Although they should be celebrating the DA approval for Knight’s Palace, and looking forward with excitement to its finished construction, a small number of vocal proponents of the project still feel an urgent need to argue in favour of a building the construction of which, technically, our on-going complaints can seemingly do little to prevent.
By Julian May
It is even more interesting, and perhaps quite significant, that repeated “protests” in favour of Mayor Knight’s plan, appear surreptitiously in news and social media.
The most recent of these, an incursion into the debate made by Kate Pembroke on the Coffs Coast Independent News Facebook site, typifies these protestor’s strategy of employing secrecy, in order to conceal what appear to be vested interests. Team Leader, Communications (council’s propaganda department?), at Coffs Harbour City Council, Kate presented herself as nothing more than a person in favour of Knight’s project.
When asked if she paid rates in Coffs Harbour , she became very defensive and adopted a combative tone in her communications. Her credibility destroyed in my opinion, Kate then apparently chose to leave the discussion and the Facebook site.
- Prior to this, another person, believed to be involved in council projects, had written in glowing terms of the plans to build Knight’s Palace. Suspicion was soon raised that the person behind the pseudonym was, in fact, someone with a very strong connection to the Council Focus Group providing comment on Mayor Knight’s Knight’s plan. I am told that, her impartiality having been questioned, this person also chose to withdraw from the discussion.*
At a time when they should be gloating, Brigit and Karen, perhaps in the company of the alleged 180 anonymous members of “Advocates for Advancement”, seem to be ramping up their ‘opposition to our opposition’ to their proposition.
Why is this seemingly unnecessary defence of the indefensible continuing?
In the case of the deceptive council employees, it is possible, but unlikely, that their supportive comments were made in good faith. It is also possible, and more likely, since they chose to conceal their council connections, that they were “encouraged” by more senior council staff, and/or possibly the Mayor, to conceal their true motivation, whilst commenting in favour of ‘The Palace’.
With the AfA (why do I have a mental picture of militia when I write that acronym?) there are multiple possibilities.
One – the 178 anonymous members (we know about Brigit and Margaret England) are all so overcome with admiration for Denise and her plan, that they feel the need to sing her praises and laud the plan, whenever a negative comment is made about them.
Two – being artistic, creative intellectuals, the 180 will be shattered when Knight’s plan finally falls apart, because it is ill-conceived, and they are desperate to shore up support.
Three – as is the case with Denise Knight, in my opinion, for Brigit, Karen and all, the act of fighting for the proposal has become more important than the actual CCS proposal itself.
Denise is no idiot.
Qualified nurses are intelligent people. It’s probably ego which is preventing Denise from admitting that she got it wrong. No reasonable person could be subjected to the barrage of intense criticism that she has experienced, and still believe that she has broad public support.
Therefore, I suspect that either her passion has overridden her judgement, or she is just being bloody-minded. Determined in my opinion to ‘have her way’ at any cost.
The other four or five people who still speak in favour of Knight’s project, are simply misguided, or stirrers, as evidenced by the inane “one-liners” which they insert into the ongoing online social media discussions.
There is one other possibility which we should explore. With her insightful thinking, Carmel Daly originally touched upon this point, and it’s certainly worth exploring.
Namely, what if something is seriously wrong with “The Plan”?
Denise has ‘painted herself into a corner’. With common usage, the $76.5 million figure, accurate or not, has become the de facto cost for the completed project. Denise has to bring the project on or under that figure, or risk being accused of lying to the community. Without alterations to the current plans, the building cannot be completed for that amount, since the costings appear to have been based on estimates made several years ago.
In the unlikely event that the construction will ever take place, a huge cost blow-out appears inevitable and this will mean humiliation for Denise.
With promised funding from now doubtful sources, Council is faced with the strong likelihood of having to “rob Peter to pay Paul”, possibly taking funds from the airport lease for example, or increasing future rates, thereby breaking at least two more ‘promises’.
Finally, it is conceivable that, faced with the possibility of troublesome community resistance to the construction, it may be difficult to find a construction company willing to take on the task. Direct community action to hamper building should not be ruled out.
So, it’s not all ‘roses in the garden’.
Maybe the increased action by proponents, in recent weeks, and the increased use of lies and abuse by those proponents, signals some panic in the camp?
It appears to me to be a case of; “When my argument is weak, I shout loudly and often, and attempt to discredit the opposition speaker, not their argument.”
Whatever the reason, 15,000 will always be a bigger number than 180.
I love maths.
“In the interests of transparency, I state that I am a ratepayer in Coffs Harbour LGA. Until the proposal to construct new council administrative offices, and the Mayor’s decision to ignore the stated wishes of at least 15,000 people, I had no conflicts or disagreements with council, or with any Councillor, over any issue.
Currently, I am now chiefly concerned with what i see to be the Mayor’s unethical and undemocratic behaviour, in using her casting vote to circumvent the democratic process, with her display of ego-driven determination to have her way, at all costs, and the absolute lack of transparency in council dealings around this and other issues.
I voted for Independent Sally Townley at the last election, despite her links to The Greens political party.
Author’s note – Sunday 17 January, 4.15 p.m.; “This new amended post supersedes my original comments on this matter. Editing has been done in the interests of providing increased fairness to individuals involved in the debate regarding the Cultural and Civic Space, to which I commonly refer as “new council offices, with attached cultural spaces.
It is never my intention to deliberately denigrate people who are genuinely involved in debate. For ratbags and pseudo-intellectuals, I have no sympathy.
The amended paragraph is above in italics and has a bullet point in front of it and an asterisk at the end.”
Originally published at the Coffs Coast Independent News Facebook site, 12 January, 2021. Reproduced here at the request of the author for wider dissemination. and amended again on Sunday 16 January 2021