Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 13 »

March 29, 2012

Council poll: Law & order candidates and alcohol restriction opponents top councillor poll, could threaten Mayor

With 72% of the votes counted sitting Mayor Damien Ryan has scored 43.8% which is short of the 50% plus one vote he needs to be re-elected.
Significant leakage of preferences from his four opponents could get him across the line, but toppling Mr Ryan was their common goal and they all put him last on their how-to-vote cards.
Front-runner of the four, Steve Brown, was not confident that people had mainly followed the cards. He said a lot of people didn’t take them. A scrutineer had observed some leakage of preferences to Mr Ryan from Dave Douglas votes.
This morning Mr Brown said he was a “bit disappointed” with the result so far: “We all thought there would have been a bigger movement for change than we’ve seen”
When counting stopped last night Mr Brown had 21.7%, followed by Eli Melky (17.7%), Dave Douglas (12.1%) and Samih Habib Bitar (4.8%).
Mr Brown was also top scorer in the count for councillor with 14.6%. Fellow mayoral challengers Eli Melky (13.5%) and Dave Douglas (10.6%) followed him.
There are 14239 electors on the roll but as we reported recently, 70% is about the norm of valid votes cast, that’s around 10,000 votes.
The formula for getting elected is the number of valid votes divided by the number of vacancies plus one, which works out at about 1100 votes.
That means on present results Mr Brown and Mr Melky can safely be regarded as elected, and Mr Douglas and the Greens’ Jade Kudrenko are close.
Along with the possible unseating of Mr Ryan, the results so far are a strong endorsement of the law and order faction which is also opposed to some current and any greater alcohol restrictions.

PHOTO: Polling booth at the civic centre yesterday afternoon. FULL STORY »

Is the town over all the talk?

ABOVE: Room half full or half empty – the small turn-out for the mayoral Q&A suggests the town’s flagging interest in all the talk. A few more than shown did arrive. Councillor candidate Matthew Campbell in the front row is not sleeping – in fact he was the first to arrive – we just caught him during a blink.  BELOW RIGHT: Mayor Ryan and challengers (from left) Steve Brown, Eli Melky, Samih Habib Bitar, Dave Douglas.

 

Alice seems to be getting sick of talking. Last night’s mayoral candidate question & answer session was a lacklustre affair and poorly attended. If candidates’ family and friends, councillor candidates and media had been removed, the Andy McNeill Room would have been three-quarters empty.

The five candidates outlined their campaign message with no surprises. Steve Brown, candidate for mayor and councillor, was the one to come closest to making an speech intended to inspire, nominating the town’s biggest single issue as “social inclusion” – a term usually coming from those who would count themselves as his opponents .

To offer residents of remote communities and town camps a way into our community is the “burning issue” for Alice Springs, he said.

Mayor Damien Ryan in his five minutes said creating community events makes the community more “inclusive”, and that council is not given enough credit for its program of events. In its next term council should work on having more, he said. In collaboration with Indigenous elders they could include a biennial desert festival, which could be taken to world tourism markets.

The biggest round of applause  for the night was reserved for Kate McMasters, a teacher and 5th generation Territorian, speaking from the floor. She said teachers must deal with negative behaviour in the classroom quickly and firmly, but their focus remains on positive behaviour, building it up with endless feedback. She urged candidates in tackling the issues to start with positive as “it’s poisonous out there at the moment”. KIERAN FINNANE reports on the mayoral candidates’ Q & A. 

 

  FULL STORY »

Night out on the town, and living to tell the tale

The Memo Club and the Town & Country Tavern closed their doors because they were not getting enough patrons through the door and that was a consequence of people fearing being bashed by increasing numbers of thugs taking over the CBD at night. Right?

Well then explain this, please.

Monte’s (at right) is about half way between the two now closed venues, in the same street.

Last night Monte’s was chockers – best guess about 250 to 300 people, clearly having a ball.

Many of them came by pushbike, judging by the number of tredlies – certainly more than 50 – tied to the fence, their riders clearly willing on their way home to brave the marauding hordes lurking to pounce upon them in the dark.

Some had made their way unscathed from the exhibition opening at Talapi, Alice’s newest gallery towards the middle of the mall.

As they left the opening they observed some brave souls enjoying the evening on the Sporties terrace opposite (below). Undoubtedly Red Ochre also had a crowd.

At Monte’s gate revelers were greeted by a Mormon bouncer who said “Bless you” and asked for ID (I was flattered that he thought I needed proof of age).

Inside the twenty-something to forty-something crowd was buzzing, not a cross word anywhere.

They were served their drinks and tasty, well-priced food by girls in Austrian Dirndls and blokes in Lederhosen – quirky!

When it comes to alcohol restrictions the place can surely lay claim to have one of the most idiotic conditions imposed by our hapless Liquor Commission: you have to be seated to drink.

End of evening entertainment as we know it? Maybe not. – ERWIN CHLANDA

 

UPDATE: A barricade has been erected in front of Town & Country and there are large signs reading, “Temporarily closed” and “NO alcohol stored on site/premises”.

FULL STORY »

Memo Club suspends trading, goes into voluntary administration. Town & Country to close tomorrow.

 

The Alice Springs Memorial Club has suspended trading, gone into voluntary administration and “the committee is looking to establish a fighting fund for the people of Alice Springs to contribute to in the aim of reopening the doors as soon as possible,” according to a media release this morning.

And the Todd Mall pub, Town and Country, is closing tomorrow.

Owner Geoff Booth, who is standing for councillor in Saturday’s election, says on Thursday the popular drinking spot in the heart of the town will be boarded up and secured with razor wire.

Mr Booth says this follows declining trading over two years to now being just “appalling” and “13 of 14 break-ins” just this year, each causing $800 to $1000 worth of damage.

Mr Booth says his and the Memo Club’s problems are very similar: “People are scared of the nighttime activities. After 5pm the town centre turns into a ghost town.”
The Memo Club Administrator, Tim Clifton, of Macks Hall Clifton, says the club was in danger of trading while insolvent, and the move will give it a breathing space of one month.
The debts are “not insignificant, but well less than $1m,” says Mr Clifton.
The main reason for the problem is clearly “not enough people coming through the door”.
During the month a proposition will be made to the creditors, to see if they will “accept some compromises of claims” and if agreed, the club’s management will be returned to the committee.
If not the club may be put into liquidation.

Restaurant owner comments from the frontline: Kids thieving for drunks; take-away restrictions nail in coffin of tourism?

 

The club has set up a “fighting fund … to satisfy the claims of the unsecured creditors and to provide working capital to reopen the club”. The committee says donations will go into a trust fund. Should the fighting fund fail, all cash donations will be refunded. Banks Details: Alice Springs Memorial Club Inc. (Administrator Appointed) BSB: 035-006 account: 300696.

 

PICTURES: Top – Town and Country Tavern. Note green sign for extended liquor permit application – now withdrawn. Photo by Hans Boessem, Todd Camera Store. Above right – The Memo Club. FULL STORY »

Nose-diving CBD: it happened on the 11th Council’s watch

When the aldermen and Mayor Damien Ryan now seeking re-election, were standing for council in 2008, law and order and alcohol regulation were at the top of the local agenda and there they’ve pretty much stayed for the four years since. What’s new is the dramatic decline of the Alice Springs town centre. Two weeks ago I suggested it might be a “shuddering readjustment“; now it  is starting to feel like a nose-dive, with the voluntary administration of the Memo Club and the closure of the Town & Country Tavern made public knowledge on the one day.

The picture is one of a town centre being abandoned, even while we talk about its rejuvenation or revitalisation. The term may soon have to be resurrection.

KIERAN FINNANE looks at where we were four years ago and where we have got to now.

 

Pictured: Alice Springs closed for business? The southern end of Todd Mall around 6.15pm last night. Dead as a doornail. FULL STORY »

The Minister for Football

When Mayor Damien Ryan talks proudly and with optimism about his relationship with the NT Government, one cannot but wonder what he’s on about.

For example where, as Alice Springs lurches from crisis to crisis, is the so-called Minister for Central Australia, Karl Hampton, and where is his mind?
It’s on Tickets are now on sale for the Australian Superbike Championship; he joined hundreds of people  at Territory Manor in Mataranka to welcome the handing down of a consent determination that will provide certainty regarding native title and announced that Top End Rugby League fans will have the chance to watch a NRL Premiership points match – on the same day as the people of Alice Springs were coming to grips with the closure of the iconic Memo Club, and another CBD pub, and a public meeting was held to meet the mayoral candidates, grappling with the town’s problems which some regard as terminal, voting with their feet. ERWIN CHLANDA comments. FULL STORY »

We need public-friendly public places

 

Over the last few weeks I’ve been amused watching the disabled access steps and walls go up in Todd Mall. I’m not sure how the construction of steps is aiding better disabled access but the Mayor and Co seemed to be very pleased with it all at the launch a few weeks back.

Since, I have noted the unimaginative use of a dull ochre colour to paint the walls, rendering them to almost camouflage, along with the general lack of imagination and the bricks that make up Todd Mall.

People have been placing bets as to when the first tag or graffiti might appear on the walls but I am yet to arrive to work and find any interesting public art or belligerent tagging. I know personal taste divides what is art and what is eyesore. But that’s another spray can of words.

Anyway, yesterday morning a council fellow was busy measuring and pondering and placing little metal brackets along the wall. My first thought? That council was going to erect something similar to those pigeon deterrents for the people that have taken to drinking their coffee on the wall. Or maybe planter boxes – also a sly people-sitting deterrent – but no. What we have are skater stoppers! By late afternoon the dozen or so fittings had been fitted and the job was done. Skaters are now officially stopped. FULL STORY »

Ryan re-elected Mayor, Brown heads councillor line-up

Damien Ryan (pictured), with 43.6% of the primary vote, has been declared Mayor after distribution of preferences last night.
It is his second term.
He will preside over a divided council with three of his four challengers – Steve Brown, Eli Melky and Dave Douglas, heading the count for the eight councillors, and the like-minded Geoffrey Booth being elected in eighth place.
They are former members or sympathisers of the law and order Action for Alice group.
If they can attract the support of another councillor – possibly Brendan Heenan or Liz Martin –  the forces calling for tough measures to end the town’s violence and anti-social behaviour would be in the majority.
The other two new councillors in the 12th Alice Springs Town Council are Jade Kudrenko and Chansey Paech, both very youthful.
Kudrenko, a candidate of the Greens, gave a lengthy interview to the Alice News Online but Paech declined to be interviewed.
Candidates who missed out – in the order in which they were excluded – are Vince Jeisman, Samih Habib Bitar, Matt Campbell, John Reid, Dianne Logan, Edan Baxter and  Aaron Dick. FULL STORY »