Disgraced former Manningham councillor and Greensparty ally Stephen Mayne was seen in the Melbourne City council gallery last night and following that was spotted by VEXNEWS eye-witnesses leaving the offices of pollster Gary Morgan on Collins Street in the dead of night.
Mayne resigned in disgrace last week from Manningham in the wake of official charges filed against him by his fellow Manningham councillors that accused him of serious breaches of councillor conduct guidelines and the Local Government Act including attempts to rig tenders, conflict-of-interet voting and so on. By resigning now he escapes official scrutiny on the misconduct charges although may still be investigated and prosecuted for any criminal offences.
Morgan – a major City land-owner who has been a critic of Lord Mayor Robert Doyle – plans to run again for Lord Mayor and Mayne has been pressuring Morgan to put him on his ticket, boasting that his record of trouble-making would be enough to drive incumbent Robert Doyle up the municipal wall should he be re-elected as many expect.
Word has been that an ALP member Jackie Watts would be #1 on Morgan’s ticket, deflating Mayne’s hopes and dreams of a guaranteed seat on the 9-member council. But his presence in the pollster’s offices last night suggests he might be having another crack at winning him over or is pushing for some other kind of deal.
Mayne’s record in Manningham is certainly a cause for concern. His disruption and outrageous political terror tactics on rivals was nearly enough to make the usually peaceful council into a war-zone, with multiple resignations, constant bickering and division a feature of Mayne’s reign of error. Only his resignation in disgrace concluded the fiasco.
It’s not only Mayne’s aggressive personal dealings that raised eyebrows, Mayne’s final move as councillor was a highly dubious solo-effort to have the council privatise open space – without community consultation and circumventing their normal processes – in a million-dollar land sale to developers.
Locals say the land is an important part of the community’s amenity, has many trees and is frequently used by Templestowe’s kids in search of places to run and play. Under Mayne’s plan, it would have been flogged off to developers for the construction of units or townhouses. If Mayne’s privatisation push had passed, it would have caused considerable community outrage, locals say, because of the loss of amenity and once open space is sold, it’s gone forever.
Some muttered darkly that Mayne had been pushed by local developers to quickly push through the move without any community discussion. The end-value of a development on the site could have exceeded $12 million, sources say, so the stakes were high.
More likely than Mayne taking a bung from a developer was another off-record explanation from someone familiar with the disgraced former councillor’s record:
“You sound surprised that he’d push for the sale of open space in a built up area, without community consultation, without even discussing it with council colleagues first. I think it’s more likely to be impulsive and indulgent than specifically corrupt. He talks to local developers and builders and tries to big-note himself and talks about how much money he could squeeze from them for his campaigns but I doubt he ever puts the bite on them, he just likes to talk. And talk. And talk. That’s what he’s like, when councillors say he is a cancer they fear will spread to Melbourne, they are carefully chosen words, I think, that’s what he is, it’s not just his sledging of other councillors, his misconduct is much broader and his stupidity much more comprehensive than that. Privatising council land was quite an apt note for him to end on. He’s a clueless, unprincipled, unguided missile fuelled by ego, insecurity and a constant need for self-aggrandisement.”
Other councillors weren’t having a bar of Mayne’s dodgy land-sale to developers including Mayor Geoff Gough (often an ally of Mayne prior to recent scandals) who slammed Mayne’s sleazy move:
“If we all started to run the council like this, it would be an absolute disaster. The community would never forgive a council that came in … and pushed this through without due consideration and proper process.”
So should Mayne find someone to bankroll his Melbourne council push, it’s not unreasonable to conclude he’ll be pushing for the sale of council-owned open space and land to developers and will regularly publicly and privately attack fellow councillors. What an epic disaster waiting to happen.