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PostSubject: Local Government   Tue Apr 22, 2008 5:48 pm

Green paper on local government reform released today by John Gormley.

A bit from the Dept. of the Environment site:

The Paper proposes that town government can be strengthened by allowing for greater devolution of local decisions from county to town level, within overall county level strategies.

A range of initiatives are discussed to allow local people to play a greater role in local decision making, including local plebiscites, petition rights, participatory budgeting and town meetings.

http://www.environ.ie/en/LocalGovernment/LocalGovernmentReform/

Plebiscites eh? Thanks John. We'll have to get a few more polls up and going on Machine Nation just to get into the swing of things. The Pros and Cons of, anyone?

pdf
http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/LocalGovernment/Administration/FileDownLoad,17134,en.pdf

Word
http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/LocalGovernment/Administration/FileDownLoad,17133,en.doc
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Tue Apr 22, 2008 6:39 pm

What's so great about towns? I'm starting to think the Greens really do have it in for rural folk, putting us under the yoke of towns.
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Tue Apr 22, 2008 6:44 pm

905 wrote:
What's so great about towns? I'm starting to think the Greens really do have it in for rural folk, putting us under the yoke of towns.

As there is no infrastructure to speak of left in cities, and the Greens propose barring all but a tiny amount of development in towns and villages, we will all be joining you soon out in the country, 905.

You should read the Draft Sustainable Residential Development Planning Guidelines for Public Consultation.

Link to DoE Site
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:16 pm

Also from Clare People on Friday - Mayor of Clare doesn't think the Green Paper's idea of a mayor for the metropolitan area of Limerick-Shannon will be workable but that the Paper throws out good ideas for discussion and that they are "deliberately radical" in order to provoke such discussion.

Patricia McCarthy, Mayor of Clare said "The suggestion of a Mayor for what the Green Paper refers to as 'the metropolitan area' of Limerick/Shannon is unworkable and does not make sense in practice. People closely identify with their local area and a Mayor that crosses county boundaries is not a positive development". (she forgets that Limerick City Council gains handsomely through tax with Clare shoppers spending a lot of their dosh in nearby Limerick)

Quote :
“Despite being opposed to the notion of Metropolitan Area Mayors, I do appreciate that the Green Paper is a consultative document and is targeted at generating discussion and exploring ways and means of reforming the local government system”, Mayor McCarthy continued.

She added, “I welcome the emphasis and focus on the role of the elected member and the clear desire to enhance the decision-making powers of Councils with a particular focus on the role of a directly elected Mayor. The approach would seem to be to try out the concept in a number of local authority areas before rolling it out on a wider basis, which is a sensible approach.”

Meanwhile, Mayor McCarthy expressed disappointment that the Green Paper did not contain any recommendation to upgrade Shannon Town Council ..
BLOG

What notable difference would there be between how it operates now at town and county level and how it would operate if the elected Super-Mayors see their day in the sun?
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:48 pm

Whatever about the provinces, I hope that in the Bill the Green Party are propsing that they will merge the currently un-elected post of County Manager with all of its related responsibilities and authority into the new Mayoral position in Dublin.

That would be a great step towards democratic accountablity in the capital.
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:55 pm

I'll second that. Elected mayors tend to be far more innovative and imaginative. At the moment mayor is just a reward for councillors who toe the party line.
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:59 pm

cactus flower wrote:
I'll second that. Elected mayors tend to be far more innovative and imaginative. At the moment mayor is just a reward for councillors who toe the party line.

Exactly, and the deals struck between councillors over the position are in direct opposition to the democratic spirit. It's objectionable that a county manager has so much power without facing any democratic accountability.

Simply re-naming the post of county manager to mayor and subjecting them to the will of the people would be fantastic.
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Mon Apr 28, 2008 11:07 pm

It is refreshing to find someone who appreciates the value of local democracy. I had a tiresome exchange today on P.ie with a little scut of a town planner who refers to his elected representatives as "Mickey Member".
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Mon Apr 28, 2008 11:13 pm

cactus flower wrote:
It is refreshing to find someone who appreciates the value of local democracy. I had a tiresome exchange today on P.ie with a little scut of a town planner who refers to his elected representatives as "Mickey Member".

I dis-like that. Ireland is one of the most centralised democracies in the world. We need to bring power, authority and responsibility down to local levels. That's real de-centralisation. It is for the long-term good of the country that more government is done at local level and is much more accountable to the electorate.
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Mon Apr 28, 2008 11:35 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
Whatever about the provinces, I hope that in the Bill the Green Party are propsing that they will merge the currently un-elected post of County Manager with all of its related responsibilities and authority into the new Mayoral position in Dublin.

That would be a great step towards democratic accountablity in the capital.
And not just the capital - Clare has a county manager too (although it looks like the Green Party might be focusing on regions and areas rather than counties, which might be a much better if you look at the case of Ennis-Shannon-Limerick which should have a coherent and integrated development plan)

Great point about the county managers Ard Taoiseach - they would surely have to be absorbed into some authority or body headed by the mayors; county manager positions would be redundant, wouldn't they?

Has anyone read that thing yet?
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Mon Apr 28, 2008 11:36 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
Whatever about the provinces, I hope that in the Bill the Green Party are propsing that they will merge the currently un-elected post of County Manager with all of its related responsibilities and authority into the new Mayoral position in Dublin.

That would be a great step towards democratic accountablity in the capital.
And not just the capital - Clare has a county manager too (although it looks like the Green Party might be focusing on regions and areas rather than counties, which might be a much better if you look at the case of Ennis-Shannon-Limerick which should have a coherent and integrated development plan)

Great point about the county managers Ard Taoiseach - they would surely have to be absorbed into some authority or body headed by the mayors; county manager positions would be redundant, wouldn't they?

Has anyone read that thing yet?

They would...we hope. However, we only have to look to the example of the HSE of this government failing to reduce redundant managment levels in obvious places.
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:11 am

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
I'll second that. Elected mayors tend to be far more innovative and imaginative. At the moment mayor is just a reward for councillors who toe the party line.

Exactly, and the deals struck between councillors over the position are in direct opposition to the democratic spirit. It's objectionable that a county manager has so much power without facing any democratic accountability.

Simply re-naming the post of county manager to mayor and subjecting them to the will of the people would be fantastic.

Why? County Managers are not flybynight people pleasers who are in the job for a year and gone before they've gotten the hang of it.

Many of them are very professional and vastly experienced. They preside over the county development plans and all kinds of other documents which cannot be passed without the agreement of councillors.

They can provide a practical perspective in a room full of egos and mandates and have an idea of what is possible and what's not, what's practicable and what's not.

Do you plan that the Lord Mayor will also take on the role of managing a huge staff - you've got to be joking? I live in a county that has a very efficient and well managed council. We've got a decent county manager and I'd have him and his expertise in the chair any day over one of the elected members.

I've sat in on council meetings in a number of councils and would be reluctant to hand over the role of county manager to anyone with a political mandate. It's a management job and managers manage. Lord mayors lord.

I'm all for increased democracy at local levels but this makes zero sense to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:22 pm

Not only do we have 4 TDs worth at least 100k a year each in Clare (before expenses), we have 32 councillors who charge 1.3 million per year in salaries and expenses.

Recently, according to the newspapers, these councillors told Gormley to take a hike with his idea of a joint Clare-Limerick mayor - people down here, he was told, like to have a few mayors dotted around the county in Shannon, Ennis and elsewhere and Limerick could have theirs.

The independent Mayor of Clare, Patricia McCarthy claimed over 45k in expenses last year - 50% more than the cheapest FG councillor at 29k, a proportion that is I'm sure echoed across other mayoral offices in the region - Limerick too, probably.

Are they worth it?

Have a look at 2007's numbers
Quote :
Nineteen members of Clare County Council claimed over €30,000 each in salaries and expenses last year, new figures released yesterday show.
Overall, the 32 members of Clare County Council received €1.37 million in salaries and expenses in 2007.
The figures released by the council show that former mayor Cllr Flan Garvey (FF) claimed the highest amount, netting over €45,000 during 2007.
Cllr Garvey was followed closely behind by the current mayor, Cllr Patricia McCArthy (Ind) who claimed €43,631.
They are just two of 19 councillors that received over €30,000 in salaries and expenses last year.
The figures also show that it cost €228,585 to fund councillors’ travel to conferences all over Ireland and some overseas activities as well.
Mayors receive an annual allowance of €27,000 per annum. Both Cllr Garvey and Cllr McCarthy received €13,500 each last year.
Councillors receive a salary of €16,752 after tax, while they also receive monthly allowances to attend statutory meetings.
These allowances range from €6,000 to €7,500 each year.
Senior members of the council who are chairs of its Special Policy Committees (SPC) receive an additional allowance of €6,000 each.
These members, Cllr Joe Arkins, Cllr Pat Hayes, Cllr PJ Kelly, Cllr Richard Nagle, and Cllr Tommy Brennan also attend meetings of the council’s Corporate Policy Group (CPG)
The policy group is involved in drawing up the agenda for each month’s council meeting.
The figures show that Cllr McCarthy also received an allowance of €4,500 through being chair of the County Development Board from January to September 2007.
Cllr Brian Meaney (Green) and Cllr Bill Chambers (FF) shared an allowance of €9,000 for being deputy mayor.
For the first time last year, councillors were able to claim a maximum of €600 for usage of mobile phone usage.
The allowance is to represent 50 per cent of total vouched mobile phone costs associated with a councillor’s public duties.
List of Earners

Garvey, Flan €45,488
McCarthy, Patricia €43,631
Kelly PJ €35,675
Meaney, Brian €35,566
Chambers, Bill €34,922
Nagle, Richard €33,627
Wiley, Colm €32,462
Crowe, John €32,239
Fitzgerald, Paschal €32,159
Keane, Patrick €32,101
Lafferty, Martin €32,023
Conway, Martin €31,995
Hayes, Pat €31,984
Arkins, Joe €31,670
McMahon, Pat €31,362
Flynn, Gerry €30,954
Hanrahan, Bernard €30,450
Garry, Oliver €30,310
Curtin, Christy €30,282
Scanlan, Sonny €29,878
Crowe, Cathal €28,367
McInerney, John ‘Mashen’ €28,205
O’Brien, Tony €28,128
Brennan, Tommy €28,065
Taylor Quinn, Madeleine €27,065
Prendeville, Tom €26,457
Considine, Peter €25,744
Daly, Pat €25,059
Kelly, Ml €25,106
Cooney, Joe €24,779
Mulcahy, Tony €23,487
Murphy, Paul €12,404
http://www.clarepeople.com/content/view/1393/864/
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:31 pm

Kate P wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
I'll second that. Elected mayors tend to be far more innovative and imaginative. At the moment mayor is just a reward for councillors who toe the party line.

Exactly, and the deals struck between councillors over the position are in direct opposition to the democratic spirit. It's objectionable that a county manager has so much power without facing any democratic accountability.

Simply re-naming the post of county manager to mayor and subjecting them to the will of the people would be fantastic.

Why? County Managers are not flybynight people pleasers who are in the job for a year and gone before they've gotten the hang of it.

Many of them are very professional and vastly experienced. They preside over the county development plans and all kinds of other documents which cannot be passed without the agreement of councillors.

They can provide a practical perspective in a room full of egos and mandates and have an idea of what is possible and what's not, what's practicable and what's not.

Do you plan that the Lord Mayor will also take on the role of managing a huge staff - you've got to be joking? I live in a county that has a very efficient and well managed council. We've got a decent county manager and I'd have him and his expertise in the chair any day over one of the elected members.

I've sat in on council meetings in a number of councils and would be reluctant to hand over the role of county manager to anyone with a political mandate. It's a management job and managers manage. Lord mayors lord.

I'm all for increased democracy at local levels but this makes zero sense to me.

Having spent a bit more time thinking about this recently in certain contexts - and with no poor reflection on my own county manager, and having spent rather a lot of time reading the Local Government Act of late, I've come to the conclusion that maybe the problem lies within in the power that has been given to county managers. In theory, they are accountable to elected representatives but in practice, I'm not sure that that really is the case.
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:52 pm

Kate P wrote:


Having spent a bit more time thinking about this recently in certain contexts - and with no poor reflection on my own county manager, and having spent rather a lot of time reading the Local Government Act of late, I've come to the conclusion that maybe the problem lies within in the power that has been given to county managers. In theory, they are accountable to elected representatives but in practice, I'm not sure that that really is the case.

Have you come around to my view then Kate P?
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:26 am

Kate P wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
I'll second that. Elected mayors tend to be far more innovative and imaginative. At the moment mayor is just a reward for councillors who toe the party line.

Exactly, and the deals struck between councillors over the position are in direct opposition to the democratic spirit. It's objectionable that a county manager has so much power without facing any democratic accountability.

Simply re-naming the post of county manager to mayor and subjecting them to the will of the people would be fantastic.

Why? County Managers are not flybynight people pleasers who are in the job for a year and gone before they've gotten the hang of it.

Many of them are very professional and vastly experienced. They preside over the county development plans and all kinds of other documents which cannot be passed without the agreement of councillors.

They can provide a practical perspective in a room full of egos and mandates and have an idea of what is possible and what's not, what's practicable and what's not.

Do you plan that the Lord Mayor will also take on the role of managing a huge staff - you've got to be joking? I live in a county that has a very efficient and well managed council. We've got a decent county manager and I'd have him and his expertise in the chair any day over one of the elected members.

I've sat in on council meetings in a number of councils and would be reluctant to hand over the role of county manager to anyone with a political mandate. It's a management job and managers manage. Lord mayors lord.

I'm all for increased democracy at local levels but this makes zero sense to me.

Having spent a bit more time thinking about this recently in certain contexts - and with no poor reflection on my own county manager, and having spent rather a lot of time reading the Local Government Act of late, I've come to the conclusion that maybe the problem lies within in the power that has been given to county managers. In theory, they are accountable to elected representatives but in practice, I'm not sure that that really is the case.

I'd be interested to hear more KateP. Councillors are certainly beginning to kick up about being shut out of strategic policy discussion (the 'unelected Corporate Policy Group' does that), Public Private Partnership deals like the Dublin Affordable Housing Schemes that failed ('business confidentiality') and so on.
Voting on the Development Plan is one of the few powers left to Councillors.
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:46 am

The Clare County Council Budget has got crunched as other budgets have over the last year - a lot of the crunch coming locally from a reduction in income from a forced decrease in development in Ennis because of an absence of fundamental infrastructure to support that development in the first place. It's not stopping the Council voting on developments in other pars of the the town which planners among others are advising against. now it looks like the environement might pay as well ..


Read Full Article from Irish Times 10/12/08 >>>


The Clare People
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:18 pm

The debt of 111 million looks worrying. I wonder is it typical. Anyone else know what their Local Authority owes?

One problem they seem to be facing is the requirement to buy up the Social and Affordable housing units that have been built in the last few years, at top of the market prices, and that they can't find buyers for.
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:25 pm

Do ye not read yeer local papers ? The Clare People is a damn fine little tabloid, before it, there was only the Clare Champion and the Catholic Express or something. I'd even read the Catholic Express before .. nevermind.

Seriously, don't ye read the local papers ? I was hoping to have a thread on here inviting good snippits from local rags.

Crying or Very sad
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:32 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
Do ye not read yeer local papers ? The Clare People is a damn fine little tabloid, before it, there was only the Clare Champion and the Catholic Express or something. I'd even read the Catholic Express before .. nevermind.

Seriously, don't ye read the local papers ? I was hoping to have a thread on here inviting good snippits from local rags.

Crying or Very sad


I read, but I have very little confidence in the completeness and accuracy of the reporting in some of them. Having been at meetings and seen the press reports, it can be hard to credit that the same event is being written about. Even the minutes of meetings taken down by the Councils are very very uneven. It would be a big improvement if all public council meetings were available online and an archive of recordings kept. It would be a great help in keeping tabs on what our Councillors are up to. Twisted Evil
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:35 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Auditor #9 wrote:
Do ye not read yeer local papers ? The Clare People is a damn fine little tabloid, before it, there was only the Clare Champion and the Catholic Express or something. I'd even read the Catholic Express before .. nevermind.

Seriously, don't ye read the local papers ? I was hoping to have a thread on here inviting good snippits from local rags.

Crying or Very sad


I read, but I have very little confidence in the completeness and accuracy of the reporting in some of them. Having been at meetings and seen the press reports, it can be hard to credit that the same event is being written about. Even the minutes of meetings taken down by the Councils are very very uneven. It would be a big improvement if all public council meetings were available online and an archive of recordings kept. It would be a great help in keeping tabs on what our Councillors are up to. Twisted Evil

Them doing this is like turkeys / Christmas ? Or does the Dáil have the last say in this ? A lot more than minutes of meetings in local meetings should be written down first then published on the internet. There was even talk of streaming council meetings on the net but I think the BBC paid them off with a brown envelope because they were afraid Eastenders would fall in the ratings.

Would you not link us to an odd item or two anyway in your local papers ?
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PostSubject: Re: Local Government   Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:40 pm

Councillor 'scrappage' scheme has a surprise in the boot...

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/councillors-ready-to-claim-836410m-package--in-election-payoffs-1570528.html
Quote :
Councillors who fail to get re-elected in next year's local elections will share a bumper pay-off worth more than €10m.

Currently, the country's cash-strapped 34 county and city councils are making provision for the new 'retirement gratuities' in their budgets for 2009.

In one instance, Clare county council is setting aside €250,000 -- in the last local elections in 2004, 10 members of the 32-member council lost their seats. Long-serving councillors who decide not to run next June, or fail to get re-elected will receive sums that top €40,000.

The key distinction in the new scheme from the Government's 1999 'scrappage scheme' for councillors is that those councillors who avail of the gratuity next year are free to contest any future local election.

Imagine that - you get scrappage for your car but can still elect to drive it if you want yeah right
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