Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Domm again attacks Clover Moore

See SMH story below in 'comments'.

Former Council General Manager Robert Domm's aggrieved comments cast little new light on the events surrounding his recent departure.

To interpret events accurately, one would have to know the nature of council's negotiations with the Johnson Review -- which the state government buried with unbelievable haste when this affair became public.

This hurried under-the-carpet action indicates the government must be very sensitive about the contents of the review.

If Clover Moore and John McInerney were keeping Domm in the dark about this review, one would have to wonder why there was apparently so little trust shown in the Council's top administrator. That might become more clear if the contents of the review were known.

While whoever gave the SMH Domm's letter seems to be no friend of the council we elected, it raises issues which need to be aired.

Clover's apparent generosity over Domm's payout, revealed in the letter, whatever its reason, is not a good look for this council -- and it is now incumbent on Clover Moore to clear the air. That's $69,333 of our money that needs explaining.


Anonymous said...

Moore accused of secrecy over review
By Darren Goodsir, Urban Affairs Editor
October 5, 2004

The senior council officer at the City of Sydney, Robert Domm, criticised
the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, in the days before his resignation, accusing
her of secrecy over a Government review that sought to hive off some of the
city's most important planning powers.

Mr Domm told Cr Moore he had proof she had known since May of the
city-airport corridor review, led by the Government Architect, Chris

But "despite the critical importance of the matters subject to the review,
at no stage ... has council been advised of its existence", he told Cr Moore
in a September 27 letter, obtained by the Herald. "The secrecy and lack of
transparency in respect to the review has compelled me to act according to
my paramount responsibility to the elected council."

Mr Domm claimed he learned by accident in mid-September of the Johnson
review, which recommended that a government body, the South Sydney
Development Corporation, be given stronger powers and public land as an
asset base, to ensure better housing, transport and infrastructure plans
along the eight-kilometre strip.

According to Mr Johnson, Cr Moore gave the Deputy Lord Mayor, John
McInerney, and another top council officer authority to negotiate on the
council's behalf on the review. But no other councillors, or council
officers, were informed of its progress - nor the submission advocating a
cut in effective council control.

Mr Domm attacked Cr McInerney in an email circulated to all councillors - a
move that triggered his "negotiated" resignation as general manager days
later. It was only after his criticism of Cr McInerney that he become aware
of the Lord Mayor's involvement in the review from the start. Once the
matter became public, however, Cr Moore complained about not being
sufficiently consulted and lobbied the Government's senior planning
official, Jennifer Westacott, to withdraw the report. Ms Westacott agreed to
its being dumped.

Cr Moore has never denied that she knew of the review.

Although Cr Moore has repeatedly said Mr Domm's departure last Friday was
for mainly personal reasons, the official letters also show he submitted his
resignation because he believed her lack of support on the matter rendered
his position untenable. He complained about members of Cr Moore's team of
independents publicly "disparaging" him, undermining his ability to remain
in office.

While Cr Moore suggested she had struck a good deal by negotiating an exit
payment down from the 12-month figure Mr Domm was apparently seeking, the
letters show he wanted only a standard six-month severance payment, and
instead got a nine-month, $208,000 handshake.

"The position is that my continuation in my current role has become
untenable due to political circumstances," he wrote to Cr Moore on the
morning his departure was revealed. "This was confirmed again by yesterday's
events, where I was verbally abused by certain councillors, including a
member of your governing team at a special council meeting ... I request
that my contract be terminated with the minimum six months' payment
provision. I do not seek to negotiate for anything in addition, although
legally I have grounds for greater compensation ..."

A spokesman for Cr Moore said she had taken advice that Mr Domm was legally
entitled to more than the nine-month payment he received. The payout figure
was reached in the interests of the council, "a smooth transition ... and in
terms of the matter being settled quickly". The spokesman said Cr Moore
thought she had successfully resolved differences between Mr Domm and Cr
McInerney, but could not stop Mr Domm from resigning when it became clear he
wanted to leave.

Anonymous said...

Daily Telegraph on 29 September

Council chief leaves with $208,000
September 29, 2004

CITY of Sydney general manager Robert Domm will leave Town Hall on Friday with a $208,000 golden handshake after rising tensions within the council.

Mr Domm's contract was due to expire in two years but a deal was struck for him to leave this week after a heated council meeting on Monday and a no-confidence motion against him at a community meeting last week.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore denied Mr Domm was pressured to quit.

"He wasn't pressured, he came to me and we negotiated an agreement that he would leave," she said.

Mr Domm was on a contract when Cr Moore was elected Lord Mayor earlier this year.

"He had two years of that contract to go and we've negotiated an agreement that he will get a payout of nine months' salary," Cr Moore said.

"It's worth $208,000. He was entitled to more given that he had two years to run of his contract but in the interest of ratepayers and in the interest of a smooth operation, we've negotiated an agreed amount."

Cr Moore said the payout would have no impact on the council's budget.

She said she had a productive relationship with Mr Domm and reports of tensions within the council had been overstated.