In an email sent to councillors and CEO Mark Goldstone this morning – seen by InDaily – area councillor Anne Moran said she was “happy to demote (herself) from the senior councillor chair” because she felt “threatened” in the chamber.
“After much discussion with my family I would like you to change my seating in the chamber,” she said.
“The level of disrespect and hatred shown to me makes me fearful.
“I am constantly quite aggressively told by (deputy Lord Mayor) Houssam (Abiad) and (fellow councillor) Arman (Abrahimzadeh) to show them respect!
“I am unused to being treated like this by men and I suggest they both look at the way they are treating and belittling me.”
In the email, Moran said her request to change seats in the chamber was prompted by recent events, including a corridor confrontation between herself and fellow councillor Mary Couros during Tuesday night’s council meeting, as well as comments made by Abiad in the media likening her to a dinosaur and federal senator Pauline Hanson.
“Today’s tirade was that I am stopping good people doing good work hence I am a bad person,” Moran wrote in the email.
“I feel threatened in my workplace.
“I do not feel safe so I sincerely hope you can move my seating.”
The email follows reports yesterday that Abrahimzadeh had lodged a code of conduct complaint against Moran over behaviour directed towards him and other councillors.
Abrahimzadeh said the complaint was not focussed on a single incident, rather a multitude of events including allegations Moran swore at him and called him a “dickhead” during council meetings.
In response to Moran’s email this morning, Abrahimzadeh said: “As an elected member, I’m here to serve the City of Adelaide residents and ratepayers, not the media or anyone else interested in speculation”.
Abiad told InDaily he was aware of the email but he did not want to comment directly on it.
In a statement he said he had been inundated by calls and messages of support since news broke of councillor infighting earlier this week.
“There are many people out there that have been… abused in the past decade, previous Lord Mayors, councillors, staff, members of our community and candidates,” he said.
“This isn’t an isolated incident, and I’m sure many will be coming forward very soon.
“I would like to thank councillor Abrahimzadeh for his courage and leadership in taking a stance against such behaviour.”
InDaily contacted Goldstone and Verschoor to comment on the email, but they did not respond before deadline.
Couros was also contacted, but declined to comment.
Abrahimzadeh said this morning his code of conduct complaint was currently progressing in accordance with relevant council process.
He said he did not want to comment further as doing so could compromise the integrity of the process.
In a statement to InDaily this morning referring to questions about Abrahimzadeh’s complaint, Goldstone said the council would deal with it in accordance to the ICAC Councillor Code of Conduct, which stipulates a complaint “may be investigated and resolved in any manner which that council deems appropriate in its process for handling alleged breaches.”
According to the ICAC code, investigations may involve a mediator or conciliator, the Local Government Governance Panel or an independent investigator.
“At this point in time, the complaint will be reviewed and the code of conduct process will take its normal course,” Goldstone said.
“In the context of procedural fairness and to protect the integrity of the process, no further comments can be made at this point in time.”
Moran told InDaily this morning she was not worried about the code of conduct complaint, describing it as “pathetic”.
She said she was considering referring the matter to the South Australian Ombudsman due to what she described as the “vexatious” nature of Abrahimzadeh’s complaint.
Last week, the Ombudsman issued a plea to local councillors to refrain from lodging trivial complaints that wasted time and money.
The recent spate of Adelaide City Council infighting has been prompted by division over the Team Adelaide majority faction – of which Abiad, Abrahimzadeh and Couros are members – and concerns from non-Team Adelaide members that the faction continues to vote en bloc.
However, feuding between councillors extends before this council term, including in 2015, when InDaily reported Moran was involved in a dispute with Abiad during a private council meeting.
At the time, Moran said she would never speak to Abiad outside the council chamber again, with both threatening to lodge code of conduct complaints against each other.
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