Former Crikey publisher and Lefty local councillor Stephen Mayne has been left embarrassed after confidently skiting about what he expected to be a strongly favourable piece in the Sunday Age by their John Elder ahead of Mayne’s candidacy in next month’s Melbourne state by-election.
Observers have been keen to see how the conspiracy-theorist and muck-raker would transform into a public official. As his term expires in the leafy Melbourne eastern suburbs council, most have concluded that he’s been a disaster-zone. Locals say he’s decided not to run because his prospects of re-election are so bleak.
Described as a “cancer” by one of his council critics and as “too smart by half” by his only council ally, the accompanying pic had him looking so glum that even chum Bruce Guthrie was mocking him about it.
A source familiar with Mayne’s exploits was keen to laugh along today:
“Stephen Mayne sees himself as a masterful spin-doctor and media manipulator. He very rarely gets good press other than in Crikey and even they have grown tired of him. You put a bow around a turd and it remains a turd. I heard John Elder couldn’t find anyone who had a kind word for him about his activities in Manningham. If he gets on Melbourne council, he’ll do the same there. Doyle will initially try to charm him but it will inevitably break down.”
Mayne’s reaction to the article – which seemed to be a reasonably fair and balanced account of his record as a councillor – has been priceless.
Before it appeared, Mayne boastfully tweeted:
Why is it always those who ride high in the saddle who fall the hardest?
His reaction was comedy gold. As you will see he fired off a series of angry emails to council colleagues, blaming them for speaking with the journalist that he had appeared so confident about just 24 hours before.
He Tweeted up a storm, correcting what he claimed were inaccuracies, omissions etc in Elder’s report.
It was an emotional display but no more poignant when he whined to friend Mary-Anne Toy that he did not find the piece “entertaining” at all. His typing so furious that he left off a few characters. His character is clear enough.
VEXNEWS has obtained copies of an extraordinary set of emails from Mayne, which critics say understates the extent of his dummy-spitting and thunderous reaction. Local observers expect he will be “uncontrollable” and “unconsolable” at this week’s council meeting.
He opened the batting, demanding that quoted council colleagues confirm their remarks to him. It’s a typical effort at intimidation and bullying, complete with threats of unspecified action. Council sources tell VEXNEWS this is standard Mayne misconduct. He also canvasses the possibility he’ll be resigning in time to avoid potential external scrutiny of what foes see as his misdeeds:
On 24/06/2012, at 3:43 PM, “Stephen Mayne”
Hi Graeme, Meg and Ivan,
I’m just getting some material ready to respond to your proposed joint CCP application but thought it best to first clarify that you are indeed acting jointly on these matters.
My only reticence is that because the last time one of you made a public statement on behalf of the others was when Meg told the Manningham Leader: “Resignation is something we’re thinking about because how long can we take all this abuse?”
A week later, Ivan and Graeme were rejecting the comment of their apparent spokesperson.
Therefore, could you please confirm that all three of you have been represented accurately when The Sunday Age’s John Elder wrote:
“At least 3 current councillors – including Meg Downie, Ivan Reid and Graeme Macmillan – claim Mayne is a serial leaker of confidential information, via his blog, and the source of all trouble that has turned the council into a self-confessed laughing stock.”
“The same 3 councillors are threatening to have Mayne investigated by the local government inspectorate and hauled before a Councillor Conduct Panel to be convened by the MAV.”
I’m pleased that you all now belatedly recognise that a CCP is a legitimate and appropriate “referee” on these matters. This is certainly a different approach to your complete refusal to accept the referee’s decision in the case of Fred Chuah.
However, I’m most concerned to be publicly accused of effectively breaking the law and therefore seek clarification from each of you before entering into discussions with The Sunday Age.
Are you indeed alleging I’m regularly leaked information actually classified as “confidential” by Lydia and therefore circulated to councillors on pink paper and only discussed in SBS or in closed council meetings?
My understanding is that you’re not alleging this but instead are claiming that I regularly discuss disclosable information, policy issues and also sometimes enter into political discussion which can include criticism of other councillors.
Could you please confirm this is the case at your earliest convenience as otherwise I do intend to promptly address the apparent allegation of serial illegality.
On the question of future CCP hearings, I need to manage the timing of my resignation – something which is mandatory to run in Melbourne.
I don’t wish to avoid any appropriate scrutiny or panel hearings so could you please indicate a likely timetable and when I’ll be able to access the material you’ll each be presenting.
Regards, Stephen Mayne
A councillor Meg Downie wasn’t taking Mayne’s muck lying down:
On 24/06/2012 4:36 PM, Meg.Downie@manningham.vic.gov.au wrote:
It distresses me NOT! that you are upset about what John Elders wrote. So the didn’t write it exactly how you wanted him to? Do you think you’ve come out of it badly?
However, John Elders got a lot of things wrong in his report! I said very little to John and even then he has misrepresented what I said. My final statement was that I didnt want to enter into a tit for tat.
Might I remind you that it was you who started tweeting that we were threatening to resign! …. I hadn’t even spoken to you. How dare you tweet misinformation about me!
I’d like to make it clear that I NEVER threatened to resign. Perhaps you could tell me to whom I supposedly make the threat?
My statement was (and not to you) that I’d thought about it. (After your disgraceful and shocking behavior at the last council meeting I wanted as much distance as possible from you and David. I wanted to avoid guilt by association.)
What’s more I DIDN’T speak for Ivan and Graeme and I made that clear to Anna who posed the question (no doubt planted by you) about resignation. I would never do that nor would they speak for me.
From time to time I’ve pondered the scenario if I were to resign would it be Raymond in the count back? The thought of you sitting next to Raymond in the chamber, you must admit, is amusing. It would be poetic justice for you to be sitting beside the person from whose website you printed information which caused you to lose your home! DELICIOUS!
However Stephen, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I WON’T be resigning. I am well regarded in my community for advocating and doing things for them. I enjoy working/ advocating for my community. I’m not interested in stirring up trouble. As I’ve repeatedly told you I’d like you to leave me in peace doing what I’m best at being “the people’s councillor” and you can get on with your agenda of disruptive behaviour.
I have no interest in entering into any conversation with you about what I will or will not do/have or have not done. Nor will I or can I speak for Graeme and Ivan. You’ll have to ask them.
Suffice to say you are a disgrace and the greatest contributor to the situation this council is now in.
I must admit I’m looking forward to your resignation. This council will be a much better organisation without you. You did say you’d be gone by the middle of June. Stephen “It’s time!”
Cr Meg Downie
Mullum Mullum Ward
On 24/06/2012, at 5:30 PM, “Stephen Mayne”
I only tweeted what the mayor told me about your resignation threats.
How did Geoff get the impression that you were all going to resign if at least one of you didn’t directly tell him?
I don’t know! He certainly had had no conversation or email from me!
I’m surprised you seem so pleased that I lost my home as a result of some defamatory material distributed by your running mate, [deleted - defamatory]. Doesn’t that say at least something about the company you keep?
I think it says that you don’t think before you open your mouth. You obviously respected [deleted - defamatory] and thought what was on his website was true! Surely you wouldn’t have printed something written by somebody you didn’t respect! [deleted - defamatory] still has his home!
As for your comment that you’re “not interested in stirring up trouble”, what about all the material you’ve given to [deleted-defamatory] who has then passed it onto Vexnews? Who’s the serial leaker there?
If that’s not stirring up trouble, I don’t know what is?
Anyway, I’m engaging with The Sunday Age around a potential right of reply and some corrections to the online version of their story and just wanted to again get your confirmation that you’re not alleging I’ve ever leaked “confidential” information, as in pink paper material declared officially confidential by CEO Lydia Wilson.
I too would will (sic) be seeking to correct factually incorrect information.
Rather than another tirade after a long lunch, could you at least do me the courtesy of confirming that much.
I’ve never seen any courtesy from you!
I would rather do this privately by email then have to start asking questions in the chamber on Tuesday night.
Looks like it could be another awful meeting with you causing trouble again.
Why won’t you just let us get on with what the community wants us to do?
BTW Could you kindly tell me when are resigning?
Regards, Stephen Mayne
Councillor Downie responded:
Go away Stephen! If I want your advice from you I’ll ask for it.
I don’t know what planet you’re from but it certainly isn’t this one.
You have to accept that you engaged in a conversation with the Age and clearly you didn’t get the story you were looking for.
You have no idea what I think!
Crawl back into your box, lick your wounds and remember that you brought this bad publicity on yourself. TOUGH! It backfired!
I hope your children don’t read the Age. They certainly wouldn’t be proud of their Dad.
I’m turning off my computer and am going to have a pleasant meal with my husband (my dogs at my feet) and enjoy a good bottle of wine.
BTW When are you resigning?
Cr Meg Downie
Mayne was getting rather steamed at this point:
On 24/06/2012, at 6:36 PM, Stephen Mayne wrote:
Meg, this is the problem with the 3 of you acting as a block. One of you obviously made resignation representations about how the others were feeling.
Same again in The Sunday Age. Rather than presenting as a united faction, acting in concert, surely it would be better to act as individuals, responsible for your own comments and positions.
This groupthink approach is leading to all of you having to adopt positions and associations that sometimes depart from what you really believe and think.
[deleted - defamatory] has said the following to me on several occasions: “Graeme and Meg caused me much more grief than you did during my two years as mayor.”
He and Geoff have also told me that [deleted - defamatory] really hates being associated with [deleted - defamatory] and finds it very trying having to negotiate with you and Graeme on various issues.
Now the poor bloke is publically (sic) locked in to having to spend dozens of hours with you both working up documents for investigative processes based on nothing more than “We don’t like being criticised by Cr Mayne and are disappointed we no longer have the numbers.”
You are judged by the company you keep and this is dragging all 3 of you down given the [deleted = defamatory]
When the dust settles on all of this, none of you will any have credible observers supporting your various behaviours.
Poor [deleted - defamatory] is trying to build his developer lobbying business and keeps getting dragged back into advising and defending his residual “gang of 5″ members.
You really should leave him alone and stop calling for tactical advice and support.
Regards, Stephen Mayne
And the last word belongs to one of Mayne’s Manningham victims who not described him as a “cancer” about to spread to the City of Melbourne:
I would ask you to stop your vicious and vindictive behaviour but it seems to be ingrained into your character.
You clearly are not one to deal in fact, just spin and distortion. You should stop making unsubstantiated claims or tweeting hearsay, that is a good way to lose another home.
The CCP and Inspectorate complaint is mine alone, but I will be inviting all councillors to join the complaint if they wish – I believe there is precedence for this course of action.
BTW, your divide and conquer tactics are so transparent they are laughable.
Cr. Ivan Reid
City of Manningham, Koonung Ward (Doncaster)
T: 0406 702 856