Posted by: darrenbergman | June 29, 2012

Ward 32 Newsletter June 2012


1. A positive introduction
2. Public announcement
3. Valuation objections
4. City power press release and meter readers
5. Press release from our Pikitup spokesperson
6. Combatting crime – issued by Sandton CPF
7. Pensioners rebate
8. Suburb report backs

1. AT LAST A POSITIVE INTRODUCTION!

Ward 32 brace yourself as the winds of change set upon us. One of the most innovative introductions that I have seen in Council over the last 12 years has just been introduced by the Mayor.
Each ward will get ten JMPD officers assigned to it. This will be spread over four staggered shifts ensuring that during the day two cars will patrol the ward and at night at least one. This on its own will be fantastic but when you note that the officers will be responsible (in conjunction with the relevant departments) for noise and environmental pollution; crime prevention; by-law enforcements and traffic policing, it almost gives the impression that the ward will have its own Council enforcement army. It is also noteworthy to mention that the Mayoral objective and departmental objective is to bring the Metro Police closer to the residents both in public relations and enforcement. This should all be rolling out in July 2012 whilst JMPD find enough personnel and vehicles. I ask that you please give this pilot project your full support by keeping an open and tolerant mind. There will be a lot of teething problems and adjustments but make no mistake we will make this work.

2. PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT
I will be in Cape Town from Monday till Friday due to the facilitation of the Joburg Junior Council leadership week. Cllr. Martin Louw will be standing in for me.

3. VALUATION OBJECTIONS

Please note that the deadline for objections has been extended to the end of July 2012.

From around the 3rd July 2012 a staff member will be deployed specifically to deal with walk in objections at the client service centre at Region E offices 24 Fredman Drive Sandton.
I urge you to please make use of this person for your objections to your valuations.
To date I have logged nearly 50 on my own on behalf of residents of ward 32 and surrounding areas.

4. CITY POWER OFFICIALS AND METER READERS – PLEASE READ!!

The City of Johannesburg discovered that there are customers who do not allow our meter readers access to their properties. This results in the City not being able to bill those customers on actual readings but on estimates.

In terms of the City of Johannesburg by-laws, the City is entitled to disconnect the supply of electricity as a result of customers’ failure to allow us access to their premises for purpose of reading the meter or fixing a faulty meter.

Customers who are falling into this category are requested to urgently contact us on the following numbers to avoid termination of the supply of electricity to their premises

Fax number: (011) 490-7223
Email: estimations@citypower.co.za
Call Centre number: (011) 490-7484
SMS line 44074

Please include the following information in your correspondence:
• Account number
• Physical Address
• Contact details
• Date and time of availability.
The Call Centre operating hours are from 07:00 to 22:00 (Monday to Friday) and on weekends from 07:00 to 13:00.

How to identify City Power meter readers:

• They will carry ID Cards with a name and picture of the individual
• The ID cards will identify the individual as a City Power CONTRATOR
• The individual will wear either a brown or blue overall under the City Power reflector jacket.
• The individual will be wearing City Power reflector jackets.

5. PRESS RELEASE FROM OUR PIKITUP SPOKESPERSON

Residents of Johannesburg continue to be frustrated by their refuse not being collected on time or at all. To exacerbate an already untenable situation, a number of garden refuse sites across the city have been closed without notice. This is due to the fact that there are not enough vehicles to empty the skips in the garden sites, resulting in people dumping the refuse around the sites.

The poor service delivery from Pikitup has been with us for a number of months and will most likely continue until September or October this year. This situation arises from two sources, namely the gross mismanagement by senior city officials in the context of the renewal of the city’s fleet contract and the inability of Pikitup’s fleet management unit to plan ahead and ensure sufficient vehicles to provide the requisite level of service.

Despite adequate warnings that the city’s fleet contract was going to expire, senior officials involved themselves in brinkmanship in not taking steps to ensure that there would be a smooth transition from one fleet service provider to another in the event that the contract was awarded to a different service provider. The result of this was that at the last minute, the contract was extended for an additional month on at least 2 occasions. When the officials finally took a decision to end the existing fleet contract, they were beset by legal difficulties in awarding the new contracts and were forced to appoint an interim service provider. All indications are that the officials were warned about the potential legal impediments, but in their usual arrogant and cavalier fashion, chose to ignore the warnings.

When the fleet contract was ended with the previous service provider, officials within the Pikitup fleet management unit were given the opportunity to keep vehicles that would assist them in maintaining the required service levels. They chose not to do so. In addition, the interim contract allows for the hiring of ad-hoc vehicles to fill the gap in the event that they are required. Once again, the fleet managers in Pikitup chose not to use this option. Why they have chosen to do so is not clear. There is more to this debacle than meets the eye, yet officials and politicians of the ruling party remain mum. Official questions put to them are ignored by obfuscatory answers that ignore the question. Surely, this is a matter that the Public Protector should be interested in.
6. COMBATTING CRIME – ISSUED BY SANDTON CPF
Tips on how to currently combat this problem:
o When stopped by police in unmarked cars, advise same that you will proceed to the nearest garage (people and cameras) or police station where they can conclude their search or investigation.
Be aware that there are bogus policemen out there (always in unmarked cars) who have access to police uniforms or bullet proofs as well as ‘Blue Lights’.
o When stopped by police in marked cars, ensure you get the CALL SIGN painted on the car (e.g. SD.80) which, because all police cars are fitted with a AVL (tracking) system, will identify the officers within that vehicle as well as substantiate the whereabouts of the vehicle at that specific time.
o Always ask the police officer for his name and get verification if necessary – they are obliged to carry same.
o Subscribe to eBlockwatch and utilise their cellphone recording system should you feel the need.
o Do not become an accomplice by submitting to a bribe.
o Do not adopt a ‘victim’ attitude – neither be aggressive. Be polite but assertive for and within your rights.
o Call the Sector Vehicle for assistance if being threatened, or the Duty Officer at Sandton SAPS.
o Always report all incidents immediately to the police management so that the necessary action can be taken.
• Station Commander: Brig. Alan Billings commissioner@sandtonsaps.co.za
• CPF Chairman: Wendy Vorster-Robertson chairman@sandtoncpf.co.za
• Sandton SAPS Duty Officer: 082.304.9562
• National Police Anti-Corruption Line is 0860 267 787 and 0860 267 788
• Crime Line is 32211
7. PENSIONERS REBATE (PLEASE SEE FORM ATTACHED TOO)

Application form for 2012 is attached – this is the updated form from the Rates Directorate

Cllr’s

There seems to be some issues brought about by the Pensioner Rebate applications. I have requested Official comment and process from the Rates Directorate and this will be sent to me shortly (Directorate request needs to go via the office of the MMC).

For the mean time I summarise it as follows.

It would seem that ANY pensioner can apply for a rebate when the following conditions apply:

•    They are 60 years of age (can apply the day they turn 60!)
•    Own the property and personally occupy it
•    Value of property must not exceed R1 500 000 as per Municipal account statement
•    100 % rebate
o Dependent on National Security Grant OR
o Who are not on National Security Grant but monthly income is less than R5600
•    50 % rebate
o Who are not on National Security Grant but monthly income is above R5600 but less than R10 300

Process for Pensioner Rebate Applications:

1. Complete the attached application form
2. Gather the necessary documents
3. Make a copy of the application form for own records
4. Go to COJ Walk in Centre, sit in queue for a Customer Relations Agent to log a service ticket on SAP Billing CRM system.
5. The agent will then scan the documents into the system and the Rates Directorate back office will then process the application.
6. Within time, the rebate (if approved) should appear on the statement.

The Service Ticket number in this process is vital as it is the only record of the interaction for future disputes.

One of the things I seek clarity on is the RENEWAL of rebate applications (verification to take place every 2 years) – this will hopefully be included in the process detail from the Directorate.

Note: There is also another rebate that the City offers those that earn less than R4024 per month (not limited only to pensioners). I have asked the ESP Directorate to send this for wider distribution and I will forward soonest
ALEXANDRA FAR EAST BANK EXT 7

Alexandra celebrated 100 years! Huge celebrations took place. I am sure it is not political but as usual my invitation as a Councillor in Alexandra seems to have been misplaced. This is the story of my life, in Alexandra, either I do not get invited to the events, workshops/ meetings or I get some friendly voice two hours before an event apologizing for late notice and inevitably always giving a little giggle at the end of the sentence before asking me if I will please attend a meeting in two hours.

I took the region on strongly in our last meeting and found unlikely allies in my colleagues from another party. I have warned people that if they cannot accept a white Councillor for Alexandra then they should not be working in a progressive administration like we have. A few days later I was called by City Power to inform me that tin the event they will be rolling out a solar geyser project in my area. Not only will residents benefit from free solar powered geysers but they will also benefit in a job creation project to install them.

BUCCLEUCH

I have had constructive meetings with BRACE and with the school in Buccleuch and we will be pursuing the children’s safety on our roads in Buccleuch more aggressively together. Watch this space. It is a vision of many to have more street lights, user friendly walk ways and of course satisfactory traffic calming measures.

GREENSTONE

KLIPFONTEINVIEW

We have had issues with transformers malfunctioning in the area. Unfortunately these have come at some of the coldest nights of the year. I cannot begin to imagine the problems it causes for the young and the elderly. I have donated blankets to the local church in the hope that we can control some form of variable at a time when it really is out of our control.

LINBRO PARK

I was at the 1st Road site meeting today and was really proud to see what the new road looks like. In fact it is the best looking road in Linbro Park at the moment. BREAKING NEWS: The contractors have been asked to please spend the money saved from not paving the whole of 1st Road to repair Ronald Avenue. Therefore come mid-July, Linbro Park will have two new looking roads for the price of one.

Cluelee Road continues to be a menace considering it has become a main arterial route that is as big as a one lane road, has no white markings and no traffic enforcement. I have been informed of two major accidents in the month that it has been open. Tomorrow I will be present at the LPCA table to advise residents around two petitions. The first one being that of the roads in Linbro Park and the second one being the new classification of property to Residential A. Pop past my table and say hi. There will be two sites – Malboro entrance and Cluelee Road entrance.

MODDERFONTEIN

It was so refreshing to assist the Friends of the Modderfontein Library at their monthly book sale. We managed to sell lots of books and I was able to impart my limited novel knowledge onto residents. However I ended up purchasing a box load of books with the intention of actually trying to find the time to read them. To date I have only managed half a book.

Posted by: darrenbergman | June 29, 2012

Newsletter May 2012 – One year down the drag!


I warn you this is long but if you have an interest in the future of this ward, definitely worth the read.

A journalist the other day asked me how I found the challenges of this ward. I was immediately reminded of a story of a builder that was elected to take over the completion of a complex in Houghton. He gets to visit the structure which has all but neared completion and is handed the keys. Except unbeknownst to the builder the complex has some very wet foundations and the body corporate is not functional. The builder sets about to try and redraft some of the plans and create a more stable foundation but every which way he turns a homeowner comes to him with a leak or a crack and before long he is bogged down with the nitty gritty and off course on the bigger picture. In time the lines are blurred as to which were the faults of the previous builder and which were the implementations that the new builder could be credited for. Ultimately it leads to a lose-lose situation whereby the builder risks his reputation that he has credibly built up over years and the residents move or are delayed to move into houses which they have paid for.

My first year in this ward has been exactly the same type of journey. I am a strategist by nature and always look at the bigger picture and the broken up pieces that make up the picture simultaneously. I knew that ward 32 will be nothing short of an elephant on the loose. The area is large, the zonings dynamic and the communities completely different in all corners. Therefore in the first year of my term of office I set out to achieve structure, communication, education and deliver. Below is a report back of the first year in office as the ward Councillor for ward 32. Please pass this on as widely as possible as the information contained in these monthly newsletters are important to you the resident of Ward 32. If you live in Alexandra Far East Bank ext 7, Buccleuch, Greenstone, Klipfonteinview, Linbro Park and Modderfontein and you never received this directly from me, please email me bergman.darren@gmail.com and in the subject put the word SUBSCRIBE. If you have received this directly from me but you do not want to receive an email from me. Please email me and put UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject.

Let me start off with the most important news of all!!!

The new IDP (integrated development plan) for ward 32, as approved last week, gives ward 32 just under R1 BILLION. Yes folks you heard me correctly. We have won a huge victory!!
This is definitely a record for most if not all wards. Not only do some wards receive nothing for the next five years in terms of capital injection but at best only a few million Rand is spent in the majority of the wards receiving. In our ward I am proud to say that we will receive R940,000,000 spread over 8 projects aimed at upgraded infrastructure in the Ward. A new power station in Sebenza takes up the bulk of the project but make no mistake most of the ward will benefit from infrastructure upgrades in water, sewerage and electricity. Alexandra will be getting a development zone on top of that. This is news worth cracking the champagne bottles for.

I hope to celebrate with all my suburb committees shortly around this.

Buccleuch has just received a water project upgrade thanks to their previous ward Councillor efforts. Unfortunately the next five years will be lean years for them. I have had the pleasure of working with some great people in the suburb and sub committees in the Buccleuch area and have embarked on a regular drive around with two residents. In this drive around issues are identified and calls are then logged. Two hard working and productive Buccleuch residents accompanied me on Saturday on our third drive around. They brought the notes from our first drive around which was performed at the beginning of this year and I am proud to state that besides the Joburg Roads Agency issues most of the other issues have been resolved. Buccleuch will definitely be a suburb to watch in the future, however do not take my word for it take the developers, religious and educational institutions that have their eyes heavily set on the last available lands of the suburb.

My election manifesto was built on two specific suburbs in my ward and I aptly named my election material a tale of two cities, using Linbro Park and Klipfonteinview as my two examples. It was definitely not a case of the haves and the have nots because they were both a suburb of have nots. However in my story they were both the forgotten.

It was important to me that one of the first objectives was to highlight the plight of Klipfonteinview and Linbro Park and try and get some resources directed to these forgotten areas. I set about partnering with the structures to start communicating and letting them know that they are not alone. In Linbro Park it was easy but in Klipfonteinview it took considerable time and effort to finally get a structure necessary to be productive in the suburb. Today we boast a fully fledged and productive steering committee that has tentacles right down to every street in Klipfonteinview. As soon as something needs attention it is escalated from street level to steering committee and if it needs to be escalated from there it is. Unfortunately Klipfonteinview has a rich political history and sometimes residents put politics in front of delivery for the sake of politics. I have tried to keep my message clear, I am a community politician and when it comes to the ward it does not matter what party I belong to, it matters that what we do, we do for the benefit of the communities we serve.

One of the biggest eye sores in Klipfonteinview has been the multi purpose centre. Residents felt it would be far more beneficial for the community to have a clinic or a rates hall or a high school. In fact certain people wanted to burn the centre down in protest. I have felt that we should rather make this centre productive and in partnership with the community we have started cleaning, baking and talent projects that are aimed at trying to give unemployed residents a better chance at getting a job or starting their own business. In the future we will be looking to medical assistance and security.

In Linbro Park the fight was harder. The structure existed but unity did not. The problem was that with the warehouse constructions and the Alexandra Renewal Project knocking on the doors it was not clear what the future for Linbro Park was. We ran a series of public meetings and judging from the last public meeting last week that we might have some glimmer of unity. However an important achievement to note was a multi million Rand road upgrade on one of the worst roads of the City plus a road closure to boot. One can easily say that the Linbro Park of ten years ago will be totally unrecognizable to the Linbro Park in 10 years time. Watch this space.

Speaking of land for the future clearly the Frankenwald land debacle will be landed within the next few months and clarity on the future made clear to all. Across the road lies Alexandra Far East Bank ext 7. Just under 2000 houses given to residents on a waiting list was a gift of a life time. A well deserved gift and nothing could take the excitement and pride away … except of course a dysfunctional sewerage system, a rat infestation and a lack of after care attention. Well hopefully after 2014 this will all be a thing of the past and the residents can finally enjoy their deserved gifts with full pride and joy. The problem still occurs whereby where a house burns down the expectation is that the Councillor or Council should fix it which is not sustainable. I have therefore asked the Region to investigate insurance for the ARP developments. One gets to empathise in these scenarios when a person with no disposable income has to replace a roof or a geyser. In real terms the cost would be likened to an average income earner taking out a 20 year bond to finance a house except the resident in this case is only getting a geyser or a roof and not a whole house. The great news again is that in my first few weeks as the ward Councillor I was threatened death, in a protest and burning of tyres, because there was no water in extension 7. Regardless of the fact that there was no water in the whole of Alexandra apparently it was not political that in extension 7 the ward Councillor was the issue. However opportunity came out of this life changing event when members of other political parties decided to work with me and set up a steering committee. This has led to better communication and productivity in the suburb.

All in all this year has been dedicated to setting up structures and from this moment on more emphasis will be on visible delivery. One has to appreciate that delivery happens on a political and social level and is not just about potholes or cracked storm water drains but in actual fact is about redress, reconciliation, diversity and delivery. Ward 32 gives us the opportunity to be a model ward for both the City, Province and the Country. We already making strides considering national and international interest that we have received in the ward. Unfortunately for us we still face an uphill battle as we move forward in trying to educate people on being model citizens, Government being a model partner and the Councillor being a model community politician.

This is evident in the last three weeks whereby my profile with a highly positive article appeared in a local newspaper in Klipfontein. I quipped with one of my steering committee members that here comes trouble after that. Well it did not take the weekend before water was cut. I escalated to the top directors of Joburg Water and water was restored. Two hours later electricity went down. It was restored that evening only to be cut in the middle of the night again. An official from City Power mentioned to me that it was suspicious that a cable was cut but not stolen. We finally restored the problem and the next day found water cut a few minutes before the start of the working day. I definitely do not suggest sabotage but asked my community leaders to keep an eye on some of the vantage points and since then for some strange reason the comedy of errors seemed to stop. However the more productive the ward becomes it is sad to note that we will be able to expect more of this type of “freak” happening.

Speaking of “freak” happenings – the new re-classification of Linbro Park from agricultural to residential A (note this is not a rezoning under the town planning scheme but a reclassification in terms of the billing). For years LPians were paying a reduced service rate because quite frankly they did not really receive much services from Johannesburg. The City has now stated that all areas receiving services from the City that are not trading as productive agricultural holdings will be billed as a residential unit. Most residents accept this fact but what they did not realize is that there is also back pay. Furthermore it is still fair to say that LP is not receiving adequate services and the fight is on to find middle ground between the City and its back pay and minimal delivery and the residents getting used to their new bills.

Whilst Modderfontein, Greenstone and Sebenza will be big beneficiaries of the IDP expenditure of the City over the next five years it has been made clear that they future of Greenstone as a portion of Johannesburg is not certain. Modderfontein itself will look like a major city compared to what it looked like a decade ago.

Therefore in a nutshell I think it is fair to say that this has been a productive first year, of my term, for ward 32. We have been highly productive on a medium to high level. On a more localised level the whole of Johannesburg has been suffering the lack of operating budget in terms of our normal day to day service delivery especially in Johannesburg Roads Agency and of course the fleet disagreement has hampered service delivery to a certain extent. We as residents of ward 32 should remain optimistic and look forward to the next few years ahead.

Let me take this opportunity of thanking you for the first year of service to you and that I look forward to the next few years of productive delivery.

Yours in the struggle

Posted by: darrenbergman | June 29, 2012

Ward 32 Johannesburg Newsletter April 2012


1. Billing crisis…what crisis?
2. PIKITUP and FLEET AFRICA
3. Ward Committee elections
4. IDP process
5. Rates
6. Region E and the campaign of excellence
7. Council meeting report back
8. Suburb updates

This month has really shown the effects of a slashed budget on the City of Johannesburg. This was at a point when I thought it could not get any worse. However there is a positive that has come out of this. From a City side it seems that municipal owned entities have had to go into crisis mode and learn how to make the Rand stretch a little longer. I am hoping that this will translate into a chronic mentality of less wasteful expenditure and more productive investments into our aging infrastructure. The residents seem to have adapted to the conditions, almost as if the last few years have been a dress rehearsal to help prepare them mentally for the current chaos we are in. When we speak about the tipping point I prayer and hope for the sake of everyone officials, politicians and residents of Johannesburg that from day 1 of the next budget this will all be a nightmare of the past.

1.
As you know the city’s billing is a mess. But they have been making some strides in attempting to rectify this, and we, as councillors want to give them every chance of success to the new scheme.

Ward councillors now have to take on the billing problems in our wards. I thus need certain info from you that distils your problems into a format that is transferable to other agents in order that I do not have to go back and forth getting more information.

• Please note you need a reference number that is OVER 60 days old.
• Please provide ALL of the below information:
1. Name of account holder
2. Account number
3. Address
4. Reference number
5. Date of first complaint
6. Brief summary of complaint
7. Contact number
8. Email address
9. Lawyers letter in the case of registration of title deeds

Basically, the ward councillors are now traffic cops that direct your problems to their respective Regional Billing Team. This team will ask you for more info if they need it. Councillors are no longer allowed to get any more involved in the process than this.

Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated.

2. PLEASE NOTE this notice that was sent from Pikitup. It has since transpired that the Fleet Africa contract which incorporates Pikitup, Metro Police and our ambulances has come to an end. Whilst Fleet Africa battles with where nearly 1000 employees will go, the City battles with keeping up the resources whilst introducing the new service provider. There is an undertaking that Pikitup will endeavour to reach every suburb with the least amount of delay but on the ground we know that it is not happening in places like Linbro Park and Alexandra Tsutsumane Ext 7.
COMMUNITY NOTICE
PIKITUP SERVICE DELIVERY CHALLENGES
Disruptions have been experienced in the collection of refuse over the past few weeks. These disruptions are due to temporary infrastructural problems relating to vehicles, as the current fleet management contract has come to an end. A new fleet contract is being put in place.
The disruption could affect residents for the next few weeks, however, Pikitup will be working extra hourswhich includes weekends to complete all its weekly rounds. All backlogs and excess waste will be collected as well.
Pikitup requests that should resident’s refuse not be collected on the scheduled day; their bin(s) should be left outside for collection on the following day. Management apologises for any inconvenience caused and promises the residents that the situation will be normalised as soon as possible.
Should affected residents have any further queries, Pikitup would like to encourage them to contact Joburg Connect on (011) 375 5555.

3. WARD COMMITTEE ELECTIONS

Please note that there are 26 candidates contesting 10 positions on the ward committee. This was one of the most popular wards in the City of Johannesburg. There will be two polling stations on election day Klipfonteinview and Modderfontein Sports club. It will be treated like a proper IEC election and a bar coded ID will be needed to vote. I wish all the contestants good luck.

4. IDP Process
Please watch out for a public opportunity to make comments to the IDP. We were one of the first wards in the whole of Johannesburg to have ours ready and submitted. However it does not mean it is cast in stone and all comments and suggestions will be welcome. Anyone wishing to get a copy of the IDP submission for their suburb can email me with pleasure.

5. Draft rates

The draft rates were presented this week. A rough estimation seems that you will pay just over R200-00 per R1,000,000 on your valuation. Watch this space for public meetings around the budget.

6. Region E and the campaign of excellence

For those residents that do not know. The City of Johannesburg is broken down into 7 regions. We fall under Region E. Historically the problem has been that these regions are really just administrative in nature and do not hold enough power or authority to make important decisions in terms of distributing resources and trouble shooting. For the last few weeks now I have been leading a campaign to try and get more power to the regions. This has culminated in a multi party meeting with the top officials of Region E this Monday. The sole objective to come up with a united proposal to take forward to the City bosses. If successful I can guarantee you instant and visible changes. Hold thumbs.

7.
Report of the CoJ Council meeting of 24 February 2012

Due to the political nature of such a report if you would like a copy please message me privately.

8. Alexandra Ext 7

New rat boxes have been introduced to try and deal with the rat problem. It is unimaginable that in this day and age children, cats and dogs are terrorised by rats that are the size of small dogs. Credit to the City that have really tried a range of interventions but I am hoping the boxes is a final solution. One day I took a reporter and camera man from China TV (CCTV) and it took us only three minutes to find a lady taking out her garbage. She gladly showed us 11 rats killed during the night in her house. No one deserves to live like this!

Buccleuch

A lot of construction is taking place in the area which is having an impact on the naturally green area. Traffic continues to be a major issue thanks to a lack of working robots. However a resident has pointed out a new problem. If you are travelling on the Old Pretoria Road towards town and you turn right onto Woodmead Drive, there is now two lanes that allow for that however the outer lane still has a painted straight only arrow. This means that a person on the outside lane could still go straight whilst a person driving to the left of them has a painted indication that they could turn right. I am hoping that JRA get to this before an accident does. However please becareful of this.

There is a series of meetings taking place at the moment that have been counter productive to reaching any resolution. It seems that people have been stuck in a foliage of emotion and therefore not able to distinguish between fact and fiction. I urge community leaders from all sides to please practice responsible engagement in trying to find the appropriate resolutions. I speak of meetings around the future of the Buccleuch Temple and the hearing around the Masjid. People have asked me why I was not at the hearing and why I objected. Let me make it perfectly clear here on record: I was not at the meeting because the objections and application was before my term of office and I am therefore afforded no rights to attend such a meeting. I also had no one representing me as alleged by some of the emails and tweets. I make myself available to assist where I can in trying to find resolutions to both issues.

I would like to thank BRACE for affording me space in their new newsletter. If you live in Buccleuch you should definitely subscribe to this newsletter through their website as their first edition was highly informative and professionally done.

Greenstone

It seems that parts of Ekhuruleni have already started taking back Greenstone. I have noticed an increase in Ekhuruleni Metro Police visibility but I have still not got official word on if or when Greenstone will go back to Ekurhuleni.

Klipfonteinview

Members of the steering committee and I attended a business networking forum to try and raise project funding and resources for Klipfonteinview. Lets hold thumbs to see what fruits our efforts bear.

A big development will be going up next door Klipfonteinview and at the 11th hour we have secured employment for residents of the community that have the appropriate skills.

Linbro Park

Between water works and road works it all seems to be happening in Linbro Park. However with a lack of refuse collection and a spate of attempted and successful robberies it also seems to not be happening in Linbro Park. Again I humbly request residents to please attend the AGM to be announced shortly. You have to arm yourself with information and give input into the future of the area. It just seems that a majority of the residents prefer to stay in the background until something affects them then all of a sudden you hear a booming and passionate voice.

Modderfontein

It seems like a terrible smell that dawned on the outskirts of Modderfontein can be attributed to a breakdown in a sewerage pump in Illiondale. It seems the sewerage issues are haunting Modderfontein. The new pipes that were meant to be finalized by Ekurhuleni are still laying above ground across from the Modderfontein shops without any resolutions reached yet to take the project forward from where the last contractors left. Credit to Cllr Heather Hart and her community liaison officer, they have been on top of the situation the whole time and are applying pressure to get the project back on track quickly.

Thanks for taking the time. All comment and feedback welcome.

Posted by: darrenbergman | March 4, 2012

Ward 32 Johannesburg newsletter – March 2012


In February I went to Cape-Town with a delegation. We went with an open mind to try and understand the conditions of two major cities governed by two different parties.

The first blaring difference was that we were allowed into the engine room of the City through their open door policy. This is completely different to the last eleven years I have spent on Council whereby officials are unofficially asked not to engage with Councillors and where we usually find a closed door when trying to interrogate important entities such as the call centre.

The second most important difference was on the first piece of paper that I picked up at the Council. The City has a pay line – “The City that works for you”. This is unusually different because it acknowledges the residents as the customer. In an industry built on service if you treat your citizen’s like royalty you are a step ahead of many municipalities in this Country.

However the most important difference was that in Cape-Town exists three key customer solutions that puts the Council closer to its people.

i. A 107 call centre. This call centre can take any emergency call and pass it onto any emergency service within the Cape-Town area. It can direct a caller to any municipal owned entity or refer them to a ward Councillor.

ii. A customer care call centre. This centre has the ability to resolve issues over the phone and log calls for feedback on behalf of the resident. Most importantly it seems as if billing queries can be dealt with and solved over the phone through one call. I do not have to tell you the scenario in Johannesburg as The Star newspaper has done a good job of that already.

iii. Finally and most importantly is that in Cape-Town “Big Brother” is definitely watching. Most of the CBD, most of the major routes and other recognised hotspots are manned by a control room with dispatching capabilities. Imagine living in a city where if you are in an accident or mugged, emergency services know about it at the same time as you!

The strategist in me leapt into gear and I thought I had to look for the blemishes to report in a more balanced manner. I decided that I would time how long it took to find my first pothole. I drove around Sea-Point, CBD, Constantia and Century City but could not find a pothole; could not see long grass anywhere and more importantly I saw police visibility. I did manage to see a few issues like traffic congestion, vagrancy issues and drugs but I came to the safe and honest conclusion that to be a ward Councillor in Cape-Town is like being the Mayor of Paradise compared to what a ward Councillor has to do in the likes of a City such as Johannesburg.

The Star seemed to be on the same page when they published an article about Johannesburg being rated the worst Metro in our Country. The biggest issue in this article was the effect that our direction will take us on service delivery and maintenance of infrastructure. The losers, of course, being the residents. I have now embarked on a campaign with my colleagues to bring more power to the regions to assist with customer care and to ensure more productive spending of the budget. Watch this space!

BILLING ISSUES!!

URGENT PRESS RELEASE – CoJ Billing complaints

The DA’s Billing Assistance Team has been assisting more than a thousand rate payers with billing and revenue queries over the last few months. Although the team is not responsible for the resolution of queries, they have been assisting in escalating matters on behalf of residents and businesses. During the Finance Section 79 meeting on Wednesday 8 February Finance MMC Geoffrey Makhubo requested that no further queries get escalated to the VIP department in the City. His team is currently working on putting together a group who will assist with Councillor escalated queries. He hopes to have these structures in place before the end of the month. Finance Section 79 Chairperson Cllr Solly Mogase also stated during this meeting that although Councillors are public representatives, they are not administrators. He added that one of the requirements for queries to be escalated would be that the resident personally followed up with the City on at least 3 separate occasions.

Residents are therefore informed that that the DA Billing Assistance Team will only be able to provide limited assistance until the new structures are in place. No new billing queries can be escalated and no current billing queries with the team can be followed up. The DA Billing Assistance team will be able to provide limited support with queries regarding opening and closing of accounts and with refunds of credit balances. The Team will also be able to assist with pre termination orders and if electricity and / or water has been disconnected. Prior to the address by the MMC, the DA physically handed over close on 500 outstanding billing queries and requested via email that the Finance Section 79 Committee be updated on the resolution progress at the next meeting. The Democratic Alliance urges all ratepayers to not withhold payment from the City and to make regular payments equivalent to a monthly average. As soon as the City has its structures in place, the public will be advised via the press and the DA Billing Assistance Team will be able to assist accordingly.

WARD COMMITTEES

Ward 32 received quite a few nominations for the ward committees. This is meant to be an apolitical election that looks to elect the most suitable candidates for the right portfolios. This is a super-sized resident association that looks out for the interest of the whole ward. Residents should ensure that the right people are elected in the positions by going out on the polling day to vote.

PLANNED WATER SHUTDOWN

There is a possibility that on the 6th March, most units along Stone Ridge drive will have no water on the day. Due to upgrade of the system.

ALEXANDRA TSUTSUMANE EXT 7

Litter has become a huge problem. Due to the cut down from four trucks to three, it is visibly affecting service delivery. I have also been pleading with Pikitup to please give the residents each a wheelie bin. They have assured me that after the new budget there would be a good chance I will get my way.

BUCCLEUCH

Residents still suffer the consequences of development as the widening of Old Pretoria Road; the laying of fibre optic cables and construction in the area change the dynamics. JRA were on scene this month to have a look at the speed hump proposal and their engineers have come up with an interesting recommendation which will be discussed shortly. However they have stated that Buccleuch does not need any more speed humps in their report. Watch this space.

GREENSTONE

Most of the major complaints have been around billing. However a chronic issue has been street name signs. I have addressed the issue with JRA and hopefully we will be seeing the results shortly.

LINBRO PARK

The 1st road project has been delayed and will hopefully start shortly. One of the reasons has been trying to find suitable land for a site office. LPCA have been trying to assist in this regard.

After a successful meeting with JRA and the LPCA it seems that the road closures of 1st road and the opening of Cluelee Road can all be happening within the next few days.

I still urge residents to be very vigilant when stopping at the London Road intersection into Linbro Park.

MODDERFONTEIN

There have been a few issues on the offramp from the N3 South Modderfontein to Johannesburg. When motorists stop at the yield waiting to enter onto Modderfontein Road, smash and grab thieves come from the highway break the window and steel what is ever on the front seat and then disappear on to the highway and beyond. I have requested, at our sector policing meeting, that SAPS please assist in patrolling the area.

REPORT FROM THE JANUARY COUNCIL MEETING

The Auditor General’s damning report on the City’s 2010/11 Consolidated Statements and Annual Report as reported at the January 2012 Council Meeting, reiterated that the present the billing crises is not a fiction of the mind, but very real. All the broad categories in which billing problems are experienced correspond to issues which the AG has given reasons for qualifying Johannesburg’s 2010/11 Annual report.
Key findings of the Auditor General include:
· in respect of property rates revenue, differences were identified between billing data and source data relating to property categories and market value, without complete audit evidence.
· in respect of service charges revenue, there was no complete audit evidence to sustain the differences between billing data and resource data relating to meter readings and property categories.
· irregular expenditure to an amount of R397,7 m, owing to non-compliance with supply chain management regulations.
· material losses amounting to more than R2 b made up of : R827 m for unaccounted for water, R1,2 for electricity distribution losses and R6 m for cash losses due to banking shortages. The ratepayer will have to foot this bill.

The Annual Report was only laid on the table at the January Council meeting for noting. It is open for public scrutiny at the various People’s Centres. Please forward all comments to desireel@ joburg.org.za by 2 March 2012

Key items that served at the January Council Meeting, ie, the reports for the first quarter of the 2011/12 financial year as well as the Opex and Capex progress reports till the end of October 2011 indicate that no major changes have been brought about in the current financial year and the same financial issues continue.
· The Progress report on the Operating Budget until the end of October 2011 showed a continuation in the significant growth in the debtors’ book which now stand at R14 b, of which 60% are debts older than 150 days. The officials however maintain that the problem is being dealt with. If only 25% of the outstanding R14 b is collected the City will no longer be in financial crises.
· At the end of October 2011, under R0, 5m (13%) of the 2011/12 financial year’s R3,7 b Capital Budget has been spent. Of the Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG) of R1b for the 2011/12 financial year, only R112, 5m (11%) has been spent. The City is at risk that roll- overs of any unspent allocations will be disallowed and that future allocations may be reduced.

Quarterly Reports for the first quarter: July – September 2011
· The Finance Department reported that 93% of all bills had been sent out, compared with the targeted 98%. Of these only 80% were correct against the targeted 95%. Translated in real terms and measured against the City’s ball park figure of 1 million monthly bills, 50 000 bills were not sent out and of those sent out, 150 000 were NOT correct. A report that served before the Section 79 Finance Committee indicated that the City needed to have a collection rate of 105% until June 2012, if the budgeted revenue for the year were to be met. Once again the ANC dismissed these figures by giving the DA voters the blame for not paying their municipal rates and taxes.
· The Health Department which has an excellent track record, will for the first time in ten years overspend with about R16 m. This expected shortfall is the result of the Provincial Health Department not honouring its agreements in respect of subsidies and overtime. In the 2010/11 financial year Province defaulted by R5 m and for the first three months of 2011/12, the shortfall is R16 m.
· Economic Department and its four Municipal entities also bear the brunt of the Council’s precarious financial situation. The roll out of the broadband network which is supposed to facilitate access of electronic communications in the poorer communities cannot go ahead as planned owing to lack of funds to build and/or connect the techno hubs.
· It is alarming that the Johannesburg Property Company which looks after the City’s assets does not have the necessary maintenance funds and this entity needs an operational review.
· Since its formation as a stand alone department, the Environment Department is not able to function optimally due to a lack of synergy between Council Departments. Such formal structures will not come about unless they are initiated by the Mayor and his Mayoral Committee from top down.
· The Billing Crisis has plunged Joburg Water into the red and the transferring of the key accounts back to the management of Joburg Water is welcomed. It is hoped that all accounts will soon be transferred back. While water is a scarce resource more than 36% is still unaccounted for. This loss can be curtailed to a great extent if the problems concerning the pre-paid meters in Soweto and the related vending are sorted out. If these two issues are not resolved the consumer will once again foot the bill in the form of higher water charges.
· Pikitup’s many unfunded mandates are a major cause of its insolvency and all activities of the company will have to be costed and funded before any turnaround strategy can be successful. The closure of the Waterval Garden site which was done by the Johannesburg Property Company without Pikitups’s input is causing much chaos and the procedure must be revisited.
· It was near impossible to monitor Community Development’s quarterly performance as many pages of the report were missing. It is however evident that that department is not performing well in the development of sporting codes in the City, even though sport development is one of the KPI targets
· JRA reached its targets on certain issues during the first quarter because of the Mayor’s accelerated service delivery program. This accelerated programme unfortunately depleted the budgeted annual funds disproportionately. No preventative measures are however taken, resulting in crisis such as being experienced with the City’s robots. Overall the BRT route is in an appalling state owing to poor maintenance.
· The JMPD does not understand ARTO and the pilot implementation thereof is not reaching its purpose either as an instrument to encourage law abiding citizens or as an instrument for revenue collection. The City is yet to meet with someone on National level to finalise the MOU regarding ARTO.
· The report for the Office of the Executive Mayor’s reads like a Court Role as the major part of the activities concern legal action taken against the City. In his 2010/11 report, the AG emphasized that there was no provision made for liabilities that may result from the various current law suites at which the City is defendant. This situation is continuing in the present financial year.
· The asset register, as well as the staff analyses reflecting employment equity, in the Housing Department’s quarterly report were not correct. As the withdrawal of the report as requested by the DA was refused, the DA voted against.

Other issues
· The by law process is only finished when fines are paid or arrests are made when fines remains unpaid. Yet an Oversight Visit to the Municipal Court by the Safety and Security section 79 Committee proved the DA’s repeated warnings that this Court operated sub standard true. Very few of the 250 000 citations issued and delivered ended up in court and warrants going back to 2008, representing lost money to the cash strapped Joburg, were piled in a room.
· Reports on various other oversight visits were filed which are being dealt with in the Section 79 Committees.

As always thanks for taking the time to read this. I always appreciate feedback.

Posted by: darrenbergman | March 4, 2012

Ward 32 Johannesburg Newsletter Feb 2012


An economist from Nedbank once told me that January is the most depressing month of the calendar and that he can pin point the third Monday of the year to be the most depressing day of the year. Blue Monday I thought was a hoax but if you google it, it is real. For those of you thinking well it never affected me, I hate to be the bearer of bad news. It came to pass that on the 3rd Monday of the most depressing month of the calendar that I was informed that the budget of the City is under so much pressure that we are in for a turbulant few weeks until the next budget debate. Now for me I had already made a pledge that I would make my newsletter as optomistic and positive as possible but sometimes I beleive I have a duty to also keep residents informed of where we are. The other day I was driving with a resident from Buccleuch who made the comment that the suburb was really looking bad. I told her that unfortunately it is pandemic across the City. She challenged me on that. I love a challenge so I set out to the best suburbs that I know in the City.

Athol, Sandown, Morningside, Glenhazel, Illovo, Houghton and Westcliff came to mind immidiately. Off I set and by the end of my journey I was not mistaken. You see potholes, illegal dumping, litter, fallen trees, long grass and overgrown shrubbery are litteraly affecting every suburb. These are the symptoms of some very nasty budgetary constraints and ofcourse the boiling frog principle I spoke about in a previous newsletter. However there was a good news ahead. I drove to Bordeaux and saw a lovely suburb with a great entrance and neat suburb. This used to be a suburb burdened with crime and grime. In this instance, a pro-active community guided by a well run residents association, has managed to create an island effect which makes them stick out from the rest of the suburbs.

The equation is simple – proud residents, a productive residents association and the support of the Councillor has translated into action. Infact there is a town in Schwarzer Reynecke whereby residents refused to pay rates and instead clubbed together and paid the monies into a trust account. When a pot hole or street light went out, they used that money to employ the services of a community member to fix the problem. It became evident that the services were being sourced cheaper than what the Municipality could have repaired the faults at and that the turn around times were quick and the repairs were long lasting. I do not advocate that we do not pay our rates and taxes but I use this pertinant story to illustrate the power of a community pulling in the same direction.

As a life coach I often see people that have been sick and just do not get better. When I delve into it you realize that the person got sick the Doctor prescribed medicine AND bed rest. However in this day and age we saw “rat-race” driven that we take the medication and rely on that to help us rather than the two working side by side. The net result is the medicine fixes a few of the symptoms but the problem is not cured and it presents itself in further illness down the road.

In our instance it is important that we rely on Government to fix the problems and provide the services that an elected Government should against the rates and taxes it charges its citizens BUT that the citizens also assist in eliminating the problems and not just the symptoms by not only looking after their houses but the area outside their houses. You will find, like they did in the “broken window” policy areas, that where people start taking care of their own properties it becomes a habit to them and surrounding areas.

Let us make ward 32 the shining light of Johannesburg and let us lead by example.

CAPITAL PROJECT COMES TO WARD 32!!
I am proud to announce that with only 6 months under our belt in this new term, our ward has secured a capital expenditure project worth millions for Linbro Park. I have always said that Linbro Park has been a forgotten suburb that absorbs alot of inconvenience regularly. It was therefore an election promise that we would be able to make cosmetic changes to Linbro Park quickly and I am proud to say that tomorrow a road upgrade and repair will take place. More importantly unemployed residents of Alexandra extension 7 will be employed to work on this project. That is what is called making a suburb work. I ask the residents of LP and those that use the affected roads to please be patient with JRA and the contractors as this project unfolds over the next 6 weeks.

BUDGET CUTS
Budget cuts has already affected us in the grass cutting, robots and street lighting arena. However I encourage you to please keep on logging calls to the right parties and to keep pressure up so that we are not forgotten.
This will hopefully just be a temporary situation until the 1st July 2012 when the new budget year is welcomed in.

BILLING CRISIS
The backlogs and discrepencies that plague Joburg billing are still there. Frustration is at an all time high and it is effecting buyers, sellers and other innocent victims that have been incorrectly billed. Since my last newsletter I have passed on many of these queries. Please if you have an incorrect bill or some other billing issue and you have a reference number that is older than 90 days, please send me your query and lets see what I can do.

We met with a pro-active association in our ward that deals alot with the sectional title units and hopefully we have found a channel to assist them which will translate into assistance of thousands of people under their guidance.

WARD COMMITTEES
If you are interested in standing for a position on the ward committee or if you would like to know anything further please do not hesitate to contact me. We are looking for pro active individuals that can assist the ward and the City in their area of expertise.

http://www.joburg-archive.co.za/2012/pdfs/ward_committee_form2012.pdf

click on the above link to get a nomination form and to see the portfolios available.

Elections for the ward committee will be run like an IEC election with two or three polling stations set up around the ward and voting taking place on a specific day.

This committee will be crucial to the productivity of our ward.

ESKOM
For those of you familiar with current affairs, you would note that Eskom has made a passionate plea to ask residents to please reduce their consumption by at least 10%. This is a serious plea and I can tell you will take a conserted effort by all to ensure that load shedding is not introduced or dangerous black outs.

COUNCIL MEETING
The January 2012 Council meeting was quite a dry session with the quarterly reports being discussed for all the portfolios. Johannesburg is adapting to the leadership of a new Mayor (Cllr Parks Tau) and a new City manager (Trevor Fowler). I am optimistic that this pair will be the best pairing of Mayor and City manager that we have had since my first election in 2000. I hope this will translate to an exciting and productive year ahead for Johannesburg.

QUERY ESCALATION
When you notice something wrong in Johannesburg or you need assistance from the City. Please contact 011-375-5555 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            011-375-5555      end_of_the_skype_highlighting and get a reference number for the call. If the issue is not promptly dealt with, please contact me with that reference number.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and if you know anyone else in the ward please feel free to send this onto them so that we can communicate with them too.

Posted by: darrenbergman | March 4, 2012

Ward 32 Johannesburg newsletter – Jan 2012


I would like to take this opportunity of wishing everyone a prosperous and productive 2012.

 

This is the month of resolutions and I hope that you achieve those goals that you set yourself.

 

WARD COMMITTEES

 

The most important aspect of this month’s newsletter is the ward committees.

 

Every few years a ward committee is elected in each ward. This committee mirrors those committees in Council and acts as a steering committee for the ward. If anyone has the expertise in the following fields and would like to contribute a few hours a month (for little remuneration) please email me so I can pass on details to you.

 

The portfolios on the committee will probably be:

 

Community Development (sports and recreation)

Safety (Metro Police, Emergency services and disaster management)

Economic development

Infrastructure and environment (City Power, Joburg Water and Pikitup)

Health and social development

Finance (Billing and revenue)

Corporate and shared services

Development Planning and Urban management

Housing

Transportation (roads, potholes and bus services)

 

Anyone and everyone is welcome to put their names forward for nomination provided you are on the voter’s roll and are a resident of Ward 32.

 

Watch this space for more details.

 

GREENSTONE DEMARCATION

 

The DA in Ekhuruleni put in a motion to have Greenstone incorporated back into Ekhuruleni. This made sense for many reasons most of all being that the actual infrastructure was that of Ekhuruleni and that most of the services were closer to them in Edenvale. Through a snap survey with key stake holders of the area it was unanimous in agreement that Greenstone would be better off in Ekhuruleni.

 

This was just a proposal and in no way means that this is a done and signed deal. I will report back as information is made available to us.

 

BILLING QUERIES

 

Please note that there has been a surge in billing queries and complaints. For those of you in touch with what is going on in Johannesburg you would have noted that this was a long time coming. We are now in what has to calmly be described as a crisis. This has major implications for people purchasing or selling properties but there are also some residents that have received abnormal accounts and face disconnections if this is not resolved quickly. It is therefore logical that the above mentioned party’s complaints are dealt with as a priority against other less threatening complaints. I would therefore please ask for your patience in this regard.

 

ALEXANDRA FAR EAST BANK EXT 7 PROJECT and KLIPFONTEINVIEW

 

The steering committee and I have begun a project for our communities in both of the above mentioned areas. You would appreciate that we have a lot of residents with skills unfortunately they just don’t have the channel to market these skills. I would passionately appeal to anyone who needs casual labour to please employ from within our ward first. We are compiling a skills audit and references will follow but in the meantime if anyone is looking for labour please can they contact me directly.

 

BUCCLEUCH POLICE STATION

 

The Buccleuch Police Station has been an imperative part of bringing down the crime in Buccleuch to such a level that Buccleuch has a low crime rate. With a low crime rate comes the opportunity for the SAPS members of Buccleuch to assist in a quicker and more efficient manner. A little tip from me is if you need to utilize the services of the police on an administrative level (commissioning documents; opening cases etc) whip down to Buccleuch for quick and efficient services)

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my monthly newsletter.

Posted by: darrenbergman | March 4, 2012

Ward 32 Johannesburg newsletter – Dec 2011


A few years ago during a speech in Council about Johannesburg Metro Police Department I mentioned the boiling frog principle. If you drop a frog into boiling water it will jump out but if you boil the water slowly you get to boil the frog. How aptly can we apply this to the state of our Country our City and for us particularly in Ward 32?

If someone took a snap shot of the areas that make up ward 32 in 2000 and looked at it now one would be understood for believing that we had just been moving downhill. We have!

 

The world in 2000 was such –

Greenstone was just an embryo with a lot of promise to come.

Modderfontein was existing without any major complaints. In fact in 2004 I looked at a house there which cost R450000-00 and by 2010 that very same house was going for R2,500,000.

Linbro Park was the idyllic country suburb – to be honest at that stage I did not even know it existed.

Klipfonteinview was a light informal settlement with plans to absorb the informal settlements of Mayibuye into a new RDP suburb.

Alexandera Tsutsumani Ext 7 did not exist. I stand to be corrected but I think the Olympic Village was the only structure around.

Buccleuch was a self sustained suburb with a lot of green open space.

 

If we take a snap shot in 2011

Greenstone exists, now, with a huge burden on the already heavily burdened infrastructure of the City of Johannesburg. Not only is the infrastructure affected but of course there has been a lot of inconvenience to surrounding residents and motorists using the thoroughfares connecting the East Rand with Johannesburg. I think if you are a resident of Greenstone you are generally complacent to accept that there would be major outages and water issues because as they say – you were warned. I think Greenstone is a great area with a lot of great opportunities and has the model for attracting an emerging target market and young families.

Modderfontein was the first area in this ward I was introduced to. Ten years down the line this area has grown tremendously and the property values have increased with great vigour but unfortunately this has been marred by sewerage overloads, potholed roads and in certain areas an ever present foul stench. If you travel through Modderfontein today you will probably see more graders and trucks then vehicles and a lot of orange beacons and road work signs. The positive is that there is a sense of growth and improvement the negative is that there is an ever changing ambiance to the suburb. If you were a family that invested in Modderfontein 10 – 20 years ago because of the rich heritage and village sense you would now be wondering what the world has in store for the years down the line.

Linbro Park in my opinion is the hardest done suburb in Johannesburg in so many ways. The land owners of this area have been the ultimate boiling frogs. Not to say that the future is total doom and gloom at all because I am certain that with the help of key people we can fight to ensure that we reach the ultimate win-win situation for future residents, current property owners and future initiatives. However if you were a parachutist and your first drop in Linbro Park was in 2000 and your second was in 2011, you would be forgiven for thinking you were landing in a totally different City.

Klipfonteinview is now established and continues to grow. It has been a hugely rewarding journey to see the emergence of the different extensions; the opening of the primary school and the opening of the multi-purpose centre. However there have been huge testaments to a lack of delivery within these wards and this comes when you look at the main road (or the red carpet of Klipfonteinview) the same potholes and sewerage leaks that existed when I first entered in 2004 till the last time I was there last week.

Alexandra Tsutsumane Ext 7 now exists. Huge problems around the basic necessities still exist and are inherent but still a huge improvement from the basic living conditions many of these residents were accustomed to in the past. The challenges are vastly different to those of a traditional suburb and because of the high number of disabled people in the area they challenges are compounded.

Buccleuch is in the process of being redeveloped. A great challenge to the green spaces and limited vehicular entrances exists but on the whole in the last few months we have seen the expansion of the Old Pretoria Road and the improvement of the water system however if one has lived in the suburbs for many years and they reflect to Buccleuch of 2000 they would feel a sense of mixed emotions. The highlights of their thoughts marred by the pollution, the general building grime and the constant threat of urban sprawl swallowing the last few green lungs of the area.

 

I take the time to highlight these issues because I think this ward has a lot of boiling frogs. However some of the boiling frogs have very limited memory capacity and count elections 2011 as the start of existence for ward 32 and others believe that there is no hope and we need to tolerate the general crime and grime because that is how it is. In fact a client of mine has a thriving practice and is responsible for attaining visas for a specific target market of people coming into the Country. Last year with the changes in the department, his business was severely affected. All of a sudden due to backlogs and a collapse of the system, applications that usually took 6 weeks to process are now taking nothing less than six months. A circumstance totally out of his control because he can only work within the context with which he is given. This has led to a loss of many good clients as expected but there are two extra complications that have arisen.

 

  1. Customers become enemies of my friend instead of the department. My friend spends more time on trying to save the relationships and trying to assure his clients that he truly has gone beyond the call of duty then actually doing any productive work and in the end suffers even further delays. I advised him that his time would have been far more productive if he could get his clients lobbying the department for change.
  2. The other risk is that because of the hostilities and loss of clients my friend might have to close his practice. This is sad because a fourteen year old practice is being suffocated by a force beyond his control. He may be giving the best and sincere service and has a great product but the department has not. The net result is that the clients throwing stones at my friend and blaming him are also going to lose out when they realize that there is no one else that can do the job for them and then they hit a point of no return or what I call a loss-loss situation.

 

At this point I realized that my client could have changed some of the words in this story and we would have been left with the story of Ward 32. I immediately saw it that I was the immigration officer and the Joburg Metro was the foreign affairs department. The residents of ward 32 are now clients. I would hate for us to ever get to a point where we are fighting each other whilst the real enemy is not even aware problems exist. We as a collective should be constructively engaging with the right departments in the Metro and spending our time productively in order that we produce collective results. Although I have no intention of closing shop or resigning, the thought should still be made clear – how would things be different under another Councillor of the same or different party. How have things been over the last ten years?

 

These are pertinent questions we have to ask ourselves. On the main I do find most of my interaction with the community at large mostly positive and encompassing but we need to see things for what they are.

 

In 2012 I make a pledge with you, the residents, that we all try and be the frogs that jump out of the boiling trap and all become ideal citizens. Join your local residents associations; engage with your local Councillor and/ or support as many community initiatives as you possibly can. Your investment in time and effort could also be seen as a great investment for the future of both your property prices and your families and future families.

 

To me a model citizen:

-       Educates themselves with the realities around them

-       Understands to a satisfactory extent how things work within a City and ward context

-       Knows their neighbours

-       Has a general sense of responsibility for their homes, gardens and street.

-       Attends community meetings such as CPF, residents associations or sector forums.

-       Support local community initiatives and fun days wherever possible

 

A model Councillor –

- Makes himself available to the community he represents

- Communicates with the residents on an ongoing basis

- Has a presence in the ward

- Is the liaison between Council and the community and visa versa.

- Takes up the issues that are given to him with the relevant department of the Council.

- Attends local community meetings.

- Supports local community initiatives.

- Works in an open and transparent context.

 

Tonight there is an urgent meeting at Linbro Park Tennis Club at 19:00. If you are a property owner this is the one meeting you do not want to miss.

On Thursday night is the BRACE AGM. If you are a resident in Buccleuch and you want to see a great positive change come and get involved better yet volunteer for a position. 18:30 Ceskos Southway.

 

Let our journey as a model community thrive in 2012!

 

Buccleuch

Last week I went with ward governance to Buccleuch. I had a large shopping list which I felt had been ignored that I wanted urgent attention for. I got the reaction I wanted from the officials and I look forward to seeing what is done over the next three months in this regard. A great initiative of BRACE is to have the ward Councillor and ward governance official driving around on a regular basis with a member of BRACE. This is welcomed and provided that we can get the officials to agree this should be mimicked in all the suburbs.

 

I attended the sector 5 meeting and it was going to see that the crime rate in Buccleuch was low. I sincerely urge you all to keep the phone numbers of the sector 5 police vans near your telephones at home and saved on your cellphone. They are practically roaming police stations and in an emergency I would strongly suggest phoning them before 10111. Buccleuch police station does superb work and I would urge you all to drop in and make use of their services as the first port of call when it comes to opening cases as you will find them friendly and efficient.

 

BRACE and the Buccleuch Primary school have submitted a petition for traffic calming measures around the schools. This will be submitted ASAP.

 

Greenstone

 

On the main the issues that are taking my time here are of a billing nature. Please see billing heading below.

 

Watch this space for progress on residents associations in this area.

 

Linbro Park

The RSDF for this ward has been amended and approved for the area. This will allow for densities to rise to 150 units per hectare. A meeting tonight will discuss the way forward in terms of the new RSDF approved.

 

Modderfontein

 

I have been asked to comment on the proposed street names for the two new roads around Centenary Road.

Street 1 will be known as Ardeer Road

Street 2 will be known as Founders Close

Street 3 to be known as Esther Street

Street 4 to be known as Centenary Road.

 

If anyone has an objection to this please let me know ASAP. I will be writing a letter of support on Wednesday.

 

Klipfonteinview

 

A child was knocked over by the primary school which has prompted a petition to be signed and delivered. I will be visiting the family on Wednesday.

 

We have completed a first community initiative of training individuals in first aid. Remember if you have an hour a week and would like to train previously disadvantaged individuals on specific skills. Please let me know.

 

Alex Tsutsumane Ext 7:

 

The major issues are all around housing and getting the ARP to act swiftly where special cases arise. To this end we have set up a series of meetings to deal with these issues.

 

I held a ward governance tour in extension 7 to highlight the housing and sewerage issues.

 

Billing Crisis what crisis:

 

As I write this newsletter in a Region E meeting. I note that there are residents standing in lines reaching the parking area. Judging by the amount of billing emails I receive on an ongoing basis the problem is getting worse and not better. The REAL THREAT at the moment is now cut-offs for those residents still in disputes.

 

IF YOU ARE IN THIS SITUATION PLEASE CONTACT Linus Muller on 0829049223 or if he is unavailable please log a call through the DA office with David Malope 011-407-6356.

 

I want to take this opportunity of wishing everyone everything of the best for the festive season and beyond.

Travel safely and have a great time.

 

Be safe.

 

Posted by: darrenbergman | March 4, 2012

Ward 32 Johannesburg newsletter November 2011


Introduction:

I returned from Australia, after winning a wonderful prize, the other day. Part of me felt like a baby that had just come out of the birth canal…I wanted to go back.

I had nearly forgotten what it meant to live in South-Africa. However this feeling lasted only a few minutes as I switched on my phone on touch down and started getting all news and messages. I had missed the murders, robberies, threats of xenophobic violence and crooked politicians again exploiting the emotions of the poor to justify an end to their means. Yes folks I thought it would be easier to be back in Oz.

It took a few more seconds to be armed with the belt of tension, stress and awareness that one has to acclimatise to when entering our shores. I was back. South-Africa is unique in many ways. We have the ability to be a developed Country and a threat of being a third world Country in amongst a changed culture to the Government of old seen through by the Government of current. All the while, adapting to the challenges that face us on a daily basis, as the hard hit residents of this Country face the challenges that smack them on a daily basis. There are many reasons why this Country is known as the land of hope. However the most pertinent is that people on a daily basis are driven by the hope that one day they will see this Country reach the potential it has.

I am faced on a daily basis with the challenge to a person’s hope as they battle the elements of potholes; power outages; water outages and a general increase in the level of grime. I speak of loyal people that faithfully pay their rates and taxes and beg nothing great in return except for some form of return on their rates and taxes. It is to you the resident of Johannesburg, reading this newsletter, that I carry on trying to ensure that we get you the best deal on your taxes, no matter how hard the challenge is in trying to tap into the limited resources of this monster we know as Johannesburg.

Alexandera Tsutsumane Ext 7:

My first sms I received when I landed in New Zealand was to inform me that a group of people were going to cause xenophobic violence in my area. This is dangerous as we have seen how quickly it escalates to injury and death. With a few choice placed phone calls it seems we were able to avoid a disaster. However the situation remains tense and we need to deal with this challenge and try and put it to bed once and for all.

We finally received judgement that Ext 10 does not fall into ward 32 and in fact belongs to ward 105. This was important as both officials and Councillors went to the residents and the press and informed them that I was the ward Councillor. For months I tried to explain to all and sundry that the IEC which sets the demarcations and is the only authority in this regard placed Ext 10 into ward 105. I finally penetrated the logic of many when I produced the ward maps and our regional director received confirmation from the IEC.

A house was severely damaged in a fire in our part of Alexandera. Three adults and two young children were the victims in what is believed to be an arson attack. Thanks to the generosity of people that saw my plea on facebook and twitter we were able to deliver them blankets and food. That was the easy part – now we need to try and get their house fixed to at least a safe enough standard to protect the children.

Buccleuch:

I came back to some of the most devastating pictures as a resident of Buccleuch emailed me pictures of her dead Koi fish. Victims of the Eskom power outages. Eskom informed her that they are not responsible because she should have back up provisions for at least 24 hours in the event of a power outage. I mention this story first because I think it is important that we all take a lesson from this if we have property or people that are reliant on a constant power supply. We are entering a phase whereby electricity supply is not consistent and it is always better to be cautious and prepare for the worst. We have asked Eskom to please replace the faulty circuit breakers that seem to fail when it storms. This will hopefully happen shortly. I was at a fundraiser at Buccleuch Primary today and the circuit breakers failed again whilst we were there.

I got a hostile email from a resident in Buccleuch asking me whether I had ever been in Buccleuch because even a blind man would see the dirt and clutter in the area. I diplomatically asked her if she had driven around Johannesburg because even a blind man would notice that this pandemic is widespread. Sometimes I think certain residents believe being a Councillor is like a garden service. We drive around all day with a team of people and as soon as we happen upon a problem we get out and fix it. Unfortunately it is important that I try and deliver the reality here. I am not allowed to order officials to do anything it is against the standing orders of our Council. I also do not have the power of x-ray vision which allows me to see into every corner of my ward all the time, I actually rely on you the resident to please let me know when there is a pothole, power outage or water outage etc and let me help you from there. Your first port of call would be the call centre on 011-375-5555 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            011-375-5555      end_of_the_skype_highlighting and then if you did not get any joy there as an escalation would be to contact me. Either way as I always say when you at the point when you think should I contact Darren Bergman or not – PLEASE DO. I am always there for you.

A lot of construction and development is taking place in Buccleuch at the moment. The widening of the Old Pretoria Road and the improvement to the water system has left the suburb in a lot of dust and disruption for now. This is short term pain for long term gain. I plead with residents to please be patient and exercise a higher degree of tolerance around this time as it will ultimately be for the betterment of the suburb.

BRACE held a vote for speed bump installations. The outcome of this vote was the following roads:

-Police Station going down towards the Garage / Shops on Buccleuch Drive – 14 Votes.
Under N3 bridge by Shopping area: – 10 Votes.
Between Margaret Avenue & the N3 Bridge: -9 Votes.
Gibson West Before Traffic Circle: – 9 Votes.
Muller Street South – 8 votes.
Bridge Road from Muller North – 7 votes.
Watch this space for developments around this issue.

Greenstone:

I am looking for volunteers to please start a residents association within the area. Please contact me if you are interested. One of my deliverables for my term will be to establish a community association for the area.

Klipfonteinview:

An exciting project has been launched at the multi-purpose centre. If you have a skill that you think could be beneficial to previously disadvantaged individuals and you would like to volunteer one day a month to educate then please message me and we can take it forward.

A big Christmas party has been planned for 80 children at a crèche in Klipfonteinview which is needed and appreciated in such a poor area of our City.

Linbro Park:

One of my election promises coming into this ward, was to try and unite the residents of Linbro Park. They are facing a possible bleak future and have one real shot at trying to influence the direction of their suburb. On Monday evening if you are a resident THIS IS ONE MEETING you should NOT miss. It takes place at the tennis club at 7pm and if you value your property you will make the effort to be there. I urge all the stake holders in Linbro Park to please take a uniformed approach on the way forward and to please put aside personal and historic differences to ensure that Linbro Park comes out with a win-win situation for all.

Modderfontein:

The sewerage upgrade is nearing completion and the land where they have been digging seems to be rehabilitated.

Noticeboard:

CRIME:

Please take note that every year as we enter the festive season there is a spike in contact crimes. You are urged to be vigilant at shopping centres; at work and at your homes. Kidnapping has been steadily increasing and we now average around ten kidnappings a day according to the current crime statistics. Please take all pre-cautions to protect yourself and your loved ones over the next few weeks. The best weapon is knowledge and I urge you to attend your local sector or CPF meetings to find out the trends in your area.

GDS2040:

This process has been finalised and I thank all the ward 32 residents that gave input into this process.

IDP:

I will be submitting the IDP input for ward 32 on Monday. I want to thank all the different areas for their input. I have submitted Buccleuch’s IDP submission as is because it was such a comprehensive report.

Once again thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter and remember I welcome any feedback.

Posted by: darrenbergman | March 4, 2012

Ward 32 Johannesburg newsletter September 2011


WARD 32 IN BRIEF FOR SEPTEMBER 2011

 

I had some really great feedback from residents and it really was nice to engage. I really do appreciate your feedback and look forward to more. Please find my September updates:

 

Greenstone:

 

I must be honest in this area, I am desperately trying to get a residents association going. Please if you have friends or family in the area that you think would be great to assist in this regard PLEASE can you forward them this newsletter for their special attention.

 

Modderfontein:

 

The sewerage pipe upgrade has been delayed due to the huge trees that are blocking the final joint. With the assistance of the DA Councillor in Illiondale – Heather Hart this has been finalized and the project has since resumed.

 

I have been getting Johannesburg Roads Agency to fix the potholes as and when they arise but unfortunately there is not much to do about the stench.

 

I have been invited to attend the AECI –CAER meetings on a monthly basis which deals with pollution and other such issues in the area. If there is anything specific you would like me to raise for you please do not hesitate to email me in this regard.

 

Linbro Park:

 

I attended the Linbro Park Community Association AGM last Thursday night. As the guest speaker I was taken aback by the fact that Linbro Park is probably at the lowest point it has ever been and yet so few property owners were concerned enough to attend. I stressed that the next few weeks are crucial to the future of Linbro Park as we move to more certainty. It is important that the LPCA is given both active and productive support so that for once Linbro Park can all sing off the same song sheet and hopefully achieve a very positive outcome to their future.

 

On the back of this meeting I must mention that I really had an awesome afternoon on Linbro Park day. Dave and Danielle hosted a great get together whereby residents of Linbro Park came and engaged on various issues. I think it is fair to say that we drank lots, ate lots and were very merry. I look forward to more of those meetings. The more that join us I am sure the merrier.

 

Tsutsumane Ext 7:

 

Hardships have really hit Alexandra on many occasions. Tsutsumane Ext 7 is no exception. It was a blessing to be able to have over a 100 trees planted in this area. Unfortunately the day started off with a major glitch when I was directed to Ext 10 to plant the first tree. I queried why I would be doing this in another Councillor’s area when my area could suffice. I was then dropped a major bombshell!

Again I need to reiterate here that my ward spans a huge length which makes it one of, if not, the biggest wards in the City and Province. Ward 105 next door can fit into my ward twenty times at a quick glance. Now the bombshell was that Tsutsumane Ext 10 is in my ward. This was contrary to what the IEC ward maps stated and would be extra work load on an already hugely under-resourced area. I tried to correct everyone but perception perceived is perception achieved.

 

I made it clear to the community that I would help them even though in my mind it was clear that I am not the ward Councillor for this area. I immediately set about to trace the facts and to find out why the Councillor for Ward 105 was telling residents that I was the ward Councillor for that area. Well this has proven to be hard and worse than this I was chased by a journalist on this story who also wanted clarity. She gave up the chase last week and decided to just publish an article which quoted one of the region officials claiming that Ext 10 indeed belonged to me. Watch this space as I try uncover the truth. I can understand why no-one would want this part for their ward because people have moved in without electricity and water. It seems that not many residents knew that they will only get basic services in late October.

 

Over the weekend I introduced a steering committee that would assist me in ensuring that all complaints were dealt with in a more coherent manner. This is a highly politicized area and a lot of people are yet to get to grips with the fact that not only do they have a DA ward Councillor but the ward Councillor is white. In time to come I hope to show everyone that it is not about the party badge or card it is just about the upliftment of the community as a whole regardless of colour, race or creed…or political membership.

 

On Heritage day we handed out over 250 food parcels to orphan children. Each child also received a gift. If anyone from the suburbs is ever interested in attending such functions please email me and let me know and I will invite you.

 

Buccleuch:

 

Well this month has been pretty quiet in Buccleuch except for the traffic chaos on the Old Pretoria Road. JMPD Outsurance pointsmen are definitely making the situation easier. I have also put pressure on JMPD to please ensure a presence during peak hours.

 

There is threat of another vagrant making his home in Buccleuch. Please can I stress that as soon as a resident witnesses something like this taking place that they report it to either SAPS or Metro Police. The most important thing they have to ensure is to get a case or reference number. With Metro Police you can contact 011-490-1630 but this must be done within 72 hours of the vagrant moving in.

 

Klipfonteinview:

 

Klipfonteinview has become an area of focus for potential project sponsors. After thorough negotiations we are now moving into the planning phase which will see us transforming a mundane and monotonous multi-purpose centre becoming a multi-purpose centre that caters for all and will endeavor to train and develop people through exciting projects. If you have specific skills that could be of benefit to under privileged individuals such as clothes making; baking; computers etc please let me know and I will always add you to the project schedule. Better yet if you are looking to employ people as drivers, waiters, caterers, clothes makers please let me know and lets try keep it local. 

 

General:

 

GDS2040

 

The Growth and Development Strategy 2040 team have been going on road shows dealing with various aspects of Johannesburg and trying to create a vision and goals for the year 2040.

 

I remember when I first became a Councillor and we were looking at the strategy for 2010 and it seemed so far away seeing we were only in the year 2000. Now 2040 seems a lifetime away but the sad thing is with the way time is flying it is probably also just around the corner.

 

If you would like to give input into what you believe our region needs to focus on PLEASE attend the GDS2040 open day on the 1st October 2011 at 9:30am. This will take place at the Jabula Recreation Centre in Sandringham. For further details you can contact me.

 

This summit is for individuals with specific expertise that could help local Government. On the day you will join the pertinent commission and give your input then.

 

Ward Committee:

 

I would like to take this opportunity to speak about the Ward Committee elections. This will take place shortly. A proper election takes place for committee members that will serve for two and a half years and perhaps only have to meet once a month.

 

The ward committees could be made up of committee members from various stakeholder units eg: youth, disabled and woman or it can be comprised of the mayoral committees such as health, safety, town planning and health etc.

 

It would be great to have a committee of committed individuals with the expertise that can really make our committee a productive group. If you are interested please start canvassing people to attend the meeting and to please vote for you. As soon as I have a date, time and venue I will be sure to communicate this to all.

 

IDP:

 

Finally it is important to note that at the beginning of every term of office the City gives the community the chance to engage on requesting a budget for projects for the ward in order to enhance the Integrated Development Program. I would appreciate a co-coordinated effort through your local residents or community association but I will also take your personal submissions emailed directly to me.

 

Little tidbits:

 

-          Residents shocked to receive the increases in their rates due to electricity tariff increases.

-          City Power is introducing their pre-paid meters. They plan to phase this in completely and replace the conventional system. I would suggest that if you could convert to the prepaid meter now at no cost that you do so. In the future there will possibly be a replacement fee.

-          BRT bus drivers still on strike

-          Outrage in the press over the City Manager earning over R2,000,000 pa and a bonus.

-          http://www.mobilitate.co.za is a nifty website launched to receive your municipal complaints as well as monitor crime in your area.

-          You can also follow Ward 32 Johannesburg on Facebook or follow me on twitter under darrenbergman

 

Posted by: darrenbergman | March 4, 2012

Ward 32 Newsletter – August 2011


To say I have hit the ground running is an understatement.

I think for a new parent who took the plunge to start his own consultancy and continue in politics it was always going to be hair raising but actually winning a ward that was never ever meant to be won by the DA makes that risk even scarier. I have to say this, to put it in context, but in terms of opportunity cost I nearly almost end up paying to be a Councillor. I suppose as Helen Zille says,” politics is not a job it is a vocation.” You see the truth is that most people do not understand the job of a Councillor but scarier than that is that some of the most educated residents cannot distinguish between a community representative and the actual party running the City. I attach my next newsletter that will speak about the Council and Councillor but more importantly how we as a community can benefit from the system.

In this newsletter I would like to address the following:

-My first 100 days in Council

- Understanding a Councillor’s role and duties

- Public meetings and the IDP

- Reporting issues and how to get hold of me

MY FIRST 100 days in Council

I still remember after finding out on the night of the 18th of May that I had won the ward and achieved the impossible. .After falling asleep at 4am that night, I was awoken to a phone call from a Buccleuch resident. I thought it was amazing that this would happen so soon but this set the tone for the days and weeks to follow. In fact after the first week the tallies were Buccleuch 100 and the rest of the ward about 12.

I was still shell shocked for a while that I actually had won. In fact I began to suspect that judging by the lay of the land the ANC did not want to win this ward. You see this ward is something of a weird dynamic it runs from Greenstone through to Modderfontein, Linbro Park, picking up Tsutsumane Ext 7 before ending in Buccleuch but then goes down to Midrand where it incorporates a township called Klipfonteinview. Buccleuch have had a DA Councillor before whilst the other areas were always under an ANC Councillor. I have often spelt out in previous newsletters and manifestos that this lead to regional focus rather than ward focus. What was more startling is that this ward incorporates some of the newest areas with some of the oldest; some of the wealthiest with some of the poorest and some of the most urbanised with some of the most rural areas which leads to one simple question…why? Where is the logic in taking a few hundred square meters of Alexandra and putting it in a ward as an appendage? Where is the logic in bringing an area like Klipfonteinview from Region A in Midrand into Region E in Sandton?

Well when you start hearing some of the plans for the Alexandera Renewal Project you begin to realize that ward 32 will be the ward of the future. This will be how all other wards will follow suit and we are merely guinea pigs in this experiment. So for better or for worse we are now married and committed to making this work.

To understand the ward in context, we need to visit a DA run municipality called Midvaal. This ward is nearly the same size of Midvaal. Except in Midvaal you have around 8000 officials and over 13 Councillors that work the area. Now in the ideal world that would be what Ward 32 needs to be as effective as Midvaal.

However that is in the ideal world and seeing I am a realist I work to make things happen within the very limited context within which we all as DA Councillors battle it out on a daily basis. I often wonder whether the ANC Councillors have the same problem in Cape-Town but I honestly doubt it. It was therefore important for me to try and get to set up correct networks in the six suburbs of ward 32. This has proven to be a great challenge considering that there are only two or three active residents associations in my ward. It made sense to start with Buccleuch considering they seemed to be the bulk of the complaints and the biggest community in the ward. Considering information that I was getting from Region E and the communication networks of Linbro Park I could see that I had to get dirty quickly in that area too.

However things were not meant to be when the smallest portion of my ward started protesting at not having water in Alex. Tyres were burning and crowds were shouting and toyi-toying. They were holding me accountable for the fact that water had not been delivered in five days. I knew that the water outage had been communicated and I knew that the rest of Alexandra was without water I just did not know that the politicking to win the ward back from other parties would start that day. I was threatened with my life but I informed the crowd that they would have to kill me because I was not leaving them until either the water arrived or a water tanker. The actual story can be found on my blog but to cut a long story short, I nearly died for a cause that was not my cause to die for. If residents were more educated around what the Councillor was responsible for and what the City is meant to deliver I would have been toyi-toying with them and we would have achieved the result I achieved in the end anyway. This taught me that my first project in the ward was to manage perceptions on what a Councillor can, cannot, should and should not do. Not just for the sake of my life but also for the benefit of the community understanding how to get the most of the system. I started in Alexandra as I created a database of people that would assist me in creating a communication channel and also ensure that we would engage constructively and not through violence. In Klipfonteinview and Buccleuch these channels already existed to a large extent. I was grateful to the outgoing ward Councillor of Buccleuch and for my efforts in Klipfonteinview being able to create a solid communication platform there.

I then went to the Region E orientation session where I heard more about the Alexandra Renewal project. I immediately made contact with the Linbro Park Community Association and recognised them as the formal structure in which I would work through for that area.

To give you a fair idea about the amount of complaints I have dealt with in ward 32. I buy those cheap pocket notebooks from Pick n Pay. I am on my third one. My region E report back list has not been below 8 printed pages every month. This not only shows that the ward has issues but thankfully it also shows that a lot of people know who their ward Councillor is and how to access me.

Through the nature of the complaints I was able to put together a full ward 32 strategy. This strategy is listed with short term and long term issues that will hopefully be populated more with further input from the residents and by the end of the term have more ticks then crosses. You see it has been important for me to take a snapshot of the ward in its current form as I create the field file for this ward. In a nutshell in the last 100 days I have learnt that Greenstone leaks their sewerage onto Modderfontein which erodes their roads and creates a horrible stench. Greenstone themselves are plagued with constant power outages and an ever increasing drain on infrastructure that I am not sure can cope under the demands. Driving from Alex into Linbro Park and through to Klipfonteinview I often feel that they, currently, have the same look and feel. All are suffering from water outages, pressure and blocked sewers. Constant electricity outages and general grime around the area just add further salt to injury. Finally Buccleuch seems to be the flagship of ward 32 as the new entrant. Here the issues are the road upgrades; traffic calming and pollution.

To round off the 100 days in office I am happy to report that based on my region E complaints roll I am able to solve over 80% of the queries given to me and within the expected turn around times. My next 100 days will be devoted to public meetings where I can get to engage more personally with residents of every suburb. Starting with Linbro Park day on the 10th of September. Feel free to contact me for further info on this.

The bottom line to steal a line from one of the most productive police forces in the world – I am here to serve and protect.

Understanding a Councillor’s role and duty

When you go and vote in a local Government election you cast two votes. One of the votes goes to a person and the other goes to a party. Who ever wins the majority vote in the ward under the personal ballot makes that person a Councillor for the ward. The majority of the party votes polled allows that Party to assume control of the City in terms of its executive and administrative duties. The ward Councillor is the elected representative of your ward that is called upon to represent the ward at Council and to communicate and educate the ward on Council. Over the last few weeks it has been very evident just how confused residents are in separating the functions and holding the right people to account. Be proud if your Councillor is scoring victories in getting complaints resolved that are logged with him; be proud if you are aware of the Integrated Development Process and if you know your Councillor and how to access them and what to access them for. Understand that your Councillor does not get a budget; is not allowed to order officials around and has to be mindful of the fact that there are 129 other wards.

Over the last 100 days I have been surprised and shocked at some of the interactions I have had with people. I mention some of them to firmly illustrate my point of view:

In one instance a resident calls me to tell me about a stench coming from the property next door. He informs me that it is an abandoned property so I warn him that Joburg Water is going to have to come to him. We end the conversation and I report the issue. I fight with the official over the fact that because it is a sewer problem it does not matter whether it is on a private property or not. I finally convince the official to go. They arrive within 48 hours of the complaint except no one is home and the domestic worker is briefed not to answer or allow anyone in. JW go home. I get an apologetic email from the complainant and a request that they please phone him directly the next time they come. I explained that this might take a while longer considering they had just been and work on a priority system. Within a few days I receive another email asking for someone else’s address higher than me. I questioned this and asked him whose number he would like? I also informed him that in the 130 wards he would battle to find a faster turn around time than what has been achieved. He wrote back to tell me he would take it to Helen Zille and that he does not care whether we are quicker than anyone but he demands service from his ward Councillor. I thought instead of informing him that Helen Zille had no better contacts than me in my region and that she would deal through me to get something sorted out in this ward and that he had received better service because I believe in best service all the time, I would just shut my mouth send him his reference number and let him chase up the query himself. Now in this instance I am proud to get JW to the property in 48 hours. I am proud that I argue to get this call taken up. I would understand the complainant being upset when they had not arrived a week later. What I cannot accept is a person demanding service that is beyond the scope of any Councillor. It must be understood that this is not some cellphone network helpline whereby the customer can get something fixed in real time. This is Johannesburg and we operate within that framework. In the last ten years taxpayers are suffering the effects of a whole bunch of sub local structures forming one big monstrous Metro City. I cannot order an official to do something however I can monitor and push for a result and whilst I am doing that I am sure 95% of the people reading this would agree I am doing what is asked of me.

Another resident was very supportive of me during elections and we fast became firm friends. He lives in an area plagued by constant power outages, potholed roads and the occasional water issues. He recently sold up his property due to the degrading of the suburb. He has sent me a good few letters thanking me for when he knows I have done something in the ward like getting potholes fixed or alternative electricity arrangements but then all of a sudden one day he turns on me. This comes in a week where his water, power and roads are low, cut and potholed. He blames me directly and accuses me of not fulfilling my election promises. His arguments are around the fact that because Linbro Park does not look like Cape-Town and Midvaal I am a bad Councillor. This shows that this person cannot grasp the difference between a ward and a City but worse than that is he does not understand how the Councillor fits in the normal framework. This is a dangerous situation because when you start blaming Councillors for things that are out of their scope you start negating all the achievements that have been achieved to date. This is when the dangers of group mentality arise.

In another example a person phones me at lunch time to warn me that her drain is blocked in extension 7. I report it. They phone me at 5pm again to say nothing has happened. I follow up and warn them that this is an emergency because knowing the area, the sewer would overflow and leak. I phone again at 23:00 that night and ask them to please escalate it and ensure that something is done that night. Next morning I phone to find out and I hear that children had to sleep in the leak. Frustrated I contact a service manager and ask him to meet me there. He tells me it is the weekend and that he does not live near there. I phone the call centre and end up in a screaming match with the person at the other end. I get in my car and go to the scene and phone in a favour or two and all of a sudden a private contractor is there within 30 minutes. Now for me personally I am happy that I have achieved although the poor situation of kids having to sleep in that squalor but the sad part is that residents are holding the Councillor to account when a whole side of officials are allowed to evade the finger pointing. I illustrate this not to wine or moan but to just show how easy it is to get lost in the judgement.

Please understand that the above are live examples to just put you in the picture of what is grey area and what is black and white for me. I have never had a problem with work and definitely not with responsibility. I am also happy to take it on the chin even when I might not be responsible but the bottom line is this ward is a major challenge and the more done together constructively and productively the more chance we have of achievement. I see this as a partnership between the community and myself and you have elected a person that will fight on your behalf and deliver on the promises he makes.

Public meetings and Integrated Development Process (IDP)

Over the next three months I will be hosting 2 public meetings a month. This will be achieved before 2012. This will be introductory in nature and will hopefully lead to constructive and productive Q&A sessions. I am trying to identify good spots in each suburb to host tables whereby people can come and speak to me about queries they have. I look forward to your ideas for areas in your suburb please.

More importantly by mid September I will need a list from every area on what they believe is needed and crucial for the ward. This wishlist could be populated by anything such as schools, clinic, electricity substation, tarred roads, speed bumps etc etc

Please start working through your local residents association or emailing me directly.

Reporting issues and getting hold of me

For any road, power, water or billing issue or any other issue not mentioned of a Municipal nature. You should try and contact 011-375-5555 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            011-375-5555      end_of_the_skype_highlighting and report it to them and get a reference number. If you believe that the case is not being dealt with, then by all means, pass it on to me.

The rule of thumb is when in doubt on who to call or what to report PLEASE phone or email me. I am happy to try and assist when and wherever I can. In my signature below I also give some useful email and website addresses.

Below on my signature I have also shown all my contact details. For those of you using Twitter please follow me on darrenbergman.

Finally thanks for reading this. In the future you can expect a far more detailed report back from Council and other informative subjects.

Remember we need to always have the long term goal in mind and when you feel that everything is failing and falling down always remember that you have an ally in me that has a long term picture of his own and the bottom line is – WE will be the future model ward for how to handle diversity and redress.

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