Last night was the audit committee. This is one of the meetings where you can be pretty sure that Jeff Lustig, the Director of Corporate Governance, so ultimately responsible for all things legal and for the proper behaviour of the council, will be in attendance. Now he is a dry old stick and sits at meetings, looking like Freddie Mercury according to one observer ( thankfully Jeff keeps his shirt on ) hoovering up all of the information presented and occasionally interjecting to keep the council straight. He tells the odd joke, Mr Mustard has heard two in 2011, but they are so subtle that they sometimes slip quietly past the audience. He is really the un-noticed man of Barnet.
Now of course Jeff Lustig knows where all the skeletons are in the Barnet Council closet ( actually it's probably an entire building, a closet wouldn't be big enough ) and if you won't be writing your memoirs Jeff if the ill-conceived merger of legal teams with Harrow Council goes ahead ( Harrow, do you know how many fights Barnet Council get into ) you can always have a guest blog.
So Mr Mustard always wondered about Jeff Lustig and then there were the two strange events where Barnet Council had a pop at Mr Mustard, the attempt to get him fined £5,000 for not complying with the Data Protection Act ( he doesn't need to ) and the blabbing to the press that one blogger cost the council £40,000 in 6 months. Mr Mustard was easily identified by the press as they simply rang the other 4 who said it wasn't them.
Now Mr Mustard has found out that Jeff Lustif asked for a list of all of Mr Mustard's FOI questions in August. Why is yet to be established but it is probably connected to the brouhaha that went on in early October. Mr Mustard is giving Mr Lustig the benefit of the doubt for now.
On the report to the Information Commissioner, and the potential £5,000 fine not to mention the curtailment of freedom of speech for all bloggers, Mr Mustard has an email which shows that Jeff Lustig stopped the chase after the ICO rejected the EU legal case precedent argument. Others wanted to go on ( introverted idiots that they are ) but a reality check was applied. What Mr Mustard doesn't know is if Jeff Lustig set the hare running in the first place. Time will tell.
Mr Lustig did get unusually excited about Mrs Angry last night ( she has that effect on men of a certain age ) and at the conclusion of the meeting he read out some sort of statement denying that there had been any allegation of fraud against an officer. Mrs Angry did not claim there was, which is doubtless why Jeff Lustig and Chris Palmer, the interim ( for now ) Assistant Director of Communications ( why was he sitting at the press desk - is he off to join the Barnet press perhaps - a step up from his current job? ) got so excited about it. Mrs Angry was talking about Mr Richard Grice who used to run ( one can run badly or well, or even into the ground ) customer services, having left the council to join BT who are the biggest name in the running to get the contract to run customer services. Conflict of interest ( not in Barnet surely ) was what she was talking about and Lord Monroe Palmer helpfully sexed the dossier up a bit and asked CAFT to consider whether there might be fraud. Anyway, the matter is going to be looked into, not sure by whom or for how long and whether there is enough whitewash in the paint store but we will ask at the next meeting.
Whilst we are talking about BT, Cllr Cooke asked a question which the Director of Audit could not answer. Which suppliers send data outside of the EU? Well Cllr Cooke, one is probably BT who have made great use in the past of Indian call centres and still do. You might want to have officers check the other suppliers who are in the running for the customer services contract. Mr Mustard is happy to publish the answers.
Now moving out of the EU over to China there is an artist called Lui Bolin who is known as The Invisible Man ( which could easily be a description of Jeff Lustig ) who has himself painted to blend into the background and here is a lovely shot of him in a London setting. If you look closely you will find Lui Bolin on the right and Jeff Lustig is queueing to use the phonebox on the left.
What, you can't see him. Well, that is the joke because no-one sees him but he is always there in the background.
Hopefully you are reading this Jeff and it has appealed to the sense of humour that Mr Mustard knows you must have because you couldn't have stuck it at Barnet Council for so long otherwise. You know the new FOI software that you are getting? It has an optional module that lets people who have asked questions, bloggers say, follow the progress of their requests on-line. Please do turn on that optional module so we can keep a better eye on you.