizenry must also actively participate in politics to prevent corrupt politicians from turning local tax (also called rate) money into honey pots for themselves and Councilor Offices as their incubator. First hand contact with them will show you their unbounded greed and their contempt for tax payers.

References:

[1]. Investigation into the alleged improper conduct of councillors at Brimbank City Council, https://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/Publications/Parliamentary-Reports/Investigation-into-the-alleged-improper-conduct-of

[2]. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-02-27/council-sacked-over-cost-blow-out/1055950

[3]. Council spending: Staff wages blow out council spending costs …, Sunday Herald Sun. May 12, 2018 9:00pm, https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/staff-costs-blow-out-by-500m-and-take-bigger-share-of-councils-spending/news-story/911e5c5c1c363fc569b48538deb79cc7

[4]. https://geelongindy.com.au/news/26-10-2018/bureaucratic-cost-blowout-threatens-chilwell-ps-project/

[5]. https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/fremantle/fremantle-artwork-removal-costs-blow-out-tenfold-ng-b88931008z

[6]. https://m.northernstar.com.au/news/sculpture-blowout-to-cost-council/2318559/

[7]. https://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/gold-coast/gold-coast-city-council-coast-blowout-blamed-for-delay-in-nerang-park-light-installation/news-story/f955e31259a126d73b952e4658c49855

[8]. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north/darebin-council-projects-delayed-with-2m-cost-blowout/news-story/6b48ccde5f0ae2abb93f21c086d1df8f

[9]. https://i.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/104219388/council-tried-to-keep-multimilliondollar-christchurch-town-hall-budget-blowout-quiet

[10]. https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201861321/auckland-council-criticised-from-within-over-budget-blowout

[11]. https://www.zdnet.com/article/brisbane-lord-mayor-blasts-technologyone-for-au60m-contract-blowout/

[11b]. https://www.smh.com.au/technology/brisbane-city-council-it-contract-faces-potential-60-million-blowout-20170125-gtygbh.html

[11c]. https://www.cio.com.au/article/613210/brisbane-city-council-tech-project-faces-possible-60m-blow-out/

[11d]. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/news/what-melbourne-councillors-claim-as-expenses-funded-by-ratepayers/news-story/4c1fc9a3f4611f7d9e969ec0694ae4d6
[12]. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north-west/maribyrnong-councillor-sarah-carter-spends-100-a-week-on-phone-bill/news-story/e1313c18dc6f1746dd6ec42db658abf7
[13]. https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/government-spending-on-consultants-blows-out-by-250m-auditor-20171222-h09bso.html

[14]. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4874478/cornish-council-75000-poldark-pasties/

[15]. https://www.consultancy.uk/news/13514/st-albans-council-spends-12-million-on-consultants

[16]. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1210682/Haringey-council-spent-24m-consultants-failing-save-Baby-P.html

[17]. https://thestandard.org.nz/auckland-council-it-blowout-guest-post/

[18]. https://i.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/97201238/consultant-costs-drive-34-million-christchurch-city-council-overspend-on-personnel

[19]. https://i.stuff.co.nz/business/104922841/Govt-blames-public-servant-cap-for-blowout-in-consultant-costs-to-550m-a-year

[20]. https://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/8300-research-trip-for-arch-called-the-springvale-asian-gateway/news-story/513d52517dc3ea8a1d734e8e9e553fe5

[21]. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/melbourne-city-council-budget-2017-spending-rates-bonanza-replacing-roads-with-parks-and-malls-20170504-gvyl0u.html

[22]. https://vexnews.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/no-comment-melbourne-greedy-greens-party-councillor-stonewalls-over-junkets/

[23]. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/ipad/we-pay-for-more-than-1-million-council-junkets/news-story/4cbbaf2652d30269bcc1c2267ec7bfe8

[24]. https://www.bordermail.com.au/story/5234712/mayor-wants-permit-to-fly-on-asia-junket-to-help-create-jobs/

[25]. https://www.theherald.com.au/story/5552345/debate-over-lake-councils-35000-international-study-tour/

[26]. https://www.smh.com.au/national/no-junkets-lord-mayor-packs-his-bags-for-trips-20091102-htgu.html

[27]. https://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/council-should-consider-taking-taxpayers-japan-tri/3148138/

[28]. https://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/council-reveals-destination-fifth-overseas-trip/3175149/

[29]. Council defends overseas ‘junkets’
http://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-chronicle8992/20140212/281908771038726

[30]. https://www.couriermail.com.au/queensland-ratepayers-forking-out-for-councillors-global-junkets/news-story/f4a4782b76dba20228631b433a8b02ea

[31]. VICTORIAN councils are splashing ratepayers’ money on overseas “junkets” instead of focusing on local issues, https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/melbourne-councils-under-fire-for-asia-junket-spending/news-story/bc7ec9b5b63991dc43f1cc09a0bcdd44

[32]. https://fremantlereform.com/council-cof/cost-of-fremantle-mayors-rate-payer-funded-junket-doubles/

[33]. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-19/queensland-council-recycling-dump-to-start-nationwide-reaction/9673370

[34]. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/melbournes-most-secretive-council-under-fire-20160622-gpp36m.html

[35]. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6172283/Council-Melbourne-staff-spent-330-000-taxpayer-funds-trips-year.html

[36]. https://www.bordermail.com.au/story/5234712/mayor-wants-permit-to-fly-on-asia-junket-to-help-create-jobs/

[37]. https://fremantlereform.com/council-cof/councils-costly-world-tour-for-rubbish-junkets-continues/

[38]. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north-west/marriage-equality-moreland-council-flies-rainbow-flag/news-story/334d4b8073f79d045a27ace7e93920e0

[39]. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/more-stupid-council-waste/news-story/620156e34af89e0299a6e8675cf35134

[40]. https://www.bayside.vic.gov.au/news/commuter-bus-trial

[41]. https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/why-has-the-government-just-banned-councils-from-running-their-own-buses/

[42]. https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/nsw-councils-to-disclose-full-cost-of-sister-city-trips-in-travel-junket-crackdown/news-story/5e36c4d99a56f89c55d3672c190f7032

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MARKETS: AUSTRALIA) Shares in troubled financial services firm AMP have failed to fight back from yesterday’s 25 per cent plunge, ending down by nearly 5 per cent at a fresh record low after failing to hold onto the early gains today before the company’s first damaging appearance at the banking royal commission #AceFinanceDesk reports

#AceFinanceReport – Oct.26: After choosing a bad day to reveal news to the market, and being swept up in the global sell-off that saw Australian shares wipe off more than $50 billion in value, AMP shares failed to hold on to early gains today: The stock closed at $2.38, compared to its 2018 high of $5.47 in March — before the company’s first damaging appearance at the banking royal commission #AceFinanceDesk reports

Building with AMP logo on topPhoto: AMP’s reputation and share price have taken a battering since the banking royal commission. (Reuters: David Gray)

AMP’s stints before the commission have revealed lies told to the corporate regulator, interference with an independent report and charging fees for no service, leading to the loss of a chairman, chief executive and a slew of directors.

“Almost from the day it listed 20 years ago, it’s been almost one bad story, or one bad move, after another,” investor and former fund manager Peter Morgan said.

The latest story was confirmation that customers are deserting AMP. Its Australian wealth management division saw a $1.5 billion net outflow of funds over a what it called a “testing” quarter, coming on top of nearly $900 million over the previous six months.

The company also announced the sale of its life insurance business to Resolution Life for $3.3 billion.

Despite the life insurance sector taking a battering at the royal commission, Mr Morgan thinks there was a potential opportunity in an industry “on its knees”.

“The sale feels desperate,” he said.

However, he used the share-price plunge as a buying opportunity, picking up some AMP shares on Friday morning with the hope the potential impacts of the royal commission’s final report are already priced in.

“The pain is well known and the problems are well known, that’s in the market now and hopefully it can’t get any worse,” he said.

There was blood in the streets yesterday.

“When you see a stock fall 25 per cent, following on from a history of negativity, it feels like the last are getting out.”

Embed: AMP share price

‘A sense of arrogance’

The pain has been long-term for AMP shareholders — after the stock peaked above $14 in 2001 — and Morningstar analyst Chanaka Gunasekera thinks management’s short-term focus has been the problem.

They haven’t looked to the long term interests of shareholders,” he said.

Mr Morgan says a “sense of arrogance” has hurt the company since it listed on the market in 1998.

“It’s better to under-promise and overdeliver rather than the reverse, overpromise and underdeliver, which has been basically what AMP has done,” he said.

However, most analysts say the company’s problems are not terminal.

“There are a couple of businesses within AMP that are doing pretty well — you’ve got AMP Capital and AMP Bank,” Mr Gunasekera said.

Mr Morgan thinks management needs to sell their strategy better and is calling for the board to have some skin in the game, to instil confidence in investors.

“If I could say one thing to AMP, I’d say get out there on the front foot and be transparent,” he said.

“I’d love to see the directors buy some shares in it, out of their own back pocket.”

New chief executive Francesco De Ferrari takes the reins in December, with a battered corporate reputation and share price awaiting his attention.

Source: ABC.Net/Reuters.Com/ Published: October.26: 2018:

Related Story: AMP shares nosedive 25pc to record low on life insurance sale and funds outflow

Related Story: AMP charges dead customers for life insurance
Related Story: AMP releases $615m damage control plan, lowers profit expectation

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports & #Brittius says are provided by Sterling Publishing & Media News and all our posts, links can be found at here Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ Ace News Services Posts https://t.me/AceSocialNews_Bot and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com or you can follow our breaking news posts on AceBreakingNews.WordPress.Com or become a member on Telegram https://t.me/acebreakingnews all private chat messaging on here https://t.me/sharingandcaring

JUST IN: Ford is cutting staff as it transforms its business: The second largest US automaker said it was reorganising its global salaried workforce as part of a broader plan to trim costs and revitalise its business but numbers were not announced #AceFinanceDesk reports

#AceFinanceNews – Oct.06: The second largest US automaker said Friday it was reorganising its global salaried workforce as part of a broader plan to trim costs and restructure: “The reorganisation will result in headcount reduction over time and this will vary based on team and location,” a spokesperson said in a statement: The company did not say how many salaried jobs would be trimmed or when the changes would take place. The spokesperson said it would announce specifics at the “appropriate time.” #AceFinanceDesk reports

The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, which were first to report the planned job cuts, said workers were informed on Thursday. The company employs about 200,000 people around the world, including some 70,000 salaried workers, according to the Free Press: In July, Ford said it was making big changes to its core auto division and would spend $11 billion to help it adapt.

The company has not detailed its planned changes, but Ford and top auto makers are focusing on trying to develop self-driving cars: Analysts have been critical of Ford’s lack of transparency: In July, Ford lowered its earnings guidance for the rest of the year. It blamed struggles in Europe and Asia, although its North American division has been performing well.

Shares of Ford have fallen 26% this year. Shares were slightly down on Friday CNN.Com/

Sources: CNN – The Detroit Press – Detroit News – Published: October:2018:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports & #Brittius says are provided by Sterling Publishing & Media News and all our posts, links can be found at here Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ Ace News Services Posts https://t.me/AceSocialNews_Bot and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com or you can follow our breaking news posts on AceBreakingNews.WordPress.Com or become a member on Telegram https://t.me/acebreakingnews all private chat messaging on here https://t.me/sharingandcaring

MARKETS: JUST IN: Unemployment rate drops to 3.7%, lowest in nearly half a century and only 134,000 jobs wer e added due to ‘ Hurricane Florence ‘ with many people working part-time wanting full time j obs as earnings grew 2.8% and markets roar away its reported on Friday #AceNewsDesk reports

#AceFinanceReport – Oct.05: The unemployment rate dropped to a half-century low in September, the Labor Department reported Friday: The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September — the lowest level since December 1969 — signaling how the longest streak of hiring on record has put millions of Americans back to work: However, there was an increase in the number of people working part-time who want full-time work #AceNewsDesk reports

The unemployment rate is now at 3.7 percent, the lowest rate since December 1969, when the jobless rate was 3.5 percent. That’s despite September hiring being slower than expected. “The fall in the unemployment rate is largely due to the ‘right’ reasons: people finding work (i.e. not because people gave up looking),” wrote Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

Unemployment fell broadly, indicating that workers across all levels of education are finding work: “Over the last six months to a year, the market has really tightened at the lower-experience level,” said Cathy Barrera, chief economist for ZipRecruiter, an online job platform. “That’s really good news for people with less education and also young people.”

Only 134,000 jobs were added, But that figure was likely depressed by the impact of Hurricane Florence while economists had been expecting about 180,000 jobs to be added. Most say it’s a temporary dip, which battered and flooded the Carolinas in mid-September, during the time the national jobs survey is conducted. Businesses that close temporarily can have a big impact on the jobs numbers, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note: “[T]he official data only include people who were paid something – anything – in the survey period,” he wrote. People “who could not work because of the storm therefore disappear temporarily from the BLS numbers.”

Other data show the economy roaring ahead. Earlier estimates for job creation in July and August were revised up, so that on average, businesses added nearly 200,000 jobs per month this year — well above the number needed to keep up with a growing population.

Average earnings grew 2.8 percent year-over-year. While that’s still lower than what economists would expect with a rock-bottom unemployment rate, it’s an improvement from the 2.0 percent wage growth seen at the start of this year. Economist Justin Wolfers said September’s data pushes up annualized wage growth over the last three months to a healthy 3.8%.

While nominal wage growth over the past 12 months is only 2.8%, there’s definitely a trend here…

Annualized wage growth over the 3 months ending:
Dec 2017: 2.0%
Mar 2018: 2.4%
Jun 2018: 2.9%
Sep 2018: 3.8%

— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) October 5, 2018

Date Published: October.05:2018:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports & #Brittius says are provided by Sterling Publishing & Media News and all our posts, links can be found at here Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ Ace News Services Posts https://t.me/AceSocialNews_Bot and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com or you can follow our breaking news posts on AceBreakingNews.WordPress.Com or become a member on Telegram https://t.me/acebreakingnews all private chat messaging on here https://t.me/sharingandcaring

(NEW YORK) Gov.Cuomo says the only way to fund the MTA and prevent a subway crisis is to charge motorists a congestion charge but let drivers deduct the fees from their tax returns #AceFinanceDesk reports

#AceFinanceNews – Oct.05: With the subways in crisis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is abandoning his demand for New York City and its reluctant mayor to fund the MTA, saying congestion pricing is the only option…………..Not to be outdone, Cuomo’s Republican opponent says OK, but let drivers deduct the fees from their tax returns #AceFinanceDesk reports

The line of demarcation would be on West 60th Street, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported: Cross it in a car, truck or taxi going south, and you may soon have to swallow hard and dig deep into your pocket for a congestion fee to enter the central business district: A whopping $11.52 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., if Cuomo accepts the recommendation of his own task force: Cuomo surprised a group of the city’s movers and shakers at the Association for a Better New York by saying up he’s given up on trying to get Mayor Bill de Blasio to cough up some dough, and that congestion pricing is the only viable solution for fixing the subways.

Here are the options: God is going to send down $33 billion… that’s not going to happen,” Cuomo joked. “New York City is going to dig into its pocket and they’re going to ante up, and the state will ante up. That’s not going to happen. There’s only one way it happens, and that is congestion pricing.”

Cuomo dismissed De Blasio’s continued insistence on a millionaire’s tax as “political blather.”…………………..“Well, ideally we would like to have a millionaires tax,” Cuomo said. “Yes, I wish I could be an elected official who lives in the ideal.”

Cuomo’s Republican opponent, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, says once the MTA tightens its belt and eliminates waste and fraud “by reforming expenditures, by holding down costs, by making the system more efficient,” he would support congestion pricing too. But he wants to offer drivers some tax relief.

“Our plan is they would be able to deduct it from the state’s income tax,” Molinaro said.

And while commuters may cheer, drivers are offering a Bronx cheer

“It’s a bad idea. I don’t like it. It’s more expensive. I don’t want to pay extra in a yellow cab. Our business is down we don’t need to pay extra,” a cab driver named Zakia said: Others called congestion pricing a “terrible idea” that would cause people to suffer……….“It’s think it’s a bad idea. We don’t have too much money to pay extra for things in the city,” said Jackson Heights resident Mario Bonilla…………Cuomo said he will ask the legislature to pass congestion pricing when it returns to Albany.

He called on all the movers and shakers at the breakfast today to help convince lawmakers.

Source: CBS Local New York Published: October.04: 2018:

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