Mayor hires consultant to help with minutes and investigation

Mayor Sang Ok has hired a private consultant to help him prepare mayoral minutes and deal with the state government’s 430 investigation report.

Stephen Blackadder is the executive director of a local government consulting company and has more than four decades of experience, including being acting general manager of Burwood Council.

Mr Blackadder told a councillors’ briefing he charges $250 an hour for his services.

Mr Blackadder attended this month’s council meeting and was identified to the gallery by Councillor Helen McLucas, who had raised a notice of motion questioning the mayor’s conduct over the past four weeks.

Cr McLucas revealed that 10 of Cr Ok’s mayoral minutes had been written by Councillor Gulian Vaccari, with three of them edited by Mr Blackadder.

But Cr Ok maintained he was merely seeking Mr Blackadder’s advice and the mayoral minutes were still his.

Cr McLucas accused the mayor of lying to councillors and said there was a lack of transparency around the six extraordinary meetings Cr Ok called in November. 

Cr Ok had raised five mayoral minutes in relation to the general manager’s performance.

“On the 24th and 25th November extraordinary meetings, you said that you wrote the mayoral minutes. But in fact, 10 were actioned by Cr Vaccari and three were edited by a consultant named Steven Blackadder,” Cr McLucas said.

“We have had six mayoral meetings in the last month – all of which are paid for by the residents.

“Mr Mayor, you called a meeting at 9am in the morning which has never been done in the history of this council for as long as I have been here.”

Cr Ok complained that he was being interrogated.

At the end of the meeting, Mr Blackadder told the Scene: “I was contacted by the mayor who wanted help with the section 430 investigation (into council procurement procedures).

“I was asked to read the 430 investigation report and I could see there were some issues.

“On Friday, I was appointed by the mayor who has powers under a mayoral minute passed last month to get independent advice.

“My job is to advise on the 430 investigation and response. Council has accepted the recommendations, so now they have to be implemented.”

He said he will tender for further work.


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