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Thursday
May262011

New Media (5)

This is no brickbat - this is positive, and a big tick to TCDC.

Suddenly, with the advent of new PR flack Benjamin Day, we are receiving press releases on a daily basis - almost overkill, but very effective in getting Council's message out. This is something that has been sadly lacking for ever - sometimes it was hard to imagine just what the previous set-up did on a daily basis other than turn up to work - in the widest sense of the word.

Wonders to behold - on Wednesday at about 2pm, we had a press release with an outline of every item of business transacted that day in Council. Wow! I can't compete with that - Benjamin sits at the official end of the room with his laptop, and a determined look on his face that says "I am going to beat the record, come hell or high water!".

Oh well, I guess I can only compete through providing more considered opinion. Spin is inevitable of course in this kind of PR activity, and it would be a brave man that put out anything that stirred up our redoubtable Mayor, who has very definite ideas on what needs to be promulgated to the public. Hence his fondness for workshops.

A comment by Peter Wood today raises the interesting possibility that minutes of workshops may be discoverable. I am not so sure. This is not covered by the LGA or Model Standing Orders, but may be under the OIA.  I understand that the Mayor can call for a workshop at any time on any matter - I don't think anyone else has that right.

But it is regarded generally as a 'cop-out', and bad practice, though I note that it is used more and more by Mayor Len Brown of Auckland City, not that his record necessarily commends the practice. Witness the stouch last evening between Cr. Lee and MM (Maori Member) John Tamihere. Mayor Brown would clearly prefer to keep this behind closed doors. 

My doubts are based on the fact that theoretically, decisions are not permissible within the workshop framework, and minutes are only required to record decisions. Of course, Blind Ned knows that decisions are arrived at in this situation, and transmitted back to full Council behind a veneer of straight faces, and absent discussion, and is arguably an abrogation of the democratic process.

I expect to see it used more often here, because Mayor Leach has shown over and over the reluctance of both he and his Council to debate under public scrutiny.

In the meantime, more power to Benjamin's right arm. If you are interested, the website is at http://www.tcdc.govt.nz/Media/News/ and you can sign up for the daily onslaught, if you're game.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (2)

come on Bill I think you're being a bit unfair. the last time the Council had a workshop was a few months ago. these ten year plan meetings were held in public. the last Council, I remember, did all their equivalent ten year plan meetings behind closed doors. i find your analysis to be biased and unfair. i think its great that you are so dedicated to following the Council, but you should be a little more balanced in your reporting considering the conduct of the last Council wasn't exactly functional or transparent and this Council is taking a different approach to 'workshops' by making them public. you have to at least give them a little more credit than the last lot.

May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOBSERVER

These are the facts as I understand them:
1. Council has had regular workshops, but as they are held in secret, we cannot know exactly when.
2. The last Council had its LTCCP meetings in public - I believe that this is required under the LGA.
3. The current Council workshops are categorically not 'public’.
4. My blog is biased - that is the nature of blogs, but I do endeavor to be fair.
It is a shame that you still insist on anonymity, but I still welcome your comments.

May 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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