162 – What if local government was an Australian Rules football game?

Posted by Whistler                                                                          1100 words

AFL game

Concerns are periodically expressed about the rules in AFL football and their impact on the flow of the game and its popularity as a sporting spectacle. I understand the concern. I have some suggestions for the AFL Commission. What about changing the rules so that Australian Rules football operates the same way as local government? I think it could bring the same interest and fascination for football onlookers.

Just what sort of spectacle would it be?

For a start, the rules would need to change about the goals. Having fixed goals might enable incredible skill to be developed and displayed by players kicking from the boundary line in pockets or beyond the 50m mark, but what if the goals moved randomly?

Picture it. Continue reading

128 – Council superheroes. Some feedback from readers.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                              300 words

reader feedback

Editorship has some privileges. I have enjoyed Linda Perkin’s posts on Captain Council and look forward to what will unfold in future posts. Captain Council has generated some interest, with a few people ‘connecting some dots’ and telling us about them.

Apparently western suburbs local print media shock jock Kevin Hillier has commented that councillors in his community have a ‘cloak of invisibility’. It seems they haven’t been as publicly accountable as he would like.

It was suggested that Captain Council might need this superpower. If he did, I am sure it would not be to hide from his constituents!

Another colleague pointed out a scholarly article written a few years ago about whether CEO’s in local government are superheroes or puppets. In the introduction, the author comments that:

“… CEO’s are required to operate across multiple dimensions simultaneously.”

This sounds like ‘shape shifting’ to me. A quick check on Wikipedia reveals that this superpower is more likely to be ‘dimensional travel’ (i.e. the ability to travel between two or more dimensions, realities, realms) or ‘omnipresence’ (i.e. the ability to be present anywhere and everywhere simultaneously). Secretly, I think many CEO’s do aspire to omnipotence.

I should probably take this article more seriously. It concludes with the view that:

“Successful CEOs share several common characteristics which reflect the ability to effectively manage along the three edges+. These CEO’s tend to possess transformational, charismatic, and almost superhuman qualities.”

It is all starting to sound a bit eerie to me, but my confidence was restored by a more thorough perusal of the article, which revealed that the research was strictly scholarly and involved nothing supernatural.

+ The concept of the ‘three edges’ was developed by Henry Mintzberg to describe the work of the public sector manager. The edges are the ‘operating edge’, the ‘stakeholder edge’ and the ‘political edge’.

Jones, Stephen 2011. ‘Superheroes or Puppets? Local Government Chief Executive Officers in Victoria and Queensland’, Journal of Economic and Social Policy, August.


124 – The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. Our councillors?

Posted by Whistler                                                                                          800 words

butcher baker candlestick maker


The original version of the rhyme ‘rub-a-dub-dub’ supposedly tells of three townsfolk watching a dubious sideshow at a fair. Later versions talk of them being ‘all put out to sea’, perhaps a reference to being ‘at sea’ or puzzled or bewildered (thanks Wikipedia). I think either version could work for some of our councillors today.

Councils usually have greater gender balance and occupational representation than in the rhyme. My question is, who are the people who become councillors? What attracts them to the role? Why do they do it? What do they offer? Do they really reflect the communities they represent? Continue reading

120 – Captain Council discovers a superpower – BFV.

Posted by Linda Perkin                                                                                                  750 words

Captain Council flying

In the first instalment, Captain Council cast the management alchemy spell, only to immediately fall unconscious to the ground. Awakening some time later, he rushes to that evening’s council meeting ….

Taking his seat, Captain Council looked around the chamber. The usual crew were present. All of the councillors were in their usual positions, watching each other warily. The CEO and officers were sitting nervously waiting for business to commence.   Perched on chairs at the front of the auditorium were the two regular attendees – like Statler and Waldorf. Continue reading

117 – ‘Captain Council’. A local government superhero.

Posted by Linda Perkin                                                                                       670 words

Captain council

Introducing our newest superhero ‘Captain Council’. When writing something recently, I found myself asking ‘What would Arnie do?’ Arnold Schwarzenegger’s response to a situation has become something of a yardstick. It made me think that what we really need in local government is our own yardstick – what would ‘Captain Council’ think or do?

There is always a back story. Here goes.

Captain Council is a former council manager who sought election to his local Council to improve services.

In his job he had been marginalised for constantly focussing on how work could be done better. His continual efforts to get everyone else to think differently and challenge the status quo created enemies amongst those in the organisation who were threatened by change. These people criticised him to higher authority (behind his back) and diminished his career prospects to limit his influence. Higher office seemed the only way forward.

Elected at his first attempt, Captain Council (not yet a superhero) relished the opportunity to make things better. Continue reading