LETTER: Take a hit and break the tie
THE retirement of Cr Jan Strom, due to ill-health, has created a difficult situation for Coffs Harbour City Council with the potential for a tied vote.
The situation has played out on a number of occasions with Mayor Denise Knight having the option of using her casting vote to decide and progress a matter; or leaving the tie and letting the motion lapse.
This letter writer says there is an obvious solution to the problem:
It's time Councillor Arkan took a hit for the team
I HAVE a solution to the current problem of an even number of Councillors having a tie vote on issues, only to be broken when Mayor Knight invokes her tie-breaker vote.
And that is having Cr John Arkan step down from his role so that a tied vote is impossible until next year's election. It would be the right and honourable thing for him to do in light of his recent court cases on a variety of serious traffic crimes and his recent loss in Federal Court for intellectual property theft.
He would in effect be 'taking a hit for the team' of Councillors, allowing them to decisively vote without the increasing impediment of tie votes which have impeded progress and given too much power to the Mayor.
Cr Arkan was disgraced in July 2017 when he was caught by police taking an illegal U-turn on the Pacific Hwy at Moonee Beach which also revealed he was driving the unregistered and uninsured vehicle with plates that had been switched from his other 4WD. In October 2018, he was caught again this time for driving an unregistered trailer.
In March 2020, he lost a federal-court case over selling blueberries he did not have the right to reproduce or sell under the Plant Breeders Act. Damages of $42,500 were awarded to plaintiff Mountain Blue Orchards and this month an additional $89,000 in legal costs were awarded as well.
The Office of Local Government NSW says it is a private legal matter between the councillor and other parties to the court proceedings and does not fall within the ambit of the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW
So now, due to the retirement of another councillor, the tie vote situation has repeatedly frustrated the processes of timely voting over crucial issues.
Cr Arkan took a leave of absence after his first conviction so perhaps he could just leave now and rebalance council so we don't have to wait over a year for the next election. He would be doing us all a favour.