Baker makes early stand
NEW councillor Andrew Baker said he refuses to be seen rushing to get his "snout in the trough of public money".
Elected just last week, Mr Baker sent an email to Clarence Valley Council general manager Scott Greensill refusing to attend a councillor induction meeting because it is being hosted at a local resort instead of a publicly owned venue.
"My attendance at a meeting where I assume council is paying for meeting-room accommodation, when I know council has a number of suitable meeting venues available at no cost, will appear to be my endorsement of a waste of public money for my personal indulgence," Mr Baker said in his email, which was leaked to The Daily Examiner yesterday.
"This correspondence with you is about my position alone.
"It is in no way intended to be comment on, or about, the standards or integrity of any other councillor. My decision is made knowing that putting my snout in the trough would leave my arse exposed. Please be advised I intend to avoid such temptation at either end."
Mr Greensill confirmed council was running a standard induction this weekend at Angourie Rainforest Resort and that the local authority had taken steps to mitigate costs and use a local venue.
"We attempted to centralise the location due to the size of the council area and arranged accommodation as people may have to travel," he said.
Mr Greensill said the expected cost of the event would be less than $3000.
"You have to put into perspective that council has $1.7 billion of assets and turns over $170 million a year," he said.
"This is a worthy investment in team building and building of morale of council.
"It's not excessive and people like myself who live nearby won't be staying."
The newly elected councillors will attend, along with Mr Greensill, the governance and IT managers for training purposes.
He said he would reply to Mr Baker in due course.
Mr Baker told The Daily Examiner yesterday he would not attend unless the location was changed and he was also concerned other candidates were informed of the meeting before he was - a statement Mr Greensill disputed.
"I requested the returning officer provide details of the induction weekend to all applicants and we further reiterated it last week through the internal mechanism," Mr Greensill said.
When asked if he felt his act of rebellion may hinder his chances of working within the team of councillors, Mr Baker said he didn't think he was "ever going to be popular".
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