OPINION: Where's Rozi?

THE Wangaratta Council has its own version of the children’s book Where’s Wally?.

It is titled Where’s Rozi?.

The city’s leader can’t be found as her council lurches from one crisis to the next on a path to possible dismissal by the state government.

The Border Mail has unsuccessfully sought responses from Cr Rozi Parisotto this week on the revelation her council will be the subject of a rare Local Government Inspectorate inquiry and Cr Julian Fidge has had complaints levelled at him by three of his colleagues.

Both are matters of grave importance and major public interest to the people of Wangaratta.

We could also mention seeking her response to receiving personal congratulations on her re-election last October from the member for Indi, Sophie Mirabella, which also went through to her message bank.

We would dearly love to know what Mrs Mirabella meant by comments like “an enormous achievement years in the making” and “good triumphs over evil”.

But that seems like an eternity ago, given the events of this week.

Cr Parisotto’s community is crying out for reassurance that everything is not as toxic or dysfunctional within council as it appears to be.

The community is engaged in the unfolding drama, given close to 50 people turned up for a monthly meeting in the Cheshunt hall this week.

Cr Parisotto’s ongoing cone of silence is actually making the situation worse.

The council staff would be crying out for her to take a stand publicly on their behalf when their leader, chief executive officer, Doug Sharp, has been the target of repeated attacks by Cr Fidge.

But herein lies Cr Parisotto’s dilemma.

After six failed attempts to become mayor, she finally ascended to the role late last year with the support of Cr Fidge, Cr Paul O’Brien and Cr Noel Amery.

Adding to her deeply conflicted position was her appointment as mayor for two years as opposed to the usual 12 months.

Cr Parisotto has repaid that support by using her casting vote to remove the power of engaging consultants from the council executive, led by Mr Sharp, at the January meeting.

But at a recent special meeting, she used her deciding vote to ensure the Co-Store redevelopment car park went ahead when councillors Fidge, Amery and O’Brien were opposed.

Cr Parisotto made the right call on that occasion as she was part of the previous council that instigated the support for the project.

The last thing she needs is the Wangaratta business community offside by harpooning a $25 million investment in the city.

A true test of leadership is how someone responds in a crisis and not just smiling for the cameras when a good story is happening.

Even the council code of conduct demands she step forward and answer questions being asked in the community.

It states in part: “The mayor will provide official comment to the media on behalf of council where the matter is of a political, controversial or sensitive nature.

“This includes contentious local issues that impact the community that do not relate directly to the business of council, but to the representation of the community.”

A Local Government Inspectorate inquiry easily constitutes a matter of a “controversial or sensitive nature”.

The present crisis gripping Wangaratta Council has been compared with the volatility previously seen on display at Albury Council.

But I can’t recall an occasion when Albury has been the subject of two external investigations (probity auditor and Local Government Inspectorate) and a pending councillor conduct examination.

This is rare air for a council in our region and a situation that demands some explanation.

Cr Parisotto, you have our number.

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