Ex-councillor says Scaffidi too strong

12. 805NEWSFORMER councillor Lyndon Rodgers warns Perth city council is losing its independent voice, with a majority of councillors now strongly aligned to lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi.

One of the PCC’s most outspoken councillors, Mr Rodgers was defeated in October after just one term.

He says shortly after his 2009 election to the council he’d repeatedly tried to set up a meeting with Ms Scaffidi “to get on the same page”. It took five months for the meeting to happen.

“She didn’t need me, she had the numbers,” Mr Rodgers says.

“I was disappointed in the petty politics.”

The veteran real estate agent says he was ready to quit midway through his term when all four of the candidates Ms Scaffidi had endorsed were elected in 2011.

“I had my resignation letter written up.”

With so many councillors voting as a bloc, he was worried he’d have little chance of making headway on issues important to him. He felt that if he put up an idea, the Scaffidi faction would reject it simply because he’d raised it.

He’d decided to stay on as he was still able to work with city directors behind the scenes to get things done. He says council staff are top notch and responsive to problems brought to their attention.

Following the 2011 Scaffidi steamroller, then-Cr Rodgers was bumped off most committees. In the first half of his term he’d served on three and he nominated for more. He was elected only to the parking committee, which was this year disbanded and rolled into the finance committee.

He’s critical of what he describes as “Hollywood stuff” and publicity grabbing, like handing out keys to the city to Hillary Clinton rather than to a local philanthropist.

Likewise, he says the PCC’s free wifi plan is a good headline grabber but has been of little practical benefit for local businesses: “Who are you attracting? People who won’t pay $39 a month for a phone plan. They’re not going to buy anything.”

While strongly critical of the echo-chamber effect, Mr Rodgers says overall the city is heading in a positive direction as far as livening up the place.

“The city is in a better place now that it was 10 years ago, I give them credit for that. If you walk through the city it’s become a lot more lively.

“I think the lord mayor’s done a reasonable job.

“I don’t think it’s all bad, but it’s time to get more pragmatic.”

Ms Scaffidi says, “Lyndon is obviously still smarting from a loss at the recent elections”.

“Possibly, if he had been more engaged and interested, [he would] have been re-elected by ratepayers who would have appreciated and enjoyed and loved what he represented and stood for.

“I think that statement well sums up how many of his colleagues probably felt too, which may explain why he was not then on the committees … that he says he was keen to be on.

“I wish him well but think he had many distractions and personal troubles which made it hard for him to undertake the role more fully.”

During much of his time on council Mr Rodgers was involved in litigation with developer Steve de Mol. Earthworks at Mr de Mol’s Beaufort Street development damaged Mr Rodgers’ neighbouring office, making it impossible to run his real estate business and leading to three and a half years of back-and-forth in the courts.

Mr Rodgers says the expense hampered his election campaign this year, and he’d only consider running for council again once his legal complaints are resolved.

 by DAVID BELL

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