MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillor Susan Bissinger says she is “not a pariah or a bully” but was last week about to start personal development training at ratepayers’ expense.
She says the training was ordered by the mayor Cr Steve Holland after two mediation sessions involving him and CEO John Baker.
“The first one with him [Holland} worked out well, but the second one not so good.”
She said Baker had since barred her from directly contacting council staff, with the exception of a select few senior officers.
This was something she found “very strange, as members of the public can speak to staff”.
Bissinger was on Friday scheduled to meet with a trainer from Melbourne in Mornington.
She had spoken with the trainer on the phone “who seems very nice”.
While the training had been organised by Baker, “I’ve no idea what he thinks I need training about”.
While Bissinger claims not to know the reasons for her training, she says it is linked to her questioning the shire’s decision to fly the Progress Pride flag at three council offices.
Councillors have been told that flying the multi-coloured flag “demonstrates that our organisation is welcoming and acknowledges our commitment to the LGBTIQA+ community”.
Bissinger says she is being censured because she asked if other councils were also flying the Pride flag and “mentioned our community is inclusive and there is no need for a flag”.
“Do we need division when there isn’t one? This is an inclusive shire which was demonstrated when we had one of the biggest acceptances of gay marriage,” she told The News.
The shire’s efforts to advertise itself as “a healthy and self-determined community where everyone feels valued” follows poor results in two consecutive annual community surveys (“Shire again misses survey satisfaction” The News 21/6/23).
Bissinger told The News she did not feel comfortable “knowing everyone is talking behind my back”.
She was not sure why some people found her offensive and “I wouldn’t think that would be so detrimental to warrant such action [as personal development training]”.
Bissinger’s questioning about the Pride flag took place online during email exchanges with council staff and councillors.
She told The News that one councillor had been “very unreasonable and chastised me on email to other councillors”.
Bissinger was elected to council in 2021 and is on the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council Tourism Advisory Forum and the Disability Advisory Committee.