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Regulatory Team Leader 

One thing that has puzzled me since the arrival of David Hammond concerns the rapid departure of the redoubtable Jacqui Ellis from this position amidst rumours of a substantial pay-out that may have had more to do with keeping her mouth shut than as payment for services rendered. There are at least three others in this category that I will deal with in due course, but this one is a major concern because of what happened before her departure, and what has happened since.

It is pound to a packet of peanuts that Jaqui's departure was related to a number of enforcement actions that she was legitimately following through, and where either the Mayor, or Hammond, or both interfered, and interrupted the course of court related action. Leach has become well known for interference in matters that often seem to concern his mates or associates, or where his antennae detect a possible electoral back-lash. 

His interference in the case that was proceeding through the court relating to Wildelands at Whitianga is well known - this after a huge amount of work on the part of staff, and concessions being given to the trust/occupiers over and over again. The back-down was totally de-moralizing for staff who had so diligently followed due process, and we are left with a situation where nothing is likely to happen until some kid is killed by the quaint power supply, or food poisoning, or both - or the many other ways possible within the primitive environment in which the occupants live. Some call it 60's hippy - I call it downright dangerous, and totally different to that promulgated by the Mother Earth Catalogue with which all of us 60's types are well familiar.

Well that was only one of a number of interferences, that led to Jaqui's utter frustration and finally pulling the pin - Judicial's softening of the swimming pool enforcement was but one. The stopping of a prosecution in Thames against a Pauanui resident who deliberately flouted the law by cutting down trees on a Council reserve was another - said by court officials to have been initiated "at the highest level". That can only mean one thing.    

Now here's the rub - Jaqui left, and within days a "temporary" replacement arrived from Ruepehu - said byHammond at the Council meeting following her arrival to be "here for a fortnight to help out". I indicated at the time I would be extremely surprised if she was not here for the duration - and so it has turned out. One Marion Smith to wit is now the new RTL and sits along with the twelve other 'reporters' in the second level management group as an 'invitee'. She is said to have caused substantial disruption within the team due to her 'control-freak' attitude (sound familiar?) The question remains as to how she was appointed to this position without advertising or any apparent interviewing process. She appears to have made her own demands on management as to the position she occupies, and to have caused the departure of several experienced officers. 

Just what was the relationship of this woman with Hammond while he was at Ruepehu - there are reports that she was moved on rapidly by the internally appointed new CEO there who apparently regarded her as one part of the previous administration that he could do without. And are there any other connections with Hammond that make her a desirable appointee to this job?  Nepotism comes in many forms - not just involving family - close associates are included in the definition, and further investigation is called for. 




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Reader Comments (12)

My comment on the previous post should be here. Go after it Bill...and as a comment, it is now 5 years since HDC received $1.8m from the governments Regional Partnership Scheme for the Waihi Gold interpretation centre .Possibly you could find out for your readers the chronology of events which has lead to the present state of affairs or lack of.

October 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim Archibald

From the moment Leach arrived on the scene he has been instructing staff to withdraw enforcement action against his mates. What is amazing is that he hasn't been called to account....but then it is only local one really cares. I suspect there is almost an expectation from the public that elected members will behave in this manner. However it is surprising that the other Councilors have been aware of this behaviour and have decided to take no action - they can obviously live with that. Still at least those staff with high levels of integrity, like Ms Ellis, will alway be appreciated by professional organisations and can simply leave (as many have done) to pursue better opportunities.

October 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterInsider

In response to ' insider' - you have hit the nail on the head re "no-one really cares", although with regard to many elected members this may relate to the fact that are are too scared to do anything that questions Leach rather than not caring about the issues. The explanation for that? It is clear that the ruling elite in this district have become politically active and as such are able to control the electoral fate of each and every elected representative. Leach is their creature (ie mouthpeice) and they are only interested in backing those that unconditionally support him. Enough said.
The ruling elite in this district are not really National by the way - they could most accurately be described as one of the 'tory rumps' of the National party. There is no real future in tory rumps either regardless of their feelings of hick-town self-entitlement. Warren, Morrie, Harold etc. eat your hearts out.

October 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

Yet another to vaperise is Nick Wetherill who hasn't been seen in the castle since fallng out with maid Marion three week ago. Apparently held to account because some mutt escaped from the pound. Hardly a hanging offence especialy when Wetherill was the one to recapture the canine escapee.

Word is the new appointed Senior Compliance Officer Steve Hart is ready to drop from exhaustion and stress. This dedicated staffer has ridden out some wicked storms and no doubt copped pressures from Leach and his cronies. I guess its only natural that he too hits the wall with all previous managers copping out on stress leave - Birkett, Ellis, Wetherill........who's next?

October 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersideline

the 4th estate is also to blame - where are the articles questioning councillors as the HH did with the pervious council -- oops silly me the paper has been bought off - note all the FULL page ads that TCDC now do - think about it -HH are not going to question just how Leach and et el controll this current council through fear and bullying when they have such big ads on board- in fact when did you last see some reporting on a TCDC council meeting in the HH??. Those that supported Leach in his bid to get elected need to do some real soul searching- the cringe factor with- in council is not healthy - rationalisation is one thing - wholesale brutal atatcks on staff who are going about their jobs in a orderly manner is something else.
How much has all this redundancy cost to date - I will wager in excess of $1m and climbing. At least one aggrieved staff member was told name your [redundancy] price - he had abusive comments from above left on his mobile phone - -now happily employed in another territorial authority.
It took years to build up a stable workforce at TCDC and 24 months for Leach aided and abetted by the CEO to destroy!
What has all this turmoil cost us as ratepayers - new set ups in Thames,Whitianga and Whanagamata - new vehicles, readjustment of office space - and unsettled staff??
would the last person left please turn out the lights-------

October 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterringside

While the issues described above are important, another important one relates to a staff warning to the leach Council against their attempts to reduce rates by depleting Community Board ‘retained earnings reserves’. These reserves represent unspent money from the yearly collection of rates and typically contain hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Leach Council has been brashly dipping into them to make good on election promises about rates reductions, despite long standing principles that money from these accounts should only be used for the purpose intended by being ‘carried over’ to the next financial year or be used for emergencies situations, should they arise.

This warning must be taken seriously. Leaching Council reserves to lower rates only gives an appearance of gain as the Councils financial position eventually deteriorates accordingly. There is no money for nothing.

The issue is also instructive in understanding the new Council culture of dodgy finance that claims rates and long term budget cuts have been achieved through creating ‘cost efficiencies’.

The truth is that rates reductions mostly occurred through the Council capitalizing scheduled debt repayments through extra borrowing, while long term budget cuts mostly occurred through economic slowdown with less demand for capital expenditure along with ‘convenient’ reductions of genuinely required capital expenditure that will be eventually be restored when projects are undertaken 3 -10 years hence.

Of even more concern, is the fact that no meaningful discussion or debate occurred at Council meetings about these matters. The real debate and the ‘real reasoning’ all happened behind-closed-doors at Council workshops where they were deliberately buried from public view.

Dysfunctional? No - nonfunctional is the best word to describe to describe these guys.

October 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

Me mates and me read your blog while having a beer and we want to know what this Jim fellar is on about Hauraki District council getting $1.8 m for a gold centre?
One of the boys comes from Waihi and he reckons there is nuthin there - just the old cornish pumphouse [and bloody great hole] - is this what Jim means?
Surely if the council has hoovered up 1.8mil then there should be something to show for it - is there a time limit on the spend or any accountability?
If the almost 2mil is not to be spent on this gold thing then maybe it could go to the railtrail that is up and running - you know the new bit to the bird coast - where it was supposed to start - then you could put one over to us guys here on the other coast!!

October 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCyclops

....don't forget Napia...Mark White....

October 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfarside

Theres also a number of Council staff who simply took the (in some cases large) redundancies on offer and left quetly - not to mention the one or two that asked for voluntary redundancy and were given it no questions asked.

October 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDream On

bout time audit got a call?or is that ok with everyone?

October 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfarside

I heartly agree Farside- how do the elected members still hold their heads high - what with the depletion of reserve funds, the changing of the rules regarding borrowing-then borrowing an additional $30m, the shafting of good staff, the hiring of additional staff with out going thru the due process [from what i understand], the cancellation of capital works- which will impact heavily on ratepayers in the future, the huge increase in PR staff, full page ads in HH trying to justify the acttions of council, the use of unelected district councillors to chair council meetings, the crazy devolution back to the Board areas - [with virtually no overview of spending],- the list goes on - and still councillors line up for their salary, have discussions in workshops behind closed door and to us mere mortals, seem to acept at face value everything Leach/CEO says.
The rammifications of all of this, I predict, will surface in years 2014-5 and will cost ratepayers dearly-the current lot of elected members seem to lack any moral fibre to question what is happening - or are oblivous to the long term outcome.
As for bringing in NZ Audit/ AOG - these organistions are now toothless tigers- Leach has already stated that it wouldn't worry him---
We are all saddened with what has happened and continues to happen - and there is no end in sight--------

October 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRingside

Regarding Ringside's comments about the toothless nature of the OAG - never was a better example given when that office ruled on the Barriball sub-division of 3 years ago. The OAG decided they "could not rule out" that Barriball was conflicted when lobbying and voting to reject a proposed District Plan rule change in order to benefit her subdivision, yet they decided that "due to the serious nature of the consequences of conviction", they would take no further action! That says it all - as it would appear the more serious the offence, the less likely anyone will be brought to account! Its no wonder Leach says "get stuffed, take me to the OAG - I don't care. But what a wonderful bedside manner (pity he is not a doctor).

October 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

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