How Facebook is failing voters ahead of council poll
WELCOME to the Gold Coast's first Facebook council poll. But beware, voters are being misinformed on hot topics. The best example is the story behind the "Tate 8".
This is the so-called bloc of councillors suspected of always voting with Mayor Tom Tate.
On Facebook pages "liked" by thousands of residents, councillors who have been on the outer with the Mayor for years are being wrongly portrayed as part of the bloc.
Their rivals, the candidates standing against them, are being championed, again wrongly, as independents.
On some posts, there is artwork of the Tate 8 with councillor photographs in boxes. It looks much like the start of The Brady Bunch television series from 1970s.
You can view Coolangatta's Gail O'Neill, Robina's Hermann Vorster, Deputy Mayor Donna Gates, Broadbeach's Paul Taylor, planning chair Cameron Caldwell, Burleigh's Pauline Young, Labrador's Kristyn Boulton and Ashmore's Bob La Castra.
Another piece of artwork includes Helensvale's William Owen-Jones.
At the Bulletin's first You Decide forum on Monday night ACE Community Alliance John Hicks leader asked Cr Pauline Young if the Mayor convened informal meetings with a select group.
"As for the Tate 8, I don't know," Cr Young replied. "I wouldn't say that I was part of the Tate 8 and I wouldn't have any other councillor say that they were part of the Tate 8.
"I believe when the Mayor convenes a meeting with his chairs or his deputy chairs, and we've been voted in those positions, we should attend those meetings to discuss the future of the city."
From my observations at committee meetings, the challenge is predicting a vote.
"The original bloc was Tom, Donna, (Surfers Paradise's) Gary (Baildon), Hermann, Cameron, Paul - and traditionally there was Kristyn, Gail, Pauline and then Dawn (Crichlow)," my council insider says.
The Mayor lost the vote of Cr Crichlow, who is retiring, in the last term because he supported a second casino in Southport. Peter Young and Daphne McDonald are not in any alliance.
Cr Pauline Young is viewed as an independent thinker. She and Cr O'Neill are tight.
Cr Boulton, until late in this term, more often than not joined the majority vote. Both she and Cr Caldwell are now contesting Division 4, and clearly her views are changing.
"Kristyn is on the outer," the source says. "Until recently she was always voting with Tom."
Cr Owen-Jones voted against the cruise ship terminal and for saving Black Swan Lake. He was not on speaking terms for years with the Mayor's former chief-of-staff Wayne Moran.
Yet he is pictured in the bloc on some Facebook posts. He is as much a part of the Mayor's leadership group as Sam the butcher, Alice's boyfriend, was a member of the Brady family.
"William has also taken charge and sort of extended the financial oversight of the audit committee (to keep a watch on council)," the source says. "But he's not the sort of bloke to grandstand about it. He has cultivated really strong relationships with Pauline, Kristyn and Gail."
So these working relationships are complex and changing - way beyond saying "they back the Mayor" or "they're LNP aligned".
Still not convinced, hey? Read the most recent full council meeting minutes.
The Mayor out of the blue put up an item requiring $300,000 to fund a "hero piece" for indigenous art for the foyer of the HOTA gallery. After a 6-6 deadlock, he used his casting vote.
If Cr Boulton was not absent from the meeting, the item most likely would have been lost. Remember, final council meeting before the poll, it's a major item, and council - a little more divided than the Marcia and Greg squabbling on The Brady Bunch.