An Open Letter to the CEO Whitehorse City Council December 2014

To:   Ms. Noelene Duff, CEO, Whitehorse Council

From:      Vance, R. W. C. Mr; 54 Main Street Blackburn 3130

Date:       Tuesday, 16th December, 2014

Cc:           Full Board of Councillors, Whitehorse City Council,

All Citizens Within 1km of Kalang Park (by hand delivery),

Hon. Robert Clark MP, member for Box Hill, Parliament of Victoria,

Hon. Neil Angus MP, member for Forest Hill, Parliament of Victoria,

Mr. Peter Olney, President, Whitehorse Ratepayers and Residents

Hon. Natalie Hutchins, MP, Minister for Local Government and member for Keilor, Parliament of Victoria

Subject:    Some Reflexions on Whitehorse Council’s Values for 2014

Dear Ms Duff

How proudly you and your management have done the institution of Government this year.

I have been watching with interest your organization’s appalling treatment of citizens living near Kalang Park, whom I have been in close contact with, as the Kalang Park Pavillion affair unfolds. On the 28th of October this year your organization “consulted” with Citizens in the neighbourhood of Kalang Park and gave lectures dismissing Citizens’ various concerns. Particularly insulting and offensive to the Common Woman and Man was your traffic department’s presentation of a “Statistical Survey” of traffic to determine the peak traffic flow and parking usage in Kalang street and its neighbourhood. The “survey” comprised traffic data for one weekend alone. Two days out of a 365 day year. One Saturday of the year out of fifty two!

As a lifelong scientist and mathematician I can categorically say that if I were teaching statistics even to freshmen and I were to get this “survey” as a student’s writeup of an observational exercise, I would do probably both the following (certainly the latter):

  1. Unless I had solid evidence (note this word well) that the student submitting the work were grossly slack and inattentive (e. had come to fewer than one lecture), I would forthwith step down as a teacher and resign my post, for no teacher of statistical methods worth anything could have any real contact with any student at all and fail to convey the total, gross unsoundness of the use of one observation to infer confidence intervals for any time varying statistical variable at any level of confidence, no matter how low;
  2. Being a person not wanting to waste anything, I would consign the paper whereon the report were written to the smallest room in my house, as this is the only place where such unmitigated drivvel bereft of any merit whatsoever could be of any worth to anybody.

If $X$ is any statistical variable (here the peak Saturday traffic flow/ parking usage), whether it be time varying or not, and one has but one observation $X_1$ of that variable, the only thing that anyone can infer about the variable’s peak value $X_\alpha$, at any confidence level $\alpha$, is that the peak value must be something greater than $X_1$ i.e. $X_\alpha\geq X_1$. At even the lowest confidence level,  $X_\alpha$ might be one percent greater than $X_1$, or it might equally well be ten times greater. The predictive power of your piddling lone observation in this respect is nought. The fact that a statistical variables like traffic flow and parking demand are manifestly time varying only makes the council’s assertion of  the survey’s having gleaned the peak traffic flow and parking demand even more worthless, unsound and invalid.

This “survey” and statement by your traffic department is nothing other than the following: We, whitehorse council, assert that the peak demand is $X_{max}$ because We, whitehorse council, say it is. We present as evidence our own Papal Infallibility, so therefore our assertion must be right.

The mayor, bless him, says the traffic department “knows this stuff because it has traffic models”. Like your traffic department, the mayor needs to learn that no model, no matter how good, can work without calibrating data – and that’s even if it is wielded by whitehorse city council. I say this as someone with a lifetime’s experience in mathematical modelling. The mayor’s comments on this matter have the same weight as that of the report I speak of above. Given my former experience with his worship, I know that he has the most sincere and unfaltering commitment to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in communication with Citizens, so I am sure he will not make this same mistake again.

I am thoroughly disgusted that your organization should be wasting ratepayer’s money to undertake work that is such trash, thinking the public to be too stupid to spot the glaring logical flaws, mere contemptible dullards to be played like Rosencrantz’s flute. Deeds like this, in my experience, are not isolated happennings in your dealings with Common Citizens and they let slip a telling insight into what your organization truly thinks of the people whom you are meant to be serving. But who cares? What would the dullard public know after all? You’ll still get your guaranteed superannuation.

I actually think all this behaviour bespeaks something far worse than incompetence. Grounded on my experiences with your organization, I think this behaviour bespeaks a sense of arrogant self importance so grotesquely overswollen that you as an organization believe yourself to be above the laws of even Nature Herself. So what if the statistical significance of our survey by wonted measures that are thoroughly grounded on the deepest statistical theory and proven by countless experiments is nought? It’s still valid because We, whitehorse council, say it is. So what if it is nothing but question begging to assert that our survey weekend in August was the peak demand? It IS the peak demand because We say so. She’s only Nature, so what does She know? We’re Whitehorse Council! Your organization’s whole bearing in public reeks of this attitude, and is typified in your “consulting” at the last minute the Citizens most affected by the matter of Kalang Park. The stench of this attitude begins not the least with your haughty self reference as “Council”, whereas most of us learn before primary school that English nouns showing proper respectful humility towards the World around them do not go poncing about, naked of their articles, like some psychotic mediaeval usurping claimant to some tin pot throne. It’s “the cat, the dog, the house, the council”, the last with a lowercase “c”. This, lest you should not have noticed Madam, is the English language, the mother tongue of many if not most of the Citizens whom you treat with such scorn: not Latin (even though your mindset seems stuck in and not updated since Imperial Rome), nor Russian, nor Japanese, nor Mandarin, nor any other language that has other mechanisms, lacking in English, to bear the meaning of the article in its stead. As an elderly lady clearly lacking speaking experience, yet still with manifest intelligence, struggled to get her words out at the 28th of October meeting, I watched the telling scowls creep over the faces of both councilors and employees at her only crimes: lack of public speaking ability and disagreement with the council. How dare she waste our time with her stammering and opinions?

I believe that you as an organization have such a culture of unchallenged self affirmation and self aggrandizement that you can no longer ken hard evidence and you can no longer even see the yawning abyss between evidence and your mere pathetic assertions of your own papal infallibility.

I have a burning wish to see the Citizens affected by the Kalang Park treated with far more honesty than I and others were treated formerly by your organization. Therefore, I am in contact with Kalang Park citizens and consider it my unshirkable civic duty to keep them informed of my experiences with your organization, of how degraded I found your standards of honesty to be and how, in my thirty years of working life in this and many other lands, I have dealt with no other organization with anything like such shrivelled, crippled and withered standards of honesty as those I saw in dealing with whitehorse city council. They are nought but some pathetic, loathsome, hypocritical parody of what I believe most people understand by the words “honesty” and “integrity”. I have always paid taxes proudly, well over one million dollars over my whole working life reckoned in today’s dollars, in the (assumed) knowledge that they would build education for our children, care for the most vulnerable of our society and make sound the basic social infrastructure a civil society needs. I do not ask for perfection: far from it: my working life has shown that errors are unavoidable. Dishonestly, though, is something else altogether. All I ask in return is truthful disclosure from the governments that levy these taxes. My experience with your organization over the last three years has shattered that belief to the extent that I will not contribute any more: I now work remotely for an overseas organization and am actively seeking to emigrate so that my children can grow up in a land of better governance than your kind of management can ever deliver. I would that it were only whitehorse at fault, but sadly I sense yours is typical of the political and leadership classes of today that unquestionably see themselves as above the Common Citizen.

Ultimately I am not of your culture, and do not pretend to understand all the vagaries of the Australian. But I am certain that the average Australian has a great deal more in common with me than I have with you or the council’s management. You and I are clearly very different people, and I struggle to understand your mentality, as do, I believe, most Citizens. My motivation in questioning your organization is something you misjudge altogether. You assume, I believe, venal motives, thus do you judge us Common Citizens by your own shrivelled standards at your peril. No, my motivation is very simple indeed and perhaps the most selfish of all: begotten of four billion years of evolution of life on Earth and manifested as the earnest wish of any living thing to see its offspring thrive. When I wake up each morning and think of the problems that governments of today and future must work together with Citizens to solve, and that they will need to work sincerely, honestly and openly to have any hope of success in this endeavour, and then I think of you and your management as typical of the leadership that will “work with” my children on these problems, it makes my blood run cold and scares the bejesus out of me. For you, Ms Duff, and your management, through your presiding over the council’s culture, show yourselves to be fundamentally unequal to this task, without a snowball’s chance in hell of ever measuring up. Your standards of honesty, integrity, transparency and good governance, simply put, are not good enough for my children. Not by a long shot. They are not good enough for yours, either if you have them, no matter how much you may think so. And I am certainly not alone in these feelings about the leadership and political classes of Australia today. Most of us growing up, like I was fifty years ago, learn the basics of relationships very early: that truth and openness are the oxygen of any sincere relationship and that underhandedness and lies sunder and destroy such relationships irrevocably. That you do not seem to understand this can have, I believe, only two explanations. Either, as I often fancy, that your upbringing must have been something like that in Roald Dahl’s Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood’s household, or that you simply have no interest whatsoever in any genuine relationship with the Citizens you are meant to serve. Certainly, I see no evidence that there are any of Dahl’s Matildas anywhere in whitehorse council.

When we, the Common Citizens, try to communicate to you concepts like the need for honesty, integrity, transparency, good governance and all the words you love to drench your PR with as though they were Clive Christian perfume hamfistedly sloshed onto the wearer’s body to show how wealthy and above everyone else the wearer is, these concepts instead sail straight over your head and you, through your behaviour, show that your organization has zero true understanding of these words, aside from perhaps that they sound slick and lofty in PR copy. “Highest Standard of Integrity” seems to mean anything better than actual criminalhood; “Transparency” and “Accountability” to you seems to mean that when someone questions why you are behaving as you do, you send threatening letters to them through your lawyers telling them to shut up and refuse to speak to them. I allege you even send oafs to such people’s doors to tell them to shut up. That’s transparency and accountability! You simply do not get us common Citizens. “Good Governance” to you seems merely to mean “we’re good blokes and sheilas at whitehorse, so it must be good governance”.

I do not care how many hulking oafs come to my door, without the guts to tell me who they are and whom they represent, crassly redolent of hamfistedly sloshed on overpriced eau-de-Cologne with their brushed Sebago figures stuffed into Giorgio Armani suits, threatening me and telling me to be careful whom I speak to. In my opinion, it is almost certain that the person concerned was sent to my house at your organization’s behest, and if your organization tries such behaviour on, take good heed that I have made sure that the person concerned will be photographed and reported to the police next time.

I do not care how many threatening letters you have your $1000-an-hour lawyers send to me at the ratepayers’ expense. As far as I am concerned, the nearer any of these matters get to a courtroom, the better. For a courtroom is a place where I shall lay down, indelibly, incontrovertibly and for all time documentation of all your organization’s behaviours towards me and other Citizens, together with full paper trails proving those behaviours on the public record.

In closing, I ask you take heed that Australians express three dominant opinions to describe Local Government: (1) Corrupt, (2) Abusing of Bureaucratic Power and (3) Simply Undeserving of Recognition. These were three common opinions voiced by people surveyed by the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government in 2011. Your organization is certainly (2) and (3) in my experience. As for (1), I cannot tell (even though it was the oftenest cited opinion in the survey), but certainly organizations that send oafs to intimidate people are corrupt. Ultimately, I think that constitutional recognition of local government is a good thing, but I shall never give my assent for it, nor do I believe will other Australians do so, whilst management such as yours, and your standards, are at the helm and whilst there are no real measures in place to ensure your true answerability to the Common People.

How proudly you have done Our institution of Government.

Highly sincerely

Vance, R. W. C. Victorian Citizen Click here to download my declaration made to Victoria Police in March 2013