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Closed Workshops

A concerted attempt to keep contentious issues under wraps until concensus has been reached through "closed workshops" has become evident. This is understandable after the previous open debate policy was perceived by many as disharmony and discord.

The problem is that it is easy for the democratic process to be subverted through these workshop deliberations, with the general public often simply presented with a "fait accompli".

I for one prefer open government where matters are discussed in the public arena, to the alternative. And so it appears does  new Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker who has promised that workshops in her Council will be open to the public wherever possible during her term. 

Mayor Leach should have more confidence in his ability to control open meetings, and avoid attempting to create an atmosphere of false harmony. The public is ill-served by these tactics - they are doomed to fail anyway as members begin to feel the discomfit of "consensus decisions" where their own strong views are hidden from sight.  Again, watch this space. 

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Reader Comments (7)

in the recent election campaign, the previous Councillors were berated for their 'disharmony' [read: robust debate] -such debates being reported in the twice weekly 3 minute silence,[HH] - but at least debate was had-- now, to show the much vaunted "team effort - no wingers" approach, we now have decisions made behind closed doors.
at a recent Council meeting a Councilor was heard to remark -"hang on we all agreed that we would not target warrant of fitnesses and rego's at the workshop" - hello -this a fundamental part of democracy , and we a s ratepayers need to know who support what - and who want to turn a blind eye to illegal activities, as in this case.
you can fool some of the ratepayers some of the time - but you cannot fool all of the ratepayers all of the time - come on Councillors - you all spoke about strong leadership, open style of governance, now lets see what you are made of - no more closed workshops- debate the topics in an open council meetings.
it is appreciated that 8 of the 9 Councillors are new to the role in our District - maybe they are hesitant to debate issues publicly for the fear of being shown as having no thoughts of their own and are doing the staffs bidding---------

December 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercyclops

Wasn't Cyclop's the one eyed fellow?

December 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

true - one of three brothers - giants with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads and a 'foul disposition'.
Strong,stubborn and 'abrupt of emotion'
Wikipedia-- " they fashioned thunderbolts [read -comments] for Zeus [Barclay] to use as weapons and helped him overthrow Cronus [Mayor] and other Titans {Councillors]----------------!!" something like that anyway!!

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercyclops

You may say this sir, or madam, but I could not possibly comment!

January 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

The hiding of decision-making process from public scrutiny is , sadly, a result of lack of self-confidence (back-side covering) and lack of chairperson skills where debate degenerates into butting-in before a speaker can conclude. and predetermined views are the only ones aired. Inadequate chairperson skills have been the bane of TCDC meetings with confusion, lack of process(Standing Orders), and leadership agendas over-riding a democratic process. This problem has been around for years. Why doesn't the TCDC hire a facilitator to run meetings or would that remove the choice of manipulation? They hire consultants for most other works.

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