Saturday, February 27, 2016

If you can't beat them, join them!


Take a long hard look at the Brisbane City Council election sign above. It's what happens when you have political "leadership" that's weak on ethics and honesty; one that doesn't think twice about trashing a branding image for political gain.
Independent councillor Nicole Johnston has clearly decided if you can't beat them, you may as well join them. She has either decided to use the council's official branding cleat which is against the rules, or she's adopted the LNP/Team Quirk's copycat version of it. The Independent has long argued the average Brisbane voter couldn't possibly tell the difference.
Which begs the question: will the LNP/Team Quirk take legal action against Ms Johnston for infringing upon their intellectual property, their branding image? The Independent doubts it very much.
Below is a sample of the real City Council branding "cleat" and what Team Quirk used in 2012. Council rules are strict and say it must not be used for political purposes.
Don Gordon-Brown


Friday, February 26, 2016

Team Quirk tricking and conning voters: Harding

Labor’s pick to run City Hall has labelled Lord Mayor Graham Quirk’s use of "pseudo" city council branding in political advertising as a dishonest ploy to trick and con voters.

And Rod Harding (pictured) challenged Team Quirk and the LNP to stand on their own records and plans rather than "try and cheat to win votes".

"For a political party like the LNP to use the council colours and ‘pseudo brand’ is just not being honest with voters," Mr Harding said in response to questions put by The Independent. "The integrity of the Brisbane City Council’s corporate brand is being put into question by the LNP.

"It’s not appropriate for any candidate to be using the Brisbane City Council design to try and trick voters. This has been a long-standing ploy by the LNP in my opinion. To not only trick voters, but go down the road of politicising the organisation and bureaucracy. Candidates shouldn’t try and cheat to win votes, they should stand on their own record and plans for our city.
"It’s clear that Team Quirk and the LNP are attempting to con voters and trash the Brisbane City Council reputation along the way, but I really think voters are seeing through this ploy and would rather myself and other candidates focus on real issues such as addressing bad development being approved against the community’s wishes, investing in public transport to cut congestion, and providing better basic services across the city."

Mr Harding said Labor councillors have long been questioning the LNP’s tactics and had formally written to the CEO of Brisbane City Council raising their concerns.

"Sadly these concerns have not been adequately addresses by the council. I believe residents deserve to be treated with respect and given more credit than Team Quirk currently gives them.

"If elected as Lord Mayor and on behalf of every one of my Labor candidates running in the election, I commit to honouring council’s marketing, communications and advertising policy which clearly outlaws this sort of electioneering," Mr Harding said.
Below: Team Quirk footpath banners from the 2012 council elections, with the legitimate council branding "cleat" shown at right. 
Editor's note: It is against council rules to use the official branding image for political purposes. Graham Quirk denies using the council cleat. Personally I think he should have gone to Specsavers.


Taking logic to a new dimension


An exclusive Independent survey of how the Brisbane City Council’s official cleat appears in public shows that Team Quirk’s copycat version sits right in the middle of the dimensions of the yellow and blue blocks used on the official branding image.

Our survey makes a mockery of any piece of tricky, sneaky, fancy legal footwork that Graham Quirk relies on (not that he's ever been prepared to tell us) to make his bold claim that the LNP does not use the council cleat. With that claim comes the unspoken assumption that your average Brisbane person could tell the difference, which is an absolute nonsense. 
The council’s CEO Colin Jensen told The Independent last year that he had examined Team Quirk political material from 2012 and while the colours were the same - we had plenty of hardcopy evidence of that anyway - he couldn’t defend the council’s intellectual property because the dimensions of the blocks Team Quirk were not "exactly the same". We asked for those dimensions but Mr Jensen refused or forgot to supply them.

But does it matter? Even if somewhere deep in the administrative bowels of City Hall, guidelines do indeed exist as to what the real city council "cleat" dimensions are, Mr Jensen has done a very poor job in enforcing them.
For our exclusive investigation we chose the Valley mall and its immediate environs, right in the heart of LNP councillor Vicki Howard’s Central ward. It's probably safe to say that no candidate used the copycat council cleat in 2012 more than just-a-humble-citizen-at-the-time Vicki Howard.

From the back of buses, to bus timetable signs, to safe precinct signs, to leaflets on what’s happening locally, to rubbish bins, the blue and yellow blocks on the council’s official cleat vary in dimensions from short and fat, to square, to slightly elongated, to very tall and thin. And Graham Quirk and his Team Quirk candidates would know that more than anyone.
So when the LNP/Team Quirk print political election material with blocks of colour exactly the same as the council cleat - as admitted by Mr Jensen - when they put them down the left-hand-side of political documents exactly where the official cleat goes and when no reasonable person could possibly tell any real difference, then we say they’ve used the council cleat. If it looks like the cleat, if it’s positioned like the cleat, if it has alternating blocks of yellow and blue like the cleat, then it’s the cleat!

It’s why we believe Lord Mayor Quirk lied to this paper – and you, its readers – several years ago when he said Team Quirk candidates didn’t use the cleat in 2012. They most certainly did. As they are again now.
But let’s put this nonsense to bed once and for all with the one final public example of the official council cleat that The Independent thinks is an absolute doozey that perfectly sums up the con that Team Quirk is perpetrating on the public.

Pasted on the window of one entertainment Valley mall venue is a very serious council edict (see right) on the importance of following council health rules about food standards. It has the tallest, skinniest blocks this paper has ever seen.
The author was none other than that brave defender of the council's intellectual property and branding image, Colin Jensen, and we are absolutely confident that he seriously believed the points he was making were being reinforced in the venue owner’s mind by the use of the council’s official cleat.
Don Gordon-Brown

A cowardly silence: it's what we're used to


LNP state director Lincoln Folo has failed to answer questions from The Independent over the ongoing use of a copycat council cleat by Team Quirk candidates.

This paper believes its readers would regard as fair and reasonable the questions put to Mr Folo as the person who authorises election material carrying the copycat council cleat. The questions are similar to ones Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and Central Ward councillor Vicki Howard have refused to answer for years.

Here are the questions asked and the preface to them:

In the run-up to the 2016 Brisbane City Council elections on 19 March, you and/or other LNP officials are authorising LNP/Team Quirk material that uses a pattern of alternating blue and yellow blocks down the left hand side of all sorts of political material, from roadside billboards to footpath candidates’ signs to all sorts of leaflets/pamphlets
Accordingly we seek prompt answers to the following questions:

1. Do you share The Independent’s view that Brisbane residents should always obey both the spirit and the letter of Brisbane City Council rules and bylaws?

2. As LNP state director, do you believe that in using the design features mentioned above, the LNP and Team Quirk are obeying both the spirit and the letter of that council rule that bans the use of the City Council’s intellectual property – its branding “cleat” of alternating blue and yellow blocks run vertically down the left-hand side of official council material - in political material?

3. Do you accept that the dimensions of the blue and yellow blocks used on official city council material vary widely as seen by the public?

4. Do you also accept that if just one voter in Brisbane thinks what the LNP/Team Quirk are using is the council cleat, then that’s one too many?

5. Lord Mayor Quirk told the Brisbane Times recently that the colours being used on Team Quirk material in 2016 are different from the official cleat, yet the council’s CEO told The Independent last year after examining material used in the 2012 campaign that the colours were the same. Has Lord Mayor Quirk lied to the media? Or has the LNP subtly changed the colours used for this current campaign? If so, please explain any such differences.

  6. Looking at the attached image of one LNP/Team Quirk north-side billboard that is clearly political as it proclaims it was not produced at council expense, please explain fully to our readers why you believe, if there are any differences in those blue and yellow colours or indeed in the dimensions of those blocks of colour from those of the official council cleat, they are sufficient that any reasonable Brisbane voter – for example, a motorist driving past - could not have possibly mistaken one for the other?

7. The Independent has long argued that the LNP/ Team Quirk have deliberately used such a design feature to make voters – The Independent argues most - think it’s the council cleat. If you disagree with that then why are they using it?

8. The Independent has long argued that the use of the copycat council cleat in LNP/Team Quirk political material is done for no other reason than to link Team Quirk with the council’s name so that Team Quirk becomes the council’s official election team, thus giving it an electoral advantage, one we argue is unfair, unethical and politically dishonest. Assuming you disagree with that view, please explain why we are wrong.

9. If you have been or unwilling or unable to explain why the design the LNP/Team Quirk use is sufficiently different from the council's official cleat that the average Brisbane voter could tell the difference, do you undertake, in the interests of local politics played openly, honestly and cleanly and on a level playing field, to move immediately as LNP state director to ensure that that design feature is covered over on billboards, footpath signs and the like that are in the public eye, to pulp any other existing print material that features that design, and to ensure it is not included in any fresh printed or electronic media/social media campaign material in the lead-up to the 19 March elections?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Sneaky Quirky, Tricky Vicki show rolls on



Comment ….  By Don Gordon-Brown

It’s always tempting, as you watch Team Quirk candidates cheat away with their copycat council cleat once more, to form the conclusion that they just don’t get it.

That what is bleedingly obvious to any normal, decent person – that using the copycat cleat is really, really tacky and wrong  – just doesn’t register with these people.

 But I realised a long time ago that they know very well what they are doing is wrong. They know it would be wrong if they used something that looked just a little bit like the council’s official branding cleat, let alone something that looks so much like it that they have never been able or willing to explain the difference.

 They knew full well they were breaking council rules when they used their copycat council cleat in 2012 and they know full well they are breaking the same rules by doing it again now. They are cheating again because they cheated before and it worked for them. They just can’t help themselves. It’s all about votes.

 Personally, I’d fear for my safety if I ever got between Team Quirk candidates and a vote, and that certainly applies to Central Ward councillor Vicki Howard.

 I doubt there was anything more that Vicki Howard could have done, back in 2012 when she was just a humble citizen, to pretend she was already the councillor for the area. In a ward where the long-term councillor was retiring and one with a high percentage of new voters each election cycle anyway, pretending to already be already elected - to give yourself the advantage of incumbency - was a very good idea. 

Vicki smothered herself in the LNP’s copycat council cleat. Signs, leaflets, business cards. Everything. Her campaign car looked like the city council was trialling some new mini-bus service. Maybe some people got into it thinking it was a council minibus and tried to tap on?

Of course she was rarely if ever the LNP’s "candidate" for the election. She was the “representative” for the ward, albeit the LNP’s or the Lord Mayor’s.

Then there were her election leaflets with the copycat cleat down the left-hand-side that told people from the very first paragraph about how council was all about achieving things and then outlining how she’d sprung into action to do just that!

 The use of the council cleat by Vicki then was red-hot wrong, and remains so. It’s against council rules. The other touches are pieces of political trickery that all parties probably engage in. But wouldn’t it have been nice back then if Vicki had told the LNP that “candidate” was fine by her for that’s what she was? And had pleaded with the LNP powers-that-be to tone down the leaflets and maybe use a “if I’m elected” somewhere near the top as a matter of decency and transparency?

I know little about Vicki Howard and she might be a decent, open and honest person overall. But engaging in political campaigns in an open, honest and fair way doesn’t appear to be Vicki’s shtick, for once again, the copycat council cleat is all over her 2016 campaign material like a rash.

 Will she get away with it? Who knows? If she has spent even just half the time and effort at being a city councillor over the past four years as she did back then pretending to already be one, she might have a shot.

 But I have a different view. You don't deserve to lead if you don't play by the rules. You can't expect the people of Brisbane to obey council rules and bylaws if you don't abide by them yourselves. Leadership brings responsibilities.  For what she’s done and for what she’s doing again, I believe she deserves nothing more than to be turfed out on her ear.
But all would not be lost. Both the Can-Do and Team Quirk administrations have been very good at PR, so I was thinking maybe Vicki could apply for a PR job with the police if she loses on 19 March.
I can see in my mind's eye the letterhead she could use on her application. There'd be a nice little pattern of blue and white checks across the top that would look a lot like the one at right but knowing Vicki she'll probably change the dimensions of the squares ever so slightly so she'd always be able to stare anyone in the face and declare: "I do not use the police branding!" Under that, and over on the right, would be a lovely photo of her with bold printing that describes her as Constable Vicki Howard. It would only be when you look really closely above the word “constable” you’ll see in very small print size the words “I’m not really a”.
Her opening paragraph would begin something like this: "Police work can be tough, dangerous and exacting and I know from my own experience that whenever I'm called out....."



Team Quirk rules nothing out



By Don Gordon-Brown
Team Quirk is relying on a “ruling” that this newspaper knows nothing about to somehow condone the shameful use of its copycat council cleat in the current Brisbane municipal poll.
“As you are aware, this matter was raised during the last two elections and the ruling was that the LNP branding did not infringe on Council’s corporate branding” was the short, sharp reply from some anonymous hack at Team Quirk as his boss Lord Mayor Graham Quirk once again refused to answer questions this paper believes the vast majority of its readers would regard as reasonable and fair. They were directed specifically to him.
As the media outlet that has campaigned ferociously against the disgraceful use of the copycat council cleat for years, The Independent knows nothing of any such ruling. Or anything about who might have raised the issue during the 2008  (the Can-Do era) and 2012 elections. And our request for the who, what, where and why details of this “ruling” has been met with the chicken-hearted, cowardly silence we’ve come to expect from Team Quirk and the LNP.
So here’s our best guess. The “ruling” was probably made by….
1.    A gathering of the council’s spin-doctors as they enjoyed a well-earned Friday night drink after a busy week of spin-doctoring, provided they could find a venue big enough for all of them
2.    A meeting of LNP councillors just before a Tuesday night sitting of the full council, probably through a quick show of hands
3.    Some LNP lawyer-type who probably can’t spell “intellectual property” let alone know the legalities of how or why it’s enforced, or
4.   Cr Quirk himself, fully robed in his Lord Mayoral finery, and nodding furiously into a mirror at City Hall while agreeing wholeheartedly with himself that everything he was doing was perfectly reasonable and above board.

Con-artists, cheats and cowards


The Independent warned repeatedly over time that the LNP and Team Quirk planned to cheat again at this year's Brisbane City Council elections and they are doing exactly that .... big time!

 They've rolled out again their copycat council "cleat" that they also used extensively at the 2012 poll. It's there for no other reason than to hoodwink the public into thinking it's the council's official branding image, that distinctive design of alternating blue and yellow blocks on the left-hand-side of official council material.

The LNP/Team Quirk are con-artists, cheats and coward and here's why.

They are con-artists because what they use is there for no other purpose than to let the public think it is the council cleat. And that deceptive, devious and politically dishonest exercise has no other purpose than to create the impression that Team Quirk has the backing of council. Team Quirk becomes the Council's Team Quirk. It gives them a powerful advantage over rivals who are playing by the rules.

They are cheats because it's strictly against council rules for the official branding cleat to be used for political purposes.

They are cowards because while Lord Mayor Quirk will happily repeat a claim that his candidates do not use the council cleat, Cr Quirk has never had the courage of his convictions and answer legitimate and reasonable questions from The Independent over years, challenging him to explain how what Team Quirk uses differs from the official cleat, and to explain how any reasonable person could tell the difference. In other words, we called Cr Quirk's bluff. He and his team stand condemned by their silence.

The Independent asks the voters of Brisbane a very simple and basic question: why should you obey both the letter and the spirit of council rules and by-laws if Team Quirk candidates happily and blatantly break them for political gain?

Citizens who break council rules, such as overstaying on an expired parking meter or using a water sprinkler out of hours when restrictions apply, run the risk of a fine. Team Quirk candidates are blatantly breaking council rules to improve their chances of keeping or gaining well-paid jobs on the public purse.

What the LNP/Team Quirk are trying to get away with once again has nothing to do with politics played in an open, fair and honest way. It has nothing to do with strong and decent community leadership. It is devious, deceptive and politically dishonest.

It is this newspaper's view that the LNP/Team Quirk shouldn't be in charge of running a chook raffle, let alone a great city.

Top: A current Team Quirk sign in New Farm. Above: the real council branding 'cleat' in a print advertisement. Amazing likeness, eh? Editor's note: both these images were taken by a phone camera. Both RGB images have been resized but have not been altered or enhanced digitally in any way. In printed form using CMYK, the yellow in both of these images looks yellower to the eye.  

Top: Footpath signs used by Team Quirk at the 2012 council elections. Above: the real council branding "cleat". Lord Mayor Quirk for three long years (and Cr Vicki Howard, then just a humble citizen, for almost as long) have refused to answer our basic questions over their use of the copycat council cleat. Fresh questions for the current election have once again gone unanswered.  

Greens slam Team Quirk 'cheating'

The LNP's use of the Brisbane City Council's branding image in the run-up to the 19 March municipal poll is "underhand, unethical and blatant cheating", the Greens' Lord mayoral candidate Ben Pennings says.

And Mr Pennings slammed the council's administration for failing to protect its intellectual property, claiming it had  "rolled over" to its political masters at City Hall.

Under council rules, the council's distinctive pattern of alternating yellow and blue blocks down the left-hand-side of official council documents must not be used for political purposes.

Team Quirk, led by Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, is repeating a tactic it used successfully in the 2012 poll by once again campaigning extensively with roadside billboards, footpath signs and letterbox and other printed material that contains a copycat council cleat that The Independent has argued for years is used for no other reason than to make voters think it is the official cleat and that Team Quirk therefore has some form of official support from council.
"The LNP's use of Brisbane City Council's colours and cleating is underhand, unethical, and blatant cheating, Mr Pennings said in response to questions from The Independent. "They are attempting to very closely associate the LNP with the positive BCC brand, even to signify some sort of BCC support.

"The LNP seem to increasingly see Brisbane City Council as their personal fiefdom. Political appointees and a 90 person strong marketing team keep the spin rolling, in what is now LNP branding.

"Any other company in the world would fight tooth and nail to protect their brand. Brisbane City Council instead rolls over and accepts this appropriation by a political party taking it, and the voters, for granted."

Top: Team Quirk election posters for the 2016 campaign. Above: The official council cleat on a bus timetable near the Valley mall.