Saturday, December 16, 2006

New club approval a blow for saturation point theorists

Received the report yesterday of the Land & Environment Court appeal for the Hungry Jacks site DA that has got the temperance union all squealing, more so since they lost.

Seems like there was a lot of fuss about "saturation point" until it was discovered that there is no info defining what it means. Expect there will now be some new study with patching policy drawn up to neatly slot these DA's into - or out of.

Of course the several arguments in favour of concentration, and the social forces that create precincts like Kings Cross in every major city, are ignored by the anti-fun brigade.

Mind you, it’s a pity the developers of these super pubs are not more culturally sensitive and active while they splash around their poker machine profits. This also raises again the question of rental levels. The asking price of $5-6,000 per week for the site simply drove off all potential tenants. Upshot: the site was sold to entertainment moguls. In the end though, it’s better for Kings Cross to have an occupied street frontage than a vacant one.

The Court's Planner also said the planning intent for the Kings Cross Entertainment Precinct (which contains a strong component of entertainment oriented activities which set it apart from other urban villages) is to recognise and encourage entertainment uses in the precinct. As such, the proposal is appropriate for the site.

So there! I guess the Court said "if you don't like it, why don't you move?" in a different set of words this time.

Won't be the last we hear about it I'm sure.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Paul Sheehan loses the plot

Author Paul Sheehan covered himself in shame on Monday with a rant about the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, published in the SMH. The rant was lifted straight from the local far right Liberal line that all the problems of Kings Cross are down to the centre (even though a careful look will reveal that the decline of retail shopping strips is getting worse throughout the inner city, including Oxford Street, Glebe and Norton Street).

In ranting about the high costs of the MSIC and harm minimisation programs for junkies, he ignores the infinitely higher cost of jailing people for drug crimes, even as we continue building jails and filling them mostly with drug-related offenders. That’s a prohibition argument but Sheehan (and the SMH) refuse to argue within that frame.

I estimate 90% of drug-related damage is in fact down to prohibition -- the system that creates the space for the criminal black market that operates worldwide. Prohibition creates the ‘crimes’ it seeks to eliminate.

Sheehan also quotes an author who points out that all this money is spent on people who are ‘architects of their own downfall’. What rubbish -- Something like 85% of these people, before they created their drug problems, are illiterate or have severe learning difficulties, have mental problems, and/or have experienced major trauma in their lives (things like seeing your brother murdered by your father). They cannot function in this society and they cannot keep their drugs under control either. Sheehan fails to offer any better solution to the problem but his clear implication is that these people should be left in the gutter to die -- like they used to before the MSIC. Paul should look up the word ‘redemption’ in his dictionary and reflect on it.

Living in Kings Cross, I am acquainted with a lot of these people and one frequent factor I notice besides lack of teeth is a lack of intelligence in its classic sense.

When it comes to emotional intelligence though, a lot of them would leave Paul Sheehan gasping.

Sheehan shows his ignorance by mentioning ice and ecstasy in the same breath. Read what Dr Norman Swan wrote about ecstacy on the ABC’s quantum program by clicking the headline. Do your research, Paul!

Curiously, Sheehan does a U-turn at the end of his story and flirts with the opposite point of view. But he still babbles emotively about the government, because of the MSIC, being ‘involved in the heroin trade’ which in fact would go a long way to solving the problems and would virtually eliminate drug-related crime. In ignoring prohibition (which is listed as a classic example of fallacy in my Logic textbook) he ignores the prime factor in this whole saga.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tango returns to The Cross

'If you can think, feel & move, you can dance the Tango,' says Sophia Alvarez, instructor with Patio de Tango.

Ah, Sophia, but you have to do all three at the same time!

Watch the experts and join in yourself this Sunday at Piccolo Park in Roslyn Street -- 7.30pm till 10pm.

It's a great evening that gives The Cross the sort of fun flavour we like to see.

The picture is from their last event in Springfield Plaza, part of last year's Arts Festival organised by the Kings Cross Arts Guild.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pix coming to the park

The third year of Pix in the Park is about to happen again.

One of the more delicious highlights of the (ex) Kings Cross Arts Festival, it serves up an eclectic mix of always-interesting films with a stong Kings Cross connection.

Pix in the Park, held in Fitzroy Gardens, will screen on Saturday 25 November 2006. Enjoy a selection of short films and the multi-award winning documentary 'Girl in a Mirror' (pictured). Seating will be provided at the back but if you want to sit in the front section then we recommend you bring a rug for your bum! Pics in the Park starts at 8pm.

'Girl in a Mirror' documents the work of the late Australian photographer Carol Jerrems who mixed with filmmakers, photographers and musicians of the urban counter-cultures in Sydney and Melbourne in the '70s, as well as the dispossessed – women, children, Aboriginal people and youth gangs, and are the subject of her work. Carol Jerrems also captured her own death, from a terminal illness. She passed away at 30. Girl in a Mirror traces the passionate and exuberant course that Jerrems took through this turbulent decade.

Editor's note:
Lack of funding for the Kings Cross Arts Festival means this and other events are starved of publicity because the festival enabled 20,000 programs to be distributed citywide promoting all the events. That no longer happens.

Council's strategy of cherrypicking certain events without publicising any of them speaks for itself.

Come along and stick it up the purse-mouthed bureaucrats who do Clover's will.

Comment of the year

Posted below under (Part III)

Just hang in there, you bastards, and defeat them at the shopfronts, the trenches, the roadworks, and with the fighting spirit that is within the ornery denizens of King's Cross.
Remember her as Queen's Cross.
Remember Rushcutter's Bay as the scene of the first white massacre by the natives.
God save you all, in this bloody new-age battle for land and the rights of the indigenous people.
Long live the business precinct!
Long live the Pub!
Is there no harmonious path for all the warring parties?
I need to walk my baby on the paths, be they littered with the filth of the poor, the rich, the elderly, and the residents!
God save my right to walk safely!


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Council biased against our community (part III)

Readers of this blog will remember my confrontation of Clover Moore about Council breaking its own rules to over-fund the Kings Cross Partnership and halve funds for the KX Arts Guild's annual arts festival, now effectively completely defunded. (See blogs below)

Months later, Clover has replied with a two-page letter that completely ignores the specific references I made to the council resolutions that had been disobeyed by staff. Clover rabbits on, basically re-stating what council did in a typical bureaucratic snowjob.

So Clover has now specifically endorsed what seems to be blatant staff misbehaviour.

Meanwhile council continues to fund an unrepresentative body which has little support in Kings Cross and is chaired by a commercial real estate agent from Blakehurst. Its recipe for revitalising Kings Cross as an exclusive haven for A-list gentry has always failed and will always do so because the social forces which create the place are not just going to evaporate.

Meanwhile the City has de-funded a widely supported arts body which exists on volunteer labour and has repeatedly mounted highly successful festivals even when funding was improperly halved, and continues to function with no funding. This is entirely contrary to Council's spin around our Local Area Plan which goes on and on about the importance of the arts.

The reason is obvious: The former has an agenda that reflects Clover's obsession with converting Sydney's entertainment, red light and backpacker precinct into a high-cost 'mother and child friendly' retail-and-latte nonentity.

The Arts Guild network on the other hand consists of people who live here because they like it and whose events tend to enhance the area while maintaining its character.

The matter will be considered for further action at the next 2011 Residents Association meeting.

Council continues its bias against our community

Council continues to reject out-of-hand genuine, well-considered requests from our part of the community -- requests that would do a lot for the amenity of this area.

We have been asking for ages for a public access 24-hour noticeboard in Springfield Plaza. There are three main reasons for this:

First we simply need a medium of public communication in a town where the only public information is council banners and JC Decaux advertising. We don't even have an effective local newspaper (this blog excepted!).

Secondly because it would change the mix of people in the plaza in a way that addresses the concerns of police and the local NIMBYS without persecuting the rough-edge element who currently exercise their perfectly sound right to linger in public space.

And thirdly because it is the best place for a noticeboard because half the population of Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay walk past it twice a day en route to the station.

Clover Moore wrote to me with the almost-famous 'problems with curatorial control' letter and promised a city-wide review of noticeboards about which we have since heard nothing officially. I got CityRAGs (City Resident Action Groups) to endorse our request.

There was a survey in which I set out specific requirements for the board.

Now I am told plans for the Plaza have been released (2011 Residents Association was not informed) and there is no noticeboard included. (The Council has previously mumbled about putting it in Fitzroy Gardens). Also I hear via RESNET (city residents group) that council will be placing cylindrical poster thingies of some kind uniformly across the city. They plan to tear down ALL the posters every five days. Too bad if you put your notice up five minutes before the book-burners arrive.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The voice of the majority

The comment below was posted under a story by some kind person. I think it is closer to the majority view around here as distinct from those shrieking 'shock-horror-impact-ban-everything'!

"Well, well, well. Who cares if someone moved into an area 5 years ago or 100 years ago? If one rents or if one owns? All who meet national citizenship and residency requirements are allowed to enrol on the electoral roll.

In terms of various claims regarding compensation for those driven out by visual clutter etc - rent or buy a property in Pymble if you don't like it - it is a free country - use your democratic rights to protest if you don't like a DA - don't be immature about it. If not, move somewhere else - owner or renter - simple as that.

Furthermore, this country should be quintessentially about free speech. The puerile comments from some on this blog regarding certain possible legal matters are baseless, ridiculous and futile.

This blog is an embodiment of what makes Kings Cross so fabulous - colourful locals who contribute something of their personalities to the life of the community.

Think of the loud newspaper editors,even certain local activists with hair implants, old ladies who feed homeless cats, junkies asking for a spare bob, the groovy sax player on Darlinghurst Rd just to name a few.

Good on the Kings Cross Times and when are you coming back to print!!!"

Friday, October 20, 2006

Yellowhouse stars at the NSW Art Gallery

Works by Peter Kingston and Martin Sharp are on exhibition at the NSW AG until 19 November. The two famously worked at the Yellowhouse on MacLeay Street. Sharp is a personal favourite of mine dating back to the third LP I ever bought -- Cream's Wheels of Fire featuring a fabulous psychedelic cover on metallic stock. The exhibition is free.

Pic: Martin Sharp, 'Mr Tamborine Man', 1967

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sydney views hugs as a liability

Typical of this uptight city -- Council and police could not handle Juan Mann giving away free hugs in Martin Place and Pitt St Mall so they stopped him until he could produce a $25m public liability insurance policy. It's one of Council's favourite blunt sticks to suppress community activity from those they don't favour

Mann collected 10,000 signatures on a petition and the City relented, to their credit.

But not before the saga got worldwide publicity via YouTube, 60 minutes and newspaper coverage. To see the (original) Sick Puppies vid clip featuring Juan Mann (since voted Youtube clip of the year) click here.

More prosaically city resident groups have repeatedly asked Council to provide a blanket Public Liability policy for the activities of community groups (like North Sydney does) but they are not interested. But it's back on the agenda of CityRAGs (City Resident Action Groups) so we'll see what our new CEO, Monica Barone, makes of it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A visual feast coming up

Cross Projections is on again soon. This cinematic experience of sight and sound never fails to excite and impress, and you tend to see the pictures the photographers want you to see as distinct from magazine or gallery fare.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Historic cd launch and underground gig

It's one of those 'must have' pieces of Kings Cross memorabilia -- 75 minutes of Edwin Duff and the David Smith Trio, professionally recorded on the eve of Edwin's 77th birthday at El Rocco in Kings Cross. There will be only 100 copies printed of this deluxe first edition and they will only be available at Edwin's gigs, so if you want a bit of that old Kings Cross magic to keep forever, come on down.

Edwin and the boys will be back this Wednesday with part III of the 10-part Sinatra Symposium 'Thanks to Frank'. It's a lot more than the usual Frank impersonator belting out a few numbers, too. Among the usual hits the band also performs the lesser known gems put in a fascinating historical context.

You hear all these great young singers entering the field -- and then you hear Edwin and you can only hope that the others eventually attain the command over the music Edwin pumps out, seemingly without effort.

Where: El Rocco (@Bar Me) cnr William & Brougham streets Kings Cross, 8pm. Entry $20, meal deal $15.

Yes, Musicians of this calibre deserve an income, so don't be stingy! Bring your trailer, bring your money, bring your wife and SAVE!

Friday, October 13, 2006

A senior moment

A friend who is not getting any younger became very annoyed with himself when he saw he had done this at breakfast the other day. Soon, though, he saw the funny side and got the camera out.

At least it wasn't Irish Breakfast Tea.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

City East Urban Design Study close to final vote

Council's planning committee will hear final submissions on the Urban Design Study from stakeholders at 5.30pm on Monday 16 October. While the Glebe study generated only seven submissions, City East generated 62.

Two of the attachments are so big they are only available on cd by special request.

A quick glance at the summary submissions revealed that all the property owners wanted higher floorspace limits. One sensitive soul who wanted Harry's Café de Wheels removed because of all the problems it has generated since the 1950s failed to persuade council, who say it is not in their power to move any particular business.

Click the headline for a link.

Kings Cross liquor research

The temperance union is gonna love this! (From Council's business papers:)

On 5 June 2006, Council resolved to undertake research into the nature and impacts of licensed premises in Kings Cross. The research has considered demographics, the business mix and economic, social and historical context. The Kings Cross Licensed Premises Research report has been prepared by consultants, Urbis JHD.

Key findings from the report include;
• There are 65 licensed premises in the Kings Cross precinct. More than half of these are licensed restaurants. Nearly half of the remaining liquor licenses are for hotels, nightclubs or theatres.

• Of the 65 licensed premises, three venues trade on a 24 hour basis.

• Licensed venues add to the “colour, vibrancy and activity” of Kings Cross, and the majority are well managed and operate without incident.

• There is a strong correlation between alcohol-related crime and late trading licensed premises in Kings Cross. Despite this, residents in the City East area feel safer than the average City of Sydney resident.

• High densities of late night licensed premises generate cumulative impacts (ie: crime, litter, noise). These impacts are amplified by a lack of late night transport options. The work of the Kings Cross Licensing Accord in attempting to mitigate these impacts via voluntary staggering of closing hours was noted.

• Key stakeholders interviewed in the research identified that Kings Cross is approaching maximum carrying capacity for late trading hotels.

• ‘Saturation’ or the exceeding of an area’s ‘carrying capacity’ for licensed venues should be determined in terms of saturation of impacts rather than the number or ratio of licensed premises in a specific area.

• The report recommends that further research, joint operations, advocacy and improved information sharing between Council, NSW Police and the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing occur.

It is resolved that Council:

(A) note the information contained in the Kings Cross Licensed Premises Research report, as shown at Attachment A to the subject report; and

(B) note that the research will be used to inform the preparation of the Late Trading Premises Development Control Plan.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The race is on

Clover Moore has announced her candidacy for the seat of Sydney in 2007.

Her first fundraiser is scheduled for 17 November. She is currently calling for campaign volunteers.

Clover is running against Edward Mandla for the Liberals and her Deputy Lord Mayor Chris Harris for The Greens.

It will be interesting to see whether Clover's stranglehold on power both in Council and as MP will work for her or against her in the March ballot.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New licence for live venues -- Iemma admits wearing mullet

After ten years of lobbying, the music industry is applauding moves to revitalise Sydney’s live music scene as part of proposed changes to the Liquor Bill to go before Cabinet.

Premier Morris Iemma said the Bill would be broadened to include specific reference to the development of industries closely linked to licensed premises, including live music and entertainment. It will also include a special category of liquor license for music and entertainment venues separate from hotel licenses.

An an inaugural 'Music in the House' luncheon at Parliament last week, Premier Iemma said: “music has been a big part of my life ever since I sported a flannelette shirt, a leather jacket, and a mullet back in the 70s and 80s”.

He said his all-time favourite band, the Foreday Riders, were regulars at the Cat and Fiddle in Balmain.

They were pretty hot, too. Screamer Jimmy Barnes and rocker Billy Thorpe were at the luncheon, MC'd by weatherman Mike Bailey.

The moves follow concerns that Sydney, once a powerhouse of bands and original music, is falling way behind other state capitals because of expensive and complex licensing requirements.

It is hoped the new rules will shift the emphasis in some venues from poker machines and 'doof' music to live performers.

Blog comments trigger litigation threat

Local heritage figure Andrew Woodhouse has threatened me with defamation action over comments posted below under the story
  • Woodhouse to Report Commissioner

  • It seems an open public debate about local issues is not acceptable to some. 'There is no such thing as free speech,' Mr Woodhouse said to me in the street when I did not agree to his demands to remove unspecified comments.

    I have not removed any comments because I cannot find any that are defamatory and I am reluctant to censor the views of those who post here merely on the basis of Mr Woodhhouse's say-so. On legal advice I asked Mr Woodhouse to specify which words he considered defamatory but he responded with a 'do not communicate with me see you in court' message. I have posted both emails in the comments thread linked above.

    By co-incidence a flurry of
  • anonymous comments
  • then appeared on this blog. One of them was so highly defamatory it's almost funny, spluttering this:

    "The editor's predeliction for pot-smoking, late night sex clubs and menage a trois is well known in the strip"

    That would make me the grooviest grandpa in Sydney but, alas, the claim is not true. You really have to wonder how someone's mind can be small enough to write such stuff.

    It's a cautionary tale nonetheless. I urge anyone posting comments to avoid personal criticism and stick to the issues. I carry the can for your words and I am very reluctant to begin trying to control, edit or censor them -- even the ones attacking me.

    Clover donates to Wayside Chapel

    Demonstrating that there are good ways to build political profile, Lord Mayor Clover Moore last week gave $25,700 to The Wayside Chapel for "Fresh Start", a new activity program to provide pathways out of homelessness.

    The money comes from Clover's Lord Mayoral Salary Trust, established to offset criticism of her dual role as Lord Mayor and local state member.

    The Wayside will use the money for computer, life skills, recreation, literacy and arts programs for their clients. A previous local beneficiary from the Trust is Hopestreet, Woolloomooloo for creative expression programs for children and young people at risk.

    While Clover's generosity deserves heartfelt applause, the problem of her holding dual roles is a real one. Anyone who is unhappy with the actions of the Lord Mayor ideally should have the local member to fall back on. Unfortunately in our case it's the same person, and to that extent local democracy has been compromised.

    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    Images of the Cross rides again

    In the absence of the Kings Cross Arts Festival this year (see posts below) one of its highlights is nevertheless flying the flag.

    'Images of the Cross' at the TAP Gallery has been a fabulous showcase of local artists and photographers for several years now. The exhibition is unjuried so you get entries from the sublime to the... fascinating!

    It opens with a great party and there is $1,500 in prize money. Entries need to be in with a $25 fee by 9 October and the gala opening is on 12 October at 6pm. Contact the Gallery on 9361 0440.

    The theme is eponymous. Hmmn, I just had an idea about what I will be entering. A certain prominent local politician might not like it though... Click the headline for the TAP website

    Sydney as a 'foreigner' sees it

    On the whole, Sydney is a philistine desert and this perspective is behind a lot of my views about the place. It was beautifully expressed this morning on one of the email lists used by those 'nasty' cyclists...

    "I have recently returned from cycling overseas for several months and it is refreshing to be back riding in Sydney -- and be told numerous times to get off the f'ing road and all the other intelligent and constructive things Sydney drivers have to say.

    "Until arriving home in Sydney the only things I've had thrown at me recently are powerbars, other foods and encouragement to keep me going on the road. My Sydney commuting thick skin must have thinned, leaving me ready to explode after my commute last night.

    "Sydney is a disgrace and nightmare to cycle in and I just want to commend everyone on their efforts in bringing cycle concerns to the community when and where possible. I have also noticed that there does seem to be a lot more cyclists on the road than when I left, I hope this trend continues.

    Also don't know if you have seen this website, but check out
  • the video

  • If there is an esky in there somewhere these guys are my heroes."

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    Bike bash in Martin Place

    From another Council media release today:

    Bicycles are set to take over Martin Place tomorrow, 11 am to 2 pm, when the City of Sydney holds its Bike Expo.

    The expo will feature BMX demonstrations, cycling displays from leading bike shops, and a competition to win a brand new bicycle and accessories valued at more than $900.

    The onstage action will feature workshops on basic bicycle maintenance, trick riding demonstrations from some of Australia's leading BMX riders and interviews with some of our leading internationals cyclists, including Gold Medal Paralympian Janelle Lindsay.

    The Expo is part of NSW Bike Week, which runs from September 23 to October 1.

    City to create 25-year vision

    From a Council media release today:

    A call is going out for the nation's best minds in urban planning, finance, engineering, property, the arts and environmental science to join forces with the City of Sydney to develop a 25-year vision for Sydney.

    Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP today announced Council's decision to appoint a consortium of experts to work on a sustainable vision for Sydney 2030.

    "We're developing an exciting long-term vision for Sydney which will promote 'green' urban design planning, new public spaces, an integrated transport system, art and cultural development; and sustainable economic, retail and tourism plans.

    The Council decided today to implement the following initiatives:

    > Call for expressions of interest for firms and individuals to deliver Sydney 2030 and Financial Plan;

    > Increase resourcing in key areas such as transport and planning, security, customer service and community engagement;

    > Improving the Council's operational and internal reporting structure.

    To achieve this 2030 vision the City will continue its comprehensive community and corporate consultation through public and private meetings, surveys, community workshops, website questionnaires and customer service feedback.

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Rooftop noise wars in KX

    Shades of Batman and Robin on the rooftops of Kings Cross!

    On Saturday night in an apartment block close to the Strip some backpackers -- wait for it -- had a rooftop BBQ! No music mind you, pretty low-key.

    Contacts who live next door tell me at around 11pm they found their block's serial complainer stalking about on the rooftop collecting intelligence to make a complaint -- and also noticed the serial complainer from the block on their other flank, nose against her kitchen window, in pre-complaint mode. My contacts, sick of the constant harassment, let fly with some choice words at the busybodies.

    Well! The cheek of it! They are now waiting for the inevitable complaints to their body corporate.

    Last year in the same place one serial complainer emptied half a garbage bin of water over the DJ at a 30th birthday party being held on the roof next door. You can see their point of view though -- how dare other people have a good time! All partying should be banned! Electrocuting DJs, however, is only natural.

    Pic: Roofscapes of the Naked City -- what intrigues lurk behind these innocent exteriors?

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    Edwin slays 'em again

    The king of bling in Kings Cross (or is it the Queen of bling in Queens Cross as the RTA so quaintly calls it?) slayed 'em last night with episode two of Edwin Duff's 'Thanks to Frank' symposium at the El Rocco jazz cellar in Kings Cross.

    Backed by the silvern Terry Wilkinson Trio, Edwin wove that old Kings Cross magic for an audience that included Helen Reddy and Barry Crocker. At 78 Edwin held the crowd seemingly without effort as he pattered his way though the inside story of Frank Sinatra's early career, cracked them up with his offbeat humour and drew ovations for the atmospheric renditions of mostly lesser known Sinatra gems.

    'Escape to Capitol' (episode three of the ten-part series), will happen at the same venue on Wednesday 18 October -- Bar Me, home of El Rocco, Cnr Brougham and William Sts. Highly recommended. 'It's the only gig in town' according to Danny Ward, booking agent with the Musician's Union.

    Picture: Edwin Duff in green and bling last night.

    RTA thwarted on cycle lane removal

    The government has announced today that the RTA has withdrawn their planning modification request to remove the bike lanes on Kings Cross Road and Craigend St, says cycling activist Fiona Campbell. (see posts below)

    There will be no further Cross City Tunnel road changes. The decision was made by Minister for Roads Eric Roozendal.

    I am trying to find out whether that means the RTA will reinstate the lane it illegally removed from the Craigend Street ramp.

    Chloe Mason from Bike Sydney says they are preparing a letter (of demand) to the RTA for reinstatement.

    Chloe also reports this conversation with Lisa Mitchell from the Dept of Planning:

    "C: Isn't it Interesting then that the safety issue for removal has somehow melted away?

    LM: We can only speculate on that."

    The retention of a lane from McElhone Street to Rushcutters Bay makes the proposed aerial cycleway over Woolloomooloo practical as a main route because it could begin in McElhone St near William St.

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Decaux cycle hire idea for Sydney?

    Sydney cycling activist Fiona Campbell tells us that a public cycle hire plan already successful in Lyon and Brussells is under discussion for Sydney. Advertising company JC Decaux sets up the operation in return for advertising rights. Short term hires are free of charge. Click the headline to see a Dateline story on the Lyon operation. And Councillor Shayne Mallard reports on the Brussels version on his blog HERE.

    The system uses smartcard technology to avoid the pitfalls of previous public cycle schemes such as the one in Amsterdam where anti-social types simply stole too many of the bikes.

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Clover Moore loses the plot

    There were hi-jinx in Council tonight around the election of Deputy Lord Mayor, with Clover Moore going to absurd lengths to close out any opposition. She ended up with egg on her face and a Greens Deputy who happens to be running in her state seat in March 2007.

    First Clover shifted the Deputy's election back in the agenda while elections for committee chairs went ahead (completely contrary to precedent but, later on, there might have been less press and fewer onlookers around).

    Then when crunchtime came everyone else nominated The Greens' Chris Harris, an obvious pre-arrangement. Clover then moved to forego the vote, effectively ABOLISHING THE POSITION of Deputy Lord Mayor. She's starting to look desperate at this point but you've got to admire her sheer chutzpah.

    The five opposition councillors then walked out, leaving Clover with no quorum and a ripper press story in the making.

    Mayoral notes soon circulated around the opposition offices, relenting and agreeing to hold the election. The councillors filed back into chambers to vote a 5-5 dead heat between Clover's nominee Robyn Kemmis and The Greens' Chris Harris. Then came the customary roll-of-the-barrell lucky dip, Sale of the Century style.

    Cr Harris' better half, Mrs Kathy Harris, is now Sydney's 'second lady' and it will be interesting to see Clover's spin on this one.

    However it's a clear sign that Clover intends to run for parliament again. Why else would she care enough to use her Lord Mayoral powers in such a desperate way?

    Flying over Woolloomooloo??

    The latest local brainwave is to build an aerial cycleway to the city by clipping it on to the railway viaduct over Woolloomooloo. This was raised by cycling supporters at Council's recent Community Forum in KX.

    Cr John McInerney supports the idea and is feeding it into the City's cycle strategy but the RTA or someone would have to stump up the money. That would at least make up for their removal of the William St lanes. Don't hold your breath though.

    If you think the idea is pie-in-the-sky, the picture shows what they already clip on to motorways as mere decoration. This example is in Ultimo, but they spent even more on decorating the western distributor near King St Wharf.

    Late night transport needed in the Cross

    At the recent night trading workshop held in Kings Cross, one of the more positive ideas agreed on was that the place needs better public transport after hours. This would provide a quick exit from the area and make it less necessary for punters to use their cars, reducing the impact on surrounding residential streets as partiers return to their vehicles.

    Two ideas involved a shuttle bus between the Cross and the City, and Nightrider buses proper, ferrying people out to the suburbs.

    Clover Moore has picked up on this but typically her apparent hatred of Kings Cross causes her to get it only half right. She has called for shuttle buses to take people OUT of the Cross only. The Kings Cross Liquor Accord funded such a bus during 2005. It carried 400 passengers per weekend, but the Accord understandably failed to see why a few member venues should pay the full cost of a service benefiting everyone -- while removing their potential customers.

    A two-way service is what is needed. This would achieve the above benefits and would provide local venues with better incentive to partially fund the service. Council is already funding a daytime shuttlebus service -- why not extend it to late nights and negotiate a subsidy from city venues?

    But Clover has merely asked the Minister for Transport for a meeting. Good luck Clover.

    Deputy Mayor to be pulled out of a hat

    No it's not a dada play but one of the more amusing aspects of local government. Tonight Council elects its new committee chairs and Deputy Lord Mayor. If, like last year, the voting squares off at 5-5 (Clover's team vs everyone else), nominees' names are pulled from a hat. The Mayor does not have her oft-used casting vote powers for these elections.

    Last year Labor's Verity Firth knocked off John McInerney for the no. 2 spot. This year who will it be?

    The position carries little weight but attracts perks such as extra office staff, a better allowance, some prestige and use of a car.

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    RTA lies to the press

    Cycle activists are convinced the RTA removed the cycle lanes from the Craigend St off-ramp without planning permission. Certainly no-one has been able to produce a copy of the document.

    Some journos from the Herald got on to the story and the RTA's excuse was that the Craigend St ramp is not Craigend St, even though their application for permission described it as such. So does my roadmap.

    So-far the journos seem to be convinced by the lies. It's not a huge issue but it's typical of this arrogant, ignorant government.

    Thanks to the anonymous commenter below who alerted us to the SMH letter on the matter today (click headline for link)

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    What the Ombudsman says about sniffer dogs

    The NSW Ombudman's report into sniffer dogs has finally been tabled (see posts below). Guess what -- these dog operations are 99% ineffective, just an expensive sham. From a press release by Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon:

    “The report revealed there is no evidence that drug detection dogs disrupted low level street dealing, had no deterrent effect on drug users and did not reduce drug related crime.

    “Given that over 99 per cent of all sniffer dog searches did not result in a prosecution, the Ombudsman should have recommended that the extended search powers be scrapped.

    “The report reveals that the dog related costs of a two day sniffer dog operation at the 2004 Big Day out was $41,000.

    “Of the 414 people searched, only one person was successfully prosecuted - a young boy who was fined $1,000 for supplying drugs to his girlfriend.

    “Almost all convictions involved people supplying small quantities of drugs to their friends, while big drug dealers and manufacturers have got off scot-free."

    Welcome to Kings Cross.

    Woodhouse to report Commissioner

    Local heritage activist Andrew Woodhouse intends to complain to the Attorney General over remarks made yesterday by a Commissioner from the Land & Environment Court.

    New owners of the long-vacant Hungry Jacks site in Kings Cross are challenging Council's refusal of an application for a nightclub on the site. The owners have already retracted plans for a roof deck that would have been enclosed on three sides by the Funk House Backpackers which itself is opposing the application on grounds of noise.

    In a press release yesterday Mr Woodhouse said:

    "In the most extraordinary scene I have witnessed [in 15 years] Commissioner Hussey said blankly to a resident, an academic living in Carinthia, Springfield Avenue, giving his evidence on-site about noise problems,"Why don't you move?"

    There was stunned, tacit outrage.

    Then someone said ,"You're biased and looking for ways to approve the DA".

    The Commissioner then rather rudely said to the owner of the business above the proposed pub, having heard evidence the building was not originally designed for such noise levels and didn't have sufficient acoustic sound proofing, "It's wishful thinking to expect such a building to be new".

    In a 180 degree turnaround by the end of the afternoon's hearing the Commissioner was seeking criteria that would establish what "saturation point" meant in terms of too many such outlets.

    We are lodging a formal complaint to the Attorney-general and Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the NSW Land & Environment Court."

    On the other hand, a lot of us do wonder why these people concerned about noise move into the Cross. Another resident of Springfield Avenue made a submission supporting the application on the grounds that they had moved to the Cross because they like all the venue action and they couldn't see any further negative impact on their street from one more.

    I have questioned the idea of an 'over-saturation' of licensed premises, arguing that the Cross has been 'over-saturated' for so long that it is part of the identity of the place. The saturation also brings benefits like plenty of security on the street, our new CCTV cameras monitoring crime and a concentrated, relatively small area for police to cover, allowing very fast response times in most cases. I also wonder whether each new club generates proportionately more people as much of their clientele is presumably filched from other clubs who are no longer 'flavour of the month'. Their $multi-million renovations only seem to work with the fast crowd for a year or so...

    It's a hot debate in the Cross these days with the Lord Mayor firmly on the side of those who object to licenced premises.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Smartpoles are dim

    Walking up William Street from the city to the Cross on Wednesday night a friend who notices these things counted 15 smartpoles with lights not working. Does it mean anything?

    RTA shafts City cycle strategy

    The RTA has begun removing their new cycle lanes from William Street east. Cycle activists say numerous objections were lodged with Frank Sartor's Department of Planning but the decision appears to have been made with no acknowledgment or public consultation. The RTA claimed the bike lanes were to be removed to reduce traffic congestion and 'for safety reasons'. They offered no evidence of traffic congestion on the Craigend Street ramp (left) and failed to explain how putting cyclists in the same lane as heavy peak hour traffic made things safer.

    The removal of these lanes impacts on Council's Cycle Strategy by removing the only eastern link from the network.

    Picture: The white lane markings are new. Black markings show the old lanes. Work is continuing tonight.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Council and Partnership squander money on retail fantasies

    While Lord Mayor Clover Moore is on record as opposing the sniffer dogs (see post below), unfortunately her council seems to favour local organisations such as the Kings Cross Partnership who reel in ratepayers' and sponsors' money but never get their hands dirty with any of the hard issues like this one, or the recent traffic issues around the Cross City Tunnel.

    Council and the KX Partnership happily splash about $millions of our money in an endless fantasy of turning the Cross into a 'mother-and-child retail strip'. One can picture the sweet little toddlers, wide-eyed, walking past the semi-naked search victims while their mothers tug their little hands saying, 'come on dear, there's a lovely frock shop just down the road'.

    This is why home-grown arts projects, events, and street entertainment are seen by many locals as a more effective way to attract a different mix of people to the Cross. Realistically, we have to attract people who can tolerate the trappings of fascism going on around them. If we attract people, the retailers will gradually return, beginning a positive cycle rather than the present negative stalemate.

    In addition, smaller everyday initiatives like placing a much-needed district map and a public 24-hour-access noticeboard in Springfield Plaza would be an inexpensive way to give people reason to linger in the Cross, changing the people mix and evolving the character of the Cross rather than trying to obliterate it. Half the population of Potts Point walks by this town focus every day en route to and from the station, the last true daytime people-magnet in the Cross.

    This is an obvious starting point in the strategy for revitalising the Cross, but one Council and the KX Partnership seem determined to avoid. After all, it might lead to dancing! They, rather, spout the patter of big development, the one-size-fits-all answer to all problems in this venal town, with '$52 million worth of development in train' along the strip according to Clover's latest Bligh News. Mostly nightclubs, you will find, and nothing to do with daytime activity.

    Clover Moore has denied multiple requests for the noticeboard citing 'issues of curatorial control'. A district map in this tourist centre is apparently too difficult because 'the contractor who did our maps went out of business'.

    Curatorial control? Over a public noticeboard? My letter to Clover questioning this and asking for a meeting was never answered. Can't install a map?
    Pah-lease! No wonder I get annoyed.

    Picture: A thick blue line with a nice puppy dog welcoming the mummies and their kiddies to the Cross. Get real please!

    Sniffer dog report forced into open

    Two years ago the NSW Ombudsman studied police and their drug sniffer dogs for two years and released a preliminary report showing that the dogs did a woeful job of catching dealers and reducing drug-related crime, supposedly the aims of the program.

    Since then the government has suppressed the final report. Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon now says she has forced the report out into the open, with the support of upper house MPs.

    The preliminary report showed the dogs did a woeful job of catching ANYONE, with around 80 per cent of searches proving fruitless and most of the 'successful' ones revealing only small quantities of cannabis.

    Out of around 2,500 searches on trains, for instance, they found only 1.5 grams of heroin and NO trafficable quantities of any drug.

    Still the police continue their search-and-destroy blitz on Kings Cross, claiming the operations are 'effective'. One can only conclude it is show policing to please shock jocks and the Murdoch press.

    Unfortunately the grim sight of young people being semi-strip-searched and humiliated in the Cross continues to drive away both the search victims and sensitive souls who happen to wander by.

    2011 Residents Association sees this as a prime cause of the retail decline of the Cross and has asked local police to at least conduct these searches in private as they are required to under Section 32 of the Police Powers & Responsibilities Act.

    The police ignored this request, revealing their role as apparent political pawns of the government.

    Picture: Police chased this young guy down the road with two sniffer dogs which then jumped on him, contravening operational guidelines. No drugs were found on the search victim -- as usual.

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Going underground

    I have been exchanging links and some of my pictures of unusual conveniences with Alex from New York (see porta-loo link below, my three contributions now posted on that site above the porta-loo pic).

    It reminded me of this re-working of the entrance to the disused underground toilets in Taylor Square, Sydney. The building and attached electricity substation is up for lease. It would make a fabulous underground club. I have some more pix of conveniences around the world that Alex dared not post in censorious USA so I might put them up here in future.

    This picture, titled 'going underground', is part of my collection of photo-art ( ).

    Friday, September 08, 2006


    From a New York blog with a basic subject.

    Where the bloody hell are you?

    Click the headline to see a nice spoof on our national tourism advertising. You could call it tragicomic. Thanks to Fletcher.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Do pushbikes cause traffic congestion?

    It's pretty hard to get a letter published in The Sydney Morning Herald. There has been a running debate on those pages about people riding pushbikes in Sydney. In salon des refusés spirit, here's one of my letters that didn't make it:

    'Greg Last (letters September 6) thinks bikes increase traffic congestion. True, they go slowly up hills but if you have a long look at the nearest traffic lights you will find that, in fact, cars hold up far more traffic. I have also observed that the new cycle lanes in William Street solve Greg's problem very nicely by separating cars and bikes. The RTA, however, now wants to remove them in order to 'reduce traffic congestion'. Can we have a reality check please?'

    As you can see, in William street it's the buses causing the holdups because Frank Sartor's granite vision did not include bus bays. Doh!

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Germaine has a go at Irwin

    The sad death of Steve Irwin is indeed a national tragedy. Germaine Greer begs to differ (click headline for link).

    But who will take up the baton by advertising for Tourism Australia in the US? Who can maintain our international image of shorts-wearing prawn-eating crocodile-thumpers with loud voices?

    I suggest the Crazy Warehouse guy from the Chaser's War on Everything. Perfect.

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    Council breaks rules playing favourites with funding

    City of Sydney staff appear to have been abusing council funding resolutions -- disadvantaging the arts community in favour of the big business and development lobby -- to the point where it has become an issue of probity.

    Last night Lord Mayor Clover Moore tried to shut me down as I summarised the following statement at council's City East Community Forum. Even the microphone was shut off about three paragraphs from the end. Fortunately my voice carries well.

    [Michael Gormly speaking as acting president of 2011 residents association inc:]

    "I applaud much of the language of the Local Area Plan and its apparent embracing of diversity and ‘growing the unique character of each area’.

    Unfortunately Bob Brozman’s line: ‘if you want to know what’s going on, just follow the money,’ paints a very different story when it comes to Kings Cross.

    Councillor Hoff did a lot of good work with community representativess writing the Business Support Program. Unfortunately, staff seem to have abused its intent and in fact broken the rules in allocating $70,000 to the Kings Cross Partnership for the coming year. I’ll give you a couple of specifics in a minute.

    At the same time they de-funded the highly successful Kings Cross Arts Festival run for the past six years by the Kings Cross Arts Guild which I have observed to be a genuine community organisation run by hard-working volunteers and showcasing local culture and the roots of our heritage -- the very thing a true diversity policy should be encouraging. (While some individual events were later funded after a lot of extra lobbying, this is peanuts in the scheme of things).

    This is not just sour grapes. It’s the culmination of a long list of bureaucratic roadblocks and unfair treatment handed out to this organisation over the past two festivals. I won’t bore you with the list here.

    And it’s not just the spirit of the law that was broken, it was the letter of the law. On 14 November 2003 the previous Council resolved to fund AN arts festival to the tune of $30,000 pa. However when some of the inevitable local politics occurred and a small group splintered from the Guild and put in a rival bid for funding, council staff disobeyed this resolution and decided to fund TWO Kings Cross arts festivals per year for half the money each.

    They had the dilemma of Solomon so they decided to break the baby in half. In a depressed local economic environment where it is difficult to get private sponsporship -- not one dollar came from the wealthy Kings Cross Partnership (KXP) for instance -- $15,000 is hardly enough even for effective publicity. It was a successful divide and conquer ploy.

    The point is, council broke its own specific ruling and their behaviour needs to be brought to account.

    But it gets worse. This year the grants under the Business Support Program (BSP) broke more than one rule. While all other business groups got less than they had asked for, the KXP got $70,000. The limit in the council resolution of 1 August 2005 is $50,000. That’s a $20,000 transgression of the regulations in my book.

    Further, the BSP requires that the business group applying MUST show that it has consulted with the community and community groups. As the longest running residents association in the Cross, and despite having attempted several times to work with the KXP, they said nothing to us.

    Further, the BSP stipulates that the business group demonstrate it represents both large and small businesses like a true chamber of commerce. Small businesses in the Cross were specifically not even invited to the three-day symposium KXP held over the weekend. The KXP does NOT represent small business in the Cross. Another stipulation broken.

    Further, Council's resolution of 1st August 2005 stipulated that the CEO should design a parallel Community Support Program mirroring the BSP and with a similar budget. A year later that is not even being alluded to. That’s another serious failing, and evidence of serious favouritism, and misuse of council funds. All these matters fell to the Cultural and Community section of council under the watch of our new CEO, Monica Barone, and were voted on by Council -- with Clover Moore’s team blocking amendments about the Arts Guild Funding.

    Unfortunately in the Cross it’s all gentrification and big business, and the community can go to hell. This is not democracy. Nor does it foster ‘diversity’, nor is it in keeping with the ‘City of Villages’ slogan, and it belies the emphasis on local arts given lip-service in the Local Area Plan for City East.

    Unless council has an immediate and genuine rethink of its attitude, we feel we should take these serious matters further and lodge formal complaints with the relevant authorities."

    Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    CityRail wins Idiot Award

    'Her indoors' just arrived home from work, furious. Rain had persuaded her to catch the train from Town Hall to Kings Cross instead of her usual walk. She bought her ticket and went all the way down to Platform 5, only then hearing an announcement that trains were not running on the Eastern Suburbs line. There was a bus, however, up at street level which would accept train tickets.

    Unfortunately there was no way out except through the ticket-collecting robots which captured all the single tickets. The bus driver then rejected the ticketless passengers who went back down to the station to complain.

    A CityRail employee proceeded to open the machines, take out the tickets and started quizzing people where they had come from and at what time, searching a big stack of tickets, even as more exiting passengers became trapped in this catch-22. He refused to lock the barriers open, citing fare evaders, and when some impatient young men started vaulting the barriers he went ballistic.

    Some English backpackers loudly lamented not being on the London Tube, and in fact started lamenting London, telling 'her indoors' about the bus driver who yesterday gave them the wrong ticket even though they had asked him about their destination. An inspector boarded the bus and fined them, the driver denying everything.

    They had also hailed a taxi at Central whose driver did not know where Paddington was.

    Welcome, tourists, to laid-back Sydney! Do come again -- and tell your friends!

    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    RTA perfects the art of doublethink

    The bicycle-bashers at the RTA are now indulging in self-deception of Orwellian stature. After getting the go-ahead to remove the cycle lanes from the mid-section of William Street in the city, they now want to remove the remaining lanes to the east on the grounds that they are 'discontinuous'.

    A letter to the Department of Planning from RTA chief Les Wielinga also cites 'safety' as a reason to force cyclists back into traffic – in a state where 40 per cent of motorists admit to driving while over the legal alcohol limit ('NSW: the state of regular road rage' SMH 22/08/06).

    These cyclists, if they live, will only obstruct traffic as they labour up the hill, so the RTA's strategy to 'ease congestion' is also self-defeating.

    Meanwhile there is a bleedingly obvious alternative to scapegoating cyclists. The buses on Frank Sartor's 'boulevarde of broken promises' have no stopping bays so each bus parks in a traffic lane while the driver makes change, holding up the traffic. Please, just shift a few bits of Frank's precious grey granite footpath and solve the problem they caused in the first place.

    If anyone wants to shove one up the RTA, I can point you to the relevant documents and contacts. Email me or post a comment below.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Spins of the week

    You have to pay the political spinners for their sheer creativity (come to think of it, we do). Recent top-scoring spins were Frank Sartor's takeover of the CUB site in Chippendale in the pursuit of 'greater flexibility' (read higher towers, more apartments and car spots, more profit for Fosters & the developers).

    That was topped only by Israel gaining an 'extended presence' in Lebanon. I can just picture Cato celebrating his 'extended presence' in Carthage.

    Meanwhile the RTA, not satisfied with their upcoming removal of bike lanes from William Street between Palmer & McElhone Sts, has re-applied to the Planning dept to remove the remaining bits from McElhone St to Rushcutters Bay. Their rationale? Once they remove the middle bits, the remainder will be 'discontinuous'.

    On those grounds they could justify the removal of all bike lanes in Sydney. The irony is, the RTA caused the whole problem by approving a one-way underground motorway from the Cross-City Tunnel north. There is no return route, so all returning traffic has to use the surface roads. Doh! Fred Nile missed that small glitch -- even though I for one included it in my submission to his enquiry.

    This state seems to run not on petrol or ethanol, but on bureaucratic drivel.

    Other resident blogs

    Have discovered a couple of other resident blogs in Sydney -- in Chippendale and Glebe. Making this an active interlinked network could be quite enlightening. All you have to do is click on the headline...

    The Glebe blog which wants to 'Keep the foresdt in Forest Lodge' is at

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Crazy banks to blame for Kings Cross rental sting?

    I have long wondered why landlords in places like Kings Cross and Oxford street prefer an empty shop at outrageous rent to a tenanted shop at a reasonable rent. Elizabeth Farrelly in the SMH last Thursday explained:

    'This disturbingly counter-intuitive effect derives from the fact that retail
    properties are valued on rental yield. To reduce rent is to lose borrowing
    capacity, summoning the spectre of foreclosure. Even vacancies are better
    than that.'

    So banks would rather lend to a person with no rental income than to someone with a reasonable one.

    It's a vexed question in Kings Cross which, despite endless spin to the contrary from Council and the Kings Cross Partnership, continues to drag its retail feet.

    Some residents, and Clover Moore, want to curtail the liquor and club industry in the Cross. There is a theory this will reduce rents in neighbouring premises.

    However it would be difficult to prove the effect -- given that the same problem exists elsewhere, and it appears to relate to banks, there is a risk that this negative policy would only succeed in curtailing the more successful night time economy of the Cross while having little effect on rents. Let's not forget that all these late-night patrons are voting with their feet and their dollars They have rights to their entertainment just as we residents have a right to have a say in our area.

    Friday, August 18, 2006

    Arts festival de-funded

    Ironically the previous post on this blog was an interim web presence for the last Kings Cross Arts Festival program. Nearly a year later, it looks as if the 6th annual festival was the last one as council has decided not to continue funding. Council's rationale is that the festival had received funding for three years therefore other things had priority.

    On the other hand the Kings Cross Partnership, a big-business association which has also received funding for several years, has been awarded $70,000 in direct funding, seemingly $20,000 above the limit set for business associations.

    Council's rationale for de-funding the arts festival would therefore appear to be utter drivel.

    This comes as no surprise to the local arts community as this council has bent over backwards to block, divide and sabotage the volunteer-driven event. Originally awarded $30,000 pa by the previous Lucy Turnbull council, this council halved it when a splinter arts group also applied, cutting the budget to $15,000. This is hardly enough to pay for publicity, let alone to hire artists or mount public events, and contravenes the council resolution which approves funding for AN arts festival each year.

    There appears to be no redress when staff simply disobey a council resolution.

    Nevertheless the Kings Cross Arts Guild went ahead and produced two successful festivals on this reduced budget, with an extensive program covering several weeks, featuring a high proportion of local and original talent. The Kings Cross Partnership refused to sponsor or support the festival.

    The problem? The local community of Kings Cross are, shall we say, forthright, earthy people. This is not acceptable to Lord Mayor Clover Moore and council staff who it appears respond only to corporate or gentrified elements. They are rabid about 'cleaning up the Cross' despite their 'City of Villages' policy which aims to maximise the unique character of each urban village.

    Unfortunately for them, the character of Kings Cross includes strip clubs, homeless people and thousands of late-night clubbers so its character is unacceptable to the 'naice' people. After $20m+ spent on 'upgrading' the place, not much has changed and we have 60 or so vacant shops in or around 'the strip'. The banks have all moved out and there is little parking. Yet the KX Partnership and council continue to fantasise about turning it into a nice little retail strip for 'the mother and child market' -- just like every other suburb in Sydney. Llankelly place, the first area to be 'upgraded' is virtually dead and its thriving Pad Thai restaurant is about to move across to Roslyn Street where they have more indoor seating.

    Many locals, on the other hand, believe that major arts initiatives are the way to revitalise the Cross in a way that evolves its character rather than destroys it. So what does council do? Remove funding for the local arts.