Gary Singer’s flair for drama has extended from his personal life to accusing another council rival of “disturbing graves“. All rather odd given his distribution of a letter denouncing candidates who criticise the record of their opponents.
Of course, no one has been more privately scathing of Catherine Ng’s conduct than the Deputy Lord Mayor who briefly considered turning catty criticism into an official Commonwealth Games event, Council insiders say. “He hates her”, referring to her frequently – we hear – as “that shrew” or “the bitch”. Normally a devillish chuckle follows the description.
While Ng has been the focus of recent community concern over her neglect of her responsibilities, Singer has been lucky to survive this election campaign with little scrutiny of his record and past activities. His poltergeist yarn in the Hun is good fun but it did prompt us to examine the trusty News Limited database to see what kind of Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer has been.
We’d forgotten just how tumultuous and terrible Singer’s reign has been.
Really, he’s been John So’s most significant mistake and public embarrassment. And he did have some competition, particularly up against political time-bomb and Tory plaything Catherine Ng.
NOT A GOOD START
“DLM Singer’s” (as he calls himself)Â first two years were little short of a disgrace. He’s mostly pulled his head in since then but clearly his private business conduct and lack of respect for ratepayers’ money makes him a manifestly unsuited candidate for public office of any kind. It’s oddly impressive in a perverse way that he’s having another go, after copping such a thrashing for his improper dealings and soap opera lifestyle.
In one term the millionaire arts buff, lawyer and restaurant investor Singer:
â– Pleaded guilty to charges of financial misconduct and impropriety before the Legal Professional Tribunal after dudding barristers by collecting money to pay them from clients but refusing to pass it on (Herald Sun 12 Nov 2005)
â– Was fined $10,000 for those corrupt acts and ordered to pay $8,000 in costs, many considered him lucky not to be struck off;
â– Travelled to grotesque excess at ratepayer expense to all parts of the world on useless trips of no benefit to the unfortunate people paying for the show (Herald Sun 18 Nov 2005)
â– Was investigated by the Australian Tax Office for not making employee’s superannuation payments, putting their retirement at risk (Herald Sun 23 Nov 2005)
â– Had his law firm face charges before the Law Institute of improperly using client’s trust fund monies. It was alleged $64,000 was moved with notifying the client; (Herald Sun 2 Feb 2006);
â– Broke council building regulations when he started building work without council permits on three inner-city investment properties. The development was subject to repeated stop-work notices from concerned council officials.Â Unimpressed co-investors blamed Singer for the botched paperwork, saying he’d cost them tens of thousands of dollars (Herald Sun 17 Feb 2006);
â– Regularly and uselessly bickered with council colleagues, who apparently mostly hate him. He is particularly angry at Peter Clarke who he accuses of being a homophobe;
â– Missed many Council and committee meetings, but not nearly as many as Catherine Ng whose indolence is unsurpassed in municipal history;
â– Saw his law firm partner face potential perjury charges over a disturbing case relating dodgy firearms licences and missing .22 rifles and 12 gauge shotguns (apparently standard equipment in Morwell law offices) (Herald Sun 6 Oct 2006)
â– Made his displeasure at the National Gallery of Victoria plainly known to its most senior officials after it sacked Singer’s boyfriend for acting corruptly inasmuch as he was accused of moonlighting for a private commercial gallery while working at the NGV, contravening the public service code of conductÂ and creating a seething mass of conflicts of interest and ethical problems. Art industry sources alleged that Singer’s chum was guilty of advantaging his previous lover’s gallery when making buying decisions. Most fittingly when the scandal was blazing, Singer and chum jetted off to Tuscany in Italy to quietly reflect on life;
â– Got caught up in his own conflict of interest scandal with said lover by appointing him to the “arts acquisition panel” at the Melbourne City Council, in an arrangement so cosy it would have made former Queensland National Party minister Russ Hinze blush with pride;
â– Pranged his luxury council cars into everything that moved, running up a bill of $7500 that ratepayers were stuck with. His latest council funded vehicle is a fully imported VW Jetta. no wonder he’s running for re-election with all this largesse;
â– Reportedly left the scene of an accident after crashing into a fellow councillor’s motor vehicle in the council car-park. He claimed he didn’t notice at the time and has declined to pay for the damage;
â– Commuted for his Gippsland rural retreat while notionally representing the people of Melbourne from a very safe distance. The millionaire declined to pay for his petrol costs sticking ratepayers with gas bills of around ten thousand dollars;
â– In one of his first deeds as Deputy Lord Mayor, demanded a higher salary. The state government and Herald Sun told him where to get off;
â– Was exposed for being guilty back in 1999 for professional misconduct for “grossly excessive overcharging” of an injured client in a personal injuries matter;
â– Was sacked from committee chair positions as councillors complained he wasn’t concentrating on the job (Herald Sun 25 Jan 2006);
â– Stared down calls from the Melbourne Business Council, council colleagues and a Herald Sun editorial demanding he resign, where it said “In all decency he must do so” in light of his guilty plea to financial misconduct charges;
â– Visited Milan’s famed opera house la Scala at ratepayers expense where he had been visiting a furniture show, before kicking on to New York, Boston and the home of the cheesesteak, Philadelphia;
â– Spent a small fortune on his own office renovations, while complaining about the quality of the food served by the council, nearly provoking industrial action (Herald Sun 11 Feb 2005)
Quite the catalogue of shame, isn’t it?
He might not hear much Yiddish spoken down in Gippsland, in private arts galleries or over in the opera houses of Milan but Gary Singer’s bid for the Lord Mayoralty of Melbourne exemplifies chutzpah.
Hopefully he’ll get the result he so very richly deserves.