Saturday, December 18, 2004

Merry Christmas and reverse bon voyage

Have a good one folks -- the next posting will be from London, Wales, Paris or Amsterdam -- if I get the time to spend on the net -- otherwise you can talk among yourselves!

Back mid-January.


Compromises on Wayside Chapel, PO developments

Press release from Clover Moore:

The City is committed to revising and updating the planning controls
inherited from the former South Sydney, City and Leichhardt Councils.
As this major task will take some time, in the interim we will need to
deal with anomalies and make some site specific decisions.

Recent Development Applications (DAs) for the Wayside Chapel and
Potts Point Post Office sites highlight the work needed in the Kings
Cross area in particular. Given the history of inappropriate
development in the area, I have asked Council staff to address the
area as a priority.

In considering a DA for the Wayside Chapel in Hughes Street, Potts
Point, Council identified a mismatch between allowable height and
floor space ratio (FSR). Unreasonably low FSRs previously enabled the
South Sydney City Council controls to be bargained upward at the DA
stage to provide "development bonuses" to Council.

In April Council resolved to improve certainty by strictly applying
core development controls. The resolution provided for major
variations to occur only through amending the control itself, after
public consultation and consideration of issues such as the character
of the area, density, transportation, environmental capacity,
sustainability and cumulative impacts.

The City proposed to review the controls for the Wayside Chapel site.
Council staff surveyed the area and found a wide variation, but the
predominant built form around the site is three to four stories with
FSRs of 5:1, 8:1 and 10.1. Council has approved a revised FSR of
2.5:1, satisfied that it is appropriate in the location for any future
development, whatever it may be.

This revised FSR is lower than previously proposed by the Wayside
Chapel development. The applicant has indicated that a revised DA is
being prepared to conform to the new controls and address concerns
raised by Council and the community, such as overlooking, on-site
activity and ambulance access. Council will need to be satisfied that
any proposal meets the range of applicable planning provisions before
approval is granted.

Council will next week consider a revised DA for the Post Office in
Macleay Street Potts Point. In 2003, the Land and Environment Court
supported community concern about the unacceptable bulk and scale of
the previous DA, which would have impact on sunlight, views and

The new proposal is significantly improved and is supported by many
residents who opposed previous schemes. However, the FSR controls for
the site are below the actual level in the current building on the
site, as well as less than that proposed in the new DA.

Where existing buildings that exceed the controls are being
adaptively reused (such as heritage buildings) or detract from an area
(as the Post Office building does), Council needs to work toward
better buildings and better design that reduce impacts on the

The Council planners report on this development recommends approval
for the DA, with additional conditions to better comply and reduce
amenity impacts.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Bouquets to the pedestrian historian

Council Historian Shirley Fitzgerald is doing a fabulous job with the footpath plaques. The texts, events and characters she has chosen truly distill the history of Kings Cross. They stop people in their tracks, too. Haven't found any typo's yet, either!

You could criticise it in terms of the 'photograph it and knock it down' approach, (ie destroy it but leave some brass markers), yet what is emerging is truly unique -- what other precinct can match the colour, characters and texture presented here in a fascinating installation of unexpected scale? Visitors and new residents will find their appreciation of the place enhanced and deepened.

History is being made here, not just commemorated. Full credit to those who made it happen.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Sartor in line for Carr-spot?

It's the scuttlebutt around the big end of town -- that Premier Carr is headed onwards and upwards while none other than Frank Sartor is being groomed for the top spot. That could be why Carr is getting all the unpopular decisions out of the way now -- so he can carry the opprobrium elsewhere and give Fix-it Frank a clearer run at the next election. If this is the case, I wonder what Costa/Scully/Refshauge/Knowles did wrong to be so nimbly leapfrogged?

Meet the new boss -- worse than the old boss. Look forward to an unbroken line of condo's right up the NSW coast, serviced by super-freeways paid for with money withdrawn from the arts budget and the total sale of the railway system. At least Bob pretends to be an environmentalist.

I'm thinking of writing a book examining the methods and principles of the reptilian elite of NSW, calling it "How to stay on the gravy train". It needs somehow to be written as a popular comedy, though. How?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Carr to sell off more of the farm

STOP PRESS -- a modified version of the story below was published in the SMH today in Letters. Call me a media junky...

The announced closure of the Newcastle city rail is a disaster. It will increase car traffic while robbing inner city Novocastrians of their transport lifeline. It will damage CBD businesses because changing to buses at Broadmeadow, especially while carrying shopping, is a time-consuming hassle. It is heritage heresy and ecological vandalism.

Mr Carr simply wants the money for the real estate and yet more profit for his developer mates. The only force that can stop it would seem to be the transport unions, and I do hope they act -- even if it means more transport turmoil for Sydney!

Meanwhile, take a day train to Newcastle while you still can -- it's a classic journey, especially the Hawkesbury section, and the beachside city is a great place to spend a weekend.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The gang's all back!

Apparently today's Tele has reported a leaked document showing that former Council GM Robert Domm is already back with Frank Sartor -- running the Redfern/Waterloo Planning Authority. And guess who's turned up on Frank's hand-picked Board? Lucy Turnbull of course. That might explain why her repeated response to questions about it on radio was: 'something drastic has to be done.' Spoken like a true slum-clearing modernist. Personally I think we should bulldoze Point Piper and hand it back to the original inhabitants. That would be drastic! But then the big developers wouldn't be raking it in.

It's all in the detail

Now we can see Darlinghurst Road in its finished state. What a relief!

Interesting how the council staff have applied their own agenda, in little ways. For instance, the KX Bikers have lost their bikes-only parking that had been so kindly granted by Lucy Turnbull. They are appealing (that's a verb, not an adjective).

And what's this? 1P and 2P parking signs -- yes, folks, it's to be parking meters until 10pm every night. Good for council, bad for businesses. I suppose it had to come, but it's interesting how they weren't mentioned in any of the 'consultation' we were supposed to have enjoyed.

Then there's the 24-hour Council-only parking in front of their own offices. Oh well, they ARE more important than ordinary Australians, I suppose.

And one small teething problem: several of the bluestone kerbs have already been dislodged by armoured vehicles mounting the footpath. They don't seem to get booked, either. I guess it's one rule for the banks and JC Decaux, another for the rest of us.

On the cloned smartpole banners: they make Kings Cross into a model city (a small imitation of the real thing). Let us rejoice at the politically correct snow crystals and multilingual captions. Remember, the official reality is the only reality.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The facelift that nearly killed the Cross

The SMH today ran a story about the damage to businesses caused by the KX facelift. William and Oxford St businesses are understandably nervous. Those projects are much bigger than Kings Cross and in addition, those roads are major traffic routes into the city. Having them blocked will affect Kings Cross yet again, especially as Council seems set on listening to ESNA and closing Liverpool street through East Sydney.

And how do people rate the weekend street party? Will it be effective in bringing people back to the Cross?

We liked the festival itself and had some great times watching the entertainment. The outdoor party at the Empire certainly went off!

Click the headline to see the SMH story.

Friday, December 10, 2004

All set for big street party

Everyone geared up for the excellent entertainment at this weekend's "Rediscover Kings Cross" street festival? There are some great acts and events.

As predicted, they've got the Llankelly Place lights working just in time. And, late breaking news, as the rain falls, the futures market in street stalls has crashed. As of 4pm today you could get a $250 stall for only $35!

Let's hope the rain stops over the weekend, or much of the advertising budget will be a-blowin' in the wind and the cloned smartpole banners will be a bit limp. See you there anyway!

Hope for Minton House

Council's planners have recommended against a DA to convert iconic Minton House to a backpacker hostel. Minton House is on the corner of Bayswater and Darlinghurst Roads and has accommodated arts and movie legends including John Coburn, the originators of Tropfest, and Charles Blackman.

The report cites heritage and artistic associations as reasons for the refusal, and it goes on to recommend that the building should receive a heritage listing from council.

There had been a strong community campaign against the re-development. The recommendation has yet to be passed by the planning committee and then council as a whole.

Hurrah! More grey granite for the Cross!

Surprise surprise! Another of Sydney's unique and historical precincts is to lose its individuality in favour of homogenous city branding.

Council has announced Springfield Avenue is to get grey granite paving in the 'Gateway' style identical to the Darlinghurst Road footpaths. This is another triumph of Council priorities over clearly expressed community wishes.

The decision ignores a clear community vote at a 300-strong public meeting for different style of paving in the Cross; it ignores a smaller Springfield Avenue meeting with Council in which four different people called for terracotta paving, and others favoured the Llankelly Place style; and it ignores several written submissions opposing the granite.

It ignores the fact that Springfield Avenue is a residential precinct that needs to be visually differentiated from the neighbouring Kings Cross strip (now continuous grey granite will connect the two vastly different precincts via Springfield Plaza). And it ignores the prevalence of Art Deco brick buildings in the street, which most people think calls for sympathetic terracotta paving.

Council's announcement follows:

"We are pleased to advise that Granite Austral Verde has been approved as the pavement finish the works, which will now proceed on this basis from mid-January. As a special threshold to Springfield Plaza and the Darlinghurst Road Precinct, the continuation of granite through Springfield Avenue was considered appropriate in this instance.

"For your information, a range of responses were received from the community. The final selection meets the broad community support for a high quality finish, whilst keeping some consistency with the City palette, and ensuring a superior performance pavement that will endure in the long term."

It's a classic piece of bureauspeak. As a public service, we offer translations of some of the key phrases into plain English:-

1. "considered appropriate in this instance" means "That's what we want in every instance, so bad luck folks."

2. "a range of responses were received from the community" means "the submissions ran against what we wanted so we ignored them." (This is precisely the same phrase used by the Boundaries Commission when they recommended the forced council amalgamations -- even though OVER 90% of submissions were passionately against it).

3. "broad community support for a high quality finish" means "there was no support for council's first proposal: tearing up the terracotta paving and laying bitumen."

4. "keeping some consistency with the City palette" means 1. "council loves bland homogeneity and hates diversity," or 2. "neo-modernism is the one true church of planning. "The City Palette" means "grey".

We urge readers to speak up about this rubbish -- email councillors about it. Ask for an accurate report on community submissions. Expose these dull despots for the petty bullies they are.

The works are scheduled to commence from mid January 2005 and completed by early April 2005.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

New rules for Bill Posters

A 'lost cat' or 'garage sale' notice in King Street Newtown or Glebe Point Road might now stay up for five days after a revised graffiti policy was passed at Council last night. But in Darlinghurst Road your cat won't get the same coverage because Council's 24-hour removal policy remains.

The 24-hour rule still mostly applies to designated 'hot spots' ,ie main street shopping centres. Sections of King Street and Glebe Point Road have been excepted from the 24-hour rule, along with part of City Road near Sydney University. Elswhere, a five-day removal cycle remains.

Political posters are a different case again -- they will be allowed to stay up two weeks before an election.

Crs Chris Harris, Greens, and Verity Firth, Labor, were not happy with inconsistencies in the policy and persuaded Council to consider it again next year.

Harris wants the 14-day political rule applied to all community notices. 'Why should political parties get special treatment?' he said.

He also wants the hot-spot exceptions extended and a notice area defined for Kings Cross. He says the removal schedule should be posted on Council's website so people can avoid having their notices torn down the same day they post them.

Our local 'hot-spots' (daily poster removal) are: William Street from Riley to the tunnel; Victoria Street from Burton St to the Potts Point end; Darlinghurst Road from Oxford ST to Fitzroy Gardens and onward down MacLeay Street.

Elsewhere, five days remains the rule.

Council spent $3 million last year on graffiti and poster removal, listing 31,000 instances. That's $96.77 per removal, which is nothing compared to the cost of signage if the police get to extend their no-alcohol areas. Those signs cost Council $500 each, plus maintenance costs.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Autocracy equals 'flexibility' in Frankspeak

In the face of leaked plans which reveal Frank Sartor intends to give over 75% of the housing commission area in Waterloo to private development, Frank described his autocratic powers as simply giving him the 'flexibility' to solve the area's social problems. He knows full well this will sound reasonable to the average politically disengaged punter, and he will be able to isolate and ignore the locals who protest.

Meanwhile one woman who had lived there for 22 years, interviewed on radio today, lamented any break-up of her Waterloo community because of its close-knit self-help culture. 'When people are sick someone always visits and looks after them,' she said. 'Who will do that if we all have to move?'

Elsewhere Frank has derided those who protest his power to override heritage laws as 'heritage mafia'.

And word is that the first area to be declared 'state significant' will be the Block in Redfern, which will give Frank power to be his own consent authority. What could possibly go wrong?

Twas the night before Xmas

Someone posted this comment below. You have to pay the poetry!

The Night Before Christmas
By Warren Brown

Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the town
The whole city's gone quiet and the lights are turned down.

No Town Hall bright tinsel
Is strung out this year.
No carols are heard
No laughter, no cheer.

No Christmas tree baubles.
No presents as well.
No Dancer, no Prancer,
No Santa, Noel.

So why isn't our city
The worlds greatest starter,
Its all over Clover-
Where the hell is Frank Sartor ?

Friday, December 03, 2004

Do they know it's Christmas?

The Tele has another swipe at Clover Moore today over the pathetic Xmas decorations in Sydney. It's not one of council's strong suits, that's for sure, although the snow-crystal smartpole banners in the city are kind of gay. Perhaps a smartpole banner is a smartpole banner is a...

Last year council did a woeful job of decorating the Cross -- I did a straw street poll, asking people what they thought of the decorations. Ten out of ten people hadn't even noticed the unlit tiny silver flags strung above the shop awnings.

This year we get red smartpole banners advertising the library. Get it? Red. No doubt, though, there will be more for the coming street party over next weekend.

But it's all wonderful compared to a few years ago in Frank Sartor's day when the town hall was decorated with apalling giant blow-up figures. Now there's an idea for the Cross. Lots of our retail outlets sell blow-up figures. Perhaps they should chip in and do a number?

Must suggest it to council...

A real estate agent in Newcastle shows more originality -- they are hiring a big Bedouin tent and having their party on the Stockton sand dunes, complete with a herd of camels. Who said you couldn't find three wise men in Newcastle?

STOP PRESS: John Howard was just on the radio criticising Clover. 'This is political correctness straight from central casting,' he said, obviously believing the Tele's line that the City was going slow on the decorations so as not to offend non-christian religions.

A spokesman from Clover's office questioned the accuracy of the Tele's story, pointing out that this year's $600,000 Xmas budget was higher than last year's. Must be a slow news day.

Labourer forced to pull his boots in

An English building worker living on Elizabeth Bay Road was forced to pull his boots in earlier this week. He had come home to his flat after a hard day's work and, out of consideration for his flatmates, hung his smelly boots on some window-box infrastructure outside his window.

In no time there was a knock on his door -- it was the building manager, who told him to pull in his boots because a neighbour over the road had complained.

Great to see such excellent vigilance from locals concerned about the tone of our area. If you let that sort of thing go, who knows what would come next? Dancing in the streets?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Serious stabbing in Roslyn Street

A woman was stabbed near the heart during a robbery at the Kings Mixed Business on the corner of Roslyn St & Ward Avenue, according to a bystander. The attack occurred within the last hour and the woman was reported to be 'gushing blood'. Police have taped off the area.

There has been a spate of robberies in Darlinghurst Road over the past two weeks, some involving a knife, netting small amounts of cash -- $40 in one case where a tobacconist was robbed.

KX Police have been seen on pushbike patrols in the area. Perhaps there should be more of it -- the quick, silent bikes allow police to surprise criminals and to pursue them effectively.

UPDATE 2/12/04: at the PACT Police Community meeting last night Supt Steve Cullen told residents the alleged 21-year-old female attacker, who lived close by, was arrested at the scene. A struggle with screams had spilled out onto the street -- right opposite a Rose Bay Highway Patrol which was doing random licence checks on Ward Avenue. Three police intervened and applied first aid to the victim, aged in her 50s, who was stabbed in the neck. She was in a critical but stable condition after surgery at St Vincents Hospital, according to news reports this morning.

The highway patrol also caught two illegal immigrants driving cabs.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Residents get better access to DA information

In a move to empower people who may be affected by new developments, City Council is giving the public a lot more access to information about Develpoment Applications.

According to Clover Moore:

'Now, the DA letter distributed to neighbours can also be accessed on line, including the most informative plan or
drawing of the development proposal.

'Over coming months, this online access will be expanded to include additional information, such as typical floor plans, elevations, concept sketches and supporting documents. The City is working on the technical and security issues required to fully integrate internet access.'

Council one-stop-shops will get public computers to facilitate the web access. Photocopies of non-confidential parts of applications will be available on an order-and-collect basis.

Criticisms Frankly offensive

Frank Sartor is apparently offended by criticisms of his carte blanche powers over Redfern/Waterloo (see stories below). He keeps talking about what a consultative type of guy he is, even though the Parliamentary Bill requires no community consultation and allows Frank to override the Heritage Act.

Yet the critics keep criticising. Local Heritage Society boffin Andrew Woodhouse has the following very succinct letter in today's Telegraph:

'The loss of heritage in Redfern and Waterloo is a concern to all communities ("Redfern plan takes shape", Daily Telegraph 29 November, page 9). This "razor plan" is a reflection of a state government that does not respect our past. How can we learn from the past if we destroy it? As a former history teacher, Bob Carr has become a traitor to his own past. Let's hope this form of demolition by neglect is Frank Sartor's "Waterloo".'

And yours truly emailed the following to Sally Loane this morning after her interview with Lucy Turnbull yesterday (the Dame of Point Piper claiming that 'something drastic' was needed for Redfern):

'Frank Sartor's plans for Redfern/Waterloo are presented as somehow solving the social problems of the area. However they are little more than the old, discredited, 'slum clearance' mentality which created the Waterloo towers in the first place, and which in reality displaces whole communities, destroying the many strong and healthy community relationships that exist there and that don't make the news. The only people who really benefit in the end are the big developers.'

Friday, November 26, 2004

Brawl a reality check for the Cross

The gentrification of the Cross was set back a year last night with wide news coverage of eight people being arrested after a brawl that closed Darlinghurst Road for a time.

Reports named Cronulla League captain David Peachy as one of those arrested -- apparently he had been at a Christmas function to raise money for disadvantaged kids and two members of his family later got into a punch-up. Peachy got involved trying to break it up and was one of four released without charge.

An interview with a man who was working at Maccas at the time offered a different slant to the police reports.

On 702 radio this morning he said police were 'really pissed off' at a crowd that was clapping and cheering the brawl. He repeatedly said 'junkies' were present and that they showed absolutely no fear of the cops. He didn't explain how he identified them as junkies. A bottle had been thrown and a policeman was injured in the leg when he fell on the broken glass. The brawl may have spilled out from a 'club' behind the C-store opposite Maccas, he said.

Our sympathies to the injured policeman, and to others who are spending a fortune trying to portray the Cross as a family-oriented Christmasy outpost of middle-class blandness. And it's good to see the effectiveness of our local police in dealing with real trouble under difficult conditions.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

THAT Wenty letter

Gee, Daniel Morrissey from Darling Point is down on the Arts Festival (Wentworth Courier letters, today). He makes a big thing of claiming Louis Nowra's play 'The Woman with Dog's Eyes' was included in the festival 'to pad it out' using 'public money'.

I just had a yak to Louis, who confirmed he had agreed to and was happy about the play's inclusion in the program, as was the Griffin Theatre Company.

The play, by the way, sold out every night -- Louis' most successful yet.

As far as the public money was concerned, five or six square cm of space in a program costs nothing. We could have omitted it and made a picture bigger -- same cost, less info.

Daniel's bitter letter smells of factionalism -- a surefire downfall for local groups. We say again, let's support ALL the KX events and avoid the small-town trap of throwing stones when you live in a glass house.

The Arts Guild at this stage feels those who enjoyed the many successful events know the truth, so they are ignoring the letter.

Not me though. I have sent a reply to the Wenty wearing my hat as one of a host of community members who gave their time gratis to the festival (and last year's BTW). I hope they'll publish it.

Council's decision to split the arts festival funding between two groups showed all the wisdom of Solomon -- only in this case the baby was torn in two! Well, maybe two half-babies are better than one...

Old nighties don't please everyone

A reader sent this message today:

'Had a bit of a cruise through the Cross last night and I gotta say the red banners on Darlinghurst Road are very frumpy -- like some old nighties that have blown off someone's line. They have nowhere near the Stalinesque grandeur of their downtown counterparts on the Queen size poles. Which would've been a lot worse.

Also thought the paving and street upgrade is pretty unexciting considering the disruption it's caused -- and the new uniform signage on Macleay St is just plain scarey.

Still no sign of the Llankelly lights -- must be bringing the replacement parts in from overseas by camel. '

You have to admit the wide footpaths are refreshing, though -- ed.

Heritage Society petitions the Pope

Pell's Bells! The Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Society certainly believes in going to the top.

Cardinal George Pell seems intent on overriding the local parish to build a multi-storey medical school on the site of the Sacred Heart Church at Victoria and Oxford streets. So Andrew Woodhouse of the Heritage Society has written to the Pope asking for intervention.

That's optimism -- given the close relationship between Pell, the Pope and their Opus Dei mates, this move from a secular lobby group would seem to stand little chance.

But maybe Mr Woodhouse has a sectret weapon -- as an organist, chorister and Anglican, perhaps he plans to go over the Pope's head. Even though the prelate claims to have a direct line to God on matters of faith and morals, the creator apparently listens to lesser mortals as well.

So if we end up with a faith-based medical school in the heart of gay Sydney, it can only be the will of God! Or can it?

Local lensgirl does good

Wedding photography was never like this!

Kings Cross photographer Roslyn Sharp will soon have a major exhibition at the Museum of Sydney with her series 'getting married', a collection of wild and wonderful wedding shots focusing on the more exotic ethnic traditions enriching our culture.

It's staged by the Historic Houses Trust as part of the Festival of Sydney, and one of Roz's shots has been published as the cover photo on the Trust's new 'Events' booklet . It's a Jewish Civil wedding with the groom in a psychedelic paisley suit dancing along followed by a Gypsy-influenced band. Page 3 features another shot from a very ornate and joyous Bangladeshi Muslim wedding.

Roz also featured in 'Cross Projections' -- a sellout event from the recent Kings Cross Arts Festival -- with a captivating series shot in barbershops and hairdressers around the world.

Click on the headline to book or see all the events on the HH Trust website.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The inside story of the Injecting Centre

The Medically Supervised Injecting Centre at 66 Darlinghurst Road has not only rocked the boat locally but has made waves around the world. Now we can read the inside story of its first two years, and the extraordinary challenges dealt with by its dedicated staff.

'In The Eye of the Needle' by the centre's Medical Director, Dr Ingrid van Beek, is a blow-by-blow account based on her taped diaries, providing a very personal and highly detailed window on the hidden world of drug addicts and those who seek to help them.

The MSIC exists in a half-world defined by human foible on the one hand and unworkable prohibition laws on the other, a place where people can legally inject illegal drugs. It is a raging success measured by its enthusiastic adoption by the drug community, yet endures repeated attacks from its enemies in the press, in parliament, from troublemaking clients, the US-controlled International Narcotics Control Board and from some Kings Cross locals.

The book left me in no doubt that the Centre saves many lives. Hundreds of overdoses occurred and were headed off, usually by the administration of oxygen and only in rare cases by the use of Naloxone -- a problematic drug which, the book reveals, neutralises the effects of heroin and leaves addicts in a state of severe withdrawal and likely to go in search of another, even more dangerous hit.

Not that heroin is necessarily the major problem -- cocaine was the most common drug injected in the early days of the centre, far more dangerous and difficult to manage than heroin, and the mixture of other drugs with benzodiazapines such as valium and temazepam is the most common cause of overdose.

Constant battles with bureaucratic stupidity are well documented. I will be borrowing one succinct phrase from the book -- about one public servant who 'found solutions instead of erecting roadblocks'. Unfortunately the opposite is usually the case.

Ms van Beek lays to rest many of the issues which have erupted. The conclusion of the Evaluation Report that only four lives had been saved during the first 18 months is shown to be the result of an extremely strict definition of overdose which ignored all the oxygen-based treatments. Many of these, because help was immediately at hand, almost certainly headed off more serious overdoses which would have occurred if the user had been on the street or simply alone in a room.

The rubbish spouted by the likes of Major Brian Watters and Fred Nile is also debunked. Nile had the lives saved down to three, and Watters claimed that the centre had referred no clients to his Salvation Army rehab centres -- even as the centre was receiving a call from one of their clients who was in a Salvo rehab centre. Claims that the centre was way over budget were also untrue.

But the otherwise even-handed writing seems to go a little askew when it repeatedly names and attacks -- from page one -- Malcolm Duncan and the Kings Cross Chamber of Commerce which destroyed itself opposing the centre. Malcolm, who ironically opposes prohibition, seems to have gotten under Ingrid's skin.

True, the Chamber amplified some of the above myths but it also had valid concerns about the location of the centre. It is a fact that all centres dealing with highly marginalised people are not welcomed by the neighbours -- from needle exchanges to half-way prison houses to, at Ms van Beek's own admission, an injecting centre in Frankfurt which was located in an industrial area precisely to avoid such problems. Not only were the neighbours objecting, but a drug dealing scene had formed in the area.

I keep asking the question: why should the owner of the shop next to the centre, now untenanted for over two years, pay the price for our social conscience? I haven't had a satisfactory answer. I strongly support the centre, but if I wanted to open a main street business, I would probably choose another shop to rent especially if my life savings were at risk in the investment. And while by far the majority of Kings Cross locals support the centre, the further away from the centre they live or work, the greater the support. It's difficult to see how to resolve this conflict. Compensation might be the only way.

This well-written, revealing book is a must-read for Kings Cross locals and anyone interested in the drug scene, prohibition and policing. Published by Allen & Unwin, it's on sale now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Frank Sartor gets dictatorial powers

The Bill which will create the new Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) gives Frank Sartor, as Minister responsible, powers that would be the envy of most dictators, including the ability to override the Heritage Act. The RWA can also become its own consent authority. It amounts to the rape of Sydney, despite Frank's heart-warming spin about solving the social problems of the area and his vapid references to 'community consultation'.

1. The Bill gives the RWA power to create any development plan it likes, by any process, with no public accountability or recourse.

2. Frank Sartor will be able to appoint his own nine-person board answerable only to him. The board must contain one Aboriginal member.

3. The Authority's primary role is to stimulate economic development, mostly through the development and sale of government owned lands. The bill leaves the responsibility for 'human services' with the existing Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project, which will have no power over the RWA.

4. The RWA will be able to extend its own territory at Frank Sartor's discretion (the strip to the airport being the front runner). The Carlton United Brewery site in Chippendale has already been raked in to harvest funds for low income housing, according to some interpretations of the bill.

5. The bill allows the authority to compulsorily acquire public and private land. It will be funded by selling these assets, and will not be required to disclose financial details. Only 'non-core' public land can be acquired, but Frank pretty much gets to decide what is 'core'.

6. The RWA can establish private corporations operating outside any of the normal limitations of government.

7. Frank can declare very expensive developments to be 'of state significance' which will make the RWA its own consent authority, like the discredited Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

8. The Bill allows the Minister to override the provisions of the Heritage Act 1977.

Our advice? Form a development corporation now and start brown-nosing people from the Labor right. Only the rich will benefit from this. If you don't believe the above, click on the headline to see for yourself.

Uncool creep cruels kittens

The bag landed with a thud beneath the McElhone Street cliffs. A local lady looked out her window and saw it moving. Inside were four kittens -- two dead and two alive.

The bag had been thrown from the rear carpark of the flats at 147 Brougham Street where a grey feral cat has lived for years, fed by locals and the 87-year-old cat lady who has a rendezvous with them each evening in McElhone Street . The cats climb down through a thicket of vines to meet her.

You can't get near the mother, but the kittens were too slow and someone who probably lives at the flats caught them. Instead of calling the RSPCA or at least destroying them quickly and cleanly, they took the coward's way out and just tossed them over the cliff. The survivors were taken to the RSPCA.

Pete, who lives at the flats, knows a vet who will desex the mother for free. Anyone know how to catch a feral cat?

STOP PRESS -- a local who read this just told us the same thing happened in January -- he was walking past when a kitten landed on the road, badly injuring it. He was forced to put it out of its misery.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Smooth serendipity

Last week Kings Cross seemed to be awash with old airline magazines. In restaurants, under my door...

In a Virgin magazine was an ad for an 'Intimate Shaver System' with the motto 'Dare to be bare'.

The mail order address was Bald Hills, Qld. Had to happen.

Today Redfern -- tomorrow the rest of Sydney

The Redfern Waterloo Authority will be able to expand its area of influence by a stroke of the pen according to an SMH story today -- click the headline for a link.

Not a mention of windfall profits for the people who donate most to Labor coffers. Frank Sartor's star is on the rise. High rise, uniformity on a grand scale and the scent of diesel fumes would seem to be the future of Sydney.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Propaganda flies in the Cross

Now the Kings Cross Arts Festival is over, I can document some of the amazing actions of the council in blocking and sabotaging the event they are largely paying for.

Smartpole banners are a good example. According to council spin the banners are to 'celebrate community events'. More cynical commentators see them as just another advertising medium -- see the inaugural red ones now flying which advertise council's 'Information Space' even though it is still a construction site!.

Looks like the cynics are right. The Arts festival is the biggest community event on the Kings Cross annual calendar, yet local Council bureaucrats refused permission to give the festival street presence on banners. Three councillors took up the request but were also fended off by council staff.

The excuse was the financial cost, but real intentions were betrayed by their refusal to allow even an ordinary school fete type banner across the main road.

Council couldn't bear to have the arts festival steal the thunder from their own programs -- like the belated opening of the library, and the Christmas party they are planning next month to unveil the new re-made Kings Cross. I and others also kept requesting that the Llankelly Place lights be switched back on in time for the festival. No reply. What's the bet they'll be on in time for council's event?

It's like dealing with a bunch of petulant teenagers from an American high-school movie circa 1955. 'It's my party and yours can go jump'. Only total sycophants get any help.

The festival was nevertheless a success, climaxing with the Arts Ball on Friday night which absolutely cooked thanks to Jeff Duff's Band, drag acts Monique and Miss 3d, and the excellent staff and management at Ladylux nightclub.

STOP PRESS: the council spin has started -- a press release just out begins:

'Kings Cross will have a spectacular burst of energy for the launch of the City of Sydney urban renewal program of Kings Cross on Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 December. 'The Strip' will shimmer as the precinct celebrates the makeover of this famous Sydney cultural icon.'

Fabulous, isn't it? When the Arts Festival didn't even get mentioned on Council's 'what's on' web page. Nevertheless, the council launch should be supported -- for the good of the Cross -- along with the 'other' arts festival slated for next March or so.

Greens oppose more booze police

Greens Councillor Chris Harris strongly opposes Sydney City Council's move to establish alcohol free zones on approximately 100 streets and lanes throughout the City- an increase of 140% over current exclusion zones.

"Why are we planning to introduce these zones when police powers are more than adequate for dealing with drunk and disorderly behaviour? ", asked Cr Harris.

"The state government has armed Police with the Summary Offences Act, the Young Offenders Act and extensive search powers. This is not a local government responsibility and the City of Sydney should not be drawn into introducing these draconian measures" Harris continued.

"The Greens know that those who will bear the brunt of enforcement will be the homeless, public housing tenants, young people and members of the indigenous community. Areas targeted include the Glebe Estate, Redfern St, the Waterloo Public Housing areas, the Matthew Talbot Hostel, Edward Eagar Lodge, Foster House and the Wayside Chapel", said Cr Harris. "You can be sure that middle class drinkers won't be targeted by the police".

"We live in an exciting and diverse city, and we need to preserve that diversity. Council should not be wasting money on useless signs but should be putting money into outreach and positive programs that help people with alcohol problems."

Sydney City Council will debate the introduction of these alcohol free zones at its 15 November meeting. Cr Harris will be urging his colleagues to allow current zones to lapse and to discontinue the process proposed in the council agenda.

--press release

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sartor gets his toys back

After its crushing defeat in the City Council elections the Carr clan is about to get its revenge by passing laws to put ex-Mayor Frank Sartor in charge of re-developing south Sydney. This would remove significant control from City of Sydney Council.

As usual, the will of the people is but a minor setback for these control freaks and their developer mates.

The spin-merchants are already out, claiming the redevelopment will slash unemployment in Waterloo and Redfern. Demolishing the place will certainly achieve that.

The Tele reports Clover is concerned that there will be proper community consultation.

There will be, Clover -- but if our local experience of the Sartor vision is any guide, the consultation will happen only after the plans are all made and the contracts signed, and a couple of token changes will be agreed to for the sake of PR. Typically for this government, the announcement comes before a Parliamentary committee enquiring into Redfern/Waterloo has delivered its findings.

What's the bet the new plans will involve grey granite, smartpoles and plane trees all in a row? Ah, Frank's 'vision'. Good to see he'll be fully employed now -- sorting out Sydney's water problems must be too small a problem for such a visionary.

Click the headline to see a report in The Australian.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Library to open tomorrow!

Ladies, gentlemen and others -- the King Cross Library will at last open to the public tomorrow 9/11/04 at 10am, according to a very reliable source who GUARANTEED it. See you there!

The strip's still a drag

Latest business closure on Darlinghurst Road -- the Chinese BBQ behind where the KX Bikers used to park (opposite Krave). The shop has been blocked by construction work for over seven months.

Meanwhile, for those hanging on to their borrowed books, the library still isn't open.

The Tele today has had another go at Clover Moore claiming she used her executive powers to extend street works in Kings Cross, causing them to drag on till April. It is old news, though, referring to Springfield Avenue and Roslyn Street where the residents in fact welcome the work.

The original completion estimate was February. Work in the main street, cross fingers, will be finished well before then.

Roslyn Street gets a boost

Roslyn Street has a funky new micro-cafe, Spud & Douglas on the corner of Barncleuth lane. The exterior has been worked over by stencil artists as part of the Live Walls event conceived as part of the Kings Cross Arts festival.

On Friday night members of hot Sydney band Hubris performed there with acoustic guitar and violin accompanying great lyrics well-sung.

Those who lament repeated attempts to gentrify Sydney's most atmospheric cafe street will welcome the newcomers. Coffee's great, BTW.

Ultimo to get full aquatic centre

The determination of the previous city council to reduce the scope of the proposed Ultimo Aquatic Centre has been overturned and the centre will be built according to its original concept, says Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

The centre will include an Olympic-size pool, leisure pool, hydrotherapy pool, spa pool, sauna, cafe and fitness centre. The Centre will be located on Harris Street, in a distinctive wave-form building designed by Harry Seidler.

The previous council had decided it couldn't afford the full monte and had proposed to reduce its size and delete the hydrotherapy pool.

Clover Moore says the project dovetails in with her team's City of Villages policy for creating focal points for local communities to meet, relax and enjoy themselves.

The facility will be known as the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, and Thorpe has agreed to an ongoing association with the centre.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Barrister spikes van Beek book

Local barrister Malcolm Duncan has taken out an injunction to prevent the local launch of 'In the eye of the needle', written by Ingrid van Beek, Medical Director of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre.

He claims there are defamatory statements in the book, which deals with the history of the Darlinghurst Road facility.

Duncan was active in the now-defunct Kings Cross Chamber of Commerce which took legal action to prevent the centre being opened in its present location. The chamber lost the action against the Uniting Church, which runs the centre, and heavy costs were ordered against the chamber which eventually resulted in it being wound up.

The launch was to have taken place at The Cross Art + Books on Tuesday at 6pm. The book is published by Allen & Unwin and we understand that the injunction does not prevent its sale.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Poo on sticks to be wiped

The Owners' Corporation of the Elan Apartments is considering replacing the infamous poo on sticks at the top of William Street with something else. They are open to suggestions.

There has been a lot of talk about putting a giant neon sculpture in place to celebrate the heritage of neons in this area, and the new pro-neon signage policy applying to the Cross. I like a giant pink pussycat. Another suggestion is a giant phoenix, referring to a now-demolished sign in that spot which was a well-known rendezvous point.

Click the headline to see another blogspot on the subject.

Remember the Kings Cross Library?

As correctly pointed out by comments posted recently, our library remains closed. Council sources say they have 'no idea' when it will be open. Apparently the mezzanine level still has no balcony railing, so it is unsafe.

Work on the street, though, appears to have accelerated with observers noting longer hours of work on the paving in the parking bays, now mostly finished. However we are told no parking will be allowed for several weeks because the concrete beneath the pavers needs to cure before they will bear heavy weight. Makes you wonder about the heavy vehicles and stacks of pavers in some of the other bays.

Bush win boosts arms industry

The US stock exchange shot up on the re-election of President George W Bush, led by arms industry stocks. Presumably investors are confident that war and violence will continue to be used as a primary tool in international relations.

Yet analysts say 'moral issues' were uppermost in the minds of many of the midwest majority who voted republican and tipped the scales against John Kerry. Warmongering must, in the minds of these voters, have nothing to do with morals.

Closer to home, Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy has been awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. Roy is succinct on the arms industry, observing that weapons used to be manufactured to fight wars but these days wars are manufactured to sell weapons.

More from Arundhati Roy: 'Today, in a world convulsed by violence and unbelievable brutality the lines between 'us' and 'the terrorists' have been completely blurred. We don't have to choose between Imperialism and Terrorism, we have to choose what form of resistance will rid us of both. What shall we choose? Violence or non violence? We have to choose knowing that when we are violent to our enemies, we do violence to ourselves. When we brutalize others, we brutalize ourselves. And eventually we run the risk of becoming our oppressors'.

Click on the headline to read more.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Pell to usurp control of Sacred Heart church

'The silence from the Archdiocese is deafening,' says Laelie Schwartz, who is fighting to save her Oxford Street Church from being converted into a six-storey medical school run by a Catholic university.

'Fr. Brian Egan's official tenure as Parish Priest expired on October 28 and at present has not been renewed,' says Ms Schwartz, who fears that if he is removed, the Parish committee will be dissolved and Archbishop George Pell would install an Administrator.

That would remove any obstacle in canon law to the development plans, which would normally require the consent of the Parish Priest. A tame administrator would do Pell's bidding.

A wide community movement has developed to oppose the plans, including local resident groups, councillors from the City and Woollahra and local heritage societies. Their immediate goal is to have the site listed on the Heritage Register with the Sydney City council.

Apart from the heritage aspects, some are claiming that the Notre Dame University is homophobic in its teachings, and the project has more to do with George Pell's right-wing ideology.

Ms Schwartz questions the bona fides of the plans, which include commercial leasehold fronting Oxford St. 'Leaked information says that Notre Dame is in some financial difficulty and is already in debt to the tune of $15m, and that it is impossible to build a medical school for a mere $13m as claimed.'

'The real figure is about $250m with professors, lecturers and a minimum staff of about 100 persons. On the Sacred heart site it is impossible,' she said.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Stencil artists re-paint the Cross

Groups of stencil artists hit the streets yesterday spraying their quirky inspirations onto walls around the Cross.

The project, part of the Kings Cross Arts Festival, is dubbed 'live walls'. Under the auspices of the KX Arts Guild, the artists negotiated with businesses who agreed to donate wall space to be decorated.

You can see their work to date at the rear of the Prague restaurant in Kellett Way and behind the Crest Hotel on Victoria Street.

Local artist mini graff has posted some of the work on the web -- click the headline to see it.

Also yesterday the Kings Cross markets came to life with the Southern All-stars steel band who got the place jumping between 11am-12 noon.

Meanwhile the Festival is gathering pace -- check your program for details so you don't miss out on the fun -- see the hard copies all over the Cross or visit

And don't miss the Arts Ball, Friday November 12 at Ladylux in Roslyn Street -- phone 9357 2164 for bookings. Numbers are limited to 200, so book now! Email the editor or post a comment with your email if you want an invitation sent.

Another business closes

The recently opened Diogenes Greek restaurant/cafe has closed already due to lack of business. The restaurant is in Bayswater Road near Darlinghurst Road.

The owner, Jim, says he was surprised when he put two tables onto the new wide pavement and council rangers immediately pounced and ordered him to remove them. He then began the application process to have al fresco tables, but seven weeks later still does not have a result from council.

A more relaxed and helpful attitude from Council may not have saved the business venture, but it sure would have helped.

Junkies break into Rex Building

Junkies last night broke into the Community Centre on the ground floor of the Rex Building, stole a small amount of cash and used the toilets inside to have a shooting-up party.

The entry point was probably fire doors according to Robyn Greaves, centre co-ordinator. Ms Greaves has been warning Council, who own the community space, of the attractiveness to heroin addicts of the otherwise empty premises.

A large quantity of injecting paraphernalia was left in the toilets.

Roadworks conveniently speed up

The new Kings Cross Library is due to open today. Those who have been given a tour say it's pretty impressive It's certainly one good thing to come out of the turmoil, neglect and backflips of two council administrations over the past few years.

However it does little to relieve the pain of the extended roadworks being suffered by local residents, and particulaly main street businesses. Despite repeated calls and half-promises for the delayed works to be accelerated, nothing substantial has happened -- until, that is, Council wanted the street tarted up for the Library opening today.

Suddenly, it seemed, someone found the will and the money to pay for extended hours of work over the weekend -- teams were racing all weekend to complete the street parking bays outside the council building, and work powered ahead on the building itself. One could see the pavement works growing metre by metre before one's eyes yesterday, Sunday.

Where there's a will, there's a way, it seems. Unfortunately the great progress over this weekend just goes to show what's possible -- and that only council's priorities matter while the rest of us can go jump.

It also goes to show that the realpolitik hardheads at council understand that while Kings Cross may jump and shout, they can afford to ignore us because beyond shouting and pleading we are not really a serious problem within their ivory tower. The only way to influence council, it seems, is by more direct action.

Any ideas? A rates strike would be the most effective, to teach these arrogant apparatchiks that they work for us, not the other way around. But most people would be too timid. Wouldn't they? What about a class action from main street businesses? Yesterday is proof that council could have finished the works much earlier if they cared a fig. Any takers?

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Planes to land in William St

Contrary to serious concern about allergenic reactions to plane trees, 80 of which are set to be planted in William Street, Council has received advice that they do not cause serious allergy problems.

From a Clover Moore press release:

'Allergy experts at North Shore Hospital, Concord Hospital and the Woolcock Allergen Unit (Sydney University) confirmed that whatever is planted will be an irritant or allergenic for some people. Sheryl Van Nunen, Head of Department of Allergy, at North Shore Hospital, advised that Plane Trees are safer than many other trees as they do not produce comparatively high levels of pollen.

The consistent advice from experts was that Plane Tree pollen is "not on their radar as a primary allergen". Suspected Plane Tree allergic reactions were more likely to be caused by grass pollens, which people react to during the same season as plane trees are producing pollen.

Our research also found that some information being circulated in the community and to media is wrong or taken out of context. The following claims, in particular, need to be corrected:

* "Plane tree pollen counts of 3000 grain per cubic metre": This is a figure for the entire season. A study done in Homebush found an average daily count of 35 grains per cubic metre, well below the 80 grains commonly recognised as inducing rhinitis.

* "Plane trees have a three month pollination season": Plane Trees in Sydney have a maximum season of one to one and a half months.

* "Pollen is the number one cause of asthma and hay fever": Viral infection, rather than pollen, is the number one cause of asthma attacks.'

Funny then, how so many people are launched into coughing fits from the seeds (and their hairs) getting stuck in their throats. Coughing fits, I imagine, would trigger asthma attacks among sufferers. This doesn't seem to be 'on the radar', though.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Community forums fail to deliver

Commitments made by council at community forums don't seem to be worth the hot air they generate, at least where Kings Cross is concerned.

Months after several main street issues were brought up at council and PACT community police meetings, nothong much has changed.

Repeated assurances that the library would be closed for only (another) two weeks are now shown to be laughable in the face of continued renovation activity in council's building. It will be open 'on Monday', we are told, and smick glass doorways leading to a formidable staircase are being revealed as I write. While that is a mere two weeks longer than promised, it it is still double the estimated time and part of an all-too-familiar pattern -- I have a brochure with Lucy Turnbull's face on it promising the library would be opened 'in a grand heritage space' IN EARLY 2004.

More interesting to those affected, though, is the snails pace of work on the eastern side of Darlinghurst road, and which businesses are getting work completed outside their premises and which are not.

Locals, doing the thinking for Ford Civil Contractors and council, came up with the idea that parking bays on that side of the street could be progressively opened for parking as they were completed -- proximity to parking is a great boost to turnover. Great idea, replied councillors and staff.

One subsequently was -- although it is full of contractors' vehicles all day which seem subject to no time limits and are not policed by the ever-vigilant council rangers. Two other bays now complete are occupied by stored granite tiles in one case and cement-mixing materials in another.

We note that the bay outside council's own property is complete, but businesses towards Bayswater road which have now been hidden behind construction fencing for seven months now, are still looking at cyclone wire and bare concrete.

On the other hand, as predicted by yours truly at the last Council Forum, the Bourbon already has its seating back on fresh new pavements (and good luck to them -- that's how it should be).

It certainly doesn't contradict the commonly held local opinion that the whole purpose of the streetworks was to drive 'the wrong kind' of businesses to the wall so the Cross could be opened up for unlimited cafes and the ubiquitous franchises so beloved of those selling over-priced units, and people desperate to get onto some sort of social 'A' list.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Now it's a February finish for streetworks

Those sick to death of the eternal roadworks blighting the Cross will be pleased to know that the latest finish estimate is February 2005, according to a business person who is waiting to open a vacant shop. Latest excuse: the rain. Meanwhile work continues at the usual snail's pace, with no extended hours in evidence. What's the bet that the original nine-month job will actually double?

Better news is another well-sourced rumour that a Doyles seafood restaurant will be moving into the top floor of the new council building. The new library, however, still isn't open (remember, it was going to be closed for only two weeks!).

Redfern to be gentrified

You can't improve an area without gentrifying it, stated Frank Sartor this morning on 702 radio while touting Labor's intention to re-develop the Redfern area with another 'grand plan' .

He was responding to Angela Catterns who was concerned about the impact of the 'grand plan' on the Block and the Redfern indigenous community, which suffers 60% unemployment and a much bigger heroin problem than the rest of the community.

The only logical conclusion is that Sartor thinks the re-development will either gentrify the indigenous community, or displace it. Judging by the results of Frank's plans for the Cross, displacement is the real agenda. Gentrifiers love displacement -- for example the push by Stephen Carnell of the Kings Cross Partnership to have the public phones removed from the corner of Bayswater and Darlinghurst roads because drug dealers use them. This ignores the fact that those phones are so well-used only because the phones from in front of the station had been removed for the same reason, forcing the phone traffic closer to businesses which are now worse affected. A great analogy would be re-arranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic. Displacement is no solution.

I can remember in 1973 when the Block itself was supposed to be the magic bullet, the theory being that problems would be solved by granting communal ownership of an area so tribal patterns could operate -- as distinct from shoving Aboriginal families into white communities and expecting them to adopt a nuclear family culture. That didn't work -- according to Anglo standards and statistics, although getting rid of the Block is not necessarily an answer either.

Clover Moore has responded, agreeing that action is needed, but it must be 'the right action' (click headline for ABC story).

In both Redfern and the Cross, the biggest single action which could mitigate the worst problems is controlled supply of heroin to registered addicts. This would, over time, reduce daily dosages, slash the demand which supports the illegal dealer chain, and remove the motivator for most of the real crime inflicted on the rest of the community. Bob Carr however totally rejects this. After all, the other path will make massive profits for developers and fuel ever more expenditure on policing and jails.

A clue about the 'grand plan' was revealed when the president of the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce phoned 702 to complain that they had not been consulted by Sartor. Sound familiar? Breezy Frank said he would welcome a call, even managing a hint of a chuckle.

Opposition leader John Brogden thinks it is a plan for a new government authority above Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, according to today's Telegraph. In that he is correct -- but his solution of bulldozing the lot is essentially the same as Labor's -- just less subtle.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Spike spikes Abe

Spike's little piece on Abe Saffron in today's SMH has instigated a bit of would-be revisionism.

Abe is to be commemorated in one of the brass plaques to be unveiled by the Lord Mayor at 7pm Saturday 13 November near the El Alamein Fountain, followed by 'Mother Inferior does the drag' hosted by the Sidsters of Perpetual Indulgence -- part of the Kings Cross Arts Festival, now on.

The plaque pays tribute to the musicians of the Cross and Abe Saffron is included because he employed so many of them at his nightclubs -- and, apparently, paid them well.

But some locals are a bit upset about Abe's infamy in other areas and are asking Council to exclude him -- even though other pavement plaques, all written by council historian Shirley Fitzgerald, include Tilly Devine and Kate Lee of Razorhurst Fame, and deal frankly with the mixed history of the Cross. Maybe you have to be dead to be acceptable. Mr Saffron is only on a cruise.

Tanya swings into the limelight

Tanya Plibersek, federal member for Sydney, has landed the Family and Community Services shadow ministry in the Labor opposition front bench, after being returned with an increased majority.

She will be well in touch with her job as she is expecting her second child in February.

How we voted:

Overall swings:

Labor +2.76% Liberal -0.14% Greens +6.79%

Local booth results:

Kings Cross: _____Labor 44.68%__Liberal 26.50%__Greens 16.67%

Roslyn Gardens: __Labor 39.30%__Liberal 37.70%__Greens 13.07%

Potts Point:_______Labor 38.24%__Liberal 37.70%__Greens 13.78%

Darlinghurst: _____Labor 40.00%__Liberal 37.35%__Greens 12.45%

Woolloomooloo:___Labor 50.04%__Liberal 31.26%__Greens 10.64%

Monday, October 25, 2004

Clover reveals election funding

Another press release from Clover Moore follows. Funny how the weekend papers failed to cover this:

Election campaign funding reports for March local government election show some City of Sydney candidates received large donations from development interests, while many funding sources for the major party
candidates are hidden by head office collections.

In contrast to the other candidates, my campaign was supported by small donations from the community. I received $29,201 in donations of amounts of $1,000 or less. Of this, $20,000 came in donations of $500 or less. I also received $30,000 from the Living Sydney group.

As a community independent, I have relied on community donations in all my campaigns. Many large donors expect access and influence in return, and the domination of developer funding to the major political
parties clearly tips the balance against residential and environmental amenity.

In the recent election I returned a $2,000 donation because I had suspicions it had potentially come from someone with developer associations. I did not receive any donations from developers and went to great lengths before and during the campaign to ensure that I did not accept any donations—financial or in kind—from developers.

I strongly support a motion proposed for the local government association conference next week, by Mayor of Manly, Peter McDonald, my former independent colleague in State Parliament, for a Charter of Political Reform that deals with open and accountable reporting of election funding.

We need to improve transparency and accountability in campaign funding and political donations.

New Business Forum good for big business

Below is a press release from Clover Moore about a new business/council forum. While this sort of thing is needed, small business people still lack an effective voice. A simple way to end a lot of the excess bureaucratic load being placed on small businesses would be for Council to survey them about the ten most onerous and unnecessary council measures they suffer. Then a working party could analyse these and put forward changes designed to support small business instead of opressing them. Anyone want to take it up?

The press release:

Council has been working with major City business groups to create a forum to cooperatively advance the City's interests. It is the first time that the City of Sydney and the CBD business community have come together in such a coordinated way.

Our CBD is the commercial centre of Australia. About a quarter of Australia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stems from Sydney and many residents live in the inner city to access employment.

Founding members of the new City of Sydney Business Forum are the Australian Retailers Association (NSW), the Committee for Sydney, the NSW Urban Taskforce, the Property Council of Australia, the State
Chamber of Commerce and TTF Australia (Tourism & Transport Forum).

The founding business organisations have also nominated high profile individuals to represent various sectors in the CBD, including general business, commercial property investment, residential development,
small and large retailers, transport and communications, architecture, planning and heritage and the cultural and entertainment sectors.

We have identified five priority issues for the Forum to work on initially–the transport needs of the city, the economic and growth needs of the city, city amenity, sustainable development and development and planning issues.

The City of Sydney Business Forum recognises that the city represents business as well as residents. The Forum complements the community forums we are holding across the wider City of Sydney.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fig tree blues

A well-written comment posted somewhere below:

Here's a copy of the e-mail I sent to Council today 22/10/04.

Dear Clover and Councillors,

Further to my e-mail of 6/10/04 re the destruction of the giant fig tree in Macdonald Lne, Potts Point:
I read with interest your 'city forest' approach to the greening of Sydney in Monday's newspapers. It is very commendable and necessary. Congratulations on your initiative.
It was, however, a great pity that more effort was not made to save the magnificent Port Jackson fig tree which was chainsawed on Wednesday 6th October in Macdonald Lane (behind Challis Ave)
Potts Point.
The owner of the property Rucksack Rest was allowed to have this wonderful tree removed because the roots were damaging his sewer pipes. What rubbish - pipes can be replaced with plastic pipes.
This tree was irreplaceable.
I have spoken to the City Council arborist, Matthew Waring, and he assures me that the tree was destroyed on condition that a replacement tree is planted.
Now, here is my point. I have spoken to the owner of Rucksack Rest (and voiced my disapproval of his action). He said he will have the stump removed in a year (as it has to die properly) and then
build a car garage where the tree was. (He did not mention a replacement tree.) DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN !! The property in question is on a blind corner and is unsafe and unsuitable for car
SOLUTION: I would like Council to remove the stump and plant an established tree with pipe-friendly roots as soon as possible. This could be part of your 'greening initiative.' It would give the many
apartment dwellers, who like me have had their wonderful tree destroyed and now look at other apartment windows, a peaceful and attractive outlook once again. The countless species of bird who have
lost their haven would sing with joy once more. And this part of Potts Point would once again have contented and happy citizens.
I would appreciate a reply.

Thanks and regards,

Thursday, October 21, 2004

KX questions to Council

After four days there has been no answer from Council after emailing Kings Cross Place manager Linda Mearing with some urgent questions (see story below, same headline). My email was down briefly yesterday morning, so just in case, this email was sent a minute or two ago -- 11.45am, 21 October 2004:

'Dear Linda,

Did you receive the urgent email I sent you on Monday on behalf of readers of the Kings Cross Times? It is now
Thursday and I haven't received any answer or any acknowledgement. (text below)

regards, Michael Gormly'

Watch this space!

Miranda flays Clover

The right continues its campaign to undermine city councillors with a tirade from Miranda Devine in today's SMH (click the headline to see it).

Long on rhetoric but very short on substance, Devine shows either gross insincerity or apalling research skills by trotting out the old line that Clover Moore is inconsistent because she opposed the destruction of the Domain figs trees but approved the removal of those in Hyde Park.

I have pictures of the trunks of both sets of trees, taken in cross-section after they were cut down. The Hyde Park trees are rotten from the core, and Miranda Devine could have ascertained this fact just by walking up to the park and looking at those sections left behind to prove the point. The Domain trees were relatively healthy and posed little danger to the public, and the Botanic Gardens Trust had reports to this effect. Widely available press releases from Clover's camp clearly debunk this and other furphys, but Devine fails to quote any of this information. She also fails to mention that councillors were not even informed by staff of the impending chop until the day before.

Devine goes on to praise Robert Domm and Frank Sartor at Clover's expense, then quotes Liberal Councillor Shayne Mallard who jokes about Clover pulling out the 'blame the bureaucracy' card from one of three envelopes.

But Mallard then goes on to say that Clover 'is locked into a cultural battle between a well-oiled "autocratic, centralised" council bureaucracy and a new community-minded council. "We demand a different type of council to the CBD, big-end-of-town council it was."

You can't have it both ways, Shayne, assuming you have been quoted correctly.

Devine's criticism boils down to an assumption that an autocratic undemocratic council is the only acceptable kind, and that a council which listens to the community cannot work. This is rubbish.

She goes on to typify community activists as people who 'oppose change of any sort'. This is also rubbish.

What about those activists, Miranda, who CALL FOR changes such as the reform of an autocratic staff culture which is actively undermining the ironclad mandate of an elected council? That is a far greater wrong than listening to the community, but it mysteriously doesn't bother Miranda and her right-wing colleagues. They are democrats only when it suits them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

400 rally for Sacred Heart Church

Saturday saw a large rally protesting the demolition of the Church and related buildings at the corner of Victoria and Oxford Streets (see Paul Keating story below).

The Catholic Church wants to build a medical centre on the site, close to St Vincents Hospital and under the Auspices of the Catholic Notre Dame University, based in Perth.

The church offered a compromise proposition which was supported by Clover Moore at the meeting but rejected by the rally.

The Archdiocese now proposes to preserve the 1880 school building & keep most of the church nave. The church would be closed, 18 to 20 metres of the east section of the church demolished, the mosaic made in the Vatican mosaic workshop removed to some unspecified location, and a six storey building for the medical school attached to the nave and going over to Victoria Street. There would be one office for a priest and an underground carpark. Rally organiser Laelie Schwartz said she didn't think it reasonable that the parish or community should have to book a room in competitioin with the university to be able to use the facilities.

A new community group was being formed to fight the re-development, with representatives from existing resident groups 2011 and DRAG. Click the headline to see pictures from the church - click 'gallery'.

Monica breaks out the saxophones

OK, the pressure has become too great to ignore this topic. Starting with a comment someone posted below:

'In today's Daily Telegraph the Lord Mayor says that she and her husband are the Bill and Hillary of Sydney.

Anyone for a cigar?'

Apparently the reference is to Hillary Rodham Clinton's close involvement with Bill's Presidential decisions.

Two heads are better than one, I suppose, especially if you are holding down two jobs.

Oh to be a fly on the wall of Town Hall's Oval Office.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Business people talking legal action

Some business people in the Cross are so annoyed at the slow pace of work on Darlinghurst Road they are talking class legal action against Council and/or the contractors. Legal advice has been sought.

Their intention is fuelled by rumours that businesses affected by Cross-City Tunnel works have already gained compensation.

Council has specifically ruled out any financial compensation for Kings Cross businesses. All of those we have spoken to, from pharmacies to internet businesses, report turnover being down from 30% - 80% compared to the same time last year.

Village politics erupts at Council

Low-level sniping aimed at Clover Moore from Labor and Liberal Councillors erupted last night when the Lord Mayor tabled an un-announced Mayoral Minute decrying such politicking.

Let's hope all the councillors remember their first task is to represent us and manage the city. Most of the sniping so-far smacks of politics and has lacked much substance, but it seems to be getting to Clover. Her attack has only worsened the political dynamics, although its own political intention might have been to mitigate the criticisms by exposing them as political. Read the SMH story by clicking the headline.

A reader posted the comment below. My toes are still tappin'.

'Labor councillor Tony Pooley in todays Sydney Morning Herald has given a name to the Clover Moore team. Well done Tony and why had it not been thought of before. THE VILLAGE PEOPLE.

In the Council
Yes, you can just do what you please
In the Council
Yes, you can put your mind at ease
In the Council
Come on now, people, make a stand
In the Council, in the Council
Can't you see we need a hand
In the Council
Come on, protect the cityland
In the Council
Come on and join your fellow man
In the Council
Come on people, and make a stand
In the Council, in the Council, in the Council (in the Council) '

Monday, October 18, 2004

KX questions to Council

The following email was sent to Kings Cross Place Manager Linda Mearing at 4.34pm on Monday 18 October. The answers will be posted here when they arrive.

'Hi Linda -- Readers of the Kings Cross Times have expressed concern about the library not yet being ready. Three related questions keep popping up, and I have promised to report on answers:

1. Can you provide the community with a new opening date for the library, and reasons for the extended delay?

2. Likewise, in reference to today's Telegraph story, people are asking why there appears to be little or no roadwork being done after 3pm even though extended working hours have been signalled for months. Is it a matter of no-one wanting to pay overtime rates?

3. The Llankelly Place lights have now been off for two months. Is Council still having trouble with parts suppliers, as you last indicated? When are they likely to be on again?

The above delays are particularly unfortunate considering the Arts festival has now officially begun. We are marketing it across inner Sydney, and part of our purpose is to promote Kings Cross. Is there any chance of Council fixing any of these problems in the next week or so? It would require someone fairly senior to change some priorities. Any likelihood?

These matters are now (again?) urgent. Can you help with information and /or some remedial action?

Best regards, Michael Gormly

Shayne throws curly ones to Clover

Local resident and Liberal Councillor Shayne Mallard has posted some probing questions on notice for tonight's Council meeting. He has picked up Robert Domm's criticism as published in the press last week that Clover couldn't handle the job and was appointing a 'royal court' of extra staff at the Office of the Lord Mayor (OLM) to compensate. Part of the Lord Mayor's answer follows:

'So that the Council can clearly compare staffing levels with those of former Lord Mayors, Frank Sartor with a residential population of 35,000 had 12 staff. Lucy Turnbull with a residential population of 84,000 had 12.6 staff. The residential base is
now 147,000 and the OLM establishment staff level is currently set at 18, there are currently 14 employed in the OLM, with 4 vacancies to be recruited.'

However other answers were more evasive. Mallard asked why the former General Manager Robert Domm had received nine months' pay upon his resignation when he was reported as having asked for only six months -- a difference of $69,333 by our calculations.

'Answer by the Lord Mayor
The amount of the payment to the former General Manager was made after obtaining legal advice, and I successfully negotiated within the parameters of that advice, and in line with the terms and conditions of his employment contract. '

Construction workers reject library books

People started turning up today to return books to the new library in Darlinghurst Road. However workers at the construction site would not accept them. One borrower had travelled from Newtown especially to return his book.

Council had promised to open the library today -- at the last Crest Forum we were assured that the two-week gap between the closure of the temporary library and the opening of the new one was just to move and sort books etc. Glimpses into the site reveal, not a library entrance, but the renovation from hell. We'll pursue council for a new opening date.

Meanwhile there is no appreciable speeding-up of the roadworks despite announcements that some night work would and has taken place. See today's Daily Telegraph story by clicking the headline.

And the Llankelly Place lights have been blacked out for two months now. Council said they were having trouble with parts suppiers. Shame to see the roads still dug up, the lights off and no library as the Kings Cross Arts Festival begins. Part of its purpose is to promote the Cross, but this stuff doesn't make it easy!

Anyone would think Council still doesn't give a stuff about the Cross.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Church Sacred to Paul Keating

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has lent his support to People trying to stop the redevelopment of the Sacred Heart Church on the corner of Victoria and Oxford Streets.

'If it's a case of God or dollars,' Mr Keating said, 'let's have God without the dollars.'

'These important buildings... have a civility of a kind that would be dramatically altered by a campus and any retail and commercial development -- let alone the added traffic and parking.'

'A development of this kind pays scant regard to the body of the Church community of the Sacred Heart and is typical of the kind of railroading over which some Diocesen administrators have earned a bad name,' he said.

The church dates from before 1850. Archbishop George Pell wants to demolish it and the associated buildings to erect a campus of the Catholic Notre Dame University plus commercial development on Oxford Street.

There will be a rally tomorrow Saturday 16 October, on the site at 12 noon, when Lord Mayor Clover Moore will speak.

Click the headline for the full story.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Smokers chased down the road

Smokers will not be allowed to indulge their addiction either inside or outside pubs and venues if Council gets its way, according to today's SMH.

The reasoning is that they toss their butts into the gutter (cigarette butts, that is) and they end up in the harbour. It's true -- that surreptitious flick of the butt is really interesting to watch -- each smoker has their own technique and as a result these people cannot really complain about the ban as they have brought it on.

Perhaps though, rather than banning every possible risk out of existence, venues could be required to provide outside butt bins and service them.

My problem with smokers being relegated to one room in pubs etc (NSW legislation) is that most of my friends are smokers (they have more fun) and I will cop twice the smoke if I socialise with them.

To see full article click the headline. Here's a comment posted by a reader:

'Yeah and if you read todays Herald 14 October you will not be able to light up in a pub and according to Clover you will not be able to even stubb out the butts on the footpath. Kings Cross is the best place to go if you want to buy and have a smoko. This demonisation is a standard tactic of those who support prohibition and criminalisation. You have to ask why they have to distort the facts to justify their position.'

Have a say on Bourke St traffic study

The traffic gurus are deciding what to do with the intersection of William and Bourke once the Cross City Tunnel is finished. There are several options up for discussion although the preferred one is a ban right-hand-turns from William into Bourke (where the entrance to the Eastern Distributor will be re-opened), and a loop via Palmer St to get to the distributor. Hate that right-hand turn off Palmer into Cathedral -- the risk of a hard rear-ender is extreme. This will affect Cross and Darlinghurst travellers heading east, and has an impact on proposed East Sydney road closures.

There's a meeting hosted by Clover Moore at 6.00pm, 20 October at the Mary MacDonald Centre in Charles St Woolloomooloo (behind the cop shop).

You can download an information flyer by clicking the headline.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Council throws some light on Kings Cross

Kings Cross has been given the opportunity to come to life if Council's new draft signage plan is adopted.

The plan gives a green light to flashing and animated signage, and relaxes specific restrictions applied to sex industry premises by the previous council, which had attempted to limit these premises to only one sign.

'Creativity and innovation' in signage design has replaced a regime that enforced 'restraint' . Neon signage is to be encouraged in line with a strong push by locals and the Art Deco Society to have the neon heritage of Kings Cross recognised.

A few specific signs are to be retained after being identified in a heritage report commissioned by council -- for example the neon under-awning sign at 3C Roslyn Street.

The provisions recommend that signs are to be visually interesting and 'respond to the significant role of Darlinghurst Road as an entertainment precinct'.

The plan will be on exhibition for 28 days. Click on the headline to download the draft plan (item 3)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Street life no solution for mentally ill

A press release from Clover Moore:

I have again raised concerns about poor inner city mental health services, and met with the Minister for Health to get action, following an earlier meeting with both the Chief Executive and Acting Director of Mental Health of St Vincent's Hospital.

I asked the Minister to fast track the redevelopment of the inappropriate and dangerous nineteenth century Caritas psychiatric facility, which was promised by the Premier in the 1999 election, but still only listed for initial funds in 2008/9. The Minister agreed to try to fast track this project.

The Minister also agreed to look at ways to increase ongoing support for people with chronic mental illness, particularly those who have little prospect for rehabilitation and need more than crisis care. Because there are no supported accommodation places with intensive support, seriously ill people are left on the street. I raised several examples to demonstrate the shocking distress for many people with a mental illness.

Police, welfare, homelessness and health service providers tell me that they cannot get help for many people who have a mental illness. The majority of people sleeping rough live with an untreated or undiagnosed mental illness, service providers cannot get help for them, and they cannot get accommodation unless their mental illness is being treated. One third of St Vincent's Hospital patients are from
'out of area', but their funding is based on a formula based on the area's population. St Vincent's Hospital officers tell me that the 27
Caritas beds are always full, and they usually have others waiting for beds or waiting for assessment in the Emergency Department.

The hospital is restructuring mental health services but this will not solve the lack of service, withdrawal of outreach support into the community, or make up for the lack of help for people with a mental illness.

I am very concerned that the hospital must be funded to expand services and not just re-organise existing resources, and will report back again when I have received a response from the Minister for Health.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Now comes the real challenge for John Howard

It appears the hip pocket has spoken. The fear of rising interest rates, according to the pundits, has overcome all other issues including Iraq and climate change to return John Howard with an unprecedented increased margin in his fourth term.

Congratulations to Coalition supporters, and also to the Greens who increased their vote across the board. Sympathies to Labor supporters, who really seemed to be in there with a chance.

But now John Howard faces his biggest challenge. Not one independent economist agrees that a coalition victory would succeed in preventing an interest rate rise. Most see it as inevitable with US rates on the rise and a booming Australian economy. These are the last conditions in which an government should instigate the biggest spending spree in living history.

Both parties promised spending like there was no tomorrow in order to win this election, running down the very surplus which is credited with keeping rates steady. The spending will be highly inflationary and the inevitable interest rate rise will hit Australians hard. Record levels of debt have made us highly vulnerable to even a modest rate rise. The Coalition made much of the high interest rates we saw under Paul Keating but the fact is we are much more highly geared now because we have borrowed far more than we did in those days, and the debt load is not only now greater but there is no relief in sight -- then, interest rates could and did come down. Now, debt just won't go away and interest rates will rise.

If you add in very dangerous current account and trade deficits, John Howard will face treacherous economic ground over the next three years and is locked in to spending any future surpluses if he keeps his election promises. Deprived of his chief economic weapon, there may not be much he can do -- except blame world economic factors.

So the next election will present a very different scenario. Parties will have to present real solutions to real problems in order to gain peoples' votes and spending promises just won't cut the mustard. Meanwhile, don't get too heavily in debt!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Death drug was not ecstasy

The tragic death of a 19-year-old woman last Monday was blamed on the drug ecstasy by the Daily Telegraph yesterday.

However other news media report that the drug was PMA, which reportedly comes in tablets dubbed 'red mitsubishi' because of the three-pointed logo stamped on them, or 'orange CK'.

Ecstasy is the common name given to MDMA, a different drug which is far less dangerous.

People suffering a bad reaction from PMA present with unique symptoms resulting from a breakdown of their body thermostat, and doctors say this is very difficult to treat.

The Telegraph claimed there were 'at least 50 brands of ecstasy, or MDMA on the market,' making its misinformation very specific. It claimed that over 20 people had died in NSW alone since 1995 'since popping the party drug'. This figure was not sourced, and may include non-MDMA drugs.

What's the difference, you might ask -- especially if your information about recreational drugs comes from such inaccurate and sensationalised stories.

In fact it makes a lot of difference. MDMA is a relatively safe drug and the millions using it every weekend around the world know this by experience.

So when presented with the sort of inaccurate demonisation published yesterday by the Tele, many simply discount it as more propaganda, so genuine warnings about dangerous drugs such as PMA or GHB are discounted.

This demonisation is a standard tactic of those who support prohibition and criminalisation. You have to ask why they have to distort the facts to justify their position.

The death of the 19-year-old can equally be blamed on prohibition itself, as the girl and her friends did not seek medical help in time. Teenagers especially are known to avoid getting help because they are scared to admit to using a criminalised substance.

In addition, the supply chain behind these drugs is outside the law, therefore completely deregulated, and purveyors of PMA and GHB commonly mislead innocent buyers by selling their wares as ecstasy.

The far religious right have been screaming that regulated supply of drugs would put teenagers at greater risk.

The above case shows the opposite is true. For a more balanced appraisal of the dangers of MDMA, see a well researched site by clicking the headline. And if you don't believe them, try Dr Norman Swan's rundown at

BTW, we strongly advise people not to take red mitsubishi or orange ck tablets. GHB is often sold as 'liquid ecstasy' and should also be avoided.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Who gives a fig about heritage?

More chainsaw massacres.

An amazing old fig tree in McDonald Lane, Potts Point, was completely pulped yesterday morning in a dawn raid 'chain-saw massacre' says the Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Society.

This was despite last minute attempts by Cr Phillip Black and strenuous efforts by Cr Chris Harris to make enquiries on how to save it. No evidence of this tree now exists.

The Heritage Society is now asking that all such further applications for removing trees over 5m be subject to normal DA procedures, with full resident notification and the DA going to council as a matter of course.

William Street trees for the chop

A letter to the editor:

Destruction of 27 Mature London Planes on William Street -- approved!

Shame Sydney City Council, Shame RTA, Baulderstone Hornibrook -- Local East Sydney Residents demand that the 27 wonderful leafy London Plane Trees on William Street, set down for the chop within the next few months be saved.

In a drought with water restrictions there is absolutely no excuse in suggesting these should go because of their 'distorted forms' with a replanting plan of 30 new trees to 'replace them'

How do you replace 27 mature established trees 30 to 50 years old, and for what? It was not the previous Council's decision to fast track the hideous granite paving program we are informed, but the current one's .

Leave us with our much loved trees -- please.

Robbie Hall

'Family impact' in Iraq

John Howard has come to an agreement with the 'Family First' party to include a 'family impact statement' with all new legislation if he is re-elected.

This is really touching, heart-warming motherhood stuff and a great way to preference-swap.

As these people all support the invasion of Iraq, perhaps they would like to write 'family impact statements' on the several children killed there last week while lining up to get sweets from the Americans, not to mention the growing list of adult deaths both Iraqi and American.

Or is it just our families who matter and the rest of the world can go to hell -- for the sake of higher profits for oil barons and arms manufacturers.

I wonder where Jesus preached that? I'd like a Bible reference please.

'Knives out' for Robert Domm

'A culture of secrecy' had been encouraged by Council's former General Manager Robert Domm according to Greens Councillor Chris Harris.

A perfect example, he said, was that councillors had been informed of the removal of trees in Hyde Park only at 4pm yesterday afternoon.

Angela Catterns on 702 radio asked Harris about Robert Domm's attacks on Clover Moore in the press, commenting that the 'knives seemed to be out' against the Lord Mayor.

Harris replied that 'the knives should be out' for Robert Domm as he had encouraged a culture of secrecy and had kept councillors badly informed.

A new, more open culture among staff would now be encouraged to enable them to work more closely with councillors.

Asked about Domm's claims that the Mayor was unable to properly do her job because she is both member for Bligh and Lord Mayor, Harris said she worked extremely hard and the staff culture of secrecy had been the real problem.

'Knives out' for Hyde Park fig trees

Several old fig trees in Hyde Park are to be removed by Council because they are diseased, according to a report on 702 radio this morning.

Tests done by Council's arborist and two independent arborists show that three separate diseases have weakened the trees which are an imminent danger of falling. Up to 75% of the roots have been turned to pulp.

In July a mature fig fell across the main avenue, one of several over the past year.

Greens councillor Chris Harris said the situation was totally different to that of the figs recently removed in the Domain by the Botanic Gardens Trust because those trees had turned out not to be diseased, despite repeated assertions to that effect from the Gardens and the state government.

An exhibition on the Domain and that tree-felling is running now at Town Hall, featuring photos by local Glenn Lockitch.

The Hyde Park figs will not be replaced immediately as the neighbouring fullgrown trees starve the younger trees of nutrients and light, and the soil is contaminated by the diseases, said Council's arborist.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Archibald challenge to proceed

Kings Cross Artist Tony Johansen's court action challenging the declared winner of the Archibald Prize has been cleared by the Attorney General to proceed. The first court action will happen tomorrow, Thursday.

At stake is the eligibility of Craig Ruddy's portrait of Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil to have been accepted in the $35,000 competition. The prize, according to the bequest of John Feltham Archibald, or as he was later known, Jules Francois Archibald, was to be awarded to a painting done from life.

Rules stipulated that 'the painting must be painted during the twelve months, preceding the date fixed by the Trustees, who may then exhibit the winning picture in the Gallery for two months after the award and who do not have to award the prize if "no competing picture shall in the opinion of the Trustees be painted worthy of being awarded a prize". - Note, no Prize was awarded for 1964.

The Johansen challenge notes that the blurb next to the painting at the NSW Art Gallery lists the medium as 'charcoal'.

It will be interesting to see how the trustees now defend this as a painting. Click the headline to link to the challengers' weblog and a further world of Archibald links.

Domm attacks Clover yet again

Departed Council General Manager Robert Domm has had yet another go at Lord Mayor Clover Moore -- this time in today's Daily Telegraph.

It's mostly the same old stuff about Clover being a part-time Mayor and having her eye off the ball. However Domm has added Clover's appointment of more personal staff to his attack menu. The paper does point out, however, that Council's area has doubled in size since the Sartor days.

Clover is pictured on a Queen of Hearts card with a list of her sins, including her diplomatic handling of the Aboriginal tent embassy in Victoria Park, going to the beach and, (sic) 'was criticised for attacked the use of sniffer dogs to fight crime'.

All this proves little except that Domm truly has it in for Clover, backing up allegations that he had been actively subverting the spirit of council and community decisions. Our council now has the chance to appoint a new GM who will reinforce the mandate of elected councillors.

It's raining doubletalk in the house of God

There has been some classic poppycock on the airwaves lately.

Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen gets the prize for his convoluted explanations why women are equal to men but should not become bishops. He quotes the Bible as the 'constitution' of the church and then says 'I believe the Bible says...'. So it's just a matter of belief, really.

While a clear majority of the three synods voted for female bishops, a two-thirds majority in all three is required for a change -- and this did not eventuate. Jensen tried to describe this as some sort of a mandate by boasting about the 'strong minority' that voted against women bishops. By that logic, Easts should have won the grand final on Sunday night because they scored a 'strong minority'.

Then there's the line that women are equal but they are different. God apparently gave men 'different' responsibilities eg they should be the 'leader' of a family, and therefore of the church. So, according to Jensen, a leader is equal to a subordinate -- just with different responsibilities! He brushed off questions about the many families headed by women.

Meanwhile the hard-core religious right is weighing into political propaganda -- these are the people who, along with Fred Nile, are getting a large share of Labor and Democrat preferences in the Senate this Saturday (a desperate attempt to block the growing Greens vote).

Their radio ads go back to the Reefer Madness days of the '40s with bad actors screaming that the Greens are going to expose YOUR children to drugs. The fact that your children are already exposed to drugs through a completely unregulated black market escapes their notice. Anyone with their eyes open who has raised a teenager lately knows that is is in fact easier for teenagers to get illicit drugs than alcohol because they don't need ID to buy them! Ironically, decriminalising the drugs and regulating their supply would limit access to drugs by teenagers -- the population group most prone to drug abuse because of their immaturity, and the group most vulnerable to potential harm.

So these fundamentalists are in fact advocating a system that increases harm to teenagers. (They also support the Iraq invasion even though children are being blown up all over the place as a result.)

You will be voting for these thin-lipped puritans if you vote above the line for Labor or the Dems on Saturday. To reduce the very real possibility of Fred Nile and his crew getting the balance of power in the Senate, fill out the whole form, making your own preference choices. Take a sharp pencil!

Keeping to the 'God on our side' theme, Donald Rumsfeld has finally admitted there is no hard evidence of any link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida. Gee, I thought that's why we invaded Iraq! And Paul Bremer has said that the US just didn't send in enough troops, and while he was administrator there,George W. refused his requests for more troops. You'd think if God was on their side they'd have better intelligence.