Mayor accused over "outrageous" delays in sending letters to State Government

Councillor Helen McLucas has accused Mayor Gulian Vaccari of having “a political agenda” after it was revealed that he failed to sign a number of protest letters to State Government ministers.

One letter wasn’t sent for 144 days, and another 56 days.

Strathfield has frequently resorted to sending ministers letters to express its views on various matters, from amalgamation to the way the Treasury described the Council’s finances.

At an extraordinary meeting last month, Cr Vaccari ordered an audit of correspondence from his office after claims “of deliberate and even regular obstruction”, in an affair some have described as ‘Lettergate’.

The claims were circulated in an email from a council colleague, whom Cr Vaccari declined to identify.

Cr Daniel Bott told this month’s meeting that two letters relating to resolutions he had inspired were the subject of delays. “This is 200 days for two letters – and I find that outrageous,” he said.

A council report said the normal correspondence turnaround time was 10 business days.

Cr Raj Datta suggested that if letters were left in the Mayoral in-tray for more than a week, the General Manager should sign and send them.

His suggestion was not supported.

Cr McLucas stressed: “This is not the responsibility of the staff. This is the Mayor’s responsibility, not the General Manager’s. Otherwise, what’s the point in us being here if council staff are just going to do our jobs?

“Cr Datta, you are just giving the Mayor an out. There is evidence to suggest that there are political motives and there is a reason why those letters were not signed.”

Cr Andrew Soulos suggested that letters that are not signed be marked red to indicate that they had not been sent, and put in a folder where they could be seen. This idea was adopted

Last month, Cr Vaccari claimed that he was wrongly accused and said the motions, which must be approved with the Mayor’s signature were “at the bottom of my in-tray”.

He insisted his actions were not deliberate.             

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