THE local government standards panel has found Lisa Scaffidi’s actions at a November 1 meeting last year “fell below the standard of conduct that is expected of the lord mayor” as the presiding officer.
The panel also rejected a complaint from the lord mayor stemming from the same fiery meeting.
Mrs Scaffidi complained about councillor Jemma Green for criticising a council decision, but the panel stated “the complaint relies on a misunderstanding of a relevant legal principle”.
Last year Cr Green put up a motion aiming to make it easier for businesses to serve food and drink in alfresco areas rather than navigating the current red tape obstacle course.
The majority of councillors voted against starting a six-month trial.
After the vote Mrs Scaffidi alleges Cr Green continued to “lobby and criticise the resolution by contacting various stakeholders” and said “this conduct has damaged the reputation of the City of Perth and elected members”.
These included emails to other councillors as well as Australian Hotels Association WA boss Bradley Woods.
In her complaint Mrs Scaffidi argued this constituted a minor breach of the Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations because it constituted “securing personal advantage or disadvantaging others”.
The standards panel that polices councillor behaviour declared Mrs Scaffidi’s complaint had misunderstood the “relevant legal principle” and said “therefore, the panel has decided to refuse to deal with the complaint and no further action will be taken in relation to the matter.”
The panel also dealt with a complaint that the lord mayor prevented Cr Green from moving a motion she had foreshadowed, as required under the standing orders.
Instead, one of Mrs Scaffidi’s allies, Janet Davidson, jumped in and moved it as a “pro forma motion”, which has no standing under the procedural rules. That prevented Cr Green from introducing and closing the discussion on the motion.
The panel noted Mrs Scaffidi’s “conduct fell below the standard of conduct that is expected of the lord mayor and was an improper use of her office” and agreed with Cr Green that she had the right to move the motion.
But it wasn’t enough to constitute a breach, because “the panel is not satisfied that the lord mayor engaged in the conduct to directly or indirectly cause detriment to the complainant or the city,” as she still let Cr Green speak after Cr Davidson introduced the motion.
by DAVID BELL